When I first contracted to Tor, cover design questions came up: what was going on the cover? One of my many suggestions was simply to have Big Fucking Spaceships on the cover of Angel Stations, with Shit Blowing Up in the backdrop. Partly this developed from a sense that I was part of a long and grand tradition of authors whose books featured Big Fucking Spaceships with Shit Blowing Up somewhere behind them, although this admittedly grew out of a childhood inability to recognise the frequent inappropriateness of this form of illustration when wrapped around a book by, say, Christopher Priest or JG Ballard.

However, the covers I got for the stuff I've done so far were pretty bloody wonderful, particularly the design for Against Gravity, which actually hangs on my wall. They weren't really, at heart, Big Fucking Spaceship books. Not really. Even though they both did have Big Fucking Spaceships in them.

So anyway, I got an email today, about the cover design they're working on for Stealing Light: it looks like I'm going to get that Big Fucking Spaceship with Shit Blowing Up after all. Which makes sense, because Stealing Light is clearly a BFS with SBU kind of book.

Previously, I wrote the book and then they came up with the cover art, but the fact they're working on it a good few months prior to the deadline suggests to me perhaps they're looking at getting this one out on the shelves a tad earlier than I'd previously suspected. Under normal circumstances I'd have had a new book coming out round about now to go with the paperback release of Against Gravity, but figuring out just what Tor wanted from me (not stories about jazz-obsessed experimental drug-taking '60's period abstract artists helping tinfoil hat wearing mole men under NY's Grand Central Station prevent an attack by Nazis from the Fourth Dimension, apparently) took a while.

Back update: still better, but not quite enough. Like I said, I got out during the day a couple of times last week for some very brief trips into town, but the back is feeling a bit more sore again this week. I actually got as far as stepping out the front door on Saturday night before admitting to myself I was in enough pain I'd end up with a lot more pain if I tried doing the socialising thing. So back in I went, to spend yet another Saturday night on painkillers and watching TV. Which was, shall we say, a touch depressing.

One thing I've been warned of is rushing back into normal activity too quickly, but I've also been advised it's best to get as much exercise as possible. But finding the balance between these two is a matter of personal guesswork. I wanted to try and make it along to a new screenwriting group I found on Tuesday evening, but I'm not going to know if I'm up to that until the time comes. Perhaps I should save myself for next weekend, and see if I'm any better.


I watched the news over the last couple of days - Israel, Afghanistan, the Lebanon, global warming - over and over again, one central question assumed a greater importance than any other. What the hell was that music playing over the obligatory chase sequence in Scooby Doo this afternoon? Am I the only one weirded out by hearing post-grunge over a cartoon dog being chased by a mummy in Cairo?

Next week, and I'll be considering the value of waterwings in a world flooded by the melting of the ice caps.

PS - yes, I do have a life, it just doesn't get to go outdoors very often right now.
I just tripped over a search engine I've never used before, and it's the first time in a very long time I've come across one that appears to have genuine advantages over google: instead of simply presenting you with a list of relevant results, it 'clusters' results into a column of distinct categories, which means tracking down information that's actually relevant to what you're looking for suddenly becomes infinitely easier. clusty.com.
One of the signs I'm getting better is when I actually do stuff like, like, clean the kitchen. A really good sign is when I manage to get on the subway without keeling over, go to Fopp in the city centre, and get back home without the idea of calling an ambulance crossing my mind (not that my leg didn't still hurt quite a lot). Possibly it's time to start looking around for that new day job: I need to call someone next week to pick their brains about a possible change in daytime career.

The other sign I'm getting better is, I'm getting bored. The more I'm able to get around, the more stuck in the house I feel. Argh.


Here's an interesting blog I tripped across, by a copy editor for some of the major US imprints in the States: deannahoak.com. Interesting to see some of the company she keeps - and interesting to read a perspective from inside the industry that doesn't come directly through another writer.

