Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Elephant on the Road

On the blog The Elephant Forgets, Richard Horton has an impresively comprehensive roundup of the year's short fiction. In his review of Jupiter he calls the Roadmaker series 'mostly enjoyable'.

Excellent. I mostly enjoyed writing them.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Year of Translations

It’s been a good year for translations – particularly Spanish. I had three pieces of flash fiction in Efimeras again this year, and four reprinted in Breves No Tan Breves and Quimicamente Impuro.

That’s the only translations published this year but I’ve had several more accepted that should appear early next year:


Inside Every Succesful Man - Intercom SF - Italian
Roadmaker - Bli Panika - Hebrew
A Few Good Men - La Idea Fija - Spanish
Launch - Quimicamente Impuro - Spanish
Frozen - Breves No Tan Breves - Spanish
Roadmaker - Catarsi - Catalan


I’ve posted 2 Scottish Gaelic translations of my own flash fiction this month and there are translations into Scots, Manx and Cornish under way, to be followed by Welsh and Irish.

Only about 6000 languages to go…

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Last Adam Again

Sneaking in just before the end of the year, my shortest story The Last Adam has been reprinted in Spanish in Quimicamente Impuro, this time with artwork by Salvador Dali.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Cat is Back

Reaccion Tardia, the Spanish translation of Delayed Reaction that first appeared in Efimeras in March has been reprinted in Quimacamente Impuro today.

The End of Phantastes

Some bad news today, though it is the first bad news I've received for quite a while. I had an email from the editor of Portuguese fanzine Phantastes to say that they have ceased publication. This means that A Word in the Right Place will now not be appearing in Portuguese.

:o(

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Year of Flash Fiction

Little did I realise when joining the Flash Fictioneers in July 2007 what an impact it would have on my writing. I discovered that writing flash fiction is great fun, giving me the chance to experiment with form and style while using up all those little ideas floating round my head that otherwise would stay in orbit for a very long time.

I was posting them here on my blog and getting some nice comments on most of them, and didn’t really expect them to go much further. This year my flash fiction has really progressed, even though I haven’t been posting Friday Flash Fiction regularly since the summer.

• At Eastercon I co-hosted a flash fiction workshop with the other Fictioneers.
• We launched Illuminations, our flash fiction anthology in which 8 of my favourites were reprinted.
• During the workshop I wrote It’s A Sign which this month was published in VW Camper and Commercial, my third professional sale.
Travel by Numbers was intended as a FFF story, but I expanded it to just under a thousand words and sold it to Nature – my second professional sale.
• I sold The Ironic Man to the Pow!erful Tales anthology, due out in February.
Dog’s Best Friend will be appearing in a future issue of Jupiter.
Delayed Reaction is currently being considered by another editor – watch this space.
• My multilingual flash fiction project has led to me contacting a number of friendly translators and several of my stories are being translated into the languages of the UK and will be appearing here in the coming weeks.

That takes me on to translations, but I have so much to say about that too that I’ll need to write a separate post.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Flash Fiction: An Dùsgadh Dàlach

This week the second of my flash fiction stories, Delayed Reaction, is translated into Scottish Gaelic.


An Dùsgadh Dàlach

Na staid suaineach, b’ fhada an creutair mòr dà-chlachach a’ mothachadh na thachair. Mu dheireadh thall, bha buille nan nèarbhan air a h-eanchainn faoi gheilt a ruigsinn leis an teachdaireachd uamhasach: gun deach’ a sròn a ghearradh gu tur dheth.

A’ mosgladh gu h-obann, leum i chun a spògan le gaoir cràidhte a chualas bhon a’ Mhuir Mheadhanach gu ruige A’ Mhuir Dhearg, a’ cur aognaidheachd ann an cridhe na h-uile a chuala e. Ruith gaineamh mar eas thar a cliathaich ‘s i a’ tionndadh ‘s a’ leum le gràs àlainn nan cat thar a’ bhior-stùc a b’ fhaisge, a’ dol à sealladh ann an teas ceòthach Fàsach an Sahara.

A’ Chrìoch.



Eadar-theangachadh / Translation: Niall Gordan

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Recent Happenings

An amazing amount has happened this month with regard to translations and publications. Four stories were accepted for translation and two new translations appeared in Spanish, plus two Spanish reprints and my third professional publication, in VW Camper magazine. I’ve reached 14 publications for the year, equalling last year’s total and I still have an unprecedented 11 stories awaiting publication. I also spotted today that both Spanish reprints have received positive comments - which is always an added bonus.

Meanwhile I’m coming to the end of Michael Cobley’s enjoyable Seeds of Earth so I’ll have reviews of that and Interzone #219 ready for January’s SF Crowsnest. I’m currently perusing the list to see what’s available to review for next month.

My multilingual flash fiction project is going well, with the first Gaelic story on line last week and at least 2 more to come. Translations are currently underway in Cornish, Manx and Scots too. Irish and Welsh translations are still pending.

I received a rejection yesterday but wasn’t too bothered on two counts. First due to the astounding run of acceptances and publications this month, and second because a couple of days after I submitted this story I spotted a new anthology on Duotropes that it would be perfect for. I’ve excitedly submitted to it today.

As for writing anything new – hmmm. Don’t seem to have done much. I do have an idea for a new flash fiction story though.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Return to the Canals

The Gondolier makes another appearance today, this time in Spanish. El Gondolero originaly appeared in Efimeras last year and has today been reprinted in Quimicamente Impuro (Chemically Impure), the new Argentinian flash fiction webzine.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Road to Catalonia

Not the title of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby film, but news that Roadmaker is being translated into Catalan and should appear in the first issue of new magazine Catarsi in April.

That will be three languages for Roadmaker, having already been accepted by Hebrew magazine Bli Panika.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Flash Fiction: Fear a’ Ghondòla

This week I present a translation of my story The Gondolier, which was my first Friday Flash Fiction entry in July 2007. As far as we know, this is possibly the first science fiction short story in Scottish Gaelic:


Fear a’ Ghondòla


Sgolt sròn dorcha mo ghondòla slighe rèidh tro uisgeachan ciùine nan sruth-chlaisean. Bu mhath a bha an culaidh slìom seo air m’ obair a dhèanamh fad iomadh bliadhna, a’ giùlan luchd-siubhail tro sheòlaidean-uisge na cathrach fo làmh-stiùiridh mo shinnsrean.

Bha a’ ghrian a’ dol fodha thar na cathrach aosta, a’ fàgail uachdar an t-uisge mar ribean dubhadach na laighe eadar na togalaichean clach-ghaineamhach cuimire. Ghabh mi tarraing-analach d’ osag fhionnar an fheasgair.

An robh àite na b’ àille na cathair annasach seo nan sruth-chlaisean? Mar a chaidh am bàta gu socair a-steach gu caladh, stad mi gus amharc suas le sonas air ciaradh speuran Mhàrs.

A’ Chrìoch.


Eadar-theangachadh / translation: Niall Gordan

You can read this story in English in the Illuminations anthology, or in Spanish as El Gondolero on the Efimeras webzine.

Coming up in the next couple of months I have more stories in Gaelic, plus Cornish and Scots. I'm still working on Irish, Manx and Welsh.

VWSF


Two publications within a day - four in one month; both new records for me. My flash fiction story It's A Sign, that I originaly wrote at the Eastercon flash fiction workshop, appears today in VW Camper & Commercial.

My family have three campervans between them, so VW & SF is an ideal combination!

Return to the Mare Inebrium


The Mare Inebrium is a wonderful spaceport bar where anything can, and quite often does, happen. It was created by Dan Hollifield, the editor of Aphelion and has been featured in numerous stories over the past few years. My first small contribution to the Mare Inebrium universe was Ten Years at the Bar that featured in Aphelion’s tenth anniversary issue in April 2007. It was translated into Spanish as Diez Anos en el Bar and appeared in Efimeras in June 2007.

