Thursday, 26 March 2015

State Of The Novel: Current Statistics

Current word count: 140, 233
(Comparison sizes: Dune 183,000, Hobbit: 95,300)

Projected final size: 160,000

Time taken thus far: 10 months.

Estimated coffee use thus far: 848 cups. Milk, no sugar.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Bang Bang

My mum is at my six year old nephew's birthday party and it's all boys running around the house and garden pretending to shoot one another. Mum's in the kitchen chatting to parents when she spots the lone girl guest sat on a chair all alone. The girls wearing this big flowery dress and has a flower in her hair.

Mum, feeling sorry for this poor lonely girl, walks up and says:

"Hello, what's your name then?" Or some such.

The flower-haired girl looks up, produces a plastic pistol, points at mum and says:

"Surrender or die."

Monday, 16 March 2015

Self-Pitying Clickbait Machine

This, if you needed it, is a classic example of what a hideous Tory rag the Telegraph is. Blogger K Tempest Bradford suggested--merely suggested--to her readers that they spend a year actively reading SFF by non-white/non-male authors if they fancied a bit of a change. Or not; whatever floats your boat. A diversity in reading challenge. The Torygraph has misrepresented this as some furious crusade to stop you reading books by caucasians with tummy bananas. FOREVER. Absolute arse-twaddle of course.

Now, if Tempest had suggested a Support-General-Franco's-Fascist-Junta-Against-An-Elected-Government Challenge or a Write-A-Cringing-Puff-Piece-On-Mussolini's-Italy Challenge that would actually be cause for us all to get actually annoyed, eh Telegraph? Eh?

Telegraph Columnist Martin Daubney on his way to work this morning

Friday, 13 March 2015

Guest Post: 'Community Matters: Sir Terry & The Fandom Spirit' by JoZebedee

Yesterday, Sir Terry Pratchett died, and I’ve been moved by posts remembering the man, his warmth, his personality.

I met him twice. Once, at a signing in the 90s when I was working in a bookstore, long before I decided to finally write the darn Space Opera I’d been dreaming of for years. I’ve worked at a lot of signing sessions. Some authors were demanding, some warm, some forgettable. Terry was one of the most interested in his fans: personable, funny and warm.

The session went on a long time, as I recall. People turned up with old books and new books, bookmarks and memorabilia, and he made no difference between those who’d paid for a hardback and those who’d bought a couple of bookmarks. He stamped books with ‘Can’t cook, won’t ook’ (Nanny Ogg’s hideously funny cookbook was one of the books on offer), posed for photos, and became, for me, a Writing God in one day. 

I felt close to the community, a part of it, because I got his books:  I’d read them and laughed. In terms of me embracing the world of sff and being proud, it was up there with Tom Baker offering me a Jelly baby (I ate it, sadly. I should have kept and framed it…)

The second time I saw Sir Terry was at the end of a talk at the World Fantasy Convention in 2013. I hadn’t gone into the talk – standing room only – but waited outside in the crowd. Terry was very frail, shockingly so after I’d last seen him, but still great fun, swapping hats with the audience, telling jokes. Everyone knew, of course, about his illness, that his wouldn’t be a long sojourn with us, but there was nothing sombre in the mood, just enjoyment at his great character.

I’ve started this blog post a few times, planning to talk about the sff community, and its been a pretty soul-less affair, shelved and mulled on. I wanted to talk about how I’ve found my way into this odd little community, even though I live far from any centre of SFF. I planned to talk about websites and twitter and facebook groups, and all the reaching out on social media new authors are supposed to do. About how I have friends all around the world because of our shared love of the fantastic.

That’s not what the blog’s about, after all. It came to me that all my soundbites of advice, my mantras about ignoring the snafflements and nastiness that can abound, weren’t what I wanted to say. That this is going onto the person I know as J-Wo’s blog (because in my first, and still central, SFF community, that’s who he is) is fitting. 

We see in Sir Terry’s death – and Leonard Nimoy’s not long before – what the sff community is.

J-Wo's one of the first people I got to know outside my close circle, who managed to be welcoming and share extensive knowledge of cons and people, and didn’t care if I was a newbie, only that I was interested. That, mostly, is the response I’ve had across the community:  that rising above differences, that lack of awe and levelling of surfaces.

