Perfidious Albion on Speed

If you’re British, or even if you aren’t, a good chunk of your news feed will have been swallowed by the Brexit pantomime, including hilarious exchanges like the one between Will Self and Mark Francois:

WS: Your problem… is since 2016 you don’t need to be a racist or anti-semite to vote for Brexit, it’s just that every racist and anti-semite in the country did. MF: I think that’s a slur on 17.4 million people and I think you should apologise on national television. I think that’s an outrageous thing to say WS: Well, you seem to find a lot of things outrageous MF: Are you saying that 17.4 million people are racist and bigots… WS: No, that’s not what I said MF: That’s pretty close to what you said WS: It’s not remotely close to what I said. You seem to be a bit exorcised, sir MF: Well, I’m offended WS: The politics of offence, eh? What I said was that every racist and anti-semite in the country, pretty much, probably voted for Brexit. MF: How can you know that? WS: I suspect it. MF: Well, I think you should apologise. WS: To who? Racists and anti-semites?

OK, pretty funny although the best comment on the showdown was by Sara Pascoe on Frankie Boyle’s New World Order saying (IIRC) “What you’re seeing there is a clash between two different kinds of alpha male”. Everyone should wind their neck in.

But this is Fictoplasm, so there’s going to be a fiction element — and that’s this piece by Will Self in the aftermath of his face-off, where he name-checks J G Ballard:

Perhaps the pivotal years were around middle of the noughties – at any rate, that’s when I went to speak to my friend and mentor JG Ballard about what would prove to be his final novel, Kingdom Come. Jim was as bluff and strange as ever – he had the manner of the RAF pilot he might have become if he’d completed his training, combined with the thousand-yard stare at what’s immediately to hand, which is the sure sign of a surrealist. He pointed out to me the flags flying in the front gardens along Old Charlton Road, the utterly bland suburban road in Shepperton (an utterly bland Surrey dormitory town), where he’d lived for 40 extremely odd years. For him, the flying of the Cross of St George was undoubtedly minatory: it had come about through a synergy between football fandom and the rise of ethnic nationalism; these were the years of the British National Party’s ascent to the giddy heights of the 2010 general election, when their candidates won over half a million votes. Reviewing Kingdom Come in the Guardian, Phil Baker succinctly noted “Ballard’s central idea is that consumerism slides into fascism when politics simply gives the punters what they want”. Well, Jim was always prescient – this was the writer who conceived of the celebrity car crash as a catalyst of collective hysteria a quarter-century before Diana Spencer was killed in the Pont de l’Alma underpass, and who also anticipated the baleful impacts of global warming as early as the late 1950s. Jim got that English nationalism was on the rise – and that under neo-liberal conditions favouring consumption over production, it was likely to become a vector for the most troubling aspects of the famously ‘tolerant’ English psyche.

Meanwhile, Mark Francois is providing meme-tastic soundbites like Perfidious Albion on Speed.

Perfidious Albion on Speed is too fussy a title to be Ballardian. In fact, Perfidious Albion is already the title of Sam Byers’ second novel, which didn’t start out as a Brexit novel but perhaps it evolved that way:

The honest truth is that it began in a much more speculative fashion. I did the bulk of the work on this book in 2015 and 2016, and while it’s true I continually adjusted for events such as Brexit, I think what really happened is that the world just caught up with me in surprising and disturbing ways, and so I accepted the idea that rather than continually reinventing things in order to be out in front of the phenomena I was depicting, I should anchor myself and play more with the ways in which the context of the book was evolving.

Here’s a video of the author:

4.03: The Last Policeman, Hard Sun, The Three Body Problem

Ralph briefly discusses three pre-apocalyptic novels, with the conclusion that all that matters is how much time you’ve got left.

Show Notes

Links

  1. This episode is partially inspired by the thread Nihilism: Gaming in a Hard Sun world on the UKRoleplayers forum.
  2. Here’s a fun stackexchange thread) on Hard Sun’s possible extinction event.

Music Credits

“Cylinder Nine” from Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 4.00 Annihilation Redux

Ralph talks about running Cthulhu Dark: Annihilation at Concrete Cow, the differences between Jeff Vandermeer’s book and Alex Garland’s film, and managing player expectations in one-shots and beyond.

