Author: Jonathan Sanderson

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I find it surprisingly difficult to browse second-hand books on market stalls. Too often the serried ranks look like this — I can discern book-like shapes, but as I try to make out the authors or titles the world starts drawing in around the periphery. Even when I can read the words I don’t recognise any of them.

The first time I built my own PC I found myself sitting in the car park, terrified the list of components I’d agonised over would elicit knowing grimaces from the testosterone-laden atmosphere inside. I even had an uncomfortable time in a bicycle shop some years ago as I struggled to work out how much of my intimate knowledge of late-80s velotech was still relevant.

It seems obvious to promote and advocate for bookshops against the encroachment of Amazon, but we shouldn’t forget that to the uninitiated — and even to the unpracticed — they’re alien, vaguely threatening environments. There are reasons other than convenience for the steady rise of online shopping.

The main thing physical shops have going for them is human contact. Very, very few shops capitalise on that advantage. But then, dealing with humans is hard.

Back in university, twenty years ago, I wrote a not-very-good sketch about a company who repurposed surplus cruise missiles. We’d all seen video footage from the (first) Gulf War showing Tomahawks diving through the windows of buildings, and it made some warped sort of mildly-satirical sense to think of them being used for… er… pizza delivery.

And now this:


The punchline of the sketch was ‘minimum cholesterol damage.’ I said it wasn’t a very good sketch.

Even if you aren’t of the steampunk persuasion, airships are plain cool. Here’s a bunch of them care of The Atlantic.


We’re used to seeing photographs of aircraft, and we imagine their speed and air flowing over their wings and all that; familiarity with the concept has led us to forget how mysterious they are. The A380 is big enough to offer a glimpse of sufficiently advanced technology, but only barely.

Photographs of airships do not, I suspect, do them justice. They didn’t fly, they hung. They were weightless, but far from massless: Hindenburg was as big as an aircraft carrier and it operated at a gross weight of more than 200 tonnes, roughly half the maximum take-off weight of an A380.

And it hovered. Silently.

Look at The Atlantic’s photos and tell me that wouldn’t have been just a little eerie.

It’s a terrible shame and a real disservice for the years to come when the people we count on to dream are content with IKEA and iPads.

Star Trek and the shiny, boring future — Adventures in Consumer Technology — Medium.

Great – and in an age of ever-longer blog posts, commendably short – essay on the lack of futurism in ‘futuristic’ cinema. The IKEA conformity of popular TV was something in which I cheerfully participated, mostly because it made my budget go further. But we were horribly aware that as a result, essentially all shows had the exact same look.

The other day I saw, lurking in the back of shot on Defiance, a giant caster wheel bolted to one of those kick-steps you use so kids can reach the sink. The whole thing was sprayed silver, presumably so it looked like some weird abstract future artwork. No, it was a wheel bolted to a kickstep, and painted silver.