Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
J.G. Ballard (1930-2009)
As for his novels, they are overwhelmingly intense. I still haven't read his famous trilogy of early disaster novels, The Drowned World, The Drought and The Crystal World, but last year I did finally get round to tackling his cult book, The Atrocity Exhibition, an experimental novel that reads more like a collection of very strange and bewildering (though certainly powerful and affecting) linked stories -- except that the stories aren't really linked in a normal sense: they are more like amplified feedback, psychotic recursions of each other, overloaded with specific obsessions that not only echo the obsessions of the reader but sometimes impose them retroactively... After reading The Atrocity Exhibition I started dreaming about 'rectilinear geometries' in an all too familiar way, even though I'd never given them much thought before!
Ballard's core beliefs should be extremely nihilistic but he never regarded them in that way. I find his concept of the 'death of affect' very disturbing, also his assertion that science has become the ultimate pornography, and that pornography is always a powerful catalyst for social change. Ballard claimed to be an 'early warning system' for the breakdown of normality and for those imperceptible moments when the present becomes the future, but he heralded those dislocations with too much glee to justify the 'warning' part of his own label: he was more of a salesman for the warped psychology of the future... And yet nothing will ever erode the staggering importance, the extreme malignity and the utter originality of his novel Crash! and its relevance to the world we live in. The featured photograph is my tribute to that masterpiece. The cost of the picture was £2.05 (£1 for the toy car, 85p for the firelighters stuffed inside the chassis and 20p for the box of matches to ignite the wreck). The wreck itself was created by bashing the car with a pebble found on the beach.
Here's some music to accompany the photo...
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The photo I have chosen to signify the occasion shows the blue golem himself in the middle of a game of shogi against the Sweet Tamarind Hand. Shogi is the golem's favourite board game, though he also enjoys xiangqi, hnefatafl, chaturanga, mancala and Cluedo. In this particular game the Sweet Tamarind Hand is winning but there seems to be some cheating going on. Why grow flesh fingers when you can grow strange sticky fruit ones instead? That's the outlook of the Sweet Tamarind Hand.
Tamarinds also symbolise the fact I've just completed a sequel to 'The Furious Walnuts', a tale I wrote back in 1995. I had no plans whatsoever to create a sequel, it was purely spontaneous. The sequel is called 'The Smutty Tamarinds' and has been submitted to a forthcoming Futurist anthology... I have lately been busy writing several stories for several new anthologies. Various unpublished stories are appearing online too: for example, this ezine has an unusual structure, namely two contrasting pieces from each featured writer, one realistic, one fantastical. So it features one of my rare realistic pieces ('In the Sink') as well as something more typically whimsical ('The Juice of Days'). I'm pleased with both tales and consider them to accurately represent the two extremes of my 'vision'.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
The monsters I recently created to promote my Twisthorn Bellow novel have now been disposed of. I took a certain small amount of pleasure in doing so. Snagtooth Toasta lasted the longest. Here we see him in an outdoor setting. His enormous size can be accurately gauged by comparing him to the inverted kangaroo that also appears in the picture. More photos of Snagtooth's pointless adventures among the trees can be found on my Flickr page. I'm toying with the idea of making one more monster, probably the giant radioactive Belgian ant known as Billy Them. It could be argued that I need to get out more. But I went out to take these photos...
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Sweets in Reverse
Mister Gum, as I've probably said before, is a satire consisting of four interconnected sections. The first section is a satire on the teaching of creative writing; the second is a satire on crime fiction; the third, a satire on detective fiction; and the fourth is a satire on satire. Publication date is sometime in June. Subjects and situations covered by the book to a greater or lesser degree include semantics, cybernetics, identity theft, subterranean penetration, solar radiation, progressive rock, literary awards and egotism, all treated in a smutty manner.
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