Show Notes

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer // Annihilation by Alex Garland

Planning Cthulhu Dark: Annihilation

Annihilation the movie 00:45 // Differences between novel and film 03:15 // What you might change going from book to RPG 07:10 // Available technology, communicating with the outside, appeals to authority 11:20 // Party cohesion 13:25 // Cthulhu Dark: Annihilation at Concrete Cow 15:30 // The Cthulhu Dark formula (and the Colour out of Space) 18:15 // Over prepping 21:15 // Setting expectations for con games 24:40

Music Credits

“Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear by Chris Zabriskie

“But Enough About Me, Bill Paxton” from Direct To Video by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 308: return to the Southern Reach

Ralph briefly returns to Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy.

Show Notes

The Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance) by Jeff Vandermeer.

  • Annihilation episode recap 01:05
  • Authority 04:35
  • Acceptance 08:40
  • RPG bit (Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu Dark and Lovecraftesque) 11:45

Music credits

“Cylinder Three“ from Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 303: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

We discuss Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale. Content warning: themes of abuse, rape and infertility.

Show Notes

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Becky Annison, Elizabeth Lovegrove, Ralph Lovegrove

  • Synopsis 2:00
  • Themes 13:50
    • Children of Men (PD James)
    • Apocalypse: scarcity
    • Dystopia: control of information
  • RPG bit 32:45
    • Rise and Fall
    • The Academics

Music Credits

“Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear by Chris Zabriskie

“But Enough About Me, Bill Paxton” from Direct To Video by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Special: Don’t Wake The Bear, Hare!

It’s one year since we released our first episode! We talk about the coming season 3, plus our son’s favourite book…

Show Notes

Liz and Ralph with some pre-Season 3 ramblings, plus Don’t Wake The Bear, Hare! by Steve Smallman and Caroline Pedler

Season 3 ideas 02:10 // Synopsis 07:50 // Themes 09:45 // Liz’s game 14:50 // Dread 18:05 // Ralph’s game 18:55 // Before the Storm 21:55

Music credits

“Cylinder Nine” from Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 216: Second Variety by Philip K. Dick

Ralph, Liz and Josh give each other the side eye trying to work out which of the others are human… we read Philip K. Dick’s Second Variety.

Show Notes

Second Variety by Philip K. Dick

Elizabeth Lovegrove, Josh Fox and Ralph Lovegrove

Synopsis and comments start 00:30 // BSG 05:00 // The 100 13:25 // RPG bit starts with Liz 15:05 // Josh’s Game 16:50 // Ralph’s Game 19:50

Music credits

“Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear by Chris Zabriskie

“But Enough About Me, Bill Paxton” from Direct To Video by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 215: Le Transperceneige, Snowpiercer

Ralph and Josh board Le Transperceneige a.k.a. the Snowpiercer.

Show Notes

Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette, made into the film Snowpiercer by Bong Joon-Ho

Josh Fox and Ralph Lovegrove

Film Synopsis 00:45 // Graphic Novels 03:35 // Themes 08:05 // Oldboy 11:55 // The Hope by James Lovegrove 24:20 // The RPG bit (it’s Apocalpse World, innit) 26:00 // Wool by Hugh Howey 30:20 // Rise and Fall 37:00 // Last words 39:00 // Hollowpoint 39:25 // Actually these are the last words 39:30 // No, really, these are the last words 40:20 // The Bed Sitting Room and the London Underground (and Neverwhere) 40:30

Music credits

“Is That You Or Are You You?” from Reappear by Chris Zabriskie

“But Enough About Me, Bill Paxton” from Direct To Video by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode 213: Kiteworld by Keith Roberts

(see our previous episode)

Keith Roberts wrote nine groups of short stories, four of which are linked novellas. Kiteworld was published nearly 20 years after Pavane and bears more than a passing resemblance to the earlier collection, despite it’s post-apocalyptic setting.

Music credits

“Cylinder Four“ from Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie

chriszabriskie.com // bandcamp // free music archive

Episode A.1: Moby Dick by Herman Melville

In this very special episode we decided the best way to treat Herman Melville’s classic was to go back to our analogue roots. We discuss open seas, confined spaces, love among the sailors, Ahab the Eternal Champion, and more.

To get your copy please send a stamped self-addressed envelope together with a 50p cheque or postal order to the address given at the end of the podcast.