January 02, 1990


I blog about developing-world technology at The Walrus, Canada's answer to The New Yorker, and science fiction at tor.com, the world's preeminent site for "science fiction, fantasy and related subjects." An index of my work at both:

World Fast Forward at The Walrus:

  1. Inaugural introduction.
  2. Colombia's Mobile Revolution - Banking with your phone is a bigger deal than you might think.
  3. Better Dying Through Chemistry - How to ruin entire nations and destroy untold millions of lives.
  4. The Donkey And The Ninja - No donkeys were harmed in the making of this post. But I cannot say the same about ninjas.
  5. A Man, A Plan, A Canal - How to run and ruin megaprojects.
  6. There's Gold In Them There Trees - How do you patent indigenous knowledge?
  7. Big Brother Is Watching Them. OK? - In which I reflect on having been mugged at gunpoint.
  8. One Laptop Per Child: What Went Wrong - Its fundamental problems are twofold: 1. It was a bad idea to begin with. 2. The XO laptop is a piece of crap.
  9. All Hail the Great Satan - Shooting down mosquitoes - with frikkin' lasers!
  10. How Google Unconquered the World - and how Apple squandered it, again.


  1. SF gems from the literary ghetto
  2. Magic realism: not fantasy. Sorry.
  3. Why Isn't Greg Egan A Superstar?
  4. Who Are These Fools, and Why Should You Care?
  5. Build A Better World, And The World Will Come To Your Door
  6. Neil Gaiman: I Don’t Get It
  7. Sitting Shiva For Sitka: Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
  8. Time Travel Times Two: Jack Finney’s Time and Again
  9. The Buffet Effect

January 01, 1990

Blog Index

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I write about lots of things - you'll find a rant about what's wrong with Africa, an essay on computer security, a contemplation of the joys of being punched in the face and an idiosyncratic guide to Los Angeles - but for the most part, this is a travel blog. I've spent a good chunk of the last decade wandering around the planet, and this is where I write about what I've seen.

In 1997 I mounted an Asian Invasion: both style and content of my writeup are dated, but the pictures are pretty. Then, in 1998, I spent six months travelling across Africa: I never wrote this up properly (unless you count my first published novel) but I did keep a travel journal and took photographs.

In autumn 2000 I returned to Asia, visited Delhi, Veranasi, and the Taj Mahal, trekked around Nepal's Annapurna Circuit, rafted the mighty Sun Kosi river, and explored the not-so-Black-Hole of Calcutta, and then took up scuba diving in Thailand. In 2002 I flew to Sydney, Australia, chilled in Byron Bay, dodged cassowaries and dove the Great Barrier Reef, climbed Mount Wilhelm in Papua New Guinea, and was only reluctantly dragged away from Oz.

In 2003 I went on a research tour across Albania, Croatia, and war-torn Bosnia, before crossing the Mediterranean to climb Mount Sinai out in the summer heat of Egypt. Later that year I attended Burning Man for the first time, and also dropped by Belize.

In 2004 I returned to Australia for a somewhat alcohol-soaked but glorious visit, before crossing the Pacific to Peru, exploring the Amazon interior, roughing my way up the Inca Trail despite the chocolate pudding problem, and then cycling down The World's Most Dangerous Road. Later in 2004 I spent another month bumming around India, stopping over in Dubai en route for dinner in the world's only seven-star hotel. In India I went from Mumbai to the beaches of Goa, thence to legendary Hampi, and down to Sri Lanka, which I departed only two weeks before the terrible Boxing Day tsunami.

In May 2005 I spent a week in Iraq, on assignment for WIRED magazine; I flew from an airbase in Germany to LSA Anaconda fifty miles north of Baghdad, and travelled by Blackhawk to the Green Zone.

Later that autumn I returned to Africa and spent three months zigzagging from Nairobi to Cape Town, largely by public transit, via Kitum Cave in Kenya, believed to be the source of the Ebola virus; the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda; a mountain gorilla reserve in genocide-scarred Rwanda; a fascinatingly doomed city in the anarchic Democratic Republic of the Congo; the labyrinthine urban warrens and coral reefs of Zanzibar; a 44-hour train ride across Tanzania; and into Zimbabwe, where there is no Coca-Cola. I spent a good chunk of time in Zimbabwe, then continued to far-less-depressing South Africa.

I spent most of September and October of 2006 on the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway: from St. Petersburg and its monumental Hermitage Museum, into Moscow, then eastwards to places you only know from RISK, across the border to Mongolia and finally into Beijing. There I promptly hopped on another train across the Tibetan Plateau to half-mythical Lhasa, before finally ending my traversal of all Asia in 22nd-century Shanghai.

In March 2007 I spent a few days in troubled Haiti. I returned there later that year to write about a maternity hospital.

I spent a good chunk of autumn 2008 overlanding from Colombia to Mexico City. I returned to Toronto for winter and writing, but after only two months, could endure no more fled back to the Brazil and Argentina until I stopped shivering. (Then I spent April in Paris. Everyone hated me. It was awesome.)

I have also been known to ponder the ones that got away, and the dangers thereof.

My travel photography can be found on Flickr (if for some inexplicable reason you don't want to wade through hundreds of pictures, here's a set of my very best shots) and complete with nostalgic one-paragraph recollections on my travel photoblog.

If you've actually read this all the way through, I salute your tenacity.

More to come. Don't touch that dial...