Editing Anthologies – A Guest Post by Joshua Palmatier

[Digital]AA_4-25x6-75 (1)I’m often asked what it’s like to edit anthologies.  What’s the process, why do I do it, etc.?  The answer to why I do it is easy:  because it’s fun!

Patricia Bray and I started editing anthologies for DAW Books almost by accident.  We were at a bar after a multi-author signing with 7 other authors and everyone got joking around about doing an anthology about a time-traveling bar where Gilgamesh was the bartender.  Everyone laughed and had another drink.  I went home and wrote up the proposal and at the next World Fantasy con, I pitched it to Techno, who pitched it to DAW the next day.  And suddenly Patricia and I were editors.  We had no experience at it, but we’d both had multiple books published, so we knew the essential process.  Within the year, we’d produced AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR.  We did one more anthology for DAW—THE MODERN FAE’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY—and then there was upheaval in the publishing world, along with the death of Martin H. Greenburg, and DAW cut their anthology line back dramatically.  I waited a few years to see if things would settle and they’d bring it back, but that didn’t happen.  And so, one summer, I got bored enough that I decided editing anthologies was just too much fun and I created my own company, Zombies Need Brains, with the intent to produce SF&F anthologies funded by Kickstarters.

[Digital]Were_4-25x6-75_Cover_w-Bleed (2) So yes, the answer to your question is I AM insane.

But really, it is fun.  I love coming up with anthology concepts, usually developed when Patricia and I are having a relaxing drink at a bar at a con with the creativity simply flowing around us.  I love inviting published authors to be anchor authors for our Kickstarters, and then hitting the “launch” button and waiting to see what becomes of putting that idea out into the world.  I love opening up the anthologies for an open call, where anyone can submit, because often some of the best stories come from those who haven’t yet been published.  Reading those submission is often time consuming, but it’s worth it, and you get to see so many interpretations of the anthology theme, twists you’d never thought of, and just downright interesting ideas.  And then there’s putting the selected stories together in an interesting order, getting cover art, designing the book, sending it to the printer, and releasing it into the wild.  Every step of that process is work.  Everyone step is stressful and often frustrating.  But in the end, seeing the anthologies on the shelf, seeing people enjoying them, is all worth it.  Since its start, Zombies Need Brains has produced two anthologies—CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK VS ALIENS (aliens invade Earth and encounter a steampunk society) and TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER (where everyday objects are somehow acting “temporally” out of order)—both funded by Kickstarters by fans.

And now Zombies Need Brains is ready to release two new anthologies, on September 15th, that I hope everyone enjoys.  The two new titles are ALIEN ARTIFACTS, about us exploring the universe and discovering objects that aliens have left behind, and WERE-, about were-creatures OTHER than werewolves.  Both of them were a blast to edit and bring to life.  Both of them are filled with stories from well-known published names in the field, along with brand new names we hope to see more from in the future.  They’ll be available in trade paperback and ebook, on the Kindle, Nook, at Kobo, and at other ebook platforms.  Right now, you can preorder copies on the Kindle (the other platforms don’t have preorder options).  But whatever format you prefer, check them out on September 15th.

SUBMERGED_FinalWe’d like to continue producing quality SF&F anthologies as well and we’re currently running a new Kickstarter to fund three new anthologies title SUBMERGED (SF&F stories set underwater), ALL HAIL OUR ROBOT CONQUERORS! (stories with robots harkening back to the 50s and 60s), and THE DEATH OF ALL THINGS (stories where Death is a character).  If you’d like to help us continue bringing brand new stories from authors you love and authors you will love in the future, swing on by the Kickstarter at tinyurl.com/RobotWaterDeath and pledge to the campaign!  We’d love to have you as a backer!

 

BenTateJoshua Palmatier is an epic fantasy writer with a PhD in mathematics.  He has had eight novels published by DAW Books, including “The Throne of Amenkor” trilogy, Shattering the Ley, and Threading the Needle.  He is currently hard at work on the third novel in the “Ley” series, Reaping the Aurora.  In addition, he’s published numerous short stories in various anthologies and has edited four SF&F themed anthologies with co-editor Patricia Bray.  He is also the founder of the small press Zombies Need Brains LLC.  Find out more about him at www.joshuapalmatier.com or on Facebook or Twitter (@bentateauthor).

