Swings and roundabouts

My last post was about a news item that upset me - so here is one about a news item that made me smile.

I was watching the BBC Breakfast program this morning, specifically the item on the 'Tough Guy Challenge'. This is a gruelling assault course involving mud, climbing nets, very cold water, crawling pits, more mud... I think you get the idea.

And this year they opened it up to kids - after fencing off some of the more obviously dangerous bits. What brought the smile to my face were the boys - and girls - they were interviewing who had just completed the course. One young lady around ten explained how she was 'really frightened, but I made myself do it'. When the reporter asked how she felt, the little girl replied 'Proud of myself.' I almost got a lump in the throat. Almost.

A lad of about the same age summed it up. "It felt real. Adventure rides you're all strapped i and you know its safe, but this is a big difference, and its a bit dangerous." And all the while his faced had that 'can I go back and do it again' look.

Kid love to be pushed, to feel the adrenalin, to feel scared. I know I used to. That little tremble of uncertainty when you look down off the roof of the garage and wonder if you really can jump off, and the awesome sense of achievement when you do.

I think its a shame so few kids get to feel that these days.


I saw a news item yesterday that upset me enough to knock my own book launch off the top of my blog. The item was a man by the name of Dr Raymond Janowski, Deputy head of something important for Hertfordshire Health Authority (or whatever the right name is) blandly trying to defend the Health Authority's policy of forcing people to lose weight before allowing them to have surgery. All a little imprecise, I know.
See, I was busy spitting nails because the article was actually about a 79 year old woman who was desperately in need of a hip replacement. She wasn't hugely overweight, but the hospital was insisting she lost over three stone before they would operate.
How in the names of the gods is a 79 year old woman supposed to lose a third of her body mass if she can't walk? You lose weight by exercise. Dieting alone is not very effective,and at her age she would be risking malnutrition of clinical anorexia - either of which would have compromised her recovery a damned sight more than a little excess fat.
There is a time and place for insisting that people lose weight before an operation, but this example was rampant bureaucracy, unnecessary and heartless, and I wish that these pompous, self-opinionated fools who make rules for the masses but ignore the needs of the individual could be afflicted with the ailments they refuse to cure, just long enough to give them a flavour of the suffering of others. Bet the rules would change then.


Aphrodite's Dawn Now Available

 Aphrodite's Dawn is now available from the kindle store

Garret and his friends have their world turned upside down when they find out they are living inside a dying starship. They have to make the choice; leave things as they are, or fight to get the starship to the new home they set out for thousands of years ago.


Where is all the YA SF

I was recommended to this link, which is a fascinating look at science fiction for young adults by Malinda Lo. In one way, it makes me feel good, because one of the reasons I started to write YA was because I thought that adventure stories, especially for boys, were underrepresented. Seems I needn't have worried.

One the flip side, I never realized I had so much excellent competition!

On the whole, though, its competition I'm glad to have, as it means the YA market for the sort of stuff I like to write, and more importantly read, is vibrant and active, and that has to be a good thing


I got sent this artwork last night, so I thought I would share it with you straight away. Awesome, isn't it. I'm told we should get a release date really soon, so check back here or keep an eye on my facebook for news.


Grand Plan Update

Second outline finished. I now have the second Warrior Stone book waiting to be written. Of course, cant really start it before I find somewhere to place the first one. And I guess the same goes for the sequel to Aphrodite's Dawn That's the outline I'm working on now, but I cant really get started on writing it until we see how Aphrodite's Dawn is received. Looks like the steampunk outline could get developed first.

That is, unless I can actually come up with an idea for one or more of the three short stories I promised myself. So far, still not a squeak. I guess it could be my muse is more than happy with the three book ideas, but I'll give her a little longer to make her mind up.


The questionable sanity of HS2

I  don't like the idea of HS2. I know that investing in infrastructure work is recognized as being a great way to push out of a recession, and I don't deny that. I'm not sure that a high speed link between London and Birmingham is the best use of the money - after all there are far more congested public transport links getting INTO cities rather than between them that should probably be sorted out first.

But what triggered this post is that I've just seen it rumored that the contract for HS2 is likely to go to an American company. If that's true, everybody needs to oppose it. What the hell is the point in spending an obscene amount of money we don't have, supposedly to boost the economy, when the economy that is being boosted is not ours, but America's.

That's not protectionism. If we have the skills and resources to do it ourselves then that is what we should do, and save ourselves another embarrassment like the Siemens/Bombardier debacle where £1.4billion worth of rolling stock that could have been built in the UK is now being built by Germany. I mean, when was the last time you heard of Germany, or the USA, offering us $1 billion plus contracts for anything.



Grand Plan in trouble already

Well that didn't take long. Remember the 'Grand Plan'? Three outlines and three short stories before I can start on another novel? I should be so lucky.

First, ideas for shorts are avoiding me in droves, even after I've done the usual trick of scanning Static Movement and Wicked East Press for ideas.

Second, and most problematical, what I did come up with was a new outline for another YA story (again, somewhat steampunky) that is so damned interesting I am having a real problem not going straight past the outline and starting writing it.

Must exercise patience. Must try to stick to the plan at least until the end of January.


GetWriting 2012

Things progress apace. I have my material ready for both my 'instant pitch' sessions now. The stuff for an adult SF novel (by my alter ego) is sent in and being routed to Lee Harris of  Angry Robot, and my pitch for the last story I finished, "Warrior Stone: Underland" is ready to be burbled hurriedly at Marlene Johnson. All I hope is that my tongue doesn't do its usual trick and glue itself to the roof of my mouth.
Pitches aside it will be nice to see a few familiar faces (Jonathan Pinnocka nd Sandra Norval to name but two), and hopefully make a few more contacts.


Review: 'Steampunk' ed Kelly Link and Gavin J Grant

Two stories in this collection stood out as shining examples of Steampunk. Honourable mention for  "Last Ride of the Glory Girls" by Libba Bray. An excellent Wild West steampunk romp, gentle twists and a good punchline.

The best story, by far, was 'Steam Girl', by Dylan Horrocks. The story is written in true steampunk style. The story is so dense that it is almost impossible to summarise it without dropping spoilers all over the place, but for me it had everything a steampunk tale need and was superbly framed in a mundane setting that telegraphed the ending but still left you with a virtual 'air-punch' and a muted 'yes' at the end.

Unfortunately, the rest of the anthology lacked fire. Not so bad that abandoned the book. I did read it to the end, but its not one I will be keeping to read again.