Micheal Cobley

Interstellar Tactics

 

 

 
 
 
 

What a long strange trip its been

Posted on April 16th 2018 | Leave a comment
 

Incredible (and probably shameful) that I’ve allowed my blog to languish this long. Several unfortunate events (like sciatica!) stymied me from the end of 2016 till well into 2017, causing a large amount of slippage on the delivery of my next novel, Splintered Suns. But I can report that it is finished, lodged with my editors at Orbit, and has already gone through the first round of revisions. After which comes copyediting and proofreading, with a provisional publication date in early December. For those of a curious mind, I am planning the next book, also starring Capt Pyke and his crew of scallywags, provisionally entitled ‘Servants of Eternity’. And after that, I can assure you that the well is very far from running dry!

 
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A Mike Cobley Reddit AMA, As I Live & Breathe!

Posted on January 11th 2016 | Leave a comment
 

Yes, indeedy, yr humble scribe shall be hosting an AMA (ask me anything) on the all-encompassing Reddit website/hub/core/fountofallcomment – at 5pm GMT! The actual url for this happening is -

https://www.reddit.com/r/sciencefiction

Although you`ll probably need to have a reddit account in order to post questions to me. I`m looking forward to it, and to the legions flocking to pore over my every word with eagle eyes….possibly.

(NB note updated URL for the AMA)

 
Posted in Berzerkergang, history, humour, my publications, on writing, philosophy, Politics, science fiction, space, steampunk | Tagged , , ,
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Loncon 3: World SF Con, London, August 14-18th – My Schedule!

Posted on July 18th 2014 | Leave a comment
 

Yes, here it is, my very own schedule of event and happenings:

Tolkien Society Presents: Hobbits! Rabbits!

Thursday 10:00 – 11:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)

How do children, young adults and adults experience The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as books and as movies? Do people of different age groups experience them in different ways, especially given the range of other fantasy novels and films that younger generations have grown up with? How do readers engage with various decisions about the adaptation from book to screen? Are the rabbits welcome, or were they a mistake?

Chris M Barkley (M), Michael Cobley, Constance G.J. Wagner, Jessica Yates

 

Autographing 2 – Michael Cobley

Friday 15:00 – 16:30, Autographing Space (ExCeL)

 

Banksian

Saturday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL)

‘Banksian’ has become a commonplace descriptor in SF reviews, but what do we mean by it? What are the characteristics we associate with Iain M Banks’ work? How far has his influence travelled? Who is writing Banksian SF today?

Chad Orzel (M), Michael Cobley, Jaine Fenn, Paul Kincaid, Ruth O’Reilly

 

Reading: Michael Cobley

Saturday 20:30 – 21:00, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)

 

Kaffeeklatsch

Sunday 17:00 – 18:00, London Suite 4 (ExCeL)

Danie Ware, Michael Cobley

Nice, very nice, keeps me busy and off the streets 8-)

See you there!

Mike

 
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Eastercon Is In Glasgow! – and this is my schedule

Posted on April 16th 2014 | Leave a comment
 

Once more Eastercon is upon us, and this year its in Glasgow, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel to be exact, from this Friday, 18th to Monday 21st.

http://www.satellite4.org.uk

I have two panel items;

1) Grand Designs: Worldbuilding, at 8pm on the Friday, which I will be moderating in the company of such stellar colleagues as John Meaney (Guest of Honour), Simon Morden, Chris Beckett and Kim Lakin-Smith.

2) The Way Things Might Have Been at 6pm on the Saturday, a panel on Alternate Histories, in which I will be a panel member along with Dave Row, Martyn Taylor, Mark Alder, and MD Lachlan.

Should be a hoot, and am looking forward to seeing a lotta folk!

 

 

 
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The Shadowkings – they’re baaaaack!

