Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Steven Lee


Hi Neal. I guess I must have first read one of your books – Prador Moon – about 4 or 5 years ago. I then spent a long time wading through Peter F Hamilton’s output before returning to you at the beginning of 2020. Since then, I have worked my way through Shadow of the Scorpion and the 5 Cormac books.

I started reading sci-fi early, spurred on by my older brother who was nose deep in Clarke and Asimov. Terrance Dicks was an early favourite for me. I even remember reading a set of 5 fiction books written by Sir Patrick Moore! As a teenager I discovered fantasy and entered Middle Earth, the Belgariad of David Eddings, Raymond E Feist’s Rift War Saga, and more. Then, one fated day, I picked up a book called Legend by David Gemmell. A lifelong passion for his writing followed; I know you also have a collection of DGs books in your library and I suspect, like he did for me, he inspired elements of your writing. I read some Iain M Banks in my twenties, but I didn’t return to sci-fi properly until my mid-to-late-forties. I’ve since read everything by PFH, can’t seem to get into Alistair Reynolds, and have obviously discovered you. I am writing this on my 51st birthday and have just used a welcome Amazon voucher to purchase the Transformation trilogy for my Kindle – yes, that is a bribe – put me on your blog!! Please use the royalties to enjoy a nice hot curry or, maybe, a few cold ones at Revan’s!


As to who I am – married, father of two grown ups (though not sure I’ve actually grown up!), grandad of one. An ex-civil servant, I have worked a few different jobs since. A congenital bad back (degenerative disc) and sciatica forced me out of full-time work a few years back now and, while I was laid up on benefits and I’d already run through the DVD library, I decided to turn my hand to writing for one last time. I had tried to write out the stories in my head in my late-teens/early-twenties but burnt the dross I typed up back then. I have now got six books out in two series, one being a collection of short stories. Check out my Facebook page here: Steve P Lee Author. I work part-time at the local motor auctioneers and sell hard rock/heavy metal patches and an assortment of ‘alternative’ goods on eBay.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Graeme Finch


If you want some back story you need to whiz back through Neals blog to the 17th of January 2010… that was a lot of clicking and scrolling Mr Asher. Have you ever thought about adding a search my blog button FFS?

In the ten years since I wrote a `Who Reads my Books?' piece’ for Neal's blog many things have transpired. Here’s an interesting one cribbed from that very piece: Neal’s own references to strong diseases and weak humans in Cowl will, if we are unlucky, prove to be one of those Scfi “cos that’s wot’l appen” moments some time down the line.

Well blown me down with a feather, ten years later Covid-19.

Everyone who reads Neals books needs to read Cowl, it will bend your head, but some of the visualisation is fabulous and it’s a golly good romp through time. I think it’s one of my favourites because it’s written about our shared home turf of Essex. Though I am originally from East London, the Essex countryside has been my easiest route to nature since I was a child, staying for weeks at a time at my nan's place in Kirby Cross near Frinton-on-Sea during the school holidays. Later, once I had the independence of two wheels with an engine, I explored the area (unknowingly) that Cowl starts in; the Saltmarshes and flats of what Essexites call the `The Thames Delta’… it isn’t a delta, but it’s not far off.

I did read Moby Dick, it was a monster of a book, never mind the whale. It’s very much an academic read, and useful glimpse into social history (a bit like Dickens and the Iliad). Is the Silmarillion still my favourite book? Probably. I’ve read a lot more Tolkien since then, mostly the later stuff edited and published by Christopher Tolkien, and as much to get an understanding of his father's mind (if such a thing is possible) as for the stories themselves. I could quite happily write a piece on Tolkien. But I can summarise my thoughts with: my gut says he got lost in world building, lost in his experience of the first world war, and trying somehow, through endless iterations of noble soldiers trooping into battle in gleaming armour, pennants held high, trying to find nobility in war and death, contrary to the reality of his experience of trench warfare. Apparently, I’m not the first person to think this. When asked, he denied it.

Where am I in science fiction now? Waiting for Neal's next. Halfway through a re-read of the Culture novels, which I only discovered in August 2011 while recuperating from a Lumbar fusion. I’m awaiting the last instalment of the Expanse. I’ve also discovered Adrian Tchaikovsky, read the Reynolds Revenger series and a few others.

I should mention Kevin Andersons the Seven suns Saga… or whatever it’s called. Utter bilge, I skimmed the second book in the series to find out what happened to one character who disappeared into a wormhole, but he didn’t come out at any point in the second book. After this I took both books and binned them so no one else would be subjected to them.

In-between doses of science fiction, I’ve been reading commentaries of the past the present and the future. Matt Ridley’ How Innovation Works, Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. If you ever wondered why North America is English speaking in the main, and why South America is Spanish speaking? The answer is the Comanche.

