Tag Archives: science fiction

My Week In Writing (11/02/18)

bridgeA short update this week as it’s very late in the evening  – but I have big news!

My short story 3.8 Missions is going to be featured in Best of British Science Fiction 2017, an anthology from NewCon Press. The anthology will launch over Easter weekend. I’m very excited, to say the least!

Spurred on by my success, I’ve submitted some more short stories, including an entry for the BBC National Short Story Award 2018. Watch that space, just… not very closely.

In other news, The Green and the Gathering Tide has crept up to a tidy 197k so I anticipate hitting 200k (whoops!) next week. And I have finished The Lightning Pit, which was one of those short stories that more or less wrote itself. Looking forward to getting some feedback on it.

And I went to Inky Fingers at Lighthouse Books, which was a delight as always.

Next week, I’m hoping to finish my edit on The Summer Masque and finally make a start on a query letter (gulp). I’m also hoping to make it to The Wikipedia Slam at the Scottish Poetry Library. But mainly I plan to keep plugging away at my various novels.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under novel, writing

Shoreline of Infinity 8 1/2

Shoreline-Issue-8-5-front-cover

Last week, I finally got to read Shoreline of Infinity 8 1/2, the Edinburgh Book Festival Special Edition. Strictly speaking, I could have read it as soon as it came out – I had a digital contributor copy, but I like reading physical books.

It’s a great little collection, and I’m immensely proud to be a part of it, alongside some really great authors. (I hold out that my story isn’t nearly good enough, but people seem to disagree!)

There’s a selection of stories from early issues of Shoreline of Infinity including The Great Golden Fish by Dee Raspin, The Stilt-Men of the Lunar Swamps by Andrew J. Wilson, and, of course, 3.8 Missions by yours truly. Most of the returning stories were ones I remembered, in some cases vividly, and I can recommend all of them.

And then (for me, the really exciting part) there’s an assortment of new stories, contributed by SF authors reading at the book festival. They’re a diverse mix, but Shoreline of Infinity has always been a diverse magazine:

Edinburgh Masks by Adam RobertsI stumbled on Adam Roberts a few years ago, and have something of a love-hate relationship with his work. His books are strange, often frustrating reads, and yet whenever I find one in a bookshop I invariably buy it because the premise is just so… enticing.

He’s also one of the most versatile authors I’ve encountered, so I’m not surprised that I was surprised by Edinburgh Masks. It’s a new spin on some classic, Victorian themes, not at all the sort of thing you’d expect to find in a sci-fi collection. But Shoreline of Infinity being what it is, it fits in well here.

Lowland Clearances by Pippa Goldschmidt: a very strange, very short little story, and for me one of the highlights of the collection. It’s set in an unspecified point in the future that, while very strange, feels very close to home, almost contemporary. Is it optimistic or just unsettling? I’m not sure, but I can’t help recommending it.

The Honey Trap by Ruth EJ Booth: I’ve been reading Ruth EJ Booth’s Noise and Sparks column in Shoreline with interest, so I was even more interested to read her fiction. Unfortunately, it turned out to be not my cup of tea… for very specific and very personal reasons which I won’t go into.

It’s a great pity, because otherwise I really enjoyed The Honey Trap. It’s one of those SF stories that offers full immersion, throwing you into its world and letting you learn the rules as you go. If you’re, well, not me, you’ll probably love it.

Whimper by Nalo Hopkinson: I hadn’t come across Nalo Hopkinson before hearing her perform at Event Horizon and the more of her work I read(/listen to) the more convinced I am that I’ve been missing out. (In fact, I’m going to go and look up her books right now and stick some on my Goodreads list).

Absolutely the strangest story in the collection and, in my opinion, the best. Another story that throws you into its world and leaves you dizzy. I love it, I won’t spoil it, and I look forward to re-reading it.

New Gray Ring to Join the Olympic Five by Ada Palmer: Finally, a short essay-style piece. It’s written in the style of a newspaper article reporting the titular change to the Olympic rings. Does the gray ring represent Anarctica or the Moon? Seemingly neither.

I generally like this style of fiction, but although well-crafted this one left me a bit cold. I’m going to chalk it up to my not really caring about the Olympics!