Update: a quick google on copy editors and sf turns up a couple more blogs - most notably this one, by John Joseph Adams of F&SF.
There's an excellent article in today's Guardian (which also features a review of H/al's Vellum) about the growth of internet drama and comedy in a week during which (as I only vaguely recall, being too lazy to reach over for the relevant article situated three inches from my right foot and next to the remains of my lunch) the lowest ever ratings for television viewing in the US, apparently, have been recorded. Which statistic leads some to suspect that television may be ailing under the onslaught of gaming, free internet content, and various other distractions.

The article mentioned Jesus Christ Supercop. He's the messiah, he's armed, and he's on the track of gun smugglers. "Stigmata ... I must be getting close ..."


Books: It's Friday, July 21st, so the mass market of Against Gravity must be out today! Not that I can get into town to find it, mutter mutter ... Pan/Tor have made up for the lack of cover quotes on the paperback edition by putting the quotes up on the book's page on the Pan Macmillan site, which is at least a step forward. Although if you're reading this, you already know what the quotes are, because they're in the column to the right of this one.

I've had one or two queries from the States about where they can find the book ... according to US Amazon, it's available for order, even if it isn't actually published there. If anyone's actually spotted it in any real-world bookshops on that side of the Atlantic, it would be nice to know, and I can maybe put up a list of where it can be found. You can also buy it through the Canadian Amazon (Update: I glanced back at the Canadian site and noticed the book isn't available until September 1st ... not sure why).

Unfortunately, I now note, there are mistakes. The US Amazon lists Against Gravity as a hardcover: it isn't. I also note, disturbingly enough, that another book with the same name, about motor racing by a chap called Edward McCabe, has the cover of my book displayed ...

On another related note, the Spanish edition of Against Gravity should be out later this year. I haven't found any details on the publisher's site, but they should be up closer to publication.

A couple of weeks ago Pan/Tor asked me for an updated biography for their website and future books. The old bio mentioned stuff like, writing since fourteen, used to be a magazine editor (ancient history now), yadda yadda. Boring. So I changed it to:

Gary Gibson lives in Glasgow. He has successfully avoided proper jobs for the majority of his adult life.

Or words to that effect ... I can't remember it exactly offhand, but I think that's it.

Update on the back: definitely improving. Crawling around on my hands and knees is now a thing of the past, though I'm far from fully mobile. I still get a lot of pain, but at least I can move around the house now, and get to the shops around the corner. I think the McKenzie exercises are helping - I've been doing them for about two weeks now. Now, it's a slow countdown to whichever weekend I think I might actually be able to go out again. Apart from one or two trips to an osteopath in the west end (most of which was invisible to me, as the only way to avoid terminal agony in the rear of the taxi was to lie flat in the rear seat, with my knees bent), I haven't seen anything beyond the immediate few blocks around my house in oh, a couple of months.

The better I get, though, the worse the stir-craziness gets. Yet I know I have to keep taking it very, very easy for some time yet: going out on any major expeditions (and by major expeditions, I mean getting the subway into town and popping into a couple of shops) could set me back if I'm not careful. I suspect I won't get out this weekend coming, and likely not the one after that. But if things keep improving as fast as they have been, perhaps the weekend after that.


Although it's been a few weeks since American billionaire Warren Buffett decided to give something like thirty-seven billion dollars to charity, and as much as I genuinely admire the motivation behind it, something's been niggling at me about it for a while. It took me until now to figure out what it is.

The fact is, if you had thirty seven billion dollars to hand, and you were anything like me, then attempting (say) to cure world hunger, end poverty, eradicate disease and so forth would seem like the best possible idea. Yet the fact remains that were I in possession of a similar sum of money, I might - under duress - be forced to admit that alternative ways of spending the money might have occurred to me first.

I've heard people say with justification that beyond a certain point wealth does not bring happiness. This is true, otherwise I wouldn't be committing financial suicide by becoming a writer. However: the main problem with being rich, for me, would be this: 'rich' just isn't enough.

Oh no. For the things I'd want, I'd need to be Buffet rich. So consider the following - my top four ways to spend an unfeasibly vast sum of cash, in reverse order.

4: Buy a country.
Somewhere small, I think. In South America, or Africa. Or buy a bit of a country and take it over. In fact, you'd probably have a lot of change left over - just enough, say, to try out all kinds of lunatic utopian ideals. Like most sf writers I have, shall we say, ideas of alternative societies coming out the wazoo.
And I would name it Garystan.

