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Monday, August 29, 2016

THIRTY YEARS OF RAIN 


THIRTY YEARS OF RAIN - CELEBRATING THIRTY YEARS OF THE GLASGOW SCIENCE FICTION WRITER'S CIRCLE.

September  will see the publication of Thirty Years Of Rain a collection of short stories and poems by writers who have at some point over the last 30 years been members of the GSFWC. 

The collection includes my own story The Witch At The End Of The World. A cheerful, uplifting story about the end of world. A bit of a departure from what I normally write, this is the closest I have done to being an Epic Fantasy. Except, because it is me, it isn't really that at all. Instead it is something.... odder?

There will be a couple of launches for the anthology, the 1st at the annual British Fantasy Con, the 2nd at Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street branch of Waterstones on the 30th of September from 7pm. I will be one of the authors at the Waterstones launch, where there will be readings and signings.

The full contents of Thirty Years Of Rain are as follows:

The Freedom of Above ― TJ Berg
Skyrider ― William King
The Ranch ― Gary Gibson
Her Choice ― Elsie WK Donald
Picture, of a Winter Afternoon ― Ruth EJ Booth
My Last Love ― Heather Valentine
Watching the Watchers ― Anya Penfold
The Lodger ― Brian M Milton
10 Things to Know About Staple Removers ― Ian Hunter
HEADKILLER ― Michael Cobley
Crowd Control ― Cameron Johnston
Amanda ― Jim Campbell
The Butterflies of Dysfunction ― TW Moses
Go Cúramach ― Stewart Horn
The Unusual Genitals Party ― Fergus Bannon
Ascending ― Hal Duncan
5AM Saint ― Elaine Gallagher
The Witch at the End of the World ― Peter Morrison
What Bliss It Was ― Louise Welsh
Run ― Kenneth Kelly
I Believe That This Nation Should Commit Itself ― Duncan Lunan
The Crock of Shet ― Jim Steel
Hot Breath ― Matthew Horsely
Danny Dyer Is Professor Stiles Langstrom! ― Ian Hunter
The Marquis of Alcatraz ― Richard Mosses
Kikinasai ― Eliza Chan
Foreign Bodies ― Neil Williamson
The New Ways ― Amal El-Mohtar
The Glaswegian Chalk Dust Circle ― Michael Mooney
The Circle ― Phil Raines

Saturday, April 16, 2016

In Search of Cultural Vistas 

Written earlier in the week, but only just posting now:
 
I was struck last night by an increasing occurrence. Where you see an amusing little nugget on twitter and you smile in an appropriate manner. Then a day, or two, later, you see the same thing again. And again. Then you see that same little nugget being picked up by both Boing Boing and Jezebel, and being passed off as a cutting edge moment.

I’m not ahead of the curve. My finger is not in the pulse. So what does this say about “news” sites passing on information that is days old? On one hand, it has always been the case. But on the other, it probably speaks to an idea of saturation, particularly on twitter. Where the medium becomes so utterly saturated and repetitive that it becomes harder to see something for the first time, instead of seeing that thing again.

Another tweet I saw last night, from the magazine Huck, about a film being shown in Manchester about the erosion of culture in New York, and the people fighting back against it. Like many things, I didn’t look beyond that one tweet, so I don’t have any details on that particular node. But it is one dot in a persistent pattern – culture in New York is dead, or replace that with London, or replace that with. And wave a hand towards gentrification. Which flags another dot in my head, from reading an article the other night in an actual physical copy of Huck magazine which I have lying around. Which was a guide to Wellington in New Zealand, how it was a cultural hot spot, the starting point for many a visitor setting out on adventure. How that has transformed over the years due gentrification. Which in turns reminds me of a video I watched on YouTube, a group of artists talking about how much more difficult culture was becoming in Reykjavik for the same reason.

