Inspiration: Thieves in the Night

One year ago, I published An Unquiet Calm, my first collection of short stories. To celebrate the anniversary, I will be posting this week about the inspiration behind the five stories. First up: ‘Thieves in the Night’. There may be spoilers ahead.

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Tribes by Carmen Webster Buxton

Tribes by Carmen Webster BuxtonCombining a world of both depth and breadth with a range of plausible characters, Webster Buxton delivers a novel with dilemmas and personalities every bit as complex as real life without limiting herself to the merely realistic.

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Criminalisation Is a Social Opiate

For me, drug policy is the clearest example of social protection at a remove: restricting a choice not because of the direct outcome being negative, but because the possible outcome of that outcome could be negative. As I believe the law should only intervene when necessary, I have always been uncertain about banning certain drugs for reasons other than the harm they cause. I was therefore interested in Ethan Nadelmann’s talk on why legalisation could prevent more harm than criminalisation:


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In Collaboration, The Nature of Art

Last week Simon Cantan posted an overview of the collaborative writing method we developed since starting Greenstar about a year ago. While we are still using the passing-back-and-forth method I mentioned in mentioned in my first post about our collaboration, as Simon’s post shows we have made it more efficient since we began. However, no amount of structure can produce the other necessary quality for an efficient collaboration: no one walking away. So here are some of my thoughts on keeping a collaboration going.

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Apocalypse Weird: Texocalypse Now by Michael Bunker and Nick Cole

Apocalypse Weird: Texocalypse Now by Michael Bunker and Nick ColeCombining a character-focused post-apocalyptic survival narrative with hints of a wider, potentially supernatural, story, Bunker and Cole have created a novel that works as both an individual work and an entry point to other story arcs set in the same world.

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More Happy Than Human?

As deep background for a possible story, I have been considering hypothetical histories of self-awareness in robots. There are many stories already which posit negative consequences to mistreating self-aware machines; but I wonder if the ethics of treating them well are equally problematic.

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Your Fish Has Got Away and other Unusual Translations

Dave Higgins:

There is something both pleasing and humbling about the varied metaphors.

As a suitable coincidence, the talented Neil Murton was inspired by the feast of St Cyril to write upon the same theme, albeit with a more metaphysical bent.

Originally posted on Nicholas C. Rossis:

The original, short version of this post was written for the Book Marketing Tools blog. This longer version was written as a guest post for Vanessa Finaughty’s blog.

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksOne of the best ideas of Douglas Adams had to be the Babelfish. Just stick it into your ear and presto – you can now understand all languages. One of the things that always made we wonder, though, was how Babelfish might translate terms. For example, if someone said their computer has crashed, would it conjure an image of a person flinging their PC out of a window?

Now, I may be Greek, but I can easily understand what someone means when they say that their computer has crashed or that they didn’t save their file. Our culture and education have taught us these things. What about the rest of humanity, though?

Enter a lovely Economist article, describing the pitfalls of translating cultural idioms. When Mozilla tried to…

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Fear Like a Habit by Mallory Smart

Fear Like a Habit by Mallory SmartWhile this collection is, as Smart indicates in her introduction, fuelled by a youthful journey in search of alternatives to modern life, the rejection of the capitalist model is filled more with melancholy than rage.

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Books. Cats. Life is Good.

Or maybe not….

Jasper standing on a book

Soft middle for sitting and corners for bunting. I approve.
©Dave Higgins – CC BY NC SA 4.0

I have yet to find a terrible piece of art by Edward Gorey. Unfortunately it seems his quotations don’t hold up to similar stress testing.

I tried to take more photographs of Jasper getting properly settled, but all the chuckling stopped me holding the camera steady.

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The Stories That We Tell Ourselves

Yesterday’s Guardian contained an article by Eva Wiseman exposing the difference between critics’ descriptions of male and female departures from the mainstream: what in a male artist might be termed insight or genius is often labelled quirkiness when displayed by a female artist. While I don’t agree with the gender binary, I definitely agree there is a bias here: between the worthy expression of suffering in the traditional voice of the literary white male and the unvalued expression of suffering in the many voices of the other, whether literary, white, male, or otherwise. A bias that not only supports privileges but also damages mental health.

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