I spent the morning introducing children’s writer Jacqueline Wilson to a school full of 7-11 yr olds. I’ve never seen that many kids so excited about meeting a writer before – and who says books aren’t cool!
Unfortunately I left my camera on a table in a cafe after the event. Doh! Hopefully I’ll be able to track it down and post some photos to the blog from the event.
It’s always a little odd meeting famous writers. They are never quite as you expect them to be. It’s especialy odd when you get to know somebody through their writing – you build up an image of how they look and behave based on the chracters they write. The odd thing is that even when there are nothing alike there is always something of a person reflected in their writing.
An idea I seem to have stumbled into three times in as many weeks…the ‘breakout’ artist.
Every type of art gets them from time to time. Folk music got Dylan. Kids books just got JK Rowling. Sports get them as well, basketball got Michael Jordan. Something about an individuals work gets them noticed far and above even their most succesful peers.
It seems like a long time since SF had one of these, if it ever did. Philip K Dick? William Gibson? I’m not sure any SF writer has really broken through into the popular imagination in that way. Well, theres always L Ron Hubbard. Throwing the net a bit wider to the whole of SF, Fantasy and Horror – Tolkien is a good example. As is Steven King. Neil Gaiman seems really close to that point, maybe after the new film is relased.
I’m wondering who might be the Next Big Thing? Its an impossible question to answer but maybe the folks over at the Asimovs board will have some suggestions. The two names that spring to mind for me are Charles Stross in the SF world and Joe Hill in horror – wouldn’t be the first son to inherit talent from his father. (I’ve been working my way through 20th Century Ghosts over the last few months, genuinely fantastic writing. I’m looking forward to the novel.) But something tells me that the fact I know who they are at this point means it probably won’t be them. They both have the talent but the ‘breakout’ status is more a thing of luck than skill. Perhaps theres somebody out there somewhere right now penning the next big SF/F/H novel.
As usual the folks over at the Asimov’s magazine forum have sparked up another interesting conversation.
Is blogging egocentric? Given that most blogs are never read or read by only a small handful of people, you could argue that a blog is no more egocentric than a secret diary. In many ways I find blogging the opposite of egocentric. How so? When I put my thoughts down in a public forum I’m being open, whereas when I leave them spinning around in my head I’m being closed. The latter state is a much more egocentric one, because it is based in the belief that if others knew what I was thinking they would all suddenly be effected by ot, either positively or negatively. Posting to a blog in full knowledge that even if people read it they probably won’t care is therefore the polar opposite of egocentric!
I wish I could say I left Yahoo! as part of a principled stand against their activities in China, or as a protest against their horrendously corporate identity. Perhaps these things crossed my mind, but the truth is I left because Yahoo! stopped working.
There is no doubt that Yahoo! represents the worst of the mainstream internet. If you want to be forced fed advertising for every type of cultural lowest common denominator from teeny pop videos to mobile phone ring tones then Yahoo! is the place for you. I can’t imagine anybody over the age of 16 being anything but bored stupid by the utter shit that Yahoo! is pedalling. But this has been the case for years and I lived with it.
I loged onto Yahoo! everyday for the best part of a decade because they had the chore of hosting my webmail. For a long time it fulfilled that purpose admirably. And then one day I noticed that not only was I waiting way too long for the new video ads to load, but once they did they were so huge that my e-mail messages were being displayed at about three words per line. And then the final straw came when Yahoo! overhauled their whole e-mail system and the whole thing became completely unusable.
So I’ve moved over to Google. Maybe they are evil as well, but at least the site loads cleanly, the facilities are 5 star and I can read my e-mail properley.
But Yahoo! weren’t finished with me. Oh no! Not by half. It seems that when Yahoo! figured out I had defected they implemented their revenge by deleting my website on Yahoo! geocities. No warning, no message allowing to even capture the files. I go to log on and the whole thing has just been purged from their system.
So I knew Yahoo! were evil, and now I know they are also vindictive. Fortunately I have back ups for all the website files, but I can say without a doubt that if I can possibly manage it I will never type http://www.yahoo.com into my address bar again.
Found a new love. Brought her home with me. Had her stolen by some dirty handed scutter…nnoooooo!
So I’d had the new montain bike for twelve days when it went awol. I’m starting to feel better now that the replacement has arived. But I’m still struggling to deal with the idea that my ride is in the hands of a thieving toe-rag, or even worse got sold on for crack. Theres many things you can do in this world but you don’t touch a mans MTB.
I’ve been cruising bike racks and E-Bay. I keep thinking I can see it…just over the next crest in the road. give me back my bike!
