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airships, antarctica and autogyros

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  • airships, antarctica and autogyros

    Dear Mr Moorcock et al,

    Five years ago, I posted a Q+A about the 'Skywhale' project - using an airship for scientific work in Antarctica (inspired originally by Capt Bastable associations). Mr Moorcock replied with a very encouraging and interested mail which I have only just 'picked up'!!! I really should stay in one time zone for longer! So belated thanks for your kind message, Michael. Unfortunately (but with a depressing inevitability, somehow) the 'Skywhale' project ran out of cash a little while ago - perhaps if we had planned to call it 'I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of This Dirigible Floating Serenely Over The Wastes of the Antarctic Peninsula!' or 'How Dirty is Your Zeppelin Shed Property Ladder Makeover?' we might have fared better. Ho hum. However, all is not lost, as now the idea has morphed into the use of autogyros for similar purposes. These have the advantages of being ultra-manouevrable, hover-capable, very, very small and moreover CHEAP, costing in the thousands as opposed to the millions. The downside is they are a bit noisier than blimps but that's a minor quibble. I have thus been spending some time up in sunny Carlisle learning how to fly/ at least not crash these hybrid beasties. So watch out for further reports! We now need to assess performance in extreme cold, but shouldn't be anything too insurmountable. There's something very 'Science Fictiony' about these aircraft too - maybe all those subliminal associations with the early days of flight and the 'War in the Air' atmosphere!
    PS. Just another odd connexion in the tangled skein of reality, perception and imagination - I logged on to the site this morning completely out of the blue, on a whim. It was only after I read Michael's reply to my archaeo-text (archive Q&A article #428 if you're interested) that it dawned on me that I am typing this in a consulting room on Ladbroke Grove. Was it a subliminal association that triggered me to connect the Grove with MM, or is it the relict psychic field generated by Mr Moorcock's creativity process at this locus that tuned my neurons to this frequency?
    Now, what's down this tunnel under the cellar?
    oo-er!

  • #3
    Dr Spuyten Duyvil peered into the gloom. His footfalls echoed flatly on the damp slabs as he edged along the tunnel. The muffled tones of female devotions filtered down from above like drips of lime.
    'OK, sunshine. Raise 'em!'
    A hard point nudged between Duyvil's shoulderblades.
    'Jerry...?'
    'No, Mother flaming Superior. Who d'you think?'
    Duyvil lowered his arms again with a relieved exhalation. He turned to stare at the shadowy figure behind him.
    Jerry Cornelius looked disgruntled at this cavalier attitude, but he lowered the needle gun.
    'What you doing here?' he muttered, holstering the weapon under his battered car coat.
    'Same as you, Jerry' Duyvil beamed.
    'Commercial Exploitation of Scientific Surveys Postulated In Theory?' Jerry raised his eyebrows.
    'Well, more specifically, Dirigible In-Situ Antarctic Spatial Transect Environmental Research' Duyvil shrugged, 'It amounts to the same thing'.
    Jerry grinned.
    'Lead on MacDuff'
    They crept slowly forwards. After a few more yards, the passage forked. They stared into the twin abysses of yawning blackness.
    'Mike said it was left' murmured the aeronaut.
    'I don't trust him. He always managed to get me in some right sticky passages in the past' Jerry sounded bitter, 'And in the future, come to think of it'.
    'Let's at least go as far as the next paragraph'.
    The passage wound along. Suddenly, Duyvil stopped.
    'What is it? hissed Jerry, scratching his ear with the needle gun, which he had unholstered again, nervously.
    'A door' Duyvil ran his trembling fingers over the cold, metallic surface. The door was rivetted, reinforced with bands of thick iron, 'It's like a bank vault'
    'The Vault of Thwarted Ventures' Jerry felt a surge of recognition 'Stand back!'
    He gritted his teeth, raised the needle gun. The door imploded, ripped inwards by the penetrator like a folding umbrella. Their ears ringing, the two adventurers leapt over the conical hulk of the door into a blinding white light.
    'Jesus!' Duyvil squinted into the glare. Slowly his eyes adjusted.
    They were in a vast cathedral-like space, fluted arches rising up towards a high canopy of hoary stone. Harsh arc lights flooded the space. Glittering in the beams, a gigantic fish-like bulk loomed over them.
    'Blimey!' Jerry leaned back, trying to see the top of the massive airship. Ribs of duralumin curved in fusiform lines of perfect beauty from stem to stern, and the silvery skin shivered as the four great Maybach engines thrummed.
    A flame-haired figure leaned out of the forward gondola.
    'All aboard the Skylark!' Miss Brunner's penetrating voice cracked across the cold air, 'Come on, boys. It's what you've been after all these years, isn't it?'
    They gazed up at the airship's flank.
    Jerry looked at Spuyten. Spuyten stared back at Jerry.
    'Erm...'
    'Well, if it's all the same to you...'
    'If you don't mind, Miss Brunner...'
    'We'll be off then...'
    Her cries of outrage followed them back down the passage.
    'Pity' Duyvil kicked lislessly at the dust.
    'Hmmm...' Jerry lit a cigarette.
    'Anyone else...'
    'Yeah'
    'Oh, well'
    'Can't be helped'
    Soon they were back up in the fuggy air of Ladbroke Grove.
    'See you'
    'See ya'
    They merged into the rushing crowds.

