March 2010 Archives

March 31, 2010

Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist


The shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award is...

  • Spirit - Gwyneth Jones (Gollancz)
  • The City & The City - China Miéville (Macmillan)
  • Yellow Blue Tibia - Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
  • Galileo's Dream - Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperCollins)
  • Far North - Marcel Theroux (Faber & Faber)
  • Retribution Falls - Chris Wooding (Gollancz)

Tom Hunter, administrator for the Arthur C. Clarke Award says: 

"The greater purpose of the Award is to promote UK science fiction literature and the sense of wonder, speculation and imagination for which the genre is most renowned. The selection of a final winner is always a difficult choice, but in the meantime I'm greatly looking forward to the conversation to come."

The Clarke Award is my favourite award as it never fails to come up with an interesting selection of books. This year is no exception.

I'm currently reading Yellow Blue Tibia, I have Galileo's Dream on the shelf and lots of people have said great things about The City & The City. Gwyneth Jones has previously been nominated five times and won once, although I know nothing about Spirit. Meanwhile I haven't heard of Marcel Theroux or Chris Wooding, so new authors to investigate.

I've no idea who will win, and it's unlikely that I'll manage to read them all before the award to give my decision, but I'll definitely try and read them over the coming year.

March 30, 2010

Inside The New Look TARDIS

The TARDIS has had a make over and it looks shiny and cool...

And The Doctor is looking pretty groovy too...

My Stories Published This Month

March was a pretty good month for my writing, I had three stories published which I thought I'd advertise here again:

Firstly my optimistic Science Fiction story The Rules Of Utopia which was published in DayBreak Magazine.

Secondly my trans-quauntum quarantine love story Together which was published in A Fly In Amber.

And last, shortest, but not least, my grey goo story Build, Build, Build which was published in Every Day Fiction.

I've even got a proper bibliography page up now.

March 29, 2010

Cuppa T-Shirts, Cool SF T-Shirts

As you probably know if you read this blog, I do love a good T-Shirt, especially a Science Fiction one. Even better is to find an entire new, undiscovered web-site full of groovy T-Shirts, which is exactly what Cuppa T-Shirts is.

I love:

(Back To The Future FTW!) and also the succinct statement of:


but all the others are cool too.

You can get a 15% discount at Cuppa T-Shirts using the code BIGDUMB1, thanks to Tony for making this offer to BDO readers.

Tron Video

Nice advert for Tron...

March 26, 2010

My Story "Together" Is Online

My Science Fiction story Together is online at A Fly In Amber. It's an interplanetary love story. With inter-dimensional aliens...

Dear Elaina, 

 The process of taking a pen in my hand and inscribing paper with ink is becoming less strange, relaxing even. Yet it cannot replace being together. Seeing you. Hearing you. Being reduced to the lowest bandwidth denominator is a frustrating experience, one that my brain tries to reject. I fail to believe that passing paper and ink through the quantum quarantine blanket is any more secure than passing EM waves.

Go and read it, any comments welcome.

March 25, 2010

I Always Wear A Helmet

March 24, 2010

Doctor Who Press Pack For New Series

The BBC has a press pack online for the new Doctor Who series. It includes a list of the writers for each new episode, an interview with Steven Moffat, an interview with Matt Smith, an interview with Karen Gillan and ten facts you didn't know about Doctor Who.

I won't bother copying any snippets, just head over there and read it yourself.

March 23, 2010

ARgggHHhh Disney Claims The Astromechs

Oh no, it must be a nightmare? 

The Disney R2-MK and Jedi Mickey action figure 2-pack announced earlier this year will be available on April 1, 2010 at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort locations!

(Their exclamation mark, not mine.)

March 22, 2010

Big Robot, Cute Cottage T-Shirt

Firelight Cottage - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

March 19, 2010

The Village Is A Cosy Jumper For Surviving The Future

Cities are everywhere in Science Fiction. Everywhere and everything. Panoramic backdrops. Characters themselves. The catalysts for stories. Matt Jones's excellent article The City Is A Battlesuit For Surviving The Future (published on io9) examined not only the use of cities in Science Fiction but looked at how cities should evolve, how they can become a better place for us to live.

Which is fine and interesting, but probably more relevant if you work for a company called British Experimental Rocket Group, or work on Silicon Roundabout, or even just live in London. Perhaps it may even be relevant if you live in Birmingham or Manchester or Glasgow. But some people don't live in the big cities, they live in smaller cities such as Derby or Swansea or Preston. Or they live in towns such as Reading or Swindon. Or even more likely they live in the suburbs of one of these towns. And then some people live in villages.

