Cheeseburger Gothic

Pepsi Mega Challenge.

Posted August 13, 2010 by John Birmingham
I've decided to wait until the book's been out in the US for a week or so before cracking open the barrel o' spoilers, but I've found reading the thread below (that one turned into a Jackson Blackstone discussion) really useful. It's helped me tweak a couple of important points while I've been plotting out book 3 this week.

In that spirit, and to give you a taste of what I've been up to, I've decided to reboot After America this weekend. Pretend it hadn't been written.

So you're sitting at a blank screen needing to block out Book 2 in the series.

It's four years since the Wave arrived. Three since it lifted.

You can choose any four character's you want from Without Warning and follow their stories through this new, as yet unwritten novel, tentatively called After America.

Who you gonna pick, and what's gonna happen to them?

45 Responses to ‘Pepsi Mega Challenge.’

Brian puts forth...

Posted August 13, 2010
Ooh! Ooh! Sir! Sir! Can I share the Havock charracter around. Tag team him like with the rest of the Cognoscenti?

PS Wont be around for this. I expect to see great things when I get back.

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted August 13, 2010
Mr Lee & Miss Jules most excellant Pacific Adventure.

Old style freebootin' with raids on maritime traffic, vlunerable outposts and wenching. Lots 'n lots of wenching.

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Domestic Daze. swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 13, 2010
Havock did it. It was ALL HIS FCKN FAULT. The end.

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Monster Yuppy has opinions thus...

Posted August 13, 2010
Def the crew of the Aussie Rules "salvaging" military items from floating empty US warships and then selling on the Black market. IE a nuke...

Miss Jules and the Rhino taking on hostile forces/pirates and then using the treat of the nuke to land refugees from South AMerica in Hawaii...

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Orin ducks in to say...

Posted August 13, 2010
I probably would have zoomed out - used new characters entirely to tell the wider geopolitical story about what happens to the rest of the world when the US effectively ceases to exist. Somewhat like the fall of the Galactic Empire in Asimov's Foundation books. Maybe moved forward like Asimov did, rather than having concurrent narratives, do the 5 years later, 10 years later, 20 years later approach - a shortened Canticle for Leibowitz. What happens when the most powerful empire in history suddenly ceases to exist. What rises to replace it?

I might also have played with "what caused the Wave" as it didn't seem random. If Without Warning had started with an asteroid impact or supervolcano wiping out the continental USA there wouldn't be that dangling question about what actually caused the event in the first place.

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lostatlunch swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 13, 2010
The wider world is big place ? Mr. Chavez had question to answer. Isreal was going into a world of pain. An Australian POV or non ally vision would have been interesting. Instead we got rhino goes to NYC.

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jennicki has opinions thus...

Posted August 13, 2010
Hum....lessee...uhhhhhhhhhhhh...yes.

Caitlin, please!

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mckinneytexas reckons...

Posted August 13, 2010
What Orin said. Exactly.

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Murphy would have you know...

Posted August 14, 2010
I think if one wanted a book that focused on the rest of the planet then perhaps the best way to have achieved that would have been to kill off the remaining 15 million Americans. So I would have made tweaks back in Without Warning in order to get Orin's projected Book Two that didn't happen.

Here is what I would have done in a different Without Warning.

1. No Seattle, Alaska, Puerto Rico or Hawaii. I'd have expanded the Wave's effect to neutralize those regions.

2. I would have crafted a military catastrophe for the forces deployed overseas. That means U.S. forces do not effect a fighting extraction out of the Middle East. Even if they do extract themselves, it becomes a bigger question.

Just where do they go?

3. I'd narrow the American point of view to two characters. Caitlin would be one, I suppose Bret would be the other. That eliminates any geopolitical discussions among the surviving major combatant commanders.

4. I'd focus on what the British and Australian governments were doing, creating POV characters in line with the Lingle and Ritchie characters in the original version.

You see, if you want to make sure someone stays down, it is probably best to kill as many of them as you can. 15 million people can cause a fair amount of aggravation if they set their minds to it.

That said, given what the actual version of Without Warning left us with, I can't see how you could have a novel that didn't entail a trip back into the Wave effected zone UNLESS you left the Wave in place.

So long as the Wave is in place, the U.S. can't get at her assets.

My two cents.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Murphy mutters...

Posted August 14, 2010
I notice A Canticle for Lebowitz comes up a lot. I like unhappy endings myself per ala On the Beach.

That said, I found Canticle to be a pretty dull book. It portrays a very stereotypical view of the original Middle Ages as a time of misinterpretation and zero intellectual growth. It also features the old trope of "What happened before will happen again," so by the end of the novel they nuke themselves again.

If you want an unhappy ending, turn the Wave back on and blast some other part of the planet. Or have a number of small Waves which appear at random, frequently appearing and disappearing. That will create that futile sense that everything is pointless and the best thing to do is party up until the end hits (which was the message of On the Beach in my mind).

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 14, 2010
A bit of time at the pool gave me this idea for After America following the assigned challenge parameters.

Four characters:

1. Kipper-Same Place as actual novel.

2. Caitlin-Leave in England, follow actual novel plotline

3. Culver-Leave in Seattle with Kipper.

4. Miguel-Leave in Australia

The Post Wave United States is completely sterilized of all living things. There are no animals, no plants, no insects, not even a microbe. It is as close to total death as you can get.

1. One effect of the Wave is that it leeches all nutrients from the soil, making it impossible to grow anything.

2. Another effect of the Wave is that any piece of tech found in the region simply doesn't work. In fact, by time survey teams enter the region, most cities are crumbling to dust.

3. A final effect of the Wave is that most viable resources and raw materials are useless. Say you want to salvage copper? It falls apart in your hands. Want to draw oil up from the wells in Texas? You get nothing but sludge and mud.

Since moving back into the Wave affected Zone is pointless, Kipper has to find a way to secure the remaining viable territory and protect it from threats within and without. In Alaska he finds that he has to deal with Jackson Blackstone, running for State Governor. He also has to deal with angry, starving veterans who froze to death over the winter. Culver does his best to help manage things.

Miguel gets used to live in Australia where he finds that not all Australians are thrilled that he is there, especially with an increased influx of refugees trying to get into the country.

Caitlin still has to put paid to the Banana. She goes to Europe to see to it.

The Blackstone/Kipper confrontation eventually destroys the remaining population centers, leaving only those safely outside of US territory alive.

That'd be one way to go about doing it.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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mckinneytexas mutters...

Posted August 14, 2010
What I meant, and what I thought Orin meant, was a bit more higher level stuff, sort of like the AoT series where got the high/middle/low perspective from all major antagonists. Not saying I am not really enjoying AA at all, just that inferring the big picture from the passing comments of those affected by policy, except for Kipper, leaves me looking for more background.

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Orin is gonna tell you...

Posted August 14, 2010
Yup - I was talking more about the structure of Canticle or Foundation rather than the content.

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HAVOCK has opinions thus...

Posted August 14, 2010
yeah, interesting what Murph and Mckinneytexas mention, whilst I like 2 as it stands, I would use, seeing as the question has been asked, RED STORM RISING as the basis, simply put, thats AoT, into one big arse fkn book, looking at the global stage and how it all plays out.

Thats a really big question I suspect that's still on every bodies mind, just HOW well has Aus fared and the rest of the planet. Whilst this may well ne answered in the 3rd instalment, two could still be global and up to the 3rd versions point in time

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WarDog has opinions thus...

Posted August 14, 2010
Culver # as is, rebuilding, reclaiming America from a strategic view point, dealing with political expectations.

Miguel # as is, I thought his tale added some good colour and view of the Culver/Blackstone interaction.

## I would have excluded the minutae of the play in NewYork

## I would have excluded the Caitlin/Banna story

# I would have included some strategic play by other world powers looking to lay claim to segments of the US. And how Culver deals with that.

# I would have done a thread on the intense search that must be on for the obviously artifical cause of the Wave. Every security body in the world would be on that. It was either a failed experiment ala WoC or a directed attack at the US. In either case it is a highly effective area denial device / mass execution method, and it appears to leave non-life forms intact. Ironically exactly what Culver wanted to clear NY. Was the device destroyed in the Wave? Who were the designers/perpetrators? Why aren't they working for us?

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El Coqui swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 14, 2010
If you recall, in one of my fanfic posted to the miniburger I proposed an extraterrestrial source for the wave. A bit more SF that the readers may want. However, the idea that it was the equivalent of a drive by shooting had a dark appeal for me.

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damian has opinions thus...

Posted August 14, 2010
I haven't read Canticle... but came across it in another forum recently and made a note to. I guess it's straight to Amazon for me.

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joe has opinions thus...

Posted August 14, 2010
well, I'd like to hear a little more from Mr Lee the Gurkha, after the MV Aussie Rules gets confiscated. Should provide a personal perspective for what goes on in the Asia-Pacific arena.

Would like a POV of how Blackstone got to Governor, and what he knows about the real goings on in Texas.

the Banana has to get it somewhere, my choice would be a completely random and unexpected accident, possibly involving castor-bean tainted felafel or a stray round from a child-soldier-trainee-martyr in an African jihadi camp....

A short cameo of Saddam trying to take out a contract on Trey Parker and Matt Stone......

Hm. That's four already. damn.

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yankeedog has opinions thus...

Posted August 14, 2010
Well, I have THE definitive reboot right here. Took me fifteen minutes to write and I didn't need to pick four different characters.

Wanna read it? Here 'tis:

“Oh no you don’t.” President James Kipper jumped up from his desk. “I’m not going anywhere with anyone until you tell me exactly what’s happening, right now.”

“It’s the Wave, sir,” cried Ronnie. “It’s gone.”

-------

“However, Mr. President,” said Admiral Rockaway, “We have another issue. If you’ll follow us to the Comms Room…”

The Presidential party scurried down the hall into a room crammed with all manner of electronic gear, from scrounged satellite uplinks to an old citizens’ band radio.

“Sir, our satellites picked up a flash over the North Pacific approximately 450 miles south of the Aleutians and we’ve been receiving this for the last five minutes.” The admiral hit a button, filling the room with what sounded like a machine-generated voice.

“…inton. This is USS Hillary Clinton. Requesting assistance. Crew incapacitated. Automatic defensive protocol active. Repeat, this is USS Hillary Clinton…”

“Ahh, shit…” Kipper said. “We don’t need this now!”

“What is it, Mr. President?” asked Ronnie.

“Uptimers!” President Kipper said, with a grimace. He turned to the sergeant at the desk. “Patch me through to them.”

The sergeant hit a switch. “You’re on, sir.”

“USS Clinton! This is President James Kipper of the United States of America! Go back through your time hole or vortex or TARDIS or whatever is what got you here! We don’t need you here screwing up things with your fancy fusion-powered ships or funky moral ideas or, God forbid, flash fried tofu with jerk sauce! I’ve got enough problems here! And definitely no death rap metal music! Go find the dinosaur planet or something! Kipper out!”

The President rubbed his eyes as if that would wipe out the forming headache. “They won’t go away. There goes the neighborhood!”

THE END

There. 290 words. 15 minutes. AND it ties the two series of books together, enhancing sales of both. How cool is that?

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brian would have you know...

Posted August 14, 2010
Well re : The Wave.

ALways wondered if it was a micro wave weapon. Sota a flash cook thigie. This would take care of anything over a certin size while allowing vertrbrates like fish or seals to keep going.

Theory 2 : The Scientologists were right and the Thebans are back.

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted August 14, 2010
That is actually pretty cool, dawg. But how would Kipper know about the uptimers?

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Orin puts forth...

Posted August 14, 2010
Because he read AoT in the WW timeline. It got published because in that timeline, when you were researching Leviathan at the library you thought "fuck it, lets go with the book where shit gets blown the fuck up and do this thinky book about Sydney later". Kipper simply realized that it was cross dimensional travel.

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The Rhino would have you know...

Posted August 14, 2010
Sure, I have had 19 double sapphire and tonics in the last 6 hours but McKinney's idea is GENIUS!

Note to self: telling a 20 something hard body that one is a literary action hero doesn't go far. But leaving a $200 tip works.

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yankeedog reckons...

Posted August 14, 2010
(waves hands dismissively) Technicalities, JB, technicalities! I'm not worried about little things like plot points.

I'd go with Orin's theory, though it would require probably another thirty or forty words to the novel.

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Andrew McKinney ducks in to say...

Posted August 14, 2010
Rhino, or casually asking, "hey, got change for a thousand?"

Most of my ideas make more sense with a load on. I'm a freakin lawyer. Jesus.

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Andrew McKinney reckons...

Posted August 14, 2010
YD--that was pretty damn clever.

JB--Kip would know BECAUSE HE'S THE PRESIDENT. It just takes one willing suspension of belief to make that story work. Just one.

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mckinneytexas has opinions thus...

Posted August 14, 2010
Hey, I just realized that I posted under my day slave name. Sorry about that.

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Lobes ducks in to say...

Posted August 15, 2010
Firstly I would kill off Caitlin. She shits me to tears.

Maybe kill of Kipper too, like Caitlin he is merely the stereotype of a hero. The only difference is Kipper is Noble Good while Caitlin is Chaotic Good. Neither are particulary realistic characters making lifelike choices.

The four to Follow:

Al-Banna

Jed Culver

Mrs Kipper

Rhino, yes maybe but I feel he was a better character in the first book. In book 2 he has become too comic. He needs to be darker.

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Murphy mumbles...

Posted August 15, 2010
Structure of Canticle I can see. I also agree with the higher order stuff.

YD, that is first class stuff.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Orin mutters...

Posted August 15, 2010
Lobes is kinda Chaotic Neutral

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted August 15, 2010
"She shits me to tears"

Testify Bro Lobes.

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brian ducks in to say...

Posted August 15, 2010
@NWB

Yeah . . .about time for him to vent.Holds too much in.

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted August 15, 2010
Oh Lobes and NBob you are so much trouble when Jennicki reads that.

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savo ducks in to say...

Posted August 15, 2010
well first up I would have had more on Tusk Musso. What the hell happened to him? He was in a very hard place ... then nuthin'

Barney Tench has to be able to give much more of both the inside storey of the presidency as well as the re-builing

Mr Lee, he's not mentioned after Rhino's second encounter.

Did Cpt Lohberger make it out of Iraq?

if not him then why has Cesky's hatred lasted so FKN long and been allowed to grow so expensive?

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savo is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2010
Texas ... I remember: WASH THE OLIVES

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savo has opinions thus...

Posted August 15, 2010
Tusk went to Seattle initially. From there he retuned to Panama to conduct punitive attacks and destabilisation actions against the South Americans involved in the Gitmo incursion.

Once the Wave went down Barney was tasked with surveying the U. Aa modern day Lewis and Clark going backwards across the country, logging what is left using a good deal of technology as well as living off the land

Mr Lee arrives in Oz. The local authorities take a dim view of the whole farrago and during the 'Aussie Rules' crew's short internment Lee dies a poor sad and pointless death devastating the Ghurkhas Mexicans and Lady Julianne alike. Death directly attributed to Cesky.

Lohberger looses many more troops withdrawing. Survivors guilt eats at him, eventually he leaves the Army in Britain. He is snapped up by a false flag operationn set up by AlBana. Not realising he's been duped until well into his first operation into Europe he falls off the map for months before coming under the notice of Mr Dalby's group.

Cesky's expensive, convoluted and pointlessly complex 'Blofeld' style of vengeance didn't sit well with me. There has to be a very huge back story about Julianna & Rhino set up, one that made them so untouchable in Oz, Seattle or anywhere else one that their deaths could only implicate Cesky, so that the only place they can be hit is NY,NY.

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted August 16, 2010
Savo, you don't hold grudges, do you?

I'm an expert in holding grudges and I can easily see, if I had the resources at hand, doing what Cesky did. Besides, the purpose of the revenge wasn't just to kill them.

It was to make them suffer as much as he did.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted August 16, 2010
I ain't ascared of Jennicki, Birmo.

She's all butterflys and daisys smooshy with love @ the moment and besides she has her ah hands full with Enjoy Medway visiting.

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Sparty has opinions thus...

Posted August 17, 2010
If the wave didnt go down all the way I'd have some survivors emerge - maybe having been down for the whole year waitin the thing out a volunteer popping up and disapperaing every so often.

the whole Isreal nuke thing is just so damn big that it really needs a POV character in the mid east or what is left of it. I know off camera its in the mind of the beholder but dont waste an apocalypse!

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Brian mutters...

Posted August 17, 2010
@NWB

At least Medway has got her away from the TV.

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HAVOCK has opinions thus...

Posted August 18, 2010
Whilst I do not necessarily follow Lobes thought pattern in the “ he shits me to tears”, bit, lol. I Find her so fkn hot, spanky, jumpable and interesting its simply not fkn funny.

As much as this fkn kills me to say it, RHINO is not to shabby and here is where I tend to agree with Lobes..I think its wandered some way towards the comic, super hero, lets go Hollywood, the suggestion that the character be darker is a good call, but I would have KILLED THE FKR OFF!, maybe I am biased.....

Having said I suggest he be deader than dead, its a chance to bring in some of the aussie rules, although to be honest, I don’t think the AR being attacked would be the scene in which I would kill off the Rhino. A more befitting death, would take place with him trying to save a spanky wench during a mega gun fight, dying slowly and heroically from successive gun shot wounds an so forth. Either that or he accidently steps on an ANTI-TANK MINE an detonated its....Bits of RHINO all over the fkn place...YUM!.

