Micheal Cobley

Interstellar Tactics




So To Prestatyn – The SFX Weekender 2012

Posted on January 28th 2012 | Leave a comment

Some of you reading this may well have been to one of the previous SFX Weekender jamborees, but this will be my first. Catching the train on the morning of Friday February 3rd down to Prestatyn on the north Wales coast (not so very far southwest of Liverpool), and to the Pontins holiday resort there which the mighty SFX organisation has taken over for several days of unbridled SF-flavoured knees-up. There will be panels, talks, exclusive previews, films, retro-TV screenings, and celebs, celebs, celebs out the yingyang.

Er, amongs whom will be my good self. And I have things to do, to whit an autograph session at 10am on the Saturday morning, in conjunction with the immensely agreeable Jaine Fenn, after which I`ll be on a panel about space opera at 12 noon. Much relaxation and chinwagging shall ensue, have no doubt about this!

For more info on the Weekender schedule, see the following link:


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News & Stuff

Posted on June 10th 2011 | 2 Comments so far

Realise that I have been negligent of late, so here’s a little bundle of updates. The Ascendant Stars continues on its trajectory towards the supreme paperyness of transcendant bookhood! – ie, I just completed my side of the copy-edit stage, after which comes the reading of the proofs, which will come in the form of a stack of pages which I have to examine with my eagle eye. Then the book in its final form takes its place in the queue, with the publication still slated for early November. I am informed that Audible want to bring out the audiobook at the same time, and if all is right and sane with the cosmos the narrator shall once again be David Thorpe.

And earlier this week I received a copy of The Orphaned Worlds paperback and a note letting me know that TOW had gone into reprint. Brilliant! And while all this is going on I am working on the outline for the next BIG project, which is all a bit hush hush, just for now….shhh…

Music listened to recently includes Capricorn by Orchid, Call Of Avernus by Alunha, Rites At Dawn by Wobbler, Journey Through The Hidden Gardens by Disperse, The Final Frontier by Iron Maiden (I got my ticket, never fear!), and Lightning On The Strings, Thunder On The Mic by Gangstagrass. And as far as live gigs go, was off with buddy Graeme to see Rush at the SECC, and Devin Townsend at the Glasgow Garage. I’ve also satisfied my games craving in the last few weeks, with The Witcher 2 (great story, but the combat mechanics had been changed to what one commentator called a frantic twitch-a-thon, further distracted by the aggravating inclusion of on-screen button prompts, the kind of thing that ruined Jericho for me). Also played Bioshock 2, enjoyed it immensely (and the Minervas Den addon), Dead Space 2 (really great apart from the inclusion of an unkillable monster – what da hell?) and Singularity which was enjoyable to play with a good story and possibly the best multiple ending I have ever seen in a game.

Upcoming events include (ahem) the Maiden gig at the SECC, Hawklords in October, and Dweezil Zappa in Edinburgh in November, not long after the triumphant appearance of – The Ascendant Stars…of course.

Oh, and I’ll be down in London on June 21st for the New Worlds event at the British Library, along with me old mucker, Dave Wingrove. Should be a blast.

And as for politics – well, I wasn’t exactly a fan of Nick Clegg before; now I stand in awe of the sheer ruin that he’s visited upon the Libdems. How much longer can he stay as leader?

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And So To Eastercon Once More…

Posted on April 14th 2011 | Leave a comment

Yes, Eastercon – the annual British SF convention – AKA Illustrious, will be held at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole near the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), from April 22-25th. And yr humble scribe will most certainly be there with stuff to give away!

And I shall be taking part in a few panels and what-not. Here is my duty roster:

Saturday, 12 noon – ‘Is SF Winning The Culture War?’

Saturday, 7.30pm – ‘Read This Novel’ (book recommendation panel)

Saturday, 9pm – ‘SFF Catnip’ (panel on favourite story tropes)

Sunday, 10.30pm – author reading (excerpts from Ascendant Stars)

Monday, 12noon – ‘Nuke From Orbit – Its The Only Way To Be Sure’

So it would appear that I might miss out on any extended, relaxed meals on the Saturday night. Which makes it my own damn fault for volunteering, eh?

