★ Eastercon 2010 (And A Master Plan)

What is a science fiction convention? It is a place for fans, writers, would-be writers and anybody else with an interest in science fiction to congregate and discuss the geeky details of their imagination. Yes, there are costumes. Yes, many of the fans are scientists. Nobody wore Spock ears, though I did look more like Captain Picard than I’d like.

Less concerned with the geekery, I attended Eastercon 2010 – the annual British science fiction convention – primarily to meet-up with friends Paul Graham Raven, Gareth L Powell, Gareth D Jones, Neil Benyon, Jetse de Vries, Martin McGrath, and Stephen J Sweeney, in which regard I was perfectly successful, and had delightful conversations with all of them. The other goal was a meeting with my agent, John Jarrold.

John is a personable chap, full of stories about conventions in the mid-1970s where luminaries could be found in the bar at 2 a.m. discussing antigravity drives and the use of colour in Powell and Pressburger films.

On the face of it, I haven’t been a very successful client for John, and he was kind enough to reassure me that publishing is best seen in terms of the long haul. John is currently trying to place two of my three Saskia Brandt books, which, despite good reviews for the first, small press run, have not been picked up. When a writer’s books constitute a loose series, it is, obviously, essentially to have the first one published and at large before the sequels become viable.

Goal Number One for the rest of this year is to stop writing Saskia Brandt books.

Goal Number Two is to manage my time more effectively so that I have the mental space to write. (At the moment, my academic work crowds out almost everything, which is no mean feat; I had the time to write Déjà Vu when I was completing my PhD and holding down a half-time teaching job.)

Goal Number Three is to write only parts of books. That is, I need to avoid writing them completely and working on them for about five years, at the end of which publishers say, ‘Meh’. I should switch to a model where I write a couple of chapters, then a synopsis, and send the lot off to John and see what he thinks.

Some projects, however, are not novel-related fiction. I wrote a speculative Eleventh Doctor script just after Christmas, and now that I’ve seen and enjoyed the first episode of the new series, I’ll return to it and try to incorporate what I’ve learned about Amy Pond and Matt Smith’s Doctor. This could well be pointless, given that (as far as I know), the production team is not accepting speculative scripts, but what the hell. Pointlessness never stopped me before and it won’t stop me now. Pointlessness is, and continues to remain, Goal Number Four.

Random Feedback

Reader, it has been a long day. I spent the early part of this morning prepping for two hours of seminars on multiple regression (if you don’t know what this is, you don’t want to; if you do know what this, you probably still don’t want to), and this afternoon was whittled away prepping for four hours of seminars starting at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

In summary, I’m often grumpy on Tuesday afternoons.

And then I received this email:

I just wanted to say thank you for releasing your book as an audio book – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to it!

Hope you release another one soon!

This is, of course, lovely.

Déjà Vu (the first edition) is available as an audiobook here. (Though the improved special edition is here.)

Very Much Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

Philip Palmer on Faster-Than-Light travel in science fiction.

For at this very fast speed, one’s mass will be infinite (i.e. even greater, so the equations prove, than my mass and the dimensions of my arse on Boxing Day) and this makes travel of any kind difficult.

Faster Than the Speed of Light | Orbit Books