OK, so this is a bit of a cheat blog. I usually manage a blog post every month, so in the interests of maintaining my record – which only I actually care about – here we go. I don’t have a lot to say or enlighten you with, at least as I start to write this. I also don’t have an apology. I’ve been writing. A lot. And not as much as I’d like. It’s also been oriented too much towards science fact and not nearly enough science fiction. I’ve also not been “spending” quite so much time on social media, which is a bit of shame because there are actually a lot of interesting people and things happening there. So, why?
Why? More specifically, why am I spending more time writing and less time telling people about it? Sometimes you have those revelations as a writer, actually in any endeavour, when you realise that you’re not that good. I was editing a lot at the beginning of the year while I tried to put some short stories into presentable, publishable, shape. My conclusion? Conceptually, I liked, actually I still like, my stories. I have a few in the closet and they cover quite a diverse range of ideas and styles. Perhaps more importantly, my writing was lazy. I am not sure whether my science education helps in being able to take a step back and judge my own work without prejudice. Well, at least not too much.
Continue reading “Rumours of My Demise are Somewhat Premature” →
After the last cathartic post on why I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, not to mention the constant whining about not writing, I have actually been writing a lot.
I currently have three novels on the go, and as of last week another new story; so new it doesn’t even have a working title. I’m only at the beginning, 1000 words down and some planning, but it feels like it could be the start of a series, maybe shorts, not sure yet, it’s a bit of a new style for me… And that’s the thing. After not writing for a while, I’m having an absolutely wondrous time, experimenting. Experimenting with different formats and lengths, with stories spanning hard core space opera, dystopian earth-like civilisations, earth- and space-based, human- and alien-like characters, imagining technologies of the future, their evolution and impact on “humanity”. It is brilliant!
I started this month well, trying out a new time management idea – writing every morning; I had been getting too tired to write in the evenings. It worked well for a week or so, but the real world (work) interrupted, so I have reverted to writing wherever and whenever I can. I’d like to try this morning regime again if/when my day job calms down a little. It was an excellent way to start the day. Whilst I complain a bit (ok, maybe a lot) about the day job, I am writing a lot there and really trying to up the quality. I’ve written at least 10000 words this month, not counting emails… on some cool science and technology (I’m trying to avoid counting but it was a good month). I think that the fiction and non-fiction writing are helping one another – after all, it’s all writing.
Continue reading “Every Day I Write The BookS” →
Alt: Why I am not doing nanowrimo.
I know you’re sick of hearing writers complain about not having the time to write. I would say that it is not so much that they are not writing, in most cases, but that they want to write more. My writing word count is all over the place from one week to the next. For sure I’d like to increase the overall amount that I write, but mostly I want to have more of a rhythm.
I’ve been thinking about doing nanowrimo this year but that is a 50k target in a month – more than 1k a day. I cannot guarantee that I can do that so it would be nothing but an exercise in frustration. Frustration is not what you want at the end of a writing exercise/competition. I don’t want to get to December and be more concerned with only having written 10-20k words, than just being happy that I wrote 10k words.
Continue reading “The Time is Write” →
There are times in life when it all hangs in the balance. Now, is one of them, at least for me. As the blurb says, I write science fact to science fiction, however, these two worlds do not always find a peaceful way to coexist. In life we always have choices even if some of them don’t seem like it at the time. And so it is that I find myself here, at one of those decisive moments. Concentrate on the scientist, or concentrate on the writer. Let’s be clear, science is what puts food on the table, while writing is a passionate pastime that is very much in its infancy.
So on the science fact front I face an uncertain future. In six months time I might be out of a job OR I might be spearheading an initiative that will take most of my time for the next 15 years. There are a lot of “ifs” to fall into place for the latter. So it appears, at least for the next 6-12 months, that the “decision” is not so hard, or at least not so complicated – I need to concentrate on the science. My apologies but this will have to remain cryptically anonymous for the moment.
Continue reading “World building: Reality vs Fiction” →
What do I even mean by that? I am coming at that question from two perspectives.
- As a science fiction writer, one often needs to build worlds, political systems, industries and infrastructure … usually so that we have something to pull back down again. So how do these things grow, evolve, come into existence even? Usually, it is a question of scale – and all the pieces of the puzzle being there, being ready, big enough, and open to working towards a bigger goal. But is it evolution or revolution? Is there a tipping point?
- The other is real world – how do whole industries appear? We can also think about things like the industrial revolution, the space race, and perhaps what we call the information revolution, why not Google itself. In all of these cases, they didn’t just happen. Again it was a question of scale – and, like for my first point, all the pieces of the puzzle being there, being ready, big enough, and open to work towards a bigger goal. Where is the tipping point here?
Now, here is a question for you. Do you think anyone saw these revolutions coming? Or, did someone just decide to invest massive amounts of money and presto-magic, revolution?
