Spinning Plates: Spin Plater

So, my energy level is still zilch and attempts at early nights seem to end up with later ones or insomnia. Did you know the digital Radio 4 switches from World Service to Children’s Programming? At they up earlier or late?.

  • article on A Scanner Darkly — 23 January — hah — a chunk written and I hope to submit anyway
  • book proposal for Sekrit TTTTTTTT project – asap
  • revise bounced book manuscript – asap – this hasn’t left the house for once this month
  • three book reviews
  • turn EX_MACHINA, War of the Worlds and The War in the Air papers into articles
  • Chapter on Star Wars — 22 February 2016 — I’ve started writing and this is three quarters done, in search of a conclusion
  • continue beer research

There are a couple of talks in the pipeline and a couple of conferences I want to put in for and I just had a conversation with a publisher. I need to get my mojo back.

The Two Faces of the Spinning Plates

So we come to the end of a challenging year — leaving aside reviews, I’ve published chapters on British sf short stories, Adam Roberts and YA gay fantastic fiction, all of which have been in the pipeline for ages. I’ve submitted two survey chapters and one on Star Trek, two of which seem to be MIA, one of which is awaiting galleys. Was there more? I forget. Ah, a chapter on Wyndham.

My energy level is zilch.

I gave two keynotes, one in Dublin, one in Lisbon, and papers in Woking, Canterbury and Liverpool. Again, there may have been more. A poster session on drinking in Bristol.

I’d been in Dublin in the previous October, so the return visit was rather sooner than the twenty year gap since my earlier trip. Meanwhile for the first time I visited Amsterdam (which is promising but knee events conspired), Den Bosch (nice town), Bergen (a lovely town), Paris (which is a shit hole*), Dijon (more than just mustard), Lisbon (which I saw little of) and Uxbridge.

I saw more fantastic exhibitions than I wrote about — David Jones, Caravaggio, Paul Nash, Wifredo Lam, Georgia O’Keeffe, Nickolas Astrup, Hieronymus Bosch, James Ensor, Christopher Wood, Julia Margaret Cameron, Francis Bacon, Maria Lessnig, Vincent Van Gogh, and so on.

The good news is that ideas for articles continue to form — I want to write something about Passengers, but that must wait.

Energy-wise I’m grinding to a halt though. Too many late nights. I bruised my foot in last year’s visit to Dublin, so was limping more or less up to Christmas. Then this year I had bursts of gout and pulled my right knee in Dijon. This had more or less cleared up before I went up north before Christmas but, after a recurrence of almost gout — the left knee decided to stiffen up. I gave peas a chance, as well as broad beans.

But I am stupid so I have a new year resolution to get out of bed when I wake up rather than losing too many mornings to the doze. I’ve renewed my Curzon membership, so I will see at least one film a week, and along with various forthcoming comedy gigs, I’ve booked a concert for the first time in years. There’s also two plays I want to see at the National.

2017 sees trips to Liverpool, Birmingham and Helsinki, and I’m tempted by Brussels for Ensor (and of course Magritte). I was thinking of going to Vienna for a Bosch exhibition, but there’s no mention of it in their website and I think survival should kick in. If I can get back to Bergen I will, and maybe finally do Oslo, and I’ve yet to book for Edinburgh.

  • article on A Scanner Darkly — 23 January
  • book proposal for Sekrit TTTTTTTT project – asap
  • revise bounced book manuscript – asap – this has travelled miles and miles
  • three book reviews
  • turn EX_MACHINA, War of the Worlds and The War in the Air papers into articles
  • Chapter on Star Wars — 22 February 2016 — I’ve started watching films and assembling reading, and I need to find some comic books I have somewhere, which were lost when I cleared the back bedroom
  • continue beer research

* Paris is the closest I’ve come to getting mugged — someone bumped into the back of me and the person I fell against seemed to be reaching in my pocket. Station signage is appalling, and as far as I can see Metro maps are on the inside of the barriers rather than also being outside.

The Spinning Plates of St Trinians

Another month on

I’m leaving out lectures (four a week on average this term) and if I’m circumspect about details, it’s just because I’m superstitious that way.

  • Paper for Lisbon – mid-November
  • turn Wyndham paper into article – 1 December 2016
  • book proposal for Sekrit TTTTTTTT project – asap
  • revise bounced book manuscript – asap
  • three book reviews
  • turn EX_MACHINA, War of the Worlds, The War in the Air and A Scanner Darkly papers into articles
  • Chapter on Star Wars – 22 February 2016
  • continue beer research

The Spinning Plates – Redux

It’s been a while since I updated my to do list. As we start the new academic year, I thought it might be worth dusting it off — not so much showing off as reminding myself that I have things to do and giving you insight as to what we academics do with our ridiculously short working weeks.

Not that you wanted to know.

You’re welcome.

I’m leaving out lectures (four a week on average this term) and if I’m circumspect about details, it’s just because I’m superstitious that way.

  • Notes on bad taste and comedy – tonight
  • Paper on A Scanner Darkly – 30 September
  • abstract on Star Wars – 1 October
  • notes on The Island of Doctor Moreau
  • Paper for Lisbon – mid-November
  • books proposal for Sekrit TTTTTTTT project – asap
  • revise bounced book manuscript – asap
  • three book reviews
  • turn War of the Worlds and The War in the Air papers into articles
  • continue beer research

I note, having read a PhD thesis, I have an idea for an article I will hide from and, having thought a bit about Chuck Tingle, I will move right along.

