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Hello from out here on the Thames Delta. How are you enjoying the internet this week? Does it feel a bit like that? ⬆️







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


📖 The final part of Ken MacLeod’s Lightspeed trilogy, BEYOND THE LIGHT HORIZON (UK) (US) was released this week. MacLeod has become this incredibly pure sf storyteller, just crackling with invention while retaining an energetic sociopolitical grounding. You didn’t know you needed a series about revolutionary Scottish people zapping around the universe in converted submarines. Now you do.

🎞️ Here’s another lost piece of British TV: KING OF THE GHETTO, a four part series about racial issues in London, written by Farrukh Dhondy and starring a magnificently controlled Tim Roth. I was 18 when this aired, and it was the first time I saw someone from here deconstruct the “white saviour” narrative. Blew me away. Four episodes.

🎙️ Summer is icumen in, so we play “Fur Immer,” because it’s the sound of sunlight playing on an endless river.



It’s Friday as I write this section. I’m working on a trailer cut (I swear this thing gets more complicated every fucking week), a tv development document, setting Zoom calls, scripting and planning new things. And eating apricots, because summer is icumen in. It’s fun times. Tomorrow I plan to spend hanging out in the garden with my cat (who is currently napping in a sunbeam outside) and clearing up the sitting area.

1010 millibars today, right between high pressure and low pressure. I do need to step up my work rate and put more production hours in, but not a lot of it is immediate high pressure stuff. So I’m enjoying being in the middle of the weather system right now.

I seem to have accidentally written a long newsletter, though.



I’ve avoided writing about AI too much. I hate the term "AI",” for a start. It’s not intelligent and it’s frankly not always artificial. Remember Amazon’s “AI-powered” cashier-less shops? The majority of those sales were managed not by AI, but by humans in cubicle farms in India. LLMs rely on human curation (as well as human art, thought and breath).

AI cannot simulate futures. If a machine can’t think ahead, it’s not an intelligent machine, just really good at running spreadsheets. To mangle a recent metaphor: it doesn’t know if it should open the pod bay doors or not, because it's not capable of simulating the multiple possible outcomes of letting Dave back in or not. It cannot wonder about things.

Cats will wonder about things. As ever, you need to be worrying about the people, not the robots.

And it’s all appallingly expensive and runs at a loss.

Anyway. We are at the point where I am finding some interest. I’ve been testing Perplexity AI for search, because I need easy access to knowledge engines for my work, and it ranges from useful to bloody hell that’s pretty good. But the thing that’s caught my eye this year? The chindogu era.

Chindogu is a Japanese term: the weird and “un-useless” invention. An unusual and ingeniously devised tool that does one fringe operation, poorly. It’s not useless? But nearly so. Which seems to be the general opinion about the Humane AI Pin, and, to some extent, about the Rabbit R1.

One classic chindogu the solar-powered flashlight with no storage battery.

Right now, even Google are shipping software that might one day do the things they’re talking about, but doesn’t right now and won’t in the immediate future. The Rabbit R1 appears to have shipped without core functionality in place, which is a shame. The Humane Pin is, for some people, a terrific idea on its face, but so is the chindogu Baby Mop, a duster attached to a baby so it can clean the floor while it learns to crawl.

(Hey, I come from a people who used to stick children up chimneys to clean them, and frequently threatened to make my child do the same.)

I suspect there may be a bunch more of these. Android phones will try to eat the standalone AI device’s lunch before it’s even ordered (the Rabbit R1 was supposed to be able to order lunch but it can’t), and Apple would like to but they have to weigh improved AI access against their traditional concerns about security, so I suspect Siri will remain that thing we only use to set timers or reminders sums with. But the Humane and the Rabbit have probably opened the doors, especially if AI compute gets cheaper, and there could well be a brief era of AI chindogu, coming to an Amazon storefront near you via container ships from China. That’s amusing stuff for me.

And, as I said, AI-enabled search is getting really interesting now. I half-caught a news headline the other day, and asked Perplexity for a brief on the current political situation in Slovakia because I didn’t have enough hands free to type. I got a full abstract that included the shooting incident that happened a couple hours previously. And links to six sources for further reading. That was impressive.

Anyway. The intersection of AI with search and chindogu is a curious space to explore.


Big fan of Matthew Dunn’s work, and this minimalist haunted gothic Monkey just tickles me so much. I love it. Matthew’s store is at this link here.



The spinny gif up top is basically how I feel about email and notifications.

There are periods where the spinny thing can be fun. But if there's serious work to do, or serious thinking, or just serious turn-everything-off I-need-to-get-outside-and-stop thinking time needed... the spinny thing is death. You know that. The nightmare pingpingping of hustle porn is bullshit and you know it. I have email, two messaging apps, and news notifications just because I like to know what's happening out in the world to some extent.

But. Spinny. Ping.

Now, I have an advantage. My first point of contact is my team. My team contact me by email or messaging app or call, depending on what's needed, but they're across everything.

But here's the other thing. My main email, which is work, friends and family, is private. And that's a thing you can do. Have your public email address be something you have to actually go check once a day or once a week or whatever you like. And put everything else on an email account that isn't posted publicly. And have that be the one that's on your phone.

After that, see if your email app has a priority inbox, and, if so, spend half an hour telling it who's priority and who isn't. My publishers, producers and collaborators get straight through, as do friends and family. Everything else gets sorted into another pile that I get to later in the day when I have time.

Speaking of which, I just found an email in the pile telling me that Twitter Archive Eraser is back, and there’s a discount code: SPRING_2024* . If you’re ready to check out of that place, this is a really good thing that I’ve used myself more than once with great success.



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

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Have you ever noticed how many people on the internet want you to be sad about something? Or angry about something? Or angry and sad? This is called emotional contagion and it powers clicks and engagement. Maybe the next time someone posts something just because they think you need to be more sad, just walk the fuck away. You get to decide how you feel. Take your time, and make your own space to live your life in. You’re allowed to be at peace, you know. See you next week.


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.