“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”
At the end of this month (Sunday May 30th), Simon Ings from the New Scientist magazine is hosting an afternoon of talks and short films on the subject of our ‘science fiction future’ and ‘why stories, games and falsehoods may be our best guide to tomorrow'. This event is part of the 'Sci-Fi-London' festival. The highly successful science fiction writer Alastair Reynolds will be giving the keynote talk and that’ll be followed by short films and panel discussions. The event is taking place on the South Bank in London at the British Film Institute.
The title and strap-line for the event has got me thinking; what is our science-fiction future? More broadly, since a lot of people think science-fiction is about the future, with special emphasis on techie stuff, the question really becomes: What is our future? (note: remember to talk about techie stuff).
This might a good moment to compare and contrast the new version with the old one. Here's my original version of the page, drawn in 2013:
I remember being very pleased with it. I felt I'd gone up a level. Now, eighteen months later, I'm trying to work why I honestly thought it was good. I seem to have drawn a child's toy tugboat and tried to pass it off as an ocean-going passenger liner. Also, the buildings on the right seem to be made out of Lego and half the passengers have clothing made from plasticene. The logo and the left-hand crate aren't bad, but that's about it. Ow!
There's definitely an embarrassing side to making progress as a writer or illustrator. In the early stages, you think you're doing great work and you can't understand why you're not being picked up for publication. 'What's wrong with those publishers, why aren't they interested!?' A year-or-so later, after several hundred more hours of practice, you look at the same work again and the reason is painfully clear. D'oh!
Greetings! It's cold here in Blighty but it's beautiful in the sunshine.
The beginning of February is only a week away. I was planning to bring out the second issue of 'Visiting Alien' magazine. Unfortunately, there haven't been enough downloads to justify putting out another issue at the moment; but that's okay, as putting the magazine together and working on its contents has already reaped creative dividends.
While assembling chapter 2 of 'Chloë solves the Universe', I delved a little deeper into the history of the Neumann-Wigner hypothesis. This is the idea, put forward by two brilliant scientists, that our minds must be outside of the physical system and influencing it, in order for ghostly quantum superpositions to turn into real objects like photons and electrons. I discovered that this viewpoint wasn't just the view of two mavericks. It was actually fully or partly supported by a host of famous quantum physicists, astrophysicists and mathematicians. Wolfgang Pauli, John Von Neumann, Max Planck, Arthur Eddington, Erwin Schrödinger, Eugene Wigner and Werner Heisenberg were all of the view that materialism was no longer valid. Quantum physics had effectively killed that belief. Instead, they concluded that reality had to be dependent on the mind, either being a creation of the mind or a separate construction to the mind that the mind actively influenced. They debated about this matter for decades. Like any long-running debate, the views of those involved shifted but for many of them, the mind-first idea became more valid over time, rather than less.
I think it's very surprising that this important debate has never been written about in a popular science book (as far as I know). That may be because popular science books are usually written by senior scientists who are still active in science. The problem with this approach is that it may lend weight to the scientist's views but nowadays, any scientist who espouses a view that isn't materialist is endangering his or her scientific career, whether or not the evidence supports such a view. In recent decades, many senior scientists, doctors, biochemists and neurologists have produced evidence strongly indicating that the materialist view is wrong but in most instances, they've been careful not to make any statements but simply present the evidence. This is a shame, and it's not scientific, but there you go. Eugene Wigner, who won a Nobel Prize in 1963, wrote of this problem in his article 'remarks on the mind-body question':
"In the words of Neils Bohr, 'the word consciousness, applied to ourselves as well as others, is indispensable when dealing with the human situation'. In view of all this, one may well wonder how materialism, the doctrine that 'life could only be explained by sophisticated combinations of physical and chemical laws' could so long be accepted by the majority of scientists. The reason is probably that it is an emotional necessity to exalt the problem to which one wants to devote a lifetime. If one admitted anything like the statement that the laws we study in physics and chemistry are limiting laws, similar to the laws of mechanics which exclude the consideration of electrical phenomena, or the laws of macroscopic physics which exclude the consideration of 'atoms', we could not devote ourselves to our study as wholeheartedly as we have in order to recognise any new regularity in nature. The regularity which we are trying to track down must appear the all-important regularity, if we are to pursue it with sufficient devotion to be successful."
That'll be my job for the next couple of months. Roll on Spring!
