Both stove glasses were cracked, the bolts that tightened the clamps to hold those glasses in place had rusted solid, there was rust elsewhere, heat-resistant seals were falling apart and the whole thing looked pretty crappy:
I managed to find new sealing material here, bought new bolts, drilled out the old ones and re-tapped the holes, cleaned off all the rust, re-sprayed with heat-resistant paint, fitted seals and glass and now the thing is as good as new:
Thursday 4th October
Caroline and I watched and enjoyed the first season of Deadwood with its sleezy depiction of that town in gold rush America. Set design and clothing, in fact all the physical details were superb. It has some excellent actors too like the hotel owner I always remember as the genetic designer from Blade Runner and the doctor who I always remember as the Harkonnen’s mentat in the film of Dune and, of course, the central supporting pillar of all this: Ian McShane as the saloon owner Al Swearengen. My only gripes concerned my inability to understand some of the talk and some holes in the plot. I understood that the slightly antiquated way of speaking added to the general atmosphere, but when it came out of the mouth of someone playing the drunken Calamity Jane I understood none of it. As for plot holes, the most glaring was when Al Swearengen makes the illogical and thoroughly out of character decision to back off on stealing a gold claim because the sheriff, Bullock, would make a good ‘front man’.
In season II it seems to me that they’ve made the mistake I’ve often seen in other series: those producing it decided to give us more of what they think makes their series a success, and got it wrong. I’m guessing that the decisions made at this point were by committee rather than by someone with a clear vision of where the series was going. In this case they’ve gone for more atmosphere which apparently means rambling speeches from the ‘characters’ to say in twenty-five words what could have been said in five. The result of this has been that the frankly poor plot of this season is suffering even more. I’ll give you an example: I just watched an episode where the leader of a group of miners decided to tar a black man, who had only just appeared on the scene, and the back-story of why this happened simply wasn’t there. This event had no connection at all to the miners’ earlier anger at a county commissioner who was threatening their gold claims, and the evident anger of their leader at this black man wasn’t at all explained. Also, adding insult to injury, Swearengen’s role over these episodes, after a rather silly and weakly justified fight with Bullock, has been to suffer bladder stones. I do hope this season improves now he’s recovering.
Friday 5th October
Here’s an update on the news for my American readers. The people at Night Shade Books are looking forward to bringing The Owner Trilogy to print in the US and have scheduled The Departure for publication Feb 5, 2013 with Zero Point following May 7, 2013 and Jupiter War September 3, 2013 (catching up with publication of that last book in Britain). Nicely keying into that my short story The Other Gun will be appearing in Asimov’s April/May issue that year with, of course, mention of these books in attached biog. It should be an interesting year with those three books slamming into the American market in rapid succession. In essence this should work as quite a profile-raising exercise.
Monday 8th October
I just watched the lift off of a commercial resupply rocket heading for the space station. I have to admit to being tickled to see that the robot craft its taking up there is called ‘Dragon’. Of course the name probably stems from the fire-breathing version, but I can fantasize about someone on the project choosing the name from their SF reading.
I notice someone put graffiti on a badly painted wall in the Tate Gallery. I don’t understand why this is news – surely a coat of white wash will sort it out?
Tuesday 9th October
I’ve just cleared 93,000 words with Penny Royal II and my characters have still yet to arrive at a particular destination where the end game of this book is to play out. I am just entering what I’ll call a precursor punch-up with a bit of war time history on the side. I have been enjoying detailing in these books a Polity bioweapon, based on a prador parasite, and delivered by assassin drones made in the shape of that parasite. Blame my winter reading of that blog ‘Parasite of the Day’.