Sunday, 10 August 2014

Spoolzine #2

Sniffin' Battenburg ('n' getting high...) Editorial

Spoolzine:  A New Kind Of Dignity

Bumped into a mad theory about The Prisoner TV series (SPOILERS!) Patrick McGoohan was a devout catholic. His character is called Number 6: traditionally the number of the Devil (666 etc). The number seven (the number of God) never appears in the series (aside from Number 73: a woman who throws herself to her death to escape the Village).
Number 6 then, is (literally or metaphorically) the fallen angel Lucifer, who 'resigned', ie: fell from heaven and the series is him coming to terms with the fact he's the master of hell (qv, last episode).

Most likely bollocks, of course, but it's wonderful this most enigmatic of television programmes can still generate such things. Lost, by comparison, has dropped off in people's fascination in a much shorter time.

People were furious over the last episode of The Prisoner (legend has it McGoohan had to go into hiding) but, with hindsight, its unintelligible madness was a master stroke. Remember, we GOT our answers at the end of Life On Mars/ Ashes To Ashes. A great series, but people don't talk about it so much. We got our answers and moved on.



Amir al-Mu'minin Caliph Ibrahim's Writers Of The Future Competition

"When I began the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria with a view to creating a modern Caliphate, I took SF Grandmaster Robert Heinlein as my influence. Now I want to give something back!"

-Amir al-Mu'minin

Are you a budding SF author? An artist of strange visions? Someone who calls out published authors on some mild political infraction but sees nothing wrong in being bankrolled by an institution with alarming human rights records? Then you could see your story/art in print and win $10,000* (*Used notes and gold fillings)!!!!!

"I'd recommend ISIS Writers Of The Future to any ambitious young SF author with no thought for the suffering of real women and minorities as opposed to those in books by politically problematic babyboomer authors."

-Alliette DeBoddard, ISIS Writers Of The Future Winner, 2011

"I, too, had second thoughts about entering the ISIS Writers Of The Future Competition, but then it was explained to me that there's a professional and ethical 'firewall' between the competition and its sponsor's horrifying actions in the Levant. I remind myself of that fact every time I see the good ISISWOTF does for emerging genre writers. And every time I stare at my reflection in the dark cold hours.

-Patrick Rothfuss, ISIS Writers Of The Future Winner, 2007


Local Events This Week: 

 'Leicester In The Great War:  "One Look And F*cked Off"'  (Talk, 18.30, Tues) 



Dan Gilbert writes:
"There should be a thick tax.
 It occurred to me that there is loads of stuff in life we take for granted that is only there for the benefit of the thickos, and I think they should be taxed for it. Would advertising exist without thick people? What about those health and safety vids you have to watch at the start of any job explaining why it's a bad idea to stick you hair in a toaster? How many hours of our lives in total are lost to people that have to repeat the same thing four times over in a slightly different way in conversation? 
This would also be a good way of punishing the dead weight without being too elitist; no-ones saying you have to explain how a particle accelerator works, merely get from one end of a kitchen to the other without bumping into things or referring to Google regarding correct tin-opener use."

Earthlet Dan Gilbert wins £5!



(Courtesy of Saladin Ahmed)


The woman in the flat upstairs seems to have bought one of those rock singer console games and is now proceeding to screech over the same repeating song while I try to write and listen to Classic FM. The sooner these people get next-gen technology they can plug into their heads and drool in a corner the better.


Spoolzine:  For When The Battenburg Doesn't Work

Dreamed I came back to the flat to find the four main characters from The Wind In The Willows all dead. No idea why. (Overdose maybe?)

It's Ratty's blank dead eyes staring at me that linger most in my memory...

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Spoolzine: Facebook thoughts trapped in Blogger amber


Imagine if we cured all insanity one day, all neurosis. Bang: all of us sane forever. Would the knowledge we can never escape into madness, that that option, that port from the harsh storm of responsibility was forever denied us send us all... well what?

Not mad, certainly: that's been cured! Hyper-sane perhaps?
Hyper-sanity might be the most terrifying psychosis of all...


This Israel-Gaza conflict has to be the most bullshit-prone war of my life. Every news item from every source has an angle or an axe to grind. 

If it ain't anti-Semitic it's Islamaphobic, if it ain't pro-Hamas utter nuttery it's pro-Zionist self-righteous swagger, if it ain't western-'splaining it's Russian equivocating. All of it topped off with a zillion web yahoos with their own 'modest' proposals of how they'd sort it out if only they were in charge. You cannot get the straight dope with this one.

F*ck it I'm gonna have that second slice of cheesecake...

Has science fiction become decadent? Lost its way? It's a question hovering over British fandom of late, and one hard to refute when our leading authors see nothing wrong in receiving fellatio mid-interview...


You say 'Bowie SF song' most people go 'Space Oddity' but I've never been a big fan. Too obvious, too conscious, too Arthur C Clarke. 

Lyrically, I much prefer the abstract stuff, the one's that suggest apocalyptic futures with a few half-seen glimpses. Your brain has to fill out the rest: Diamond Dogs, Drive-In Saturday (which if you ignore the 50s doo-wop vibe is actually too nightmarish to consider for too long), Five Years, TVC 15.

I learnt from him that world building ain't all about drawing maps and detailing planetary orbits etc. A lot of its throwing fishing hooks into the murky waters of your mental abyss and reeling up strange, strange beasts.


Tales From The Nightshift:

20:00: Guest, a builder, tells me I have strong thighs.

20:30: Man asks me to book room. Room is in our Newport, Wales, branch.

21:30: Sit down for coffee. Suddenly realise that nearly twenty years ago my young naive self unwittingly turned down sex. And in a way that must have seemed immensely arrogant.

21:35: Buy chocolate from machine.


I've noticed a funny thing. I listen to a lot of old radio comedy on me, er, radio and I've noticed I don't find anything before 1952 funny. It's as precise as that: 1952. It's like that's where a socio-cultural sheer drop is, an event horizon my funny bone can't cross. Weird.

Believe me I WANT to love ITMA, if only for the fact is confused and disturbed the Nazis (Goebals had his people conduct investigations as to what this 'peculiar Anglo-Saxon propaganda' was all about).

It's an oddity alright.


If Leicester was a coastal city there'd be an HMS Mardy by now.


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Bad Shoes In The Underworld

An innocent enough looking warehouse, out on Leicester's inner city ring road.

In times only recently past--presumably before we started using the web to get our news--the warehouse would keep copies of the Leicester Mercury by the metric ton, ready to be disseminated across the city.

Not anymore. Now it is an empty concrete shell; a claustrophobic, New Brutalist hellscape that even Mad Max would think twice about parking his ride in.

Perfect for Badshoes Films' needs.   

I can't really tell you about the plot of Atonia, the film script Lucy Wade and I wrote. But what I can say is I couldn't have pictured a better location to film it in.

Dust is a problem however. At one point during filming I have to run outside and cough like crazy. The actors have to be kept pristine in a green room whenever they are not on set. Apparently the Leicester Mercury might sell the place to a go-kart company. 

'This is got to be one of the most complex shoots we've done,' says director Keith Allott. 'But we've an incredible team. Really committed.'

The truth of that becomes clear to me while watching the lighting crew. Bill Newsinger, director of photography, will say into his walkie talkie that something is not quite--not quite--right and the lighting guys will move a light by an inch and then Bill looks again and it all begins again. It's a slow system but it works very well:  they always get their shot.

I can't help but feel responsible. The whole story requires an abstract look, and that in itself requires dedication. I see one of the crew, Mbili Munthali, on top of a concrete alcove-cum-bunker, its roof covered in debris. For the life of me I've no idea how he managed to get up there. Next time me and Lucy will write a kitchen sink drama, I tell myself. 

Actor Jess O'Brien's mum, Emma, offers to make me a coffee; an offer I leap on since I've been up all night at work. 

In the green room there's a bunch of young girl's covered in flesh wounds. Cosmetic wounds, I hasten to add. They're loving it of course. The make-up artist, Ketna Butron, shows me how to fake dirt-caked grazes and strangulation marks. She tells me she rarely gets to break out the whole make-up box like this.

Jess, Atonia's lead actor, knocked everyone for six yesterday, Keith tells me.  Tears, real tears, right when they were needed. It set off a domino effect, with full grown men trying not to blub and ruin the sound. 

Later that week I'll watch the rushes and understand where they are coming from. I've damaged my characters in stories; ruined their lives, laughed and walked away to have tea. Seeing one of my creations made flesh and visibly suffering has a profound effect on me. Finally:  my comeuppance. I'm a monstrous bastard.

But a very excited one. I can't wait to see Atonia. I need a time machine, a suspension capsule, a montage that cuts to the premiere.

