Work

This week didn’t feel very productive, I spent a bunch of time waiting for things, and didn’t get much done. But it just didn’t feel like there was much to do.

Our PM is back mid next week, so hopefully there’ll be some developments towards the next thing we stick the GOV.UK Account to: there’s only so much we can do with the Transition Checker, especially now that Transition is done.

Books

This week I read:

  • Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks, the ninth of the Culture series.

    I found this one a little hard to get into for some reason. I’d actually started it straight after Matter, in November, but put it down 150 or so pages in and turned back to other books for a while. I think I found the premise just a bit too hard to accept: the overarching story is about virtual afterlives, to which the digitised minds of dead people are uploaded. These afterlives are largely virtual Heavens, as you’d expect; but there are also virtual Hells, in which these minds are tormented for all time.

    …but why?

    It’s not effective punishment, because you’re not punishing the actual person, just a copy of them. And even putting that aside, it’s kind of hard to accept that these super-advanced civilisations have decided to bring back torture as a punishment. It was just too hard for me to suspend disbelief.

  • Volume 2 of Black Wings of Cthulhu edited by S. T. Joshi, an anthology of modern Lovecraftian stories.

    They were all very good, though I think my favourites were:

    • View by Tom Fletcher

      A couple are viewing a house for sale. It starts out normal, but no matter how far up they go there is always another floor; the estate agent, who sweats and sweats, and scratches and scratches, and seems to be very tall and have very long teeth, is adamant that they must see the whole building, and especially the view from the top! The husband is in love with the house, only the wife seems to realise that things are weird. The story ends on a nice cliffhanger.

    • Bloom by John Langan

      A couple find what appears to be an organ transplant case, occupied, abandoned on the road. Was it dropped from a truck? None of the hospitals they call seem to be missing anything. Whatever it is, it seems to be somehow connected to the husband’s father’s crazed researches…

    • The Other Man by Nicholas Royle

      A man wakes up in the morning and goes about his usual routine, only to find that someone else is in his bedroom when he returns. A man, and that man looks and sounds much like he does. His wife certainly hasn’t noticed the difference. Will our intrepid hero find out who the other man is? No.

    • The Skinless Face by Donald Tyson

      A researcher has created a device for analysing stone and reconstructing patterns of stress, allowing it to recreate carvings which have been covered over or removed. An archaeological dig in Mongolia is his opportunity to try it out, where the researchers have found a huge statue carven of unknown stone. But the face that they all see isn’t what they expected.

Miscellaneous

I’ve been feeling a bit restless this week, like I want to make something, but I don’t know what. Usually I make something which solves a problem I have; but all my TTRPG prep is up to date, my finances are in order, and I don’t have any new problems.

Maybe I’ll try learning some frontend stuff, I’m not very good with that.