Despite living in the middle of nowhere (or close to it), despite not having been published in long form (three weeks, everyone say eeeee!), despite being a female writer of very soft sf with an aversion to physics, I’ve been welcomed. 

I’ve been looked after at cons, promoted, had a published author agree to do a blurb for me (and thank you, thank you, thank you if you’re reading, the amazing Francis Knight….), been mentored and supported, critiqued and edited, tweeted and retweeted. No one has been anything less than supportive.

We see in Sir Terry’s death – and Leonard Nimoy’s not long before – what the sff community is. I follow Pat Cadigan’s blog and see so much warmth and encouragement to her, it – a blog about cancer and hideous treatments and circling danger – is one of the most uplifting things I read and like.

If there are a few harder kernels in the community, if there are voices trying to cause division, I think that’s not the issue. The centre of our community is warmth, friendship, the (whisper it) slightly geeky conversations about worlds and authors and the occasional obsessive love of ray guns and the like. The acceptance of people brought together by a shared love of the fantastic.

Anyway, usually at this point I pop my blogs away and edit in a day or two but I think I’ll just send this one, in the knowledge that editing out thoughts that the loss of someone like Sir Terry brings might edit out something of the impact of that person.

Suffice to say, he was one of the first people in SFF to move me enough to feel I wanted to hang around and write the darn book and get closer, and we’ve lost one of our brightest, warmest, funniest stars. Let us keep the inclusivity he showed to his fans from every walk of life, and enjoy our place in the community, however we get to it, from whichever corner we inhabit.

Jo Zebedee writes. Quite a lot. She’s also slightly obsessed with sexy space pilots and characters with dark little edges. She blames Han Solo and Kerr Avon for this.

Her debut novel, Abendau’s Heir, the first book of the Inheritance Trilogy, is out on 31st March 2015, from Tickety Boo Press.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Cyberpunk Playgrounds: Sky Plaza Hotel

The derelict Sky Plaza Hotel is my favourite piece of urban wreckage where I live.
Some say there's people living in there, squatting in a concrete eerie above the city.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Last Night I Dreamed...

...I clambered up a humid hillside towards hundreds of people in saffron robes. The crowd, ever growing, seemed to gather around a lone banyan tree.

The masses were in mourning. Men howled, women pulled at their hair, bronze horns with dragon faces wailed mournfully. I could feel the sweat on my forehead.

I joined a line of people before the banyan, uncertain what I would see. Eventually I reached the front of the queue.

Under the Banyan tree sat a wooden crib surrounded by chanting priests. In it lay a Jack Russell terrier I recognised as Pieshop, my childhood pet. Pieshop lay on his back, his lower half wrapped in blankets. He seemed weak, eyes hooded, dying.

'Pieshop,' I said. 'It's me, Jim.'

His eyes widened and he smiled. He offered a shaking paw and I took it.

'Jim,' he said. 'Thank you for coming here, friend. Well I remember our childhoods, playing under the sun.'

'You were a happy dog,' I said. 'Weren't you a happy dog?'

He smiled. 'Many laughed at my ways, my ignorance, forever chasing balls and rolling in river mud. But I knew not misery, not the pain of false ambitions, jealousy or hate. Tell, me...' and he looked deep in my eyes with his weakening vision. '...in that moment just before death, in the shadow's embrace, will television celebrity and novelist Katie Price be able to say likewise?'

I awoke. The question lingers still... 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

'Flawless' Goes To CERN!!!

This just in from Badshoes Films:

We are immensely proud to announce 'Flawless' will screen as part of the official competition selection at the home of the Large Hadron Collider, CERN in Switzerland as part of their 5th film festival, CineGlobe 2015. Here's the website for details.

Well, as one of the scriptwriters of that short, along with Lucy Wade, I have to say I'm pretty chuffed with that result. FREAKIN' CERN, DUDE!!! WHERE THE GOD PARTICLE HANGS OUT!!!!
The Cineglobe Festival's theme this year: 
"...embraces the meeting of minds, methods and meaning of our times. It marks the reunion of science and art, technology and personal expression, research and creativity as the 21st century witnesses a new renaissance as artists and scientists venture beyond their areas of specialty to bridge science and art."
 As you may imagine, out of all this film's nominations thus far this has to be the most personally rewarding:  the intersection of art and science is pretty much what being an SF scribbler is all about. Which is not to knock all the other noms (plus, ahem, one 'film of the year' award), just, well... FREAKIN' CERN, DUDE. FREAKIN' HADRON COLLIDER AND STUFF!

