Monday, June 30, 2003
posted 9:46 AM

For about a week, though at first I didn't know it.

That last blog, Orwell's rules, was something I ran across as I started Googling in advance of writing that essay for the New York Times. When I'd finished that (on the night before it was to run, naturally) I tried to log on, and discovered I couldn't. Changes to the Blogger site, it seems.

Feels remarkably like being locked out of your own appartment, except that there lots of people in there, having conversations.

Left over from my Orwell Google, this poignant photograph of the historic premises in Henrietta street. When long since vacated, obviously. Note the very cool rat-hole boot-scraper built into the door-frame, lower left! I loved that thing. No worries that the gentleman sleeping rough, to the right, is a former editor; my editor at Gollancz, Malcolm Edwards, has gone on to far grander things in London publishing.

In spite of what the caption says, I doubt the place had been standing empty, when this was taken, for more than a year or two.

Thursday, June 19, 2003
posted 1:51 PM

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

"If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of
the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself.
Political designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance
of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own
habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless
phrase...into the dustbin where it belongs."

Monday, June 16, 2003
posted 9:08 AM

Mine's a Red Bull on the rocks.


That thread about my chapter titles, a while back? It should be evident to all that it was Steely Dan taught me the art of titling, as witness this fine batch from their new one:

1. The Last Mall
2. Things I Miss The Most
3. Blues Beach
4. Godwhacker
5. Slang of Ages
6. Green Book
7. Pixeleen
8. Lunch With Gina
9. Everything Must Go

Of which, on as yet a single listening, I'm most taken with "Godwhacker", a little deicide ditty with lots of that carbonated guitar they do so well. "Pixeleen" seems to be a Walter Mitty routine about a girl with possibly Molly-like anime-heroine fantasies, ever brought down by the quotidian.

Saturday, June 14, 2003
posted 8:35 AM

To an Anton Corbijn portrait with an Apple advertising slogan on it, asking me to re-post it here. Nope, sorry. There are a couple of reasons I wouldn't want to do that. One is that I wouldn't want to confuse people, who might easily assume I have some sort of relationship with Mac (none whatever, aside from using their product). More importantly, that's Anton's image.

If you aren't familiar with Anton Corbijn's work, have a look at this:

A very nice man, is Anton Corbijn. And a lot taller than I am.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003
posted 2:54 PM

> Microscopic analysis of WTC dust by Nicholas Petraco, BS, MS, DABC,
> at The New York Microscopic Society lecture held at AMNH 28 May 2003
> 45.1% Fiberglass, rock wool (insulation, fireproofing)
> 31.8% Plaster (gypsum), concrete products (calcium sulfate, selenite,
> muscodite)
> 7.1% Charred wood and debris
> 2.1% Paper fibers
> 2.1% Mica flakes
> 2.0% Ceiling tiles (fiberglass component)
> 2.0% Synthetic fibers
> 1.4% Glass fragments
> 1.3% Human remains
> 1.4% Natural fibers
> trace asbestos (it became illegal to use during the construction of
> the WTC)
> Other trace elements: aluminum, paint pigments, blood, hair, glass
> wool with resin, and prescription drugs were found.
> Particles found were 1-4 micrometers in size. (In general, particles
> that are 5-8 microns are irritants, and those that are 104 microns are
> small enough to be airborne and ingested into the lungs.)
> Fiberglass particles are smaller than asbestos and lodge deeper into
> lungs creating more serious long-term health hazards than asbestos
> like white lung disease which will become more evident 5, 10, 20 years
> from 11 Sep 2001.

"Other trace elements: [...] prescription drugs were found. "

I suppose prescription drugs are so ubiquitous that traces of them would be found after the catastrophic destruction of any segment of an urban nexus, but this still surprised me.


So VIRTUAL LIGHT, it hurts:

Monday, June 09, 2003
posted 2:03 PM

Absolutely the hottest consumer tech from the days of NEUROMANCER's composition. The Walkman was the only one of these that I'd ever actually had in my own hands. The cell phone was something I wouldn't use until JOHNNY MNEMONIC was in pre-production. Because I was a luddite? No. Because of what they *cost*.

Sunday, June 08, 2003
posted 1:47 PM

There is a great deal more randomness involved in the creation of the point-of-sale artifact than this would allow for.