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Silverwolf Cover Reveal

I’m so excited to be able to reveal the cover of my upcoming book, SILVERWOLF, second book of the Rowankind. Due on 3rd January 2017 from DAW, Silverwolf follows on from WINTERWOOD in which Ross, my cross-dressing privateer captain has to choose between the forest and the ocean, the living and the dead. The cover is (like Winterwood Cover) by Hugo nominated artist Larry Rostant. I love Larry’s work.

Silverwolf final front cover

SILVERWOLF
Ross and Corwen’s happy-ever-after is short lived. Corwen’s family is in disarray, His father is ill, someone is sabotaging his sister Lily’s mill, and Freddie, his twin, has gone missing in London. Magical creatures are running wild in the English countryside, the Fae are demanding the impossible and the Mysterium is imprisoning the Rowankind.

Winterwood front cover-smallIf you missed WINTERWOOD
Ross Tremayne, widowed, cross-dressing privateer captain and unregistered witch, likes her life on the high seas, accompanied by a boatload of swashbuckling, barely-reformed pirates and the jealous ghost of her late husband. When she pays a bitter deathbed visit to her long-estranged mother she inherits a half-brother she didn’t know about, and a magical winterwood box containing task she doesn’t want. Enter Corwen. He’s handsome, sexy, clever and capable, and Ross really doesn’t like him; neither does Will’s ghost. Can he be trusted? Whose side is he on?

Buy Winterwood (N.America) / Buy Winterwood, UK

Pre-order Silverwolf: N America / Pre-order Silverwolf in the UK

More at http://www.jaceybedford.co.uk

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Thoughts on Editing

I thought I’d toss out some thoughts on the editing process – or rather my editing process because every writer has their own way of dealing with edits, and if it works, then it’s the right way. No two writers are like or follow the exact same process.

There are two phases of content/structural editing. The first is my own, done before sending the first draft of my manuscript to my editor at DAW. The second is the edit based on what my editor wants me to alter or add (more on that later).

Sheila Gilbert wins the Hugo - 2016At this stage I want to stop and tell you that a few days ago my lovely editor at DAW, Sheila E Gilbert, was awarded the Hugo award for Best Editor, Long Form. I am absolutely thrilled for her because she’s been in this business a long time and is vastly experienced and a terrific editor to have on your side. I value her input, knowing that it makes my books better, or rather, it makes me make my books better.

Where was I, oh yes, let’s start at the beginning of the edit phase. Imagine the first draft is finished. My science fiction books usually end up at around 170,000 words, my historical fantasies are closer to 130,000 words. In the past I’ve done edits that have been surgical strikes, i.e. cut, cut, cut, but now I tend to write a bit short of my expected word count because I know I’m likely to add during the editing phase. My publisher, DAW, likes long books, and it’s the fashion for science fiction and fantasy to be longer than romance or lit-fic. Once it was the established wisdom that the longer a first novel was, the less likely it was to be snapped up by a publisher, but the days of being advised to write a debut novel at a length of 80,000 words are long gone. Your book should be as long as it needs to be to carry the story.

So let’s take my historical fantasy, SILVERWOLF, the second book in my Rowankind series, as an example. It’s approximately 133,000 words, but when I finished the first draft it was 123,000 words.  I am one of those people who likes to do rolling edits. Every day I read through what I’ve written the day before, sometimes tweaking here and there, before starting the new wordcount for the day. (Note: a lot of writing advice tells you to just keep ploughing forward, never to go back, but that doesn’t work for me.)

Once the first draft is finished, editing starts with a read-through to give me an idea of the general shape of the finished book.

This first edit is a structural edit. I need to know that I have the plot elements in the right order, that the world-building is dripfed into the mix sensibly and sensitively, and that the characters are developing logically. I need to know whether the pacing works, or whether it sags in places. At this point, I ask a few beta-readers to try it for size. In the case of SILVERWOLF a couple of beta-readers said they got a bit bored between chapters 8 and 13, so the pacing was off. I agreed with them, so I condensed six longer chapters into four shorter ones, trimming out everything that didn’t move the story forward. That felt a lot tighter. I trimmed a bit in other places, too, and added a few scenes where things seemed to be rushed.

Then I gave it another read through and sent it to Sheila for her input. I know some writers resent being told what to do and what not to do by an editor, but I’m not one of them. Sheila has much more experience than me, so when she makes a suggestion I listen. She’s not prescriptive. She doesn’t tell me what to write, but she tells me where she thinks I’m weakest, and then allows me to fix it in my own way. If I’m having problems I know I can call her up to chat about it.

