EU Reveal Negotiating Stance

Attitudes are beginning to harden as the EU lets slip its negotiating stance in Outrage as Spain given effective Veto on future of Gibraltar.


A fisherman holds a Spanish flag during a protest in the bay of Algeciras, near the Rock of Gibraltar

Credit: Daily Telegraph 31/03/17

In the spirit of openness I’m gonna put all my cards on the table and I have a number of demands:

 I demand the return of Aquitaine and Calais.
 On second thoughts they can keep Calais.

That’s cleared the air so here’s my predictions:Next week the EU plans to give Brussels a veto on the internet on the grounds that the internet is international, the EU is international: the matter speaks for itself.

In other developments, it (the EU) is still debating whether to take back those parts of London settled by French emigrées. Residents of Little France, as it’s known, are brushing up on their German, just in case.

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Women Writers of SF and Fantasy

At the very outset,  in the Guardian makes the case for Mary Shelley and Margaret Atwood to be considered Science Fiction writers in  Dystopian dreams: how feminist science fiction predicted the future.

Would Mary Shelley have recognised Science Fiction? Some in the genre (eg Aldiss) have made the case for appropriating her Frankenstein. Margaret Atwood has made clear she doesn’t consider herself a Science Fiction writer; she’s appropriated some of the garb, that’s all. Obsessions with sex plus nihilism and added miserablism really are tedious fare. Doris Lessing made a far better job of appropriation but then her Canopus in Argos had added Sufi influence.
For a long time there weren’t enough women writing in the genre. My collection includes a good deal by Andre Norton —not a feminist, for baggage she brought her American Indian heritage to bear; and CJ Cherryh —also not a feminist, she just did loads of good SF. Both were prolific and covered the genre from different angles.

I’ve collected everything I can by Ursula Le Guin and still have a high regard for her creations. Elements of Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni cycle prefigure Game of Thrones (just don’t go looking for gratuitous sex & violence). There’s too little by Zenna Henderson (sadly overlooked). Perhaps Joanna Russ had a lot to say but I found her shouty.

Going back a little, Leigh Brackett struck me as a slightly superior Edgar Rice Burroughs. The problem with ERB was he reworked old material (if he’s the original formulaic fiction writer, he’s got a lot to answer for). My Leigh Brackett collection is mostly Ace books from the 60s. It includes
The Secret of Sinharat / People of the Talisman (an Ace double)
The Planet Savers / The Sword of Aldones (another Ace double)
The Sword of Rhiannon
The Coming of the Terrans
The Big Jump
The Ginger Star

I enjoyed Evangeline Walton’s reworking of the Mabingonion (The Children of Llyr, The Island of the Mighty, The Song of Rhiannon, Prince of Annwn). There’s a tendency for publishers to typecast their authors which is a real shame. New Wave Science Fiction should have sorted that out but it seems the accountants have taken control (I’m an accountant and mostly what I see is writers treated like machines – but that’s a different tale).

That’s missing out many others including Jane Gaskell, Marion Campbell (I was mesmerised by her Dark Twin) James Tiptree Jr, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Louise Cooper, Leigh Eddings (who cowrote with David Eddings), Mary Gentle (savage and bleak), Tanith Lee. Anne McCaffrey…

Feminism has a point but it isn’t all. Science Fiction is 🙂

Might scan some paperback covers later and doll this post up (I can hear the abuse already).


Writing isn’t just about the final form, or offering a well machined product that delivers precise dollops of enjoyment; it’s also about exploration and change. Agitprop (or agitpop 🙂 ) can suffer from the energy of the participants which makes it hard to see the art.

Rarely, some sublimate themselves and their work to the up and coming authors. Andre Norton achieved this by abandoning her space creations to develop Witch World, a series that ran to many books. In Tales of the Witch World, authors such as Robert Bloch, Elizabeth Scarborough, A. C. Crispin, Ardath Mayhar, and Robert E. Vardeman (from vol. 1) contributed to the world. Andre Norton was never highly regarded by the critics which pushes her contribution — an American Indian world view, a reflection of her heritage — under the radar.