3: A personal fleet of space shuttles (ISS optional, depending on how long before it goes seriously white elephant and either burns up over Woomera or gets sold to the Chinese)
Because let's face it, you could afford it. And it would be too much fun pimping them up. Interior leather and zero gravity parties? Definitely.

2: Finance a commercial moon landing.
Not to personally take part, just to finance it. Just so I can feel like a bit player in a Robert Heinlein novel.

1: Build an undersea base (my favourite).
A really big one. With submarines styled after old In Like Flint movies, I think. Also with lots of technical personnel in silver hard hats riding around on little buggies going nowhere in particular. Just because I could. Besides, when I got bored with it, I could always rent it out.


And there it is - a hundred or so words on the paperback edition of Against Gravity (out in a week or so! If the bookshops haven't already just stuck it out on the shelves anyway), in today's Guardian newspaper. Here's hoping it boosts the sales a bit. You can find the review here, though you'll have to scroll down to see it. I love that Eric's described the book's denouement as 'brutally secular'. Here's a snippet:

In his second futuristic thriller, Gary Gibson builds on current trends to produce a convincing picture of the world in 2096 ... throughout, Gibson hints at spiritual salvation, but in keeping with the unrelenting materialism of the novel the denouement is brutally secular.

I should get business cards printed up saying Author - Writer - Brutal Secularist. In fact, it sounds like something you could get done for: 'Brutal Secularism'. Like I got medieval on God's ass.

(Update) All right ... a quick glance at the Amazon UK ranking for the mass market paperback shows it sitting nice and comfy in the top three thousand. That gets updated every hour, mind you, so it'll probably bounce all over the place ratings-wise, but I like to think the review will be helping. Like Cory Doctorow pointed out recently, an author's biggest worry isn't the potential effects of digital piracy, it's obscurity. If people don't know about your book, they ain't gonna buy it.


What do you know, my copy of Writing Magazine came through the post today, with my name on the cover - and my photo (from an interview I did for Agony Column a couple of years ago). Aaargh .... if I'd thought they were actually going to put my face on the cover of the magazine, I'd have tried to get a better picture than some random snapshot. I've been meaning for a couple of years to go down to London so Tor's photographer can do a 'proper' photoshoot for their publicity, but I never got round to it and, with the sciatica, I'm not likely to get there any time soon either.
Sigh ... that's me officially had to bow out of this year's Mecon convention in Belfast at the start of August, which to put it incredibly mildly, is kind of disappointing. Still, Hal will be there, flying the Glasgow flag as it were, even if I won't be. However, Michael Perkins left me an open invite for Mecon 10 next year, about the same time, which might be good timing since there's a good chance Stealing Light will either just be out by then or about to come out. Still. Arse.


So I have a piece in the August issue of 'Writing Magazine', which should be out about now, in a regular column called 'My Writing Day' (the cover to the left there is for the previous issue, so I guess they don't have the newest one up yet). It's the yakety-yak you'd expect along the lines of: get up, eat food, lounge about, scratch my arse, watch tv, then frantically bang out about three thousand words of red-hot prose starting about quarter to midnight when the guilt trip really settles in. Don't know if my name is on the cover of the August issue (they're sending me a copy which, with prayers to the dark and sacrificial Gods of the Post Office, should come through to me sometime soon), but it certainly would be nice if it was.


I've been rigorously following the exercises in Robin McKenzies' 'Treat Your Own Back', doing a variety of sit ups and rolls ever hour and a half or two hours, six to eight times a day. I think it's making a difference - though I've said that before, about other treatments. Still, I'm feeling positive: I've had serious back problems for about six months now, during which my sciatica has pretty much dominated my life. It'll probably be at the very least another week before I can be sure it's having the effect I think it might be having. I've got a lot of very tired, very sore muscles that haven't had much exercise since before June.
Yay for me. I just got a mail through from science fiction writer Eric Brown - surely one of the most productive authors I've ever had the pleasure to meet. His output of stories and novels strikes me as downright phenomenal. Eric's written a short review of Against Gravity for The Guardian, due to appear in the Saturday Review section of the paper on the last Saturday in July. To my knowledge, this will be my first review in a broadsheet. Thanks Eric!


