The Early Days of a Better Nation

Friday, April 19, 2013

Rockets for Edwin Morgan

Next Thursday, 25 April at 6.30 pm. the Scottish Poetry Library hosts live readings from the highly successful SF poetry anthology Where Rockets Burn Through, edited by Russell Jones.

This event will also include a short movie by Dan Warren based on Edwin Morgan's SF poem, ‘In Sobieski's Shield’. The event will feature the following poets:

Ron Butlin
Pippa Goldschmidt
Andy Jackson
Kelley Swain
Claire Askew
Ian McLachlan


25 April 2013 - 6:30pm


Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton's Close, Canongate, Edinburgh



Details and bookings here.
0 comments | Permanent link to this post

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Writing Front

Yesterday I completed a first draft of my new novel, provisonally titled Descent. The feel and tone of Descent is about as unskiffy as I could make it. My pitch to myself for Intrusion was 'genomics Aga Saga'. The equivalent marching song for Descent was 'near-future bloke-lit'.

Bloke-lit's the kind of book Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons do so well: a first-person, confessional tale of an ordinary guy who behaves with typical male insensitivity and self-absorption until at least one exasperated woman-in-his-life knocks him about the head with some home truths. In Descent the narrator's excuse for being such a dick is that in his teens he got knocked on the head by a flying saucer. Also, he suspects the revolution may have happened while he was studying for his final high school exams. When his girlfriend tells him he and she may be from different human species, relationships become strained. We've all been there.

There's no doubt more to be done with it but the feeling of a weight off my shoulders is dizzying. I intend to make very sure my next novel is outlined in far more detail before I start writing -- but then, I always say that.

So, on to stuff I've been neglecting for the past few weeks:

First, as many of you know, Intrusion has been shortlistedfor the Arthur C. Clarke Award. I am of course delighted. This year's shortlist has caused some controversy, which has raised the award's mainstream profile. The book's latest enthusiastic review is in the LA Review of Books (which seems to have a rather Clutean policy of not worrying about spoilers, so be warned).

Second, Intrusion  didn't win the BSFA Award for best novel -- Adam Roberts' Jack Glass did, for which belated congratulations.

Third, my novella The Human Front is now out in a new US edition from PM Press, with supplementary material, and very good it looks too. If you want a signed (and personalised, if you like) copy of this nifty paperback, you can order/reserve one at Edinburgh's great SF bookshop Transreal. An ebook version is available here.
13 comments | Permanent link to this post

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stem Cell Stories - creative non-fiction competition

We all have stem cells in us -- but do you have a stem cell story in you?

A non-fiction story, that is; or a poem; or four to six pages of graphic non-fiction? If so, and if you're not a professionally published writer, this exciting competion sponsored by EuroStemCell could be your big chance.

We're looking for imaginative science writing, fresh and original, accurate and relevant, on the theme of stem cells and regenerative medicine, and accessible to a non-specialist audience.

Fame (your work published worldwide online) and fortune (300 euros first prize, 50 euros each for two runners-up) await. That's got to be worth a few hours of anybody's time. So take a look, read the criteria and the terms and conditions carefully, and give it a go.

0 comments | Permanent link to this post

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Against a Dark Background

As the world now knows, Iain Banks has cancer and the prognosis is not good. Yesterday he made the grim news public with characteristic courage and wit, having done the same privately some weeks ago. He and I have been very close friends for about forty years. Nobody could have a better friend.

Iain has given me enormous support and encouragement over these four decades. He read and critiqued early drafts of my first novel, and gave it a great boost with a generous cover quote. In recent years we've taken to talking over rather than reading each other's works in progress. For me at least that has been an irreplaceable part of the process of writing. Reading his books is a delight in itself, and a permanent inspiration to try harder. His work has had the same effect on SF as a whole: an open invitation to raise the game and an example of how to do it.

Iain, it has suddenly and terribly become clear, is one of those authors who is not only popular but loved, and whose work has become a part of how many of his readers think and feel about the world. The outpouring of tributes has been almost unbearably moving.

A website has been set up for family and fans to leave messages and check on his progress. Go there, now.
21 comments | Permanent link to this post

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

You Can See the Comet

... if you live in the northern hemisphere, anyway. I saw it from my doorstep last night, through the glare of nearby street lamps, using 8x40 binoculars and this map from @VirtualAstro. (Click to enlarge; follow @VirtualAstro or your local equivalent outside the UK for #PanSTARRS updates.)

1 comments | Permanent link to this post