Saturday Evening Blog

I don’t often post a blog this late in the day, but it’s been an unusual day; almost perfect weather from a working point of view. Sunshine this morning for us to walk Alice around the fields, when we got home it rained for most of the day.  While Kate has lurked in the kitchen making soup and Apple Almond Cake I’ve spent the day on the usual revision.

But unlike most of the week, once the revision is done I’ve left uni work to one side to concentrate on reviews. And then, having written a couple of thousand words, the sun came out again for us to walk Alice through the park. She repaid us by bringing a stick fully fifty per cent longer than she is. As the girl used to say on the Clio ad, “size matters.” It certainly does to a dog.

Blog posts next week are going to be limited. With Damage Time out in the US on Tuesday, I’ll be posting extracts from the novel. And I’ve four reviews to go up on Suite101, all horror, which I’ll be linking to on the day they’re posted;

Stephen King      — Carrie

Joe Hill                 — 20th Century Ghosts

Gary McMahon — The Harm


Black Static 19

Right, that’s it for now. Off to eat some pizza.

Have fun!

• October 23rd, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

First Day Back

It’s going to be a quickie this morning, as I’m due to be on campus by mid-day. I  have  to register –despite already having registered on-line!- and go to an introductory lecture, and I’ll probably visit the on-site Job-Shop and raid the Fresher’s Fair for whatever goodies there are (well, I am a starving student…).

Meanwhile, I’ve posted a quick blog at suite101 as well about the curious affair of Winter Song in East Lansing, Michigan — courtesy of my friend the Black Helicopter.

More tomorrow!

• September 29th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Back In Harness

We got back from holiday yesterday, and I’ve gradually eased back into work, clearing e-mails and reviewing the latest Interzone here, while watching the Grand Prix.  It looks, sadly, as if Hamilton’s challenge is done for this year.  Whereas mine is just beginning…meanwhile, here’s a nice picture of the latest Interzone cover by Warwick Fraser-Coombe

• September 26th, 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

Ira Nayman Interviewed

This month’s vic -interviewee is Ira Nayman, who runs the Alternate Reality News Service. Actually, Ira is so enthusiastic that we had to cut his interview in three to fit it into the tiny little boxes Suite101 allocates.  But it’s worth it to check out this fascinating man’s thoughts on reading, comedy and spec-fic.

I can’t think of too much else to say at the moment as I’m still reeling from the twitter feed covering the Hugo Awards. I’ll cover the results in more detail tomorrow; enough for the moment to say that I’m pleased and delighted that Peter Watts and Will McIntosh won deserved first Hugos, and I’m (pleasantly) gob-smacked that not only did Paolo Bacigalupi win the Hugo I never thought he’d for The  Wind-up Girl (too controversial, I thought — shows how much I know!) but that he had to wrestle China Mieville to a stand-still to tie with him for The City and The City.

• September 5th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Black Static 18 Reviewed

Over at Suite101

• August 29th, 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

Winter Song Update

I’ve been concentrating lately on ticking off the multiple deadlines falling on August 31st.

It’s starting to come together, and to celebrate Winter Song‘s realease into the wild in the US with a series of links and teasers over at Suite101.

More tomorrow, this time on Dark Spires.

• August 24th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Balloons and Klingons

Up at 5am this morning to go to the Balloon Fiesta. It’s the biggest in Europe — in fact, only the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in the USA is bigger, but since we started going 25 years ago, Bristol’s event has  shrunk to a fraction of it’s former size. This morning the attendees numbered probably nearer hundreds than thousands, whereas in 1985 they were in the tens of thousands. Those who didn’t go probably assumed (correctly) that there would no flight today.

The number of balloons flying also seemed markedly less than in the Fieta’s glory years, which are shown in the pictures attached here. That’s almost certainly down to the recession slashing corporate advertising budgets, which are the fuel of balloon flights through sponsorship. Car parking -which used to be free- now costs almost ten pounds per car per stay, discouraging people from coming and going. And it may be that the night-glow has cannibalized morning attendances. Whatever the reason, I hope that the Fiesta has many more years of success.

Meanwhile, elsewhere I’ve posted an interview with Hugo nominated writer Lawrence M. Schoen -known as Klingon Guy, due to his work on the fictional language- over at Suite101. (I bet you wondered where the Klingons came into the title…) Lawrence is a thoughtful and thought-provoking writer who provided an entertaining interview.

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

Older Writers

Last year one of my tutors opened hr class with the immortal line (delivered in a Louisiana drawl) “I’ve been thinking about death a lot lately.”

To paraphrase her, I’ve been thinking about age a lot lately. I’m exactly three months from my birthday, which will see me enter another decade. There’s a lot of unemployment in most countries, and despite the fact that ageism is theoretically illegal in the UK, most employers still have a residual favouritism toward employing younger workers, using code phrases such as ‘energetic.’  (I don’t know whether this is the case in the US as well.) Even assuming that I graduate, unless I unearth a best-seller in the next two years, I face a gap of eight to thirteen years when I graduate when I will probably need some kind of salaried position to supplement the erratic earnings of writing SF.

You’d assume that self-employed writers would be immune to such trends, but there are worrying signs with the recession squeezing publishers on all fronts.

Established writers running into problems selling their new novels is a phenomenon that’s been rumbling away for years. John Brunner found his career stalled in 1983 after a period away; before his death in 2000, Keith Roberts railed against the difficulty of selling his new works.  Both of those authors, however, had the reputation of being ‘difficult.’

More recently, Norman Spinrad has vociferously expressed his frustration at being unable to find a US publisher for his latest novel. Spinrad is two years short of celebrating 50 years in SF, has an enthusiastic French following, and has been a multiple Hugo and Nebula finalist — but significantly, never a winner. Spinrad is 70 next month.

James Gunn expressed similar frustration -but with considerably more dignity- a few months ago in an interview with Albedo One. This is a man who was made a Grand Master by SFWA three years ago, but he can’t sell his new novel in the US. Gunn is 87 years old.

It’s eminently possible that their problems have nothing to do with age, but more to do with their work being of insufficient interest to readers to hit break-even numbers in these commercially constrained times. But it would be interesting to know the average age of those editors who turned them down. Even more interestingly, how much of a factor is the likely length of their career? (Publishers are less and less interested in single-book deals, but rather in multi-book deals)  

We’ll never know, of course. But I feel a wholly illogical indignation on their behalf — these are giants of my youth, and deserve a little respect.  

But there’s no arguing with the cold logic of the marketplace, and I’m in no position to really complain, since I sold my break-out novel at 48.

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