Stuck for something to read last night, I tripped across a book called 'The Screenwriter's Workbook' by Syd Field and pulled it down. His approach would probably strike most writers as brutally structuralist, being as it is an approach to creating the standard three act/two plot point movie script, but for all that I've always found his stuff good for inspiration regardless of what I'm actually writing. Like he says himself, writing a script (or in my case a book) is a little like climbing a mountain in the sense that you're aware of the rock immediately below you and the one immediately above you, but you're not aware of the whole mountain. You just deal with each small situation at the time and forget the rest. The Workbook is like having the opportunity to take a step back and take a look at the way something is built, in terms of its underlying structure. Stealing Light is without doubt the most carefully structured thing I've ever worked on, and it's an approach I believe is working for me.

The McKenzie book on back exercises came through the post today and, as I suspected, it's pretty much the same as the exercises the NHS physio gave me a couple of months ago. Those worked at the time, but then I got worse again. Probably, in retrospect, because I was still doing a sucky job sitting in a crap chair at a desk, a substantial portion of which, I suspect, started life as a door.

Again, things are improving, slowly: I tried one or two of the exercises this morning and did in fact feel some improvement, so perhaps all the online praise does indeed count for something. The nice thing about having the book is it explains why your back is the way it is. The physio I had was nice enough, but had a bad habit of forgetting she wasn't talking to another physio and flinging a horrendous variety of technical terms at me before flinging me, really none the wiser, out the door again.


There I was wondering what the hell the music was in that Becks beer commercial that's been running here in the UK; a bit of googling reveals it's The Flaming Lips, a band I really don't know much about beyond seeing them recently on Jools Holland and thinking they were pretty interesting - particularly when they did a cover of War Pigs. Any recommendations for what I should listen to?
Well, time to stop whining about missing reviews and get to the important stuff, like - my second book is finally coming out in mass market paperback in just a couple of weeks (July 21st, as a matter of fact. Did I mention that? Did I?). This, of course, is very, very good. In the meantime, I'm still not working dayjob-wise, but I recently stumbled across a book called 'Treat Your Own Back', by a Robin Mckeie, and ordered it online. It's a series of exercises for my form of back pain which seems to have endless plaudits on both the US and UK Amazon sites. So, worth a shot.

In a way I haven't minded being stuck in the house literally all day until now for the simple reason there's really very little I could do about it. But it is starting to really, really bug me now. It's a heatwave or something out there, but I'll be damned if I can tell from in here. I had a MRI scan on Tuesday morning, however, so the results from that should come back in about a week's time. If I can avoid surgery I will, and to be honest there has been a gradual, if slight improvement since the start of June when I had to give up working. Up until the weekend there I was feeling definite improvement, but it seems to be a whole two steps forward, one step back kind of thing. I get better for a bit, have a relapse, but don't end up quite as bad as I was. Right now it's in a relapse kind of stage, but I'm hoping I'll be better again this time next week.

There's a terrific article by Cory Doctorow on the importance of blogs on the Locus website ('Science Fiction is the Only Literature People Care Enough About to Steal on the Internet'), and 'tis entirely true, I do believe, what he has to say: that blogs, by allowing a more direct, more personal contact with people who just might read your books, create a kind of relationship between the reader and the writer that just didn't exist prior to the internet. Anyway, it's worth checking out. I do find myself wondering sometimes, beyond the immediate circle of friends and family (and a few writers and the like far, far away who have previously announced their presence)whom I believe read this with some regularity, just who else checks this blog out from time to time ...

And here's another thing that sucks: just as my back gives out, what might be my perfect job comes to me through the automatic jobs update I get from the Scottish employment site s1jobs.com. Somebody out there in Glasgow is apparently looking for a layout designer for their publications. I love doing layout design for publications. Maybe I could crawl into the interview on all fours, get the job, buy an Apple laptop and do the work from home ... no? - still, nice idea ...