My favourite author


So it goes ...
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London UK
By a very long margin is M John Harrison.

I've lifted this from his blog:

stochastic resonance & electric fish

Metaphysics: a brand that has sheltered a billion crazed subjectivities & subjective epistemes, emerging from scarified metaphors, mad culty insights, wonky observations, unbalanced personal alchemies & dogmatically institutionalised intuitions about the shapes of things & how they bolt one to another in the service of human “existence”. I love it all & I especially love the imagery that spills from it in torrents. It’s a whole Woolworths of pick n mix.

I love it for all the reasons I love physics, but I don’t mistake the one for the other as a description of how things work; nor am I really interested in a particular metaphysics, or the history of metaphysics as a singular discipline or single object of study. I’m just on the lookout for a glittery concept, a slippery notion, or a deeply debatable cognitive structure I can make fiction with.

What I want is to stumble over ideas that have sudden hi-res qualities and instant impact. An idea that has that kind of force, & that immediately charms me by entangling itself with metaphors I’ve already made, will find itself in a month or so part of the individual pathology of a short story about something else entirely.

I’m a user of metaphysics, not even an amateur. I’m a user of physics too. I’ve not been the same person, let alone the same writer, since I discovered that a percentage of white noise injected into the input can, counterintuitively, amplify frequencies previously too faint to hear. Culturally, writers & readers operate in the same kind of noise-rich environment as electric fish. They live in a similar neurobiological arms race. Since Alastair Reynolds explained neurobiological stochastic resonance to me 20 years ago, my definition of a science fiction writer has been: someone who’s acutely aware of a concept like that even as they write something that never even mentions it.

Ambient Hotel
Interesting, what would be the book you tell somebody to start with?

Michener, James Michener if I had to pick one I think it would be him. I have read the books Chesapeake, Alaska, the source, Hawaii, The Drifters. I think I need to look into more cuz I'm enjoyed everything I've read despite its length and depth of study
Interesting, what would be the book you tell somebody to start with?

Michener, James Michener if I had to pick one I think it would be him. I have read the books Chesapeake, Alaska, the source, Hawaii, The Drifters. I think I need to look into more cuz I'm enjoyed everything I've read despite its length and depth of study

I find that generally the universe will give a person what he/she needs. I judge the greatness of what I read according to the godness it gives to me. So far, the most shattering revelations have come from the more simple forms, so I tend to like them the most. Therefore I always begin my research with the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid). If simplicity invites to more depth, then and only then I will proceed. Considered in light of this, I would say Margery Williams is my fav author (the main character in her most well-known book was a rabbit).

I don't have a favourite (as in "I don't have just one favourite.) There's a legitimate reason that I am known on a first-name basis at several libraries to the point that I receive get-well cards/emails from libraries if they don't see me for a while (except for this past year but that was unavoidable as you well know.)

The books that I enjoy have to pass four tests (depending on length: inside front cover, back cover, page ten, and page fifty.) If there isn't a cohesive plot that I can figure out by these clues, I won't read the book, no matter how many people rave about how talented the author is. Usually an author follows a certain pattern unless something drastic happens/happened to them.

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
Interesting, what would be the book you tell somebody to start with?
Interesting question.

Harrison said he takes a genre and subverts it ... I dunno, I'm not a lit. crit., but I just relish his style.

The Kefahuchi Tract sf trilogy LightNova SwingEmpty Space – probably my favourites.
Excerpt from Light:

K-captain Seria Mau Genlicher was up in the halo with her ship, the White Cat, trolling for customers.

Up there, a thousand lights out of the galactic Core, the Kefahuchi Tract streams across half the sky, trailing its vast invisible plumes of dark matter. Seria Mau liked it there. She liked the halo.She liked the ragged margins of the Tract itself, which everyone called 'the Beach', where the corroded old pre-human observatories wove their chaotic orbits, tool-platforms and laboratories abandoned millions of years previously by entities who had no idea where they were - or perhaps any more what they were. They had all wanted a closer look at the Tract. Some of them had steered whole planets into position, then wandered off or died out. Some of them had steered whole solar systems into position, then lost them.

Even without all that stuff, the halo would have been a hard place to navigate. That made it a good hunting ground for Seria Mau, who now lay at a kind of non-Newtonian standstill inside a classic orbital tangle of white dwarf stars, waiting to pounce. She liked this time the best. Engines were shut down. Coms were shut down. Everything was shut down so she could listen.

Some hours ago she had lured a little convoy - three dynaflow freighters, civilian ships carrying 'archeological' artefacts out of a mining belt twenty lights along the Beach, hurried along anxiously by a fast armed yawl called La Vie Feerique - into this benighted spot and left them there while she went and did something else. Her ship's mathematics knew exactly how to find them again: they, however, tied to standard Tate-Kearney transformations, barely knew what day it was. By the time she returned, the yawl, overburdened by its duty of care, had got the freighters into the shadow of an old gas giant while it tried to calculate a way out of the trap. She watched them curiously. She was calm, they were not. She could hear their communications. They were beginning to suspect she was there. La Vie Feerique had sent out drones. Tiny actinic spangles of light showed where these had begun to encounter the minefields she had sown into the gravitational subcurrents of the cluster days before the freighters arrived.

'Ah,' said Seria Mau Genlicher, as if they could hear her.' You should be more careful, out here in empty space.'

