Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Roadtrips and brickbats

It’s high time I collected up mentions of and responses to the manifold things I’ve been up to over the last year or more, having fallen rather out of the habit; the decline of G**gle Alerts meant I stopped paying attention, basically. I can’t even do vanity right!

Anyway, let’s start with fiction. I’ve not published anything since “Los Piratas…” went to MIT’s Twelve Tomorrows the year before last, but that story has had a second life on the review circuit thanks to its appearing in Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best #32. Someone by the moniker of Reißwolf rated it a three-star story, but recognised the Sterling quote near the end, so I’mma count that as a victory; meanwhile John DeNardo of SF Signal rates it a mere point-five stars out of five, saying that “the story is so steeped in boring (to me) economics as to be a story killer”. Can’t win ’em all, I guess… but hey, Professor H Bruce Franklin thinks it’s worth including on a course module reading list. And apparently Ellen Datlow listed “A Boardinghouse Heart” in the recommendations list for Best Horror of the Year #7, so I’m winning on aggregate.

Now on to things from this summer’s Utopian Infrastructures tour. FutureEverything’s City Infrastructures Lab went pretty well: here’s parts one and two of a piece I wrote for them as a follow-up, here’s an event report from Spaghetti Jams (with the wonderful title “The Metasystemic Roadtrip”), and here’s a video summing up the day (complete with an appearance Yours Truly and his overactive eyebrows).

Then there was Tomorrow Today at the ICA, a write-up of which can be found at Disegno; one Liam Healy took notes, but I clearly didn’t interest him very much. Selah!

A little more recently, Leila Johnston invited me to be involved in her How To Live Forever project, which takes a sort of experiential design-fiction-esque look at transhumanist immortality tropes. My contribution mostly involved being interviewed for this video, which was screened during the exhibit/performance/show/experience:

(More recently still, I was invited to debate the ethics of transhumanism at an event in London; on discovering said event was actually the UK Transhumanist Party’s AGM, I declined as politely as possible. There is, it turns out, a limit to my stupidity.)

What else? Oh, yeah, academia — I’ve an essay in press at the Journal of Futures Studies on the role of utopian thinking in science fiction, urban planning and futurism, but I’m not sure what the street date is on that one yet. However, the paper I co-wrote with Shirin Elahi off the back off Oxford Futures Forum 2014 just went live at Futures… and it’s open-access, thanks to the EPSRC coughing up Elsevier’s blood-price, so anyone (in theory) can read it. If you do, please let me know what you think.

Anatomy of the writing process

Via the Double-Boing, Ed Yong of Discover‘s Not Exactly Rocket Science blog presents a graphical representation of his writing process, which is so incredibly similar to my own experience of writing reviews and essays that it’s almost scary… right down to the querulous “maybe pissing around on the internet would help?” (It never has yet, but I refuse to deny it the chance.)

An anatomy of the writing process by Ed Yong

The passing of the baton

Well, all but one of the reviews for Interzone #217 are in. All that remains to be done now is give them a thorough editing sweep and email them off to TTA Towers …

… and then step out of the driving seat. Yup – thanks to the pressures of actually having lots of proper paid work coming at me from various angles, as well as all the other as-yet-non-lucrative stuff I’m entangled in, plus the fact that a lot of my new work puts me in the direct employment by authors and/or publishers, I’m stepping down as Interzone‘s Reviews editor as of the forthcoming issue.

Hard to believe I’ve been doing it for a year. In some ways it feels like much longer, in other ways it feels like I only just started. One thing’s for certain: if time were no object, I’d not be leaving the post, as I’ve had a lot of fun doing it and worked with some great people in the process. But time is the one resource that no amount of mining, outright theft or invading other countries can secure for you; as I’ve just said in an email to my team of reviewers, the Interzone gig is the easiest thing to disentangle myself from – not easy, by any means, but easiest.

In addition to being vaguely informative to the blogosphere at large, this post is to thank all the people I’ve worked with indirectly as a result of being IZ‘s Reviews Editor – the publishers, authors and website types who form part of the network of genre. Thanks for going easy on a neophyte, and for teaching me a lot in the process!

I’m looking forward to using that knowledge (and gathering more) in my various other posts – as PS Publishing‘s PR guy, as website-manager to various stars of the genre firmament, as Futurismic‘s editor-in-chief, and as a critic and writer in my own right (time permitting, natch, especially regarding the latter). Meanwhile, my Interzone post will be taken on by the eminently capable Jim Steel, who I’m positive will do a job far superior to my own.

All change!

