Ten Things for the Weekend #4

So on Fridays I ask my Twitterfolk what they have for Ten Things, and they throw stuff at me in an intense pitching session that lasts about an hour until I've filled all the slots. I realised yesterday that, as we do with most tasks, in just four weeks I've evolved a bunch of mental rules about what gets in and what doesn't. Now, I could tell you what those rules are. But I've decided: I'm not going to. The rush to get into Ten Things is like a microcosmic version of being a freelancer, and telling everyone the sort of thing that catches my eye would create a more level playing field, taking away the advantage for those who've been clever enough to do it on their own.

Actually, I'll reveal one rule, because otherwise people who might get in might go away: I do look for variety in a given week, so if I've got one podcast I like that week, I'll probably turn down another perfectly good one.

I'm not sure how long the stream of stuff will continue to present me with a field rich enough for me to draw ten things from every week. It's possible that this is a short term experiment. But it's working well enough now.

Next week's Ten Things will all be taken from those present at the SFX Weekender in Camber Sands, speaking of which:

1: The provisional schedule (and David Bradley wants to emphasise that changes may well happen before the event) for Friday and Saturday's SFX Weekender is here. Now, obviously a convention at a holiday camp, with all-in accommodation, is an experiment, and you can feel the organisational juddering as everything shunts into place (from Friday lunchtime to the end of Saturday night, eh? Okay...), but two things give me cause to believe that this may be well worth it. First of all, the main problem with the three (pretty damn variable) conventions SFX put their name to many years ago was, basically, that not enough stuff happened. The schedule for this one, in contrast, looks packed. There are some big names like Gerry Anderson, Tom Baker and Liz Sladen for the media audience, and loads of SF writers (China Mieville!) and comics folk (Dave Gibbons!). Enough to make this a meaningful event in either of those categories. Secondly, not just David, but event organiser Neil Brittle continues to pop up on the SFX messageboard, looking after the little moans and groans, which indicates he'll be ready for the big ones too. And those Northern Soul and other specialist audiences he normally looks after are probably just as picky as genre fans are. (Okay, probably nearly as picky.) There's the SFX Awards, a Masquerade, a quiz (already got a team, thanks) and the mixed media bar life looks insanely promising. (Seriously, come find me!) It won't be a standard convention. There'll be many people there who've never been part of a fan community before. And there will certainly be teething troubles. But it could well turn out to be great. David's infectious enthusiasm for the event can be heard in his appearance on the new Geek Syndicate podcast here.

2: Geosynchron is the final volume in David Louis Edelman's Jump 225 Trilogy, and it's out in February. Pat's Fantasy Hotlist is holding a contest to win the whole trilogy. Long time readers will remember me ranting about the previous volumes, Infoquake and Multireal, business thrillers set in a future that's simply more history piled on top of now, with no great catastrophe between now and then, but without that future being just now with more stuff. It's a feat, showing your working when it comes to futurology, that very little SF even attempts without the aid of an armageddon reset button. Plus, these are tense, gripping books where sales charts, hostile takeovers and clever tricks are life and death. Also, the life described reminds me hugely of convention life: using social skills to make a living, personality as credit, everything fuelled by coffee and beer. I can't wait. You'll probably find me leafing swiftly through it over breakfast when I'm over in L.A..

3: I often hear from comics artists I'm sitting beside at signings that the worst things about that situation are when they can't remember what a character they've been asked to draw looks like, and being asked to draw the same thing over and over. Vinnie Bartilucci solved both problems by bringing along Norbert, a little caveman trog thing, for his favourite artists to draw. Years later, he has nearly four hundred drawings of the little chap, by such artists as Mark Bagley, Carmine Infantino and Mike Mignola. Some people climb Everest, Vinnie gets people to draw Norbert. Like I said last time about the lady with the scarves: I love fandom like this.

4: Big Finish, purveyors of Doctor Who audio drama to the masses, are giving first time writers a chance to pitch under very specific rules, and the deadline is this coming Monday, February 1st, at 9am. I haven't seen news of this spread far and wide, so have a go. You never know.

5: Similarly, Newsjack is BBC Radio 7's topical comedy show that accepts sketches and short jokes by email. Their deadline is Monday lunchtime and there are a couple of weeks left in the current series. And it pays standard BBC rates. Takes me back to the days of Week Ending.

6: Futurismic will be familiar to SF fans, a collective blog that's usually about current trends in science, technology and society. It's on my net reading list every morning. Publisher Paul Graham Raven writes to remind me that it also features fiction, namely one excellent SF story a month, and that the latest of these will appear on Monday (though he omits to tell me what it's going to be). It's also a paying market, to continue the emergent theme which mocks my claim towards variety in the introduction.

7: Two Minute Time Lord is a podcast I've subscribed to for a while now, which is exactly as described: a very short opinion on some current issue in Doctor Who fandom. I always say about podcasts that brevity is everything. Five minutes of in jokes and intros always has me reaching for the delete button. Chip, the host of this one, is done with his feelings in under two minutes, every time. And they're always refreshingly sane. I think the sanity and brevity may go together. Chip will incidentally be interviewing me at Gallifrey One this time round. 'Yes!' I'll cry, 'no! I don't know! Next! Stop pressuring me!' I hope I don't force him to break his format.

8: I'm sponsoring a room at Centre Point, where a young person in London can live instead of being on the streets. It's only £12 a month, and you get some indication of who's living in your room, and how they're getting on. Which is more info that I need, to be honest, because, unlike many folk these days, I am actually able to trust what an organisation tells me. As long as there's an actual homeless person in the room, I don't need them to be photogenic or spend their time writing to me.

9: I'm starting to think that, when I was very young, I was a girl. Because a lot of the TV shows I loved back then are about horses. The following can still induce a kind of nostalgia seizure, and bring me to the point of tears...

I checked out an episode of Follyfoot at the National Museum of Photography Film and Television in Bradford, and amazingly, it still stood up, full of passion, injustice and youthful anger, salved only by the company of horses. The titles actually play up the twee and duck the grim. This is going to be a bit of a recurring feature, which will aim to hit my generation between the eyes with title sequences from stuff that's embedded right at the beginnings of their consciousness. I won't be responsible for any lawsuits about unearthed traumas involving rusks.

10: The Outer Alliance is a group of SF and Fantasy writers advocating LGBT issues in literature, of which I'm a proud member. To quote their mission statement: 'as a member of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.' Well worth being a part of, whatever your sexuality. I felt that my adopted religion compelled me to sign up and support them. Which, oddly, seems to be the opposite of what a vocal subset of so-called Christians think. But enough about them. Seriously, enough.

I may well pop up with a blog midweek, but otherwise I shall see you at the SFX Weekender, and with Ten Things from the guests and attendees of it. Until then, Cheerio!

Forbidden Planet People

I had a lovely time at the Forbidden Planet signing last night, and then afterwards with Tony Lee, Kieron Gillen, Tom Lloyd, Rich Johnston, and a whole bunch of other SF and comics folk. Indeed, it was a night when the British SF and comics communities drank together, which is always welcome. I have no photos from the rather more raucous portion of the evening, but I did take pictures of those who came along to get things signed by me. Here's just a few of them...

Graham Sleight and Jody Portugal.

Bruce Marsh and Rob Lee.

Nonchaloir and Discoagogo (if those are your real names) and Richard 'Iron Man' Orr.

Simon Guerrier and Duncan Popham.

Ming and Gary Quinton.

Simon Kavanagh and Simon Gilmartin. (Cheer up, emo kid.)

Thank you all for coming along and making it such an enjoyable night. Until tomorrow, when it's Ten Things time again (how quickly that week went by!), Cheerio!

