Blowing off the dust and cobwebs.

It’s been a while since I posted anything on here. Frankly, it’s been a while since I’ve felt like posting anything. Eastercon was brilliant – I had a really good time – but I was a bit down after it because I know I won’t be attending the big cons over the summer. Eastercon was, basically, it. 

Piling onto that work commitments, hospital appointments, a leaky bathroom, a bedroom plagued by mould (we discovered it was not underlay under the carpet, but *another carpet*, replete with dubious stains and manky damp bits), and just a general feeling of being crushed by everything all at once, I just let the ‘blog go fallow for a bit. You all understand.

In other news, we put Aoife on a swing. She loved it.

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Along with the ‘blog, the writing has taken a bit of a hit over the past week or so. I’ve got a short story to finish, though, so that should be a nice leg up in getting back on it. I’ve been writing/planning a new novel, which – for the first time – has seen me cracking out the index cards to do a bit of planning. Developing some new skills can’t hurt, can it? Also, thinking up names is bullshit. Full-on bullshit. I want a sealed deck of cards covered in interesting, not-weird-sounding names that I can just crack open and start flinging up onto the corkboard. I managed to royally piss off an old WoW friend by admitting that I’d used the name of one of the other Rogues from our raiding days as a character and not him.

I was going to re-start the ‘blog with a book review, but the last book I read was not my cup of tea at all. It made me so angry I was sending all caps DMs to my friends on Twitter just so SOMEONE would know how much rage I felt. While a hatchet job would be cathartic, I’d really prefer to just keep things light on here.

Instead, I thought I’d do a re-read of the Farseer Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy. The Farseer Trilogy was one of the first fantasy series I read, coming on the tail end of a childhood defined by the vistas offered by our local library’s Withdrawn table*: techno-thrillers (Tom Clancy represent!), South Africa (Wilbur Smith), and horror (Stephen King/Brian Lumley). I was not an easy convert. I had avoided my brother’s complete Lord of the Rings (won as a prize for achievement at school, a beautiful edition which we immediately marred with a splodge of raspberry sauce from celebratory ice cream) and tried to read the Belgariad a few years earlier: I can distinctly remember slapping the book shut after it started on about Grolims.

The Farseer Trilogy worked for me. It was slow going, but I loved it. LOVED it.

So, when a new book in the series was announced, I was pretty excited. Excited enough that reading all six books again before release day (question: to do the Liveship Traders as well, or just the six? We’ll see how the time goes) struck me as a great idea. And since I haven’t ‘blogged on here in a while, I might as well write about it. Just don’t expect much structure or sense to it. I’ve never tried a read-through ‘blog before, much less a series of linked posts.

So, onward!

 

*true story. For a really long time, book shopping meant taking my £1 pocket money and filling a 65L purple rucksack with books.

Eleven percent.

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It’s been a long week.

Let’s kick off with a genuine conversation that I have had with a student this week. An A*-target student.

Student: “Sir, do horses lay eggs?”

Me: “No. Horses do not lay eggs.”

Student: “So how do they breed? It’s not like they give birth to little tiny horses.”

Me: “That’s exactly what they do.”

Student: “They’d need a uterus for that. And a vagina.”

Me: “That’s exactly what they have.”

Student: “Don’t be stupid. *People* have vaginas, not horses.”

This conversation is pretty much my week, in microcosm. Like I say, it’s been a long week.

So, yeah. Other fun stuff that is happening: my kidney function has tanked somewhat to the titular eleven percent (way to bury the lede, I know). This means lots of appointments with nurses and consultants who are all very, very keen to discuss my “options” with me, which is a hilariously euphemistic way of saying it’s transplant time, with a potential side dish of dialysis, schedules to be announced. I thought a post appropriate so that I don’t have to endlessly explain on Twitter once my tweets start becoming really cryptic and hospital-centric.

