Orbital Operations for 16 April 2023
Hello from out here on the Thames Delta. This week has been an absolute shit - I'm writing this bit on Friday, after having just buried one of the chickens -- and I've had little time for anything outside of keeping the wheels on. I'm hoping I can use Sunday and re-adjust and plan for the week ahead, but, in the meantime, I'm afraid this week's letter is just some short notes. As ever, I hope to do better in future.
The new phone finally arrived, after several days of reminding the phone company to send the damn thing and then several days of dealing with the delivery company apparently not being arsed to deliver it. It's an iPhone 14 Pro I got on a free upgrade. I hate it. This may be the moment where I defer some online activities to the laptop only - app switching is so slow and awkward on the 14 Pro, compared to the iPhone 8, that I can't get authenticator auth codes into apps before they time out.
On the bright side, the battery works.
Strike fever has gripped Hollywood - the Writers Guild of America just asked its membership for a strike authorisation vote in advance of an expected failure in negotiations for a new film and tv contract over the next few weeks. Companies are dropping off radar with a "we'll be back to you after the strike." I have enough work in other fields to not have to worry about a short WGA strike, but if there's a screenwriter in your circle, be ready to send them food parcels. Even though a strike hasn't been called or even yet authorised, everyone out there has been convinced all year that it's going to happen, and it has the murky aura of a self-fulfilling prophecy at this point.
Also, light a candle for anyone working in a writer's room right now, because they're going to be trying to generate a season's worth of scripts before May 1 while their producers and execs watch the clock count down.
This arrived in the post this week. CARNAGE: WEB OF CARNAGE, an "Epic Collection" according to the branding, an archive newly published by Marvel Comics. Some of you may be familiar with the character of Carnage, the "red one," from the entertaining Andy Serkis-directed film VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE. It contains one of my earliest complete pieces for Marvel, a one-shot called CARNAGE: MINDBOMB that was brilliantly illustrated by the excellent Kyle Hotz. Kyle gets the back cover of this book:
I had to go and look it up - we did MINDBOMB in 1996! Never thought it'd see print again. I hope it leads a new audience to appreciate Kyle's clever, deranged work.
Topol Was A Secret Agent For Mossad, Family Claims. That's an actual headline I read. Topol was, of course, in a James Bond film.
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.com , where they can read the most recent letters and subscribe for their own.
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Since some of you have been asking: the garden has been smashed by insane rain and heavy gales and a terrorist squirrel and a gang of incontinent neighbourhood cats, but the trees I bought bare-root for a song appear to be mostly alive. This is one of the apple trees — I think it's the Maldon Wonder. If I'm lucky, it'll go into full flower in around three weeks.
That's the first photo I've taken with the new phone, by the way. Most of my seed-raising has been a disaster so far, and the snails are now waking up, but I will, as ever, adjust my plans on the fly.
The ancient old wooden garden chair finally snapped during the week - I've been waiting for it to give out for months -- but all the balance training I've been doing over the last several years meant that I didn't fall. Let's hear it for not being Old Person Who Has Falls yet.
Please allow old England to haunt your room for three minutes and then carry on with your day, thank you.
GOT MORE TIME?
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One Hell Closes, Another One Opens (Substack Notes is here)
The Computational Zone (upgrade for solar system "habitable zones")
Okay, I'm out. Proper letter next week. Be good to yourself.