I was honoured when Wilbur approached me and asked me to work with him on new stories set in the world that he created long ago with River God. He passed on late last year, but his blood-pumping, heart-rending approach to storytelling will live on.
It’s a joy to work on these novels while also having the space to tell my own stories. Announcements on new books, TV and film should be forthcoming.
My favourite film of the year. My favourite film of many years.
Completely original, constantly surprising, endlessly inventive with a massive heart. It’s so rare these days to see a film that has no antecedents, but this one manages to be cut free from past film reality. The writer and director have produced an instant classic.
I’m not saying anything about the plot – the less you know, the better it is. But every time you think you’ve got a handle on it, you really haven’t.
Michelle Yeoh is fantastic, so is Stephanie Hsu.
A film that is embedded in culture yet is also universal.
Evidence is emerging of a Lost Civilisation in the Amazon basin equal or greater than other world civilisations.
In 1541, a Franciscan friar Brother Gaspar de Carvajal documented the first voyage along the Amazon by Europeans. He wrote of vast cities with technological achievements beyond any known, an epic highway network and astonishing art, as well as a society governed by women with a fierce female army (which is why it’s known as the Amazon).
The account was lost for 300 years and when it was found in an archive, it was dismissed as a fantasy because everyone knew Amazon culture only existed for 1000 years. And no one had found any evidence of these things. It was a place of ‘savages’.
Because of that belief little archaeology has been carried out.
We know the Spaniards devastated the population by bringing smallpox. They also took measles, flu and more. What we’ve only just learned is those diseases wiped out 99% of the population – 99% of wisdom holders, technologists, farmers and more – reducing cities to villages. The jungle reclaimed what was there.
This was also supposed to be a relatively recently occupied continent with people traipsing over from Siberia. We now have evidence people were living there 50,000 years ago, deep into the last Ice Age.
This brings me to the rarely-deployed Rule 4: Everything is Economics. Hugely expensive archaeological expeditions are only funded if it is believed that discoveries will exceed costs. So the belief always comes first and discoveries that are outside current knowledge aren’t made. Which is very circular.
The race is now on to discover the truth about this mysterious but advanced civilisation and it will not only rewrite the history (and the cultural standing) of South America but also of the world.
Lab-grown meat, created from cells, is advancing at an exponential rate, so much so that Singapore has just become the first country to approve it for commercial use.
It won’t be too long before it’s no longer necessary to cultivate animals for food. Not only is that great for animal welfare, it’s also key to tackling the climate emergency.
(Although I mainly eat a plant-based diet, I say this as someone who enjoys a good steak from time to time. Hawksmoor is the best for that in the UK, in my books.)
To show the diversity offered by lab-cultured meat, a recent experiment created meat from the cells of endangered species – no animals were harmed – blue whale, tiger, gorilla.
The eventual aim is that people will be able to make meat in their own kitchen in a device the size of a microwave.
And the easiest way to get cells to grow meat is from your own body. So I could tuck into a nice juicy Chadbourn steak, or burger, or sausage. That lip-smacking flavour of surly midlander and political discontent.
The Climate Emergency isn’t some distant threat. It’s tearing the world apart now. And if you want to see what the future holds for everyone, turn your attention to Pakistan.
Pakistan has one of the fastest growing populations in the world. It currently stands at a staggering 220.9 million in a country that is just twice the size of California. The economy simply isn’t keeping pace. Many will be born into – and live their entire lives in – poverty.
For the last few weeks, Pakistan, and its neighbour India, have been living through a devastating heatwave that is getting close to the limit of human survival – 122F/50C.
That’s not going to be a one-off.
Too many people think of the Climate Emergency as a matter of temperature rise. They don’t see the knock-on effects that reach into every aspect of life – a nation unable to feed itself, a lack of water, the failure of the power system and more.
What happens when you get millions of people unable to survive with even the basics? This is what Pakistan, and India, is looking at in a very short time frame.
Many will die. But others won’t stay there and suffer. The population – and the problems – will be displaced.
What’s happening now will engulf the world unless drastic action is taken immediately.
We live in an age of multiple unfolding crises, and one thing we know is that one crisis always whips up the blaze of another one. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will cause global food shortages on a scale we haven’t seen before. That’s going to slam up hard against failing crops and dying cattle in Pakistan, India and beyond.
This year, next year, not in 2050.
Our leaders aren’t doing enough. Regardless of party, many are simply not up to the job. Change has to come fast.
Stories change the world around us. Sometimes the changes are small, sometimes huge and powerful. This is currently known as the Sideways Effect, which is widely studied by academics.
The novel Sideways – and the subsequent film featuring Paul Giamatti – included a tirade against Merlot. It changed the wine industry forever, reducing Merlot’s market share from 20% to just 6% while boosting Pinot Noir and creating an entire tourist industry in the valley where the book was set.
Small: there was never an NYPD choir until a Christmas song had them singing Galway Bay. Now there is.
Storytelling is a meme generator. A creator’s dreaming seeps into the mind of a reader or viewer and changes the way they think as if they’d been infected by a virus. And when their thoughts change, their actions in the world change, and that changes the world itself.
Storytelling is hugely powerful. It shouldn’t be treated lightly.