Posted on March 9th 2014 | Leave a comment
 

Waaay back at the start of the century, ho ho, my first novel, Shadowkings, was published by Simon & Schuster’s SFF imprint, Earthlight, itself a labour of love by its editor, John Jarrold, who was the one who decided to take me on as a new author. Sadly, various corporate shenanigans led to John bowing out to be replaced by Darren Nash, himself a staunch fan and champion of all things SF and Fantasy. He shepherded the second book, Shadowgod, into print, but then later more corporate musical chairs led to Darren likewise departing while Earthlight the imprint was dissolved. The third book, Shadowmasque, was published, garnered a number of positive reviews yet overall the sales could not make sufficient headway, for various reason.

 

Anyhow, the situation is that the Shadowkings trilogy shall once more be making its grimdark presence felt, in ebook and audiobook formats. More information (and cover art) shall be forthcoming nearer publication, but as a foretaste here a link to the Bandcamp page of Peri Urban, Edinburgh electronic musician of the first water, and the music that he originally composed back in 2001 – with yr humble scribe providing gruffly intoned lyrics. Take it away…

 

http://periurban.bandcamp.com/album/michael-cobleys-shadowkings

 
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Progmeister Reviews: Rush, the SECC, May 30th.

Posted on July 24th 2013 | 1 Comment so far
 

NO RUSH TO EXIT SECC TONIGHT! – SOLD OUT/ SET TIME JUST SHY 3 HOURS

Progmeister General’s Rating – 5 CYGNUS STARS/5

[VIP In Attendance - MR COBLEY ESQ.]

Well this is how it should be done, we arrived at SECC expecting something of a mixed bag, especially after the 2011 tour’s MOVING PICTURES/TIME MACHINE set. They did not disappoint with 3 sets of “70s 80s & 90s” then current “CLOCKWORK ANGELS ” cd & finishing with “THE CLASSICS”.

Exactly on 19.40 they began with their usual filmed comedy build-up to the entrance of the Canadian trio which always ends up with GEDDY LEE, ALEX LIEFSON & NEAL PEART arriving on the stage to a tremendous ovation, this time kicking off with “SUBDIVISIONS” off the highly-regarded ”SIGNALS” cd. These three men can make this music sound epic & always have done; 36 years+ on the road & this was done to a very high standard indeed.  During set one they powered through highlights like BIG MONEY, LIMELIGHT, GRAND DESIGNS, ANALOGUE KID & finishing up with FAR CRY from the excellent “SNAKES & ARROWS” — then Geddy announced that as they are getting older its break time, so off they went.

Not an extended interval though, just enough and then we were off again. This time the 2011 “CLOCKWORK ANGELS” was highlighted for an hour, A very good song selection of CARAVAN, CARNIES, WE WISH THEM WELL, HEADLONG FLIGHT HALO EFFECT & the outstanding THE WRECKERS powered the new stuff to great heights along with the addition of a six piece string section, to a climax of CLOCKWORK ANGELS, THE ANARCHIST & THE GARDEN — outstanding set & a lesson on how a band should promote & play new material to an audience. No interval this time just lots of pyros & lights, Then THE PROFESSOR of drums gave us a masterclass in drum solos on YYZ, then it was on full steam ahead (quite literally) to the finale of “RED SECTOR A” and the amazing excerpts from the RUSH fans voted favourite cd “2112″. The band accepted their well deserved plaudits then returned for two sublime encores of SPIRIT OF THE RADIO & TOM SAWYER before finishing the night with more “2112″ classics & the inevitable fireworks which almost blew the roof off the SECC (not a common reaction in this shed). Just one final thank-you to the crowd & the Canadians had exited stage left & the end of their movie was played.

On the whole, contender for gig of the year & a masterclass of how to control yet excite an audience - Thank you guys!!!

FOOTNOTE - How many drummers get 3 solos & triumph on them all?? Answer 1 — NEAL PEART ! – fantastic!

Rush at the SECC, Glasgow, May 30th, 2013

 
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Welcome To The Machine

Posted on March 1st 2013 | Leave a comment
 

Steampunk, eh? It’s a funny old subgenre – although the roots of its modern iteration seem to take in Blaylock and Powers (by long, diversionary way of Verne and Wells), its proliferation across internet cultures is producing some unforseen irruptions, like bizarre hothouse hybrids unfurling in humid shadowy corners.

