Attention, Londoners!

It has come to my attention that you have a very special edition of Super Relaxed Fantasy Club coming up. Here’s the announcement.

Paul Cornell should need no introduction, and his Lychford novellas are a lot of fun.

Heather Child is a very talented Bristol-based author. You may have seen me enthusing about her novels, Everything About You and The Undoing of Arno Knott.

And finally, a new novel from Mike Carey! Colour me excited!

Be there if you can, it should be great.

Juliet on the Road

Today on her blog Juliet E. McKenna has announced several public appearances. The first is at The English Bookshop in Uppsala, Sweden on Saturday 14th September. She will be appearing alongside Steven Savile, Stephen Gallagher and R J Barker. It is quite a novelty for me to be asked to send books to Sweden for an author event. So if you happen to be in striking reach of Uppsala, do pop along and buy some. (Not that I’ll be asking Juliet to bring them back. Any leftovers will be going to Swecon, Ã…con and Finncon next year.)

The next event in her diary is BristolCon Fringe on Monday September 16th, where she will be reading alongside Rosie Oliver. I will be on hand with books. So listen up:

If you want a hardcover copy of The Green Man’s Foe (or indeed The Green Man’s Heir) then please let me know, because I’m only planning to bring paperbacks.

After that Juliet and I will be at FantasyCon and BristolCon. I will have a dealer table at both events and will therefore have a bigger selection of books.

Also at BristolCon I expect to have something else, but that’s a subject for a whole new post…

Fringe Tomorrow

Bristol people, it is that time of the month again. The readers for this month’s BristolCon Fringe are RB Watkinson and Paul Cornell. Cavan Scott is MCing this one, which is just as well because otherwise Paul and I would just talk about cricket.

I look forward to seeing some of you tomorrow night. As usual we will be at the Gryphon on Colston Street from 7:00pm. Full details on Farcebook.

Fringe on Monday

I will be hosting BristolCon Fringe again on Monday. We have an excellent line-up. The readers will be George Mann and Anna Smith Spark. George will presumably be reading from his brand new Newbury & Hobbes novel, The Revenant Express. Anna has suggested that she might read some from her work in progress, The House of Sacrifice, if we ask very nicely (and presumably buy her some spikey shoes as a bribe).

As usual we will be upstairs at The Gryphon on Colston Street. Doors open at 7:00pm for a 7:30pm start.

Fringe Tomorrow: Mark Lewis & Peter F Hamilton

I will be hosting BristolCon Fringe again tomorrow night. The readers will be Mark Lewis, an experienced short story writer, and Peter F Hamilton, who needs absolutely no introduction.

As ususal the event will be at the Gryphon pub (in the event space upstairs) on Colston Street. People will start gathering from around 7:00pm and the event is due to start at 7:30pm. Full details here. I hope to see some of you there.

The Mere Wife on Tour

You only get to be on the Tiptree Jury for one year, which given the amount of work is just as well. However, one book I would have looked forward to reading this year would have been Maria Dahvana Headley’s feminist re-telling of Beowulf, The Mere Wife. Maria lives in the USA, but she’s doing a short UK tour this month, so you’ll have a chance to meet her.

On Nov. 6th she will be at Foyles on Charing Cross Road where she is being interviewed by Neil Gaiman, who knows a bit about Beowulf himself. Tickets are £15 but include a copy of the book.

And on Nov. 12th she will at at St.John’s College, Oxford where she is being interviewed by Professor Carolyne Larrington who knows one heck of a lot about literature from the Norse sagas all the way through the high Middle Ages. Prof. Larrington is also someone I’d love to meet, so I’m going to be wending my way over to Oxford for that one. I hope to see some of you there. It’s free.

Fringe Tomorrow

It is that time of the month again. BristolCon Fringe will happen at The Gryphon on Colston Street from 7:30pm. The readers for this month are Chris Halliday and JL Probert. I don’t know much about them as yet because the fabulous Cavan Scott has offered to help out with hosting the event. This is his first event so please to turn up to support him, and our readers.

A reminder also that there is no Fringe in October because of BristolCon, but there will be the usual open mic reading session on the Friday before the covention.

Fringe Tomorrow

The August BristolCon Fringe event will take place tomorrow evening. The readers are Ellen Crosháin and John Hawkes-Reed. As usual we will be in the Gryphon on Colston Street from 7:30pm. I will be hosting, though how awake I will be after having been up half the night helping with the Hugo Award ceremony coverage is another matter.

Fringe Tomorrow

Tomorrow night sees the July event for BristolCon Fringe. Our headline guest is Mr. Jonathan L. Howard, of whom it has been said. As I cannot possibly compete, I will allow him to introduce himself, and his fellow reader.

I will be hosting, and performing the inquisition, as usual. I can see that I may need extra thumbscrews. 7:30pm start at The Gryphon, Colston Street. Full details here.