The collection also features non-fiction by Ken MacLeod, Charles Stross and Shoreline editor Iain Maloney, excerpts from the ongoing Beachcomber comic and SF Caledonia series and a selection of poems including work by Iain M Banks and Jane Yolen.

You can buy it right over here, in ebook and print formats, starting at £3.50. I’d really recommend checking it out, and not just because I’m in it. If you’re new to Shoreline this is a great place to jump in, and if you’ve read it before, you’re sure to love it.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, writing

Shoreline of Infinity – spring ’17

Shoreline-Issue-7-Cover-1000wThis month marks the seventh of what’ll hopefully be a very long run of Shoreline of Infinity, Scotland’s finest (and only) science fiction magazine. And it’s an especially exciting issue, because I’m in it – twice!

I really love Shoreline, and not just because they bought my work. I’ve been going to their monthly open mic nights (now at Banshee Labyrinth – second Wednesday of the month) since last summer and I own all seven issues in print format. I’d subscribe, but I like the experience of picking them up in person!

Unlike a lot of magazines, they have a somewhat loose and open-minded definition of sci-fi, publishing stories all over what one might call the SF spectrum, generally with a focus on character drama and emotion rather than science, which I really appreciate.

They also publish an ongoing comic about the history of science fiction, called The Beachcomber, and a great column on Scottish sci-fi history entitled SF Caledonia which is always a fascinating read, plus interviews and a selection of book reviews.

Issue 7 features one of my short stories, plus my review of The Girl with Two Souls by Stephen Palmer.

It’s more than just a fiction magazine – it really is a magazine for the Scottish sci-fi fan community, and I can’t recommend it enough!

This quarter’s line-up:

The Walls of Tithonium Chasma by Tim Major – a bleak and rather cold story set on Mars, in a future harking back to classic sci-fi.

An Infinite Number of Me by Dan Grace – one of the more abstract, less conventional offerings, this one’s the kind of story that could be taken as a metaphor, up until the final lines.

Brother’s Keeper by Shannon Connor Winward – I’d call this a character drama with a side of SF, rather than SF with character drama. Despite the time travel involved, it feels very real, very down-to-earth.

Message in a Bottle by Davyne DeSye – I confess, I’m not sure what to make of this one. A short and strange piece, perhaps more of a prose poem than a short story, I look forward to re-reading it.

Anyone Can Ask About Enhancement by Terry Jackman – a chilling and perhaps darkly comic tale set in a Brave New World-esque future.

3.8 Missions by Katie Gray – here’s my story! I shan’t toot my own horn, but it involves mostly cyborgs.

Quantum Flush by Daniel Soule – a very silly and very funny time travel story, if a little heavy on potty humour for my taste.

Something Fishy by David L Clements – a strange and unpredictable story about a singing fish on an alien world.

This issue’s Beachcomber is short and irrevent history of Martians, from Edgar Rice Burroughs to Marvin, and it’s probably my favourite entry in the series to date. SF Caledonia covers 19th century novel That Very Mab by May Kendall and Andrew Lang, a fascinating and hard to classify book about Mab the fairy queen returning to Britain after a long sojourn in Samoa.

Issue 7 is dedicated to author and poetry Jane Yolen and features an extended interview followed by a selection of her sci-fi poetry (with an introduction by poetry editor Russell Jones). Finally, there’s Ruth EJ Booth’s regular column Noise and Sparks, which discuses Mervyn Peake and the importance of the arts in these interesting times.

It’s a really great and well-rounded magazine. You can pick up a digital copy through the Shoreline of Infinity website for £2.60 or a hard copy for £5.25, and you can also buy copies at their monthly Event Horizon sci-fi open mic for £5. Check it out, and read my story while you’re at it!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under books

My Week In Writing (2/4/17)

settlementI hit 100,000 words on my sci-fi novel, so I’m feeling pretty proud of that right now – even if it’s 90% trash. Here’s a taste of what I wrote this week:

“What’s that word, indigenous?” said Saara.

“The natives,” said Doctor Yen. “The people who live here.”

“We are not indigenous,” said Saara. “We make our kesh here, but we are not native. This is not Marikesh.” They lowered the tablet. “We go through this cavern. After that there is – the symbols call it an old warren. There will be more symbols to lead to the waystation.”

“And the rangers? You can call them from there?” said Cobey.

