Three Random Things I Noticed This Week

Sometimes it’s hard not to be a bit despondent about the way bookselling is going. Latest manifestation of the increasingly uphill slog bookstores are facing in the UK is that Borders UK seems to be heading for the exit. (Not the same company, incidentally, as Borders in the US, which is having it’s own possibly even more severe problems). I know this is just the market doing what it does, and I know online book sales, and the brutal discounting of best-sellers in supermarkets, and eventually – even in the laggardly UK – the rise of e-books all have their pluses for the consumer, but it still feels regrettable that it’s becoming so difficult for even those with some scale on their side to make money out of bricks and mortars bookstores. I can’t help but think that the domination of the mass bookselling market – online and offline – by so few players is not going to prove an unreservedly good thing (to put it mildly) for either readers or authors in the long run.

On a more cheery subject, one of the entirely unpredictable amusements the internet offers is provided by the mindless working away of the automatic translation gremlins. Latest manifestation I’ve noticed is a version of an sf signal mind meld I was involved in the other day, on the subject of gloominess in sf. It’s clearly been translated into French and then back into English again, with the results that I apparently said, amongst many other similarly weird things:

The unhurt put candid, in its chichi quieten, is a youngster of the 20th century

When writers are more interested in how lavish shades of bloodless they can reproof up with than in hellish and unblemished, you inevitably aim up with a more less rose-tinted phantom of charitable possibilities.

There seems to be some kind of poetic, profound wisdom hiding in there somewhere: much more poetic and profound than what I said in the original interview. Perhaps I should put all my answers through a couple of rounds of online translation before submitting them in future?

And finally, I was pleased to discover that one of my favourites amongst the innumerable cgi shorts that show up on the internet these days is moving towards expansion into a full movie. Here’s the original short, a fun slice of sf:

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