Different editors work in different ways. Sheila doesn’t attack a manuscript with a blue pencil (to be honest I’m not sure anyone uses blue pencil these days, though some editors send written notes) she reads it through and then phones me for a long chat, during which I have a pen and paper and scribble copious notes. I’m only going to hear this once, so I’d better make sure I get it all.

During the editorial chat for SILVERWOLF I ended up with seven closely scribbled pages of notes which (condensed version) said I should:

  • make Corwen’s mother stronger and more well-rounded
  • make Freddie more sympathetic and less of a total asshole
  • check out the genetics of how wolf shapechanging is passed on down family lines
  • work on the relationship between Corwen and Freddie
  • solidify the underlying reasons for Freddie’s problems
  • put a bit more background into the goblin way of life. What are their aspirations?
  • build up one of the antagonists (difficult because he doesn’t appear until 2/3 of the way through the book, although he’s mentioned earlier, so we know he’s a threat)
  • show a bit more of the Mysterium organisation and set-up
  • resolve what happens to Thatcher (a new character in this book)
  • work out how Lily got to be so savvy about business in an England where young ladies were supposed to sip tea and attend dances to find a suitable husband.

In addition to that there were smaller specifics such as:

  • Ross and Corwen should cotton to what’s happening sooner (at a specific point)
  • What’s a hand-gallop?
  • Why give [a specific character] his shirt back?
  • Would Dad really throw Freddie in the lake to teach him to swim?
  • How many magical creatures were released into the wild?
  • How many Kingsmen are there?

It took me roughly two months to deal with all that and the edit added, pretty much as I thought it would, about twelve/fifteen thousand words. There were some new scenes and some sections needed complete rewrites. I interrogated the characters to discover whether they were doing something because it was in character and a logical next step, or whether they were doing it for my convenience as the author, i.e. for the sake of the plot. There was one place where it was the latter, so I had to rewrite about four scenes.

preafrood I went through it several more times, a scene at a time, polishing and refining, and then polishing and refining again.

When I thought I’d finished I spellchecked it and then read it through, aloud. (This stage is important because things that my eyes miss when I’m checking on screen, my mouth catches when I try to read it out loud. If I stumble over a sentence, I need to check it again.)

Then I did a final check for deadwood phrases. These are words that – if you remove them from a sentence – do not alter the meaning. You probably have your own deadwood words. My worst offender is ‘just’ closely followed by ‘back’ and ‘up’.  Example: I’ll just go back and fill this can with water and bring it up to you. I’ll go and fill this can with water and bring it to you. Sometimes you might leave a deadwood word in place if removing it alters the rhythm of a sentence or changes the ‘mouthfeel’. When I’d cut my deadwood words I discovered that I’d trimmed 1200 words from the manuscript without altering the meaning of anything.

One more quick spellcheck and I sent it off to Sheila. With her blessing it went to a copy editor. It’s the copy editor’s job to change my British English to American, fix any clunky sentences, correct my punctuation (Americans seem to use more commas than we English are used to), and check my spelling. And that’s where the manuscript is right now.

The publisher produces an advance reader copy (or ARC) before the final galley-proof stage. Hopefully will gather some reviews by the time publication day arrives: 3rd January 2017.

In a week or two I’ll be doing the SILVERWOLF cover reveal. Watch this space.

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Gotten, Tannoy, and Trug

Another milestone.

I just hit send and emailed the manuscript for my fourth book to my editor. It’s 134,200 words long which is roughly the same size as Winterwood.

Silverwolf is scheduled for publication on Tuesday 3rd January 2017. It’s been through one editorial review (a content edit), but if my editor requires any fine-tuning I’m always happy to look at anything she might want me to change.

If this version is okay for her, the next step will be copy-editing. The copy editor changes my British English into American English, corrects punctuation, grammar and typos, and smooths out any clunkiness. I’ll be the first to admit that my British use of commas (or lack thereof) requires an American copy editor’s expert eye.

It’s also the copy editor’s job to make sure I haven’t used any anachronisms. I was very impressed with the copy editor of Winterwood, who even went as far as checking historical maps to make sure that I was using street names current in London in 1800. (I was, but it’s comforting to know my copy editor agreed.)

