Furthest Tales of the City

Look what arrived in the post for me!

Furthest Tales of the City

Stories by some splendid writers including me:

Furthest Tales of the City contents

I haven’t read it yet as it only arrived yesterday, but am greatly looking forward to it. Some of the titles look especially interesting, but I may have to start with Helen Angove’s story.

(Buy it here from the publishers, Obverse Books, in paperback or ebook form.)

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Permaculture Diploma presentation

I’ve finished my Permaculture Diploma (all the designs and so on are up here)! I’ll be doing my final presentation at the London Permaculture Festival this Sunday, from 11:30-1:30. There are three of us doing a bunch of mini-talks and chatting to people about urban permaculture and the diploma, so it’s not just 2 straight hours of being talked at.

Come along if you’re free; there’s loads of stuff going on at the festival as a whole, and if you’re at all interested in permaculture it’s well worth going.

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The Perennial Miss Wildthyme

Now available for pre-order from Obverse Books: The Perennial Miss Wildthyme, featuring Iris Wildthyme, and a story from me. It’ll be out this autumn, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to reading the rest of the stories.

The cover, by Paul Hanley

The cover, by Paul Hanley

(Should you feel unable to wait for your Iris fix, Iris Wildthyme of Mars, in which I also have a story, is available right now.)

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Back garden photos

I am pretty pleased with this.

Before (June 2011, a month before we moved in):

Eight months later (late Feb 2012, the week before I had Leon!):

One year on (July 2012):

Nearly three years on (May 2014):

Not bad going, really. More photos in the Flickr album.

(Currently it looks quite wintery but I might add a photo in a bit anyway.)

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Liberating Earth

Look what came through the letterbox yesterday!

Book cover: Faction Paradox, "Liberating Earth"

A brand new Faction Paradox collection, featuring a story by me, among eight others. I haven’t yet read the others, as it only arrived yesterday, but I am greatly looking forward to them; especially the frame story by Kate Orman.

Available now from Obverse Books (hardback) or on Kindle.

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Iris on Mars

Current writing news: Iris Wildthyme of Mars (in which I have a story) is now out from Obverse Press in ebook form and available for preorder (pub date 30 Sept) in dead tree form. The cover art is awesome.

Iris Wildthyme of Mars FrontCover

I haven’t read my copy yet (I am in the throes of a Dorothy L. Sayers re-read; previous evidence suggests that it is useless even trying to extract myself before I reach the end) but am greatly looking forward to it. There are plenty of fine authors in there.

Philip Purser-Hallard, the editor, is also editor of another new Obverse collection, Tales of the Great Detectives (ebook or dead tree pre-order (30 Sept again)). So you might do well to read that one too (as I will be doing) (dammit, I need to read faster).

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A fortnight ago I went to LonCon3 – not just my first Worldcon, but my first SFF con of any sort. Given that they were holding it about 20 min tube/DLR ride from me, in ExCel, it would have seemed churlish to skip it. 

There were a lot of panels. A LOT of panels. And I went to quite a few of them. I found myself ducking out of this one 15 min early so I could have a quick break / snack before dashing back for the next slot. It reminded me of when I first went to music festivals (20-odd years ago now) where I would pore over the programme planning how if I left *this* then and dashed over here I could catch half an hr of *that* on the way to *the other*… Another time I might endeavour to take it a little easier and give myself more time for everything else. (I entirely missed the Art Show, for example.)

Having said that, I enjoyed nearly everything I went to, and could happily go back and start over with a whole different set of things. (I missed most of the science track, for example). I have many pages of notes I am not about to type out, but a couple of panels particularly stuck in my mind afterwards (ie came to mind without checking said notes while writing this).
— Race and British SF: a really interesting discussion about who is writing what, where, and why, which left me with a much longer to-read list. 
— Ideology vs Politics in SF: the premise was that ideology (noble ideas) shows up in SF more often than politics (the grubby business of hammering out solutions), probably because the former is in general more interesting to write/read. Lots of discussion about the value of both about writers who do tackle politics, and about the radicalism of imagining a political alternative. 

There was also one talk (on worldbuilding) I left after getting too annoyed by the panelist who invariably referred to a hypothetical character as “he”. A shame as there was good stuff from the other panelists, but it was just too irritating. I cheered myself by getting some dal for a late lunch. 

I saw “kaffeeklatsch” repeatedly on the programme with no explanation, then when I established what it was, was too shy to sign up. Then I found myself sitting next to Stephanie Saulter (author of the excellent novels Gemsigns and Binary, about which I was most enthusiastic at her) at another panel. She mentioned her kaffeeklatsch, which gave me the courage to sign up. I’m glad I did – it was a lovely hour, and I also got to meet and chat to Anne Charnock (whose novel A Calculated Life I have since read and enjoyed), Cindy of Draumr Kopa review blog, and someone from Birmingham SF group whose name now escapes me (oops). Buoyed by this I also went to Teresa and Patrick Neilsen Hayden’s one, which was interesting if less chatty. 

Despite my extensive panel attendance, I also managed to do a bit of socialising with people I didn’t know at all, and thus award myself a Big Gold Social Person Star. (I had a drink with a couple of folk I did know, too, but that is less challenging because I already know that they’re nice.) The fan village in many ways was great from a social point of view – lots of opportunity for mingling – but it was also very noisy (and echoey, being as how this was ExCel and therefore it was inside a big concrete box) which made life harder. I left one thing because I just couldn’t hear anyone, which did nothing for my intermittent social anxiety. 

