The Rings Of Saturn – Chapter 8

Last week Manu engaged in a strange nightbound union with Agnes and Katarina. Unsure of their relationship with one another, they somehow know that they are bound to Edouardo in some way, and that this is the thread that connects them. When Manu approaches him, the old artist reveals his plans: an art exhibition, his first in several years.


But I did not wake in that squalid apartment in Tres Cantos, oh no.

I woke in Madrid, in Bosques’s workshop, on the sofa, covered by a flimsy blanket. It was a complete tip, as though a methed-up gorilla had waded through the place. Easels were upturned, paint pots were scattered, paper was strewn across the floor, and ink and paint and colour and sketches twitched animatedly.

Cold breeze made my flesh horripilate, until I saw the source: an open window. Had I clambered in last night? Had I escaped after the bizarre encounter with Bosques’s other followers? I have no idea what the mad sex-bat Katarina had meant by “creations”. Had I even dreamed it? No matter. After crawling from the sofa only to be pounded about the brain by hammers made from the void inside old wine bottles, I decided it was better not to try to think about anything much at all.

Continue reading “The Rings Of Saturn – Chapter 8”

Chronscast Episode 5 – WATCHMEN with Tade Thompson

Coronation Special! Titus Groan with Toby Frost Chronscast

  1. Coronation Special! Titus Groan with Toby Frost
  2. Episode 16 – Excalibur with Bryan Wigmore

On this episode of Chronscast we’re joined by award-winning SF author Tade Thompson to talk about WATCHMEN, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s comic-book masterpiece that skewers the superhero genre using its own architecture. Tade is the author of numerous novels, including the critically acclaimed sci-fi novel Rosewater, the first in his award winning WORMWOOD TRILOGY, Making Wolf, and most recently Far From the Heaven, and the Molly Southbourne series. He has won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Nommo Award, the Kitschies Golden Tentacle award, and the Julia Verlange award, and been shortlisted for the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, the British Science Fiction Association Award, and the Shirley Jackson Prize.

We talk about how WATCHMEN reflects contemporary 1980s existential anxieties around the Cold War nuclear annihilation, and how it skewers the absurd braggadocio of the superhero genre. We dig down into the weeds of the book, picking apart the characters, their differing pathologies, and whether salvation lies in a masked figure. We ask how the genre can innovate from here, and why WATCHMEN endures. We also touch on the free spiritedness of Manga, writing fractured timelines as seen in Rosewater, and how the creation of narratives builds a psychological bridge between art and clinical practice.

This episode’s special guest, Tade Thompson

The Judge gives us the second part of her talk on defamation, reminding us that usually the only winners of such altercations are the lawyers – so watch out! Elsewhere we hear Starship, Christine Wheelwright’s excellent winning entry to the April 75-word writing challenge, and Superman has an axe to grind with Pine Marten Man… or is he just jealous?

Further Reading
You Better Watch Yourself
The Kryptonite Kid
Quack This Way
Where Are You Now, Batman?

Next Month
Join us next time when we’ll be joined by Ed Wilson, literary agent and director of the Johnson & Alcock literary agency. Ed will walk with us through the labyrinth that is Mark Danielewski’s mad millennial monster story House Of Leaves.

[00:00:00] Tade Thompson Interview Part 1 [1:04:03] Voicemail 1 [1:05:10] The Judge’s Corner [1:18:03] Voicemail 2 [1:19:00] Writing Challenge Winner [1:21:02] Voicemail 3 [1:22:00] Tade Thompson Interview Part 2

How To Listen
Listen to Chronscast on Anchor, or through your usual podcast provider (links below). And please like, subscribe, and share!
Apple Podcasts
Amazon Music
Google Podcasts

The Rings Of Saturn – Chapter 7

Last week Em partook in a strange dinner with Edouardo and some of his associates, and wasn’t quite sure of what to make of it. Upon Edouardo’s recommendation, Em agrees to meet with Agnes, one of the people who joined them for dinner, and they take a trip just outside Madrid.


I did as the old man asked, and met Agnes at Sol. The morning made her seem more agreeable, and she displayed none of the odd aggression she’d shown last night in the toilets. I didn’t like it, and as the morning progressed I wondered if this perceived altercation was merely the hissy fit of a capricious artist, or whether we were, in our collective silence, breeding an elephant in the room of our company. If she felt any awkwardness, she didn’t show it.

Continue reading “The Rings Of Saturn – Chapter 7”

Literature Long Read: This World Is On Fire – Mysticism, Rejuvenation and Peace in The Waste Land

2022 is the centenary year of TS Eliot’s modernist masterpiece The Waste Land. It is one of the 20th century’s greatest and most influential poems, and yet seethes with such profound imagic, linguistic, cultural and religious references that it appears intimidatingly impenetrable to the lay reader. That’s the modernist way. But let’s not be tempted to think that works such as The Waste Land are early examples of gnashing postmodernism, written where the impenetrability is the point. Despite the poem being written in the aftermath of the utter dismemberment of the First World War, there is no absoluten Zerrissenheit on display here.

That’s not to say that abject nihilism isn’t far from the surface, but the poem is essentially one of hope, an emotion or theme that postmodernism is incapable of eliciting. This strange dichotomy of doom attenuated by hope is right there in the poem’s famous opening lines.

Continue reading “Literature Long Read: This World Is On Fire – Mysticism, Rejuvenation and Peace in The Waste Land”

The Rings Of Saturn – Chapter 6

Last week Em began work as the amanuensis of Edourado del Bosques, and meditated upon the horrors of growing old, and how the old view the young. Would even the great ones be resentful to those in the flushes of youth? This week, Emmanuel joins his mentor at a dinner in Madrid, where he sees strange things he cannot account for, and meets other associates of the old artist.


