Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Avoiding the Why?

"Of all questions, why? is the least pertinent. It begs the question: it assumes the larger part of its own response; to wit, that a sensible response exists." (Jack Vance, Rhialto the Marvellous)

The above quotation comes from the fourth (and final) volume in Jack Vance's Dying Earth sequence. I rate this sequence as the finest achievement in fantasy literature. Vance is a totally remarkable writer. I'm particularly pleased by this quote because it concisely articulates something I've believed for a long time. Why? is a horrid question, a question that leads to more and more questions until one is compelled to cry "The Big Bang!"

A: I want to go for a walk along the beach.
B: Why?
A: Because I need exercise.
B: Why?
A: Because muscles need regular exercise and I have muscles.
B: Why?
A: Because I am a living organism.
B: Why?
A: Because of biochemistry and evolution.
B: Why?
A: Because of the physical laws of the universe.
B: Why?
A: The Big Bang!

Every time anybody asks why? a reaction is created that always ends with the same final answer. To avoid unnecessary shouts of "Big Bang!", please ask how? when? which? what? where? or who with? instead of the accursed WHY?

I have just been interviewed for BBC Radio 2. When the offer was made earlier in the week I didn't ask why? Oh no! I asked what day and what time? The interview will be broadcast this coming Friday (June 2) sometime between 10:00 PM and midnight. The interview was partly about my own writing, partly about the writing of Flann O'Brien, partly about the writing of Jack Vance and partly about how the writings of Flann O'Brien and Jack Vance have influenced my own writing!

I have been negotiating with the Dylan Thomas Centre here in Swansea for the launch of my next collection, AT THE MOLEHILLS OF MADNESS. It seems probable that the launch date will be Friday September 15. I am hoping that talented duo The Frictionless Man will be providing live music for the event! They are my favourite local act, and one of the few local acts talented and original enough to achieve the big time.

Other news... My early collection of short stories THE SMELL OF TELESCOPES is soon to be republished. The publishers are Eibonvale Press and they are based in Slovenia. The first edition of this book was published more than six years ago but it still remains a favourite among my works. The Eibonvale edition has an interesting cover (see above picture) and internal illustrations. I love books with internal illustrations!

As I am on the verge of moving house I have been clearing out a lot of my possessions, giving stuff away or throwing it out. I had to make a decision: was I going to be a man with lots of possessions or someone who can travel lightly through life? I decided to take the latter option. Objects don't have the same appeal they used to. I've changed a lot in the past few years. I now prefer people.

What you go to give away man? Can i have your excess malignancy? I'll even take it in instalments! ciao bello
Hey ho lovely, keep in touch, Morgan is cool, Manuela is tired, i'm just me, but you will be missed.
KoD with Frictionless Manfred Man are playing in the Singleton this Friday so come along. ciao bello
I adopted a similar attitude: Clearing out those people who cluttered my life, so as I could travel lightly through it with just a close few.
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