Monday, January 31, 2011

Energy Catalyser.

More on that reactor I posted about previously. Apparently it's not 'cold fusion'. Full interview is here.

[The following interview of Andrea Rossi by blogger Daniele Passerini was originally published on Jan. 25 and is reprinted courtesy of Ventidue Passi D'amore e Dintorni. The English translation is provided courtesy of Shirakawa Akira. Passerini also prefaced the interview with his own comments (not translated here) in a short introduction titled "Toward Infinite Energy and Beyond." Rossi and Passerini have confirmed to New Energy Times that this English translation is factually and linguistically correct.]


PASSERINI. Good day Engineer Rossi, I thank you for accepting this interview. Everybody is asking themselves how you managed to perfect your Energy Catalyzer? Somebody even suspects that you stole the idea, for example, from Professor [Francesco] Piantelli from the University of Siena, who in the 1990s worked together with Professor [Sergio] Focardi on "cold fusion" research. Could you explain us where, why, how and when you started working on this project?

ROSSI. I started in 1987. As the facts show, my process strongly differs from previous efforts: Nobody has managed to manufacture a working device so far. Facts count, not words.

PASSERINI. 1987 would mean two years before the strongly disputed Pons-Fleischmann experiment. Recently, you stated that it's not proper to define the reaction occurring in your catalyzer as "cold fusion" and that it's more correct, at the moment, to generically define it as a weak [force] nuclear reaction – in other words, low energy, or LENR. Are you telling us that you went on a different road, parallel to that of "cold fusion" research?

ROSSI. Exactly. In fact, mine is not "cold fusion" but weak [force] nuclear reactions. Pons and Fleischmann did heavy-water electrolysis with a palladium cathode and a platinum anode. I don't do electrolysis, I don't use either platinum or palladium and I use temperatures that manage to melt nickel.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


So, the BBC is starting a major new drama series.

Set in space with the future of earth looking increasingly precarious, the race is on in Outcasts to find an alternative home in the universe.

Apparently, to get to this alternative home the outcasts travel through some kind of tranporter, but,

Outcasts is a tense and fast-paced series about co-operation and conflict, idealism and power, sexual competition and love. Most of all it is about our life's big imperatives – cheating death, seeking suitable mates and surviving as a species.

And it is definitely not science fiction. According to the designer, James North, who previously spent 5 years designing sets for Dr Who, '...the BBC doesn't want to give the impression it's putting out a sci-fi show on prime-time BBC1. This is a futuristic drama with the focus on pioneering humans who, out of necessity, just happen to be living on a planet that is not Earth.'

Let me give my deeply considered opinion on the above statement: what a wanker.

New Fuel

I noted this on the Internet a little while ago and now the snail-media newspapers have caught up with it. You can find articles here at Popsci and gizmag:


UK-based Cella Energy has developed a synthetic fuel that could lead to US$1.50 per gallon gasoline. Apart from promising a future transportation fuel with a stable price regardless of oil prices, the fuel is hydrogen based and produces no carbon emissions when burned. The technology is based on complex hydrides, and has been developed over a four year top secret program at the prestigious Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford. Early indications are that the fuel can be used in existing internal combustion engined vehicles without engine modification.

Cella Energy have developed a method using a low-cost process called coaxial electrospinning or electrospraying that can trap a complex chemical hydride inside a nano-porous polymer that speeds up the kinetics of hydrogen desorption, reduces the temperature at which the desorption occurs and filters out many if not all of the damaging chemicals. It also protects the hydrides from oxygen and water, making it possible to handle it in air.

In the papers I've seen the price as 90 pence a gallon and 19 pence a litre. This all sound incredible, wonderful and just the sort of thing we need. And I have huge reservations. We're told in the articles that present day car engines will not need to be modified, but go to the Cella website and we get, 'it is possible to convert a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) to run on hydrogen with minimal engine modifications' which is not quite the same really. Fuel tanks and exhaust systems are not mentioned. I'm presuming that the micro-beads themselves are not burnt, that the hydrogen evaporates from them, so fuel tanks will have to be emptied as well as filled. Think of the infrastructure involved.
But for fuel of that price, surely we could set this in motion? Yeah, right, it's going to be that price. Ho ho. Lest we forget, if we bought petrol at the pump without government taxes it would cost 47 pence a litre. If you go here you'll see that not only do we pay 59 pence duty, the government then taxes us on the tax we pay on fuel, that is, VAT is charged on the actual fuel price + delivery charge + duty. Does anyone reading this think for one moment that our government would give up on such a lucrative way of screwing the population? Do you think for one moment it would give up on 20 billion in tax? If some cheap new fuel came in the government would just look upon it as a way of increasing its tax take. This basically defines the attitude of all governments to tax.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Is SF Getting More Conservative?