It has been an interesting decade, I’ve moved house three times, lived full-time in a camper van with my other half for the best part of eight months as we travelled around Spain, Portugal, France, Italy Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and a big old chunk of the UK, finally settling in what has become my spiritual home, Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset, a place I find difficult to put into words. Though I am trying to on my own new blog. What’s next? Trying to do that thing that Neal does so well. Write…  just sit down and make it up as you go along. My problem is that my brain doesn’t work like that, so I’ll have to find my own approach to the writings that litter my Onedrive. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Joerg Mosthaf


My name is Joerg Mosthaf and I work as physicist and team lead in the accelerator control system team of the Heidelberg Ion Beam Therapy Center HIT in Heidelberg, Germany (https://www.klinikum.uni-heidelberg.de/interdisziplinaere-zentren/heidelberger-ionenstrahl-therapiezentrum-hit or https://www.heidelberg-university-hospital.com/diseases-treatments/cancer-and-tumor-diseases/proton-therapy-and-carbon-ion-therapy ). 

I did my “Wehrersatzdienst” (which used to be an alternative to mandatory military service in the late 20th century in Germany) as a paramedic for the red cross and afterwards studied physics with a minor in neurophysiology at the Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg. During my final years there, I worked as a scientific assistant at the institute of medical informatics and did my thesis on real time temperature measurements via T1 relaxation times variation in MRI during RF ablation therapy. After a few years of working in IT/web project management and first level support I got the job in the accelerator control system team for the then newly built (partly still in construction) synchrotron accelerator at the Heidelberg university hospital. 

The Heidelberg Ion Therapy Centre (HIT) is a dedicated hadron accelerator facility for radio-therapeutical treatment of tumour patients. The two horizontally fixed treatment places, the 360° gantry, as well as the experimental area can be served with proton and carbon beams with qualified beam parameters, helium is available for the experimental area and soon for treatment, and oxygen is being tested.

The achieved energy range of 88-430 MeV/u for carbon ions and 48-221 MeV/u for protons is sufficient to reach a penetration depth of 20-300 mm in water. We use virtual accelerators (VAccs) to model all the different possible beamlines and used beam parameters (MEFI – Mass, Energy, Focus, Intensity). The MEFI consist of 4 ion types (M), 255 energy steps (E), 4 beam widths (F) and 10 ion flux steps (I). The beam is then applied with fast scanning magnets in a raster scan application to the tumor in the patient.

I work as team lead for the accelerator control system. My job is to keep the server system running that maintains all the different parameters for all the devices in the accelerator and sends them to the device control units (DCU) that control magnets, rf systems and so on. We use redundant host servers and a redundant SAN storage for our database and main control servers running in a virtual environment. The accelerator control room houses 18 acs clients on which our acs software clients run and is manned 24/7 by at least two people. We work 8 hour rotating shifts with 24h on call status thrown in. Therapy runs for about 10-12 hours a day for 5 days (mon-sat) with the rest of the time used for QA, beam conditioning and research. The research time is used by several institutes for anything from treatment research to material and electronics research.

I am also part of the beam conditioning team, that is responsible for correcting beam position, intensity and width in night shifts to get verified and validated beam parameter sets for use in therapy plans.

I also read Neals books and other science fiction and fantasy books. I specially like military science fiction books and books about first contact. My favorite authors (besides Neal of course) are Alastair Reynolds, James S.A. Corey, John Scalzi, Ian Banks, Evan Currie, Marco Kloos, Dennis E. Taylor, Jay Allen, Jodi Taylor, Mary Robinette Kowal but also Fantasy authors like Seanan McGuire, Terry Pratchet, Jim Butcher, Steven Brust and the classics like Robert Heinlein, A.E. van Vogt, Isaac Asimov and so on.

Other hobbies are RPGs - I play and DM mainly Pathfinder, Starfinder, Traveller, Cyberpunk 2020 and german RPG systems like Das Schwarze Auge (the dark eye in English), Die SchwarzeKatze and Hexxen 1733 – and computer games (Cyberpunk 2077, Division 1 and 2, Deep Rock Galactic AC Valhalla…) and watching tv series (Expanse, Star Trek, Enchanted, Bridgerton…)

I try to keep active but with my work schedule it is hard to get any organised sport in and I usually am to lazy after 10 hours of night shift to do anything else than read, play or watch tv 😉) 

Here a few pictures of HIT:


Figure 1 Accelerator overview

1. Ion sources (2 ECR ion sources for carbon/oxygen, hydrogen/protons and helium)

2. Linear accelerator up to ~0.10 c

3. Synchrotron accelerator up to ~0.75 c

4. High energy beam line to the patient treatment rooms

5. Nozzle in patient treatment room

6. Patient position control with digital x-ray system

7. 360° rotating ion gantry with sub millimetre precision

8. Gantry patient treatment room with rotating x-ray systems

9. Experimental room for research


Figure 2 External view of the HIT facility


Figure 3 Gantry treatment room with nozzle at 0°


 Figure 4 Gantry back room with the rotating part of the gantry visible, nozzle at 90°



Saturday, February 20, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Doug Whipple



Hi Neal, 

I hope this doesn’t end up being too boring. I am 71, been reading since I can remember. I bought my first book, Gunner Cade, in the late 1950’s with money I earned berry picking. And I’ve never looked back. I think I own somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 hardback books. Most would be split between Science Fiction/Fantasy and History, mostly military. But, I do read religion, philosophy, detective stories, and just about anything else. 


