Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Reminder: Heffers.

I nicked this from elsewhere:

Heffers 2nd Science Fiction & Fantasy Evening will be on Thursday 2nd November from 6.30pm. Tickets are £2.00 each, this is redeemable against a purchase made on the night. Under 15s go free, but still require an entry ticket.

For further information or to purchase tickets, please contact Heffers Bookshop, The Grafton Centre, Cambridge or telephone 01223 568573 or email sarah.whyley@heffers.co.uk.
We have a fantastic line-up again this year and the evening will be free from speeches and readings, just a chance to meet some fantastic authors, get books signed and mingle.

The line-up is as follows:

Mark Chadbourn, Chaz Brenchley, Stan Nicholls, James Barclay, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Neal Asher, Justina Robson, Jon George, Mike Carey, Steve Cockayne, Juliet E McKenna, Jessica Rydill, Amanda Hemingway, Paul Kearney, Mark Robson, Sam Enthoven, Ian Whates, Simon Satori Hendley, S F Said, Matthew Skelton, Eoin McNamee, Erin Hunter, Angie Sage, Philip Reeve and Peter F Hamilton.

Where's my liver?

Ah, there's hope for me yet: "British scientists have grown the world's first artificial liver from stem cells in a breakthrough that will one day provide entire organs for transplant. "

Now all I need them to do is start growing lung tissue...

Rather doss-about day today. Rather than write anything I just sat and read Terry Pratchett's 'Thud'.

Monday, October 30, 2006


So, council tax inspectors will be able to come round your house and take photographs inside and out and, if you refuse them entry, you’ll be subject to a £1000 fine. Prior to this we’ve had this idea that if you do any of the electrics in your house you must have them inspected. Councils are bugging people’s waste bins. If you live in a ‘desirable area’ you may soon have to pay more council tax for the privilege, even though all the service costs will be less (Where do the police spend most of their time? Either behind a desk or in sink estates). The coming revaluation of council tax is going to penalize those who don’t live in Labour controlled areas, like where I live in Essex.

I said, quite some time ago (because I could see where this bunch of control freaks was going) that my home will remain my castle and no fucking government toad gets inside.
Frankly, if a council inspector comes to my house demanding entry with his camera, he is going to require surgical intervention to remove it from that place where the sun don’t shine. Also, if I start getting hassle from my council about what I put in my bin bag the hassle will certainly cease because there won’t be a bin bag outside my house – I’ll be dumping it on council property.

But it’s all increasing totalitarianism. The latest pile of shit has come from Milliband with a whole raft of ‘green’ taxes. Everyone is going to be hit, hard, and what a huge difference it’ll make when Britain produces less than 2% of the world’s human carbon emissions (just a little note here: human-caused CO2 is a mere 3.5% of the total). It’s just fascist state control. In the end, as I have said before, you’ll need Government permission and a risk assessment for farting in public.

At the first opportunity I am going to leave this wank-hole of a country.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Snippets 1.

I’m now about 13,000 words into Line War and only one planet has been depopulated. I must be slacking. Readers might be glad to know that a certain brass guy has become a little miffed with certain recent events…

Well, the dieting regimen I mentioned last month http://theskinner.blogspot.com/2006/09/before-getting-into-this-writing-game.html certainly seems to have done the job. That is, the regimen whereby I eat bugger-all, smoke plenty and drink espresso. I can even tuck in my shirts, having now lost precisely one-and-a-half stone, have a 32 inch waist and am thinking that maybe I can ease up a little.

My camera replacement (after a series of unfortunate events involving a bottle of coke and a hangover) is a Nikon Coolpix L4, and seems to do the job I require of it. I considered getting myself a digital movie camera then forgot the idea. Do I want to experience a larger proportion of my life through a lens?

Barrel of stout brewing away in our kitchen here. Should be ready in about a week, whereupon I’ll move it out in the shed to keep it cool. Um, maybe I should keep to the diet…

After the recent demise of our VHS video recorder, we searched in the local supermarket for a cheap replacement. Nothing doing; old technology. I finally bowed to the inevitable and bought a DVD HDD recorder (Liteon). Excellent machine, and somewhat easier to use than the old VHS.

Short stories: one called Bioship has been taken by George Mann for his The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction.

Right, back to work.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hilldiggers Cover.

Here’s a first look at the probable cover of Hilldiggers. I like this. Someone has definitely read the book to produce it because this is the ‘massively secure space station’ mentioned in the blurb below. A station called Corisanthe Main.

During a war between two planets in the same solar system – each occupied by adapted humans – what is thought to be a cosmic superstring is discovered. After being cut, this object collapsed into four cylindrical pieces, each about the size of a tube train. Each is densely packed with either alien technology or some kind of life. They are placed in three Ozark cylinders of a massively secure space station. A female scientist, conducting research there, falls pregnant, gives birth to quads, then commits suicide.

