30 November 2009

Robert Holdstock (1948–2009)

I was saddened to hear of the death yesterday of Rob Holdstock. Apparently he suffered a heart attack while in intensive care after contracting an E. coli infection.

Reading his novel Mythago Wood (1984) transformed my understanding of what fantasy might be (before that I had defined it more or less in terms of The Lord of the Rings).

He will be sorely missed by both fans and writers of fantasy.

26 November 2009

Against biblical literalism

Here is an interesting assertion from John Calvin. Commenting on the literal interpretation of the Bible, he says:
Once this principle is accepted, a boundless barbarism will overwhelm the whole light of faith. For what monstrous absurdities will these fanatical men not draw forth from Scripture if they be allowed to raise in objection every tittle to establish what they please! (Institutes 4.17.23)
Admittedly this occurs in the context of his discussion of the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. But he clearly intends his criticism of biblical literalism to apply more broadly since he also takes a swipe at an early Christian heresy completely unrelated to the issue at hand.

19 November 2009

The glory of the creature

It is a serious thing...to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities...that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations – these are mortal.... But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. (C.S. Lewis, They Asked for a Paper, London: Bles, 1962, p. 210)
That passage from C.S. Lewis has always struck me as a particularly powerful statement of the Christian vision of human nature. It is also one that resonates very strongly with the Franciscan tradition. In Franciscan terms, every person – no, every creature – is potentially a little brother or sister of Christ. Every aspect of creation contains within it traces that reveal it to be the handiwork of the Creator.

18 November 2009

Big sister has her eye on our blogs

According to Ian Burrell of the The Independent:
Baroness Buscombe, the new chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, has ambitions for her organisation that go beyond the traditional newspaper companies.

She wants to examine the possibility that the PCC's role should be extended to cover the blogosphere, which is becoming an increasing source of breaking news and boasts some of the media's highest-profile commentators, such as the political bloggers Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. . . .

She said that after a review of the governance structures of the PCC, she would want the organisation to "consider" whether it should seek to extend its remit to the blogosphere, a process that would involve discussion with the press industry, the public and bloggers . . .
I find that very disturbing, particularly as Baroness Buscombe is a Tory peer, so that kind of thinking might well be echoed by our next government.

09 November 2009


Many years ago Fergus Bannon, one of the members of the Glasgow SF Writers Circle, wrote a near future SF thriller. Unfortunately before he managed to place it with a publisher, it was overtaken by events like the fall of the Berlin Wall and he decided to shelve it.

Now, with his permission, Gary Gibson has updated it and made it available on Smashwords for the very reasonable sum of $2.00. You can buy it here.

04 November 2009

Celebrating Wallace and Gromit

Google are celebrating Wallace and Gromit’s twentieth anniversary today. People who can come up with something as clever as this should really be forgiven their plans for world domination!