Micheal Cobley

Interstellar Tactics




My Short Story Collection, Iron Mosaic, Now Out As An Ebook

Posted on February 15th 2012 | Leave a comment

And here you see the cover, as created by Gary Gibson, for my collection, Iron Mosaic, now appearing under the Brain In A Jar imprimatur, available from AmazonUK. And LO! for here is the link:



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Posted on August 14th 2011 | Leave a comment

your friendly neighbourhood corporation

joe corporation

Saw this, had to share it.

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The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear An Industrial Welding Helmet

Posted on February 24th 2011 | Leave a comment

Some of my colleagues in the sci-fi writin’ n’ readin’ demographic are keen as buttons on all and any breakthroughs and shiny new apps, what I call naive technoboosterism.

Well, here’s a development that should give many of us pause for thought. Now corporations and governments are using cutting-edge software to generate believable online personas, complete with web pages, back stories, twitter accounts and other interwebby paraphernalia. These online masks are then used by operatives as cover for anti-progressive postings on forums of every kind, although usually popular ones where debates on corporate behaviour are carried out. George Monbiot has done a piece on this:


Quote -

“As the Daily Kos has reported, the emails show that:

- companies now use “persona management software”, which multiplies the efforts of the astroturfers working for them, creating the impression that there’s major support for what a corporation or government is trying to do…..

- human astroturfers can then be assigned these “pre-aged” accounts to create a back story, suggesting that they’ve been busy linking and re-tweeting for months. No one would suspect that they came onto the scene for the first time a moment ago, for the sole purpose of attacking an article on climate science or arguing against new controls on salt in junk food.”

Man, are we fast-forwarding into the Gibsonian future, or what?

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Updates, Ebooks, and the Chung Kuo website!

Posted on October 27th 2010 | 10 Comments so far

First off, yes, I am still neurally- challenged due to synaptic commitment to narrative construction activities – aye, I`m scribbling like daft wee scribbler!

And at last I can confirm that hitches and glitches have been overcome and the ebooks of Seeds of Earth and The Ascendant Stars are now available! The Amazon links are:



And on your Chung Kuo news tonight….status report reveals that publication dates are now announced, and on a dedicated Chung Kuo website. Add this one to your favourites:


Wherein you can find the current full publication schedule for all 20 books, oh yes!

Current listening pleasure is being provided by Major Parkinson, Seid, Red Giant, Honcho, Black Country Communion and Joe Bonmassa. Currently reading – The Hell of it All by Charlie Brooker. Guys a jeenyuss!

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Blog Oddity

Posted on November 3rd 2009 | 7 Comments so far

As you can see, this blog comes out courtesy of the WordPress outfit, and the controls and dashboard provide me, the blog owner, with interesting stats and figures. Including search engine terms that people use to find this blog. Among these is someone who just keys in my name – only they misspell it every time. Instead of ‘Michael Cobley’ they put in ‘Micahael Cobley’. I`m not being judgemental about this, its just that its curiously consistent. Still, so long as its gets them here its fine by me!

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Bioshock Novel: Ken Levine Salts The Fries

Posted on September 15th 2009 | 3 Comments so far

Just found a July interview with Ken Levine, the mastermind behind the groundbreaking game, Bioshock, in which he mentions that the Bioshock novel is being written by non other than…John Shirley! Yes, indeedy, that John Shirley, author of City Come A-Walkin, the Eclipse Trilogy, and loads of great short stories. For more info on Levine and his plans for a new game that will be “substantially more ambitious than BioShock”, click on the link.


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Interview Over At Dave Brendon's Fantasy & SciFi Weblog

Posted on April 27th 2009 | Leave a comment

Like the title says, a short interview done with David Jooste and which you can read by clicking yon wee linky thing….


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Heaven & Hell: Bible Black. Stomping Rifftastic Goodness!

Posted on April 3rd 2009 | Leave a comment

Can’t help it, I am and will always be a Black Sabbath fan, Dio or Ozzy (who I never compare as they are different vocalists with their own strength and failings). Even if they have to put on a vestigial mask by calling themselves Heaven & Hell…they still rule. I saw them, with Dio, on the recent UK tour and…hmm, it was kinda 2/3rds brilliant, a 1/3rd wince-provoking (basically because Ronnie James a) speaks too quickly between songs, and b) improvs wildly and ludicrously at times when all we want is for him to sing the song as we remember it).

Then I heard that they would in fact be staying together to write and record a full album, which made me sit up and take notice – they had already recorded 3 new tracks to go on the Dio Years/Sabbath retrospective collection that came out in ’07 and those were were pretty good songs, strong, dark and doomy. And now album-time is acoming round, bringing news of the title of the new Heaven & Hell CD, ‘The Devil You Know’, along with the release of a single called ‘Bible Black’ and….it…is….just…..awesome. Really. Iommi absolutely cements his place on the mountain; the riff just grabs hold and stomps along, not letting go, and Ronnie James’ voice – the guy is in his sixties and he’s still able to sound off like God’s own voice of metal. You can tell from the sharpness of the playing, and the sheer dramatic inflection in Dio’s voice, that these guys meant it, that they really went for it.