I've been reading the new edition of England’s Hidden Reverse that was released recently. An updated version of the book that came out 10 or so years ago? My memory should be better on that, given I was at the launch of the version when the author spoke about it in Glasgow’s Monorail records. Anyway, book and reading, in particular the section I was reading last night was wallowing in the London scene of the 80’s – post-punk/industrial music, pretentious art wankers and confrontational bastards. All living, as the saying goes, cheek by jowl, in squats. All playing dingy little venues, where violence would erupt, partly in protest and partly because folk were arseholes. Which ties into that idea of that film mentioned above – a lost New York to a lost London to a lost cultural past.

Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be some essay, just a note, observing a couple of things that catch the eye. By contrast, I was listening to a podcast on the drive to work this morning. I tend to vary depending on mood – a selection of music played at random or a podcast. Today I picked a conversation with Clive James, and I was struck (perhaps again, perhaps more lucidly) by why I enjoy certain podcasts. Listening to two men talk about books that I will never read and likely would not enjoy if I tried to read. Or on other occasions two people talk about music I’d never listen to. It is the listening to the enthusiasm and pleasure expressed by other people. Where you can appreciate where people are coming from, you can enjoy the intelligence and engagement. Occasionally there is that nugget in there, where you think actually that is something I should read, listen to, watch, appreciate and you make a discovery. I am undoubtedly a fan of discovery, of expanding my horizons.

Though, lets not get carried away, last week I stumbled upon the worst podcast ever. An episode of a show that I listen to periodically had hit on the perfect formula – five people sitting around and talking in the most academic terms about the nature of something only really of interest to the five people talking about it. I lasted 10 minutes, I was driving, before I started swearing and was forced to change to something resembling interesting. 

Though, of course, I’ll do my best to adhere to the idea of mentioning things I like while politely not naming things I am criticising. Though, I can have mixed feelings about that, particularly when everyone else is wrong. But I am only human.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ancillary's Children  

I am reading Alastair Reynolds "Steel Breeze" with my lunch. The lead character is Chiku. But Chiku is not just Chiku. She cloned herself and replicated her memory. In the scene I just read the narrative has slipped, without warning from one Chiku to another Chiku. Even the character takes a moment to get her head round that. The preceding chapters being the memories of a counterpart taken into her head as her own.

With this comes an interesting way of telling a story with one character in multiple places. But also the question of identity. These two people aren't just similar, they are the same person.

This is something which particularly struck me with Ancillary Justice. For all the other aspects of that novel that were applauded, I don't think I saw too much reference to this aspect of identity. In this novel the ships are intelligent, a common enough idea, but they have use of physical bodies as tools. (The mechanism and ethics of that are another conversation) So like Chiku, we have multiple view points, but even greater sense of only one mind.

On some level playing with that kind of identity and characterization is fascinating and appealing. Especially thinking in terms of could I pull that off?


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dans Le Silence 











Brume & Telepherique ‎– Dans Le Silence / Schrei Nach Stille - This double LP was released in 1999, each artist building their tracks from source material provided by the other. It was released on the unprolific German label Duebel (who were related to some extent to the Ant-Zen label), they have a small run of releases, mostly limited editions, no doubt difficult to find. I have probably about 3/4 of the labels releases.

Driving home tonight, a couple of the tracks from this release came up on my MP3 player, where I have a copy of the music. Both lengthy, abstract pieces, the first from the Brume selection, the second from Telepherique. Reminding me, again, just how much I continue to enjoy this album. In doing so being conscious of the act of listening, particularly related to a work like this. The layers, the noises, the textures. Brume, the French musician Christian Renou, is described as musique concrete, though here is at the more accessible end of that spectrum. Voice samples work throughout, I assume from a science fiction film - a space ship, emergency messages. These give the piece a human element, grounding the sound work, the sculptural nature of the layers.

Here to Telepherique are at their more concrete, though verging more into noise, with a harshness to the sound. Telepherique a group of German siblings working with various artists on numerous releases like this one over the years. While I have never seen Brume perform live, I did manage to catch Telepherique twice. The first time Klaus and Rene, the second joined by Danijela.