Forbidden Planet Signing this Thursday

This Thursday, 28th January, 6pm-7pm, I'll be signing the new Panini collection of Captain Britain and MI-13: Vampire State at London's Forbidden Planet. You can see all the details here. I'll also sign anything else you'd like to bring.

It's great, having a signing at FP, particularly when you pop along to shop in the weeks beforehand, and see posters and leaflets with your name on. If you're in the area, do come along and say hello. Until then, Cheerio!

Ten Things for the Weekend #3

I've been lazy. Having got everything in, and waiting on some exciting stuff, and with nothing to do to further the house move, I found myself unwilling to do the heavy lifting required to get back into a couple of short stories I have on the go, the last things left in my writing queue, for which, in both cases, I had no idea where the plot is going. One of these is the third Hamilton story, 'The Copenhagen Interpretation'. I always say there's no such thing as 'writer's block'. This was about me not forcing myself to read what I had and then start writing, in the certain knowledge that plot would come to me out of the detail I was putting down. Sure, you're going to have to rewrite stuff when you realise you know where this goes and some of it doesn't lead there. But you're going to rewrite anyway. See what I mean? Heavy lifting, and I failed to step up to it. Which is why I've told myself I'll write two thousand new words every day from Monday to Wednesday this week. (Thursday is a Pulse meeting, and of course that evening I'll be signing at Forbidden Planet, which I'll be blogging a reminder about early in the week.)

Saturday was the last night of our favourite landlords, Kate and Lee, down our local, The Crown, and last night, we went out for dinner with my old friends from Third Row Fandom, my gang in the world of British SF. So I got to talk book geek at great length. What I love about this lot is that they can have a loud, finger pointing debate about the merits of a novel, or whether or not quantum physics and relativity can be reconciled, without ever falling out. Rather wonderfully, one of their number, Graham Sleight, has become a thoroughgoing Doctor Who fan! I gave him the litmus test: 'What's the serial code of 'The Monster of Peladon'? And quick as a flash, he replied 'why, why why?' 'Broton?' I said. 'Warlord of the Zygons,' he replied. 'Yartek?' 'Leader of the alien Voord.' One of us! I feel that now Who fandom has seized an SF fan in this way, it's only fair we arrange some sort of hostage exchange, in which they get one of ours.

Anyhow, to business. Here's this week's Ten Things!

1: A couple of LiveJournal bods popped up in the Comments last weekend to tell me that they've also got a Haiti relief effort going. That can be found here. Well done, dears!

2: I'm delighted to be a Guest of Honour (along with Joe Abercrombie) at Bristolcon which takes place on November 6th. It's a pleasure to be part of a West Country SF event, and it'd be really good to get a crowd in. There are lots of other guests, and the event has loads of support from within the SF community. If you're from another fandom, and have wondered what the dudes who concentrate on books get up to, this is a friendly and exciting place to start. I'll be going on and on about it as we get closer to November. Let me know if you've signed up.

3: Similarly, here's my panel list for the SFX Weekender on Febuary 5th and 6th is: 'Has Doctor Who been good or bad for SF?; 'Is there still such a thing as British SF?'; 'The glowing influence of comic books on movies'; 'Your experiences of writing for TV'; 'Is spinoff and tie-in literature under appreciated?' and I'll also be doing a reading/chatting to an audience. The other panellists on some of these are pretty exciting, but I don't want to mention them since they may have declined particular panels without me knowing. I'm really looking forward to it.

4: Hugo Awards administrator Vincent Docherty writes to ask me to remind people that if you want to nominate your choices for the Hugo Awards this year, you either need to have been a member of last year's World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal, or you must become a member of next year's, Aussiecon 4 before 31st January. A supporting membership, where you get voting rights (and often a package of ebook versions of nominated titles) is £25 from the UK. Once the nomination process has concluded, and there's a shortlist to vote for, there'll be a different deadline on that, of course. You know I love the Hugos. I'd change my middle name to 'Hugo', except that, at the moment, that would be just a cruel irony.

