Monthly archives: August 2002


From above, the great river suddenly appeared from the forests, its tributaries were so shaded by overgrowth. Few from the outside had dared track its true source. One way or another, none had returned.

There was a village in among the trees, fugitives from the war which raged further south and wild men they had befriended. It was hard to spot, and impossible to approach undetected. The Lang made his arrival known well in advance. Coming from upstream on his three log raft his provenance was obvious. None of his observers raised a weapon.

A waterfall roared ahead, but there were landing stages well before the rapids began. Figures began to crowd the nearest stage. With careful strokes, the Lang headed for it.

The crowd drew back, leaving only one figure, a tall bearded man in a grey one-piece outfit with more pockets than seemed necessary. The Lang sprang up to the stage, converting his landing to a deep bow. Five young dockers leapt down and had his raft tied to before he spoke. �Sir, I request your permission to pass.� It was one of the plains dialects, he hoped he had judged the chieftain correctly.

The bearded man bowed deeply in reply, �Sir, it would be our honour to help you on your way. I am Morn, could I presume to ask your name?�

�I have yet to take one. It would be an honour to assume yours for my travels.�

The crowd whooped and the chieftain could not contain his grin. Such recognition from a holy man was more than any could hope for. �It is more than I deserve. Our pathetic village is yours for as long as you wish to stay.�

Right round like a record baby, right round- Oasis- Definitely Maybe, Kingmaker- In The Best Possible Taste, Unbelievable.

Monday is film day. I’ve managed to see The Sum of All Fears and Blade Runner (directors cut, but with serious damage to the film and jumps where frames are missing).


Someone had been discreet enough to listen at the door and slid the orders under it rather than intrude. Reed tucked Jay in and padded across to the envelope.

There were two sheets, held together with a folded and crimped metal strip. In effect it was a list of names, a date and destination, but it had been wrapped up in the usual reminders to check all components and pack spare underwear.

Jay woke after a few shakes. She blinked at the sheets, skim reading when the sleep was from her eyes. �That�s away from the action. And why aren�t they sending the whole squadron?�

�I don�t know. Serena, and a few of the other bombardiers and some of the ground crew were transferred out the same way. Before you came along, of course.�

�Of course.�

�I shall tell them at the briefing. Until then�?�

�Until then, I am going back to my room.�

Surround sound- Shine 7, Doves- Lost Souls.

Every few days I do the rounds of other weblogs, some randomly, some- like BoingBoing– because I know I’ll find something cool. Like this. Check out the film trailer.

Elsewhere, stuff like this slightly mad, but mostly justified rant, and commentary from this side of the Atlantic, make me think there would be no better time for my anti-technothriller. All the usual suspects would be there, a Dubya-ish prez, war mad generals and admirals industry interests, special forces, terrorists, hackers, the good the bad and unique. Only, instead of the terrorists incurring the wrath and B2s of an enraged USA, they actually set off a chain of events that would implode the power structure and produce a new, more equal and essentially stronger America. Don’t ask me how, just yet, but given enough research I think it could be made plausible that the ordinary people could defeat the internal and external threats.

Rant over, music on- Stereophonics- Word Gets Around, U2- The Joshua Tree, Duran Duran– Decade.

I’ve been thinking about my techno thriller bit from a few days ago. Another thing about these books is the way the USA always takes on enemies who are (almost) their equals. You never see them bombing a bunch of guys in caves who only have Kalahnikovs and maybe a dozen twenty year old Stingers to shoot back with, or the Green Berets getting their arses kicked by a Somali gang with borrowed weapons. Odd that, isn’t it.

I’ve been playing with Poser all day, setting up the shots to digitally ink over and enhance to produce the comic. The comic should start appearing, in rotation with Seeds and Eliza Effect, some time in September.
Meanwhile, Seeds

�I heard that morals in the air army were quite lax.�
�Only since we let women in.� Reed stroked the fabric of six�s right tailplane. It had been patched up fine after catching the only flak of the whole mission.
�Did you sleep with your last bombardier?� Jay asked.
�Serena?� The smile said it all. �It isn�t a requirement of the post.�
�I had promised myself to a boy back home. It was allowed for him to join the infantry and go prossing around the barracks, but as soon as I joined the air army he called it off. We�re immoral, it would seem.�
Reed laid his arm across Jay�s shoulders and walked with her toward the barracks. �There were women who said they would promise to me. I never heard from them after I transferred here. If no-one out in the world, going about the little lives we shall soon be protecting, is willing to have me then I will take my pleasure on base. If it is offered to me.� They had arrived at Reed�s hut. He gestured inside.