The music of both bands is something I have a particular fondness for, they way they both achieve an immersive  experience. One which I can lose myself as a listener. So a pleasing drive home through the play of soundscapes that complimented the journey.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015 Reading Summary 

Summary of what I read in 2015, "*" denotes a re-read.
Graphic novels have been noted sporadically, read many more of those, but didn't always remember to include in list.

january
---------
the collector - sergi toppi
the mighty avengers vol 2 - family bonding - al ewing + valerio schiti
saga vol 4 - brian k vaughan + fiona staples
manhattan projects vol 4- hickmann + pitarra
manhattan projects vol 5- hickmann + pitarra
hot head - simon ings *
daniel fights a hurricane - shane jones
let's put the future behind us - jack womack
solaris rising 3
afterparty - darryl gregory
vN - madeline ashby
descent - ken macleod

february
-----------
planesrunner - ian mcdonald*
colorless tsukuru tazaki and his years of pilgrimage - haruki murakami
coffin hill 2 - dark endeavours
hellblazer 10 in the line of fire
glow - ned beauman

march
------
the magic pen - dylan horrocks
something coming through - paul mcauley
avengers adapt or die
alif the unseen - g willow wilson

april
-------
get in trouble - kelly link
blue remembered earth - alastair reynolds
the rabbit back literature society -Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen
justice calling (20 sided sorcereress) - annie bellet
tigerman - nick harkaway

may
----
glaze - kim curran
rivers of london - ben aaranovitch*
glorious angels - justina robson
dead witch walking - kim harrison
spirits abroad - zen cho
stand on zanzibar - john brunner

june
-----
the peripheral - william gibson*
city of stairs - robert jackson bennett

july
-----
three parts dead - max gladstone*
strange and norrell - suzanne clarke
wicked+divine book 2
avengers infinity
wytches volume 1
this is life - dan rhodes

august
------
leviathan wakes - james s a corey
jagganith - karin tidbeck
wolves of london: obsidian hearts
the field of the cloth of gold - magnus mills
the other wind - ursula le guin

september
----------
alien separation - gini koch
ack-ack macaque - gareth powell
the sorceror of the wildeeps - kai ashante wilson
the sorceror to the crown - zen cho

october
---------
twelve tomorrows (harkaway, stross, sterling, bauman, etc)
holy fire - bruce sterling*
be my enemy - ian mcdonald
daker shade of magic - ve schwab
follow me - victoria gemmel

november
--------
2312 - kim stanley robinson
welcome to night vale - fink/cranor

december
--------
the bone clocks - david mitchell
divine misfortune - a lee martinez
bookburners 1 - max gladstone
bookburners 2
bookburners 3
bookburners 4
bookburners 5
hexomancy - michael r underwood
the seed collectors - scarlett thomas
ack ack macaque - gareth powell*

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2015 Film Summary 

The films I saw in 2015, broken down by month, with "*" denoting a repeat viewing:

january
---------
exodus
birdman
night at the museum - secret of the tomb
mockingjay part 1
wild
taken 3
ex machina
kingsmen

february
--------
big hero six
jupiter ascendent
inherent vice
love is strange
wild tales
project almanac
shaun the sheep
blackhat
kingsmen*

march
-------
thor 2*
sin city 2
the second best exotic marigold hotel
it follows
appropriate behaviour
catch me daddy
chappie
the second best exotic marigold hotel*
tremors*
the voices
brothers bloom*
ladies and gentleman the fabulous stains

april
-----
the voices*
insurgent
while we're young
duff
child 44
john wick
fast and furious 7   
avengers age of ultron
woman in gold

may
----
the falling
unfriended
pitch perfect 2
avengers age of ultron*
a girl walks home alone at night
tomorrowland
man up

june
-----
mad max fury road
black coal, ice thin
pitch perfect 2*
spy
mr. holmes
overnight