Kipper..yeah, more would have been good, maybe we have Kipper start with the Military and the lead up to NY and whats taking place there, perhaps Air Force One style he gets attacked by other rogue elements, maybe thats where you get to kill off RHINO ......

Still need to think about this some more.

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted August 18, 2010
OH and whilst its just jumped into me head, what about this.

Spin off novels could be

Europe After America

Asia After America

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Nocturnalist has opinions thus...

Posted August 20, 2010
S'pose I'd better throw my two teef in before this falls completely off the front page.

Four years since the Wave descended, three since it lifted. Any four characters. Right.

THE BACKDROP

Generally, the world has become more chaotic, and more multipolar. There are still powerful nations and blocs, but no one nation has stepped up to explicitly appoint itself the new alpha-dog.

India and China have both become far more muscular in asserting their interests in their respective neighbourhoods (India is playing rough around its own borders but not too far afield, instead using and enlarging its diaspora to try and build up more soft power; China has expanded its hard power by offering "assistance" in stabilising the now very unstable south-east Asia/Pacific but is hampered by internal tensions, food shortages and the united wall of distrust from its neighbours).

Russian leaders have done a lot of chest-beating about this being the Russian Century now the US is gone, and have whipped up enough nationalism to alarm Western Europe and the anglophone powers, but so far have really only just been able to arrest the slow crumbling of their nation's economy and morale.

The EU is just a shell, replaced by smaller, more pragmatic mutual aid/defence blocs in Western Europe and Scandinavia. The French government set up in exile in Germany biefly, but a concerted multinational effort to repacify and restabilise France (which spent a couple of years being battered back and forth between intifada cells and a nationalist/fascist backlash) is paying off and the government has recently moved back to Paris. Fear of a renewed and aggressive Russia at the head of a slavic bloc has pushed the western countries into tighter co-operation, with Poland and Ukraine being viewed as bulwarks.

Southeast Asia has collapsed into Balkanisation, with many nations warring, splintering or both. Governments trying to clamp down on their populations simply find their borders and armies shrinking. Piracy, gangsters and warlords have sprung up and staked out enclaves throughout the region. Indonesia initially held itself together but has started to fragment after the government was weakened by an unsuccessful coup.

In the group of territories known (to the annoyance of the inhabitants) as the American Remnant, President Kipper has been trying to get his military home, redistribute his population among what land his nation still possesses and maintain his own government's authority. He was seen as the compromise candidate between two growing camps in the Remnant: a vehemently anti-centralist ideology that sees this new world as a return to frontier days and everyone for themselves, and the movement gathering around Blackstone who are calling for harsher central control and the explicit militarisation of government and the economy (this got a mention in the "actual" AA). Kipper didn't fire Blackstone but suspended him while an inquiry into his actions was put together, but a clique of supporters has been steadily applying retroactive spin to Blackstone's actions. By the time of the election that appointed Kipper, divisions over the issue had reached toxic proportions and the vote and inauguration were carried out under a cloud, with real doubts about whether the new President would actually be able to get the inquiry off and running.

A general note on politics and culture: one effect of the Wave on first-world societies has been ruinous, possibly fatal damage to the trust between government and governed. Speculation in the media has been feverish about the nature of the Wave, and the military barricades around the "teardrop tip" have been repeatedly tested by all manner of people from journalists to militia whackos to cult pilgrims and more - it's now widely held that that's where the Wave was projected from, and the idea that "They" knew the Wave was coming and how it was projected has sunk so deep into the discourse that people suggesting it was a natural phenomenon or an accident are considered the fringe weirdos. One reason that governments in even relatively untouched countries are having such a tough time is that their own legitimacy has been eroded. Vanishingly rare is the citizen who hasn't spent some time wondering if their leaders were really as surprised by the Wave as they're making out.

So. It's about now that the Wave lifts.

Despite most nations having contingency plans for this they're still caught flatfooted. For days, in a mirror image of the Wave's arrival, the world is glued to its screens watching as a drone flies over the old boundary, then a helicopter flown by Air Force volunteers. Then a couple of jeeps drive across the line and back. The photo of a young soldier shyly holding up a flower she's picked from land that was inside the Wave a day and a half ago becomes an instant icon of history.

Activating his own contingency plans, Kipper starts ordering the military out to strategic points around the barrier, and issues declarations about the settlement of the continent. It's the sort of thing that came out in AA: allowing new settlers in under certain conditions, exchanging recolonisation work for citizenship, organising the reclamation of the cities and the repopulation of...

Yeah, well, his declarations are drowned out in the rush. The post-Wave land race is ON, and Kipper might as well be trying to catch a tsunami in a coffee cup. There simply isn't enough military to control all the borders, and soon the army shifts its attentions to lunging inland to seize old industrial centres, military stockpiles and commanding positions in agricultural areas. There still aren't the numbers to establish decisive control and Kipper tries a relocation programme from Alaska and Hawaii, first with heavy incentives and then with talk of force.

Meanwhile Blackstone and his supporters have simply taken a large number of military vehicles and civilian trucks and set off from Seattle on a cross-country expedition to New York and Washington, declaring their intention to take the capital and refound the "legitimate" government there. They quickly attract a following of sympathisers, and the great drive, quickly named the Washington Convoy, grows larger and larger to the point where parts of it start peeling off or remaining behind, leaving a trail of "seed communities" loyal to Blackstone across the continent.

(The semi-official anthem of the Convoy is "Holy Grail" by Hunters and Collectors, to the intense chagrin of Mark Seymour.)

By now the Convoy and its little seed enclaves aren't the only ones there. The old US is turning into a crazy patchwork of new colonies and micro-states, founded by refugees surging in from Asia and Africa, long trains of settlers spilling over from the chaotic recolonisation of Mexico, and first-world settlers with motivations as diverse as their origins. Some co-operate with the Kipper government and follow its rules for settlement, some pay lip-service to it while they do as they please, many don't bother with the lip-service, and many more, mainly third-world refugees, probably aren't even aware that technically a United States government still exists. Some are just wandering bands of looters and bandits (I like "road agents", I'll keep that), others are moving briskly ahead with building communities and societies: the motley convoys of settlers who have combined to re-found Savanna as the Free City of New Prague, for example, have already made it the centre of a rapidly-growing little polity. Blackstone has christened these new settlements "mushrooms" and has publicly promised that every one of these trespassers who stays on American soil will have their corpse dumped into the sea. Kipper hasn't taken quite such a brutal line - he's been resisting calls for a "glass fence", ie securing the southern border with a blanket of nuclear detonations - but is privately trying to work out what the hell to do. Even if he still had control of all the assets that departed with Blackstone he knows he simply doesn't have the force available to sweep all these new people back out of America.

And at this point we begin...

AFTER AMERICA - A NOVEL

Caitlin's in Europe, participating in the above-mentioned repacification of France. She's just led a team of agents from all sorts of nations in cleaning out a noxious terrorist cell from which Al-Banna was running a large chunk of the jihadi side of the fascist/jihadi militia wars that have been ripping France up since the Wave. Opening in media res gives a nice actiony start and closes off the Al-Banna thread; on the other hand opening after the final raid and Al-Banna's death with Caitlin waking up in hospital gives a nice nod back to WW. I guess I'd write both openings and see which one worked better.

Caitlin is debriefed and told she's being taken out of the field for a while. Exhausted and without much purpose now Al-Banna's dead, she agrees: she wants to go home to the States. This is where the exposition of what's happened in those places starts getting layered in.

A large gang of road agents are descending on a military supply post somewhere in a still almost-empty part of southern America. (Their leader is a raspy-voiced bodybuilder in a hockey mask... no? Oh, okay.) They come down on the skeleton garrison like a wolf on the fold... and are massacred in a clinically murderous ambush. The ambushing force is part of Tusk Musso's command as he works to secure strategic assets in this part of the country. He's been gradually eliminating the worst elements from his area of operations, with the help of some allies he's rather ambivalent about: citizen militia units from the growing federation of colonies around New Prague. Tusk is deeply conflicted. These people have risked their lives alongside his own, and to engage them is outside his orders. He admires their bravery and frontier spirit. On the other hand, they've settled in his country and are making it their own, technically they're invaders, and he knows it may well come to the point where he'll have to kill them, or they him. These tensions are evident as he speaks with the militia leaders about their ongoing joint war on the road gangs. This thread is where we drip-feed the exposition about what's been going on with the new settlements.

President Kipper is arguing with his commanders about the Washington Convoy. The Convoy hasn't been moving with particular haste, but is now within striking distance of its destination. If Blackstone retakes the capital the symbolic and propaganda value will be immense - Culver upbraids Kipper for not getting around to making a big ceremonial reoccupation of Washington a priority, to let Americans know their nation is still going. This is where we start layering in the background about the Kipper/Blackstone schism.

(All the exposition suitably subtle, of course, and done by hints over many chapters. No long "As you know, Bob..." speeches.)

We close out with new intelligence that Blackstone is getting more active and aggressive in absorbing new colonists that the Convoy gets near. Contrary to Blackstone's own rhetoric he's shown willing to recruit "illegitimate" colonists if they share his broad agenda, and Culver now has reports that Blackstone's forces have attacked officially-sanctioned settlements. Scene ends with the question hanging in the air: will Blackstone's forces lift arms against Kipper's?

Jules has carved out a nice little niche for herself. The state of south-east Asia means there's good work for people with boats and guns and the skills to use them, and the Aussie Rules is now the flagship of a little flotilla with a good reputation in certain shady circles. Her opinion of the whole North American business is that she's well out of it: Rhino insisted on being taken home once the Wave lifted, but as far as she's concerned he's welcome to it. Give her a nice entrance chapter: from sipping chilled champagne at a nice soiree at a Thai local baron's fortified seafront manor to making a dashing escape the following morning after, I dunno, some sort of double-cross or something, heading up and around the Pacific Rim for a while until the local heat dies down.

Tusk gets approached by an old colleage who turns out to have thrown in with Blackstone. He wants to sound Tusk out about switching sides, having his unit up stakes and meet the Convoy up north. Tusk angrily knocks him back, saying he has his orders and will stay at his post. The envoy points out that Tusk is openly collaborating with illegal settlers: how does he square that with the uniform he wears? Scene finishes with the envoy leaving, promising reprisals when Blackstone is properly in charge.

The first tense standoff between actual military elements of the Kipper and Blackstone factions. Pilots from Kipper's forces make closer and closer flyovers of the Convoy, whose antiaircraft weapons are tracking them. Ratchet up the suspense: whichever side actually opens fire will devastate the other but being seen to have fired first could be a fatal disadvantage in an open war when everyone else is choosing sides. The encounter ends with no shots fired. Yet.

In Vladivostok Jules has been hired by a man with a blatantly false ID for an odd mission: ferry this American woman across to the West Coast, making a point of avoiding Hawaii. Going over it with her crew they conclude that this woman - Katie or Caitlin or someone - needs to arrive in the States by a route that's inconspicuous and deniable. Eh, what the hell, the money's good.

Their passenger, of course, is Caitlin, who's being inserted back into the US clandestinely: Blackstone is known to have former intelligence people in his camp who may know to be on the lookout for her. Her mission will be to pose as a disaffected special operative who's defected from her post in Europe and returned home to join the Convoy and work for Blackstone. Once in the Convoy she's to cripple its operations and if possible assassinate Blackstone and selected members of his command.

Okay, it's late, and that's about all I've got worked out. I think that'd be about the first third of the book accounted for. I'm thinking that the buildup would see Tusk drawn into the oncoming confrontation between the new colonists and pre-Wave Americans, Jules and Caitlin arriving on the California coast and meeting Rhino again, Caitlin travelling across the country to meet up with the convoy, encountering all the different flavours of the new colonists on the way. The climax of AA would be the fate of the Washington Convoy, Caitlin accomplishing her mission and Kipper back in control of the remnant. Then the denouement would have all these questions hanging open: the Kipper/Blackstone schism has left the American Remnant in even worse shape than before, while the colonies that Tusk has found himself in the middle of are thriving and new settlers are pouring in all the time. The end of AA would set up the third book to play that out.

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Murphy mutters...

Posted August 22, 2010
My only criticism is that Blackstone wouldn't bother going to either New York or Washington. I suspect Washington is swampland after the Wave lifts. While it is symbolic, I do not think it is strategic. It may have been the center of the country in 1800 but it most certainly isn't in a post Wave world.

I'd write it off.

Someone like Blackstone is not going to be comfortable in New York City either. Just read up on McChrystal and you can get a pretty good read on what Blackstone might be like. He is no Wesley Clark.

Blackstone is going to go somewhere familiar to him, probably somewhere that he was stationed or somewhere that was once his home. He is also going to want some depth to defend against any possible incursions. Finally, he is going to want to go somewhere that has easy resources that can be exploited.

When you look at the map of the United States, and I did as the research assistant, Texas kept coming up as the answer. Texas still has oil. Texas has lots of depth for defense, excellent road network, port facilities, defense infrastructure, and most important of all it is precisely the opposite of Seattle in terms of culture.

Granted, the original culture was wiped in Without Warning but that is beside the point. The memory of that culture will still exist in the Seattle population.

Additional points.

If you want to control the interior of North America, you are going to have to control the Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. They are key features that can not be ignored. Most probable resettlement sites are located on these rivers with connecting railway links (which is why Kansas City was selected, aside from the fact that Birmo spared it in Without Warning).

Going out to New York and Washington and ignoring "flyover country" is a poor choice. Even if Blackstone is trying to put as much distance between himself and Seattle he is not a complete idiot. If things went south he'd want a fallback position. Seattle, for better or worse, is it.

As for wildcat settlements, there will be some of that. I think so long as they remain harmless they will not be a problem.

The moment they become something other than that, I think they'll need to be dealt with. Either assimilated or destroyed.

If Kipper fails to do that then troops will probably rally to Blackstone. I know if a group of assholes from halfway across the planet invaded the country and our President didn't do anything about it I'd rally to someone who would.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted August 22, 2010
On a side note, Matthew, I finally got your 40K book. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Respond to 'Pepsi Mega Challenge.'

Electronic Felafels.

Posted August 4, 2010 by John Birmingham
Some of you may have seen my tweet the other night, where I fessed up that impulse bought the new Kindle. I went for the WiFi only graphite model, figuring that I didn't need to be downloading books on the go. Why did I go for the Kindle? Well, of course, there is the promise I made to myself that I would not invest in an iPad until my master Steve Jobs release the infinitely more powerful iPad 2 next year. And there was the little matter of my not being able to slake my gadget lust by laying hands on an iPhone 4 the other day. And I had had a few drinks.

But anyway, I've ordered one now and I'm going to make it work for me. Literally. I have huge volumes of reading I have to get through for work, particularly when researching books, and I am constantly hauling used books off to the secondhand bookstore to keep my shelves in order. So for those types of titles an e-reader would be useful. (And yes, Beeso, and iPad would be much more useful, but only for other things). So I'm cool with this impulse purchase.

However, I'm not that cool with the state of the e-book market. It's a fucking shambles. For instance Designated Targets and Final Impact are both available in Kindle versions, but not Weapons of Choice. W. T. F.

Apple's iBookstore is crippled for now by Cupertino's failure to secure comprehensive deals with all of the major publishing houses. There's just not much in there. But the much vaunted Amazon is not necessarily much better. Particularly if you do not have access to an American Amazon account. Because of the territorial rights issue, and because of the relative slowness of our local publishers in securing digital rights to their backlist, and of digitizing their back list when they do have the rights, the offerings available are pretty thin indeed. As an example, if you type in SM Stirling as a search term on the general Amazon home page, you'll get about 200 returns. On the Kindle page, you get just four.

Having begun to investigate electronic books seriously, I've had reason to think about my own backlist. Although Felafel has been a success everywhere it's been released, for instance, it has never been released in the US. An e-book version could do well there (although I would undoubtedly have to change the name of the first chapter). I started talking to my old publisher Michael Duffy about this the other day and he was very keen to look into the subject. As soon as we began to discuss it however, my thoughts turned to the aesthetics of e-book publishing.

Beeso will like this. The iPad seems a natural platform for a book like Felafel, or How To The A Man, both of which rely on rich dense layers of illustrations for some of their impact. Even when Felafel isn't deploying illustrations, it uses some quite unusual layout and design to achieve an effect. None of those tricks are available on the Kindle, or the Nook or pretty much any e-reader that uses an e-ink display. Anybody who's had a look at the Marvel comics app on the iPad will note just how lush and gorgeous and powerful those old full-color illustrations can be. That would still be the case even if they weren't displayed on an Apple tablet. But it would not be the case if they had to be displayed on a Kindle. You just wouldn't bother.

This makes me wonder whether or not e-books in future will become a differentiated medium, with some presenting as little more than gigantic slabs of text on cheap, almost disposable low end e-readers, while others work only as fully illustrated, aesthetically rich visual extravaganzas, requiring a much higher end display technology.

A final thought that occurred to me as I was pondering all this is that any such differentiation might be a way for publishers to maintain their hardcopy back lists. If you strip all of the graphical content out of something like Falafel, you could still publish a thick slab of very funny text on something like a Kindle, but you wouldn't necessarily cannibalize your hardcopy sales if people still felt the need to own a paperback to get access to the full experience of the book.

73 Responses to ‘Electronic Felafels.’

Surtac ducks in to say...

Posted August 4, 2010
Interesting thoughts, JB. I think you're on to something here.

