Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New boots! (Thanks to Colin at

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My brother Nick is starting a new business, Motorbelle Ltd, a car body repair garage in Hazlemere (near High Wycombe)

Monday, November 13, 2006

What's cool: I saw via Technorati that Raph Koster, author of "A Theory of Fun", has linked to my blog (in the 'Hugo Meme')

What's not so cool: I've now had a load of comment-spam, so I have now limited commenting to blogger members, and I have enabled word verification and moderation.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

New windows for old

I'm having new windows installed. Yesterday they replaced all the windows upstairs - they will do the ground floor on Monday. The work they have done so far seems to be good quality, but I was a bit annoyed that they have left this pile of old windows in the front garden when they left.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hugo meme, after Moonshadow and Sunkitten

Which Hugo-winning novels have I read? (in bold)

2005 Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
2004 Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold
2003 Hominids, Robert J. Sawyer
2002 American Gods, Neil Gaiman
2001 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling
2000 A Deepness in the Sky, Vernor Vinge
1999 To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
1998 Forever Peace, Joe Haldeman
1997 Blue Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
1996 The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson
1995 Mirror Dance, Lois McMaster Bujold
1994 Green Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
1993 Doomsday Book, Connie Willis
1993 A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge
1992 Barrayar, Lois McMaster Bujold
1991 The Vor Game, Lois McMaster Bujold
1990 Hyperion, Dan Simmons
1989 Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh
1988 The Uplift War, David Brin
1987 Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card
1986 Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
1985 Neuromancer, William Gibson
1984 Startide Rising, David Brin
1983 Foundation's Edge, Isaac Asimov
1982 Downbelow Station, C. J. Cherryh
1981 The Snow Queen, Joan D. Vinge
1980 The Fountains of Paradise, Arthur C. Clarke
1979 Dreamsnake, Vonda N. McIntyre
1978 Gateway, Frederik Pohl
1977 Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm
1976 The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
1975 The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin
1974 Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
1973 The Gods Themselves, Isaac Asimov
1972 To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Josť Farmer
1971 Ringworld, Larry Niven
1970 The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
1969 Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
1968 Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
1967 The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein
1966 Dune, Frank Herbert
1966 "...And Call Me Conrad" (This Immortal), Roger Zelazny
1965 The Wanderer, Fritz Leiber
1964 "Here Gather the Stars" (Way Station), Clifford D. Simak
1963 The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
1962 Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
1961 A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M., Miller Jr
1960 Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
1959 A Case of Conscience, James Blish
1958 The Big Time, Fritz Leiber
1956 Double Star, Robert A. Heinlein
1955 They'd Rather Be Right (The Forever Machine), Mark Clifton & Frank Riley
1953 The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I first developed my taste for traditional swords-and-sorcery fantasy with the classics like T.H.White's Once and Future King, Tolkien, and Fritz Leiber's Swords series. There were so many authors jumping on the bandwagon in the 80s and 90s with fantasy trilogies that it became difficult to find the really good work. There has been some good work, and I did put together a list a couple of years ago - although even there very few of the books listed are 'classic' swords-and-sorcery.

Gene Wolfe's new novels Knight and Wizard, published together in one volume as Wizard Knight are a brilliant example of traditional fantasy done well.

The story starts with a boy from our world getting lost and wandering into Aelfrice. He makes his way back to the human world of Mythgarthr (where most of the story is set) but he soon encounters Disiri, queen of the Moss-aelfs, and falls in love. She transforms his body into that of grown man, and knights him, setting him on his quest.

Wolfe has re-invented many of the standard fantasy motifs: his ogres, fire-aelfs, moss-aelfs, giants, and dragons are all fresh creations necessary for his story, not stereotypes from the genre.

Thanks to Nick for recommending it to me.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Congratulations to my friend Dominic Green who has been nominated for a Hugo Award for his story "The Clockwork Atom Bomb". The story is currently available to download from Interzone
Technorati Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Via The Daily Grind - and Gia, I found this Greasemonkey script to help add Technorati tags when creating a Blogger post.

Monday, March 13, 2006

John Crowley is one of my favourite authors - his "Little, Big" is one of my all-time favourite novels. His latest book is "Lord Byron's Novel - the Evening Land".

According to Mary Shelley's introduction to Frankenstein, one evening in June 1816, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley and Dr Polidori met at Villa Diodati near lake Geneva. After a ghost story, Byron suggested they all write a horror story.

No prose from Lord Byron has survived, but Crowley has imagined the novel that Byron may have written, including various episodes based on the poets life: but the book is much more than this.

Byron's daughter was Ada Lovelace, the noted mathematician who corresponded with Babbage on programming the Analytical Engine - she is often noted as writing the first computer program. Her mother left Byron when Ada was less than one year old, she never knew her father.

