How real books have trumped ebooks

Has the Guardian identified a publishing revival?

The Guardian | Books | 2017 | May | 14: How real books trumped ebooks

Atmospheric: the Daunt Books branch in Marylebone, London.

This article has plenty of anecdote but is short on hard data.

What do I expect?

Units shifted, sales + margins, the author’s cut. Strip out the JK Rowlings — do a little market segmentation, show where e-books sit. While you’re on with that say something about how, by gaming Amazon’s book metrics, the traditional publishing model is hollowed out.

Is it equilibrium or just a brief respite?

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China’s Xi lays out $900bn Silk Road vision amid claims of empire-building

China lays claim to the world’s biggest project

The Guardian | world | 2017 | may | 14 | China’s Xi lays out $900bn Silk Road vision amid claims of empire-building

A Chinese flag flies over Tashkurgan, a tranquil frontier town on China’s border with Pakistan, which is bracing for change as President Xi Jinping kicks off what some call the most ambitious development plan in history, the ‘Belt and Road initiative.

This could  fundamentally change the pattern of  world trade. There are big challenges but, other things bring equal, this could mark a high-water mark of containerised ocean going freight. A significant side effect will be the impact on Central Asian economies which could be very significant.

An intriguing idea. I used this as part of the backdrop in Erisse of the Illyany.

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Man Cannot Survive on Mobile Alone.

For Xmas my eldest bought me a smart mobile. I’d been struggling along on my ailing Nokia. It held battery charge great but internet connectivity was a chore. I didn’t bother. Other things being equal I was quite open to the idea of getting a smartphone. The one he got me was a HTC Desire 530.

The big gripe about smartphones is battery life (& unwanted screen activation & fiddly text handling & invasive browsing experience but those are further down the gripe experience). The big embarrassment is commenting. Anything beyond a snappy sentence becomes a marathon; might as well not bother. I tried various ways to engage – it’s just not worth it. I put this down to CKS (crap keyboard syndrome) Even my laptop suffers from this – any serious typing won’t work unless you have a decent keyboard. Laptops (mine’s an Acer Aspire ##something-something-something##) have the magic of a touch pad which, if you accidentally activate it while reaching over in order to type, becomes a dead weight in which you’re constantly fighting with the touch pad’s desire / aspiration to activate the mouse pointer.

In the middle of a word? Activate the mouse pointer, quick, quick, so your typing is shared more equally among open applications.

Anyway, I finally got my old PC up and running following a disastrous move some six months back, and onto the net.

Here’s the proof:

Yippee. Life isn’t prefect but it’s a sight better than faffing about, all clumsy fingers, on my mobile or laptop. All I have to do now is decide whether to backfill all the crap I put out since September 2016

Because I’m like that, here’s a better view of Thomas Lessman’s Eastern Hemisphere, 400 AD.

Eurasia 400 AD, after Thomas Lessman - get it and drool

Eurasia 400 AD,
after Thomas Lessman


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World leaders congratulate Macron on victory as EU breathes sigh of relief

M Macron

What is Macron’s remit: France or the EU? He’s President of France, has a lot to say about the EU, and as an elitist product of the French system, he’ll be imagining all he can do with his power.
Emmanuel Macron arrives at Downing Street for a visit in February

So let’s see what he can fix in the EU:

• CAP reform? Nope, can’t see him stopping France from grabbing the lion’s share of CAP. However, something outside his power: Brexit will finally put an end to the EU’s (over-) fishery policy.

• Migration crisis? Merkel’s rash promise – on behalf of others as all politicians do – is already made. A constant flow if migrants is still seeping in despite the deal with Turkey to shut the door to the East. The merits of Merkel keeping her trap shut are considerable – yet how can he affect this, he is merely French President.

• Club-Med nation state debt (Greece / Portugal / Italy / Spain)? Dealing with this means either mutualising debt or debt forgiveness. Even if the EU are busy with catchy ‘more EU’ slogans like ‘let’s all do away with the nation state so we can all be happy together’ sorting nation state debt means persuading the German public to cough up; not in Macron’s remit.

• Long-term unemployed in Club-Med countries? Just like Club-Med debt, Macron might hop about and make a noise or two but has the effectualitée of a frog.

Does Macron comprehend the audit issues surrounding EU books? Does he understand audit? Hmm (see also mutualising debt)… the particularities suggest this is above his pay-grade. Perhaps we should look at his remit as French President and thus problems closer to home:

• Communities that don’t integrate…. surprise, surprise the UK is seen being better at this than France… and it’s an issue we’re fed up with, an issue that’s helped drive Brexit.

• How about jobs being exported – leaving pockets of poverty in France? Well Macron is a globalist; he’ll be preaching about how the hidden hand of economic mysteriously gifts jobs. No answers though (apart from ‘tough luck’ for those put out of work). Here we close in on Macron’s credentials which rest on glib words, sound bites and no experience.

07/05/2017 was flag waving day. France is saved, the EU is saved, everything is saved as if by stage pantomime. The réalité is the EU needs to reform. Reform: ugly word implying management and controls. Yet that would-be agent of reform, the UK, will soon have left. Reform is what the UK wanted and reform is what Brussels resisted. What are Macron’s reform credentials? Something to ponder.

Oh and the terrorists are quaking in their boots.

