Casual Friday: Sturgeon Honours

Another early blog, because this afternoon we're off for the twenty week scan, which will let us see our child in a lot more detail.  So, that's the most important and exciting thing that's happening to me this week.  But in the field of work, some exciting things have happened too, namely...

'The Copenhagen Interpretation' has been nominated for the Theodore Sturgeon Award.  This is a prize for short SF, decided by jury, and presented during the Campbell Conference Awards Banquet on July 6th (when I'll be at Convergence).  So wish me luck!  That novelette has now been nominated for the Hugo, Locus and Sturgeon Awards, and won the BSFA Award.  I have no idea why this particular one seems to have struck a chord, which makes it all the more pleasing; I didn't even know if there was an audience out there for that sort of thing.  Whatever that sort of thing is.

And of course, a couple of days back, I got to display to the world that other very welcome image, the cover to my novel.  I may mention that a few more times.

The Kapow convention was excellent, a little more laid-back than the previous year, but now very much the obvious gathering place for UK comickers and their US counterparts.  A quiet drink with DC veteran (he'll enjoy me saying that) Bob Wayne on the Friday night turned into a legendary evening where the comics pros ran into the SF pros (and TV's James Moran wandered in too).  I signed for something like one and three quarter hours on the Sunday (when I'd thought the two hour slot was way optimistic), and, courtesy of SFX Magazine, appeared on their stage to be interviewed by Tilly.

I missed the DC Comics panel on the Saturday morning, having got stuck on a train, but I did go along to the one the following day, causing some comedy consternation on the part of Bob and Dan DiDio, mocking me for being in the audience but not getting up on the panel (having signed up to Panel Parity).  Halfway through the panel, Dan called an (obviously prepared) female member of the audience up to talk about what she liked about Demon Knights.  I've seen that move called 'a parody of Panel Parity' on one news site, but it was nothing of the sort, it was a tip of the hat to it, and Dan treated the woman's contribution with all due respect.  (I'm afraid I haven't been able to find out the name of that female fan.  If that's you and you're reading this, do drop me a line in the comments.)  It was entirely in line with how he often solicits opinions from audience members, except that he brought her onto the panel to do it.  'You're a good man, Dan DiDio!' I called out, and I meant it.  Dan got me to stand up and take a bow.  It seemed to me to be a graceful way for DC to engage with the campaign.  (Which is not to say that it brings us closer to Panel Parity.  It was a nod, when a sledgehammer is required.  But at least there was an acknowledgement of the problem.)

In short, I spent a rather blissful weekend in the company of both comickers and SF writers (often hoping to be comickers).  I didn't talk to any one friend long enough.  I saw Scott Snyder start to get the sort of reward he deserves for an amazing year.  I had a very funny curry with Rob Williams and the gang.  I got to appreciate a lot of great cosplay and coo over some cute babies.  (I do that now.)  I love it when my worlds come together.

And hey, where else do you get to be interviewed by a toy monkey?

On Wednesday, 12th December, at 8pm, I'll be appearing at Topping and Company in Bath, for a bookshop signing.  This is the first such I've signed up for to promote London Falling, and I hope there'll be many others.  I'll add them to the convention list on the right.

Out now is the collected edition of the first six issues of Stormwatch, entitled The Dark Side. I'll be signing it (and anything else) at London's Forbidden Planet on Wednesday June 6th from 6pm.

Now it can be revealed that our guest artist on Saucer Country #6 will be none other than Jimmy Broxton, re-uniting the team from Knight and Squire.  I couldn't be more pleased, and Jimmy is already producing amazing work.  #6 is a stand alone issue, a history of UFO mythology from the perspective of Professor Kidd, and entirely pick-up-able if you haven't been reading our story and just want a history of flying saucers in comic book form.  #7 is another stand alone, the dark reflection of #6, from an entirely different point of view, with another cool guest artist.  Those two issues set out our stall for what's to come.  And then the amazing Ryan Kelly will be back for our second story arc, starting in #8.

