"ian mcdonald"

Touring the inner workings of the Mellotron on King Crimson's anniversary

Fifty one years ago today, the first incarnation of the prog rock band, King Crimson, gathered in a cramped basement space below the Fulham Palace Cafe in London. One of the instruments the band would use that would come to distinguish their early sound was that strange, iconic 60s instrument, the Mellotron.

Keyboardist Ian McDonald was taken by the sound of this instrument as it was employed by the Moody Blues (and on The Beatles' Strawberry Fields) and thought it would work well with the type of lush and orchestral sound the band was looking to create. Later in the year, in the summer of 1969, the instrument would again appear on David Bowie's Space Oddity (played by future Yes man, Rick Wakeman).

Of all of the strange instruments that've worked the edges of popular music (the Theremin also comes to mind), the Mellotron is probably the oddest. Basically an upright organ cabinet filled with tape heads and recorded tape strips that you trigger through the keyboard, the Mellotron is like some crazy one-off contraption that caught on and actually got manufactured.

In this video, Allison Stout, of Bell Tone Synth Works, a synthesizer repair shop in Philadelphia, PA, takes us under the hood of a Mellotron MK1 and how it works. One can only imagine how finicky and prone to breakage touring versions of these things must have been.

And here's one of King Crimson's Mellotrons in action during a performance in 1974 at the ORTFTV Studios in Paris. Read the rest

The Catalan independence movement is being coordinated by an app designed for revolutions

Tsunami Democràtic is a radical, decentralized wing of the resurgent Catalan independence movement, centered around an anonymously authored app designed to coordinate revolutionary uprisings. Read the rest

Howto: design a cocktail for a Lunar civilization

Ian McDonald's Luna trilogy is filled with fantastically detailed grace-notes that give his lunar society an uncanny veneer of reality; one of the most fascinating and thoughtful of these details is the cocktails that McDonald's clannish lunarians consume, each great house with its own signature tipple. Read the rest

Luna: Moon Rising, in which Ian McDonald brings the trilogy to an astounding, intricate, exciting and satisfying climax

Back in 2015, the incomparable Ian McDonald (previously) published Luna: New Moon, a kind of cross between Dallas and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, with warring clans scheme and fighting on a libertopian lunar colony where the only law is private contracts and you're charged for the very air you breathe; McDonald raised the stakes to impossible heights with the 2017 sequel Luna: Wolf Moon, and now, with the final volume, Luna: Moon Rising, McDonald proves that he despite the wild gyrations of his massive cast of characters and their intricate schemes, he never lost control. Read the rest

The 2019 Locus Award nominees: your guide to the best sf/f of 2018

Locus Magazine has published its annual Locus Award finalists, a shortlist of the best science fiction and fantasy of the past calendar year. I rely on this list to find the books I've overlooked (so. many. books.). This year's looks like a bumper crop. Read the rest

The Locus Award finalists are out!

Every year, the readers of Locus Magazine collaborate with its editorial board to nominate and vote on their favorite science fiction and fantasy works; this year's finalist list came out today, and I'm pleased to see my novel Walkaway among some very good company indeed. Read the rest

The 2017 Locus List: a must-read list of the best science fiction and fantasy of the past year

Every year, Locus Magazine's panel of editors reviews the entire field of science fiction and fantasy and produces its Recommended Reading List; the 2017 list is now out, and I'm proud to say that it features my novel Walkaway, in excellent company with dozens of other works I enjoyed in the past year. Read the rest

Ian McDonald returns to the harshest mistress in Luna: Wolf Moon

I had my mind blown repeatedly by 2015's bumper crop of science fiction, but one novel stands out even so: Luna: New Moon, Ian McDonald's hybrid of Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and "The Godfather," an unlikely and spectacular success of a novel that left me drooling at the thought of a 2017 sequel, which drops today: Luna: Wolf Moon.

Boing Boing Gift Guide 2015

It's that time of year again! Welcome to Boing Boing's 2015 Gift Guide, where you'll find toys, books, gadgets and many other splendid ideas to humor and harry your friends and family! Scroll down and buy things, mutants!

Ian McDonald's "Luna: New Moon" - the moon is a much, much harsher mistress

We've projected our political and spiritual longings on the Moon since antiquity, and it's been a talismanic home to science fiction's most ambitious dreams for generations. But no one writes like Ian McDonald, and no one's Moon is nearly so beautiful and terrible as Luna: New Moon.