Image result for supporters of macron celebrate

It’s notable that the Guardian (from which the first image is drawn) has love-bombed the result but prevented comments. You can get stuck into their coverage at: World leaders congratulate Macron on victory as EU breathes sigh of relief

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CWG 2015

I am currently working on the long delayed 2015 Anthology by CWG (exiles of My Telegraph). The anthology will contain 36 of their best stories taken from from their 2015 series competition. CWG are a net based writing group, their early existence is due in no small part, to the innovative blogging platform maintained by The Daily Telegraph between 2007 and 2016. The writers have a get-together every so often – in this way they confirm the fact that they aren’t merely figments of each others’ electronic dreams.
Peter Barnett has written an introduction, the book comes to 284 pages (70,000 words) and it features the following contributors:

and finally (under my net name) Archietp

The book cover is based on pictures from Sabina Ahmed; here’s a peek:

Back cover courtesy of Sabina Ahmed

courtesy of Sabina Ahmed

Front cover of 36 Short Stories 2015 by CWG - exiles of My Telegraph

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EU Reveal Negotiating Stance

Attitudes are beginning to harden as the EU lets slip its negotiating stance in Outrage as Spain given effective Veto on future of Gibraltar.


A fisherman holds a Spanish flag during a protest in the bay of Algeciras, near the Rock of Gibraltar

Credit: Daily Telegraph 31/03/17

In the spirit of openness I’m gonna put all my cards on the table and I have a number of demands:

 I demand the return of Aquitaine and Calais.
 On second thoughts they can keep Calais.

That’s cleared the air so here’s my predictions:Next week the EU plans to give Brussels a veto on the internet on the grounds that the internet is international, the EU is international: the matter speaks for itself.

In other developments, it (the EU) is still debating whether to take back those parts of London settled by French emigrées. Residents of Little France, as it’s known, are brushing up on their German, just in case.

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Women Writers of SF and Fantasy

At the very outset,  in the Guardian makes the case for Mary Shelley and Margaret Atwood to be considered Science Fiction writers in  Dystopian dreams: how feminist science fiction predicted the future.

Would Mary Shelley have recognised Science Fiction? Some in the genre (eg Aldiss) have made the case for appropriating her Frankenstein. Margaret Atwood has made clear she doesn’t consider herself a Science Fiction writer; she’s appropriated some of the garb, that’s all. Obsessions with sex plus nihilism and added miserablism really are tedious fare. Doris Lessing made a far better job of appropriation but then her Canopus in Argos had added Sufi influence.
For a long time there weren’t enough women writing in the genre. My collection includes a good deal by Andre Norton —not a feminist, for baggage she brought her American Indian heritage to bear; and CJ Cherryh —also not a feminist, she just did loads of good SF. Both were prolific and covered the genre from different angles.

I’ve collected everything I can by Ursula Le Guin and still have a high regard for her creations. Elements of Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni cycle prefigure Game of Thrones (just don’t go looking for gratuitous sex & violence). There’s too little by Zenna Henderson (sadly overlooked). Perhaps Joanna Russ had a lot to say but I found her shouty.

Going back a little, Leigh Brackett struck me as a slightly superior Edgar Rice Burroughs. The problem with ERB was he reworked old material (if he’s the original formulaic fiction writer, he’s got a lot to answer for). My Leigh Brackett collection is mostly Ace books from the 60s. It includes
The Secret of Sinharat / People of the Talisman (an Ace double)
The Planet Savers / The Sword of Aldones (another Ace double)
The Sword of Rhiannon
The Coming of the Terrans
The Big Jump
The Ginger Star

I enjoyed Evangeline Walton’s reworking of the Mabingonion (The Children of Llyr, The Island of the Mighty, The Song of Rhiannon, Prince of Annwn). There’s a tendency for publishers to typecast their authors which is a real shame. New Wave Science Fiction should have sorted that out but it seems the accountants have taken control (I’m an accountant and mostly what I see is writers treated like machines – but that’s a different tale).

That’s missing out many others including Jane Gaskell, Marion Campbell (I was mesmerised by her Dark Twin) James Tiptree Jr, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Louise Cooper, Leigh Eddings (who cowrote with David Eddings), Mary Gentle (savage and bleak), Tanith Lee. Anne McCaffrey…

Feminism has a point but it isn’t all. Science Fiction is 🙂

Might scan some paperback covers later and doll this post up (I can hear the abuse already).


Writing isn’t just about the final form, or offering a well machined product that delivers precise dollops of enjoyment; it’s also about exploration and change. Agitprop (or agitpop 🙂 ) can suffer from the energy of the participants which makes it hard to see the art.

Rarely, some sublimate themselves and their work to the up and coming authors. Andre Norton achieved this by abandoning her space creations to develop Witch World, a series that ran to many books. In Tales of the Witch World, authors such as Robert Bloch, Elizabeth Scarborough, A. C. Crispin, Ardath Mayhar, and Robert E. Vardeman (from vol. 1) contributed to the world. Andre Norton was never highly regarded by the critics which pushes her contribution — an American Indian world view, a reflection of her heritage — under the radar.



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British Fantasy Society: 2nd 2017 York Pubmeet

The New York Club WMC, 11th March 2017

To kick things off Continue reading

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Exoplanets – Trappist – 1

The recent exoplanet announcement for Trappist 1 has received decent press. The Guardian reports Exoplanet discovery: seven Earth-sized planets found orbiting nearby star and in The Daily Telegraph, Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal heralds this discovery with These new worlds are just the start. There are many more life-supporting planets out there waiting to be discovered. In brief […]

Continue reading

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Cordwainer Smith

Just looking back at Cordwainer Smith’s Instrumentality Continue reading

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