And Steve Cook, creator of the Saucer Country logo, shares his own UFO experience.

Bernice Summerfield producer Scott Handcock is running a marathon in Edinburgh on Sunday, in support of Invest in ME, the charity that funds research into the crippling condition M.E..  This is a very personal cause for all of us who've worked for Big Finish. As it stands, he's made his target, but every little helps.

And now available for pre-order is the new book for the creators of Chicks Dig Time Lords.  It's Chicks Unravel Time, which is a season by season review of Doctor Who, entirely by women.  Contributors include Diana Gabaldon, Barbara Hambly, Seanan McGuire, Rachel Swirsky and Aliette de Bodard.  Excellent stuff.

Last night I popped along to the Aylesbury SFF Monthly Meet-Up, which was noisy, comfy and well attended.  Worth doing if you're in that part of the world.

My favourite music today is something I just started listening to this week, and have been rather impressed by. I'm quite surprised that I haven't got round to King Crimson before now.

The lyrics are a bit 'Stairway to Heaven' (on most tracks of the album of the same name, actually), but the shape of the music and the way it progresses is pleasing, and any jazz noodling is kept within strictly disciplined limits.  I wouldn't say I'm becoming a prog fan, exactly, but I like this a lot.

This Saturday I'm off to the inaugural Melksham Comic Convention, and then on Sunday I'm taking Cat Valente on a tour of prehistoric monuments. (No, really.) So until next time, Cheerio.

The London Falling Cover!

Here it is!  Isn't it lovely?

Thanks to Ben Aaronovitch for giving us that very supportive quote.  (There may be more to follow from other wonderful authors, so this isn't quite the finished cover in that respect.)  You can read the back cover blurb, which tells you a lot more about what sort of novel this is, and read Ben's longer quote, here.

London Falling is out on December 6th, and this is just the start of loads of blogs, contests, signings and other ways I hope you'll get involved.  I'll let you know how to order it as soon as that becomes possible.  This is my life's work coming to fruition, and I couldn't be more excited.  Please spread the word.  Cheerio!

The This Time Next Year Game: Update

We've had a little action in our year long prediction game.  Tom, B-Guymer, Uther Dean, and Fizzle all correctly predicted that Lady Gaga's 'Edge of Glory' would be performed in Glee this year, and thus gained a point.  So our league table now looks like this:

B-Guymer: 3
Fizzle: 3
Michael Lee: 3
Phil Hansen: 3
RHeitzmann: 3
Soru: 3
Tom: 3

Ads: 2
C.A. Young: 2
David Bishop: 2
Dean Hazell: 2
James Fairlie: 2
Kendersule: 2
Liz: 2
L.M. Myles: 2
Nick Pheas: 2
Paul F: 2
Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: 2
Uther Dean: 2

Adam Short: 1
L.L.: 1 
Matthew Hyde: 1
N.J.: 1
Penny Heal and Jason Stevens: 1 
PSmithsonian: 1
Run Iago: 1

That's starting to look interesting.  After all the English bowling of the first Test Match involved in our contest, Stuart Broad is way out in front in terms of number of wickets, but there's still two to play.  Cheerio!

Casual Fridays: Method

This week has been almost entirely about the novel, currently without a title, the sequel to London Falling.  I've been managing a good 2000 words a day, meaning I've added that number of words to the total at the end of the day, having often edited out large chunks before I got into the positive.  This, for me, is the secret of happiness, the blissful feeling of inflating a manuscript from the middle, getting a hefty chunk done every day.  Of course, at the time, it feels pretty much the opposite.  I have an end in mind, and I have some plot points for each character worked out, but while I keep saying to myself that I'll sit down and write a chapter by chapter plot, I haven't yet done so.  I think I might actually not, just see if I can grow this one organically, not on a frame.  Finding that I now have the confidence to do that, knowing these characters and their world, is another source of happiness.  Doing so much prose in a day makes the hours vanish, to the point where you look up and the day's gone by, and it's like you haven't been awake.  I also did drafts of the latest Demon Knights and the latest Saucer Country in reaction to the artwork, which, as always, consisted of adding lines here and there to give additional character, or to put in a joke that fits with a particular expression.  I like the precision that comics allows through doing that.

