Jupiter 43: Arche

jupiter_mag_archeI’m pleased to announce the publication of my short story Spindle Pickers with British SF magazine Jupiter. This is Jupiter’s 43rd issue titled ‘Arche’. Each issue is named after a Jovian satellite: Io for issue #1, Europa for #2 and so on.

Jupiter is edited by Ian Redman. This issue also features stories from John Davies, Adam C. Richardson, Carmelo Rafala and Neil Clift. Cover art by David Conyers.

You can buy paper copies from the Jupiter website. It’s also available on Kindle from Amazon UK and Amazon in the US.

Thanks again to Pat, Eric, Graeme and Luke from the Manchester Speculative Fiction writers’ group. This story was critiqued during our January meeting last year.

The Blog Tour

IMG_2902I’ve been nominated by Graeme Shimmin to answer questions about my writing as part of the Blog Tour. Before I get started I’d like to make my own nominations. I had a tough time picking just two other writers, but I’ve decided to go for Zoe Lambert and James Ridgway.

Zoe’s first short story collection, The War Tour, was published by Comma Press in 2011. She is a creating writing lecturer at Lancaster University.

James is a writer and artist. He gets fired up about sustainability, designs his own board games and has a thing about gas masks. [Read more...]

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy New Year! Congratulations and be prosperous! Peace and safety wherever you are!Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Out with the snake and in with the horse. I hope you all have a successful year, whatever you have planned.

新年快乐! Xīnnián kuàilè! Happy New Year!

恭喜发财! Gōngxǐ fācái! Congratulations and be prosperous!

出入平安! Chūrù píng’ān! Peace and safety wherever you are!

Three Films I Need To See This Year: The Reboot

Mmm... exploded corn coated in fat and sugar...The last time I blogged about the films that I fancied watching this year it was 2011. I mentioned The King’s Speech and Never Let Me Go — both of which I loved — and another film that I now can’t even bring myself to name. What was I thinking? Why didn’t I just go for something like The Adjustment Bureau?

Since then, other potential highlights were to include Prometheus in 2012 and then Elysium in 2013. I came away from Prometheus rather confused and a little disappointed. Elysium went fairly well, it looked nice, though it was no District 9. I guess I also enjoyed Hobbit parts 1 & 2 though I wanted less rabbit-sledding and rather more troll purse singing. A few “Attercop!” outbursts would have been a bonus.

Unlike the rest of humanity I still haven’t seen Gravity. I love my science so I’m a little nervous about this one, though it certainly looks spectacular.

So here are the three films that I’m looking forward to in 2014 . . .

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SF Short Stories for National Short Story Day

National Short Story DayToday is not only the shortest day of the year but it’s also National Short Story Day. I was recently asked to recommend two science fiction short stories, one classic and another modern, to appear on the National Short Story website. Click on the link if you’d like to hear what I had to say about Adjustment Team by Philip K. Dick and The Calorie Man by Paolo Bacigalupi.

This was a difficult decision to make. My tastes vary from month to month depending on what I’m reading / writing / playing at the time. Ask me next year and I’ll probably give you a completely different answer!

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Rocket Dragons Ignite Anthology

Rocket Dragons Ignite: DSF Year 2I’m very pleased to announce that my short story Silver Sixpence has been published in the Daily Science Fiction anthology Rocket Dragons Ignite: DSF Year 2. This anthology is a huge read at 870 pages with over 260 stories and 425,000 words — that’s the size of four typical novels in a single volume!

Silver Sixpence is what I would call mundane science fiction, a sub-genre which focuses on a believable use of science and technology as available at the time of writing. That means no faster-than-light travel, no aliens, quite possibly no lasers or robots, although that’s a changing arena right now.

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#AmSometimesWritingI’ve come to hate this hashtag. And I’m afraid to say that I have used it in the past. Urgh.

I know it’s ridiculous to generate an emotional reaction towards something as intangible as a hashtag, but this one just seems to sum up what I think is wrong with the approach that some writers have towards writing.

You see, the other day I got chatting with a very nice lady just before our monthly Manchester Spec-Fic writers’ group meeting. First of all, I’m sorry that we didn’t swap names, so Nice Lady will have to do. Anyway, a short while into the conversation Nice Lady gave me the usual ‘Oh, you’re a writer, I’ve always thought about doing that’ at which point I applied the standard caveat ‘I’m not sure I’m actually a writer’ before I responded with my also-fairly-standard ‘Well, just do it, sit down, get writing’.

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . .

Mos EspaLike a lot of 70′s kids I loved Star Wars. I’ve just returned from an amazing week’s holiday in Tunisia with my wife and sons. During our visit we were lucky enough to visit a couple of locations used during the production of the Star Wars films A New Hope and Phantom Menace.

Both sites were situated in the far south of the country, well away from the popular tourist spots of the north. Undeterred, we booked a two-day tour that went on to cover nearly 1300 km, we rode through a sandstorm in the Sahara and enjoyed an adrenalin-fueled 4×4 rally drive along a section of an old Paris-Dakar route.

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MA Graduation

"Masters in Creative Writing with the Vice Chancellor's Prize"Three years ago I was still relatively unpublished. I’d previously had a short story called Farming Tsiolkovsky placed with Demensions magazine and a handful of non-fiction gaming articles (albeit paid articles) published with the Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society. What I really wanted to do was write novels.

At this point I’d completed three ‘practice’ novels: a historical/Lovecraftian thriller set aboard a British airship, a mundane hard-SF novel with a rather turgid plot and a dystopian cyberpunk novel set in near-future London. These had all been sent off to various agents and publishers and I’d received the usual ‘no thanks’ response slips or just nothing at all. I decided that my writing needed help, especially at a technical level, and so I looked around for a local evening class. I eventually ended up swapping emails with Jon Glover, head of Creative Writing at nearby Bolton University, about joining that year’s intake for a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing.

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Terminator Reboot

I said I'd be back!So there’s a Terminator reboot planned for summer release 2015. The film will feature Arnie himself, which could prove to be an interesting challenge given that his firmware is now getting a little dated. With all the Star Trek reboots and new Star Wars films I got to thinking about plot, especially if a certain director was involved. Here’s my slightly tongue-in-cheek suggestion . . .

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