By the end of the war one planet has been devastated by the hilldiggers – giant space dreadnoughts employing weapons capable of creating mountain ranges. The quads have grown up and are assuming positions of power in the post war society. One of them will eventually control the hilldiggers.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Blur Studios

My thanks to Roger Fourt for pointing out this particular site to me: http://www.blur.com/shorts/rockfish/index.html Here you can find a short animated film called Rockfish, created by Tim Miller at Blur studios. It’s excellent. I felt impelled to email the guy and say so, and to wonder how long it would be before all actors end up having to sign on at the dole office. He emailed back to thank me, but also to tell me he is a HUGE SF fan and has The Skinner and Prador Moon sitting on his shelf. He’s also told me that they’re developing Rockfish i.e. turning it into something bigger. Bloody good luck to Tim Miller and Blur studios I say!

Digging Words.

Well, I can definitely say that today at 4.35 I saved Hilldiggers with the certainty that it can now wing its way to Macmillan. It’s a great feeling. Now I must return my attention to Line War, which at present stands at a mere 7000 words (Hilldiggers is 141,000 – just a little smaller than Brass Man).

With the completion of this book my word count, for Macmillan, now stands at over a million. In one of those silly calculations, instigated by my dad, I’ve worked out something daft. He asked me what that total would add up to in distance. I duly worked out an average word count per line of text them measured a line. It turns out that (just in the books) I write at a rate of about a mile a year. Since the first word of Gridlinked I’ve covered about seven miles. My hope is to circumnavigate the Earth, but I rather suspect I won’t live that long.

Ah well.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Thanks Forbidden Planet!

Many thanks to Kevin and the rest at Forbidden Planet for having me there signing books, and for helping clean up my bag, camera case and so forth. I turned up there slightly hung-over and in need of a coke, and before entering the store, took a few gulps from a bottle before returning it to my bag. The cap wasn’t on properly. Result: bag full of coke, three discount copies of Prador Moon sold in the pub afterwards, numerous soaked bookmarks and one defunct digital camera. Suffice to say it wasn’t particularly profitable trip for me.

Nice to meet (in the bookshop and in The Angel) Peter Haydies and Saba, Mark Croucher, Neil Mullins, Scott Hume and Jools Enticknap – who gave up on getting me to sign his second name when he saw I couldn’t even get the first one right! Thanks for an excellent evening, and I hope you enjoyed yourselves. You’ve learnt now that the SF writer is just as capable of talking complete bollocks after a few pints as any other mortal. In fact, I think that’s par for the course.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Forbidden Planet Signing

Here's a reminder for those who might be interested or in the vicinity:

I'll be signing copies of Polity Agent this coming Saturday the 7th October between 1 – 2pm at Forbidden Planet, 179 Shaftesbury Ave London WC2H 8JR. This shop is at the Junction with Neal Street. Nearest Tubes: Tottenham Court Road, Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Holborn.

If you can't make it to the signing, don't forget to pre-order your signed copy from the store. I'll also probably be chilling in the pub around the corner afterwards too.

Have a good one.

Monday, October 02, 2006

On Crete

There’s not much to say about a holiday when you spent most of the time lying in the sun, or drinking Retsina or Metaxa, or eating. But I really have to say something about the eating.

On our first night at the Athina Apartments we wandered down to the seafront of Anissaras – where a few restaurants were located – walked past a couple that looked okay but with d├ęcor a bit motorway services – then came to a place that seemed rather nice. It was called The Windmill and was a ‘traditional Greek taverna’. Stretching up from the road along the seafront a grassed area, scattered with tables and a couple of water-pump windmills, led to the restaurant itself. We wandered up to take a table then scanned the menu.

The both of us being seafood addicts – specifically prawns and other shellfish – we ordered the ‘shrimps’ which came three ways: boiled, fried or grilled. I chose fried and Caroline chose boiled. The dishes were about 10 euros each, along with a litre of Retsina at 7 euros. When these ‘shrimps’ arrived we knew we’d found a place we would be returning to.

To your average Briton, a shrimp is something not much larger than a cigarette butt. We’d seen the pictures in the menu so knew this dish would be otherwise, but weren’t entirely sure what we’d get. Now to us prawns are the size of a finger. These were king prawns – check out the picture – and you just don’t get them like that in Britain. They were fresh firm and meaty and the fried version you didn’t even have to peel. I ate just about everything but the shell around the head. The shell was like a seafood version of crackling. I’d ordered them fried because I’d remembered eating something similar in Rhodes longer ago than I care to think about.

Other food in this family-run restaurant was of similar quality, but for us the ‘shrimps’ were best. I recollect a German couple on the table next to us eating the mixed grill and finishing their meal just before ours arrived (this was on another evening, since we devastated the Crete shrimp population in that restaurant). When the guy saw what we were getting his eyes nearly popped out of his head and he had to ask me about them.

We ate in this restaurant for just about every evening of our holiday. We drank Retsina in their garden after each exhausting day on the beach and watched the owner’s nutty goat trying to climb on sunbeds. Why try somewhere different when you’re getting food, and service, this good? The family running the place were friendly and very good at what they did – picture here of them with Caroline. I’d recommend The Windmill to anyone holidaying in this part of Crete.