I've been pondering the usefulness of an ebook reader myself, and have pretty much concluded that they're only useful for reading the text, and by association, probably only useful for fiction.

As you've noted with the Marvel example, anything graphics heavy or with much content in graphic form, is going to need something more like an iPad than a Kindle. School or uni textbooks, or the sort of material that Orin writes, that rely on graphical or pictorial delivery of information in significant amounts will never really work on a Kindle.

Having said that, I'm a book collector, so I'm still pretty much on the fence of the whole ebook thing.

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Tarl mutters...

Posted August 4, 2010
I've had a Kindle for over a year now, and enjoy it. Since upgrading to the DX (large screen), even more. But after several bad experiences with Amazon e-books, I now use it only for e-books I've purchased from Baen Books (www.webscriptions.net) directly.

There are two problems with the Amazon books - their scans are mass-produced and not quality checked. On several books that had diagrams, the diagrams were completely illegible - they'd made JPEGs out of text, and dialed up the compression so high the text rendered as nothing more than a smear.

The other problem is DRM; I understand the need for DRM, but I'm not willing to trust yet another DRM vendor. The first time I got hammered by DRM was in November 1976 (!), but a computer vendor putting a time-bomb in his operating system to guarantee payment. Which we'd made, but they fouled up - and the timebomb went off thanksgiving morning. No technical support available for four days and we had a payroll to get out on friday. Ever since, every time I've dealt with DRM, I've gotten screwed in one form or another.

My fear with Amazon is what happened with DIVX; when the vendor gets tired of the game, the customer who has purchased DRM-protected media loses it all. I'm afraid that if Amazon gives up on Kindle, any collection of books I'd accumulated would vanish in a puff of greasy black smoke.

Before I trust another DRM vendor, there has to be some kind of escrow scheme to release customer binaries if the vendor loses interest. But nobody wants to address end-of-life issues for their product, so this will never happen.

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Tarl ducks in to say...

Posted August 4, 2010
Oh, and by the way - I see *17* e-books with Stirling's name on them at Webscriptions. With no DRM.

Blood Feuds

Blood Vengeance

Conqueror

Drakas!

Go Tell the Spartans

Ice, Iron and Gold

More Than Honor

Prince of Sparta

The Chosen

The City and the Ship

The Houses of the Kzinti

The Independent Command

The Prince

The Privateer: The Flight Engineer, Volume II

The Reformer

The Rising

Warlord

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted August 4, 2010
I think IPad type tablets are the way to go. Especially with all the links and scrolling doo -dads.

I have a Palm reader . . .and quite frankly its far too small for my eyesight these days. As a portable library? Its excellent. You Bluetooth it to whatever you want and away you go.

The tablets are excellent for home or office work but I remain to be convinced of their usefulness out and about the rest of the world. I like to read in daylight . . .I seldom bother with any screen based device in that context.

All that said . . .there will be a demographic push by the more gadget hip generations.

I think hardcopy media will drop away . . .but it will resurge. It just wont have the same market penetration that it once did. Bookstores will stay with us. The pleasure in just browsing bookshelves is a quasi social experience. I still go to libraries . . .basically to be surprised by something that I wouldn't have picked up by going to Amazon. I guess tactile feel has something to do with it.

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Legless puts forth...

Posted August 4, 2010
I've had my Kindle for a few days now and love it. From now on, the majority of my book purchases will be e-book purchases. If I can't get it for the Kindle then I'll likely not bother buying it.

Tarl's comments on DRM are valid. DRM is the Devils Work but it's trivial to strip the DRM out of e-books - I've already done that with a couple of books just to see how easy it was so I'm comfortable with buying from Amazon.

My set-up now is a Kindle reader on one of my servers that holds my whole library and the books I want to read on my Kindle. As my Kindle fills up, it's easy to just delete them from the Kindle and I can always reload them later if I need to. The nice thing about this setup is anything I buy directly with my Kindle also gets pushed out to my server based copy.

Cheers

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Lobes mumbles...

Posted August 4, 2010
Paper books are going to go the way live theatre did with the advent of TV.

They will go from being a genuine mass entertainment product to a niche that caters to a specialist market of enthusiasts only.

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 4, 2010
I'll be a late adapter to e-books and wait until I get a later version of the i-Pad, like next year maybe. I could imagine reading text-only Felafels but they'd want to be cheap.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted August 4, 2010
My wife loves her kindle - possibly more than she loves me. I say that, not to engender sympathy, but to demonstrate just how much my wife loves her kindle.

I, on the other hand, fucking hate them. Everything was just fine until IT came into my home.

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Orin asserts...

Posted August 4, 2010
DRM isn't about stopping everyone, it is about stopping casual piracy. While it may be too early to tell what is going to happen to the fiction industry, casual piracy is starting to grind the textbook industry into the ground. A colleague found one book of his, which had sold less than 5,000 copies, had been downloaded over 130,000 times. Prior to wider ebook piracy and availability books in the same series (but on previous versions of the operating system) would often sell something close to the number that have been downloaded (100K being the natural audience size for previous editions of that type of book). Whereas people might pirate a book and then buy the ebook version if it is $15 - they won't do the same with a textbook that costs $50. If it were true, my colleague would have picked up more than the number of paid sales he got.

Unfortunately with the significantly greater amount of editorial support required for a textbook (not only do you need your editors, you need qualified testers and checkers) the economics don't work below a certain price point. You can't write a textbook for less than $X and people won't pay more than $X/5 for an electronic textbook.

Where the iPad (and Kindle) may end up saving publishing is by making casual piracy on the platform complicated enough that most people go the honest route instead (because they will be reluctant to jailbreak their iPad to read the pirated stuff).

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Brian reckons...

Posted August 4, 2010
@Lobes

'caters to a specialist market of enthusiasts only'

That already happens. Had a dinner chat with a book guy from England who specialised in limited runs of really old books. Quite interesting a limited 200 hard back run with quality paper and leather covers. I opined that it wouldn't be profitable. To the contrary . . .very profitable and far from a niche business.

In terms of longevity. The only other media that is more durable are clay tablets and stone carvings.

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Monster Yuppy asserts...

Posted August 4, 2010
I have iBooks on my iPad, and I have the Kindle app for iPad as well.

I use Kindle WAY more than iBooks. Cos they have got more books. And I have an American Amazon A/C.

I really prefer reading "real" books, but can't lug books with me on my travels.

I am happy to use eBooks for most of my reading.

Th price is right for eBooks, but the availability is still lacking.

How FKN hard can it be for a publisher to put a price on a range of books?

If it is too high, Joe Punter just won't buy them..too low and they will up the price once they see the volume...

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Lobes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 4, 2010
I'm sure its profitable. But not sure a 200 book run could be really considered mass market in the way paperbacks or TV shows are (or were).

Agree with you re durability though. For that reason publishing will always be around in some sort of form.

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Mark has opinions thus...

Posted August 4, 2010
The other problem is that the kindle uses a proprietary ebook format - not ePub, the open standard that is used by Nook and other eBook readers. It would be easy to get burn't not just by DRM, but by an inability to move your library to a better cheaper platform when it comes along.

There are many situations that a eInk reflective screen like the kindle is superior to iPad's transmissive LCD screen and vice versa.

The importance of ePub and other open formats is that it lets you read the same content on the most appropriate device for what you want to get done at the time.

Want to read something at the beach - grab your eInk based reader. Want to read something in the dark use your iPad.

If you read enough - the savings on digital purchases would actually equal the cost of both an iPad and an eBook reader.

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Nocturnalist would have you know...

Posted August 4, 2010
I found myself rather unexpectedly in possession of a Kobo, Borders' proprietary ereader, the other week. My father and I have both ahd a play with it, and we agree that it's a tremendously clever device with a lot of potential (he's thinking speed and ease of obtaining books, I'm thinking lots of travel reading without having to agonise over which paperbacks to cram into my luggage) but flaws as well.

He summed it up with "it makes every book look the same" - individual books have a certain character and feel to them that helps make them individual reading experiences, which are homogenised by a reader that imposes a universal layout, font and so on. That bears on your point.

As for textbooks, I'm not so sure that e-ink could never support good diagrams or even short animations, but one thing e-readers need to do is better, more intuitive flippability. I got to the afterword in my Kobo's "Aesop's Fables" and found references to a couple of the Fables that had been coined in specific response to certain political events. In a paper book I'd have left my thumb in the afterword and flipped back to find them to give them another scan in light of that knowledge, but here I thought about all the cycling through chapter menus to get forward and back and dropped the idea.

One prediction I rather liked about e-books generally was that e-editions would become the norm for someone who wanted to read a book once and wasn't bothered about keeping it or about a reading "experience", while paper books would evolve into a boutique market - short print runs, handsome and properly crafted binding, signatures and illustrations and so on. Sort of like the difference between the song you download and delete after a couple of listens and the album you buy on vinyl in the numbered limited-edition collectors' box. I can see myself in both of those markets. I don't mind zipping through an ebook or a cheap paperback, but I also very much like having my Absolute Sandman editions with the redone colour and leather binding and slipcase, or my Liber Chaotica special edition with the brushed-steel covers.

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beeso mutters...

Posted August 4, 2010
Having spent all morning with an iPad developement team making my throat roar, and all week thinking about how things work on such devices i'll throw this in. Both felafel and how to be a man could probably exist as an app, or even a birmo app for those two, with fan fic and the like. Create a visual look for the text to be presented at its best, with some cool little animations and the like, it would probably sell better than a straight ebook because of the style helping sell the product. But i'd still put it up on the kindle store too, cause there is nothing more irritating than looking for something in the most obvious place and it not being there. Case in point a kids author i like has a five part series, part 1, 2, 4, and 5 are on the kindle store, but not 3? WTF? Amazon should be employing someone to chase down and eliminate those little glitches.

I'm more and more convinced that the E market is going to outstrip the big companies. Case in point is that beautiful marvel app. What they need is a subscription plan for all comics published before, say, 1995. Take out the really big iconic issues if you want, but that would be silly. Then let me download 10 at a time, or hold ten at a time on my device. I can already get and read them all for free anyway, but this way i can give marvel some money for the privilege.

Think of it like a drug dealer. Let me sample a large amount of my older crappier product for next to nothing to get me hooked, then charge me a premium for the new super hydro hairy episodes.

Be very interesting to see if publishing houses can keep up.

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Nocturnalist mumbles...

Posted August 4, 2010
Eh, this is what happens when I wander off to lunch with my comment half-written - I get scooped by Lobes and Brian when I get back and finish it.

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Brian mumbles...

Posted August 4, 2010
I think the proper way to look at e-books is in terms of "a keeper' and 'ephemera'.

I have "keepers' . . .that I print off and use to highlight points, annotate explanations or to explode meaning by putting in diagrams. Orins turf really . . .but I enhance that printout by personalising it.

'Ephemera' most fiction novels and music fall into that category. My daughter has a small collection of 1,500 songs. It reminds me of a mate who a 10 foot long wall full of cassette tapes. Beyond a certain point . . .its just hoarding. I was scanning my e-book library a few weeks back . . .and I wondered "Do I really need all these?'

In some ways bigger and faster memories and harddrives is just an excuse to never have to clean out the garbage.

But . . .that's what e-readers are for . . .to collect ephemera.

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Gary Kemble swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 4, 2010
Hi Orin,

I don't know enough about the textbook market to comment but I'd say for fiction authors Tim O'Reilly was right when he said obscurity is more of a threat than piracy.

I think a lot of people will put off buying an ebook reader until the format wars are over. If I buy an ebook, I want it to be able to work on whatever device I happen to have, and I want to be able to lend it to friends (in the same way you can lend a paperback), or give it away/sell it when I'm done with it.

Gary

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WarDog is gonna tell you...

Posted August 4, 2010
I finally reached a decision point this week. After collecting books for the last 30 years I am finally happy to swap my entire collection for digital copies of them. As soon as I press the button on my eTablet of choice (sorry JB you know it'll be an Android for me) I'll start to cannibalize my collection.

The extra room, the removal of dust. The ability to search for text references, carry my entire library around in my back pocket, pick up animated copies or ones with refs to online content. The tech has finally become good enough for me.

The question for me is what size eTablet will I get best use out of.

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Steve P swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 4, 2010
I just downloaded Without Warning to my Kindle. I only buy for Kindle now (maybe IPad when/if I get one). Its terrific: convenient, cheaper, and a very large range with Amazon but also all other sources (just finished a brief civil war memoir from Project Gutenberg).

Not a lot of Aussie stuff available on Amazon, though. I often get the "This is not available for Australia" message, which is very annoying, and which I presume relates to some publishing issue with Australian/UK publishers. Also there are no Australian newspapers on Kindle, as far as I can tell, although some are on IPad I understand.

I also download quite a few textbooks to Kindle, even with diagrams. It is hard to read diagrams on Kindle, but I have Kindle reader on the PC as well, which is OK for that.

I really like beeso's birmo app idea.

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted August 4, 2010
My Master would like a quiet word with you, Mr Dog.

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John Birmingham mutters...

Posted August 4, 2010
Yeah I like Beeso's Birmo App idea too.

And I'm not surprised at the lack of newspapers on kindle. Internationally there's not many of them either. They're a good example of the importance of design and layout. In one sense, yes, they are just text, they dont need imagery. But the aesthetics of newspapers have advanced light years since the first days of solid slabs of text. Again, another type of 'print' media I'd be happy to read on a tablet but not an e-reader.

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Orin would have you know...

Posted August 4, 2010
In terms of textbooks, no one gives a rats generally who the authors. With fiction the author is usually the brand. If you've written a series of fiction books it makes sense to give some the firest away free (just like a drug dealer the first hit is free) as if people enjoy it they will pay for the rest of the series (this is BAEN's strategy). Doesn't work that way with textbooks as they don't have that natural "have to read the whole series after reading the first one" approach.

O'Reilly is indirectly my publisher these days (as MS Press publication and distribution is handled through O'Reilly and it is their name on the royalty cheques). They are philosophically committed to providing books without DRM. Given the file sharing stats - and the evidence I've seen of my own books being shared widely, I'm not convinced that this is a successful strategy long term.

Kindle may become the iTunes of eBooks. Buy it once, read it on any device with a Kindle client. Similar to Audible audiobooks (I have an audio book library going back 10 years on audible that has come across at least six different devices with me). The library auto-sync feature makes this a winner for me. The DRM simply doesn't cause me a problem because it is handled natively by the client.

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wheresmyepubjohn reckons...

Posted August 4, 2010
Hanging to get a copy of After America in ePub format. Not sure what all this hoopla is over other eBook formats. Beeso is wrong on the app idea. Only kids books and comics should even consider being an 'app'. Novel writer should be output pretty much only to ePub. apps should be only used from non-novels that need specialised interactivity. It's way too much work to do an app as a book.

See this

iBooks on iPad handles the annotation and booking mark they have elected to mark as 'red'. In fact most readers will implement how that is handled themselves in their reader software. It's like the bookmark in the old deadtree is not part of it but can be removed from it's pages.

The iBooks software is the nicest of all the readers i've looked at, hence my iPad purchase, despite not being able to get ebooks from Apple Australia store yet.

PDF will come a close second in book support and generally used as a reference book format, not for novels. I think Adobe are working on a modification to PDF to allow for rewrapping, but who wants to support something controlled by Adobe.

ePub overview

for hardcore geeks

Lots of tools to get easy output to epub are starting to arise.

So who do i have to kill to get After America in ePub?

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beeso puts forth...

Posted August 4, 2010
I think you've missed the point. Felafel and how to be a man have a degree of visual style as well as text, which is why you could add content to it and make it an app and sell to a different market. It wouldn't be aimed at people who just want the text.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted August 4, 2010
Hey JB, did this guy steal tomorrows blunty?

ww.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2973380.htm

Double A+ gold with an elephant stamp.

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nhamilton@iinet.net.au has opinions thus...

Posted August 4, 2010
I like the Idea of a Kindle, I have about 300 books stacked in my hall way and pick and choose to read them while waiting for new books to arrive. It would save me a lot of space. But when I buy books through Amazon and look to see if they are available on Kindle there is not much on offer. Being a book hoarder I would like to be able to access any of my books whan I want to, not sure if I can do this with a kindle, memory wise.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted August 4, 2010
Oh and On Topic.

There was an excellant discussion of Radio National a while back about Ebook haters. The consensus seemed to be, Ebooks for recreational reading are not as good as The Real Thing. But for professional reading they are Da Shiznit.

An example.

I have close to 2 meters of bookshelf devoted to legislation. About every 5 or 6 months TPTB (the powers that be) ammend, fiddle, prod, fold, spindle &/or mutilate the Acts, Regulations, Management Plans & Enforcement Directives.

Ammending these used to fill about one day a month. I'd print out the ammendment, note when the change was made and stick it over the old stuff, hinged on a piece of sticky tape so the old stuff could still be referred to.

These days I just download the New & improved document. Takes about 3 minutes. The old version is still on the hard drive in case I need to refer to it. I just needed to develop excelant file naming hygene.

PDF word searching beats the living p!ss out of refering back & forth to a crap index.

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El Coqui reckons...

Posted August 4, 2010
Love me, Love my Kindle!

I had been using my kindle for over two years and I am sold on it. By this time, I calculated that by buying mostly e-books, I think that it have already paid for itself. Of course, there is the convenience. I am going to NASFIC 2010 this week and I don't have to decide which book to take with me, if I want something to read. I also discovered that the power cord to charge it can also charge my cell phone.