The first issue of the magazine is free, which is partly to get people interested, but also because some of its contents has already appeared on this website or in other publications. I couldn't really ask people to pay money for material they've already read! :-)
"In her article exploring whether dolphins live up to their reputation for intelligence, Caroline Williams tells of being forcefully rebuffed by a dolphin after attempting to connect with it (27th September, p46). In this era of climate change, the possibility that dolphins don't want to be friends with humans makes them seem more intelligent and emotionally developed than ever."
There would have been more but I only had my creaky old mobile phone with me and its battery life is geriatric. I was planning to carry an inflatable globe (see earlier post) and was on the point of buying one in the excellent map shop near Covent Garden on Long Acre when I noticed that it was made in China. Hmm. Buying a lump of plastic carted half-way around the world to use as a symbolic prop in a climate change demonstration didn't seem quite right, so it stayed on the shelf.
Best quote of the day comes from the actress Emma Thompson whose advice on the threat of climate change and the urgent need for serious action was both accurate, succinct and charmingly direct:
“Unless we’re carbon-free by 2030 the world is buggered.”
This Sunday (21st September), there will be a climate change march in London and other cities to promote and highlight this huge and incredibly important issue. A lot of different organisations are taking part, including Friends of the Earth, Population Matters and the Campaign against Climate Change. The march is along the Embankment from Temple Place, starting at 12:30pm and will end up in Parliament Square. The whole event should wind up around 3pm. For more detailed info, check out the websites of the various charities etc that are involved or click on the picture above. I've heard talk of all sorts of fun activities during the march, including a samba band, so it might even be fun!
I'll be taking part. I'm hoping (if I can find one) to carry an inflatable Earth with me. It'll make a good symbol and if I get bored, I can bounce it up and down like a beach ball. ;-)
It'd be great if lots and lots of people come along. Although it might not end climate change overnight, or even possibly make any significant change, it's still worth doing. You could even help to reduce the effects of climate change for entirely selfish reasons, as I chatted about in this earlier blog, but you could also do it because you want to be a person who stood up and made an effort. Later on, when things get tough and people start asking questions, you'll know that you tried. That could be a really good feeling to have.
Here's a great article from Jarvis Cocker in today's Guardian newspaper, putting forward his thoughts on Sunday's march.
Here's a more general report from the Guardian, including comments from a host of celebrities.
For those of you who might be motivated by watching a programme about the forthcoming worldwide climate change march on Sunday, here's the official documentary:
For everyone else, please come. It really, really, really, really is important!
The novel is about 210 pages long and is almost all drawn pages, apart from a small glossary in the middle. Once I've tidied up a few final bits and bobs, the next step in the process will be to find a publisher. Hopefully, I'll be able to report on that in the next few months.
My next major project will either be a novel or an animation, or possibly both in parallel.
I've also added a new article on the influence idea website. That one's about the strange correlation between the Influence Idea's description of the creation of the universe and an Ancient Egyptian book's description of the same event.
Next month's news should be exciting as I will hopefully, catastrophes aside, have finished 'Prof and the Golden Web'. Yay! \o/ :-)
It was fun to do. I really enjoyed the challenge of creating a visual, iconic version of a organisation or endeavour (in this case, a voice-over company). It was also enjoyable laying out different versions and seeing how small changes can affect the impact of the design.
Fortunately, Alison was very pleased with the result and it is now her official logo. If you need some voice-over work done, you can contact her through her Facebook page and on her website (which is currently under construction).
Although I really enjoyed this graphic design project, I'm not sure I'd want to do it as a profession. I can imagine that some fee-paying clients might get very demanding and I can get tetchy even when helping my friends. I remember talking to a former graphic designer years ago and he did admit there was one pernickety client he'd have happily throttled. Luckily, I don't have to. Hooray! :-)
'raise awareness of the cost to humanity and other species of unsustainable human numbers and promotes smaller families as part of a sustainable future'
It's looking good. I won't tell you why that Catholic congregation is staring blankly at the viewer; you'll have wait for the book to come out.
This month, I've also popped two more small articles on the influence idea website. The first one explains how the influence idea isn't syntropy. This was an odd article to write and a lot of readers won't be interested, but I've added it in for thoroughness's sake. I needed to write it because some Italian scientists contacted me, saying the Influence Idea was a form of syntropy and I had to explain to them that it wasn't. There's also a new article on the site in response to Matt Ridley's assertion that the quandary of life overcoming entropy is explained by the closed system argument - that organisms turn energy into order. I point out in my article that this theory is flawed as energy does not produce order, only more vigorous activity. Waves can pound more strongly on a beach, but that won't make it any more likely that sandcastles will appear.