Interesting article here at Pyjama's Media, and a very interesting mass of comments ensuing. This is mostly American-centric so definitions of conservative, left, liberal etc are slightly different from the British version. I'd also submit that the question in the title is one that wouldn't even be asked here. 'One swallow does not a summer make' would be the relevant proverb.

I am a complete science fiction geek.

It started when I was little more than a toddler. One of my earliest memories: sitting in the basement with my parents as they watched Walter Cronkite narrate one of the Apollo missions as it rounded the moon. (Which one? I couldn’t have been more than three or four, and I was born in 1971. You do the math.) It left an impression. I’ve been a fan ever since.

In the last few years, I’ve noticed more and more that science fiction has taken a bit of a turn to the right. I’ve also seen more than a few reviews lambasting those authors for their views — which seems to matter not a whit to their sales.

So I emailed four of them — two relative newcomers and two legends — and asked why.

The legends, Dr. Jerry Pournelle and Orson Scott Card, need no introduction. But it bears mention that Ender’s Game, Card’s best-known work, is on the Commandant of the Marine Corps recommended reading list as a treatise on what it means to be a leader. The newcomers, Lt. Col Tom Kratman (Ret.) and Larry Correia, both write for Baen.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Audible Mailshot.

A mail shot from Audible here with my name at the top of the list. Tasty.

The Blade Itself -- Joe Abercrombie

When, on the first page of The Blade Itself, a major character went ‘Eeek!’ as he avoided a spear thrust, I nearly put it aside. My feeling was one of, ‘Oh FFS, not another fantasy with a central silly character who bumbles through the plot tripping over his magic sword squealing and running away then managing to destroy the [insert relevant baddy] through pure luck.’ But the writing was engaging and I carried on. This particular character developed into one who really wouldn’t go ‘Eeek!’ so I wish an editor had had the presence of mind to strike a line through it. The other subsequently introduced protagonists were also well-developed in this character-driven fantasy, which reminds me of some enjoyable stuff I’ve read in the past. If you want comparisons I’d say about 70% Eddings and 30% Gemmel – a sword-swinging romp. The book did seem to terminate rather abruptly, but then it is the first book of a trilogy, which I think is well worth a look for fantasy fans. I just apply my usual rules whilst reading: Am I bored? No. Am I enjoying myself? Yes. Will I buy the next two books? Yes.

Before They Are Hanged

The Last Argument of Kings

Update (From The Man Himself):

Hey Neal,


The irony is, that eek isn’t in the published book, only in the proof. My editor did indeed strike her line prior to publication...

But many thanks for the review. Be interested to hear what you think of the rest of the trilogy if you do get round to it. I reckon it gets better and better.

But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?


Joe Abercrombie

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Wire

Oh dear, what a disappointment. We’ve watched about four episodes of The Wire so far and, since seasons 2, 3, 4 & 5 of The Shield are on their way to us, I doubt we’ll be watching any more. The first episode was a chaotic mess but we stuck with it in the hope of improvement and did begin to get a handle on what was going on, but that chaos was but a minor problem amidst many larger ones.

Let’s start with the language of this, which is a big downside for the English viewer. Not only is American English sometimes difficult (how often have I given up on the mumblings of Brad Pitt) but the gang and police slang in this is nigh incomprehensible. It took me three episodes to realize they were saying ‘terraces’ and not ‘terrorists’, and generally I understood about half of what was said.

The next problem is that if I’d wanted to watch a show that was 80% office politics I wouldn’t have bought a cop show. Frankly it is fucking boring. The paper shuffling and dick waving contests of bureaucrats is not something I find entertaining. It’s depressing.

Then there are the characters. Okay, if there was just one person here who I was pulling for, that might have made a difference. However, they are all wounded, damaged screw-ups, all detestable twats, and if someone were to napalm the lot of them I’d shrug and actually consider watching the next episode. I’m guessing this is all supposed to be realistic depiction of life on the street, man, right-on with the social ‘issues’ etc. If I want realism I watch a documentary.

In The Shield I had identified and had some empathy for every major character within the first episode, which was an entertaining story in itself. Four episodes of The Wire have left me annoyed at having taken any notice of the hype, wishing I could get my money back, and considering whether to bother handing it in to a charity shop or binning it. Life is too short for shit, really.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The End.

Ah, there’s nothing quite like writing the two words above. They mean I’ve finished the first draft of the latest book, in this case, Zero Point. However, by no means has the work ended, only word-counts have ended. While writing a book I aim for 2000 words a day five days a week (a target I often miss), and I record the number of words to drive myself. That’s no longer necessary.

