Jan 262012

A golden outfit made from spider silk has gone on display at London's Victoria and Albert Museum:

The four-metre-long hand-woven textile, a natural vivid gold colour, was made from the silk of more than one million female golden orb spiders collected in the highlands of Madagascar by 80 people over five years.

I remember hearing about endeavours by scientists to mass-produce spider silk. The approach, if I remember correctly, was to modify the DNA of goats so that spider silk proteins were produced in the goats' milk. I even wrote a (terrible) story around that premise during my stint at Clarion South. But I haven't heard any more on that front for years — I wonder what happened?

I never knew that anybody had collected enough spider silk by hand to weave fabric from it, which is apparently an until-now forgotten art.

The effort involved in such an endeavour — catching the spiders every morning, harnessing them into contraptions designed to extract their silk, making thread out of the silk and textile out of the fabric — the patience and time and labour that has been poured into it is … humbling.

It made me think about all the energy that I pour into my writing. Sometimes, when I'm tired, when I'm frustrated with my chronic time-poverty, it's easy to feel dispirited. About a lack of progress, or the latest mental block, or the sheer enormity of the task still to go. And I can't whinge, like I want to, because I chose this, and I keep choosing this. Every day I choose writing. (Even if it feels like a Clayton's Choice, but that's a topic for a whole different post.)

It helps me to stumble across stories like this. Tales of fascination, and the endeavours born out of and carried onwards by that fascination. Perhaps making a coat out of spider silk does nothing for us on a practical level: but I, for one, smiled when I heard of it. And felt inspired.

And now I have a new trick to add to my toolbox for when I get the grumps with the process: I shall simply consider my words to be little golden orb spiders. All I need to do is catch a few dozen a day, and coax them gently into a pleasing order.

And hope the wily bastards stay put.

there's a small part of my life left wanting

 announcements, journal, shadow bound, shadow queen, the binding  Comments Off on there's a small part of my life left wanting
Dec 192010

» of eBooks »

Sometimes, I admit I indulge in a spot of ego-Googling. And lucky I do, because otherwise I would be blissfully unaware that Shadow Bound is already available in eBook format. Look! And over there!

There are actually quite a few links, too many for me to try collecting them, so it's best by far to simply google. But for all of those wanting to know when Shadow Bound is out in electronic format, the answer is … um, now?

» of Stock for Sale »

And while I'm at it, I have some copies of Shadow Queen and Shadow Bound left over from the launch of the latter, and I've finally gotten around to putting up a webpage detailing how someone who might want a paper copy of my book for somewhat less than you'd pay through an Australian book store might be able to buy them directly from me.

If that sounds like you, the stock for sale page has the details you want.1

» of the Mythical Third Book »

I've been getting a flattering trickle of emails, lately, asking about a third book in The Binding series.

Deb, these emails ask, Deb, is there a third book? Carn, Deb. Write me another. ZOMG YOU'RE NOT ENDING IT LIKE THAT ARE YOU?

Now, I will admit that I ended Shadow Queen rather cruelly. I hereby publicly confess that what I did in SQ was set everything up … and tie nothing off. In Shadow Bound I was not QUITE so cruel, in that there is tying up of major plot threads, but there is also that most beloved (to me) of endings, the open ending.

Originally, I wasn't planning on writing beyond that ending. Not because there was not enough story to justify anything further (in fact it's quite the opposite!), but more because that's simply as far ahead as I'd planned. But lately I've found myself wondering just what plays out after that closing line of Shadow Bound

So I've been entertaining (i.e. tormenting and frustrating myself and those around me) with unanswerable questions in an attempt to dig some more of Matilde's story out of my brain. If I can come up with something workable, I'll be submitting a proposal on it. Which may or may not find favour with those who have the power and resources to publish these things.

So while I still can't make any promises, let's just say the mythical Third Book, while still a cryptozoo, may one day be dragged, kicking and screaming, into existence.

» of Something Completely Different »

This has absolutely nothing to do with The Binding books, I just think it's unutterably cool: boa constrictors born by virgin birth.

  1. I hope. It IS currently Sunday, and I take no responsibility for the state of my brain. If it doesn't answer your questions, please ask! []
Dec 172009

Yesterday hit 39°C1 — and today hovered around 20°C2 and bucketing down. That's … quite a range for 24 hours. Ah Melbourne, city of extreme mood swings. No wonder I loff you so.

I've been a bit silent/absent from the interwebs lately because of, well, because of all the work I'm drowning under, so forgive me if this isn't news to you but I found this so unspeakably cool I had to share: Tool-Using Octopus!

Octopuses have been discovered tip-toeing with coconut-shell halves suctioned to their undersides, then reassembling the halves and disappearing inside for protection or deception

i can see it all unfolding...THESE GUYS ARE THE FUTURE RULERS OF EARTH

  1. At 4pm — right when the broken-down tram stranded me two and a half kilometres from where I needed to be. []
  2. Technically the maximum was 26°C, but that occurred at 12:01am and was actually just yesterday's temperature still dropping []

next time i'm near a pet store…

 journal  Comments Off on next time i'm near a pet store…
Aug 302009

Lookit: Know what's cooler than Wolverine? A newt!

