Micheal Cobley

Interstellar Tactics




So, Who To Cast In My Imaginary Movie Of ‘Ancestral Machines’?

Posted on January 18th 2016 | Leave a comment

Here’s a little bit o’ devil may care speculation on which actors I like in the movie of my book. And, yknow, who can tell what’s gonna happen?


Here we are, from left to right – Lt Samantha Brock (Zoe Saldana), Captain Brannan Pyke (Colin O’Donoghue) and Dervla (Mallory Jansen)

Posted in history, humour, Michael Cobley Posts, Movies, my publications, on writing, science fiction, space | Tagged , , , ,
Leave a comment


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 -


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, Michael Cobley Posts, my publications, on writing, philosophy, Politics, science fiction, space, steampunk | Tagged , , ,
Leave a comment


Blogpost at the Scottish Book Trust website on the Moniack Mhor SF/Fantasy Writing Course

Posted on April 30th 2015 | Leave a comment

(An introductory essay about the writing course being tutored by Ken MacLeod and myself.)

The question ‘what is science fiction?’ has remained constant ever since the cultural mainstream started taking notice of the genre back in the mid-1960s, with the arrival of the New Wave writers (like Robert Silverberg, JG Ballard, Ursula LeGuin, Mike Moorcock, John Brunner, Harlan Ellison and others). To the cultural arbiters, though, what was different to the preceding decades was the appearance of two TV series, one in the US, one in the UK, which spread the popularity of science fiction into the mainstream and the wider culture, and in a sense decoded the peculiar tropes and furniture and props for the ordinary citizen. Those series were Doctor Who and Star Trek. There had been science fiction on TV before then but these set out to raise the dramatic level above their pulpy predecessors, and there’s no doubt that they succeeded. Doctor Who and Star Trek set out to raise the dramatic level above their pulpy predecessors

Of course, the world itself has changed almost out of recognition since the days of black and white television, such that we are truly living in a science fictional world. Yet still the anchors and journos of mainstream news and comment programs continue to reveal a certain clodhopping ignorance of the nature and spirit of Science Fiction (while all the time using email, mobile phones, tablets and conference video calls, which were the very stuff of far-fetched SF to their 1950s forebears!).

As writers, living in the mixed up, clashing gaudiness and wildness of the world today (which gets newer and stranger by the day, yet remains hamstrung by a range of very old problems, aka, bad habits that our society seems unable to shake off), we need to take a long, considering look at all of it – All Of It! – then take a pondering look at ourselves and figure out what it is that we want to say. If we want to write widescreen action-adventure that captivates readers with daring and unexpected plot twists and gripping characters, that’s a fine and admirable aim. If we want to imagine what happens at the personal interface of character and an authentically weird imagining of future technology or a fantasy setting, that too is entirely commendable. Or if we want to assess the broad sweep of our development as a species and look ahead to spy out potholes in the road ahead, this is also a worthwhile avenue to pursue – and some might say it is the most worthwhile of all, perhaps even the social function that Science Fiction performs in service to humanity.

I mention all the above as a broad background to the short course which Ken MacLeod and myself will be conducting at Moniack Mhor. It is our intention to help writers understand key points of character, worldbuilding, history, myth and society in the context of both science fiction and fantasy, a brief grounding in the technical aspects of writing prose narrative. But in addition we hope to highlight the essential spirit of both fantasy and science fiction, that indelible storyteller’s thread which runs through a tale and makes it unmistakeably a fantasy story or a science fiction story. That is our task, and we look forward to passing on what we know.


Posted in Buddies, Fantasy, history, Michael Cobley Posts, on writing, philosophy, Politics, science fiction | Tagged , ,
Leave a comment


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.

Posted in Berzerkergang, Fantasy, history, Michael Cobley Posts, on writing, Politics, science fiction, steampunk | Tagged , ,
Leave a comment


SF Encyclopedia Online – Now I’m Here!

Posted on September 2nd 2012 | 2 Comments so far

The SF Encyclopedia Online is a colossal project, and has been available now in kinda post-beta for a year or more. And at last yr humble scribe ;-) has his own, his very own entry therein. Point yir wee moosies at the link:


Posted in history, Michael Cobley Posts, my publications, science fiction | Tagged


My Favourite Space Operas Over At SF Signal

Posted on June 23rd 2010 | Leave a comment

Says it all really – was asked to contribute my faves to SF Signal’s regular Mind Meld feature. So get ye hence and scroll to the bottom for my pronunciamentos:


Posted in history, Michael Cobley Posts, on writing, science fiction | Tagged , , , , ,
Leave a comment