Zero Point is at 152,000 words and will probably grow as I have yet to write my characteristic chapter starts. It will be, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, about the size of The Skinner. Hereafter I’ll probably be deleting as many words as I write as I apply a number of rules. If I’m waffling I delete it, if it’s not relevant to the plot, or to character or world building, I delete it. Time lines and timings have to work. Polemic, while fun, should be either discarded, or consigned to one of those chapter starts where the reader has the liberty to either read and enjoy it or ignore it. Mostly it will be discarded. The English will need tidying up. Lots.

It may be the case that during this process I’ll chop out some large chunks because they add nothing or need completely rewriting. These I’ll consign to the file with the title Jupiter War, where I may use bits of them. Time for a celebration now? No, because I’m still in temperance January. I’ll save up this thirst for next month.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Homeopathic DNA

Okay, enough already! Who drugged me into a coma for three months last January? And why did they think it funny to wake me up on April 1st? This is silly ... or is it?

A Nobel Prize winning biologist has ignited controversy after publishing details of an experiment in which a fragment of DNA appeared to 'teleport' or imprint itself between test tubes.

According to a team headed by Luc Montagnier, previously known for his work on HIV and AIDS, two test tubes, one of which contained a tiny piece of bacterial DNA, the other pure water, were surrounded by a weak electromagnetic field of 7Hz.

Eighteen hours later, after DNA amplification using a polymerase chain reaction, as if by magic the DNA was detectable in the test tube containing pure water.

Oddly, the original DNA sample had to be diluted many times over for the experiment to work, which might explain why the phenomenon has not been detected before, assuming that this is what has happened.

Cold Fusion?

I really don't know what to make of this. Is it a load of bullshit or is it true? If it is true it is a major game-changer. It's the kind of thing that could utterly transform the world. Go and read the article over on WUWT and the ensuing comments.

Cold fusion isn’t usual fare for WUWT, at best it’s not a focus here, at worst it’s sorry science, and we talk about that enough already. However, it never has died, and this week there’s news about it going commercial. Well, it won’t be available for a couple years or so, but the excitement comes from a device that takes 400 watts of electrical power in and produces 12,000 watts of heat out.

Most people regard cold fusion as a black eye on science. It’s credited with the advent of science by press release and its extraordinary claims were hard to reproduce. Yet, unlike the polywater fiasco of the 1970s, cold fusion has never been explained away and several experiments have been successfully reproduced. Neutrons, tritium, and other products kept some researchers working long after others had given up. Even muons (from Svensmark’s Chilling Stars) have been suggested as a catalyst. Everyone agrees that theoretical help would provide a lot of guidance, but for something that flies in the face of accepted theory, little help has come from that.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bubble Metal

I've been using bubble metals in my books ever since Gridlinked, and since I read an article concerning foamed metals. The basic idea was predicated on what could be produced in zero gravity manufacturing. If you foam a metal with an inert gas on Earth the bubbles will rise to the top so the distribution will be uneven. Do it in zero gravity and you have much more control over the process. Here's a new take on the idea:

A new material is tested to cut the weight of ships by 30 percent. For an average sized freight vessel with a capacity of 7000 m³ this corresponds to a weight reduction of more than 1000 tons. Researchers from Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology in Chemnitz, Germany, have experimented with an aluminum powder that foams when heated up (Jan '11)

The new material is lighter than water and has a high stiffness. Within seconds a cube made from aluminum starts to inflate into the shape of a sponge under the impact of heat. The secret of this reaction lies in the compounds of the new material. The metal is a mixture of aluminum and titanium hydride powder, which acts as a blowing agent just like yeast makes dough rise.

The aim of the researchers from the EU research project CREATING was to find a processing method to build large aluminum foam sandwich plates. These compounds could eventually replace steel plates of a vessel. To form such sandwich compounds, the powder is initially pressed into bars. The bars are then placed between two steel sheets and heated in an oven. At a temperature of more than 650° Celsius the new material expands and bonds with the steel sheets without the help of any adhesives.

Consider the implications for aero industries too. I wonder about the possibilities of foaming a metal with helium...

BBC Biased.

Gosh, I'm so surprised about this article from Peter Sissons. There was me thinking the BBC was the home of unbiased reporting and excellence...

Peter Sissons tell us:
By far the most popular and widely read newspapers at the BBC are The Guardian and The Independent. ­Producers refer to them routinely for the line to take on ­running stories, and for inspiration on which items to cover. In the later stages of my career, I lost count of the number of times I asked a producer for a brief on a story, only to be handed a copy of The Guardian and told ‘it’s all in there’.