As she spoke, the White Cat slipped into a cloud of non-baryonic junk, which, reacting weakly to her passage through it, stroked the hull like a ghost. A few dials woke up in the manual back-up systems in the empty human quarters of the ship, flickered, dropped back to zero. As matter, it was barely there, but the shadow operators were drawn to it. They gathered by the portholes, arranging the light that fell around them so that they could make the most tragic picture, looking at themselves in mirrors, whispering and running thin fingers across their mouths or through their hair, rustling their dry wings.

'If only you had grown like this, Cinderella,' they mourned, in the old language.

'Such a blessing,' they said.

Don't let me have to deal with this now, she thought.

'Go back to your posts.' she ordered them, 'or I'll have the portholes taken out.'

'We're always at our posts -'

'I'm sure we never meant to upset you, dear.'

'- always at our posts, dear.'

As if this had been a signal, La Vie Feerique, running fast upside the local sun, blundered into a minefield.

The mines, two micrograms of antimatter steered on to station by hydrazine engines etched into silicon wafers a centimetre square, weren't much more intelligent than a mouse; but once they knew you were there, you were dead. It was the old dilemma.You daren't move and you daren't stop moving. The crew of La Vie Feerique understood what was happening to them, even though it was very quick. Seria Mau could hear them screaming at one another as the yawl split lengthwise and levered itself apart. Not long after that, two of the freighters ran into one another as, dynaflow drivers clawing at the spatial fabric, they broke cover on desperate, half-calculated E&E trajectories. The third slunk quietly away into the debris around the gas giant, where it turned everything off and prepared to wait her out.

'No, no, this is not how we do it.' said Seria Mau. 'You tubby little thing.'

She appeared from nowhere on its port stern quarter and allowed herself to be detected.This produced an explosion of internal coms traffic and a satisfying little dash for safety, to which she put an end with some of her more serious - if less sophisticated – ordnance. The flare of the explosion lit up several small asteroids and, briefly, the wreckage of the yawl, which, locked into the local chaotic attractor, toppled past end over end, wrapped in a rather beautiful radio active glow.

'What does that mean?' Seria Mau asked the shadow operators: 'La Vie Feerique?'

No answer.
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Hey, Phyllis –

At the beginning of Light, two physicists are trying to decipher some 'interference' in the display of a Quantum computer they're developing. Tate, one of the two, notices something almost unseen, and his two cats, one black, one white, become entranced by the screen – they're seeing something he's not.

It all gets a bit weird, and at one point the cats walk into the screen.

Throughout the trilogy, cats, black or white, pop up. I could say they're Quantum Entangled, but the Kefahuchi Tract is like a rip in the fabric of the cosmos where all manner of 'impossible physics' spills out, all physics and every physics, and all of it works ...

In Nova Swing there's a place on a distant planet much like the Zone, if you've ever read the Russian sf novel Roadside Picnic, or seen Tarkovsky's movie Stalker... the book style is noir ... there's a bar on Straint Street called Black Cat, White Cat ...

"After a brief quiet struggle, Irene the Mona stumbled out. She took an uncertain step or two forward, peering blindly up and down Straint like a drunk assessing heavy traffic, then sat down suddenly on the edge of the sidewalk. The door slammed shut behind her. Her skirt rode up. Antoyne pressed his face closer to the glass. 'Hey,' he whispered to himself. Irene, meanwhile, set her little shiny red urethane vanity case down beside her and began to claw through its contents with one hand. She was still sitting there two or three minutes later, showing all she had, sniffing and wiping her eyes, when the cats came out of the Saudade event site in an alert silent rush.

Who knew how many of those cats there were? Another thing, you never found so much as a tabby among them, everyone was either black or white. When they poured out the zone it was like a model of some chaotic mixing flow in which, though every condition is determined, you can never predict the outcome. Soon they filled Straint in both directions, bringing with them the warmth of their bodies, also a close, dusty but not unpleasant smell. Irene struggled upright, but the cats took no more notice than if she had been one of the street lamps."

and later, in the bar:

"'I been there.' she told Antoyne, letting him get the peppermint smell, 'and just now I'm glad to meet someone else who's been there too.'

Antoyne was as encouraged by this as any man. He sat on after she finished the drink, trying to engage her with stories of the places he had seen back when he rode the rockets. But Irene had been to all those places too - and more, Liv Hula thought - and Fat Antoyne had all he was going to get for one cheap cocktail drink. Liv watched them from a distance, her own thoughts so churned she didn't care how it ended. Eventually even Antoyne could see the way things were. He scraped his chair back and retreated to his place by the window. What time was it? How had the things happened that ended him up here? He looked out onto Straint. 'It's day.' he said. 'Hey.' he grumbled, 'I actually respected the guy. You know?' Meanwhile the stream of cats flowed on like a problem in statistical mechanics, with out any apparent slackening or falling away of numbers, until suddenly it turned itself off and Straint was empty again."


If I could take you to that bar, the invite would be on your doorstep in an instant!
Thanks for the recommendation, Thomas!
I sent out this invitation long ago, memory escapes me, it seems eons... Or I should say my heart sent it, even though I knew I had nothing to offer. In heart language, not in the unknown tongue of really bad fantasy. I've never actually spoken in tongues.