Emergency Power

Orbital Operations for 16 June 2024

NOTICE: The next Orbital Operations will be on Sunday 7 July. I am so behind on various projects that it’s no longer even funny, and I am paring things back for a few weeks so I can go deep on the things the clock is ticking on.

Hello from out here on the Thames Delta. It’s still raining.


Letters about the creative life by Warren Ellis, a writer from England. Was this forwarded to you? Subscribe.


📖 Who else would open a book with a mobile phone going off whose ringtone is a recording of a man being tortured to death? He who gives no fucks, Vladimir Sorokin, THE DAY OF THE OPRICHNIK (UK) (US)

🎙️ This is an old one, but I’ve had it on loop to stay in a certain story tone. “All High Souls” by Head of Wantastiquet. Avant-banjo, mate.

🎞️ Continuing my YouTube trawlings: Stan Brakhage’s ground-breaking DOG STAR MAN is up there. It’s a silent film. Wikipedia gives the easiest precis: “Described as a "cosmological epic" and "creation myth" (particularly the Prelude), Dog Star Man illustrates the odyssey of a bearded woodsman (Brakhage) climbing through a snow-covered mountain with his dog to chop down a tree. While doing so, he witnesses various mystical visions with various recurring imagery such as a woman, child, nature, and the cosmos while making his ascent.”



I have written scripts, outlines, development documents, notes, plans and schemes, and reconstructed the patio area for my exercise. I’m not even going to list everything that’s going on in sekrit PROJECT CODENAME form.

I need to finish off what is probably a couple hundred pages of stuff in the next three weeks. Almost all of it is expanding detailed notes into script or rewriting extant material, but that’s obviously still a lot.

I love writing these letters, but, as I’m sure I’ve said, sometimes I have to crash everything off. Doing them pulls me out of the zone of pure storytelling life, and sometimes that’s okay, but I don’t have the spare time to take breaks for a few weeks. Just executed another contract, and I have a couple of hard deadlines for the end of the month, and I’m now in active development on a crazy thing I’m doing with a new friend, and… well, more stuff.

I’m in my happy place, but I can’t be distracted now or I’ll blow deadlines and let people down.

The lesson for creators here is maybe that it’s okay to down-periscope, crash-dive and make your mileage underwater. There is a sense that one has to be always visible on social media or some other internet instance, especially in times when going dark for a week means a lot of people might instantly forget about you. It’s a fast and shallow world. This is your reminder that it’s doing the work that matters, not doing the dance.

I have a feeling that it was Mike Moorcock who once commented that the person in the bar who tells everyone that they’re a writer probably isn’t a writer, because a writer would be somewhere writing. And Mike used to write a book a week, so he’s allowed to make the observation.

(He once said to me, “I used to have a great time during the good times,” and famously knocked out at least one of his fantasy novels to pay his Harrods food and sundries bill.)


Traditionally, photography uses light to draw an “objective” portrait of the world. However, Owunna’s approach subverts this foundational concept by utilizing ultraviolet light, which is invisible to the naked eye, to reveal and draw from the “blackness” or darkness itself. By creating custom camera equipment that captures the fluorescence of painted bodies under UV light, Owunna’s photographs reveal a spectral vision of humanity that aligns with and poeticizes African cosmological narratives, aspects traditionally invisible both to the human eye and standard photographic equipment.

Remember when this spot was The News, With Lordess Foudre? Lordess is now a Grammy-nominated, in-demand and very busy artist and designer. You have no idea how busy: we talk every week and the amount of work she’s putting out right now is destroying. Subscribe to her newsletter to see for yourself. If any of my artist friends want a six-week residency in this spot to sell prints or whatever, drop me a note.

Or I can just keep sharing my finds from the art blogs that thankfully all have RSS feeds. I wake up to find entire galleries of new art gathered for me, and I love that.



WARRENELLIS.LTD is my personal notebook, updated daily. If you use a RSS reader, it generates a feed at https://warrenellis.ltd/feed/ .

Which is also on pause aside from Mondays. I want to try some stuff there, but, as noted, time is a factor this month.

This letter has been zapped to you via Beehiiv.

Okay, I’ve got to go. Plants just arrived. It is fucking freezing for June - I got woken at 3am by what sounded like a massive hailstorm - so whatever I plant out will probably die anyway. But we keep trying. And, every now and then, there’s a small victory that makes it all worth it. Trust me. It’s worth keeping going. Take care of yourself. See you in a bit.


I’m represented by Angela Cheng Caplan at the Cheng Caplan Company, Joel VanderKloot at VanderKloot Law and David Hale Smith at Inkwell Management. Please add [email protected] to your email system’s address book or contacts and move this to your primary folder when you get a minute, thanks.