SF Wars

I found some goodies in the post when we got back. Here we have SF Wars edited by Ian Watson and Ian Whates. My story in here, The Rhine’s World Incident, was first published in Subterfuge.
War is becoming increasingly ‘SF-ized’ with remotely controlled attack drones and robot warriors already in development and being tested. Over the past 100 years the technology of war has advanced enormously in destructive power, yet also in sophistication so that we no longer seem to live under the constant threat of all-out global thermonuclear cataclysm. So what will future wars be like? And what will start them: religion, politics, resources, refugees, or advanced weaponry itself? Watson and Whates present a gripping anthology of SF stories which explores the gamut of possible future conflicts, including such themes as nuclear war, psychological and cyberwars, enhanced soldiery, mercenaries, terrorism, intelligent robotic war machines, and war with aliens.All the stories in this collection of remarkable quality and diversity reveals humankind pressed to the limits in every conceivable way.It includes 24 stories with highlights such as:The Pyre of the New Day’ – Catherine Asaro.The Rhine’s World Incident’ – Neal Asher. Caught in the Crossfire’ – David Drake. Politics’ – Elizabeth Moon.The Traitor’ – David Weber.And others from:Dan Abnett, Tony Ballantyne, Fredric Brown, Algis Budrys, Simon R. Green, Joe Haldeman, John Kessel, John Lambshead, Paul McAuley, Andy Remic, Laura Resnick, Mike Resnick & Brad R. Torgersen, Fred Saberhagen, Cordwainer Smith, Allen Steele, William Tenn, Walter Jon Williams, Michael Z. Williamson, Gene Wolfe.

Starship Sofa

Heh, I never spotted this picture before. It’s from Starship Sofa and the audio version of my short story The Gurnard. To the right you have Erlin (of Spatterjay fame) in the background you have one of the carnivorous sheep, and the hero, Sirus Beck, having disposed of one of the bad guys, is carrying the Gurnard itself in that fish bowl.

Other audio versions of my stories can also be found. Here you can find Adaptogenic. And here over at Escape Pod you can find Acephalous Dreams and The Veteran.

That’s not forgetting that The Skinner, The Voyage of the Sable Keech and Orbus can be obtained from Audible.


It was interesting doing a little bit of criticism on the writer’s workshop on my forum today. I was very much reminded of my time in a postal workshop or ‘folio’, but there are constraints with working onscreen. I kept on wanting to print out what was there so I could take a red pen to it, even though this was something I never did in the folio, and when it came to picking things apart I still had to do that with pen and paper before typing it in.
I also really have to recognize that ‘not the way I would have written it’ is not the same as ‘plain wrong’. Reading someone else’s work, with a critical eye, brings home to you just how many different ways there are of saying the same thing, but in those different ways there can be a thousand different nuances and elucidating them can be a bastard.
So, if you fancy yourself as a writer, or want to learn, why don’t you join in?

Writing Workshop

Here’s a thought: how about a writing and criticism section on my message board? A place where people can stick up samples of their writing and have others criticise it? This would be an internet version of the kind of postal workshop, or folio, I was a member of for about 10 years…
Obviously I wouldn’t be able to add lots of comments myself while I’m in Crete, but this could still be a useful resource for those who want to write.
H/T Guy Haley

Oh, and seeing as I nicked this idea from Guy I just went and bought his novella (a mere 65p) for my kindle.

Short Stories and Stuff

Well, it looks for sure like Piper’s Ash, who published Runcible Tales, has closed:

After some 40 years promoting new authors, we regret to say that we are now closing down our business. We wish new authors every success in the future with new publishers.

This means I now have a handful of short stories to go towards another collection: Always with You, Blue Holes, Dragon in the Flower, The Gire and the Bibrat & Walking John and Bird. Other stories that could be made part of a collection include Shell Game, The Cuisinart Effect, The Rhine’s World Incident and perhaps some others sitting in my files that are unrelated to the Polity (as most of these are) or Cowl (the Rhine’s World one).  The thing about The Gabble was that Peter Lavery asked me to confine myself to Polity stories so it fitted in with the rest of the Macmillan books, so I have plenty of other stories knocking about that don’t really fit anywhere.

