The next issue of Interzone is going to be running an interview with me - should be out in the next couple of weeks, I guess. First sunny day in Taipei, really, since I got here, although it's been far, far from cold. I only really got over the jetlag the other day - my first week here I was walking, but asleep. Mostly we've been running around the city - those who know me in Glasgow will know what I mean if I say the area around where I am bears a certain cultural resemblance to the West End of Glasgow, if Glasgow had a population of several million and the West End covered the entire of central Glasgow.

Basically, Taipei has a couple of 'night markets' - shops, restaurants and hang-out places that are all open until early in the morning, occupying a maze of back streets, and always very, very busy. The one I'm nearest - off the Shui-Yuan Road - is definitely the best. At some point I'll be taking the bullet train down the coast to Tainan for a weekend. In the meantime, I did some browsing in YouTube, and found someone's video of one of the markets that gives a feel for what Taipei is like in general - although I'm rather less sure of the soft rock soundtrack the uploader concerned has chosen to put over the images:


The last thing you will ever see in Taipei is David Carradine in a leather mask, accelerating towards you.

I've been in Taiwan for almost a week now, and it's been fun. I meant to take a camera out with me on the streets of Taipei last night while out for dinner with my host (until recently resident in Edinburgh herself), but forgot, a slip that can probably be put down to a general state of jetlag and fatigue. Two quick observations: Taiwan is the Land that Building Regulations Forgot, and crossing the road feels a bit like taking part in a spontaneous, nationally-networked Flashmob re-enactment of key scenes from Death Race 2000. People here don't see stop lights so much as regulations, more as laughable impositions on their personal liberty.

I brought my laptop with me in case I got a chance to write. Surprise surprise, this blog entry is the first time I've managed it. Under the circumstances, expect entries to be sporadic until early November, by which time I'll have returned.

Yesterday involved a couple of hours trawling around a district almost entirely dedicated to the selling of computer components, followed by dinner near the riverside. I'm keeping my eyes out for the Asus EEEpc, a commercially available alternative to the 'One Laptop Per Child' machine, although according to at least one guy we spoke to the other night, when it's released here in Taipei in a couple of days it'll be going for twice the originally announced price of about two hundred US dollars, making it rather less appealing than it had been.

The view from the previous entry, by the way, is out of the living room of the flat I'm staying in, and into an alleyway. I'm in an area more or less equidistant between two universities, and a lot of students live around here, apparently. I'm somewhere off the Shui-Yuan Road, which I think is the name of a behemoth raised motorway like something off of a Halo 2 level I played a while back.

More later. In the meantime, it's time I got round to recommending an online radio station I've been listening to a lot while writing, called Soma FM. Yes, I know I said I find music too interfering for me to write, but the 'groove salad' playlist on the aforementioned site consists entirely of that very Nineties, very 'chilled' kind of stuff, all echoey keyboards, flutes and so on, that keeps my ears entertained without distracting me from the stuff I'm trying to write. And, I've found, has the added bonus of cutting down on extraneous distractions and allowing me to focus entirely on the fiction. At some point I'll have to start writing about WriteRoom and Q10 (for Mac and PC respectively), being full-screen text editors that blank out the screen, leaving nothing but the words to concentrate on; particularly effective if you're writing at night, in the dark. It's just you and the words.


Starburst review

Wow. I must be doing something right. Now I have a full page, lead review in the new Starburst magazine; Tor sent through a pdf of the page, and I just scanned through it. I'll pop into town later and pick up a copy 'for my files'. Or possibly just for reading and re-reading between sporadic fits of giggling. Here's a tasty wee line or two:
"Gary Gibson opens by taking on board a lesson Harry Harrison once demonstrated with the opening of his peerless Stainless Steel Rat - start with a line which hooks, and finish the first page with one that's so 'You said what?' that any reader - or overworked slush-pile assessor - simply has to turn the page."
That's not to say the reviewer doesn't have some caveats - and those make for interesting reading, because it's an opportunity to sort of look inside your own head from the outside. But still, it's a big review, and a very, very positive one. Yay for me.


Cheap Reads Done Dirt ... eh, Cheap

'Liviu' informs me via the comments boxes that in fact, The Book Depository have free worldwide postage, which means even if you're outwith the UK you can get Stealing Light ridiculously cheaply and easily, including deliveries to their good self in NY. Thanks, Liviu! The company's 'About Us' section makes for surprisingly interesting reading. So if you want the book and you're outside of the UK, you can probably get it sent to you for only £10.55 in all. I feel like such a huckster, but ... meh, it's cheap, what can I say? So once again I recommend it. I've updated the links under the cover on the left appropriately.

Friday night was Haggis night at Stravaigin's with friends, which seemed the appropriate thing to do given the circumstances, although it was so stowed it took about an hour and a half to get served, despite them having just about the best and friendliest service anywhere in Glasgow.

