Category Archives: science fiction

Behind the scenes – or – Why I did not write two new books during lockdown.

During lockdown I had the time/opportunity to write two novels. Did I do it? Of course not. Why not? I guess the reason is multi-layered and complex culminating in writerly inactivity. I didn’t exactly stop writing, but I ceased to … Continue reading

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Happy Endings or Not?

Do stories really have happy endings? They do if we choose to stop the tale at the point where the prince slips a golden ring on Cinderella’s finger, or where Beauty kisses the beast, or the princess kisses the frog … Continue reading

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What I’m reading (March 2022)

You absolutely can’t write science fiction and fantasy without knowing what’s being published. It’s always better not to reinvent the wheel unless you can make your wheel very different. Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education begins a new trilogy about the … Continue reading

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Viewpoint

I’m in a Facebook writers’ group for writers of all levels. Someone asked what the POV (point of view) limit was on a traditionally published debut novel. The answer, of course is: there isn’t one. Sometimes you find prescriptive pieces … Continue reading

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Do You Need an Editor?

Yes, you absolutely do need an editor, but when? There’s a thread on one of the writers’ groups on Facebook as to whether you need to pay for a professional editor before you start punting your book to agents and … Continue reading

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Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Stories

My favourite short SF story ever is ‘They’re Made out of Meat’ by Terry Bisson. It was published way back in 1991, but it hasn’t aged. It’s short, less than 800 words, but it perfectly encapsulates what a short story … Continue reading

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Books Read in 2021

With the year drawing to a close, here’s my list of books read in 2021. There are 73 in total, including re-reading a couple of my own. I’d like to give a quick shout-out to T Kingfisher/Ursula Vernon, particularly for … Continue reading

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Lois McMaster Bujold: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen – Vorkosiverse #16 – for your reading pleasure

If, like me, you are a fan of not only Lois McMaster Bujold’s writing in general, but her Vorkosigan series in particular, you probaby grabbed it on its first day of publication. I jumped the gun and shelled out for … Continue reading

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Andy Weir: The Martian – for your reading pleasure

I galloped through this book in two days, ignoring my own pressing work and letting the family sort itself out because I couldn’t put it down. I’m sure everyone has heard the plot by now: astronaut, Mark Watney, left behind … Continue reading

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Random Pics from Milford 2021 to Give You a Flavour of the Week

Can’t wait to go back there. We still have places for the writing retreat in May 2022. All places for the Milford critique week in September 2022 are booked up but we operate a waiting list system. We are now … Continue reading

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Judith Tarr: Forgotten Suns for your reading pleasure

On the deserted world of Nevermore, a family of archaeologists labours to uncover ancient mysteries despite the threat of funding cuts which will lead to the United Planets stripping the planet’s resources in a legal invasion. Nevermore presents a conundrum. … Continue reading

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The Subtle (and Unsubtle) Art of Critiquing

At the end of August I did a post about the run up to Milford. It starts next Saturday so I’m deep into reading and critiquing the 23 pieces submitted by the fifteen attendees. I’m obviously not going to comment … Continue reading

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Ian Whates: Pelquin’s Comet: The Dark Angels #1 – for your reading pleasure

Space opera, adventure, treasure hunting, a motley crew, aliens and some corporate intrigue are the building blocks that form this science fiction tale from Ian Whates. Pelquin is a free trader/ The Comet, his ship, and motley crew, bear some … Continue reading

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The run up to Milford.

I’m very busy with the day job this week. I’m a music booking agent for folk-type artists from a Canadian-Cowboy bluegrassy duo called Over the Moon, to a troupe of Zulu singers and dancers from KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, called … Continue reading

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Space Opera

I write science fiction. I’m pretty sure my sub-genre is (so far) space opera. I’m happy with that definition. I grew up reading my dad’s Lensman books and the distinctive Gollancz yellow jacketed SF which (sadly) I only have a … Continue reading

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Sorry I missed…

I missed last week’s blog post – mainly because I was engrossed in editing, so engrossed that Tuesday came and went without me really noticing what day it was. I’ve worked from home since 1980, so you’d think I’d have … Continue reading

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Ann Leckie: Ancillary Justice – For Your Reading Pleasure

