realthog: (Default)

Jon Gibbs foolishly interviewed me for his An Englishman in New Jersey blog, and the results are here.

It may be something from my Scots Puritan background, but I always cringe when I see the results of my being interviewed: witness this, I'm acting as if I might have anything interesting to say, the hubris of it, oh yes. Well, fingers crossed I don't in this instance come across as any more self-absorbed than usual.

Tonight's job is either to watch/write about the Polish neonoir Palimpsest (2006) or just to keel over sideways. I'm not sure which will the seem the best course after a belated supper . . .

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I discovered by accident a couple of days ago that my story "Only One Ghost", which appeared in the 2010 Peter Crowther/Nick Gevers anthology The Company He Keeps, got a jolly friendly review at the time from none other than Locus's estimable reviewer Lois Tilton. Here's what she says:

Richard suddenly finds that all his books have his own signature written in them, in faded ink that is older than he is. The discovery seriously unnerves him. His wife Lynda minimizes the situation until she sees that her books now have her own signature in them as well.

Only old dip pens and fountain pens had those bifurcated nibs. Perhaps lawyers still used them. No ordinary human beings ever did — we used rollerballs and ballpoints and gels. Pens that had not been in widespread use, if invented at all, when Lynda’s books were signed, to judge by the fading of the ink…

Here is a bit of strangeness that remains unexplained, although the narrator proposes a number of possible theories. Seemingly a small thing, yet it shakes their sense of self and threatens to undermine their relationship with each other. It is a bibliophile’s story, and a large part of the enjoyment is in going through the bookshelves, full of nineteenth-century novels, that mean so much to these characters. Very nicely done.
I was, of course, completely calm about this -- no running around the house telling the long-suffering Pam that a reviewer had spotted exactly what the story was about. Instead I was just, you know, like, cool. Discovering good reviews you never knew you had is one of the great pleasures all those dumb self-help books never mention.

Today's my birthday; it's been declared a public holiday. And I got a good review. Pope Benny, Ross Douthat and various others have made idiots of themselves. A friend said I got an early birthday present a couple of weeks ago and shared it with the rest of the American people. My Thanksgiving blessings are counted.


Nov. 12th, 2012 10:27 am
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No, no: this isn't about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Each year author Jon Gibbs organizes the Meager Puddle of Limelight Award for Best Book Title, a contest run on his Live Journal blog
An Englishman in New Jersey. The books concerned must be the competing authors' own and they must be genuine books, whether already published or being actively developed/written.

And this year the winner is . . .

The title concerned is The Intelligent Child's Guide to Bullshit. I've more or less completed the proposal for this, but have had to put it aside while sprinting toward the finish line on The People's Encyclopedia of Film Noir (or whatever the book's finally called). One slight embarrassment is that I'm in two minds about what I want to call the book: which would be better, The Intelligent Child's Guide to Bullshit or The Young Person's Guide to Bullshit? Do feel free to offer an opinion, pretty please!

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Two big international wins for Scots this month.

First there was Andy Murray's long-awaited victory at the US Open, following up on his Olympic Gold. What makes this special for me is that I have people in Murray's home town of Dunblane.

Second -- and to my embarrassment rather overshadowing Murray's achievement -- there's been my own winning of the AIR Limerick Competition.

AIR is the acronym for Annals of Improbable Research, the folks best known for organizing the famed Ig Nobel Awards; this year's Ig Nobels ceremony was held just a couple of days ago and you can read about it here.

Each month AIR runs a competition for a limerick based on a particular research paper that has caught the editors' attention. The August competition was as follows:

The traditional rivalry between fire ants and carrion flies inspires this month's limerick competition. To enter, compose an original limerick that illuminates the nature of this report:

"Exclusion of Forensically Important Flies Due to Burying Behavior by the Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) in Southeast Texas," Natalie K. Lindgren, Sibyl Bucheli, Alan Archambeault, Joan Bytheway
<>, Forensic Sciences International, vol. 204, nos 1-3, January 2011, pp. e1-3. <> The authors report:

"the remains of an adult male were partially buried at the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility at the Center for Biological Field Studies, Sam Houston State University, Texas. The individual was buried except for a small portion of the left abdominal region. A postmortem incised wound was created in the exposed area with the intention of attracting carrion flies. Worker ants of a colony of Solenopsis invicta Buren 1972 (red imported fire ant) filled in the wound with soil, thereby monopolizing the exposed area of the corpse and excluding expected carrion insects from the wound."