I started out working construction, then put myself through college, although I admit that my degree didn’t fit me for any real work (Political Science), but I thoroughly enjoyed my years of college, 1967-1971. I have worked as a greenskeeper, a logger, a laborer on construction sites, a medical records manager and finally as a Data Base Administrator for 35 years. I know being a DBA sounds exciting and adventurous, but mostly it wasn’t except when something went really wrong, which was more sphincter tightening than exciting, although it usually involved copious amounts of yelling, panicking, hand wringing and finger pointing by management.  

I have been retired for the last 4 years, doing my hobbies of reading, shooting and being outdoors whenever possible. 

I have been married for 23 years and we have 1 daughter who is smarter and better looking than either one of us. 


My first book of yours was GRIDLINKED. I was hooked. One thing I would live to see some more of, is the hornet hive minds. What a great concept. The whole Polity universe is so complex and dense, it seems real, like it exists just out of reach, and I love that the books deal with big ideas, and are so well written that 100 pages can go by before I notice I have been reading for awhile. And, your names and slang are absolutely spot on, they seem natural and authentic. And, NO ONE, can write a combat scenario that is breathtaking, vivid and page turning as you. To me, you rank with the masters, Heinlein, Asimov, Clark, Van Vogt and others from the Golden Age of Sci-Fi. 

And, just as an aside, I really like being able to vicariously enjoy your adventures both in Essex and Crete. 

Thanks, 

Doug Whipple

Take care Neal, you have brought a lot of joy and thought to my life.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Jenny Rodgers


Hi, I’m Jenny. 

Growing up I read everything available, devouring all the usual school-suitable books by Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton etc, but by 10 I was reading my mum’s Catherine Cooksons’ and historical fictions for the challenge. (I also loved my dad's ancient copy of ‘Just William!’) By senior school I had found Dennis Wheatley and westerns (not usual for an 11 year old girl apparently). Through my school years I read P D James, Dorothy L Sayers, Barry Sadler ( I still love those!) and just about anything else, including text books when absolutely desperate, but never abandoning my westerns - which I think gave me a strong stomach useful in my later reading. I read at school, at home, on the bus, in bed and, probably to my detriment, all Saturday afternoon in the library when I should’ve been doing my homework.  


When I met my husband Rod (27 years ago) it was amazing to find someone who would sit and read with me in silence. He completely understands my love of reading because he has it too. Some of my friends are jealous (in a nice way) of our relationship. I think I’ve achieved what many people aim for - I’m happy and content. It’s not money in the bank that matters; it’s how satisfied you are with what you have. Being brought up in a low income but secure and loving family has made me a very low maintenance girl. We live in a shallow age where we are judged on looks / money / possessions and not by the person inside. It’s honestly depressing at times. 


Not really an edit, but having seen other ‘Who Reads My Books’ and how NOT boring they are, I just wanted you to know:

1. I was on a cooking show called ‘Granny’s Kitchen when I was five (1975)

2. For my 34th birthday I got a Mark 1 limited edition MX5 import (black with red leather and wheels). 

3. I zip wired the longest zip line (at the time) in the uk at 118 mph

4. Lots of great music out there but rock music and concerts are the best! 

5. I love console games and watch a gaming station called Twitch

6. Husband is a train driver!

7. I have a pet shrimp called ‘Clint’


Rod has always been a true scifi reader and so, on gaining him, I also gained access to a huge selection of books. But I pretty much ignored them for years, much to my shame - I had no idea what I was missing! My first foray away from crime thrillers, westerns and cookbooks, was ‘East of Eden’ by Harry Harrison (I had no idea who he was) but it was a real eye-opener for me. I read Iain Banks’ Wasp Factory, the Brentford ‘trilogy’ (7 in the series I think) by Robert Rankin. I loved having my mind opened by the fantastical! Every now and again over the years I would hear “the new Neal Asher is out on...‘date” and I had no idea what was to come. I had read more scifi by then, on and off, but was finally convinced to try reading ‘The Skinner’ about 18 months ago.  And I haven’t stopped reading Neal Asher since - I had a lot to catch up on. My mind has become wider, more violent, angry and brutal than before, but evolution does that to humans. 

I’m currently reading ‘The Thursday Murder Club’....just for a break.

Hope I didn’t bore you as much as I think I did.

Jen

Loved Africa Zero by the way.

Who Reads my Books? Mark Hardy


Nothing very interesting I'm afraid. I'm 50, been reading scfi and fantasy since I was around 10 or so? The first scfi book I remember reading was Galactic Warlord by Douglas Hill I think. The Hobbit for fantasy. I have worked for HM Prison Service and currently HM Passport Service. Been with you since Gridlinked, so a while. Picked that up browsing in Waterstones I seem to remember. Apart from reading, I love movies and Heavy music.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Malcolm Murdock


Hey Neal! Figured I'd bite on the Who Reads My Books. My name is Malcolm Murdock, a 37 year-old husband, proud father of two, product developer and software engineer by day, and sci-fi writer by night. I grew up the son of a physicist, so sci-fi featured prominently in our house from a young age, and I was weaned on a diet of Star Trek and David Weber. After many years of writing projects on the side, I finally published my first novel, The Quantum Price, back in 2019, and the sequel, The Hidden Price this past December. I've got a long ways to go and much to learn, but as first books go I'm quite proud of them. Here's the Amazon link.


I started reading your books a few years back when a friend mentioned "some series with sentient spaceships that are intentionally sociopathic to be better killers." But then I promptly forgot which friend told me, or which series it was. Some internet sleuthing brought me to your books, and I was hooked. The Polity novels were the first time I'd ever read something with sentient ships (at least as I recall?) and I absolutely loved the idea and the execution. (I also loved how you didn't bow to preachy, in vogue politics in your books, as so many others do). I've now made my way through some polity, some Ian Cormac, and with every one I finish I'm delighted to remember that there are about 200 left to go. So make sure you keep the supply topped off, sir :). Thanks for creating such memorable stories and characters, and I look forward to all the many I have yet to read!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Gavin Cook


I’m 49 married with three grown up daughters two grandchildren and one teenager still living at home. I was born in and still live in Devon UK - currently East Devon with my wife Sonia.



I served my apprenticeship as a glassblower, when I left school, working for Dartington Crystal among others, but poor wages and my first marriage breaking up led me in to driving for a living, and I’ve been driving hgv class 1&2 for over twenty years now.

I’ve always been fascinated by sci-fi since being given the book 'Spacecraft 2000-2100ad by Stuart Cowley', which I still own My favourite authors are Neal Asher, Peter F Hamilton, Greg Bear, Ian M Banks and Gerald Seymour.

I’ve read all Neal’s books, my favourite being the transformation series with the greatest character in SF: Penny Royal.

When I’m not reading I’m gardening, working on project cars or walking. I’m also a PS4 gamer, playing Elite Dangerous, No Man's Sky and GTA regularly.

I’m also absolutely fascinated by the 60’s and 70’s space race, project Apollo and the technology of the Cold War era.

That’s my life.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Who Reads my Books? William Bertram



My name is William Bertram, and I read your books.  I read the Agent Cormac series in 2019, and the Transformation series is on my "to-read" list for 2021, including "The Technician."

I've lived most of my life in Wichita, KS, with short stints in San Diego, CA, and Grand Junction, CO.  My hobbies include reading, cooking, board games, watching NBA basketball, pet maintenance, and yoga.  I have recently started a blog and submitted a short story to a local contest.  It's my first time submitting anything, so wish me luck!  I have a son who lives in Montana, and I cohabitate with two maltepoos.

Love your books, and keep up the great work!

Bill

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Chris Papworth

 


I read your books! I'm a partner in a wealth management business. Formerly a high school teacher. Father of two great kids (now adults). Married to high school sweetheart for almost 25 years. Avid table top roleplaying game enthusiast. Love riding motorcycles, especially on twisty roads. I sing tenor, play the trumpet, enjoy books on economics from Chicago and Austrian schools of thought. Appreciated the Owner series even more because of this non-fiction reading. Read Frank Herbert's Dune at around 10 years old and have been enthralled with science fiction ever since. First Asher book was Gridlinked.


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Zak Ferguson



Hello Neal, so I thought I'd give this a go, the "Who Reads my Books" submission and as a pretty much unheard of, unread writer - like an ever opportunist shartist (shit artist)-  I'll take great advantage of plugging my "work" in anyway possible, and no less, in this awesome Blog space you give to many people. 

Yes, I am a cheeky git, but also to be anyway in association with Neal Asher himself, is an honour. Truly it is.

