Essays and Short Stories

This Month's Highlights

Cigarettes (by Patrick Gliddon)
What do we want from Weblogs?

Welcome to my collection of essays and short stories. These are of a number of things I've written over the recent years, and they'll be added to fairly regularly. Just to emphasise the fact, everything here is Copyright 1999 Adrian Hon, and if you want to reproduce or link to anything, email me first.



Regularly updated serials

  The Adventures of Adrian Hon, Rogue Train Traveller  

What a Wonderful World

Electronic Permanence

Harry Potter and the Rabid Fundamentalists

A Newbie in Netrekland

Space School Cornwall Eclipse trip review

The Automated Society

Hall of the set-top box King

What should we do with the Red Planet, and how much is a return ticket?

Red star at night, Britain's delight

The March of Science; a blessing or curse?

Selling Space, and paying for Mars

Letter to Tony Blair


A Future History

Stars in the Sky

Unavoidable Casualties

  Humorous fiction  

The Adventures of Adrian Hon, Rogue Train Traveller

A Statistical look at the likelihood of an individual being able to go out with Britney Spears

Deconstructing 'C'est la vie' by B*witched

I am the very model of a brin-l net contributor

Bester and his Psi-Corps way

Rangers Rhapsody



  What a Wonderful World (29/1/00)  

If you want to know what kind of person I am, and listen to a long rambling essay of some thoughts I had, this is the essay for you. Some days, I wish everyone would get along with each other. I know that that'll never happen.

But maybe one day, I hope everyone will be able to understand each other. Until that day, though...

  A Future History (20/1/00)  

Shortly after I was told that the editor of New Mars was expected a bio of me for a story which I didn't remember submitting, I thought I'd better get around to writing a story - and this is it.

I thought it might make a nice change to write something optimistic about Mars for once, unlike Stars in the Sky, and my upcoming short story (which I have very high hopes for), Deterministic.

You'll notice though that all three short stories are set in the same universe, if only because they name the same settlements and refer to the same disasters.

(As it turns out, someone had forwarded the editor Stars in the Sky, which I quickly revamped for the magazine)

Related: A Future History Artwork

  The Adventures of Adrian Hon, Rogue Train Traveller (10/1/00 :: 10/1/00)  

Read about the daring adventures of the dark and mysterious Rogue Train Traveller. Risking his life every day, he travels on the British Rail Network without paying full fare while being pursued by the evil troops of Her Majesty's Covert Rail Intelligence Unit.

Part One | Part Two

Related: A Rogue Train Traveller's Guide to the British Rail System

  Electronic Permanence (17/1/00)  
Ever wondered why the hell computers could be less stressful to use? Like, when you change a document, and save it, and then realise to your horror that you just deleted 5 pages and overwrote the original copy? Well, here's a possible solution.
  Stars in the Sky (1998 :: 12/1/00)  

I started this story a long, long time ago (for me, that means a little over a year ago). It details the pessimistic story of humanity's first reach to Mars, to the colonisation of Mars. How can that be pessimistic, if we colonise Mars, I hear you say. Try me.

I wrote this because I understand that there are many reasons why we shouldn't go to Mars, and even if we do, we aren't going to automatically make a utopia.

I believe that New Mars (online web magazine) is publishing this story around now.

  Harry Potter and the Rabid Fundamentalists (31/12/99)  
Why I think a little bit of evil doesn't do anyone harm.

A Statistical look at the likelihood of an individual being able to go out with Britney Spears (1/11/99)


On a quiet summer's afternoon, while members of Birkenhead School were whiling away the hours looking at various pictures of Britney Spears and discussing idly the wonders of the aforementioned individual, there were those wondering how good it'd be to go out with her.

Obviously, we all discounted this ridiculously unlikely event. After all, what are the chances of your average Joe of going out with Britney Spears?

Months later, listening to MTV, the question comes back to me. What are the chances, indeed? In the following essay, I have endeavoured to use strict statistical techniques to determine the true probability of a randomly chosen guy (OK, not so random) of going out with Britney Spears.

  A Newbie in Netrekland (25/10/99)  

Netrek, one of the Internet's oldest and most addictive multiplayer games, is dying. It's a sad state of affairs, but it's true. The Netrek newsgroups are in turmoil, looking for ways to attract new gamers, while accusations are flung around about oldbies kicking 'clueless twinks' out of games.

Who's right? Who's wrong? How can Netrek survive into the next millenium? To seek out the answers to these fundamental questions, to go and have some fun Netrekking, and to boldly go where no Newbie has gone before, I have entered the mysterious world of Netrek.

As well as trying to find out why Netrek is dying, I aim to provide a good guide to other newbies aiming to play this game, so they can take heart in that another newbie made it, eventually. Maybe they can avoid the same mistakes I made, as well.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four


I am the very model of a brin-l net contributor (23/9/99)


I've always been partial to a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan, particularly their 'I am the very model of a modern Major-General'. During the wee hours of one night, I got a bit bored and decided, like numerous others have done before me, to write alternative lyrics to their famous song about the Brin-L mailing list I'm subscribed to.

Now that I've posted it to the mailing list, I'm expected to sing it in the Brin-L fifth anniversary party in 2001 along with a piano accompanient. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to write it after all...

Stop Press: On 26/8/99, His Ferocious Majesty, the Pirate King, David Brin himself, the author of the Hugo and Nebula award winning Uplift series anointed me as 'Major General Hon' after declaring himself 'ROTFL' after reading the lyrics. Vunderbar!

  Space School Cornwall Eclipse trip review (30/8/99)  

In the grand tradition now established by other trip reviews, I've decided to catalogue all my interesting trips around the UK and the world for entertainment and informational purposes.

