Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Other Gun - Asimov's

It seems the April/May issue of Asimov's is out (which caught me by surprise since it seems a little early). The Other Gun, a story I put together from a plot thread removed from Penny Royal II is the cover story:

You can buy a subscription to Asimov's for your Kindle or order the paper version. Now, if you're interested, here's a taster of The Other Gun.

Sniper in Brighton

Just before Christmas we went down to Brighton to visit my erstwhile boss (and editor still) Peter Lavery. We did a lot of walking there – so much in fact that my legs were stiff for a couple of days afterwards – and saw some sights.

Digression: I reckon people who live in towns and cities get more in the way of healthy exercise than those who live in the country, and by that I mean walking. You would think that in the country you’d have more opportunity to go for long rambles, but that’s not generally the case. In my village we walk for five minutes before the paths run out. If we want to walk further we have to risk white van driver on the roads or clump through wet clay and waist-high weeds. If we want a longer and in any way pleasant walk it’s necessary to drive somewhere that’s possible. If we go to London, Brighton or Chester we can enjoy walking for miles.

Now, where was I, oh yeah, here’s one of those sights:

It seems Sniper’s old body shell has turned up with a dodgy paint job on Brighton beach. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Engineer ReConditioned Audio Book

A while back I agreed to The Engineer ReConditioned being turned into an audio book.

Well nobody informed me (I'm looking at you people over at Wildside Press) but while looking at the link here to my books on Audible I've discovered that it is out as an audio book

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Samizdata Review of The Departure

Here's a review of The Departure from Rob Fisher over on Samizdata. Nice to read a review from someone who actually gets it!

Note on Samizdata from WikipediaIn 2005, the Guardian claimed that it was 'by some measures the nation's most successful independent blog', with over 15,000 unique visitors a day, and 'arguably the grandfather of British political blogs'. In 2008, The Observer labelled it as one of the fifty most powerful blogs in the world.

The novel I chose was The Departure, the first of the Owner trilogy. If anything it had too much action for my taste. If Alastair Reynolds writes film noir, Neal Asher writes Bruce Willis and explosions. The science is sensible enough: there are no exotic physics and the technologies discussed are robots, giant space stations and brain-computer interfaces. The politics is very interesting. Asher seems to have perceived a slippery slope and extrapolated in the extreme. Something like the EU has, thanks to a complacent populace, taken over the whole planet. This is the Committee and it has long since stopped pretending to be democratic and gone outwardly Orwellian. Cigarettes are illegal; armed robots are used to control rioting crowds; selfish, individualistic dissidents are taken away for readjustment by pain inducer; and clever scientists are allowed to do research useful to the state but are considered a risk and kept under scrutiny or even lock and key. The protagonist is one such scientist who sets out to get revenge.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Update and a Steam Punk Robot

Penny Royal III is now past 60,000 words and progressing nicely. I’ve felt the need to do a Chandler-esque ‘walking in a man with a gun’ … well, sort of. I also decided to ramp up the weirdness and bring in some out-field elements. The man with the gun was the Brockle from my short story The Rhine’s World Incident and those other elements are a colony of piratical extremadapts and an Atheter starship. Not quite sure what I’m going to do with that starship, but I’ll think of something. I’m having fun here but perpetually having to go back and alter things. I guess a decent analogy of how things are running is the whole trilogy as a rope and I'm busily trying to weave together the frayed end.

Meanwhile I’m happy to see that my story The Other Gun is the cover story for Asimov’s April/May issue. I guess this means a cover picture for the story and it’ll be the second time that’s happened. Here’s was the first for Alien Archaeology in which Penny Royal and the Atheter mechanism first put in an appearance:

Today I also received a package from one Blaise Gauba who is a model maker. Here's his website for those of you who might be interested.

This sculpture is cast in solid white bronze and the original wax sculpture he made (obviously to make the mould around) took him a year an a half to make in his spare time.

Personal Webportfolio Page:

This is the kind of thing you get for being someone's favourite writer. Mr Crane? Well, not quite. This looks like a steam punk version of the Borg.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mindgames: Fool's Mate

Okay, I've gone and done it. You can find my very first published novella (about 45,000 words) for your Kindle now.

Jason Carroll, an ex SAS soldier and contract killer is convinced he will die in action. It is thus embarrassing when he is run over by a bus. It is even more embarrassing when he, and atheist, realises there is an afterlife…

Resurrected on a huge flat plain, he is forced to play a deadly game. Moved as a pawn to the whim of the Gods in a fight to the death with warriors from all ages of earth’s history. Killed again and again only to be resurrected.

The General, the Grim Reaper and Anubis are some of the strange beings who direct this grisly entertainment. Is it real or only in his decaying mind. Who is the Clown? It there anywhere to escape to?

To retain his sanity, he must believe there is an end; an escape; a purpose. A thought-provoking story leading to an action filled climax that challenges our accepted beliefs…

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cellweld TM

Being back in the Polity now, while reading lots of science articles on the internet, I’m finding that the Polity needs updating in detail. All here have doubtless read stuff about 3D printing of inert matter and even of cells, and this morning my first science article of the day was this over at Singularity Hub:

3D printing technology is hot and getting hotter. Whereas once 3D printers were limited to a few select materials, these days inputs include metal, plastic, glass, wood, and—human cells? Bet you didn’t see that coming. (Actually, if you’re a regular here, you probably did.) Bioprinting firm, Organovo, isn’t anywhere near 3D printing a hand or heart. But a recently announced partnership with 3D modeling software giant Autodesk (maker of AutoCAD) might speed things up a bit.

We first encountered Organovo in 2009. The firm introduced the NovoGen bioprinter in 2010—the first of its kind—and has since built ten more. At a cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and as yet only rudimentary capability, bioprinting technology is firmly in the developmental stages.

