In the 1990s Manchester-born Jeff Noon released his first 4 novels, known as the Vurt series, to great acclaim.
ChannelSK1N is Noon's first novel since 2002. As he said in an interview on litreactor.com "Recently I woke up and realised that I hadn’t reached an audience for a long time and it was time to do so." I thought this would be an interesting book to review here on Byte the Book, as it's been released in digital edition only.
The story is set in the near future, and centres around a young fabricated pop star, Nola Blue, whose popularity recovers from its downward trajectory when she discovers that her skin has mutated to allow her to receive and display television signals.
Similar to many other books in this genre, current popular culture is parodied - the fact that she used to sing her own songs but is no longer allowed is referred to, as well as plastic surgery and video manipulation so that she looks "glorified, elevated, set ablaze with computerised passion". Amongst mixed-up channels created by Nola such as "Animals on Drugs" and (my favourite) "Dirty Rock and Roll Decorators", the central TV show is based around a "pleasure dome" where a contestant/victim bares their soul to the world through electrodes implanted in their skull - a none too thinly veiled reference to the reality TV of today.
The book is written in the typical lyrical style of Noon, spattered with new words (often composite, e.g. "skintalk"). If you only have time to read one book by Jeff Noon, I recommend Vurt, but if you read Vurt and liked it, read this.
If you're interested in other projects by Noon, check out twitter handle @temp_user9 where he has been working on "micro-fiction" stories, published via Twitter. Or take a look at http://microspores.tumblr.com/start: 140 character "spore" stories, accompanied by images and sound.
This blog post was first published on www.bytethebook.com.
Seven years ago last Thursday London Girl Geek Dinners was founded, from which has grown the whole worldwide Girl Geek Dinners organisation. So they decided to celebrate with a little party that I was lucky enough to get an invite to.
Girl Geek Dinners was started by Sarah Lamb from GirlyGeekdom.com, after one too many tech dinners where she was patronised or ignored. She wanted to create geeky environments where it was normal for women to be in the majority. A lovely touch is Girl Geek Dinners "one male per female" rule - a key principle to make sure that they don't themselves end up excluding men.
The birthday party was held in Mozilla's London MozSpace. This is what you see as you walk in.
Other sponsors included Naked Wines, who provided enough wine to quench the thirst of 100 geeks, plus a voucher for everyone to take away with them, Thoughtworks, who brought some cupcakes, and Millie's Cookies who donated a giant birthday cookie.
I have to say that this was one of the most laid back "networking" events that I have ever been to - the atmosphere made it feel like I was just sitting around in a friend's sitting room.
But there were a couple of speakers. Aimee Maree gave a thought-provoking talk on internet trolls and BBC Click's Kate Russell talked us through the contents of her (brand withheld by BBC impartiality rules) smartphone.
Lovely people, a lovely evening at a lovely space in London. I can't wait until the next event at Facebook!
1. At every station, stop and make sure you're connected to the internet. This will send and receive emails automatically so you can read and write them in between stations.
2. When you are internet range make sure you open Twitter to force a sync. Then you can read tweets in between stations. You'll need to wait until you're back within internet range to (re)tweet.
3. DrawSomething will only work in the internet-enabled stations so you'll probably only be able to do one task at a time i.e. draw or guess. If your drawing is anything like mine you run the risk of the quality getting even worse if you have to do it in a rush!
4. There isn't enough coverage for internet streaming radio to work, but you can download a short podcast in a station to listen to between stops, using Apple's new podcast application that downloads podcasts directly from the internet rather than via iTunes.
5. You have just the right amount of time to upload a blog post that you can write between stops. I'm using the Weebly mobile app at the moment.
Back in February, Girl Geek Dinners - the organisation behind such great initiatives such as the Regent Tweet event - launched an initiative to video inspiring women (and men!) to show the range of tech careers that are available to young women.
They interviewed me for their site with three simple questions: "What was your favourite toy as a child?", "What did you want to be when you were growing up?" and "What is your current role and what steps would someone need to take to get there?".
You can see the interview here: http://inspire.girlgeekdinners.com/2012/02/16/inspire-zoe-cunningham-softwire/.
Is there a glass ceiling in science and technology careers?
You wouldn’t think so if you read Science Glass Ceiling, a blog set up to examine exactly this topic. In between thought provoking pieces on women’s place in STEM is a roll call of successful women across all areas, be it ophthalmology, space exploration, chemistry or physics.
I came across the blog when they contacted me for an interview through Women in Technology, and it’s been great to see a blog that shows the achievements of women as well as bemoaning the lack of them.
Managing Director of Softwire, technology and backgammon presenter. Plus a little bit of new music radio.