Nanowrimo progress is slow this year. The plan was always to do a half-gas version, focussing on the completion of one of the many unfinished drafts in our word vault. We’ve been running closer to quarter-gas this week though, the slow pace not helped by the many events we booked over the last eighteen months which have all rescheduled to November. The Aussie Pink Floyd show at the start of the month (excellent, by the way—a big show impeccably performed). OMD this Wednesday. An honest-to-god Star Trek convention tomorrow! Plus our Reading Writers commitments. You’d better believe we’re including The Cut as part of our Nano-output.
So, let’s business this. Lunar elevators, the Gorbals vampire hunt and a very long read on the writer of the first science-fiction story.
Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
(Also, of course, so long, Dean. Go to sleep, everything is alright.)
Those of you warily watching out for the first signs of the robot apocalypse will have no doubt accelerated your plans to set up that bunker in the woods after reading this article. Those of you thinking the Facebook rebranding should have been as Skynet will be putting your best ‘told you so’ faces on. Short read for the cheap seats—robots killed people in a military theatre recently without human intervention. Death by algorithm.
Let’s take a more cheerful look at a science subject. We are happily hooked to Apple’s adaptation of one of the great SF texts, Foundation. The first season’s inciting incident is the destruction of an orbital platform tethered to the planet Trantor by a great space elevator. Why use expensive rockets to get into orbit when you can just take the lift? It seems we already have the technology and expertise in place to construct one, and it’s cheaper than you think. Get on this, Musk and Bezos!
This bit on video games and popular crime dramas converging via the medium of memes is fascinating to the recently created New Media desk here at The Cut. We’re seeing fan-created content which takes two existing properties and building something completely new out of them. The idea of readers becoming more than just consumers of stories fills us with joy. Fan fiction has long been a bubbling cauldron of creativity. We think it’s coming up to the boil.
We believe very strongly, as old age tiptoes up behind us with the big stick in gnarly hand, in embracing senior pleasures. The early night. The day-drinking. Most importantly, the early dinner, which has a properly decadent feel. Why book a 7:30 table like all the suckers having to compete for the attention of your server when you could cruise in at 5, have the place almost to yourself and just enjoy the mellow vibes. You’ll have time for cocktails afterwards and still be home in time for Strictly. Frankly, we feel this is a pro move. Let the youngs have the night. Late afternoon is our time.
We have yet to watch David Lowery’s psychedelic take on the legend of Gawain And The Green Knight. It has divided opinion, which all good art should do. Interesting that Cut Guru Robin Sloan, who live-casts a reading of the story every New Year’s Eve, did not like it at all. The story is very rich and very strange, in some ways alien to us now in terms of language and the behaviour of the hero in the face of his travails. This examination in The White Review may be more than you need, but it remaps Gawain’s journey to a path which many will see as entirely suited to today’s landscape.
A rumour can lead to extreme real world action. The madness of crowds is a real and disturbing phenomenon. Sometimes, people get together and do things they cannot properly explain. There is a school of thought that a mob is a form of temporary intelligence built from many individual elements all working, for one wild instant, in concert. When that moment ends the thought-being it brought to life vanishes too, leaving all involved no wiser as to what they’ve just done. For more, see below.
Every so often, comedians and writers will come up with the clever and original idea that perhaps instead of dressing in black leather and beating up street thugs, Bruce Wayne should simply give a ton of money to charity. This, as Steve Morris makes clear in an article for Shelfdust, is a very bad idea. The problem is Gotham…
This one is doing the rounds quite a bit this week, but we wanted to make sure you saw it, Readership. Steve Albini, producer and musician whose work was massively influential back in the nineties, has carefully examined his past behaviour and come to a conclusion—he was, for the most part, a confrontational prick. What happens next makes for a fascinating read. Albini is many things, but dumb is not one of them. If he chooses to address and make amends for his past actions, we’d be wise to pay attention. Perhaps this is a way back from cancel culture.
Right, this is your long read. Get a cuppa and some biscuits and settle in as Maria Popova relates the history of Johannes Kepler, thinker, scientist, writer and, for five long years, a son who fought to prevent his mother from being burnt at the stake as a witch. There is so much good stuff here. Please, if you have the time this weekend, give it a go.
And finally. A tip from our favourite Leading Man, X&HTeam-mate Clive Ashenden. This bit on the transformative power of cinema is striking both in the power and beauty of its writing but the relevance to the time. If you’re a film fan a tough part of the pandemic would have been the inability to go to the pictures. We’re gradually making it back to the back row. Drew Mcweeny gives us another reason to buy a ticket.
Our Exit Music popped up on the Cut’s Random Feed this week and was so on the nose we suspected a transmission from the newsletter gods. None more appropriate. Also, a fine tune from a seriously under appreciated song-writing genius.
See you next Saturday, compadres.