So, of course 3D printing was invented long before the Quiet War. It’s so common in the time of the Polity that it is hardly worth mentioning that it is precisely the 3D printing above that is used by cell-welders and bone-welders or, rather, I neglected to mention it in the previous books… And, of course, many maintenance robots use 3D printing to repair damaged ships but foolishly, being a 21st century viewer of these activities, I took what they were doing to be welding or some other similar activity, so am now working to correct that:

Here a tic-shaped printer-bot was slowly and meticulously blocking off the tunnel, the numerous jointed printing heads sprouting from its foreparts steadily depositing layers of some white crystalline substance round and round its interior. Trent was reminded of a paper wasp building its nest, and as he eyed those busy printing heads he wondered if they were capable of doing any damage. Perhaps it would be better just hit the thing now… He raised his particle cannon, at which point the robot abruptly retreated out of sight.
‘I’ll go first,’ he said.

Nothing dates quite so fast as science fiction…

Monday, February 11, 2013

Courageous - Jack Campbell

This is the third book in the 'Lost Fleet' series and again like the other two was  an enjoyable read. These books are like some other series I've read in that you wouldn't want to read them one after the other. Then again, I know that some feel that way about my books. Anyway, these books are enjoyable, but they're too similar. I also get the feeling with this that I got from E C Tubb's Dumarest saga. For those of you that don't know it, this was an SF series that went on for 30+ books and concerned Earl Dumarest's search for Earth, which I gave up on just before he actually found it. It's a recurring theme - consider Battlestar Galactica. Recommended for those, like me, who need their SF hit. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Best Served Cold - Joe Abercrombie

This is the fourth Joe Abercrombie book I've read and I'll certainly be reading more. Some excellent characters in here (I particularly like the number-obsessed 'Friendly') and it's what is best described as a thumping good read. If you're a little sensitive to gore and violence then perhaps this is best avoided. But then, if you're like that, it's hardly likely you'd be reading this blog. 

Friday, February 08, 2013

Crabs and Serpents

While I was drifting off to sleep the other night the title of a story popped into my head: The Sky Trees of Holdar. Now this isn’t a new title but one I made up many years ago. All I had for the story was a mental image of floating trees – spherical growths like mistletoe – between which people were cycling about on floating bicycles, one of the people looking very Victorian and wearing a stovepipe hat. This was a story that, so to speak, never got off the ground and I believe a piece of it resides in the depths of my ‘BitsSF’ file.

This got me to thinking about some other stuff that went through my mental processor and either got discarded or used in a different way. I remember, when I was maybe 16 or 17, starting to write something that was a mish-mash of hazy ideas and stuff swiped from books I’d read (as all such early writing is). I had a title for it: The Crab, the Serpent and the Carpenter. I liked this title but hadn’t got a great deal to fit it. The title, I suspect, took its form from books read in my early teens (or earlier – long time ago now) like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

In this I visualized a world that consisted mostly of mud flats, which probably arose from the mud flats of the Essex coast and my experience of struggling through them for miles on fishing trips. It had giant glassy centipedes that skimmed across the surface and would of course kill any human they found. Here then was the serpent, which owed its genesis to a strange combination of the sandworms of Dune (because I’m sure a product of their life cycle was some kind of drug) and fishing again, well, bait digging. A character in it was Councillor Ebulan the Crab. I enjoyed describing him but thereafter had no idea what to do with him. The project died a death after a number of pages and disappeared, but the ideas didn’t. Ebulan the Crab was the start of the prador and put in an appearance in The Skinner. And over the years the ‘glass serpents’ transformed into hooders.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Penny Royal Spotted

Thanks to this guy/gal for letting me know that Penny Royal has been spotted visiting a Norman Mooney exhibition...

NYC based artist Norman Mooney makes works that are at once physical and metaphysical. His works explore the elemental and cyclical synergies of nature. Materiality, pattern, scale and experience are key concerns within his practice. Although he works in a wide array of materials his massive burst sculptures are completely jaw dropping. Radiating from every angle these incredible explosions shimmer and shine like a star far off in the galaxy. (via)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Saturday, February 02, 2013

The Departure in the USA

Okay, The Departure comes out in the USA on Feb 5th, but it seems you can already get the E-book here on Baen

The people at Night Shade Books are looking forward to bringing The Owner Trilogy to print in the US and have scheduled The Departure for publication Feb 5, 2013 with Zero Point following May 7, 2013 and Jupiter War September 3, 2013 (catching up with publication of that last book in Britain). Nicely keying into that my short story The Other Gun will be appearing in Asimov’s April/May issue that year with, of course, mention of these books in attached biog. It should be an interesting year with those three books slamming into the American market in rapid succession. In essence this should work as quite a profile-raising exercise.


Well, now it's been pointed out to me:

"British author Asher is rapidly becoming one of the major figures in 21st century SF" - Publishers Weekly.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Fountain of Youth?

Gob hanging open...

Researchers were able to turn back the molecular clock by infusing the blood stem cells of old mice with a longevity gene and rejuvenating the aged stem cells' regenerative potential. The findings will be published online Thursday, Jan. 31, in the journal Cell Reports.

The biologists found that SIRT3, one among a class of proteins known as sirtuins, plays an important role in helping aged blood stem cells cope with stress. When they infused the blood stem cells of old mice with SIRT3, the treatment boosted the formation of new blood cells, evidence of a reversal in the age-related decline in the old stem cells' function.

 "We already know that sirtuins regulate aging, but our study is really the first one demonstrating that sirtuins can reverse aging-associated degeneration, and I think that's very exciting," said study principal investigator Danica Chen, UC Berkeley assistant professor of nutritional science and toxicology. "This opens the door to potential treatments for age-related degenerative diseases."