Ah, but it will be a blast. If you’re going to be there, come along, say hello, I`ll sign stuff and have bookmarks and knicknacks to give away! Mebbe even a poster or two as well. For further info, the convention website is here -


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Orphaned Worlds Competition Over At Bookgeek

Posted on May 2nd 2010 | Leave a comment

Well, now that Mark Chitty’s competition for copies of TOW has ended, Bookgeeks steps into the fray with their own competition, as hosted by Simon Appleby. Haste over to there wondrous site upon the web -


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Competition Over At Walker of Worlds Closes Tomorrow Night – Enter, Win Big!

Posted on April 29th 2010 | Leave a comment

Just a reminder that Mark Chitty competition to win copies of ma books ends tomorrow night (and you can also win copies of Peter Hamilton’s book, if that’s what you really want to do…) Hurry over to WOW and do the decent thing!


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Odyssey Eastercon – After The Hurly-Burly part 2

Posted on April 8th 2010 | 7 Comments so far

Of course, the memories are already starting to blur a bit round the edges but some standout moments remain, ike the steampunk weaponry in the Art Exhibition. Gotta love that blunderbuss and the ray gun, gorgeous assemblages redolent of Victorian-Edwardian technologies (creations of the talented Herr Doktor). I didn’t attend the Steampunk Ball but did see some of the costumes, like the chap with the multi-barrelled handweapon, and the rather snazzy ocular device complete with leather headstraps.

Another highlight was Nick Lowe winning the BSFA non-fiction award for his Interzone movie reviews – he was clearly stunned at winning, but it was well-deserved and long overdue. Surely now some publisher will offer the guy a contract to publish a collection of his reviews. I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

I couldn’t help noticing that the short story award went to Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia for ‘The Beloved Time Of Their Lives’, an exquisite, poignant, witty time/love/time travel story. The novel award went to China Mieville for ‘The City And The City’, while the artwork award went to Stephane Martiniere for his illustration for Ian McDonald’s ‘Desolation Road’.

It is a common misperception that published writers are a privileged lot who swan around supping from all the delights that civilisation has to offer: that may be true for the superstars, the Rowlings etc, but the great majority of professional writers must grapple with finances that often don’t go quite far enough. So when one’s publisher lets it be known that a slap-up meal is on the agenda you don’t hang about. Thus, by the mighty agency of Orbit supremo, Darren Nash, a number of us did repair to the Achari restaurant on Sipson Road for a feast of surpassing excellence. Really, I cannot praise the Achari highly enough – very pleasant surroundings, and an extensive menu from which we sampled examples fit to make a prince boggle in surprise. The openers and starters were fantastic, and generous in portion size so be aware of that when ordering the main course. Highly recommended.

All in all, Odyssey was a well-run, multistream, multi-genre, multifarious convention with a great many fascinating panels and discussions and events (and I really must get to more of them next time). The dealers’ room was well-stocked with a variety of books, mags, jewellery and all manner of crafted artefacts, as well as clothing, dvds, cds, etc etc. Yet as I’ve said before, I really dont like the Radisson hotel – by the Sunday I had grown to hate with a passion those marble stairs leading up from the lobby to the atrium and the mezzanine, not to mention the fact that there were no loos on the ground floor within easy reach of the Polo lounge. This is not to imply that somehow, in the throes of my aforementioned imbibification trials that I got lost in the corridors. No, not at all. Although you are free to infer what you will ;-)

And so to next year, when we will be at the Hilton Metropole near the NEC, in Birmingham, a city I have only ever passed through. So that should be a new experience, then!

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Odyssey – After The Hurly-Burly Is Done pt 1

Posted on April 6th 2010 | 3 Comments so far

Yuss, moi dears, Odyssey 2010 shall go down in history for several reasons, not least of which being that this was the most popular eastercon ever, with 1400+ memberships, I understand. Well, congrats due all round and so forth, and I know that manymany enjoyed themselves tremendously (some atrociously tremendously). But I remain, sadly, a non-fan of these peri-Heefrow bedbanks aka hotels. You know the litany, too hot, too dry, too much A/C, etc. For once, this time, I actually had a room which was pretty quiet – combined with the spongy earplugs I got some real sleep. But not really enough.

