Category Archives: Opinion

I don’t do this much, but where I feel like sharing my opinion on something, this is the category the post will be under.

They Finally Did It

Just had to post this… Jodie Whittaker is to be the 13th Doctor. They finally did it and I have to say I’m looking forward to next season more than I was.

Huh. If they brought Bill back, which I don’t think they will, that’d make for an interesting dynamic. Not sure they’d go there, but… Another interesting thought is what they’ll do with the companion(s).

Well, Ms Whittaker was in Attack the Block, so she should be used to running and aliens.

Hot; too hot

The United Kingdom has a unique climate. Our weather tends to avoid the extremes you see in Europe. We don’t (usually) get the real highs or lows. I’ve sat in summer temperatures in the Netherlands which were over 30C (86F) while the UK was in the 20s. This is great, most of the time, but it means that when we do get extremes, we aren’t set up to cope.

We don’t get real highs, so we don’t have air conditioning. Oh, I could really go for air conditioning right now. I was cooler in Arizona in the summer.

Hot… Too hot…

Celestia Help Me! I’m a Brony

Weird things happen when you watch YouTube’s recommended videos. And I blame Weird Al. Back when I used to play World of Warcraft I found this WoW video animation of his ‘Hardware Store’ song. (If you’re unaware of this ditty, go look it up on YouTube: it’s worth it just for the verbal gymnastics.) Recently, for whatever reason, the YouTube algorithm threw me a different Hardware Store animation, built out of clips for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Now, I’m old enough to remember when the MLP franchise started and it was very girly, but the clips made it look amusing and buck it if Netflix don’t have the first five seasons on stream…

So, I ended up binge-watching six seasons of MLP:FIM (I found the sixth to stream on Amazon), and four Equestria Girls films, and I’ve been smirking at the fandom-produced stuff on YouTube, DeviantArt, and a fanfic site… I’d hang my head in shame, but bronies are supposed to stand up proud. Whatever, I’m hooked. For a while anyway.

Now, the reason for this admission is that all this uplifting pony stuff percolating through my somewhat aberrant brain provoked an idea. The idea became a plot. The plot has become a book. I think I posted something saying I had a weird idea and I wasn’t sure it would work. Well, this is it and it’ll be out sometime next week. For those worried I’ve gone totally off the rails, there will be no ponies (in fact, the world in question doesn’t have any equines due to divergent evolution), but it does have dragons. A lot of dragons, though they aren’t exactly big scaled lizards most of the time… I should just let you read about it.

The new book is called Misfit Magic. It’s fantasy, obviously, set in a world with a weird mix of technologies and a fair bit of magic. It’s more traditional fantasy than urban fantasy, and I have no idea what categories I’m going to stuff it into for retail purposes, but Teen Fiction will not be one of them. And I have a cover which is quite bright for once…cover-book1-amazon

Oh, yeah, and it’s set in a girls’ school for magic. Oh… I have to write cover blurb for this… What was I thinking?!

Anyway, I’m looking at releasing this on the 5th or 6th of May, depending upon when I can get through the final edits, and when I can come up with a reasonable cover blurb. And I repeat: no ponies.

Question and Notes

I did something with The Zanari Inheritance I don’t normally do: I included some notes about calendars and weird words at the back. If you didn’t notice them (no pun intended), take a look.

Was it helpful? What I’m writing at the moment has a load of weird stuff in it and I’m wondering whether explanatory notes is actually useful to the reader.

PS. I’m saying as little as possible about what I’m currently writing because… Well, it may not pan out, and it is a bit strange. If it’s working, I will give out more information earlier than I did with The Zanari Inheritance.

Happy 2017

It just turned midnight here in Manchester, UK. So, Happy New Year. May it be a good one for you all.

Valentine

Be My Valentine, the second in my vampire series, is out for proof reading. You should be seeing it in the shops next weekend (unless you buy from B&N or Apple, that takes a bit longer). I’m probably safe saying that, and in saying that Gunwitch: Rebirth will follow in (mid-)December. Everything else is up in the air right now.

I’m trying to organise my tax for the year and move house. I can’t sleep (hence writing this at 03:35) because I’m worrying over tax documents and completion dates. The only times I can sleep without my brain throwing up every problem in the book are when I’m too tired to think. Annoyingly, this tends to be during the day, when I should be getting stuff done. Writing and plotting I can do more or less any time, but calling my accountant needs office hours.

