The Nameless Horror


Aidan, international obstetrician: “In America, when you have a boy or a girl, they put you in a chair like [his stepdad] Will’s in and they fold it and open it with you in it and make it so you lie flat on it, like a bed, and that’s how they do it.”

Everyone’s home from the hospital, all are well. Aidan bought his new brother a sort of sock cat as a present, which is very sweet.

Of Work And The Race Against Children

Something like a month and a half ago, a little more maybe, I started work on YA Alien Book (which has a proper working title, but I don’t want to jinx it and have some other fucker steal it) with the aim of getting as much done as possible before the baby arrives. This is a tight deadline in anyone’s books, especially for anyone who’s also a parent and who has a near-term pregnant other half.

I hit a hitch a few weeks ago, realising that a chunk of what I’d planned was basically as lame as a pirate with two wooden legs, each designed for other pirates of wildly different height. Some reorganising later, and the situation was saved, at the cost of some lost time figuring out how.

And so, last night, I reached the end of the main plotline, all 29-ish chapters of it. I have skipped a handful on the way, and left some others not-quite done, but I nevertheless hit the finale. That’s the bones of the story all in place, whether or not they’ve all been properly fleshed out. This is good; psychologically, apart from anything else, I’m now effectively editing a book, even if in terms of word count it’s only half there. It also means that when I’m trying to work through the fatigue and brain-lock of the next few weeks with a newborn, I’m not going to be struggling to remember what I was trying to do where. (Which happens quite a lot if I’m not careful; there’s a brief hallucination sequence at the start of BURIAL GROUND which I plainly intended to do something with, but promptly forgot all about and never recalled where I’d been running with it. I only left it in because I liked it.)

There are also three sub-stories with other characters, which are effectively independent of the main, although they do cross over in parts. Each is essentially its own short story of (a planned) 6-7.5k words, or 4-5 chapters. Two of those 14 chapters are written as I type this, as is an intro not directly connected with any of the others.

All in all, I’m happy with where I’ve been able to reach in the past couple of months, even if the thing’s only half written and still liberally sprinkled with notes to self telling me what a shit writer I am.


Sure, there are probably somewhere between six and a dozen quite important theoretical astrophysicists around the world who would have been thrilled at the news (after all, the diamond planet fills a gap in the binary pulsar family). But in the overall scheme of things, it isn’t that important. And yet the diamond planet has been hugely successful in igniting public curiosity about the universe in which we live. In that sense, for myself and my co-authors, I suspect it will be among the greatest discoveries of our careers. Our host institutions were thrilled with the publicity and most of us enjoyed our 15 minutes of fame. The attention we received was 100% positive, but how different that could have been. How so? Well, we could have been climate scientists.

How do you teach a kid to be able to make a sound judgment about what is and what isn’t reliable information? How do you synthesize that into a coherent position that allows you to make informed decisions about your life? In other words, all of those things we think of as school were shaped for a vision of work and productivity and adulthood that was very much an industrial age of work, productivity and adulthood. We now have a pretty different idea of work, productivity and adulthood, but we’re still teaching people using the same institutionalized forms of education.