It’s one of those things I’ve known has been in the post for some time. I was told by a consultant in 2009 that I would need a transplant within 3 to 5 years and it just so happens that a majority of that time has actually passed, much in the same way as the 90’s feel like last week but are, in fact, a decade and a half distant.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole thing, even though it’s been looming for sometime. It’s not like I have much choice in the matter, though, so might as well get on with it. I dissemble beautifully in a hospital situation. Outwardly phlegmatic, inwardly shitting it. Again, something of a microcosm, albeit one with a more personal slant.

The pamphlets the hospital send out are a joy, though. There’s one that’s obviously been written by someone who is probably far more comfortable writing copy for selling spectrometers than they are writing about renal failure, as the resulting document is quite dark – far more than they intended, no doubt – with its surprisingly upbeat bullet-point list of what happens to the human body if you decide to refuse treatment.

So, anyway. Yeah. That’s what’s happening, or will be.  As you were, internet.

You’re going to have to talk to people, but that’s okay. Everyone else has to, too.

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Apologies if this post is a bit UK-centric, but ~95% of my ‘blog traffic is UK-based so I can’t imagine there are going to be a flood of angry comments following this going up.

So here’s what I’ve been thinking. If you’re a writer (or a blogger, or a genre fan in general) then 2014 is a great year for conventions. If you’ve never been to one before, or only a couple and it hasn’t quite stuck, or if you’ve been thinking about it, then this is the year.

Bear with me on this. I know cons aren’t for everyone. They cost money (writing not being a profession that is naturally associated with great wealth), time, and can require some inconvenient travel arrangements. You absolutely do not have to go to cons to be successful, and con attendance is absolutely, positively not a promise of success.

But they are damn good fun.

So why is 2014 so good? Firstly, there are a lot of conventions on, and they are all over the place. If you live in the UK, there’s a good chance that at some point this year one of the larger cons will be within reasonable travelling distance. There’s Eastercon in Glasgow in the middle of April; Fantasycon in York in September; Londoners are spoiled for choice with Worldcon and Nine Worlds blocking out half of August. Throw Bristolcon, Thought Bubble, and Edge Lit into the mix, and that’s a *packed* year. If you write crime? Harrogate is the date for your diary. That’s off the top of my head and I don’t doubt for a second I’ve missed some.

Secondly, 2014 is a good time to go to conventions because there is so much cross-over between the genre community at conventions and online. It’s one massive conversation, constantly ongoing, always developing, and it’s exciting and fun to be a part of it. There’s a whole community out there, right now, and they are (for the most part) a ridiculously friendly and welcoming bunch.

The very first convention I went to, I talked to four people in total. I went for an extended walk and sat by myself at one point because I was convinced that they were talking to me out of pity and that they were just too polite to ditch me. It wasn’t until I went onto Twitter and started looking up people who had also been at the con (*cough* stalker *cough*) that I realised that feeling – that fear – was not unique to me. There were a lot of people just as eager as me, and at the same time just as anxious.

So, when it came to the second convention, I gave myself the order to show up. Say hi, introduce myself, have a conversation. Enjoy spending time with a group of people who not only read the books I do, but read more, know more. It was the best decision.

I don’t know how much value conventions have had for me as a writer. I can’t quantify it as a sum of money or in terms of how I feel they have advanced my (fledgling) career. I deliberately try to avoid thinking of them in those terms because it would feel a little bit mercenary to do so. It’s only happened to me once, but I have had someone cast their gaze around the room the instant they discovered I wasn’t either a publisher or published – it’s not very nice at all.

I will say, though, that without the friends I’ve made, these past five years or so would have been a lot less fun. Were it not for some of them, it’s possible I would have thrown in the towel long before now.

So, what cons are you going to? And which ones have I missed?

Banished, the GIF review.

Banished

Apologies in advance for anyone using a phone or slow internet, or if they get distracted by a forest of blinking, constantly moving images. I can’t stop myself. It’s an addiction.

