Micheal Cobley

Interstellar Tactics




Eastercon 8-Squared Con, Bradford

Posted on April 17th 2013 | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Buddies, my publications, philosophy, Politics, science fiction, steampunk | Tagged , ,
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Appearing In PUBLIC At Eastercon, Without A Safety Net….

Posted on March 25th 2012 | Leave a comment

Yes, after a hiatus of some long hairy weeks, I can now semi-exclusively reveal that I shall be doing the convention-boogy thang at this year’s Eastercon. Going under the humble title, OLYMPUS 2012, the convention will be held at the Radisson Edwardian hotel at Heathrow from April 6th-9th.

My panelling duties are as follows:
Friday, 3pm: ‘Our New Alien Masters, The Markets’ (being a discussion of the bizarre and frankly otherworldly mindsets of those we have set above us to run the global economy);
Friday 7pm: ‘Geoengineering To Save The Planet’, which will be getting into some seriously groovy headspace.

There may also be a further appearance round about 9pm-ish but I`m awaiting confirmation of that from a high heid-yin who shall remain nameless. In addition, it seems likely that I`ll be doing book signing on the Sunday evening, but I’m awaiting confirmation of that too.

As is customary, I`ll be toting around a selection of posters and bookmarks for the keen, the needy and the witty. Say hello, smile, tell me a joke, win a gewgaw, its that simple.

Undoubtedly, there will be more later.

Posted in Buddies, humour, my publications, Politics | Tagged , ,
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Orbit Announces Ma Grooveh New Site, + Eastercon Moviette!

Posted on August 18th 2010 | 1 Comment so far

Bit of a languishing in the silences, my friends, but as you can guess I have been working on/scribbling/struggling/engaged in single-unarmed combat with….bk 3, The Ascendant Stars. And its turning out to be demanding in ways I hadnt expected.

Been a bit of a downer this past month – my aunt passed away, as did the mother of a friend here in Irvine. My PC packed in, as you know, but was rejigged with a new motherboard. And the Coalition government goes from guff to duff – thinking of getting caps for ma teeth to offset the grinding effect.

So, yes, anyhow – Orbit have announced at their main site address the advent of my super duper new websiteblog, wot you iz reading nah, innit. And they also have posted a minimovie Q&A done at Eastercon earlier this year. So the link is below, take a look and have a laff or two;


Posted in Buddies, humour, Movies, my publications, on writing, philosophy, Politics, science fiction | Tagged , ,
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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!

Posted in Berzerkergang, Buddies, Fantasy, games, history, humour, my publications, on writing, Politics, science fiction | Tagged , , , , ,


Odyssey: Eastercon 2010 – What I'm Up To

Posted on March 29th 2010 | 5 Comments so far

So, this year’s Eastercon returns to the somewhat deracinated surroundings of the Radisson Edwardian hotel at Heathrow, beginning April 2nd. And yes indeedy, I shall be playing my part in this great endeavour, formally at least on the Saturday. Early, on the Saturday.

Firstly, however, Newcon Press will be launching its anthology, CONFLICTS, on the Friday evening at 6pm in the Royal C&D room, and since I have a story in it I shall be there imbibing this and that and just generally making merry.

So, Saturday at 9am, I shall be in the Connaught room, moderating the panel, “Living Forever – Is it a Good Thing?” along with panel guests Julian Headlong, Martin McGrath and Paul McAuley.

Then at 12 noon I shall be in the Hotel lobby for the open autograph session; note that in my pocketses I shall have a small supply of preciousss freebies so delay ye not. Also note that I will have to make tracks at about 12.50pm because I am due at another panel item at 2pm.

Yes, at 2pm, in the Royal C&D (Edward/Victoria) room, I shall be moderating the panel, “Evolution of Board Games” along with panel guests Tim Kirk, Sebastian Bleasdale and Henry Proctor.

Otherwise, it is likely that I`ll be seen in the dealers room, the bar, the dealers room again, the bar again, and sundry other prog items that catch my attention. Come up and say hello if you like, and I`ll sign books, cups, coasters, you name it!

Posted in Buddies, Fantasy, humour, on writing, Politics, science fiction, space | Tagged , ,


Eastercon Panels: A Writer's Gotta Do What A Writer's Gotta Do – Updated

Posted on March 25th 2009 | 2 Comments so far

As some of you might know, Eastercon is the UK national SF convention held yearly over the Easter weekend at a hotel/convention centre somewhere in Britain. Last year it was held at the Radisson hotel at Heathrow (dont get me started), but this year it is being held in Bradford, slap bang in the Midlands, making it within fairly easy reach.

