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Because I'm a wuss, I didn't commit to the whole three days of the gamecube LAN extravaganza that fba hosted this weekend just gone; instead colours, ajr and me arrived mid-Saturday afternoon, having made a brief pitstop in Oxford for sandwiches (yes, tinyjo, I borrowed your parking space. I did knock on the door to say hello, too, but you didn't seem to be in).

When we got there, already arrived and in full gaming mode were fba, snowking, danmilburn, despotliz, kalorlo, and dsky; shortly afterwards, thevoicewithin turned up as well, giving us a complement of ten. Mario Kart Double Dash hi-jinks ensued, in which colours and I won the very first race, then snowking and I oscillated between first and last, depending on the whim of the gods (and that damned kart-shrinking lightning strike).

Media was exchanged, of course: I gave despotliz some Angel CDs and my copy of The Snow, and took back Redemption Ark, a copy of Asimov's and Fuzzy Dice. This last went immediately to snowking, from whom I then took Live Without A Net (so that I could read the Stross short 'Rogue Farm' before the anime version debuts at the ICA in just under a fortnight's time) and a pretty pretty copy of Argosy #2 that he'd managed to pick up for me from New Worlds. And on behalf of the mostly-absent [f/x: cries of 'shame!'] Brum contingent, danmilburn returned The Child That Books Built. Later on I also got my copy of Stranger Things Happen back from colours, ready to pass on to greengolux at the BSFA meeting this Wednesday. And so the great cycle continues.

I feel it's necessary to explain exactly how pretty Argosy actually is. First of all, a single issue consists of two volumes slipcased together: the main magazine, and a novella presented as a standalone minibook. Secondly, it's all printed on high-quality, slightly glossy paper. Thirdly, the artwork is mostly gorgeous. Fourthly, interspersed with the stories and articles are illustrations, in this issue reproductions of various pieces by Dr Seuss. All in all, a nice package.

Moving into the evening, fba provided tasty home-made (and mostly home-grown) chilli, then the gaming focus switched to Soul Calibur (eh) and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure (or whatever it was called). The latter wired four gameboys up to a gamecube for maximum geekery, and proved almost as good for the spectators as the players, possibly largely due to snowking's passionate (and more-than-occasionally profane) commentary. And as an impartial observer, I feel I can say with confidence that ajr fully deserved to be voted as the weakest Link.

After a brief flirtation with Super Monkey Bowling (not as good as the real thing), and a visit to my Degu namesake (even cuter in person), it was hometime and bedtime for colours and me. And that was Saturday.

Sunday started with a wonderfully lazy morning, continued with a relaxed Cornish pasty lunch in the sunny park, and concluded curled up on the sofa, eating Ben & Jerry's chocolate fudge brownie ice-cream and watching Due South ('The Gift of the Wheelman' - for the other fans out there, that's the one with the first appearance of Fraser's Dad's ghost). In between times we browsed some travel websites, bought and read the paper (which came with a free CD, allowing me to hear for the first time Morrissey's 'Irish Blood, English Heart'. Good song!), and I read what turned out to be one of the better stories from Argosy, Carol Emshwiller's 'My General'. It was a very good day.

This evening I finished off Argosy. I'd been looking forward to the issue's Stross/Doctorow collaboration novella (really a mini-collection of two novellettes the first of which, 'Jury Service', first appeared on SCIFICTION at the tail end of 2002) and it didn't disappoint. To recap: at the start of 'Jury Service' Huw Rogers wakes up with the hangover from hell and discovers in rapid succession that (a) he's been infected with some unknown somatic genetic modification, (b) the girl he was trying to chat up last night is now a guy, and (c) he's been selected for international triage jury service.
Welcome to the fractured future, at the dusk of the twenty-first century.
[...]
The spintery metaconsciousness of the solar-system has largely sworn off its pre-post-human cousins dirtside, but its minds sometimes wander nostalgiawise. When that happens, it casually spams Earth's RF spectrum with plans for cataclysmically destructive technologies that emulsify whole industries, cultures, and spiritual systems.
[...]
Whatever the motive, humanity would be much better off if the Cloud would evolve into something so smart as to be uninterested in communicating with meatpeople.

