Tales of Battle

In the midst of finishing the second Artifice book (called ‘The Last Daughter’) and trying to drag my thoughts together to start something new, a couple of pieces of battle-happy news…

Kristell Ink’s Fight Like A Girl anthology, the book that started with a random tweet and then snowballed into the kind of all-female awesomeness that really pisses off (some) Doctor Who fans, has been shortlisted for The BFS Award for Best Anthology. Delighted to  have a story in the book, and chuffed as fuck that it’s done so well. Seriously, whoathunkit?

Plus a story in the forthcoming Legends III Anthology from NewCon Press, published next year for the David Gemmell Awards. I didn’t know David personally, but he was a guest of the business many times – and he always looks like such a wonderful character. I remember reading Legend, and hope I’ve written something suitably battle-worthy.

And more short story news coming soon, with a little luck!

FORBIDDEN PLANET is delighted to be hosting one of our famous multi-author events. To celebrate two brand new NewCon Press anthologies, THE BITTEN WORD and CONFLICTS, at 5pm on April 22nd, Forbidden Planet 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London will be playing host to: –

Keith Brooke, Eric Brown, David L Clements, Andy Remic, Sarah Singleton, Kari Sperring, Sam Stone, Ian Watson and Ian Whates

This is a new-format signing, no tables, no queues – we open out the store floor and give readers a chance to meet the authors and talk to them about their work. An array of fantastic books will be on hand to be signed – including Ian Whates’ CITY OF DREAMS AND NIGHTMARE and Ian Watson’s ORGASMACHINE.

Also available will be special pre-publication copies of Andy Remic’s SOUL STEALERS, second book of his successful Clockwork Vampire series from Angry Robot Books.

And yes, there will be beer, though possibly not with these two…

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Adapt or Die? SF and New Media

So why, for the love of whatever God you choose, is the science fiction community so reluctant to embrace new forms of expression?

While the comics industry surges off the page and onto the iphone, the science fiction profession has progressed as far as the Real Ale bar. Steeped in the traditional – novels, short stories, radio, television – they reluctantly protest that they like books, they like to have paper under their hands, something they can read without getting glare-ache from the screen.

And yes, I guess there’s a bit of that in all of us.


It’s a strong time for Geek Chic – literary uber-agent John Jarrold quoted that sf and fantasy count for up to 11% of total UK book sales… and that figure would be impressive had I not walked past Zavvi this morning. The rise in new ways to access non-format literature, music and film is driving major labels out of business. Adapt or die. That ‘11%’ is a lot less convincing when the overall total starts to plummet.

Dave Hutchinson rather wisely said that it isn’t ‘a future of literature, more a future of delivery’. Writers need to move into new mediums, adapt their skills to different platforms. They’re at last appearing on twitter; they’re venturing into audiocasting or writing plots for major game releases. Maybe it’s time to add a new award to the Hugo and Nebula – one for innovation, for successfully breaking new ground.

And why stop with the professionals. From the letters page of the fanzine to today’s LiveJournal, fans won’t just be told what they can read. They like to take control of the characters they love and put them in new situations. Fan-fiction, both on the web and off, has become huge and very successful, writers gaining sizeable credibility in their own right. In the greater world of social media, the potential for author/reader collaboration is blown wide-open – why tell a story when you can create a world?

Who writer Paul Cornell stood to champion sf and new media. Arguing my beliefs for me, he talked about web visibility, versatility, mass appeal and the importance of viral marketing. He gets a round of applause for the immortal line, “There will always be the novel, but that novel may not always be a book.”

For the moment, then, the new and the old complement each other – a presence on the web will boost visibility of a book – and vice versa. But in ten years? When the CosPlayers, the X-Box generation, are in their thirties, are they going to be sitting in a corner with a pint of Theakstons and a paperback?

I don’t think so.

My thanks to the NewCon panel for the inspiration. Entitled ‘Does the Future of SF lie in Media other than Traditional Literature’, it featured Uma McCormack, John Jarrold, Steve Longworth, Dave Hutchinson and Paul Cornell.
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NewCon 4: Confessions of an Overgrown Fangirl

Ever have a moment where you wonder what your younger self would’ve thought?

A Northampton fishmarket is an unlikely Con venue – the distinct absence of fish, though, and the gathering of both talent and aptitude made it wonderfully successful. Art show, dealers’ room, bar and café all lazed in the same open space; an outside garden lured smokers with wire caging and fairy lights. Throw in M C Jester and the wonderful hospitality of organisers Watson and Whates and you have a very enjoyable, family-atmosphere event.

For once, I was free to attend panels, scribbling copious notes in a toxic green pen. Blog posts will follow on my two faves – ‘SF and Media’ and ‘Sex Sells’, the latter noticeably female-dominated.

Between events, I had time to chat and circulate and get myself known – and this is where the System Shock sets in…

…pause for breath.

If anyone had told my wide-eyed, twenty-something self where I’d wind up, I would’ve giggled in disbelief.

When I walked into NewCon, alone, I knew maybe three names on the guest list. I confess to being intimidated; I had no table to hide behind, no MonQee to flaunt. I took my MacBook as armour and FP badges as weapons… and ended up needing neither. Helped by the easy atmosphere, I found myself thinking, ‘you silly bitch, you know this’.

From a hilarious combat-Mum bonding moment with Juliet E McKenna to talking shop with Storm Constantine and Freda Warrington in the mesh garden; from trading affable insults with Andy Remic to having breakfast in an unmentionable burger joint with Tony Ballantyne, right up to a conversation with Paul Cornell about icomics (after Gary Russell and Russell T, making a hat-trick of ‘Who’ Gods in a week)… my younger self watched it all with an expression of perplexed amusement.

The moment itself though, was Sunday morning, sitting chatting with Marc Gascoigne. Once involved in the earliest days of Fighting Fantasy, Marc was approached by an eager fan wanting him to sign a copy of Titan – a book now rarer than a wargaming girl.

My late fiancé, Bones, loved those books – enough that I’ve never parted with them. It would’ve been surreal for him, and I caught it from his memory. Next time I see Mister Gascoigne, I must ask him to sign my copy too.

Anyway, by Saturday night, I’d run out of business cards; by Sunday night, my Inbox was noticeably overweight. Good things to come, I think – I don’t know how many times I need to explain to my office where the real work gets done.

Long time out of the picture or no, between Orbital and NewCon, it’s been like picking up an old re-enactment blade – eminently familiar. This is the place where everything I was in my twenties is tempered with everything I’ve learned in my thirties and that forging has allowed me to realise something:

This blade is mine – and I know how to use it.
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