july
----
terminator genisys
ant-man
magic mike xxl
the salt of the earth
self/less

august
------
maggie
the ballad of barnie thomson
fantastic four 2015
kiki's delivery service*
southpaw
mission impossible: rogue nation

september
----------
we are your friends
dope
american ultra
hitman agent 47
paper towns
me, earl and the dying girl
maze runner - scorch trials
lost in hong kong
inside out

october
-------
solace
the intern
the martian
sicario
mortal instruments film*
next avengers animation
the lobster
crimson peak
the last witch hunter
skeletons
this girls life
the tracey fragments
scouts guide to the zombie apocalypese

november
--------
jonah hex
kontroll*
the bothersome man*
hackers*
pi*
kairo (pulse)*
blue crush 2
the vanquisher
nostalgia
sukiyaki western django
winter's bone
ashura
the ex-files 2
pan
bond - spectre
burnt
our times
mockingjay part 2
cabin in the woods*

december
--------
carol
grandma
sisters
star wars the force awakens
surprise - journey to the west
future shock! the story of 2000ad
snoopy movie
star wars the force awakens*

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Apartment  

The Apartment by Greg Baxter was a spontaneous purchase. The joys of book shops. Wandering the store. Exploring new releases. Nice cover. Curious title. Read the 1st page. Sometimes a complete stranger will speak to you. Just the way the words fall together. And you'll buy something you didn't know  previously existed.

This is how I picked up The Apartment. A newly released hardback, at the time. By an author I'd never heard of. But it spoke to me. And even better it paid off - which is not always the case. Even if I do mostly trust my instincts.

The Apartment is on one level a simple story. And it is on that level that I enjoy it the most. A man has moved from the US to Europe, an unnamed city. Though from the description it feels like Vienna to me. He has an appointment to see an apartment, but is early so has time to kill. It is winter, he spends a lot of time walking. So he decides a good jacket would be good.

On that level the simplicity of it works for me. Obviously it is more than that. It is the language. The character. Into the base idea we get a history of the character and his choices. His family relationship with the city. The people he has met and nascent friendship resulting. Which is to say in the story of a man shopping for a jacket we get life.

It is hard to entirely explain why it worked for me. I can see it doesn't sound obvious. But I enjoyed. A lot.

So I occasionally keep my eyes open for new work by the author. But last night I was wandering the book shop. Frustrated by two novels in a row that did not connect. And there, in hardback, in the new releases - the new novel by Greg Baxter "Munich Airport". So I bought it and I'm reading it.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Fiction Summary-Notes April 2014 

Here is a periodic and updated summary of my fiction online:

Jack Move


Spirit Guide Plays Guitar

Mythaxis


Issue 12: The Temple of the Inevitable
Issue 7: Blood & Souls
Issue 4: 1. Survivor
Issue 5: 2. No Survivor
Issue 3: When Gretchen Met Sally
Issue 2: Red Fever

Perhaps worth noting, one of my works in progress is a sequel to No/Survivor...

Telling of Tales: Podcast


The Gods Are Small Birds

Dark Fiction: Podcast


Twelve Days Anthology - Five Gold Rings - podcast anthology, my piece is Five Gold Rings.

Weaponizer


From the short, sharp, dark and nasty end of the spectrum. I would ask for forgiveness, but the hound shall come when it is time...
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate No.1
The Lady
Cut Now, Cut Deep
What The Stars Hold
Finally! The Weather!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

cosmo_moda_dec27144 

cosmo_moda_dec27144 by Cihan Alpgiray
cosmo_moda_dec27144, a photo by Cihan Alpgiray on Flickr.


Friday, March 21, 2014

"The Tree" limited edition print 

"The Tree" limited edition print by Aron Wiesenfeld
"The Tree" limited edition print, a photo by Aron Wiesenfeld on Flickr.

Available at aron-wiesenfeld.squarespace.com/available/ at 11AM PST, March 21st


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