I got an okayish review in SFX for Against Gravity, where it got three stars out of five: weirdly enough, that's half a star more than they give Charlie Stross for Accelerando on the opposite page, and he just won a Hugo! An object lesson, as if it were needed, in why reviews should never be taken too seriously.

At one point, the book is described as 'a film pitch in search of a green light', which I found kind of amusing, since making a movie out of it was about as far from my mind as it could get.

By the way, if you want to leave a comment in future, I've had to switch on word verification after getting deluged by comment spam.
I read on Boing Boing about a new, open source portable games machine, movie viewer, mp3 player, and text reader in one: want one, particularly since it's going for just over a hundred quid. Unfortunately, it's going to have to wait. Possibly, for a long time.

Then I tripped over a new blog by the editor of Spike Magazine (via Mumpsimus) which lists new, free books on the net. Want one even more, so I can read them on it. But what I really, really want is one of those Japanese ebook machines (Librie? Librio? Whatever) that turned up on The Gadget Show earlier this year, which, according to the presenter, did pretty much reproduce the effect of reading text off the printed page.

No, paper books are a long way from being replaced. I agree. But it does occur to me that when we can extensively read even from popular newspapers on our computer screens, it's really a short jump from there to reading ebooks on the subway or bus, especially when (or if) a lot more textbooks, say, end up being published electronically. Imagine if you never had to lug those heavy great tomes around uni. Students of the world unite, you have only your etexts to gain.
So I've been busy, writing different outlines for Tor and waiting to see which, if any of them, fit the bill for whatever it is they're looking for. More discussions led to more frantic scribbling, and after two weeks of solid hardcore creative action a fresh outline (eight thousand words, hey, they said they wanted detailed) went sailing through the ether Friday last. So, back to waiting and wondering.

I made the horrible mistake of pulling some childhood favourites from the shelf in a fit of nostalgia, partly driven by a conversation in the pub with Hal Duncan in which he mentioned re-reading a lot of Alfred Bester lately. So I dug out 'Star Light, Star Bright' and re-read the first two stories, Adam and no Eve, and Time is the Traitor. Horrible mistake. Horrible, horrible mistake. Book goes back on shelf. Have I learned my lesson? Do I turn away from the execrable fiction of yore? Do I hell. Next down is The Best of AE Van Vogt, with one of those Seventies paperback covers that screams second hand bookshop at you. Got halfway through 'Weapon Shop' before doing everything but bouncing it into the wastebasket. Sod nostalgia. I reached for my copy of Shepard's 'The Jaguar Hunter' and got on a lot better with that.


The weird thing is, I started this blog so I could, you know, talk about writing. What's weird about that is, the farther you get into the whole professional side of things - the business of writing, as it were - the less you feel free to talk about it: the important stuff, the stuff that's occupying many of your thoughts, is between you and your editor and your agent. So I find myself in a curious position I suspect a lot of writers do, where you gradually sort of self-censor yourself because to do otherwise would be to divulge what are, really, confidentialities. Which is a shame, because there's a lot to tell.

Another reason for a lack of writing here is I've been busy working on outlines. Lots of outlines. Several outlines. Outlines coming out of my freaking ears. That's my life just now: I go to the part time job, I come home, and I type. A lot.

So, Gary: what're you up to?
Writing outlines.
Cool: want to talk about it?
Why not?
Because I'm, you know, hanging in a limbo-like void here, man. The future is indeterminate. I can't really talk about my writing until I know whether I'm going to get a second contract.
Wow. Can't you tell us some things?

Well, I've got enough book ideas to last me about ten years, for a start. Curiously enough, very few of these are in the 'space opera' mode. I did space opera with Angel Stations. Lots of running about, shooting, and blowing up things. I did slightly less running about, shooting and blowing up things with Against Gravity, which wasn't really a space opera at all, and was meant to be more 'serious' (stop laughing at the back, there).

Some of the other stuff I've been working on includes 'Wonderland' (also known as 'Things Unseen'). This covers a period roughly between the end of WW2 and the mid-Seventies. It was inspired by a book about CIA and KGB covert involvement in the development of the arts, including modern art - Jackson Pollock, and so forth. That's all up to maybe sixty thousand words. Once I've got all the other writing work out of the way in the next couple of weeks, I'm going to try and go back to it and get as close as I can to finishing it. I'm expecting it to top out at maybe 150k, so the chances of actually finishing it anytime soone# are slim, but I'll see how far I get.