Eventually I leave. The metal garage door rises and the light pours in. I'm like Orpheus leaving the underworld but decidedly more pleased, I suspect, than he ever was. 

I walk back through a warm Summer sunday. I see people buying ice cream, people laughing on benches. And yet I know somewhere, deep in the city, Badshoes Films pursue their craft in a concrete night land... 

(All photos by Hal Coley)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Message Left For The Weakling Vox Day


Just read this*. When you sat down, switched on your computer and typed this did the thought "I am seriously messed up" pass through your skull? A bit? Slightly?

My sketch-type-video-thing obviously stuck in your craw. It must have done because you're lashing out at people not me (the clue's in the link to Damien Walter's site). 

Clearly you're not the big man you purport to be. Larry Correia, I suspect, would just laugh it off. Hell, he'd probably roll with the ball entirely. So too John C. Wright.

But you? You fester and boil (much as how Requires Hate did tellingly) because you've no idea what whimsy and non-snide laughter- the healing laugh-- is and it scares you. Scares you to the point where you have to visualise yourself sexually molesting the dead body of a writer and human being who you dimly sense is a thousand times your worth. 

Oh you love it when a leftie blogs something angry and vitriolic about you. You can work with that. But come the day someone doesn't take you seriously, points out your daft absurdities, you smoulder and stink. You bawl and you plot impotent mouthy revenge.

Anyone with the slightest sense (and I would credit at least some of your followers with that) reading your above comment now has the measure of you: a pompous ageing thug picking fights with a nobody like me.

 Strip away the swagger and the rhetoric and that's all you really are. 

Because your ego is easy to cave in. So damn easy. Because in your heart, your very core, Theodore...  you are weak. 

But you know that.

*(Reader: No way am I linking to that comment. No way)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Bye, Bye, Spool Pidgin (For A Bit)

Pidgin donated by Tiffani Angus

Of late you may have noticed the tumbleweed passing through this blog; the dust settling; the pile of crinkly plastic jaffa cake wrappers squatting on the coffee table. Technically it's called neglect.

There's a reason for this (aside from a habitual slothfulness that would make Leviticus drop its good guy act and get really huffy): I've got other stuff happening. Don't judge me; it's a malady that can strike anyone so I'm told.

Firstly I want to get on down with writing a novel--a space opera affair, working title Sisters In The Head (a working title because it's too much Like Aldiss's Brother In The Head) and I'm about twenty thousand words in, thanks for asking--and on top of that there's this wonderful world of independent movie making that keeps giving me popcorn. Creativity popcorn, lightly salted.

Something's gotta give. I'd rather put Pidgin on hiatus, end season one if you will, than carry it on as a lame, emaciated fowl. I haven't got a huge following by any means, but the stats dashboard and general online chat suggest a fairly loyal bunch of visitors and I respect y'all too much to ladle out thin, tepid gruel.

Trust me, it's better this way. The desire to write essay things and generally 'muck about' (another technical term) will hopefully propel me to finish the first draft of my novel at speed and, by the time I DO, Spool-P should come back with a whole heap of stuff. Ideas are being scratched down on notebooks and envelopes as we speak.

And, in truth, I imagine it won't be a total immersion in carbonite. I'll occasionally post self-serving pieces (notifications of new stuff coming out, places I may be etc), but not the self-regarding ones (everything else).

And we'll always have Twitter (@jimworrad).

But we've had good times, huh? Maybe?

Well sod you, let's have a retrospective regardless. There was that time Spool Pidgin:

I hope you imagined that wobbly-wobbly reminiscence camera effect whenever you hit one of those links. Adds +5 to your nostalgia roll.

I'll miss blogging-proper. I believe blogging is an art form (yes I went there) that speculative fiction writers have thrived well in. I also believe we have far from mapped out its full potential and that we shouldn't rest on our laurels (to borrow a first century cliché). Arguably, as Spec-fic scribblers, it's one of our many duties.

So explore, my comrades, push! Make beautiful blogging mistakes! You have nothing to lose but your rants.


Thursday, 19 June 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Guests Avoid Larry Correia At House Barbecue

(Alton, Kane County, Utah) Witnesses report libertarian SF author Larry Correia (41) has been seen irritating guests of Peter and Mary Broxbourne at their garden barbecue, held to celebrate Peter's promotion.

“I'm still not sure who invited him exactly,” says Mary (32). “Peter's friend Andre sure keeps some wacky company—9-11 nuts, that kind of thing—so I asked him, but no. To be honest, I never saw Mr Correia arrive.”

