Felicity has interviewed Andy Weir, author of ‘The Martian’. She talks to him about his exiting new novel, ‘Artemis’.


Andy Weir author photo credit Aubrie Pick

I’ve just finished reading Andy Weir’s new book “Artemis”. This time Weir’s characters inhabit a colony on the moon in the late twenty-first century. Because there’s been so much talk recently about the colonization of Mars, I was interested to learn what Weir had to say on the moon becoming a colony vs. Mars.

“I think we will colonize the moon before we colonize Mars. While Mars has more raw materials, the moon is just so much closer it’s considerably easier to colonize. Also, unlike Mars, the moon could be a tourist destination due to the comparatively short travel time to get there.”

I always enjoy the detail of Weir’s settings and his scientific solutions to complicated scientific problems. This time however, besides being a human vs. nature struggle, his book presents a crime story with mysteries involved. In Weir’s own words “a plot that was harder to write but…

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My friend the sculptor

In the mid-1970s, my friend Malcolm Poynter was beginning to experiment with a new form of sculpture, known as life-casting. Subjects were covered in a thick white substance that formed into a mould, and when this was removed, resin would be applied. The end result was a perfect life-like representation, even down to any skin blemishes, and hair follicles. Malcolm chose his subjects from his friends and their families, also making good use of his own girlfriend at the time.

I was also persuaded to help, and this is one of the many bizarre results. My own head, literally on a plate.

The father of another friend, a man called Frank Kemp, was also persuaded to join in. This was one of many versions of his head.

Malcolm went on to lead a very successful life as an artist in this field. As well as lecturing at London’s Goldsmith’s College, he designed restaurants in Japan, and created huge installations too. Like this one.

He currently lives and works in Austria, in a massive converted building that allows him to display his work. He is a lovely man, and a great character too. I feel privileged to be his friend. Here he is, in self-portrait.

If you are inspired to look at more of his work, please visit his own website, where you will find many fascinating examples.

Garden Party

I saw this on Marina’s blog yesterday. A simply wonderful animation that is a delight to watch. It’s not long, so I urge you to enjoy it. (In case the link doesn’t work where you live, try this one too. Remember, it’s an animation! Hard to believe.)


Letters from Athens

GARDEN PARTY is a weird and wonderful short film, which I discovered on SLIPPERY EDGE, a blog that, in their own words, is ‘focused on the exploration of beauty and creativity. As such our articles aim to showcase these qualities, and to do so we present you with a number of different contemporary professional artists, art students & creators from around the globe, in all domains of arts.’

It’s a great blog for discovering all sorts of new artists, and I urge you all to take a look. However, it is not a WP blog, so I could not discover how to re-post – I just managed to embed the film.

GARDEN PARTY is a short, animated film about two frogs who take over a deserted, if luxurious house. It has already picked up numerous awards. But I shall say no more, just let you discover it for yourselves…

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The Earth Is Flat

Many years ago, everyone believed that the Earth was flat. if you sailed too far in a ship, you would fall off the edge. This was an accepted fact, and nobody disputed it. On old maps, unfortunate sailors were shown falling off, into the unknown void. You may not be aware, but there are many people who still believe that to this day. Here is their website.

Does that sound crazy? We have all seen photos taken from above the Earth. We know is is a sphere, and photos of all the planets in our solar system confirm this, don’t they? But there are some intelligent and spirited members in that society, and they believe that the Earth is indeed flat, and the ‘circular theory’ is a famous lie. Is there a chance that they are right, and we have all been duped? That’s up to you of course, but I like the idea that people like that exist. People who question, try to think for themselves, and don’t just accept everything they are told as fact.

Whenever you look at a map of the world, the chances are you are viewing a ‘Mercator’s Projection’. That flat look at all the continents, the familiar shape of countries that some of us can identify just by their outline. The placing of large and small islands, just the way we learned it at school. But this map was based on empires, and subtly altered over the centuries, since first published by Mercator in 1596. The British Isles are far too large, for instance. Canada is not big enough, and Africa is actually much longer and thinner that we generally assume it to be.

This map from 1974 gives a more realistic view of the world, and is substantially different to our usual perception.