5: My mate Rob Williams is quickly establishing quite the comics career, and January 27th (28th in the UK) sees the release into comic shops of the first issue of his new ongoing Robocop series. You can find details of that, and his current Punisher story ('Get Castle', which is set in Wales) and see Robocop covers here.

6: Tara Wheeler provides a valuable service for Doctor Who fans: a website devoted entirely to the knitting of the perfect Tom Baker scarf, with patterns (that vary season by season, alongside a potted history of how the scarf changed!), how to make the pattern into ties and stockings, advice on washing your scarf, a video of Paul McGann wearing one of her scarves, etc. I love fandom like this. You can share this awesomeness here.

7: As well as Black Widow: Deadly Origin, in May, my Dark X-Men miniseries is getting a Premiere Hardcover. You wait a whole career for one such volume, then two come along at once!

8: The BBC Archive is a tremendous resource, like a portable BBC4 online, and their current collection is about Archaeology On Television (but there are many other subjects available at the same time), with clips, pictures and documents from a huge span of BBC programmes. Of interest to Doctor Who fans (apart from the site's dedicated Who content) might be this piece on a dig into Silbury Hill, which surely inspired the Jon Pertwee story 'The Daemons'. But do have a browse through the varied treasures the Archive curates.

9: The aforementioned Graham Sleight, one of SF's leading critics and commentators, has gained his new Doctor Who fandom in the process of writing a forthcoming book about the show: The Doctor's Monsters. It sounds like it's going to be excellent, and, apart from Kim Newman's BFI volume, is the first time a serious SF critic has taken a look at the nuts and bolts of the series.

10: And finally, but by no means least (I'll have to try and avoid using that form of words every week), my forthcoming BBC3 pilot Pulse now has a bit of BBC webspace devoted to it. The link takes you to the Being Human area, then click on the tag on the right for the Pulse press release. You know that when we have a transmission date I'll be on at you lot to call in and say you liked it, don't you?

Okay, see you midweek, and until then, Cheerio!

Ten Things for the Weekend #2

Okay, so I'm going to blog about my now near-fanatical love of Being Human at length once this season's over. It's the only way to do it properly. And Dollhouse just returned in the UK, to tremendous effect. Choosing an episode for Hugo nomination is difficult, because I want to represent the series proper, and not the different style featured in 'Epitaph One'. Choosing that would be to say the show itself has failed, which it really hasn't.

I'm typing this surrounded by boxes, because we've sold this place and bought a house, and now things will start to happen very quickly. So my Richard E. Grant Shalka stand up scares me every time I walk into the lounge, and I'm finding perverse enjoyment in finding stuff under the bed and in cupboards that I have no idea why I kept. It's time to say goodbye to the last few things on vinyl and VHS. (But not unreleased Doctor Who on VHS, because it has to take its place in the cabinet that's slowly changing from VHS to DVD, and... okay, by now you'll either be nodding or screaming.)

Anyway, today's Ten Things:

1: Heroes 4 Haiti is a group of comics artists auctioning off their work to help with disaster relief in Haiti. Do pop along and help them out.

2: Similarly, here's a Star Trek fan community doing the same thing. Great stuff. If there's a Doctor Who or SF fan group doing this too, I'd be happy to blog your links midweek.

3: Yesterday, I had a chat with two of the chaps behind Graphic.ly, a digital comics platform that's going to be right at the cutting edge of how the game changes in the next year or so. They aim to build a community around selling digital comics, with the cooperation of all the publishers, online and on loads of different platforms. I like the sound of their approach, their non-exclusivity, and their price point (no, I can't say). Quite soon, I'll be able to say on here that I've got a new comic out, and link to where you can immediately download it, legally, with loads of extras and reader/creator interaction. I think, particularly when a new superhero movie comes out, this is one of the ways we'll start getting 'passing trade' interested in comics again. Right now, they're asking fans to sign up to beta test their system. I'll pimp them again when they launch full on, but I get the feeling that then everyone will have heard about them.

