Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Trial of Monsieur Lazare

This is my month for failing to notice I've been published.  It does seem rather remarkable that an author would encounter two of his own stories on line on consecutive days, but there you are.

Just like Temporal Paradox I was aware of the impending publication of The Trial of Monsieur Lazare but I did not realise it had already happened.

One beneficial effect of taking a lot of interest in all things French is a reasonable familiarity with the structure of the French judicial system, which has significant differences from that of the UK.

In this story a businessman is taken in for questioning by an examining magistrate.  His problem is that he hasn't committed any crime and he has no idea what it's all about.

You can read the story free on line in AE The Canadian Science Fiction Review. I hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Ultimate Temporal Paradox

The Ultimate Temporal Paradox
It may itself seem something of a temporal paradox, but it has taken me five days to notice that my story The Ultimate Temporal Paradox was published on Monday in Sci Phil Journal.

Usually I notice a publication because the publisher pays for the story, but this one attracts a royalty instead, so  Jason Rennie (the publisher) and I will be much obliged if readers sign up in countless quadrillions.  One story a week is published free to read on the the web and you need to be a subscriber to read the second. I suppose you could say therefore that this week my story is the free sample.

I am quite fond of this story, tortuous logic and all, which in fact grew out of the first short story for adults that I submitted to the competition associated with the annual Falkirk Tryst Festival.

Some considerable time later I finally realised why the story did not work as originally drafted. Sadly it was nowhere near complicated enough!

I do hope readers will judge that I have now corrected this monstrous shortcoming.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Bordeaux Waterfront by Night

For several years I have been interested in the problems of photographing a nocturnal illuminated waterfront from the deck of a ship. I made my first efforts in Gibraltar and Livorno from the deck of the cruise liner Boudicca.  I tried again on the Danube and in Dubrovnik. My most recent efforts were on the Rhone / Saone last year.

Many of the results had certain aesthetic qualities, but sharpness was rarely amongst these. This year I owe a special vote of thanks to the two captains of the Scenic Diamond. They contrived to balance their vessel almost motionless between the current and the tide, providing a remarkably stable platform for photographers.

I set up my travelling tripod and cable remote for the shutter of my new (to  me) Sony A580. For once I did not mess up my choice of settings. The result was a series of photographs that were pretty satisfactory directly from the camera.

The main features of the photographs are the palatial frontage of Place de la Bourse and the many stone arches of the Pont de Pierre. Throw in the spires of the cathedral and other churches, streetlights and beautiful reflections on the surface of the River Garonne and you have a captivating set of ingredients for magical evening scenes.

Monday, 11 July 2016

No More Referenda

As a general rule I am not an enthusiast for referenda. Experience shows them to be socially divisive blunt instruments, reducing complex shades of grey to simple black and white and arousing passions that are not easy to quell after the event. General elections give almost every voter some sort of stake in the outcome; few are left utterly without representation. By contrast a referendum is winner takes all, however small the majority.

The EU Referendum eventually became necessary because all the major political parties of the UK supported membership and for forty years opponents had no opportunity to vote against a process that steadily and deliberately eroded the sovereignty of their country. I suspect that a large majority of voters would still support membership of the sort of Common Market that we were told we were joining in 1973.

Inevitably the ordinary citizen, who has his own life to live, is not as expert in political matters as someone whose speciality is politics. The failing of our modern system of representative democracy has been the emergence of a class of professional politicians with no experience of the normal world in which their constituents live.

How else can you explain the geographical division of English voting between London's Remainers and the rest of England's leavers, or three quarters of parliament being Remainers when the country as a whole votes Leave?

Given that almost all the political, commercial and financial elite spent months predicting chaos if the plebs were stupid enough to vote to leave, it is a tribute to the resilience of the UK's economic system that the immediate aftermath of the Referendum was not greater instability than in fact occurred.

Just as in the Scottish Referendum, the losers are immediately enthusiastic for a re-run. Economically speaking, nothing could be worse. Prolongation of uncertainty is a self-inflicted wound which the country can do without.

Let us look for the opportunities of the future rather than hankering after a vanished past.