Bristol Comics Expo last weekend was as friendly an experience as always.  Smaller, in terms of number of pros attending, but perhaps larger in terms of attendees than the year before.  I had a lovely dinner with Mike Carey, Mark Buckingham, his wife Irma and their Spanish comicker friends.  The organisers had been kind enough to adapt to my Panel Parity requirements, and that resulted in a DC panel which was way more like the sort of thing you find at an SF con, and which all three of us creators enjoyed more than the norm.  I think this write up by Cheryl Morgan captures it perfectly.

I very much enjoyed the season finale to Fringe.  It's refreshing to see a show that's relied on its arc plot neatly tie everything up, and deploy its one remaining loose end to provide the momentum for a 12-episode final season.  Such planning is very welcome.  I only wish there was the support for the show in the SF community to get it the Hugo nominations it deserves.  We'll miss it when it's gone.  I think Game of Thrones this season is even better than last time, and I'll give it a proper full on review when it's over.  It was good to see George's televised interview with Grace Dent the other night proceed on the basis that the books are fantasy, and that she's surprised to be invested in a genre she's never followed before.  That's much healthier than 'they're not really fantasy, they're about people', a line that, of the cast, only Liam Cunningham, for some reason, still comes out with.  (Peter Dinklage has a rather more nuanced distance from the genre because of the way it's always treated people like him.)

In other news, as you'll find if you click on the link to the right, a new edition (#12) of The SF Squeecast is out,  with guest Rachel Swirsky talking about Will McIntosh's Soft Apocalypse and Lynne talking about 52 and Gotham Central.

And you'll note from the banner at the top right that I've now joined Pinterest. I've so far used it to begin assembling a board of images of Bernice Summerfield, which I'm hoping to get anyone who's contributed to the range to join in with.

My friend Helen Keen has a new series of her excellent science-based comedy show It Is Rocket Science now being broadcast on BBC Radio 4.  You can hear the first episode here, yes, even if you're not in the UK.

Okay, I'm taking a risk with my favourite music this week.  I love Brothers Gibb songs, and this one in particular, and yes, there's a fine line between brilliantly on the nose and sheer cheese, but I think this walks it very well.  (You nearly got Pat Benatar fighting the Nazis.  Maybe next time.)  If I was twenty years older, I would have done my best to be leonine and laid back in the 1970s.  A medallion would not have been out of the question.

I look forward to seeing some of you at Kapow this weekend.  I still don't know whether or not I'll be on a particular panel (they've been kind enough to talk about Parity, but I don't know yet if they're managed to sort it), but I'll be around signing and wandering, and will rush after you pen in hand.  Even if you don't want me to.  Cheerio!

Saucer Country #3 and Stormwatch Signing

Our third issue is out today, featuring as always the stunning artwork of Ryan Kelly, and you can see a five-page preview of it here.

In related news, I'll be signing copies of the first Stormwatch collection, The Dark Side, at London's Forbidden Planet on Wednesday, 6th June from 6pm.

Back for more on Friday!  Cheerio!

Casual Friday: Hugo First!

I'm still feeling rather under the weather, with what seems to be mild, week-long flu, so this will be a swift catch-up before I head off for what promises to be a bleary weekend at the Bristol Comics Expo.  So no change there.  I always enjoy Bristol.  It's laid-back, a chance to hang around in a huge otter-like pile with my fellow UK comickers.  And they've been kind enough to sort out Parity for the DC/Vertigo panel I'm on, which is at noon on the Saturday.  I've managed 7000 words of novel this week, despite being ill, and also delivered an issue of Demon Knights.