(Apparently the winning short gets fired at near-light speed in order to discover the mysterious 'Ebert Particle')

I'm immensely lucky to have stumbled my way into independent films. I never planned to and I never thought I'd get to work so closely with so many talented people (Short stories and novels are, let's be fair, a pretty lonely experience, fun and rewarding as they are). Probably the biggest difference is all the meetings, which are both fun and fraught and where ideas are thrown into a metaphorical Hadron Collider to see what happens. A writer can't be precious in that environment and, if they aren't, they will be rewarded with strange bright chimera ideas, one's they could never have dreamed up alone.

If you possibly can, give it a go. I imagine most large cities have some kind of independent film scene and very often there aren't many people totally devoted to scripts. The tendency seems to be toward writer-directors and that's a brain surgeon/rocket scientist gig. I know I certainly couldn't direct (But here's a guy who can talking about it: our own director Keith Allott).

I'll report back here to let you know how we got on. When Flawless finally becomes available to watch (which isn't currently possible due to the whole festival submission thing I'm afraid) I'll link to it here to.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Spoolzine Issue 7: The Zine of SF, SF Fandom and SF Fandom's Fandom

Photo-News:  Game Of Thrones Actor Pay Dispute Intensifies


Boing Boing's Bongo-Mag Bonanza!!!!!

The latest US hipster trend is for 80's low rent British jazz magazines. Spoolzine caught up with the tech-savvy editors of Boing Boing to find out their fave chod pamphlets...

David Pescovitz (writer, journalist, research director for the Institute of the Future):

"In a digital world a lot of creatives are rediscovering artisnal porn. Man, let me tell ya: 80s British newsagents were like the CBGB Club of that scene and, for me, Razzle has to be the Richard Hell & The Voidoids of knuckle fuck books. No question. 
I've just Dos-doxxed their entire i-archive onto my Google Glasses (Yeah, I still got a pair of those. Please; don't tell anyone! So embarrassing!)" 

Cory Doctorow (Author, Blogger, Digital rights activist)

"When I'm not writing space books or creating internets, you'll find me rooting about the waste ground behind the Tesco in Nuneaton, UK, looking for torn pages from 'Fiesta' (These I then transload onto my Samsung Labrador). 

Long before the internet, long before Creative Commons, Fiesta were distributing their content, free of charge, around car parks, allotments and woodland areas adjacent to housing estates. 'Information wants to be free' as we tech activists so infamously say. Fiesta understood that before anyone."

Xeni Jardin (Digital Media Commentator, Journalist):

"Even if you discount the perms and crotch-shots, Knave were still incredible content creators. I've an original issue with a Ford Cortina review and a think-piece on countercultural icon Eric Bristow. Knave and Neuromancer: all you need to know about 1984, my friends.

In fact there may even be an interview with Gibson if I can figure how to prize open some of these pages..."

Mark Frauenfelder (Boing Boing Creator, Editor)

"Erm... don't come in..."



 March 2nd, Tewkesbury Town Hall: Acting Masterclass with David Warner:

"What? Ah, fuck it I'll do it."
Star of 'Waxwork', 'Quest Of The Delta Knights', 'Mortal Passions' and 'Cortex'.


Dear Spoolzine,

This Mensa test said this wasn't the right answer, which just goes to show they're not so smart, huh?

Tim Susman, LA


Spoolzine:  A one-blog crusade for good taste in SF fandom.

I should really leave this be, but...

What is it they say about bullies being able to give it out?

Benjanun Sriduagkaew bragging about harassing Rhianna Pratchett back in 2008

Benjanun Sriduagkaew folding up and whimpering (and lying her head off) about Spool Pidgin posts that mock her. 2014.

On a serious note though, if you're someone, especially a person of colour who's suffered online harassment from Benjanun there are ears out there for you. As this link shows, you are from alone. You don't have to keep suffering alone. Together we can build a safer, happier community without the venom and hypocrisy.