Mayor of London

One man I won’t be voting for, Lembit Opik. Quite how he thought this was a good idea..:

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Traffic

I can understand how I get a lot of my traffic. But this one strikes me as bizarre. Someone has googled “not having sex” and ended up on this blog. Other than google subtly trolling me I’ve no idea how that would even come up on any page (well.. not anymore). What page of results would you even have to be looking at to make it here? I didn’t even write about sex in my Brighton Rock review which at least covered the theme. I just don’t understand how some people use the internet :S.

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Kindle Rant

So Patrick Rothfuss’s second book in the kingkiller chronicles is out now. To all those who like to buy their books and read on a kindle though there’s a bit of a dilemma. On amazon.co.uk for instance the cost of the hardcover with free delivery is just £10. Whereas the kindle copy is £10.99. At this point you could have a bit of a rant explaining why it’s so obviously absurd for a electronic copy to cost more than a new original. I’ll resist that for now but if publishers want the download market to be a success they’re going to need to price accordingly. The thing about the download sector is that there is a choice and fierce competition with exactly the same product but a price tag of just £0. This doesn’t mean publishers have to give away electronic content but some pricing relative to the physical copy would be nice. £5-£7 for instance would strike me as a fair price for the kindle copy on release falling just shy of the eventual paperback price.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Casting a beady eye on other recent fantasy releases we have:
The Heroes £7.49 hardcover. £7.99 kindle.

And with kindle copies ever so slightly cheaper than a delivered hardcover:

The Crippled God £10.78 hardcover. £9.70 kindle.

The Way Of Kings £9.69 hardcover. £8.99 kindle.

So come on publishers. Pull your socks up and ensure that kindle copies are always cheaper than their physical companions at release. Whilst you’ll be uncompetitive at least you won’t be actively making me feel like you’re trying to rip me off.

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“Food handouts only serve to keep people on the streets longer”

I need to stop picking up the Evening Standard. Both so I can crack on with the siege of Leningrad (and then write about it!) and because I keep on reading rubbish that winds me up. Today’s highlight being this article. There’s so much wrong in this article it’s difficult to know where to begin. How about the desire to outlaw soup runs because they attract homeless? Maybe the solution is to have more soup runs if it’s creating such a huge distortion in the number of homeless people. Sounds like a pretty vital service if it’s attracting 150 people to the area each night. As the article also points out the soup run can also help prevent “anti-social behaviour” (Not sure what they mean by this.. is it just sleeping in the street?) since it will prevent some crime.

Secondly the idea that we should stop soup runs because Daniel Astaire, cabinet member for society, families and adult services thinks that “Soup runs have no place in the 21st century.” Well yeah, I’d agree. In a rich affluent society we’d have probably moved beyond people not even having a roof. Going to fund more schemes to help take the homeless off the street then? Definitely not.. but giving a kicking to charities which are trying to make a difference! Go right ahead: it’s all big society, isn’t it?

Speaking of good kickings perhaps Jeremy Swain would support the Clockwork Orange-style brutalisation of homeless people? It would probably encourage them to get off the street afterall unlike soup runs! I don’t want to get too angry at Jeremy Swain though since I’m both an arm chair pundit and he is apparently chief executive of Thames Reach which helps homeless “people to find decent homes, build supportive relationships and lead fulfilling lives” which is sterling work (and much more than I’ve ever done to help homeless people 😦 ). But honestly does a cup of warm soup served outside in the cold in March really do that much damage? Obviously we should focus on helping people help themselves but I don’t think the solution to this is banning soup runs. Instead a better solution might be to use soup runs as a vehicle to help reach people and offer services they might not otherwise seek. People working in a soup run also offer a chance for supportive relationships to be built up and one that can be used to offer more proactive help.

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Not surprising: newspapers fail on statistics

“Commuters using Bank station are the most likely to be overcharged on their Oyster card, figures reveal.” claims the Evening Standard. Unfortunately they then helpfully provide these figures in the same piece and reveal the rather gaping logic flaw in the report. The “most likely” stations to overcharge all seem to be the stations with the highest traffic. In fact it’s a list of the stations which have overcharged the most. Which is completely different from getting charged by chance. The fact that Bank, King’s Cross and Victoria underground stations have charged the most is probably more reflective on the huge volume of national, international and exchange traffic these stations have rather than a sinister conspiracy to install especially faulty oyster machines at the big traffic stations! They’re going to need to do something simple called an average if they’re going to start writing about likelihood!

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Best Tor.com short stories

Via Tor.com comes Locus‘s recommendations for their top stories of 2010. I really enjoy short stories although I generally find a much greater range of quality than in novels. This might be one of the reasons why they’re still not very popular which itself is surprising given the media would have us believe that we’re all gnats with the attention span of

Sorry I got distracted. Anyway here’s my recommendations of their recommendations!

What Doctor Gottlieb Saw” by Ian Tregillis

This was the first I read and my absolute favourite. It’s apparently a side story to his debut novel Bitter Seeds which has instantly shot up my must read list. Set in an alternate history where the Nazis didn’t lose WWII the events are set in a very special training camp. It succeeds in everything a short story needs to with a fascinating mystery and tension throughout as the titular character battles to save his life. All the threads combining together for the most perfect ending. A must read.

The Monster’s Million Faces” by Rachel Swirsky

In some ways this reminded me of the movie Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. Great concept and it felt very real and emotionally engaging.

The Fermi Paradox Is Our Business Model” by Charlie Jane Anders

Nice concept but felt the delivery was a little weak. Particularly some of the dialogue which was quite clunky, also the ending didn’t really feel like it worked. Think the original concept of the Fermi Paradox was fascinating. A nice excursion to wikipedia!

The Cage” by A.M. Dellamonica

Werewolf story.. so not my favourite fantasy subgenre. Feel like the vampire/werewolf thing has been done to undeath by now. Werewolves are not understood by some people in society where their existence becomes widespread, yawn. Well written and executed but just doesn’t strike me as very different.

The Courtship of the Queen” by Bruce McAllister

This was very unique. A beautiful story of young romance, growing up and trying to fit in with your peers. Didn’t have a clue where the story was going but I was hooked for 5 pages which is all you can ask for in a short story!

Clockwork Fairies” by Cat Rambo

Not read yet. Will report back.

Edit: Happy 100th post. I make that 0.86 posts a day since this blog resurfaced. A little below my self-set target but still pleased!

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Just A Minute

I’ve just remembered that we’re now three episodes into the latest series of Just A Minute and I haven’t blogged or recommended it once. Everyone in Britain absolutely must give it a listen. Fantastic light hearted entertainment and one of the longest running radio series so it has to be doing something right. Built around the deceivingly simply challenge of asking guests to speak for just one minute without hesitating (pausing or stumbling over words), repeating a word or deviation (discussing a subject which they’ve not been asked to speak on) it’s amazing how much amusement can be gained. Particularly enjoyed the third episode of this series: Tony Hawks and Paul Merton are both very good guests and Ross Noble’s humour actually words when he is constrained from deviating!

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