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Emergence: The Yelping Of Wild Dogs At The End Of Winter

One morning at the end of last week I woke in full daylight to the mad yelping of wild dogs, a pack of them, out in the street . . . Wild dogs roaming the Placa Espanya, is it the Apocalypse already . . .? It was the seagulls, our seagulls of course. No concerns that the colony is failing this year; but the light was real, and definitely a new experience. Oh no, it's the end of winter again, and after such a grim-skied, dull and endless winter (I'm talking about Brighton weather nb), this comes as a bit of a shock. Anyway, clearly I have been in Barcelona. I even tried to speak Catalan once; with moderate success. I have learned that in Barcelona, the inevitable signs of ruin and burning in the interior of ancient churches are not due to The Nazis, or to Cromwell or to Henry VIII. No, it was the local populace. This fine, rambunctious ancient workers' town seems still pretty Catholic to me, but that's what you get for insisting on being the supreme authority for everything. You get rightly beaten up, every so often; and fair enough . . . I have also learned, I mean I actually saw this, that there are little bats (bats!) that flitter around the bright lights of the Nou Camp, of a Spring evening. Fantastic. You don't see that at . . . oops, nearly gave my own allegiance away. Which I never will do. A bat is called a rat-penat. And I have learnt that the invasive green parrots that haunt the palms of Barcelona are called Monk Parrots, totally different from our Ringnecked Parakeets. Not least in that our sneaky parakeets now have right to remain status in the UK, purely on the grounds that eradicating them would be too much trouble. Whereas the poor little Monks (true parrots by the way, from South America) still have invasive species stamped on their papers, and you know what that means.

I also heard in the Maritime Museum (which was my favourite, especially the yellow wooden submarine) that 80% or 90% (ie, nearly all, as we scientists might put it) of the world's products travel around the globe by marine container freight. Obvious, really, but that's a crude pop statistic to give you pause, when you think about divesting from fossil fuels. Isn't it?

Department of Signs and Wonders

(the photo of the Light Pillars is by Alan Trow of Dark Skies Wales)

What happens when Climate Change drastically affects the polar shift? Nothing at all, really. Move along, nothing happening here. Well, okay, I believe you, since "drastically" isn't by a lot, and this news item is not news; or much more than a reminder of how little there is that's actually constant, in this ever-changing system we inhabit the way you wear an old sock . . . Still, you know. The sudden onset of the ice age "we" have been delaying with our global outbreak of satanic mills? That's a fine cinematic image. The helpful seasons we enjoy, in the temperate regions? That's pretty basic. And why did this item disappear from the BBC so swiftly?

Just kidding.

My Fracking Round Up

(short form, rant coming later) The soi-disant "Environment Agency" has granted permission for Third Energy to get fracking 200metres from nearest residents at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. "Planning Consultation" to follow. At Horse Hill in Surrey, near Horley (Gatwick) the nasty kind of energy extraction techniques seem to be under way, despite earlier reports of glorious conventionally-accessible oil find, and earnest protests against the fracking word from UKOG. Check out the Horse Hill Protection page on Facebook; note the ingenuous UKOG financial revelations. And the "Infrastructure Bill" has come into force, but the position on surface fracking in National Parks remains "equivocal". All quote marks in this para are sarcastic. Details of these developments (and others, not all of them bad) can be found on Ruth Hayhurst's Drill Or Drop


I'm very pleased that my story "Emergence", published in Jonathan Strahan's fourth Infinity venture (Meeting Infinity) last year, has been chosen as a finalist by the Theodore Sturgeon Award judges. I can't post "Emergence" online, for copyright reasons, so instead I've posted "Bricks, Sticks, Straw", from volume 2. Which happens, coincidentally, to serve as an origin-story for the bods and bots strand in Emergence. Ironic, huh? All those silly "humanlike" robots, they're coming, we're making them, we can't help it. R2d2, pleased to meet you.
You can read it here if you like:

& here's sfsignal's links to the other finalists

Bold As Love In The Cloud Chamber

Further to my previous round-up of Bold As Love half life traces, how could I have omitted a link to Tanya Brown's excellent Arthur C Clarke Award Anthology essay? (I don't agree with all of it, but amazingly I do agree with most of it: and the book belongs to the reader)

Here it is: The New Dark Ages

(there are later reprises, nb: here's the most recent:

Hannah Kate and the Library At The End Of Days

And finally, I'm going to be in Manchester on Saturday 16th & if you tune into North Manchester FM (106.6fm) in the afternoon, you could hear me talking about books. Also, hopefully, making my virtual contribution to the library at the end of days. Which books will I choose? I'm still thinking about it.

Here's a podcast sample of the show, from 9th April with horror/gothic genre writer & expert witness Xavier Aldana Reyes