This year I am on four panels;

 ‘SF music in popular culture’ on Friday at 7pm;

‘Depictions of music in SF&F literature and dramatic features’ on Sunday at 12:30pm;

‘The David Gemmell Awards’ on Sunday at 7pm;

‘Writers, artists and fans discuss their musical inspiration’ on the Sunday at 8pm.

Must admit that I’m looking forward to all the music panels, and especially to the David Gemmell panel as well.

And of course, there will be plenty of programming to take in, usually 2 or 3 streams of it, as well as the BSFA Awards on the Saturday night, various author signings (hopefully including your humble scrivener), as well as rumours of a curry-quest to take place at some secret location during the weekend. All promises to be a splendid beano!

Posted in Buddies, games, humour, Music | Tagged , , , ,


Nice universe – I`ll take it!

Posted on March 25th 2008 | 2 Comments so far

Hello, hello, come on in, take a seat while the courtesy drone takes your coats (and piles them in a heap somewhere in the hall). My name is Mike Cobley, writer, critic, micropolitician and rant technician, and this is my new home on the net. In this the new and forward-grooving world of tomorrow and the next future after that, webbification is all-important so I is getting webbified with the best of them. And for why, you may ask? Well, the unavoidable truth is that all our heads/minds/cognitive cisterns are being drawn ever further into the paradimestores of cyberspace and if you ain`t got yer stall set up in or near that glittering flowing glow….well, dude, you may as well be writing verse in dactylic hexameter in a backwoods cabin off in wildest Azerbaijan. In the 50`s.

Now, I have a new book coming out in March `09 from Orbit Books, the 1st volume of a trilogy/sequence (never too sure of the difference between those two words these days!) entitled Humanity`s Fire, being an interstellar epic chock full of the most baroque aliens and hyperspace vehicles I can think of. Volume 1 is called `Seeds Of Earth` and tells the tale of a lost human colonyworld rediscovered after 150 years. The original colonists were part of a desperate attempt by the human race to ensure its survival since at the time, a century and a half ago, Earth was under attack from a pitiless insectoid horde called the Swarm,  and humanity seemed on the brink of annihilation. Several colonyships were planned but only three reached completion and were launched off into the depths of space before the Swarm could lay siege to Earth.

The lost human colonyworld is called Darien, populated by the descendants of the original colonists who comprised Scots, Scandinavians and Russians. The Darienans find that Earth survived the attack of the Swarm, and that this region of the galaxy is teeming with a plethora of alien beings, lifeforms, cultures, arguments, wars, faiths and communities and, as fate would have it, they find their world becoming the focus of savage real-politik, newborn hunger for power, and ancient longlived hate.

Before long, I hope to be able to post some extracts from the book, along with some background information, just to sharpen the anticipation!

Also, I`ll be writing posts on the likes of books, music, politics, philosophy, computer games (my own personal life-eating pandora`s box), and anything else that comes to mind.

Oh, and in case you wondered about the odd title of this here blog, well it`s a reference to an earlier persona of mine, waaaay back in the 1980`s, before I was even professionally published; back then, as an eager cyberpunk fanboy (and dementedly energetic letterwriter – oh, letters were blogs except that you wrote them on paper and posted them off? Nutty, eh?), I started a single page broadsheet in homage of sorts to Cheap Truth, the clarioncall cyberpunk pamphlet written and distroed by Vincent Omniaveritas, being the writer Bruce Sterling. So, I started my own, snarkily titled `Shark Tactics`, which ran for 6 snarling, polemic issues. Funnily enough, I unearthed the original masters for the broadsheets (which I`d laid out on A3 sheets of card – hey, none of yer desktop publishing then, matey) just last week before I headed south for the Orbital Eastercon. I have the vague idea of running off some more copies for giving away, maybe even put them together as a pdf so folks can come along and download them, look them over and laugh like drains at my/our febrile naivety!

I had thought about naming this blog Shark Tactics, but that would imply that I`m intending to perpetrate certain anonymous bombardments upon targets in the SF/fantasy field. No – this is a personal blog…with links to my past and future, and possessing inevitable connotations. Besides, I reserve my vitriol these days for those who truly deserve it, those who lied to get us into a war, who concocted immense cathedrals of deceit and ordered good people to do terrible things in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted in cyber, history, my publications, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,