Neill’s book comes out next week.
Set in a girls’ high school somewhere in provincial England, where (for reasons known only to the inscrutable dinner ladies) the girls’ phones download an app which enables them to control giant fighting robots, it opens on Our Hero’s first day at her new school, when she unfortunately crosses the track of the school bully …
This prompted me to remember how, twenty years ago, he produced chapter title-page illustrations for my book Oligomorphic Permutation Groups. The illustrations featured a bearded maths professor in somewhat unlikely situations (now who could have inspired that?). Neill claims to be ashamed of such poor work now, but the pictures were appreciated at the time. Peter Neumann, in a review of the book in the Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society, said
Augustus De Morgan, founder and first president of the LMS, was eclipsed late last century by his artist and writer son William. History may repeat itself.
Laci Babai asked Neill for a picture of Arthur and Merlin to illustrate his groundbreaking paper (though unfortunately, after several trials, Neill couldn’t manage anything satisfactory).
It is interesting to remember how the internet has changed since then. At about the same time as OPG, I wrote a volume of Queen Mary Maths Notes called Projective and Polar Spaces. I had the idea of attaching a short advertisement to my outgoing emails, and was firmly told by a colleague that the internet should not be used for commercial purposes!
Now, of course, Neill has a Web page to market his book, while I shamelessly use the sidebar of this blog to promote Hester’s charity, the Zimbabwe Rural Schools Development Programme. (In fact my primary school was not totally unlike some of those in Zimbabwe; it was founded in a tent and didn’t get a schoolhouse built for several years; and in nice weather classes were often sent outside to learn spelling or tables. But totally unlike Mo-Bot High!)