Correia, New York Times Bestselling author and fan-lauded creator of the man-punches-werewolf sub-genre, was first witnessed demonstrating press-ups on the Broxbourne's patio.

Dressed in desert storm camo trousers and cap, a tight t-shirt with President Obama's face photoshopped to resemble The Joker from the Dark Knight with the caption 'SOCIALIST' beneath it (analysts suggest the idea was to provide extreme contrast with the Joker's essential nihilism and mockery of societal control, though research continues) and fannypack (bumbag), Correia entered Peter Broxbourne's friend circle by offering swigs from his half-sized bottle of Maker's Mark, all of which were declined.

“He just started talking about his trash talk on the internet,” says Emilio Sandoval (24). “No one asked him.”

“See, there's all these libtard asswipes in science fiction now,” Correia was heard to say, “saying all the wimminz are victims, all men—white men—are inherently evil and misogyny is everywhere. You know: the usual.” Correia, who, like many right wing self-published SF authors likes to lengthily respond to and take apart critical reviews of his work on his blog and sees nothing undignified in that, continued: “I've spent TIME teaching women firearms, but if I use the word 'pussy' I'm suddenly part of RAPE culture, whatever the hell that is, right?”

When Sally Pearson (28) countered that she definitely found the word demeaning and unpleasant, Correia responded: “Hey, my lady, I got nothing against PUSSY but I sure as hell don't wanna BE one. Amirite guys? Amirite? Can I get a witness here? Yeah...”

The social circle dispersed fairly rapidly at that juncture, with individuals breaking off and joining other guests. Demonstrating his tactical flexibility and military training Correia fell back to the barbecue itself, therefore allowing him--Thermopylae-style--to corner anyone wishing to acquire food.

“Buddy,” he was heard to say to one guest, “let me tell you who the REAL criminal is, because it sure as hell ain't George Zimmerman! Amirite? Have you read my novels? Werewolves get freakin' PUNCHED! I. SHIT. YOU. NOT!"

Correia (who, like Margaret Thatcher, the Ayatollah Khomeini and Sesame Street muppet 'The Grouch' believes 'straight up, no-chicken shit, tell-it-like-it-is honesty' to be a virtue) was seen to get progressively more drunk, choosing to sing choruses of Bloodhound Gang singles at distracting levels and telling anyone who'd still listen what a round from an M24 sniper rifle would do to someone's head.

As of going to press, Correia was last seen doing an MC Hammer dance impression to a passing group of bemused teenagers.  

Thursday, 3 April 2014


Eagerly anticipated anthology NOIR, courtesy of the wonderful Newcon Press (and featuring my story 'Silent In Her Vastness') is now available from Amazon and Spacewitch (I'd go for the latter: support the little guy!). Featuring the likes of Adam Roberts, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Paul Graham Raven, Donna Scott and Simon Kurt Unsworth and many, many more, it is to contemporary speculative fiction what mighty Poseidon is to the seas!

Also, you can get it's twin sister La Femme. Get both and you will be a monarch amid your peers. Trust me on this.

(Here's the full running order for both plus musings about my story)

Saturday, 29 March 2014

British Multiculturalism: An Arrogant Proposal

Just had an anger-inducing phone call that's led to a 

brainstorm. A fellow midnight man from Birmingham called 

about work stuff then we talked about the job. He said the 

Asian community were trouble and when I called him on it he 


"Well that's Leicester ain't it? No offence mayte, but everyone 

knows you've let 'em walk over yow, isn't it?"

Before I thought I said, politely:

"No, it's that Birmingham's shit at multiculturalism. Sorry but 

that's a fact, mate. You're third division."

And here's where it gets interesting. The guy immediately 

started DEFENDING Brumie multiculture. A complete 180!

So here's my brainstorm moment: make multiculturalism like 

Premier League football. Framed like that, bigoted numbskulls 

start defending their hometown's diversity. Britain's city state 

tribal mentality is, it would appear, far stronger than its ethnic 

nationalism. If the government were to adopt this strategy 

UKIP and the EDL would sink overnight.

We can implement this overnight if we, the citizens of 

Leicester, start swaggering around like arrogant shits telling 

everyone we're the best at it (become the multi-culti equivalent 

of Man Utd, basically).

And, let's face it, everyone else 

IS shite 

compared to us.

(See? Got the ball rolling, there...)