It’s just been republished in Breves No Tan Breves, the new Spanish flash fiction webzine from Argentina. This is my 12th publication of the year (including translations and reprints), achieving my annual goal.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Latest BSFA Mailing

The latest BSFA magazines arrived this weekend and included the third Special Editions booklet. This one contains three stories from recent Elastic Press anthologies, two of which I’ve read. At the end of each story there are a couple of quotes from reviews – including a quote from my review of The Turing Test.

I feel all important now. :o)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Translations and Publications

No sooner has Spanish flash fiction webzine Efimeras come to an end, than a trio of new webzines appear:


Rafagas Parpadeos for stories up to 39 words

Quimicamente Impuro between 40 and 149 words

Breves No Tan Breves from 150 to 750 words.


I immediately sent off 2 of my stories – Launch and Frozen - and they were accepted in record time. That will take my total of Spanish stories up to 9 when they appear. The new webzine have also agreed with Efimeras to reprint some of their stories, so El Gondolero, Reaccion Tardia, El Ultimo Adan and Dios Anos an el Bar will be reprinted too.

The Catalan SF society Ter-Cat have launched their new fanzine Catarsi and plan to publish their first issue in April. I've already sent in a submission.

Meanwhile over at Murky Depths there’s a special 3 for 2 offer on the first 3 issues. If you missed them along with Looking In, Looking Out that received several positive comments then they’re definitely worth picking up.

My multilingual flash fiction project is also steadily making progress with contacts now established with speakers of various languages. Still,let me know if you can help.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Nominations

It’s that time of year again when I start compiling my list of favourite stories of the year. I have 14 so far – stories that I’ve found entertaining, enjoyable, touching or just fantastic. I’m trying to whittle this down to a shorter list to nominate for the BSFA award.

For the first time ever I’ve actually read some novels that were published this year so I may nominate one of them too. I’m usually reading books that are up to 50 years old.

I’ve had five stories published this year too, four in the Roadmaker series published in Jupiter and Travel by Numbers in Nature, should you fancy nominating any of them.

Not that I’m kidding myself into thinking they have much of a chance. Jupiter is a small press magazine so presumably doesn’t have as great a circulation as some magazines. Nature has a circulation in the hundreds of thousands, but how many of those readers are also BSFA members? It may seem unfair that good stories from some venues will be overlooked (and I’m not talking about my own stories here), but that’s just demographics. Awards that rely on nominations will naturally receive more nominations for publications with higher circulations. The alternative is an award decided by judges, but this is equally unfair as it depends entirely on their personal choice. I’m sure when you see my list of favourite stories at the end of the year you won’t have liked half of them.

I guess it’s best to be philosophical about awards. If at some point in the future I ever receive one, I’m sure I won’t be worried about how it was decided. So I’ll put in my nominations and see if many others agree with my choices.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Multilingual Flash Fiction

Six of my flash fiction stories have now appeared in Spanish, and as I mentioned a while ago I’m also hoping to have one published in Catalan in the near future. As you may know I’m half Welsh, so for a while I’ve been looking into Welsh SF markets in the hope that one of my stories could be translated into Welsh. I’ve drawn a blank on that front, but I haven’t given up.

Instead I’ve been inspired to launch a new mulitilungual flash fiction project.

If there’s no Welsh SF market, then I’m sure I can find someone to translate one of my flash fiction stories and post it on this site. Partly for fun, partly for my own satisfaction, but also to see what interest there is in Welsh SF.

Then I started thinking about other languages native to the British Isles. Is there any SF published in Cornish, Irish, Manx, Scots or Scottish Gaelic?

The answer seems to be no in each case.

So I’ll find someone to translate and post flash fiction in all of those languages here on The Science of Fiction.

I’ve already made some progress in contacting interested translators, but if you speak any of those languages and fancy translating a short story to appear here, then please contact me. Equally if you have any information about SF markets in any of those languages, let me know.

This Friday will see my return to Friday Flash Fiction, with what is possibly the first ever science fiction short story to appear in Scottish Gaelic.

Don’t miss it.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Spanish Double

Spanish flash fiction ezine Efimeras came to an end this week with a bumper posting of its final five issues. Issue #135 is the last and had a touching editorial consisting of a single word: 'gracias'.

Issue #132 includes Paralelismos, the translation of Parallels.

Issue #134 includes El nuevo campo de fuerza del Emperador, the Spanish version of The Emporer's New Forcefield that you can read in the Illuminations anthology.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Sign Soon

Publication of my flash fiction story 'It's A Sign' has been brought forward by an issue and will now appear in the January edition of VW Camper & Commercials magazine. I've seen the proofs and it looks fantastic - a full page illustrated spread with excellent graphics. I won't have long to wait to get my hands on a copy either. It's due to be published in the next week or so.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A New Continent

My first professionaly published story A Few Good Men that appeared in Cosmos last year has been accepted by Argentine webzine La Idea Fija. This will be my first foray into South America, but my 7th story in Spanish.

The 'zine is planning to change format next year so I'll be appearing in their final issue in the spring.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Book Review: Perfect Circle by Carlos J Cortes


In the middle of Africa an ancient yet advanced artefact is discovered far beneath the Earth’s surface and Paul Reece, heir to a huge mining corporation, leads the mission to uncover its mysteries. ‘Perfect Circle’ is an engrossing adventure that mixes ancient mysticism and philosophy with modern business and politics, intriguing characters and interesting relationships, mining technology and social observation. It’s Cortes’ first novel and I’m suitably impressed.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Magazine Review: Murky Depths #6


In between receiving issues of ‘Murky Depths’ I always forget quite what the magazine is like. This means that every time I open the packet and pull out a new issue I’m stunned again at the vibrancy of its production. Full colour cover, glossy, high quality paper throughout, a rich medley of artistic styles, the clean and professional layout and that subtle smell of quality.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Book Review: Second World by Eddy Shah


Set in the year 2044 when the virtual reality ‘Second World’ is indistinguishable from real life a la ‘The Matrix’ and the American President’s virtual avatar has been kidnapped, this book is surprisingly not science fiction. It’s a thriller, which gave me pause to wonder how a thriller writer’s treatment of the subject would differ from an SF author’s.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Meanwhile, back in the present

In the past couple of weeks I’ve completed reviews of Murky Depths #6 – which is by far the best-looking magazine in existence, and of Perfect Circle by Carlos J Cortes. Both should be appearing at SF Crowsnest at the beginning of December.

I’m now reading Seeds of Earth by Michael Cobley. This is the earliest ARC I’ve seen – not due for publication until March. Interzone #219 arrived yesterday and as usual I turned straight to Ansible Link which is always entertaining. Also this week I caught up with recent issues of Hub and particularly enjoyed James Targett’s fabulous story Automatic Swan, Fusion Heart.

Two other exciting developments this week:

• For the first time I’ve received advance payment, for a story due out next year.
• I’m in secret negotiations to have a story translated into Catalan. That will be really cool.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When I Was Young (Part 2)

I remember the first book I got from the adult section of the library, when I was 11 and had started secondary school. I managed to convince my parents that I should be allowed an adult book as it was a Space 1999 novelisation, which I’d watched on the telly so must be OK. This was 1984, when everyone except me was watching the new Dune film. So Dune was the second book. I remember loving the little quotes at the beginning of each chapter but finding the book as a whole quite hard going. I also read a short story collection that included a Dragonriders of Pern tale and from then on became addicted to Ann McCaffrey’s series and still read each book as it appears now.

I also remember being put off PKD’s books by the strange titles and pictures on the cover. It’s only in the past five years that I’ve discovered his brilliance. Strange how youthful impressions can affect reading habits for years to come.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

When I Was Young (Part 1)

I’ve been thinking back to when I was young and the kind of books I used to read, wondering what it was that led me to read SF almost exclusively.

