Monday, 23 January 2012

You Know The Date Is Going Badly When...


<Aliens, The Fifth Element, Blade Runner, Donnie Darko, 
Akira, Battlestar Galactica, Tron Legacy>

You Know The Date Is Going Badly When...

... your romantic interest pulls out a machine and asks if they ask you fifty to a hundred cross-linked questions. When you ask what the machine is they mumble something about ‘empathy test’.

What do you mean 'Boiled dog isn't a real entrée?'
... the cute, bright-eyed guy that saved you from execution on that space station turns out to be your brother.

'Fine, we'll split the bill. Don't get sulky about it.'
... the super-hot, platinum blonde in the skin tight red dress persuades you to give her the defense codes to the colonies. Then she, along with her friends, nuke every city.

'Of course it's my natural colour.'
... the emo, edgy biker you were seeing becomes an arena-sized, psychic-ego monster who wants to tear up the city.

'You think this is bad? Wait until you see the live action version.'
... the hottest girl on the Grid is actually your father’s best friend. To make matters worse she follows you to a night club and gets her arm broken.

'The next person to ask for a white russian is getting de-rezzed.'
... the stunning girl in the medical bandages turns out to be the ultimate weapon against evil. Even when you take her to the nicest hotel in the galaxy she still manages to get in to trouble.

'I told you not to bring liquids through security.'
... you sustain severe acid burns to your face. The confident yet troubled woman you’re interested in suddenly decides to foster a little girl. Just to really finish things off the atmosphere processor goes critical, meaning you can’t even get a kebab on the way home.

'I haven't been this badly hurt since 'Terminator', dammit.'
... you’re suddenly thrust in to a tangent universe where you’ll end up getting killed. It’s not all bad as you get to snog Jake Gyllenhaal and have an awesome soundtrack.

'I had this crazy dream we were in a cinema with a giant rab... oh, shit.'
... that feisty blonde pilot that you’ve been having an on-again, off-again relationship with suddenly disappears with not even a puff of smoke to show for it. You can’t even talk it over with your dad because he just flew off with the President in the last Raptor.

The location manager had really lost the will to live by season five.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Gentleman Geek – The Not-So-Polite Guide to Book Shopping

Having worked in various shops over the course of my itinerant life I’ve had plenty of opportunity to witness bad consumer behaviour. Here are some suggestions for members of the public still daring to venture into book shops. All opinions are very much my own and in no way reflect those of my employer.

<Warning: May Contain Humour>

1. Never assume the person behind the counter intuitively knows what you are looking for. It might be their first day, it might be that the staff member doesn’t even read fiction (yes, perverse, isn’t it?). Booksellers tend to have areas of expertise, so don’t be surprised to get a few blank looks before being handed over to another member of staff.

2. Saying ‘it has a blue cover and was on that Richard and Judy program’ (or Oprah) will not ensure a bookseller will find the literary work you so earnestly desire. It might, however, ensure you end up in hospital with a pen lodged in your eye socket. Standing at the counter, sighing loudly and saying ‘oh, you know. You must have read it,’ will also not help your longevity.

3. Don’t barter for books because you are paying in cash; we are not mechanics, we are booksellers. Whining about having to pay for the most expensive two books in a 3 for 2 offer makes you look equally cretinous and a terrible skinflint. Books are easily some of the most value for money media in existence. If the prospect of parting with £7.99 is too horrific for you, try going home and pirating the film version of the book from the internet (which will be worse but take up less of your time).

4. Whilst at the counter please refrain from checking text messages. If the staff member serving you did the same you’d complain to the manager. If you can’t resist checking your phone from the time it takes to insert your card to the time it takes to type your PIN then you most likely have Attention Deficit Disorder. As such you will never survive the three hundred and eighty four page book you’re buying. Try Dr. Seuss instead. If the text message you crave is that important the sender will phone you, assuming you can concentrate for the duration of the phone call.

