Yes, I’ve been quiet, but that’s because I’m thinking very hard about plot outlines for new books. The Fracture just about has a complete working outline. There are still other details to consider apart from that, of course. Planning out some complicated scenes, for instance. Plus, it’s going to take me some time to figure out how some things work out in the scenario I’m creating: to give you a taste, the story involves frequent travel between alternate realities. In some of these universes, time moves faster, in some, slower. In some, time doesn’t even necessarily travel in the same direction. Exactly how characters conspire to interact under these circumstances is something that’s going to take some very, very careful plotting.

I’ve decided on a new look for the blog. It’s not quite complete, since I’m thinking of bringing in some background graphics, gradually, in order to spice it up. But in all – and assuming it looks as good on other people’s screens as it does on mine – I think it’s come out pretty well. Although I feel I must insist that I do not look sinister up there, on the top left. .

Kingdom Hospital: I’ve just watched the new, Stephen King-flavoured version on tv. It’s too early to tell if it’s going to be any good, but I kept feeling like I’d seen it before. Then I realised what felt so familiar: it reminded me – in a good way – of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, the recent early-80’s gore-spoof developed by Channel Four. But … they are both set in a hospital, and it does create a certain – resonance.

There was an explosion at a plastics factory here in Glasgow the other day, a few miles from where I live. I knew absolutely nothing about it until that evening, when I met some other writers in town. Apparently you could hear the building detonating, apparently, from several miles away. When it happened, I was cycling around a park where it was quiet. I wondered if I’d heard it: I have a feeling that if you hear something like that, your immediate reaction is: blown tyre, or something falling off the back of a truck. The kind of thing you hear so often, in some form or another in a city, that you forget about it immediately.
It was nice running into Gary Couzens at the writer’s circle the other night. He’s on holiday at the moment, and I had a look at his short story collection while he was there .Apparently we stalked Gardner Dozois at a Worldcon because we wanted to, er, touch his Hugo (Award). Or something like that – Gary has a better memory for these things, I think, than I do. He mentioned the incident at the time, though my memory is a bit garbled. I first met Gary when I’d managed to place a story in Interzone in the mid-90’s, and he’d just made a sale to F&SF. Gary’s gone on to make considerably more short sales since then than I have, while I kept whittling away at novel-length manuscripts.

I had a tiny scrap of positive news; so naturally, being a writer and generally paranoid in an uncertain industry, I feel driven to place huge emphasis on it. My editor says he’s happy enough with what he’s read of Against Gravity (so far) to ask me for a synopsis, so he can get the cover art and some other details done and dusted. Cripes … hope he likes the second half of the book too …

Here’s something that quite shocked me. I finished a short story recently – it’s called The Sleep of Flesh – and I figured, send it to a magazine. That got me thinking about just how many years since I’ve regularly bought any science fiction magazine regularly – if at all (the noble exception, of course, being Scotland’s own and sadly almost certainly defunct Spectrum SF). Feeling the urge to pick up Asimov’s for the first time in maybe a decade (I stopped buying the short fiction magazines for the same reasons, I think, as anyone else – you just reach a point where you read the articles first, and the period between that and actually reading the stories grows longer and longer until you realise, despite your best intentions, you’re never going to read them).
Guess what? I couldn’t find it – anywhere – in Glasgow. Not even in Forbidden Planet which galls me. Yes, they have Locus, and I’m pretty sure they stock 3rd Alternative and Interzone – but absolutely no sign whatsoever of the US digest magazines. Which is just insane – how the hell is anyone going to find out about short science fiction these days if they walk into FP and all they can see are Lord of the Rings action figures? Yes, I’m aware they’re as driven by market demands – but it’s still a vast pity. Analog and F&SF, curiously enough, can be tracked down in Borders – but no sign of Asimov’s.

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