Archive for April, 2013

Time Travel

Oddities in time travel have popped up in a series of locations since the last post here on Drozbot. First, 2004 Nobel Prize winner for physics, Frank Wilczek, has proposed some weird properties that may well be attributed to what he terms Time Crystals. These, still hypothetical, products of ‘asymmetric time’ could well allow the psudo-science holy grail of perpetual motion to become a reality. The notion has received a muted reception from the physics community, but it does highlight some ongoing, fundamental issues with time’s function in wider physical theories – something echoed in a recent New Scientist opinion piece here.

Closer to home, and on a more prosaic – albeit fictional – basis, there’s the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who to ponder. Unfortunately, the celebration of TV’s longest running science fiction series, has been marred on several fronts. The rekindling of William Hartnell’s xenophobic private life was first out of the TARDIS door as a result of Mark Gatiss penning the script for upcoming bio pic An Adventure in Space and Time. Worse press then followed bad with the sexual revelations of Richard Marson’s JN-T: The Life and Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner. Add in the general lacklustre of the current series and everything turns decidedly Sylvester McCoy as opposed to Russell T Davies’ recent tour de force. Perhaps it’s time to let The Doctor sit fallow once again.

Max Reinhardt, over on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction, recently brought shortwave number stations to my attention. Apparently, these encoded communications have their origin in World War II but still permeate contemporary airwaves. It’s great to think, in these days of data encryption, cyber terrorism and governmental control of the internet, that something so anachronistic can still be effective. The Conet Project has a plenty of bandwidth when it comes to information about these stations, but if they don’t satisfy your elicit audiophile needs, just check out the trailer for Swedish film LFO above. Meanwhile, at a more nuts and bolts level, Germany has finally out metalled its metal with the creation of a robotic four piece called Compressor Head. Personally, my future sounds are all about Dan Friel and his personal soundscape of recycled glitch punk.

Raw Spirit

I was late coming to Iain M Banks – waiting until my 21st year before devouring both The Wasp Factory and Consider Phlebas in quick succession, and then being delighted to find Feersum Endjin on my university reading list. From that point the majority of his works have repeatedly fed into elements of my life at each publication. Friendships were instantly forged by the complimentary mention of his name in passing. The idea of a messy, pluralistic utopia (The Culture) inspired a few of these friends to find ways to demand national/global change, whereas – on a more mundane level – each new book was still received with complicit excitement and fevered discussion.

So it was with an omnipresent sense of gloom that news of the author’s inoperable gall bladder cancer finally reached me. It’s a bleak statement, but one approached with typical Banksian fearlessness and humour. As fellow Sci Fi writer, Ken MacLeod, comments here, “The way Iain has reacted to his situation is not really with a sense of unfairness but more that it’s just the way the universe works, the way matter works, that there’s nobody out to get us, nobody to blame for it all.”

That said, insult to injury still comes with the demise of Margret Thatcher and the knowledge that Banks is having to witness the current pageant of, what my mother would term, “chinless wonders” as they mourn the passing of their queen.  Hopefully Iain will don his infamous FTT (Fuck the Tories) T-Shirt for the occasion of her ‘not exactly state funeral’? There’s no doubting he remains politically active regardless of the doctor’s prognosis, as this recent article in The Guardian attests.

Down, but definitely not out. Raw spirit, indeed.