Brian Ruckley's News & Views

Monday, February 26, 2007

Gazetteering Again

As if by magic (by webguy, actually, but as we know, any sufficiently advanced piece of technology is indistinguishable from magic, and the webguy's a pretty damn advanced piece of technology), new stuff has appeared on the Gazetteer page: some notes on the Masterless Men of the Godless World.

A couple of additions to the Links page, as well: Pat's Fantasy Hotlist, for reviews, interviews and free books. The Genre Files, a blog from a chap with multiple involvements in the UK sf/f scene (including being the very webguy mentioned above).

And just because I like the photo: that's a hell of a lot of calamari.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bits, Pieces and Links

A few things that have been keeping me amused recently:

A webcomic aimed at a pretty specific audience: My Elves Are Different. Possibly incomprehensible if you don't spend unhealthy amounts of time paddling about in the virtual pond of sf and fantasy blogs, websites and discussion boards. Funny, if you do.

I finally got around to reading City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff Vandermeer. It's good stuff, a bit like someone put China Mieville, Alasdair Gray, M John Harrison and Mervyn Peake in a blender and asked the resulting soup to write a book. If that sounds like your kind of thing, give it a try.

I've always thought there's a shortage of films about Vikings and Native Americans fighting each other. Seriously, I have, ever since I was a child and found out they'd met each other. Come to think of it, maybe that's part of the reason why the humans and Kyrinin carry on the way they do in Winterbirth: the author giving his childhood self something he always wanted to see? Anyway, a new movie on that very subject is about to appear. I've no idea whether it's any good or not, but the trailer provides a few moments of entertainment and a belated dose of childhood wish fulfilment.

And last, but not least, the first great fantasy written in the (Old) English language. I've been listening to Beowulf on CD, and it's great. Ancient, in its bones, but potent and atmospheric. Never mind your modern heroic fantasy, this is the unrefined, undiluted, unpolluted original. It was always meant to be heard, rather than read, so audio's its natural habitat. There's a film in the offing too (a motion capture effort, rather than live action). I know it doesn't do to get one's hopes up, but hell: Neil Gaiman's got a writing credit and Ray Winstone's playing Beowulf. How bad can it be?

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Podcasts

I'm a pretty recent convert to the joys of the podcast, and still only listen to them now and again (that's the problem with working from home: drastically reduced reading/listening time. That and the unsolicited phone calls trying to sell me new windows. I already have windows, they came with the house, why would some stranger calling me up suddenly convince me I need new ones? I mean ... oh, never mind. ) Anyway, back to podcasts: I'm pretty much convinced they're a damn fine invention. Here's a few I keep an eye/ear on:

Mark Kermode's Film Reviews. The best film reviews you can get on your PC. Or radio, for that matter, if you're more traditionally inclined.

The Bat Segundo Show. Possibly the best known author interview podcast on the Web? Don't know, but it's a good one. Wide-ranging discussions with loads of authors, mostly US. I've never heard of quite a few of them, but still enjoy most of the interviews.

Starship Sofa. Two Geordie blokes get together and talk about famous sf authors. The entertaining digressions are half the fun, but these guys obviously put some effort into researching their subjects. Almost always a funny and interesting listen.

Agony Column. Loads of sf/f stuff - mostly author interviews.

Nature Stories. A US documentary podcast about people, wilderness and wildlife. This is probably the one I listen to most regularly, mainly because its episodes are very short (just like my attention span, perhaps?). The best of them transport you, for a few minutes, to another place.

Naked Scientists. I suspect they're not actually naked, but these scientists nevertheless do a pretty good show, covering all kinds of topics. I, for one, never knew there were bacteria living off radiation at the bottom of South African gold mines ... and though it might be totally useless knowledge, my life is strangely enriched by knowing it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Real Castle Kolglas

I mentioned weather, a couple of posts back, as an example of how the real world shows up in my books. Just thought I might as well come clean on another shocking case of plagiarism. Castle Kolglas, as described in Winterbirth, is a real place. Sort of. It certainly started off as a real place: Castle Tioram, on the west coast of Scotland. One of my favourite ruins, now sadly threatened by terminal collapse. I tweaked it quite a bit - I added a whole town next to it, apart from anything else - but that's the place, really. Deep down.

Sadly, I can't find a good, free-to-use pic of it to insert here - or can't find one quickly enough, since I'm in a bit of a hurry - but while searching for one I found somewhere else you can go to view this splendid castle in all its glory, and get a handy biography of its stony life as a bonus, so I'll just point you there instead: the rather excellent website of the Moidart Local History Group.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Bits & Pieces

I've not actually seen a hard copy, but I believe I'm interviewed/profiled in the February issue of Writing Magazine, as part of their 'New Authors' series.

Another interview, along with a mini-review of Winterbirth, is also now online.

I came across a clever little web-thingy (well, I think it's clever, but I'm quite easily pleased). It takes a bit of figuring out, mainly because there's so many things you can tweak, but once you get the hang of it, it's an interesting way to kill a few minutes: the state of the world, visualised as a cloud of drifting, expanding, multi-coloured balloons.

And finally, I wonder if ITV is about to prove conclusively that Torchwood could and should have been a lot better?

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