A Dog and His Boy

Posted: September 2, 2014 in Notes from Hebden Bridge

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Benny and Doctor Magnus insisting on getting to the sea to paddle, Lytham St. Annes, 1/9/2014.

Simply the best

Posted: September 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

Originally posted on Haley's Comment:

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How could I forget this? Well, one is tempted to quote Team America regarding busyness and all, but actually I just had a few days off. And what larks I had. Dinosaurs and roundheads in Leeds (sounds like a Doctor Who episode, but no). A visit to the fete in my home village, where Magnus won second prize in the Dashing Dog category. A walk in the forest, five minutes into which my dear wife tripped up and face planted very hard into the ground, so injuring her knee. Pub lunch, with beer! A trip to the seaside, where Dr Magnus learned an uncomfortable lesson in the inadvisability of eating dead jellyfish…

Minor calamities aside, I am rested and ready for typing. Before the storyfying commences for the day, observe the above photograph, brought to you in living colour. This is The Best British Fantasy 2014. It arrived last…

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Review: Amped

Posted: September 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

Amped
Amped by Daniel H. Wilson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wilson hit the big-time with Robopocalypse, and this book treads similar tech-speculative ground.
Set in the near future, Amped chronicles a crisis precipitated by an iffy Supreme Court ruling that brain-augmented humans, or amps, are not human. Teacher Owen, equipped with an epilepsy controlling doodah, finds himself lumped in with the new pariahs, before discovering that the amp his doctor daddy gave him has serious military capabilities.
Amped is mostly bobbins; a short book with big text that reads like a detailed movie pitch. It would make a movie; the explosive, simplistic fare, like Jumper, that fits in the gaps not filled by superheroes at the cinema. There’s a girl in need, a cute kid, a job that needs a certain kind of man to do, and a twist so obvious it might as well be on page one. Speaking of superheroes, the amp-backlash reads like the X-Men, but less realistic, coming out of nowhere to make the author’s point.
What saves Amped from ignominy is that Wilson writes well; his prose is strong with good visual flourishes. Well-paced and peppered with action, it holds the attention for a time.
Amped presents a good opportunity to explore how much we’re really in control of ourselves anyway, but this deeper matter is addressed in one sentence, while the whole sudden rejection of enhancement tech seems so unlikely as to undermine what credibility its sub-Die Hard storyline has. Competent, but entirely unchallenging.

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Simply the best

Posted: September 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

20140902-100211.jpg

How could I forget this? Well, one is tempted to quote Team America regarding busyness and all, but actually I just had a few days off. And what larks I had. Dinosaurs and roundheads in Leeds (sounds like a Doctor Who episode, but no). A visit to the fete in my home village, where Magnus won second prize in the Dashing Dog category. A walk in the forest, five minutes into which my dear wife tripped up and face planted very hard into the ground, so injuring her knee. Pub lunch, with beer! A trip to the seaside, where Dr Magnus learned an uncomfortable lesson in the inadvisability of eating dead jellyfish…

Minor calamities aside, I am rested and ready for typing. Before the storyfying commences for the day, observe the above photograph, brought to you in living colour. This is The Best British Fantasy 2014. It arrived last week. Within is my story ‘iRobot’, originally publishing in Interzone last year. It is edited by Steve Haynes, and out from Salt Publishing for a bargainous price. Besides my humble effort are also stories from: Priya Sharma, Jess Hyslop, Georgina Bruce, Tim Maughan, David Turnbull, Helen Jackson, E.J. Swift, Carole Johnstone, Jim Hawkins, Chris Butler, V.H. Leslie, Sarah Brooks and Nina Allen. Read them, and be amazed!

Black Templars

Posted: August 28, 2014 in Fiction, The Black Library
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Well. Well, well, well. The first totally original post for some time (does that review I wrote last week count? Barely). Sorry about that. I do intend to write about my experience moving back to my home town, and pen a farewell to Somerset – something I’ve been meaning to attend to since before I left. I’m ten weeks overdue.

However, that’s probably more for my own benefit than your interest. So let’s talk about The Black Templars instead. Those of you who read my Black Library fiction will have noticed that I’ve written a few stories concerning the Knights of Dorn. I think I can now safely confirm that I am currently working on a new Black Templars story arc. This is really exciting as it’s the first line of Black Templar fiction since the new codex came out. So far, the following have been released:

There are more on the way. It’s perhaps worth noting here that ‘Only Blood’ and ‘Season of Shadows’ make a mini-arc, with ‘Only Blood’ coming first. The stories I’m writing comprise two strands, those about Helbrecht, and those concerning characters of my own invention. Armageddon provides a crossover point for the two.

I know the Black Templars have a lot of fans, and I’d like to invite you to comment here. Ask me questions, put me right, make suggestions. I enjoy talking. Let’s talk!

Finally, I’ve started my own Black Templars force. I’ve never actually had a proper Space Marine army before, so this is a new hobby journey for me. If I can take some decent pictures, I’ll put them up here on the blog at some point.

Until later.

Praise be.

Review: The Dragons of Babel

Posted: August 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Dragons of Babel
The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, picking it up after I read the first part of this follow-up as a short story. The sheer inventiveness of that segment had me hooked, wherein a wounded mechanical dragon – an aircraft of a machine-age fairyland – crawls into a village and promptly sets itself up as king. I don’t buy a lot of books, despite reading plenty. Yeah, that sounds immensely hypocritical for an author. But most of my reading time is taken up reviewing (copies provided) or researching for my own novels, to which end I have Black Library novels spilling out of my iPad. If I buy something and – more tellingly – make time to read it, then there’s usually a really good reason. The Dragons of Babel was bad for me, in that it I got so much into it that it, ahem, delayed some of my work slightly.

The Dragons of Babel is not so iconoclastic as The Iron Dragon’s Daughter (John Clute, the world’s most erudite and learned reviewer of speculative fiction, described the first novel as ‘anti-fantasy’. That’s a label that fits well). Babel is, however, as crazily imaginative, and treats the tropes of fairytale and modern fantasy both with equal subversiveness as the book’s predecessor. While not as furious, The Dragons of Babel instead displays a great deal of humour, undermining the well-worn ‘potboy to king’ story to often hilarious effect.

Originally composed as a series of short stories, The Dragons of Babel lacks a certain cohesiveness. Although the parts are peerlessly good, they don’t add up to much more than their own individual merits. But these semi-discrete sections are so meritorious that it is easy to overlook the book’s slightly slip-shod, fix-up nature. A definite keeper. Check out the first too, that’s a five star book if ever I read one.

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