And in the September issue of AIR, released mere days before the Ig Nobels ceremony, the judges made their momentous announcement:
The winner is the team of INVESTIGATORS PAUL BARNETT and JOHN GRANT, who write:

Each of us, after he dies,
If buried with ample supplies
     Of soil for adhesions
     To cover his lesions,
Gets ants in his pants, but no flies.


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On Sunday January 29 (i.e., this coming Sunday) at 9am CT -- or 10am ET -- I'm being interviewed for an hour on AM950, "The Progressive Voice of Minnesota", on the show Atheists Talk about the subject of my recentish book Denying Science.

Should anyone wish to listen to this epic, it'll be streamed live online at; you have to plug in a Minnesota zipcode -- 55437, for example -- before the site will let you listen.

For some reason I myself couldn't get that to work when doing a dry run -- perhaps the site isn't Firefox-friendly, who knows? -- but a workaround seems to be to download this link ( and open it in your standard media player.

An alternative is to wait 24 hours or so and download a podcast version (which has the advantage of having had the ads stripped out). The podcast will be available from and

Right, now to go practice my jokes in front of the mirror.

Oh, wait a moment. This is radio, and I'll be doing it down the phone line.

Well, I'll practice them in front of the mirror but turn the lights out . . .

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A couple of new e-book anthologies are of some interest, at least to my relatives and those hoping to borrow money/scrounge free drinks from me.

First up is the e-book edition of Mike Allen's celebrated anthology Clockwork Phoenix, which won all sorts of accolades despite including my story "All the Little Gods We Are". The digital Clockwork Phoenix can be found (so far) at Amazon and in the Mythic Delirium/Weightless Books store.

The other just-published e-anthology to contain a story of mine is called Past Future Present 2011, is edited by Helen E. Davis (or should that be Helen e-Davis?), and is a great big bumper volume of sixteen -- count'em, sixteen! -- hitherto-unpublished stories by the likes of Keith Brooke, Vera Nazarian ([ profile] norilanabooks), Mike Allen (him again), and Catherine Mintz. My own offering, so as you know what to avoid amongst all this good stuff, is a longish novelette (~10,500 words) called "The Girl Who Was Ugly"; unusually for me, it's a piece of straightishforward SF rather than fantasy or slipstream or noir or genre spaghetti or . . .

UPDATE: UK Kindlers can download Clockwork Phoenix here and Past Future Present 2011 here.

realthog: ("no such thing")

The first five Infinity Plus Singles (novelette ebooks at 99¢ apiece, suitable for reading during your lunch break or whenever) have just been released, and my "Has Anyone Here Seen Kristie?" is among them. It has been described by Matthew Cheney of SF Site as "like a Ray Bradbury story for mature audiences" -- golly!

You can find details of all five here and the download details for just "Has Anyone Here Seen Kristie?" here (Amazon US), here (Amazon UK) and here (Smashwords).

The titles in the series are numbered. I am, naturally, paranoid that someone has decided the appropriate label for "Has Anyone Here Seen Kristie?" is #2 . . .

warm words

Sep. 22nd, 2011 10:40 am
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Keith Brooke, whose Infinity Plus Ebooks bought my Warm Words and Otherwise: A Blizzard of Book Reviews for publication (just last Monday!), has written some very kind words about the project -- and about how he went from "You must be nuts" to "What a great idea" -- on his blog, All Things Keith Brooke and Infinity Plus. So that's started my day in the way I hope it continues.

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. . . this time by Michael D. Cramer of Schwarz BioSciences for Library Journal. He seems to like the book:

Drawing examples from topics such as global warming, AIDS, evolution,
and eugenics, Grant cogently presents his case for how corporations as
well as religious and political groups can skillfully present
ostensibly scientific information that is utterly untrue or biased for
their own self-serving purposes, confusing and misleading the general
public. Of particular use to readers are the connections Grant notes
among people, news networks, and other organizations, revealing who
knows whom, with regard to each topic he covers.

His sole cavil is that "missing in this otherwise thoughtful book is a discussion about how we might improve the current situation" -- something I hadn't really thought was part of my chosen topic. But the rest of the review's so kindly that I'm not grousing too terribly much.

realthog: (leavingfortusa)
David Hebblethwaite, blogger and reviewer at Follow the Thread and elsewhere (and present on LJ as [ profile] thisplacehere), was asked by Reading Matters to contribute one of their "Triple Choice Tuesday" columns -- wherein reviewers choose three books that are, each for a different reason, of special significance to them.

