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Friday, 29 October 2021

Commuting by catapult

Mirabilis, my fantasy graphic epic with Leo Hartas and the late Martin McKenna, originally appeared in The DFC, a short-lived forerunner of The Phoenix comic. A friend of mine read it on the sleeper train out of Moscow as he was travelling home just before Christmas -- pretty much the perfectly immersive experience.

You can read Mirabilis online here and dive into the background here and here and here. As you can probably tell, it was a labour of love and if I could finish it I would, only the world doesn't owe me a living. (Sadly.)

As part of the very extensive world-building for Mirabilis, I wrote the correspondence of the Royal Mythological Society in a little booklet called A Minotaur At The Savoy. So that's fifty whimsical vignettes of green comety weirdness that, if you're starting to think about gifts, would fit quite neatly into a stocking. But then, I would say that.

The stories range from a mysterious giant hand found in a wood in Yorkshire to the best way to deal with a dragon that's taken a shine to the gold reserves of Fort Knox, and although it's hard to pick one that can be described as typical, this will give you a taste of what to expect:
Dear human savants 
Following a motion of no confidence in the prime minister, I find that my Martian Party has enough seats in the House of Commons to form a new government in coalition with the Liberal Unionists. The only sticking point is that, as you may know, my prospective allies are committed to a very specific agenda. Their three-point plan entails establishing a minimum wage, giving women the vote, and maintaining the unity of the British Isles - whereas the Martian Party is pledged to subjugate the planet Earth, replace corn with red weed as the staple carbohydrate dietary supplement, and ship a million slaves to the helium mines of Phobos. 
As a compromise, I have agreed to defer mass enslavement for the term of the current Parliament, concentrating instead on domestic transport policy as an area of common ground on which our two parties can agree. For example, to alleviate the growing problem of “rush hour” congestion at the major London rail terminuses, we propose loading commuters onto massive catapults which will fling them across the city to land in collection nets near to their place of work. We estimate this would save at least seventy thousand man-months of labour per year. However, some of our advisors believe that it will not be a popular measure and could lose us votes at the next election. What do you counsel? 
Yours, the Right Honourable Xangovar the Merciless, OBE, c/o the Palace of Westminster
Prof Bromfield replies: It would be very popular with small boys. Unfortunately, they don’t have the vote. Might be a better world if they did, if you ask me. 
Dr Clattercut: Oh yes. Because resolving international disputes with conkers matches is obviously the way to go. Pulling girls’ pigtails when they demand enfranchisement. Declaring the whole of January a national tobogganing holiday. Making marbles the official currency of the Bank of England… 
Prof Bromfield: You think you’re being wittily scathing, Clattercut, but in fact you’re just proving my point. So that’s what I’d suggest, Mr – er, Xangovar: shake up the Cabinet a little. Bring in some schoolboys and artists and poets and whatnot. Be more radical with your reforms, if anything. This is the Year of Wonders, so what’s wrong with sprinkling a bit of magic on the tired old machinery of politics? Trust me, the electorate will thank you for it. 
Dr Clattercut: Those that land in the nets, anyway.

Have a great Samhain/Halloween! And if you're looking for strange stories in a very different vein from Mirabilis, don't forget to take a look at the Binscombe Tales.

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