On this week's menu, 30 cm spiders, a sick note from a sangoma, Kim Newman's 'Dracula Cha Cha Cha', superbugs in animals and the 'Thesaurus of Emotions'
Stories for stories
A South African court ruled for a woman whose employers refused to accept a sick note from a Sangoma. The sick note said she was being tormented by ancestors (who probably thought she was lazy). Although many sangomas are trained in primary health care, this one has the feel of Monday morning flu. If you are looking for a setting for your lost Ark of the Covenant, IO9 has eight suggestions for you, but please leave the bullwhip and leather hat at home. That's been done before. I fancy the bottom of Lake Tiberias. Maybe a monstrous fish could guard it. Giant spiders are always good for a thrill. Even the little ones have people jumping for chairs. You'll be pleased to know that a huge spider species has been discovered in Laos. The leg span of the thing is 33 cm. There's a picture of the blighter here... Scientists believe they are close to a breakthrough in translating a sample of the world's oldest, known written language. What's the odds it's a shopping list? Here's one for all you science fiction buffs in search of more elements for your dystopian futures. Boeing has developed a missile that flies over buildings, and fries computers with microwaves.
Reading and writing
What's life like as a best-selling writer? It probably differs from person to person, but here's what Ian Rankin has to say.
I'm making my way through 'Dracula Cha Cha Cha' with the usual amount of glee for a Kim Newman tale. Bond steals the show... Hamish Bond. (Blood and Vermouth with an olive, shaken not stirred). Other than the name change and his conversion to a vampire, the scenes are what you would expect. Extra points go the the appearance of Inspector Clouseau and a lantern-jawed American by the name of Kent, who wears sensible glasses which fail to obscure his muscular frame. There's a reference along the way to Thomas de Quincey's Mater Lachrymarum from 'Suspiria de Profundis'. You can snag the essay and others, for free, with this link...
Jason Duke released a short story, 'Retribution'. If you are a fan of the Weird West genre, this is well worth the read. I might have given it four stars because I wanted more pages, but Jason is a friend, so I gave it five stars. Find the story here...
The idea of a 'Thesaurus of Emotions' did not make sense to me as I have several thesauruses in various states of dilapidation, but as it kept on showing up on my Amazon recommendations, I finally looked inside to figure out what it was about. After a few seconds, I pressed 'Buy now'.
One of the things which delays my own writing is the need to stop and think about how a character will react to a set of circumstance. A situation induces emotions and these emotions have internal and external effects. The thesaurus is beginning to prove extremely useful. It lists physical signals, internal sensations, long term cues for the emotion and cues for suppression. Having this incredibly useful item at my fingertips gives me more time and energy to build the words and phrases in my own way, and confidence in my assessment of the emotions and reactions of the character.
Finally, in this section, talks are underway to merge Random House and Penguin. Maybe they can call it 'Random Penguins'. No doubt, once the marriage is consumated, they'll give birth to some kind of branded ebook publishing thingy.
Mother Nature and other terrifying things
More climate change semiotics come from the UK, where scientists say they have been having the weirdest weather in years where the driest spring gave way to the wettest summer in a century. More frightening news comes in the form of drug resistant superbugs found in animals. As the global population grows humans come into contact with parts of nature that we never knew existed and wished they didn't. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Take a look at what are claimed to be the world's most revolting cakes...