To the delight of myself and John Clute, David chose, for his "a book that changed my world" offeering, none other than The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, edited back in the '90s by John Clute and myself. David has some very kind words for the book:

It’s difficult to put into words just what it felt like to read The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and be swept away by its enthusiasm and knowledge. . . . I’ve certainly found plenty in its pages that I wanted to investigate . . ., and I still have a lot of investigating to do.

Something else I particularly like about The Encyclopedia of Fantasy is that it’s not just descriptive; it has its own idea of what makes good fantasy (it should “release or even . . . catapult the reader into new areas of the imagination,” as John Grant puts it in one entry), one that doesn’t map neatly on to the published category. When I started reading it, I found that the Encyclopedia’s way of thinking chimed pretty well with my own developing taste; I also appreciated its prose style, which managed to sound knowledgeable without being stuffy. These became strong influences on the way I think and write about books, and some of that influence is still there today. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy did more to shape me as a reader than just about any book before or since, and that’s why I’ve chosen it as a book that changed my world.

His other two choices are Christopher Priest's The Prestige (in the "a favourite book" category) and Eleanor Catton's The Rehearsal (as "a book that deserves a wider audience"). What he has to say about both of them is interesting and perceptive and well worth your time.

On the subject of encyclopedias, I have some further news of interest . . . but let's wait until the countersigned contract is in.

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Crime writer Iain Rowan has posted an interview with me at his blog More News from Nowhere. It's part of a series he's running called Writers Talk About Writing, comprising interviews with a whole bunch of different writers -- almost all of them more interesting than I am. Well worth a look.

realthog: (city in pages)

I've just heard that Requiems for the Departed, the Gerard Brennan and Mike Stone-edited anthology of crime stories of which I'm proud and honoured that my "The Life Business" is a part, has won the 2011 Spinetingler Award in (of course) the Best Anthology category.

In so doing, it beat out some pretty star-studded opposition -- among other nominees were Best American Noir of the Century edited by Otto Penzler and James Ellroy and First Thrills edited by Lee Child. My obvious suspicion is that the secret to its success lay in its having my own story last in the running order, so that readers had already decided to vote for the anthology by the time they got there.

Editors Gerard (
gerardbrennan) and Mike (mylefteye) are both thrilled to bits with the award, as well they should be -- huge congratulations to them.

realthog: (darwin)

Many will fondly recall the website Infinity Plus, which offered an astonishing array of free online fiction, plus reviews, interviews and suchlike stuff. (It's all still there as an archive, if you have a few months' reading time to spare.)

More recently, Keith Brooke -- the Infinity Plus supremo -- has founded Infinity Plus Ebooks, which has been publishing with some success since just before the start of the year . . . even though two of the books concerned are by moi.

Now the first Infinity Plus Ebooks sampler is available. Called Infinities, it has a contents list as follows:

Keith Brooke: "The Man Who Built Heaven" (short story)
Eric Brown: "Venus Macabre"
(short story)
Eric Brown: extract from novel A Writer's Life
John Grant: "Wooden Horse" (novelette)
Garry Kilworth: "Phoenix Man"
(short story)
Kaitlin Queen: extract from novel One More Unfortunate
Iain Rowan: "One Step Closer"
(short story)
Anna Tambour: extract from novel Spotted Lily
Linda Nagata: extract from novel Memory
Scott Nicholson: extract from novel The Red Church
Kristine Kathryn Rusch: extract from novel The Disappeared
Steven Savile: extract from novel The Immortal

Infinities is available for FREEEEE download in .mobi (Kindle) and .epub formats at the Infinity Plus Ebooks site and in these and some other formats from Smashwords.

Just to repeat in case of misunderstanding, it's


(Classy, eh?)
realthog: (darwin)

I've done a guest blog about my short novel Qinmeartha and the Girl-Child LoChi for All Things Keith Brooke and Infinity Plus. I chat about the circumstances under which the book was written (over a weekend at the first of the Groucho Club's One-Day Novel Contests), what the various bits and pieces of it meant and mean to me, and so on.

My piece is called "Of Spatting Gods, Extraordinarily Heavy Laptops, Flights, Quests, Contests, Archetypes, Stuff Like That" and can be read here.

realthog: (darwin)

I'm shamefully late in posting about this, but the audio magazine Pseudopod released their podcast version of my short story "Lives" about a week ago; the story first appeared a few years back in Ellen Datlow's anthology Inferno. It's excellently read in this new incarnation by Eric Luke of Extruding America, and you can download the podcast for free from here.

I found it interestingly embarrassing to hear someone else read one of my stories and to think that lots of other people must be listening to it at the same time I was. I say "
interestingly embarrassing" because the experience wasn't positively unpleasant: just odd. I'm sure I must have heard my fiction read by others on previous occasions without having this reaction; my guess is the reason I had it this time was that Eric Luke's reading was good enough to get under my skin.