Breq was a space ship, the Justice of Toren, equipped with enough power to destroy planets and enough ancillaries to invade and conquer ‘uncivilised’ worlds in Radch ‘annexations’, however now she’s just Breq, human (more or less) and alone despite … Continue reading

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Back, Just, and Other Superfluous Words

I’ve recently finished a structural edit on a YA manuscript, involving swapping some scenes around, making changes that needed to be worked through from beginning to end. In other words a proper structural edit, not a copy edit (which will … Continue reading

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Cory Doctorow – Little Brother – For your reading pleasure

This was up for a Best Novel in the Hugo awards and if I’d been eligible to vote that year I’d certainly have voted for it. Yes, it’s aimed at YA, but what the hell, it has Important things to … Continue reading

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What have I learned about writing?

Writing is a funny old business. Writers probably learn most by reading. You are what you read. Reading develops your ear for tight prose and snappy dialogue. Without even thinking about it, you learn about character and plot. The difficulty … Continue reading

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Building a Universe – Law and Order in The Psi-Tech Novels

More about the universe in which the Psi-Tech books are set. The Monitors – Galactic PolicingFormed in 2391, the Monitors are an interstellar policing force largely concerned with providing law in the space-lanes and for those newly established colonies that … Continue reading

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Building a Universe – Folding Space – The Psi-Tech Novels.

Early Space ExplorationHumans established several stations on the moon, and a joint scientific facility on Mars by 2050. At the same time commerical expeditions to mine the Kuiper Belt proved successful, and, following a twenty year scientific study, shipyards were … Continue reading

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Building a Universe – The Psi-Techs

My Psi-Tech Universe has implant-enhanced humans who have telepathy to a greater or lesser extent, combined with other psi talents. My main characters, Cara and Ben are psi-techs. Cara is a top class telepath with a side order of empathy, … Continue reading

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Building a Universe – Power Structures and Personal Stories.

When I started to write Empire of Dust I didn’t really know much about my setting. I didn’t build my universe first and then people is and dream up stories. The people came first, and along with them a predicament. … Continue reading

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Charles Stross: The Bloodline Feud – for your reading pleasure

Charles Stross: The Family Trade – Merchant Princes #1 Two books, one story. I bought them as individual books, but they are now available in the omnibus The Bloodline Feud. Damn you, Charlie Stross! I was just getting into this … Continue reading

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Looking Both Ways – 2020 and 2021

As a year, 2020 sucked bigtime. It was not fit for purpose. If I’d paid good money for it I’d want a refund. Sure, it wasn’t too bad in January and February. The weather was miserable so I mostly stayed … Continue reading

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Ann Aguirre: Grimspace – for your reading pleasure

I really liked this one. Telepathy, space travel, adventure, a damaged heroine and tormented telepathic hero. What’s not to like? Sirantha Jax carries the J-gene that enables her to jump ships across space. It’s a talent that’s likely to kill … Continue reading

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Books etc. for Christmas

2020 has not been the year it was supposed to be. (Not fit for purpose. Can I get a refund?) I didn’t get anywhere as much writing done as I could have, but I read, and re-read an awful lot. … Continue reading

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Scott Lynch: The Lies of Locke Lamora – for your reading pleasure

Thoroughly absorbing, interesting characters who are changed by events that happen to them, great backstory, twisty plot in the front-story leading to nail-biting tension. Highly recommended. Trying not to give away too many spoilers we get to see the formation … Continue reading

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The Road to Publication – a guest blog by Tony Ballantyne

Short story collections don’t sell. Everyone in publishing will tell you that. Every writer who has a few short stories under their belt loves the idea of having them collected into a slim volume.  Unfortunately, very few people are interested … Continue reading

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Liz Williams: The Snake Agent – for your reading pleasure

Any book which opens with the main protagonist swinging by his heels in Hell has got my attention from page one. This grabbed me and never let me go. Det. Insp. Chen is the cop whose responsibilities include the underworld … Continue reading

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Style Sheets

Posted on February 7, 2017 by Jacey Bedford There’s a lot of information to keep in your head if you’re writing a book. There’s even more if you’re writing a trilogy or a series. I happily wrote seven books without … Continue reading

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The Rule of Three

This post first appeared on David Tallerman’s blog. As humans we look for patterns. Three is the smallest number of elements that can form a pattern. Superstition suggests that three is the magic number, or that both bad things and … Continue reading

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Boy Wizards on the Lam. Three series beginnings – for your reading pleasure

This is the first of my new alternate Tuesday reading posts, so I thought I’d dip back in time to tell you about three books that are each the first in their own well-loved series. They all owe something to … Continue reading

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Space Opera

I write science fiction. I’m pretty sure my sub-genre is space opera. I’m happy with that definition. I grew up reading my dad’s Lensman books and the distinctive Gollancz yellow jacketed SF, however I wasn’t aware of any distinction between … Continue reading

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Book Blogs

I’ve been posting writing-related blogs every other Tuesday, and I’ll continue to do that, but from now on I’m also going to do reading-related blogs on the intermediate Tuesdays. Yes, that’s right, this blog is going weekly. I blog everything … Continue reading

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The Belgian Refugees of World War One

In 2017, when Alma Alexander asked if I’d be interested in writing a story for her refugees anthology, Children of A Different Sky, I jumped at the chance. There are so many refugee crises in the world that a writer … Continue reading

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The Geography of Words

Writing science fiction and fantasy involves worldbuilding. Sometimes we take a concept, strip it right down to basics and invent a planet where the sea is pink, the sky is upside down and the dominant life form has seven tentacles … Continue reading

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Rejectomancy

I don’t write much short fiction these days unless I get an invitation to contribute to an anthology. Mostly it’s because I’m too busy writing long fiction. My novels are published by DAW in the USA. I’ve just signed a … Continue reading

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Getting Things Done – a guest post by Gail Z. Martin

I’ll admit it. I have a reputation for getting a lot done. People ask me if I sleep, or take vacations, or have down time. And the truth is that I generally log about seven hours sleep a night, take … Continue reading

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How Long is a Piece of String?

Chopping and Changing – Revisions, Cuts and Additions. How long should your story or novel be? A piece (story, novel or poem) should be as long as it needs to be – but that’s not always as long as you, … Continue reading

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Crew Dragon Launch – 30th May 2020

I watched the SpaceX terminated launch last Wednesday 27th May, and then again the actual launch on Saturday 30th – immediately followed by watching Apollo 11, the documentary using newly unearthed film footage and audio recordings. Apollo 11 was the … Continue reading

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A Moment of Stuckness

Anyone who knows me will testify that I’m not usually stuck for words. It’s not that I don’t believe in writer’s block (obviously it is a thing) it’s that I’ve rarely experienced it. However, recently I had a period where … Continue reading

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How I Got Here From There

First published on Gillian Polack’s blog in March 2020 for Women’s History Month It took me a long time to get here, possibly too long. If I’d known then, what I know now, it might not have taken so long… … Continue reading

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The New Normal

To meet or not to meet – that is the question. I’m a big advocate of critique groups. I’ve been attending the Milford Writers’ Conference since 1998 with enough regularity that eventually I’ve ended up being the secretary. Milford is … Continue reading

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Fiction Must Make More Sense Than Real Life

Fiction must make more sense than real life. I think we all know that real life isn’t making much sense at the moment. If we wrote about a global pandemic in which presidential staff held hands and prayed that it … Continue reading

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House Arrest

Due to Covid 19 we’ve pulled up the drawbridge and dug a shark infested moat around Bedford Towers. No, we’re not sick, but I’m diabetic and my other half has suddenly become classified as elderly. How scary is that? Our … Continue reading

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An interview first published in SF Signal

I like doing interviews, especially when the questions are both thoughtful and taxing. Carl Slaughter presented me with an intriguing set of questions way back in 2016. I thought I’d revisit them. CS: Your first series is cyberpunk space opera. … Continue reading

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Reading Writing and Rewriting

I was a voracious reader as a child, working my way steadily through the stock of my local public library children’s department. My literature of choice was anything with horses or ponies in it. Some of the books in my … Continue reading

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Useful book cover tool online

I posted this to the Milford blog this week, but I’m so taken with it, I thought I’d post it here, too. Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published there’s a good chance that you’ll need to shout out about your … Continue reading

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