I downloaded into it web-subscriptions and my own stories (for those awkward times when someone ask me if I had ever written anything). So I am sold, I am told that it now supports PDF files.

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Monster Yuppy puts forth...

Posted August 4, 2010
There is a comic version of Felafel about.

It would look ASWM on an Ipad.

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Darth Greybeard swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 4, 2010
You'll all be sorry when we run out of those damned electrons. I saw them come and I'll see them go but my books are still readable after 500+ years. Had a request from someone the other day to recover documents from a 5.25" floppy disk. How I laughed. Probably written with Zardax on an Apple ][e. Of course your ePubs and PDFs will never be obsolete? Paper will outlive you all (swills cheap red wine around remaining teeth and laughs in the manner of Jabba the Hut).

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Bangar ducks in to say...

Posted August 4, 2010
Greybeard had a friend request file transfer from a 3.5 diskette, can do. Legacy FTW. PS may even do 5.25

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peterbowes ducks in to say...

Posted August 4, 2010
there is no way you can stuff a kindle in your back pocket and take a train to lismore to see a sunset in the bushfire season - so help me

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whereismyepubjohn would have you know...

Posted August 4, 2010
Greybeard, your 500+ year old books are a little 'legacy' compared to stone tablets. maybe you're just addicted to the old deadtrees more than you think. I'm just saying the market wants to move to a single open standard for novels and that format will be ePub in the near future.

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Harry the Dog asserts...

Posted August 4, 2010
Hi JB & all

A wise man once said 'all that glitters is not gold', I think this is worth bearing in mind before succumbing to the hypnotic draw of electronic gadgetry.

There is still a lot to be said for good o'l fashioned books.

- Vendor platform independent

- Highly portable

- No battery required

- No danger of disappearing if stood to close to magnetic sources

- Can also be read in the sunlight (in fact, they thrive on that!)

These are just a few reasons, straight off the cuff.

OK, OK I say this as a practicing Librarian and yes I might just have a vested interest, but I still have a reluctance to parting with £109 - £149 for a device (that may in some instances not display pictures) to allow me to read content that I still have to pay additional dosh for.

Call me a Luddite if you will, but I'm off back to my cave!!!

Cheers

Da Dog =;-)

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Tarl reckons...

Posted August 5, 2010
I should mention one of the features that I *love* with the Kindle (and other e-readers).

Adjustable Font Sizes.

As I've aged, my eyes are no longer happy reading 7-point minion typefaces. Being able to select larger fonts (12-point good, 16-point better) allows me to enjoy reading without having to whip out a magnifying glass.

There are undoubtedly people who prefer the tiny fonts found in some paperbacks so they can fit more words per page and more words per book. But as they get older, they'll learn to like larger fonts.

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Orin asserts...

Posted August 5, 2010
For the books that last forever crowd - it really depends on the book. Some hardbacks stay in good condition for a long time (I have several over 100 years old), but the majority of books most of us buy are probably paperback. Lifetime really depends on the quality of the paperback - I've noticed that a not insubstantial percentage of the stuff that I have that is over 25 years old and which has been read a large number of times isn't in the best of condition. I have a collection of older 50's and 60's Sci-Fi that I need to be extremely careful of reading as many paperbacks of that era tend to have their spines crack if they haven't been stored in perfect conditions.

Very few books last two centuries - you only have to go into the special reading rooms in Uni libraries to see the amount of care and attention that needs to be taken with them.

Unless you get special archive paper, your book has a limited lifespan.

Given how support for formats drops over time, it would be very surprising if the current ebook formats are present on readers 20 years from now.

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Murfomurf puts forth...

Posted August 5, 2010
Interesting, your forecast for different levels of eReaders- we've been trying various ones, plus the iPad. I've concluded that the Kindle is good for reading ordinary text-only books but is too big heavy to carry around eveywhere; the Kobo is very basic but excellent for carrying about and reading in bed due to its thinness and unobtrusive screen lighting and the iPad makes illustrations look magical but is too heavy to hold in one hand while typing with the other. Incidentally, if you want to peruse some classics in electronic format with beautiful illustrations from the original engravings etc, go to: http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/ and see the work of Uni of Adelaide Library Systems Manager, Steve Thomas.

If you haven't got much time, try this illustration from 'Paradise Lost': http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/milton/john/paradise/book1.html#plate04

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Brian mumbles...

Posted August 5, 2010
@Orin

'For the books that last forever . .' No such thing, the acid in the paper plus UV does for them. However if you then contrast longevity of paper as against film or tape media . . .paper wins. Plastic based media has an even shorter life span. Plastics out gas continuously . . .the 'new car' smell. Hmm . . .bakelite seems to last a lot longer as does melamine. Hint : electronics especially e-platforms suffer the same fate.

Very old books can be on vellum (animal skin), linen paper or papyrus. Modern paper isn't that good . .that's why it goes yellow . . .chemical reaction with air.

Continuum for media lifetime (roughly). Electronic : magnetic and film : paper : 78 records(made out of clay) : vellum : clay : rock. So . . .rock should beat paper every time.

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Lobes puts forth...

Posted August 5, 2010
heh, nice pun Brian.

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Darth Greybeard asserts...

Posted August 5, 2010
Read an interesting piece a while back on film preservation. You'd think (well I did) that digitising would be the way to go but apparently modern (vs celluloid) film stock is capable of lasting 600 years, given the right temperature and humidity. And in theory of course. Storing film AS film also gives more definition for your dollar than digitising. Some early films exist only as paper versions, ie contact prints on paper rolls. Apparently the copyright office in the teens and twenties demanded two copies of a "work" for reference and they had to be on paper. Great thing in hindsight.

Re the acid paper and poor quality glue, my old Astounding's ans Analog's are fragile inded. In the 70's, "New World" cheap paperbacks seemed to have a glue that had the book turn into a pile of separate sheets as you finished the first reading. Possibly an early attempt at DRM?

I have two copies of the Times which illustrate the acid problem beautifully. One from 1791 has King Louis' aunts trying to escape France in a fast carriage etc and is a flexible and quite readable cream colour, on a rag-based paper. The 1805 (first casualty reports from Trafalgar) is on cheaper acid-bleached paper. It has turned quite yellow and crumbles so badly that it can't safely be read unless in a frame. Folio books are made with excellent paper and beautifully stitched bindings. I'm sure they'll outlast me.

Of course I'm hanging out for the right e-book reader too. One of my regular, $9.95/copy mags, is $9.99 per year in ebook form. Ephemerals and texts - to the electrons where you belong.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted August 5, 2010
Greybeard.

I'm hanging out for an e-book cover in red calfskin. Monogrammed . . .of course.

There's a movement I follow called steampunk IIRC. It retrofits modern tech into old furniture and equipment. I greatly admire the workmanship that goes into it.

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Tarl puts forth...

Posted August 5, 2010
Brian:

www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001S057I6/ref=s9_al_bw_ir06?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-10&pf_rd_r=12RQCA2TBCXYNNDT56TY&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1271551062&pf_rd_i=1268192011

If that doesn't work, Amazon sells covers for their kindles in red leather.

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 5, 2010
"1805 (first casualty reports from Trafalgar..."

Kept for vanity / memento value? I assume you are listed among the glorious wounded.

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Darth Greybeard mumbles...

Posted August 5, 2010
No, sorry NBob. Very few of the French shots landed in Portsmouth taverns. And there's nothing about "kiss me Hardy" or "Kismet Hardy" either. 'Then turning to Captain HARDY he said, "I know that I am dying. I could have wished to breathe my last on British soil, but God's will be done?" In a few moments he expired.' That's if you can believe the Times.

Steampunk! I love it. Just looking for an old clock for some brass gears etc to make over a USB drive. Wood, leather, brass.

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Brian ducks in to say...

Posted August 5, 2010
@Greybeard

Re : Steampunk. Got an application. Some of these

Asian import stores have got replica old books. AS in looks like an old A4 size book circa 1920's . . .actually a box. Thinking you could put an IPad thingie in one of them. To people watching you reading 'Gordon in the Sudan' . .to you . .vetting all your p()wn sites. . . or writing poison pen letters to NWB . . . .

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Darth Greybeard mumbles...

Posted August 5, 2010
@brian - I like the cut of your jib, Sir!

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fonzic ducks in to say...

Posted August 5, 2010
Steampunk - for Goths that love the colour brown

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Derek Lee would have you know...

Posted August 5, 2010
Speaking of eBooks, when does the electronic version of "After America" come out? We can't even get the book here in the States until the 17th and I've heard that only the Australian version has the latest edits. I used a proxy server to trick Panmacmillan to think I was in Australia but all I could see was the Google preview which is missing most of the pages. A US IP address won't even show the Google preview.

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Nocturnalist has opinions thus...

Posted August 5, 2010
+++Steampunk - for Goths that love the colour brown+++

What's wrong with that?

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Abigail would have you know...

Posted August 5, 2010
Nbob, I have heard a few of those ABC RN and local ABC radio shows about e-books vs. real books and I have to say, even though I hate to get involved with them, everything points to e books being environmentally the better option. I query whether the plastic parts in an e book are not worse, myself. They say , no, e books = better.

Someone was saying they'll eventually release one which feels like a real book, with pages you can turn. Kind of creeps me out though.

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fknvirty mumbles...

Posted August 5, 2010
WTF ... not getting enuff sourdough are we? like not only do publishers and all those middle like persons want to sell us PUfC pure unadulterated fuckin' crap, they want to spawn the crap as well?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KMYx8lG59A

pz.v.

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palahuanca puts forth...

Posted August 5, 2010
QWC and I are channelling you...John you just did all the research I needed for e-books. Btw - you can release your own eBooks on the iPad independently much like independent musicians. Vanity publishing is now totally possible through Apple plus you have that great behemoth to help you out with exposure if you know how to work your social media cards... and you do John, you do...I would go for a graphic novel version of Felafel. There's a movie, a play and the great wonderful original collection of anecdotes, but if you're going for bells and whistles an animated/interactive graphic novel is the way to go. Nothing majorly fanciful, but link based and easy to navigate using the power of the iPad OS. I played with it at the Apple Store in Chermside and I say you should get it: on the STS tax system it's under $1000 so totally tax deductive and not subject to depreciation.

Now that's my brainstroming done for the day and I shall turn instead to a delicious gluten-free pizza with provolone, home made tomato salsa with basil, fresh tomato slices, fresh oregano ....

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Abigail mutters...

Posted August 5, 2010
A bit of a side thing here, but I was just thinking that Felaffel is kind of genius for a book idea simply because there will always be group houses --one might argue, moreso, with the cost of houses being totally ridiculous-- so it will always have another audience and another... who can identify with the situation; the characters are archtypes; it won't date.

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Brian puts forth...

Posted August 5, 2010
@MatthewF

Left out the black and brass bits . . . .and the heavy red felt.

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Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted August 5, 2010
iPad app could be totally multimedia like. Hear the sound of the dude pissing in the fridge, don't just read about it.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted August 5, 2010
On a tangent from the Steampunk thought.

A friend of mine has purchased a ubeaut commercial highres large format printer. To diversify his business he acquired the rights to print custom stickers so people can personalise laptops & Idoovers. I must remember to ask him if anyone has printed aligator hide or timber with big brass fittings ala steampunk.

I wonder if anyone out there has a Ipad grimoire?

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Brian asserts...

Posted August 5, 2010
@NWB

IPad Grimoire . . I like it :)) Necromicon?

Gotta have a big brass clasp on it. With a key.

Have the IPad make groaning noises from time to time . . the odd scream . . . couple it to a vibrator (damn I knew those adult sites would come in handy). Open the cover and a glow comes out . . .

'This book really speaks to me"

Memo to self : cut back on the coffee.

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Orin would have you know...

Posted August 6, 2010
The latest Laundry novel from Charles Stross has the NecronomiPod - an iPhone that hosts occult apps for fighting demons.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted August 6, 2010
@Orin

Is there an app for Zombie fighting? Could put a blade on one edge I guess.

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CraigWA mumbles...

Posted August 6, 2010
I bought an iPad to go travelling with. It meant I had a book to read on the train, Internet and a GPS for when I got to intersections on my bicycle and needed to figure out which way to go.

As an experiment I downloaded a book which had about 25 pages you could buy for free. That seemed to work so I bought the book and read it on my trip and on a few train rides into London since I got back from my trip. I will continue to buy (or acquire free) books for the iPad if only for travelling without the weight.

The things that annoy me about the e-books market. When you buy a book in dead tree form, it is outrageously expensive. I appreciate that some of this (although I believe it is a very small portion) goes to JB to maintain the Playboy mansion. Some goes to the other people who put the book together, some goes to advertising, the shops, transporting it around and lots of other tiny slices to various middlemen and taxes. Surely one of the attractions of the e-book is that because you can eliminate many of those people you can make a significant saving on the price. Or you could keep the price almost the same and pocket the difference.

Because of the extra onus on me to make sure I don't lose my e-book, can't lend it to other people and probably having to deal with DRM, I expect my e-books to be sold to me at a significant discount to the paper version.

The media empires (which I indirectly work for at the moment) really seem to be obsessed with taking your cash at every turn rather than looking for a positive model that encourages purchases of books rather than looking for the easiest way to shaft them and lend your expensive e-books to your mates through nefarious means.

If it was easier to spend a dollar and have a copy of the book than go through the drama of undoing DRM and transferring it to your friend's device, you'd probably just pay the dollar. The success of mobile phone ringtone downloads would appear to be proof of this theory.

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted August 6, 2010
I wonder when we will see our first EBook viral attacks?

If I was A: skilled & B: that way inclined I'd have to think deleting the last four pages would be a good place to start. Especially if you could code it to happen only after a sequential reading.

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Tarl puts forth...

Posted August 6, 2010
Viral EBook attacks are not likely in the basic formats; they don't contain executables. It's only the more exotic forms (like uSoft Word with macros) where viruses are even possible.

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Abigail swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 6, 2010
Nbob, hahaha.

Life is so complicated.

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Orin is gonna tell you...

Posted August 6, 2010
Craig - the printing and distribution costs are only a small percentage of the costs that are involved in going into the production of a book.

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Orin mutters...

Posted August 6, 2010
Tarl - given that you can jailbreak an iPhone or iPad by loading a special PDF - I'm not sure what you are saying is true.

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Tarl reckons...

Posted August 6, 2010
PDF is one of the exotics; it contains Postscript, which is a programming language long known for causing security holes.

The basic formats (e.g., RTF) don't have executables.

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Sweet Jane Says ducks in to say...

Posted August 6, 2010
Coffee table books

J.

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Nocturnalist ducks in to say...

Posted August 6, 2010
+++Is there an app for Zombie fighting? Could put a blade on one edge I guess.+++

Well, according to Lore Sjoberg the way to use Apple technology against zombies is to shout at them that you've heard there's a new colour of iPod being released, at which point they all frantically shamble off to sit refreshing Engadget over and over.

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Brian mumbles...

Posted August 6, 2010
@ Matthew F

Now that's magic. Getting them to switch from saying "Braaaains . . " to "Apppples . . .". Have to be rotten apples to the core.

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted August 8, 2010
Just read Charles Stross "The Fuller Memorandum".

I think I need to be exorcised. JesusPhones. Necromipod. SHit . . .hope I haven't been channelling Stross.

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SAS has opinions thus...

Posted August 9, 2010
John on Amazon UK site they have all 3 of your Axis of Time novels, around £4.50 each. When my Kindle arrives I will order them along with the new series (I still want more AOT) - though £15 for After America seems high I might wait (sorry) until it drops to a more resonable £4-£5 for an ebook.

I get a high price for a paper book, it costs extra to print and bind and ship but ebooks shouldn't in my opinion cost more than £4-5.

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted August 9, 2010
SAS, it's fascinating the price diff between them. Amazon sets its prices independently in the UK, which is why the ebooks of AoT are so cheap, comparatively. If you wait a few days you might find the Oz ebook available to UK buyers via the US store (yes, I know, complicated world we live in). It should be a bit cheaper.

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Respond to 'Electronic Felafels.'

Outlining. Writing the story before you write it.

Posted July 29, 2010 by John Birmingham
I usually do some sort of outline before kicking off in earnest on my books. But for the final in the Wave series I thought I might go back to the method I used with Designated Targets and storyboard it completely, scene by scene. It's a time consuming business, and incredibly frustrating to begin with, because you're groping about in the narrative dark, vaguely aware of of where you need to finish up, but with no real sense of the path that leads there.

For me, it is just about the most frustrating thing you can do as a novelist. And yet, it's totally worth a couple of days pain because at the end you have a blue print that means you can sit down every day and know exactly what you have to write.

It does, of course, also mean there's less room for spontaneity, but that's less problematic than you'd imagine. If it happens that a character decides to take you off the beaten beaten story track, like say Julia and Dan did in AoT, that simply entails returning to the outline, feeding in the new deets, and seeing what happens. I'm hoping to have this last book completely laid out by next Tuesday when I'll be talking to Murph about it on Skype, setting out some research tasks for him.

One thing I can confirm from today's efforts, Tusk Musso is back! And he's baaaad.

44 Responses to ‘Outlining. Writing the story before you write it.’

Therbs asserts...

Posted July 29, 2010
Musso's back? Snap! The other day on Murph's blog I posed the whatever-happened-to question, suggesting he may have gone to the Dark Side. Murph did say there were plans for him.

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sparty has opinions thus...