The panels I was moderating – Longevity at 9am and Evolution of Boardgames at 2pm, both Saturday – suffered a little from the previous night’s exploration of and research into the topic of Imbibivication In Human Males. As the named experimental subject in this clinical trial, I was diligent in my ingestion of a variety of potable materials, leading to significant side-effects which were still noticeable the following day. Well, I did pretty well at the Longevity panel, abley (thankfully) aided by Paul Mcauley, Martin Mcgrath and Julian Headlong. Much chinwaggery was indulged in upon the many and varied notions concerning immortality and life-extension in general, and whether or not it was good for the soul and/or society.

The other panel on board games was, well, not my most glittering moment. There I was at the end of a table inhabited by Tim Kirk, Sebastian Bleasdale and Henry Proctor, sterling and upright chaps each and every one, who also happen to be hardcore board gamers as well as highly-experienced game designers. And the room was pretty full of other hardcore gamers as well. Then there was me. Okay, I saw pretty early on that letting these knowledgeable guys run with it was the best policy, although I did interject a coupla times with questions which I hope didnt sound excessively n00besque. That said, it was a fascinating panel and I certainly came away knowing more than I did at the start.

Between these panels, I was at the 1st hour of the author signing session, sitting next to the estimable and indeed absurdly talented Joe Abercrombie, as well as the charming and equally talented Jaine Fenn. Although my 2nd Humanitys Fire book, The Orphaned Worlds, isnt out till April 29th, a few folk still turned up with copies of book 1 for signing, as well as some artefacts from the earlier part of my career, a copy of the one-off fiction mag I did, Mindmaps, a copy of the Nova Scotia anthology, and a copy of The Drabble Project, all of which I was happy to sign.

Now I shall call a halt, but tune in tomorrow for further revelations about My Holiday at Heathrow.

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Posted on April 1st 2010 | Leave a comment

Tomorrow is Odyssey,  the 2010 UK Eastercon, getting mob-handed at the Radisson Edwardian hotel at Heathrow. So this is just a note to say that I’ll next be posting after I get back on the Monday, hopefully with a bag o’ goodies!

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SOE Competition Winners!

Posted on February 8th 2010 | 8 Comments so far

Well, wasn’t that fun and indeed revealing? Just to remind you, the question was -

“Bearing in mind the SETTING  of Seeds Of Earth, what is the connection between the book and the poet, John Keats?”

I believe I also dropped clangorous hints as the use of Google by which an answer might be procured. How so? – well, looking over some of the information available, as publicity and other reviews of the book, you might have seen that Seeds Of Earth is mainly set on the planet Darien, so if you put ‘John Keats’ and ‘Darien’ into Google and googlise them, you come up with Keats’ poem “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer” in which may be found the final line, “Silent, upon a peak in Darien.”

Only a few actually got it completely right, while others came close with answers which I can see why would be thought to be correct. Anyhow, my judgement is that the following shall receive a copy of the paperback of SOE:

Andrej El, Germany; Esther Shchory, Israel; James Toburen, USA

and Michael Coupar, Preston; Martin Barlow, Manchester; Jer White, Edinburgh.

I`ll be notifying the winners by email later today, and shall despatch the books very shortly (with consolation prizettes for the other entrants too)(cos I’m a soft sod, thats why!). Da judge’s verdict is, like, final, dude.

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Seeds Of Earth Review @ NextRead – And Other Matters

Posted on February 6th 2010 | 2 Comments so far

Slightly after the fact, having just picked up on it via my agents’ website, Zeno, this review at the NextRead site, saying some nice things -


Also, just to remind all of you good people that the competition to win a copy of the paperback of Seeds Of Earth will end tomorrow night at midnight. To get the hot poop on this dynamite giveaway (requiring only that you answer a straightforward question via the magic of Google!), scroll down this page, or click on this link -


Not only but also, I note that the sequel to one of the greatest vid games ever, Bioshock 2, will be released to a salivating public on February 9th, a Tuesday for some reason. Sadly, I will be unable to actually buy one for myself straight away since yours truly has a book to finish and a deadline to somehow meet. But I will be watching and waiting for the gamers of the world to make their judgement, well, that and waiting to see if the game needs patching once its out there in the wild. And even though Ken Levine (the man behind the original game) isn’t involved, the advance teasers etc look very intriguing. Of course, the premise and narrative thus far revealed bear no resemblance to the notions I came up with for the Bioshock sequel…which I might post here. In a few weeks. Maybe.

Oh yeah, and next time out I’m going to tell you a little about a personal, near-lifelong obsession with the band the Blue Oyster Cult.

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