4: I've been asked to point out to British Science Fiction Association members (of which I am one) that the deadline for their awards nominations is a minute to midnight tonight (Saturday). I have a personal interest in this one (not a nomination, as far as I know, though 'One of Our Bastards is Missing' could always make a rush for the finishing line), about which I shall tell you when the time comes.

5: Blowing my own trumpet, I heard this week that the forthcoming Black Widow: Deadly Origin Premiere Hardcover, out in March, will actually have a bunch of extras, including some documents of mine. It should make a really nice package, all in all.

6: And staying on the subject of comics, my friend Alan J. Porter wants to tell the world that his Cars (as in the Pixar movie) comic from Boom! Studios is now an ongoing. The initial miniseries was a big hit with Small God-Daughter, who has been known to take several different versions of Lightning McQueen to bed with her at the same time. Isn't it good to hear about new quality comics for kids?

7: Whotopia is a well-designed, if slightly slow to download (at this time of day at least) free Canadian online Doctor Who fanzine, with a lot of solid content (James Moran interviewed, and a guy who makes action scenes with Who figures). The file would make a nice printout, if you want to kill trees for the hell of it.

8: The Pack is a forthcoming web series (I guess that means online filmed drama?) written by Teresa Jusino of this parish (who's been part of our whole 'everyone here gets media outreach' explosion in the last couple of months). Teresa says: 'Girl meets boy. Boy accidentally bites girl during sex and turns her into a werewolf. Wackiness ensues.' It's set to go out this summer.

9: I've mentioned a couple of times that I'm a great fan of the Comic Book Queers Podcast. It's just four or five friends, chatting about comics, but in the 'get to the point, let's not forget there's an audience out there' way of only the best podcasts. It's Very Not Safe For Work, in that the language used would shock your Granny, everyone she ever met and even that chap she once met in Clacton who regarded himself as a bit of a sexual adventurer. But what shines through is the Queers' unabashed enthusiasm, which breaks through their cynical facade every time, for the world of superhero comics. Everything that happens to their favourite characters is breathlessly delivered and received, the most exciting news. They love and they hate, they don't often go 'meh'. Their kind words about Captain Britain and MI-13 (particularly their love for Spitfire and Faiza) warms my heart. Their regular impersonations of Emma Frost (I don't think she's ever said 'quite so' in the comics, but it's her catchphrase here) and their bitchy, publicity-hungry Dazzler have to be heard by a wider audience. I've started to adore Evil Jeff (who, I just found out, is so called because they also know a Good Jeff) and appreciate the friendship and care this lot show to each other, and to the comics they enjoy. It's the absolute opposite of cliched, self-hating internet comics fans, and you really should give it a go.

10: And finally, last but certainly not least, hearty congratulations to Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer on announcing their engagement. I think everyone should get married, irrespective of what gender they want to get married to, or in what way they want to tie the knot. You, are you married? Well, why not? Go on, get married!

Later today, we're off to talk mortgages (the wife's coming along, so I can safely sit there thinking about Batman), and then Caroline's going to get her hair done in a beehive, to play a private party with Jon Lane and Boogie Me, the rhythm and blues orchestra she sings with. Hopefully at some point there may be cricket, and I can watch it while packing more boxes. Until next time, Cheerio!

Comics Today, Signing and Glee

Black Widow: Deadly Origin #3 and Dark X-Men #3 are both in your (US) comic stores today, and your (UK) comic shops tomorrow, assuming the lorries delivering them can get through the snow. I imagine Danie Ware standing at the door of Forbidden Planet, looking out into the blizzard, as a burly man in furs tramps towards her, a box of comics in his frozen hands. 'The comics must get through!' he gasps, as she makes him sip brandy.