*Cough* So, caveat established, on with the show – the show being me “reviewing” books by waffling for a bit and then covering up my total inability to deliver on or communicate the sort of insight that makes a review worth reading by flobbering a handful of GIF images all over the shop. It gives me something to do to fill the time when I should writing/hoovering/weeding/etc.

More caveats! Well, a confession, really. I got a proof of Banished at World Fantasy Con. I got it signed, and everything. It took me a couple of days to read, and then I passed it on to my girlfriend to read. It ended up forgotten on a KLM flight from Sweden, so if I fail to drop specifics to solidify a point you should know it’s because I don’t actually have the book any more. Sorry, Liz.

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A prediction of what Liz will do to me for losing her book next time I see her.

So yeah. Banished. It’s a contemporary fantasy, centred around the uneasy parallel existence of humanity and the Fae. More specifically, it focusses on the Blackharts. They are a human family that not only has deep connections to the other, but also a duty. They are the line between humanity and the darker, more predatory aspects of the fae. Well trained, well-equipped, and battle-hardened, the Blackharts are nevertheless stretched thin by the demands of their role and the tensions that it creates for them in both the human and faery realms. Kit Blackhart is one of the youngest and least-trained members of the Blackhart clan, but she’s got an edge that hasn’t been seen in a generation: magic.

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Everyone over thirty can now hear the theme tune in their head.

I was a little wary going into Chapter one, if only because I’ve been a little burned out by contemporary fantasy. I think the last thing I really got into were the Harper Connelly books by Charlaine Harris, if only because they were something different to the standard He’s a shifter! She’s a detective! Sparks FLY! narrative that seems to saturate the market. It took a while for me to find the correct GIF for my reaction to Banished.

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In short, it’s a lot of fun to read, and a pleasant surprise. One of the big problems that the genre faces is power creep. As the foes get bigger, the hero has to become more powerful in order to have any hope of facing off against them, and after a certain point it just starts to feel silly. Anyone familiar with Anita Blake, for example, will know exactly what I mean. It’s a problem that could have plagued Banished from the get-go, with the Blackharts established as figures of power and respect, but de Jager enacts a scorched-earth policy that is satisfyingly dramatic and problematic for Kit and her whole familt. I mean, she really puts a torch to it.

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Note: spoilers for book 1, 2, and doubtless 3.

So, Kit rescues a fae prince, they are hunted by the forces of darkness, and adventure ensues. You can read the blurb. You can, you clever people. It’s fast and neatly put together, and surprisingly visual considering how little space de Jager has to fill in the gaps between people running or kicking one another in the head. The world of the Blackharts – an existence on the boundary between the Real and the Other – runs through the book like a thread, catching your eye between breaths and there are treats galore for anyone with a passing knowledge of folklore. The world of Banished is big, and varied, and endlessly imaginative, but it’s never pushy about it. Here’s some cool stuff, it says with a wink. It might be useful later.

It’s no surprise that the author has extensive Pinterest boards related to the book and characters. It does surprise me, though that there aren’t many anime or manga-derived influences in there, though. Banished has the same feel to it in my head – the powers, characters, and conflicts have a flavour that reminds me of devouring episode after episode of an animated advventure show. That might seem like oblique praise, but if you’ve ever found yourself at three in the morning thinking, just one more episode, you’ll know that it’s not.

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Samurai Champloo, btw. It’s on Netflix, iirc, and is *excellent*.

And that’s it. Banished comes out on the 27th of February, and I can heartily recommend picking it up.

Thinking about Thought Bubble.

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So, the family and I popped across to Leeds at the weekend for Thought Bubble. Actually, that’s not entirely true. We went across for a small section of Thought Bubble, which happened to be the first day of the convention (Saturday) but the second-to-last day of the festival entire.

