Science Fiction

Are we Transhuman yet?

No, obviously not, because brain scanning is nowhere near powerful enough. But what if it were? This article gives a quick overview of the physical, biological, and philosophical questions around the subject.

The Museum of Classic Sci-Fi

The drive from Penrith to Allendale was an adventure in itself, and the Museum of Classic Sci-Fi was one of those surprising, eccentric gems you find in the oddest of places.

It’s fitting that a museum with a lot of Dr Who memorabilia should pack so much into a relatively tiny space. This is just a sample of what they’ve got, and doesn’t include any of the promotional announcements by Davros!

If your in the Allendale area, you should definitely drop in. Check opening times though.

Night & Fog 1: The March

Book One of the Night & Fog series.

In the dying days of planetary occupation, the invaders have marched prisoners into the barely explored interior of the main continent.

Tren, an Aurzi, has escaped the march, only to be left in arid wasteland with little chance of survival. Until human mercenaries offer a way out, and to rescue the rest of the marchers.

Available from Amazon.

Flower Fairy diorama build

Another build for my Weird Cold War series. The Flower Fairy is a shambling plant creature that slips through every so often. Wherever it goes, it draws plants up out of even the most barren soil. But when it arrives in an urban location, that does mean property damage. Usually passive, unless attacked, the biggest threat is that its pollen is highly hallucinogenic.

That’s my backstory for the creature, anyway. I’ll flesh it out some more on the Patreon.

The STL for the creature came from Japanese site Booth.

As mentioned in the video, I’m selling Javis scenic scatter and foliage in the shop.

Aliens and bats and other unknowable beings

Here’s an interesting piece from Wired on how hard it would be to truly know and understand alien beings. Or, for us writers, how to depict them in a way that emphasises the alienness whilst still being somehow comprehensible.

The Return Of The Dis From Brazil

I’ve been avoiding the Di-fest marking the twentieth anniversary of her death, but I just remembered this post I wrote back in 2008- The Dis From Brazil.

Extrapolating from a conversation last night.

There must have been enough genetic material to be swept up from the Parisian tunnel that someone could have got a decent bit of DNA from it. Replicate that, stick it in a few dozen eggs and set yourself up with a baby farm somewhere in South America (or certain parts of eastern Europe, where they’d be even less obvious) and wait. Then, in 2016, when they’ve all turned 18 break out the bowl cuts and let your army of simpering blondes loose to be bedded by older toffs, rugby players and cads. They will also steal the hearts of Britain whilst you carry out your nefarious deeds unnoticed. We won’t even have Gregory Peck around to sniff out the conspiracy.

(2012 would make a more dramatic year for them to be released, what with the Mayan calendar ending and the London Olympics, but they’d only be 14 and that’s wrong.)

(There’s a listing in imdb for The Boys From Brazil due 2009, but no information. What’s the betting it’s yet another unnecessary remake?)

My 2016 deadline came and went, and the girls didn’t appear. Maybe whatever shady cabal created them thought they’d have the wrong effect on the desired result of the EU referendum.

The Boys From Brazil is still listed as ‘In Development’.

Charles Stross’ list of cliches in Space Opera

I’m tempted by the idea of space opera- grand space battles and galactic civilisations and all that. If I do have a go, I’ll have to check back to this list of common failings and try to avoid as many as possible.

Source: Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera – Charlie’s Diary

Valiant (The Lost Fleet, #4)


author: Jack Campbell

This is the second book in the Lost Fleet series that I’ve read, and in some ways, it’s indistinguishable from the first. The story has much the same steps- the fleet jumps into various enemy occupied systems on the way back to their home space, there are a couple of massed space battles where Captain John Geary’s old-fashioned tactics prove superior, the fleet loses a few ships, but destroys far more, someone in the fleet puts the mission in danger because they don’t agree with Geary’s command and the captain (who was recently defrosted after a hundred years in a life pod) discovers more differences from the old days.

It’s entertaining enough, and it hasn’t put me off reading the last one in the series (there’s another book between this one and the finale, but I haven’t got it on my bookshelf). The soap opera of Geary’s intertwined professional and personal relationships with his two closest aides is a bit tedious, but the careful doling out of information about a hidden alien enemy is done well, as is the gradual way the defrosted captain is winning over the hearts and minds not just of his own fleet but also some of the enemy.

I’m sure there is more complex and subtle space opera out there- I’ve just got to find it- but this is enjoyable lightweight entertainment that has served as a starter course in some concepts of space combat that I may use in my own works.

From: Ian Pattinson Goodreads reviews

Floating cities

Floating cities seem like such an obvious location for a sci-fi story or video game. Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay has a William Gibson feel to it.

Off the top of my head, I can only think of one floating city in fiction, in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Time to add it to my list of locations for future stories.