If you remain undecided about your purchases, here is the first six pages of Black Widow, alongside a very kind review. The preview pages for the X-Men can be found a couple of blog entries down.

And speaking of Danie Ware, through her kind offices, I'll be doing a signing at Forbidden Planet in London on Thursday 28th January, from 6pm. It's chiefly of the Panini Captain Britain and MI-13: Vampire State collection and the Dark Reign: Young Avengers volume, but, you know, I'll sign whatever you bring. Apart from certain body parts. (I don't know though, give it a try.)

I wanted to say a few words about Glee, which has just arrived in Britain, and has been heartily embraced by pop culture (with a track from the cast currently at number three on ITunes' hit parade, and thus about to appear in the earthly singles chart on Sunday). It's one of those shows that seems made for fans, in that, while no fantastical elements appear, it's about us, or us as we'd like to have been: the alienated freaks and geeks who have to form an alternative society of their own. It joins shows like Veronica Mars and movies like Heathers in being a story of sweet, sweet high school revenge. But at the same time, through its representation of the well sung show tune as being the epitomy of talent, it also fits right in with British society's current vision of pop music, as represented by The X-Factor and its ilk. Rather wonderfully, because this is a show which delights in reversing expectations (the young woman who prissily has a phobia about keeping clean is our heroine, that's not a metaphor for inner darkness this time), the evil bitchy bully girls show up for an audition... and do really well. So our geeks are going to have to live with them inside their world, not build utopia without them. Which makes the Joss Whedon/mainstream talent show collision all the more apt. Most interesting is the show's fight (because it is a fight), to put genuine outsiders front and centre. The gay lad, black girl and kid in a wheelchair are right at the front of the musical numbers, they're definitely what 'we're' fighting for... but they're not 'we', in that, as yet, they've had moments, rather than plots of their own. We aren't asked to identify with them. The kid in the wheelchair (Artie Abrams, played by Kevin McHale) is fascinating, in that when he's given a guitar solo or a rap, we're asked to gaze at how odd that as, a gaze that might be on the edge of being asked to laugh at him, but the gaze goes on so long it makes us ask why we haven't been asked to look like that before, and if there's laughter, it's for him. The lack of plots for these folk (after two whole episodes, so I have, like, a huge sample to draw from), if I talked Internet language, would lead me to yell about racism, sexism, wheelchairism and the like, but instead I think it may be a rather Brechtian moment of the audience being forced to confront the world. And I suspect they'll get plots next week. I love the notion, shared by all musicals, that just starting to sing gives you perfect acoustics and choreography, I love the hard route to mass popularity the series has chosen for itself, and so far, I love this show.

Incidentally, I loved the new Being Human too, and will comment as part of Ten Things this weekend. Cheerio!

Ten Things for the Weekend #1

The first in a regular series. If anyone has a 'thing' to mention in future weekend posts, let me know in the Comments or on Twitter, and I'll mull it over midweek. When I'm at a convention or event, the ten things will all be about that.

1: I really should have mentioned Asterios Polyp in my survey of Hugo nominable (I've decided on that word) comics. It's David Mazzucchelli's 'great American graphic novel', concerning a Professor of Greek descent who makes a huge change in lifestyle following the destruction of his home. It's the magical realist elements which make it a matter for the Hugos, notably the fact that some of it's narrated by the protagonist's dead twin brother. It's getting a lot of traction in the 'best of 2009' lists of the comics world, and stands for the whole field of book store graphic novels, representatives of which would grace any Hugo shortlist. Find out more here.

2: On the recommendation of author and puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal, we just saw Strings, an excellent fantasy adventure movie performed as puppetry, and set in a world of puppets, where strings stretching into the sky is a part of life. It's remarkably un-twee, and instead does the SF thing of letting our discovery of the various interesting facets of the world (for instance a city gate that's closed by raising a bar too high for puppets to step over it, thus blocking their strings from getting through) be at the heart of the narrative. It should be much better known. Do check it out.

