Another Guest Blog

Some time ago, I made a conscious decision to switch off Google alerts — since I have a namesake who also writes about SF, and I also share a name with an England footballer of the 60’s and 70’s, a disproportionately large number of Google alerts had naff all to do with me. (And it’s even worse if you set GA to work on titles…you would not believe how many alerts come up based on ‘Winter’ and ‘Song’!)

However, this does occasionally backfire — as in the case of ‘Filming Winter Song‘ which is over at Andy Remic’s Blog. In fact, it’s been over there for a week now; Andy has had major problems with internet connectivity, and I should have kept an eye out for it. My bad.

So without further ado, here’s the link to Andy’s blog, where you can read all about his war with Sky and E.On, his tenth novel, and if you scroll down the pages a ways, my first thoughts on how the worlds of film and print might overlap in the case of my own fiction. 

Maybe I’ll have a go at writing one for Damage Time, as well.

• October 20th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 1

In and Out Kind of Morning…

Definitely an in and out, black and white, up and down, good and bad kind of morning.

My old pc –not the Toshiba of Satan’s Arse, which is usually the cause of my tearing my hair out– which is normally pretty good, decided to lock up this morning. Nothing worked, so eventually I had to cut the power and reboot. And lo! The file which I’d been saving faithfully every ten minutes since creating it an hour earlier was blank, and I got a message which basically said ‘this file is corrupt; you’re stuffed, mate.’ Grrr.

Eventually re-wrote it, despite interruptions like the veg man coming, and being greeted in the usual shouty fashion by Tourette’s Dog. While I was outside bringin the veg, I photographed our crop of chillies which was nice (they would be those red things on the right, but for the fact that I’ve lost the connector cable with the phone – so you’ll have to make do with yet another look at Chris Moore’s cover for Damage Time) .

And the nice thing was finding another nice review or two. First there was Eric Brown’s review in Saturday’s Guardian, then an even better one in the Falcata Times. Actually that’s reverse order of writing, since the latter one was posted last Thursday, but it’s the order of writing.

So a mixed morning, which isn’t yet over — I have to go and read a script…

• October 12th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Genre Fiction

Into Bath yesterday to pick up some books, and (if I’m honest) to check on the state of play of Damage Time. Waterstones had four copies, although there was no sign of Winter Song, which is a tad disappointing, but hey ho. Then off to Toppings, where there were none. Hmm, have to speak to Rachel about that.

The man in Toppings offered tea or coffee to anyone who was interested, which I accepted. I of course then felt obliged to buy a couple of books, which was probably his intention all along. But by checking my Genre Fiction Reading List, I found a couple of gaps.

It’s actually a helluva reading list, comprising among others:

Alternate History:

Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle

Christopher Priest, The Separation

Keith Roberts, Pavane

Children’s Fantasy / Crossover

Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising

Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea

Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men

Philip Pullman, Northern Lights


Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel’s Dart

Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber

Robin Hobb, Assassin’s Apprentice

Robert Holdstock, Mythago Wood

Guy Gavriel Kay, The Summer Tree

Tanith Lee, Forests of the Night

China Mieville, Perdido Street Station

J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

Terri Windling, The Wood Wife


Karen Armstrong, Bitten

Clive Barker, Weaveworld

H.P. Lovecraft, The Haunter of the Dark

Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

Bram Stoker, Dracula


Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Iain M Banks, The Player of Games

Frank Herbert, Dune

Nalo Hopkinson, Midnight Robber

Maureen McHugh, China Mountain Zhang

Kim Stanley Robinson, Forty Signs of Rain

Bruce Sterling, (ed.) Mirrorshades

Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog

Robert Charles Wilson, Bios

David Zindell, Neverness


Isabel Allende, Eva Luna

J.G. Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition

Jorge Luis Borges, Fictions

Helluva list, isn’t it? Of course everyone has their own choices — I’d substitute Pacific Edge for Forty Kinds of Rain, and where are Bester, Silverberg and Delany? But on the whole, it’s a pretty good list; of the 34 titles, I’ve barely read half of them, and that’s just the spec-fic part.

The set texts include Carrie, and then next up is Jetse de Vries’ anthology Shine. I’m looking forward to this module.

• October 8th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 1

Damage Time Released in the UK

Damage Time is officially out in the wild today, although a few rogue copies cut the wire earlier this week and scrabbled out under the noses of the guards — Donna and Matt saw copies on their travels in Bath yesterday, while Cybermage has already posted a really nice review. The US will see copies creeping out from the 26th of this month.

And there was a nice piece of serendipity with the William Gibson talk that I attended down at the Watershed last night. Gibson spoke eloquently, if a little raggedly (I dread to think how many of these presentations he’s done) on a number of subjects, one of which is how much faster the world evolves now than -say- forty or fifty years ago.  “The only novels from that period who even came close to predicting the exquisitely fucked-up complexity of 2010 are [John Brunner’s] Stand On Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up,” he said.

Those novels cover different topics; while Brunner’s works cover over-population and pollution, I’ve chosen as themes a lurching toward post-technology. But the similarity is in the narrative style; I’ll freely acknowledge that the sidebar chapters owe a lot to Brunner’s montages, especially in the magnificent Stand On Zanzibar.

I’ll blog more on the Gibson talk on another day.

• October 7th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 1

Going South

I’ve had my pre-holiday haircut, joining Kate and Tourette’s Dog in the Shorn stakes, and found on my return that even the vegetation was getting in on the act; a pair of tree-surgeons have arrived to trim one of the beech trees that gives the house it’s name. It’s a lovely-looking tree, but it’s now dangerously close to the overhead power lines. Good timing, considering that we’ll be on the road for Poole in another couple of hours — they couldn’t have cut it much finer… (boom boom!)

