Nook McEdifice

I don’t know anybody who has a Nook but today we celebrate the valiant Kindle challenger of Barnes and Noble.

Also so is it noook (a bit like ‘nuke’) or is nuk (to rhyme with ‘book’)?


The Apolitical SF Thing

The question of whether science fiction can be apolitical is today’s topic of choice for discussion on social media for reasons.

I know people probably know this already but the meta-question is why the discussion keeps re-occurring. It looks like an odd discussion because it seems so one-sided. The proposition is advanced that science fiction without politics would be a good thing. The counter-argument is made that all science fiction contains politics because the speculative nature/worldbuilding nature of science fiction/fantasy means that the social, economic and political aspects of your setting are things you CAN change if you choose to.

It is hard to avoid politics and social commentary in speculative, fantastical fiction. Is it impossible? I don’t know but it is clearly a challenge if you also want your characters to be relatable and live in an understandable environment. Remember as well that for some hyper-conservative sections of society, the very idea of fiction set in imagined worlds is challenging as an affront to their view of God.

So why the demand for ‘apolitical science fiction’? Who is asking for it? From experience, it is highly political people on the right. The call for ‘apolitical science fiction’ is simply an attempt to appeal to an imagined centre i.e. the right offering to save people in the centre from the political views of people on what they perceive to be the left.



Review: The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

I really enjoyed Pulley’s first novel The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. Her second novel shares some character connections and a similar style. Initially grounded in a solid 19th Century British setting with a sense of history and tied to real events and places, The Bedlam Stacks then takes the reader into increasingly fantastic surroundings.

Starting in Cornwall in the real world location of Heligan, we meet the protagonist Merrick Tremayne recuparating from a serious leg injury. Tremayne is gentlmen botanist and an agent of the East India Company newly returned from British imperial adventures in India and China. But Tremayne has a family history that links him, via his grandfather to the jungles of eastern Peru – a history that is physically present at Heligan in the form of an unusual (and explosive tree) and a statue that Tremayne is not entirely sure is stationary.

The set-up and background with the novel is excellent. The greed of British expansion was struggling against the debilitating effects of malaria. Quinine was vital to the ambitions of the growing Empire but Quinine was controlled by Peru. Tremayne’s mission to find the Peruvian village his Grandfather had lived in, so as to steal cuttings of cinchona trees and break the Peruvian monopoly, is a fascinating premise for a novel.

Yet somehow, the story fell quite flat for me. Once Tremayne reaches the remote village the central mystery becomes less compelling, the magical elements take over but the story loses momentum. I found it was taking a long time for me to finish the book and I had to make a real effort to pick it up and continue. It wasn’t the prose itself, nor were the two key characters (Merrick and the village priest Raphael) unlikable but the plot itself ran out of steam.

I feel like a fun but weird novella spent several chapters treading water.

In All Modesty – by Timothy T.T. Cat esquire

As I examine my life in this year of our Lord Twenty Thousand and Eighteen, I look back at my accomplishments and feel that I have to state a basic fact that you all have probably already observed but which I, consumed by modesty as I am, have not observed before. It is simply this. I am a far, far, far, far better writer than Neil Gaiman by almost every reasonable measure.

Mr Gaiman (or “Gaims” as I look to call him when I encounter him at the many social engagements that we great authors get invited to) writes a variant of the same book with the same sort of characters almost every time. Consider just some of his works:

  • American Gods – main character is some sort of human person.
  • Coraline – main character is some sort of human person.
  • That one with the spider god person – main character is some sort of human person but maybe also a spider. I’m not sure – Cam was reading it out loud to me and I didn’t pay attention because then a bird flew into the closed window and I laughed so hard that I had an accident.
  • The one that wasn’t a comic but was a bit like a comic and then it was a film – main character was some sort of human person.
  • The Sandman – main character is some sort of human person but actually I think he was a cat in one bit. Come to think of it there was a cat in Coraline – I bet that was based on me. I’m the best.

Whereas I can write cats much better than Gaiman and I can also write human persons but that is more special and proves that I’m a better writer because I’m a cat and not a human person so it is harder for me to write a human person than for Gaiman to write a human person because that’s what he is which is why he has to base all his cat characters on me. Obviously.

I have much wider literary range than Gaims and can write everything from haunting shorts that could almost pass for modern Saki to Agatha Christie like murder mysteries to epic military science fiction. I don’t write myself into my books (Straw Puppy does that for me) and I can even successfully pull off the “you think that is just an office appliance but its actually a major character” trick without cheating or magic or medical science or anything but pure unadulterated writing SKILLZ (oh yeah).

George R.R.R.R. Martin can’t do that despite repeated attempts to shoe horn a fax machine into A Song of Fire and Ice (trust me – ask his editor). Gaiman can’t do it either despite several attempts at making a typewriter a supporting character (vetoed by the bigwigs at Vertigo). And as for Murakami, I have been writing a literary novel inspired by his style for years, although since I don’t actually know who Murakami is, it is more likely to feature a PABX machine with ambitions to become an opera singer than whatever the thing that Murakami writes might be.

I admire Emily Dickinson. I admireT.S.Elliot. I admire Edward Lear. The only thing I admire about Gaiman’s writing is that time Sandman was a cat and I think cat’s ruled the world. That’s not nothing, it’s actually pretty damn cool, but it’s very far from the most significant thing – OK maybe not “very far”, fairly close in places.

Sure, Gaims sells a lot of books, but then, the people who wrote Where’s Wally (or “Waldo” as we call him in the United States) also sell a lot of books. Probably because Wally doesn’t wear black all the time. Maybe he should wear black though as then he would be hard to find or maybe Gaims should do a “Where’s Morpheus” spin off books and it is just Sandman but he’s in the crowd at Cure concert and everybody looks like Robert Smith and it is really hard to spot which one is the Sandman. Seriously? Gaims would make a LOT of money from that. That’s my gift to you Neil if you are reading this – a free idea from a PRO, one that MORE than makes up for the mess I made of your carpet that time.

Yet Another McEdifice Cover


There’s a story behind this one.

The ebook on Smashwords (here! ) had some sort of glitch in the ePub version. As a consequence, the book kept failing validation checks to go on the Smashwords “Premium Catalog” distribution list – which means that Smashwords don’t pass the book onto Kobo and Apple etc. I finally tracked down where the fault was and fixed it in the source file (hooray!) the other week. Then…the book got another note from Smashwords…

This time the note pointed to their guidelines for crediting multiple authors…

Long story short, ‘Camestros Felapton’ being on the cover might resolve the issue. We will see! Hence a new cover. 🙂