Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Kirk Drift

If you have a little time on your hands I commend this excellent Strange Horizons article by Erin Horakova on our changing (and inaccurate) perception of the character of Captain Kirk:

It struck a chord with me because I had a related, if parallel, set of thoughts after watching the entire run of the original series. The popular culture cliche is that William Shatner is/was a somewhat crude and mediocre actor with a peculiar sense of ... timing ... in the delivery of his dialogue, and I went into the re-watch to some extent pre-conditioned by this notion. Regardless of the quality of the individual episodes, though, I quickly found myself wondering when this legendary bad Shatner was going to turn up, because all I was seeing - right from the outset - was an efficient and convincing portrayal of a man in a complex, demanding position of authority. Shatner isn't just much better at playing Kirk than the popular myth would have it, but the character itself is also much more plausibly drawn than the supposed brash womaniser of the insidious meme.

Erin Horakova dismantles this false Kirk in expert fashion, while lobbing a few well-earned potshots at the reboot films.

Monday, 10 April 2017

The Power of the Daleks (1966)

I'm only four episodes into this six parter, one of the stories thought lost to time, but which has now been restored with animated visuals and the original soundtrack.

Although the visual reconstruction is cheap and cheerful, it's still remarkably effective at taking you into the story, and while I wouldn't say you ever forget you're watching an animation, it certainly doesn't impede one's enjoyment of this compelling, intelligent and surprisingly adult adventure.

I have no recollection of the Troughton years, and would only have been less than a year old at the time of this transmission, his first story after regeneration. Unfortunately the Troughton era suffered particularly badly from deleted tapes, and I've still not seen enough of his stories to have a clear sense of his personality as the Doctor. In this adventure, the Doctor's persona is even more unstable than usual and Troughton was evidently trying on a variety of tones as he settled into the role.

What's striking about the story, especially in regard to some of the later plots, is the low-key realism of the political machinations going on inside the Vulcan colony, with the Doctor arriving just as a brooding power struggle threatens to erupt. The character exchanges are terse and restrained, the atmosphere one of controlled bureaucratic paranoia and veiled threats, more in keeping with Le Carre than something supposedly aimed at children and aired during a cosy tea-time transmission slot.

The Daleks are excellent - always at their best when they are at their slyest, as in this story, pretending to be helpful robot servants. And the scenes in the Dalek production line, as raw Dalek organisms are ladled - none too gently - into the open receptacles of new machines - are chilling. I didn't realise that we'd seen the "insides" of a Dalek this early in the series. It's accurate to the original filmed sequences, too, as the animations are based around production stills that were shot during the filming of each episode.

Recommended for all fans of Daleks and Doctor Who.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation rewatch - Encounter at Farpoint

Having recently finished watching the complete run of the remastered episodes of the original series of Star Trek, I felt like diving into one of the later series. The release of the Next Generation in fully remastered format on Blu-Ray seemed a good place to start, so I bought the complete set with the intention of watching from the start.

I've loved Star Trek since I was tiny. As a child, watching a black and white television set in Cornwall, there were two series that particularly fascinated me. One was Star Trek, and the other The Virginian. Whether this accounted for a lifelong affection for space and Westerns/cowboys/horses, I'll leave to the psychologists, but there's no doubting the vivid mark that Star Trek left on me. A few years later, after we had moved from Truro but were still living in Cornwall, two further pivotal events helped cement my feelings for Star Trek.

The first was getting the Aurora kit of the Enterprise:

I think it lasted about three weeks before the nacelles snapped off, but what a glorious three weeks they were. Surely this is the weirdest spaceship design to ever attain iconic status? From an engineering/physics point of view it makes no sense whatsoever, but it just looks right and for my money few of the later designs have quite hit the same marks.

The second pivotal event was watching Star Trek in colour for the first time, at my grandmother's house in Barry. Even now, the original series looks very colourful, from the uniforms to the set designs to the use of lighting filters in many of the shots. In the early seventies, having been conditioned by exposure to the episodes in black and white, it was a real jolt to the eyeballs. The remastered episodes look very good, incidentally, with some sympathetic use of CGI to update some of the effects and sets.

Star Trek was often on television in the early seventies. During school vacations, the episodes were broadcast in the morning in a format called "Holiday Star Trek", which I've taken to mean episodes which were deemed not to contain any overtly adult or upsetting themes, although whether that was actually the case I don't know, as it just seemed like a random grab-bag of stories to me.

