Apologies for the lack of content on here recently. I’ve been pretty burned out after completing An Incomprehensible Condition, I’ve had an important deadline for work, and the little writing I’ve been able to do last week has been put into the Mindless LoEG annocommentations (parts two, three and four of that are forthcoming, and will be great). I’ve not even had time to do the belated blog tour articles I owe, or to answer my email.
However, I’ve got a week off now, and I plan to use it on writing. So over the next nine days you can expect:
The resumption of my looks at William Hartnell’s Doctor Who stories. I’ll be starting from The Aztecs, but when I bookify them I’ll do a lot of rewriting on the five I’ve already looked at.
The first in a series of posts looking at the Monkees’ music (I’m leaving the second Beach Boys book until a firm date for the Smile Sessions box set is available, so I can incorporate that sensibly).
PEP! 3 (FINALLY!!!)
The remainder of my Hugo reviews
And my contributions to Mindless League annos. I’ve only contributed about 10% of the second annocommentation post, but I’ll be adding much more to parts three and four.
Meanwhile, remember that tomorrow the price for the Kindle version of Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! goes back to $5 from the 99 cents it’s currently at…
This is a difficult set of stories to review, as short stories can be spoiled in the way novels (at least good ones) really can’t – most consist of a single central idea or image, and without
Of the four stories nominated for the Best Story award in the Hugos, three of them are so similar in their thematic concerns that they could all have been written for a themed anthology, dealing as they do with small, self-contained communities, with single points of failure, and with restrictions on reproduction. For that reason they probably all seem better than they would if taken alone.
Ponies, by Kaj Johnson, therefore probably comes off slightly worse than it otherwise would, having little in common with the other three. A very short story indeed, and easily the best-written of these four as prose, it’s a beautiful fantasy piece about conformity and sacrifice, with a haunting central metaphor, and a story which more than hints at things like female circumcision. A little slight, maybe, but one that feels better in the memory than it did when reading it.
Amarylis, by Carrie Vaughn, did nothing for me. The crew of a fishing boat in a post-collapse society with strict limits on both food and breeding have a member who wants a kid, but the bloke in charge of weighing their catches keeps putting his finger on the scales so they can’t. Not a bad story as such – a perfectly decent way to spend five minutes – but hardly the best thing published last year.
For Want Of A Nail by Mary Robinette Kowal is, to all intents and purposes, an Asimov story. Set on a generation ship with strict limits on breeding, and where everyone gets ‘recycled’ as soon as they stop being productive, when a minor piece of hardware breaks in a robot and a spare part is needed, a secret that has been kept for years is revealed. A very strong story, and it’d be a worthy winner, but to my mind the ending is a little weak.
As for The Things by Peter Watts… I will link it, but want to place that link *AFTER* a trigger warning for any of my friends who have experienced sexual violence – and I’m afraid that that is also a spoiler for the story. EDIT – And I’ll reiterate that trigger warning – see the comment by Emily after this post. This story has a *NASTY* sting to it – one that I think works, and that is earned by the story, but that made me feel uncomfortable, and I am someone who does not get discomforted easily and who has never personally experienced anything like the events mentioned.
A reworking of The Thing (the John Carpenter film version, though anyone familiar with the 1950s film, or the short story Who Goes Here on which both were based, will get the gist of the references) told from the point of view of the monster, and even if you don’t know the source material it’s still stunningly effective, turning the body horror and paranoia about communism of the original(s) round while keeping the actual events identical to those in the film.
My ranking for these is going to be The Things, Ponies, For Want Of A Nail, Amaryllis, but the top three are all very close.
So I’ve finally got An Incomprehensible Condition out of the way, and I’m going to start work on the next few things. My plan is to structure my book-writing like a Claremont A-B-C type plot – have a main book that I’m doing the bulk of the work on at any one time, a second one that I’m writing bits of, and a third I’m planning, then keep moving each book up a stage as I finish.
(This will probably mean roughly one blog post per week on each of the A and B books for a while, unless either of them is a novel. I’ve decided that with the novels I have ideas for, I’m going to write and publish them *first* and then serialise them after the fact).
So I’m interested in which of the book ideas I’ve got people are most interested in reading – and also if there are any books you’d like to see me write. A few things to bear in mind, though:
My music books outsell the others by a factor of three to one.
I have recently joined the Mindless Ones, so comic and TV related posts should go over there unless they *definitely* don’t suit that site, rather than here (so for example posts on new Doctor Who will go over there, posts on old black and white Hartnell episodes over here. Posts about Grant Morrison or Peter Milligan comics definitely go over there, but I’m not sure yet about e.g. Cerebus – there’s a specific feel to that site, and I know some of my material works there, but am not sure how much yet).
Book ideas I’ve got already:
Beach Boys books vols 2 & 3 – this is necessary after publishing vol 1
Guides to Doctor Who episodes, one Doctor per book, starting with Hartnell
A Sherlock Holmes pastiche that has a twist that, unbelievably, I can’t find in any other Holmes pastiche.
A guide to self-publishing, focusing on non-fiction
A look at all Morrison’s DC superhero work (Animal Man, Doom Patrol, JLA, All-Star Superman, Batman, etc)
A guide to the music of the Monkees
A space-opera, high-concept science fiction novel
Guides to the solo albums of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison
A book on Cerebus
A Hammer-style Gothic horror novel
or something else?