Saturday, took part in a reading - along with Hal Duncan, Mike Cobley (who has a new space opera series coming from Orbit in early 2009), Andy Miller and Neil Williamson - at a small convention near the city centre - and did a small excerpt from Stealing Light. Got a text on the way home and wound up at an art school friend's place, breaking guitar strings (sorry, L) and eating vegetarian shepherd's pie with her and some other people and hearing strangely familiar tales of woe of West End flat sharing. As you do.


SFX and more reviews

Did the SFX interview on Wednesday, over the phone, so that was a first. Met the photographer at the Glasgow Science Centre (my suggestion) this afternoon, and the weather was surprisingly nice and warm. My back's a lot better, but that's not to say it's not severely achy after an hour or so; that plus the fact I've got a bad case of 'runner's knee' means I wasn't able to go too long, and I had a feeling Jesse - the camera guy - was a bit disappointed I didn't want to stick around for more, but I was starting to feel some definite pain. Some of the shots looked quite cool, though to be honest I'm not one for standing around, and posing ... especially not when there's BBC employees sitting nearby, eating their lunch at the picnic tables overlooking the Clyde. Hopefully they can make some sense out of the garbled answers I provided when they called me the other morning. I'm afraid I don't generally make a great deal of sense before at least midday.

Being the day the book is out, I took a peek in a couple of bookshops in town, and saw one small pile lurking in the corner of one of the Waterstones. It's a start, I guess. The cheapest I've seen it online is just over a tenner, at www.bookdepository.co.uk, a site I've already used myself for several purchases (that's postage free, by the way, here in the UK).

Another good review, this time at Fantasy Book Critic:
"In conclusion, I’m extremely grateful to Pan MacMillan for sending me a copy of “Stealing Light”. Otherwise, I might never have been introduced to Gary Gibson who is definitely an author to keep an eye on. And, I might never have read “Stealing Light” which is easily one of the most enjoyable science fiction books that I’ve finished this year, and would make a great starting point for readers new to the genre…"



I have this weird kind of luck when it comes to seeing some bands. I don't actually go to gigs hardly at all any more, not because I don't like music, but because they are so often so incredibly, prohibitively expensive; so these days when some band comes through and I see them, it's because I get a ticket as a birthday present or - as was the case last night - someone can't make it and gives me their ticket. Andy was apparently called down south to play with Vashti Bunyan in Manchester, so he gave me his ticket to see Rush.

I'm somewhat tickled by the idea that these days you can go and see a band, come home, and less than twenty-four hours later watch them again, after phonecam footage has been posted on YouTube. There were two guys directly in front of me - I was about halfway back - holding up, respectively, a phone and a camera with video capacity. I suspect the footage above came from one of them.

The gig was fun ... especially the, eh, the early good stuff, as it were (and with apologies to Woody Allen). I'm afraid Rush haven't been quite the creative force they once were - in my entirely personal and humble opinion - since perhaps the late Eighties, and the last album I bought, on shiny vinyl, was Power Windows, waaaay back. On the other hand ... I like the track Subdivisions (above) a lot. Maybe if last night had been the first time I heard it, I wouldn't have been so enamoured of it. Who knows? But I am increasingly of the opinion that I'd rather see someone newer, for a lot less money.

Which reminds me ... I meant to write something about Led Zeppelin, since I was a huge fan, and the reunion gig and all ... but, you know, I've seen Page and Plant a couple of times and that is Led Zeppelin, minus John Paul Jones. So despite the fact I'd have happily trampled over grannies to get to a Zep gig a few years back, now I'm, like, eh.

Ps - new book out tomorrow! Remember!


Thar she blows

Here it is: the new hardback, next to my computer screen and mac mini from which it was, at least in part, spawned. It really says something for the Post Office that Pan had to send me a box of books twice. And the second time I'd lost such faith in the P.O. that I asked Pan to send it to someone else's house - necessitating first a trip on the subway to Hal's, followed by a taxi home with the package. Anyway, enough whining; it's here at last.


more reviews

More reviews in, all good so far.

SFRevu.com: "It's a tight and engaging piece of Science Fiction, and sets up the very interesting and tantalising possibility of any number of novels and stories in Gibson's universe. Two further novels in this immediate sequence have been bought by Tor UK, and the future looks deservedly bright for this star of the Scottish school."

SFFWorld.com: "... a good page turner and pleasing signs of an author on the up. For scale, pace and sheer entertainment value, recommended."

And finally, ComputerCrowsNest.com: "Gibson takes delight in bringing together a complex reality for just one novel and is sure to get many more fans as they discover his books. He is one author whom you really ought to be paying attention to where he goes next."