★ 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