My Name is Gary, or: Karma, of a Kind

Well, I just came home to find the security doors beyond my actual front door forced open, but whoever did it obviously got disturbed because they stopped there instead of trying to work their way through the actual front door (I live in a block of flats; there are three barriers to you getting in - the building entrance, the storm doors on my property, and another front door inside of that. The latter two have mortice locks, along with the more conventional Yales). They were very nice storm doors too, and clearly weren't so cheap to install; now they're all ripped up, with the mortice lying on the ground next to it.

The good news, of course, is whoever did it didn't actually get into the house; almost certainly they got disturbed and split, quite possibly very shortly before I got home. Even if they had got into the house, well, there's always the insurance (and all the story files are backed up onto my google account).

In the meantime, I just spent half an hour on the phone to the cops, who told me to bag the ripped-out mortice lock without touching it with my bare fingers, and leave it aside for when they turn up tomorrow morning.

Here's the bit where I start to believe there really is such a thing, however, as karma, of a kind:

Every Tuesday, people leave out the big items of rubbish to be taken away by the council cleaners, on the street outside the building. This of course includes stuff like couches, tables, whatever. And tumble dryers.

When I moved in, a friend - Helena - very kindly lent me very long-term her washing machine: it's still living here. Unfortunately, it only washes clothes - it doesn't dry them. So for ages and ages I've been thinking I should really, really get around to getting a dryer so we don't keep having to hang stuff over radiators and so forth. So when the new book deal came around, I thought, time to buy that dryer.

So there I am, on my way to the corner shop for my dinner, when what do I see but a tumble dryer waiting with other rubbish, and barely a scratch on it, just around the corner? Surely it doesn't work, otherwise why throw it out?

Yeah, sometimes I'm that naive. So I thought fuck it, lifted the damn thing - carefully - and carried it into the house. The first good sign - the instruction manual, inside the cylinder! And of course it came on straight away. Sure, it could blow up in twenty-four hours or something - but I'm going to be marginally optimistic, just for once: in fact, today has been my lucky day.

1: My house didn't get broken into - just nearly. And I have insurance.
2: I found a tumble dryer abandoned in the street, and it works just fine.

So there you go.


fascist coups and bookplates

I've been listening to quite a lot of radio recently; I spend a good chunk of my day in a windowless room designing stuff, and one of the things that gets me through it is having a giant pair of wireless headphones stuck on my head so I can listen to bbc radio one, four and seven. I was going to post a link here to a documentary I listened to on radio four, but I'll be buggered if I can ever find anything on the BBC site unless I remember to bookmark the appropriate page immediately.

If you can find it (edit - found it! But you'll need realplayer. Ech), the documentary makes for excellent - and worrying - listening. It concerns the uncovering of an apparent scheme in the 1930's to topple the elected American government and replace it with a fascist dictatorship, in a system modelled after those then existing in Italy and Germany. Many major financiers - well-known names today - were allegedly prepared to back this up with the necessary bucks. And one of the principal characters supposedly involved? None other than Prescott Bush, Dubya's granddaddy ... and once you listen to this documentary (if you can find it), the past few years political events in both the USA and even over here take on a worrying new slant.

On an entirely personal note, this is also interesting to me on a purely storywriting level. There's an idea I've had for a long time for a story - non-genre - set in Hollywood, and listening to this, a piece suddenly slid into place and the story finally, and completely, came together (Phil, this is the one you reminded me of that I almost forgot).

Other stuff: Pan are sending me up bookplates to sign for when Stealing Light goes on sale in London's Forbidden Planet in a couple of months. That's another personal first.


Why I like reading The Onion

From this week's online edition of The Onion:
Earthquake sets Japan back to 2147
TOKYO—Japanese government officials confirmed Monday that the damage wrought on Japan's national infrastructure by the July 16th earthquake—particularly on the country's protective force field, quantum teleportation system, zero-point fusion energy broadcasting grid, and psychodynamic communications network—was severe enough to set the technologically advanced island nation back approximately 300 years to a primitive mid-22nd-century state of existence ... Abe rejected persistent calls to simply reboot the damaged nation, saying that such a measure could result in the loss of vital data, such as Niigata Prefecture and sections of Mount Fuji.
Which is nice, because the last time it rained really badly in Glasgow we jumped up all the way to 1947.



Other stuff. I've been asked to do an interview, which I'm really pleased about, in the run-up to the publication of Stealing Light. I won't say who for just yet, since sometimes the best laid plans can go to the wall, but it's very nice to be asked. Especially by a publication that was enormously influential on me.

Friday The 13th ... is cunning.

Interesting weekend. Friday the 13th cunningly tricked me by actually being Saturday. Saturday, I hit the Glasgow Film Theatre in town at midday to see a cast and crew preview screening of a low-budget indie movie made locally, which was ... interesting. I won't name it, because frankly I didn't dig it at all, but that doesn't mean I don't respect the gigantic, enormous effort the person behind the film put into its creation, for which he deserves endless plaudits. But if ever there was an example of why a lot of people desperately need to learn how to actually write an effective, joined-at-the-dots story, then this was it ... Put it this way: it's an unfortunate fact most people who want to make movies often want to be story tellers second, and movie makers first, whereas the desire to tell a good story really, really needs to come first.

