Space Navigation Console

28 March 2019

Things To Come - Movie Night

Space Pilot Comics brings you movie night in its new schedule of the last Thursday of every month. I have to draw the comics sometime. 

Tonight's SF movie is Things to Come, a great H G Wells story making a classic motion picture.

TRIVIA: This movie was a collaboration between a great director, Alexander Korda, and a great science fiction author, H G Wells. Name another classic sf movie created by such a collaboration.

Movie Night comes with the assistance of

25 March 2019

How Did We Pass The Test?

Chocolate Fudge CakeThis chocolate fudge cake was huge! Half of the cake slice looked like a whole one on its own. It tasted yummy with a great, oozy sauce. The ice-cream was delicious - very creamy and vaguely vanilla.
I would give this warm chocolate fudge cake 6/10
[Life According To Lucy, blog post]
Lucy TonerYesterday was the sixth anniversary of the death of my daughter, Lucy. My wife and I went out and bought chocolate. My son and his girlfriend went out for a sunny day in the park and a nice meal. We all met up at the end of the day by video-link for a good family chat.

These were all good Lucy things to do and in a way brought us closer to her.

At this time I've been reading a series of books that Lucy particularly enjoyed. These are Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books about a young girl in the Discworld discovering the secret empowerment that her granny had had and that she was in the process of inheriting. I can see why Lucy enjoyed these as Tiffany is very like her - clever, talented and a girl finding her own viewpoint in a skewed world. The witches of the Discworld are used as an example and a warning to us in the way we bring our children up with stories in which strong women are always evil and the good ones need a handsome prince to rescue them.

Anyway, here is a wee quote from Terry Pratchett that means a lot for now.
'The thing about witchcraft,' said Mistress Weatherwax, 'is that it's not like school at all. First you get the test, and then afterwards you spend years findin' out how you passed it. It's a bit like life in that respect.'
[The Wee Free Men]
I wonder today how we passed the test of losing Lucy, how we even survived that. This is a lesson that life is still teaching me.

Now I'm thinking that, somewhere in the Multiverse, Lucy and Terry are enjoying a storytellers' afterlife entertaining each other with wild stories that carry a lot of meaning.

R.I.P. Lucy Toner and Terry Pratchett.

22 March 2019

Learn to Draw a Comic with Space Pilot

Tomorrow is the big day. We are taking over room 2 at The Stove in Dumfries High Street and making it into a comic and illustration factory.

You can sign up on our Facebook Event.

Here's the blurb.

A spin-off from last year's Drawing Stories. We're trying it out as a one day event which might suit the folk who can't commit to a full run of evening classes.
Taught by Mark Toner and Steve Pickering, illustrators from Shoreline of Infinity magazine, this day workshop will cover basic drawing skills where needed and aims to have all participants creating a fully illustrated work by the end of the day.
It runs from 10am to 4.30pm, costs £38 and it would help us if you'd sign up here to give us an idea of numbers. Under 16s must be accompanied by a supervising adult (or why not take the course too?).

17 March 2019

Happy St Patrick's Day

To all who share those Irish genes with me, enjoy the dear ould saint's day. To all who don't, we accept you as our brothers and sisters and hope you can enjoy a wee tinge of the green today too.

Did you ever wonder why the flying saucers are usually flown by wee green men? Where else will you find so many little people than in the emerald isle?

So, give a wee nod to old St Pat on this holy day and watch the skies!

14 March 2019

Passing It On

I'm in the High Street in Dumfries on Saturday 23rd March, running a one-day workshop in illustration at the Stove. My comrade in drawing Steve Pickering will be co-presenting and it'll be a great day for beginners and experienced artists alike.

You can sign up for it on Facebook, where I've posted all the details. That will give us an idea of how many to cater for.

12 March 2019

Missing Movie Night?

We've had some fun with our weekly movies and they may go weekly again, once I've got the book club up and running. In the meantime we still have our monthly movie on the last Thursday of each month and there is a little opportunity for us all to make our mark in the movie world.