3: My reading of Greg Egan is making me feel all noble for tackling something that features physics diagrams in the first two pages. I always return to pure SF, and rather miss it in the modern spread of genres. (Tor.com's last two seasons of special features, for instance, Steampunk and Lovecraft have both harked back to the past. I seek a greater return to attempts at grasping the future.) The biography in the back of Schild's Ladder rather underlines the point: 'Greg Egan's extraordinary hard SF novels have won him a reputation as one of the hardest... hard SF novelists.' He's that hard. Indeed, he makes Charlie Stross look like C.S.Lewis. But I'm enjoying the wholemeal.

4: At 2pm on the Thursday of the World Horror Convention in Brighton (details on the right margin) I'll be taking part in the panel 'A Genre by any Other Name: What is Horror?' Which'll be about the various different attempts to rename, redefine and pare down the genre.

5: Vworp Vworp! is a wonderful-looking new Doctor Who fanzine, specialising in Doctor Who Magazine and the comic strips contained therein. It's even got some free Eleventh Doctor and Amy transfers, drawn by Paul Grist! You're at least going to check out the link, right? And I'm sure you may well want to pre-order the fanzine, all of which you can do here.

6: I've always enjoyed Brian Cronin's Comic Book Legends Revealed, one of the few comics history sites that can be thoroughly enjoyed by those who know nothing about the field. These tales of what might have been, and the extraordinary circumstances about how some things were (for instance, how a whole issue drawn for the Tarzan comic ended up in Battlestar Galactica, in column #238) give a real insight into how extreme our medium was, and sometimes still is. The writing style can sometimes be that of someone who wants to rather too definitely pin down meaning and avoid misinterpretation, but maybe that befits a historian of the weird. You can find every column here.

7: We went house hunting this afternoon (as Al Robertson mentioned on Twitter, it's easier in the snow, they leave big tracks), and saw a few promising places, but driving through Oxfordshire villages on frosty roads, having to get momentum going for hills, was kind of trying. Here's the view down the valley near my house at the moment:

Those of you in places that regularly have harsh winters may well be sighing and shaking their heads right now.

8: I'm enjoying Victoria Coren's tweets about playing screamingly high-faluting poker in exotic locations. I'm terrible at the game. Whatever the opposite of a poker face is, that's what I have. (My wife is quite good at it, winning a few bob every now and then. Every member of the Anglican clergy has to have an eccentricity. She has that and fighting in chainmail.) It takes a lot to get me to follow, on Twitter, someone I haven't met: Victoria joins Kristen Bell and Caitlin Moran in quite a select group.

9: Black Widow: Deadly Origin premiere hardcover: out on 4th March. My first comics hardcover. Just saying. And congratulations to Marjorie Liu for getting the gig on Natalia's ongoing title.

10: It's surely John Picacio's year for the Best Artist Hugo. He's been close so many times before, and he's had a fantastic year. Check out this gorgeous gallery of what he did in 2009.

And that's it for the first Ten Things. Until next time, Cheerio!

Dark X-Men #3 Preview

You can take a look at the first six pages of Nate Grey's epic battle against the Dark Avengers here. It goes on for quite a bit after that! I like a bit of super hero battle thumpity thumpity. And Leonard Kirk's art is, as always, gorgeous. Cheerio!

First Sighting of Pulse

I offer the following without further comment: Pulse. About half way down. Cheerio!

And How Long was that Story?

My story 'One of Our Bastards is Missing', the second in the Jonathan Hamilton sequence, from The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction Volume 3, is 9300 words long, which makes it, in Hugo terms, a Novelette.

I thank you. I'm going to stop this now, I promise!

What's Your Comic Called Exactly?

Well, I don't like to do this, but the strictness of the rules, and last year's unfortunate happenings rather forced me into it, and a few people have asked. If you read and liked Captain Britain and MI-13 in 2009, and are in a position to nominate it for a Hugo Award (and if so, many thanks), the full and exact title of what you can nominate is:

Captain Britain and MI-13: Vampire State.

