Monday, May 24, 2010

Kalix. Fluch der Werwölfe

This is the cover for the German edition of Curse of the Wolf Girl, to be published by Fischer in September.

I put the title - Kalix. Fluch der Werwölfe - into Google translator quite enthusiastically, hoping it might translate as Kalix fucks the werewolf. Which would have been a brave choice of title by the publisher. But it turns out that fluch means curse. That does make more sense really.

Summer appears to have arrived. I have celebrated the sunny weather by having several clumsy household accidents, then sitting in front of my Playstation in a gloomy state of mind, wondering why I'm so clumsy. Some genetic condition, perhaps? Well, I suppose there are worse things than being clumsy.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Handsome Young Millar

I don't have many pictures of myself when I was younger. No one in my family took photos, and later, when I left home, I didn't own a camera either.

I regret this. I wish I had a picture of me as a long-haired schoolboy in Glasgow, on my way to see Led Zeppelin. And I'd like a picture of myself with red spiky hair, walking along King's Road in London in 1977, but I don't have that either.

I did just find this picture from a year or two later. I think I'm 22 or 23 in it, though I maybe look a bit younger. And quite a nice-looking young chap, though I say it myself.

For some reason, the main thing I think, looking at this picture, is how extremely shy I was. I spent long periods on my own, probably wondering how people got girlfriends. I don't really remember that period of my life as being much fun, really.

But life did become a lot better later. By the time I was older, wrinkled, broken by life's strain and so on, I was at least much more confident. And confidence is the main thing really, so I have learned.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Some Gloom

I was quite surprised at the strength of my reaction to the General Election. Though the young Millar was, of course, an enthusiastic radical, ready to demonstrate with a placard at a moment's notice, and maybe even storm a barricade - OK I never stormed a barricade - you do get more apathetic as the years go by.

It becomes increasingly appealing to just to lie on the couch, warm and comfy, watching TV or just staring into space, rather than actually worry about politics. I do a lot of staring into space these days. And TV watching. (I did manage to rouse myself to go out and vote.)

But despite my greatly diminished appetite for politics, current affairs, and anything which actually requires thinking, I was moved to outrage when the Liberal Democrats agreed a pact, giving us a Conservative government. It's such a grim prospect. Surely no one who lived through the long years of Margaret Thatcher could ever welcome these people into power again? Urghhhh. I despair.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Neanderthal and Proud

I was pleased to read that in most humans, up to 4% of our DNA is Neanderthal. A comparison of the genomes of humans and Neanderthals reveals that most people living outside Africa can trace up to 4% of their DNA to a Neanderthal origin, a consequence of interbreeding between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens after humans left Africa.

(I'm taking this from this article in The Guardian)

Modern humans and Neanderthals shared a common ancestor but parted company in the evolutionary line some 350,000 years ago. But as a result of subsequent interbreeding, around 60,000 years ago in the Middle East, between 1% and 4% of the DNA in modern Europeans and Asians was inherited from Neanderthals.

I like this. I have sometimes felt sorry for the Neanderthals. They were intelligent. They used tools, and their brains were as large as those of Homo Sapiens. And they made it through millions of years of evolution all the way to only 30,000 years ago, before dying out.

It can't have been much fun, knowing that your species was dying out, and watching it happen, while Homo Sapiens took over. I had a sad image of the last Neanderthal left, feeling very lonely, unable even to find another Neanderthal to talk to.

But this news makes it not so bad. If there was some interbreeding, the last Neanderthal might well have got himself a nice Homo Sapien girlfriend, and passed on his genes. So it wasn't all tragic loss.

Yes, I can definitely feel some Neanderthal inside me.

Neanderthals were shorter than modern humans, with strong cranial features. They were powerful, robust and suited to cold climates. A study suggests some Neanderthals may have had red hair and pale skin.

Well, that sounds like the Scots, actually. I wonder if Neanderthals had also had strong accents and drank too much? Maybe I'm more than 4% Neanderthal. I feel this might explain some things.