WARREN ELLIS LTD Warren Ellis is a writer from Britain.



The Godspeed! Continuum

A thing I would very much like to read or see is an article or map that plots out all the bands that formed around Godspeed! You Black Emperor. Like a Canadian Post-Rock Continuum. Silver Mt Zion, Set Fire To Flames, Do Say Make Think, all of those. I imagined they were all connected, however tenuously or tightly. Somebody make that for me. Thanks.

This note brought to you by uncovering a very dusty pile in the office containing about a third of the CDs I bought during early/peak post-rock.

The Bit At The End Is Never As Fun, Somehow

Finishing a large project this week. And I’m at the bit at the end when I have to make sure all the pieces of the story are connected properly, everything is moving smoothly down a logical train, all the parts are spinning freely and all the arms and wheels are operating at the correct speeds to meet together and interlock cleanly at the end. And it’s the least interesting and most fraught part of any project. Writing the end end, when you have the final lines and scene, yes, that can be fun. Or maybe just satisfying. But all the other things? It’s like building a bridge by precisely throwing pieces of it at a gorge across several different points in time and hoping to hell you got every moment and trajectory right and it assembles itself just as the first car rolls on to it.

Today In Spam Headers

I have to say, these people are stepping up their game.

Esoteric Cult stumbles upon ancient erection secret

I do wonder what the headline generation process is here. “We’ve noticed that you are interested in esoteric cults and ancient secrets, so we’re pretty sure framing dick pills in this context will be an instant win for us”

Refuturing: 22C

I attended a talk the other week about the future of spaceflight.  One guy gave a long presentation about how Gerard O’Neill’s plans for orbiting space colonies from 1972 are now ripe to be actioned.  A guy in the audience – the “I don’t really have a question” type who realises he has a captive audience for his own statement — explained that sixty-four of the spent engine tanks floating between here and the moon could be recovered, linked up into a torus and spun at 2 rpm.  My friend Rachel Armstrong, floating genuinely new ideas about synthetic biology engineering and microbiome management in space, cut something of a lonely figure amongst the retrofutures.

I grew up with the O’Neil “Island One” stuff. Those are lovely stories, and there was fun art made of them.  But I am again reminded – I mentioned this somewhere the other day, too — of Bill Gibson’s recent observation that in the 20th Century we could talk of nothing but “life in the 21st Century” and here in the 21C we seem to have trouble of conceiving of anything past the end of next week, let alone the 22nd Century.  22C.

Sometimes I think there’s a mass conclusion that we shouldn’t be thinking about 22C because We’re Living In The Future and it should All Be Happening Now.  I think the future needs to be constantly invented and drawn down to us.  (Which phrase has just made me think of “Drawing Down The Moon.”)

22C should be a badge of honour for futures speculation, perhaps.

(written March 14 2018, recovered from morning computer, brought to mind by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Moon Very O’Neil 1970s presentation on May 9 2019)

(Drawing down the blue moon, heh)

Beckett And The BBC Radiophonic Workshop

One of my favourite Samuel Beckett pieces is ALL THAT FALL, and, in search of a memory-refresher on a detail of the piece, I found this thing that I don’t think I knew before:

Since the journey of the main character is presented psychologically, Beckett asked for natural sounds to be adapted in unnatural ways. “New methods,” Martin Esslin writes, “had to be found to extract the various sounds needed (both animal and mechanical – footsteps, cars, bicycle wheels, the train, the cart) from the simple naturalism of the hundreds of records in the BBC’s effects library. Desmond Briscoe [sound technician] (and his gramophone operator, Norman Baines) had to invent ways and means to remove these sounds from the purely realistic sphere. They did so by treating them electronically: slowing down, speeding up, adding echo, fragmenting them by cutting them into segments, and putting them together in new way.” Actors produced the sounds of all the animals but “Beckett was actually unimpressed by the use of human voices for the rural sounds when he listened into the … broadcast.”

“These experiments, and the discoveries made as they evolved, led directly to the establishment of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Beckett and All That Fall thus directly contributed to one of the most important technical advances in the art of radio (and the technique, and indeed technology, of radio in Britain).”

Also in Briscoe’s Guardian obit:

The pioneering sound engineer Desmond Briscoe, who has died aged 81, was among the first in Britain to realise the potential of electronic music in the 1950s, initially through composition and eventually as manager of the BBC’s electronic music studio, the Radiophonic Workshop, from 1960 to 1984.

His breakthrough commission – the success of which ultimately led to the creation of the studio – was Samuel Beckett’s first radio play, All That Fall (1957). Realising Beckett’s wish for a new kind of “pure radio” – one that blended dialogue, music and sound effect – Briscoe used the Parisian techniques of musique concrète (music made by editing together and manipulating bits of prerecorded magnetic tape) to create sounds previously unheard on British radio, thus bringing to public attention the potential for electronic tape effects in drama.

I kind of love the notion that the sainted BBC Radiophonic Workshop is all Samuel Beckett’s fault.

(Written Jun 14 2018, recovered from morning computer)


I was reading the excellent book MARS BY 1980 in bed last night and this term just popped into my head as I was circling sleep. I had to do that thing where you repeat it in your head twenty times so that I’d remember it in the morning.  I have no idea what refuture or refuturing really means, except that “refuturing” connects it in my mind with “rewilding.”  The sense of creating new immediate futures and repopulating the futures space with something entirely divorced from the previous consensus futures.

Refuture.  Refuturing.  I don’t know.  I wanted to write it down before it went away.

Which I guess is what we do with ideas about the future anyway.

(written August 21, 2018, recovered from morning computer)

Today In Spam Headers

I am not clicking through on the fucker, but somebody needs a pay raise for this work of genius presented as a spam email header:

Adults born before 1970 infected with “mind assassins” (startling brain fog discovery)


Anna Malina

This image by Anna Malina has fascinated me for days, because it captures so much space around a story idea I’ve been mulling for weeks. I love it. Click through here for the original post and links to her IG, YT, website and shop.

Antisocial Network System Printernet

I’ve been thinking about buying one of those mini-printers that bluetooth to your phone and let you print out little 2-inch x 3-inch Zink photos with sticky backs. So I could just take a photo of something, print it off and stick it in my notebook, with the digital original waiting to be backed off into an external drive later.

I suspect those little photos don’t have great archival duration. So, in ten years, I or my daughter might open one of those notebooks to find little blank rectangles stuck all the way through it.

I have saved a shitload of photos over the years. I mean, for many years I’ve had an automated system that saves off any photo I post on Instagram, because I do not need them owning the potential only copy of any photo of mine.

And I think several of us, around the same time, came to the momentary position that perhaps we don’t want Instagram to have them at all. Or at least not all of the photos we have a use for. I find, for instance, that I’m happier posting them here, and may do more of that. Even though square photos come with metadata that confuse the fuck out of WordPress and often causes it to post them on a 90 degree rotation for some dumb reason.

I admit, I’m not sure where I’m going with this. It’s an… urge? Without a lot of theorising behind him. I would like to use the available tools as tools more, maybe? Getting hold of these things and bending them more towards personal purpose?

Shit, Robin Sloan is just printing stuff and mailing it out. Craig Mod’s using a one-to-many custom system to MMS out photos from his long walk across Japan at the moment.

(because category jotter is for fragments and randoms)

WARREN ELLIS LTD Warren Ellis is a writer from Britain.

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