Meanwhile, it’s lovely to discover that I’m right-wing (and probably a fascist) and that my writing is ‘a bit moronic’ and the ‘political anvils’ I drop into my work are naïve. This of course means that all of you who enjoy my books were too stupid to notice my obviously deep desire to stomp all over you with jackboots as opposed to, say, always protesting about big autocratic government. I never realized, but now it’s been made clear to me I will of course be off to get a swastika tattooed on my forehead. Surely it was clear that all the Polity books described the fascist state I wished we all lived in?

And meanwhile I’ll get back to Jupiter War, the last book in this Owner trilogy. I ask what I consider to be some serious questions, but these books are completely irrelevant. In failing to conform to correct political thought and not loving big state socialism I’m obviously as dumb as a box of spanners.

The New Space Opera

I do have a bad habit with anthologies I’ve been published in. I tend to receive them then stick them on a shelf as eye-candy yet, of course, they probably contain lots of stories I would like to read. The other day I changed that habit by picking up The New Space Opera edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan. It contains a story by me called Shell Game, and has been sitting on my shelf since 2009. I did enjoy this and out of the 19 stories enclosed there were only two I didn’t finish and maybe only a couple more I finished with a ‘meh’. Particular highlights for me were the stories by Robert Charles Wilson, Peter Watts, Kristine Kathryne Rusch, Jay Lake, Sean Williams, John Meaney, Elizabeth Moon and John Scalzi.

Dreams and Nightmares

Damn but I wish I had dreams, and nightmares, more often. Last night I was chasing sheep off a vegetable patch I had in my parent’s garden whereupon I came upon a really tough cobweb made by a large green spider. When I cut the web it collapsed into a powerful spring. When I showed this spring to Steven Spielberg he didn’t believe me, so I threw part of it at him and told him to get it analysed. Next I was in a toilet in which the urinals and toilet bowl folded out from concealment, which was good, because they were filthy. There I found another web and another spider, though this spider was larger and covered in flowers. The spiders then made a perfectly natural transformation into worms I kept in a pencil packet and thereafter things got a bit chaotic…

Why do I wish for more dreams and even nightmares? Consider a nightmare I had many years ago. I was on an island covered in jungle, stepped onto a bridge over a stream and saw what looked like trout in the clear flow of water. Then one of the trout lifted its tubular thread-cutting mouth out of the water and I realized it was a leech. Retreating to the beach lying before a wall of jungle I saw long spidery blue hands reaching out and grapping someone (it might have been me – you know how jumbled nightmares are). Later this person was found, still alive, without his skin… I think you can work out where this one went.

Another nightmare involved being trapped in a cellar. The floor of the cellar was mud I was fighting not to sink into, and while struggling I realized the mud was actually alive. Next, out of the darkness came something moving like and ape. It turned out to be the still living body of a man, headless and chopped off at the waist. But he was okay because I knew he was there to help me. This nightmare I turned into a story called The Halfman’s Cellar which got me ‘honourable mention’ in the ‘Writers of the Future’ contest in 1991 and was published in a magazine called Scheherazade in 1994.

So what do I need to do, eat more cheese or something?

Snow in the Desert

Here’s another Christmas read for anyone who is interested.

Short Reads, which were first launched for Christmas 2010, are designed to be eye-catching titles at a low price that enable new ebook device owners to sample some of the best Pan Mac writers when they are hunting around for something to read on Boxing Day.

The 2011 list, with each ebook retailing at 99p, comprises three new titles from three bestselling Pan Macmillan writers – Christmas is for the Kids by Peter James (who has already had huge success with The Perfect Murder ebook, which was in the Top 10 chart in iBooks for much of 2010 and has been in the Top 100 consistently since), Three and a Half Deaths by Emma Donoghue and Bedlam by Andrew Lane. Also now available as Short Reads are Minette Walters’ Chickenfeed, Neal Asher’s Snow in the Desert and Water from the Sun and Discovering Japan by Bret Easton Ellis.

