EARTH INC by Michael Bollen

Earth IncHello there.  Killing a bit of time on the internet are we?  Sounds familiar.

My name’s Michael Bollen.  Picnic have recently published my first novel, a satirical sci-fi romp called Earth Inc.  I’m here in a big room with all the other Picnic authors, attractive devils the lot of them.  We’ve been playing some old fashioned parlour games, but now the music has stopped and I’ve been left holding the piece of wood with the word “Blog” written on it.  I guess that means it’s my turn to scribble on this particular corner of the internet.

So, a blog eh?  I’ve unwittingly acquired a blog.  My very own blog.

(How many words does this have to be?  And how many of them can be “blog”?)

If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing here.  As a comedy writer, naturally I hate writing comedy.  It’s a slow, lonely, agonising process, so right now I’m wondering why I ever agreed to do this.  Especially as blog writing appears to be the very worst kind of writing, i.e. writing for no money.  (I’m told that other kinds of writing do exist, and one day I hope to encounter some of them.)  So if these entries seem a little light on jokes, it’s because I couldn’t bear to give them away for free.  It certainly isn’t because I couldn’t think of any, oh no.

But that’s just one part of my perplexitude.  (If I’m not being paid, you really can’t expect me to go checking in the dictionary to see if words actually exist or not.)  Not only do I not know why I’m writing a blog, I’m not really sure what a blog actually is.  I guess I could look it up, but as I’ve already explained, certain financial constraints put that scenario well beyond the realms of likelihoodness.  Plus my dictionary was printed twenty years ago, when a blog was nothing more than a misprint in an article about Dutch footwear.

As far as I can make out, a blog is a diary designed to be read by the general public, which sounds absolutely ghastly to me.  Surely diaries should be private, hidden away?  The only motive for reading someone else’s diary is the fact that they don’t want you to.  If a diary is left lying around for all and sundry to have a gander at, surely that means there’s nothing in it worth reading? 

“…Dear Diary, I awoke this morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.  As I leapt from my bed I saw in the mirror that my hair was immaculate, as ever.  I quickly worked through my morning quota of squat thrusts and sit ups, mentally replaying the events of the previous evening.  Another dazzling social affair, with myself at the centre of the town’s movers and shakers.  I made the joke of the evening with my pithy remark about the topless stormtroopers – everyone agreed it was almost too funny.  A quick low carb breakfast of fruit and yoghurt and then off to my voluntary work, turning base metal into gold for crippled orphans…”

See what I mean?  Ghastly.  It’s like those terrible ‘My Kind Of Day’ pieces that the Radio Times used to do, only without an editor to cut out the most sick-making sections.  So, rest assured, I won’t be doing anything like that.  Although I think you should know that my hair was looking pretty good this morning.

The other question is, why do people bother writing blogs at all?  The internet is vast, and the chances of anyone paying any attention to your little bit of it have got to be fairly remote.  Being a full time blogger must be a bit like walking down the street, shouting at the top of your voice, “I THOUGHT THE LAST EPISODE OF DOCTOR WHO WAS QUITE GOOD!  I’VE GOT A GREAT RECIPE FOR SWEET POTATO PIE!  MY DOG DIED!”, and expecting anyone to care. 

Why people blog is pretty obvious though.  The answer is in an old Jerry Seinfeld joke (notice I have no compunction about giving away other people’s gags for free).  I can’t remember the exact wording, but basically Jerry tells us that the only reason anyone does anything is to impress members of the opposite sex.  The real reason that Neil Armstrong went to the moon wasn’t to expand the frontiers of human knowledge, or for the rocks or anything like that.  It was so that, the next time he was on a date, he could casually point up at the moon and say “You like that?  Yeah, I’ve been up there.”

Hmm, thinking about it, this doesn’t reflect too well on me.  Probably the hardest I’ve ever worked was while writing Earth Inc, and if I really thought that writing a comedy science fiction book was a good way to impress women, well, I must be pretty stupid.

Me: You like books?  Yeah, I’ve written a book.
Her: Really?  I’ve always thought that one day I’d like to-
Me: Yeah yeah, everyone’s got a book in them.
Her: So tell me, what’s your book about?
Me: Well, it’s got some very funny robots in it.  Hey, where are you..?  Come back!

(Picnic would like me to point out that Earth Inc. has actually been very popular with female readers, and has a couple of well rounded female characters at the forefront, which is unusual in science fiction, to say the least.  Anyway, it’s not science fiction really, it’s more of a genre-busting, crossover book that would appeal to a very wide demographic.  For further details, call-)

Sorry about that.  Anyhow, that’s my first blog entry.  The eagle eyed amongst you may have spotted that it wasn’t actually about anything.  If you’ve got any ideas for what I could write about tomorrow, please, please leave a comment.  Or perhaps you could link to some blogs that know what they’re doing, so I can rip them off.  Or, if you’re a member of the opposite sex, maybe you could let me know just how much I’ve impressed you.  I reckon if I get at least three proposals of marriage by the end of the week, this whole thing won’t have been a complete waste of time. 

4 Responses to “EARTH INC by Michael Bollen”

  1. Caroline Rance Says:

    I read Earth Inc. a couple of weeks ago and thought it was hilarious. I am definitely impressed.

    The strong female characters were great but I liked Jorj and the HumAnts best. Are you planning to bring any of the characters back in future books, or are you moving on to something else?

  2. Lizzie Sells Says:

    Your capital letters and exclamation marks worked a treat.
    I haven’t read Earth Inc. yet, but a friend recommended it. It’s next on my list.
    You must be doing something right, 2 comments, 2 women.. Perhaps you could write about the mystery of inadvertently succeeding at those things you’ve just given up all hope on.
    Or perhaps there’s a simple answer: we’re women, we’ll feel sorry for you.

  3. Michael Bollen Says:

    Hi Caroline,

    Thanks for your comment, I’m glad you liked Earth Inc. It was always envisaged as the first of a series, so I think it’s likely that I will bring some of the characters back. I think I’ll find it hard to resist waking Jorj up to inflict some more misfortune on him. Olivia is probably my favourite though, so I expect she’ll crop up again too.

  4. Michael Bollen Says:

    Hi Lizzie,

    Yes, 2 comments, 2 women, I must being doing something right… but what? I’ve got a feeling sitting in a darkened room on the internet isn’t it.

    I like the idea about inadvertently succeeding at something you’ve given up on, because that’s pretty much what happened with Earth Inc, so maybe I’ll bore everyone with that story later in the week.

    Oh, and don’t feel sorry for me. I’m perfectly capable of feeling sorry for myself if need be…

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