Sunday I missed most of everything that didn’t involve hanging around in the fan village, as Leon came along for the day. He was delighted with his badge and First Worldcon ribbon and very enthusiastic about running round the ‘village green’ with a hula hoop. He is, however, still not panel-compatible. I went home with him and D at dinner time rather than staying for the Hugos. I was a little sorry, but following it on Twitter over pizza and a glass of wine at home was still pretty exciting, and also involved pizza. A very pleasing set of results. 

(Given how Sunday panned out and that I would have had L with me on Monday too, I somewhat reluctantly stayed home on Monday and missed the final day, bah.)

Brilliant weekend, if exhausting. I would go again like a shot if it ever comes back to Europe. And after over 20 years of being a fan of sorts but never going to a con, I am now signed up for both Eastercon and 9 Worlds next year and greatly looking forward to both. 

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And another one

Hurrah, another story out.


(Only just realised this, despite having looked before, due to their website being a bit counter-intuitive.)

In other news, I have begun revising the novel I’m working on at the moment. It is a bit like trying to put together a really big jigsaw puzzle in several dimensions, when you keep discovering that some of the pieces are missing, and other pieces that aren’t missing are actually from another puzzle altogether.

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Stories out, and sitting in fields

I have a couple of stories out in various places right now, should you be interested:

  • “The Loyal Dragon” in kids’ (age range 9-17) SFF magazine FrostFire Worlds (May 2014 issue). It has a dragon in it! (I have a long-term fondness for dragons.) Only available in print, and I suspect UK shipping will be expensive.
  • “Breaking Free” in Outposts of Beyond (July 2014 issue, also print only). This is set in the same world as my story ‘Blocking’ (published in Strange Bedfellows).
  • And forthcoming sometime soon in New Realms, “A Gift of Memory”, about gifts, trust, and mistakes made and forgotten.

In other news, I spent much of the last couple of weeks camping in fields. Firstly with a bunch of unschooling types down in Dorset (just me and Leon). Which was lovely, apart from the bit where Leon came down with a stomach bug. (In a tent. Not fun.) Still, at least the weather was good.

Then there was Glastonbury! For the 12th time for me (since 1997) and the 2nd for Leon. The weather was not so good there (intermittent rain, but I’ve certainly been there in much worse conditions) but the festival was as ever fantastic regardless of a bit of mud and damp. Leon was particularly keen on the Kidzfield, and on Shangri-Heaven early on Sunday night, where there were angels with bubbles and lots of running around space. Photos here.

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Review: The Goblin Emperor

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison, has been on my to-read list for a while. This is partly due to seeing generally positive things about it in many places, and partly because Katherine Addison was previously known as Sarah Monette. Sarah Monette wrote Melusine, which I read and thoroughly enjoyed, but by the time I discovered this, the remaining three novels in the series were annoyingly out of print.* The Goblin Emperor finally got bumped up to the top of the list after reading this review by Justin Landon, which mentioned both that it’s a work of genius, and, more importantly, that the protagonist, Maia, is actually nice.

As Landon observes, good-person protagonists are an increasing rarity in spec-fic. One of the other books I read recently was God’s War (Bel Dame Apocrypha #1), by Kameron Hurley. It too, in a different way, is an excellent book, but it’s a grim read, and protagonist Nyx is a long way from any descriptor like “nice” or “good”. I freely admit that I prefer my reading matter a bit on the positive side, and recently that seems to have been in short supply.

Anyway. I started out on The Goblin Emperor, and I fell in love, ooh, about three pages in. Maybe two. I galloped greedily and joyously through the first 3/4 of it, and then I slowed way down in the despairing knowledge that it was going to run out, and there are no sequels or anything (yet? please let it be ‘yet’). Then I did come to the end, and I stared thoughtfully at my Kindle, and then I hit the “go to start” button and I read it all over again. I managed not to read it a third time after that, but it was a close-run thing.

For a more thorough review, try Strange Horizons or The Book Smugglers or Tor (spoiler: they all loved it too). But what did I love about it? I loved the detailed world-building (airships and court politics and social structures and all the rest of it), and the gradual reveal of new parts and new aspects to existing parts. It’s beautifully handled, with confusion created and resolved at just the right rate. I loved Maia, the protagonist. (I really loved Maia.) He is, as Landon said, genuinely a good person. Not a perfect person; but someone trying to do their best, trying to do good in the world. I loved the racial and gender politics; again, beautifully and lightly handled. I loved the court politics and the wonderfully-observed government structures. I loved the interpersonal relationships. I also loved that it didn’t go for the “race to the grim” option; bad things happen, but they don’t feel gratuitous, and they don’t feel like the author is trying to demonstrate how TOUGH they are**.

Above everything else, I loved the feel of it; as several of the reviewers above mention, it is a warm, satisfying book that left me feeling better about the world.

I cannot recommend this highly enough, if you’re remotely into fantasy. And I really, desperately hope that there’s a sequel. In the meantime, I might just have to read it again.

* After reading this book, I now finally have them all on their way second-hand.
** I have this beef with quite a few recent spec-fic novels.

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