    Miss Brunner stripped off her flight suit and pushed back her goggles. She slumped disconsolately onto a chair and looked up at the gigantic advertising panels stitched onto the 'R102's sides. Her eyes followed the eight-foot high gothic lettering.
    'What's wrong with The Daily Mail?' she whined.

    Sorry.

    Comment


    • #4
      Is that The Daily Mail which became an A4 comic or The Daily Mail which so successfully led the anti-war campaign ? Listen, I need the escape at the moment. I need it bad. Everything's wonderful. Life is good. Nobody's dying violent deaths and strangling cats for their fur. I'm Aitch Eh Pee Pee Why, I'm Aitch Eh Pee Pee Why, I know I am, I'm glad I am, I'm Aitch Eh Pee Pee Why...
      This isn't pierrot make-up, either. It's my real face. Yes it is. Yes it is.
      Yes it really really is...
      Why are you looking at me like that ?

      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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      • #5
        I was worrying about your rictus sardonicus. Or was it wind? Hehe.

        Talking of strangled cats - We've had a spate of headless feline corpses appearing in Chiswick, Roehampton, etc: Same thing happened a few years ago in Tooting. I had to post-mortem two of them. Quite freaked me out. It's not even as if whichever bizarre individual/ cult is doing it keeps the fur for something which would be bad enough, but...yikes. Perhaps you're better off in Austin after all! (I seem to remember you had some pussycats? Hope they're OK).

        Now put the makeup away and stand away from the bag...

        Comment


        • #6
          Oh, God! Or Oh, Goddess (if you suspect Bastet is the appropriate deity here). Actually I walk my cats on leashes. The rednecks in these parts seems to have as little respect for animal life as they have for human life.
          They drive their trucks at any cat they spot on the road and I've seen one try to get a flock of feral parrots (if that's the word for escaped parrots) who had landed in a puddle and were drinking. When a redneck spots me and yells a witticism ('You should git a dog fer thet leash, mister') I always reply in French. You might as well play to the stereotype, I say. Sadly the Pierrot suit itself no longer quite fits my
          waist so I'm reduced to wearing Moroccan djellabahs...

          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by Perdix
            We've had a spate of headless feline corpses appearing in Chiswick, Roehampton, etc: Same thing happened a few years ago in Tooting.
            I can only assume that local councils are collecting their eyes to place down the middle of the motorways? It's a safety issue really.
            "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by Perdix
              We've had a spate of headless feline corpses appearing in Chiswick, Roehampton, etc: Same thing happened a few years ago in Tooting. I had to post-mortem two of them.
              You had to post mortem headless cats?

              What if they died from head trauma? Would you ever find out?

              Jeremiah the confused

              Comment


              • #9
                Dislike or fear of cats is curiously common in the U.S. It's perhaps an odd holdover
                from medieval European attitudes, like so many social living fossils in the U.S.
                Fortunately it's not universal. (I've got 2 cats at home. The elder cat is 18.)

                Near where I work, there's a colony of feral cats -- some turned loose, some born
                in the wild. I started feeding them, made friends with them, and (in a few cases)
                took them to the veterinarian. I've now been watching out for them for about 3 years.

                At first, people in the building (mostly shipping-and-receiving) made comments that
                demonstrated their witling-quotient. ("Hey, you sure must like cats!" My reply: "I like
                cats better than most people." I had no trouble; I'm physically intimidating, and I've
                got black belts in multiple asian martial arts. People leave me alone, generally, even when
                I use sarcasm, which is often. )

                Funny thing, but over time, attitudes have changed. Now, there are a good dozen
                people who feed these cats and take care of them. Quite a difference for the better.
                To bad it's unlikely to spread.