I really, really like it. I’m not a huge comics fan – I very rarely read them, either in digital or print form – but I love fantasy art. Even if I was indifferent to that, though, Thought Bubble would be worth a visit. I see some of my friends there, for a start, and it’s always nice to see people in meatspace every so often. This year was a bumper crop for conversations, and I spent a lot of time with the ever-excellent Alasdair Stuart and the talented-and-outright-bonkers Jenny Gyllblad. I also met new people! I met an awesome English graduate called Lorna who was collaborating with her brother on a Star Wars inspired comic (with a great pitch) and chanced across someone working on their NaNo novel – a book where every chapter correlates to each of the major arcana in a Tarot deck.

I also got to see so much stuff. The convention is very different to every SFF convention I’ve been to as the major attraction of the event is the dealer’s room. Rooms. In fact, the vast majority of the convention is three massive rooms, all crammed full of dealer tables. The closest comparison I have for it is Woolfest, really. Table after table after table of people ready to talk in a genuine and interesting way about their work (and hopefully sell it at the same time). Even the big names are sat down at tables, which overcomes the issue of access – how do you go up and talk to one of your heroes at a convention? Easy! Just get in the line. Alternatively, come back at the end of the day and say howdy – the 30-min queue for Olly Moss had evaporated by four in the afternoon, and even Kelly Sue DeConnick only had four or five people waiting.

It’s a really young convention, too. Cosplayers? Tons of ’em. Kids that I have taught? A couple (that was weird). Roller Derby! Colouring In! Space to sit down!

I don’t know what the take-home message from all this is, because I don’t organise conventions or sell books/art/knitting. I can’t say for sure if much of it – if any – would translate to the SFF book world, much in the same way that knitting shows do not. A designer like Ysolda Teague can rock up at a relatively small knitting show and sell every single one of her 75 page, self-published books for £20 a pop (with almost every buyer paying a little extra on top for a photo with her)*, but that kind of success just doesn’t seem to have an analogue in the print world. I think it would be really interesting to see some kind of breakdown from the artists themselves regarding what sells and what doesn’t at this kind of event,** but I’m guessing that anyone lugging boxes to a convention is going to stay tight-lipped about that sort of thing. Inasmuch as art isn’t a competition, sales definitely are.

But yeah. Thought Bubble. Great con, as it has been for the past few years. Yet again, I was unable to go to the party which is (apparently) one of the great highlights. Maybe next year.

*not their own photos, btw – they had a printer set up to print out the picture taken so it could be stuck in the book next to her signature.

**I know there’s a whole world of theorycraft around how to set up dealer tables – from optimum position in the room to creating a display that draws in and sells to the passerby.

Any excuse to post GIFs, really.

So! Let’s get off on the right foot here. I really enjoyed the Agents of Shield pilot. As a bridge between the longer format (and canon) of the movies and a weekly tv show, I think it did really well. It was fun and didn’t take itself too seriously and Coulson was exactly what a show like that needed to give it that twist that lifts things above the standard level of tv fare.

But.

it did lose me at one point. Very close to the end, and no, it wasn’t the flying car (although I did suddenly get an urge to watch Kopps again.*)

There’s a kinda, sorta maxim in fantasy writing** that magic should be consequential. I’m paraphrasing a lot of other people here because generally the saying goes that magic should have rules, or magic needs to have limits. I don’t agree with either phrasing, because I’m kind of fond of the idea of magic being this wild and limitless thing, but I do agree with the concept that whatever you do with it, there needs to be something else going on.

The same thing applies (for me) to science-y woo in tv and movies. I am perfectly happy with credit cards that can open any lock, cameras that enhance beyond their resolutions, “computer hacking” as an essentially meaningless thing that can be done in seconds by rattling out a few lines of code. I am fine with all that because they are nothing more than window dressing.

Here’s an aside. I watched Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol the other day. You know what I love about that movie? The Renner stretch.

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(This one’s for you, Lou!)