If you want to read one of the few copies of the Daily Mail that find their way into the BBC newsroom, they are difficult to track down, and you would be advised not to make too much of a show of reading them. Wrap them in brown paper or a copy of The Guardian, would be my advice.
Whatever the United Nations is associated with is good — it is heresy to question any of its activities. The EU is also a good thing, but not quite as good as the UN. Soaking the rich is good, despite well-founded economic arguments that the more you tax, the less you get. And Government spending is a good thing, although most BBC ­people prefer to call it investment, in line with New Labour’s terminology.
All green and environmental groups are very good things. Al Gore is a saint. George Bush was a bad thing, and thick into the bargain. Obama was not just the Democratic Party’s candidate for the White House, he was the BBC’s. Blair was good, Brown bad, but the BBC has now lost interest in both.
But whatever your talent, sex or ethnicity, there’s one sure-fire way at a BBC promotions board to ensure you don’t get the job, indeed to bring your career to a grinding halt. And that’s if, when asked which post-war politician you most admire, you reply: ‘Margaret Thatcher’.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Brass Man Review -- Walker of Worlds

Mark Chitty is now catching up with the row of my books stacked on his shelf. You can find his review of Brass Man here.

Brass Man continues my reading (and catch-up) of Neal Asher's Ian Cormac series. I'm a big fan of Neal's work and my one reading resolution for this year was to get up-to-date on his releases. I'm in the fortunate position of having the whole series sitting on my shelf ready for back-to-back reads so I can fully appreciate the overall story he's telling, and after reading the both the second in the series, The Line of Polity, and now Brass Man I'm still gobsmacked that I haven't read them sooner. Brass Man is the third book in the series and picks up the characters following the conclusion of the previous book, with all the headaches that entails for Cormac and company!

...'after reading both the second' I think was meant to be 'after reading the two books that I class as the second part of the series'

Now, noting one reaction to the links I included for The Technician, here's the Amazon link for Brass Man, and here's the Book Depository one (free shipping to the US).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Audio Books

As Jonathan pointed out to me in the previous post, the Spatterjay books are now available on Audible. Click the link below to go through to them and play a sample read by William Gaminara.

The Technician.

Sixteen days before the paperback version goes on sale, but I'm told (on Twitter) that some copies are already being dispatched. You can get the paperback here on Amazon, or the hardback if you still want that.
The paperback is here on the Book Depository, and the hardback is here. The Book Depository is the best place to go if you live in the USA, since shipping is free.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


You know I got this really odd feeling whilst I watched the film Lemony Snicket (which came out in 2004) upon viewing the scene with the leeches. My initial reaction was, did the film-makers read The Skinner, which was published in 2002? I mean, the boat, the sea, water you just can’t swim in, carnivorous leeches? Well, no, because the book in A Series of Unfortunate Events that has the leeches in it, called The Wide Window, was published in 2000. The congruence of some ideas amidst writers can sometimes be quite astounding, and I think it all comes about because though people might be writing something they think of as new, they are all always standing on the shoulders of giants (especially in SFF), who are the source of their inspiration.

Recently, whilst sitting down to watch the fourth season of Primeval, I realized I’d missed Season Three so bought a box set of One, Two & Three. I didn’t know what Season Three was about but, catching a hint of the storyline (not sure where) I looked up a review of it and got a feeling similar to that I experienced while watching the leech scene in Lemony Snicket:

…you can really see where most of the budget of the series went as Conner, Danny and Abby jump from anomaly to anomaly following Helen through a series of times, encountering creatures and dinosaurs in each time period they visit…

Eventually tracking Helen down, the team confronts her and finds out that her plan is a lot more insane than first thought. Having figured out what the artefact is and what it does (it's a sort of future hard drive for anomalies), it's then revealed that it can be used to go back to a specific point in time, namely 333 (a specific code used by archaeologists when describing the first ‘dig' where hominids - or proto-humans - were found). The team find that it's Helen's intent to go back to the site in Rift Valley and poison the first settlement of hominids, which would mean that humans would not evolve and as such never exist.

Did the writers of Primeval read Cowl? If they were into time-travel it would have been an good choice since there aren’t many modern time-travel books out there and it was shortlisted for the PKD Award.

But no, I think not. It’s that congruence again showing us that there’s nothing new under the sun. The idea in Primeval was just putting a spin on and ramping up of the idea implicit in the time-travel paradox of, ‘What happen if I go back in time and shoot my grandfather?’ which is what I did in Cowl. Though I must admit the future monster on this car could (at a big stretch) be Cowl himself!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Departure Cover (small)

Another image of the cover for linking elsewhere.

The Departure Cover.

Here is the cover of The Departure along with a couple of blurbs:

Like Wellsian war machines the shepherds stride into riots to grab up the ringleaders and drag them off to Inspectorate HQ for adjustment, unless they are in shredding mode, in which case their captives visit community digesters, or rather whatever of them has not been washed down the street drains.

Pain inducers are used for adjustment, and soon the Committee will have the power to edit human minds, but not yet, twelve billion human beings 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…

Alan Saul has taken a different route to disposal, waking as he does inside a crate on the conveyor into the Calais incinerator. How he got there he does not know, but he does remember the pain and the face of his interrogator. Janus speaks to Saul through the hardware implanted in his skull, sketching the nightmare world for him. And Saul decides to bring it all crashing down…

There are no more wars, just police actions, though sometimes the truncheon used weighs in at about a kilotonne and the undertakers have to wear hazmat suits. Nobody goes hungry, so there certainly aren’t any food riots – just ‘dissident actions’ which end abruptly when the Inspectorate reduces the crowd to a writhing screaming mess using pain inducers.

And didn’t Chairman Alessandro Messina himself say that we are more free than ever before; community political officers conducted a survey only last year to prove this point. The Press has greater freedom too, now being government run and unburdened by financial concerns. People don’t disappear, see, they always come back from Inspectorate cells, ready to sing the praises of the Committee.

But Alan Saul knows that twelve billion are due to die, that the Committee has decided the Safe Departure clinics, the ‘sectoring’ of zero asset communities, the reader guns, razor birds and nightmarish shepherds will not be enough. The Argus satellite laser network is their answer, and he intends to take it away from them.

New Releases.

I've just received a paperback version of The Technician which comes out on February 4th (my birthday).
The Departure will be published in September of this year and Macmillan will also be publishing the rejacketed backlist of The Gabble & Other Stories, Hilldiggers and Line War.

Who Reads My Books: Andy Plumbly

Andy Plumbly / Fader 209

Hey, my name is Andy and I’m a geek. I’m 26 and living in Norwich where I have been since forever. Reading sci-fi books, watching sci-fi movies and playing games takes up most of my free time when I’m not doing arty bits and pieces or writing.

Which leads me to when I first contacted Neal years back with a picture I did of some Frogwhelks after being inspired greatly by The Skinner. The lines were wobbly and it was a cartoon design but Neal kindly put it up on his blog and Myspace page which made me super happy.

Art and design was more of a hobby back then but over the years (after gradually gaining more skills & confidence) I realised I wanted to go into art and design as a job.

So here I am, trying to start up as an artist/graphic designer! It’s tough finding work (as it is in general for all unemployed at the moment) but I’m building up a portfolio in this spare time and doing work for free if friends need something done.

As mentioned at the beginning of this I would consider myself to be a geek. Been gaming since I was 3 when I first played Pac-Man on the Atari 2600. Chewing on the controller was also fun.

I have recently bought Pac-Man Championship Edition DX on the 360.…so yeah, full circle.

Chewing on the controller still sometimes happens.

Pics of my face, bookshelf and arty stuff included for your visual digestion!


Sunday, January 16, 2011


Thanks to Huan Tan for sending me this link.

Intelligent robot technology is one of the next generation new technologies which will lead the 21st century's industrial and military science technologies with the development of artificial intelligence (AI). For example, a monitoring and sentry system can be a sophisticated system employing a variety of technologies such as ultra-low brightness camera technology, image recognition technology, image processing and storing technology, voice recognition technology, servo technology, image tracking technology, and system control technology.

In The Departure they are called reader-guns.

The Tubbs I Missed.

I read 28 (I think) books of the Dumarest saga but gave up because I thought it unlikely he would ever find Earth. Todd informs me the saga does end and has now given me the evidence. I must start searching dealers in second-hand books for these:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Who Reads My Books: Todd Sanders.

Hi Neal,

I thought I'd take a few minutes to send over my library photos and a brief bio for your blog. It's hard to stand back far enough in my library to take full photos of each wall so excuse the slightly pieced together shots. My modest library has a little over 3000 books in it at this time. It is a mix of about half science fiction/fantasy with the other half comprising French literature and poetry (original and in translation), other fiction/literature and poetry from around the world, a library of books on ancient board games and a large collection of research books on surrealism. I also have a large collection of first edition French works of literature in translation and maintain several sites about French writing.

westwall.jpg - my collection of french first editions and other rare books in barrister shelves.

eastwall.jpg - most of my science fiction collection including a complete edition of ace 'doubles' science fiction paperbacks from the 50's to 80's [all the ones with the blue and white striped covers]. William Burroughs first book 'Junkie' was actually a detective ace double. Your books are sandwiched there between Poul Anderson and Issac Asimov.

southwall.jpg - most of the fiction/literature/poetry in my collection as well as my surrealism reference books and books on ancient board games.

asher1.jpg and asher2.jpg show the ubiquitous asher titles in paperback and hardcover

The brief bio:

I live in pittsburgh, here in the US, where I wear many work hats. Originally I trained as an architect, but I am now a graphic designer, book publisher, artist and furniture designer. I have a small press - - which publishes my translations of surrealist poetry along with other one of a kind artist books I create. My furniture can be found over at

I've recently started designing board and card games, often with steampunk themes, influenced by Neal's writing as well as Karl Schroeder, Steph Swainston, Alastair Reynolds and Benjamin Rosenbaum.