First up, the big news: I'm going to be hosting the Hugo Awards!  Lone Star Con 3, in San Antonio in 2013, asked me if I'd like to extend my Toastmaster duties to being the MC for the ceremony, and, this being a long-held ambition of mine, I rapidly agreed.  I'm honoured and excited.

Talking of Worldcon, 2012's Chicon 7 has announced a bonus for those attending or buying supporting memberships: a new John Scalzi short story, accessible only to those who've already signed up.  There's another good reason, along with getting e-book versions of everything nominated for a Hugo to get involved with the point about which SF fandom orbits.  And wait until I start going on about the 2014 London Worldcon.  That is going to be a party.

A friend of mine, Eddie Robson, who many of you will know from his contributions to the worlds of Doctor Who and Bernice Summerfield has written a new radio sitcom pilot, which is going to be recorded for Radio 4 in front of a live audience at the BBC Radio Theatre in London on June 13th at 7pm.  The show is called The Resistance, it's about an alien invasion, it stars The IT Crowd's Katherine Parkinson, Alison Steadman and, erm, Peter Davison.  You can go along for free, but you have to successfully apply for tickets in advance, and the theatre may fill up quickly, so do jump in.  You can apply here.

Another old friend of mine, Miles Booy, has a new book about Doctor Who out.  It's Love and Monsters, which is at its heart the story of how a bunch of disparate fans got together, formed a new generation of a fandom older than they were, and ended up working on the show.  Miles was there when I first started out in fandom.  We went to Longleat in 1983 together.  (He used his audience question to ask Sarah Sutton out.  She took 'what are you doing this evening?' completely literally, which I always thought was well played.)  It's a story which hasn't often been touched upon, and Miles has made a brilliant start at it.  I heartily recommend it.

On June 15th-17th I'll be in Seattle attending Locus magazine's Science Fiction Awards Weekend. Since my novelette 'The Copenhagen Interpretation' got nominated, I thought I'd go along and enjoy live and in person the experience of being beaten into fifth place.  The weekend itself sounds a great deal of fun, with panels, workshops and Hawaiian shirts.  I may have to buy one of those.  And never wear it again after.  Will it even go with the jacket?

The winner of Sci-Fi London's 48 Hour Short Film contest has been announced, and I was very pleased to hear that it's Future Inc. by Martin Stirling, my favourite of the short list.  I think various members of that team may go far.

And finally, editor Will Dennis has been blogging about the origins of the big green bunny that adorns Ryan Kelly's wonderful cover for Saucer Country #3, out next Wednesday.

My favourite music this week is something utterly new, and wonderful surprising.  Who would have thought that in Jubilee year, John Lydon's Public Image Ltd would be back with what might be their strongest single?

Ah, that takes me back.  And his voice is stronger and more beautiful than ever.  Until next time, Cheerio!

The This Time Next Year Game: Update

Well, six episodes in, and last night it finally happened, Tyrion Lannister slapped another character (Joffrey again, actually) in this season of Game of Thrones.  So those players who, in the year long game of predictions we started at Christmas, put their faith in that happening, have been proved correct.  Those players are:

Adam Short.
Run Iago.
Matthew Hyde.
Phil Hansen.
Paul F.
Michael Lee.
James Fairlie.
L.M. Myles.
David Bishop.
Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre.
Dean Hazell.

(Jennifer Kelley just said 'repeatedly', so since he only did it once, I'm afraid she's going to have to wait for him to do it again in order to get a point.)