The stereotypical image of an English village is rural, with a cricket pitch and a church and a post office and a pub, something straight out of Midsomer Murders. An image that I have found to be not very far from the truth, which is not a bad thing. There's something special about the size of a village, it feels to me like the ideal size for a community: it's small enough that most people know each other, but just large enough to escape. The size seems to spontaneously spawn social groups such as cricket teams or book groups or annual Christmas walks, there's no need for marketing and advertising and working to sustain the group, everyone is there, everyone knows.

It struck me that perhaps the village was in fact the ideal unit to cope with the future. I see a better future in a society where community matters more. Not the empty communities that political parties argue about, but real, social groups that support and work together and live together. The village could be our unit for survival. When I decided to write a story for the Shine Anthology I tried to write something exotic and foreign (to me), but villages returned every time, begging me to use them.

It still wasn't easy, I aborted three stories half way through, discarded loads of ideas and struggled endlessly with crafting a future. I knew that villages would help me but even then an optimistic future is hard work, all the problems I tried to fix were entangled with others. I tried to focus on one and became strangled by others. So in the end I decided to attack all of them, admittedly I attacked them sequentially to save my brain from exploding, but I tried to solve every problem. Not that solving the problems would or should come easy, or that the result would be a dull perfect world that some people seem to assume utopia will be. Solving the issues that haunt our future is not going to be easy, but we should at least try, we should at least think about it and work towards it. We have to imagine it for at least a chance of it happening.

And when we solve those problems and reach utopia, that's not the end, it's just the beginning.

My story The Rules Of Utopia is published in DayBreak Magazine.

Big And Dumb, Week 307

Things that Big Dumb Object has loved and hated this week:



  • PR emails
  • Cars
  • Stuff that breaks

March 17, 2010

Ball, Peen, Hammer

Ball Peen Hammer is a graphic novel from First Second Books. It's set in a post apocalyptic world which is dark and wet and gloomy. People become infected, an oppressive regime reigns and it's a struggle to survive.

The story follows an actress and a musician as they try to reunite after one night together.

It's an interesting story, but pretty bleak, I would have liked a bit more hope rather than the suffering. The ending did not fill me with joy.

The artwork is clean and precise but also manages to convey the bleakness of the world.

Also worth mentioning is that the physical package of the book is lovely: the cover is not a hardback but glossy and solid, the edges of the pages are black making the book look very cool from end on, and all together the production quality is impressive.

First Second Books have an interesting looking selection of other titles too.

March 16, 2010

FlashForward Returning

Five are showing lots of adverts for FlashForward at the moment, prior to its return next Monday at 9pm.

The trailers make it look almost interesting, amazingly.

Also amazingly, lots of non-SF fans I've talked to have got into the series and are astounded when I say it's rubbish and they should be watching Lost instead. 

Press Coverage Of Ian McEwan's Solar

A big name literary author writing something that sounds like Science Fiction (or at least, just science) seems to be attracting a lot of press:

The Independent: "Solar is purely light entertainment - no bad thing in itself but lacking the scope and tenacity that one might expect from McEwan."

The Telegraph: "Solar is fun and clever, but the brilliance of its timing, as our scepticism about the received scientific view of climate change grows, means it will come to be regarded as a classic."

The Times :"sizzling lucidity distinguishes this enormously entertaining novel about rationality and unreason."

March 15, 2010

Gentlemen With Lightsabers T-Shirt

Gentlemen Love Light Swords - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Lightsabers, gentlemen and golf?!

UK SF TV Shows On YouTube

YouTube seems to have an increasing number of UK TV shows, including a selection of Science Fiction shows:

That's the entire (old) series of Day Of The Triffids, 44 episodes of classic Doctor Who and the remake of The Quatermass Experiment (with David Tennant).

There's also clips of Nu Who but entire episodes.

March 12, 2010

Big And Dumb, Week 306

Things that Big Dumb Object loved and hated this week:


  • Google Maps + Android phone helping me navigate a strange city. 
  • Wandering around a city I didn't know.
  • A bookshop that served pots of tea from behind the cash register.
  • More podcasting.
  • One week until my new story is published.
  • Real physics on TV.


  • Being tired.
  • Not reading very much.
  • Not writing anything.
  • Cars which breakdown.

