KLF photos

The Kangaroo Liberation Front has issued a statement saying that it did not in fact offer $100 dollars for each US hostage taken in their fight for marsupial rights.

It was $50. They’re not bloody worth anymore than that, mate, explained Drongo McThumper, spokes’roo for the KLF. President Bush has meanwhile told Congress that he requires 45670850 billion dollars to continue the war against the KLF, who he decries as ‘evil terrorists’ despite the fact the kangaroo peoples only started hitting US targets after Halliburton started ruining their drinking water by drilling for oil in the Australian deserts. In the meantime allegations by the Red Cross of systematic abuse of kangaroos held illegally in camps by US forces continue to surface. Donald Rumsfeld has so far failed to comment on the photographs of two US guards forcing captive KLF members to don red gloves and box each other to a bloody pulp for their amusement.

Clarke

Just found out via MAtthew’s blog that Neal Stephenson’s astonishing Quicksilver has won this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award, arguably the SF world’s equivelant to the Booker Prize in terms of respectability. I’m surprised that the first book in a series would win this – I thought perhaps he may win in a few years with the final part, although we all would know it was really for the whole series. Jon Courtenay Grimwood’s loose trilogy won the BSFA award last month for Felaheen, although again I suspect it was as much for the entire trilogy as that particular book.

Very happy with the prizes this year on the SF front, generally speaking (still think it was ludicrous and unfair to include Gaiman and McKean’s Wolves in the Walls in the Short Fiction category since it patently was not short fiction bu a complete kid’s illustrated picture book). I’ve blown the trumpet for Quicksilver and the following book in the Baroque Cycle, The Confusion on a number of occassions and, I am glad to say, sold lots of them in my bookstore (despite being distracted by a nasty little colleague who is an utter bitch and drives most of the staff mad and tried to make life harder for me this week, but I won’t waste my blog space on the little spoiled princess). Matthew has of course been sounding the Quicksilver trumpet even longer and if it is to the detriment of his studies then at least he should know a lot about Restoration period history :-).

Boldly going

The race to be the first private person to travel into space just came a lot closer as this privately constructed spaceship proved by soaring to an altitude of 64KM. Will we be getting day trips to the Moon within our lifetime? Well, I, along with all the other SF geeks from my era were promised abck in the 70s that we would have all that by now, so I’ll take it with a pinch of salt while wishing them good luck. I suspect if and when it does become available for us to take commericial flights into space for ordinary folk it will only ever be the rich who can afford it, which is a great shame, since some of us have been dreaming of it since first picking up an Arthur C Clarke book, or watching the original Star Trek or the late and sorely missed (he’d have given Bush such a drubbing for his debasement of science to support his politics) Carl Sagan presenting us with Cosmos (remember that Vangelis music?).

A more recent example would be the Planets series on BBC, which sometimes veered to the lightweight on the commentary front but the graphics, some real images from probes and satellites, others CGI, were always stunning. Which brings us nicely to the Cassini probe which has just returned some fine new images of the ringed planet, Saturn. Ken MacLeod’s Cassini Division in living imagery. How wonderful it would be though to see all of this with your own eyes and not second-hand through a probe. Could you imagine looking out of a window to see Saturn filling the sky before you? The spokes and bands of the rings turning with slow majesty, the ice particles amongst the drifting rocks glittering in the night, illuminated by a distant sun, looking like a Cartier diamond necklace on an elegant lady’s bare neck.

Vive la France

Opening this year’s Cannes Film Festival the president of the jury, Quentin Tarantino, opened his spectacularly large mouth to ruminate on the decline and fall of the British film industry. Not a subject that Tarantino has any personal experience in whatsoever, but this did not stop him pontificating upon it. I won’t go over his somewhat simplistic and uninformed opinion again. However he went on to remark that the world now only had three places where a sustainable movie industry was possible: America, Hong Kong and India.

By America he means Hollywood, which for a director who is supposedly steeped in underground and obscure movie lore, not to mention a man who started out as an Indy film-maker (along with his mate Rodriguez, who wrote a book on guerrilla movie making) is a dreadful simplification and ignores the independent film making in the US. Perhaps he feels he is now too big and cosy with being an auteur in the major studio system and those who make shoestring films to show at Sundance no longer count?

However, there was a far more glaring omission from his opinionated remarks – he missed out the French film industry. Given that he is currently in Cannes on the French Riviera and that the name of his production company is an Anglicised version of a name from a Truffaut film this is a very odd omission. As a cinephile myself I rank the French film-makers as amongst the finest in the world, with an output ranging from outright, big-budget farce like Les Visiteurs to the opulent period drama/fairy tale of Cyrano de Bergerac and from the mould-breaking directors of the New Wave to the Postmodernist vagueness of Luc Besson. A most odd omission, especially since some of these have been direct influences on Tarantino himself.

Meanwhile the red carpet procession at Cannes was brought to a halt as French journalists cheered Michael Moore’s arrival. As some may be aware Bush’s good friends at Disney have pulled the plug on his new film Farenheit 911 (the temperature at which truth burns) and are refusing to distribute it in the US. This means a US film about (largely) US problems is not being shown in the USA but will be shown around the rest of the world. So much for freedom of speech. But then if your family and political/business friends can subvert the law to put you into the Oval Office then what’s attempting to block a pesky little film, eh? I don’t always agree completly with Moore (although I often do) but I will totally and utterly back his rights to say what he needs to say.