Jun 29, 2010

I thought you might like to know, I’ve gone over to the Light Side. Yes, I’ve bought a MacBook Pro as my internet computer -that’s in addition to the i-phone Mrs H got me for Christmas, and of course I have an ipod (and a shuffle as well). After about fifteen years of loyalty to Windows, through a whole load of upgrades running on various kinds of hardware, I finally gave up. It’s a shame, not least because I knew every keystroke and shortcut I need to know, and how to navigate round the menu for every program I use. So learning how to use a Mac and throwing away all your intuitive ability is a painful business, especially at my age. So why do it? I simply had enough of Vista crashing once a week, of taking forever to boot up, and shut down (sometimes I came down in the morning to find it hadn’t), of having to use the restore disc, of fighting off viruses. I’m not claiming to have anything close to Charlie Stross levels of digital technical competence, but after those fifteen years I have enough basic knowledge of the software to work round all these problems, and get the thing working again. But frankly, why should I? I know this is hardly a fresh topic, but I had managed to ignore it for quite a while. In itself that perseverance is an interesting comment on how ubiquitous computers have become, and in growing up with them how we have come to tolerate their faults. The old laptop cost about £500 two years ago, yet it hardly works effectively; basically it’s gone downhill from the moment I first switched it on. And that was okay, because that’s the way of it. But imagine spending £500 on anything else and having so much trouble with it? It would be back in the shop within an hour, with me thumping the desk and demanding a refund or a brand new model along with a groveling apology. In a way it was self-inflicted. Who doesn’t feel a mild tweak of triumph as yet again you’ve found the right work-round to get your program running again, or standing there in the front line in the virus war.

However, I simply grew tired of all the crap which comes with being a computer owner today. That and the scorn of friends who do use Apple (including my mother-in-law) and constantly tell me that don’t have these kind of problems. I’m sounding like an Advert for Apple here, and apologies for that, but the Book Pro works, plain and simple. It switches on and boots up without any fuss, and shut down is like going back to the seventies when electrical products had an off switch. So apart from the irritating differences in functions -they’re not missing they’re just in another place and it’s going to take me time to learn them, it’s going well. How well remains to be seen, as I suspect I’m still in a forgiving honeymoon kind of mood with it. The true test will come when the PC desktop I use to work with gives up the ghost. Will I replace it with a Mac? Who knows. But I have a suspicion I will.

I’m still using the old laptop by the way, it’s out in the shed with itunes pumped through a decent amp. And I plugged a second screen in so I can use it to display yet more notes as I write. It’s just not used for the internet any more.

Oh, and just to show I’m as picky with Apple as I am with anything else: Is it just me, or does i-store change its terms and conditions on an hourly basis? Every time I buy anything it won’t let me do it right off because I haven’t read and agreed to the new 86 pages the store lawyers have come up with. Its only a £0.50p app or a £0.75p song -get a life guys. Can you imagine doing that each time you go into a shop for a CD? Humm... might just be using that idea in the new novel.

So now, the work round up.

Out of the two new short stories I was going to write for the collection so the word count was brought up to a reasonable level, the first , Manhattan In Reverse, wound up being 15,000 words long. I won’t be doing a second. The finished manuscript is out there with the publishers. In the UK Macmillan are bringing it out in the traditional way. In the USA... it’ll come out as a hardback from Subterranean Press, while Del Rey will bring it out as an e-book. They’ll also bring out some individual stories over a year or so for various promotions and marketing offers. Hopefully it’ll also be out in France and Germany from my usual publishers.

The three Mandel books should also be re-released in America by Del Rey next year. The plan at the moment is for an omnibus edition.

My UK proofs of Evolutionary Void turned up this morning, while the US version came out about six weeks ago. I know of two US proofs that were put on eBay (my editor not amused by that!), going for the $200 mark. Crikey, if only I’d known, you could have had mine for $50.

With the collection finally out of the way, I’m back working on the notes for Great North Road. A process which started last week with that trip to Newcastle where I stayed overnight. So I now know where the murder is going to be, and where the body’s going to get dumped in the river. And for those who read my last blog: this time, when I was in the taxi between the train station and the hotel, I managed to keep my mouth shut as to why I was visiting the city.

I had a grand time, seeing the sights, climbing up onto disused railway lines where I shouldn’t have been, taking a look round StJames’s stadium, walking for miles along the riverbank. Over 460 photos in total -I actually ran down the camera battery. And in the evening I went to the Gate cinema to see Robin Hood. As I was by myself I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to see something wild horses couldn’t drag Mrs H to see. Oh dear. Mrs H clearly has much better taste than me.

As well as the new Apple, I’ve also bought myself a blu ray player. Because clearly I don’t pay enough for DVDs as it is. I have to admit, the picture quality is superb. It also means I have to buy yet another final version of Blade Runner. Sigh.

Peter Hamilton
June 2010

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