I love days like today, because today I get to announce my next book - 'A Meeting Of Minds'. 

The book will be 'launched' and available for sale on March 18th - to co-incide with Sci Fi Weekender 7. Pre-order is not available yet, but I will announce it here and on my publisher's site as soon as we have a date. Or you could sign up to my publisher's mail list

Here's a taster of what you'll find inside:
Jaxon’s world, our world, has been scorched by a solar flare. The Dagashi came to help in city-sized space ships, but all they do is use what is left of humanity to scavenge technology - and to get taken for ‘rides’ by youngsters with neural implants. Everybody thought the Dagashi could only use the interface to receive, to listen, watch, or feel - until one of them speaks to Jax.

On the other end of the link is a human girl, around his own age and soon they become friends. When she tries to break off their contact because she is in danger, Jax offers to rescue her from the Dagashi ship. Once there, he not only discovers his friend has been hiding a secret, but that the Dagashi aren’t rescuers at all. They triggered the solar flare, and intend to strip anything of value from the Earth before abandoning it.


Twofer! Just like buses

Nothing for months, then two book reviews at the same time. Or that was the plan when I started this. However, given how long I have enthused over Airship Shape, I'm going to put the review for Pelquin's Comet up in a few days

Now, I have to admit that neither of these are entirely new; Airshipshape is almost two years old, and Pelquin's Comet came out around April last year. But I finally caught up with them in my reading list, and have been sufficiently impressed by both to set finger to keyboard.

Airship Shape first. Published by Wizard's Tower press, this is an anthology of Steampunk tales set in Bristol, or an alternate universe remarkably like it. Its always good for an anthology to have a theme, but in this case the editors (Roz Clarke and Joanne Hall) have added and extra thematic twist by splitting the book into three sections. Some believe (personally I dont) that 'proper' Steampunk should involve examination and/or damnation of slavery or the struggle of the disadvantaged classes to 'stick it to the man'. The first section, 'Less Than Men', looks into this but with wider eyes than the subject suggests. and I was delighted to see a 'Brassworth' by Christine Morgan consider a pet concept of mine; the rights of and Artificial Intelligence - And to do it with an excellent and witty tale.

The other two sections are 'Lost Souls' (creepy and fantastical), and 'Travelling Light' (bold adventurers and tales told over brandy and cigars in the smoking room of the club). The sub-divisions work really well, and I loved the mix of styles and stories it promoted.

As with all anthologies (pretty much), there is one, or possibly two, tales you are surprised made the cut, but apart from Brassworth, three more impressed me enough to deserve individual mention. First, a surprise from Andy Bigwood. I know Andy as a remarkable artist, but had no idea he could write as well. 'The Lanterns of Death Affair' was a clever little tale that fit neatly into the 'Travelling light' category.

John Hawkes-Reed's 'Miss Butler and the Handlander Process' may be misplaced in the 'Lost Souls' section, but for me is an excellent, archetypal Steampunk tale involving plucky young women, shady military organisations, and mechanical elephants with exploding knee joints. An absolutely superb romp, only narrowly beaten from first place by my third and final selection.

If 'Lost Souls' had not existed as a section, it would have needed to be created just for this story. 'The Girl With the Red Hair' by Myfanwy Morgan is a splendid tale, set comfortably in the milieu and oozing paranormal activity, with a triumphant end that makes you want to punch the air and hiss 'Yesss'.

In fact, both Morgan and Hawkes-Reed produced stories which I thought so good they poked, briefly, at my writerly confidence and left me think 'how the hell will I ever write like that?'

As I say, I know its not old, but the book is still available and I strongly recommend it.

I shall post the Pelquin's Comet review in a day or two.


Dont panic, no retrospectives here

Tis the season for the usual glut of posts on blogs and social media generally, all trawling over what we did last year. Relax. None of that here. Oh, I've no objection to people doing it - I guess it neatly summarises the year and brings it into focus, and perhaps even gives an opportunity to thank people or organisations. On the other hand, if it needs to be said again, somebody wasn't paying attention! (Only kidding).

I'm also a little cautious about prognosticating too fully on what's planned to happen in 2016 - things have a nasty habit of changing due to circumstances beyond our control. For example, I've filled out my holiday form in work already. I've two holidays, three long weekends and (and I can barely believe this myself) EIGHT conventions lines up. Less than two days after getting those approved it looks like I may need to change at least one of them to cater for an unexpected diagnostic procedure for a close family member. I'm not saying its bad to plan, but I am saying nothing is cast in stone.

Incidentally, the Cons I am booked for this year are

Feb 6: True Believers in Cheltenham
March 17: SFWeekender(Wales)
April 1: First Contact Day (Telford)
May 30: EM-Con (Nottingham)
August Bank Holiday: Asylum, Lincoln

And later in the year, Fantasy Con, Bristol Con, and possibly Swindon and Gloucester

Hectic, eh? Hoping it will be fun though.

Other major events I'm looking forward to are at least two new books coming out this year. 'A Meeting Of Minds' will hopefully be out in time for the SF Weekender. This is back to my Science Fiction roots, but with a liberal dash of romance. Expect the cover reveal in the next week or so.

Also, 'Amunet' will be published by Kristell Ink in the autumn. Gritty alternate-reality supernatural steampunk. Very excited about this, and to be working with the fine people at Kristell Ink.

And if I'm really lucky, I may get the last volume of the Warrior Stone trilogy out for Asylum, though I will freely admit to a large dollop of wishful thinking there.

Hmm, well, I kept half my opening promise. At least I haven't rattled on about last year. Having said that, did I tell you the story about...?