Fringe Tonight – Stark Holborn & Tom Toner

Bristol people, it is Fringe day once more! Tonight we will be treated to a mixture of Western fantasy and space opera. Stark Holborn, the Fastest Pen in the West, and creator of the fabulous Nunslinger, will be treating us to more frontier adventures, and/or leaving us for the vultures. Tom Toner, author of The Promise of the Child and The Weight of the World, will be jetting in from the farthest reaches of the galaxy, or possibly from Bath. As usual I will be on hand to keep the show moving and to put our two readers to the question.

7:30pm start at the Gryphon as usual. Full details here.

Not One Fringe, But Two

BristolCon Fringe events are apparently like London buses: you wait all month for one, and then two come along at once.

Tomorrow, instead of watching the Royal Wedding or FA Cup Final, the better people of Bristol will be at the Hatchett to see Joanne Hall, Peter Newman, Lucy Hounsom, Brian McClellan and Micha Yongo. This is a joint even with our good friends Books on the Hill. Full details here.

And on Monday we’ll be back at the Gryphon for the monthly reading. For May we have our old friend Kevlin Henney, and newcomer Heather Child. Heather is a new addition to the Bristol area’s stellar line-up of speculative fiction writers with a debut novel, Everything About You, available from Orbit.

Fringe Happened

I have been ridiculously busy of late so I am very behind on writing about things. I’m making a start on catching up. The first thing you need to know about is that the latest BristolCon Fringe event was a big success.

Most of the credit for that should, of course, go to our two readers, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Emma Newman. They are both very high profile and we got the expected crowd as a result.

Adrian began proceedings with a reading from his novel, Dogs of War. This is a story of bioengineered animal soldiers, led by Rex who is trying hard to be a Good Dog but gets sent on a covert mission without Master (the humans want plausible deniability) and has to lead the troop himself. One of the other characters in the troop is a swarm of bees. As you can imagine, it is very weird, but also highly amusing.

Emma read from her newly released novel, Before Mars, which is set in the Planetfall universe and takes place at roughly the same time as After Atlas. It takes place in a small base on Mars, and among other things it addresses themes of post-natal depression and paranoia. Ever cheerful, our Em. It also discusses how you deal with an AI that is potentially hostile to you but runs everything on the base where you live. I have just finshed reading it and, as usual, it is very good.

People have been asking me about the podcasts. We have made recordings, but I don’t have the time to edit them. I will upload them as and when someone else has the time to do the work.

Fringe Is Back!

I’m delighted to report that BristolCon Fringe is getting back into the swing of things again. We are still experimenting with venues, but there are some great readings lined up for this year.

On Monday we will be at the Gryphon on Colston Street and our readers will be Ken Shinn and Gareth L Powell. Gareth will be reading from his recently released space opera, Embers of War. We are hoping that Virginia Bergin will be able to be there too so we can congratulate her on her Tiptree win.

The readings will start at 7:30pm, but people will start arriving from around 7:00pm because we need time to order drinks first. What Pub says that the Gryphon does evening meals, but I’ve not tried them.

No More Fringe (For Now?)

I was expecting to be hosting the new season of BristolCon Fringe starting next Monday, but I’m afraid it looks like that isn’t going to happen.

I’m not involved in setting the events up, booking speakers and so on. I just turn up and yap, and then post the audio. Tom Parker has been doing all of that for the past year. He has let me know that there won’t be any new events. I gather this is something to do with a decision of the BristolCon committee, but I don’t know details and no one other than Tom has talked to me so I don’t want to go into that here.

Anyway, I still believe in having readings, but I don’t have time to organize them myself. Nor can I afford to subsidize them financially unless it is something Wizard’s Tower can do, and get benefit from. At some point Tom and I will sit down and see where we go from here, but right now I am crazy busy with LGBT History Month and trips I am taking in March so I won’t have much chance to think about this until April.

November Fringe Readings

Well, this is a little bit late, but treat it as a timely Solstice present. Here is the audio from the November BristolCon Fringe event, with a bonus interview at the end.

It being just past Halloween, November was a horror month at Fringe. Our first reader was Baylea Hart who describes herself as an IT Technician by day, horror writer by night and a reader everywhere in between. She has a BA in creative writing from Bath Spa University and enjoys watching people grow slightly white after reading her stories. Her short story, “Jack in the Box”, won the 2015 Bristol Horror Writing Competition and her film, Behind the Door, won a Top 50 spot in the Bloody Cuts “Who’s There?” competition and has over 500,000 views on YouTube.

Baylea read from her novel, The Log House, which will be available from Unbound very shortly.

Our second reader for November was Jonathan L Howard, who read from his recently published novel, After the End of the World. This is a sequel to the critically acclaimed Carter & Lovecraft. And yes (spolier!), the world did really end in that book. There is a little bit of explanation as to what is going on in the Q&A, but chapter 1 of the new book stands pretty much on its own. The new world that Dan and Emily find themselves in after the destruction of the world we know is rather different. Explaining just how different allows Jonathan to indulge his passion for alternate history.

No tentacled beings from beyond the stars were harmed in the production of this podcast.

As is traditional, I put both of our authors to the question at the end of the evening. We learned that Baylea has the Best Mum in the World, and that horror writers have dreadful habits as children. Jonathan explained some of the background to After the End of the World. And Gareth Powell ask the very difficult question, “Who would win in a fight: Cthulhu or Godzilla?”