The Ghost of Academia Future Perfect Subjunctive

So another year over, and what have we done…

In the published corner:

  • ‘Disfigured Myth: The Destruction of London in Postmillennial SF Film’, Foundation, 122 (2015): 122-32.

  • ‘Sleeping/Waking: Politicizing the Sublime in Science Fiction Film Special Effects’. Endangering Science Fiction Film. Edited by Sean Redmond and Leon Marvell, New York and London: Routledge, 2016: 117-31.

  • ‘Human Subjects/Alien Objects? Abjection and the Constructions of Race and Racism in District 9’, Alien Imaginations: Science Fiction and Tales of Transnationalism. Edited by Ulrike Küchler, Silja Maehl and, Graeme Stout, New York: Bloomsbury, 2015: 95-112.
  • ‘Iain M./ Banks’, Twenty-First Century British Writers (Dictionary of Literary Biography). Edited by Tom Ue, Chicago?: Gale, 2015.

Somewhere out there — and I don’t like to talk about work in progress before the ink is dry — are chapters on Adam Roberts, British sf short stories, queer YA sf and perhaps one I forget — editorial work on someone.

I am about to put to bed an article on The Clarke Award and a chapter on a period of sf.

Downsides — the article proposal turned down (but there was some small compensation in that the editor reassured me that I might be able to place it elsewhere, may be in a peer-reviewed venue) and the chapter rejected after much time but short shrift (it may well be crap, but it was not a well-handled project).

To do in 2016:

  • I failed to convert one conference paper into a chapter and probably have missed the boat on that book, but it can feed into another commission I have;
  • to convert the paper on Quest for Love into a chapter;
  • to convert the paper on Mieville I gave at a conference into a chapter (I seem to have fallen off a mailing list there);
  • to return to a book that was bounced and needs work;
  • to produce a book proposal that I’ve been pondering for too many years;
  • to sort out two book proposals for projects that came up some years ago and stalled;
  • beer and brewing and drinking research. I need to be priming the pump.

And I need to do some writing on sf film — maybe go back to the Moon paper and the keynote for the CRSF.

Have I missed anything any of you have asked me to do?

Clearly this is too much for a year. We’ll see.

On the Chin… But Be Prepared to be Patronised

With submission for publication comes the possibility of rejection — and you learn to live with it.

Sometimes you get an explanation — “we wanted to balance the pre- and post twentieth century material” is one I recall from 1999 — and sometimes you don’t. You rewrite and submit elsewhere.

Take it on the chin.

Oddly — and this might sound like a brag — I’m been commissioned more than I’ve cold submitted. If someone asks me to write something, I will ponder whether I want to be in the venue, and more to the point work out if I’ve something to say.

I’m sufficiently instinctive that I often get this feeling that X and Y are connected — say that Mary Douglas’s Purity and Danger might be useful for thinking through The Sparrow. At that point, I hadn’t actually read Purity and Danger. It can be a high wire act — and it makes writing abstracts hard before there’s a chapter, although you don’t want to write something that’s going to be rejected.

So, there was a call for contributions, and I sat on it overnight, and applied the tests, and sent an abstract. Meanwhile, I was already thinking there would be other venues I could submit it to, but having written the damn thing.

Ten minutes ago I was rejected.

The editors were apologetic — lots of strong contributions — some hard decisions — consider the overall shape of the volume — it is with immense regret — and…

Well, whatever. That’s the job. You try not to publish rubbish, although that arguably rubs out most of my output…

And then:

“we want to persuade you to develop the proposed chapter into an academic article that will be well-suited to be submitted to any number of peer-review academic journals.”


I guess they were trying to be helpful. Maybe to soften the blow. Perhaps it was a standard rejection email sent to all.


I’m certainly acquainted with these peer-reviewed journals of what they speak. I even had a list in my head of who to try first, if it was rejected. I co-edit a peer-reviewed journal — but it would be Bad Form to submit there.

Somehow, I think a simple no thanks would not have left me feeling … a little patronised and certainly amused.

Cogito Ego Operor

So… a couple of days ago I was going through the draft sent emails having realised I’d sent an important email to myself and wondering what else was stuck in the outbox. I found a message about a call for papers that I’d tried to send to myself but had somehow failed.


I reread it, thinking, interesting, but who has the time? I forwarded it to a grad student, thinking it might be his mug of Earl Grey.

I looked again — abstract by then, chapters by then, neatly bracketing the autumn term. That’s going to be my heavy term.

Who has the time?

And there I left it, and there was no more, until I was thinking about a book I really have to read Real Soon Now to apply to the Sekrit TTTTTTTT Projekt (or at least the proposal).

A project which overlaps with the Call for Papers.

Uh huh.

I don’t have the time this autumn, but perhaps I should make a start this summer and that’ll have materials that can fit the Sekrit TTTTTTTT Projekt. And again I’m struck how often I chistel away at the block of marble to find the statue rather than build a statue from chickenwire and papier-mâché.