I started reading very late. Aged 9 years old. My affinity was with films. But, Fantasy  was a gateway into the realm of my eventual deep delve into  Sci-Fi/Fantasy... be it, M. BANKS, CLARKE, BALLARD, BURROUGHS, HAMILTON, STRUGATSKY Brothers, and many more, it was the Sussex-based writer and illustrator collaborators, Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, who got me into reading. I have autism - high functioning - and I've never ever been as engaged than when watching films, but as soon as I discovered the works of Paul and Chris, it opened up a new way of expression and escape to me. 

BEYOND THE DEEP WOODS, part of the The Edge Chronicles book series got me into genre and reading in general. Those two are the reason I write and have tempered my unease in my own skin, and why I am here today. Dramatic but true. Same with every writer I have read. Now a wide variety of worlds are ever accessible to me, in books and films, and through my own writing. 

Down the rabbit hole of books, books, books, Terry Pratchett became a personal hero and from there on, as ever, I discovered many different writers and genres. 

But I'd always struggled with Sci-Fi, it just wasn't holding my attention. A lot of people believe if you read or write in a niche, alternative scene, or are party to anything usually assigned as mildly highfalutin, you are assumed to be, lofty, toft pretentious types. Far from it. I LEFT SCHOOL AND COLLEGE WITH NO GRADES. No uni background and such. Genre and writers and creators have been my only education. 

We are assumed to not be the types to enjoy genre or populist fare. This is an oversimplification and a lie. I am as pop culturally entrenched as anyone else. And love Heinlein and other pulp sci-fi masters more than anyone else. 



But, the first Sci-Fi author I got hooked on, was Asher. 

You wrote stories that captured my attention, held me, something so vast, expansive, filmic. That encouraged me to stay with the ruthlessness of some other science fiction writers and have benefited from it. But, my go to is always your work. 

I would be lying if I didn't say those covers by John Sullivan were the starting block, but as soon as I opened one of your works, I knew I'd become a devotee, a devoted fan. 

Your worlds and its scale, detail, action, ever relatable form and rhythm was up there for me as the greatest most entertaining form of science fiction I had yet so far experiences through films and TV. It was up there with any Space Opera Television series or film; and that book was, The Departure, book one of your OWNER SERIES, and from there I have become hooked to all your works, especially your long running book series, The Polity. My favourites so far being Brass Man, Line of Polity, Gridlinked and Line War. 

The scope, the detail, the ever prescient pivotal and ever relevant commentary on current events, technology, AI, consciousness, had/has me truly inspired, entertained and never, ever bored. 

I love them. And you're a writer who knows how to grip, entertain, push the envelope in the field you are writing within. Superb stuff. And I have always stated I want to write Science fiction or Space Opera novels. But, though I wish to do this, most of my own works are filled to the brim with memoir, autofiction, experimentation, irrelevance, irreverence, lunacy where I pull apart and play with every kind of genre. A mad mixed bag, my own works deal very heavily with art and its relation to my autism. 



I am an experimentalist. Plain and simple. 

I work with many mediums - video, collage, prose - and have been lucky enough to be recognised by such writers such as Dennis Cooper, who featured me on his own famous blog a few years ago. 

My work is about destruction, expansion, corruption. About the irrelevance of structure and rules. Satire. Mess. Madness. Heavily influenced by the Cut Up Method, all except mine is Cut Up Consciousness. A means to expose my inner most anxieties and autistically inbued problems.  I have re gently been experimenting with the Digital means of extrapolation and distortion - where I break into the format, the typography, and apply visual elements, where I take awful antiquarian devices, like paint, and try to imbue it with a new sense and purpose. 

My recent release, Interiors for ? (A four book series) was written during the first lockdown where emotions and confusion came to a boil. Part autofiction, fiction, memoir, essay, journal, and a manic, extremely hectic scrapbook of artistically autistic breakdowns put onto page. My therapy and my full being in these exposures. 





And I just splurged/continue to splurge everything from within onto that digital page. To cope and better align what it is I am feeling. As my writing is very much in relation to my autism, my struggles, my behaviour, my hyper attenuated awareness of it, my "art" and work is always, always relevant to my daily life, my inner most mind and my id flow. And I try to capture this in my stories and way of writing/creating. To give over an experience rather than a narrative. 

I live in the seaside town of Brighton and I also Co-Found my own publication house, with my girlfriend Laura (I know right, someone on the autism spectrum with a girlfriend) -  Sweat Drenched Press, where we have published 5 chap books and two novels since its genesis last January, including my own work. 

Thank you for letting me have this opportunity. As always, write them, release them, I'll always be returning to buy them.