Posted July 29, 2010
for my uneducated two cents- i thought Designated Targets your Empire..not just because it was middle trilogy etc It was very tightly plotted and really pulled the trigger on the different promising story lines set up in the first (skorzeny etc) and gave us answers to what ifs etc (ie what exactly would a balls out battle between the best ship in our Navy and the best in the German fleet would be like). I suspect that type of story boarding provides great balence and pacing.

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Orin puts forth...

Posted July 29, 2010
Mindmaps on an iPad - made for doing outlines of books and chapters. iThoughts HD - very good.

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted July 29, 2010
Sparty, I've often thought DT was the strongest of the AoT series in terms of plot and I can only put it down to the storyboarding I did. It's partly why I'm revisiting the technique now.

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Brian asserts...

Posted July 29, 2010
Mind mapping is often used. One of the early programs called Idea Tree(?) was also very useful. It was basically a set of questions designed to focus your efforts and to brainstorm . . . .political speech writers loved it.

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NataliatheRussianSpy reckons...

Posted July 29, 2010
Tusk can park his shoes under my bed any day. WOOT!

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Blindwilly is gonna tell you...

Posted July 29, 2010
I was a journo for about 10 years and found outlining to be the most useful step in (pre)writing. Unless you are a complete freaking genius its hard to keep it all in your head and then get it on paper coherently and in the order required. I used it for articles, features, even news stories. I am now back at uni in my late 30's and everthing gets the outline treatment from class notes to essays to exams. Combined with the Pomodoro technique JB mentioned yesterday and if provides a framework for laying down some serious words - provided off course you have done the research. Any tips there JB as to making that process less painful?

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Matthew K reckons...

Posted July 29, 2010
I'm at this sort of stage on a short story I'm working on right now and it is showing up my plotholes in pitiless detail. Dunno if it'll get finished as long hours of work beckon, starting next week.

However the money should be more tangible than anything I'm likely to see from my writing, lets face it there's lots of people who'd like to be paid well to write. JB is the exeption rather than the rule.

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Havock ducks in to say...

Posted July 29, 2010
Matt is that HE IS PAID WELL but CANNOT WRITE!

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Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted July 30, 2010
I can't see Tusk Musso going over to Blackstone but Tusk Musso was a frequently topic of conversation in the early days.

To cut Birmo a bit of slack here (since he won't cut it for himself) there WAS a storyboard of sorts for After America. In various notes and conversations, the basic framework of the novel was laid out ages ago. The main problem, as I recall, is that it became impossible to handle everything projected in one book. An additional problem, one that Birmo has already alluded to here and in YouTube vids, is that the Miguel storyline needed to be reworked. When Birmo ran what the editor said by me I remember smacking palm to forehead and thinking, "Yeah, they've got a point."

Per storyboarding on a whiteboard, that is the method Alastair Reynolds uses for his novels, usually in multicolored markers. He had a blog entry on that a few months back that is worth looking at.

BTW, before I forget, Trinity said to say, "Thanks," for tuckerizing her two sons. The Peckhams are currently in Afghanistan in this time frame and she appreciates it.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted July 30, 2010
correction: frequent topic of conversation.

Argh.

M

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jennicki swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 30, 2010
And we'll be expecting more Caitlin in book three...right?...RIIIIIIGHT?!

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Timmo asserts...

Posted July 30, 2010
"tuckerizing", Murph? What does that mean?

An Americanism? Or an "After America"nism that I'll get once I read WW and AA?

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Nocturnalist would have you know...

Posted July 30, 2010
+++Matt is that HE IS PAID WELL but CANNOT WRITE!+++

If I take OtherMatt's meaning, it's that most people who write don't get paid well (or at all); JB is one of the exceptions who gets to write and is paid well for it.

+++“tuckerizing”, Murph? What does that mean?+++

If Murph will pardon my gazumping him here, it's the practice of turning a real-world person into a character in one's fiction*. Quite a few commenters from here have shown up in JB's novels in one guise or another, sometimes as quite major characters. It's usually done as a shout-out to friends, but some authors will do things like selling a cameo spot in an upcoming book for charity auctions, and some use it on enemies as well. JB had a bit of fun turning some of his less-liked professional colleagues into characters in the Axis of Time books and bringing them to sticky ends.

*A character who is not themselves. So the appearance of real-world people like Roosevelt and Churchill in AoT wasn't Tuckerising, while the appearance and subsequent dispatching of troopers Bolt and Ackerman was.

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robbie smith ducks in to say...

Posted July 30, 2010
Blindwilly - when I'm teaching at Uni my students are required to submit a project outline within 48 hrs of an assignment being given. It gets them started and by exchanging comments with me early on they are making a contract with themselves and me for completion. Both quality and timeliness have increased. A lot of change might happen to the content, but my experience is that the contract for completion stays for the majority and fear (stress) is dramatically decreased. You are a cleverwilly in my book. Robbie

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted July 30, 2010
Feel free, Matthew. Pay day is coming up this weekend. Your book is on the purchase list. I'm looking forward to law enforcement 40K style.

Tuckerization for the purposes of getting even is frowned on here in the US. I got roundly damned by my fellow American Writers for getting even with a particularly shitty fourth grade teacher in my first short story sale. She might sue, they screeched.

Well, if she wants to file a lawsuit about how she used to deprive me of the right to go to the bathroom because she thought I was in there masturbating then she is certainly free to go right ahead. :)

Birmo, on the other hand, has no problem with that sort of thing.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Rhino is gonna tell you...

Posted July 30, 2010
Murph, what now? Birmo, doesn't have a problem with masturbating in the bathroom?

::snork::

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Brian puts forth...

Posted July 30, 2010
One of the cute things about Tuckerising people is that it gives authors a ready made template for a character. I reckon its always been done. Authors have to be students of the human condition and every person they've ever met goes into creating those characters. Slapping a term on it merely names a process that's always happened.

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Tarl ducks in to say...

Posted July 30, 2010
Obviously, Murph, you weren't creative enough with your teacher.

Deep dark secret from my past, which I guess will be less of a secret.

In Kindergarden, it appears I had some issues with my teacher. Probably authority issues, they have haunted me ever since. While teaching the class to play Bingo, she had us all sit in a circle on the classroom floor, and gave us a stern command to the effect of "you can't get up during the game, not even to go to the bathroom". I recall the specific words, because I repeated them back to her after I didn't get up.

That's my earliest recollection of someone wanting to strangle me. I also have a vague memory of my parents (starving grad students at the time) having to replace the Bingo set, which couldn't have been pleasant.

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted July 30, 2010
Any port in a storm, Rhino.

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Nocturnalist is gonna tell you...

Posted July 30, 2010
Note to self: don't drink the port at Birmo's.

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Brian would have you know...

Posted July 30, 2010
Matt. Not just the port.

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Andrew McKinney has opinions thus...

Posted July 30, 2010
Rhino: it's an alternative to feeding the cat when times are tough.

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savo reckons...

Posted July 30, 2010
Tusk v Rhino - to the deth

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Abigail ducks in to say...

Posted July 30, 2010
They need a 'like' option on this here blog so we can go along clicking on the little things people say that make us laugh. Ok I'm not serious, but still, you know,it would be good.

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Abigail mutters...

Posted July 30, 2010
They need a 'like' option on this here blog so we can go along clicking on the little things people say that make us laugh. Ok I'm not serious, but still, you know,it would be good.

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Matthew K is gonna tell you...

Posted July 30, 2010
Matthew F: "If I take OtherMatt’s meaning, it’s that most people who write don’t get paid well (or at all); JB is one of the exceptions who gets to write and is paid well for it."

Yes quite correct Matt, that's what I meant, teh intarwbz is chock full of blokes like me who'd like to be blokes like Birmo.

Guess I didn't make myself clear enough before rattling that one off. However us Matthews have a bond that enables us to understand each other no matter how garbled.

I'm "OtherMatt" now? Hmm, it sounds kind of cool but you understand I'm the original. ;)

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Rhino swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 31, 2010
Hmmmmm ... I suspect that Tusk and Rhino would be beer and cigar buddies.

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Murphy mumbles...

Posted July 31, 2010
Well, she was right. I was mastrubating.

I just wasn't doing it at school.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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savo mutters...

Posted July 31, 2010
wise move Mr Murphy.

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savo reckons...

Posted July 31, 2010
Mr The Rhino, I suspect your comments may come to life on the pages on the next installment.

Also, Mr The Rhino, when are we having a thread on the contents of the book? You're in the circle of trust (unlike a certain BUFF driver) so I figured you'd know.

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Murphy mutters...

Posted July 31, 2010
Rhino, Birmo told me dickbeating was perfectly acceptable so long as I did it in the closet, away from his place.

That said, I'd definitely avoid the port. I can't speak for any other members of the Circle of Trust.

And a quick troll through the nutland that was once a decent SF forum produces the standard American SF doctrine on tuckerization.

http://www.asimovs.com/aspnet_forum/messages.aspx?TopicID=3881

Which is NOT what I was told or learned in the few journalism courses I took before I wrote off the profession. The upshot is that so long as you are telling the truth, then you are probably safe. U.S. science fiction mag editors, on the other hand, apparently err on the extreme side of caution.

Like many things in the current American SF community, I find this to be incredibly exasperating. It often seems to me that it has gotten to the point where you must run your story through legal followed by a well vetted diversity council before you can sell the story.

In retrospect, it seems to me that we should have staged one of the NYC firefights in the offices of Dell Magazines.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted July 31, 2010
Isaac Asimov once told me that he never outlined anything he wrote, that it all sort of flowed out of him.

He was such a liar. But other than that, he seemed like a fairly nice bloke.

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Blindwilly puts forth...

Posted July 31, 2010
Robbie - I like that sound of that. I am not required to do so by my lecturers but its probably a good way to get something on paper and provide a framework for reading and research. I study with some first year younglings who look to me for sage advice (the fools!) so I might suggest it to them. Thanks.

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Matthew K mumbles...

Posted August 1, 2010
Well that's the last time I accept cream in my coffee from an Australian!

And that lemonade was a bit suspect too...

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Brian asserts...

Posted August 1, 2010
MattK.

Avoid the Port if you can . . . that may not be tannin you're tasting.

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Rhino has opinions thus...

Posted August 2, 2010
@Savo ... we are waiting for Herr Doktor Boylan to receive and read his copy.

The wait is killing me as well. But it is good for our souls. One should not give in to their basest instincts at a whim ::looking a Murph::

I now need to light a candle and say a Hail Mary.

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Brian mumbles...

Posted August 2, 2010
@Rhino

I hope it is to a good Australian saint? AKA Mary McKillop?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted August 2, 2010
Don't wait for me, folks. I'm leaving for Europe in a couple of days. If my copy arrives before I leave, I take it with me. If it doesn't arrive, I will buy one in Ireland or in England. When I get back I will be up to speed and will catch up on the conversation - which, frankly, I am not suited to contribute to in any productive manner.

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Brian would have you know...

Posted August 2, 2010
@Paul

Don't worry. JB is waiting for the general US release date anyway . . . I think.

Besides . . . Rhino has to do penance.

We await your insights.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted August 2, 2010
Brian, I realized a long time ago that, at this time in my life, when the days ahead are fewer than the number of days behind, I have no wisdom, no insight - just jokes.

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted August 2, 2010
@Paul

Jokes are good. What is life after all?

Lets change 'insights' to . . .input.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted August 2, 2010
Oh, don't get me wrong: I agree- jokes are good.

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Respond to 'Outlining. Writing the story before you write it.'

Tweaking my writing schedule.

Posted July 28, 2010 by John Birmingham
The last couple of weeks, I've been a bit dissatisfied with my daily productivity. It wasn't just a matter of coming off tour and having trouble getting back into the grind, although that is a factor. I was also finding I had so much on that my normal time management tactics of breaking the day down into two-hour blocks simply wasn't working. I just didn't seem to be getting anywhere and the deadlines were starting to plow me under.

Bottom line, I had too much work and too little time. The modern condition. And a lot of that work was long-form in nature. Four books; the Leviathan rewrite, After America's sequel, What Rough Beast (my big pointy-headed history of fear), and the little book I've been doing on Thomas's first year of tackle rugby. Trying to mash them in around blog and column and feature commitments simply wasn't working out. The Leviathan schedule was slipping. Nothing was getting done on rugby. Not enough was getting done on the fear book. And my horizons for the last book in the Wave series were shortening dramatically.

So last night I invested about half an hour or so in ditzing around on the net looking for articles about time management. I found a useful piece on attention span training at lifehacker - a link to a site set up by some Italian guy whose attention span was so short he found he couldn't even sit still to do 10 minutes study when he was a college student. He came up with a time management system that was similar to mine, in that it worked by defining blocks of time inside which you're committed to doing nothing but working on the project of the moment. But his system had a lot more finesse than mine. And it was based on one of those cool red plastic tomato timer thingies. Hence its name, the Pomodoro technique.

The guidebook runs to about 40 pages, but I'll see if I can explain it in a paragraph. Rather than using two-hour blocks the standard unit of time is only half an hour, and called a Pomodoro. Probably because those nifty tomato-shaped kitchen timer thingies work in half hour blocks. Of that half hour, 25 minutes is pure work, and five minutes is rest. You start your day by reviewing your activities list, which in my case would have four books and a bunch of other writing tasks on it. You cherry pick this list for your To Do Today list. Then you simply start at the top of the list and work through it in bite sized chunks; Pomodoro bite sized chunks.

It doesn't sound like much of a difference to my system, but in some ways it's both much more rigid and much more flexible. There's a little bit of planning and account keeping to track your time–and let me tell you the first day or two that you do that it's scarifying to realize how much time you can waste just faffing around. The main thing about a Pomodoro as a unit of time is that it is indivisible. Once you start working on it you can not interrupt it, not without abandoning that Pomodoro altogether and being unable to record it as a completed session. You'd be surprised how much of a motivation that can be to not check your e-mail or twitter or to answer the phone.

Anyway, so far it's working for me. Much more effectively and efficiently than my old time management system. With that in mind I thought I would share. If you're interested the link is here.

And now, I have Pomodoro to get into.

34 Responses to ‘Tweaking my writing schedule.’

Surtac mumbles...

Posted July 28, 2010
Thanks for the link, John. I've been in desperate need of something like for some time. Despite having done several time management training classes over the course of my career so far, nothing has really worked for me or stuck properly.

I'll give this one a go and let you knmow how it goes.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted July 28, 2010
Ahh . . .a convert.

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Therbs asserts...

Posted July 28, 2010
The thing with time meanagement systems is sticking to them. Sometimes you have to be really anal about it. My problem with these systems is that I have to concentrate on making them work, instead of thinking about things like "wonder what the melting point of ear wax is?"

30 minute tomato timer? Can't think of what sort of cooking he'd be doing. Its either longer (for soups and sauces) or shorter (pan cooking). No doubt Beeso will know.

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Naut has opinions thus...

Posted July 28, 2010
My time management solution involves large amounts of outsourcing.

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DrYobbo has opinions thus...

Posted July 28, 2010
To be honest when you posted that on FB I thought you were joking, it just seemed like such a statement of the obvious, and almost a scam, to have people pay money to buy a book to tell you to work in half hour lumps with 5 min breaks interspersed, and get grumpy at yourself if you don't. Double the block sizes and that exactly what cramming for exams at uni looked like.

But... if it works, why the hell not.

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girlclumsy has opinions thus...

Posted July 28, 2010
By rest, do they mean actual rest, as it "get away from the computer/notebook/kitchen/whatever it is" or just "break from task"?

Like, would you check your emails/phone/Twitter in that 5 minutes, or should you be actually physically removing yourself from work, going to the loo, getting a breath of fresh air, a brisk quick walk, etc?

I guess the answer is "it could be either", but I thought I'd ask anyway.

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted July 28, 2010
I'm on a five minute break now, so yes, you can check emails, blogs etc.

@Yobbo, funny thing is you dont have to pay for any of it. The pdf of the book and the worksheets is free. The old shareware model I guess.

If it pans out I will ping him a few bucks via paypal or something.

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Timmo mumbles...

Posted July 28, 2010
Doc,

I think the selling is only for the hard copy book - pretty sure it's free as a pdf under Creative Commons type licensing.

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Orin is gonna tell you...

Posted July 28, 2010
The key to judging any new system isn't after a day of using it, but whether you find you are using it in six months time ;-)

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Abigail swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 28, 2010
I'd sooner get run over by a semi-trailer than use a time/thought/organisational system for anything at all, ever--that's just me. Besides they always end up failing because we have a natural internal rhythm and we always go back to that. It will drive you crazy after a few weeks, I reckon. But, good luck anyway.

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YB mumbles...

Posted July 28, 2010
I finally cracked it at the diamond, and have an LG phone. It has a setting to chime on the hour, with settings. I set it to go between 9am and 10pm. That simple chime has helped me 'catch' myself when I was faffing, and helped me switch plans. Simple methods, good results.

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted July 28, 2010
Couldn't drive me any crazier than flapping about like the last few weeks has. Orin's right, the proof is still 6 months down the track. But I did get shitloads more done today, and in fact still have a coupla pomodori left to go. And that was with a sick kid underfoot.

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Abigail mutters...

Posted July 28, 2010
Well that's great news. Just my own natural aversion talking and in a slightly revolting mood today, better go have a glass of wine.

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JP reckons...