Podcast: Ian McDonald talks about Luna: New Moon (also coming to CBS!)

Science fiction titan Ian McDonald's forthcoming novel Luna: New Moon is the subject of the latest installment of the always-great Coode Street podcast (MP3). Read the rest

Locus Award finalists announced

The Locus Award -- nominated and voted by science fiction fans -- has published a particularly fine shortlist this year (in contrast to the hijacked Hugo Award ballot); I'm extremely proud to see my novella The Man Who Sold the Moon from Hieroglyph on the list. Read the rest

Summer reading list: novels

A compendium of some of my most popular novel reviews from the past year, from 'My Real Children' to 'Raising Steam.'

Empress of the Sun: return to Ian McDonald's wonderful Everness

Ian McDonald's Everness young adult books are everything you want in YA: adventure, romance, wild ideas and tense victories that make you pump your fist at the sky. In Empress of the Sun, McDonald takes the series up about four notches and show's the sky's the limit. Cory Doctorow raves about Empress of the Sun.

Blogging History: Rep King wants to jail journos who cover Snowden; UK cops: it's illegal to tell you what's illegal to photograph; Ian McDonald's amazing bollywoodpunk novel River of Gods

One year ago today

Rep. Peter King calls for prosecution of journalists covering NSA whistleblower story: Reporters who publish stories that reference leaked classified information should be prosecuted by the state. That same day, King appeared on Fox News to demand that the state prosecute Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the Edward Snowden story.

Five years ago today British cops deliver Catch 22 to photographers: you're not allowed to know which areas you're not allowed to photograph: In Britain, cops have the power to search you if you take a picture of a "sensitive" area, but they won't tell you which areas are "sensitive," because they're so "sensitive."

Ten years ago today

Ian McDonald's brilliant new novel, River of Gods: Bollywoodpunk: I just finished reading Ian McDonald's latest novel, River of Gods, and my mind is whirling. River is the story of India's 100th birthday, when the great nation has fractured into warring subnations on caste, religious and cultural lines. Like McDonald's other great novels, the story is beyond epic, with an enormous cast of richly realised characters and a vivid, luminous vision of techno-Hinduism that beggars the imagination. Take, for example, Town and Country, a soap-opera acted out by AIs (or "aeais") who lead double-lives -- each AI character has another role, as the actor who plays the character, in a "meta-soap" where their squabbling, indiscretions and marriages are tabloid fodder for the soapi magazines that dote upon them. Read the rest

This Day in Blogging History: Bradley Manning has a voice; DIY funerals; Ian McDonald's Hearts, Hands and Voices

One year ago today

In case you missed: Bradley Manning has a voice: The Freedom of the Press Foundation this week released surreptitiously recorded audio leaked from the Bradley Manning military pre-court martial hearing at Fort Meade.

Five years ago today

DIY funerals: A movement toward home after-death care has convinced thousands of Americans to deal with their own dead.

Ten years ago today Ian McDonald's Hearts, Hands and Voices: Just a quick plug for The Broken Land (originally published in the UK with the much better title Hearts, Hands and Voices), by Ian McDonald. McDonald is one of the great underappreciated science fiction writers of the twentieth century and this is one of his great, underappreciated novels. Read the rest

This Day in Blogging History: Susan Crawford should run FCC; Book of backyard bird photos; Klingklangklatch, Ian McDonald's teddy bear Tom Waits comic

One year ago today

Susan Crawford should run the FCC!: She has just published an OpEd in the New York Times which could easily be titled 'If I were Chairwoman of the FCC' and she published a book called Captive Audience which details the way various incumbent broadband related companies have gamed the political process and behaved unfairly in protecting their turf.

Five years ago today

Rick Lieder's fantastic backyard bird photos -- new book: Rick Lieder, the talented sf/f artist whose backyard nature photographs have stunned me for years, has released a new book of photos of small birds on the wing, shot in his own backyard in south Michigan.

Ten years ago today

Ian McDonald's Kling Klang Klatch: Ian McDonald's stone-brilliant 1992 graphic novel, Kling Klang Klatch (illustrated by David Lyttleton) is an improbable mashup of Tom Waits, hard boiled detectives and teddy bears. Read the rest

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