I know that some authors struggle against copy editors who rephrase things extensively. I’ve been lucky that copy edits (so far) have been relatively light, though if I’ve used a British word that doesn’t work for the American market there may be changes. I can understand why Americans might not get the word ‘trug’ (look it up), but I was really surprised to have the word ‘tannoy’ challenged in one of my psi-tech books. I do get to check and argue against changes if I feel very strongly, but mostly I appreciate the changes. I did, however, manage to revert my copy editor’s three ‘gottens’ in Winterwood back into something I could live with. (I appreciate the word is perfectly legitimate in US English, but not in the ‘voice’ of my English narrator.)

So while I wait for further comments from my editor, I’m going back to writing the first draft of Nimbus, my upcoming fifth novel – third in the Psi-Tech trilogy. I’ll be aiming at a first draft of approximately 150,000 words knowing that there’s every likelihood of adding another 20 – 30,000 words at the fiirst content edit stage. Empire of Dust is 171,000 words and Crossways is 173,000.

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Humour in Fantasy and SF

Joe Monti’s piece on the Tor.com website In Praise of Humour in Fantasy and Science Fiction prompted the following thoughts.

I’d love to be able to write humour. Joss Whedon is my hero for his snappy one-liners. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and even the one liners in Toy Story for which Whedon was a script doctor, are a true delight.

(Disclaimer: When humour occurs in my books, it’s accidental, though I do try to write lighter moments, of course.)

I’ll certainly try a few of the titles on Joe’s list, especially Connie Willis whom I’ve been meaning to read for some time, and John Scalzi’s Redshirts which I bought some time ago and is still in my (unread) Strategic Book Reserve. (Must try harder.) However I’m not sure Joe’s sense of humour entirely lines up with mine. I love Diana Wynne Jones, but was Dark Lord of Derkholm supposed to be funny? Oops. But that makes a point for me. Humour is entirely subjective, and can differ according to mood, geography and cultural understanding as well as personal taste. (Another disclaimer: I’m British, and not just British, but Yorkshire, where dark humour abounds.)

An author who is lauded for her plotting, characterisation and style, though not neccessarily for her humour is Lois McMaster Bujold. Her Vorkosigan books often have laugh out loud moments that have earned me odd looks from those unfortunate enough to be in close proximity. No, she doesn’t write books that fall into the comedy pigeonhole, but, damn, she can write a funny scene. For many reasons she’s very high on my list of top ten authors of all time.

Whedon quoteI love the dark humour, or should that be grimdark humour in Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy – though comedies the books are not. Humour is especially effective when offset by (or offsetting) dramatic tension. The sharp contrast acts as punctuation and gives us a breathing space.

I think that (sometimes) authors try too hard when deliberately setting out to write a funny book. I can think of a few that haven’t quite worked for me. Comedy that evolves naturally often works best, though what works for one reader doesn’t work for another, so a funny book that has a great plot and/or brilliant characters will compensate for individual taste and the mood of the moment, and work on many levels for many readers.

Discworld is a phenomenon not just because of the humour, but also because the worlbuilding, characterisation and plotting are top notch. Though even a genius like Pratchett can occasionally misfire. I’m thinking especially of The Last Continent which is a geographic ramble, episodic rather than tightly plotted, and relies too much on jokey sideswipes at Australianisms. (And you’re all going to tell me that it’s your favourite, aren’t you? Well, fair dinkum.) Whereas the finest (to my mind) Discworld book, Night Watch, is so tightly plotted the dramatic tension is palpable.Vimes accidentally travels back in time while on the trail of a desperate thug and becomes the mentor to his younger self during troubled times in Ankh Morpork. He knows when his mentor dies. Can he change things? Can he still catch his man? Will he get back to his own time before the fateful moment?  You honestly don’t know until the very end. Pratchett has killed off beloved characters before. (Mort, for example.)

Most recently I’ve read Jodi Taylor’s St Marys books starting with Just One Damn Thing After Another, a madcap take on a time-travelling historical research unit that’s fuelled by tea and good intentions. Funny? I think so. Maybe not laugh-out-loud funny, but certainly smile-while-reading funny.

So, what do you think? I’ll take suggestions for your favourite moments of humour in fantasy and science fiction. Leave me a comment.