                LSN

                Comment


                • #10
                  We feed feral cats in Spain. Some of our neighbours dislike them and once made a serious attempt to get rid of them. As we'd predicted, they were soon plagued by rats. Nowadays, most of them accept the value of being nice to the cats, which are mostly nipped and given their shots. I must admit I felt a certain satisfaction when the worst cat-hater also suffered the worst rat-attacks. Is this how things started in Hamlyn ?

                  Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                  The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                  Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                  Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                  The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                  Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    I know there are exceptions, but by and large it seems that book lovers have cats and t.v. lovers have dogs.
                    My Facebook; My Band; My Radio Show; My Flickr Page; Science Fiction Message Board

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      That was the tricky thing, Jeremiah; No one's ever sure in these cases of the exact cause of death - but it seems that the actual decapitation may be post-mortem. In other words, it's possible that whoever is doing this is either finding fresh RTA victims and simply (!) colecting the heads, or is killing the cat in an obscure and hard-to-detect way (ie, as you say, head trauma) and then doing the 'surgery' (which, chillingly, seems quite competently done - echoes of Jack the R.?). Akif Pirinci's Francis! We need you! In fact, while I'm at it, I invoke Bastet (in the particular form of the scary statue in the Bristol City Museum), the Cats Protection league and the spirit of HP Lovecraft in the defence of all felids! Amen-miaow!

                      I like the natural justice of your Spanish neighbours' backfiring 'Biological Control' experiment, Michael. 'Those who forget their history are doomed to relive it', eh? They should remember Chinese sparrows under Mao (Miaow?). By the way, we've got masses of feral psittacines in SW London now - Rose-ringed parakeets in fact. I had eighteen of 'em in the garden this morning. Descendants of escapees from some production at Shepperton (or Teddington or something) in the 'Sixties. Attractive but loud. No-one's started trying to run them over yet though. I think Gallic confusion is an excellent strategy for disarming rednecks - 'Allez-vous en! Vous cols-rouges!' (That's not quite right is it? I'm afraid I only have 'Alpinist French': 'Un Stella Artois, s.v.p.'; 'J'ai mal a la tete - c'est l'altitude!' and 'Mon ami est mort sur la glacier'). In tricky scenarios I use phonetic Mongolian - 'Marrgash bitt homol toon!' - 'Tomorrow, we shall collect camel shit!' Usually does the trick.

                      I think the books-cats hypothesis is right - or maybe just imaginitive people empathise with felids. We need to watch out though - Cat scientists are working on a tin-opener that doesn't require opposable thumbs - we'll be history, guys!

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        I have to kill big cane roaches from time to time and I don't much like it since they are harmless creatures usually coming into the house to look for water. When the cats catch one they tend to take a long time to die.
                        So I console myself that the roaches contain the reincarted souls of Chinese cat-stranglers... However, when my Oriental shorthair, Bill, catches a snake it's sometimes hard to work out whether it's a safe snake or a venemous one. He doesn't care, being, like most cats, pretty impervious to snake venom, but I have to try to rescue the buggers without getting bitten.

                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          The cat / dog thing certainly works from the point of view of our household compared to that of my parents in law. However my sister keeps three cats and is constantly glued to the box. Perhaps this is just because she lives on her own.

                          I must admit I felt a certain satisfaction when the worst cat-hater also suffered the worst rat-attacks. Is this how things started in Hamlyn?
                          I think the best historically authenticated example is when cats were killed off en masse during the Black Death, which they were wrongly accused of spreading. In reality, of course, it was fleas carried by rats - bad move!

                          I am reminded that William Burroughs, in his later years, was also great cat lover. All hail to Bastet!
                          \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            I think Bill Burroughs divided writers into two groups. The good ones were cat owners, the bad ones kept dogs. I can think of several exceptions to this rule, however, including Jonathan Carroll, who has used his dog as a character in more than one novel.
                            A decent rule of thumb, though.
                            I'm considering maybe moving to Rome in my old age, if only because they have laws protecting the feral cats which lounge about everywhere on the ruins. There are something like 200,000 cats living like emperors in central Rome.

                            Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                            The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                            Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                            Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                            The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                            Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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