March 11, 2010

Riding In Mexico By Brenda Cooper

Another optimistic Science Fiction story from DayBreak Magazine, Riding Mexico by Brenda Cooper is a great example of how optimism doesn't have to be simple or dull.

The story is set in a future where people can 'ride' other's thoughts. The people who allow the riding are often poor, living in second/third world countries, and they get paid to allow the ride. The riders are 'well off' people from the first world. 

In the story the riders are students and the protaganist, Isa, wants to ultimately ride others as part of the diplomatic core, to aid poorer people.

Although swapping bodies isn't original the story feels fresh due to the emotional slant, the one sided nature of the riding and all the questions it raises. It's written in first person, making the narrative easy to read and flowing, with some nice descriptive passages of Mexico.

The story ends with some moral questions left open for discussion, not least of which whether to force help on others, or to leave them with little other choice than to accept help.


March 10, 2010

Doctor Who Is Going On Tour

The Doctor and his new companion are going on tour in the UK, not in the TARDIS but in a big bus.

The tour will visit Belfast, Inverness, Sunderland, Salford and Northampton (yes, rather random). Each location will also host a regional premiere of episode one, The Eleventh Hour, for local children, working alongside BBC Outreach to enable kids to get a first look at the new Doctor in action.

The tour starts on the 29th March.

Also there's some preview screenings:

Following the tour, from 1 to 3 April, the BBC will also hold events for three days at selected BBC Big Screens across the UK giving Doctor Who fans in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Plymouth and Swansea the chance to interact directly with the show in their home towns. 

The events will feature exclusive footage - including the chance to see the Doctor Who trailer in 3D - and giveaways, and fans can also get their photo taken tumbling through the giant vortex. 

Visitors will be able to meet some of the scariest monsters that have had viewers watching from behind their sofa for generations as well.

Looks like the Doctor PR machine is beginning to roll...

March 9, 2010

A T-Shirt For Fans Of Dogs And Astronauts

A Flying Dog in Outer Space - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Astronaut Dog!

March 8, 2010

My Story 'Build, Build, Build' Has Been Published

My Flash Science Fiction story "Build, Build, Build" has been published online at Every Day Fiction.

It's a story of runaway nanobots and seems to divide people who've read it. 

It starts like this:

Gerald stood on a hill, overlooking the valley that he had lived in for thirty years, and watched the nano-assemblers demolish his village. In its place they built a four hundred story tower block.

March 3, 2010

Dalí's Clocks by Dave Hutchinson

Dalí's Clocks by Dave Hutchinson was published in DayBreak Magazine at the end of January and I've just caught up and read it.

It's a story of an architect, who's friend introduces him to a new drug. Told in first person it's extremely readable, a lovely voice to the narrator, and a plot which kept me hooked and even when I thought I knew where it was going still added a little twist.

The story is very European in it's tone and locations, which is refreshing, and gave me the urge to get in the car and go on a mad European road-trip. 

As has been the case with pretty much all of the stories published in DayBreak Magazine there's plenty to think about, the plot ends and there's a view of the aftermath, and being optimistic Science Fiction it's an enjoyable aftermath, one that encourages some thought.

There was even a joke about British Science Fiction that made me laugh out loud.

I liked it a lot. Recommended.

Now, there's more to talk about, and there will be spoilers, so read the story first then come back....


Continue reading Dalí's Clocks by Dave Hutchinson.

March 2, 2010

March's Ansible Is Online

March 1, 2010

Being Human, Series 2

Last night BBC3 aired the final episode of Being Human series two (and yes, we got eight episodes, not the average six). It was, all in all, very, very good.

A werewolf, a vampire and a ghost, living together could have been so wrong, but instead the "monsters" cling to their humanity, make tough decisions and live with the consequences. Meanwhile the normal humans become monsters, losing sight of their reason and giving in to fear.

It combined just the right amount of sadness, and wit and violence and scariness. By the end of every hour long episode I couldn't believe the hour was up, which has got to be the sign of good storytelling, completely submerged.

Even the finale succeeded, where often series cop out with a cliffhanger this delivered resolution and a cliffhanger, I couldn't see how it was going to finish to be honest but thought it was very well done: brave to spend the last half examining the aftermath.

I've deliberately kept this review a bit vague, because if you haven't seen it I don't want to spoil you (when is it being shown in the US?). If you haven't seen it, you really should. If you have I assume you've enjoyed it as much as me.

And the good news? They're making a third series.