My pal Russell Jones (whose poetry I am currently turning into a comic) has a poem called An Official Guide To Surviving The Invasion which is being made into an apocalyptic movie down at Govan Baths (yes, the baths that are being renovated). They need some cash to complete the filming and you can get your name in the credits by helping out.

Visit their Indiegogo site and pledge a wee bit of money. It'll bring a smile to Russell's wee hirsute face and get you on the first rung to being a movie mogul.

An Official Guide to Surviving the Invasion

Have fun. I'll see you on movie night.

10 March 2019

Coming Soon: The Space Pilot Book of the Month Club

I spend my working day illustrating short stories, poetry and drawing comics. I do this because I love telling stories.

The main reason for running this web site is to share that love of stories with others and try to attract readers to the kind of fiction that I particularly enjoy. There's no prize for guessing that the mega-genre science fiction figures large in that.

So, starting in April, I'm launching the Book of the Month here on the Space Pilot website. I'm going to give away a free eBook on the first Monday of the month that you can download, read, share with your friends, anything you like.

All I ask in return is that you come back here and post a comment under that eBook post, telling the rest of us what you thought of the book and maybe engaging with the comments and questions posed by your fellow readers.

It's a free book club and you don't even need to give me your personal data to join it. So it's really free.

As this summer sees the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, I'll feature a number of classic lunar tales, some you'll be familiar with and one, in particular that might surprise you. There will be other firsts and landmark ideas in the mix too. Who wrote the first robot story? Well, you'll get a chance to read that very story, here in the Space Pilot book club.

The success of this project very much depends on all of the visitors here who read the stories taking part and leaving their comments. So help me out and I'll keep it running indefinitely. Let's see if we can create a wee community of science fiction history pundits here at

04 March 2019

Regulation and Culture - a Future Dystopia?

Over the past few months I've been wondering when it was that British calendars started setting the first day of the week as Monday. For a while now I've been having to switch my start day to Sunday whenever I set up a new computer or a new online account and, only recently, I discovered that the Monday start comes with the UK localisation features.
However I grew up with my weeks starting on Sunday. So I wondered who had decided and when that Monday is the first day of the week in the UK while, say, in the US the first day is still Sunday.
A quick bit of research brings up ISO 8601 (see which was devised by the International Standards Organisation in 1988. It defines a completely standardised system of describing times and dates. This was deemed necessary because of the vast variation in cultural definitions for these things.
Here's a wee example local to me. In Ghàidhlig (Scots Gaelic) there are two names for Sunday: Didòmhnaich, the Lord's Day, or Latha na Sàbaid, the Sabbath Day. The former implies Sunday is the first day of the week, the day the Lord rose from the dead, while the latter implies Sunday is the last day of the week, the day the Creator rested. I expect there's a lot of conflicting Catholic and Reformed theology in there, but that's not the point of this article. These are cultural definitions that set the context in which people experience the passing of the week. Mix in the other great religions, commercial concerns about the working week and the requirements of law and government and there can be many of these.
Other time problems occur with phrases like, "I'll meet you at half two," which sets a meeting for half past two in some cultures or half past one in others. Not a convenient way to work in international business.

So along comes the International Standards Organisation who set a definition for all time related conversation in 1988 called ISO 8601. This defines ways of expressing the date (always Year:Month:Day, like in Astronomy) and the time, and of setting out the calendar (the week always begins on a Monday). 
Most of the countries of the world have adopted ISO 8601, with exceptions like USA, Australia and Canada. So, if I want a calendar that starts on a Sunday I better ask my Canadian and American cousins to send me a care package, because, officially the week starts on a Monday here, whether that`s the way I see the world or not.
So I wonder if this would be an interesting idea for a story. What would a world be like that had been completely ISOed for the convenience of international business with the complete submergence of the world's cultural diversity. This could happen when we look at ISO 8601. What sort of underground black market would arise where you could buy your Didòmhnaich-style calendar, or where you could buy lunch outside of the 1300 to 1330 internationally-set window? Hmm...