Showing posts from September, 2012

Moorcock's Mars

In the 1960s and 1970s, alongside the experimental, non-linear Jerry Cornelius texts, Michael Moorcock also wrote heroic fantasy in the popular Elric books, as well as a sequence of novels that re-wrote or pastiched classic British fiction, including the Nomads of the Time Streams trilogy (1971-80) that re-worked Wellsian scientific romance, and the Dancers At The End Of Time sequence (1974-6) that took fin-de-si├Ęcle literature as a starting point.  The first of these sequences, published between 1965-7, pastiched the planetary romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I’ve been reading these for another project and enjoyed them, despite my lack of appetite for fantasy.
Both the Nomads trilogy and the ERB pastiches have frame-narratives. In The first of the ‘Kane of Old Mars’ books, City of the Beast, the frame-narrator stumbles upon Kane at a cafe on the French Riviera. After introducing himself, the narrator listens to Kane’s adventures, whereupon he disappears from the novel until the end…

Romancing the Telescope with the Heroes of Science

The other day, Terry Gilliam posted a photo on facebook with the caption: 'This is Nicola Tesla, one of the greatest scientists the world has ever known ... and you probably have never heard of him. Without him we wouldn't have AC electricity or the radio. I wouldn't be communicating with you know if it wasn't for him'. Actually, since the film of Christopher Priest's The Prestige, 'you' might very well have heard of Nikola Tesla. He has become a kind of science-hero who is seen to be a neglected genius: see this page from The Oatmeal, for instance. This BBC page even calls him 'the patron saint of geeks': some title, that. And Tesla even has a Wikipedia page that catalogues his appearance in popular culture, mainly in sf. (The title of this piece is lifted from OMD's 'Romance of the Telescope', which featured on their 1983 lp Dazzle Ships; a single the following year was called 'Tesla Girls'.)

The Oatmeal's line on Tesla…


I've been struggling for a while to piece together quite how some of my interests in certain forms of science fiction and the fantastic in general can fit into an overall project (I realise I've been concerned with androids and transmissions for a while too, but these are kind of coalescing). In particular, the kind of stuff I've been interested in is: time, Wells's The Time Machine, Borges, Roussel, literary experiments, science, bicycles, clocks. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with this stuff, but a week or two ago I went with wife Deniz and daughter Isobel to the Ruthin Craft Centre where they had an exhibition of the jewellery and other works by Wendy Ramshaw. Ramshaw began in the 1960s by making Op-Art and paper jewellery, but has since developed into a wide range of materials and pieces, from 'ringsets' mounted on extraordinary steampunk-ish holders, to the large frames and gates such as the one shown above in the V&A in London. Her to…