Friday, December 19, 2014

The Complete Owner Trilogy

This one is for American readers only I think. A 'holiday' gift perhaps?

The Complete Owner Trilogy by Neal Asher, including The Departure, Zero Point, and Jupiter War. 

The Departure: Visible in the night sky the Argus Station, its twin smelting plants like glowing eyes, looks down on nightmare Earth. From Argus the Committee keep an oppressive control: citizens are watched by cams systems and political officers, it's a world inhabited by shepherds, reader guns, razor birds and the brutal Inspectorate with its white tiled cells and pain inducers. Soon the Committee will have the power to edit human minds, but not yet, twelve billion human being need to die before Earth can be stabilized, but by turning large portions of Earth into concentration camps this is achievable, especially when the Argus satellite laser network comes fully online . . . This is the world Alan Saul wakes to in his crate on the conveyor to the Calais incinerator. How he got there he does not know, but he does remember the pain and the face of his interrogator. Informed by Janus, through the hardware implanted in his skull, about the world as it is now Saul is determined to destroy it, just as soon as he has found out who he was, and killed his interrogator . . .

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Visit to Glasgow

I took a little trip to Glasgow last weekend or, as my phrase book would have it ‘Glesca’. I thought to myself that well, I’ve got the low fuel consumption diesel Hyundai, so I’ll drive. The car chugged along nicely, but bloody hell, I really ought to take more rest breaks next time! I am also now awaiting the arrival of speeding tickets because it seemed there was no point around the M25 and little way up where the beady eyes of speed cams weren’t observing me. Arriving in Glasgow I stopped in a Premier Inn. Pretty good room, comfortable and spacious, but not exactly cheap.


It was cold and wet up there, but let’s not make this a Scottish weather thing because it wasn’t exactly beaming sun and T-shirt weather in Essex. From the Inn I got a pretty good view of some recognizable structures.



One nearby building was the Science Centre (no picture). The friend I went to see thought this would be ideal for me to visit and quite right too because I like all that stuff, but the place was a laughable disappointment. We got inside and it was like what is this shit? Well, it was all interactive toys for children. And it cost £21 for two people to find that out. We got out of there pretty sharpish and next headed to Glasgow city centre. It was  of course crowded with Christmas shoppers…  


I got a slight nostalgia jolt seeing Glasgow Central Station since that was where I went many years ago to an Eastercon SF convention – held in one of the big hotels. I remembered the authors trooping after their editor like lost ducklings, remembered drinking too much, a painfully stilted authorial lunch and the overpowering urge to stub a cigarette out on the head of some pretentious berk, and escaping into the city for a look around.


One highlight of last weekend’s trip was going to a Angus and Julia Stone gig. I’d never heard of them before a few weeks back, but now they’re growing on me. This is good because even though I’m not heavily into music I do like to listen on occasion. Unfortunately, all the music I have liked over the years has its Caroline connection, and it just makes me miserable to listen to it.




The next highlight was a breakfast at The Rio Cafe, which I couldn’t finish. Included in this (buried under the rest) was my first try of Stornoway black pudding (I’m looking at you Shona McTavish), which was delicious, and I ate the lot of that.



The final highlight was a visit to the Kelvingrove Museum. Free entry and a sight more interesting than that Science Centre.






I particularly liked these heads – appealed to my inner weirdo.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dark Intelligence - Starred Review

This is nice, but I've redacted a bit out of the review since it's a little bit of a spoiler..

"Hi Neal,
Media coverage for Dark Intelligence is off to a good start! Your book received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, the preeminent trade magazine here in the states.

Congrats!
Cory"

Neal Asher. Skyhorse/Night Shade, $26.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-59780-824-8



Asher (the Owner trilogy) delivers an exciting beginning to a new trilogy set in his Polity universe. During a war between humans and the crablike alien Prador, Thorvald Spear was killed by Penny Royal, a warped AI. More than a hundred years later, he’s revived to discover that the war is long over but Penny Royal is still around. Isobel Satomi made a deal with Penny Royal so she could become powerful in an interplanetary crime syndicate, but it granted her wish by starting her slow transformation into a carnivorous centipede. Both Spear and Satomi desire vengeance, which is complicated by several questions: not just where Penny Royal is and how to destroy it, but how much they are playing pre-ordained parts in its incomprehensible plan. This beautifully paced book does just as well at slam-bang action scenes as at painting frightening pictures of Isobel’s changes, and provides an interesting climax while leaving plenty of space for the next two books. This is space opera at a high peak of craftsmanship. (Feb.)

Friday, December 05, 2014

A Wander about Hastings

I took a few days off to visit a friend in Hastings. This visit involved chatting, supping some red wine and walking for miles in the rain. I took a few snaps around the area to give my new camera a try out. Not bad considering the crappy light.




Not quite sure why this one isn't right. Maybe water on the lens.


I suspect these pillars are cast iron. Mega-scale Victoriana.




It was all very dull and wet and cold and the red wine breaks a requirement. All slightly boring for some readers of this blog, but not all readers of it are British.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kindle Promotion

Ass hat that I am I completely forgot about this. These books are in a Kindle promotion until Friday, so you can get 'em cheap:






This covers both the US and the UK. Here I just spotted that Brass Man is available for 99 pence while I've been told that in the US the price is $1.55

Update
No, I'm wrong. Apparently I can buy it from Amazon.com for $1.55 but US citizens have to pay the full price. The deal obviously only applies to the UK. 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Neal Asher Video Clip



I think this was the last 'fan question' video clip I did back in 2013. Well, a lot has changed since then, including me, so maybe it's time for me to have another crack at one of these clips? Anyway, to that end stick your questions in the comments section below. When I've got enough I'll do a video clip ... maybe.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Kazani 2014 in Papagiannades

At the end of my stay in Crete this year, as on numerous occasions before, it was raki time. This is signalled two or three weeks beforehand by knackered old trucks loaded down with big brown barrels or monolithically stacked up crates of grapes. They make the raki at the end of October and start of November. Unlike what a lot of people seem to think, it is not made out of grape waste – out of what’s left over after the grapes have been pressed for wine – but whole grapes.


Fermentation is a few weeks. As every wine maker knows that’s when the yeast works hardest and produces the most alcohol. All this stuff with demijohns is just about a little extra alcohol and flavour. The yeast in this case is simply the bloom on the grapes. When you wipe a dull soft fruit and it then becomes shiny what you are wiping off is natural yeast. After this fermentation is complete it is Kazani time. The still is brought out and set up, the fire lit, and the fermented mess poured into the cauldron. 

In fact ‘kazani’ is the Greek word for cauldron, but it is also used to name the place where stilling is done and the lengthy boozy barbecues that ensue.



This year Cretans have had trouble getting all the paperwork sorted to start their kazanis as the Greek government, ever greedy for revenue, is moving in on them. Enjoy this video clip of one cycle of the process because it might be something you won’t see in years to come.



As the raki is made and transferred to barrels, hot coals are scooped from the fire for a barbecue. Large quantities of barbecued pork are consumed, along with rabbit, fish, mushrooms, sausage and potatoes baked in the hot coals and so tasty they only need a sprinkle of sea salt. Also consumed is toasted garlic break with oregano on it, raw cabbage with lemon juice and salt, pomegranates, sweetcorn and, here, at the kazani just a staggering distance from my front gate... 


...plenty of my homemade chilli sauce which many of the Greeks attending here have come to enjoy.