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Silverwolf

Winterwood front cover-smallI’m in that weird space inbetween finishing a book and sending it to my editor. I’m giving myself a few days and then going to have one final read-through. My eagle-eyed friend, H., is checking it for typos because no matter how many times I check it through there will always be something I miss. I always read what I think I’ve written, not what I’ve actually  written. That’s one of the reasons that I always read it to myself out loud when I get to the ‘nearly finished’ stage, because my mouth often picks up the clunky things that my eye would miss.

So last week I did the read-aloud pass, and a couple of days ago I finished what I think is the final editing pass on SILVERWOLF, my second Rowankind book. It picks up the story of Ross (witch) and Corwen (wolf shapechanger)  in 1801, just a few months after the events in WINTERWOOD. They’re just beginning to think life might be settling down to something approaching normality when they are called to investigate two missing children in Devon – possibly eaten by a kelpie, a waterhorse. It appears that wild magic is breaking out into the mundane world and Ross thinks it’s her fault, after all, she gave stolen magic back to the rowankind, opening the door to magical occurrences that the Mysterium’s licenced witches aren’t equipped to deal with.

Magical mayhem, politics, a family crisis, the Fae, millworkers, the rowankind, business rivalry, canny goblins, the Mysterium, and yet another Walsingham all contrive to keep Ross and Corwen on the hop. Allies are the Lady of the Forests, Hartington the stag shapechanger; a respectable vicar and his family, Ross’ half-Fae brother, and a bunch of magical creatures caught in the crossfire.

The action moves from Somerset to Devon to Yorkshire and then to Georgian London. From there it’s back to the ocean with the barely reformed pirates aboard Ross’ ship, The Heart of Oak: Cap’n Hookey Garrity, Mr. Rafiq, Mr. Sharpner, Lazy Billy, Windward, and The Greek.

So I think the book is finished, but my editor – who has loads more experience than I have – may disagree. I’ve had one lot of editorial comments already, which led to some changes (all for the better, I’m sure). There may be more to come, but if so I think they are likely to be smallish changes. SILVERWOLF is nearing it’s final form. Of course, even if there are no more editorial changes in terms of content, it still has to go through copy-editing and then the galley proofs have to be checked. There will probably be a proof copy sent out for reviews some time in late autumn and the book itself comes out on Tuesday 3rd January 2017.

Corwen

I’ve already seen the  cover illustration for SILVERWOLF, but If I showed you the whole thing I’d have to shoot you. It doesn’t have any graphics on it yet, it’s just the raw photo, but here’s a small part of it as a teaser. Corwen Deverell, the Silverwolf of the title.

What do you think? Has artist Larry Rostant captured the Corwen that you imagined in WINTERWOOD?

I’m very happy with the way he’s turned out.

 

 

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Science for Fiction Writers 2016

Imperial CollegeLast week I attended Science for Fiction Writers, an event organised by Dave Clements (or that should be Dr David Clements), a senior lecturer in astrophysics at Imperial College, London and also a writer of science fiction. Science for Fiction Writers has become an annual event at Imperial. It’s an intensive one-and-a-half days of lectures from scientists who are top in their field. Dave, who blogs here at Disturbing the Universe is well connected in the science world, and each year tempts unsuspecting scientists and academics to come and talk to a bunch of writers at a level that we can (hopefully) understand.

I knew a lot of the participants. many of them are writers who’ve attended Milford, so it was particularly great to see (amongst several others) Liz Williams, Sue Oke and Kari Sperring, with whom I’ve spent many Milford weeks. I’d travelled down with writer-friend John Moran and his wife, Sara. Altogether we were a bunch of diverse people with diverse interests and qualifications. There were several people with physics degrees and, indeed, PhDs, so they were well ahead of me to start off with, but their specialities weren’t necessarily directly lining up with the subject matter for the lectures.

Apologies in advance if I’ve got any of the lecturer’s names wrong. I had a printed programme sheet but handed it back in with my feedback comments, so I’m relying on reading my own scribbled notes.

We travelled down by train from Wakefield in the morning because Tuesday was a half day, convening at 2.00. This year we kicked off with Toby Wiseman talking about General Relativity and Beyond. Amazingly I could follow most of it. Newton to Einstein; general relativity; special relativity; the bending of spacetime; time dilation—all concepts I’m familiar with but put into terms I could grasp. Snippets about black holes, event horizons, singularities and at the centre, there’s a place of infinite curvature and zero size.