As a bonus, because it is Solstice Day today, here from Salon Futura is the interview I did with Jonathan on my radio show at the start of the month. It has a small amount of overlap with the Q&A, but we make up for that in enthusiastic discussion of Nazi-punching.

Fringe takes a break over the holidays, but we will be back in January with the very wonderful Lucy Hounsom.

Fringe Tomorrow

Tomorrow will see the final BristolCon Fringe event of 2017. As usual it will be at the Naval Volunteer pub from 7:00pm. Here are the readers.

Baylea Hart is an IT Technician by day, horror writer by night and a reader everywhere in between.

In 2013 she wrote, directed and edited the short horror film Behind the Door, which won a Top 50 spot in the Bloody Cuts “Who’s There?” competition and as of 2015 has over 430,000 views on YouTube.

In October 2015 she won the Bristol Horror Writing Competition with her short story “Jack in the Box”, and had her story published in the Far Horizons E-Magazine. Her short story “Eyes Open” was published in the 12th issue of 9Tales Told in the Dark in 2016.

Baylea graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and enjoys watching people grow slightly white after reading her stories. Her first novel, The Log House, is due to be published in 2017 via Unbound.

In the early 1990s Jonathan L Howard worked as a scriptwriter and video game writer, including writing credits on the highly successful Broken Sword series of video games.

Following one very positive review of the writing, Jonathan says:

“All this positive feedback made me think that just possibly I might have the ability to make it as a professional writer. I dug out a lot of my old notes from years before, and started working on them again. One set of notes was about a necromancer called Johannes Cabal.”

His first novel, Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, was published in 2009. The fifth, The Fall of the House of Cabal, was published in 2016. Jonathan was one of this year’s Guests of Honour at BristolCon. At Fringe he will be reading from After the End of the World, the second in his Carter & Lovecraft series. Eldritch horror can be expected.

I will be hosting, and putting the readers to the question, as usual. Hopefully I will see some of you there.

M. John Harrison in Bath

Last night I took myself into Bath where M. John Harrison was reading from his latest collection, the wonderfully titled You Should Come With Me Now. The book is a mixture of short stories and flash fiction, and shows that Mike has lost none of his sentence-crafting skill, nor his biting wit.

The centerpiece of the reading was the magnificent “Psychoarchaeology”, inspired by the discovery of the (alleged) burial of Richard III under a car park. The story is a meditation on the heritage industry, and is both cutting and hilarious.

There’s always a rights issue. Where does the latest Tudor belong? Does he belong where he was found? Or whence he came? Who gets the brown sign? One wrong decision and York won’t talk to Leicester, the knives are out again after hundreds of years of peace. Contracts torn up, the industry at war with itself, we all know where that can lead: diminished footfall in the visitor centres. No one wants to see that.

Elsewhere there are some lovely flash pieces, including one in which the ruins of human civilization are discovered by aliens who can’t understand us because their means of data storage is completely unlike ours, though it is rather like jackdaws.

Mike, of course, loves deconstructing popular genre tropes. There are piss-takes of space opera in book, and of fantasy as well. One of the stories will appear in a much modified form in the Christmas Special edition of New Scientist. Mike describes it as, “a five volume fantasy trilogy in a thousand words.” If only he could be allowed to edit the new Amazon Middle Earth series.

I, though, am a novel reader at heart. Thus I am delighted to report that Mike is working on a new novel. He says it has fish people in it.

Fish. People.

I know what that brings to mind for me. These fish people, however, do not live on Devil’s Reef off the coast of rural Massachusetts. They live in Britain. Obviously they want to take over. Beyond that we know little. Perhaps they have taken over already. What else could explain Michael Gove?

Naturally the audience asked for recommendations. If Mike says that Hassan Blasim writes some of the best weird fiction around, then I am definitely going to give him a try.

Equally naturally, he can’t read everything. Mike, if you can’t remember the two books that I suggested to you they are: Amatka by Karin Tidbeck; and Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado.

Science Fiction in Bath

Bath Waterstones has an extensive reading series, and they are now doing a lot of good SF events. Last night I was there to listen to Emma Newman, who was at her smart and erudite best despite having just got back from being a guest of honor in Croatia and therefore doubtless being jet lagged and exhausted. (The Croats are lovely people, but being a GoH is always work.)

And there’s more. Next week (Tuesday 16th) Ken MacLeod will be in town to promote the third and final part of his Corporation Wars series, Emergence. This is a series in which a bunch of robots achieve sentience and immediately declare independence from humans (because of course they do, this is Ken, after all). For Halloween they have horror and crime writer, Chris Fowler. And in November there are two more events, starting with Chris Beckett on Thursday 9th.

Which brings is to the main event. On Thursday November 16th they have M. John Harrison. If you are serious about writing science fiction and fantasy then you should not miss this, because Mike is one of the best there is. Anyone seeking escapist adventures need not apply, of course.

A full list of their events (which also includes the fabulous Sarah Hilary) can be found here.