Crowley's book posits that Ada inherited the manuscript of the book, and wrote some annotations - but then agreed to destroy the book due to the close similarity between the plot and with scandals in the family.

The present novel intersperses the Byron text with her annotations, and also the email correspondence between the modern day discoverers of papers containing these annotations and many pages of what appear to be mathematical tables.

I can't claim to know much about Byron, or the 1820's style of writing, but I'm sure Crowley has done his research properly, and he's created a brilliant pastiche novel with resonances between Byron's life story, that of Ali his protagonist, and the modern day finders of the papers.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Wallace & Gromit in Curse of the Wererabbit - now in Japanese

The translation process dragged on a bit through December and January, but it finally hits the streets in Japan next week. We found a reveiw on which was translated into delightful engrish by google:

Finally! As for W&G fan propriety! (*' ? `) /, 2006/2/15
March 18th of 2006 with ???? and ????? vegetable field of release large pinch!

When the PS2 edition game software appears already, being, promptly the introduction ??
You looked at B, but * & & & & & *, the ? - it is it is enormous! V (^^) v
W & the world of the G makes that way, politely and you have been packed! The to game converting
" (-_-; Woo? " With while the work which is thought being many, just the excellent work! It is foreboding of hit!
In simplicity operation colorful action! Furthermore every reproducing one town roundly completely
The mini- game and collection et cetera such as thing and 2 human simultaneous cooperation plays which are full
With the ?, the child together, you think long in coming from now!

The person who is continued to look at the former series the scene which is made the " Ni spear "
With like full load, W & the G fan convert the necessary item which we would like to insert in the hand by all means
It probably is thing! (*' ? `)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Flickr Cambridge 1

Flickr Cambridge 1, originally uploaded by peter2403.

Peter's photo of me taking a photo of him at the first Cambridge Flickr meeting - at the Fort St George yesterday

Saturday, February 25, 2006


penjual, originally uploaded by Farl.

"The ordinary becomes exotic to first time visitors of Bali. In here, the bamboo wicker, the heavy weighing scale, the strange fruit, the traditional robes- all add to the allure. As a frequent visitor to this magical place, I find Bali special for their way of life, on how they manage to keep the old and imbibe the new.
Farl's photos give us a virtual tour around the Philipines, Indonesia, Madagascar and East Africa."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Old Rocker

Old Rocker, originally uploaded by notarivs.

Black-and white street photos from Barcelona are only one style from Notarivs' work - go and have a look at some of his other photos in his stream

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Noa, originally uploaded by carpeicthus.

An excellent photo (as usual) from Ryan Brenizer, a New York photojournalist.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

b l o k e s. . .XXXII

b l o k e s. . .XXXII, originally uploaded by dR. . ..

Here's an example of dR...'s amazing style of (mostly B&W) children's portraits.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Seven Basic Plots

I'm about three-quarters of the way through Christopher Booker's "The Seven Basic Plots: why we tell stories"
I never liked English Literature as a subject at school, but since then I've come to love mythology and fantasy fiction. The idea of Storytelling has some small relevance to my work as well.
In the first part of the book, Christopher Booker explains his idea of the archetypal plots underlying all the best stories - "Overcoming the Monster", "Rags to Riches", "The Quest", "Voyage and Return", "Comedy", "Tragedy", and "Rebirth". Warning: this part of the book contains a huge number of plot summaries of novels, films, plays etc - some people may want to avoid spoilers!
In part two, he then looks at the archetypal figures playing roles in these stories, but this section drags a bit as he tends to re-hash the same story outlines as were used to explain the plots in part one.
Part three then looks at where (in his view) storytelling has gone wrong in the last century or two, showing how many novels only follow part of one of his archetypal sory arcs, and are incomplete as a result.
I have found it to be a fascinating read, building on the likes of Frazier's "The Golden Bough" and Campbell's "Hero with a Thousand faces" as giving new insights into the art of storytelling.

Photos on this Blog

When I started writing this blog I intended it to be notes about programming and software engineering, but I found that the level of confidentiality in my work means that I find it difficult to find anything I can safely write about.

Since becoming more involved in photography, I decided to post some of my favourite photos from contacts on flickr. This serves a couple of purposes: it helps to highlight the range of great work on flickr (I'm still trying to get some of my friends to sign up) and also it's helping me understand my taste in photography.

The circle of life moves us all

The circle of life moves us all, originally uploaded by neloqua.

It's summer right now in Brazil, and Neloqua's colourful photos bring some much-wanted sunshine in February (and all year round!)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A rare smile

100_0353, originally uploaded by EAFAUPEL.

My friend Elizabeth has just joined up to Flickr, and ahs posted a few photos from our skiing holiday last week. Here's a rare shot of Duncan's teeth!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Forbidden Room

The Forbidden Room, originally uploaded by Mattijn.

Dutch artist Mattijn has created a fascinating nightmare sequence of images: follow the sequence here