The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray

Our next tale of dystopian science-fiction misery is The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray, who is one of the QI Elves no less. So at the very least, I think we can expect the science behind the fiction. The premise is stark in simplicity: following a celestial event millions of miles away, Earth’s rotation begins to slow down, until eventually stops. The planet still orbits the sun, but without the its own rotation, days on side of the planet are perpetual, as is the night on the other. Most of the world is either too hot or too cold to support life, and the few countries where people can still survive face starvation as crops fail, and complete breakdown of global communication as the world’s satellite array fails.

The book does a decent job of explaining how the implausible might happen, but that’s not really what it’s about. Once you’re past the background of the global catastrophe (that they did have about thirty years to prepare for), we move on to how the human race adapts when the world stops turning.

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Inverted World by Christopher Priest

This was first published in 1974, so I’m getting to it a tad late. I wasn’t sure what to read next, so for me, that’s a good time to dip into the SF Masterworks collection.

Now if you’ve read anything about Inverted World then you’ll be expecting something exceptionally mind-blowing. I’m not sure if I’d go as far as that, but it certainly qualifies as mind-bending.

The story is set on a planet that might be Earth … or might not and follows the life of Helward Mann, a denizen of a city that, for the past few hundred years, has been dragged around across the continent on rails in order to stay ahead of some unknown catastrophe. Helman works his way through a youth opportunity programme that will eventually see him graduate as a member of the Guild of Surveyors which is tasked with mapping the land ahead so that the Guild of Navigators, Bridge-builders, and the Traction Guild can work together to keep the city (inconveniently called Earth) moving.

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Asciidoc: part deux

First of all, I’m going to apologise for the post-Christmas techy rant.

I do most of my writing in Markdown; and as I may have mentioned before, I’m not altogether happy about it.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s a lot better than trying to craft a novel in Word, which is a plethora of distractions and well-intentioneed overkill. There are lots of really good tools, at wildly varying price points, that make working with Markdown a doddle … mostly. The important thing, however, is that a Markdown file can be converted to just about any other file format, so it’s the idea place to keep the source of your novel.

The trouble is that the publishing industry is built around the Word document format, which is why, I guess, most authors still churn out their books in Word.

But what if we could start again? What if a comet hit the planet, wiped out civilisation and we all had to crawl out of the ashes and rebuild? What would the new universal document format look like? 1)I’m willing to admit that my priorities may come off as a little skewed.

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