Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Digs!

This blog is moving!

For years, I've resisted creating a monolithic website for myself, but recently I've had a few publications come out with more on the way. So, I've created a new space for myself and relocated the blog, as well:

The Analytical Engines web site

I have no plans to take this blog site down, but if I resume updating, it will be at the new site.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Supernatural Detectives

While trying to fight off a nasty virus of some sort, I spent the better part of last weekend watching old episodes of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. As I reacquainted myself with the original TV movies and some of my favorite episodes of the subsequent series, I began thinking of other famous supernatural investigators and created a brief presentation with the new presentation editor, Prezi (still in private beta). The resulting images and texts can be found here, and if you follow the path by clicking the "next" arrow, they will even display in chronological order. Enjoy . . .

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Film of Early 20th Century Manchester

This video turned up three days ago at Livejournal's Vintage Photographs community (and was promptly taken down--it's not a photograph). I haven't yet tracked down the source, but it does appear to be footage of turn of the century Manchester and so I thought it should have a home here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ghost Story for Christmas

Ok--it's not a ghost story, and it's not season specific. I'm simply referring to the old custom of telling scary stories at Christmas time. Here's one I wrote, titled "Le Péril Vert", that originally appeared in the Nov. 2007 issue of The Willows.

Le Péril Vert

Sunday, December 07, 2008


An outstanding title for a remarkable show, and I've been watching quite a bit of it lately thanks to YouTube user, DFORCE1969. The show, which originally aired from 1970-1972 on BBC 1, was the brainchild of Gerry Davis and Kit Pedler, the creators of Doctor Who's Cybermen. The focus of Doomwatch is, essentially, mad science, and it chronicles the travails of a government scientific agency charged with monitoring potential scientific and technological threats to nature and society. These duties, in turn, make the team equally unpopular with the scientific community, big business, and the very government that is funding them, so that its scientists are perpetually threatened, both physically and existentially, from all sides. Socially conscious, bleak, paranoid, and perpetually ahead of its time, the show not only made an impact on contemporary British programs (Doctor Who, Survivors) but also influenced several later series (The X-Files, Fringe).

Though several episodes are online, I've found the audio and video to be out of sync in many. I would recommend starting with these:

The Red Sky

There's also an excellent documentary available.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Doctor Who - 45th Anniversary!

How about a Dalek cake to celebrate?

On Nov. 23rd, 1963, the BBC aired the first episode of Doctor Who, "An Unearthly Child", launching what has become the longest running science fiction show ever. Though there was a significant "hiatus" between 1989 and 2005, during which no new episodes were aired, the series continued with books, audiobooks, and a (to put it politely) disappointing Fox Movie of the week. Since Russell Davies brought it back to TV in 2005, it has once again become a worldwide ratings success, and today the show is celebrating its 45th anniversary.

Its success throughout the years can be largely attributed to the strength of the writing behind each episode. This is where, as Harlan Ellison correctly (and belligerently) states, it trumps the Star Wars films, which in all honesty, despite their brilliant special effects and pacing (both areas where Doctor Who often fell a bit short) suffer from sophomoric and slapdash plotting and dialog. The only science fiction series that really approached Who in the sophistication of its scripts was the contemporaneous Star Trek. But, because The Doctor's adventures were regularly serialized in half-hour episodes over the course of 4-6 weeks, Who was often able to achieve greater depth than Trek, and over the course of 45 years, has become an incredibly dense text. As my friend Ed and I found while recently writing about the show, there are almost unlimited thematic threads that can be traced throughout the many years of episodes, and this has undoubtedly also contributed to the show's success, that it has created a vaster universe than even Start Trek for its fans to explore.

Another thing that set Doctor Who apart from most science fiction fare was the show's eccentric origins, and these are being celebrated by the BBC with the creation of the new Genesis of Doctor Who archive. For more history and episode details, the BBC's New and Classic Doctor Who sites are a must, as well as the Doctor Who Wiki. Finally, for fan fiction, there is A Teaspoon and an Open Mind and The Doctor Who Project. The latter began as a very serious attempt to continue the series in the 90's and contains fiction of a very high quality.

Here's to another 45 years!

Friday, October 24, 2008


Ed's comment on rephotography in my last post reminded me of Chris Perridas' blog, H.P. Lovecraft & His Legacy. I've been following it for quite awhile, and during that time, Perridas has unflaggingly posted a photo, letter, article, or some other piece of Lovecraftiana every day. While stopping by, be sure to check out some of his other blogs, particularly the Antiquarian Weird Tales one.

For further Lovecraftian research, you may want to consult the Fiction Mags site for a very thorough bibliography that gives the original publication information for each story or the Miskatonic University site, which hosts, among many other things, scans of every Weird Tales cover with accompanying tables of contents. The H.P. Lovecraft Archive also contains research material and bibliographies for each story and poem, and to read the original stories, check out Miskatonic U. or Dagonbytes.