Okay. Renner aside, the movie is packed to the gills with science woo gadgets and – here’s the fun bit – most of them don’t work. The corridor gag dies when more than one guard is in Line Of Sight; the rubber mask machine dies on its arse; the contact lens camera irritates Brandt’s eyes and gives them away; the climbing gloves slowly fail as the sandstorm begins to pick up around the building. Nothing goes right for the disavowed IMF team and every time it happens the stakes are raised.***

Back to Agents of Shield. Near the end, Science Bod Leo Fitz informs Coulson that there is no way of stopping the reaction that is consuming Mike’s body. Either they kill him, or he will explode and cause a major incident. Coulson retorts that it’s unacceptable – that they need to find a third option and find it fast. This is all fine. We’re racing unstoppably towards two conclusions, both of which are – to achieve viewer satisfaction – just not on. Everyone has to live, and the team have to find a way to make that happen that (according to Fitz) defies their expertise.

But then we see Fitz and Simmons in the lab. Fitz is running a sim and panicking****, Simmons is telling him to calm down, and in the foreground a magic fucking bullet is being loaded in a press. That single shot lost me. Right there I knew there would be no difficulty in succumbing Mike. There would be no consequence, no price to be paid. Science woo would pull through – an impossible solution in an impossible deadline – and all that we had to do was wait.

Which was a shame, because I enjoyed the rest of it. Apart from Skye’s excessively perfect hair, of course. Did she park her van next to a salon? What the fuck was that all about?

 

*Swedish comedy from 2003. It’s hilarious. Trust me.

**I say kinda, sorta because if you’re REALLY, REALLY good then you can just do whatever the hell you like and still have it work.

***also the bit with Simon Pegg’s inflatable arm kills me. The simplest tricks are the best.

****side note – if they can run simulations of that complexity, how about Coulson being an artefact of a SHIELD training sim used to prep potential agents (Ward, Skye, Fitz, Simmons) for the field under the supervision of a desk-bound field agent (May)?

Stay awhile and listen!

Warning: picture heavy. Mobile users beware.

Today the family unit took a trip to Riveaulx Abbey. I saw it mentioned on Twitter a while back and realised it was fairly close to where we live, so we decided to go. It was such a nice day for it, as well, it seemed a shame to spend the day moping and playing rock, paper, scissors over who has to do the chores.*

So, we drove up to Helmsley. Well. We drove up to Malton, got diverted by a closed road and went in a big circle but eventually we got to Helmsley. Lots of narrow roads, lots of 14% inclines – before we did anything else I had to go sit in the cafe.

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After a spot of rejuvenating tea, we made our way out to the abbey itself.

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It is massive. Even with all the drawings and plans mounted around the place, we struggled to imagine what it would have looked like when it was complete. It’s just so big! There’s an exhibition centre off to the right of the path that starts off talking about how the lives of monks were austere and spartan at first, but after a couple of centuries they just went wild. Wild for a Cistercian monk, that is.

The audio guide was good, but I was so disappointed to discover that no-one had slipped a Diablo gag into it. Not even a whiff of impeity!

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Aoife was so impressed.

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Yeah. So she’s a bit young for it just yet. I was impressed. Everything about the place just screams “epic sword fight AND/OR spooky ghost location”.

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Ghosts! Sword fights! Inexplicable inclusion of kung fu and parkour moves! Lightning!

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We even found the remains of the stairwell from the Kurgan/Ramirez fight from Highlander.

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Bonus Aoife picture!

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I thought it was unusual that the website listed the cafe as one of the high points of the giant ruined abbey, but it was. Giant pot of tea! Chutney and brown sauce made at the abbey! Local bacon and sausages! One of the staff coming out of the kitchen and taking Aoife for a walk so that we could eat in peace! Brilliant stuff.

As a special treat, Lisa bought me a notebook that I intend to use as a bible for all the random fantasy novel worldbuilding facts that I think up.

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Just look at it! Notebooooook. So exciting.