Clearly, people knew. Let’s consider the space race. On May 25, 1961, President J. F. K. announced the mind blowing goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade. It is clearly not a question of going out to the industrial park and asking the guys to stop making cars and build a space ship. They knew all of the necessary industries were there, albeit in varying degrees of readiness, they “just” needed a push.
Continue reading “A Question of Scale” →
I was recently reading a book – a debut science fiction novel released a few years ago. The title and author shall remain nameless for the purposes here, as they are not of importance.
What I am curious about is how we perceive technology, or science in general, in a story. In particular, when does science and technology take over a story? And how much does it depend on the reader?
We can consider films as well as books if you like. Indeed, if we take a couple of recent and popular films, then we don’t have to worry about ruining the career of a new author. Two recent movies have generated a lot of discussion; Gravity and Interstellar. “Experts” came out and told everyone in great detail, how the films had got it wrong, i.e. the basic science was flawed. I love science fiction and have been enjoying the resurgence in popularity for film and tv as well as books.
Continue reading “Too much Science in your Fiction: A distraction waiting to happen” →
I claim to write science facts to science fiction and beyond. I have been, for some time now, more focused on the facts than the fiction. This remains the case – this year I have published or submitted around 10 scientific papers, which is an incredibly good year no matter how you look at it. So if we look at the fiction side of things, I’m still taking baby steps, but this is a long game and this was always the plan.
This year the goal was to read and write as much as I could, without worrying too much about what it was. In a sense, it was a quest to find my style, and more importantly, improve how I write. The only way to do that is to write. I now have first or second drafts of a handful of flash fiction, two and half shorts as well as two novels – one about the third done and the other a bit less, but both are fully planned.
What have I been writing? I would say SciFi, but if you’re after space cruisers and alien battles, there is not much here for you yet. Trust me, this to will come. Currently, there is a heavy dystopian influence in a lot of the work – possibly too much, but it is what it is and it is more symptomatic of where I have been coming from lately and where I am heading.
Continue reading “Phase One Complete – Bring on 2015!” →
In my ongoing struggle to balance my day job as a scientist and my passion for science fiction it occurred to me that I could reconcile this by simply stating that:
I write science – from fact to fiction.
As a scientist one is typically writing about the latest results – at least that is what we would like to be doing. In reality we also spend an increasingly large amount of time writing project proposals, which is in fact writing about what we want to do in the near future, but is perhaps not even possible yet. Then, if one is really unlucky, one has to write “roadmap documents” and “vision statements”. Typically the later discuss what we can imagine to do if 5, 10, 20 years. This is very hard and requires a certain perspective over a field, or even many fields, of research. Furthermore, if we’re honest, once we get past five years, these uncertainty on these “predictions” rapidly increases. In polite company one might argue that these are educated guesses. If we were increasingly honest, we might simply say that they are a guess. Obviously, the time scales involved depend on the field, its maturity and how fast progress is being made.
So it is that with my science fiction writing, speculative fiction if you prefer, we can see that as simply an extension of this – typically I would be looking beyond the 10-20 year time scale, certainly into guessing territory, and imagining “what if?” In science fiction, I am free from the constraint that I actually have to prove or demonstrate what I claim will be true. Nor do I have to worry about respecting the currently accepted laws of Nature but the “what if” question remains the starting point.
Continue reading “From Science to Science Fiction” →
Time is against me. Ok, it’s against all of us. I blame society … I’ve been trying to catch up on reading/living this year and have revisited or been reading some classic scifi. Which is good. But someone pulled me up on a list of books I posted on Ello the other day and asked, what about something more contemporary? My argument was that some of them were contemporary … when I read them … Anyway, the end result is that I now have a nice list of books to read and authors to discover.
That is not to say that I haven’t been reading contemporaries. So, while I’m distracted, here are a few things that really rocked my reading world in the last few weeks. Immersion, by Aliette de Bodard (on Clarkesworld) is possibly the best thing I have read in a long time. Also on Clarkesworld, A.C. Wise’s The Children of Main Street – actually, I’m not going to say anything. It’s a short. Read it in 10 minutes and be immensely satisfied. Somewhere in between Flash and Short story is Lacarant Plainer‘s “space opera flash fiction” serial Mission Impossible. Currently up to episode 10 and cruising along wonderfully. Okay, where was I? So that’s reading, what about writing?
Continue reading “Short and Flashy” →
Recently, I realised that I was about a third of the way into the first draft of my first serious attempt at a novel. As one could imagine I wasn’t happy with it. There is some great stuff there, but stylistically I have a lot of work to do. I had thought this through, planned out everything and had very clear ideas about my characters and various key points in the plot, but … I realised that I was probably trying to run before I could walk.
Then out of the blue I see a tweet from Ksenia Anske on the danger of outlining. Indeed, why should I plan how I’m going to write a book, I never plan anything. And so it was that this fell just before I forced myself to take a break from my other full time job. How better to celebrate than to just dive in and say I’m going to write for two days. What a fantastic experience. I had no idea what was going to happen. I started –
First, the stars fell from the sky, now, it would appear it’s our turn.
Continue reading “Just write it!” →