So the leaderboard now looks like this:

Michael Lee: 3
Phil Hansen: 3
RHeitzmann: 3
Soru: 3

Ads: 2
B-Guymer: 2
C.A. Young: 2
David Bishop: 2
Dean Hazell: 2
Fizzle: 2
James Fairlie: 2
Kendersule: 2
Liz: 2
L.M. Myles: 2
Nick Pheas: 2
Paul F: 2
Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: 2
Tom: 2

Adam Short: 1
L.L.: 1 
Matthew Hyde: 1
N.J.: 1
Penny Heal and Jason Stevens: 1 
PSmithsonian: 1
Run Iago: 1
Uther Dean: 1

With a pack clearly developing at the front.  Well done, all!  Cheerio!

Casual Friday: Proposals

So the very first thing I have to talk about today is, wonderfully, this. My novelette, 'The Copenhagen Interpretation', has been nominated for a Locus Award. Since I'm up against Peter Beagle (one of my wife's favourite authors, so she's been strangely quiet about the whole thing), Kelly Link, Geoff Ryman and the SF Squeecast's own Cat Valente, I doubt I'll get any further, but in such company it's a joy to even be nominated. Good luck to so many friends among all the categories.

Having said that, a bigger thrill was that today I heard our baby's heartbeat for the first time. It went thumpthumpthumpthump. It seems hearts start beating very fast and get slower as they get bigger. Probably the best way to do it. I find this impending parenthood lark has me smiling stupidly a lot of the time.

Demon Knights #9 is out on Wednesday, and is a splendid jumping on point for new readers, starting as it does a new series of adventures for the medieval anti-heroes.  You can see a preview here.

This week I've been writing the (so far untitled) sequel to London Falling, and checking the copy edits on the former book. It's also been a packed social whirl, which isn't over yet. On Tuesday evening I went to the opening of the Sci-Fi London film festival, and met some lovely folk. I'm one of the judges of their 48 Hour Film Challenge, more about which later on, but right now I should say that I found the ten films on the short list to be of a very high standard, speaking well for the future of British direction, editing and special effects. (I was told a brilliant story that evening, which you'll hear about later in the blog.)

Then, on Wednesday, I was first interviewed for a forthcoming classic series Doctor Who DVD, then wandered over to the Clarke Awards, where I gave myself the task of tweeting the fashions on the 'red carpet'. (It's always good, I feel, to have something to do.)  Here are a few of the folk I captured for posterity...

Lou Morgan in Zara and with shiny shoes.

Organiser Tom Hunter in bespoke Italian silk.

Danie Ware and Sarah Anne Langton of Forbidden Planet in 'the full Bet Lynch'.

David Monteith of Geek Syndicate in 'a dream of Victoriana where the world is predominantly black'.

Orbit's Jenni Hill with a Transmetropolitan necklace.

And I think it was Danie who grabbed my phone and got her own back (there's organiser Louis Savy behind me).

And several of my better photos got used on the Tor blog, where you can also see video of Jeff Noon announcing that Jane Rogers had won with The Testament of Jessie Lamb.  All in all, it was a splendid ceremony, well organised, serious, fun and informative. The Clarkes continue to present perhaps the best public face of British SF.  The original bequest of money from the Clarke estate has now run out, so for the first time this year, we were asked to pay to attend, and various successful efforts have been made to raise money to provide the prize for the winner.  The newest initiative in support of the Clarkes is Pandemonium, an anthology of stories based on the work of the painter John Martin. Some of the proceeds will go to the Clarkes, and the book is well worth your time.

This week I also want to mention three equally good causes: May is ME Awareness Month, and the Let's Do it for ME charity have lots of suggestions for how you can help in the fight against this terrible condition. This is a very personal cause for me, an ex of mine being a sufferer, and it's also something close to the hearts of everyone who works on the Bernice Summerfield series. Please do whatever you can to help. 

The Locus Archive Project is an attempt by Locus magazine to digitize and curate their enormous archive of photos, recorded interviews and other ephemera covering the history of SF. They've had a vastly successful Kickstarter campaign, and in the last couple of days they've set themselves a new target. There are some wonderful backer rewards to be had.

