Squaring the circle

A few items that have caught my interest tonight:

Pan’s Labyrinth, as recommended by Kimbofo of Reading Matters, is out on DVD. These days, I not only have to manage to obtain the DVD via competing requirements on the rental service, but also find an hour or two when I am not already supposed to be doing something else, and then beg for screen time– so not sure if I will be able to square all those circles. If I can, this is certainly one to watch.

Twitter: do we love it or hate it? Do I want to know what you are doing each second, and do you want to know what I’m currently up to? Can we even get it to work, owing to vast demand? What is it, anyway? Find out, courtesy of Bloggers Blog.

You have to be quick to ride the trends of the blogosphere, as they are here and gone in a day, but today’s fad is to ask whether you can predict Oprah’s next pick? Some links to posts attempting this feat are over at Zooba.

On a more serious note, the Tart of Fiction/Fictionbitch discusses the sale of first, second and third novels.  Money quote: "publishers are publishing more first novels than previously and cutting back on their mid-list authors".

Jennifer Rohn of LabLit (the science-in-fiction website) writes the first review that I’ve read of Nature Network: Is the world ready for MyLab? I’m probably biased, but from what I’ve seen so far, yes. (Jennifer thinks so, too.)

Despite the typo in the title, the post "Wandsworth to close public libraries" is one of the most depressing I’ve read for a while on the Good Library Blog — which, by definition, spends a lot of time and space on depressing posts.  So, turn secondary schools into gigantic institutions where nobody knows anyone else; close down the libraries; and then wonder why civilisation is threatened. Hmm.

Everyone is writing about bookstores closing down after mergers, HMV, Ottakars, Waterstones — now here is W H Smith eyeing up Borders for airport stores. Well, we already have branches of W H Smiths at all UK airports, so this can only mean yet more "rationalisation".

Let’s get back to something more worthwhile: reading and appreciation of books. How do you feel about about cheating?, asks Peter of Detectives beyond Borders. And, against expectations, Elaine of Random Jottings…. enjoyed last night’s Northanger Abbey on TV. I have taped it (or rather, someone in my house has, I hope — I have never learned how to "tape" onto DVDs), so clearly, a delight in store, once we can get everyone here and with the requisite 2 hours to spare. I think this is where I came in, so I will stop here and retire to bed with a good book.

A complete history of blogging

Say no more: dustbury.com: A complete and utter history of blogging.

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‘Tis the writing season

For some, with the weekend clock change in the UK, Spring has begun. For others, like my friend Henry Gee, it is the writing season.

"I have a constitutive inability to suffer from writer’s block. Some say that this literary derepression is my greatest curse as well as my greatest asset, in that I can write voluminously and very much more quickly than I can think. The hardest thing in the world is to not to write.

Last year I sat down to write a novel, just to see if I could. Four months and 178,000 words later it was done. If you like, you can read it here, but even if you don’t, and even if no-body reads it at all, that won’t detract a whit from a feeling of personal achievement that will, for me, mark one of the more satisfying of my life."

Henry is a polymath: an erudite palaeontologist as well as author, editor and science-fiction buff. Perhaps nowhere are his various interests combined to better effect than in his various Lord of the Rings guises (though he has written on plenty of other themes, including some purely scientific books). One such Tolkenian homage is his book The Science of Middle Earth; he’s talking about that on 13 April at Cromer library. See here for more details about that, and for more about Henry.

The extract from his "writing" post is from his latest blog, "The End of the Pier Show", on the Nature Network, and which I can highly recommend for Henry’s own particular fusion of talents, not the least of which is humour.  As well as his writing post (in which we learn what can happen while you lock yourself into a shed to write your PhD thesis), we can read about Linnaeus’s 300th birthday, Henry’s family move to Cromer, use of English in scientific writing, and standing next to scientist-celebrities at parties.