Friday Photo Blogging: a year in music CDs

As should be apparent already to regular readers, I get sent a lot of CDs these days. Here are just some of them:

A year in music reviewing

That’s about a third of the albums I’ve been sent to review in the last year – the third that I’m actually interested in keeping, naturally. The others will be migrating their way to second hand shops some time in the new year.

I’m quite astonished at myself, really – if you count pieces pending publication, I’ve written well over 200 pieces of music journalism in the last year. Crikey.

As the above isn’t really a very creative photograph, you can have a bonus shot from the gig I went to last Sunday (I know, I’m too good to you):

Not Advised - live at The Alma Arms, Portsmouth

That’s Ash from Southampton pop-punk band Not Advised, who is probably most unimpressed by me not only capturing a great gurning moment, but plastering it on my review of the show at The Dreaded Press.

There’s an interview with the band, too. Not my normal cup of tea, music-wise, but a damn fine live act and a lovely bunch of lads to boot.

I remember being that full of enthusiasm once – perhaps if I hang around young musicians more I’ll rediscover the secret!*


Writing about music

I’ve pre-empted some of my music hack news above, but it’s been a busy week nonetheless.

Work continues to gather for The Dreaded Press, which is great news – I’m immensely chuffed that tomorrow (at very short notice) I’m interviewing the infamous Ginger, frontman of The Wildhearts and pathological side-project creator. Which is going to be awesome.

Hey, my interview with David Yow went live, in case you didn’t notice. I’m rather pleased with it (though Morrissey’s lawyers may be less so) – here’s a teaser quote:

“That’s the thing — I can handle eating nothing but baked potatoes and baked beans for a week, if that means that every night I get to get totally f*cked up and sleep with some slut who I never met before and will never speak to again, y’know?”

There’s no slacking for me next week either – Monday sees me reviewing Minus The Bear, and later in the week I’m interviewing Benedict Hayes of Enochian Theory for The Dreaded Press.

That last one is a bit of a cheat, in that I know Ben of old (local chap, lovely fellow, very tall, Cornish, mad), but his band are doing the brave new “start your own label and go it alone” thing, and I think it’ll be interesting to talk about the hows, whys and wherefores.

Still waiting on the replies from Henry Rollins, and just entered into negotiations (read as “pleading begging emails”) to arrange an interview with Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar) some time early next year.

Writing about books

Haven’t actually done any reviewing of books this week, having been instead concentrating on actually reading books instead, which has been very pleasant – I’d forgotten what it’s like to read a book by choice.

However, it appears the note-taking habit is now thoroughly ingrained … so my ARC of Stross’s Halting State is now festooned with post-it markers, as has become my tradition. I think I’ll probably review it anyway – it’s a strong novel with some good talking points, and it’s not like there’s any shortage of places to publish it.

Writing about other stuff

Also minimal. My excuse here is that I’m still doing the self-tuition thing with XHTML and CSS, which is a slower and more frustrating process than I’d like. But hey, when was learning something worth knowing ever easy, right?

Books and magazines seen

Only one confirmed literary arrival this week, namely my latest assignment for Vector in the form of Swiftly by Adam Roberts**, which I’m pleased about – Roberts is a challenging read, but that’s half the appeal for me. Although this is one of his works that bolts on to a literary classic – in this case, Gulliver’s Travels – which leaves me in a bit of a bind.

Yes, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve never actually read Gulliver’s Travels (though I know a fair bit about its content by inference). Methinks a trip to Project Gutenburg is in order if I want to do this one justice.

There may be more titles that should have arrived this week – if the “you were out” red card from the Post Office is anything to go by – but as it’s the (allegedly) festive season, I can’t go and check until tomorrow because they’re busier than usual. Selah.

Coda

Another high-velocity week has hurtled by. As much as I loathe [the holiday that shall remain nameless], I’m looking forward to having some downtime just so I can recover from what has felt like twelve months of relentless acceleration. Having discovered that my mother now has wi-fi at her house (w00t!), I should be able to finish up a lot of back-burner stuff in time for the new year.

Of course, we all know the saying about best-laid plans, so I’m not going to make any bets just yet. If I can just get some fiction writing done and develop a pre-emptive stock of Friday Flash I’ll be a happy man. Anything else will just be gravy. Mmmm. Gravy.

And talking of gravy, my tongue pines for the taste of cumin and other Eastern spices, which means I should be making tracks toward the Temple Of Culinary Delights and make my obeisance at the altar of The Friday Curry.

So have a good weekend yourselves, ladies and gents, and stay warm. Hasta luego!


[* Or get arrested on suspicion of more dubious motives, maybe.]

[** For which the rather fetching jacket art is seemingly unavailable online as yet. Sorry.]

[tags]photo, albums, CDs, music, reviews, interviews, writing, bookstores, blather[/tags]