“They might already be coming,” said Saara. “They might have – seen.”

“You’re a native,” said Doctor Yen, clearly not following the conversation. “But the rest of you – you’re human?”

A difficult question. A frosty silence. At length Six said, “no.”

I also started editing Summer in earnest – this should, fingers crossed, be the final draft. But first I need to make some cuts, add a new character thread, and probably re81kc5sE9pVL-organise the chapter breaks.

I finished reading Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children: Library of Souls and I also read Steven Universe: Too Cool For School, because I’m the kind of nerd that likes to watch cartoons for children. You can read my reviews of both over on my Goodreads.

I started reading Cry at Midnight by Mavis Gulliver. It’s the first in a trilogy of children’s fantasy novels set on Tiree. I got all three as a holiday gift from my mum, who thought I might be interested in the publisher – Cinnamon Press, an independent publisher based in North Wales. They’re not actually taking submissions at the moment, but they do have a novella competition that I might look into.

I finished watching Netflix’s new A Series of Unfortunate Events adaptation and have some mixed but generally positive feelings about it – more on that soon.

I went to the Edinburgh Literary Salon, which this month had speakers from the Edinburgh Society of Independent Authors and Shoreline of Infinity, Scotland’s own sci-fi magazine. I particularly enjoyed the Shoreline of Infinity talk, from editor Noel Chidwick – I really love the magazine, so it was great to learn more about how they were founded (also, they published my story – buy it here!).

Also, I made chocolate brownies for my flatmate’s birthday party, and they were delicious.

Next week, I’m going to be pressing on with my novels (should be hitting 110k soon, fingers crossed), heading along to Inky Fingers and workshopping a new (ish) short story at my writing group. It’s a very serious near-future sci-fi about abortion. It also has a super-intelligent wonder dog. It’s, um, a difficult piece to describe, and hopefully my group will enjoy it!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under books, novel, Weekly Update, writing

2013 Film Reviews: More Summer Sci-Fi

prPacific Rim

I’m just going to get this out of the way first: I am honestly shocked that so many people thought ‘G*psy Danger’ would be a good name for a giant robot. I can see something like that making it into early drafts of a script, but all the way to the cinematic cut? Truly baffled. Had I known G*psy Danger was the lead robot rather than just a throwaway detail I’d have been much more reluctant to go see Pacific Rim at all.

But that nasty little detail aside, Pacific Rim is a really excellent sci-fi film. Giant monsters begin crawling out of a dimensional rift beneath the Pacific. The governments of the world come together and decide that the best way to deal with the situation is to build giant robots and punch the problem till it goes away.

If you want to see a giant robot beat up a sea monster with an ocean liner, Pacific Rim might just be the film for you.

It’s not the most imaginative premise, but it’s lavishly detailed, from the workings of the Jaeger technology to the dog-sized mites that live on the monsters. It’s big, it’s visually stunning and all-round awesome. Probably my favourite film of the summer.

weThe World’s End

The World’s End, the final installment in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s ‘blood and ice cream trilogy’, is really two films. There’s the sci-fi bro-comedy it was marketed as – and a much darker, much bleaker science fiction film. Though really, one could say it’s three films: a bro-comedy, a sci-fi comedy, and a science fiction film. But I doubt many people watched it without knowing the reveal. (Spoilers: there’s alien robots.)

Five schoolfriends get together to complete ‘the Golden Mile’ a legendary pub crawl in their home town – only to discover that the town has been taken over by sinister alien robots. It’s a very funny film, but likes its predecessors – in particular Shaun of the Dead – it’s not without its darker and more poignant moments.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost change roles here, with Pegg playing the slacker manchild and Frost playing his straightlaced friend. Pegg’s character was played very much as a comic figure in the film’s trailers; in the film itself he is from the beginning as pathetic as he is funny and as events play out his behaviour becomes genuinely disturbing. There’s a truly shocking reveal late in the film, carefully hidden behind all the robots. It may take you by surprise.

Then there is the ending. To avoid spoilers as much as possible: there is an abrupt, bleak and shocking swerve in the final minutes of the film that will almost certainly take you offguard. It comes out of nowhere, is completely at odds with the tone of the rest of the film, and to be honest I wish it had been cut. The World’s End might have been a stronger film had it ended one scene earlier. So it goes.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under films, review