Waiting To Land

Orbital Operations for 11 February 2024

Hello from out here on the Thames Delta.

I have no idea if that is going to work! Onwards!


How are you this week? Everything’s still in a holding pattern over here. Trying to get pages out while dealing with and waiting on contracts and setting up phone conferences.

Which is, don’t get me wrong, driving me batshit. But I’ve treated myself to some new CDs and blu-rays, built a raised bed in the garden, done some meditation and started tearing my office down to make more space.

Also cutting things with axe.

A few people have asked about DEPARTMENT OF MIDNIGHT: it’s done, and the team are currently deciding on release plans in light of some new opportunities. Kevin and I continue to be ashamed that we originally believed this was going to be easy and fast.

“Moving faster” has generally been the tone of the last couple of weeks. There’s a list of things that get between me and doing the work, like rewatching a bit of SUCCESSION over lunch and then realising I’m still half-watching it two hours later.

Wondering if I shouldn’t bring guest authors back so you have more to read here! (Not that I’d know who to ask.)


Award-winning comics creator Dean Haspiel is now offering classes and consultation on comics creation. This is a good thing. He has a crazy wide range, and learned from everyone, so he has a massive amount to pass on.

Today I learned there is a thing called FARTO, a digital comics anthology created by a “comics squad” from Croatia including Garth Ennis’ frequent collaborator, the amazing Goran Sudžuka, whom I consider one of the most underrated people in the medium right now. It’s free to download, with an option to donate. It’s a lot of fun, and has that old-fashioned indie anthology / stripzine vibe to it.

Go take a look at this link here. I love that they’re using the Panel Syndicate model, too, and the pic from above is from Sudžuka and Darko Macan’s MARTINE MOON being serialised on Panel Syndicate, which I also just learned about.


I’m across several different books right now.

My intention has been to draw things to the surface, place them in arrangement while keeping the parts apart, and to leave the reader free to cast their own light and to turn these things over in their own mind as I have in mine. I’ve come to think of this form as the exploded essay, and a record of how thought builds and ideas emerge. Each is a series of short texts that cast light on one another rather like the aspects of a poem. They align artworks, myth, strange voyages, scientific scrutiny, reminiscence and a poet’s response.

That’s from the foreword to Greenlaw’s THE VAST EXTENT (UK) (US), and it’s what caught my attention. I like these “container” books that question a set of themes from a dozen different angles. Lavinia Greenlaw was the first artist in residence at the Science Museum, and she inhabits - sometimes uncomfortably, I think - that space I love where art and science strike sparks off each other. Greenlaw is a beguiling writer, and these softly exploring essays have the tone of after-midnight monologues.

My main theme was that one could only find reality by discarding realism. I was speaking of psychological reality to an audience conditioned to representational social realism.

Anais Nin wrote THE NOVEL OF THE FUTURE (UK) (US) in 1968, and so far it operates as an explanation of her process, and reaches for a theory of poetic fiction from the launch point of dreaming and dream logic. Operating in a similar zone to “making strange” and Brecht’s distancing effect.

The mood I fall into when I am truly possessed by my work is one which resembles the trances of the mystics. I shut out the outer world to concentrate on what I see and feel. There is no doubt that the act of creation is very similar to the act of dreaming.

It is extremely quotable.

The more accelerated our life becomes, the more we have to learn to select only the essential, to create our own repose and meditation islands within an uncluttered mental space.

Weird to think that line was written in the year I was born.

…all media forms (a) intensify something in a culture, while, at the same time, (b) obsolescing something else. They also (c) retrieve a phase or factor long ago pushed aside and (d) undergo a modification (or reversal) when extended beyond the limits of their potential. The result is a four-part metaphor.

(This) tetrad performs the function of myth in that it compresses past, present, and future into one through the power of simultaneity.

THE GLOBAL VILLAGE (UK) (US), from 1989, is a McLuhan I hadn’t yet read. (A good chunk of his bibliography was written in collaboration.) So far, most of it is an explication and elaboration of the “tetrad” idea, which I guess was his last big innovation. One of the many things I find interesting about it is this: when you accelerate a medium to its extreme, it overheads and essentially turns itself inside out, like a nova becoming a black hole. Weird to find someone arguing the endgame of accelerationism from the 1980s.

Or: when you accelerate streaming to its extreme, it overheats, reverses itself and turns into basic cable. Which has just happened.


Here’s a fun thing. “We got together seventeen of our favorite artists to cover the Wicker Man soundtrack in support of the Scottish Wildlife Trust.” You can give the whole thing a listen for free over here. I was hooked on the first piece, a cover of “The Highland Widow’s Lament” by Burd Ellen, which is gorgeous and haunting and haunted. Hawthonn, an old favourite of mine, is on the record too. Do you love The Wicker Man (original) and spooky music? This is for you.

Also that is a great title.

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 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 sent out on 25 February 2024. I will get back to weekly sends, but not just yet.

That’s all I’ve got today. Back to re-rigging the office and rummaging in the back of my head for useful ideas. I need to get on with shit. But while I’m doing that, you should plan five minutes for yourself and take a break. There’s a lot going on, but nobody’s going to get at you for taking five minutes to step out of the churn and stop the world. Take care of you, and I hope to write a note to you again in a couple of weeks.