Most obvious is the whole cosplay thing, which I really kinda like. Unlike some of my SF/fantasy compadres (and fellow travellers), I’ve never experienced any contempt or irritation for costuming and masquerades – I’ve been going to conventions since back in 1979, and just love all the gaudy aspects of them, and since steampunk textures have begun to mingle with that overall gallimaufry its made it all feel that much more enjoyable for me.

Other aspects are cropping up on TV, for example – Bruce Boxleitners Lantern City, for example – http://lanterncitytv.com/ – sounds utterly fascinating. Really hope it gets off the ground. Then there’s video games, most recently Dishonoured, which had more of a dieselpunk feel to it, and the upcoming and anticipated Bioshock Infinite, set on a floating balloon city in 1912! – if you’ve not seen any of the promotional vids for this, you really need to go to youtube and give yr eyes a treat.

There is one aspect of steampunk, and the political context of a steampowered culture, at least as far as we can reckon it from our own history – which is that life for the great mass of people throughout most of the 1800s, the Victoria era, was miserable, grinding poverty. Its okay, it really is, to writer a fun, light-in-tone caper story in that kind of setting, but writers should also be aware of political realities, and try not to mislead the reader about the nature of power under such regimes.

 
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Music Reviews Update

Posted on March 1st 2013 | Leave a comment
 

Some of you may recall that I have in the past posted up music/gig reviews from an old callcentre buddy of mine, former drummer with Chasar, Mr Graeme Fleming. We`ll be doing a few more of those in the months ahead, and in the meantime, here’s a word or two from the man hisself;

Hi all,

Progmeister General here; after long & healthy discussions Ziggy Mikey has asked me to contribute a music feel to his blog. As well as our own reviews, we would love to hear any ideas or requests you may have. It does not have to be Prog – if it has a beat we will listen.
I have been a good friend of Mr Cobley for almost 15 years & we both know what makes us click, so please feed back to Mike any ideas or opinions you may have ok … stay tuned coming up LITTLE FEAT review at O2 GLASGOW & the new NEIL YOUNG &  CRAZY HORSE CD PSYCHEDELIC PILL. Keep Mellotrons on full & set controls for heart of the blog !!

 
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The Gibberings Of A Frenzied Ego

Posted on July 21st 2012 | 2 Comments so far
 

No, friends and neighbours, I’m not talking about me but about someone whose verbal attacks on a writer colleague have reached such an irrational crescendo that I feel that a stand has to be taken.

The writer in question is Lavie Tidhar, who I’ve met a few times (we have the same agents) and with whom I get along pretty well. Yesterday he let it be known on his facebook page that he had received a death threat from a pro-Israeli SF fan (perhaps fan should be in quotes) who has been harangueing him at great length from the bastions of his own blog. Lavie, it should be noted, is from Israel and holds a broadly leftist, critical stance towards Israel’s policies WRT Palestine etc.

So – the pro-Israeli commentator (who has gone by the name Larry) invests a great deal of time in analysis of the comments, posts, tweets and associated opinions of writers like Lavie, China Mieville, Charlie Tan, Charlie Stross, Anna Tambour and several others. It is worth pointing out right away that Larry’s stance is a fundamentalist one in political terms, in that Israeli policies are unimpeachable, that any criticisms are evidence of the most heinous anti-semitism and critics who voice same are to be regarded as vile, obscene, brazen, rabid (and other hyperbolic denigrations which pepper his blog postings like raisin in a fruitcake).

This is the kind of language which the man uses in the to and fro of argument; not that I’m saying that  leftist critics stick to high-minded terms that avoid ad hominem abuse, but I must say that I have seldom seen from a leftist critic the kind of unremitting viciousness deployed on a personal level as that which Larry indulges in as a matter of course.