To be honest, neither of the articles are particularly exciting, but if any readers are keen to study the Influence Idea and how it stands up against competing theories, those articles are for you.
That's all for March. Enjoy the Spring! :-)
That's all the news for now, apart from the fact that Spring is in the air in London and the daffodils are coming out. It's even stopped raining for a few days. Hooray! :-)
Part 1 of the book is complete, and Part 2 is planned out, ready for artwork. There’s a hundred pages of artwork to do, so it’ll be about six months before the whole story is finished.
I can’t think of anything else to mention. I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas and New Year!
Still no sign of Arc Magazine issue 2.1 containing my story. I’ll post a note when it appears on the digital (and possibly physical) news stands. They did pay me a very substantial prize for the short story and things are going on in the background, so I’m guessing it will appear soon!
I’ve added a new article to the Strange Anomalies section called The Tryptamine Key; something for those of you out there interested in the borders of reality, dreams and ayahuasca. I’ll also add an article about maize soon, along with info on near death experiences.
Schrodinger’s Shed, an illustrated story exploring the logical consequences of quantum physics is still progressing well.
That’s all I can think of for now. Enjoy the long days!
“Look out for Adrian Ellis’s competition-winning short story The Lost Emotion in the next issue of Arc, coming soon.”
Just a quick note to say The Golden Web: Part 1, my non-fiction investigation into ancient mysteries, is now available to buy. I could do another proof read but I don't think that's necessary. At the moment, the book is only available from FeedARead's website (they're handling the publishing) but it should soon be available from Amazon.co.uk and major booksellers. It is also available from Amazon.co.uk as a digital download but I need to test the quality of the file first (by getting a friend with a KIndle to buy a copy). Once all that's sorted and checked, I'll add a banner to my website and populate the Golden Web page with the appropriate information.
I'll also improve the content on the Golden Web page on this website so that it's more informative. To be honest, you really need to read the book but I'll do what I can.
Enjoy your Sunday!
Happy New Year everyone!
The updated manuscript for 'Faery Engines' is now complete and is wending its way to the literary agent. It's been fun to update it; I've learnt a few more things (I think!) about writing just from doing the update. This latest version of the fantasy comedy is now much more character driven than it was before. Previously, everything in the story was aimed at the fun ideas. Now, I've made the relationship between the main characters an important part of the book with the fun ideas as a backdrop to their interactions. Hopefully, these changes will improve readers' enjoyment of the story.
Now the fantasy comedy update has been completed, at least for now, my next tasks are getting 'The Golden Web' available for purchase and writing a new script for the television script agent. I'll post any important news regarding those projects as and when they occur.
Have a great 2012!
I've tried to keep the book light-hearted, even though it puts forward a radical new theory. As an example of this approach, here's the blurb I'll be putting in the description field:
Just a squidgen of news to tell you that after months of other things taking priority like submissions, television comedies and other bits and bobs, I've finally got started on a graphic novel. After doing the excellent Arvon foundation graphic novel course last Autumn, I've been all fired up to write and illustrate a graphic novel. (I've blogged about the Arvon course here) and I'm still keen. The plan is to spend March to September doing the novel. It's a long time but it's a big undertaking. There'll be about one hundred and sixty pages to draw.
At the moment, I have a first draft of the script and I'm producing sample pages exploring the various different ways I can illustrate the graphic novel. There are many possible approaches. For example, I could paint each page with gouache or watercolour. That is the approach taken (I think) by the excellent graphic novel Blacksad, talked about here. Alternatively, I could pencil draw a page, ink it manually, scan it in and colour it on the computer. That's the approach used by Kazuo Ishiguro for his Copper series, explained here. A third approach is to do the pencil sketch, scan it in, create a vector art black line version of the illustration and then colour that on the computer. Which one is best? I've no idea. I think it'll almost certainly be a trade-off between quality vs time. Beautiful fine art on every page would be good, but not if each page takes a week. That would stretch the time spent on the graphic novel to three years! I need to aim at a page a day.
I'll soon be posting sample work on this site. Feedback is most appreciated!
I've got some feedback from the Cornerhouse theatre in Surbiton about the play I sent them entitled 'Can't see, won't see'. You can read it here: Can't see, won't see. Unfortunately, they won't be putting it on. This isn't much of a surprise since I only spotted at the last minute before submission that they were after family friendly plays!Read More...