Apologies for my rattling on  and on

Friday, February 12, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Scott Steensma




Hello Neal, I saw your post about who reads your books, and seeing as I just finished The Soldier... Anyway, I'm Scott Steensma, Australian Librarian living in Melbourne, and I started with Prador Moon, then on to the Cormac novels, and now I'm working though your other works. I'm a big SF fan (Both books and tv/films), a keen hiker,  and I occasionally dabble in writing a bit of SF too. I review everything I read at https://goodreads.com/user/show/36819318-scott and as you can see there I've really enjoyed your work. The Soldier was a hell of a lot of fun btw :) 

I will send a pic through this evening when I get home. Otherwise, I'm a big boardgamer- Terraforming Mars played over steam pretty much got me though the six month lockdown we had here in Melbourne.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Mark Ashton


I started reading Sci Fi 35 years ago and bought my 2nd Asher book in 2008, from Amazon. I live in Liverpool and work in Manchester. 49 years old, cyber security engineer and have worked in IT for 25+ years. Pre-pandemic, I spent my spare time in the gym (4-5 days a week), reading Sci Fi (and Sci Fact), playing football, drinking with my mates and going for days out with the shed load of children I'm responsible for.


The pandemic has enabled me to keep working no matter what and go for long gruelling walks, often dragging along my offspring. I am now an expert in primary school math plus secondary school biology, engineering etc and intend on flying through any GCSE exam in the near future.

I had covid between Christmas and New Year and yes, it put me on my arse for 2 days with a further 8 days of feeling terrible. Yes, you do believe you are going to die and it will kill your parents. Time for more Gin, sod the tonic!

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Jim Harriss


I have been hooked on Science Fiction and Archaeology since I was a small child - Conan Doyle and Wells got me started and Heinlein got me thinking. The last time I tried counting my scifi library It was upwards of 500 books.

I am a Space Cadet (neuro diverse) so apart from Archaeology and my present pastime of Military Kit Tailoring (@Surplus Freak), I have never done anything particularly useful, but I like to think that, by living more in the past and the future than in the now, that I am part of the team working on the Question to Deep Thought's answer.

The First book of Neal's I read was Gridlinked - at first I thought it was just the best of the 'single agent saves the universe' genre,  but as with most authors I like I bought the back catalogue and was blown away with the scope of the whole thing so I  buy each new release as it comes out

There is no other Author I have read who can mix proper Science and squaddie-banter levels of humour as Neal. Harry Harrison & Spider Robinson come close, but only Neal has me crying with laughter and pondering at the same time.

If I could be described as obsessive about anything other than archaeology (not sure if my library counts) it is old Volkswagens, preferably modified, and I collect British military load carrying kit (rucksacks, etc).

My one request is that Neal's publishers produce an omnibus of his works for Desert Island Disks patrons.

More power to Neal's elbow, long may he continue to pump out ideas.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Kev Racey



Hi Neal. I'm responding to the post about the common or garden type boring human man type reader of your books!

I discovered my love of science fiction from a young age when I received the tabletop game 'Space Crusade' as a 10 year old. The imaginary of armoured spacemen getting eaten alive by savage space monsters set me along a path that nearly 30 years later still gives me great escapism and pleasure!


I'm just a regular guy, living in exile in Newcastle after running away from my native Cheshire so I could marry a woman who didn't realise what a huge nerd I am until it was too late! I spend my professional life working for Cats protection, a hugely rewarding job and a charity very close to my heart. 

Along with being a fan of Asher, my major sci fi influences include Peter F Hamilton, Iain M Banks, Alastair Reynolds, Dan Abnett and John Scalzi.

Who Reads my Books? Eric Weinstein



After afternoon, Mr. Asher!

I suspect you have more than enough 'who reads my books' entries at this point, but I'll toss mine in for fun.

I am a lifelong SF/Fantasy reader who came across your books completely by accident. My wife was going to the library, and I asked her to get me a book... anything science-fiction. She came back with Gridlinked and the rest is history. 

I am a 50-year-old film and theatrical composer and songwriter from the US who hopes to someday see (and compose music for) a feature-length film or Netflix / Amazon series set in The Polity.

Thank you for taking the time to reach our to your fans!

-Eric

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Aaron J Waters



 Neal me old mucker!

Reading has always been a big thing in my family, and from a very young age I tagged along with Frodo and Sam on their journey through Middle-Earth. I watched from the side lines with my sides splitting as Mr Fox fantastically outwitted his fat and windy-legged adversaries, and shared in the horrors of Jack and his family during their stay in an isolated hotel.

The more I read, the more I knew I wanted to be a writer. My first chance came when I was in primary school when we had to write a story in our A5 workbooks, of which we would share at the end of class. Whereas others wrote of dragons, talking dogs and adventures with their grandparents, I wrote a story about a monster that came in the night to snatch up naughty children, where it would then proceed to take them back to its cave, deep underground. It would then lock them in a cage together, and whenever it got hungry, it would pick one to have for its supper, and no matter how loudly the children screamed, no grownups would ever hear them. Needless to say, I wasn't allowed to read my story at the end of class. 