Please don't deviate from that form of words in any way.

And can someone tell me if the word is 'nominable' or 'nominatable' or if there just isn't really a word for that. I like nominable. Because then someone really should write a Hugo-worthy book called Snowman.

I feel positively dirty, having done the above. But perhaps a good sort of dirty. Cheerio!


Ah, yes, hello, is this thing working? I barely recognise a Blogger dashboard, having been away from it so long. Welcome back. I've had a long holiday, and feel thoroughly rested. (Well, fat, really.) The new year has even brought with it some new energy, and a positive excitement about the work ahead of me. Which starts again tomorrow, I've decided. Because even with Caroline having another week off, most people are back at their desks, the media's started up again, and so I should be at it. I have a few last police notes to work into the novel, which shouldn't take more than a couple of days. I have the second draft of my Wild Cards story (which is called 'More') to be completed in the next week or so. I have four exciting comics things to work on. And I'll shortly be back into the television work, also. And, we've sold our house without, as yet, buying another one, so the nightmare scenario my four-year-old God-daughter immediately foresaw ('will you have to go and stay at your friend's house? Will you be getting our house? What'll happen to our cat?') may yet come to pass. Except the cat will be fine. One of the negative consequences of moving (apart from leaving this lovely town and missing our friends) is that I'll have to get my stuff out of storage. I love storage. It's like having a Minder lock-up accessed by a Thunderbirds door. I may pop over from time to time after I've ceased storing things there to watch other people using that door.

We've spent the holiday visiting tiny baby nieces, old Who fan friends ('for a moment I forgot Bruno Taltalian's first name!') with tiny babies, and, as always, having two Christmas dinners on the same day (hence fat). I've discovered I really like holding tiny babies. They chill you right out just by lying there, asleep, and making small noises in their dreams. But what do they have to dream about? Caroline's played a lot of Dragon Age: Origins, which I've been hearing over my shoulder while at the computer. I confess to sighing where I heard that her female warrior had no romance options with Claudia Black's character. That seems excellent, another winner from BioWare. I love how characterised and nuanced it seems (though the option dialogue is, as always, drier than it could be), and look forward to playing it when she's done. Myself, I've been playing Batman: Arkham Asylum (excellent, written by Paul Dini, but perhaps a bit easy so far at normal level); Modern Warfare 2 (awesome) and Ashes Cricket 2009 on the Wii (complete bloody swizz, you don't actually use the Wii controller as you would a cricket bat, which one intuitively expects from such a game, and would characterise any cricket game for the Wii that I'd actually want to buy).

We've watched Red Cliff, La Jetee, Culloden, and the last Harry Potter movie, which we only just got round to, but I must say I loved, way beyond my reaction to the previous entries in the series. I think centring it on the emotional interactions of what are now three capable leads is just a lot more satisfying than the usual plotty plot plot. We ate a lot of stilton. There's still this huge lump of it in the fridge. Even now I've started running again. I may make it into a little house rather than eat it. And then eat it.

I've been enjoying Greg Egan, Christopher Priest, an X-Factor collection, the first Largo Winch (surprisingly excellent, having been underwhelmed by the translation of other volumes of French comics I've read) and a book of collected comic strips concerning umpiring decisions in cricket. Seriously.

Oh, and of course, there was Doctor Who. Speaking as someone who tends to leave no end ended unless it ends fifteen times, I loved it. I especially loved hearing about Joan's fate, and Matt Smith owning the part in seconds. He looks great, doesn't he? That miracle I talked about, where a fandom has to love the last guy, say goodbye to him, and embrace the new guy, so quickly: it happened again.

Anyway, from tomorrow, off we go again. I hope you'll join me. I think this could be rather a good year. I like this decade already. Until next time, Cheerio.