10/16/2003

I'd been hoping to see Neal Stephenson speaking at one of the big bookshops in Glasgow as part of the promotional tour for his new book Quicksilver, tomorrow night, but it appears to have been cancelled. On the other hand, I caught something on BBC4 (again) I haven't seen since the early seventies, when I was an awful lot younger. It was part of a one-night Nigel Kneale retrospective, a documentary followed by a showing of The Stone Tape, about a research group trying to develop new recording technologies finding themselves sequestered in what turns out to be a haunted house. Naturally, they set out to try and get to the root of what the ghost is, using every piece of scientific equipment available to them. Naturally, things don't work out quite the way they expect them to.

It was enjoyable, but what made it seem like a historical artefact (apart from the clothes) was the rather dodgy and casual racism employed. Plus, the female lead (Jane Asher), supposedly a respected programmer, spent most of her time screaming and fainting and 'becoming emotional'. Perhaps you can't really expect much more for a show filmed in 1972. Still, even with the passage of time, and despite special effects barely one step up from shining a torch in a dark room and waving it about a bit, it was surprisingly atmospheric.

Funny, though, that in the preceding documentary, they chose not to mention Kneale's mid-seventies series 'Beasts,' which scared the crap out of me when I was about ten.

With any luck, I'll have finished the third draft of Against Gravity in the next few days. Then I'm going to spend probably an inordinately large amount of time tidying it up, plus possibly one or two more major changes, depending on what I think would make the story better. I've been wondering if one of the main supporting characters would be better if he became a she, and combined with the main female supporting character. Which is probably going to be as confusing as it sounds, but we'll see how things progress.
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