Wednesday 15 May 2024

Brum Group and Cardiff Half Marathon fundraiser

 A couple of updates - I was extremely flattered to be asked to take on the role of Honorary President of the Birmingham SF Group, following the passing of Chris Priest. I've had a warm association with the Brum Group since my first time as a published novelist. A talk for the group was the first bit of public promotion I did for Revelation Space, back in early 2000, and although I was extremely nervous about the whole thing, I was made to feel very welcome. I'd done plenty of public speaking as a scientist, none of which fazed me, but to talk about myself, as a writer, felt like very unfamiliar territory. I've got a little more used to it since then, thanks in no small part to the other events I've done in and around Birmingham, not just in direct connection with the group, but including signings at Andromeda Books, attendance at various Novacons and last year's Fantasycon, where there was much overlap of friendly faces and the same relaxed, welcoming spirit that I felt for the first time in 2000. Of course one would much prefer that Chris Priest was still in the role of Honorary President (and it was kind of CP to listen in on zoom during my last visit to the group, back in 2023) but I will do my best to (partially) fill the great man's shoes.

In other news: although it's not until October, I thought I'd get the ball rolling on a fundraising initiative for Alzheimer's UK. I'm participating in the Cardiff Half Marathon and hoping to raise as much money as possible for this deserving cause. I know, of course, that many of you offered generous support when my wife and I did the Cardiff Memory Walk for the same charity. If anyone feels they can dig in again, no matter how small the amount, it will be greatly appreciated. If you can't - no worries!

I won't keep banging on about this, but I will post a small reminder about once a month between now and October. And if you feel like sharing a link to this blog or the fundraising page on whatever platform you use, that would be very kind.

Many thanks,

Al R

Monday 8 April 2024

CP, Gollanczfest, Eric, new book etc

 Now that a month has gone by since Locus published a number of appreciations of Chris Priest, I think it's safe to offer up my own contribution. I could have said a great deal more, of course, but that would still only scratch the surface of the times I spent with Chris over almost a quarter of a century, on and off. His friendship meant a great deal and while our tastes in science fiction were not always aligned (but sometimes were) I took every chance to learn from him as a writer. I think his books and stories will endure and I encourage anyone who hasn't read them to take a deep dive into his work. All of it is worth anyone's time and the very best of it will leave the reader profoundly changed.

Friday 16 February 2024

First newt of 2024

 I mean to say something about Chris Priest, but in the meantime, I did a bit of pond-dipping for the first time this year (it's remarkably mild and a friend turned up a frog yesterday) and found one of the resident newts doing well.

Friday 26 January 2024

The Artwork Revisitation

 If you've been reading this blog for at least a couple of years you might remember this bit of acrylic art I put up early in 2022:

It was OK but something about it wasn't quite clicking with me. Then I read a recent article in The Guardian which included the brilliant Chris Foss talking about AI-generated imitations of his own style, and how they could never be mistaken for the real thing.

I looked at the images in the link to Midjourney provided in the article and agreed that they only looked superficially Chris Foss-like - big bristly spaceships floating over alien landscapes etc - but the particular thing that the artist noted was that the images lacked depth, something undoubtedly characteristic of his pictures. He nonetheless noted that the AI-generated images might serve as useful prompts for composition and lighting, so he wasn't dismissing them entirely. 

It occurred to me then that one of the faults with the painting above is the absence of depth - there's some atmospheric misting to push the towers back a bit, but the spaceship is just floating there more or less side-on, with no real reference points to place it in the scene relative to the other elements. Sometimes I use one or two point perspective construction lies to give a sense of a spaceship emerging from a scene, but in this case, I just winged it and drew it without any reference to perspective, figuring it would come out all right. I'm still happy with the ship, but in light of the Foss article - and a bit of renewed mojo for breaking out the airbrush - I thought I'd take another look at the canvas. And, rather than show the finished result, I thought it might be more fun to illustrate the process, even if it all ends up going horribly wrong.

So here's where we are now:

I did a bit of additional masking and spraying on the ship itself, bringing out its forms a bit more clearly by defining shadows and highlights, but the main thing has been to start work on some foreground elements which project out into the scene and serve to push the ship back. In this case I picked a single perspective point and drew some lines projecting out to the vanishing point, which (when finished) will be walkways or landing pads of some kind. I could envisage some smaller spacecraft and/or figures in the nearer foreground.

I also added a touch of contrasting colour in the sky, but this came out much too heavily and will need to be pushed back a bit.

I still don't know whether this will end up being a piece of art that I'm satisfied with, but the journey is fun and these corrective steps and additions can be very educational, so even if this painting fails, the lessons learned will hopefully inform the next one, and the one after.

Thursday 18 January 2024


 My new novel is out - published on Tuesday in the States, and today in the UK. It's the third in the Prefect Dreyfus sub-series and also a book in the Revelation Space universe. It's likely to be the last word on the RS universe for a bit, not because I'm fed up with it, but because I want to concentrate on standalones from now on.

There have been a few early reviews. Publisher's Weekly called it "a touching and spectacularly intricate sequel that also functions well as a standalone", while Booklist said "Reynolds pulls out all the stops ...readers’ fingernails will be left ragged."

The Daily Mail called it "an immersive, compelling, slow-burn space mystery" while SFX called it "a brilliantly realised melding of police procedural and hard SF".

That's it for now. I've not so far had any promotional activities offered to me but we'll see what eventuates. I'll also put up information on signed editions as and when there's something concrete to report.

best, and thanks to all who have pre-ordered.

Al R

Tuesday 19 December 2023

Wednesday 13 December 2023

It's coming on Christmas.

 A new story of mine, "Lottie and the River", will appear in the Christmas issue of New Scientist, with a publication date of December 16th. Not only that, but it's a (mildly) Christmas-themed story. I'm extremely happy to have had this chance to contribute a bit of fiction to NS. Many thanks to Alison Flood and all at NS for having me onboard.

I won't say anything else about the story except that it's 3500 words and not connected to anything else I've done, but it is science fiction, and the illustrations are gorgeous.