I had absolutely no interaction with the designer(s?) of the Penguin UK edition's cover, and wouldn't have thought, until I read this post, of Googling that number. Fripp's alleged one-time involvement with the soundtrack of a proposed Neuromancer feature evidently dates from a long-dead option deal, and I've never had any contact with Fripp. My guess is that the designer's needed a CD for the photograph, happened to have the Fripp handy, and never thought about the number being Googled.

This is a perfect example of a certain kind of apophenia, though, and John *is* dead.


Steve Brown notes that there are other, compelling reasons for there to be a Cube in Damien's apartment:

"Every single computer made, with the sole exception of Apple products, are pretty much obsolescent on delivery. Nothing looks as useless and pathetic as last season's PC.

But Macs tend to hold their value, both absolute value and fashion value. They are superbly made and the only computers where serious talent is applied to design. Once the G4 line came into being, enough horsepower was built into the things so that they had become strong enough for any future needs (until you start downloading high rez films from the internet).
Prior machines needed to be replaced frequently, as they were never quite strong enough for the avergae demand put on them.

The Cube *is* strong enough to be used for a dozen years, and is perhaps the best-designed personal computer ever made. Check them out on eBay. At a time several years after the line was terminated, by rights they should be obscure tech-history curiosities. Yet they are worth as much or more today as they were when introduced. I'd truly love to have one right now,
and thousands like me keep the eBay prices high.

Thus, the cube was the perfect and only choice for Damien's apartment. I can see Cayce getting an allergic reaction in the presence of any other machine."

Friday, June 06, 2003
posted 7:44 PM

Wednesday, June 04, 2003
posted 9:16 AM

"You ever been to 'Stambul?"

"Couple days, once."

"Never changes," she said. "Bad old town."

A concerned reader in Turkey posts the following:

I do appreciate your concern, thanks, and I hadn't yet seen this packaging, nor been consulted on the title-change, but a quick check with my literary agent confirms that this is indeed a licensed edition.

Publishers buying foreign rights actually do retain, I assume as a matter of course, the right to retitle the work for sale in their particular market. The German edition of ALL TOMORROW'S PARTIES, for instance, is titled FUTUREMATIC, the phrase "all tomorrow's parties" in translation being, apparently, deeply uninteresting.

FUTUREMATIC is a unique example, for me, because as soon as they suggested it I wished that I had called the novel that over here. The Futurematic is a vintage Swiss watch that features in the text, and I've since decided that naming your novel after an old favorite song is one of those almost-universal impulses best avoided if you possibly can. (Another such impulse, according to Bruce Sterling, is the use of the word "song" in the title of any work of science fiction.) A less inspiring example would be MICROCHIPS, a German trade paper edition of COUNT ZERO. Actually, checking the shelves, I see that it isn't really that common a practice, most foreign publishers opting either for the original title in English or something akin to MONA LISA ACELERADA.

Be that as it may, my reaction to my Turkish publisher's evident intent is best described as one of considerable and enjoyably convoluted amusement.

Please do bring any further interesting foreign editions to my attention. I may never yet have been pirated in the old-fashioned sense, and somehow I find I feel the lack. (I'm not sure about a "Serbo-Croation" edition of NEUROMANCER that someone brought me, years ago, from Prague; aside from there being, as far as I know, no such language, it's definitely *the shortest* version of NEUROMANCER ever to see print.)

"There's a quality to a good translation that you just don't get in the original text." --Bruce Sterling

Tuesday, June 03, 2003
posted 8:03 PM

Check out the trailer. Amazing!


Are you kidding? The Curta, *definitely*, *and* the Sinclair ZX-81!

Otherwise, alas, no. I am indeed an Apple user, and have been since switching from my once-tediously-notorious manual portable Hermes, but all I've ever been offered by Apple was, I think, once, a free upgrade to OS X. Amazing, really; if I were them, I'd deluge me with fab cutting-edge hardware. Nudge nudge. Viral marketing! Wink wink. No? O well. Fact is I wrote PR on a Cube, and wanted to describe it, and I felt it helped build Damien's character. But then my friend Steve Brown pointed out that it was already sort of long in the tooth, so I went back and explained why he still had it.

Full disclosure, though: I'm wearing a pair of Buzz Rickson's WWII Waist Overalls bluejeans, and *I didn't pay for them*. But these were part of a corporate care-package sent after the fact of the once-imaginary black BR MA-1 having appeared in PR. And they're making me a black MA-1 of my own...EXTRA LONG.

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