The Week So Far

So far my Wednesday has consisted of frantic shovelling of overdue tasks and ignoring all Uni stuff, which is fair enough, since the reason I have such a backlog is that Uni has taken up all my time for the last two days for anything but the most critical responses, including some copy-editing of Dark Spires stories.  As always happens on new ventures I’ve made a number of mistakes which have now caught up with both me and the rest of the team.

Monday morning started with Film Making, which is going to involve some actual hands-on filming, editing etc. Then into Writer’s Workshop, about which I’ll pass over for the moment, except to say that I hope it improves — but I can’t drop it, as it’s the core of the course.  And then to Feature Journalism, which looks as if it may yet be the most interesting of all three lectures.

Yesterday morning was dire, because I was so exhausted.  I wrote this at the time:-

It’s 4.45 am as I write this, and despite -or perhaps because– being exhausted, my brain is boiling. I’ve been awake for nearly two hours, and I have a splitting headache which four paracetemol couldn’t shift last night. In forty minutes or so, I have to get up, so it seems like a good idea to rise early and type this.

The problem was the seven hours of lectures and seminars that I had yesterday, from 9 to 6. By the end of it, I felt like a zombie, but clearly the information and mental stimulation that I took in yesterday has percolated through my brain, and caused this morning’s insomnia. This afternoon, I have a three hour lecture and seminar, and then aside from a solitary lecture late on Thursday, that’s my week done.

Ah, I hear you mutter, it must be nice to have a five day weekend.

Except of course, that the first of those five days will probably be spent as a hollow-eyed wreck; and then there’s the small matter of revising Ultramassive. And all the work spent away from the class, which should be the majority of it. At the moment, I don’t know how the hell I’m going to manage another week of this, let alone a year.

Maybe some answers will come to me when I feel less like the intellectual equivalent of a battery hen, force fed on ideas and concepts instead of chicken feed.

I somehow managed to get through the day, including working on Ultramassive, which is my other writing Must-Do at the moment. Things began to turn around in the afternoon with a stunning lecture on Genre Fiction, one of the best I’ve had in just over a year at the uni. I’ll blog more on that on…let’s say Friday, hmm?

Then it was home for dinner, and work into the evening starting the shovelling.  But at least I have some answers to yesterday’s insomniac rant, which vindicates my two basic rules of communication:-

1. Never write anything on the web or in an e-mail that you aren’t prepared to see all over the web.

2. Whenever you’re feeling, emotional — angry, tired, depressed– sit on  it for 24 hours. 🙂

More news tomorrow on Damage Time, which has its UK release. And in about 90 minutes, I’ll be off to listen to William Gibson talk.

• October 6th, 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

Dark Spires Update

I’ve posted an update on Dark Spires over at Suite101. I’m hoping to be able to announce a confirmed ToC in the next week or so, but that depends on the last few writers coming through — including one very late signing. More on that another time.

• August 25th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

William Gibson in Bristol

This morning I received a note publicizing William Gibson‘s forthcoming tour , including his visit to Bristol in October:

William Gibson is the bestselling author of 10 novels. His first, Neuromancer, sold more than six million copies worldwide and his books and short stories continue to reach massive audiences and win just about every award going. He coined the term cyberspace and is credited with predicting the rise of reality television and establishing the conceptual foundations for the rapid growth of virtual environments such as video games and the Web. His comment – ‘The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed’ – first made in 2003 continues to be used widely. He has collaborated extensively with performance artists, filmmakers and musicians and has influenced many other authors as well as design, academia, cyberculture, technology, and the film The Matrix. His new book, Zero History, set largely in London, spookily captures the paranoia and fear of our post-Crash, late Capitalist times. A rare opportunity to see one of the world’s finest writers, someone who has had, and continues to have, huge influence in the making and understanding of the modern world.

Price: £7.00 / £5.50. Contact Watershed Media Centre, Bristol on: 0117 927 5100, book online (, or visit in person.

Gibson is one of those writers who will probably never the impact of that first novel (I remember the buzz I got from reading Neuromancer that first time) but it will still be fascinating to hear what he says.

• August 16th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Busy Busy

Although I’ve dully completed my 1400 words this morning, focusing on the wip has been quite tricky, as a lot of stories seem to be breaking at the same time. I’m not the only one who’s been busy…

First of all, the inaugural Angry Robot podcast is up at their website. It sounds as if Marco and Leeeeeëe are having way too much fun in their padded cell, and Mrs H and I chortled at the note of bemusement that host Mur Lafferty tried -and failed- to keep from her voice as she tried to bring some sanity to the proceedings.  Joking apart, there are some great insights on the state of publishing and some of its possible futures.

Secondly, huge congratulations to fellow author Gareth L Powell, who has been equally busy in a less obtrusive way; yesterday he announced the sale of his novel The Recollection to Solaris Books, who had this to say. The beers are on you on Monday week, Gareth…

And lastly, Cheryl Morgan has also been busy. She’s announced a new venture, Wizard’s Tower Press. The new company will publish a new non-fiction magazine, Salon Futura, as well as a number of out-of-print works, and a small number of new books. The first of those new books will be Dark Spires, edited by Yours Truly. More details are here and will follow as we get a ToC. 