The Spanish ribbed newt responds to threats by thrusting out its rib bones, which then get coated with toxic skin secretions. The newt is actually rotating its ribs forward until their spear-sharp points pierce through warts in the animal's skin.

Damnit, now I want me a newt. On the upside, a newt is possibly one of those pets you could legitimately have in a rental property. H'm…

i could be doing something productive with my time, you say?

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Apr 072009

I've been spending a fair bit of time on public transport recently,1 and this of course means I've had a fair bit of time to think.

And I think I've figured out the answer.

The solution to traffic congestion, and global warming, does not lie in public transport and clean fuels. Oh no. it lies in genetic engineering. Splice up my genes and build grow me some WINGS, people. We wouldn't need roads, or carparks. We couldn't do away with public transport altogether — although we'd need planes and trains for the long-haul stuff, presumably. But think how much more pleasant a city would be without all of that ground-choking traffic. Plus, we'd all get our exercise on our daily commute, which would solve the obesity epidemic created by desk jobs and an addiction to empty calories. Win!

Now, there are naysayers who will tell you the real answer is in teleportation,2 but I disagree. Firstly, because teleportation uses technology, so it's going to face the same breakdown problem we'd have if we tried to build jetpacks instead of biological wings. But worse than that, teleportation is going to mean your atoms will get all swapped up with other people's, and quite frankly, as far as I'm concerned, that just introduces A WHOLE NEW LEVEL OF PUBLIC-TRANSPORT-ENFORCED INTIMACY.

(Also: the weeping angel appears to move, depending on what window I glimpse her out of.)

  1. public transport: making everybody equally miserable since its inception []
  2. interestingly, spellcheck wants me to use "deportation" instead. H'm. []
Mar 292009

Yesterday saw the great box explosion of 2009. Although I've repeatedly been told that I don't have much stuff, I remain convinced otherwise. I'm sick of it all. As far as I'm concerned, we cannot get computer chips into my brain fast enough.

I'm not unpacked entirely, but I have my bed set up, and I know where (most of) my clothes are, and the bathroom and kitchen are usable. That constitutes unpacked for all intents and purposes as far as I'm concerned. The next project is to start scanning all the vital paper documents I'm hoarding and then shredding the paper stuff. If I'm very virtuous about it, I may even be able to ditch the filing cabinet altogether.

My new place is full of light and quiet during the day. It also comes pre-packaged with the nocturnal barking neighbourhood dog and a view of the nearby cemetery from almost every window. A cemetery full, as per usual, of angel statuary. Do you realise what this means? That's right: THERE ARE WEEPING ANGELS OUTSIDE MY WINDOWS. (I am doomed.)

it never rains but it pours

 journal, the wages of salt  Comments Off on it never rains but it pours
Mar 212009

The signing sheets for Postscripts #18 have come and gone on their merry way and I can say this with certainty: I have no signature. Truly, every single one of those sheets is unique.

I am currently sitting in my car, which is at the moment a very expensive sculpture, on account of the battery going to sleep sometime in the past two weeks and now declining to emerge from its coma. Given that I need the car today in order to find a place to live, my previous plans having exploded in rather spectacular and last-minute fashion, I am, needless to say, a little peeved with life right about now. For values of a little roughly approximate to I think the world can just go ahead and burn, what do I care any more?

So, my apologies, but sporadic and unfocussed (and haphazardly abandoned) is going to be a feature of this site until life JUST SETTLES DOWN, DAMMIT.

In the meantime, have a snippet of awesome to entertain you: Predator X (link courtesy of splinister)

PS: Comments are not turned off, but please be aware that I may be a little distracted and unable to get around to answering any of them for a bit.

May 092007

Disappeared off the face of the internets for a while there, didn't I?

Mostly this was because my car, my faithful little car Tequila, started giving me troubles. Now Tequila, besides being a bright and shiny green, is 21 years old1 — so trouble isn't exactly out of the ordinary. She has her quirks: like the way the dashboard doesn't in fact light up when you turn on the headlights. Or the way the interior light turns on for every open door except the driver's.

But this was trouble piling on top of trouble, an endless list of necessary repairs and maintenance, and three breakdowns in as many days. When your car is only worth $1,000 in good condition (which Tequila is not, thanks to a chemical manufacturing plant which provided employee parking right under the ammonium nitrate fallout), you start to question the cost of repairs.

You start to think it's time to upgrade. Maybe, you dare to dream, maybe I could even own a car manufactured this century…

And then, if you're me, you pick your mother up2 and take a brand new Mazda 3 for a test drive. Just to know how they handle, of course.

You can guess the next part, can't you?

Yes, I just bought a new car. 😯

Not just new-to-me, but brand spanking new. She comes off the boat tomorrow, and I'll be picking her up (and hemorrhaging the rest of the purchase price) next week.

So, because I obviously cannot come up with content while my brain is this addled, have a couple of links:

  1. She's old enough to drink! And vote! Even in America. Which is something some members of my family can't claim 😉 []
  2. The mother is important, for she is impulsive and I am reticent to part with so much as a nickel. Together, we almost make a normal person who spends rationally []