Who wants to be the Disco King?- Feeder- Echo Park, REM- Document, Less Than Jake- Hello Rockview/ Losing Streak, Meat Loaf- Bat Out Of Hell, Muse- Showbiz

May’s picture gallery is now up.

Thinking about my postscript yesterday, I guess Seeds is a techno thriller of sorts. I’m just taking the easy way out and inventing my own technology-

There had been the mission debriefing, where they had tried to recall everything they had seen. Now they were getting the political debrief, where they were told what had happened.

The Ideological Officer had taken quite well to the plains life, filling out and taking colour. But his adherence to the rules was as tight as ever. �What you saw were Northern rockets, designed to land bombs on Reff and destroy our fuel refining capabilities. They stole the technology from us, of course.�

�Of course. Because our rocketry is so advanced.� Karn wasn�t the best at sarcasm. He cast a glance out of the window as he said the words.

�They do not have the resources to do it again. And we shall be exacting revenge for this, as well as a number of other raids I have been informed of. I am confident that this squadron shall be participating.� He was considering each word, plodding them out carefully within doctrine.

Karn perked up. �So we finally get a proper mission?�

�That depends upon you, to an extent.� The officer pulled a large folder from the desk drawer. �These are all legitimate targets. Draw up mission briefs and get back to me.�

Muzik- Propellerheads- Decksanddrumsandrockandroll, Dandy Warhols- Come Down.

As I’ve just spent the last three days buried in Fatal Terrain and with the film version of The Sum Of All Fears coming out here this week, I was reminded of a little something I wrote a while ago. I’ve added a couple of extra comments, in bold, and links to some of the books on amazon (because no matter how much I mock them, they are addictive).-

The World According To Clancy

I first became addicted to techno-thrillers when I was unemployed. Needing something to keep me in the house without resorting to daytime TV I scoured charity shops and second hand bookshops for anything to read. The only things which were less than a decade old were the free romance booklets given away with copies of More and the works of Clancy, Brown and their imitators.

I didn’t expect to like the politics and wasn’t surprised by the flat characterisation. But I was hooked and have now waded through a dozen or so of these bricks. It has become obvious to me that the genre adheres to a few simple formulae, as follows-

1. The military is always right.

Politicians have rarely been able to make sensible military decisions- influenced as they are by paranoia about backstabbing or spin- and there seems no reason why soldiers should be any better at making decisions about the economy. However, in the techno-thriller, the only people whose decisions are for the good of the country come from one of the armed services.

1a. Some parts of the military are more right than others

Depending upon the favoured service of the author, their branch of the services gets more of the action. Stephen Coonts’ guys are usually naval fliers, Dale Brown favours the boys and girls of the bomber wings and Area 51’s toys. Clancy himself, who didn’t serve, is most balanced, even bringing in the Feebs and Spooks. Write about what you know, and all that, but sometimes there’s a bit of childish name calling.

2. America, America Uber Alles.

Even the rare Brit writing techno-thrillers centres upon the US of A. Other countries are only good for occasional specialists, who are still in awe of the Yanks’ military system.

3. Muslims are a bad lot.

With the Soviets no longer a plausible threat, most plots now revolve around the towelheads running rampant. (Though Clancy did take a little time out to show those uppity Nipponese who was still boss. [Debt of Honour]) Occasionally someone will comment that most Muslims are honourable people before proceeding to send hordes of them to meet Allah, but usually the only followers of Islam encountered are about to be used as target practice by the Marines. [Executive Orders, Shadows of Steel]

3a. China’s a bit dodgy too.

Pre September 11th, ragging on the ragheads had worn thin with everyone, and they turned their attentions to Mao’s boys [Hong Kong, Fatal Terrain, Sky Masters, The Bear and The Dragon] (though Clancy took time out again to slap ecologist about and defend GM and Ford’s right to build cars that need their own oilwells [Rainbow Six]). I guess that’ll be over with now.