From when I was about 8 until I was 11 (when I first got books out from the adult section of the library) I read things like the Famous Five, Secret Seven, Three Investigators and The Hardy Boys. I also loved Willard Price’s Adventure series and the Choose Your Own Adventure books which led on to fantasy role playing books.

The SF books that stand out in my mind are Douglas Hill’s Last Legionary quartet, which I read four times altogether. There was also his Huntsman and ColSec series, Dragonfall Five (don’t know who wrote those) Asimov’s Norby the Mixed Up Robot and numerous one-off books, the most memorable being one called Citizen of the Galaxy. Plus all the Dr Who novelisations.

I also read some fantasy, notably The Chronicles of Narnia (which I read three times), but also the Black Cauldron series, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was 11.

There weren’t any Young Adult books in those days and despite having read a lot of mystery books, the adult mystery section never appealed to me. Moving on to the adult SF section of the library seemed like the natural thing to do, and of course the Fantasy section that was always adjacent. So I moved on to a whole new set of shelves…

Monday, November 24, 2008

Amazon Quote

I was tickled to discovers this weekend that my review of Paul McCauley's The Quiet War is partially quoted on Amazon.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Flash Fiction: Blue Men

This is more of an anecdote about an anecdote, which reminds me of the old saying: 'Two anecdotes don't make a story.' Or was that 'Two cooks don't make the broth'?

Anyway:


Blue Men will be appearing in the 2011 Daily Flash anthology from Pill Hill Press.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Spanish Double

Spanish flash fiction webzine Efimeras, who have previously published four of my stories, is planning to close after issue #135 which was scheduled for release by the end of the year. They’ve fallen behind with the last few issues though, but I’ve had word from the editor this week that the final five issues will all still appear by year’s end.

Two of my stories are included in the line-up: Parallels and The Emperor’s New Forcefield, which is slated for the penultimate issue.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Penultimate

A seemingly significant juncture was reached this evening when I completed the penultimate subsection of the penultimate section of the Roadmaker novel. I'm closing in on 65,000 words, which isn't much progress since last time I reported in, but it's going well when I am writing.

The previous section has been critiqued by three members of my Orbiter writing group and their comments are helping me as the story progresses further. More detailed planning of the final section is now underway somewhere in a secretive department towards the back of my brain.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Scheduling Update

I've heard from the editors of Portuguese magazine Phantastes this week who are publishing a translation of 'A Word in the Right Place'. They have just switched to electronic instead of paper publication and the next issue including my story is now scedulaed for December.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Editors: Gordon Van Gelder

Having spoken to many of the UK's SF magazine editors, I decided it was time to go international. Hopping aboard the glorious steam-powered airship SS Imperial I crossed the Atlantic in luxurious comfort. Over the skies of New Jersey I leapt from the craft at 4000 feet and swooped back to Earth using my patented retractable piston-powered dragonfly wings, landing unerringly on the office roof of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. There I was joined by editor Gordon Van Gelder.


GDJ: F&SF has a long and venerable history behind it. Do you find this weighing heavily on your shoulders, or is it more of a privilege?

GVG: That’s a good question . . . but I don’t have a good answer for you. Some days the magazine’s reputation is a great boon, other days it’s a real burden. I guess that when I stop to think about it, overall the good aspects outweigh the bad.

Back in my first editorial, I compared editing *F&SF* to managing the New York Yankees. I still think of it in those terms. It’s a wonderful thing to be part of such a storied franchise, but you’re also always aware that you’re part of a larger tradition and sometimes that sense of working for a big enterprise does grow heavy. Joe Torre left his position as Yankees manager last year and he admitted this year that the last two seasons hadn’t been much fun for him. I can understand how he felt.


GDJ: ‘The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’ is a description as well as a title and typifies the titles from the Golden Age. Do you think it adds to the air of authority? Would you consider ever changing the title?

GVG: I think the name has defined the magazine for six decades and I wouldn’t change it. There are plenty of other magazine titles available, if I ever want to publish a different magazine.


GDJ: People like short stories and novels for different reasons. What appeals to you about the short story form?

GVG: A lot of things. As you probably know, I was a book editor for a long time and I like novels just fine. What I like most about short stories are their concision (naturally) and their ability to strike quickly. A novel can be a bit like a prize fight that goes the distance, while a short story can be more like a one- or two-round knockout.

I also like the way a short story can take an idea and explore its ramifications without overdoing it. Some nifty ideas---a lot of ideas, actually---work well as stories but won’t support a full novel.


GDJ: In a previous interview you agreed with the general opinion that British SF tends to be pessimistic. Does American SF have any identifying qualities or does the size of the country result in greater diversity?

GVG: Oh gosh, I wish I could sum up identifying qualities of American SF. (You’re asking great questions, by the way.) I definitely think there is *a* strand of American SF that is relentlessly positive in its outlook. It’s the strand that maintains mankind will conquer the stars in some sort of intergalactic version of Manifest Destiny and it will turn the universe into a vast utopia. Time and again, I see American writers trying to tap into that theme, with varying success.

As for other strands in American SF, well, I’m not sure if this really answers your question, but it might. Last summer I held a panel discussion with Jonathan Lethem on genre vs. Mainstream and Jonathan said he was never really an SF fan so much as he was an enthusiast of a group of writers he termed “American Bohemians”---like Theodore Sturgeon and Avram Davidson---and he was always interested in the ways in which they took other forms (like the Southern Gothic) and adapted them to the SF genre.

Jonathan went on to say that while he was never a big SF fan, his friend Michael Chabon was---Chabon was the one with the whole set of Gnome Press books and Doc Smith books and so forth.

It occurs to me that Jonathan’s answer might point up two major strands of American SF, but I’m not sure if either strand is inherently American.‘


GDJ: You recently received the Hugo for best short-form editor. How important is that for the magazine and for you personally?

GVG: Since we’re doing this interview by email, you can’t see the expression that crossed my face and you can’t hear my laugh. The short answer is that it’s not important to me at all. I’m pleased and flattered to get the trophy, but I don’t believe I’m the best editor in the field, not by a long shot.

How important is it to the magazine? Not much that I’ve been able to measure. It hasn’t brought us vast hordes of new subscribers or elevated the quality of the submissions we receive.


GDJ: What plans do you have for F&SF next year, assuming they aren’t secret?

GVG: Well, you can see some of them already---starting with the December issue, we’ve been running reprints in the magazine, each one introduced by a current or former F&SF staffer. We’ve also been running some special covers that artists created for the anniversary. And of course we’re planning a special extra-large issue for the anniversary.

I’ve also got a couple of other things in the works, but I can’t guarantee that they’ll come to fruition, so I won’t say anything yet. But if you’re online, keep an eye on our blog or our forum for the news.


GDJ: Thanks for your time.

GVG: My pleasure. Thanks for the interesting questions.



Unforunately, Gordon mentions that the interview was conducted by email. without that you would probably not have guessed that my introdcution was a fabrication.


Other editor interviews can be found on the left-hand sidebar, or you can read all of them here.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Latest Happenings

My review of Eddy Shah's Second World is on its way to SF Crowsnest, so I've managed to read Jupiter XXII this week. Very enjoyable as usual, and not just because of my contribution. I'm also reading Murky Depths #6 and I've started on Carlos Cortes' Perfect Circle.