So, in the email in question, after several paragraphs of abuse, he writes this, in hebrew characters -

מת ונקבר לביא

Lavie took this to mean ‘Lavie dead and buried’, and pointed out that the email ended with the words ‘I’m serious’. This led to a good number of writers (myself included) posting support on his facebook page and at his blog. A response from Larry has appeared today, and it is just as self-serving, who-struck-john, and I’m-the-victim-here as could be expected; his defence for the language he used is along the lines of oh, it was just a figurative phrase – how could you be so shamelessly obtuse as not to see it as such – and how dare pursue me with this outrageous libel, whine, whine, whine…

And that’s the core of it – the man uses the most inflammatory and vicious invective against Lavie and others, then is self-righteously obtuse enough to use the words ‘dead and buried’  in his diatribe, then when he’s called on it claims that it was all just figurative and how dare anyone make him suffer by insinuating that he made any kind of threat. “Hey, man, I was just joking – chuh, lighten up, dude!”

If Larry had been in the habit of using language which displayed even a scintilla of human compassion and/or a sense of wit/humour, the phrase ‘dead and buried’ might have been taken as sarcastic hyperbole. But the truth is that he sees himself as some warrior blogger out on the battlements, warring against the lefty-goy horde and their inability to see the shining goodness of Israel in everything it does. And nothing that anyone else can say or write will change that. But as the saying goes, writers are the unacknowledge legislators of the world; Lavie Tidhar, China Mieville and others have talent and insight, and eager audiences, and it is a source of comfort to know that that must really get under his skin.

Venceremos, Larry!

ps – Lavie Tidhar’s blog is at – http://lavietidhar.wordpress.com/

and Lar’s is – http://seasonoftheredwolf.wordpress.com/ - read it and weep

 
Posted in Berzerkergang, Buddies, on writing, philosophy, Politics, science fiction | Tagged , ,
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Arrogance & Pigheadedness: The Slings And Arrows Of Amazon Comments

Posted on May 11th 2012 | 20 Comments so far
 

Yes, I did it. I made the mistake a few months ago of actually responding to reader comments to a couple of my books on Amazon.  I suppose I felt so appalled at being doled out a 1-star review that I let my natural combativeness get the better of me and…off I went, bringing to bear a modicum of wit (though not malice) in defence of the book which I had worked very hard over, and which I knew with the certainty of past experience (of truly bad writing) that Seeds Of Earth is not a 1-star book.

Three sentences were what I wrote in framing a mild rebuttal of the review’s wholesale condemnation of SOE. And wow! – the responses it provoked.

Tell you what Mr Cobley, I’ve been using Amazon since it started and never felt the need to post before either. You appear to have created an exceptional case.” – was one, followed by;

His recommendation to avoid it has been taken up by me – you’re sheer arrogance and pig-headedness is clearly hiding a lot of insecurities about your writing. What a spectacular way to alienate your once and potential future audience.

If you had never replied you might have earned more respect and income from this. Because you’ve been a fool, you’ve lost both.”

Now, I have to keep reminding myself that, as other writer colleagues have impressed upon me, that the reading experience is very personal, with personal taste playing a large role. Which is fair enough. But I’m surprised by the anger I provoked – as if it somehow goes against some kind of cultural taboo for a writer to respond in defence of his own work. And the second comment’s conclusion begs the question – why would I earn respect by keeping my mouth shut? In what other field of human endeavour is respect earned by the gagging of the artist?

Going back to the original review, I think that if it bestowed 2-stars I would have gritted my teeth and got past it. But to be consigned to the bottom of the heap, along with the John Normans and the Lin Carters and other scarcely workmanlike writers, just stuck in my craw. Getting 1 star and a dismissive review did not needle any insecurities about my writing, rather it felt like bullying, it felt unnecessarily crushing (particularly in the context of a lack of other reviews by the same commentator). And if there is one thing that makes me take up the cudgels its an unfair, unjust judgement.

Hindsight is always 20-20 and I can see now that I should have just averted my eyes and moved on down the road. But I thought I would share this experience with you, partly to lay bare the oddness of the resentment some people clearly feel when a writer disagrees with criticism, but mainly as a rueful warning to my writer buddies – just don’t go there, guys, okay?

 
Posted in Berzerkergang, my publications, on writing, philosophy, science fiction | Tagged ,
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