Tag Archives: science fiction

Dance with The Devil (out now)


Dance with The Devil, Fox Meridian 10, is out now.

The Sojourn

I don’t normally advertise competition, but this looks like it could be an interesting thing, and you can get in on the ground floor! (That was cringeworthy.)

Some of you may know the YouTube channel ‘Spacedock.’ They do analysis videos of science fiction films, TV series, game worlds, etc. I couldn’t say I always agree with those analyses, but the videos are generally entertaining and make some good points about the practicality of the settings and especially the ships from those settings. Spacedock is currently running Kickstarter campaign to fund a planned audio novel series (with 2D/3D artwork to illustrate it), called ‘The Sojourn.’ If you check out the campaign (link above), you can watch the pilot episode and see if you think it’s something you might like. If you’ve got some spare cash, consider backing them. It’s funded to the second stretch goal at time of writing, so it looks like it’s a done deal, and the makers seem pretty motivated to produce what they say they will.

The Eyes of the Huntress


The new book is out. The Eyes of the Huntress.

This one was a long time coming. I originally started it in 2015, but I decided that the main character was a little too much like Aneka Jansen and went somewhere different. Well, now she’s back.


In Other News

Having a little trouble with the Twilight Empress book. I’m taking the weekend to consider a fairly drastic change in the background, but whatever happens, I’m expecting it to appear on the virtual shelves in early May.

Progress, or the Lack Thereof

Okay, I’ve finally had to admit to myself that I’m totally blocked on the Thaumatology book. With my house a building site and my concentration shot, I shouldn’t be expecting miracles, but I’m grinding in ever decreasing circles here and it’s time I stepped back and came at this from another angle at a later date. Basically, I’m delaying that book and trying something else to get myself back in the right frame of mind. Apologies to those hanging there waiting for more Ceri and Lily. I am, however, planning to do a full reissue of the Thaumatology series with the typos taken out and new covers, plus (assuming I can manage it) an omnibus collection which won’t be much use to most of you guys, but may bring in some new people who’ll press me for more.

So, I’ve started working on something else which I’m not going to say much about right now. I’m trying to put it out in the slot I was going to use for the Thaumatology book, likely in March. All I will give you is the render below. Make of that what you will.


What Comes Next: Science Fiction

Over in another thread, Mark Delagasse brought up something which is worth making more of and I need to start thinking about this ahead of time, so here we go in my usual rambling style…

Aneka Jansen. The first Aneka book, The Steel Beneath The Skin, holds a place in my heart for the very simple reason that it was my first really successful novel. Seven books later, however, Aneka is getting hard to write for and her story is going to come to an end (at least as far as me being able to write for her) in the foreseeable future. I need something to take her place.

I originally thought that Fox Meridian was going to be the new Aneka, and for some people I suspect she fits the bill. However, I’m guessing she’s not for everyone. Mark, for example, likes Aneka, but would prefer a bit less ‘skin,’ so I’d have thought Fox would work, but he didn’t mention her. Fox is pretty much a near-future setting while Aneka pushes more into space opera. Fox is kind of low-key while Aneka is based around the big stuff. Lots to consider and not so much idea what people are looking for.

So, if I’m looking for a new universe to take up the torch when Aneka is sent off to a pleasant retirement, what should I be aiming at? What is it that attracted people to Aneka in the first place? Let’s see if I can structure this a little…

  • Subgenre. More or less ultra-tech (scientifically implausible stuff like force fields, anti-gravity, artificial gravity, FTL), bigger or smaller themes. More space opera or more hard SF?
  • The kick-ass heroine. I have had comments that it was nice to see a guy on the protagonist list in Vampire’s Kiss, so while I am likely to have a female lead, I am not averse to developing a strong male character too. What about Aneka and her friends did people like?
  • Did people like the specific setting? If so, what about it?
  • This has to be mentioned: sex. There’s a lot of sex in the Aneka books. I’ve been reducing it in more recent stuff (not entirely intentionally, it just works that way sometimes). Tone it down? Keep it the same? All-out porn?
  • The last element I can think of here is the connectivity to our world. Aneka’s story starts off with no one even knowing where Earth is. There’s no sense of connected history from us, here, now, to the world of the stories. Stuff gets filled in later, but this is an entirely new universe when we start (like Dune or Star Wars rather than Star Trek). Is that good, bad, or really not an issue? Is the ‘discovering a new universe’ a factor in the enjoyment of the books?

Okay… Well, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. The more the merrier and I’ll try to coalesce the undoubtedly huge range of answers into something I can work with. This should be interesting… (Just like the curse.)

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.