Meanwhile, due to a problem with errant emails, It's A Sign will now be appearing in VW Camper & Commercials in the spring. That means I still have eight stories accepted and awaiting publication.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Roadmaker's Return

My recent Friday Flash Fiction, Dog's Best Friend, was set in the world of the Roadmaker and received some positive comments from readers. In fact, Jupiter editor Ian Redman liked it so much that he's asked to reprint it in Jupiter. So look out for the Roadmaker's return in a future issue of Jupiter.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Roadbuilder Reviewed Again

Another reveiw of Jupiter XXII is on-line at SF Crowsnest and has this to say about Roadbuilder:


Gareth D. Jones' road stories have eventually run their course with 'Roadbuilder', the last of the five part series. I'll try not to make any puns about transport, which is difficult, but it has been an excellent journey. The people of this quaint land get to grips with computer technology in order to control the road-making machine. Whatever happened to make this a post-apocalypse world we don't really know but the machine has acted to connect disparate communities, strengthening society and advancing communication. However, one wonders how long will be before double yellow lines are painted along the new roads and parking wardens make an appearance?


Now there's an idea for the novel...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Book Reveiw: Quofum by Alan Dean Foster


I haven’t read an Alan Dean Foster book for years. I don’t know why, I enjoyed some of the early commonwealth novels – they were always exciting and entertaining. You know the problem when you return to something from your youth: it’s just not the same.


Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Book Review: Diaspora by Greg Egan


Many of the themes and grand concepts from Egan’s earlier works come together in ‘Diaspora’, a book that left me dumbfounded with its astonishing scale. You’ve likely read other books that span millennia or even billions of year or that cross universes, but believe me this book will leave them all behind.


Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Book Review: The Last Reef by Gareth L Powell


I’ve been following Gareth L Powell’s work, or ‘the other Gareth’ as I like to call him, since we both had stories in ‘Aphelion’ in April 2005. ‘Six Lights Off Green Scar’ is one of the stories reproduced in this collection. What struck me about it at the time was the terse prose that somehow conveyed a mass of sensory information in few words, a quality that continues to define GLP’s work. Since then we’ve corresponded regularly and met up a couple of times, I joined Gareth’s Friday Flash Fictioneers, though I believe I coined the title, and we’ve collaborated on a flash fiction anthology (still available from OddTwoOut press). Having read all of this you may conclude that my review will be rather biased. Well you’d be wrong and I resent the implication.


Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Magazine Review: Interzone #218


Having recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Chris Beckett’s collection ‘The Turing Test’, I was very pleased to discover that ‘Interzone’ #218 contains not one but three new Beckett stories. There’s also an in-depth interview with him as well as an interview with Gareth L Powell and the usual selection of reviews and columns to provide a diverse read.


Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Book Review: Teranesia by Greg Egan


Teranesia is the made up name of a remote Indonesian island that forms the backdrop of this novel. It is the island where Prabir grows up with his biologist parents and where he and his sister return years later to investigate strange new creatures that have been discovered. In this book Egan shows that he can talk biology as convincingly as he can discuss maths and physics.


Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

When Gareth Met Gareth

I recently attended the Convention for Science Fiction Authors Named Gareth, ConsFang, at the NEC in Birmingham where over 12,000 Gareths were present. While there I tracked down Gareth L Powell to find out what he was up to and how he got to where he is today.

You can read the full interview at SF Crowsnest.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

First Final Review

The first review of Jupiter XXII containing my final Roadmaker story has appeared at SF Revu. Of Roadbuilder, Sam Tomaino writes:




The third story, "Roadbuilder" is, alas, the last installment in Gareth D. Jones' "Roadmaker" series. In this one, we get updates of the characters we have come to love from the other installments and more old technology is discovered and made to work. Things get wrapped up somewhat but I do hope that sometime Jones will turn this into a novel. He is talented at creating characters and has a style I enjoy.


Regular readers of this blog will know that there is indeed a Roadmaker novel in the pipeline, currently hovering around the 60,000 word mark.

October Poll Result

In line with my own thinking, A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back were voted best Star Wars films in last month's poll. There was one vote from some heretic for 'They're all tripe'.

No poll this month as I haven't give sufficient thought to coming up with something deep and meaningful.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Time's Up

Yes, the competition deadline has passed. The correct entries (though there were no incorrect entries) have been randomly passed through a food blender and a name has been pulled out.

The correct answer is that Roadmaker will be published in Hebrew, in Bli Panika.

The 5th anniversary issue of Jupiter, featuring Roadruler, is on its way to Steven Pirie - congratulations.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Competition Deadline Looms

Don't forget, you've only get until tomorrow to send in your answer to my Roadmaker competetion!

Meanwhile, not much else to report this week. I've sent off a couple of stories to foreign language markets and finalised my first author interview for SF Crowsnest.

I'm still reading through Second World, which is 600 pages long, so I've not had tome to read through Jupiter XXII yet. The first story, by Geoff Nelder, has the wonderful title 'Gravity's Tears' that I thought very evocative. Hoping to get round to reading it this weekend.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rejection of the Week

I can't remember whose blog I got this idea from, so please chime in and claim the glory.

In the spirit of making each other feel better about themselves, here's a rejection I received this week for Looking In, Looking Out:


If you don't mind knowing our point of view, we believe that your story has no real plot and that the end is deceivingly weak. 


:o(

This was from a foreign-language magazine though, so I'm guessing it's just too subtle to be read in anything but English. After all this is my most criticaly acclained story yet to have bene published, of which others have said:


...a compelling read; a truly memorable story.


and


...nearly made me cry



I've got a couple of other truly depressing rejections filed away. I may dig them out for your furthur entertainment.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Roadmaker Competition

I have a signed copy of Jupiter XXI, containing Roadruler, to give away. This is the fifth anniversary issue with the fabulous wraparound cover by Jesse Speak.



To get your hands on this excellent little magazine, you need to answer the following question:

What language is Roadmaker being translated into?

Answers on an email.

The winner won't be the first correct answer I receive as this wouldn't be fair on those living in different time zones. Instead I'll pull the winning name from a hat or other suitable receptacle.

The winner will be anounced next Friday.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Editors to Come

It's been a couple of months since the last Editor interview, but yesterday I signed up another editor from a rather large genre magazine to appear in November. There are still 2 UK magazines in the pipeline too.

If you're involved in producing an SF magazine and would like to join in, drop me an email.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Currently Occupied With...

Just finished Alan Dean Foster's Quofum, which wasn't as entertaining as I remember his Commonwealth books being in my youth. Ah, the passage of time...

Just started Eddy Shah's Second World and making interesting observations on how a thriller writer tackles an SFnal subject.

Sent off a review of Greg Egan's Diaspora for next month's SF Crowsnest.

Working on an interview, also for SF Crowsnest.

Wrote a small amount of Roadmaker, but generaly felt too unwell to concentrate.

Spent much time hunting for a quail that escaped from my garden, to no avail.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Flash Fiction: Dog's Best Friend

To mark the publicaion of the final Roadmaker story, this week I offer a slice of life from one of the minor characters who lives along the Road.


Dog's Best Friend will be appearing in a future issue of Jupiter magazine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Respect

I came across a particularly irritating US-based website last week while carrying out a quick search for references to a non-paying magazine I once appeared in. I won’t dignify the site with a link or even bother mentioning its name, but its entire purpose seemed to be to deride a small number of authors’ writing and publication credits. Several readers had gleefully joined in with comments about how the publication in question was obviously rubbish if it didn’t pay and as they’d never heard of it was deserving of their scorn.

I’ve never heard of the people who wrote on the website, but that doesn’t mean I automatically assume they’re second-rate and worthless. Why impugn a magazine you’ve never heard of, and by implication the other contributing authors?

I’ve always found the SF community in the UK to be nothing but supportive and encouraging. Some markets may be less glamorous than others, but that’s no reason to mock the efforts of those who are probably very excited to appear in them.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Book Review: Luminous by Greg Egan


The ten stories in this collection were first published in the mid nineties, where I remember reading many of them in ‘Interzone’. The themes are diverse but all have in common a rooting in hard science, taking concepts in use today and extrapolating them into the near future or imagining what they may lead to one day. The near-future tales are often set in times that we have since reached, yet they have not become outdated like many ideas have. Instead they still sound as though they could be fulfilled within the next twenty years. Many of the stories have one particular technological idea at their core, but the text is also peppered with references to other developments that remove the entire society and setting away from the familiar and into the fantastic.


Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Book Review: The Quiet War by Paul McCauley


A brief and possibly pointless note on classification to start with. The cover describes this as an ‘exotic, fast-paced space opera’, and while it’s certainly exotic it’s not what I would expect in a space opera. It’s much closer in style to a hard SF story, set firmly within the solar system and paying close attention to the physics of space travel and practicalities of life in that environment. I don’t that will matter too much to most readers of SF, but it’s nice to know what you’re getting.


Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Book Review: Distress by Greg Egan


Yet again in this novel, Greg Egan mixes near-future prediction with dramatic speculation of what might conceivably come to pass, resulting in an entirely plausible picture of Earth that already shows signs of fulfilling his predictions thirteen years after its first publication.


Read the rest of my reveiew at SF Crowsnest.

Magazine Review: Concept SciFi #2


The particularly striking thing about Concept SciFi is the artwork, both on the cover of the ezine and on the website. It looks cool and SFnal and the kind of art that some venues seem to shy away from in an effort to look more sophisticated or something. I love this kind of art though. It tells you you’ve found a venue for some honest down-to-earth (if that’s not too contradictory) science fiction.


Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Book Review: The Turing Test by Chris Beckett


If I ever write enough half-decent stories I’ll be sure to submit the collection to Elastic Press. The anthologies they produce look fantastic. Not only is the full-cover art excellent, but the minimal text on the cover allows you to enjoy the illustration fully. It also feels great. The cover has an almost vinyl quality that speaks of high production values. The collection contains fourteen stories that were published over the past twenty years in ‘Asimov’s’ and ‘Interzone’. The big question of course is whether the fiction lives up to the high standard of publication.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Roadbuilder


Jupiter XX: Harpalyke is out today, containing Roadbuilder, the final episode in the Roadmaker saga.

Look out for a Roadmaker related competition coming soon on this site.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Roadmaker Characters

As promised, I've created a list of characters from the Roadmaker stories to help you keep track. I've also uploaded the Roadmaker map onto Google docs.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Chameleonic Lifeforms Attempt Communication

In an event reminiscent of the mashed potato scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, chameleonic lifeforms have attempted communication with us via a bowl of breakfast cereal.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

New Poll

My last poll on the Golden Age was obviouly a bit obscure and didn't attract many votes.

This month something that everyone should have an opinion on.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Next Novel

I now have a 1500 word outline of my next novel, having taken note of various pieces of advice on actually making some proper plans this time. This is great save for one question:

When am I ever going to get time to write it?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Listen to This

My first story to be podcast is now available from ClonePod. It was a strange but enjoyable experience hearing somebody else reading my work aloud.

Listen along to Inside Every Succesful Man, which will also be appearing in Italian on Intercom SF later this year.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Superheroes

Some good news today to help me recover from the 2 rejections earlier this week. I’m very pleased that my flash fiction piece The Ironic Man has been accepted by Peryton Publishing for inclusion in their POW!erful Tales anthology of superhero stories due out in February 2009.

That's my first publication scheduled for next year, though I'm still expecting another eight this year.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Magazine Musings

Having recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Chris Beckett’s collection The Turing Test (review pending), I was very please to discover that Interzone #218 contains not one but three new Beckett stories. There’s also an in-depth interview with him as well as an interview with Founding Flash Fictioneer Gareth L Powell.

Coming up next month will be Jupiter XXII, containing the last of my Roadmaker tales: Roadbuilder.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Three Nays in Three Days

Like the proverbial Number 9 bus, three rejections arrived in quick succession. Two were form rejections, which are bad enough, and both of them were from postal submissions, which somehow makes it even worse after the extra effort compared to email subs.

The third was much more cheering though. It was from a small-press anthology and wasn’t just the usual ’didn’t fit current editorial needs’. Here are a few of the comments that dragged me back from the doldrums:

...it was a very good story, and this was the most difficult editorial call I've had to make so far...

I really enjoyed your writing and I think the anthology would benefit if I could find a way to include some of your work.


That made everything seem more positive again.

I need to adjust my expectations somewhat now. I’ve decided to set myself higher goals in terms of the markets I’m going to submit to. This may mean in the short term that there’ll be more rejections, but I’ll know that anything that gets accepted has met more stringent editorial requirements. I’ll either improve as a result, or never have any more stories accepted. I’m hoping for the former.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Domain

In another bold technological step, I've transferred this blog to my new domain: www.garethdjones.co.uk. The old blogger adress will still redirect here, but any new bookmarks, RSS feeds etc should be to the new address.

Sharing the Glory

I'm very proud to be have been part of the Whispers of Wickedness Review Team, who collectively, under the guidance of Peter Tennant, have won the British Fantasy Society Award for Best Non-Fiction.



I can't claim too much credit for this as I only wrote six reviews on the site, but I can still share some of the glory.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Flash Fiction: Grammar

As predicted, inspiration struck last week so that I have a little tale to share with you for the first time in several weeks:



Grammar will be appearing in the 2011 Daily Flash anthology from Pill Hill Press.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Double Roadmaker Review

A new review has appeared at SF Site dealing with Jupiter XX and XXI:




A continuing series of stories that I've enjoyed is by Gareth D. Jones, about the effect of an automated road-building machine that was accidentally (it seems) activated in an apparent post-holocaust type of world. The third and fourth stories appear in these two issues: "Roadrider" and "Roadruler." In "Roadrider" some adventurous men discover the source of the machine, as the links between various cities are enhanced. And in "Roadruler" a political dimension is introduced, as the potential abuses of the road use system are lightly touched on; as well as the stresses of uniting several villages under a single ruler. These remain enjoyable, but they have become a bit sketchy, and not quite unified enough as stories.


There is a danger that the stories are becoming a bit unweildy due to their huge scope, but this will all be tidied up nicely in Roadbuilder, due in Jupiter XXII next month.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Weekly Report

Well, I call it weekly, but actually it’s no such thing. Just a random selection of what I’ve been up to recently.

I’ve finished Chris Beckett’s collection ‘The Turing Test’ in the past week. This was launched at the same time as the ‘other’ Gareth’s collection from Elastic Press last month. I couldn’t make the launch as I was at a wedding, but now I would have liked to have talked to Chris too. Though of course, had I been there I would still have yet to have read his book and therefore wouldn’t have had much to say about it.

You see why time travel would be so useful?

So now I’m on to Paul McCauley’s ‘The Quiet War’, having sandwiched Concept Sci Fi #2 in between.

I started work on the penultimate section of the Roadmaker novel this weekend, after a fortnight off for editing and catching up with reviews. The previous section has gone off to my Orbiter writing group to be mauled.

I even wrote a 300 word story that will appear this Friday after inspiration struck unaccountably.

Who knows what else may occur?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Relevant Fiction: Fluctuations

All this talk of the CERN experiment, and Neil Beynon’s post on the subject in particular, has reminded me of my 2005 story Fluctuations. That dealt with the dire consequences of the European Hadron Laboratory investigating the fundamental nature of the Universe. I have to say it’s a story I’m especially pleased with, and it got a great review too.

See what you think.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Say what?

In the new issue of Concept SciFi, Gary Reynolds offers some useful tips on how to write realistic dialogue.

