Cloud city of Bespin, from Stars Wars. Credit and copyright: Ralph McQuarrie

Was there life on Venus…?

In Edgar Rice Burroughs science-fantasy novel Pirates of Venus, the hero crash lands on Venus (Amtor) when his rocket ship is thrown off course. He discovers a verdant world of  giant vegetation and unmapped oceans, wreathed in thick clouds and – of course – populated by monsters and princesses

39892677 - shuttle taking off

Belated thoughts on the Hugo Awards 2016

The 2016 Hugo Awards for science fiction had their ceremony on 20th August. Last year I closely followed the awards, after reading news stories alleging that US conservatives were trying to keep women authors out of SF. This year I didn’t vote, but posted the video below on


Celebrating the National Dog Days of Summer – Links: 27/08

Big news this week: An Earth-like planet was spotted in our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, raising hopes of glowing aliens. Sci-fi author Stephen Baxter speculated on the prospect on life. See also: the BBC with five (well, four) reasons to get excited about the find,

Chattanooga artist James Ward gave me this wonderful picture as a gift, as it was my first time in Tennessee. Find out more about James here:

How to pitch your novel to Baen Books (maybe)

Earlier this summer I pitched my (unfinished) novel to Baen Books‘ Contributing Editor Gray Rinehart at a face-to-face critique session at LibertyCon, a three-day sci-fi and fantasy literature convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Unusually for a modern publisher, Baen takes unsolicited manuscripts. Gray is the Slushmaster General – a job,


Free fiction friday: Reinterpreting an award-winning story for fun and (no) profit

The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere won a Hugo Award for short science fiction & fantasy in 2014. The story is about Matt “coming out” to his traditional Chinese parents in a world where water falls on you when you lie. I loved the


Detecting a Death Star and other gravitational wave ideas

If you follow the news, you’ll know that last Thursday (11/02) scientists detected for the first time gravitational waves –  tremors in the fabric of space and time. The discovery confirmed the theories of Albert Einstein, who predicted their existence 100 years ago. If you’re a science fiction writer,


Yes, he is scary…

And I’m very proud of him… He’s my first major model painting project. He’s a Tyranid Tyrannofex, a massive biomechanical war engine from the Warhammer 40K universe. The Tyrannofex has the armour and fortitude of a living battle fortress and its bio-weaponry eclipses that of its foes’ most


Spoiler-free (and spoilered) thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens… with added conspiracy theories…

The short unspoilered version: The good news: This is a good film. Not as good as the original films, but infinitely better than the prequels. You can safely wipe the horror of them from your memory. Call this Episode IV of the series and get on with


[Review] The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill by Kelly Robson

Jessica slumped against the inside of the truck door. The girl behind the wheel […] kept stealing glances at her. Jessica ignored them, just like she tried to ignore the itchy pull and tug deep inside her, under her belly button, where the aliens were trying


[Review] Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang

Folding Beijing, a novelette published in Uncanny Magazine, depicts a fantastical future Beijing where the skyscrapers fold and unfold  like origami in a forty-eight-hour cycle. Each time the city folds, a new space is revealed, and its inhabitants begin their day. Five million enjoy the use of twenty-four hours and seventy-five