Posted July 28, 2010
My 2000 cents:

I've been a full time novelist since 2006, tho I've done a few things like tutoring uni classes and various public speaking gigs for $ (oh, and a couple months freelancing at my paper until they killed me with a 16 page golf feature). I've had a novel out every Aug, (and Literati out Aug 2005) so it's been good work-wise to know my fixed release date. This year I have 3 novels out -- May, Aug, Oct -- and 2011 has 3 out: March and Aug, and a non-fiction at some point.

Clearly it's whatever works for the ind. I don't have any kids that I know about. I wake when I'm meant to, check overnight emails for bout 1/2 hour then shower etc and head to a local cafe. I sit and write or edit until I get bored or annoyed. Come home, make a tea, eat, check emails, then do a second chunk of whatever feels right. By the afternoon I'm ready for a drink, some more email stuff (and burger etc) and usually some phone calls, then it's making dinner time for soprano girl and chilling for a while. If I am in writing/ editing/deadline hell, I will do a third shift of 4 hours or so after dinner. If I'm up against it I pull a few all-nighters.

One choice I made when I left the newspaper job in '06 was to not write for anyone again beyond the few freelance pieces I had promised in the immediate couple months. We all have different methods of prioritising, but I felt very clearly from then on that I would write for no one but myself and I think that's the key to how I've managed to what's now very tight deadlines (thank you UK publishers!). I should add that for over 2 year I've done nothing but write my contracted novels and study an hour or so per day towards my PhD, which will wind up this xmas. I do one short story or chapter per year, for charity.

I guess my writing dream is to take a little longer with books, maybe 18-24 months, so that I can then fit in family/life/travel/jerking it/ time etc. I'd probably always work hard until deadlines, never wanting to let go, and I'll sure as hell never feel satisfied enough with a project to read it when it's published.

And, while I'm telling a master how to suck eggs, my thoughts on writing a continuing character: tell your pubs you'll do 3 back-to-back in the first contract, then start alternating every other year with another project. To be stuck with one character (for me, 6 novels now but just started after #5 to branch out with the post apoc trilogy) and one world is to be corralled to the point of imminent boredom. We need to stretch our writing muscles so that they stay a useful strength rather than just for show: eg what's more impressive: the guy who can bench a set of 100 kgs or the guy who can do a set of handstand pushups?

jp.

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted July 28, 2010
Interesting post, JP. I am getting very close to just blowing off all of my feature work and concentrating on delivering one novel every 12 months and one non fic project every 18. The features do pay very well, but they're like a rain of fucking mortar bombs dropping all over my book writing schedule. In a very real sense, this experiment with pomodoro is a first step along that path.

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robbie smith has opinions thus...

Posted July 28, 2010
I work in the area of suicide prevention. 20-25 minutes is the longest period a human can hold a suicidal ideation. One of the key techniques in a crisis is to simply distract someone for that 20-25 minutes, often just by talking. Suicidal ideation is an extreme example of impulsiveness and is located in our ancient reptile brain. This appears, through biological origin, to be same time it takes a predator to fix and kill its prey (the stalking may take much longer, but the adrenalin fueled act is around 20-25 minutes). So I think your time-frame might have some deeper origins.

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Albion Love Den mumbles...

Posted July 28, 2010
I have no publishing deadlines, nor does my work involve massive projects, but my day/week/month is defined by cascading deadlines which shift and change, but are as hard and inflexible as most.

I use a combination of time management methods to capture the energy of the day: longer chunks mid morning and mid afternoon to take advantage of my brain kicking into gear, very short chunks leading into and out of lunch to make sure the minutes tick over without much clock-watching, and defined chunks of aimlessness which very soon get filled in with helping workmates with their deadlines, as well as "team building" (ie - shooting the shit in the downtimes, so we can all get down to business when it gets crazy).

I find trying to stick to one system extremely limiting and I soon become bored and agitated. Those two emotions are what drive me to faff.

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Chaz puts forth...

Posted July 28, 2010
Have to say at work I just get to it, certain stuff needs to be done by certain times and projects should try and finish as close to budget and time, funnily enough the latter not the former is often a problem when you're relying on others.

Just don't talk to me about writing and time management cus I is crap

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Brian puts forth...

Posted July 28, 2010
Time management is always a bear. And I reckon it alters as you get older. I do know its tied into your circadian rythms and how much daylight you get.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted July 28, 2010
Hmm . . .writing in general. Tried the fiction route . . .gave it up. I kept hearing my characters in my head . . .very disturbing.

I mean . . .for me . . if I was writing a story about Havock . . .I'd be hearing him for days. I'd have to check myself into a clinic. Seriously.

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Moko mutters...

Posted July 28, 2010
to not check your e-mail or twitter or to answer the phone.

That sounds like a pepsi challenge. Get JB to twitter mid-podo thingy...

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Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted July 29, 2010
I used to operate on the 45-15 system, 45 minutes on, 15 minutes off, switch to another task for the next block, repeat as needed.

That doesn't seem to work as well because I have another person in my life now. We're still working out the kinks with regard to time allocation.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Lobes has opinions thus...

Posted July 29, 2010
I read about this guy who had some sort of reputation as one of the best deliverers of lectures ever. I think he lectured law or something. His technique was to lecture solidly for 20-25 minutes then he would take a little 5 minute break from whatever it was he was lecturing and tell his audience a little joke or an unrelated anecdote or something. Apparently that 20 odd minutes is the most a human can devote themselves unreservedly to any single task and the little break he put in his 50 minute lectures meant his students were able to absorb twice as much or sonething.

That said I would like more threads about Thomas' first year of full contact tackling so I can bullshit on about technique, mental attitude and other key aspects of running good Dee.

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Lobes ducks in to say...

Posted July 29, 2010
So I'll start now. One of the most important things I think I took out of rugby is that individuals score trys but that it takes teamwork to defend them. Possibly one of the most important things T is learning this season may be how to be part of a greater whole that comes together to Defend The Line. It's so so important to know where your teamates are and be prepared to cover for them in defence. I know I always tried a fuckton harder in Dee than I did in attack and I used to score a lot of tries.

Sorry rambling now, reliving old glory days after a few (ok a lot of) scotches. Ah takes me back.

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mckinneytexas mutters...

Posted July 29, 2010
John, I think we've been over this before. You can manage time til hell won't have it and if you're trying to cram too much into too little, there simply is not a system that will make the 'too little' grow. Time is a physical limitation. You can't fit ten pounds of potatoes into a five pound bag.

Your problem is that you are over-committed and there is only one of you. You can't clone yourself and the more you try to do in less time eventually produces a diluted work product.

Do you feel that you are doing your best work these days?

The solution is simple even if the execution is the opposite: first, learn to say "no". Second, tally up your commitments and projects. Third, order them in terms of due dates and value. A major part of the ordering process is determining whether some of your commitments need to be jettisoned. Jettison as much as you can. Focus on what you do best and like the most. Fourth, leave adequate time in each day, week and month for the unexpected. Then and only then, go back to your list and make your time allocations.

I'll wait to bitch at you about your health the next time you tell us you are down with the flu or a migraine, much of which is likely stress-induced.

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted July 29, 2010
I concur with Lobes and McKinney.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted July 29, 2010
It's all true. I have begun to jettison work, or at least to stay moving the cargo around on deck getting ready to jettison it. First to go has been my board membership at state library. That was chewing up nearly five weeks of every year by the time I added up preparation and extra commitments. Put my resignation in to the chairman the other day. Also walked away from the management committee of the local writers festival. That was less of a time suck, but incredibly stressful on those days when I had to fit it in.

I've been saying no to one-off requests for my time for about a year now, cherry picking only the gigs or writing commissions I'm really interested in or which pay immorally large amounts of money for small investments of time. I find it very hard to say no to people. They get that terribly distressed look around the eyes. But i've been seeing it more often this last year.

The major thing I'm going to give up on, however, is regular feature writing. I still take commissions that interest me, but I had a hellish time of it earlier this year trying to fit a couple of long features in around the deadline for After America. Couldn't be done. And since I'm effectively on book deadline now for the next two years, the features have to go.

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Abigail asserts...

Posted July 29, 2010
Sounds smart and sane, JB. I love your featurws best of all but they are something you can always return to after the two year focus on books; millions of projects is just millions of projects, if you know what I mean. It's not like you are going to be forgotten or disappear off the planet if you defer them for a while. If you feel a sense of relief at this decision then that is one's guide, I'd say :)

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Orin would have you know...

Posted July 29, 2010
I still subscribe to Barry Humphries' "Bite off more than you can chew, and then chew like buggery" and "Apply Arse To Chair". I also tend to work on per-chapter deadlines (which involve a lot more regular prodding from editors if you get behind schedule) and the deadlines I have to deal with are rather ruthless (they'll bring in another author to write some of your chapters if you fall behind (this works both ways, I've been brought in on several occasions to finish other people's books)).

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Brian puts forth...

Posted July 29, 2010
Nothing to really contribute. What's been said by McKinney, Lobes and Orin pretty well sum it up.

One observation. All the things are true . . .but only at certain stages of your life or through the year. What I did find is that you can't have 3 things on the boil at once. One in hand, another on hold while the back brain stews about it, the future one for speculative work. That about sums it up. You've still got the To Do list . . .but most is never imperative . . .and priorities change . . .stuff moves up and down the list. A lot just need a little attention to keep them moving . . .a phone call or e-mail.

Be prepared for every thing to come at you at once at least 3 times a year. It just does . . .nothing you can time manage about it . . . .it just does.

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Prue reckons...

Posted July 29, 2010
Wow JB that is so helpful this just may help me get my thesis done in good time I always thought writing a big tome from home would be such a self motivating process .Wrong I was but right and writing may ensue. Cheers to pomodoro and you.

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NukemHill swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 30, 2010
JB.

You may have just saved my life. I'm going to give this a go when I get back in town next week.

Thanks. I'm quite curious how this holds together for you.

-greg

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Michael John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted August 5, 2010
Hey John, my fathers name was John Anthony Birmingham or Staten Island N.Y. Do you think we could be related? Have not read any of your books but will soon. My Dad was a Pearl Harbor survivor and I am a Vietnam (llB) Vet Hope to hear from you soon. Mike

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Byron Followell asserts...

Posted August 31, 2010
Hey John, I loved the Axis of Time trilogy and the first two Without Warning books. I'm glad to hear After America will have a proper sequel. It seems like I'd read somewhere of the possibility of a couple of books taking place in the Birmoverse after the end of WWII before you started work on Without Warning. Are those still in the long-term plans or are they shelved for now? Keep up the great work. Love your story-telling man!

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Respond to 'Tweaking my writing schedule.'

Fuck you, Amazon, I like hardbacks.

Posted July 22, 2010 by John Birmingham
I got the hardback AA from New York today and it feels like a completely different book from Pan Mac's version. Well, I suppose because it is. There were some significant structural edits we took into the Oz version that I simply couldn't translate across hard copy manuscripts, so they didn't happen in the US version. They're different enough to keep an honours student in thesis material for a year, at least.

But the arrival of Del Rey's hb means the US release is now very close. The back list has been selling well over there the last few months, with WoC going into it's 8th reprint overnight. It's all enough to give me some faith in the future of the industry. Especially with Amazon getting some much needed competition in the next 12-18 months.

British readers will get an ebook when the Australian e-book is released at the end of this month. I want to wait a little while longer before opening up the discussion threads, just to let some more of the US burgers get their copies.

84 Responses to ‘Fuck you, Amazon, I like hardbacks.’

Roscoe reckons...

Posted July 23, 2010
Haven't commented in a while here but...

After a massive night out - big cheeseboard....stinky blue cheese sandwiches....

I had a dream that AA was out in stores here in Nuu Zuhlund - but I could only get it through a download from a dock at the counter!!

WTF!!!

But the cover art looked supremely awesome - light blue horizon over a distraught derelict city forefront....

Anyways, back to my nomnomnom kilo of feta....

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted July 23, 2010
It'll be interesting, comparing the differences between the two copies.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Rhino reckons...

Posted July 23, 2010
My copy is awaiting me at home ... will be Leaving Las Vegas later this afternoon and will be hunkering down tonight.

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 23, 2010
You

Lucky

Bastard

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 23, 2010
I have seen the future of publishing and it is the e-book. I can see you are one those who will be drag kicking and screaming in to the 21 century.

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Havock is gonna tell you...

Posted July 23, 2010
I fear...no, actually I rejoyce in the knowledge that E/BOOKS will be accepted like taking a gun from my cold dead fkn hands, it aint never gunna happen, not whilst I have breath in my lungs and sure as fk not until they managed to make computer screens feel like paper, take abuse like a book, get copies in the middle of fkn nowhere, and never ever run out of fkn batteries.

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Brian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 23, 2010
That's what I like about you Havock. You're a forward thinking, early adopter, New Age, Metro Sexual kind of guy. . . .and you probably use face conditioner.

E-Books. Being a techie of sorts . . .I hate anything that doesn't have a plan B. I got E-books and e-readers . . .guess what? I'm taking my latest Dave Weber, outside in the dark and in the rain to have a read and smoke. Don't need to wait for boot up, don't need to worry about cracking a screen, don't need to worry about the damp. Then I get to shut it, shove it and drop it into my bag before I toddle off. HC or PB is just soooo much more convenient . . . .if I want, I can get an author to sign it too.

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sparty mutters...

Posted July 23, 2010
would love to know more about structual changes...

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Moko would have you know...

Posted July 23, 2010
Still wanna see AoT as a radio play type set up. Juss sayeen.

Oh how I love Amazon. It has given me SO MANY lovely things in the mail.

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Moko is gonna tell you...

Posted July 23, 2010
...and yeah, I'll go audio book WAY before ebook.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted July 23, 2010
I've never quite understood why there need to be any differences between an australian version and the US version. Can anyone explain it without using big words that might confuse me?

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Tarl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 23, 2010
I've actually found e-books to be tolerable. Not as good as a hardcover, but when traveling or for some other reason the hardcover isn't available, a .MOBI file on my kindle DX (the large one) works fine.

And an e-book is noticeably better than a paperback. I can adjust the font to a readable size.

The fly in the ointment is DRM. I want to *OWN* my books, so I can archive and re-read them at will. With DRM, all I get is to rent the books, held hostage to the vendor's whim on when my book will evaporate. Sure, Amazon says they're selling me the book - but if they give up on Kindle, whenever my current hardware breaks, my collection of books from them evaporates.

As a result, I've compromised; I use Amazon's hardware, but the e-books I read come from other sources (.e.g, Baen's webscriptions) which aren't DRM-infested.

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Dr Lazlo Panaflex mutters...

Posted July 23, 2010
I picked up an autographed copy last week from my local book emporium. I am 3/4 of the way through it already and it is infinitely better than Zoo Magazine, which is my yardstick.

I look forward to the next installment. Until then, Zoo Magazine awaits.

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Havock ducks in to say...

Posted July 23, 2010
Tarl, so essentially, the distributors are asre fkng you eight ways from christmas if you subscribe to the current arrangements. WELL FK'EM I say.

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Havock puts forth...

Posted July 23, 2010
Brian, I use PONDS Moisturising cream..fkn WICKED

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Tarl ducks in to say...

Posted July 23, 2010
Doesn't that interfere with the Preparation-H?

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Lobes asserts...

Posted July 23, 2010
My copy of AA has just arrived in the country, picking it up this afternoon, thankyou ABC!

Coincedentally i was recognised for the first time as a cameo in one of JBs books by a friend whos reading one. He sent me a message on Facebook quite unprompted. FRK YEAh IM A FAMOUS

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Havock would have you know...

Posted July 23, 2010
LOBES..lol..LMFAO!

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Havock puts forth...

Posted July 23, 2010
Tarl, it means the camo cream does not get stuck in the pores of my skin, GOD like complexions must be MAINTAINED!

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 23, 2010
Moko your a dead set genius. For a Kiwi.

The market for spoken word books is growing. Previously it was exclusively the domain of the visually impaired but now Pod casting for commute or drive is booming - look at ABC.RN figures.

I'm an unreserved fan of the Jeff Lynn (spell?) production of War of the Worlds, Rocky Horror & BBC's Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy. Damian made my month last year by posting a link to 'What's Rangoon to you is Grafton to me.'

I reckon that the tweedy old days of Radio Drama may be dead but Pod Drama may be about to arise.

There are lots of situations where eyes are busy elsewhere but the brain lusts for something to chew on. I reckon an Audio version of WOC would be Double A Aawsome.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted July 23, 2010
Moko is a Kiwi? Well, that's it for him, then.

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Moko ducks in to say...

Posted July 23, 2010
NBob, thanks I think. lol

I've got a hard drive full of audio books. Love em. Andy McNab's ones, House to House was a GREAT audio book. Most are just spoken with cultured accents, but some the narrator does the yelling and whispering etc. Love it. I load em on the iPod and listen to em on the way to work etc.

I've been on at JB about it since book 2 of AoT.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted July 23, 2010
Anyone spoken to the fabulous Girl Clumsy about this? She has a stable of creative types.

Havoc, just dont get the Ponds & the Proctosedyl mixed up it makes your face numb and doesn't do anything for your butt. It can be worse, confusing Hemorroid cream for tigerbalm really puts a zing in your day.

Hmm, perhaps Preparation H is named for our man Havock, for the frightful pain in the arse he gives MUPPETS 'n FKN OXYGEN THIEVES.

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Brian would have you know...

Posted July 23, 2010
Actually guys . . .audio books are probably the sleeper in the whole mix.