This is something I always struggle with. I used to write stories entirely devoid of dialogue to get around the problem. When I'm writing a story I spend far longer working on the dialogue than on other sections of prose. Yet I've had several people comment, both in forums about published stories, in rejection letters from editors and in reviews, on how they enjoyed my dialogue. So it's worth spending time getting to grips with it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Book Review: Incandescence by Greg Egan


If someone were to ask you to recommend a book for a first-time reader of science fiction, this would not be it. However if you love far-future mind-bending concepts then Greg Egan is your man. Like all of his other novels, ‘Incandescence’ is not short of fabulous ideas with cutting-edge physics to back them up.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Book Review: Celebration - 50 Years of the BSFA


‘Celebration’ is a wonderful-looking anthology with seventeen new stories commemorating the 50th anniversary of the British Science Fiction Association. The cover art by Vincent Chong is certainly eye-catching and the stories are from some of the UK’s best known genre authors.


Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Book Review: Permutation City by Greg Egan


I must say the new issue covers look rather smart, in a minimalist kind of way. Greyscale with yellow writing, you don’t really get the full effect unless you have the whole set. Which I do of course.


Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Magazine Review: Midnight Street #11


‘Midnight Street’ is doing rather well for itself, having been recommended in three categories for the British Fantasy Awards this year. It publishes SF, fantasy and horror stories in an A4 format with a matte coloured cover and B&W internal illustrations. The non-fiction includes book reviews, interviews and editorials. Of these I particularly enjoyed the interview with Andrew Hook of Elastic Press who discusses the joys and challenges of writing and publishing. There’s also a single poem that as usual went over my head. The bulk of the magazine is devoted to nine short stories:


Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Book Review: The Last Theorem by Arthur C Clarke & Fred Pohl


Ranjit is a maths student at a University in Sri Lanka, where the high and lows of his life form a backdrop to his obsession with solving Fermat’s last theorem. As a backdrop to this are regular updates on the world’s steadily worsening news, a depressing state of affairs that has an effect not only on Ranjit but also on the Grand Galactics, a race of almost omnipotent beings who have taken it upon themselves to keep order in the Galaxy. As in so many other tales, they decide humanity needs to be wiped out. But what an endlessly entertaining tale Clarke and Pohl have woven out of these threads with a humour that reminded me of Pohl’s ‘Gateway’. It’s a story that often reminded me of other classic novels, but at the same time highlighted how those same themes can be used with verve and originality.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Roadmaker Map

Next month the final episode in the Roadmaker saga will appear in Jupiter magazine. Roadbuilder will bring the tale to a satisfactory conclusion, though of course the Roadmaker novel is well under way.

Those of you who have been following the story will know that the Road is getting rather long and the stories are full of place names and a huge number of characters. I've had to keep quite a lot of notes to help me keep track, and thought they might be useful for you too. To start with, here's my Roamdaker map. It's not great - I drew it on MS paint. It's also not to scale, but it gives an idea of what's where.

I'll put up some other useful references when I've tidied them up a bit.




Hmm, can't get it to display any bigger. Any suggestions?

Don't worry, I've found out what to do. You can view the map here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Another Favourable Review

Another belated review of Murky Depths #1 has appeared, at the UK SF Review website. Of Looking In, Looking Out it says:


Looking In, Looking Out written by Gareth D. Jones is an unorthodox piece, set across a double-page spread, read anti-clockwise in chunks of days. In centre there is a neat bit of art of a baby in front of a planet which reminded me in part of the film 2001.

Each day text is in the form of a report from an alien on his attempted communcation with humans on Earth. An easy read, which packs a not so obvious sad ending when it’s realised just what the alien is communicating with, and why communication ends.

The layout and presentation, and the diary form of the story makes it a compelling read; a truly memorable story.

Monday, September 01, 2008

August Poll Results

I suspect my small sample is not statistically significant, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Space Opera was the most popular type of SF, with 20 % of the votes.

Cyberpunk and science fantasy tied second with 12% each.

The only category to receive no votes was TV / Movie tie-ins. Is that really true, or are people just unwilling to admit it? I read all the Dr Who books by the time I was 12, and a few of the early Star Trek books, up to about no.12 of the original series. The only Star Wars book I read was Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, which pre-dated the other spin-offs by several years. Oh, and the Han Solo books. Those were the days…

Friday, August 22, 2008

50,000 Words

Writing has gone on apace this week and I've whizzed past the 50,000 word mark on the Roadmaker novel. I should have the curent section completed this week, at almost 20,000 words. I don't have chapters, just unnumbered subsections. Each section of the book has a title and will be linked to the next, but each is almost self-contained.

Only two more sections to go.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Is Cloning the Answer?

New website GeekPlanet contains reviews and news on SF related topics, including video game reviews by Gareth Jones. How do I get the time, you might wonder? Have I cloned myself? Downloaded a virtual copy of myself to the net? Or is the answer more sinister? Are there in fact two people with the same name…?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Exponential Growth

A while back I wrote a 500 word story that I was rather pleased with. It was concise and uncluttered the way flash fiction should be. Then I decided I could do more with it. I fleshed it out to 900 words and sent it in to my Orbitter writing group.

They liked it, but suggested that the 2nd half needed expanding. At that length there was a decision to be made: chop it back down to the original, or flesh it out more. The 900 word version didn’t really work.

So now it’s 1500 words, but as I was expanding the 2nd half of the story I started thinking about the implications of the story’s main feature and ended up with an entirely new and much bigger concept. I think the 1500 word story works, but suddenly I have enough story line for a novel.

How did that happen?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Editors: Gary Reynolds

Concept SCiFi is the UK’s newest SF magazine, presented as a website populated with a variety of content and a PDF downloadable fiction magazine. I chatted to editor Gary Reynolds as we hiked up Snowdonia, to find out what it was like to enter the short fiction market. Actually, I wasn’t that energetic. We corresponded by email.



GDJ: As the editor of a brand new SF magazine, what are your impressions of the short fiction market in the UK? Has there been a wealth of submissions and a good response?

GR: Concept Sci-fi was launched in May 2008 and, overall, I’m very pleased with the response that both the site and zine have received. Already the site receives quite a large number of hits per day, and that seems to be steadily increasing. I’ve also received some very positive comments from a number of people, both the ‘general public’ and some well-known authors.

The submissions rate has been what I’d call a ‘steady trickle’. I receive enough submissions to allow me to weed out the pieces that are not yet ready for publication, but I’d still like to receive more so I can be a little more selective. The quality of the submissions has been incredibly varied, which is to be expected for a zine that currently pays in exposure only. I’m especially pleased that there are some talented authors out there, writing very good short stories, who are still willing to contribute to a non-paying market.

I’m not sure that I’ve formed a definite opinion on the short science fiction market in the UK. Concept Sci-fi receives submissions from across the globe – the USA, Brazil, Australia, Eastern Europe - so, although UK-based, we do not exclusively publish UK content. Globally, I think that the short fiction market is in pretty good shape.


GDJ: What was the inspiration behind the Concept SciFi? What made you decide on a web-based magazine over print?

GR: The intention of Concept Sci-fi from the outset was to provide a site that offered something to both the science fiction reader and the writer, but it was never intended to grow as big and as rapidly as it has – sometimes I swear it has a mind of its own!

As well as editing I’m a keen writer, so I was very eager to provide something for the author. There is a wealth of sites out there for sci-fi readers, some of them very good, but the number of good sites for people interested in writing science fiction is a lot lower.

The original intention was to provide a good number of articles on writing technique, manuscript formatting, etc. and then to devote the remainder of the site to general sci-fi, concentrating primarily on news and reviews. There was never an initial plan to also produce a zine, but it seemed a natural progression from the ‘writing’ side of things. If we’re producing articles to help people develop their writing craft, then why not also provide a mechanism to help them showcase what they’ve learnt!

The decision to go web-based rather than ‘hard-copy’ was purely down to finances and my skill-set. Clearly producing a print copy will cost financially – you have to pay for the print run and the distribution costs for starters, and the intent from the outset was to make Concept Sci-fi free.

Because Concept Sci-fi will always remain free to the reader, I doubt that we will ever produce a print version. More likely that we would gain some revenue through subtle advertising and then move into the semi-pro market.

Fortunately, producing electronic copy comes quite naturally to me and it’s very easy to distribute.


GDJ: What appeals to you about the short story form? You have a maximum word count of 8000 words. Is that for practical purposes or do you prefer shorter stories over novelettes etc?

GR: I’m a big fan of science fiction of any length, from flash fiction all the way up to six or seven hundred page novels – roll on Peter F. Hamilton and his incredibly-readable doorstops!

But there’s something special about the short story - you can make it perfect. You can take a three or four thousand word story and craft each individual sentence to perfection. You can play around with the structure while still keeping the plot arch in your head, safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to introduce major inconsistencies. This is much harder to do in a novel where changing one thing can ripple major repercussions throughout the novel and result in a major re-work.

Initially, the word limit for the zine was for purely practical purposes. Once I start reading something, I feel almost guilty if I don’t finish it – whether that’s in a single sitting or multiple sittings. I had no idea what the quality of submissions would be like for a non-paying market, so it seemed sensible to keep the limit down.

Now, I would feel comfortable increasing the limit (provided I could convince myself to stop reading something if it’s not suitable!). There’s a question, though, of how many novelette submissions an exposure-only market would receive. It’s certainly something to think about.


GDJ: Unlike many other mixed-genre magazines, you concentrate just on Science Fiction. Are there any advantages or disadvantages to that choice?

GR: Science fiction is what I enjoy. I really do loathe most forms of what I’d call fantasy, e.g. Harry Potter, Philip Pullman, etc. It just doesn’t work for me no matter how beautifully written it is, so I decided pretty early on that if I was going to become the editor of a free zine, it had to be related to something that I really enjoyed - something that I would enjoy doing for the sake of ‘doing’ rather than getting paid for it. It had to be sci-fi!

The main disadvantage that I’ve found so far is that the number of submissions that I receive is obviously lower than if we accepted fiction from a broader range of genres, but even that doesn’t really pose a stumbling block.

The main advantage for me is that readers know exactly what they’re going to get. If you like sci-fi and you’re reading a sci-fi zine there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll like most of the stories. I think this encourages ‘reading’ rather than ‘skimming and skipping.’


GDJ: What kind of fiction do you like reading? Any particular authors or sub-genres?

GR: Clearly answering ‘science fiction’ isn’t going to cut it here! Having said that, science fiction is my preferred genre by an absolute mile. I’m quite partial to a bit of cyberpunk (or post-cyberpunk if you’d prefer), such as the Parrish Plessis novels by Marianne De Pierres. I’m currently reading Black Man by Richard Morgan, which isn’t cyberpunk in the strictest sense but is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long, long time.

Generally speaking, anything sci-fi will usually do it for me with the exception of novels that concentrate too much on the tech and not enough on the people. Great fiction needs to be character-driven and I’m not impressed with authors who attempt to ‘wow’ you with the research they’ve done – although I couldn’t possibly name names!

I also like to dip into a thriller from time-to-time. Mark Billingham or P. J. Tracy are probably my favourite authors in this genre.


GDJ: It’s early days for Concept SciFi, but what plans do you have over the next year, assuming they’re not top secret?

GR: Concept Sci-fi is still growing and evolving and at the moment I’m trying to concentrate on getting more content into the site, particularly on the ‘writing’ side. This presents me with a personal problem because it detracts from my own fiction writing. Having said that, I now have a couple of people who write semi-regularly for Concept Sci-fi, so that helps greatly.

I really want to provide a wealth of resources for beginning and wanna-be writers. My aim is for Concept Sci-fi to become the number one site for sci-fi authors who want to learn more about the craft of writing. So I’m thinking here of buckets of articles on writing technique, information on manuscript formatting, interviews with agents and publishers, critiquing, that kind of thing.

On the fiction-side, I’d like to see Concept Sci-fi move into the semi-pro market, i.e. paying a small fee per story. This will add another dynamic to the types and quality of the submissions I receive.

Overall, I’ll be trying to maintain a steady influx of news, reviews, interviews and articles to keep sci-fi fans everywhere entertained. Wish me luck!


GDJ: Thanks for your time.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Productive Fortnight

It’s been a busy two weeks here at The Science of Fiction headquarters.

I finished reading The Last Theorem and wrote a review, read and reviewed Midnight Street #11 and I’m now reading Celebration – which so far is proving entertainingly varied.

I’ve also written a fair bit of my article based on The Editors interviews as well as working on the final three interviews.

Most satisfying of all, I wrote three stories last week at 800, 1100 and 4800 words. As if that has relieved a log-jam in my brain I suddenly managed to get the next scene in the Roadmaker novel straight in my head and then sat down and properly planned out the rest of the novel. You’re actually supposed to do that before you start but I’ve always been a ‘start writing with a vague idea of where you’re going’ kind of person. The article in Focus magazine recently gave me food for thought though. I feel a lot more confident that I can now keep on writing without regular long pauses.

Meanwhile, the Whispers of Wickedness review section has been nominated in the non-fiction category of the BFS Awards. I like to think that my 6 reviews on that site contributed towards this in some small way.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Editors

The editor interviews have been proving popular. Not only was my Pete Crowther interview mention on SF Signal, but it was also reprinted last weekend on SF Crowsnest.

I have another three editors lined up for you over the next couple of months, including both the UK’s longest-running and newest SF magazines. Look out for the next in The Editors series next week.

Meanwhile I’ve made a good start in distilling the wisdom gained from those interviews into an article for writers that will appear somewhere after all of the interviews are on line.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Road News

A review of Jupiter #21 has appeared at SF Crowsnest. It makes brief but positive mention of Roadruler:



...interesting fiction which could run for a few miles yet.


Meanwhile, the original Roadmaker has been accepted by Bli Panika to be translated into Hebrew. It should appear later in the year hopefully.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Book Review: So Far, So Near by Mat Coward


I once read somewhere that a good story is either about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, or extraordinary people doing ordinary things. That definition fits Mat Coward’s short story collection So Far, So Near very well indeed. There are ordinary people, like a grandmother who washes the air, or the five friends who see a UFO. There are extraordinary people, like the aliens living among us who cook a fried breakfast or live in an old people’s home. The whole collection of seventeen stories is written in a friendly, informal style with a wry sense of humour. Many are written in the first person, allowing the narrator to include details on the banalities of life along with comments on the extraordinary. It also allows us to appreciate the narrator’s bewilderment at the unusual goings-on, so much so that at time we are none the wiser by the end of the tale. I’ll come back to that point in a moment. Meanwhile, a few of the highlights:

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Magazine Review: Interzone #217


I suspect Interzone needs no introduction for most of you. If you’ve not come across it before, the fact that it’s up to issue #217 and has been nominated for the Best Semi-Prozine Hugo every year since the dawn of time will tell you quite a lot. The colour cover illustration is followed up by a number of atmospheric full-page B&W spreads and a sizeable reviews section is complemented by David Langford’s always entertaining ‘Ansibe Link’.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Magazine Review: Concept SciFi #1


Concept SciFi is the first new UK SF magazine to be launched this year, creating an aura of excitement and anticipation. It’s in PDF format, with a simple text-based layout and other than the fabulous cover art has minimal illustrations – just a couple of author photos. This makes it quick to download and easy to print out in a readable format. It contains a couple of articles and interviews, but as usual I shall concentrate on the fiction.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Poll of the Month

Not content with having added every imaginable widget to my blog, I've also decided to introdcue a monthly poll. Sometimes it will adress a deep and meaningful issue, other times something entirely trivial. I'll analyse the results and report back on this first poll at the begining of September.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Writer's Glut

Writer’s Glut. It’s the opposite of Writer’s Block and is well explained in Doug Smith’s answer to the perennial question ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’:

Actually, from a writer's perspective, the experience is more like this: "Arrgghhh!!! Not another idea! When the @%$#^*! am I ever going to have time to write all these stories?"