It wasn't until my teen years that I really started to get into Sci-Fi literature (I was already a fan of it on screen), particularly when I started college and began to partake in...let's say "chemical experimentation", and discovered the works of Frank Herbert, Robert A. Heinlein, Philip K. Dick and the other usual suspects. 

Then, one day, I was in a charity shop in Margate, there on the bookshelf, was a large collection of Neal Asher novels. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but when I saw the fantastic artwork by Jon Sullivan, I knew I had to own these books. I snatched up the lot of them (12 books for a tenner, bargain!)

Eight years later, and I can quite happily say with confidence that 'The Technician' is easily one of my favourite novels of all time, and has been a huge influence on my writing. It was the way you never shied away from explaining the science behind the gadgets or biology of your creations, much in the vein of Peter F. Hamilton and the like. 

As I mentioned before, your work has been a big influence on my own work, and I would often find myself, whenever in a rough patch, thinking "what would Neal do?"

So, when kayaking, breaking chairs and not sleeping didn't work, I would turn to your works instead and pretty much just rip you off (lawsuit pending, I'm sure). I jest, of course, but I would always find myself in those creative rough patches thinking "oh I can't do it like this or this because of this and that" and then my lizard brain would kick in and say "Neal doesn't play by the rules, and I'm pretty sure he's done okay." and that would be it! All caution thrown to the wind and before I knew it, the words would just haemorrhage from me and onto the page.

My name is Aaron, and I read Neal Asher!

Who Reads my Books? Andrew Freudenberg



Hi, I’m Andrew Freudenberg, and I’ve been a SF fan for pretty much as long as I remember. It probably all started with watching Doctor Who and Star Trek reruns with my parents back in the early 70’s. I devoured Clarke, Heinlein and Asimov as a kid, and was just the right age to feel all the Star Wars excitement when it happened. 



These days, having had my own record label, and generally being involved with the hedonistic end of the dance scene in the 90’s, I’ve crumbled into a metal loving old git with three sons who keep me on my feet. I live in the West Country of England, which is low in excitement, but I try and escape for gigs and travel as often as possible. (That’s going really well in these plague times). 

Weirdly Neal read me before I read him, as he declared my flash fiction tale, ‘Something Akin to Despair’, to be winner of an online Space Opera group competition. I wasted no time before diving into the Transformation trilogy and the Cormac books, becoming a big fan of his visceral far future approach. Just limbering up to devour the recent Jain trilogy at the moment.


Segueing seamlessly into self promotion, that very story can be found in my debut horror collection, ‘My Dead and Blackened Heart’, published by the Sinister Horror Company at the end of 2020. I hope to lean more into the SF side of my interests writing wise in the not too distant…

Dead and Blackened Heart on Amazon UK

Dead and Blackened Heart on Amazon US

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Mark Fenton

 Hey there Mr Idea Factory!


I fell into Sci-Fi at school at around 11 when our English teacher had a regular "buy a book" club thing. Started with The Stainless Steel Rat and from there went through Heinlein, Asimov...all the usual. I discovered your work after running out of books to read on my Kindle - Amazon recommended "Gridlinked" - and was hooked from there.

I was always against reading on a Kindle until I saw one - I promptly put over a thousand "real" books into my storage unit and went on a buying spree on Kindle. It has pros and cons - but for me, the ability to take my books with me everywhere and easily read in the bath 😃 outweigh the small cons. I don't watch TV so I probably go through 3 books a month.

Who am I? Well, studied Physics at University - well, I say "studied" - I spent more time drinking beer, chasing girls and playing guitar. An education well spent. Prior to lockdown I was in a regularly gigging band - playing 80s rock...I'll spare you the pictures of the spandex.

Work wise I used to tell computers what to do, but now I tell people to tell computers what to do. I set up my own company about 20 years ago and have been working from home mostly ever since – currently consulting as a CTO for company.  Hobbies wise, aside from the "making the world a louder place" with guitar, I ride a motorbike (or motorbikes...I've got a garage full - or, as my son calls it "The Toy Box") and I am a fencer. Took up fencing in my early 20s thinking it was a nice noble art - no. You've had a bad day at work and you've got to hit the person in front of you with 3' of steel. It is one of those sports where people either absolutely love it and it becomes all consuming or they are "meh".

For me - all consuming became the thing. I ended up represented England at the Commonwealth Games - didn't win though. Came 21st. People tell me that this is great - but no - it is the winning that matters, not the taking part!

I spend a lot of time walking my dogs - which is about the only thing we're allowed to do during these plague times. I'm not going to get political here, but I rather suspect I agree with you.

Life wise - I recently went through a difficult divorce (is there any other type?), and your books really helped me through. I became the curmudgeon in the corner of the pub with a pint and his dogs at his feet a reading a book. It was a difficult time, but things are turning around. I won custody of my son - who I raised, pretty much on my own, since he was 9 months old. He's now 13 and is my "reason".

