Monday, July 27, 2009


I'm still lagging behind a little in my podcast listening since my cheap and nasty mp3 player imploded a while back, but there's a few things out in the podosphere at the moment worth mentioning here.

First, Adventures in Scifi Publishing is back in production! Yaaay! The first post-hiatus episode features Greg van Eekhout, who having had short fiction published in all the big sf zines, narrated on Escape Pod, and nominated for a Nebula award, has just published his first novel. Norse Code - for that is what it's called - is the tale of Ragnarök happening in contemporary Los Angeles. Yep, that's right, a Viking Left Behind! A Mr van Eekhout hasn't taken it that seriously, it sounds like it could be fun. If you have three minutes to spare, check out his story Taco on Escape Pod too.

On the subject of Escape Pod: The Legend of St Ignatz. This is a nice, slightly dark, story of Catholicism spread across a universe populated not only by humanoids but insectoids, squidoids, and quite possibly super-intelligent shades of the colour blue. A universe which has birthed the Sirius Heresy, which holds that 'Homo Sapiens was too weak in body and corrupt in mind for its form to harbor the Son of God'. (Discuss.) Well worth a listen, or if you'd prefer, a read on ideomancer.

And finally, everybody's favourite Geekette Mur Lafferty is in the process of putting out Season Five of her contemporary fantasy audiobook series Heaven. I'm planning to dig in to the earlier seasons again first with a view to reviewing them all here some time. In the meantime, the whole sequence is available at

So what are you still doing here? Get clicking!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour vs Tuesday Tunes

This month the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring The Enclave by Karen Hancock, a techno-thriller about cloning and genetic engineering, which can only mean one thing: the Top Ten Genetically Modified Tunes! Tell me when this starts getting old, won't you?

10. Alice Cooper: Clones (We're All)
Not one of Ms Cooper’s better efforts, but it was either this or Same Genes by The View…
9. Blur: Gene by Gene
Blur taking a step away from their Britpop roots here, from 2003's Think Tank.
8. Phonophani: Genetic Engineering
All together now: because every tour needs at least 7 1/2 minutes quality electronica...
7. X-Ray Spex: Genetic Engineering
And, wherever possible, some proper English punk rock!
6. Catatonia: My Selfish Gene
Nice chilled tune from my favourite Welsh band.
5. The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy:
Socio-Genetic Experiment
You remember these guys from Television, the Drug of the Nation - no doubt more true now than back in '92...
4. Gene: Olympian
Britpop meets The Smiths, anybody?
3. A Flock of Seagulls: D.N.A.
This is a great piece of New Wave electro-pop. I'm gonna be listening to this stuff for a while now...
2. Ash: Clone
Seriously, turn this one all the way up to eleven!
1. Aardvark Spleen: Gonna Steal Your DNA
I'm not even going to attempt to describe this. No actually, folk-rock with humourour philosophical lyrics about covers it. Anyway, this track seemed appropriate, and beats Ash purely for the band's name.

So once you've finished your little wander through my eclectic offerings, don't forget the blog tour is actually about a book, and continues this way:
Brandon Barr Jennifer Bogart Keanan Brand Grace Bridges Canadianladybug Melissa Carswell Valerie Comer Amy Cruson CSFF Blog Tour Stacey Dale D. G. D. Davidson Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper Emmalyn Edwards April Erwin Karina Fabian Beth Goddard Todd Michael Greene Heather R. Hunt Becky Jesse Cris Jesse Julie Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Dawn King Mike Lynch Melissa Meeks Rebecca LuElla Miller Mirtika Eve Nielsen Nissa John W. Otte Steve Rice Crista Richey James Somers Speculative Faith Stephanie Rachel Starr Thomson Steve Trower Fred Warren Elizabeth Williams

Monday, July 20, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour - The Enclave

This week the CSFF Blog Tour features The Enclave by Karen Hancock. The Enclave is Karen's sixth (count 'em) novel, following the sci-fi allegory Arena, and the Legends of the Guardian-King fantasy quadrilogy.

Unfortunately (though understandably) the review copies were only available in the US, so I haven't read it yet. However, from what I have managed to glean from the posts on this tour so far and reviews elsewhere, and from the author's website, The Enclave sounds like a thriller novel with some science fiction elements thrown in.

For instance, rather than create a whole new world, the author created a world within a world like ours, having seen the Biosphere 2 project in the news. And where it could have gone really sf is with the theme of cloning, and it's effects on the human soul. There's plenty of real science happening in the field of genetics, waiting to be extrapolated and have spiritual discussion based on; not having read the book, I don't know whether this has been toned down a little so as not to scare off the CBA market, but I can't imagine it being a real hard-sf tome. Anyway, no-one wants to get bogged down in excessive info-dumps and 'As you know Bob' scenes, so I'm going to assume she got the balance right based on the fact that none of the non-sf readers on the tour (that I've read so far at least) have commented on it.