Continue reading “The Rings Of Saturn – Chapter 6”

Aiming High Part 2: Failure = New Information

Last week I worked through the idea of trying to capture one’s aspirations with as much detail as you can bear. The justification being that specific objectives enable one to create a useful plan or map of how to reach those objectives. The alternative is a sort of fuzzy goal that may or may not be succeeded at any one time, because the definition of failure is also iteratively fuzzy. Writers seem to be particularly poor at defining success in this way. I’ve given it a little thought and there seems to be some sort of connection to personality types. A short while back I wrote a couple of posts on creative personality types and whether one could be orderly and creative.

Continue reading “Aiming High Part 2: Failure = New Information”

The Rings Of Saturn – Chapter 5

Last week Emmanuel told of the first tentative steps he was taking with his work with Bosques. Work is proving difficult, so Emmanuel walks through the heart of the city of Madrid at night to try and capture some of the darkness missing from the work.



Slept in the studio last night. Bosques found me asleep in a bed and duvet made of rags and blankets. Woke me with one of his claws shaking me surprisingly firmly by the shoulder.

“When did you do this, Emmanuel?” he said.

Took me a little while and a couple of coffees to give him a satisfactory answer. Told him about my soirée. Seemed impressed. 

“You have it, there is something there.”

I looked again at what I’d thrown together last night. Weirdest thing, old girl. Bloody reds and indigos framed those phallic skyscrapers, their faint edges glowing, but they were jagged and imperfect, unlike their real life counterparts. In the foreground there was the life of the old; I’d even whizzed up a few figures, like love-children of Gauguin and Lowry. Didn’t remember painting anything; recalled doing a few sketches, but no paint. Looked again at the studio. Paints all over the place. Must have been flitting in and out of sleep. Was dog tired, after all.

Anyway, Bosques liked it. Rather a lot. Wants to show it off to a few friends tomorrow night at dinner. Said no, it’s not ready, but he insists. 

“It won’t be an exhibition,” he said. “Just a – what you would say, a, ah – proof of concept. To show to a few trusted colleagues. To see if I’m doing the right thing.”

That took me aback. The right thing? The right thing in taking me on? For a second I thought about giving him a piece of my bloody mind, but held back; thought about what I wrote yesterday. Purpose. He’s given me purpose. Not to be taken lightly. Buttoned my tongue.

Spent a few hours trying to sketch some more ideas. Realise that only a part of my job is actually the technical bit of drawing and painting, which Bosques, the sly old fox, insists I have. Not perfect, but good enough, and I’ll get better. The bigger part of this job is having someone who can interpret what the hell is going on inside his head. Not easy. Language barrier is one thing, but language and subjectivity barrier is double hard. Sometimes it’s like trying to extract Shakespeare from a nanny goat. In Swahili. Not even sure which of us is the goat. Spent the morning trying to capture his ideas; he’s got printed notes, mostly in Spanish, which he used some speech-to-text software to write, so I sketched breezily, taking direction from him. 

Sometimes he shouts and waves his pincers up and down like a mad crab, other times he dances around, cajoling, encouraging, clawing at his long, white hair like some sort of gadfly in a sanitorium. What he really wants is someone to understand his themes. I think he’s scared of being replaced: by the world, by youth, by the inferior, by time. I asked again why not get one of his acolytes to do this job; surely they would understand his thought processes better than I.

“There are only two states of mind worth a damn,” he said. “An old fool whose time is short, and a nihilistic youth who has no respect for it. The abyss stares at us all, but only those two types of people know it. Not these pampered young ones who dream big and whose lives are filled with romance. Think back to Goya’s black paintings. Why do they fascinate so? Because he was at the end of his life, filled with bitterness and sadness, at himself, at his body, at Spain. Like Beethoven’s Große Fugue.”

I wondered if there was anything in the fact that both Goya and Ludvig Van had gone deaf prematurely. Must have pissed off Ludvig something rotten. Thought to tell Bosques that I didn’t fancy dying quite as much as I had done a couple of weeks ago, but what if he then cast me off? Is that why he wants me around? Because I’m as close to falling off the perch as he is? In which case, I ought to stay alive to support him, but he’d turf me out. Not your everyday predicament, Em. Focuses the mind, I tell you. Would I be catapulted back into abject despair, or free? I no longer know. Perhaps you could visit, Em. Could do with your company some time.

Remember when we spent an evening in Greenwich Park with two bottles of red and only one glass?

Neither do I.

Madrid’s music calls me.

I miss you, you awful old sow. 

Emmanuel x


Chapter 6

Aiming High Part 1: Write For The Stars

I made the conscious decision to make a serious go at writing around about ten years ago, during a holiday with my wife (then fiancée), and set about pulling together an epic fantasy that was pretty much 100% ideation, and 0% planning. I had no idea how I was going to approach the task, so set about doing what most would-be writers, particularly of genre fiction, end up doing, and that’s worldbuilding.

Continue reading “Aiming High Part 1: Write For The Stars”

The Rings Of Saturn – Chapter 4

Last week our correspondent Emmanuel, writing to the woman he abandoned in London, was invited by the artist Edouardo Del Bosques to be his amanuensis. All of a sudden, Emmanuel finds a reason to live.


Continue reading “The Rings Of Saturn – Chapter 4”

The Rings Of Saturn – Chapter 3

Last week, Emmanuel pondered why the esteemed artist Edouardo Del Bosques had left his business card in Room 67 at the Museo Del Prado, until at last he gets a message asking to reunite. At Room 67 of the Museo Del Prado, of course.

Continue reading “The Rings Of Saturn – Chapter 3”