As well as blogging, interviewing and pimping cons like Bristolcon and London 2014, Cheryl does a huge amount of work behind the scenes, and Wizard’s Tower Press deserves to succeed. Good luck, Cheryl.

• July 17th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 1

Seeing Red

I said in yesterday’s blog that I was torn about my loyalties before last night’s World Cup final. That lasted all of twenty-eight minutes – when Xabi Alonso got a chest full of studs at high velocity propelled by umpteen stone of Nigel de Jong. By that time I was seeing red, much as the Dutch players seemed to be, individually and collectively. Only they were seeing it front of their minds, not waved in front of their faces.

Referee Howard Webb is being pilloried for not sending off one, perhaps two Dutch players in the first half. But had he done so, doubtless many of those complaining would instead by whining about how he ruined the match as a competitive spectacle.  And he must have had the nightmare thought flash through his head that if he sent off too many players (I believe that the minimum on the pitch is seven) the match might have to be abandoned, which would have been the end of his career. I thought that he did as well as any one official could have in the circumstances.

Because ultimately the referee is there to arbitrate on a match not to act as peacemaker in a war, or to be the players’ moral compass.

It is the players, not the officials who are responsibile for their actions. They are supposedly grown men, paid vast amounts of money — they seem happy to take the money while behaving without any kind of responsibility or morality, as both Maradona and Henry have show in the past. 

But on a lighter note, it was good to see Spain change into their trademark red for the award presentation. That was the enjoyable part of seeing red.  A fitting end to a great month of armchair sport.

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

The Final Night

In about six or seven hours time there will be new world champions.

Holland or Spain? Spain or Holland? I can’t decide who I want to win.

It should be Spain; I’ve worked with the Spanish for years and I love the country and the people. Torres is still a Liverpool player (though for how long no one knows) and there’s Xabi Alonso, a former red, and of course Pepe Reina, who I had hoped would play.

But then Holland have a red in the form of Dirk Kuyt, and they’ve been losers twice so my sympathy’s with them. To be honest they’ve played probably the better football throughout the whole tournament, and I’ve almost forgiven the charmless cloggies that I used to have to work with.

But whoever wins this final night, I shall miss not having to make a decision about what to watch in the evenings. Having the football on has meant a rest for the remote control.

• July 11th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Henning Mankell & the World Cup

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’m trying to justify watching football on the tv by writing a blog — after all, if I’m writing a blog, it’s not really goofing off is it?

I’ve spent the morning writing my daily 1400 words, which I finished by about 12 o’clock, before settling down with Henning Mankell’s Firewall, which may or may not be his last Kurt Wallender novel. For those of you who only know the dyspeptic, diabetic detective by the anaemic BBC adaptations featuring Kenneth Branagh, which are not a patch on the original Swedish episodes often shown on BBC4, the cycle of ten or a dozen novels are perhaps the most grounded narratives in the detective genre. At the risk of sounding pretentious, they chart the moral disintegration of Swedish society in the 1990s through the brutal and often irrational murders that Wallander has to investigate.

Before Firewall, I read Sidetracked, which justifiably won the Crime Writer’s Assosciation’s Gold Dagger Award for Best Novel. Mankell interweaves real world events with the storyline by featuring Sweden’s matches in the 1994 World Cup as part of the sub-plot and setting. It’s part of a complex set of plot threads that at times sidetrack the reader as effectively as they do Wallander’s investigation.  

Reading Mankell teaches one that it’s the little touches that give a narrative its sense of reality. Years ago, Brian Aldiss began to work himself, his friends and family into the narrative, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. I’m tempted to try the same technique in future, maybe featuring a writer who blogs during the 2010 World Cup as part of the sub-plot….

But for now it’s back to the real World Cup. I’ll finish Firewall between the two matches.

• July 3rd, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

The Turning of the Year

Here’s a thought; as I type this, it’s 12.07 on the 183rd day of the year. We are seven minutes past the mid-point of the year — from now on, we’re closer to 2011 than we are 2009. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about the future, that has a certain satisfaction to it. And of sourse we’ll be even closer to 2011 when you read this.

But looking back 36 hours, I had a thoroughly good time chatting to Eric Brown before and after the BSFA meeting in London on Wednesday night. It seems incredible that he’s been writing for over 20 years, but he has, and had some interesting points to make about Haworth in Yorkshire, SF, reviewing and writing for readers who have difficulty reading.

It was also nice to get to chat to Ian Whates, since we both of us always seem to be busy at cons. I’m not sure where he finds the energy to write, edit, publish and find time for the BSFA. Long may he continue.

And after over 30 years, it was good to say hello again to Geoff Ryman.

More on that another time, when we’ll be even closer to 2011…

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

New Review & BSFA Meeting

I’ve posted a new review at Suite101, this time dissecting the latest edition of Albedo One. It’s another good issue.

Meanwhile, I’m off to London later today for the BSFA Meeting, which features an interview with Eric Brown, reviewer for the Guardian, contributor to Pringlezone, and author of Cosmopath and many other fine novels.

Anyone else going?

• June 30th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0