5. Don’t queue jump. Ever. Even if you think your enquiry is ‘just a quick question’. Likewise interrupting a transaction won’t compel a bookseller to help you. It might compel them to drag you over to ‘T’ in general fiction and beat some patience in to you with War and Peace (Booksellers take note: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is also good for this).

6. Walking up to the counter and paying for your goods mid-phone call may well make you feel like some rock-star-super-important-literate-multitasker. Booksellers will have a slightly different opinion of you. One that involves petrol and matches.

7. Putting books back on the shelf where you found them is a very wonderful thing. Especially you, graphic novel readers. Yes, I’m talking to you. Booksellers understand that you are barely literate (hence all the pictures) but try and put Tim Pilcher’s Erotic Comics back on the shelf under ‘E’, instead of leaving it in ‘Children’s Hardback Classics’.

8. Coming in to the store and venting your spleen about how you ‘much prefer the other edition’ of a given text is completely fine. As long as you aren’t expecting anything other than a wall of total and complete indifference. The chances are the staff member you have cornered and are unfairly haranguing did not order that book. Far better to go online, invent a silly name, and cry about it on a forum that precisely seven people take the time to post on.

9. Don’t be afraid to respond if a bookseller greets you. Just a simple ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ confirms that you’re still a functioning member of the human race that is as comfortable with social interaction as you are with cultural artifacts. You never know, it might just lead to a conversation in which you find out about other great books.

Monday, 2 January 2012

The New Years Honours List

Twice a year the monarch of our fair isle announces honours for outstanding service, bravery, merit and achievement. Seeing as I rule this small corner of the Internet I decided it was time to get in on the action, and so I give you The Republic of Den New Year’s Honours List*.

Orders of Chivalry

My good friends Jon and David saw fit to bestow upon me a laptop when I was made redundant back in February.  With said laptop I was able to look for jobs (and not have to watch daytime television). Not only did I do that but I also wrote huge amounts on the lovely machine they gave me. These two chaps are on Twitter as @DavidBryher and @Morganised respectively.

They are awarded the The Distinguished Internet Service Provider Order (DISPO) for their help in a time of dire need.

Anne Perry (Or Anne C. Perry as she’s known these days) receives The Republic Service Order (RSO) for continued faithful service. Namely hammering my drafts into legible short stories over the course of the year. She’s also provided constant encouragement and challenged me to really take my game to the next level this year (that game being Munchkin now you ask). Anne is one quarter of the Kitschies Science Fiction Award panel and you can find her on Twitter as @thefingersofgod

Jared Shurin is man that makes things happen simply by being in the same post code. He’s a veritable nexus of drive and ideas. He’s also ridiculously good company and always buys me beer when I’m impoverished. Anne and Jared invited me to be part of their Pandemonium projects for Jurassic publishing; a huge compliment. Jared is also a quarter of the Kitschies Science Fiction Award panel. Find him on Twitter as @pornokitsch
Jared is awarded The Order of Den Patrick (ODP). 


James Long from Orbit Books has a been a consistently interesting conversationalist and fellow lover of all things genre. He also rocks the skinny tie look, which a is a mode of dress close to my heart. He is awarded the The Order of the Mass Market Paperback. You can find James on Twitter as @SpecHorizons

Tom Pollock (Yes, he of the three book deal with Quercus no less) has been great sounding board through out the year on all topics, but mainly those to do with writing. He’s generously provided encouragement, made suggestions and shared insights with me. He is awarded The Distinguished Gentleman Cross. Tom is on Twitter as @tomhpollock 

Sennheiser headphones are also worthy of mentioning due to their valuable contribution to beats, noise and distortion.

Recognition for contributions to the arts (namely on aforementioned headphones) go to Holy Other, Moderat and Nest.

In short, I just wanted to say ‘thanks’ to my friends for seeing me through a tough year. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ would be a fair summary. A year where I was kicked out of my comics job but found real solace in the thing I love – writing. However writing is a lonely business and you need to stock up on good people to go and hang out with. You also need feedback for manuscripts from folks you can trust, which I am blessed with an abundance of.

*The Republic of Den is currently a virtual state.