4. Women must always be protected.

And wait at home and worry. And be prepared to give up their career to go where their husband’s job takes them.

Vaguely related-

4a. Jack Ryan is the most fertile man in the world.

In all of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels that I have read, the character has only had sex with his wife twice. And she got pregnant each time. This reminds me more of The Meaning of Life than a mature relationship.

5. ‘It was the sort of thing that only happened in bad movies/ novels/ TV programmes.’

An observation made by characters each time some horrendously contrived plot twist, suitable only for a bad movie, novel or TV programme, happens. As characters turn into franchises the twists are getting ever more convoluted.

And, finally, the award for being most out of touch with reality. In Task Force 61, the task force has landed, ready to kill a few Arabs. The commander is strolling along the beach. He marvels at how all his troops, black, white, hispanic, have rallied together to listen to the hard, raw, gritty music of the streets. The song- ‘You can’t touch this’ by MC Hammer.

Break out the baggy trousers men, we’re going to war!

I still have a hankering to do a satirical/ spoof techno thriller, but have a feeling too many people would take it seriously………….

Platters that matter- Good Morning Vietnam (5 disc compilation, not the movie soundtrack.)

A dash of Seeds

Mov had taken his team farthest forward. Both guards on the ground were moving away from his team. When the autogunner in the near tower dropped from view, he signalled and his team set off in a crouching run for the bridge. Lensman followed a couple of counts later.

The first squad went right, pausing under the guard tower to strap charges to two wooden legs and throw incendiaries onto the platform. Then they crossed to the fuel tanks. The gauge read quarter full. They left one man to plant charges then open the taps and flood the assembly area with flaming oil.

With one squad member to either side of the door, Lensman held out his mini auto and turned the handle. The door swung open after a hard push. Lensman ducked down and swept left to right. There was no one in this room, but there were sounds from the one beyond. Lensman was halfway to the next door when it opened. He fired a three shot burst at the level of the handle, then raised his aim and fired again at the head of the silhouette in the door frame. He rushed through the door, firing a long burst at the confused officer behind a desk. �I�m out.� His seconds crashed through to the next room as he changed magazines.

Mov heard the shooting. There was no need, or time, for subtlety any more. He kicked the armoury door open and ducked in. There was no one inside, he made his way to the far door. The support gunners had opened up on the barracks. Out of the armoury, by a corner of the barracks, was a body- a fifth guard taken out by Kess.

There were more shots from the canteen, then Lensman�s squad appeared at the rear door. The support gunners stopped firing, folded up their guns and made their way to the bridge. Charges were thrown through windows on every building, alternating explosive and incendiary, and the guards bodies brought into the barracks. There were pack donkeys in a pen behind the barracks. The few that hadn�t been killed in the strafing were loaded with two bomb lobbers, two stonks and as much ammunition as possible. Kess found a baby long rifle and claimed it for himself. Then shells were primed with timer fuses and packed around with explosive.

The whole encounter had taken less than a thousand counts. They took the hard packed trail to the far side of the valley and were in a vantage point to watch the destruction. First the tower platforms caught fire, before explosions buckled their legs and toppled them. The fuel on the assembly area caught flame as explosions rocked the buildings. Then the armoury went up, a blossom of red and yellow sending debris hundreds of spans into the air and levelling trees in the surrounding forests.

�I think that will be quite convincing.� Rey told Lensman.

Top of the Pops- Mint Royale- On The Ropes, Oasis- the Masterplan, Rolling Stones- Singles, The London Years, Wonderstuff- Cursed with Insincerity.


Kess had filled two small canvas bags with fine gravel and settled his rifle on them. The wind had picked up, so he clicked the scope offset up two. Squeezing the front bag shifted the target back into view. The autogunner in the far guard tower could strafe the whole assembly area, and had become the first target. There was another tower by the gate, target two, and two guards walking the perimeter. They were closer and presented easier shots.

Lensman had made position and signalled that Kess was gun free. He centred the scope dot on the autogunner�s head, exhaled slowly and began applying pressure to the trigger. Before the last of his breath had gone, he bought the trigger home. The report seemed so loud up close, but there were trees to deaden the sound, and the river would cover it as well. He brought the scope back into line and counted. On the second count, the autogunner�s head disappeared in a haze and his body slumped away.

