This is rather fascinating, appealing as it does to the giggling nerd who hides like some malevolent spirit deep within my brain. Not merely the idea of a floating city in the shape of a pyramid several magnitudes larger than Giza, but the nifty online browser-controllable animations of same:

Saturday night, found my way to the cinema to see, on a whim, a new British horror thriller called Underworld, which might briefly be described as hilarious tosh, albeit reasonably well-made, utterly over the top, and heavily marketed to the leather-dusters-and-pouting end of the teen goth market. Best thing about it is Kate Beckinsale, in skin tight leather. I rather suspect this might lead to a sudden fashion amongst certain women to attempt to cop Beckinsale's look in the movie. God, I hope so ...
From www.copperblue.co.uk:

"Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer
in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is
taht the frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be
a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is
bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a
So for the past couple of weeks I guess I've lost that bloggin' feeling. I have been a touch preoccupied with trying to find a new house to live in, while the price of a house in Glasgow is sailing far out of my view and waving bye-bye as it goes.

The redraft of Against Gravity is about two-thirds through, with what feel like substantial changes. I've noticed an online page about Novacon, the UK November convention which tends to focus on writing much more than it does on other media, and played with the idea of going for the weekend (depending on who else is going). I do need a break - and the Eastercon earlier this year was the nearest thing I've had to an actual holiday in some time. I'm iffy about conventions, because I've frequently found that the majority of people I speak to at them are the same people I speak to anyway up here in Glasgow, but I was thinking the other day about how much things have changed. Ten to fifteen years ago, I went fairly regularly to conventions up this way, because I liked to hear talks by authors I admired. The whole 'fan' side of it never interested me.

Ten to fifteen years ago, you got people like Harlan Ellison and John Brunner at sf conventions, giants of the field. You don't get them anymore - at least the ones who are still alive - or so it seems to me anyway. Yes, there's Banks, and others like him, but it's the ones who got you when you were still too young to wriggle away that draw your attention, and an awful lot of them are now either dead or too old to travel.

So it's a curious thing, to find myself in a position where, having finally achieved - at least for a while - the goal of becoming a paid sf novelist, I find my enthusiasm for conventions waning. I can remember a time when the idea of being at a convention, not merely as a reader - but as a writer, one with real books either on the shelves or soon to be on them - deeply enticing. Now I'm there, it seems surprisingly easy to forget this.


So ... I'm back. Been busy, which is why I've not been around in a while, and to be honest there's not been a great deal to write about. I've spent a lot of time looking at houses, and doing a little extra work in freelance design to boost the income before christmas.

The third (and considerable) draft of Against Gravity continues, and the final, absolutely final, changes to Angel Stations are now away in the post, so hopefully I can rest easy now on that front. I'm past the halfway mark on the AG rewrite. I've been in touch, in the meantime, with the Writer's Bloc group of 'performing' writers over on the East Coast, who are intending to put something together in Edinburgh for Halloween ... which should be interesting.


For the past two days I've been driving myself hard over the third draft of Against Gravity, struggling with the problem of how to integrate a huge amount of expository and worldbuilding information into a story without being overly blunt about it and just hammering the reader with page after page of non-plot-driving exposition. I've hit on a solution: cheating.

It's not really, actually. I took a look through my bookshelves - particularly the Joe Haldeman books, since he's quite good at this kind of thing - and I've begun integrating a lot of need-to-know information into the text in the form of tv interview excerpts, sections from encyclopaedias, court journals, anything that seems to help build a world external to the characters that still involves them utterly.

I've been thinking for a long while that it's the writers who have to struggle the most to get a book deal who actually have an advantage over the rest of us. Look at Iain Banks: he wrote several novels before he sold his first. I can think of a good few authors in the genre who wrote up to half a million words before finally selling a book. Myself, I sold the second book I'd written, the first unlikely ever to be published in its current form. I may actually be at a disadvantage because of this: those other writers, Banks and his ilk, had a few extra years to learn the craft of plotting and storytelling so that by the time they achieved publication, they had overcome certain obstacles that stand in the way of a writer struggling to learn his art.

I do struggle with character motivation, most of the time: I have a bad habit of letting characters get swept away by the plot, so that they're carried along heedless rather than instigating events themselves. I now understand why this is so. When I was younger, one of my favourite writers was Philip K. Dick, and he was a writer who liked to focus on utterly ordinary people much of the time, people with ordinary non-taking-over-the-universe ambitions. I myself prefer the idea of writing about people who aren't exceptionally brilliant, or courageous. However, I am now confronting the notion that in the type of fiction I write, it is perhaps best to focus a story around those who are truly extraordinary, rather than ordinary. I won't bore you by citing examples from books I've read, but I've found plenty of evidence for both sides of my argument with myself.

But I'll get around it. I always do.