This review gives a definitive guide of the Cornwall eclipse experience to those of you who plan to go there again in the 2070's. Don't worry, Cornwall will be exactly the same as it is now - it's been the same for the last 70 years, so it'll probably stay the same for the next 70.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six

Related: Space School UK Review

  Deconstructing 'C'est la vie' by B*witched (19/8/99)  

Did you ever get the feeling that the lyrics of songs these days are getting stranger and stranger? Did you ever think there might be something sinister behind this? Did you ever go to a Space School Cornwall Eclipse trip where Tak was singing the lyrics all the time?

Probably not. This 'essay' is actually contained within the Eclipse trip review, but it's too good to miss out on. I think you'll find it very, very funny, and if that doesn't convince you, there's also an mp3 of the song to download.

You don't need to read the Eclipse trip review to understand this - there's a brief filling-in introduction.


The Automated Society (18/8/99)


This is basically an essay that was sparked off by my indignation at seeing Odeon cinemas employ a person just to make a little tear in everyone's tickets. That's all the person did, tear tickets. This ticket-tearer wasn't stupid, and she got paid for this. So what's wrong with that?

I try to explain why I feel it's wrong, and I also talk about the Next Industrial Revolution, when the service industry will be mechanised and computerised. During the first Industrial Revolution, all the farmers and agricultural workers went into secondary (processing) and tertiary (service) industries. Where will all the service industry workers go now, and will they get trampled on, just like the workers did during the first Industrial Revolution?


Hall of the set-top box King (16/8/99 :: 17/1/00)


On the day I wrote this, I'd spent roughly half an hour playing a game identical to Puzzle-Bobble on my Sky Digital set-top box. Once I'd finished, I realised that I had much better games available ready to hand on the N64 and PC. So why had I spent so much time playing this Puzzle-Bobble game?

The shocking answer to this question is revealed in this essay, as well as a prediction of the future of games on set-top boxes.


What should we do with the Red Planet, and how much is a return ticket? (15/8/99)


This essay was written incredibly quickly for me, in just over two hours. The idea came when I was thinking that my standard talk about Mars was pretty dry, and fairly boring, when you got down to it. So I tried to make this one a lot more funnier, and more conversational in tone. I've found, from Space School, that these kinds of lectures are the most interesting.

The good thing about this is that the essay is very easy for me to remember - it's the sort of thing that I would say anyway. I'm not sure whether I'm going to leave it like this, or expand it into a full ~40 minute talk.

  Red star at night, Britain's delight (1999)  

This essay is a short <800 word essay giving people the background to the UK's Beagle 2 Mars Lander. I think it was written quite a bit back, must have been around April or earlier.

This was an entry for the Daily Telegraph Young Science Writer of 1999 award, and it got me ito the Finalists, winning me £100 and subscriptions to New Scientist and Nature.

Coincidently, the time they decided on the winners was exactly the same time the Beagle 2 hit the news headlines. Whether this means anything is a mystery to me.

  The March of Science; a blessing or curse? (1999)  

Interesting essay, this one. It was written as a result of a large argument between me (science) and a friend (arts). Has science benefitted mankind? Me, I say yes and no, the true scientist's answer.

Then there were a number of news articles and sci-fi stories I read about 'artificial telepathy' or technologies amounting to as much. I decided to tie them in together, and I liked the result quite a lot.

I would have entered this into the Peterhouse College Cambridge essay writing competition, if a teacher (no names mentioned) hadn't gone and lost the bloody entry form.

  Selling Space, and paying for Mars (17/7/99)  

Shortly after I suggested a new work-style for the Mars Society Law and Governance taskforce, where we'd have discussions about various Mars-related topics and someone would write up the conclusions, I decided to put my money where my mouth was, and wrote the first essay. This was based on comments from various members of the taskforce, and then I continued it on its natural course.

There aren't any startling insights here, but it's and interesting and heartening essay about the future of the commercial utilisation of space.

(A small revision has been made here, based on some discussions I had, and a lecture by Helen Sharman. It makes the paper more topical, and personal)

This is a paper which is due to be presented by John McKnight on behalf of me at the Second Annual Mars Society Conference at Colorado University.

  Bester and his Psi-Corps way (early 1999)  

After reading the alternative lyrics section 'Kosh's Kareoke' at Views from the Gallery I decided to chip in with B5 lyrics to OMD's wonderful song 'Walking on the Milky Way'. Hope you like them.

If you don't watch Babylon 5, you won't get this.


Rangers Rhapsody (by John Paul Green)


Just to emphasise the fact that I didn't write this.

These alternative lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen are just too good to miss, even though I didn't actually write them. The honour goes to John Paul Green, of Kosh's Kareoke fame.

If you don't watch Babylon 5, you won't get this.

  Letter to Tony Blair (late 1998)  

I wrote this letter just before Christmas 1998, when I was a little irritated about how everyone in the UK thought space was either useless, up to the Americans, or too expensive. It's a ~1000 word diatribe about how the UK is slipping behind, and how we're looking towards the present rather than the future.

I never received a reply. What a surprise.

  Unavoidable Casualties (1998)  

Based upon Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Unavoidable Casualties started out life as a short story on the Firaxis SF forums. I liked writing it far too much, and now it's expanded to something like ~20,000 words and I plan for it to go much, much longer. Still, I'm not exactly a good writer and I don't know whether I'll ever finish this.

I have, however, planned out the rest of the storyline in some detail. There are some wonderful set-pieces coming, if I ever finish it, which unfortunately I am very unlikely to do now.

Warning: This file is big