We all know about space travel too. We have seen the footage of the astronauts, and the photos taken on the moon. We have seen the pictures from space telescopes, Mars, Jupiter, fantastic planets. But do we really know that they are true? Do we actually know any more than the sailors who thought they might fall off of the edge of the world? Let’s all think more, just like those members of The Flat Earth Society

Some things I have never done

A few years ago, I don’t recall exactly when, I heard the term ‘Bucket List’. I think it originated in America, and involved people compiling lists of things they intended to do before they ‘kicked the bucket’. (Died) Some of these were merely dreams, but most were achievable goals, given sufficient funds, and good health. This later progressed onto the blogs with adaptations, such as people listing things they wanted to do ‘Before I am 30’, and so on. They still pop up now and then, so the idea seems to have never gone away.

Over the last few years, it has occurred to me that there are not only things I will likely never do, but also lots of things I have never wanted to do, even with unlimited funds, and full fitness. On a bus journey in the rain yesterday, I got to thinking about some of those things, the fanciful, as well as the mundane.

I have never parachuted from an aircraft. I thought about it once, then discovered that my life insurance at the time would not cover me, in the event of a fatal accident. Since then, I have decided that it is not something I ever want to do.

I have not been up in a hot air balloon. I was once booked in for such an excursion, which would have taken us above Luxor in Egypt, and along part of the Nile. But the operators cancelled it, due to mechanical problems. That is something I still might do one day, if I live long enough.

I never did learn to swim. I could probably do that at the local swimming pool, or pay to attend an intensive course locally, guaranteed to have you ‘Swim in a week’. I’m not sure that I really want to though, as I have a deep-seated fear of being in water.

I have not visited America, north or south. I doubt I will ever have the money to do that now, but if I ever do, I would like to go. The same with Japan, a place that has long fascinated me.

I have never painted a picture, published a book, or performed on a stage. These three are all possibilities; things that could still happen with some training, or personal commitment.

I tried to learn to play musical instruments. At first, the double bass, and later the guitar. I didn’t have the patience to practice, and found it hard to grasp learning music, so gave up. It might be a bit late for that one now.

I have never been skiing, though I have been to places where other people were doing that. It always seemed rather silly to me, slipping down a small mountain or hillside, risking serious injury, or death. As well as that, it also seemed to be as much about what you were wearing, and the brand name on your sunglasses, so didn’t appeal. The same with mountain climbing. You go all that way, then have to try to get back down again…

I have never been on a cruise liner. Although there have been times when I could well have afforded a luxury cruise, I feared sea-sickness would spoil the experience. I did manage a cruise along the Nile, but that has no waves.

Then there are those modern fundraisers or leisure activities that have come along as I got older. Abseiling down the side of a building, bungee jumping from a bridge platform, or a crane. Running a half-marathon, competing in an ‘Iron Man’ challenge, and so many others. You are not going to hear about me participating in any of those, I assure you.
Paintballing. Running around with a group of people firing plastic balls filled with paint at each other, seeking to gain victory over another team of colleagues, friends, or strangers. I never got that, so that will never be on my list of things to do.

That just leaves me with the things I would really like to do; given the money, or the opportunity.

I would like to see the statues on Easter Island. To look at them, and wonder what they are staring at.
I would like to visit more places in Italy, and that may well be possible.
I would dearly loved to have seen the mighty castle of Krak Des Chevaliers. But as that is in Syria, and has been badly damaged by the war, I doubt that will ever happen.
I would very much like to visit more well-preserved Art Deco buildings. I have a list of favourites, though some are a little far away.

It would be nice to meet all my blogging friends. I have a fanciful notion of winning the lottery, and paying for us all to meet somewhere central, in a nice hotel. Putting flesh to faces in photos, hearing accents and voices, and sharing stories. Sometimes, it’s nice to dream.

Let me know what you would do, or what you have already done.


Here’s a lovely illustrated post about a trip to Portugal, from my blogging friend, and published writer, Felicity Harley. I have never been to that country, so I must rectify that, one of these days.


Graffiti in Lisbon — Photo by Arthur Vallin Creative Director HarleyandCompany

Few Americans have yet to discover Portugal. We went recently to visit my British family in Vila Nova de Milfontes in the South. Our journey started in Lisbon where we stayed in an apartment in the central part of Lisbon. Our airfares were inexpensive and our accommodations through Airbnb even more so (we never paid more than $100.00 a night).

Lisbon is a beautiful old city with a large Moorish section that wanders up into the hills behind the pastel colored, red-tiled houses that line the cobbled streets.

Moorish Section of Lisbon – Photo Arthur Vallin Creative Director HarleyandCompany

It has numerous beautiful squares and monuments and is scenically situated at the mouth of the Tagus River. If you are a foodie like us, it also has many inexpensive world class restaurants and markets scattered throughout the city in which to…

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