Pseudopod also has forums about the stories it audio-publishes, and the one about "Lives" is here. The comments are a bit mixed, starting off with someone who complains that the two central characters of a story that's to a great extent about alienation/estrangement, where I worked like hell to make them as distanced and cold as possible, aren't a bit, well, warmer and cuddlier. There's also a guy who spends forever saying writers shouldn't mention 9/11 because it's all still just too painful; he perhaps ought to try Olivia Butler's Kindred (1979) or J.R. Dunn's Days of Cain (1997), both of which made me weep, to discover that writers who engage exceptionally painful episodes of history are often doing so for serious purposes, not grossouts.

But on the whole the comments are pretty complimentary, the one I like the best (for obvious reasons) being:

please excuse my use of caps.   

A few extra exclamation marks might have been preferable, but otherwise this is the kind of literary criticism I like to see -- of my own work, anyway.

A couple of the comments concerning detail are useful and may lead to me making small changes to the version that appears in my next story collection, whenever that might be.

Anyway, the download's still available, the reading's splendid, and, like I say, it's all free.

see - Qin!

Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:18 pm
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The ebook of my Qinmeartha and the Girl-Child LoChi is now available from and, and jolly pleased I am about this!

qinmeartha cover

The e-edition is incredibly cheap -- I'm cutting me own throat even telling yer about it, I am -- so hurry along and buy, BUY, BUY!!!

(If you would be interested in reviewing the book, please lemme know either in a comment or, if you have my e-address, by email.)

In other ebook news, PS Publishing is planning (no date as yet) to issue an e-edition of the novella of mine they published in 2008, The City in These Pages; the "value added" bonus feature is, I think, going to be my novelette "Always More Than You Know", which first appeared in the same year in Des Lewis's anthology Cone Zero.

There are also moves afoot to create ebook versions of my nonfiction books Discarded Science, Corrupted Science and Bogus Science. Exactly how this will be effected is not yet certain -- by the books' original publisher (AAPPL) either solo or in some sort of collaboration. I should know a bit more after the London International Book Fair.

Hm. It seems that I'm finally extracting a digital . . .


Mar. 10th, 2011 05:49 pm
realthog: (darwin)

As I mentioned earlier, things move quickly in the e-publishing world! The reissue of my Qinmeartha and the Girl-Child LoChi should be in your handy neighborhood online store early next week. In the meantime, a mere day after I'd signed the contract, the "cover" design turned up:

qinmeartha cover

I don't know where they found the illustrator, but I think he's done a great job . . .

Fingers crossed the book follows in the (moderately) successful path of the e-edition of Take No Prisoners.

realthog: (leavingfortusa)

The excellent Heidi Ruby Miller has posted a sort of mini-interview with me on her blog Field Notes. As always, I've read my responses with growing alarm as to my own general fatuousness.

realthog: (Default)

The anthology Dragon's Lure, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jennifer Ross and Jeffrey Lyman -- and which includes a story by, er, me -- has just received a very favourable review over at BSC:

Dragon’s Lure: Legends of a New Age is a marvelous collection of stories about dragons that I highly recommend. I am glad that I made it a part of my personal library, and I hope that you enjoy reading it, also. [. . .] Give it as a gift to someone you know who is a lover of stories about dragons or is a fan of the Fantasy genre, or buy it for yourself as a treat!

My own story, "Baited Breath", was one of the four to be given an expanded treatment, and here again the reception was -- phew! -- friendly:

The anthology begins with a tale about miniature dragons, who have invaded a house and have made pests of themselves [. . .] I found his contribution to this collection an interesting and fun read because of the matter-of-fact way the married couple in it act when they learn that their house is not infested with mice or rats, but with small dragons. Also, their attempts to deal with their unwelcome house guests are pretty funny, as are the narrator’s (the husband’s) ideas about what to bait the traps with. For some reason, the varmints turn up their noses at the box of Cheerios in the cabinet, but they seem to like almost everything else, especially the sherry the narrator puts out for a laugh.

realthog: (city in pages)

My short story "Lives", which originally appeared in Ellen Datlow's ([ profile] ellen_datlow's) anthology Inferno, has been picked up for audio treatment by Pseudopod, "the world’s premier horror fiction podcast". I'm obviously thrilled to bits about this.

I don't yet know who the reader will be or when they'll be running the piece, but fear not: closer to the time you will be fed the information. Incessantly.

March 2013

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