Kess had ever seen the effect of any bullet on a human body, let alone one of his monstrous one digit shells. He put the disgust aside, fed another round into the breech and brought the second guard tower into view. He clicked the gravity adjust back up a couple and centred on this guard�s chest. Another breath out and the shot was away. He didn�t wait to see the effects of this round, shifting quickly to the nearer of the guards.

Boss Tunage- Wonderstuff- If The Beatles Had Read Hunter… The Singles, Wonderstuff- Eight Legged Groove Machine (I know I listened to this a few days ago, but I have two copies, this is the remastered one with extra tunes, Kingmaker- Sleepwalking (listed on amazon, but as unavailable. Come on, someone re release this, please. I spent six months of last year visiting record shops from Southampton to Edinburgh, via Croydon, Soho, Manchester and Cardiff trying to find a copy. In the end someone had to copy it for me. Definitely an argument in here somewhere for the music biz to set up their own cheap [pennies per song] online database of out of circulation music. Rant over.)

I’ve gone over to Netscape, on the suspicion that XP has issues with Internet Explorer (I ‘m being paranoid, but the whole system keeps shutting down at random points, but ONLY when I’m on the Internet. I thought I’d try a different browser.)
One problem, though. Navigator doesn’t know how to handle the frames on Blogger and the inputting box is bunched up into an itsy box on the left of the screen. And the ever so useful formatting buttons don’t work, either.

Pop, pop, pop. Pop Music! (My CD player keeps skipping, but as I’m listening to Fatboy Slim, it’s not always easy to spot.)- Queen- Greatest Hits, Garbage- Garbage, Carter USM- Sessions, Ten Benson- 6 Fingers of Benson, Fatboy Slim- You’ve come a Long Way, Baby.

I’ve been going through my pictures to find ones which might make for good backdrops in DEx. I’ve only found a few hundred.

Rey handed the field glasses to Lensman. �Some kind of camp. There are firing ranges, an assault course, and look at all the pitons and ropes on those cliffs. I think they are trying to turn flatlanders into real troops.�
Troops and soft skins milled around the assembly area near the gates, readying a clean up squad for the collapsed tunnel down the road. �They aren�t leaving many guards.� Lensman commented.
�What are you thinking of?�
�They have an artillery range. We don�t have any heavy weapons.�
�You want to steal their guns? That would give us away, you know?�
�Not if we do it properly. There has already been one ir raid. What if we can convince them there was another?�
Rey took back the glasses. The work crew was pulling out, crossing the small river that ran along the near boundary of the camp. He counted the soldiers left behind. �I�ll get Kess up here. He can pick off the guards before we go in. If we put a fire crew there,� he pointed at the bluff above a curve in the river, �they can strafe the barracks while I lead a squad against admin and the canteen and Mov takes the armoury. Then we plant enough charges to suggest bombs.�
�A good plan. But one change. I shall lead your squad, you guide the covering fire.�
�There is only yourself and Mov who have seen action in this squad. Everyone else, including myself, needs the experience. And where better than against a soft target such as this?�

Platters- The Cooper Temple Clause- See This Through and Leave, Gomez- Bring It On, Pixies- Doolittle, Embrace- The Good Will Out, Jim’s Super Stereoworld- Jim’s Super Stereoworld, The Mull Historical Society- Loss

Busy, busy, busy. I got some writing done today. I’ve designed most of the ‘Good Guys’ for DEx using Poser (I’m going to take those life drawing classes, honest, but for now I’ll cheat). Sorted out my insurance claim, and my benefits.

Wow. Here’s a bit of Seeds

None of them had slept well. They had taken turns at sentry duty, though there was little to guard against.

Bobb was stripped to the waist. He passed the rope through a belt loop on his shorts. �I�ll try to do this on my own power, but if I start tugging pull me back in right away.� He dived over the edge before they could acknowledge.

Away from the shore, the water was clear, with sunlight penetrating deep before beginning to diffuse. Closer in, a soup of algae swallowed the light and restricted the view. Bobb swam into the thick green water. He passed under the shadow of the shore and the temperature dropped.

Groping around, he found something firmly anchored. Tugging on it brought him in close to a thin root, with another just beyond. Pulling himself from root to root, Bobb worked further under the floating island. Up ahead, the roots became thicker, wrapping and twining together in a criss cross pattern. Small fish swam through the gaps, feasting on the algae.

There was a movement, just at the edge of view to the left. Bobb turned his head to see a large dark shape leaping at him. It was as long and thick as his arm with teeth upon teeth and tiny eyes ringing its mouth. The fish ran up against the net of roots, jamming part way through one of the larger gaps. Now it was trapped. It thrashed and thrashed, becoming sluggish as water stopped flowing through its gills. The smaller fish darted in to take nibbles out of the predator. Chunks of flesh floated off to be wrapped in algae.

Bobb kicked away, aware of the pain in his lungs. He broke the surface with the opposite of a cry, the painful sound of great gasps of air. He lay on his back in the water, revelling in the sun, as Gim and Sheel dragged him in.

Under the tree, with the first of the purified water at his lips, Bobb explained what he had seen. �We�re sitting on an ecosystem. The algae has coated itself to the roots of the tree, the dead stuff building up over time to make this, �soil�. The roots drape down below, knitting together to make a net of sorts. The net catches larger fish, smaller fish feed on the corpses, breaking them down for the algae and plankton, and the tree feeds on the nutrients provided by the single celled animals.�

�But can the system support humans?� Sheel wondered.

�I guess we�re going to find out.�

On the wheels of steel- Stereophonics- Performance & Cocktails, Happy Mondays- Pills & Thrills & Bellyaches,The Avalanches- Since I Left You, Nirvana- Incesticide, Snakebite City Vol. 10, Abdoujaparov- Air Odeon Disco Pub, Hefner- Breaking God’s Heart.

The Seeds segment I promised earlier-

The waves didn�t break upon the shore. Indeed, the island seemed to be lifted and propelled along by the rollers. Gim planted his feet as far apart as possible, side on to the tide. �This foot�s rising, only slightly, but� And there, it�s under me�. And now this foot. The whole island moves as the wave goes by.�

�That�s a relief. There�s only a small rise above sea level, I thought we were going to flood at high tide.� Sheel ran a hand through the green slime that passed for soil, studied the substance, then shook it off. �Where�s Bobb?�

�He went to the North shore, thought he�d seen something to build with.�

Bobb returned some time later. The setting sun cast a long shadow. �I thought you said he had gone North?�

�He did.�

�So why�s he coming back from the West?�

�Could have done a part circuit.�

�Or our island�s rotating in the current.�

Bobb set down a sack. �There was a camp of some sort back there. I think I have enough stuff to make a solar still. What have you found out?�

Gim took the sack and emptied it. He started sorting through the contents. �Our island�s not very solidly planted.�

�Did you notice the way it moved with the waves?� Sheel asked.

�Yeah. It�s more pronounced toward the edges.�

�Well, I started scooping away at the surface, think it�s algae of some sort. I found a way through the roots of that,� she pointed at the island�s one and only tree, centrally located, �and got so deep,� halfway up her upper arm, �before breaking through to water.�

Gim had assembled a frame for the solar still from the remnants of a parasol. He had shaped the wires to rest on the edge of a large basin, so the vapour rising from a cup of salt water in the middle could condense and run down purified. �There was some rope in that sack. If one of us ties it around our waist we can go over the edge and explore what is under our island.� He had found a smaller cup and was using this to bring water up from Sheel�s cup and feed the still. �In the morning, I think.�

I had an idea for a bit of Seeds for today, but haven’t managed to write it yet. It fits into the continuity before the segment that was going to go up today. I’ll try to get it posted before midnight. Honest.

Choons- Ash- Live at the Wireless,Wonderstuff- Eight Legged Groove Machine, Catatonia- Way Beyond Blue, The Stranglers- The Collection 1977-1982

Okay, I got a little obsessive about finishing Gran Turismo 3, but not so obsessive as to create a weblog and post my results to it.
More Carter USM memorabilia is popping up on EBay.
In the text to one of my pics of the day, I wondered what linotype was. Well, Brian posted me this link and this one, which answer everything.
People find it hard to believe when I tell them one of the reasons I quit my last job was boredom. Well, this, is how bored and how much spare time I used to have. I’d spend quite a bit of my time cyberloafing as well.

