When the gods shoot blanks: Auspicious omens sometimes aren’t

The universe is full to bursting with new science fiction. How does any of it win recognition?

Last Thursday morning, in Bangkok’s Suan Rhotfai, next to Chatujak Park, we were treated to the best display of flowering trees ever — varieties of pink and purple cherry and plum blossoms, gorgeous golden showers like vivid yellow weeping willows, only better.

What, beyond the standard onset of the hot season, might have inspired this spectacle? It occurred to me this was launch … Read more

Murder your darlings: Writing rule of style du jour

 

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Murder your darlings

Read your own compositions, and when you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.

Samuel Johnson, from James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, 1791

 

Excellent advice. (I once presented this maxim to a writing class, trying to remember which great man had originally proposed it. In fact, half the great writers in history have said the same thing in one way or another.)

Lose a few chapters, gain Read more

New science fiction: MOM now available for sale

 

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Digital editions now available for sale on the CDP website.

Print and digital versions available here and everywhere from 5 April 2017.

MOM

A GOD IS BORN!

TOO BAD ABOUT THE PERSONALITY DISORDER

So reads the graffito.

MOM is the mall operations manager — the greatest intelligence in history, a machine awakened to self-awareness at a time when the last few human survivors have withdrawn to the last two remaining refuges on Earth. Quarantined from the global nanobot superorganism … Read more

How to write a novel that flies

I had positivism and the notion of eternal recurrence sussed when I was five or six years old.

horse-and-wagon-clipart-1
Back in this boondocky town where I lived at the time, the streets were littered with horse turds from the one big white horse that pulled the garbageman’s wagon. Waste ground, of which there was plenty, tended to be covered with rubbish I guess the garbageman didn’t categorize as garbage. For example I remember patches of rhomboid glass fragments like dull gems … Read more

Wine appreciation night: Gold buttons & financial plans

winesJack Shackaway here.

The financial sky is falling. (So what’s new, eh? See here and here.). China’s economy is stumbling, the world’s share markets are tanking, and here in Bangkok anonymous malcontents have been bombing public places. Never mind. Starving writers are shielded from stock market crashes, at least, a regular feature of this life you don’t even notice if you have a pot to piss in but that’s about all.

Still, life can be good, and wine tastings … Read more

Get rich quick: Plan A

Jack Shackaway here. I’m worried about Collin. Take a look at this e-mail:

Yo, Jack.

One of the UK publishers I most respect has just declined my 180,000-word science fiction novel, saying how much they like the writing and world-building, and how they understand and admire the structure, but for some indefinable reason they haven’t “fallen in love” with it. So we turn to other ways of generating an income from writing.

I’m thinking I’ll run this classified ad in

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Dark Night of My Quick Guns XVII, by Allie Ambit: A brief review

Jack Shackaway presents a review of a recent Mickey’s Muse product:

explosion hollywoodTHIS BOOK never fails to satisfy basic reader expectations, but I was disappointed that, in key ways, it never exceeds them.

Take the lead scene, for example. Mr. Ambit presents everything that Hollywood wants—a startling instance of random structural violence, with much smoke and flame and opportunity for the action hero to squint in the general direction of the shitstorm and wince in a way that suggests strong … Read more

How I quit smoking: And what climate-change deniers can learn from this

 quit smoking

My fix

I’m lucky to be alive. For one thing, I began smoking cigarettes at the age of nine. By the age of 12, I was smoking at least half a pack a day and, by the time I left home at the age of 15, I had a 40-50 a day habit. By the time I was 16 going on 17, I’d smoke another pack if I spent an evening in a tavern. I eventually stopped after 28 years … Read more

Mai pen rai (after all, mere humans could never change the climate)

Are you a Bangkok Old Hand?

bkk old hand coverTry this selection from the quiz, first published in 1993:

In which of the following situations would it be appropriate to use the common Thai expression mai pen rai (“never mind; no problem”)?

(a) A guest spills a little water on your coffee table.

(b) A waiter accidently dumps your beer into your lap.

(c) You go downstairs one morning in the rainy season and find that those of your possessions that float are

Read more

Bingeing on bingeing

Bingeing writers and binge writing. Traditionally, writers have been notorious bingers. And, aside from any occupational enthusiasm for booze and suchlike, we get binge writing, where instead of turning caffeine into books, as some would have it, writers instead turn whiskey into piss and engage in binge writing in the intervals between their alchemical endeavors. (I first encountered the expression “binge writing” listening to a Letterman interview with Hunter S. Thompson. See “What is writing?”)

hangovers joy of

hunter s thompson guardianBinge Read more