We’re heading south to dog-sit for the in-laws in Poole, and I’m looking forward to ten days of walking on the Purbeck Hills, lying in and take-aways.

I have no idea what internet connectivity we’ll have. In theory there’s wi-fi, but they’ve already had connectivity issues so hopefully I’ll be logged on as usual on Thursday.

Or it may be that the next time I surface will be at Fantasycon on Saturday.  Angry Robot have pulled stock of three new titles  (including Damage Time) which aren’t available for another three weeks out of a magic hat somewhere, and I’ll be joining Andy Remic and Mike Shevdon in the dealer’s room to sign copies.

To get to Nottingham for the 12 o’clock launch requires me to catch the 06.25 train… for which I’ll probably have to surface in the dark (whimper) …you’ll probably hear the groaning on Saturday all the way up in Nottingham! Still, it’ll be good to catch up with the extended AR family, plus various other old friends from previous Fantasycons.

So I’ll either see you here, or at Nottingham, whichever occurs first.

• September 15th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Free On-line Stuff

Lots and lots of free on-line stuff happening at the moment, so I thought that I’d do a round-up. ‘Stuff’ is like London buses. You get nothing happening for months on end and then -wham!- the world goes mad.

First up on this not-so-sunny Monday morning, my publishers –Angry Robot– posted the first fifty-odd pages of Damage Time on-line over the weekend to read for free.  The whole novel is out in the UK on October on October 7th, and in the US on October 26th. Although US readers can order the electronic copy direct from the Angry Robot web shop on the earlier date.

Today my short story ‘Chameleon’ goes on-line to subscribers at Daily Science Fiction. Since subscription is free you might as well join, rather than waiting for a whole week…or you can wait a week, and it’ll be there waiting for you…

 Meanwhile the lovely Dark Fiction Review have posted a terrific review of Winter Song. It’s terrific not so much because it says nice things about the book –although that’s always nice– but because they picked up on some things that others missed.

And finally, I’ve reviewed Stephen Baxter’s Flood over at suite101.

That’s all for now!

• September 13th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Guy Haley in -and on- Dark Spires

A late arrival to the Dark Spires team of contributors, former Death Ray  editor and SFX columnist Guy Haley has had quite a lot to say for himself lately, and rightly so.  A few days after we thrashed out the last few edits to ‘Outside,’ his disturbing paean to post-industrial Swindon for the anthology, he launched his blog. (I especially liked the page on that beast of a cat of his — somehow I suspect that Tourette’s Dog may have met her match.)

Among his first half-dozen posts came the news that he had sold a pair of intriguing-sounding novels about a team of 22nd century detectives, Richards and Klein to Angry Robot Books. I particularly liked Guy’s take on the future, that —like the past, [it] is a foreign country, not an alien world.  And that irrespective of technology, people will still have the same emotions as now. That mirrors my own feelings about it, although I suspect we articulate them in very different ways.

The next day he posted about Dark Spires, announcing his sale, plus some general thoughts of his and mine on the anthology.  What struck me this morning is that while there are an equal mix of SF and fantasy stories in the anthology, and while half of said fantasy stories (and one of the SF stories for that matter) slide some way into varying shades of darkness  –thereby re-igniting the old dark fantasy vs horror debate– his is the only out and out horror story in the anthology. And it’s penned by an SF writer. There’s versatility for you.

We need to keep a wary eye on this Haley chap, or at the rate he’s been going, he’ll be taking over the world before you know it…

• September 10th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Winter Song In Oregon

This is shameless self-indulgence, I know…but forgive me. I’ve been working for this for thirteen years and I’m going to enjoy it for a few more days. Maybe one day I’ll be completely blase about having a book actually on shelf instead of the vast virtual warehouse of Amazon, Book Depository, etc. But that day hasn’t come yet!

There’s this vast warehouse of a shop that covers three floors in Portland, Oregon. It’s a bit of a legend by all accounts — and even I’d heard of Powell’s Bookstore.

A friend of mine who was there on holiday sent me a snap of the front of it which looks pretty unprepossessing, but inside is a wonderland of books…

…and there it is — out in the wild.

Not quite next to Joe Haldeman or Harry Harrison, but close enough. 🙂

• September 9th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 2

New Winter Song Reviews

I’ve been busy on admin stuff this morning, about which more tomorrow -or maybe Thursday, depending how quickly I get it done — so this morning’s blog post is a very quick one.

Quick, but nonetheless happy; the first new reviews are coming out for Winter Song, one in Sweden, where Cybermage describes it as ‘fun to read’ among other nice words. It was fun to write, too. 

The second is from the US, where Daniel Marcus says that ‘Winter Song is a great read.  Looking forward to more from Harvey and more from Angry Robot.’

So are we.

Thanks Ove and Daniel, it really is very much appreciated.

• September 7th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Signal to Noise Ratio

Today is the second of the five big days that I have spread over the next two months or so, and it’s great everyone is making so much noise about Angry Robot’s US launch / UK re-launch.

And to add to the fun, nine of the titles (including Winter Song) can now be bought in e-book format.  For those readers with questions about DRM, etc, check out the comments at the link.

And there’s a terrific competition for US readers being run at the moment at Robot Towers, while over at the nascent Salon Futura Cheryl Morgan interviews Lauren Beukes.  Lauren’s new novel Zoo City has been reviewed at Dark Fiction Review by Adam Christopher. They published me in an interview and will be reviewing Winter Song in the next day or so.

I have a whole host of outstanding jobs to do, but am finding (in the nicest possible way) that I’m struggling to concentrate; I’d much rather be seeing what the next event unfolding is. So maybe I’ll just accept that the transmissions from me brain are going to be jammed for the rest of the day / week.

Especially since I’ll have even more news tomorrow.

• September 2nd, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0