But until that happy day, there's the tech jury service: defending the earth from the scum of the post-singularity patent office.
Yes, it's another gonzo tale of a world where gender, other physiological aspects, and indeed just about everything besides mind is disconcertingly fluid. Huw's jury service involves determining whether a particular posthuman artifact is safe for release to the general population; except of course, it all gets a bit more complicated than that.

'Jury Service' is a good story. The new followup, 'Appeals Court', is better, and explains why the two together have been collectively titled as The Rapture of the Nerds. Huw is manoeuvred into travelling to Glory City (formerly Charleston, South Carolina), where fundamentalist Christians have been living for the last sixteen years under the delusion that the singularity (in which a bunch of people uploaded to live as godlike AIs in the matrioshka brain surrounding the sun) was actually the Rapture, and that they were judged unworthy.

Stross/Doctorow prose is noisy, in a way that's hard to explain if you haven't read it. There's a static fuzz around everything, an excess of detail, a sense of hazy possibility around all events, and plenty of technology that's just one step shy of (or sometimes, one step beyond) being sufficiently advanced. In short, it feels like the future, even if it looks nothing like it. This time out, the dynamic duo score palpable hits on various types of believers, geeks and religous alike; the swipes are broad, but they're certainly fun to read.

The only downside is that Argosy can be a devil to get hold of (snowking will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe he mail-ordered a copy of issue two well over a month ago and has yet to receive it). The future of the magazine itself also seems a little uncertain; Lou Anders stepped down as editor after issue two, and I haven't seen any announcements about issue three - an issue I'd like to see, since it's advertised as carrying a new Zoran Zivkovic story.</j-cut>
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nope - we were being taken out to lunch by Alex's parents. Luckily, they drove us to the resturant, leaving the parking space free for use :)
The latter wired four gameboys up to a gamecube for maximum geekery, and proved almost as good for the spectators as the players, possibly largely due to snowking's passionate (and more-than-occasionally profane) commentary.

I'm da best!

And as an impartial observer, I feel I can say with confidence that ajr fully deserved to be voted as the weakest Link.

Vindication!

snowking will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe he mail-ordered a copy of issue two well over a month ago and has yet to receive it

Over 2 months ago. I should get round to emailing them about that.
Later on I also got my copy of Stranger Things Happen back from colours, ready to pass on to greengolux at the BSFA meeting this Wednesday. And so the great cycle continues.

Excellent stuff. I couldn't remember if I'd asked to borrow that yet.

I have Conjunctions 39 to give you on Wednesday, and if you're interested I can also lend you a copy of The Town That Forgot How To Breathe (as recommended by peake but not by me).
I couldn't remember if I'd asked to borrow that yet.

You asked months ago, it just took me a while to get organised about it. :)

I have Conjunctions 39 to give you on Wednesday, and if you're interested

Yes!

I can also lend you a copy of The Town That Forgot How To Breathe (as recommended by peake but not by me).

Meaning you disrecommend it? Or you're just not offering a specific recommendation? I think I'd like to have a look at it.
Meaning don't take my offer to lend it to you as an endorsement of the book. (In truth, I've only read half of it, but got very very bored, so have given up.)
Yes! Independent verification that Nick is in fact a GEM STEALING WHORE.
We should get him a t-shirt.
Could you get him to wear it, though?
I think he takes pride in his work, so, probably.
Bah. You're all jealous of my stunning success. It's not my fault you lot are rubbish at finding gems. If you must insist on standing by the exit while I run around looking in all the nooks and crannies then of course I'm going to find all the gems. :p
At Caption, I read Sea Guy, so now I recognise your icon. Grant Morrison just loves those high-quality drugs, doesn't he?
And I just love the high-quality comics he churns out as a result of taking all those high-quality drugs. :) He really is quite possibly the most imaginative chap working in comics.

Rumour has it that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are now working on a film version of Morrison's The Filth. Which should be interesting, if it comes to fruition.