Well I think I've rambled on long enough without saying anything, all that remains is to point you in the direction of your fellow tourists this week:

Brandon Barr Jennifer Bogart Keanan Brand Grace Bridges Canadianladybug Melissa Carswell Valerie Comer Amy Cruson CSFF Blog Tour Stacey Dale D. G. D. Davidson Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper Emmalyn Edwards April Erwin Karina Fabian Beth Goddard Todd Michael Greene Heather R. Hunt Becky Jesse Cris Jesse Julie Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Dawn King Mike Lynch Melissa Meeks Rebecca LuElla Miller Mirtika Eve Nielsen Nissa John W. Otte Steve Rice Crista Richey James Somers Speculative Faith Stephanie Rachel Starr Thomson Steve Trower Fred Warren Elizabeth Williams

Friday, July 17, 2009


Right now, I'm probably somewhere on the M40, in the rain, on the way to celebrate 10 years of marriage with a weekend in London.

I don't know why I'm telling you that (except for the fact that Mrs UKSteve deserves a big well done for sticking it out), but it also means that it's been about that long since I got my first professional writing gig. That seemed to deserve a mention, especially in light of my last non-writing related post. On the plus side, it would appear that I put slightly more effort into my marriage than I did my career in journalism...

If I can dig out the original ms, I may post it up soon; it will still have topical relevance, albeit not for anyone tuning in to read about Christianity and sci-fi.

Until then though, I should be driving...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On Not Writing

Not Writing is something I have become spectacularly good at over the last few months. Pretty much since I lost heart with Project Seven, in fact. A more disciplined writer, I realise, would have just put it aside (if not actually destroyed it) and gone back to one of Projects 1-6. There are various reasons why I haven’t done just that, the main one being that I need a crash course in Time Management for Parents of Recalcitrant Three-Year-Olds, but I’ve no idea when I’d fit that in around the day job, the housework, the gardening, family time, and all the other constructive stuff that fills my time.

However, I don’t spend that much time procrastinating in a bad way; I’m more likely to hack down some rampaging brambles in the garden or clear out the recycling than spend hours on facebook. In fact, blogs, social networking, and various online forums where I should have a presence are also somewhat neglected at the moment. On the other hand, I have watched a couple of half-episodes of Knight Rider over the last few weeks, which in no way qualifies as time well spent; I haven’t even constructed a blog post about how bad it is to justify myself.

No, the problem is that I lack focus. I first need to get into a project, and then find the time to dedicate to it. Project Seven has, unfortunately, reverted to the planning stage again. I may put some more effort into that so that I can really get moving with it during NaNoWriMo. Last year’s NaNo may in fact have a salvageable plot, given sufficient editing time. And I have several short stories to either finish writing or to edit into something potentially publishable.

I seem to have talked myself out of novel writing, at least until the November frenzy hits… maybe, just maybe, with that psychological weight off my shoulders, I can get planning instead, maybe write a half-decent short story, and, who knows, maybe even blog about it…

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

What have they done to Torchwood?

Well, first, they promoted it to BBC1, which may or may not be a bad idea for a mediocre little Doctor Who spin-off that started out on digital TV a couple of years ago.

Second, they cut the series length from 13 episodes to 5, making up one big story (like they used to with Doctor Who - complete with cliffhangers!). It remains to be seen whether the story has the legs for a five-hour mini-series, but so far it's nice to have the cliffhangers back.

The they put the whole thing out on consecutive nights, because of course sci-fi fans don't go out of an evening. Interesting choice, but in these days of Sky+ boxes, largely irrelevant (provided you can avoid reading spoilers on twinternet).

And then, just to top it all off, they went and made it good. I mean, witty one-liners, fast paced action, intrigue, mad plot twists and even madder telehandler-based scenes... this isn't the Torchwood we all know and, um.. go 'meh' about, is it? Admittedly there has been some brief nudity and Ianto's wierdness about being a couple with Jack, but on the whole everybody's libido seems to have been turned down to a more sensible level. In such a world, almost anything can happen... although, I have to admit, the extent of Jack's immortality is beginning to stretch credibility somewhat.

I'm not going to go into more detail than that; there will be plenty of reviews online if you need one. All I'm saying is that on the whole, I was pleasantly surprised. If you'd written Torchwood off as a waste of valuable TV time, it might be time to give it another chance.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tuesday Tunes: Windfarm Radio

Not just tunes today, but a whole internet radio station... Windfarm Radio is an extension of the Daily Audio Bible podcast, a kind of 24 hour virtual prayer room, and opened its doors for the first time today.

I don't know how the whole prayer room thing is going to work, but I tuned in for a while earlier and in between the prayers there was a nice mix of Christian tunes (which actually seemed to be the bulk of the main feed).

What I do know is that there's a lot that's bad about the internet, and it's nice to see someone making use of the technology for God's purposes.

I dare say I shall be tuning in quite a bit over the coming days and weeks and watching how it (and the rest of the DAB's online community) develops.

Both radio station and podcast are definitely worth checking out if you can.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Phursday Photos: What I did on my holidays

Has anyone else noticed I was much better at blogging regularly when I'm not actually at home? I blame, um, what's that thing called, the thing that prevents me from being a famous novelist, but also prevents me from starving, um... work. Pesky thing. Anyway, here's some random glimpses of where I went when I wasn't working:

Warkworth Castle


Souter Lighthouse

The Angel of the North