My admiration for the series was further reinforced by an article which appeared in Speed & Power magazine around 1974, consisting of a two-page feature which brought us exciting facts like exactly how big and fast was the Enterprise. Given that the Enterprise was deemed to be a bit less than a thousand feet long, I then became obsessed with relating this dimension to real world objects, such as the television masts near our home. I'd been told they were a thousand feet tall so I tried to imagine the Enterprise standing on its end, next to one of these masts. But that didn't seem anywhere near big enough to me. I had a similar problem with Captain Nemo's submarine -*.

Anyway, that's enough rose-tinted nostalgia. Fast forward to 1988. Star Trek was coming back onto television and by some means that I don't quite recall, the pilot episode was available to be shown in one of the common rooms at Newcastle University. Thus, those of us who cared gathered round on plastic chairs to watch "Encounter at Farpoint". At that point, there had been a few hints about what to expect. We knew that the main captain was to be played by a bald British actor, that there would be an android, a Klingon, and so on. But in those pre-internet days there was far less in the way of "spoilers", so I remember going into the screening with very little expectation of what to expect.

The prevailing view, as far as I'm aware, is that the pilot was an underwhelming opener to what would prove to be a weak couple of seasons, before The Next Generation really found its strengths. That certainly chimes with my recollections of that screening, in that the early appearance of "Q" - the recurring alien trickster figure - seemed to harken back to some of the hoariest episodes of the original run, in which super-powerful alien demigods were forever popping up on the Enterprise's bridge, usually in some sort of period costume.

Rewatching "Encounter..." now, though, after a gap of nearly thirty years, brings a more balanced view. It's not actually that terrible. The pace is slow, and the stakes are never more than vague, but perhaps it needed that narrative space to allow scope for the characters to establish themselves. And, allowing for some stiffness in their interactions, there are welcome moments when the pilot takes time to allow the characters to present themselves, which perhaps wouldn't be the case if there was a lot more running around and shouting.

Significantly, if you've splashed out on the Blu-Rays, it looks magnificent. They did an amazing, and by all accounts expensive and painstaking job, in restoring this series. The effort is worthwhile, because - allowing for the inevitable production economies of indoor sets masquerading as planetary locations - it holds up very, very well for a show made thirty years ago.

Above all else, it's a reminder that there was a time when Star Trek was actually forward-looking, not afraid to move beyond its past.

*- Verne describes the Nautilus as being seventy metres long. I think it some point I must have encountered a mistranslation which put the length at seventy feet, because I remember being convinced that this was nowhere near big enough.

Monday, 27 March 2017

I'm in Love with a German Film Star

Because I can't ever get enough of this.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

New one in

So I've delivered a new novel. We have a possible title, but it's still subject to discussion and may well change, so I won't mention it just yet. What I can say is that the new book is the first novel-length work to be set in the Revelation Space universe since 2007, and is also a sequel to The Prefect. Despite the decade-long gap beween these books, this one is set only two years after the last and features a large number of recurring characters. Nonetheless I hope that it will be capable of being read independently of the first.

As far as I am aware publication is not likely to happen until early 2018.

Monday, 20 March 2017


I was in Strasbourg the week before last, delivering a lecture to the International Space University. Opportunities such as this, which offer the chance to meet with friends old and new, as well as visiting previously unfamiliar parts of the world, are one of the great blessings of being a professional writer. I also have the benefit of having had what is considered to be an interesting career trajectory, having gone from full-time scientist to full-time author. Time and again, opportunities have come my way that would perhaps be rarer were I not to have had this supposedly unusual dual citizenship in the worlds of the arts and sciences. I am extremely grateful.

I had not visited Strasbourg before, so my wife and I made a short stay of it after I had delivered my lecture. Strasbourg was enchanting, a beautiful, compact city with wonderful winding streets and canals, its architecture betraying a long and turbulent history complicated by Strasbourg's close proximity to the German border. Indeed, Strasbourg has been both German and French in its time, as the border shifted one way or the other.

Inevitably, it was impossible to visit the official seat of the European Parliament and not be reminded sharply of the imminent reality of Brexit, now seemingly likely to be driven through in the hardest of all possible terms. I wrote about Brexit before the referendum, articulating - to the best of my abilities - my reasons for thinking that Britain would be better off remaining within the EU. My position was admittedly based as much on emotion as logic, but I see no need to apologise for that. Emotions have been running high for as long as the referendum has been on the table, on all sides of the debate. Why not? It's an emotive topic, cutting across real lives and real experiences. I lived and worked in the EU, I benefited strongly from the free movement of workers across its borders; I even claimed unemployment benefit from the Dutch government when I was without work. I see myself as European in outlook and temperament. My wife is an EU national. We now live in the UK, and for at least half a decade considered our future settled. We were content to make our future in a country we both regarded as open, tolerant and forward-looking. All of that has changed since June.

And yet, with a certain fatalism, I now accept the reality of Brexit. Barring some terrorist or military incident completely shifting the political landscape, there seems no way that it is not going to happen. Reasonable voices have been raised against it, and their positions summarily dismissed in the most insulting of terms - enemies of the people, remoaners, and so on.

But acceptance need not mean an abdication of feeling. I "accept" Brexit in the same spirit that, if you are strapped to a table and someone is sawing your leg off, you "accept" that it will continue. Indeed, once started, the process - however damaging - had better be seen through to its dispiriting conclusion. I am convinced now that our leaders have already poisoned the discourse so thoroughly that it would be difficult for the UK to settle back into its former position within Europe, even if Brexit were immediately abandoned.

It won't be, though. Like Basil Fawlty, bashing his head against the desk, it seems this is the reality we're stuck with.

Friday, 17 March 2017

John Lever

I was browsing the Guardian's music section when I saw the sad and shocking news that drummer John Lever had died. Never famous, Lever was nonetheless the driving force behind one of the enduring musical obsessions of my life, the underrated but quietly influential band The Chameleons.

They were active in their initial incarnation for only five or six years, enough to put out a few singles, cut three albums, and record a number of radio sessions. They were completely unknown to me until the release in 1986 of the single Tears from their third album. I heard it played - and get mostly slagged off, I seem to remember - on one of those jukebox jury type programs on Radio 1. Something of its driving, start-stop energy must have stayed with me, though, because when I later saw the 12" ep of the single, I snapped it up. I played little else that summer. I still have that 12" and I still play it regularly. It's magnificent.

I bought the album when it came out, which disconcertingly enough had a completely different version of the song on it, but which I came to love just as much as the single. I suppose you'd call it moody indie rock now, but at the time the only people I knew who had even heard of this band were some of my goth friends, and thanks to them I managed to hear the earlier singles, as well as the first two albums. Over the next few years, these records (and the various spin-offs by the band members, after the group disbanded) were rarely off my turntable. Nobody else sounded like them. You could hear their influence in lots of bands who came later,, but no one seemed to come close to the same magical alchemy of chiming guitars, soaring vocals and god's own drum sound. Someone once described John Lever's playing style as sounding like a man trying to smash a lathe to pieces.

I mean, have a listen to this:

When I first heard the above track - Home is where the Heart is - I felt like it was a piece of secret music I'd been waiting my whole life to hear. I played it last week, as it happened, just because, and it still sounds as huge and terrifying and apocalyptic as it did in 1987, when I encountered it for the first time. I mean, listen to those drums. That's the end of the world right there - and bloody hell it sounds good.

I thought I'd blown my chances of ever seeing The Chameleons by dint of coming to them a few months too late. They were gone by 1987, splitting up in acrimony after bad deals and the death of their manager. They deserved much better, and there was a second bite at the cherry around 2000-2001, when they reformed for some dates and a new record. I caught them twice, and they were as great and thrilling as I'd hoped. Both sets commenced, I recall, with the titanic A Person Isn't Safe, from their first album.

Thank you, John Lever, for laying down your drum sounds on some of the greatest records almost no one has ever heard.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Diamond Dogs

Cast and crew of DD. Kneeling with the poster is John Henry Roberts, who played Richard Swift. Standing behind John is Steve Pickering, head adaptor. At the extreme left is Christopher Haimsworth, who played Roland Childe. Kneeling between the front and back rows is Abu Ansari, who played Captain Forqueray; just in front of Abu in red is Joey Steakley, who played Doctor Trintignant (spending the entire production in a mask). Katherine Keberlein, in white at the back, played Celestine, and just in front of Katherine, wearing purple, is Elana Elyce, who played Hirz. Just behind Abu and to the right of Steve Pickering is, I think, Lindsay Dorcus, puppeteer. I met all the other lovely people but I'm afraid beer and tiredness have fogged my recollection of names; I'll endeavour to identify them once this entry is posted.

The week before last I attended two performances of Diamond Dogs at the Chopin Theatre in Chicago, the first adaptation of any of my works in any medium. It's a memorably novel experience to be sitting in the audience, watching your own characters move around on stage, playing roles in a story and universe that originated in your own head.

The House Theatre team did a remarkable job with this undoubtedly challenging material, working with inventive stage and prop design to nonetheless evoke a series of settings many light years away, and hundreds of years in the future. All the cast are in the above photo, along with the crew behind the production, and it was a pleasure and privilege to see so much skill and imagination come together on stage.

My story takes place in a range of locales, from the bowels of Chasm City, to a starship, to the ravaged surface of an alien world, and ultimately the many-roomed interior of the enigmatic alien structure named Blood Spire, an enormous tower floating just off the surface of the planet Golgotha. Depicting all this in film would be a feat in itself, and quite beyond any reasonable notions of practical theatrical staging. The solution adopted by the House Theatre was to use artful minimalism and suggestion, trusting in the audience to employ their imaginations given the narrative cues provided the actors and the sound and lighting effects. I thought it worked tremendously well, and the later stages of the story - involving the passing through of the puzzle rooms in the Spire - achieved a strange, stark beauty, all with little on stage but the illuminated, moving doorways and the actors in their spacesuits. Later, as the story progressed to its grim conclusion, extremely effective use was made of the ingenious puppet designs of Mary Robinette Kowal, allowing us to follow the actors as they became something other than human. These latter scenes, aided by an unsettling score, had a truly surreal power.

I came back for a second performance, before which I participated in an enjoyable on-stage discussion event with head adaptor Steve Pickering and artistic director Nathan Allen. Afterwards, I enjoyed meeting the cast and crew again, and even had the fun of getting into one of the spacesuit costumes:

It was a tight fit (we used Abu's costume) but we just about managed it. The helmet, with its built-in LED system, was very cool. The costumes were the work of Izumi Inaba, and very effectively designed. That glowing structure behind me is one of the two moving doors which were used to depict the interior rooms of the Spire, changing colour appropriately.

I was sad to leave the second performance, knowing there would not be a chance to see it again. It had been a long build-up to something that was over and done almost before it began, but such is the nature of these things and I couldn't have been made more welcome during my time in Chicago. Unfortunately the play's run has now concluded but hopefully one or two of my readers were able to get to see it. If they got half as much fun out of Diamond Dogs as I did, then it will have been an evening well spent. My thanks to all involved, and the very best of luck with your forthcoming productions.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Megatech - Technology in 2050

Due out at the end of March is this exceedingly handsome paperback from the Economist, full of smart and informed speculation about the state of the world in the coming mid-century, and also containing two original short stories. One - entitled Ma Ganga - is by the excellent Nancy Kress, and the other - entitled "Visiting Hours" - is by me. My piece takes a speculative look at advances in neuroprosthetic medical technology, springing off from developments already making the headlines.

The 242p page book is edited by Daniel Franklin and contains non-fiction contributions from Tom Standage, Frank Wilczek, Melinda Gates, Oliver Morton, and many others. I am very pleased to be among such esteemed company.

I haven't yet found a link to it on the Economist's UK website, but here's a link from the US version:

Friday, 10 February 2017

Go back, Jack

In 1985 I left home to start my university studies in Newcastle, situated on the chilly, north eastern side of the United Kingdom: about as far from Wales as it's possible to get before you end up in Scotland. Even the Romans got as far as Newcastle before deciding that was about as far north as it was sensible to go.

 It had not been my plan to go that far up; my hopes had revolved around a degree in Sheffield or - when the former option started looking doubtful - Colchester, both of which involved lengthy but not arduously long journeys. I had in fact been accepted onto a place in Colchester to study laser technology and attained (by a whisker) the necessary qualifying grades. When a place became available on an astronomy degree course, though, I jumped at the chance to study in Newcastle, even though I had never visited the city, not even for the usual university interview. The day I showed up for the start of term was my first time in Newcastle, and I came with as much as I could cram into a single rucksack, which would have been several changes of clothes, a book or two and perhaps a small portable kettle.

I almost certainly didn't bring my Sanyo Hi-Fi system, which would have followed a day or two later in a metal shipping trunk sent by British Rail's then Red Star parcels service. Someone kindly helped me collect the trunk from the Red Star depot in Newcastle, and from then on I was able to lead a much more comfortable existence in my student bedroom. By then I had a small but cherished collection of vinyl records, mostly acquired over the preceding three years. I had rarely listened to music in my early teens but by the time I was sixteen it had become an increasingly big part of my life, with regular visits being made to the record shops in Cardiff to stock up on an album or two. Like many such listeners back then, though, I was also an avid compiler of cassettes. Most of the new music I discovered came my way not through vinyl, but through the sharing of tapes between friends.

That was fine, because I couldn't possibly have brought my JVC turntable as well as the Sanyo system, so the turntable stayed at home, along with my records, and I made do with cassettes, both pre-recorded and home-taped.

On my first or second free weekend in Newcastle, I went down into the town and bought a cassette to listen to. It was an interesting choice, partly because it was a double cassette, but also because it was by a band I knew next to nothing about, and most of whose music I couldn't have named or recognised. I didn't know where the two albums on the cassette sat within that band's output. What I did know, though, was that one of the albums had the song Do it Again on, and that was my sole motivation for buying the cassette.

Whether it was the summer of 1985, or the one before, I can't now say, but at some point I had heard a song on the radio and it had burrowed itself into my brain as the ultimate earworm. That song wasn't even Do it Again, at least not in the purest sense. It was a mashup of Do it Again and Michael Jackson's Billy Jean, performed by Club House:

Something about the rhythm and melody of Do it Again, the plaintive, yearning vocal line, sunk its talons into me pretty deeply. I had to have that record, and if the price of that was a couple of Steely Dan albums on a double cassette, so be it. At that point, though, I couldn't have cared less about the rest of that band's output.

Within a few listens, though, both albums on that cassette - 1972's Can't Buy a Thrill, and 1977's Aja, had begun to exert a powerful pull on my imagination. I found myself listening ever more intently, sucked in by the lyrics and the amazing arrangements, quite unlike anything else I'd ever heard up until that point.

Steely Dan rapidly went from a passing interest, to my number one musical obsession. It was a love affair that would continue right through my student years, but doomed from the outset by a dark, dispiriting realisation: they had already split up.

This was 1985; Gaucho, the band's last album, had come out in 1980 - an age ago, or so it seemed at the time. They had made seven nigh-on flawless records and then just stopped. Donald Fagen had recorded one album in the intervening time, but even that was three years old. Walter Becker had been completely silent.

This was a bittersweet realisation. I had begun to explore a lush new musical universe - but it was finite, and like a non-renewable resource it must be treated as such. I therefore resolved to limit my purchase of Steely Dan albums as far as possible, delaying the inevitable point when I would have to accept that I had run out of their music.

For the rest of 1985, I bought no new Steely Dan material. I was ferociously strict with myself, listening instead to Aja and Can't Buy a Thrill on near-constant turnaround, finding new levels and subtleties in the music. Just trying to figure out the lyrics was a mission in itself. There were no lyric sheets or liner notes with the cassettes. I remember lying in bed, listening to Aja's title track over and over, trying to plumb its mysteries. Holy crap, is he singing "double-helix in the sky tonight"? What the hell is that about?

By earlt 1986 I'd cracked, though, and I purchased two more Steely Dan records. These were vinyl editions this time, since I was back home and able to make tape copies of them on my turntable. These records were 1974's Pretzel Logic, and 1976's The Royal Scam.

The Royal Scam remains one of my all-time favorite albums, not least because I can still remember the almost unbearable thrill of setting the needle down onto side one, and being blown away in short order by the holy trinity of Kid Charlemagne, The Caves of Altamira and Don't Take me Alive. Again, as per my experience with the first cassette, I had heard next to nothing of theirs before. In any case, they only had one or two "radio friendly" hits and I don't think these were ever part of my formative musical education in the 1970s. Quite simply this music was all new and fresh to me, and wonderfully exciting. Cool and clever, too. Fagen and Becker seemed like two wise older brothers, well versed in the ways of the world. Their lyrics dripped with bittersweet experience, hard-won cynicism, droll observations and exquisite flourishes of detail. It would still be years before I travelled to America, but via the music of Steely Dan, a little part of it began to unfold in my head anyway.

