Nice review of The Molenstraat Music Festival in Locus Online Reviews

lorLois Tilton regularly reviews the latest science fiction and fantasy magazines. Her review of my story The Molenstraat Music Festival from the September Asimov’s is neatly neutral, which I’m taking as a good thing.

Distractions in Perihelion

fullcover034My short story “Distractions” is out now in Perihelion.

A wonderful cover by Hardy Fowler – “Taking a five minute break, a mecha pilot enjoys a quiet reverie in this secluded forest on the third planet from the sun.” Feels cool to have one of my stories hidden behind such a fabulous illustration.

This is a lighter one than my recent Asimov’s story – Robert’s boss Julianne Kette will stop at nothing to get her bounty, even if it means dragging him through hell to get it.

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Frustrated that I could only return to the cafe with bad news, I beat my way back along the dusty street. Kette would not be pleased.
Some screaming kids ran out from between buildings, a hoop robot chasing them. The thing had little pincers and zappers around its circumference. It fired barbs at them
Laughing, the kids ploughed through traffic, oblivious to the enormous trucks and skimmers speeding along. Sirens blared and the hoop robot stopped at the sidewalk’s edge.
I tascered the thin little machine and took it with me.

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My thanks again to editor Sam Bellotto Jr., for publishing another one of my quirky pieces.

The Molenstraat Music Festival in Asimovs

ASF_september 2015My novelette “The Molenstraat Music Festival” has just been published in the September issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. It’s a story of a far future that, among advanced technology, still has time for art.
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“I’m Tamsin Birchall.” She stepped down from the vehicle. She was tall, thin-legged and wasp-waisted. She’d had work done, but then everybody did these days, didn’t they? She was wearing a blue single-piece dress that seemed to wrap around her legs almost like slacks as she walked. Her hips swayed, but her shoulders stayed steady. She could be a dancer.
“I can help you?” Clancy said. He pointed back the way they’d come. “Stay on that road for another six or seven miles you’ll come to a nice, isolated beach. The water’s a long way down now, with the dry, but it’s still pleasant enough. The trees grow down to the sand’s edge, and there are some grassy picnic spots. Another ten miles on, up Freyberg Road, there’s a rooming house.”
“It’s not directions I’m looking for.”

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I’m thrilled and honored to be sharing the table of contents with science fiction luminaries once again. Brenda Cooper!, Jason Sanford, Vylar Kaftan, among others.

I’m also honored that Asimov’s editor Sheila Williams saw something in my little story. Thanks.

In praise of Terminator Genisys

Terminator_GenisysI went to Terminator Genisys in the weekend and had a ball. While it’s not quite my new favorite film, I’m surpised by some of the criticism out in the media. I found it a fabulous, creative reinvention. It was fun and well-structured, with some great set-pieces that the genre demands, and some nicely thrown in homages and nods to the previous films.

This MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS, so feel free to skip :-)

My movie-going companion had not seen any of the previous terminator movies so over the weeks before hitting the theatre, I did a rewatch while she had her first watch of those previous four movies. Some I enjoy more than others, but I enjoy them all. Some seem dated, some seem try hard, at least one seems “how is this a terminator film?”. It was good to refresh my mind, especially with so many reflections back on those films in the new one.

I’ll admit I delight in big-budget films where lots of stuff blows up, but I do like them to make sense. (I do love art house too – I saw Mr Turner recently, 2.5 hours of Timothy Spall’s monosyllabic grunts – and I’m looking forward to Palmy’s film festival starting in a couple of weeks). Terminator Genisys made sense to me. As with many films there were gaps and fudging and some silliness (the bus flips, getting airborne in the process), but those things felt less important than a generally strong movie.

Some critics have suggested that this new film retreads the old films. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe in the way that Back to the Future Part II retreads Part I. It seems to me that if that “retreading” hadn’t happened then Back to the Future Part II would have fallen apart as a story: revisiting the first film made sense. Likewise in Terminator Genisys. That moment where older Arnie confronts younger Arnie confronting the punks at Griffith Observatory with “He won’t need any clothes” was a clever approach (if anything it was more like a retreading Back to the Future II – Marty watching Biff confronting George again). Likewise having the T-1000 chasing Kyle Reese right after he’s arrived in 1984 cleared up any “what about the advanced terminators from T2 and T3. I enjoyed the nods to both films in those sequences.

Where Terminator Genisys comes into its own is ripping up the rules. Sure it’s easier to “reboot” when you can fool with timelines. I loved Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese – especially with his bafflement arriving to find that Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor knows more about the situation than he does. I loved how Arnie has aged into the role – his most human yet. I loved especially the twist that John Connor – whose continued existence has for the most part has been central to the plot – had become the bad guy.

