Would have posted comments on this years Eastercon (main GOH Walter Jon Williams) before now but have been somewhat under the weather (trans – poleaxed by another bout of recurring viral loathsomeness). But here at last is my take on it.
Travelled down by train, with just the one change at Preston, arriving mid-afternoon at Bradford Interchange station. After some clueless wandering, I got a cab to the Jurys Inn hotel (which turned out to be a short walk away, ho ho), and thence further on to the Cedar Court Hotel, where the con was being held.
All my panels were on the Saturday so I spent a good bit of Friday just catching up with old writer buddies and other friends, supping the odd pint and swooping into the dealers room for a looksee. Saturday kicked off with a panel on Walter Jon Williams’ book ‘This Is Not A Game’, and not long after the start who should come to sit at the back of the room but Walter Jon hisself! Still, we managed to acquit ourselves without sounding overly-fannish.
Next was the panel titled, ‘A Constitution For A Mars Colony’, moderated by myself in conjunction with Ian Sales…sorry, that should be BSFA-award-winning Ian Sales (seeing as how he won just such a trophy for his story Adrift On The Sea Of Rains). My original intent was for me to kick off with a short speech on politics and the fundamental concepts of democracy and democratic institutions, then Ian would come in with the hard science aspect and the strigent exigencies that running such a colony would entail. But interaction with the audience started to blur the lines a bit after Ian got started, turning into a kind of ongoing to and fro between us and the audience and amongst the audience itself. And it turned out to be very interesting, much more so than I thought it might! so, result.
Later I was on a panel on motherhood in SF, to which I`d doubted I could make a worthwhile contribution, but then I did pitch in with a showstopper narrative concept near the end which rendered the room deathly quiet (in essence, the plot form in which a parent has to kill a child)(I know, grim). Oh, and before that I was on a panel to do with steampunk morality, which seemed to touched on the stark reality of the impoverished existence of the majority of the population during the age of steam and Victoria – but prevailing sentiments favoured a less miserable approach to steampunk.
Sunday was a day for yacking one’s gob off with chums and colleagues, along with a signing event in the morning, then more chinwaggery followed by dealer room visits, more chat, drink, chat, and then the BSFA awards – and Mr Sales’ surprising and gratifying award for short fiction. Some may imply that I got slightly squiffy later on, and mention the involvement of a bottle of counterfeit Baileys, but….I couldn’t possibly comment.
Come Monday I had not enough time to use the convention bus to get to the Cedar Court for a last gander at the dealer room and be sure of getting a bus back in time for my train, so I relaxed at the hotel until checking out and took that not so long walk over to the station. The journey back went without a hitch until I got to Preston – then there was an obstruction on the line to Warrington, and after that the lights at Warrington ceased functioning properly,. Anyway, in the event I got into Glasgow over a hour late and just seconds too late to get a connection to Irvine. But hey, another left 15 mins later, so home in time for Easter dinner!
Leave a comment
Aye, well, another bit of a long hiatus, there. Here we are on the first day of March, and I can honestly say that I`m looking forward to the chance of an illness-free 2013 – I mean, there’s always a chance, isn’t there? I make this plea to the cosmos in the wake of 4 months of almost unbroken suffering from a variety of unpleasant coughs and colds, almost as if all the lurgies got together in late October and decided that I was Human Test Target Numero Uno.
Anyway, pushing on with the new book, Ancestral Machines, at full throttle now. Its turning out to have a somewhat different flavour from the Seeds trilogy – instead of a huge cast the main viewpoints are restricted to 2, with another couple supporting. It means letting the characters breathe and expand a bit so that they can carry the story, well, more of the story than the individual characters did in the trilogy. More on this as and when. Oh, just to let you know – I will be attending Eastercon at the end of March, in Bradford, and I will be moderating a panel dealing with the matter of a constitution for a Mars colony, assisted by the one, the only, Ian Sales. Should be interesting. We might even mention Mars in it.
Leave a comment
Yes, those keen as mustard American readers will finally be able to lay hands on the official Orbit US edition of TAS on November 20th. After which there shall be that readers’ afterglow, followed by the hope, nay, the need for more, MORE, I tell you!…ahem, well, I can always hope. And indeed write, that is, write the new Humanity’s Fire book, a standalone novel entitled Ancestral Machines, currently being slaved over by yr hmble scribe, every paragraph being lovingly handtooled and buffed to a finish…
Ah, well, a fine time was had by all, actually. FP treated us kindly, and had us four Orbit writers set up on generous tables down in the book department, and soon after 6pm a river of readers coursed through the place. As one might expect, there were a few more along to get books and other sundry objects signed by Charlie Stross, but my own signing hand was kept busy (and a number of my tasty bookmarks were given away too).
Afterwards, we, being the writers, editors and friends – including the strenuously talented Dave Wingrove (at whose gaff I was kipping that night) - repaired to the theatre bar at the Phoenix theatre not far away. Drinks were drank, nachos were chewed, and much interesting chitchat ensued. All in all, a good time on all fronts (and thanks to Dave for putting me up).
Let it be known that my publishers, Orbit UK, in association with the inestimable Forbidden Planet, will be having an Orbit Writers Signing event at Forbidden Planet, London, on Friday October 26th, at 6pm. And I will be there! – along with Kate Griffin, Benedict Jacka, and Charles Stross.
This, friends, should be a bit of a gas. CU there.
ps – it is entirely possible that I may bring along a small amount of freebies and goodies…
Leave a comment
Yup, here it is, publication day for SEEDS OF EARTH, book one of my space opera trilogy, Humanity’s Fire. Orbit US have essentially kept the original Steve Stone artwork and used their own lettering and cover design. And it looks damned handsome!
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:
Here they are, all three covers from the Orbit US editions of the Humanity’s Fire trilogy, due to be published later this year, in September, October and November. Yes, its the old one-two-three!
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?
Recently had a bit of chinwagging banterosity with SFX’s interview-meister, Jonathan Wright, and LO! for it has gone live on da interwebs. Here’s the link -