I cracked in another, smaller way as well: I bought Fagen's 1982 solo album, The Nightfly. This didn't seem like cheating as it wasn't precisely Steely Dan, and anyway, who knew how long I'd have to wait if I didn't snap it up there and then? It's still one of my favorites, not least because of the gorgeous Asimovian retro-sci-fi head-trip of IGY (International Geophysical Year), in which Fagen puts himself back into his own head as a teenager in 1957, imagining the coming world of 1977, with its wheels in space,  undersea trains of "graphite and glitter", and "just machines, programmed by fellows with compassion and vision". My sensors suitably attuned, I began to realise that sci-fi imagery cropped up elsewhere in the Steely Dan catalogue as well.

As 1986 wore on my resolve took another falter and I purchased Gaucho, the final Steely Dan album. Received opinion at the time of its release seemed to be that it was a step too far into flawlessly smooth production values, verging on the sterile, but I've always loved Gaucho, for all its studio perfection. In fact it's a hard one for me to pick an absolute favorite out of the final three albums, all of which I think are masterfully good, but it would probably end up being a toss-up between Aja and Gaucho. Far from being anything to do with production techniques, I think what really lifts these final three albums is the presence of the gorgeous female backing vocals, more prominent (to my ears) than on the earlier releases.

But the truth is that I love them all, and there isn't a Steely Dan album that you could reasonably call weak. By the end of my student days I had them all in vinyl, with the sole exception of Aja. Fittingly, perhaps, when I recently returned to the occasional vinyl purchase, a beautiful, heavy vinyl edition of Aja was one of my first treats.

Although it seemed so at the time, it wasn't really the end for Steely Dan. By 1986, Fagen and Becker were playing together on the same album, although in this instance it was the one and only release of former model Rosie Vela. I bought it because of the SD connection - and it's good, too. Becker got involved with China Crisis, so I bought their stuff as well, and then Fagen put out another solo album, 1992's cyberpunk Kamakiriad. By the mid-nineties they were playing together as Steely Dan again, and another two studio albums were to follow.

But by then I was buying CDs, and that's another story.

The author's Steely Dan collection, all but one of which was bought thirty years ago.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Diamond Dogs goes live, general service update etc

The stage version of Diamond Dogs, which I've mentioned on and off during its development phase, is now playing at the House Theatre of Chicago. The run - which has already begun - continues until the 5th of March.

The play is adapted from my original novella set in the Revelation Space universe, and deals with the psychological allure of a lethal but tantalising alien artefact floating just above the surface of the alien planet Golgotha. Drawn to this trap-cum-puzzle is a small but determined team of explorers and chances, intent on getting to the top of the Spire.

Directed by Nathan Allen, the play is an adaptation by Althos Low , a pen name for Shanghai Low Theatricals, a group dedicated to bring challenging works to the stage. Frankly you couldn't get much more challenging than a piece of space-operatic dark SF, involving interstellar travel, cyborg prosthetics and a monstrous alien structure - but suitably undaunted, Shanghai Low (with chief adaptor Steve Pickering) have put together what is by all accounts a very striking and inventive production, involving hi-tech stage design, imaginative costume work, and the resourceful and skilled puppetry of Mary Robinette Kowal, already greatly respected within SF circles as a fine writer. The script, which I read some months ago, is clever and involving, and very true to the beats of the original story. This is the first adaptation of any of the Revelation Space stories into another medium, and I can't wait to see it.

Assuming there is still such a thing as the United States a month from now, I'll do my best to be in Chicago in the latter part of February and catch at least one or two performances. Chicago is absolutely one of my favorite cities anywhere in the world, so it will be far from a hardship to pay a return visit. But first, a book must be finished, among other commitments which prevent me getting over sooner.

Here's a link to the House Theatre:

If you're within reach of Chicago, and you like my stuff, why not give it a go?

Link to a larger version of the poster

In other news ... not much to share, in all honesty. I'm late with the aforementioned book, so it's been head down for several months trying to wrestle that particular python. In publishing news, the US print edition of Revenger will appear soon, as will the UK edition of my novella Slow Bullets, but I'll do proper blog posts nearer the time for those two events. And, rather abruptly, perhaps, I decided to leave Twitter and deactivate my account. One or two people were kind enough to ask if all was well, and indeed it was, but I'd been tweeting less and less as we went into the latter half of 2016, and it seemed as good a time as any to knock it on the head. Rather than risk temptation, I decided that the safest option was to close the account. Good thing too, as there've been a number of occasions when I felt the urge to tweet something, and I doubt I'd have had the self-control not to go back onto it full-time.

So anyway, here we are - 2017. Best wishes to you all, and onward.