Web Sites

British Karakoram Expedition 1997


One to bookmark, this charts the preparation for a UK amateur assault on an unclimbed Himalayan peak. This summer, Zartgarin, in Pakistan, will be attempted by a psychologist, a policeman and two students, who will share their adventure with the less intrepid by means of satellite-phone updates to the site. This is, the team points out somewhat disarmingly, a relatively obscure, medium-sized mountain - at a mere 5,000 metres or so - and unlikely to attract the attention of the pros. Several months still to go, but if they're as good at mountaineering as at sponsor-attractive Web site design, they'll probably make it.

The Libyrinth


This tribute to 20th-century experimental fiction, with its Borgesian punning title, at least offers a few formal frolics to match its subject, though two years on the fractals are acquiring a period charm. As with many of the best literary sites, its creator is keen to disclaim academic credentials - he's a chemistry teacher who just happens to be in love with the range of modernisms from "High" to "post-". Unsurprisingly, it's all "dedalicated" to Joyce, along with Eco, Marquez and of course Pynchon: rumours of Mason & Dixon, out this year, are given a page to themselves; there are some accomplished tarot-based jpegs in homage to the reclusive genius.

Grolsch: The Temporal Maze


A cautionary tale: never mix Shockwave with alcohol. "The physical restrictions of linear existence do not apply" here in this "lost and found department of the soul". But though obviously a serious bunch, Grolsch drinkers also like kicking a ball about - not only the Rotterdam film festival, but also details of Ajax's home matches can be found here, along with a recipe for beignets in beer batter. The famous thingy on the bottle, we learn, is called a swing top and was introduced as far back as 1897. It will be celebrated in this the year of its centennial with a special range of beers (Netherlands only, alas). Above all, remember: "rewinding the light around the world will enable us to see tomorrow's movies today". Pretty strong stuff, this Grolsch.

Dangerous Places

http://www.fieldingtravel.com/ dp/index.html

Perhaps the only online guide truly worthy of the title "rough", this site suggests that the only way to escape the backpackers and their Internet cafes is to visit places just too dodgy for either. It also implies that "let's find somewhere unspoilt and spoil it" is being replaced by "let's go somewhere lethal and narrowly avoid being killed in it" as the mantra of holidaymaking oneupmanship. Unlike other sites based on guidebooks, this one puts up the whole text, linked by a convenient Dangerfinder index. Details here of how to get a visa to visit Iraq, how to sneak into Cambodia from Laos, and (number one in the peril parade) tourist requirements for Algeria - reciting Muslim prayers may delay execution a little, the text advises. Sick but fascinating, and (unlike its subject) both visitor-friendly and accessible.

Les Miserables


The Glums goes multimedia in this sophisticated site, which claims educational as well as commercial ambitions and has links with an upcoming CD-Rom. Twelve years since the barricades first went up at the Barbican, here's the next step in that ubiquitous doe-eyed urchin's bid for world domination. (Her name's Cosette, and she accessorises for local ad campaigns, sporting a pair of shades for LA, a space suit for Houston, Texas.) The usual guestbook, games and video/audio clips, plus plot summaries in four languages, and an unembarrassed comparison of Hugo's version with the theatrical one.

Bill Pannifer

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