How Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey rewrote science fiction

“Stanley wanted to create a myth. And I think he succeeded. He wanted to make the proverbial “good science fiction movie”, implying there hadn’t been any good ones before then. I didn’t agree.”                             Arthur C Clarke 2001 : A Space Odyssey is widely considered the greatest science fiction story ever told. It’s creator, auteur movieContinue reading “How Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey rewrote science fiction”

How does M John Harrison enter a story?

M John Harrison is one of the all time greats, a “science fiction writer’s science fiction writer”, a creator of weird tales in the horror tradition, and a powerful weaver of fantasy. The Viriconium stories defined political fantasy in the 80’s, as the Light trilogy redefined literary SF in the 00s. As editor of NewContinue reading “How does M John Harrison enter a story?”

Frankenstein : how a teenage goth invented science fiction

Brian Aldiss did a great service for science fiction when he identified Frankenstein as the first SF novel. You can debate the reasons, but science fiction did a pretty solid job of writing women out of its history. Verne and Wells, Asimov and Heinlein were made the written history. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s name was rarelyContinue reading “Frankenstein : how a teenage goth invented science fiction”

All stories are fractal. Here’s why.

The best storytelling has a unique quality. Wherever your enter the story from, if you switch on the tv and start watching 20 minutes in, or catch a single scene in isolation, or (heresy!) skip to the end and read the final pages, the story engages your interest. Even if you don’t understand the wholeContinue reading “All stories are fractal. Here’s why.”

Tolkien’s myths are a political fantasy

In a world built on myth, we can’t ignore the reactionary politics at the heart of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. What is the Rhetoric of Story? It’s a double-edged magical sword, being a fan of JRR Tolkien. On one hand we’ve had the joy of watching Lord of the Rings go from cult success to, arguably,Continue reading “Tolkien’s myths are a political fantasy”

Are we already living in the technological singularity?

news has been turning into science fiction for a while now. TVs that watch the watcher, growing tiny kidneys, 3D printing, the car of tomorrow, Amazon’s fleet of delivery drones – so many news stories now “sound like science fiction” that the term returns 1,290,000 search results on Google. The pace of technological innovation isContinue reading “Are we already living in the technological singularity?”

The Tao Te Ching: ancient wisdom for modern times

Two thousand four hundred years after it was composed, we need the Tao Te Ching‘s lessons in self-awareness more than ever. Little can be said with absolute certainty about the origins of the Tao Te Ching. Consensus suggests it was written around 400BC by one Laozi. Laozi translates simply as “old master” – a hint thatContinue reading “The Tao Te Ching: ancient wisdom for modern times”

On being bossed around by Neil Gaiman

I’ve been outlandishly busy in recent weeks. So much so that I haven’t been able to post anything personal here on my blog. One of the costs of having more freelance writing than you can do is that it squeezes out the personal projects that you love. So here’s a round-up on some of whatContinue reading “On being bossed around by Neil Gaiman”

Is the death of the bookshop a sign of progress?

High street bookshops maye soon be a distant memory. Should we take this as a sign of progress, or the regression of society to a pre-literate state? Today the last big bookshop in Leicester, the city where I reside, closed its doors. The out of town Borders went three years ago. Waterstones on Market StreetContinue reading “Is the death of the bookshop a sign of progress?”

Writing and the attention economy

As a writer you are asking for the most valuable commodity your readers have. Time. Each of us gets a finite portion. No sum of money can buy us any more. And the demands on it are ever greater. The novel evolved at a period in history when the constituency of its readers had muchContinue reading “Writing and the attention economy”