I have been reading and collecting books of all sorts all my life. My love for science fiction started at age 10 when I read 'Star Boy' by Andre Norton. I tend to prefer hardcovers and would never buy an e-reader unless really really forced to. I have an excellent bookdealer here in the city who finds me many of the gems I now own.

I've begun in the last few years creating artist books using the short stories of such authors as mary Robinette Kowal, Ben Rosenbaum, Ted Chiang and others, creating the book as an artifact of the world of the stories, and I am currently looking for a good Neal Asher one to use.

And yes, I've read every book in my library.

Thanks as always for the books you write.

Todd Sanders

Friday, January 14, 2011

Romanian Covers

Just received copies of the Romanian version of Polity Agent published by Nemira.

Future Reading

I've already read the Campbell, but I have the other three here...

Sea of Ghosts -- Alan Campbell

The sea bottles are bubbling away under the sea, each seemingly a gateway into another world, steadily raising the sea levels with brine whose touch will turn your skin to shark skin. The artefacts of a recently fallen alchemic and magical dictatorship lie under the poisonous waters for anyone brave enough, or insane enough to retrieve them. Steamships and sorcerous weapons abound, along with other fascinating devices in a steam/punk/fantasy world. Dragons are addicted to what can only be described as post human food. A madman conjectures about quantum physics and sorcery sources…

Sea of Ghosts is wonderful meaty stuff from Mr Campbell again – he’s a true original. When I read Scar Night I felt the same: fascinated by the ideas, by fantasy that’s stepped well away from the norm, and by the nuts and bolts of his world. I’m not highly interested in labels, but if you want to read something that definitely isn’t a Tolkien clone or even a close relative, something that engages you from page one and never lets go, this is for you.

Over on his blog last September Alan tells us:

Today I noticed that "Sea of Ghosts" is available for pre-order on the interweb. This is the first in a new fantasy series, which I've had the luxury of planning in advance. I have actually finished writing it, but it's not available until April next year, so you'd have to be utterly mad to order it now. The story begins with a man compelled to imprison his own family, and then head off on a high-seas adventure, dipping a toe into dragon territory, with a quick nod to Nikola Tesla. The wonderful cover art is by Larry Rostant.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Queensland Floods.

Because, apparently, Australia would be subject to increasing global warming drought, damming projects in Queensland were shelved and desalination plants built instead (now mothballed). This is a matter of record and a source of anger for many residents there. Also, it's not a great idea to build on flood plains. However, the usual suspects are claiming this one for ‘catastrophic climate change’ and, as is usual, their grasp of history is about as firm as chocolate pliers.

17th January: Highest flood on record, occurred at Brisbane and Ipswich.

10th January: Heavy floods at Ipswich.

17th December: Flood at Ipswich.

11th April: Heavy floods at Brisbane and Ipswich.

19th and 20th May: Great floods at Ipswich and Brisbane; river at Ipswich rose 45 feet, and at Brisbane 12 feet.

The above is just a small sample. If you go and check here at 'Queensland Flood History' you’ll discover enough to boggle the mind. This has fuck all to do with ‘catastrophic climate change’.

The Technician -- Review

Nice review of The Technician here. Interesting in that it is from someone who is fairly new to my books:

As a relative newcomer to the Polity universe, with this only being my second Asher book, I wasn't sure how well I'd be able to follow the story. I was in for a pleasant surprise. Although the story does take a while to get started and I struggled a little with the technology of it, I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Audio Books

They're not up yet. I'm told:

I’m sorry to say that although we planned that your series would be live tomorrow it appears there was some glitch in the upload on the US side. We have tagged this as ‘urgent’ for them, and they have promised to try and get it live by Friday. As soon as we release it we will promote it in all our social media channels. Also, if you’d like, we can provide a trackable link to the product page for the series for your blog.

In further news, look who's narrated the three books: William Gaminara.

Before joining the cast of Silent Witness, William's last major role was as Will in the dot com drama Attachments.

His other TV credits include The Law, People Like Us, Hope and Glory, and Dangerfield.

William played Dr. Richard Locke in the BBC Radio 4 drama The Archers. He previously starred as Casualty's Dr Andrew Bower between 1989 and 1992, a character that returned in 2000 with Philip Bretherton in the role. William's also played a doctor in The Bill.

