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Wednesday, 26 March 2008

What I Did On My Holidays

Eastercon 2008

Unfortunately, I could only attend the con on Saturday, which was a great shame because the whole place was a bustle of interest and activity, and I would have loved to sample much more!! However, with two young boys, I couldn’t miss them on Easter Sunday stuffing their faces with chocolate, could I??

So, where to begin? For a start, this was apparently the best attended Eastercon for many a decade, and the bustle reminded me of Worldcon in Glasgow, 2005. There were plenty of friendly faces, and I hooked up initially with Ian Sales (budding SF writer and shortly afterwards, the Heavy Boys from Solaris (, namely Christian Dunn and Mark Newton. Also present was Tony Ballantyne ( fellow teacher (well, Dep. Head!!) and Solaris author, Eric Brown (website currently under construction, I think) author of the fabulous Helix and Kethani and all round curry-aficionado. We were shortly joined by the cool and collected Jim Swallow (, author of many Star Trek and Doctor Who novels and a guy I was fascinated to learn was working on the story of the upcoming Eidos game, Deus Ex 3. Being a bit of a game-head, I loved Jim’s tales of being flown out to Montreal and chatting to designers who worked on one of my fave games of all time, Half Life 2. Jammy b******. Also had a chat with the esteemed editor-turned agent John Jarrold ( who regaled me with a tale from the David Gemmell years :-).

During a visit to the dealer’s room, I was head-hunted by Danacea ( of Forbidden Planet to sign her bust. No, really. A kind of plastic statue thing called MonQee destined to be auctioned and proceeds donated to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s; a very noble cause. I’m not sure quite why Charles Stross signed MonQee’s arse, but having taken the prime spot, I was forced to sign its head (and no, not the head Newtie proposed, the plump £100-jacket-wearing freak…)

After many beers, and a trip out for a late lunch, and more beers and fleeting meetings with Donna Scott of Visionary Tongue ( who’s just edited/ published my short story VACHINE (and yeah, Mark, donut-boy, it is spelt right) and a whole host of other nice people, we were joined by dapper chappy James Lovegrove (, fresh off a panel and ready for food. A thoroughly nice chap, and along with Eric, Christian, Mark, Ian, and a whole big bunch of writer-types we suffered a long freezing trek through the wilds of Heathrow to an Indian restaurant that served fine food aplenty (and much wine :-) ).

Back to the con for more drinkies with the likes of intellectual angryman Ian Watson ( who I love to bits, but really, he is absolutely barking mad in a really-cool-and-clever-sort-of-way, and then on to the famed Scandinavian party where I was forced to drink some toxic shite by the name of wormwood or deathwood or something; anyway, it was paint-stripper. No wonder all the Scandys (hello Anders!) had Big Beards. Reeling from that alcoholic blow, we (a rag-tag band of drunken heroes) somehow staggered to the disco, a kind of 80s school throwback playing Michael Jackson’s Thriller and other travesties of music. ‘Twas here I had the pleasure of meeting Saxon Bullock ( who’s just been signed by John Jarrold with his first novel Hyperion Gambit, which I hear is quite good. Saxon was the guy who wrote a scathing review of my recent novel War Machine, and so, tempting as it was to break his fingers, he did turn out to be a really nice guy, although it has to be said, he cannot dance. Ho ho. I have the video to prove it. Honest. I will auction to the highest bidder.

The evening rounded off in drunken merriment, and although I was going to mooch about on Sunday and sign up for Alt Fiction, I was struck by a terrible vomiting bug, obviously caught from one of the wormwood-quaffing Scandys, and absolutely nothing at all to do with the amount of grog I grogged. Anyway, spent the following morning reeling around in bed like a pathetic little girl. The new hardman of science fiction? Yeah. Right. I cried like a baby. Still, I’m sure I’ll be back on form for Alt Fiction in April!!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Orbital 2008

A big hello to anybody tripping down to London for Orbital 2008 this weekend. Should be a good gig, with lots of big names and if you see me stood at the bar, swaying, then come and say hello! I promise I won't chainsaw your fingers off! I'm looking forward to meeting Christian and Mark, the guys from Solaris, and my agent Dorothy who's coming up from Torquay. Then there's the indomitable rollercoaster steampunk-engine who is Charlie Stross, who's always a slice of academic comedy, and Juliette McKenna, Paul McCauley and James Barclay, all highly talented writers. I'm also looking forward to meeting Saxon Bullocks, newcomer, and of course Jonathan McCalmont, who used to run the fine SF Diplomat website and is supposed to be meeting me for drinkies, but I've a feeling he won't show....... Still, there's always Newtie, light-weight drinker he might be, and Ian Sales with his highly dodgy camera action......

Can't wait!!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008


Orbit have just reprinted QUAKE with a cool glossy cover; must be having a new spurt of sales on the back of War Machine, I think. So, if you're a completist collector, whip out and snap up a new copy!! You'd be a fool to miss this!!

"... a free-for-all punch-up, relentless and breathless and hugely enjoyable, and for no extra cost it's all held together by a clever storyline. A good read? Most definitely!" -SFRevu on QUAKE

"A hard-talkin', hard swearin', hard-fightin' chunk of military sci-fi." -SFX on QUAKE

On an Earth where conventional armies are powerless to defend against the devastation wrought by single assassins, the secret organisation Spiral exists to fight a shadow war against fanatics and rogue states of every persuasion. Of every country and of none, Spiral operates throughout the world in an endless battle for humanity's survival.

But now Spiral's toughest operative, Carter, faces a terrifying new challenge. A machine has been developed that can hold the world to ransom: capable of wreaking seismic havoc, causing earthquakes and eruptions on a global scale.

It must be destroyed - and Carter must do it alone.

Friday, 7 March 2008


Did Helvellyn on Thursday, I think it's my favourite mountain because it looks so stunning and brutal (although Crib Goch is much scarier!). Had a lot of mist on this climb, unfortunately, but here are a few pics giving a little flavour...

This is Striding Edge, the rocky ridge you have to traverse to get to the main stack of the mountain. The wind was pretty hairy, like poking your head up into No Man's Land. Still, made for some exciting trekking.

Ice-axe saved my life. No, seriously, the corniches on top were soft and sloppy, and my trusty magical AI ice-axe paid for itself during a 5 minute final scramble. Nearly slid off that damn edge as well!! Ho ho.

This edge, in fact. One wrong step- and waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh! A thousand foot pancake splat. Never underestimate the mountain.Here's the main stack, viewed on the way down as the mist had lifted a little. And below, a picture of Red Tarn from the top [although it's not my picture/ but I have been up in these conditions and it's truly stunning!! Ice-axe a necessity!!].

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


Just submitted my new short story VACHINE to Donna Scott at Visionary Tongue. It's to be published in this fine tome around Easter and stars everybody's favourite head-hunting psychotic killer-femme-fatale, PIPPA from WAR MACHINE and the upcoming Solaris novel, BIOHELL.

Visionary Tongue's website is:

Please support this superb publication by, um, buying one!!

Fizzy Snow

Here's my puppy experiencing snow for the first time. See how her paws flap. See how her ears stream. She how her dumb-muzzle attempts yet again to eat sheep poo. Why did nobody tell me it was so hard? Why did nobody tell me a puppy tries to bite your groin? Why did nobody tell me they eat all your furniture? Why did nobody tell me training a puppy is like trying to ride a bike up a frozen waterfall?

I'm climbing Helvellyn on Thursday, and will post some pics of what promises to be a stunning snowy climb. If nothing appears, assume I have been windswept from Striding Edge :-) and thus kiss goodbye to all future Combat K novels, ho ho.