Brian Ruckley's News & Views

Monday, May 26, 2008

A MeTube

There's a video of me reading from Bloodheir at the Alt.Fiction event up on YouTube. I'm not, though, going to embed it here, for two reasons:

1. Like most people, I dwell in a happy little fantasy world in which I sound and appear to everyone else exactly as I sound and appear to myself within the confines of my own skull. This pleasant illusory state of mind is directly (and cruelly) contradicted every time I hear my voice as it is heard by others, and having a permanent reminder of the glaring discrepancy staring out at me from my own blog would be just too masochistic. In this case, I choose to preserve my feeble illusions, thank you very much.

2. More importantly (as if anything could actually be more important than preserving my precious self-image!) the reading contains what might well be considered SPOILERS for not entirely insignificant plot developments in Bloodheir, so a little bit of distance is probably a good thing for those who might want to consider whether they really want to watch it. If you prefer your reading experience to be entirely unsullied by advance knowledge of what's coming up, proceed no further. You Have Been Warned.

For those undeterred by these two caveats, here's the link. You will have to excuse my not exactly masterful reading technique; first time out, and all that. If I get to repeat the exercise at some point in the future, I'll try to do a bit better. There are plenty of clips of other authors showing how it should be done elsewhere on the Orbit Books YouTube channel.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Alt.Fiction 2008: Getting There, Being There, Getting Back

If you're looking for a detailed report of the goings on at the Alt.Fiction event in Derby this last weekend, this is probably not going to be quite what you're after. But I did go to Alt.Fiction, and this is what it was like to go there, be there and come back. For me, at least.

Arriving at Edinburgh train station just as the largest hen party I've seen in years was decanting itself from a train and trying to find its way to the street. A crowd of glammed-up ladies milling about in a raucous miasma of obscenities, spangly toy cowboy hats and snatched camera phone photos.

Crossing the Tyne, in the heart of Newcastle (always my favourite bit of the ride south), beneath low cloud, in drizzle, and watching a sparrowhawk flying lazily close alongside the train, amidst all the metalwork and noise, above the grey water.

Walking into the Alt.Fiction venue, and instantly feeling both entirely at home, and vaguely like a fraud about to be exposed ...

Feeling bad, with authors flitting to and fro on all sides, about not having read nearly enough of their books. I should have read all of them. I should read every book that comes out, in every distant by-way of every speculative genre, as soon as it comes out. But I can't.

Buying copies of Interzone and The Third Alternative from the TTA Press stall, and thinking, for neither the first nor the last time: Damn, I'll be sad if this kind of magazine really does go the way of the dinsoaurs, squelched by the incoming meteor of the online revolution. They're just such pleasing objects to me, both physically, and in what they signify. (And hearing Charles Stross, at the last panel of the day, talking about the 'death spiral' of the paying magazine markets for offline sf/f short fiction, and knowing he's probably right, in the long run.)

Finding Philip Palmer to be a thoroughly companionable, knowledgeable and grounded chap. And feeling guilty all over again, because I still haven't read Debatable Space, damn it, even though it's on my list ...

On an obscure exterior wall of the venue, high up on the brickwork, where no one would see it unless they were looking for it, a tiny, plain plastic sign that said 'The Darwin Room Sign'. I stared at it, bemused, for longer than I should have.

Forty or more fancy dress rockers, at a Derby bus stop. The guys in sharp suits, plastic quiffs and stuck on sideburns. The dolls in pink puffy dresses.

A fine rant on the perfidy and lunacy of the Hollywood scriptwriting machinery, courtesy of Graham Joyce.

The limitations of Quentin Tarantino's conversational ability being revealed by Chaz Brenchley.

The role of 'maverick cocks' in genre fiction being inadvertently revealed by Michael Marshall Smith. (You had to be there).

