Thursday, 15 April 2021

Ten scientists are racing

 Over at Concatenation, Jonathan Cowie very kindly invited me to select a list of my favorite scientists born in the twentieth century. I found that it was easy to come up with two or three but much harder to come up with ten. Jonathan was very patient with me in the time it took to make and submit my selection, but it's now done and should you so wish you can read it here:

Be sure to check out the rest of the recent content on the always excellent Concatenation website.

Thursday, 8 April 2021


 This excellent bird book was a family favorite in the 1970s. I believe it was purchased on a holiday in Barmouth, North Wales.

It came back to me after a recent bereavement and I remembered that I had logged many bird sightings in the Bridgend and Barry area between 1977 and 1978. I had not seen a siskin, though, and since I did happen to see a beautiful pair of siskins yesterday, I thought I might as well add an another entry:

And here is a siskin - not the one I saw yesterday, but another sighting today, about 40 miles away:

Monday, 29 March 2021

Truly these are the last days.

 Robert Fripp in a beard playing a ZZ Top cover.

(Toyah and Robert's Sunday Lunch videos have been one of the few bearable things about 2020/21. Thank you both!)

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

We've been landing on Mars for a long time.

 The Mars Perseverance rover...

is as far from Viking...

As Viking is from the 1931 Schneider Trophy seaplane:

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Happy Birthday to me.

 A lovely present (an "ES-335 figured" Epiphone) from my wife:

Wednesday, 24 February 2021


 I'd like to thank all who left kind comments following the news from January. Although it's been a difficult time for the family, rest assured I'm moving forward again and busy on several fronts.

My editor got back to me with comments on Inhibitor Phase well before Christmas, but with everything going on (it really wasn't a great time) I was unable to make serious progress on the rewrites until early this year. However, I've now turned them in, and I'm expecting to get the second set of queries back in a couple of weeks. The idea is that I turn them around by the end of March, which should allow for an August publication. Obviously that's a bit later than some of the dates you may have seen, but (as I'm sure will be understood) it's really nobody's fault, just the unavoidable consequence of a difficult period.

In the meantime I'm working on a new book, which as usual I'll say little or nothing about until it's near completion. It's not connected to anything else I've done, although it is science fiction and has elements of first contact, Big Dumb Object about it - but with what I hope is a somewhat novel approach.

Earlier this month I did a few Zoom panels as part of a virtual "Boskone" (the Boston-area SF convention that happens around this time of the year) and I enjoyed them tremendously. I don't think they're going to be archived, though. More generally I've had a lot of fun doing online events through 2020, and I imagine that sort of thing will continue for some considerable way into 2021. I'm doing something for Gollancz/Orbit in a week or two, then another session for my friends at the International Space University in Strasbourg later in March, and doubtless more opportunities will come up as we progress into the sunlit uplands of spring.

I mentioned Raised by Wolves a few posts ago, but what else have we been enjoying? I'm not sure "enjoy" is quite the word for something as gut-wrenching as Russell T Davies's AIDS-themed drama It's a Sin, but what a phenomenal piece of television it was, beautifully crafted and acted, and moving to a conclusion that was both brutal and life-affirming. Good stuff. We've also been keeping up with Sky Witness's Transplant, which is one of the better medical dramas I've seen in recent years. Unlike House or The Good Doctor (both shows I've enjoyed) Bash, the surgeon protagonist of Transplant isn't a high-functioning genius sociopath or an autistic savant; he's just a skilled, empathetic trauma doctor trying to make the best of use of his gifts after fleeing Syria. At least so far, he's not allowed to practise surgery due to difficulties in retrieving medical certificates from his former university, so he's depicted in a mostly diagnostic function. Along the way Bash has to look after his younger sister, deal with eviction, and do what he can to help a fellow refugee fallen on difficult times. It's well scripted, well acted and - although it obviously cuts corners to tell the medical stories in the frame of a single episode - at least feels realistically drawn. I'm glad to hear there'll be a second season. Other than that, we're late to the Nicola Walker/Sanjeev Bhaskar forensic crime drama Unforgotten, but we're catching up with the last season before the new one airs on ITV. Bhaskar for Doctor Who, anyone?

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Lower Dens - Ondine

 I heard this song on a plane a few years ago. I was so smitten with it that I bought the album before flying home, and I've not regretted it. I was listening to it again today on my running mix and thought it worth a mention, as you don't see much being said about Lower Dens. 

Here's an excellent live version of Ondine: