Sunday, December 30, 2018

Reviews of 2018

This year I've written 28 book reviews on SF Crowsnest, including a lot of fantastic books by newly discovered authors. This has only been a part of the 85 books I've read altogether this year though.

Of course this means that yet again I've managed so much reading and reviewing because I've hardly written any fiction. I co-wrote one short story during the summer, and that's it for new fiction. I had 2 long stories published though: the Parsec Award finalist The Long Afternoon of Sir Rupert Moncrief on Gallery of Curiosities and the novelette Quivira, co-written with Jonathan C. Gillespie. My article 'Waste Management in Science Fiction' was also published in Putting the Science in Fiction.

More recently, I've been doing some work on editing my very first novel which has yet to see the light of day. That will keep me busy for a while...

Friday, December 28, 2018

Book Review: Nebula Awards Showcase 2018

This is my second ‘Nebula Award Showcase’ in quick succession, a volume that presents a mixture of excerpts from and complete winning and shortlisted stories, novelettes, novellas and novels from the prestigious award voted for by members of the SFWA. I generally read only Science Fiction but, of course, there’s a second, silent ‘F’ in SFWA, which means that fantasy is included, as well as horror and associated speculative genres. 

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Englebert in Hungarian

In slightly late news, my story Englebert, first published in Daily Science Fiction, was published in Hungarian last April in the magazine Galaktika.

My name is even on the cover!

This is my second story in the magazine, following on from A Few Good Men back in 2009. I knew they'd accepted the story last year, but they forgot to tell me it was published. It's not my first surprise translation though!

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Book Review: Nebula Awards Showcase 2017

I’ve enjoyed reading a lot of the Nebula Awards winning novels over the past few years, so it seems like the members of the SFWA who vote for the awards have pretty good taste. The annual ‘Nebula Awards Showcase’ volumes contain the winning novellas, novelettes and short-listed short stories, as well as excerpts from the nominated novels.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Book Review: The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi

Last year’s book, The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi, was a riotous, no-holds-barred imperial space opera that was a lot of fun and introduced us to the intriguing setting of the Interdependancy. The sequel is The Consuming Fire, which follows on with the same set of characters as they face up to the imminent collapse of the inter-dimensional flows that link the worlds of the Interdependancy together.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Magazine Review: Brick Journal #53

A review copy of Brick Journal # 53 arrived in good time to coincide with the return to TV of ‘Lego Masters’, which I enjoyed watching last year. ‘Brick Journal’ is packed with articles about and interviews with Lego model designers, instructions for various models and other Lego-related articles of interest to AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego).

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Book Review: Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson

“That was fantastically, amazingly brilliant,” I said as he closed the cover on ‘Legion: The Many Lives Of Stephen Leeds’ by Brandon Sanderson.
“Really?” Bartholomew sneered from his position by the window. Bartholomew wasn’t real – none of the other people in the room were – but that didn’t stop him having an opinion. “That’s your considered opinion is it?”

Read the rest of my review, written in the style of Legion: The Many Lives Of Stephen Leeds’ by Brandon Sanderson on SF Crowsnest.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Book Review: The Moons of Barsk by Lawrence M. Schoen

I thoroughly enjoyed Lawrence M. Schoen’s debut novel Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard a couple of years back and became enchanted with his tale of arboreal elephants on the planet Barsk and their limited relationship with the multi-special Alliance of Worlds.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Book Review: Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar

Lavie Tidhar creates wonderfully vivid worlds in his books. Worlds where the strange and bizarre intertwine with the mundane, where history is slightly different and where Jewish culture and language permeate the tale. In Unholy Land, the Jews have a homeland in East Africa known as Palestina and the horrors of the holocaust did not come to pass.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Book Review: Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Rex is a bio-engineered dog designed for war, given limited autonomy to command his small troop of other creatures and sent out into the anarchy of the civil war raging through Mexico. His world is quite straightforward: kill enemies, don’t kill friends and obey orders.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Putting the Science in Fiction

Putting the Science in Fiction is out today, including my chapter on Waste Management in Science Fiction.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Parsec Award Finalist

My story 'The Long Afternoon of Sir Rupert Moncrief' is shortlisted in the Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Short Form) category of the Parsec Awards!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Book Review: By the Pricking of Her Thumb by adam Roberts

Adam Roberts is a great player with words, constructing lyrical prose and playful dialogue without any care as to whether it falls strictly within the rules of English grammar or whether indeed the words could be found in a dictionary. 

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Book Review: Game of the Gods by Jay Schiffman

The first thing that struck me about Jay Schiffman’s debut novel Game Of The Gods was the characters’ quirky names, which struck me as somewhat Vancian and made a nice change from the usual run-of-the-mill popular name derivatives.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Book Review: One Way by S.J. Morden

I guess comparisons with Andy Weir’s The Martian are inevitable for S.J. Morden’s near-future Mars thriller, One Way. I can’t really make those comparisons directly though as I’ve only seen the film and not read the book of The Martian.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Book Review: Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu

Another of renowned Chinese author Cixin Liu’s novels has been translated for our enjoyment by Joel Martinsen in the form of Ball Lightning, a hard-SF, physics-based tale of obsession, complicated mathematics and the force of nature.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Friday, August 03, 2018


My 16,000 word novelette Quivira, co-written with Jonathan Gillespie, is now available at The Society of Misfit Stories.

Described (by me) as Avatar meets Lord of the Rings, I'm hoping it will be picked up by a major film director!

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Book Review: Planetside by Michael Mammay

Set around two millennia in the future in a society of planetary colonisation and terraforming, Planetside is Michael Mammay’s debut novel of mystery and conspiracy against the backdrop of a prolonged planetary war.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Quoted on the Cover

I received a copy of the new paperback version of Our Memory Like Dust by Gavin Chait, and I was rather excited to see that my review of the hardback version was quoted on the back cover. It's the third book to add to my 'Quoted on the Cover' shelf!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Book Review: The Quanderhorn Xperimentations by Rob Grant and Andrew Marshall

Like other great comedy Science Fiction novels before it, The Quanderhorn Xperimentations is based on a BBC Radio series or, at least so the cover of the book says, though it also claims to have travelled back in time to be written before it occurred and also possibly to be a true story, so who knows what to believe?

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Parsec Award Nomination

I'm rather excited to hear that the podcast of my Victorian time-travel story The Long Afternoon of Sir Rupert Moncrief on Gallery of Curiosities has been nominated for a Parsec Award in the Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Short Form) category.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Book Review: Nemo Rising by C. Courtney Joyner

It’s a long time since I read 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne, so I don’t remember a great deal about it. Admittedly, it’s even longer than that since Jules Verne wrote it in 1870. Nemo Rising features the return of Captain Nemo and the Nautilus, as well as more sea creatures, marvellously advanced technology and dodgy seamen.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Book Review: Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi

In a complete change from his high concept, far future Jean le Flambeur trilogy, Hannu Rajaniemi takes us back to 1938 for his latest novel, Summerland. It’s a world of espionage, brewing conflict and political intrigue, set amongst various government departments where Rachel White is trying to discover the truth behind a Russian defector’s claim that there is a traitor in the British government’s security services.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Book Review: After Atlas by Emma Newman

‘Planetfall’ was a fabulously engaging novel of deep characterisation and otherworldy intrigue that left me highly impressed. ‘After Atlas’ and ‘Before Mars’ are both dubbed as ‘Planetfall’ novels, as they are set in the same universe, but the stories are seemingly unconnected other than a shared background and references to the departure of Atlas, the ship that carried the colonists featured in ‘Planetfall’.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Book Review: Altered Seasons - Monsoonrise by Paul Briggs

Relative newcomer Paul Briggs brings us a cli-fi novel with an eye-catching and dramatic cover in the form of Altered Seasons: Monsoonrise. Cli-fi, by the way, is climate fiction, this being a near-future story of climate change, which is one of those categories that skirts the edges of SF in that it’s slightly in the future and includes a few scientific advances but mostly posits a what-if future based on current trends.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Book Review: Before Mars by Emma Newman

In the third of her Planetfall books, Emma Newman returns to a loosely-related setting in Before Mars, a book with the same background but this time set on Mars several years after the departure of the colonists who feature in Planetfall. Just as in the first book, the setting and plot are intriguing but once again Emma Newman’s strength is her astonishingly complex characterisation of realistically flawed people.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Book Review: From Distant Stars by Sam Peters

Sam Peters’ 2017 debut novel From Darkest Skies was one of those addictive books that I didn’t want to put down, filled as it was with mystery and intrigue, conspiracies and dangers. His follow-up novel, From Distant Stars, does not disappoint, taking us straight back into the action with agent Keon Rause, an investigator on the heavy gravity planet Magenta called in to investigate the death of a patient and three Fleet officers in Mercy Hospital.

Read the rest of my review st SF Crowsnest.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Book Review: Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

Two books came to mind as I started reading Sam J. Miller’s book Blackfish City: Austral by Paul McAuley and America City by Chris Beckett. Of course, it turns out the book is not particularly like those novels at all, except in some superficial sharing of tropes. It’s set in a future where climate change has drowned much of the world and where political breakdown, riots, disease and violence have radically changed society.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Book Review: The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson

The idea behind dating apps meshes with social media to create compatible social groupings known as Affinities in Robert Charles Wilson’s near-future novel that initially seems to be heading towards a utopian tale of co-operation and acceptance, but soon turns into a wonderfully complex tale of social revolution.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Putting the Science in Fiction Official Anouncement

Putting the Science in Fiction has been officially announced by Writers Digest. The book is due out in the autumn and includes a chapter by me on waste management in science fiction.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Official Sleep

Another day, another story for my eldest son Alex: Official Sleep is now online at 365 Tomorrows.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Book Review: Origamy by Rachel Armstrong

The art of origamy (sic) weaves space and time, alternative universes and parallel histories in a mind-bending and befuddling fashion that allows the origamy circus-troop family of Mobius to see and experience any point in space and time.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Monday, April 02, 2018

That Thing Lurking Over There

My eldest son Alex has had his third story published, this time at Aphelion where several of my stories were published a few years back. This one is entitled That Thing Lurking Over There.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Book Review: Planefall by Emma Newman

In a small colony settlement on a far planet, the appearance of a stranger from outside brings change to the community and unpleasant echoes of the past in Emma Newman’s haunting interstellar tale Planetfall. It’s a psychological drama with convincingly complex characters and a multi-layered plot that wraps interplanetary colonisation around faith, biology and betrayal.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Long Afternoon of Sir Rupert Moncrief

My chronologically confused steampunk story The Long Afternoon of Sir Rupert Moncrief is on line today at Gallery of Curiosities. It's read out in a fabulous Scottish voice and sounds wonderful.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Book Review: The Smoke by Simon Ings

Simon Ings brings us an alternative Earth in his latest book The Smoke, where history has diverged at some point from what we know to produce something far more bizarre than usually encountered in alternative histories.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Book Review: Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley

When the alien Jackaroo come to Earth, they claim to be concerned only with the welfare of mankind. They provide access to fifteen extra-solar planets for mankind to colonise and from these worlds come a steady stream of alien artefacts from the lost Elder Cultures, artefacts that are little understood but that affect people in many strange ways.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Book Review: Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds

I have found all of Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space books and short stories to be wonderfully atmospheric and perpetually gripping and, out of all of them, the standalone novel The Prefect, featuring Prefect Tom Dreyfus, was my favourite.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Book Review: By Light Alone by Adam Roberts

A century or so from now, the problem of famine has been overcome by a technique that transforms hair into solar energy collectors that works by a kind of photosynthesis, so that nobody need eat food any more. This means that the poor must wear their hair long in order to survive, allowing them to soak up the sunlight, while the rich style their hair short as they can afford to eat food which has now become a luxury.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Reprint Cancelled

A reprint of my story The Accelerati, which first appeared in the print magazine Lore, has been due to appear on line at SciPhi Journal for quite some time, but the magazine has now sadly anounced its closure. It's not the first time this happened, and I suppose it won't be the last either. I still have another 3 stories due to be published this year though.