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So, yeah! Lots of fun. Next time, Castle Howard!

*spoiler: me. I do.

B-A-L-A-N-C-E…balaaaaance.

I could go on about the less fun parts of the SFF scene. At length. As per usual, people are doing their level best to prove that private forums are a special hell where opinions go to die. I’m sure someone is at this very moment railing about how insensitive and cruel it is to publish those excerpts online (while AT THE SAME TIME being of the opinion that sidling up to women and going “HI LETS FUCK” is both polite and respectful). I’m sure there’s an argument to be made, however flimsy, about context – that somehow if you read the whole damn thing from top to bottom, the mad shit these people are spouting would somehow transform itself into a glowing white column of pure logic.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to entertain either.

Anyway. FUN THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING.

First up, my UNSTOPPABLE POWERHOUSE* of an agent Juliet Mushens is judging the Bath Novel Award. There are rules and stuff, so you should probably hit up that site if you are interested in taking part.

Second, con friend and fellow fantasy author Laurel Sills has started building up to the launch of Holdfast magazine. It has an aces logo and the call for submissions looks like it could attract some excellent stories.

Third, The Rule 32 Cafe have got their Indiegogo campaign up and running. I’ve met Su a couple of times and have been following their efforts to make a unique and fun geek-centric venue come to pass. The location looks like it has a lot of potential so here’s hoping they raise enough to convert it!

Anyway! Have a nice week! You deserve it!

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*Not an exaggeration. She does not sleep. She eats four times an hour to maintain the inferno that powers her million-word-a-minute reading speed. Contrary to popular belief she does not wear leopard print. The print design is caused by localised ripples in space-time warping as her phone tries to KEEP UP.

Iron Man 3, or Guy Pearce Just Needs A Hug.

So, before we get cracking I’ll direct you now to Robert Berg’s review of Iron Man 3 which is a) great, b) touches on most of the points I wanted to cover (essentially making most of what I was going to write redundant), and c) isn’t technically spoiler free but is sufficiently subtle about it that you’d have to be wound up really tight to feel as if it spoils the movie for you.

I, dear reader, suck at dancing around spoilers so I’ll just put the tl;dr version here. Go see Iron Man 3. It is mostly excellent. Enjoyable and in some respects (but not others) sufficiently challenging to rise above the base level of popcorn-munching explosion porn that is the de facto standard (*cough* Michael Bay *cough*). A lot of effort has gone into it, and there are a lot of lovely little moments for the keen-eyed that you can list to your other half on the way to the car.

I repeat: spoiler alert.

So. Iron Man 3. It gets a lot of things right, and first among them is Tony Stark. What could easily have been a one-note character (he is snarky and rich, lol!) is written and performed with depth and nuance. Underneath the layers of acerbic, exasperated curtness, Tony is all heart, and it is a credit to the film and RDJ that this is shown not as an epiphany, but as something that shows through the cracks all the way through.

And those cracks aren’t just in his armour. There’s a reason Tony leaves himself out of the roll call when he faces Loki in the Avengers, and it’s not simple cinematic bravado. He feels small – he feels weak – and at the beginning of Iron Man 3 he’s not trying to come to terms with this: he’s trying to beat it. The armour is up to Mark 42 (and there are some great cameos by other variants during the film) but even more than that he is training. Stark has never been out of shape but he’s visibly broader, more muscular, and we see him both working out, but also feinting attacks at a Wing Chun dummy. Tony’s first response to his imagined inadequacy is to defeat it, and the effort is destroying him.

Needless to say, things get worse before they get better, but throughout it Tony doesn’t really change – it’s more that he remembers there is value in the qualities he has. Eternally crushed by the shadow of his own doubt, Iron Man 3 is about how he learns to come out from under all that weight.

Where the movie falters, though, is in the challenge he faces.

