Double Double

Photographic evidence of yesterday’s encounter at In-n-Out burger. Continue reading Double Double


Beat Chic

I’m a sucker for the counter culture. A whole city to explore and I’m back at Vesuvio taking in the Beat Chic. They serve a nice Guiness. That’s my excuse.

Every time I take a walk around SF I’m struck by what a quiet city it is. Not silent by any means, but there are long moments of stillness even in the most built up areas. And the place has a smell. An odd spice tang, mixed with the pacific ocean salt air. Somehow the famous City Lights book store seems to condense that smell down to it’s essence, as though a wiley public relations consultant bottled and squirted it around the entrance to confirm the place as a city tourist attraction. Paranoia? Obviously. But in this day and age who knows.

I’m taking a break from taking a break from thinking to write this, so back to it.

In and Out

On my last trip to San Francisco I discovered In’n’Out burgers. If you don’t live in California, In’n’Out might need some explanation. Imagine the greasiest possible burger, accompanied with the worlds most artificial cheese, wrapped in a bun that almost resembles bread and chips that no one believes are even related to a potato. And there you have an In’n’Out burger and fries. It is by every objective standard barely even a foodstuff. And yet, what have I been hungry for every minute of my flight accrosd the Atlantic. Yup…you guessed it.

I’m reading David Mitchell’s first novel Ghostwritten on the flight. I’ve had this novel sitting on my shelf for about a decade, since exchanging it with a friend for a dog eared copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. No offence to Robert Pirsig but I think I got the better of the deal, even if it has taken ten years to discover.

Ghostwritten is really a short story collection, not a novel, however much the publisher and critics claim otherwise. It reads as though Mitchell wrote a short novella in each of his favourite genres and then jammed them all in one book. There is a definite literary sensibility to the writing. DM is all about the interior life of his characters, and he manages the impressive task of writing nine stories in 1st person which can be read back to back without all the characters collapsing into a mellange of the authors own voice. But the lit technique is matched with the kind of ingenuity, pace and plotting more familiar in good genre fiction. I think what shines through Ghostwritten is that DM loves stories, loves books and fiction and loves writing. You really get the sense that he is playing in the book, introducing voices simply because he can, telling stories just for the joy of telling them. I think thats what makes the writing so compelling.

Stopped reading for a while to look out of the window at the Canada wilderness going past. The world is a big place, much of it is cold and forbidding. I’m glad to be headed to the Bay Area, and can already tase that burger.

A Hell of a Ride

I’m sitting in The Art Organisation in Leicester, drinking tea and writing my first real blog post for some time (rather than just linking to things I’m doing elsewhere). The rain is coming down (this is Britain after all) and the troupe of jugglers and hula hooppers who have been performing outside have just run indoors. Things have that rare feeling that sometimes emerges in times of disaster, when people pull together for the common good. Feels appropriate. Continue reading A Hell of a Ride

Dance of Joy

I was nicely surprised to get an email from the eds. at The Guardian this week telling me that my blog post on ‘Are we now Post Sci-Fi?‘ is being reprinted in the The Review, The Guardian’s media supplement this Saturday. Nicely excited in that I did the Dance of Joy, although not for three moons. Go and buy a copy on Saturday from any nearby newsagent (if you are in the UK). And I also mange to put in an appearance on this weeks Guardian book podcast, talking about Eoin Colfer and Hitchhiker’s.

Are we now Post Sci-Fi?

Sci-fi has made many predictions about the future, but did any of them forecast that in the early years of the 21st century everyone would be watching … sci-fi? Our TV screens are filled with Dr Who, Lost and now FlashForward. Each summer brings more blockbusters in the Lord of the Rings and Star Trek vein, and a flood of superhero franchises. In comics and video games, sci-fi is the norm. It’s not just part of mainstream culture, it is arguably the dominant cultural expression of the early 21st century.

Read more at The Guardian book blog.

World Fantasy, Shortfuse and the Hockley Hustle

I’m reading at the lovely Shortfuse event on 20th October. It’s their halloween special so I’m reprising my short story Cthul-You for the occaision.

And I’m taking part with a sci-fi themed panel discussion as part of the Hockley Hustle in Nottingham, alongside Mark Charan Newton.

And after that I will be at the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose. Really, I couldn’t be more excited if you filled me up with sherbet and shook me vigarously.

SOZD Progress Report

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in Support Our ‘Zines Day! I’ve been wonderfuly surprised by how many people have taken the time to get involved. Here are a selection of just a few of the good people who have shown their support:

M-Brane SF say 10/1 is SOZD

Electric Velocipede remind us how much positive feedback can help

Diva Diane calls me a mastermind (thanks!)

Kaleidotrope know that every bit of support helps

Charles Tan continues his stalwart support for the campaign

Juliet E Mckenna supports Murky Depths and Albedo One

Dark Wolf adds Nautilus and Beneath Ceaseless Skies to the meme

Scheherezade in Blue Jeans gets behind EV

Punk Tortoise likes SOZD

More suggestions from Charles Tan

Angry Robotess Aliette de Boddard remembers a few favourite stories

Cheryl Morgan supports SOZD and provides helpful words from Amanda Palmer

Over in the Twittersphere we’ve been listing a few of the ‘zines you might like to follow and support. Thanks to @kaolinfire @rsdevin @upwithgravity & @agamisu among others. #sozd for details.

There is no way to know how any of this translates to actual support for our ‘zines, but lets hope that at the least a few new subscriptions have been taken out. And it’s not over yet. Even as SOZD comes to a close here in the UK, many other time zones still have at least a few hours left.

Have a Joyous SOZD

After much excitement 1st October has arrived and the first annual Support Our ‘Zines Day is underway!

You can get more information on Support Our ‘Zines Day here:

So, what can you do to help support our ‘zines? Here are three simple suggestions for ways to support the ‘zines you love to read:

  1. List the ‘zines you have enjoyed this year, then subscribe / donate to as many as feel you can afford. You can be modest and keep your donations a secret, or you can show off and list your donations on your blog or elsewhere top help encourage others to show their support.
  2. Send a message to the editor(s) of the ‘zines you like thanking them for their work. Editors make ‘zines happen.
  3. Publicise your favourite ‘zines on your website, blog and elsewhere.

If you love reading good short fiction and you love good ‘zines, then take a few minutes out of your day and show your support.