Gives me some binge-watching time, so it’s not all bad, I guess. I did all of Sleepy Hollow seasons 2 and 3 in about four days. I have a horrible feeling that’s going downhill for season 4, but there you go. Then Blindspot turned up for a reasonable price on Amazon, so I blasted through the first season of that. Of course, I’m probably looking at a year before I can get season 2, which is annoying (probably).

So, my life is chaos, TV, and insomnia, but you should get a new book next week.

Time and the Gunwitch

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate time travel stories?

Okay, there’s Doctor Who, but that treats time the same way Star Trek treats space: it’s a way of getting between adventures. And it never really treats its time travel very seriously anyway, and that’s usually the only way I can stomach time travel plots.

It isn’t that time travel makes for bad stories, it’s more that you need a really good writer to avoid turning a time travel story into one, huge, horrible, gaping plot hole. It’s especially bad when TV writers get their hands on the idea. I have never seen time travel done on TV, seriously, in any manner worth watching. It’s kind of annoying. Films don’t generally do better. I think the problem is that it’s really hard to write something involving time travel, that’s the typical kind where the time travellers are changing things, where you don’t need degrees in physics and philosophy to put it all together without making it sound stupid.

Let’s take the classic one as an example. It’s been used in a fair number of books and films, and it’s the basis for many more. Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder. I know, venerable science fiction author, big deal. I shouldn’t be going there, but… it just makes no damn sense. Time travel is used by people with more money than sense to go back in time so that they can hunt dinosaurs. They must be very careful not to change anything important (they hunt dinosaurs which are going to die soon after anyway) because tiny changes can cause unforeseen and massive changes back in the present. Someone steps on a butterfly and the world changes. Frequently the story is represented as bringing the dinosaurs back, but that’s not what actually happens in the original story, just in many of the remakes.

So, what’s the problem? Well, in the original story the changes are too subtle, or too extreme, depending on your point of view. Human society has been changed by the death of a single butterfly. Even assuming large-scale chaos theory-type conditions, changes to human society are too subtle while the probability that humans would be wiped out, along with the time travel system seems both unlikely and yet more realistic. If you switch it and bring the dinosaurs back, well, that’s beyond ludicrous: the dinosaurs were wiped out by large-scale climate change, possibly involving a huge meteorite impact: if you can stop a space rock hitting Earth by stepping on a butterfly… Well, just no.

Other plots tend to leave gaping holes, or be illogical. I’ve been enjoying The Flash recently. Good series, I like it. However, the time travel stuff thus far has had more holes in it than I care to think about. What got me into writing this post was a film I just watched on Netflix called ARQ. That features a Groundhog Day-style time loop, but it’s done very seriously and those only ever work played for laughs. (For the record, Xena and Stargate SG1 have done Groundhog Day episodes that I thoroughly enjoyed, but they were played for laughs, which is the w I like it.) Also, I was discussing time travel stories with a friend recently and I mentioned that I had written a time travel story once and I had reread it very recently…

And that gets me to the Gunwitch. She was a character I created for the Going Rogue supplement to the City of Heroes MMO. As with many of the characters I created for that game, bits of her have made it into my books, but I did a lot of pretty good stuff for Gunny and I was reminded of her recently. She was definitely one of my favourite characters and I decided that I was going to bring her back from video game oblivion. The setting had to change, of course, which does change the character a little, but I can get pretty much all that Gunwitch goodness out. Assuming nothing goes wrong – and it’s going pretty well so far – the first book will be out November/December and will be called Gunwitch: Rebirth for two reasons, one in-continuity and the other because I’m bringing her back for the book.

And one of the Gunwitch stories I won’t be doing again, sadly, is one I called Murder in the Orchard. In that one our plucky heroine is sent back in time to 1927 to investigate a string of mysterious murders which happened in an English country village. They know they have to send her back because (drum roll) they have a picture of her taken in 1927 at one of the crime scenes, so she has already investigated the crimes, she just needs to get there to do it. It was a closed loop time travel story; going back in time was simply fulfilling history which was known to have happened. It’s one of the few kinds of time travel plot I can handle without my teeth itching. Plus… I really wanted to write an English cosy mystery story with a sci-fi element…

Anyway, another wall of text there, I feel you deserve a picture so here’s the latest concept art for the Gunwitch. There will be more about her later, but that’s what you’re getting for now.

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