April 27th is the CD release date. Oh yeah.

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Bioshock – Thoughts On The Storyline

Posted on March 29th 2009 | 1 Comment so far

Many of the plaudits for Bioshock included praise for its involving storyline, in-depth narrative and rich background. But when you read what Ken Levine (the eminence gris behind the Bioshock concepts) has to say about the game story you start to realise some interesting home truths about game narratives. Levine said that the Bioshock story breaks down into 3 basic acts: escape Rapture, kill Ryan, kill Fontaine. When you look at it that way, you have to ask yourself why then is Bioshock so involving, so entrancing?  

The answer is in the details and the back story. The back story is basically the train of events that went before the start of the narrative, the forward-rushing impetus which kicks off the story proper. In that context, the events of the game are the final stages of the epic – they are the denoument, the settling of scores, the resolving of the dramatic tension, the defeat of evil. As for the game-story’s success, it is played out against a detailed, resonant, consistent backdrop which makes the in-game events and clashes more than just a simple string of missions. Characters are encountered and their stories highlight the backstory and the current state of necessity, one aspect in which the superlative voice-acting proved so valuable.

 And now Bioshock 2 is starting to emerge, like some weed-choked chunk of seabed rising from the depths. There is a teaser site at www.somethinginthesea.com which cleverly plots out some possible backstory for the new game. I have no doubt that there will be more in the months ahead.

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First Person Shooters: An Addict Speaks

Posted on March 15th 2009 | Leave a comment

Well, of course, since I`m workin’ like a DOG on book 2 of the Humanity’s Fire trilogy (The Orphaned Worlds) it is completely and utterly and utterly completely verboten for me to be playing any computer games which, for me, means FPS or First Person Shooters. Which is why I’m writing this post as a kind of yearning, a psalm to frenetic gameplay tactics, a paean if you will to the beauty and the breathless brutality of such games. You`ll know how much I loved Bioshock, a game with a meaningful and gripping narrative; well, others that have really got my attention have included Medal of Honour: Airborne in which you play a paratrooper sent on various missions through WW2, and the great thing about it is that each mission begins in the skies with you having just jumped out of a plane. And you can control your parachute and steer yourself towards anywhere in the territory you’re descending to. So different from almost every other shooter I`ve ever played, where you start where the level designers want you to start; in MOH:Airborne it can be different every time, thus the replayability is fantastic. I wish other developers would offer similar options.

Another game which I enjoyed immensely, and which had a solid, dramatic storyline, was Dark Messiah, which introduced me to the joys of the kick as employed up high, on ledges or building walkways without rails. Sure, the old Duke Nukem shooter had a kick ability but only in certain circumstances – in DM you can use it as and when. Terrific game, especially the fight with the cave troll, and the climb up the orc-busy cliff faces.

What I`m looking forward to – Fallout 3 which I am told is topnotch; Necrovision, the demo of which was an absolute hoot (zombies and more kicking); Cryostasis (horror survival onboard a huge Russian icebreaker trapped in the ice); and Three Cards To Midnight, a graphic adventure/puzzler game coming from the guys who were behind the Tex Murphy games back in the 90s, from their new outfit called Big Finish Games. I really hope this one makes it out of the trap cos then we might get to see a new Tex Murphy for the 21st Century, which would indeed be a cool thing.


A couple of other games slipped my mind, like Stalker: Clear Sky, the sequel/prequel to Stalker: Shadow Of Chernobyl whose gameplay was free-roaming, almost freeform, although there was a main narrative spine of missions leading onto further missions, along with various sidequests. Stalker SOC was notorious early on for being bug-ridden and was patched something like 6 times by the developers to clear up various issues, such that by the time I got round to playing it the most recent patch spared me the agonies and frustrations that the first players encountered. Not really an early adopter, me. The other sequel is, of course, Bioshock 2: Sea Of Dreams, of which we`ve seen no more than an enigmatic trailer. Bioshock, like Stalker, was set in a fully realised, highly individual, detailed and consistent environment. However, it has emerged that the original Bioshock team will not be involved in Bioshock 2; a shudder goes through me, recalling how something similar bedevilled the development of Deus Ex 2 Invisible War, which gobbled its way across the gaming universe on a fast trajectory to the bargain bin. Also, there has been talk of the Bioshock ‘Franchise’, and once more my spidey senses tingle, alerted to the presence of corporate marketing vernacular, that money-grubbing, dead-eyed lingo which sucks the life out of anything vaguely artistic and worthwhile. Though I could be wrong.

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