FP’s Small Press Expo – and a Question…

From an original idea by Jared Shurin, randomly dropped on the table during a meeting, yesterday’s Small Press Expo had the potential to do something new. Throw in NewCon Press’s brand new ‘Hauntings’ Anthology, specifically organised by Ian Whates to launch at the occasion, and a host of titles brought to us by Ian, by Jared’s Jurrasic label, and also by Snowbooks and Myrmidon Books, and we can spin an industry mixer at which everybody wins.

An almighty guest list included Christopher Priest, Philip Palmer, Adrian Tchaikovsky and a host of authors and artists and movers and shakers from across the genres – as well as some good news for the Apocalypse Girls and some subsequent fun in the pub with Fifty Shades of Geekdom (no link for that one – you’ll have to wait!).

Guaranteed, the books department at FP is a little too warm for that many bodies – huge thanks to everybody for eating the cupcakes before they slumped under the heat. Many of us were popping out for a breather, but the fact that everybody came back is testimony to a wonderfully successful occasion.

And it leaves me with a question.

We know that the nature of the book signing is changing – that the days of bloke-with-pen are rapidly falling behind us. We’ve had talks, readings, Q&As, and we’ve flown the FP rocket at other venues, at the British Library and the British Institution.

This month, two weekends in succession, we’ve had big events at the store – both times simultaneously with equally large and well-attended events at comic- and bookstores nearby. So the question is, with bookstores struggling to maintain life against the Amazonian onslaught, (not to mention Katie Price and her – erm – horse), has the very nature of the ‘signing’, the ‘promotional event’, become competitive?

Perhaps not so much in the UK – after all, we’re all mates. People go from one event to the other; we all wind up in the same pub and the bonds of community are as strong as ever. But moving forwards…

…it is that long before we’ll be needing orange speedos and vodka bottles to make an event a success? Please, tell me it will never happen…


‘The Long Earth’

What if there are multiple quantum earths? And what if we could go there?

Totally impossible of course, but it was once said of science fiction that it is a kind of exercise bicycle for the mind, which while it might not take you anywhere, may possibly tone up the muscles that might!

In a unique event at London’s Royal Institution, world famous authors Sir Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter come together on 21st June 2012 to discuss their new series of novels entitled ‘The Long Earth’ inspired by the many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory – aided by philosopher of physics David Wallace.
To celebrate this event, Forbidden Planet and the Royal Institution are proud to present a limited edition version of ‘The Long Earth‘, signed by Stephen Baxter and featuring a unique event-specific commemorative stamp. Get in quick though, as it will be limited to 2,000 copies!

If you miss it, you can see the full video of this unique event on the Royal Institution website from 11:00am on Tuesday 26th June.



It’s my industry shame that I don’t read as much as I should – between work and child and fitness and my own writing schedule, finding the time is hard – finding the peace is harder. I feel I’m doing the authors that visit the business a disservice – I’m only now beginning to understand how much sheer hard work their creativity is.

It seems, though, that my continuing twitchiness about my bike has had a silver lining.


In the past, I’ve had real issues with them – listening to Richard Morgan’s ‘Steel Remains’ nearly drove me batshit because it was so SLOW. I gave up in the end, and just read the bloody book.

Now, sans bike, I’ve made a breakthrough discovery – audiobooks are MADE for commuting.

The morning cattletruck is sweaty claustro hell; you need your ipod to give you that aural illusion of personal space – to escape the crush. Now, my ipod is not only shield, it’s gateway. Listening to Joe Abercrombie’s ‘Blade itself’ has made me an audiobook convert – rather than the train, it’s 50 minutes in another world.

More recently, I’m halfway through Tony Ballantyne’s ‘Blood and Iron’, the follow-up to ‘Twisted Metal’, which was one of my absolute favourite recent reads. I’m enjoying the book, but it’s thrown up one of the reasons why audiobooks can jar – the overuse of colloquial accents falls at the edge of cringeworthy comedy. The story’s phenomenal – but one robot sounds like Marvin the Paranoid Android and another one, inexplicably, is broadly Welsh, the accent so strong it’s undermining both the character and the story. And that’s a shame.

The gripe, though can be weighted against the positive – the fun and games of listening to a blood-spattered combat scene while faced with a wall of police at the Elephant and Castle, or entering Titan Towers just as something blows the fuck up… along with actually getting back into reading (whatever!) the good points are more than enough to surpass the annoyance.

But the best of point of all?

I’ve heard many people say, ‘If you don’t read, you can’t write’. Listening to an audiobook means you take in every word; you don’t skim, assume or find your eyes flicking down the page. And finding an hour or so a day to absorb to someone else’s vision of genius has reminded and taught me how better to work on the detail of my own.

Now, if only I can work out how to listen to them on the bike…