Monday, January 11, 2010

Who Reads My Books? Matthew Reece Ford

A while ago I chatted to a guy called Matthew Reece Ford via either Face Book, this blog, or somewhere else. He is fan of my books and noting I live near Chelmsford wondered if I’d be on for a beer the next time he came down to visit his brother. I pointed out that though Chelmsford is in my postal address I don’t actually live there, but in a village some 13 miles away. Turns out that village is precisely where his brother lives. I couldn’t see him last year, when this conversation took place, but since he was down here this Christmas I said why not, and met him in the local for a pint. “So what do you do?” I asked. “I’m a scientist,” he replied.

It’s this meeting, and others like it (many in the virtual world) that’s led me to a little idea for a few posts here. I’m fascinated to know who reads my books, and in this case quite tickled when it turns out that whilst I dream about the future there are those who read my books who are actually making it.

I have been an avid reader for over 3 decades. Favourite newer authors: David Gunn, Tony Ballantyne, Neal Asher, Alastair Reynolds, Peter F Hamilton, Greg Egan, Robert Reed, Richard Morgan, Charles Stross, Robert A Metzger, Chris Moriarty. Favourite classic authors: Clarke, Asimov, Brin, Baxter, Stapleton, Silverburg, Wyndham

BSc Biochemistry (with sandwich year, worked at Celltech in Slough for a full year) at Canterbury 1990-1994. PhD Biochemistry at Canterbury and Leicester (1994-1998).
Employed 1999 to present at Cobra BioManufacturing, as a senior scientist.

At Cobra I have worked on viruses (adenovirus, lentivirus, reovirius), proteins (for treatment of a variety of disorders, such as anti-transplant rejection proteins and monoclonal antibodies) and plasmid DNA (for vaccines) at large scale. All inside our clean rooms for phase I and II clinical trials.

Now, to continue this, I’d like to hear from other readers. I’d like you to tell me about yourselves for posts like this one. Don’t be intimidated by the qualifications of the guy above, and remember that until 2001 I was still cutting grass and hedges and strimming dogshit!

And here's Matt's book collection:




DeathBoy said...

I work as a game programmer, previously on console and PC, later on mobile phones and recently having moved into iPhone development.

I have a degree in computer science. At uni, I had a strong AI leaning, so I took subsidiary modules in psychology, though the majority of game AI takes little from human intelligence and is more about solving hard problems quickly / sufficiently and giving the facade of a human opponent.

As part of my job, and part of my hobby, I write music on a semi-pro level... somewhere between industrial and trip-hop, these days ( !). Last year, my band pulled a bit of a coup and supported Tricky, which was mind-blowing, but mostly it's a labour of love ;)

Am looking forward to some interesting projects in the coming years that blend the things I love - there appears to be an emergent market for generative music gadgets that art part game, part AI and part instrument. Fun!

Am currently inhaling Polity novels between hideously long days finishing an iPhone game. :)

Neal Asher said...

Thanks for that Deathboy. Yes, I want to see this sort of stuff - what you do, what you read etc, along with the odd photo. Send it to ndotasheratvirgindotnet. Cheers!

Matt said...

We had a great talk, thanks Neal

Mark T Croucher said...

I'm a plumber, solving the future needs of keeping people warm whilst the the fuel my machines require runs out.

Sounds like a book.....

Neal Asher said...

My pleasure Matthew - still need a house number for those books.

I know Mark, I read stuff on that blog of yours about your - interesting - career! Maybe send me some of that, with a picture, with some stuff about your reading...

GraemeGRFinch said...

II hardware engineer on site, RFS Qualified but no longer practising Arborist (Tree Surgeon), one time lifegaurd (swimming pool variety), Grounds and terminal maintenance person at London City Airport when it first opened, cutting grass on the runway, painting shit so dignitaries could get their fix of emulsion smell, one time mechanical and electrical maintenance estimator.

Have scuba dived extensively, still do a fair bit of walking swimming and cycling, read as much historical fiction as I do science fiction, have trawled through some Dickins, will read Moby Dick this year, have tackled both the Illiad and Odessy both original translations and novelised versions.

Have a broad understanding of Particle physics, Cosmology, Theory of relativity and many other subjects which my peers think makes me a tosser for having even the slightest interest in.

Can be found on Facebook... unlike Mr Asher. :-)

Sparks said...

I mostly do network programming on unix these days for a pre-startup company, though I spent a few years before now working on website stuff for various companies (PHP programming, database stuff and lots of sysadmin work). Before that it was a PhD (which remains unfinished) on applying nonlinear mathematics to localisation and mapping in robotics. Before that I was working on a PhD on teleautonomous control of bomb disposal robots, but a german group (their equivalent of the US NEST group) beat me to publication and then proceeded to publish all over me :D I also lecture in embedded systems.

