- Orbital Operations
Orbital Operations for 28 January 2024
Happy 2024. Hello from out here on the Thames Delta.. This is Orbital Operations. Back at work and back on the air.
My name is Warren Ellis, and I’m a writer from England. These newsletters are about the work I do and the creative life I try to lead. I send them every Sunday to subscribers. Feel free to send your friends to orbitaloperations.beehiiv.com , where they can read the most recent letters and subscribe for their own.
I’m actually really busy, but it’s been a weird period where stuff can get organised and even contracted but not started or announced. I’m sitting on art, waiting on paperwork and deals, and the year’s call sheet officially started on Monday with a phone conference with a tv company. It’s like the front ends of my various businesses are awake but the back ends are still asleep.
PROJECT LOST SIERRA has been rewritten and is with the artist, who will get started as soon as she clears a personal project off her desk.
PROJECT TRIFORIUM has cover art, design, foreword by the artist and everything else locked, just waiting for the publisher to schedule and announce this.
PROJECT RED HOUSE is a new series that we closed the contracts on over the new year - again, the artist has something else on their desk currently, so we’re going to be working at half speed for a few months, and I don’t expect this one to be announced until early summer.
PROJECT EXPLOITS RIVER - a graphic novella we’re waiting on contracts for.
And some delightful consulting work, some personal projects - I’m determined that this year I will return to some form of self-publishing - and the stuff in the “maybe” zone.
Everyone in the family is alive and generally on the mend. I was so wiped at the end of the year that I put myself on a new supplement stack, pieced together while reading David Sinclair’s LIFESPAN, and this time it’s actually working.
(If anyone’s interested, it’s: 1500mg of liposomal nicotinamide riboside, CoQ10, vitamins D3 and K2, an 85mg aspirin (I’ve been bad at taking those daily, and have been taking them only when my fluctuating blood pressure feels weird) and a Floradix as insurance.)
After a month? Dad noises:
I don’t make them any more.
(The woman who plays the sexually insane bartender there? She has a degree in criminology and is a multiple-award-winning playwright.)
I have, however, fallen back into the habit of reading on my phone too much in the evenings - that thing where you open the phone to do a search on something while developing ideas, and suddenly it’s two hours later and you know way too much about the Fang people.
SOUND AND VISION
If you have access to MUBI, i very much recommend Emilija Skarnulyte’s latest short, APHOTIC ZONE. I wrote a bit about it here, and there’s a trailer:
This week’s new record is TI’AMTUM by Alone In The Hollow Garden.
Because we like a bit of ritual ambient.
Morning listening habits: NIGHT TRACKS via BBC Sounds, Bloomberg Daybreak podcast, FT News Briefing podcast.
I’ve finished five books so far this year:
LIFESPAN: WHY WE AGE AND WHY WE DON’T HAVE TO, David Sinclair
WALK THROUGH WALLS, Marina Abramovic
KRAFTWERK: FUTURE MUSIC FROM GERMANY, Uwe Schutte
THE CYCLIST, Tim Sullivan
THE PATIENT, Tim Sullivan
The latter two are part of a British crime series featuring a cast that is, frankly, generally a bit annoying - but Tim Sullivan writes perfectly engineered policiers, and it’s a pure joy for me to watch him operate the machinery.
That said: I was on the phone with producer friend Marc Evans the other day, and he asked me what I’d read lately that I’d recommend, and the first thing that came to mind was Patrick Langley’s THE VARIATIONS.
“Still, we must keep an open heart. Not literally. That would be bad for one’s health.”
An alternate world with only one change: some people have The Gift, an ability to hear voices and sounds from the past. In London, there is an academy called Agnes’s Hospice for Acoustically Gifted Children, which aids people with the gift. The woman who now runs it was once best friends with Selda Heddle, who grew up to be a renowned composer by using her Gift. One night, Selda’s grandson Wolf pitches up at the Hospice in a mental crisis brought on by his inheritance of the Gift.
That’s the set-up for a looped three-part novel about talents and afflictions, friendship and loss, hope and dreams, and the possessions of the creative urge.
Fitzcarraldo rarely publish straight genre work, but make no mistake - this is a work of speculative fiction, and by any sane yardstick would be considered one of the best sf novels of its year. I loved it. The writing is exquisite, by turns precise and lyric, then loose and funny. It also sends you off to learn more about music. THE VARIATIONS is a hell of an experience, and, if you read it, remember I reminded you the structure is looped.
I feel like this is probably a lot of words already.
Anyway, how are you? Holding up okay?
I’m represented by Angela Cheng Caplan at the Cheng Caplan Company and David Hale Smith at Inkwell Management and Joel VanderKloot at VanderKloot Law. Please add [email protected] to your email system’s address book or contacts or move this email to primary in your inbox!
WARRENELLIS.LTD is my personal notebook, in which I make new entries several times a day. Think of it as all the things I can't fit into this newsletter, from links and bookmarks to reviews, random thoughts and life notes. If you use a RSS reader, it generates a feed at https://warrenellis.ltd/feed/ .
This letter has been zapped to you via Beehiiv.
The next edition will be with you on 11 February 2024. Provided the number of links in this mail haven’t dumped me into sp@m hell.
Until then - I hope you survived the holiday season, and that you’re thriving. It’s going to be a weird year for a lot of us, but I figure that if we got through the last ten years, then we’ve been trained at bullshit Wudang and can get through whatever’s next. Hold on tight, look after yourself, and I hope to write to you again soon.