Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A Word From Our Sponsors

A break from scribbling, always scribbling, to blurt out a few scraps of news:

I'll be attending the World Horror Convention in Brighton, where I'll be leading a creative writing workshop. Intensive fun for all (at least, that's the plan) - a few places left, I think, for those of you who already have memberships for the convention. I'll also be spending a couple of days at Eastercon, the British Science Fiction Association's annual gathering. Hope to see some of you there. Later in the year I'll be one of the guests of honour, along with Pat Cadigan and Paul Cornell, at Newcon 5, 'Northampton's only Science Fiction and Fantasy literary convention'. I guess we'll be talking about books, comics, and Doctor Who.

Just out, this fine anthology of short stories about alternate histories, edited by Ian Watson and Ian Whates, who were kind enough to include one of my stories, 'A Very British History', which explains how the space race was really won. Appropriately enough, the US edition of the anthology has an alternate cover.

Coming soon, The Best of the Best New Horror, edited by the indefatigable Stephen Jones, who kindly included my proto-steampunk story 'The Temptation of Dr Stein'.

And my novella 'Crimes and Glory will feature in not one but two Best SF of the year anthologies, thanks to editors Gardner Dozois and Rich Horton, and it will also feature in AudioText's The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 2.

Enough already. Back to work . . .

UPDATE: in all the excitement, forgot to mention that issue #5 of the fine ezine Journey Planet (link to large .pdf), packed with all kinds of good stuff on alternate histories, features my story 'A Brief Guide to Other Histories'.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


'Jessie was trying to read science fiction but nothing she'd read so far could begin to match ordinary life on this planet, she said, for sheer unimaginableness.' Don DeLillo, Point Omega.

It holds for all fiction, of course. 'Real life' is always weirder and richer than fiction. There's more of it; it's raw and unfiltered. But science-fiction and fantasy writers are especially susceptible to the neurotic impulse to validate their imagined worlds by cramming in details and explanations and descriptions of the quotidian elements of life in their elsewheres - tours of the automatic creche, the air factory, the steam-driven information net, plumbing. There's a point quickly reached, with detail, that numbs the reader's sympathetic imagination and flattens the affect of the narrative. It's why all utopian fiction is basically unreadable.
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