Friday 13th, in disguise as Saturday 14th, rattled its chains early, by causing major sound problems that meant the movie had to be restarted at least three times.

Passed through the river festival, which was basically bucketloads of boats moored by the SECC, including a three-masted ... schooner? Don't know. But it was a nice day for a quick wander with friends. Then out with a couple of other friends in the evening - when Friday 13th struck again! For the first time in ten years, I was turned away from a bar, along with a friend. Bar Buddha, in Sauchiehall Street, don't you know, and from the outside, let me tell you, it looked like a really classy place. Oh yes. Really ... classy.

One glance inside as we gave up and went to a nearby bar to wait on the others convinced myself and Guitar Andy that we'd had a lucky escape. But still ... ominous, I say. Ominous.


exploding spaceships

I got some nice comments about Stealing Light over at Neal Asher's blog. Neal is, of course, another Tor Uk author, and he's happy to note the book does indeed contain exploding spaceships, having blagged a freebie of the advanced review copy from the publishers.

Damn right it's got exploding spaceships. It's got exploding everything. Blame Chris Foss and all those book jacket designs he did when I was a kid reading sf. Hang on, maybe if I write a wasp-striped ship into one of the new books, they might .... nah, it's hoping for too much.


Started actually writing book two - Stealing Fire - the other day. Funny thing is, when I read the review of Stealing Light by Rick Kleffel I recently posted about, he mentioned that it wasn't in fact 'book one of the Shoal Sequence'. Well actually, as I told him by email, it is, except that I hadn't been able to think of a name for the whole thing ... except ever since I read that review, I've been unable to think of it as anything but The Shoal Sequence.

So if the name does stick, I'm going to have to credit Mr Kleffel with that one.

I hadn't heard of the Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction before, but I'm beginning to think I might want to get it, particularly since I'm sort-of in it. This from a recent writer's circle emailing from Jim Steel:

Circle members who have long memories may be intrigued by this entry in The Oxford Dictionary Of Science Fiction:

Slipstream n, [after Mainstream] literature which makes use of the tropes of genre science fiction or fantasy, but which is not considered to be genre science fiction or fantasy; the genre of such fiction. [...]
1989 [...]
1992 [...]
1995 [...]
1995 Interzone (jan) 61/2: Territories issue four is subtitled the sf and slipstream journal. In this context, the meaning of "slipstream" is refreshingly unpretentious, something along the lines of "non-SF things that are likely to interest SF readers."

And so on. How's about that? Territories is a dictionary definition example.

Which is cool, because it would be fair to say I was very heavily involved in the creation and publishing of Territories for the mere four issues it lasted (along with the editor Erich), but what made it memorable - apart from the contributions of everyone else involved - was precisely that mission statement of 'non-sf things that are interesting to sf readers'. I remember that review well.


the laptop gods laugh

The laptop gods looked down and saw that there was MUCH REJOICING at the new book deal and thought yea, verily, we'll smite the bastard in case he thinks he can get uppity now; and they did SMITE his front door yale lock so that upon his waking he found his LODGER engaged in a mighty struggle to escape the confines of a ground floor tenement flat in the south side of Glasgow, for the aforementioned lock was MIGHTILY BUGGERED and did refuse to BUDGE or OPEN.

Whereupon the author of this blog did call upon the EMERGENCY LOCKSMITH who put much sore violence from outside the house upon the errant front door lock with a chisel and drill, and replaced said lock at the same time with a new one. And the laptop gods LAUGHED as they saw the author hand over a princely sum of MANY TENNERS for this act of lock replacement, thereby allowing the author to ESCAPE and finally make his way to the day job, just a little bit more bleeding poorer.


new book deal

Got some good news: Tor just offered me a deal for two sequels to Stealing Light - the offer came through yesterday afternoon from my agent while I was at work. This solves an awful lot of financial worries, and sees me writing for Tor/Pan Macmillan right through to 2009. Not only that, I'm getting a little more money too, which is very, very nice.

As stated before, the working titles for books two and three are: Stealing Fire, and Stealing Time, with Stealing Light due out on the fifth of October this year.


bad laptop

Sigh ... I don't know what I've done to anger the laptop gods, but I'm surely paying penance. I took the laptop out to the coffee shop tonight, and just avoided a near-direct hit from a major downpour that made me realise why they invented weather forecasting, and why I should pay more attention to it. This place has plugs so you can run your laptops off the power supply, as well as couches and comfortable seats, which is cool, except after about forty minutes despite being plugged into the wall my laptop's power meter showed it as running off a nearly depleted battery ... to cut a long story short I checked the power adapter, and the green light on it was dead, even when plugged into various other sockets. Changing the fuse back home didn't help either, so looks like it's bit the big one. The psu, that is, not the laptop - I stuck the original battery back in and it's running just fine. I ordered a new one over Ebay, so I should have a replacement in the next week or two. But still very, very, annoying.

Still. Got some ideas (rapidly saved to my gmail account) for the third book. There are hints something resembling an actual plot might make an appearance sometime in the next week or so, or at least a plot that isn't rambling, vague and incoherent (I heard that. Shut up). I'm bringing in a new character - a Catholic priest who's mostly machine. There's a brief mention of some of these in Stealing Light, kind of a passing mention near the start.