My beautiful MTB
Just found out I’ve had a story accepted for Electric Velocipede. Its a very cool magazine which has previously published many really good writers including Hal Duncan, Paul DiFillipo and Jay Lake. They have bought the short story ‘Momentum’ and will be publishing it sometime in 2007.
Under the benevolent leadership of the Emperor the Imperium has stretched across the galaxy in a golden age…
Whoa there – Golden age? Benevolent leadership? Isn’t this Warhammer 40K, the most brutal SF franchise known to man and home of the universes toughest homosexual icons, the Space Marines?
The new series from the Black Library has rolled back the clock on the Games Workshop universe ten millennium to the most famed event in the 40K mythos – the Horus Heresy. Penned by Dan Abnett, the godfather of Games Workshop novelisations, Horus Rising promises to bring a new level of sophistication to a franchise occasionally accused of being as flat as the table top games it is based on.
Warmaster Horus, favoured son of the Emperor, is left in charge of conquering the universe when the old man decides he has had enough of the whole war thing. Horus slowly develops a bitter hatred for daddy which, exacerbated by some ill advised Chaos abuse, drives him to rebellion. This is the first part of the story arc, told through the eyes of Captain Loken, but leaves the reader in no doubt that this rebellion is for more than a hike in Horus pocket money.
Abnett understands his audience, killing daddy is a common fantasy amongst Games Workshops adolescent male fanbase. Horus Rising hits all the expected marks, with some of Abnett’s grimmest and most visceral battle scenes ever that should satisfy fan’s appetite for carnage. But despite Abnett’s efforts at characterisation he struggles to inject depth into a cast of resolutely two dimensional characters. Horus Rising is an exciting romp, perhaps the next volume will fulfil the trilogy’s early promise.
A political alignment test has incited some debate at the Asimov’s web forum under ‘Being a villain to the left and right’:
And the test itself at:
Its quite simplistic but at least raised the issue that not all liberals are communists, which seems to be a common miscoception among American conservatives.
Seems I just can’t give up crusading.
I’ve been working up a few ideas as an essay entitled ‘The Psycho-Geography of the Mystic City’ over the last couple of days. Hopefuly I’ll post it up on the blog at some point when it is finished. I think it might be the basis of of a serial fiction.
I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a serial fiction for a while now. I like the idea of telling a story in an episodic way. There have been a great spate of TV shows with fantastic ensemble writing this year and episodic structures really play to that. It also seems like a good opportunity for promoting a story, given the potential of rss and podcasting thats opening up. Mostly though it plays well against the urban magic ideas I’ve been working on and the group of characters that strem of thought is coming up with. It seems like the most well rounded of the different ideas I’m chipping away at at the moment.
I’ve also just run into some info on the Dogtown Features, which were a set of photo-journalistic articles written in the 70’s about the Zephyr skate team. Skating is very similar to the metaphor I’m trying to build around magick – finding meaning in urban watseleands etc etc. The articles captured a really cool format for capturing that kind of urban ennui. I might try using elements of their journalitoc style to shape some of the telling of the mystic city tales when I next sit down to work on them.
You know how it is. Or at least you do if you spend some small part of your time on web forums as I do. You find repeating themes in the posts you are reading, and in your answers to them. Ideas begin sparking in the tiny mind you (and I) have access to and then sometime later that idea reaches some kind fruition. So what do you do? Well, if your anything like me you splurge it out in a couple of posts with tenuous connection to the actual thread of the ongoing conversation and hope for the best. Excatly as I have done here –
So is SF really a genre at all? The thought that it isn’t has been entertaining me recently. Sure…there are some genres in SF – space opera, dying earth, high fantasy, cyberpunk. These have recognisable character archetypes, tropes, plot structures etc, all the toys a writer can play with within a genre. But SF is much bigger than these genres alone. SF, I would argue is more of a mode of writing than a genre.
A mode tells you something about the writer / reader relationship that a story is developing. The SF mode is all about taking the reader into their own imagination (by way of yours) and giving them an experience beyond reality. I’m sure every writer and reader has their own way of phrasing that sentiment, but I feel that the sense of taking the reader beyond the realms of their own experience is what glues all the otherwise diverse types of SF together into a whole.
Light – M John Harrison
Spaceships, magicians, anorexics, London, deep space, virtual worlds, gritty realities. If Harrison were a chef he’d have just invented the first dish known to man to contain every majour ingredient. And within this riotous cocktail are the strange shapes of the quantumn world as it intersects with the mysteries of the human soul. And foam, lots and lots of fuzzy white foam….
Buy Light by M John Harrison on Amazon
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