Sadly the second lecture on Observing Gravitational Waves by Peter Wass was pitched over my head. He went straight into equations and kept uttering the fateful words: ‘I guess everyone’s familiar with…’ [some concept or other]. Gravitational wave something worple worple something. I did pick out some things, so I wasn’t totally lost.

Then came Nikolina Nakic’s talk on Epigenetics. I’ve never studied genetics, but there was enough here to carry me along with it and it was fascinating. There wasn’t much audience interaction to begin with. I think everyone was stunned into silence. It picked up again, however, when we got a few intelligent questions that led on to nature versus nurture and how environmental factors (such as famine) can effect genetic changes in offspring.

After that we all adjourned to the pub at the student union and thence to an Indian restaurant. A few of us overnighted in Imperial’s Southside hall of residence: very convenient and not terribly expensive (for London), but the beds are like bricks. Luckily I learned from last year’s experience and took a lightweight camping air bed with me.

Wednesday was an intensive full-day of lectures. The timetable we had was switched round so we kicked off with New Physics at the Large Hadron Collider with Dave Colling. Here, I have to say, was my least favourite of all the lectures. It was pitched so far above my head I couldn’t have reached it standing on a space elevator. I understood all the words, individually, it’s just that I mostly didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Even the difficult lectures the day before yielded some notes and interesting facts, but at the end of an hour my notes consisted of: protons, electrons, gluons, partons, leptons, hardons (sorry hadrons), Klingons, muons, fermions, bosons – DUH! The universe is left-handed. And I finished with ‘There’s a poem in this.’ But I like the idea of a left handed universe. Would an unenlightened supreme-being spend any time rapping it on its left handed knuckles to try and get it to become right-handed? Sometimes ideas for stories come out of the strangest places.

The next session was much more up my street: Networks: from Ebay to Ancient Greece, by Tim Evans. There was some fascinating stuff in here. He began with the basics and pitched it just right – networks being a series of nodes connected by edges. He went on to talk about network models and emphasise the multi-disciplinary nature of network science: maths, physics, biology, geography, archaeology and social sciences. Physical trading networks of the Minoans are reflected in modern transport systems such as an airline map. We talked about the analysis of data sets and social networks with ‘six degrees of separation’. None of it was totally unfamiliar but it pulled a lot of ideas together.

Next we had a lecture on the Solar System with particular reference to the Atmospheres of Planets, by Ingo Mueller-Wodarg. This was riveting stuff with regard to the search for life, the identification of liquid water (surface or sub-surface). On earth methane is produced by life. There is methane (in patches) in the atmosphere of Mars. Methane can be created biologically (bacteria) or by the action of liquid water and hot rock. Methane in the atmosphere doesn’t last for more than a couple of hundred years, so something is replenishing it. Future Mars missions would be looking at methane on Mars to discover the cause. However by international treaty we can’t pollute Mars and since microbes can survive re-entry we can’t send missions to the areas where there might be life because we mustn’t pollute the area with earth bacteria. Bummer! Catch 22. Some of the moons of Saturn and Jupiter have the possibility of possible internal oceans. Enceladus, Saturn’s small, icy moon, has plumes of material escaping into the atmosphere which might be water vapour. Europa, Jupiter’s large moon, possibly has either an internal liquid ocean or a convecting ice ocean. Jupiter’s Ganymede is also likely to have an internal ocean beneath a 40 kilometre layer of ice. There has to be an internal heat source, but if all that holds true it’s possible that extremophiles could live there. Ingo’s speciality, however is the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Titan has a nitrogen/methane atmosphere much deeper than earth’s, and there are methane lakes on the surface and sub surface oceans, possibly water. We were treated to enhanced video from the Cassini/Huygens landing on Titan – absolutely breathtaking stuff.

And finally Marek Sergot talked about Artificial Intelligence, or rather he didn’t, because he doesn’t actually believe that such a thing can ever exist – though his reasons are interesting.

Sessions over, Sara, John and I departed for Kings Cross and the train back to Yorkshire.

You may wonder why someone with a non-scientific background attends an event like this. Well, it’s precisely because I am a science dunce that I want to sample the best of the best and have my horizons broadened. I’m still mulling over Dr Fay Dowker’s statement that ‘There’s no such thing as time,’ from the 2015 Science for Fiction Writers event, or recalling the lecture from one of the team who put the Philae lander on the comet. I come away from Science for Fiction Writers with interest awakened and possible avenues to follow up. I’m already looking forward to the 2017 event.

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