Creature Report

Updates, newsletters and a few reviews

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Prime Meridian was the most recent book in my agency’s SF/F book club. It is the type of science fiction that explores what the future means for everyone, and not the chosen few. It reminds me a bit of E.J. Swift’s “Saga’s Children” in how it holds a conversation between those playing out the heroic, classic tropes of science fiction and those who, well, aren’t. Prime Meridian is unheroic but, ultimately, rather hopeful, which I appreciated. (Hot tip: the novella itself is hard to find as a standalone, but it is included in The Best of World SF.)

Gabriella Pierce’s 666 Park Avenue is almost everything I want in a vacation read. It is a shameless Mary Sue about a hot, brand-obsessed American-in-Paris who also turns out to be the heir to a vast magical legacy. Also her hot billionaire fiancé is from a family of witches and her MIL is ruining her wedding and/or plotting to kill her. (r/justnoMIL would have a field day.) I enjoyed the bits that were an occult Gossip Girl: hot people, shopping, sexytimes, however the actual plot wasn’t very interesting. Sadly, books two and three kept pushing in the ‘This is a Significant Epic’ direction. But yes, I definitely read all three. Sometimes the trimmings are better than the turkey.

I dropped by the marvellous Stanchion shop in Brick Lane and left with a small pile of reading, including Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs. It is a deep dive into hooligans, drawing connections with the petty criminality, fascism, and (occasionally) football itself. Buford’s conclusion draws heavily on crowd psychology, supported (anecdotally) by his experience being subsumed by the ‘mob’. It is a surprisingly touching book, that finds a type of community amidst the ugliness, and does its best to look beyond the tabloid drama and reason out the ‘why?’.

I’ve been weaning myself off Twitter for some time now.

About five years ago I added an auto-delete function, which was - for all practical purposes - an admission that nothing I was saying on there was worth saving. Two years ago I effectively stopped following new people and started adding them to lists instead; a curation process that meant I was using the platform as a news (and gossip) reader, rather than a ‘social ‘ media. I’ve been using Twitter as a version of Google Reader (RIP) that comes with an occasional shit-talk function.

I’ll let @straycarnivore hang around as a way of keeping an eye on the platform for work reasons and a nice way to follow sports while the games are live. I’ve closed all my ancillary accounts (bye, @pornokitsch) and I’m removing the app from both my phone and my daily routine.

I have given a lot of thought (too much) to a replacement. Given Twitter is falling into the void due to an egomaniacal founder with a passion for malicious disinformation, it’d be a little hypocritical for me to rejoin Facebook or Instagram. Mastodon (et al) doesn’t have better oversight, and, frankly, I don’t have the energy to learn it.

My aim, such as it is, is pretty much threefold:

  • Using inoreader for my news and sports fix, as well as a way of following newsletters without crushing my inbox

  • More lounging about on Discord (I’m pornokitsch#1658)

  • Repurpose all the time I was on Twitter for email instead

None of those are particularly difficult, but … we’ll see. You’ll note that ‘more newslettering’ is not on the list. I’m pretty happy with the infrequency.

I’m a 13-year veteran of Twitter, and I can’t help feel a little mournful. There was never a Golden Age. Social media has always exacerbated the worst in society (and individuals), but, at times, it was a lot of fun.

The dual decline of Twitter and Meta really symbolises the end of an era - not only the limits of social media expansion, but of ‘public square- style online communities. It is easy to see how that mirrors the broader cultural and political trends of insularity and withdrawal. I actually don’t think this is necessarily defeatist or little-c-conservative; more evidence of a general desire for meaningful communication, personal connection, and, dare I say it: quiet.

Social media was built by abusing behavioural principles, fueling anxiety and feeding our desire for recognition. It’d be nice if the implosion of Twitter and the erosion of Facebook prompted a larger rethink about how we use the internet to interact with one another. (I suspect, however, it won’t.)

The Big Book of Cyberpunk has been delivered to my (much-beloved) editor.

I am extremely excited to write that sentence.

The Big Book is a very big book - over six times the size of a normal anthology. (For example, The Djinn Falls in Love, which, coincidentally, is back in print with a snazzy new cover.)

Many thank yous to come, but the incredible team at Vintage now have the unenviable task of turning a 2,000+ page Word file into an actual book. Good luck.

My trusty d20 and I interviewed the great Stark Holborn at BristolCon. (One of Stark Holborn’s many projects: a procedurally-generated open-world detective game.)

I reviewed Jennifer Thorn’s Lute over at the Fantasy Inn (and also contributed to a few of the ever-spicy SPFBO reviews).

Anne and I wrote about judging for our column in the latest issue of ParSec.

I also had the honour of lecturing at (to?) MA Design students at London Met, which was extremely cool. (As someone with the raw artistic ability of a crumpet, I love going into classrooms where it is clear that people can Make Stuff.)

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