Workshopping at Alt.Fiction

As I posted about three weeks ago, I’ll be one of about a dozen or so writers conducting one hour workshops at Alt.Fiction on the 25th and 26th of June.

Others include Dan Abnett, Tony Ballantyne, Paul Finch, Graham Joyce, Paul Kane & Marie O’Regan, Kim Lakin-Smith and Juliet E. McKenna.

It’s going to be left to the individual tutor what subject they cover, and what methods they use.

At the moment workshops are predominantly fantasy or at least cross-genre oriented, so I’ll be focusing on SF. The workshop will be titled ‘Creating A Science Fictional Setting’ and (subject to change)  will run between 3 and 4 p.m. on Saturday 25th.

I’ll be happy to workshop previously written pieces, specifically from the perspective of how the setting is worked out and explained (although time permitting, we’ll look holistically at the entire story), but if you’re attending and you don’t have any previously written work, I’m quite prepared to collectively workshop settings from scratch.

You decide. If you want to go, here’s the link to the membership page. I hope you come – the more brains we bring to this the better!

• June 15th, 2011 • Posted in Appearances, Events, Writing • Comments: 0

The Pitmen Painters

A night out in Bath brings an unexpected bonus as Kate and I visit the theatre.

Into Bath, to the Theatre Royal last night: Last night’s performance was The Pitman Painters.

My heart had sank when I read the pre-performance blurb. The cast -all refugees from such solid BBC series as Byker Grove, Spender and Our Friends In the North– read like Rent-A-Geordie leavened with a couple of regulars from The Bill. The subject sounded uninspiring, too.  A bunch of miners in the 1930s took up painting after a series of Art Appreciation Lectures.

What I hadn’t expected was that it would be quite as funny as it was; the rule quoting shop steward who consulted the rulebook at each unexpected situation, such as the artist’s model who arrived expecting to strip off, the Socialist war veteran  who quoted Marx at every opportunity, the scally who had a one-liner for every occasion – all of them had us roaring with laughter, the dialogue razor-sharp, the delivery whip-cracking.

There was unexpected pathos as well as one of the miners was offered patronage from an heiress – her offer of £2.50 a week was more than he could earn as a miner for work that was literally back-breaking should a roof collapse. But the group were a collective; what would he do? Should he leave the community that was everything to him, friends, family, companions– and if he did, would he lose the very identity that made his art what it was?

Because this was based on the true story of a group of Durham miners who received unexpected national acclaim amid the poverty of the 1930s, there were no easy answers, and George spent the rest of his life wondering if he had made the right decision.

Written by Lee Hall, who wrote Billy Elliott (which was set in the same area, but 50 years later) the play wore its Old Labour sentiments on its sleeve, depicting a time when many of its protagonists lived in poverty, and the Attlee government’s aspirations were like a call to the New Jerusalem – healthcare for all, an end to poverty, and the dawning of a new democracy. Which made our cynicism-drenched hindsight of the outcomes all the more sad.

Long after the doors had closed, I kept thinking about how much of what we take for granted was denied to these men; we assume that anyone who wants to be a painter now has access to education and opportunities, but to these miners the world of art was closed, which made their achievements even more remarkable.

And the bonus? Because the theatre was empty, we got an upgrade from our £6 at the top of the theatre bench to £30 seats so close to the stage that we could see the cast’s hobnailed boots. 🙂

• May 28th, 2011 • Posted in Events • Comments: 0

The Write Fantastic in Oxford

A quick public service blog for The Write Fantastic…

If you’re in the Oxford area tomorrow, and have a few quid and a couple of hours to spare, why not pop along to the Jacqueline Du Pré Building at St Hilda’s College, Oxford?

Guests as diverse as Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Pat Cadigan, Mary Hoffman, Stan Nicholls, Anne Gay, Ben Jeapes, Mike Shevdon and Ian Watson will join The Write Fantastic contingent of Juliet E. McKenna and Ian Whates (amongst others) to discuss among other things whether awards provide a good guide to good reading, and the role of the short story.

Sadly I won’t be able to make it, but I’m keeping an eye on future events that bring TWF to our area.

Advance tickets cost £15 and £12 for students and other concessions, while tickets on the door cost £3 extra.

 The event kicks off at 10am, with a big break for lunch (that’s the way I like it!) and conclude at 5pm.



• May 27th, 2011 • Posted in Events • Comments: 0

Film Evening

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I’ve been taking as one of my electives the Planning & Making A Film module, which includes a separate film blog.

Last night came the big emotional pay-off, as the eleven short films made by the students were shown at Bath’s Little Cinema. It was almost a red carpet evening- outfits verged from student-chic to dinner jackets- with host Mike Johnston donning a wholly appropriate tuxedo (He’s on the left of this shot with the winning team).

Our film, Heads or Tails was first up which meant that we got to relax after that and just enjoy the show. Sadly, we didn’t win; See What I Say deservedly won both the audience and the critic’s awards, but it was enjoyable just to see it up on the big screen.

