Friday, September 30, 2016
Well, tonight is the big night. The Glasgow launch of Thirty Years Of Rain, the 30th anniversary collection of work by members of the Glasgow Science Fiction Writer's Circle. A cross genre collection of stories and poems, old and new.
The book is already available from Lulu and Amazon. But in the Sauchiehall St branch of Waterstones tonight, from 7pm, there will be a chance to hear readings and get books signed by a number of the authors. With a number of authors in Glasgow, I fully expect the presence of Elsie WK Donald, Ruth EJ Booth, Heather Valentine, Brian M Milton, Ian Hunter, Cameron Johnston, Stewart Horn, Fergua Bannon, Hal Duncan, Elaine Gallagher, Kenneth Kelly, Jim Steel, Neil Williamson and myself. (Actual quantity of authors present may go up or down)
Inevitably, as with all GSFWC events, we will end up in the pub. Hopefully see people there.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
[I came across the above image after completing the final version of The Witch At The End Of The World, for me this captures some sense of what I was thinking of, this looks like it could easily be one of my apocalyptic witches. The image is by costume designer Agnieszka Osipa]
With “The Witch At The End Of The World”, or “Papa Okid In And The Witch At The End Of The World” as it was originally called I was trying to break that cycle. I decided to write something different, something that would be easy, that would brush away cobwebs and give me a revived compulsion to write. And it did… eventually.
I was going for a fantasy story. Something epic. Compared to my usual near future pseudo-science fiction mixing dalliances with horror. Though more Moorcock or Harrison, was how I saw it. It was an end of the world story – something evil, a group gathered to defeat evil. You know the deal, how it works. The Magnificent Seven, with witches, and a great big alien spider queen witch. Ride into the occupied city, Paris I decided, and fight monsters, defeat the big bad. Yay.
Except my characters decided they absolutely had to ride to this magic tree before they went riding into a snow bound alien tainted Paris. Then they decided that the city thing and the alien witch thing bored them, they’d rather sing and sit around and drink strange tea. So that is what happened. Kind of.
The original themes are still there. A group gathering to ride against evil; ideas of the end of the world, of fallen civilisations, the Anthropocene and how fucked we all are. This is dark stuff, except, hopefully, it doesn’t entirely feel that way.
One of the hard things, one of the reasons the story took so long to write, was finding the voice. Initially I had envisaged this guide bloke, someone desperate enough to go to a difficult place and ask for help – Papa Okid In, or Papa Oki Din as he became. But his voice didn’t work for me. I rewrote the opening scene an infinite number of times, I know, I counted them. Each a variation, on a turn of phrase, on a first step, on finding that damn voice that made the damn story talk. Then I found it, and I won’t say from there that it wrote itself, but oh Iggy, it became so much easier.
I am a member of the GSFWC (The Glasgow Science Fiction Writer’s Circle), a support group of writers. Offering critiques and advice and support to each other. The GSFWC has now been going for 30 years, to celebrate that they have put together an anthology – Thirty Years Of Rain. I decided this story would be my submission, I decided this anthology would be my impetus for finishing the thing that I had been fighting with on and off for a year.
Thanks to the patience and support of the anthology editors, the final version of The Witch At The End Of The World has been included in Thirty Years of Rain – which will have a launch night in Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street Waterstones, on the 30th of September, from 7pm. I'll be there, along with a number of the other authors included, hope to see some of you there too.
Monday, August 29, 2016
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:
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
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
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
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
Graphic novels have been noted sporadically, read many more of those, but didn't always remember to include in list.
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
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
the magic pen - dylan horrocks
something coming through - paul mcauley
avengers adapt or die
alif the unseen - g willow wilson
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
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
the peripheral - william gibson*
city of stairs - robert jackson bennett
three parts dead - max gladstone*
strange and norrell - suzanne clarke
wicked+divine book 2
wytches volume 1
this is life - dan rhodes
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
alien separation - gini koch
ack-ack macaque - gareth powell
the sorceror of the wildeeps - kai ashante wilson
the sorceror to the crown - zen cho
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
2312 - kim stanley robinson
welcome to night vale - fink/cranor
the bone clocks - david mitchell
divine misfortune - a lee martinez
bookburners 1 - max gladstone
hexomancy - michael r underwood
the seed collectors - scarlett thomas
ack ack macaque - gareth powell*
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
night at the museum - secret of the tomb
mockingjay part 1
big hero six
love is strange
shaun the sheep
sin city 2
the second best exotic marigold hotel
catch me daddy
the second best exotic marigold hotel*
ladies and gentleman the fabulous stains
while we're young
fast and furious 7
avengers age of ultron
woman in gold
pitch perfect 2
avengers age of ultron*
a girl walks home alone at night
mad max fury road
black coal, ice thin
pitch perfect 2*
magic mike xxl
the salt of the earth
the ballad of barnie thomson
fantastic four 2015
kiki's delivery service*
mission impossible: rogue nation
we are your friends
hitman agent 47
me, earl and the dying girl
maze runner - scorch trials
lost in hong kong
mortal instruments film*
next avengers animation
the last witch hunter
this girls life
the tracey fragments
scouts guide to the zombie apocalypese
the bothersome man*
blue crush 2
sukiyaki western django
the ex-files 2
bond - spectre
mockingjay part 2
cabin in the woods*
star wars the force awakens
surprise - journey to the west
future shock! the story of 2000ad
star wars the force awakens*
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
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
Here is a periodic and updated summary of my fiction online:
Spirit Guide Plays Guitar
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.
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
Cut Now, Cut Deep
What The Stars Hold
Finally! The Weather!