Picking Our Way Through The Days

Orbital Operations for 27 August 2023

Hello from out here on the Thames Delta, where the list is being absolutely bombed by Hotmail bots - it was also Hotmail that registered the newsletter as spam two weeks ago. I’m sure someone somewhere is having fun with that, but I’m still here.

It has, otherwise, been a stressful and time-poor week. I’ve had what on the face of it looks like some good work news, but I’m going to wait to see how that plays out before I get excited. But I’ve mostly been involved in other stuff this week.

Very long story short: a close friend of the family died, and in the end the only option was for us to take in his cat. This involved long drives, installing a cat flap in the back door - we’ve only ever had indoor cats, and this guy is very much an outdoor cat - and lots of panicky reorganisation and stress. Our two girls seemed, until Friday, to have written him off as a hallucination or a ghost. The cat flap is keyed to his chip (he was a rescue cat), and so only he can operate it. Poor Minnie has watched him go through it like she’s watching a ghost pass through a solid wall.

Friday was a little more… growly.

Also on Friday, PJ Holden emailed to tell me about this:

He said:

It's a collection of the #folkloreThursday comic strips I drew based on tweets by John Reppion (from 2019 to 2020). The collection brings in the full year run and alongside each comic there's an essay by John on the folkloric elements all beautifully designed by the gang at Liminal 11 - they've put together a great “pick up and read a random page” book.

Doesn’t it look lovely? Should have been in the Fortean Times.

Amazon UK has it, and in the US the MIT Press has it up for pre-order for a November release. So, America, your Xmas shopping is sorted.

I had occasion, the other day, to briefly get the keys to one of my social media sites to fish something out of there, and it seems like the exodus is on. Except it’s also kind of not. Some of the replacement options evidently have poor access, some are too complex to work well, some don’t actually let you see posts by your friends. And engagement on the legacy sites is just gone: I’ve seen several articles by writers and other creators saying that they get no activity or growth from Xitter and IG now, and FB has been useless for years.

There’s going to be a lot of adjusting to smaller potential audiences and smaller circles. Social media winter is going to be hard on a lot of people, but it looks like it’s coming. Keep your people close and figure out your best future channels now.

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 represented by Angela Cheng Caplan at the Cheng Caplan Company and David Hale Smith at Inkwell Management. Please add [email protected] to your email system’s address book or contacts.

Here’s a newsletter I actually open, because it covers a lot of the stuff that falls under my personal day-to-day radar - the new digital creator economy things that do affect the world but which do not enter my space. For example, I’m writing this bit on Monday, and now I know that “OpenSea may be sinking the creator-driven NFT business model.” That’s actually a handy thing to know. It’s an interesting signal. This isn’t an ad. This is me using Beehiiv’s built-in system just to show you a thing that interests me: TheFutureParty.

TheFuturePartyGet the latest news and trends on business, entertainment, and culture - so you always stay one step ahead of the rest.

Writer Kek-W, whose DAGON ALLEY record I mentioned the other week, has released a new novel through Bandcamp.


In 1713, composer Stephen Tullis is brought back from the edge of death by a Resurrectionist surgeon using a horrific experimental procedure. 300 years later, Tullis is still alive and on the run, hunted by intelligence agencies who want to dissect him and learn the Secret of Eternal Youth. But the centuries have taken a toll on poor Tullis. He is lonely and paranoid. The net is closing in.



The plan is to buy no more new books until next year. I presume I will fail in that fairly quickly, but several very long books have piled up in my queue, and I am taking the beginning of autumn as a cue to settle down into a handful of big tomes until spring. As much as I love Tokarczuk, I have resisted THE BOOKS OF JACOB because it’s a million pages long. SPIES is similarly weighty. There’s a long Sorokin in the queue, I’ve been wanting to re-read 2666, I want to go back into AGAINST THE DAY… I’m going to finish off TIME OF THE MAGICIANS, the Beckett book and the Jaeggy, and then retire this section as I descend into the long reads. At least, that’s the intention today.

This will probably lead to me rejigging the template for these newsletters. If there’s something you want to see more or less of in these letters, hit reply and send a letter to the office, where your wishes and ideas will be collated and later presented to me so that I can pretend they were my own ideas and wishes all along.



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/ .

…among other things.

This letter has been zapped to you via Beehiiv.

Right, let’s see if all those links make the sky fall in again. As you read this, I’m taking the long Bank Holiday weekend to go outside a bit. I hope you can get at least five minutes to yourself at some point, and do some looking-after of yourself. Take care of you first, take care of everything else later. See you next week.