Look . . .I got about 2 GB of Podcasts. I play then on the phone, the car and on whatever platform I'm using. I can walk with it. Work with it. And got to sleep with it. If I've got migraines . . . I can't read and I certainly can't watch stuff. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of audio books.

There was an MRI study done on the brain and computer work. Its a hardwired effect of our brain. Parts of the MRI light up when you read. Parts when you listen. Neither light up together at the same time . . .they just don't. Seemed a bit strange when you think about watching movies and the like . .. switching between dialogue and action etc But you can write that off as the brain multitasks. . . dips in and out of streams.

Crikey . . .wot, 10-15 years ago. The media was saying radio was dead? Lookit now.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted July 23, 2010
I've always distrusted Preparation H. I mean, it took them preparations A through G to come up with the one being sold. What happened to A through G? What the hell kind of side-effects did they have?

"Preparation G isn't what we were hoping for. The stuff still causes monstrous mutations. But let's try it one more time..."

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ConspiracyCat swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 23, 2010
I like radio serials better than audio books. Just came across a CD of the '80's classic, Dr Poo "Knees Ahoy". And I still have some episodes of "How Green Was My Cactus" on cassette.

Most audio books I've heard are annoying, because the narrator changes the nuances (and therefore the impact) of the text, through inflection. Well, bugger off, narrator. I prefer my own fevered interpretations of the author's intended message.

Anyway, while Audio and ebooks may suit some, I refuse to take an iPad or iPod into the lav. So I'll still be buying my books in solid state. Especially the ones with nice, soft pages.

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Moko swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 23, 2010
I prefer solid books as well, Cat, but with a quality effort audio surpasses written in many instances. Music, back ground noise, like walking and doors closing, it's a completely different experience. Like somewhere between book and movie where your imagination is still king but it's getting keyed but sounds of rain and other things that aren't necessarily in a book.

Those sorts, other than radio plays, are rare though.

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted July 23, 2010
Without Warning is available in audio. Felafel too.

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Moko asserts...

Posted July 23, 2010
OMG REALLY?.....*zooms to iTunes*

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Tarl has opinions thus...

Posted July 23, 2010
Last time David Weber came through for a book signing, someone had the audiobooks for one of his recent books (I think it was War of Honor) that they wanted David to sign. A package of *20* CDs. And (looking it up on Amazon) that was for an Abridged Edition of the book.

I can't image sitting through nearly 24 hours of someone reading a book to me.

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jennicki reckons...

Posted July 23, 2010
Don't let them tease you Havock.

I use Ponds too.

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 23, 2010
Yes, but does WW come with explosions, missile shots, aircraft noises and the LIKES..if NOT..get fkn onto it will ya

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donna is gonna tell you...

Posted July 23, 2010
I have the paperback, but i like the idea of the hardback, nothing like the tactile feel of a good solid hardback mmmm and whoa, how come its different, WTF? OK, I'll have to buy it just to find out!!

I have audio books as well, and I like them because I can listen while I'm driving, but give me a paperback and a coffee in the sun and I'm happier than a pig in sh..mud!

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Abigail has opinions thus...

Posted July 23, 2010
Yes Hvk and Jenn, apparently Ponds is very good and they say it's a myth that you need to use expensive skin care. I tried Ponds for a while but it was not quite rich enough for my skin type; I use Lancome Hydrix and Jurlique and/or Lancome day care moisturiser--all of which I thoroughly recommend.

Havsy, you mustn't be too susceptible to dry skin like we Canberrans in our climate. The sea breeze might hydrate your skin a little.

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Abigail asserts...

Posted July 23, 2010
..and I wouldn't make fun of you Havsy; I like a man who can mention Ponds one minute and bullets the next. You're complex Havsy, complex.

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Abigail ducks in to say...

Posted July 23, 2010
and omg, I wonder who narrates Felafel? I wonder if they try and match the voice to the genre. We have audio of Wind in the Willows narrated by a good British Dame- I can't see a Dame narrating Felafel.

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Aaron mutters...

Posted July 23, 2010
I love hard backs but think audio books are very handy, especially as relief for my eyes in todays world. Podcasts rock and I get to bypass shit commercial radio in the car as well.

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Abigail asserts...

Posted July 23, 2010
Audio books are great if the reader has the right voice.Some voices get irritating after 15 minutes.

Also, they can hijack whatever the book means for you; tend to work better for unknown books so you haven't had a chance to imagine the story teller's voice yet.

e-Books, nah, I don't even like reading newspapers on line--I think it's nice to have everything there in one hit. The splintering of reading material which the net creates is a real annoyance/ hassle / discourages reading an entire article for old Methusla here.

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 23, 2010
My moisturiser is beer, my medicine is rum and my drink of choice when reading about magical Waves and time travelling ships is whisky. e-Books don't do it for me. Audio books are good for blocking out the screams of gished slouchbikers. Hardbacks if used at the correct angle and with sufficient force can kill Zombies and Space Lizards and can act as excellent platforms for cigar boxes.

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Abigail asserts...

Posted July 23, 2010
Or is that just me? you know , you find an article and you have no idea how long it goes on; you get to the end of the first page the there are the little pg numbers in the squares, but because you can't readily see the pages, and the content, it feels somehow like a risk. I didn't say it makes sense , I'm just saying that's the feeling I get out of the experience. Dissatisfaction regarding the design , I suppose.

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Big Pete would have you know...

Posted July 23, 2010
On the whole eBooks and audio books point. The Kindle has text to speech capabilities from what I read about it. I've no idea how good it is, or whether it sounds like you're being read to by a robot. I'll have to ask a mate of mine who has one, how good or otherwise it is.

While Falafel is being mentioned. I've been trying to find it on DVD from various video rental shops for ages with no success. The last place I would have ever thought of to look (The Local Library) has it in their catalogue. Now all I have to do is organise to borrow it.

And they say local councils aren't any good for anything.

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YB mumbles...

Posted July 23, 2010
By Paul Nicholas Boylan, July 23, 2010 @ 8:25 am

I’ve never quite understood why there need to be any differences between an australian version and the US version. Can anyone explain it without using big words that might confuse me?

I have a summary example: "Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone" was considered too difficult for the American audience, so they released it as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." It was believed the target audience did not know what a Philosopher was, and didn't have the education to pick up the classical reference.

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Therbs asserts...

Posted July 23, 2010
The movie really wasn't that good, nothing like the play and was a disappointing treatment of the book. The cast does include Sophie Lee and that's never a bad thing.

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Moko asserts...

Posted July 23, 2010
Big Pete,

You local?.

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Moko swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 23, 2010
...or Amazon for 15 bucks.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted July 23, 2010
Yeah, okay. They think we're stupid. I get tired of that, but I don't blame them.

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Moko has opinions thus...

Posted July 23, 2010
NVM, decided to finish reading your comment.

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Big Pete puts forth...

Posted July 23, 2010
@Therbs

There is a short of the movie on YouTube which is all I have ever seen of the movie. I take your point on Sophie Lee being in it, always a bonus. Though I am a bit of a fan of Noah Taylor as well.

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Brian asserts...

Posted July 23, 2010
Big Pete. That's unfair about local councils. They are good for stuff . . .just not if you're a local.

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Therbs asserts...

Posted July 23, 2010
Big Pete, give it a go anyway, its just my opinion. I must admit I was spoiled by the instructional bucket bong scene in the play.

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BruceGaryNigelson mumbles...

Posted July 23, 2010
Found a copy of the Felafel flick at JB for $6. Nothing on the book, but good for a few laughs. Sophie Lee is smokin'.

Audio books - wonder if, in the future, you could pick: whether you want it read to you via male/female, include sound effects, and if linked with an ipad or ereader, some illustrations or something to help along with the effect. Funny you are mentioning audiobooks here- was giving it a lot of thought the other day when i was sizing up an e-reader.

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BruceGaryNigelson is gonna tell you...

Posted July 23, 2010
ps. Hav, I found the proactive range of products to be very satisfying.

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Guy would have you know...

Posted July 23, 2010
JB - I hope you will wait until British readers have a chance to read AA before you start the discussion threads.

As for audio books, there is a British outfit caled Big Finish productions which produces excellent original Doctor Who audio stories (also Blake's Seven and others). I think they could so a fantastic job with the Axis of Time. They have a great track record in persuading leading actors to participate, so the next question is which actors should play the key AOT characters?

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jennicki is gonna tell you...

Posted July 23, 2010
I've lent my Bridget Jones books out to quite a few people who told me they had a hard time reading a "British" book.

To me the language was totally part of the charm.

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Moko puts forth...

Posted July 23, 2010
Blakes Seven. Christ I loved that as a kid. Even remember the last show.

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sparty is gonna tell you...

Posted July 23, 2010
absolutly off topic apart from being about books & shatner (who like zombies must be eternally on topic)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2010/jul/16/bizarro-fiction-terribly-good

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shatnerquake-Jeff-Burk/dp/1933929820

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savo ducks in to say...

Posted July 23, 2010
Alex Kingston (ER fame) as Lady Julia

Art Malik (True Lies) as Al Banna

John Birmingham (AoT) as Kipper

Terry 'Hulk' Hogan as Mr The Rhino

just don't know about Caitlin

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted July 23, 2010
I am home ... book is in hand. The HLDW is going to be soooooo ticked that I've just gotten home and am going to abandon her to the veranda with AA, gallons of tea and the stash of cubans I've been hoarding for just this moment. But she'll get over it.

I think.

Oh well.

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted July 23, 2010
Savo ... Hulk Hogan is toooo blustery. Need someone like John Goodman ... or myself. I've been told that I have a great voice. But that isn't surprising is it?

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Rhino would have you know...

Posted July 24, 2010
OK .. 1 cigar and large cuppa down ... and all I have to say is WHOA.

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Murphy asserts...

Posted July 24, 2010
Got my copy delivered right to the door of the Pod, Apartment 104, at nine story loft building in NKC. Thanks, Birmo.

I think the finished product holds up pretty well.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Rhino asserts...

Posted July 24, 2010
On the actual topic thread ... I love me some hardbacks. But I'm also liking the ability to download and read something immediately on my iphone. Being able to pull up something to read whenever I have some inadvertent downtime - like waiting for an appointment, etc. Also, if I'm out of paper and can't get to the bookstore it is also nice to be able to instantly get something.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted July 24, 2010
On my way to the post office.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted July 24, 2010
AHH! Maybe tomorrow.

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Big Pete swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 24, 2010
@Moko

"Big Pete, You local?."

I'm not sure, is Deception Bay local?.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted July 24, 2010
I hate Deception Bay. Everyone there is a liar. Even worse than Mullumbimby.

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Big Pete mumbles...

Posted July 24, 2010
@PNB

it's not that we're liars up here at the Bay, we're just very deceptive. And you're wrong about Mullumbimby, damn hippies, they're far worse than us.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted July 24, 2010
I just made up the name Mullumbimby. I had no idea it is a real place.

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Moko swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 24, 2010
Big Pete,

Yes, I was gonna send you a copy, but seeing as you hired it...

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Rhino mutters...

Posted July 25, 2010
Another very large cuppa and two Davidoff Millenium blends ... god damn this is good stuff.

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Abigail ducks in to say...

Posted July 25, 2010
Big Pete- Deception Bay?--That's such a cool name.

Then Queensland is a bit like that. For instance the town way up north called 1770. How cool is that for a place name?

Canberra has some of the WORST names ever. Try Downer -after that family of course. Fucking Downer for god sake. Now we have a suburb called Beard . I kid you not, Beard.

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Abigail has opinions thus...

Posted July 25, 2010
I live in a suburb called Ainslie which always makes me think of John Gorton bonking his secretary--well, not that specific image, but still.

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Big Pete has opinions thus...

Posted July 25, 2010
@PNB

"I just made up the name Mullumbimby."

Now that is just plain spooky.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mullumbimby,_New_South_Wales

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Big Pete would have you know...

Posted July 25, 2010
@Abigail

"Big Pete- Deception Bay?–That’s such a cool name.

Then Queensland is a bit like that. For instance the town way up north called 1770. How cool is that for a place name?"

You're not wrong, we certainly have some strange names up here.

A bit of trivia about the Bay.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deception_Bay,_Queensland

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Big Pete swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 25, 2010
@Abigail

"I live in a suburb called Ainslie which always makes me think of John Gorton bonking his secretary"

that's not good. Now I have an image in my mind that I can't erase.

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Abigail has opinions thus...

Posted July 25, 2010
...aaannndd... Abigail ruins yet another life with the aside about Ainslie and Gorton. I'm .So. Sorry.

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Rhino asserts...

Posted July 25, 2010
OK ... Just finished. That completely and totally ::ENGAGE HVK DRIVE:: FKN ROCKED MY FKN ARSE OFF. MUPPETS GETTIN' CAPPED EVERYWHERE!!! RHINO KICKIN' ASS, TAKIN' NAMES, ETC.

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Brian reckons...

Posted July 25, 2010
Rhino . . .yeah. Its particularly satisfying to see the unprompted and thoughtful reactions.

And mate . . . .that's why we waited for you. (checking watch) Murph should be turning up soon to talk about Kansas City I guess.

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 26, 2010
Well, I know the Kansas City stuff is awesome. Ironic given that every time I write a story that features or mentions Kansas City, I normally destroy it.

True irony is that a certain nine story loft apartment building in Northtown is where I am living at this very moment.

And the BP reference as Kipper crosses the Chouteau Bridge? That is priceless. No way we could have anticipated the BP disaster in the Gulf. When you read the book today it feels like a very subtle dig at BP.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Brian mumbles...

Posted July 26, 2010
That's all right Murph.

Look . . . someone even wrote a song about Kansas City. If that helps. :))

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 27, 2010
Great, Brian. Thanks. That tune will be running through my brain while I try to lecture on slavery today.

Aside from Charles B Wheeler Airport and the Hawthrone Power Plant, all of the Kansas City components actually take place in North Kansas City. I happen to live here but that is not why I recommended it (or the metro area for that matter).

Everytime I looked at a map, given what I know or surmised from the first novel as to what was viable, Kansas City kept leaping out as a settlement choice. North Kansas City leaped out even further as the locus of that settlement given that it is concentrated with resources, transport, housing and is pedestrian/bicycle friendly compared to the rest of the region.

The other part, which was mentioned briefly, is the Crossroads/Crown Center area. After that what happens is that the region becomes to dispersed to utilize without sufficent vehicle transport, not a real problem given that it will probably take a couple of decades just to fill out the allocated sections of the city.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Murphy mumbles...

Posted July 27, 2010
I should also mention that the real "James Kipper" calls Kansas City home. I suspect somewhere in his fictional counterpart's background that KC is probably home as well.

And Birmo just friended and posted to Kipper's facebook page. You all should go harass him a bit. He'll like that.

But don't let that President thing go to his head.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted July 27, 2010
Murph

Really? (big cheesy grin) We can refer all people with Kipper questions to a facebook page? Hmm . . .probably a nice guy and won't do it to him . . . . .yet.

Re: Kansas City. I'm just suffering from HomeTown Tribute Song Envy. (HTTSE). Can't think of a single song relating to an Australian Capital City. 'Road to Gundagai' is about it for me. . . it was a hit an everything . . .back in the '30's ISTR.

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Murphy would have you know...

Posted July 28, 2010
Well, we had a Jazz Era here back in the 20s and 30s (the vestiges of which are almost completely gone today). I suspect that is how we got the song.

What annoys me about the song is that anytime someone in TVLand sets a story here in Kansas City, they drag that song out. Worse, Hollywood almost always films the scenes in flat locations.

Kansas City is many things, but flat isn't one of them. The flattest portion is the flood plain, which is what Northtown used to be before the built the levees.

Maybe you ought to nag Men at Work to come up with a city theme song. They've got some bills to pay, I hear.

As for Kipper, yes, definitely go drop in on him. :)

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Respond to 'Fuck you, Amazon, I like hardbacks.'

Back into Melb tomorrow.

Posted July 13, 2010 by John Birmingham
Well, tonite actually. But I wont get in until late. Then in the morning I have media commitments before grabbing a few hours to tidy up my lecture for the Wheeler Centre on Wednesday evening. I'm gonna refine that bit I did about female action heroes a few weeks back. I'm up for a drink afterwards if anyone can get a leave pass, although I'm aware you may have used up all your brownie points last week.

90 Responses to ‘Back into Melb tomorrow.’

Brian reckons...

Posted July 13, 2010
I'm out. Afternoon of pain and no gain AKA Dental appointment.

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Therbs asserts...

Posted July 13, 2010
Sheesh, nothing but tumbleweeds rolling through Melbourne for you tonight JB. They're all probably going to Channel 9 for a taping of "Hey Hey Its Tired and Unfunny".

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Naut puts forth...

Posted July 13, 2010
I have a distinct lack of brownie points at the moment. I am not sure I am even allowed out as far as the curb to put the bin out.

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NataliatheRussianSpy is gonna tell you...

Posted July 13, 2010
So what demographic will you be greasing on the Circle tomorrow Birmo? :D

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Havock mutters...

Posted July 13, 2010
well the BOSS LADY is back and I am in the good books, I however need some sleep......, BUT, I'm in Pucka tomorrow, If I am back early and in town I will ping ya,

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Guru Bob is gonna tell you...

Posted July 13, 2010
I am at the State of design Festival launch over near the museum - may need to grab a bite afterwards around Gertrude Street if you head over that way.