This movie was an absolute thrill. For an action buff who’s become jaded by endless Transformers movies (honestly I struggle to tell them apart – which one had Mark Wahlberg? Which one did Chicago start looking like San Francisco looks in every-other movie?), and can pretty-much predict the action in the Fast and Furious franchise*, it was magic to see a strong, clever reinvention of the franchise.

I only hope that somehow the film makes its way to profitability and someone, somehwhere green-lights the sequel (or even two).

*(yes, I know F&F is a franchise that’s reinvented itself too).

Half-year review

Well, I haven’t had much to say lately, which is fine. Very busy writing, naturally, just not so much on the blog/facebook, etc. Since the end of June has slipped by, I thought I’d do a quick review, as much for my benefit as anything.

A few publications around – “Salazar” in Perihelion, “Number Man” in SQ Mag, and “Concentration” in Landfall. It seems like a very slow year, but I’m focusing on two things: submitting to more pro and fewer semi-pro mags, and also writing fewer stories and more novels. This means there’s less stuff out there. I’ve had a few other acceptances, which I’ll announce when they arrive in stores.

Perihelionsq-mag-19-cover1LF229
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Music-wise, there have been some Shadows on the Snow releases and one Venus Vulture release.00_-_shadows_on_the_snow_400Mu cover 1Nudibranch on Zenapolae
I don’t think that’s all of them – I have trouble keeping up with Kendall and his sheer enthusiasm!

Check here for A Thousand Winters Against the World. Others can be found at archive.org, Bandcamp, Kruk Records and Zenapolae.
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With the self/indie-publishing, I’ve put up quite a few items, including three novels (one horror, one literary and one sci-fi). I’ve got a few more in various states of readiness (and some more in my head). These show up at smashwords, Amazon and other ebook/physical book retailers.
the room pod 6x9 5sw second run cover 3Arlchip Burnout cover 10 smallWalking Gear2b
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The business of writing-words on the page-has progressed well too. Despite a slower time while travelling in Japan, I’ve still completed a quarter million words for the first six months of the year. I guess that’s what writing every day (even while travelling) does.

Better yet, I’ve completed more words so far this year. That is, items proofed, corrected and formatted. Over 300,000 words. Over the past few years I’ve let some items sit around (including a 92,000 word novel), but I’m feeling more onto it this year. It’s all very well to write, but if it’s not finished and submitted/published then I’m not satisfied. It feels good to be getting some of last year’s (and the previous year’s) stories completed.

Similarly, I’ve published more – 340,000 words so far. Yes most of that is indie/self published. Likewise, it feels good to have the writing out there.

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For the next six months. More of the same. I’d like to get another five to seven novels out. I’ve promised readers The Eye book three in The Hidden Dome series, so I need to write that (I expect to finish the draft of the current novel in the next few days, then get to writing The Eye). I have a few other novels fully drafted, just needed that final tinkering. That does mean more proof-reading/reader feedback, and more formatting.

The main thing, though: I’m having a ball. Thanks for reading.

Walking Gear image © Artem Popov | Dreamstime.com
Arlchip Burnout image © Kuan Leong Yong | Dreamstime.com
Used with permission

Concentration in Landfall

LF229My story “Concentration” has just come out in print in the Autumn 2015 issue of Landfall.

Landfall is New Zealand’s longest running literary journal – around since 1947.

“Concentration” is a surreal dreamloop story about trying to reconnect to the world, while everyone around you is trying to disconnect… or something like that. It’s kind of a cross-over literary story, with hints of science fiction (I couldn’t resist, you know?).

Anyway, I’m thrilled to be in Landfall again, and pleased to be sharing the pages with the likes of Owen Marshall, Karen Zelas and Emma Neale.

Nudibranch – new ambient album on Zenapolæ

Nudibranch on Zenapolae

Nudibranch on Zenapolæ

No writing news lately, but the Zenapolæ netlabel has just released my Venus Vulture ambient album Nudibranch.

On a visit to the small but cool Santa Monica Aquarium, I saw these wonderful, graceful and peaceful creatures, drifting and swimming. Their langorous movements and transparent bodies inspired some tranquil music and I’m glad it’s found a home.

The cover is from a photo I took at the aquarium. These are Lion’s Mane nudibranches, one of dozens (well 2300 maybe) of species. Nudibranches are molluscs that shed their shells when they move into adulthood.

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