The Lady Boys of Bangkok, or the sound of them and their audience at least, rising exuberantly from the theatre next door to contend with the wisdom of the later panelists: a vaguely fantastical backdrop to musings on fantasy. Their audience seemed fractionally more excitable than that of the authors. Can't imagine why.

Getting a lift back to the hotel (or, more to the point, to the hotel bar) from a Hobbit. Seemed appropriate.

Riding back to Edinburgh on hot wheels. Half the train had to be sacrificed at Newcastle, and its passengers relocated, for it is possible for wheels to get just too hot. Had the train been busy, perhaps tempers would have warmed up too, but it wasn't, so all was calm and good-humoured. Customer reaction to failure is context-sensitive.

Northumberland: Rabbit Heaven. Little crowds of them in what seemed like every trackside field for mile after mile, all clustered close to the railway line as if the titanic earthly vibrations of these roaring iron horses call out to and soothe some primal level of their little bunny brains.

Standing in the midst of a vast, empty field, within sight of Edinburgh: a single roe deer, watching us pass. Frozen in a patch of bright sunlight, as if locked between fascination and alarm at the sight of us.

So that was Alt.Fiction 2008 for me. It was good.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

An April Day in Derby

The programme for Alt.Fiction, the one day sf/f/h extravaganza in Derby in April has been published. It amounts to a seriously packed day of genre goodies, with so many authors crammed into a few hours and a few rooms that it makes you wonder how they find the space for anybody else. If you like your fiction speculative, it's definitely the place to be on April 26th.

Me, I'll be talking worldbuilding in the afternoon, and then I'm apparently launching a book. That'll be Bloodheir, then. Means a little reading and signing, I guess, so hopefully the printing presses are gearing up even now. What it also means is that if you're at Alt.Fiction, you might get the chance to acquire a copy of Bloodheir a whole six weeks before it turns up in the shops. Bargain. UPDATE: No, Bloodheir won't be available on the day. Too soon. Oh well.

Anyone else who wants one can also have a signed copy of Bloodheir, mind you. Transreal Fiction will take orders for signed (and optionally dated, dedicated, inscribed, whatever) hardbacks and post them off to you as soon as it's published. As far as I know, the cost is just cover price plus whatever packing and postage costs are to your part of the world.

On a wholly unrelated subject, if you've got a couple of minutes to spare, turn your sound on and go try this awareness test. It's not easy ...

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Friday, February 15, 2008

A Whole Mess of Links

Alt.Fiction is a one day spec fic jamboree in Derby on Saturday, April 26th. Sort of a mini-convention. I will be there, but fortunately so will a whole host of much more interesting and famous folk. Those who have been in previous years tell me it's a good day. If you like the look of that list of attendees, why not come along?

Here's one of the most deserved blog-to-book deals I've ever heard of: Strange Maps is to be immortalised in print. I predict a big success, especially if the publisher's got the muscle to get some offline publicity going.

Advance notice of a potentially cool addition to the podcasting world: the long-delayed PodCastle will finally be starting April. If the quality matches that of its stablemates PseudoPod and Escape Pod, it should be good.

This here is a pretty good comic. Just saying.

I mentioned Public Lending Right a few posts ago, and Lo! It is under attack. Not life-threatening attack, but erosive 'if we make lots of little cuts maybe they won't notice' kind of attack. In government terms the amounts of money involved are microscopic, but for many authors and illustrators (not me at the moment, but one day who knows?) PLR income is a big chunk of their total earnings from their creative work. If you're a UK citizen, and happen to think PLR cuts are a bad idea, there's an online petition you could sign. Only if you feel like it, obviously.

I know 2007 feels like a long time ago already, but here's Locus' summary of the sf/f books that appeared on the most Best of 2007 lists. That'll be the 'best of the best ofs' or something, then. I have read precisely one of the books mentioned, which is clearly a pathetic effort of which I should be ashamed, but hopefully it doesn't make me a bad person. The one I have read is The Terror, which is very good in all sorts of ways.

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