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British Fantasy Society: 2nd 2017 York Pubmeet

The New York Club WMC, 11th March 2017

To kick things off Continue reading

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Exoplanets – Trappist – 1

The recent exoplanet announcement for Trappist 1 has received decent press. The Guardian reports Exoplanet discovery: seven Earth-sized planets found orbiting nearby star and in The Daily Telegraph, Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal heralds this discovery with These new worlds are just the start. There are many more life-supporting planets out there waiting to be discovered. In brief […]

Continue reading

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Cordwainer Smith

Just looking back at Cordwainer Smith’s Instrumentality Continue reading

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Have Spreadsheet, Will Dabble

It was Robert Heinlein Continue reading

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Net migration to UK falls by 49,000 after Brexit vote

Net migration to UK falls by 49,000 after Brexit vote

Or expressed another way net migration into the UK was 329,000. That is a net 165,000 from the EU and a net 164,000 from non EU nations. Simple maths gives you the total figure of 329,000. The Guardian’s headline figure of £49,000 me of misleading price drop announcements at the supermarket. Harsh words until you consider the actual figures never in the article. When the media make their pronouncements about fake news, all they need to do is examine their own headlines and compare them to the facts.

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Unpayable debts and an existential EU financial crisis – Is the break-up of the euro now inevitable?

Unpayable debts and an existential EU financial crisis – Is the break-up of the euro now inevitable?

The Break-Up issues are real. Not Holly convinced by the impact on city of London activity. To put it another way, when markets unload there have to be brokers. That means winners as well as losers. At the moment the EU is a confidence trick waiting to be exposed. While there is political buy in, vested franco-german interests will stop it going down… but the bill will get bigger. The childish attitude of “let’s punish Brexit” will be a magnet for tit for tat Gloom and Doom scenarios. Except in this case the Gloom and Doom is a real risk.

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Story Structure

The following emerged in discussions about story structure at one of Writing Workshops run by Bunbury Press*. The starting point was linear plots, looping plots and fractured story-lines…

Reading a novel has some differences from writing it as I discovered some years back. It helps to have a healthy repertoire of plotlines in mind when you begin. Writing is great; stitching it together sucks your brain of energy unless you have a plan. Most fiction has a number of taken for granteds – the reader is expected to know this or that so put assumptions and shortcuts on the creative menu… in turn this provides a comfort zone to critical analysis… many works are similar.

SF (& Fantasy) requires world building and even universe building which often end up as information dumps: there because they’re necessary, but more like an appendix than narrative. This is a special problem, the extent of which is governed by the range of ‘what-if’ assumptions. Embedding information dumps is a challenge. Techniques to deal with this tend to affect plot structure so not unnaturally, SF began to borrow ideas from conventional fiction. This became more pronounced with New Wave Science Fiction: consider the harbingers of change: Michael Moorcock and Harlan Ellison.

In my case I work up a cosmology** and then choose which bits would look interesting and find ways to bring then to the notice of the main characters.

Does the authorial process of creation map directly to an analytical structure? i.e. is the world made the way we see it? There’s no right answer but considerations such as this took me away from the safe but sterile me-too offerings of ‘Roll up, roll up and ride from A to B, just like your last one thousand rides’. It isn’t necessary to tread just one path for a harmonious whole.

eg: ** Pre-contact protocol, how technology transfer is controlled, when those out there are permitted to prey on newcomers to space, what was before big bang, what lives in the blackness between the spiral arms…

* Bunbury Press hold their workshops at the Two Tubs (the oldest pub) in Bury, Lancs. It’s just by the parish church. For those with an interest, their next programme will look at Scriptwriting.

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Francois Fillon and British wife Penelope expected to face legal proceedings this week over payments, reports say

OFrancois Fillon and British wife Penelope expected to face legal proceedings this week over payments, reports say

Such practices were legal and widespread.

Let’s just stick to widespread

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