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Brian mumbles...

Posted July 13, 2010
SpyNat.

The Circle? If it'd been last week he could have chatted up Megen Gale.

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Albion Love Den is gonna tell you...

Posted July 13, 2010
So, last time you were in town, it went like this:

- I got liquored up at the Burger catch up with a mate.

- Continued liquoring with a couple of rowdy hang-arounders (looking at you here Sibeen and Wolfcat)

- Continued even more liquirising with mate down for the night from Bris

- Rang ex-boss in the early AM (or still late the PM) to inform him of my inebriation

- Found myself having to apologise to said mate, ex-boss, wife, new flatmates and the dogs the next morning for my antics

- Failed to turn up to work at new office, failed to tell them about it. Got officially rebuked for such.

Sir, with the greatest respect to you, I am negative in the brownie points. And possibly shall be for some time. Enjoy my new town, please try to leave it as you found it.

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Bangar would have you know...

Posted July 13, 2010
So ALD a typical Burger get together then?

Me I'll have to see how the work day goes.

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 13, 2010
ALD, if you nailed the dismount (eg with a spew in the new flatmates vase) that'd be a perfect 10.

Well Done Sir

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DrYobbo mumbles...

Posted July 13, 2010
All I'm hearing is a bunch of fkn loser talk. Man up, Melbourne. You're living up to your stereotype.

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Bangar would have you know...

Posted July 13, 2010
Doc, it seems most have been sin binned, and I'm always subject to the vagaries of work. You know things break and I'm expected to fix them, NOW.

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Brian reckons...

Posted July 13, 2010
Dr Yob? You been checking the weather forecast for Melbourne?

Its abysmal. Which for Melbourne is . . .pretty good.

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Albion Love Den would have you know...

Posted July 13, 2010
Yob - this is not the Roy n HG of book-tours: too much Birmo is very much enough. Peak Birmo, if you well.

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Blarkon puts forth...

Posted July 13, 2010
Yobbo is all talk. He's like Boylan without the debonair sophistication and Havock without the Grunt. If there ever was a Burger get together on the South Island of NZ - they'd all be sitting around eating shortbread and drinking herbal tea talking about how FKN "pleasant" it all is before retiring at 7.15pm to watch their taped copy of Wheel of Fortune.

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Albion Love Den swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 13, 2010
The taped copy of Un Zud's finest episode of WoF: where the chick asked for "O for awesome". True story.

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Albion Love Den asserts...

Posted July 13, 2010
Actually, it was David Tua on a celebrity episode. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaIZF8uUTtk

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted July 13, 2010
Didn't Wayne Gardner once buy a vowel on Celebrity Wheel

An R?

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Matthew K has opinions thus...

Posted July 14, 2010
Apparently Brits love Brisbane so i thought this might interest the Brisbanites here. (Brisbaners?)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/10600464.stm

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FKNZippy reckons...

Posted July 14, 2010
Debonair sophistication? Ever meet Boylan? He chews with his mouth open and blows his nose on his bare hand. Absolute slob, although reputed to be an excellent social host.

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Blarkon ducks in to say...

Posted July 14, 2010
Boylan is so sophisticated that the Queen rings him up to ask which fork she should use to eat the bacony bit on the Oyster.

Boylan is so debonair that Ginger Rodgers always felt that dancing with Fred Astaire was like a cha-cha with a Redneck.

Boylan's suits are so sharp that emergency services crews use his cuffs to free small children from tangled automobile wreckage.

When Boylan walks down the street, the birds in the trees tweet Sinatra because it is FKN appropriate.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted July 14, 2010
Oscar Wilde was wrong.

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted July 14, 2010
Ahh Paul.

Such love from your admirers. I think it was the Montana thing.

Oscar Wilde was a satirist . . .easy to get him out of context.

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YB has opinions thus...

Posted July 14, 2010
Boylan is so hip, he can barely see over his pelvis. (Always steal from the best.)

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NataliatheRussianSpy has opinions thus...

Posted July 14, 2010
Yes Brian I heard a dirty rumour on Twitter. Imagine a shot of AA wedged between Ding Dong's Ding Dongs?!?!?!

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NataliatheRussianSpy has opinions thus...

Posted July 14, 2010
Have all the agenda items from the Paul Boylan Admiration Society been attended to yet?

Birmo. On. The. Circle. 'sgunnabegoooood!

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Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2010
Okay, Brian. I will embrace this sudden attention as an homage to my magnificence. However, there is something about Blarkon - something reptilian - that I just don't trust.

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Guru Bob has opinions thus...

Posted July 14, 2010
ALD - I am truly impressed - such a great way to meet the Melbourne burgers... as for that Boylan character - I don't know if I would trust anything that Blarkon says on this matter I think I saw some very compromising photographs on the internet involving BOylan and a lizard like being - I was told that they were being forwarded on to the RSPCA, the FBI and the Men in Black for further investigation...

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2010
Paul Boylan is so intelligent that he developed a genetically modified aloe vera plant which can grow in space ships so that space chicks can look after their skin.

JB on The Circle? Nice one.

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Wolfcat swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 14, 2010
Once again I have planned ahead and left my liver at home so I can come out to the Wheeler tonight.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted July 14, 2010
PNB its not just homage, man. Its the pain of your circumstances. No book. Living in Montana. Its obvious you're not in the right place.

Y'know? There are rescue groups that could help you. Relocate you with a secret identity, deprogam your Montanish ways. You'd have to get an Australian accent . . .though you'd still sound vaguely Canadian. . . .or God forbid. Kiwi.

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Idim asserts...

Posted July 14, 2010
Don't knuck Kiwi's. We put our punts on wen lig ut a time, jest like yew dew.

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Brian puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2010
Idim.

You're from the South Island then?

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Guru Bob has opinions thus...

Posted July 14, 2010
The Circle hey - there is a whole world of daytime television I know nothing about...

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Blarkon would have you know...

Posted July 14, 2010
's not as good as "Barnes Zombie Prep Hour" - which is sort of the Masterchef of preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

For some reason though his pressure tests all involve flamethrowers and chainsaws.

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted July 14, 2010
Afraid I am back on the solo parenting duties and given how late these burger get togethers go and being a school night i don't think I can drag the weapon out to the sort of disreputable dives I hope you burgers go to after.

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Therbs mumbles...

Posted July 14, 2010
And there'd be constant cutaways of the contestants saying things like,

"It was the pressure test and I knew my time in Zombie Prep could be over. And then the door opens.."

"The door opens and Havoc walks in. I was excited."

"When I saw Havoc I knew this would be a tough pressure test."

"Havoc walks in and Barnes tells us that the pressure test would be recreating Havoc's "Cappin' FKN Zombie Muppets".

"I was worried because I'd never used an M4 before. I was okay with the flamethrower but the M4 was new to me. This could go badly."

"I was thinking of putting my own twist on this by using a pointed stick but Barnes wasn't receptive to the idea. He advised me to stick to Havoc's original ideas."

etc. etc.

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Brian asserts...

Posted July 14, 2010
OMG Barnes!

You've been recruiting. Looks like acolyte material to me.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted July 14, 2010
Brian

can never have to many prepared.

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Abigail swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 14, 2010
I finally understand what peeps here meant by 'The Circle'.

I honestly thought it was maybe some sacred inner sanctum of burgers about whom we outlayers know precious little.

But. No. Daytime Television. lol.

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2010
Brian - further valuable information can be found at the Zombie Squad website. Preparation is the key both to cooking and eliminating Zed.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted July 14, 2010
Aigail.

There is another 'Circle'. Sometimes called the 'Circle of Trust'. Rhino has something to do with it. So god damned hush-hush most of us can't figure out what it is.

One school of thought is that its like a super dooper Platinum Degree Masonic fraternity.

Another ( by far the most common) school of thought is that Rhino should quality check everything that 3rd World countries put into his stogies. . . .

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DrYobbo has opinions thus...

Posted July 14, 2010
I have no idea what the fkn Circle is, other than Golden Circle, who cut up pineapples and put them in a tin. I'm sure this Other Circle will amount to something a lot less fkn useful. Lemme guess with no actual information to hand - cut price knockoff of the View aimed at postmenopausal ovarianites?

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DrYobbo asserts...

Posted July 14, 2010
The Magical Inter-Google reports that yes, it is indeed a cut price knockoff of the View. WTF to the power of FOAD. Which one is playing the role of Ms Hasselbeck aka Fascist Barbie then?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2010
Brian - I didn't mean to mislead you. I am temporarily in Montana, here to attend "orientation" - which lasts three fucking days - at the university my son has chosen to attend. We return to Northern California tomorrow - where I will undoubtedly continue to suffer from lack of preferred reading material.

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Brian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 14, 2010
(embarassed cough)

Doc Yobbo. The story as I heard it. Woopi Goldberg was a fan of an Australian Show called 'The Panel' . . .also from Ch 10 . . the 'View' was Woopi's brain child. I thought, as you did, the Circle was a rehashed 'View'. Just about there . . .parallels fail.

As I said . . .the story as I heard it.

Personally 'The Circle' cracks me up.

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Brian asserts...

Posted July 14, 2010
Paul.

The horror of it . . .Northern California? The horror of it . .

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Albion Love Den mumbles...

Posted July 14, 2010
Wow. I just assumed JB coming to Melbourne for the "circle" meant he was going to hook up with some fully siiiick mates in a late model Toranas to do lappies around Broadmeadows.

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Naut reckons...

Posted July 14, 2010
The Circle sounds like some initiation ritual that boys private schools and rugby unions teams perpetuate.

Maybe we should ask Chaz or Lerm?

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Brian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 14, 2010
Naut.

Ask Chaz. He's the hyphenated one.

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Therbs mumbles...

Posted July 14, 2010
Doc - just interwebzed meself. Ding FKN Dong. Says it all.

I thought it wuz gunna be all mandala like and zen, but nooo, its all FKN recipes, diets, exercise bikes and how to turn your empty nest into a magazine rack for calcium supplement catalogues.

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Orin ducks in to say...

Posted July 14, 2010
Brian - The Panel started in 1998, The View in 1997.

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Quokka reckons...

Posted July 14, 2010
Sounds like the word 'family' should come in front of that circle.

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Bangar asserts...

Posted July 14, 2010
Well I'm out, 8AM start, Ballarat.

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Guru Bob mutters...

Posted July 14, 2010
Brian - re: There is another ‘Circle’. Sometimes called the ‘Circle of Trust’

Just look up 'soggy sayo' and you will be on the right track about the so-called 'circle of trust'...

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ConspiracyCat would have you know...

Posted July 14, 2010
And here I was thinking The Circle was some sort of oblique reference to tentacle pr0n.

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Bangar reckons...

Posted July 14, 2010
You should be able to find it from here (keep the http: and copy/insert)

//ten.com.au/the-circle-video.htm

JB did you shave?

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Brian ducks in to say...

Posted July 14, 2010
Orin.

Thanks for that correction. Tell the truth "The story as told to me' seemed to go against the usual flow of mediatainement. Usual : States->Australia. Not: Australia->States. I shall take great delight in correcting my 'media consultant'. :)))

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Darth Greybeard is gonna tell you...

Posted July 14, 2010
I actually watched an episode of the Circle. Once. And only because my B-in-Law was announcing his impending fatherhood. My mind still reels at the inanity of it all.

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Darth Greybeard puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2010
Mr Boylan sir, did you refer to Oscar's "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about"?

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Abigail would have you know...

Posted July 14, 2010
DocY @ 2.14 on The Circle:

"Lemme guess with no actual information to hand - cut price knockoff of the View aimed at postmenopausal ovarianites?"

Yep, FTW.

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Abigail asserts...

Posted July 14, 2010
Umm, has anyone got an eraser to rub out all of our Circle- diss before his Majesty, Royal Lord Highness Baron Birmingham, you know,.... SEES IT ??

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Bangar mutters...

Posted July 14, 2010
Sorry click entertainment then books.

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Brian reckons...

Posted July 14, 2010
I reckon Birmo is tracking via his embedded Steve Jobs implant.

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Blarkon reckons...

Posted July 14, 2010
Of course he did Greybeard, that is a prime example of the man's wit and sophistication. He knows that he can throw an implied Oscar Wilde quote out into an audience consumed with topics of explodey goodness, FKN muppets, Zombies and Dr Yobbo's eclectic crotch enhancement lotion and that the chosen amongst his audience will interpret it correctly. He has mastered the Zen technique of making a witty forum comment without having to do all that crass typing and clicking submit.

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Quokka puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2010
This is the horror of skimming, I have no recall of PNB quoting Oscar.

What did I miss?

'I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world.'

Or was it 'A true friend stabs you in the front.'

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Abigail is gonna tell you...

Posted July 14, 2010
While Paul Nicholas Boylan sleeps, his character will be played by everyone else.

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Abigail mumbles...

Posted July 14, 2010
Brian, lol, yes, agreed that he most probs does that. I'm sure they're That Close these days that JB allows his master to perform minor, semi-invasive brain surgery on him.

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Brian mumbles...

Posted July 14, 2010
Abigail . . .that's why he lusts after an IPad. It gives a portable visual interface so he can talk to his Master.

Hmm? Just realised. Are we certain Steve Jobs isn't Zed . . .the modus operandi looks the same.

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ConspiracyCat would have you know...

Posted July 14, 2010
I am reserving judgement on PNB's alleged awesomeness until I find out if he likes Red Dwarf.

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Abigail mumbles...

Posted July 14, 2010
Indeed Brian--I wonder what a "Birmingham app" would be like? and would it feature a pic of JB and Boss in Bromance possies chatting on the Special link up?

I try not to wonder what a Hvk- app would be like. Shouty, much?

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted July 14, 2010
Abigail.

There is a Havock app. But people cant decide if its run of the mill malware or virus.

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Abigail puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2010
Brian I can feel a headache in your near future.

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Bangar puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2010
Abi,a lady of taste. "He's dead Dave, everybody's dead, everybody is dead Dave."

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sibeen ducks in to say...

Posted July 14, 2010
I'm not sure what all the excitement about this PNB character is all about. He's quite obviously an unlettered lout who misquotes Shakespeare and uses obscure quotes from Wilde (he probably heard their names mentioned on Red Neck TV), he uses vernacular expressions in a manner that a person of culture would never stoop to and worst of all he hasn't read the fucking book!

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Darth Greybeard is gonna tell you...

Posted July 14, 2010
Really sibeen! You could not be more wrong. Prof Boylan is a lawyer for goodness sake! He is a man of letters (for which he charges by the word) and possessor of a most amusing website with resident uber-troll. His wit is exceeded only by his great personal charm and I look forward to meeting him in the too too solid flesh when he visits our sunburnt land.

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Brian mumbles...

Posted July 14, 2010
Greybeard? He's doing some pro-bono work for . . . you isnt he?

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Darth Greybeard has opinions thus...

Posted July 14, 2010
Oh that. I assure you it has no bearing on the case at hand your honour, er, brian. Anyway, it could have been anyone in that photo.

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted July 14, 2010
I thought they had DNA evidence?. . . .now that the wire tap was ruled inadmissable. 'Mazing what you can Photoshop these days.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2010
and any pig

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Mal has opinions thus...

Posted July 14, 2010
Hey John. Haven't checked in to the burger for a while. Are you heading up this way to peddle AA?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted July 15, 2010
I admit knowing nothing of Wilde (I spelled his name correctly purely by chance). I admit inserting his name into this cacophony hoping Wilde said something that might fit the circumstance. I admit not knowing what cacophony means and used it here in the hope of distracting y'all from my true bogan nature. I admit hearing the name at a gun and doll show in Bakersfield where a red neck dismissed Wilde's work because Wilde was "a great big homo" but, in all honesty, I'm not sure if that is true.

And I admit ADORING Red Dwarf - especially the episodes with the black cat. He's black, and he's a cat. Get it? A black cat. Hahahah! I love it! It is so clever, and it isn't racist at all.

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Rhino reckons...

Posted July 15, 2010
Damn, can't access The Circle interview in the states. Evidently they are filtering your outgoing internet too. (j/k).

As to the Circle of Trust ... I thought that I was quite clear on that - It is an organization whose membership does not include Havock. Other than that I cannot comment.

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Guru Bob has opinions thus...

Posted July 15, 2010
So how did last night at the Wheeler Centre go? I assume the reason that we haven't heard from anyone is because they are all nursing monster hangovers?

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Guru Bob puts forth...

Posted July 15, 2010
PS I just got an enewsletter from Borders and the first item was JB's After America for twenty bucks...

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Wolfcat mutters...

Posted July 15, 2010
no... Bob... no hanger overs... it was all very sensible... a few beers a lot of food and early nights all round....

The speech was very good though.

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Guru Bob is gonna tell you...

Posted July 15, 2010
The Wheeler Centre often record these things and post them on their website so I am hoping we can all watch it online sometime soon.

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Darth Greybeard puts forth...

Posted July 15, 2010
Totally OT for here but a suggestion for JB (if there's any point in revisiting this topic) http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2010/07/why-no-form-of-censorship-is-a-good-thing/ Nice little piece on how Turkey introduced a filter to stop child porn in 2007. Fast forward a few years and guess what?

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 15, 2010
Just trying to draw our attention away from the pig photo's eh?

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Brian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 16, 2010
NWB . re: photo's.

Depends. Is it a good looking pig? Some of them let themselves go and turn into real porkers.

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Respond to 'Back into Melb tomorrow.'