My girlfriend and her daughter recently moved in with us - thankfully the kids have been raised together since they were toddlers so they already had a sister/brother relationship. We have become one big happy family. Well, except for her tiny (3Kg) King Charles Spaniel. He bullies my 2 giant dogs (45Kg each!) endlessly - still, they've sorted the pecking order out - the big dogs sleep by the fire and tiny dog guards the house. 🙂

I've attached a photo of me in my “winter plumage". It started a few years ago with Movember - and then it morphed into "Hobo February" - and now, and my son's behest, every year at the first hard frost I stop shaving and then don't shave again until I go away overnight on my motorbike (usually March before it is warm enough and Jnr is at my parents). Last year with the lockdown the beard got, well, hobo is the only word.

I'm gonna take this opportunity to appear a smidge sycophantic and say "thank you for your books". To many people, certainly me, they are an escape from the horrors of the real world - and they've certainly helped me through difficult times. Keep 'em coming!

Who Reads my Books? Brendon Kelly


I’m pushing 50, born and raised in New Zealand, and still live here in the capital, Wellington, with my wife and two kids - 11 and 13. I’ve lived in England twice for 4 years and I enjoyed it very much - especially the exchange rate bringing all that cash back to NZ.

I got into Sci-Fi reading at the age of 18 when I picked up Greg Bear’s Eon and couldn’t put it down.  I got back into reading when I was in my 30’s mainly on the long commutes into London from Betchworth in Surrey.


My main hobby is wood work. I tend to get grumpy if I haven’t made something in a while. My current project is a Wooden Road bike frame made from laminated American Ash and Australian Jarrah.  

I first got into your books when I found Gridlinked, I quickly bought everything you wrote on my kindle and read them, multiple times.  Gaps between your books are torture so I tend to read around with other authors during the wait...I feel dirty...

My job is a Lead Engineer, whatever that means, in the Data and Analytics area for a bank. It pays the bills but I’d rather be in my workshop building something or working some land somewhere growing food.  

That’s me.

Friday, February 05, 2021

Who Reads my Books? Richard Johnson


Hi Neal... Just getting in touch about the "Who reads my books" thing.

I started reading your books with "The Soldier" and love the universe you've created. It's WAAAYYY out there, but the characters you've created are still relatable and that draws a reader in. 

Anyway, about me... I still say I'm English although I've been living in Melbourne, Australia for twenty years and travelled the world before that. I'm a structural engineer by trade and that career choice has allowed me to support myself (and a medium to severe book addiction) in Singapore, Hong Kong, Ireland, the UK and finally Australia. Turns out physics is the same everywhere and engineering is nothing but applied physics.

Outside of work I dabble as a writer. I won the Writers of the Future contest in 2011. If you ignore the unfortunate association with Scientology, it’s still the most competitive and best-rewarded competition for amateur sci-fi short stories in the world, so I guess that's something. I also won the Jim Baen memorial award and have a handfull of small press sales and near misses with Netflix.

Since you said self-promotion is OK, I have to shill my upcoming book "The View from Infinity Beach" although its very different from your stuff and so may not appeal to your readers. Anyone who reads this is welcome to hit me up with a PM on Facebook for a free copy.

I like watches and motorcycles and have a collection of pocket knives which tends to make people nod politely while backing away to a safe distance.

Religion: atheist

Philosophy: stoicism

Favourite tipple: sake

That's me, I guess....

Who Reads my Books? Andrew Quinto Venn



Hi Neal,

I have read SciFi and fantasy since I discovered a book by Hugh Walters in the school library when I was about 11. From then on I was constantly berated by the English teacher for reading that 'Star Trek rubbish'. Seems that we had to stick to Dickens and Austen. Sod that!

I worked my way through all that I could find of Walters, then EE Doc Smith, Asimov, Clarke etc.

Then college beckoned and then a job and life got serious. I worked for a while as a soil scientist until I figured that I could earn more money elsewhere and went to work for Rank Hovis. I was a flour miller there for 30 years and am now a primary school site manager cruising to retirement. At 56 I still read, your books when they come out, Peter Hamiltons and loads of others. Lockdown has seen me buy an inordinate amount of books for my kindle. Although, I have worked all through lockdown so reading time has been limited and the reading queue is very long still.

Sometimes I try to keep up with my own blog at http://www.giant68.co.uk where I am just a grumpy old guy. I wrote a piece about SciFi novels a while back and was over the moon when you commented on it. 

4 more years till I hit 60 and the planned retirement, although if this situation carries on much longer I may retire soon!

But a few heart attacks and a quintuple bypass hasn't stopped me so why should this! 

Keep those books coming!

Regards

Andy Venn