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:

Monday 8 February 2021

The Motels

 I like to think that I have a pretty exhaustive knowledge of punk, post-punk and new wave, but inevitably my perceptions are filtered through the fact of living in the UK during the late 70s and early 80s. Every now and then it's nice to be blindsided by a completely amazing piece of music - even a group - that somehow managed never to come to my attention.

Such is the case with The Motels. I don't think I'd ever heard of them, let alone heard anything by then. Then Bruce Springsteen (who I think we can all agree is a man of discerning taste) goes and plays this on this Radio 2 show, and it's quite wonderful. From what I can gather it was a minor hit in the States in 1983, but I don't remember ever hearing it on the radio in Britain. Everything about this is just crystalline pop perfection.

Thanks, Broooooooce.

Thursday 4 February 2021

Mountaintop Removal - Lissie

 This is about as good as it gets.

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Put a monkey on it

Late in life I have discovered a surprising if relatively useless superpower: the ability to guess the identity of the celebrities on ITV's The Masked Singer.

So far in the current season, I correctly identified (by vocal stylings or clues):

Sophie Ellis Bextor

Martine McCutcheon

John Thomson

Lenny Henry

On that basis, I am unwisely going to stick my neck out and make a prediction. I think John Barrowman is one of the remaining celebs.