It can be found on Amazon Kindle here.


Here we go. Andy Remic contacted me about maybe submitting a story to Vivisepulture. Now, I don’t really have any Polity related short stories that haven’t already been published somewhere, but I do still have a few nasties in my files, so I sent him one called Plastipak. You’ll find the kindle version here. I’m told:

The official release date is 20th December, and the antho will be going out for the special Christmas price of £0.99p (to try and get it up those Amazon charts!!). On 26th December it will revert to £1.99.

                                  Edited by Andy Remic and Wayne Simmons
Welcome to our anthology, a collection of weird and bizarre tales of twisted imagination by Neal Asher, Tony Ballantyne, Eric Brown, Richard Ford, Ian Graham, Lee Harris, Colin Harvey, Vincent Holland-Keen, James Lovegrove, Gary McMahon, Stan Nicholls, Andy Remic, Jordan Reyne, Ian Sales, Steven Savile, Wayne Simmons, Guy N. Smith, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jeffrey Thomas, Danie Ware, Ian Watson and Ian Whates. Artwork by Vincent Chong.
The anthology is dedicated to the late Colin Harvey, with great affection.
In the tradition of Poe, Kafka, Borges and H. G. Wells, this collection of weird stories are written with the primary drive of presenting twisted deviations of normality. Whether it’s the deviant factory workers of Neal Asher’s Plastipak™ Limited, the pus-oozing anti-cherub of Ian Graham’s Rotten Cupid, the acid-snot disgorging freak of Andy Remic’s SNOT, or Ian Watson’s alternate zombie-crucifixion, each story will drag your organs up through your oesophagus and give your brain a chilli-fired beating.
Vivisepulture is an EBOOK original anthology edited by Andy Remic and Wayne Simmons. Vivisepulture can be purchased from www.anarchy-books.com in PDF, EBOOK and MOBI formats.
EPUB versions can also be read on your PC/MAC by installing Adobe’s Digital Editions for free. Check out: www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/

Heavy Metal

Righto, I’ve been given permission by David Fincher to show some pictures from the now defunct version of the new ‘Heavy Metal’ film which I’ll scatter through this brief summation. A few years ago I saw a thing on You Tube called ‘Rockfish’ a short CGI-animated science fiction story. I thought it was good and finding the email of the guy who did it, one Tim Miller at Blur Studios http://www.blur.com/ I sent him a message saying how much I enjoyed it. Tim thanked me, glad I liked it since he had books of mine on his shelf. A while after this he told me about this Heavy Metal film and asked if I had short stories they might use.

Pictures from Mason’s Rats

I sent loads, they selected some and I altered some, amalgamating the three Mason’s Rats stories into one and shortening Snow in the Desert. They asked me to write some specific ones, so I wrote one called Half Breed which was an orc/elf battle based on Rorke’s Drift, and a short piece called Dinopocalypse. And on story count my stuff made up two thirds of the film. It was all very exciting since the people involved were Tim Miller himself, David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, Alien 3), Kevin Eastman (owner of Heavy Metal magazine and creator of the Ninja turtles) and subsequently other people were to be involved, like Gore Verbinski, Guillermo del Toro, Tarsem, Peter Chung and Jeff Fowler (film buffs will know these names) and latterly James Cameron. Also I began to see the artwork being commissioned, which was very good.

Pictures from Bad Travelling

Initially the film was being looked at by Paramount, but they dropped out, and thereafter Fincher and Miller carried on hawking it around. At one point it went to Tom Cruise (he has a film company too), who looked at my story Snow in the Desert and thought it would make a good film by itself. However, all this was to no avail. Robert Rodriguez just optioned Heavy Metal and sadly he doesn’t get any of the stories/concepts/art that Miller and Fincher developed for their version of Heavy Metal.

Pictures from Snow in the Desert

Now Snow in the Desert might be turned into a ‘feature’. That would be great, but I have no intention of holding my breath!