And some more of Eliza Effect


Owen found Kate registering at The Jury�s Inn, with what looked like the HR heavy squad in tow. Whilst the white men in black suits registered, he circled long enough to catch the same lift as her. �Hey.�


There was an embarrassed silence as the lift doors closed. They both went for the same floor button. �Which room?� Owen asked.

�Two oh three.�

�Neat. I�m two oh five. Want to, um, get together? I mean we can go out for a meal and stuff and�.�

�I don�t think I can. I promised the boys we�d go out for a meal and find the Gay village.�

�Out the front doors, turn right, up the road, right at the second set of lights then left before the canal.�

�I�ll take them, have a meal and leave them. Meet you here at eight.� She kissed him quickly on the lips before the doors opened.

�Why are we out here, again?�

�Because the head of HR booked in and has the room between ours.�


�So. Well, I am a bit vocal, aren�t I?�

�Oh yeah.�

�And stop grinning. I just don�t want to give him anything to gossip about.�

They could hear cars on the motorway, and water in the river. �Dark, isn�t it?�

They kissed, and shuffled around to get good leverage. Kate moved closer. �Ow.�

�Hmm. Here try moving this way�.�

�Ow. No, that�s no better.�

�Just let me move this. Is that better?�

�Yeah.� Kate shuffled over, half way onto his seat. �Are we moving?�

�Nah, can�t be��. Shit!�

The car came to an abrupt halt as Owen pulled on the hand brake. �Ooops.�


�Don�t apologise. I�m the one who nearly rolled us into the Mersey.�

Silence for a moment, then Kate eyed up the back seat. �This thing�s a four door isn�t it?�

Playlist- Meatloaf- Midnight At The Lost And Found, Catatonia- Equally Cursed and Blessed, Republica- Republica

A wee bit of Seeds, I’m going to put together a page soon to get everything into order-

The orgy had lasted four full days. It hadn�t been the greatest the citadel had ever seen- only three of the older monks had expired- but the Lang had tried to impregnate all the nubiles from the surrounding villages and the Yin had taken her pick of the men. Now both gurus had all their fleshly desires satisfied, they could be prepared to enter the world.
As the grounds were cleared and the joyously deceased monks laid to rest, the gurus went into isolation. Their bodies were steamed and their loins salved and oiled. Pampered, powdered and in pressed clothes, they reappeared two days later.
They went down to the lake one last time, to look at the island- glowing in the morning sunlight- then walked back along the tree lined pathe to the temple. Trees gave way to mud huts, wattle and daub, stone, half timbered and finally glazed brick. The gate had been dismantled and moved down the valley so a new extension could be marked out. A missionary had returned with news of a material- a powder and water mix which cured hard as sandstone and could be strengthened with ferrous bars.
The dark wood doors, over a span thick, had been re-hung for the occasion. A lazy traveller could walk around the gates, but the Lang and Yin put all their strength into pushing it open. Neither had passed beyond the threshold before, though both knew more about the world than anyone outside the temple. �We should take names.� The Yin suggested.
�Mine shall be from the first person I meet, I think.�
�I think I shall be Dana. After one of the goddesses of the Northern countries, as that is where I am headed.�
�I am heading down the river. From what I hear, there are many down there I could help.�
They stood for a while, staring up at the mountains and down at the river. In all probability they would never meet again. They touched fingers.
�Farewell Dana.�

Zounds- Guns N Roses- Appetite For Destruction, The Beat- Beat This! Best of the Beat, One Lady Owner- There’s Only We, Senseless Things- Empire Of The Senseless, Super Furry Animals- Guerilla, Madness- The Business.

Okay, I’m crap. It was raining, so I didn’t go to see the triathlon. Watched a bit of it on TV though, if that counts. I have managed to get photos scanned in up to date, but not HTML’d up and posted to the server yet.
Whilst writing the little bit of Eliza Effect that went up on Friday I was struck by a deeper plot which sort of became obvious. By the end of the third or so draft, it should form something more coherent than just a series of blunders and bad management decisions. What? You’ll have to wait and see.
Music be the food of Lurve- Blondie- Denis, Hut Recordings 1991-2001, Carter USM- 30Something, Gomez- Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline, Kinesis- Worship Yourself, Ash- Free All Angels, Primal Scream- Screamadelica