Another project I've got in the pipeline is having a go at writing an episode of an existing TV show. Every now and then I go to the scriptwriting workshop I've been hanging out at in recent weeks, and have a conversation with Claire (the person who runs the workshop) that goes something like this:

Gary: So how much do you get paid for writing an hour long TV episode?
Claire: About eight thousand pounds.
Gary (giggling): Say it again, Claire. But the other stuff too.
Claire: Eight thou, when they buy it. And another eight thousand, when they start filming it.
Gary (weeping hysterically, clawing at the table, both legs twitching violently): No. Say it properly. Say it the way I like it. With all the good bits in.
Claire (shaking head sorrowfully): Eight thousand to buy it, eight thousand again when they start filming it, another eight thousand on the first day of transmission ...
Gary (bursting into erratic, hysterical laughter): Say it! Say the good bit!
Claire: ... and the same again, if they repeat it.
Gary slides under the table, pawing at the carpet, making ecstatic snickering and grunting noises to generally appalled expressions.
Gary (briefly popping his head back up, a glazed look in his eyes): and how long is the average hour TV script? In words?
Claire: About fifteen thousand words (or sixty pages, in TVland parlance).
Gary: passes out from sheer joy.


So I saw Primer tonight, at the Glasgow Film Theatre, and came away mightily confused. I'd heard about it first through a couple of reviews. Every now and then you get a science fiction movie with no effects budget: critics hail this remarkable development, while getting confused over having to call it a science fiction movie despite the lack of effects (after all, if it doesn't have special effects, it can't be a science fiction movie, right?): and despite these occasional mini-revolutions Hollywood goes right along churning out an eternal sequence of Disneyesque CGI fantasies that have little to do with what I regard as science fiction.

So it's annoying in the extreme when someone sets out to make a zero budget science fiction film which is clearly full of intelligence and ideas, yet produces something that still left me completely befuddled as to what the hell was going on.

The basic plot is, a couple of engineers working on some project discover they've invented a time machine. It's just a metal box: you sit in it for a couple of hours, and when you come out, you're a couple of hours back in time from when you first entered the box and switched on the machine. Fair enough.

Except much of the movie is done in a particular 'cinema verite' style, which demands that everyone speak at once, with voices constantly overlapping, and those barely discernible over a background of clattering dishes, rushing traffic and noisy offices. As a result, I even had trouble discerning the names of the characters.

That I've managed to figure out as much of the plot as I have is largely down to the fact I'd already had the basic story described to me by Phil Raines at the weekend. I think I know what it's about, but if it demonstrates one thing, it's the value of having actors who speak clearly, and of a script that at all times stresses what the hell is actually going on.

I'm not talking about a dumbed down plot, but this is a film so determined to avoid any of the over-dramatic cliches of so much of Hollywood that it's very, very difficult to get a handle on what in God's name is happening. Even a series of voice-overs don't make it clear what the sequence of events are. There's a character called Rachel who's apparently pretty central to the plot, except I spent so much of this movie leaning forward in my seat trying to understand what the hell anybody was saying, and trying to absorb each piece of information before the next went rushing by, that I still have no idea who she is.

I'm particularly annoyed by this because if there's one thing we really, really do need, it's more low-budget zero effects intelligent science fiction movies. And this is one, I'm sure of it. As soon as somebody explains it to me. Or - and I can't believe I'm saying this - somebody gives the guy enough money to do a major studio remake where he gets to make the incomprehensible finally comprehensible.

It can be done. Look at Pi, still one of the finest science fiction movies of the past couple of decades. I still don't know whether to laugh or cry when people express amazement at the idea it's a sf film - after all, it's not got a big effects budget, has it?


Gary Gibson: worldconned.

Right now, there's not a great deal to blog about, mainly because I'm waiting on some news. I'm waiting for the man, as it were: and when I get that news, sometime hopefully in the next couple of weeks before I go nuts waiting, I'll have something to blog about: either to celebrate or curse. Whichever way it goes, we'll see.

So instead of all that, I've been concentrating on setting up a free flickr account on which to store not only many of my own photos, but those of other members of GSFWC, who happened to take pictures at the Worldcon. Most specifically, most of the pictures I've uploaded to Flickr came via Paul Cockburn.

Other bits and pieces: John Berlyne of SFRevu has put up a report on the Worldcon, which makes for very entertaining reading. There's a couple of pictures of GSFWC members, including four of us crammed around a dinner table in a restaurant being interviewed on camera.

Weirdly enough, I almost look healthy, an illusion abruptly shattered by the picture placed at the end of the report.

Concerning that last picture in John's report: I think the only appropriate description is 'worldconned.'