We had six members attending last night’s meeting with five pieces of work being discussed, including Luke’s first submission to the group.
Great feedback all round… (more…)
One month in and it’s all systems go for MadLab’s Mad Cow Friday co-working sessions. Populated by a pick-‘n’-mix of Manchester’s finest freelance talent, it may well be the case that a stranger is simply a Mad Cow co-worker you haven’t yet met!
As a freelance writer, I loved working from home, choosing my own hours, and not having to worry about office politics. But once the novelty wore off, I began to miss the banter and camaraderie that co-working provides. I wanted to find a space where I could work in the company of others whilst still getting a sufficient amount of work done. Cue Mad Cow co-working sessions! (more…)
This evening’s session was the much anticipated sharing of responses for stage one of our first collaborative project; Creative Whispers. We were also delighted to welcome two new faces, who briefly introduced themselves as Vikki Cutts (teacher, freelance art director, and playful crafter) and Amy Leak (recently graduated graphic designer, especially interested in developing brands using opportunities for digital interaction). We were also pleased to welcome back Irena and Renate who joined us for the first time in December; we obviously didn’t scare them off with our CRITmas antics!
James decides how to share Stage 1 responses
We were keen to get on to sharing our work on the initial Creative Whispers starting points so we quickly moved on to circulating the results whilst the responding artist gave an overview of their approach. Photographs of these responses will soon be shared on a new page which will begin charting the evolution of the project but in the meantime, an overview can be found below.
This ‘flow chart’ will also form part of our group submission to a new book compiled by Alban Low titled Patternotion. Alban runs a variety of projects which he opens up to a growing fleet of artists, designers, illustrators and general creatives. This current venture looks to draw on approaches that such people format to achieve goals. He says ‘Our minds visualise the improvements and adventures of the future. To achieve these we must put a new system in place to achieve what we want.’ As Creative Whispers seemed a very clear example of a ‘self imposed schedule and idiosyncratic method’ of achieving an outcome, we have a few pages kindly reserved for us. If you’ve read this post you can consider yourself lucky enough to have glimpsed a sneak preview!
So what is our outcome? Well, we have now agreed that Creative Whispers will have a ‘shelf life’ of up until a final swap in April. We will then continue talks with MadLab about arranging an exhibition of the work sometime after May.Next Month we are looking forward to sharing the second response from the group project but as ever, we will also aim to make room for anyone who wishes to bounce any ideas or request any feedback. Until then… the old art-cogs are turning and I’d better get on with Whispering Creatively!
Written by Annabeth
On Tuesday 15th January Manchester SciFi Book Club braved the cold and met up at the Madlab to discuss Reamde by Neal Stephenson. This is the second Neal Stephenson book that we’ve read, the first being Snow Crash.
Reamde is a technothriller novel by Neal Stephenson, published in 2011. The story, set in the present day, centers on the plight of a hostage and the ensuing efforts of family and new acquaintances, many of them associated with a fictional MMORPG [Massively multiplayer online role-playing game], to rescue her as her various captors drag her about the globe. Topics covered range from online activities including gold farming and social networking to the criminal methods of the Russian mafia and Islamic terrorists.
Did We Like It?
Overwhelming everyone liked it, with one exception who wasn’t sure. With a generous 1042 pages there were a few people who were unable to finish Reamde. Although it is published as one book, it does feel like it could be split into 2 or 3 separate books.
Whilst it was a little slow at first, the pace soon picked up and accelerated to through the book. It was even a little rushed at times. There was plenty of action throughout and we were surprised that it has not already been made into a film.
The characters were interesting with some being more developed than others. We did feel that the manner of describing characters was an info dump or even statistics read out from Trump cards. Richard’s back story was revealed in a better way, as it evolved all the way through the story. Sometimes characters were referred to by there names and other times by their nicknames, which caused a bit of confusion.
We liked that situations in the story made some of the characters personalities change. We also liked it when Peter got shot and killed, since he was treacherous and self-serving! Although none of the characters really stood out, there were plenty of characters that we liked, such as Csongor, Sokolov, Seamus, Yuxia and Egdod. We couldn’t really identify with any of the characters, although worryingly there was something of an familiarisation with chief terrorist Jones, largely because he was British.
There were not many moments where Zula had any control over what was happening, but when she did take control her decisions were pivotal.
Is It SciFi?
No. Not only was there an absence of robots and spaceships, there was nothing relating to science or technology which is not reality. Its a thriller that is fact based. There were no giant ideas or themes, Reamde is very much about the story.
Whilst Reamde is a great story, we felt that it was a bit contrived in places, for example when the terrorist gets killed by the mountain lion, how everyone got nicely paired off and how the Jihadists happened to be living above the hackers.
We liked the effort at describing and creating the game of T’Rain, the Apostropocalipse, the different ways in which the Americans & Chinese played T’Rain and the way the bandits piggybacked on the hackers money making scheme. It was interesting how the terrorists secretly flew out of Chinese airspace and over the Atlantic to Canada. We liked the description of the culture shock for Sokolov and the Jihadists when they were in America, especially when they reached the gun aisle in the supermarket. Richard mentioning that you could enter a Walmart store in one location and then emerge from another Walmart somewhere else entirely was a little gem.
It was proposed that we rate Reamde on the basis of “How deep is your vassal network” but we ended up scoring out of 5. Reamde scored a respectable average of 3.35.
Manchester Sci-Fi Book Club Contacts
Keep up to date with Manchester Sci-Fi book club posts at Madlab
We also have a group on Google which we would encourage you to join.
Next Sci-Fi Book:
- February 19th – Behold the Man by Michael Morcock
SciFi Books for Following Months:
- March 19th – Neverness by David Zindell
- April 16th – Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
- May 21st – The Truth (Discworld Novel 25) by Terry Pratchett
It has been suggested that we read SciFi Comic Y:The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, in collaboration with the Mad Graphic Novel Group.