For hobbies, I do a lot of Olympic target shooting, I cook, and I fool about writing code and at the moment I'm mulling over whether or not to build another micromouse robot after watching this one solve a maze in under five seconds in last year's all-japan championships.

Neal Asher said...

Excellent stuff Graeme and Sparks, but please email these along with a photograph and plenty about your reading habits and science fiction (not necessarily me) - this is after all an SF writer's blog.

Uh? I am on Facebook.

GraemeGRFinch said...

So you are. I don't want to be your mate though, is there just a fan page. It always irks me when strangers just rock up and want to be Friends.

This is the real deal though, your very own entry on Wikipedia... that's proper cool.

Boiledfrog said...

I'm probably the typcast reader of your fiction as an IT professional (all the back end gubbins of infrastructure that makes things go).

I trained as an engineer and even went as far as to do a postgrad production engineering degree before being seduced by the lure of 1s and 0s in the binary world.

So this now makes me just north of 40 (ugh) happily hitched with a great wean (yep, Scottish, living in Glasgow).

I have a very itinerant lifestyle so having access to media is important to me - books are a key part of this as I've not yet succumbed to an e-reader yet (display tech isn't mature yet imo). As are movies...

...but this is about reading. I'm pretty avid at collecting modern UK *big* SF (including you!), thoroughly enjoying Banks, Baxter, Grimwood, Hamilton, McAuley, McDonald, Macleod, Morgan, Reynolds (have I missed anyone, if so, sorry), with some US majors sprinkled in (Gibson, Robinson, Stephenson and my favourite, Gene Wolfe).

I don't know where Neil Gaiman fits in here (UK? US?) but I was distinctly happy to discover just the other day that I had original copies of his first published fiction in a collection of old games magazines.

My reading is not confined to SF by any means and I recently enjoyed the 'completely wrapped up tighter than a gnat's err... nostril' conclusion to the Stieg Larsson 'Millennium' series (thanks sis in law).

If you haven't already checked out the excellent Shelfari, have a look at my stuff -

...and FB is at the same moniker...

I also subscribe to New Scientist, 2000ad (and the Megazine!), Private Eye, Edge and Interzone (including Mr Langford's email updates).

I'll figure out how to send you some pics of my shelves and you can add the appropriate bit to your FB page.

BTW, am in the midst of Orbus right now and thoroughly enjoying it!

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

goddam, these bookshelves. theyre always out to humiliate me with their clean little nookage.

Neal Asher said...

Graeme, just sign up on the Facebook page you see. I make no distinction between friends and fans on the Internet. Actually I've probably got more in common with fans than friends. Damn that's sad.

Tidy bookshelves, Vaude, tidy mind.

Deathboy, Graeme & Boiled Frog, send me a picture of yourselves so I can turn your entries here into posts on the blog itself.

Fogger said...

I work as a troubleshooter (database support, essentially) at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

No degree, although I studied astronomy and physics in college.

In addition to science fiction, I read a lot of comic books and collect original comic art. I've met some very cool people in the course of that hobby.

I read a lot of science fiction: Peter F. Hamilton, Karl Schroeder, John Scalzi, Vernor Vinge, Iain Banks, Alastair Reynolds, Orson Scott Card, David Weber, Catherine Asaro, along with many others. Always looking for more, though - I seem to have focused on UK writers of late. Catching up on my Asher reading thanks to the Book Depository info given to us a while back.

My commute to work is an hour and a half each way, an hour of which is on the DC Metro, so I have a lot of time to read each day.

Jacques Hughes said...

Let's see, I didn't think that I read science fiction much until a friend pointed me to a site containing all of the Penguin SF covers. Then realised that I'd read most of them, from Wells & Verne onwards.

Got back to sci-fi recently with Reynolds, then Stross, yourself and Ken McLeod. I think I prefer sci-fi and hard-boiled policers because the plotting/characterisation is better (usually)

Me, I worked in mills and stuff as a youngster, got into painting, did that for a while, moved from Manchester to Cardiff to work, went to Uni (BSc Biomedical Science) then off to London to work as a book-keeper for the last few years.

Spend most of my spare time learning violin, playing/recording guitar, painting portraits of pretty people I know and reading. LOTS of reading. 3-5 books a week. Less if it's Hamilton or Reynolds :)

I got a Sony PRS 505 when they came out here, never looked back. I only own a single book.