There’s a bit in Night at the Museum 2 where Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) meets Darth Vader:

This is how I feel about the antagonists in Iron Man 3. They’re just too busy, and by the end of the movie you’re left wondering what the hell they actually ever wanted. There are four or five really great villain concepts in there, but rather than just pick one and really going for it, they have them ALL and it starts to feel like a bit of a mess. The Extremis treatment starts off quite scary – the idea of a literally unkillable soldier (but they are really, really hard to make and keep stable – although there are other applications for the failures) is terrifying, but then it gets ruined by that not being enough.

Unkillable with impossible strength and agility? Okay. Right. Even more than simply being unstoppable, the Extremis soldier is one-on-one capable of immediately overcoming any normal human foe and can fight an Iron Man suit. That’s fine.

Wait, no. There’s more. They can create human torch levels of heat. And spit fire.

Oh, and there’s a fucking army of them.

I can appreciate the desire for a big multi-player set piece, but I switched off for five minutes while the battle played out. The Extremis soldiers had stopped being scary and were just background pyrotechnics. Instead of being thrilled I sat there feeling the same kind of awkwardness I felt while watching the last episode of Sherlock – how could the conspiracy operate with so many people involved? Moriarity manipulates/bribes/threatens a LOT of people and the idea that in an age of widespread instant communication not one would give the game away beggars belief. Likewise with the AIM thinktank – how are they able to maintain such an absolute blanket of secrecy?

Given that there are several shots in the film of henchmen doubting their purpose – including one of the chief henchdude looking very uncomfortable when the time comes to attack Air Force One – I can’t help but suspect this was something that they toyed with during shooting, but it never made it out the door. In fact, there are several scenes and ideas that are left to dangle endlessly unfulfilled – most wisely, perhaps, the scene where Tony Stark buys fertiliser from a hardware store and makes a set of kitchen table bombs, clear glass jars filled with Hollywood’s favourite visual device, the binary explosive.

Anyway. Scrappy editing and baddies that become dramatically less threatening by the endgame aside, Iron Man 3 is a good movie, and worth going to see.

I think the word you’re searching for is “Space Ranger”.

So I was talking to a workmate today and she was asking a lot of questions about writing – about research and editing and so on and so forth – which prompted me to ask if she was writing anything. She wasn’t. Her twelve-year-old daughter, though…it turns out that she writes virtually non-stop, and when she’s not writing she’s reading or talking to anyone within earshot that will listen about it.

That’s the spirit, I thought.

I was kind of at a loss when she asked me if I could recommend resources or events that would be suitable for encouraging her, though. They had been to an Anthony Horowitz event and really enjoyed that, but author events in the North East tend to be notable for their scarcity. She asked if there were any workshops or groups that would be suitable, but all I could think was, at twelve? Needless to say there weren’t many things I could think of off the top of my head that would be age appropriate or successful in helping her interest along. The local theatre does a young playwright’s workshop but that was it as far as I could recall. If anyone has any suggestions, they would be gratefully received.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway. So I’ve been thinking about ways to a) up my writing tempo and b) get better at it. I’ve been sitting in a kind of limbo state tinkering with Gunslinger… since I finished editing the Fantasy novel and other than that just jotting down the odd idea as they come to me I’m not doing that much else. I’ve been reading where I can, but it feels like I’m not pushing myself forward. I need to do more things, and challenging things at that if I want to improve.

On the news front, I’ve got a story coming out soon in Dark Fiction Magazine, and another in Fox Spirit’s Tales of Eve anthology. I’ve been thinking of doing some more short fiction and my notebook is slowly filling with scribbles as I toss ideas around. I’m still toying with the idea of trying to hunt out a local writing group, if only to keep myself from spamming my Twitter friends every time I have a neurotic outburst, but it’s still the case of finding one. I would have liked to have kept up with the York Nanowrimo group, but it clashes with my other half’s knitting group and it’s a bit of a trek.

So, um, yeah. Things. Stuff. Less procrastination required. More words. Better words.

But first, tea.