Then it was time to say goodbye to the module, and also to one of the crew, as Jaeeun flies home to Japan at the end of June. I have one more tutorial and then the academic year 2010-11 is officially over, but it felt very much like the end of term last night.

I never thought I’d say it, but I’m almost sad it’s over.

• May 20th, 2011 • Posted in Events • Comments: 0

Catching Up

The nice thing about conventions is the opportunity to catch up with friends, old and not so old. It was good to see Richard, Chris, Doug, Julius and the others from the Exeter SF Society again, and to meet the newer attendees for the first time. As usual a curry was disposed of on the Friday night, and we spent far too much in the Impy, but hey, taht’s what cons are for…  

What isn’t so good is what a convention does to one’s writing ability.

My last post here was last Wednesday, and what with a bad cold, Reading Week (during which one is supposed to catch with reading — and I did, so I at least managed something!) and Microcon, it’s been a real struggle getting back into writing mode.

This semi-rambling effort marks the first hurdle surmounted. Later this week, I’ll post an interview with Writers of the Future award winning author, Bradley P. Beaulieu, whose first novel The Winds of Khalakovo is published by Night Shade Books in April, and maybe revisit that hoary old topic, self-publishing.

Meanwhile,  I have a film blog to update.

See you later.

• March 8th, 2011 • Posted in Appearances, Events, Writing • Comments: 0

Author Interview at Suite101

If it’s Friday –it seems nowadays– then it must be interview day. I’ve posted an interview with fellow Angry Robot-eer Aliette de Bodard over at Suite101. Aliette’s new novel is now out, and her short story ‘The Shipmaker’ has been picked by Gardner Dozois for his next Year’s Best SF, and has been shortlisted for the BSFA award. With any luck, it will win. It deserves to.

Meanwhile, itIt seems like only a week ago –maybe because it was– that I was interviewed myself  by Lawrence Schoen

And while I’m posting links, here’s a quick reminder of an article I wrote for Salon Futura a couple of weeks ago, on The Rise and Rise of Paolo Bacigalupi.

And now I must dash; If I sound breathless, it’s because I have about a half dozen scripts to read for Monday! Have a nice weekend.

• January 28th, 2011 • Posted in Books, Events, General, Interviews • Comments: 0

New Anthology — Transtories

I’m delighted to announce that Aeon Press have agreed to publish the next anthology I’m editing, to be titled Transtories. I’ve known Rob Nielson, John Kenny and the other members of the Aeon Press team for nearly four years now, and they’re great guys who take their work seriously, and their partying equally so. They’ve been stalwart promoters of Irish SF, but at the same time have championed fiction from both the UK, US and non-anglophone countries.

They kindly took my novelette ‘On the Rock’ for publication in Albedo One in 2008, and we have several other projects bubbling away, but for now Transtories is the one I want to focus on. The submission period will open on March 1st (anyone who submits early will have their submission deleted unread, and will probably break out in boils as well!) and run until March 31st. Submissions guidelines are over at the Aeon Press website.

And while you’re there, take a look at John Kenny’s page for Box of Delights, a horror anthology that will also be coming out later on this year.

• January 20th, 2011 • Posted in Books, Events, General, News • Comments: 0

2009 Nebula Award Finalists

This morning’s blog is a straight list of the 2009 Nebula Award finalists. However, I couldn’t resist posting links to the stories I trumpeted when they first came out, which makes me look profoundly perspicacious. Of course, that ignores the finalists I initially rubbished, as well as all the other stories I backed which never made the final… 🙂

• February 22nd, 2010 • Posted in Awards, Books, Events, Other Colin Harvey Sites, Reviews, Writing • Comments: 0

After the Event

I promised a blog post on Thursday about that evening’s murder mystery event, and despite struggling to sum the evening up –that’s the difference from real life, which is nowhere near as neat and tidy as fiction– I’ve duly posted a few thoughts over at suite101.

• February 13th, 2010 • Posted in Events, General, News, Uncategorized • Comments: 0

Hugo Voting – An Unexpected Bonus

Recently I took out supporting membership for Anticipation, the 67th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in Montreal in early August 2009. I already had voting rights from attending Denvention, and one unexpected benefit that I discovered was that as well as having the right to vote for the Hugo Awards, I also get a Hugo voting pack. This comprises a zip file of most of the novels, short fiction and non-fiction books on the ballot.

A quick trawl around Amazon shows that the four novels (out of five, as Neal Stephenson’s Anathem isn’t included) retail at about £25, while each of the non-fiction books costs close to that each.

So all told, the material available on Amazon has a retail price of £70 -over one hundred dollars- while much of the short fiction isn’t available there at all. That’s not a bad little bonus for my fifty dollar fee.

And if the WSFS (World Science Fiction Society) repeat the deal next year, it’ll be even better as I’ll still be eligible for that one as well. I‘ll still buy some of those books, especially the Hugo winners, because a downloaded pdf –even if it’s printed out—just isn’t the same as a proper book.

But it’s still a heck of a deal, and kudos to the WSFS for arranging it.

• May 5th, 2009 • Posted in Events • Comments: 0