Floating cities – in pictures | Cities |


From the YouTube description-

Manborg is a creative and hilarious love letter to a VHS sub culture. Perhaps it has limited appeal to only those who know what we mean when we refer to a top loader. Perhaps those weened on a diet of CGI will fail to understand the beauty and static grace of stop animation.

Kostanski didn’t make Manborg for the masses but he has openly expressed his love of this sub-genre of cinema for everyone to see.

He made Manborg for those of us who lived and breathed it in our youths and it was a welcome trip down memory lane and a rocking good time.


Scientists are proposing a project they’re nicknaming The Knowledge Collider, which will do for global data collection and analysis what The Large Hadron Collider aims to do for particle physics.

An international group of scientists are aiming to create a simulator that can replicate everything happening on Earth – from global weather patterns and the spread of diseases to international financial transactions or congestion on Milton Keynes’ roads.

Nicknamed the Living Earth Simulator (LES), the project aims to advance the scientific understanding of what is taking place on the planet, encapsulating the human actions that shape societies and the environmental forces that define the physical world.

This is pure science fiction, which we’re now reaching the processing power to make fact. I have visions of sexy young scientists- led by someone with an eyepatch, though I don’t know why that’s significant- running simulations and dispatching doctors, soldiers or super spies to potential trouble spots to do whatever is needed to head off problems before they really begin.

Post Apocalypse Pony

Post Apocalypse Pony, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.
Post Apocalypse Pony
Post Apocalypse Pony

The Mustang is now finished and mounted on a base, which I painted a combination of gunmetal and rust because I thought it would complement the finished.

You have to peer in to see the weapons and other kit, so it’s a little undercover as a post apocalypse ride. Future dark future motor cars will have weaponry mounted for firing on the move.

The gunge seems to have pooled heaviest at the back of the boot. Perhaps this was the dampest patch and the lichen and moss grew fastest there.

More photos can be seen in the Post Apocalypse Pony set.

On the modelling table- Post Apocalypse Pony

Post Apocalypse Pony- front view with grunge

I mentioned my plans to make a bunch of cars inspired by Mad Max, Car Wars and the upcoming Death Race remake, so here’s the first. This is the Post Apocalypse Pony, a 1980s Ford Mustang that’s seen better days and has been kitted out to survive on the grim highways of the future.

It started out as a Monogram Snap-Fix kit. I haven’t made many modifications to the body or interior, just added a cache of weapons and equipment. Only after finishing the weathering did I think that it should have had some battle scars or dents. Oh well, the driver’s just very good at avoiding things but crap at cleaning his vehicle.


Post Apocalypse Pony- interior

The tub was painted Tamiya Buff with detailing picked out in silver and flat black. The seats are Games Workshop Snakebite Leather. The dash is flat black with white and silver detailing. The passenger seat has been sacrificed to make space for supplies and weapons, all of which came from an old Airfix multipose set of US Marines. There’s a knife on the back of the driver’s seat, a pistol in a holster on the doorb and the submachine gun propped up on the back seat as well as binoculars, a water bottle, ammunition clips and an entrenching tool. Before fitting the tub into the body I may add a few more bits and pieces because I don’t think it’s cluttered enough. The interior was given a wash of Games Workshop Badab Black to pick out details.


Post Apocalypse Pony- From above Post Apocalypse Pony- right side Post Apocalypse Pony- Rear view with grunge

I’ve made no changes to the shape of the body. The bonnet has been painted a nice dark blue, a Games Workshop foundation colour but I forget its name, and the trim is flat black. There were no instructions on the colour of the lights in the rear clusters so I made that up. Rust was added in various spots and then I experimented with a wash to weather it. The thinners I’ve been using for quite a while was so full of paint that it was no longer any use for cleaning brushes. But it did provide a nice grotty green was for the car. I pooled it on the roof and let it run down the body naturally, pooling wherever it was stopped. It looks a lot like the sort of algae you often find growing on cars in scrapyards, as if the vehicle’s been discovered in a barn and pressed into service.


Annoyingly the photos I took of the underside of the car are all out of focus. I’ll get some more before I put it all together. The chassis was painted flat black and a sump guard was made out of a piece of plastic card. Then the whole thing was liberally brushed over with rust and a few silver spots picked out where stones have caught it.

The wheels were painted flat black and then the ribs were picked out with silver.

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Death Race

They’re remaking Death Race 2000, now simply Death Race, with Jason Statham taking the role of Frankenstein. This may just be another example of the film industry running out of ideas, but at least the cars they’ve built for this version look suitably hardcore.

I’ve been collecting 1:32nd scale car kits for a while with the intention of creating a set of vehicles something like the ones made for Death Race. I think it’s time to start work on a few of them so they’ll be done by the time the film comes out.

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Aetheric Mechanics

SCUD, originally uploaded by warrenellis.

WArren Ellis has posted a set of reference images used in his upcoming Aetheric Mechanics graphic novel. They loo like prime materials for Luft ’46 subjects.