And finally, on a sillier note, SF-friendly comedian Joe Scrimshaw, a friend of mine from the Convergence convention, and someone who's done his part in turning Just A Minute into a comedy circuit favourite in Minnesota, is using Kickstarter to (again, successfully) fund a book, Comedy of Doom which, as you'll see in his video, covers such topics as Doctor Who and Star Wars. There are again some great rewards. I promise you a good time. He promised me drinks.

So, as I said above, loads of people have been working on getting short films together for the Sci-Fi London challenge, including the Guerrier brothers, Simon and Tom, the latter of whom was working the camera on that Doctor Who interview I mentioned above, both of them being well known to that fandom.  They didn't make the deadline for submitting their entry, as the detail in a very interesting blog post about how they approached the contest. The blog also features this finished piece, Revealing Diary. These two have already won awards with their film work, and, along with many of the talented directors and editors uncovered by the contest, I think they're creators to watch out for in the future.

And on that same subject, I've decided to start featuring new fiction by upcoming SFF writers on the blog.  I hope to present a new story every week, and today we begin Fiction Fridays with 'Robbers', a short, tough, city fantasy story by Fran Terminiello. Do let her know what you think.

Now, this is that anecdote I was told at Sci-Fi London, which I think is pretty damn romantic, in the most geeky way possible.  The person who told it to me did so because she'd just realised who I was, and found having met me to be a bit of a coincidence to say the least.  Take it away Kate Dickson...

'After three days spent visiting my parents, Simon and I travelled from Aberdeen to Edinburgh to catch up with family and friends before we were due to catch the sleeper from Edinburgh to Euston.  It was a packed and exhausting day, filled with dreich weather, family obligations and an awkward dinner party during which my best friend had revealed she was seeing an ex then broke her finger, went into shock and was rushed to casualty.  (She still managed to cook a beautiful three-course meal and host like a pro.)  After saying our goodbyes to the dinner party, we arrived at Waverley station, found our train, our cabin and then the bar car for a pint and a spot of reflection on the day and the trip.  As we pulled away from Edinburgh, Simon reached into his jacket pocket:
     “I’ve been meaning to give this to you.”
     He passed over a small book with a fake leather cover.  It was The Journal of Impossible Things.  I did not know that a replica of the prop was available to buy and, completely beguiled by the feel of its paper (I am such a sucker for paper) and the printing, along with my deep love for that particular Doctor Who story, I slowly turned the book’s pages.  I remember really taking my time over each page; appreciating every scribble and sketch.  I didn’t notice that Simon was staring unusually intensely at me or that he was beginning to shift in his seat.
     I got through the pre-printed part of the journal and came to a page where Simon had written an inscription:
     Kate, you make everything possible.
     I can want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with you
     Take a moment to remember this time and this place because I am about to ask you to marry me.
     Then he slipped down on one knee and did just that.  My engagement ring was a  plastic replica of the Master’s Ring.  It was perfect.  I was so overwhelmed and elated that following his "take a moment" advice was impossible - I have no idea when he proposed or where (I know we weren’t at Haymarket just yet).  I do remember texting my parents, tweeting about it and just being the happiest.  I still am.  I don't see that ever ending.  I’ve never met a man like Simon and since knowing him I felt like an elevated me - so fearless and assured.  I consider myself the luckiest woman in the universe to have him as my life-long companion.'

Aww!  That's the first time I've heard of something I wrote being used in a marriage proposal, and I find I like it a lot.  Do more of it, audience!  (Kate would like it be known that her Simon can be found on Twitter as @byronicman and contributes to the One Life Left video game radio show, while she herself is @Plentyspace.) 

Now, I think we know each other well enough for my music choices to include some people I know personally. And I think this shows off another young creator who I think may well go on to bigger things. This is Charlie Baxter.

Isn't that groovy? Today I've been once more working on the mysterious Project M, and this weekend there is (even more) ligging.  So until next time, I'll wish you a fond Cheerio!