The 5 Unjust Beliefs

Posted on June 16th 2010 | 1 Comment so far

Happened across  this quote from a book called INJUSTICE by Danny Dorling:

“The five tenets of injustice are that: elitism is efficient, exclusion is necessary, prejudice is natural, greed is good and despair is inevitable. Because of widespread and growing opposition to the five key unjust beliefs, including the belief that so many should now be ‘losers’, most of those advocating injustice are careful with their words. And those who believe in these tenets are the majority in power across almost all rich countries. Although many of those who are powerful may want to make the conditions of life a little less painful for others, they do not believe that there is a cure for modern social ills, or even that a few inequalities can be much alleviated. Rather, they believe that just a few children are sufficiently able to be fully educated and only a few of those are then able to govern; the rest must be led. They believe that the poor will always be with us no matter how rich we are. They have also come to believe that most others are naturally, perhaps genetically, inferior to them. And many of this small group believe that their friends’ and their own greed is helping the rest of humanity as much as humanity can be helped; they are convinced that to argue against such a counsel of despair is foolhardy. It is their beliefs that uphold injustice.”
Danny Dorling, Injustice, Policy Press, 2010, pp. 1-2


Wish I could afford the book – pricey hardcover, ya see!

Posted in history, Michael Cobley Posts, philosophy, Politics | Tagged , ,
1 Comment


Superheroes! – McRonson's Got Yer Number

Posted on June 4th 2010 | Leave a comment

An old buddy from my call centre slavery days happens to be a comix afficionado, and has been involved in comic writing and production himself. He also has some very trenchant opinions on the recent rash of superhero movies, which he has only just sounded off on at his blog. See the link below, and if you’re a Marvel movies fan ya better strap in for the ride!


Posted in Berzerkergang, Buddies, history, humour, Michael Cobley Posts, Movies, on writing, science fiction | Tagged , , , , ,
Leave a comment


The Free-Gaza Flotilla: No Mercy For Weakness

Posted on June 3rd 2010 | 2 Comments so far

You can probably guess my stance on this. Suffice to say that when an aggressor moves against an objective that presents no threat, the aggressor is barred from any resort to claims of self-defence. This applies to the assault on the Free-Gaza flotilla as much as it applies to the attack on Iraq, and indeed to the blockade and collective punishment currently inflicted on the people of Gaza.

There is a saying – evil exists. Question is, what happens when the next flotilla sets sails for Gaza? The Turkish government, animated by the affront to its citizens and a ship sailing under its flag, is enflamed by the Israeli action but as to what concrete steps may result, who can say? This has been the outcome for decades now, as the Israeli government continues to impose its ‘diet’ policy upon the Palestinians: regional and European governments complain and wring their hands but take no action, fearful of upsetting Washington and uncertain of what the Israeli response might run to.

But there will be more flotillas, we can be certain of that now. And, in general, the Gaza crisis cannot go on, and things that cannot go on generally do not.


And did anyone see the pictures of slingshots on TV, pix released by the Israelis, apparently? Did they know what symbolism they were playing with? Slingshots? David and Goliath? And who is David in all of this? An unarmed group of civilian ships or the world’s 4th most powerful military?

Further Additional

Almost forgot – there are still other vessels heading for Gaza, namely the MV Rachel Corrie, and two other smaller craft. Apparently they are due near Gaza waters by Saturday, and so far the Israelis have declared that it too will be prevented from reaching the Gaza shore. Will they wait until the Rachel Corrie crosses into Gaza waters or will they just go for it in international waters again, just to emphasis the permanency of the giant middle finger which they’ve raised to the rest of the world?

Posted in Berzerkergang, history, Michael Cobley Posts, Politics | Tagged , , , ,


Alt.Fiction: One-Day SF,Fantasy & Horror Festival In Derby

Posted on May 31st 2010 | Leave a comment

And I’m going! Yes, for it came to pass that yours truly was asked if I’d like to attend, and having only been to Derby once (for the first EMMA Electronic Music festival back in ’94), I thought the only answer could be ‘Aye, no problem!’

Alt.Fiction will take place on Saturday, June 12th, at the Derby Quad in the centre of the town, with its program starting about 10am I think. I have thus far got 3 events scheduled, being

1pm – a signing session for myself and Kate Griffin, both of us being Orbit authors

2pm – podcast on new writers and breaking in to the biz

3pm – podcast on writing SF: the future of the Future

Take a look at the link below, which leads to the Alt.Fiction website – you will notice that my name is not in the sidebar list, but not to worry about that – where you’ll find out lots more detail, events and ticket prices etc.


Posted in Buddies, Fantasy, history, Michael Cobley Posts, my publications, on writing, science fiction | Tagged , ,
Leave a comment