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26 December 2020

A Happy Christmas to all our Readers

It's been quite a year. I hope you can all have a peaceful time this Christmas and recharge for the year ahead.

Nollaig Chridheil!


13 December 2020

More Magpie of Space

 The Magpie is back! Lt Hazard has been lost in teensiness somewhere in the Engineering Lab and now we know what has happened to him. Read all about it in The Magpie of Space.

04 December 2020

MILK Has Been Funded

The good news today is that my pal Stevie White will have his graphic novel MILK published thanks to a lot of good people who pledged to fund it on Kickstarter.


The other good news is that I now have time to finish the next Magpie of Space comic. So watch for that soon.

30 November 2020

 Happy St Andrew's Day!

As you may know, Space Pilot HQ is based in Scotland (along with a wheen of proposed spaceports). So I want to share our national day with you. 

 Here are a couple of saltires that you can print out. The double one gets folded over and glued with a stick up the side. Then trim off the top edge to restore symmetry.

09 November 2020

Activity Expected Soon

 I've been launching a Kickstarter for my comics chum Stref and now it's all up and running. This is a great comic book called MILK and it showcases the huge variety of art styles that he can work in. All original Stref stories broadly across the SF and horror genres, it is available to pledge for here on Kickstarter:

Spacemen from MILK
MILK Cover

This means I am starting to get some of my time back and a new episode of Magpie of Space is on the way too. Watch for news soon.

07 October 2020

Magpie of Space: Watch this (Magpie of ) Space

Magpie of Space: Watch this (Magpie of ) Space:  Sorry for the delay in another issue coming out. I do have the plot for the next one and it will happen soon.  The reason for the delay is ...

19 September 2020

Early Signs of Autumn

 2020 has presented us with a very long summer in many ways, but now there are little signs of autumn here in the southwest of Scotland. I collected a few today as I explored the Crichton Estate.

A Trip to Mars by Camera

 I've been admiring the nearby bright and clear view we're having of Mars this week. It's burning bright and fiery in the eastern sky around 11pm or so from this part of Scotland. I snapped off a few shots with my Pentax K-7 and got these quite satisfying results.


The little red dot of Mars in the night sky, too bright for the stars to be detected on the same image (ISO3200 f/4, 1/8s, f=18mm).

A closer look with a 300mm lens. Mars shines through the glare of a street lamp (ISO3200, f/5.6, 1/10s).
An enlarged view taken with the 300mm lens again (ISO3200, f/5.6, 1/60s).

It's still up there. So look out for it tonight if it's clear.

02 September 2020

A Game For Space Farers

 How will Prof Poot Poot cope with all of the stress laid on him in Episode 10? Well Dr Zoe Scope has an idea and all will be revealed in the next instalment of Magpie of Space. She thinks playing a particular 3D game might help focus his mind and help him to offload the stress.


Out now!

20 August 2020

Magpie of Space: Contagion - Episode 10

The waiting is over. Episode 10 is here.

Magpie of Space: Contagion - Episode 10:  Captain Bold, Chief McPhail and Mike Maseko have miniaturised and gone into the space station in search of the equipment necessary to recha...

29 July 2020

A Break For Some Celebrations

Fine Wind, Clear Morning by Katsushika Hokusai
After getting Magpie episode 9 finished I've had a little time off. I turned 60 last week which means I'm starting on my second life, a big occasion. Katsushika Hokusai, a great artist of the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, changed his name on turning 60 and called himself "old man crazy to paint." I'm undecided about my second life name; "old man crazy to animate" might work but I also draw comics. Maybe "old man crazy to draw stories" might work best.

Anyway, there will be more Magpie of Space coming soon. My wife and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary shortly and then I'll reveal whether Chief McPhail's crazy plan works out.
Hokusai painted Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, of which The Great Wave off Kanagawa is one (look in the background).

18 July 2020

New Magpie of Space

Episode 9 is available over at Magpie of Space. Chief McPhail outlines her daring plan to get the Magpie recharged and away from the star pox but Mr Hazard adds a complication.

03 July 2020

Magpie of Space: Contagion - Episode 7

Episodes 1 to 7 of The Magpie of Space are currently available and Episode 8 is being drawn now.

The crew are cooking up a new plan to escape lockdown in Station AE104 and continue their mission to explore the galaxy. How do they get past the BIG scary robot?

Magpie of Space: Contagion - Episode 7: Chief Engineer McPhail's robots stand in the docking port, ready to enter Station AE104 and find a way of recharging the Magpie's en...

05 June 2020

Still Almost Weekly

The Magpie of Space is now into its sixth episode. Can McPhail's robots save the day and get the Magpie safely away from the star pox?

02 June 2020

More Photos From Lockdown

I've been steadily amassing a library of photos as I take my daily walk with my camera. There's a load of new additions to the Flickr album I set up for this project.

Have a look:

12 May 2020

Space Pilot Flies into the 21st Century

We've finally caught up with the 21st century and upgraded Space Pilot HQ to fibre broadband. With three homeworkers under lockdown we've been punishing the old system hard. Looking for a solution I discovered that BT had quietly installed fibre in our local junction box and not announced the fact. A quick visit to the PlusNet website and our upgrade was ordered.
Now the question is "What can the Space Pilot project do with this?"
Watch this space.

03 May 2020

Magpie of Space continues...

... over on its own blog, Magpie of Space

Continuing almost weekly on the web ... Magpie of Space!