I’m experiencing that crisis right now. The Roadmaker novel is crawling along slowly, holding up work on five other story ideas:


• The complex society that has developed on a malfunctioning colony ship. I’ve had this one waiting in the background for years and now have a whole host of information to go with it.
• A mystery story involving bio-augmentation. This one has all the basic ingredients ready to go.
• A lost colony world inhabited by a variety of human-descended races. Ideas still in progress.
• A story that may be set in a Roadmaker-style post industrial future, or possibly a Victorian steampunk past. Just a concept with no plot at the moment.
• A brand new idea, only a couple of weeks old, for a tale set on a planet gravitationally locked with the same face always to its sun. That’s not the main feature of the story, but I don’t want to give away the fun part!



Meanwhile, via the Velcro City Tourist Board’s fabulous list of writing advice, I read an article by Tobias Buckell on trunking stories. I have a couple that I thought might have to go that way, and after reading Tobias’ advice they are definitely heading to the metaphorical trunk. Sniff.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Greg Egan Bonanza

The friendly neighbourhood postlady delivered another parcel of goodies for me yesterday: almost the entire Greg Egan back catalogue in their smart new re-issue matching covers.

• Permutation City
• Distress
• Diaspora
• Axiomatic
• Luminous
• Teranesia
• Quarantine


I already have Incandescence, so I’m only missing Schild’s Ladder. I’ll be producing reviews for five of these for SF Crowsnest. That should keep me busy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Flash Fiction: Stone Quarry


Stone Quarry
By Gareth D Jones


This story is now under submission.


This story is a sequel to Delayed Reaction, and Rufus Balikind previously appeared in Shooting Stars and Now You See Me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Friday Flash Anniversary

This month sees the anniversary of Gareth L Powell’s Friday Flash Fiction. I joined in after 3 weeks, making it a whole year for me too. I haven’t managed every week, particularly in the past 3 months, but throughout the year I’ve written 34 stories averaging 260 words each.

Some of my favourites are:

Delayed Reaction
Frozen
The Gondolier
Gone with the Window
Never Talk to Strangers

Additionally, 3 have been translated into Spanish and another 2 are due in the next couple of months. Eight appeared in the Illuminations anthology and one is to be printed in amended form in VW Camper & Commercials.

Now that I’m concentrating on the Roadmaker novel and have a couple of other short stories on the go I shall be mostly retiring form active duty with the Flash Fictioneers. I’m sure inspiration will still strike randomly and oblige me to join in from time to time.

Tomorrow will be the final entry of my year as a Fictioneer. In an Asimovian kind of way I’ve managed to link 2 totally unrelated stories in a tale that sees the return of Rufus Balikind, the Galaxy’s greatest hunter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I'm in Focus

The latest Focus and Vector magazines arrived at the weekend from the BSFA. On the back inside cover of Focus – the magazine for writers – is an advert for Jupiter, with my name listed among the contributors, along with Neil Beynon. The Flash Fictioneers are rather well represented in fact. Martin McGrath is the editor and there’s an article by Paul Raven.

Meanwhile I’m in the early stages of planning an article for the next issue of Focus. I’ve had indications of interest in the idea, so I shall start work on it pretty soon. It’s quite daunting to think about writing some non-fiction for a change, but I guess it’s no different from some of the waffle on this blog. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Also in Focus is the news that the BSFA is to take over administration of the James White Award. This gave me the sudden and pleasing thought that I no longer qualify to enter that contest, or others such as Writers of the Future. My three professional sales rule me out.

One of the other articles was about planning a novel. I found that particularly enlightening as I tend to keep plots and plans in my head. There are some very practical suggestions that I think I shall adopt.

Over in Vector magazine I glanced through the book reviews to find that a large proportion of them were of fantasy books. Nothing against fantasy, but I thought I joined the British Science Fiction Association?!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Short Delay and a Long One

I received word of two delays in publication in the past week:

First, news from ClonePod that the podcast of Inside Every Successful Man has been put back a few weeks.

That’s nothing compared to the Portuguese translation of A Word in the Right Place due to appear in Phantastes. Originally scheduled for August 2006 and delayed for 2 years, it has now been postponed again. Phantastes is also changing from print to an on-line PDF format.

As any author will know, patience is a big part of the process.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Interzone #216 Review


This is the Mundane SF special issue, a subject that I came to without many preconceptions as I haven’t really been keeping up with the discussions on the subject. As usual the magazine looks competent, with striking cover art and a nice clean layout within.


Read the rest of my belated review at Whispers of Wickedness. This is my final review for that site folowing anouncement of its closure.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So far this week

Books Received: The Last Theorem by Arthur C. Clarke and Frederick Pohl
Celebration – BSFA 50th Anniversary anthology

Just finished reading: Jupiter XXI – enjoyed the whole magazine as usual.

Waiting to be read: Interzone #217

Review submitted to SF Crowsnest: Incandescence by Greg Egan

Critiqued: 2 stories from my Orbiter writing group, and received 2 sets of comments on my latest short story.

Stories submitted: 1 English, 2 other languages

Stories written: None. Drat.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Looking In, Looking Out Reviews

After gathering the Raodmaker reviews together, I thought I’d do the same for all of the reviews of Looking In, Looking Out :


Booklove

"Looking In, Looking Out" by Gareth D. Jones is the first story offering, thought it's not in a traditional story form. Told in brief daily log style this story is about an alien reaching out to attempt first contact with the human race. The ending is somewhat expected once the reader gets the flavor of the tale, but is no less effective.



Murky Depths Forum

Gareth D Jones’ Looking In, Looking Out nearly made me cry. Which was the last thing I expected from a double page, diary-style piece, told from the dispassionate and innocent viewpoint of an alien, that can’t have been more than a few hundred words. I read it on the bus and hastily had to pull myself together for fear of losing face in front of the village school kids. It’s not what he says, it's what he doesn’t.



SF Revu

The first prose story is "Looking In, Looking Out" by Gareth D. Jones and is one of the best in the issue. An alien intelligence makes contact with an unborn child. Its observations make for a very good short-short story.



Neil Beynon

It was interesting as I said - to expand: it was also well executed and it brightened up my journey into work - always a good thing.


Anne Stringer

...a standout



Jonathan C Gillespie

...runaway hit



Tangent Online

Looking In, Looking Out by Gareth D. Jones is a visually interesting story consisting of a double page spread of several paragraphs, almost thought balloons, arranged in a counterclockwise circle around a picture of a fetus and the Earth. Each paragraph is a log entry by an alien species attempting to communicate with people on the planet. They find the only mind flexible enough to understand them as a fetus and so begin to interact with and teach it. Then comes the twist. Simple, quick, and pleasant.



Matt Wallace

This glaring low-res snapshot doesn't come close to doing "Looking In, Looking Out" by Gareth D. Jones justice. This was one of the very first stories I pushed for the issue. Inventive, funny, poignant. But that layout just takes it to another level. *** gorgeous beyond all reason, man. It's easily my favorite presentation of any piece in the 'zine. Any piece in any 'zine, in fact. First big house I buy, I'm having Terry blow this one up to ridiculous scale so I can hang it on my wall.


We've got one of the most unconventional and touching tales of first contact I have ever read.



UK SF Review


Looking In, Looking Out written by Gareth D. Jones is an unorthodox piece, set across a double-page spread, read anti-clockwise in chunks of days. In centre there is a neat bit of art of a baby in front of a planet which reminded me in part of the film 2001.

Each day text is in the form of a report from an alien on his attempted communcation with humans on Earth. An easy read, which packs a not so obvious sad ending when it’s realised just what the alien is communicating with, and why communication ends.

The layout and presentation, and the diary form of the story makes it a compelling read; a truly memorable story.