Sunday, 5 February 2012

Book Sale

Amazon have Grandma's House available for free for the next couple of days.

Monday, 30 January 2012

The Science Thieves

This has been the work of several years (mostly procrastinating), so it's something of a relief to finally make it available on Kindle. And it has a cover that I didn't make by taking a close-up photo of a wooden fence (sorry Grandma's House, your secret's out).

Anyway, assuming I've managed to do this correctly, here's the cover.

Copies are available on the various Amazon sites (I'm too lazy to put in a link to every single one, but here's the UK one) The Science Thieves on Amazon UK

And the US one Amazon US

Sunday, 19 June 2011


So I've turned moderation on for comments to this blog - too many spam comments. Just so you spammers know that you're wasting your time (although as all the comments seem to be in Japanese, I'm not sure that you'll understand this).

Anyway, while I was deleting them all (it's been a while since I was last using this blog, so there's been a bit of a backlog), I did come across one comment that was actually in English. Insulting, really not the sort of thing I want to read, but in English.

While I was tempted to censor it - I wouldn't have let it through if it had been referring to anyone else - I thought I'd let this one pass. It's the only one that will though - anyone else who wants to call me a moron can do it on their own blog. I have no problem with people wanting to disagree with me (although at least read what I write first before doing so (which dear Charlabrady seems to have failed to do (feel free to read and make up your own mind on that one though))) - but they can at least be polite about it.

The comment is under my post on The Road. I have to admit I did look up the user's blogger account - mainly because I wanted to check that it wasn't Cormac McCarthy's mother having a go at me for being less than effusive about her son's work. Judging by the time the account was set up, it looks as if it may have been set up purely to insult me. Maybe I should feel flattered.

First Kindle Book

So I decided to publish a book on Kindle.

Well to so much a book, it's five short stories. Not convinced it's worth the price (couldn't figure out how to get it on there for less than 70p ($0.99), but I suppose I spend about as much on a bag of crisps (potato chips (I'm in UK-US translation mode this evening (afternoon)) and I can finish those in less time than it takes to read even the shortest of the stories. So maybe it's not too much (and a lot less calories too).

A full-length novel will follow. Once I'm happy that I'm not going to completely embarrass myself by putting it out there.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Child of Fire

The front cover of Harry Connolly's Child of Fire has a recommendation by Jim Butcher and superficially it does read a bit like Butcher's Dresden files crossed with a Dean Koontz small town (not weird enough for one of Stephen King's Maine townships) and with a bit of F Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack thrown in for good measure.

I'd say describing that way perhaps does it a disservice, but I'd consider that a pretty decent mix - and rather than being a pale imitation of those writers, Connolly manages to put together a nicely crafted tale that, despite the comparisons, definitely feels like its own entity. Combining the urban fantasy genre with the small-town-America-horror genre gives Child of Fire a fairly unique flavour.

In terms of where it sits on the scale of urban fantasy, it's not up to the standards of Butcher - but I'd say there's little that is. It is better than most of the rest of the market though and considering it's a first novel, that's no mean feat. I've already recommended without reservation to one friend and have no hesitation in doing so again. I'm also looking forward to the follow-up novel and hope that we're going to get more of a glimpse into the world that's being set up in CoF as so far there's only been a fairly limited introduction to it - but what has been shown is certainly enough to peak my interest.

Definitely a series worth watching.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Exploring Story Worlds

I recently read Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (turned into a film with Brendan Frazer), which has a great hook of people who can read characters out of books and into the real world.

There's so much potential with that story - you can just imagine the possibilities: famous fictional characters, fantastic creations entering the real world, maybe the heroes even reading themselves into a book and seeing what life is like on the other side of the pages.

Unfortunately we don't get any of that. Instead the fictional characters in the story belong to a book made up specially for the novel. The novel within the novel that they're from is also called Inkheart and it's a fantasy story depicting a world where all sorts of fantastic creatures exist.

But we don't really get any of those - instead we have a juggler who's very good at playing with fire, a villain who's main goal in life is to make the people with the ability to read things into the real world to read him lots of gold and a few of his henchmen.

We do get a couple of characters from 'real' fiction who have a fantasy twinge to them. There's Tinkerbell, who doesn't have much to do at all. We have the Brave Tin Soldier from the Hans Christian Anderson, who gets to come out of a book and then be read back into it (albeit with a happier ending) - and then there's a kid from the Arabian Nights stories who seems to have been in the Ali Baba tale, but is a non-entity in terms of the story (and may have just been made up by Cornelia Funke).

At the climax of the book we do get a few more fantastical creatures, but they're very much there as an afterthought. The rest of it is filled with fairly mundane villainy.

Now there are another two stories in the trilogy, so there may be more of an exploration of this world of people who can read fiction to life, but the first in the trilogy in no way fulfills the potential for the created world. This seems to be a problem that keeps cropping up again and again in novels and films - a good idea poorly mined.

It's very easy to point to stories that manage to mine the potential of their worlds - they're usually the ones that people like a lot. The Harry Potter series of books - love them or loathe them you'd be lying if you said that they don't get stuck into the universe that Rowling has created. The world is practically dripping with magic.

Pirates of the Caribbean - opening with a ship at sea in the fog and the telling of a ghost story and then throwing pretty much every possible piratey thing at the screen rarely misses out on a trick when it delves into its story world.

Star Wars - again a universe that feels well-lived in - it's not the regular world with a few science fiction things bolted on.

Steven Gould's Jumper novel (NOT the film). This is the regular world, so no cramming every corner with some weird and wonderful thing, but he takes the initial concept of a teenager who can teleport and runs with it, fully exploring the idea and what it means.

Those four examples were stories that I thoroughly enjoyed, that I've recommended to friends and that I'd happily go back for more with (and in all those cases I've gone and read or watched the sequel(s). Inkheart I'm not so sure - I was left feeling fairly unsatisfied after finishing reading it and thought I could have come up with better ideas than the author - largely because she hardly seemed to come up with any at all.

Still, it's a fairly popular novel series - so what do I know?