As well as acting, William is an accomplished writer. His work includes episodes of This Life and The Lakes, and he recently adapted Ella and the Mothers for TV from Rachel Morris' novel.

Another Book Collection

Here are Phil Middleton's books:

As part of my book collection is now organised, (the hardback/paperback part) I thought you might like a photo. I’m shocked to see how few I have now they are all in one place but we decided awhile ago it’s not possible to keep everything forever so the local PDSA gets regular boxes from us.

Orbus etc.

Here's a nice commentary:

Neal Asher is another of those British writers of far future high tech space opera, like Iain M Banks, Ken Macleod, Alistair Reynolds, & Charles Stross (about whom I hope to write later). He’s constructed a particularly interesting & nasty future history of a distant & much changed humanity & what it meets in the far reaches of the universe. In his various novels, the star spanning Human Polity, run by massively intelligent AIs, has met an enemy species, the Prador, who apparently look a bit like huge & armoured crabs or lobsters. Asher has written a number of novels about the Polity Agent, Cormac, a few about other aspects of the Polity, & 3 about the effects of the planet Spatterjay & a peculiar genetic virus found there (which affects both humans & Prador). Although the Polity & the Third Kingdom of the Prador have ended a long war between them, there are still lots of border battles & lots of spying, etc, all of which come into play in Orbus.

And I can't remember if I linked to Alex Cull's review of Orbus. I particularly like the last comment:

As you have probably realised by now, I had a lot of fun reading this novel; and yes, I’m rather a fan of Neal Asher’s books, generally. Orbus isn’t The Catcher in the Rye, or Anna Karenina, but then it never sets out to be. There are indeed days when I prefer to read something like Anna Karenina. And there are other days, mostly after having done my level best to help prop up this country’s ailing economy for another twenty-four hours, when what I really, really want to read about – and nothing else will do – is aliens trying to murder one another with absurdly powerful military hardware.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

You can probably guess the impression the book of this made upon me when you consider the name of Ambel’s ship in The Skinner. I called it the Treader, because that seemed like a good name for a somewhat weird ship undergoing a weird journey and, remember, Ambel’s ship even had a talking animal aboard…

However, if we are to judge by the way the last two books have been portrayed in film, I was missing the somewhat unsubtle message and the indoctrination bounced off my thick skin. When I read the books as a youngster I enjoyed the magic, swords, talking animals and not for one second did I think that I had ‘nothing without belief’ or that I had to ‘have faith’, nor did I notice that in our reality Aslan went under a different name. Even then I was realizing that suspension of disbelief was what I wanted, between the covers of a book.

The film was visually gorgeous and I would have enjoyed it immensely but for those two comments above dropped in like a roast pig in a mosque. From the first of them it lost me and I was sitting there with a bit of a sneer on my face, which became more pronounced at the end with all that Aslan’s kingdom nonsense.

Where the books so unsubtle? I don’t remember, maybe because as a youngster, having been brought up in an agnostic then firmly atheist household, I was making no connections at all. If they were then I find it surprising that my mother, a school teacher, used to read them to the kids at her school. One would suppose that they were, since in his other works C. S. Lewis was loudly banging his tambourine and arguing for belief, for faith. Or is it the case that those making these films too firmly bought into the idea of the Narnia books as a Christian allegory?

Where the books this loaded with doctrinal cudgels? Or were the products of this member of the Inklings not quite so consciously didactic? I don’t remember being quite so annoyed by the first film, The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. Different directors, producers?

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Shield

With our relocation to Crete for a large portion of the year we decided that paying for Sky all year just for the five months during which we would watch it was a waste of money. Better, we felt, to spend the money on DVDs which could be watched at both locations. In fact, comparing DVD prices to a TV subscription is something many should consider if they feel they need to make savings, especially when taking into consideration how many programs you can get hold of with freeview or freesat now. £20+ a month can buy a lot of DVDs...

So, I've been reading reviews, checking the sites that sell DVDs -- generally seeing what might be available and worth watching. I've heard a lot about The Wire and The Shield so I bought the first seasons of those at £12.89 and £8.49 respectively. I'm presently enjoying Primeval but didn't get to see the last series, so bought all the first three seasons for £15.93.

We've just started watching The Shield, in fact watched the first three episodes in one evening, and it is very enjoyable. This is great because there are 8 seasons for us to see. We'll be giving The Wire a go next. Suggestions on anything else worthwhile are all welcome! 

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Lensmen Movies

The old E. E. 'Doc' Smith books are no longer in my collection any more, having fallen foul of one of my general clear-outs, but I do recollect enjoying them when I was a teenager (Lensman and Skylark series). I think I dumped them because I was allowing myself to be influenced by the opinions of others at the time. They were also old, as in 'astrogator calculates course with a slide rule' old. It'll be interestng to see what kind of a movie these will make, since this was BIG space opera:

The internet movie database has the Lensmen movie listed as sometime in 2011.