Magpie of Space Episode 1

21 April 2020

A Wee Bit Of Free Entertainment From A Star Of The Comics Community

Stref,who recently joined me in the Shoreline Of Infinity Group, has been making some comics fun available for free to everyone locked down in the pandemic crisis. For older readers there is a Raising Amy comic. You can get it by clicking on the cover image below.
For younger readers there is a Peter Pan activity pack with colouring pages and puzzles that you can gte by clicking on the Peter Pan image here.

Stref's blog is at

Have fun.

18 April 2020

Pandemic Advice Through 1960s Drama

I've just been watching the classic Star Trek episode The Naked Time with my family as we hunker down in the Space Pilot Pandemic Isolation Bunker and it occurred to us that this is a valuable piece of viewing for our times. The adventure starts with Mr Spock and Joe Tormolen beaming down to a science station on a dying planet to find that everyone has died in bizarre circumstances. Forunately Spock and Joe have full environment suits on and are therefore protected from whatever contagion may have caused the suicidal behaviour of the science team. However Joe's behaviour is less than safe as this sequence shows. Look and learn - do not emulate Joe. Be like Spock: touch nothing and be safe.

Joe is safe in his environment suit... but he has an itchy nose.
This is where Joe starts to go wrong. He takes off his glove.
That feels better. He scratches his nose.
For now he is actually OK because he hasn't touched anything before taking his hand to his nose... but, Joe, where is your glove now?
Now Joe is in trouble. He is touching a possibly infected surface with his bare hand.
Look at that weird red stuff shooting out at his fingers.
It's on his hand now. If that hand goes anywhere near his face ....
Now he's done it. A good old dose is applied to Joe's nose.
Only now, too late, does he remember to put his glove back on.
What would Mr Spock have done in this situation?
Star Trek is copyright to CBS Corporation. No infringement is intended by this public information post.

16 April 2020

The Great Wave of The River Nith

We heard this long before we saw it. I've never seen the tidal bore on the Nith this close to a Spring tide before but it was pretty spectacular on Easter Sunday.

I've long had an idea of drawing this, Hokusai style, with a portrait of Criffel, our local mountain, in the background. However I did manage to capture it with a nifty little Halina 500 I was out testing while my wife and I had our Covid-19 lockdown walk. Here is what it looked like.

14 April 2020

50 Years Ago This Week - Apollo 13

It was this week 50 years ago when the world held its breath awaiting the news of the crew of Apollo 13. They were on their way to the Moon when there was an electrical fault in an oxygen tank which nearly destroyed the spacecraft and left the mission cruising towards its destination with insufficient oxygen and power to return to Earth.

NASA recounts the events here: 50 Years Ago: Apollo 13 Launch Date Reset

I can remember as a 9-year-old boy sitting in the cinema in East Kilbride when the film was interrupted by a slide displaying the simple message that the crew of Apollo 13 had splashed down safely in the Pacific. The whole cinema audience stood up and cheered and applauded. A magnificent example of rescuing success from utter disaster.

06 April 2020

Virtual Tartan Day Parade

It is the 700th birthday of the Declaration of Arbroath, the historic letter sent to the Pope delaring Scotland's independent nationhood and giving a warning to all kings that their position is not by divine right but by sufferance of the people; revolutionary at the time.

There is a great new documentary video about it on Vimeo. Here it is:

The Declaration of Arbroath from Charlie Stuart on Vimeo.

Here in Dumfries I was due to be organising a big cabaret night filled with Scottish culture and entertainment, but Covid-19 has put paid to that. So I'm joining in with New York City's Virtual Tartan Day Parade.

New York has celebrated the Declaration every year with their parade of all things Scottish. This year we are being asked to paint the internet tartan and swamp social media with Scottishness, because they can't have a live parade this year.

So join in. Find some tartan and become Scottish for the day.

You can read the original document here. It has inspired many other declarations that followed, a historic document indeed.

29 March 2020

One of the Lesser Known Supergroups

Something to cheer you up on a lockdown Sunday. Rick Wakeman and Bill Bailey, prog supergroup.

23 March 2020

18 March 2020

Some Good News

As we all hunker down in our bunkers to wait out Covid-19, I've been thinking about how to use my online presence in positive ways. I'll be keeping the website if my parish church updated with thoughts and prayers from our Rector and I'm looking at making a forum where Dumfries and Galloway's GĂ idhlig speakers can continue to use their language and stay in touch.

Of course operations at Shoreline of Infinity continue as the bulk of our work is already on the web in our sf factory, the Ship.

So, here is a more personal service, a little bit of good news I came across this morning. Apparently something is changing in the environment in Scotland that has tipped the balance back in favour of our little red squirrels. The greys are declining here and the reds are on the rise. Here in Dumfries and Galloway we have been fighting a tough battle against invading greys and are one of the last big strongholds for red squirrels. It looks like we've won a battle, but we don't know how. Something to keep our squirrel wardens occupied as they contemplate life after Covid-19.

29 February 2020

A Test Film For A Rollei B35

I really must get some drawing done sometime but I have been having a lot of fun playing with old cameras. This time I think I've found the ideal camera for exploring the world in monochrome and learning how to render it in ink, I now have a Rollei B35 camera from the period between 1969 and 1975. The Rollei 35 series were the first ever compact cameras and this one is still smaller than my mobile phone.

So I took it out and about and shot some photos in Ilford HP5+ and got some of the best exposed and sharpest negatives yet.. and this camera doesn't have a focus aid - you set the distance manually. Here are some of the photos. I have made no corrections to these, they are just as they came out of the camera.

One sunny day and one rainy day.

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