Writer J. Michael Straczynski said in 2009 he's finished his second draft for Lensmen, and producer Ron Howard and Universal are happy with it. He said it'll be very character-based, typical of Howard's work, and yet the special effects will be cutting edge. And it'll keep the massive scale of the original novels, as much as possible.

The Babylon 5 writer and Ron Howard? Seems promising...

Another Book Collection.

Here are Rob James' books:

Friday, January 07, 2011

A Few More Bookmarks

Here's some more from K J Mulder, the competition winner, and one from Xanares that didn't quite make it in time.

Raki-Making on Crete

I've uploaded this one just to see if, by any chance, it runs better having been processed by You Tube. This is the 'kazani' right next door to our house - raki being stilled. Hell of a lot of wind noise and the last time I looked at it the picture and the sound kept breaking up.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

You Gotta Laugh

Seems Ken Macleod is a lover of irony, and there's plenty here:

If the Greenland ice sheet slides into the ocean ...

... as the mystics and statistics say it will, I predict I'll still be laughing at this picture, until I've paid my final power bill.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Audio Books

Many of you have been asking about the possibility of my books being turned into audio books. Now, I heard that this was going to happen and that negotiations were in progress. Recently getting another query from one of you I inquired about the progress of this and have been told that this is how things stand right now:

The Spatterjay books, The Skinner, The Voyage of the Sable Keech and Orbus are being turned into audio books at Production was completed around 1st December but there was a glitch with the audio file for The Voyage of the Sable Keech. That has now been sorted and the books are being processed for uploading to the Audible site. Processing takes approximately five days, so the titles should be live for download by Wednesday next week, 12 Jan.


Line of Polity and The Technician Reviews

Nice review here of The Line of Polity from Mark Chitty over at The Walker of Worlds.

The Line of Polity is the second novel in Neal Asher's Cormac series, following on from events in Gridlinked. I read Gridlinked quite a while back and enjoyed it and I've also read plenty of other works by Asher that I've thoroughly enjoyed. I picked up the complete series some time ago but, for some reason that eludes me at present, never got around to reading the sequels. Well, despite the long gap between reading the first and second I jumped straight in wondering what exactly I'd be getting here - and boy did it not disappoint!


Also another nice review here over at Temple Library Reviews of The Technician:
The Technician is about an intriguing alien mystery explored through the life of a few colorful characters. It is also a return to old familiar premises on the planet Masada for us old Asher fans.

Visiting Masada again for me was a bit like coming home and I got to enjoy some of the characters from previous books (You can read my review of them, links are below. The Line of the Polity is the one with most Masada in it).

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Who Reads My Books: Spencer Van Schevensteen

My name's Spencer, I'm 24 and live in Harold Hill, Essex. Grew up around Upminster and Romford, left school at 16 to work for Ford Motor Company. Did an apprenticeship, stayed there for 6 years doing fibreglass modelmaking, toolmaking, some CAD and CNC but nothing too complicated or involved!! After leaving there and drifting from job to job, I finally settled in Harold Hill with my girlfriend, and became a househusband... ish. She earns ten times more than I ever will, and with our baby girl nearly here it seemed only sensible that I take care of the ankle bitter!

I've been reading for as long as I can remember. Started out on things like Goosebumps, Terry Pratchett, and the Hobbit. As I got older I discovered Science Fiction, among many other genres, and its basically taken off from there. I enjoy listening to music, anything from the thrashy, insane time signature metal, all the way down to jazz, country, some classical, all sorts. Just as long as its not a manufactured band or artist. Nothing is worse than emotionless, mass produced pop drivel! I watch a lot of films, television and stand-up comedy. Favourites include Deadwood, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, The Proposition, anything the Coen brothers have done, Bill Bailey and Doug Stanhope. I also waste a lot of time playing Xbox, far too much time if truth be told!

I enjoy walks, with and without the dogs, bike riding, a bit of skateboarding, and golf. I don't drink, but occasionally indulge in other intoxicants. Moderation in all things.

Hope that's not too long, I attached a few photos of myself and a part of our book collection. A lot of my comedy and WW II books are upstairs in boxes, as the 2nd floor is being re-done and there's not enough space to get them all down yet. Antony Beevor's Stalingrad is definitely one of the top ones not shown, as well as Stirling's Men, a book about the birth of the SAS.

Anyway, enough of my rubbish!

Hope anyone reading this had a good break over Christmas and the New Year,

All the best,

Spencer & Rebecca.

Here's Spencer's book collection: