Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Pilgrimage (Or the awesome trials and travails involved in getting to and from BLLive)

I have had an exceptionally awesome weekend, capped off with a splash of luck and then the karmic repercussions of said luck. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

On Friday morning, with about 20 books stuffed into my hold-all and a slip of paper assuring me passage, I set out for Nottingham. Unfortunately the National Express has to stop EVERYWHERE and so the journey took me about 8 hours. Well spent, mind you; I managed to finish "Path of the Renegade" which really really impressed me. It could be because I love villains; and having twisted Dark Eldar plotting and scheming really seemed to make the time pass quickly.

I dropped my stuff at my hotel and taxi-ed it to Warhammer World where I had the pleasure of meeting some of the Boltholers. Much hilarity and geekery ensued, with some quite awesome conversation and a general atmosphere of welcome and camaraderie.

With Bugman's closing at about 10, I wandered along to the Travellodge with some of the others before heading back to a freezing cold hotel room and managing to fall asleep to Watchmen.

Saturday itself saw me lamenting at a £10 breakfast and hurrying round the corner to some random cafe, snagging a roll and ham and then getting yet another taxi (D&G must love me, I swear to god) and arriving for about half 8. I had paranoid delusions of not being able to get Void Stalker or Primarchs, so the early start was a necessity.

My first stop was the sales area where I believe I may have broken into the frantic giggle of “Butcher's Nails! They have Butcher's Nails! My god, they have..” You get the idea. I quickly divested myself of money; picking up the aforementioned Audiodrama, as well as; Void Stalker, The Primarchs, Legion of the Damned, Architect of Fate and Dead Winter.

I got three seminar tickets (Writing, Xenos and ADB Q&A) and then quickly forgot which belonged to which. Writing was quite interesting. Submissions are being pared down to 1000 word writing samples (which suits me, because I'm terrible at synopses) and no more novels after this year; which makes my Scion of Mars novel sad; but I'll still aim to finish it.

Timeline issues were also fun to come to grips with; the end of all things is too crowded; everything's happening too close to M40.999 which later conversation with my gf compared to Gehenna. Apparently 40k-wise we've got a good few thousand years to play with. Also, avoid big existing set-pieces, someone else is probably going to do it.

I spent the next few hours collecting signatures. Managed to get Andy Chambers (who was awesome and revealed that the third book in his trilogy will be Path of the Archon). Then my waiting in the Graham queue finally paid off and we had a nice long chat, when I managed to stop gushing anyways. I stayed in the queues to meet Sarah and Rob Sanders, who were both amazing. Lovely people to talk to.

The Xenos seminar was illuminating as regards the “do's and don'ts of aliens”. Apparently the Tau are super-popular when it comes to submissions and we should avoid the littler bit-part races (though I still think the tale of a heroic Hrud struggling against the Iron Warrior who killed his great grandfather has merit). Also we had someone regard the Hive Mind as a She, which was interesting :P.

After this it was straight into The Heresy; where the questions were fun and varied. There was the deathly silence when a certain height-challenged race were mentioned and a denial of their ever being anything to the Missing Primarchs. We also got some clarification on the White Scars and when we'd see them tooling around.

After this I went to get Gav's autograph and had another lovely chat, where I finally managed to work in thanking him for the Path of the Seer dedication. I also had to apologise for the sheer volume of books that turned out to be for him; but he managed through without a wrist-brace, so ultimately I think I have a clear conscience.

So, at this point I'm thinking about leaving; but there's still the raffle. All the posters start to wing their way to other homes and I'm thinking that 5-for-4 was a waste of money, when all of a sudden I win. And it just so happens to be the utterly amazing Fear to Tread cover-art. It's huge. Seriously; I've got pictures. It's like all of my living room floor...But so awesome. I'm assured by my soon-to-be cohabitant that there's no way it's going up anywhere, and if it is there'll be a screen so she doesn't have to see it. I think I can deal with that.

That was the luck; now to the karma.

My slow steady progress back means getting a half 6 bus to Birmingham and then a half 10 bus to Glasgow (which gets me in at 6am). The Birmingham-Glasgow bus is delayed by half an hour due to a medical emergency and then slightly more at something-o-clock in the morning thanks to emotional girls with the wrong tickets.

Barring the horrors of transport though, the weekend was phenomenal. It was good to see the authors I'd met before again and great to be introduced to new authors whose work I've come to love. It was also great to actually meet people from the Bolthole, and to feel welcome and included in an atmosphere of good cheer and like-minds.

All I can say is, roll on the Weekender and BLLive2012 while we're at it :)

Malkydel. :)

Friday, 4 November 2011

A Reader and A Writer Born/Adventures in Literature/Love and the Void That Binds

When I can't think what to write about, I usually read and when I can't think what to read I sometimes write. Recently I've been doing a lot of both. I'm almost finished with the Endymion Omnibus (Endymion + Rise of Endymion) and I have to admit that while it's nowhere near as accomplished as the Hyperion Duology, it's certainly interesting. It managed to crawl inside my brain and make me have a horrible dream of being a Born Again Christian on an Archangel ship; dying and being ressurected (a process my mind managed to make garishly and gorily incomplete). I've also been trying to add more to my work-in-progress Mechanicus novel- tentatively named "Engines of Discord", submitting a Xaphan the Faceless short story to the faceless overseers of The Black Library and foolishly deciding to sign up for NaNoWriMo.

I know, I know; I can hardly focus on what I'm already doing, why am I adding to the platter? Well, boredom mostly. I'm at a creative dead-end which only thinking on my feet can get me out of. My war post for Nationstates is making no process and so I'm thinking I'll use NaNoWriMo to get all my juices flowing.

The idea I picked was my "I, Einherjar" novel seed, which I may have discussed with you. Sort of urban-fantasy, modern-fantasy, traditional Norse awesomeness mash-up. Lots of it is still patchwork and ephemeral, but I'm working on the bare bones of a plot. :).

Working tomorrow; something I do not treasure, but on the plus side it is me and Anne-Sophie's six month anniversary. More on that, I think, after the weekend has come and gone :).

What else can I put on a literary bent; maybe I should do occasional reviews of things. That could be interesting and more than likely backfire. After all, my Bitter Ruin gig review was so well received ;).

Anyways; I've rambled and babbled enough. I have a room to clean, a world to create and very likely something somewhere to kill in some virtual capacity ;)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Addendum: "Dead Air", Or: Why It's Not Quite Shite Being Scottish

Almost forgot! (Two posts in one day; aren't you lucky!)

So, I finished "Dead Air" today. I have to say, I was impressed. I've read other reviews that weren't so taken with it, but honestly? I loved it. It follows the trials and tribulations of Ken Nott, Scottish radio DJ and shock jock in London. It follows in the wake of 9/11, which doesn't add to the plot so much as provide a background. Life goes on, even in the developing paranoia and political correctness that was ushered in by the fall of the Towers.

I got this book, along with "Walking on Glass" and "The Steep Approach to Garbadale" from the British Heart Foundation. Now, I'll admit; this was not idle charity. I have a sickness. If I finish a book and have no other book to read, I will buy one- if it is within my means to do so. BHF lies right between my work and the Subway where I get my lunch, so if I finish a book before lunch...Bam; lunch-break buying session. This I couldn't resist though. I'm a huge Iain Banks fan, both with and without the M. I've slowly been building a Mless collection to accompany the fact that I own all of his M books (And have read all of them except Feersum Endjinn). I finished the thing in two days; flew through it on trains and lunch breaks and tea breaks and...You get the picture. My job allows me a good amount of time to read in transit, or waiting to start or in between busy work.

It helps that I agree with a ton of Nott's (and by shredded passport thin author-avatarness those of Banks) views on a lot of political things- dated as they are. I think the datedness helps to put things in perspective. Hindsight being 20-20 and all that. It's a bit like how you understand the emerging shape of the 21st century (one of them at least) in reading Banks' "Transition", the idea of the end of the 20th century being shadowed between the fall of the Wall and the fall of the Towers, and how that affects everything afterwards.

And now to clarify the headline. Part of what I loved about the book was how relatable it is for a Scottish reader. From little things like football, to language and banter; it made me feel a bit at home. (The last page even mentions Renfield Street, which I've crossed- though to the best of my knowledge not holding hands in the rain). It also plays into all the good things that happen to Nott (plenty of bad happens too, but the man has some run of luck with women.)

Trainspotting, it seems, is wrong; though some countrymen reminded me of that point when I quoted at a security guard with a Transpotting t shirt at Sonisphere;

It's not always shite being Scottish.

Friday, 20 May 2011

If Scott Goldie Can/Meditations on a Crisis/End-times Sales Pitch

I shall not be outdone.

They can carve that on my gravestone for all I care, but it shall remain truth; I shall not be outdone. Not by Scott Goldie, not when writing is in my blood, and my blood is up. For these are troubled times; I say, little children, can you say hallelujah! For the good lord will descend and he will raise you up; so sayeth the random American.

Yes folks; the Rapture is upon us. Never mind that no man can know the day or the hour; that doesn't matter where the Evangelist is concerned. No-no. So! In the spirit of Atheist-faith cooperation I have been putting together a list of Rapture Rules; to help you through the turmoil and tumult that will follow the Christians (read: Our consciences) ascending into heaven as the Tribulation descends upon us.

#1: Memorise where the Rich Christians live.

Isn't greed a terrible sin? These people have lived good lives and lives of plenty. They won't need these goods where they're going; thus, fair game. Other raiders will be on the lookout though, so hurry! Gold, jewels, clothing, games, food, porn; all for the taking!

#2: Organise the abandoned Rapture pets into vicious packs.

Not only is this smart in terms of food (much pussy will be eaten; but so will dog), it also has defence aspects. A pack of wild slavering beasts can be of great use in the looming godless wastelands; they can hunt food, kill intruders and generally be used for amusement. I can has shotgun?

#3: Build a better religion.

We can't have everyone getting dejected over being left behind; that just won't do! The faithful didn't ascend by the will of God; the weak were vaporised by Thor's will, so that his strong sons might inherit the earth! Religion is control, so grind out that opiate for the masses!

#4: Always bring a towel.

Common sense at it's finest.

#5: Harvest unbaptised babies.

It's a fact of life; the unbaptised are born corrupt and soulless; writhing with original sin, dripping with venom and tailed like scorpions. Harvesting children is smart for barter (The baby of today is the slave of tomorrow) or food (I want my baby back baby back baby back...)

Final declaration: In the event of the rapture occuring; it's Thunderdome time. I expect costumes. I expect mayhem. I expect an insane anti-semite.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Bitter Ruin Gig Review.

The first time I saw Bitter Ruin I jumped.

I think I'll always remember that; standing at the very front at Oran Mor, unsure about who exactly the support were. I'd briefly looked at their Myspace and was impressed by “Trust” but I still had no bigger picture of who they were. Chewing Gum started, the soft la-ing of Georgia lulling me into a false sense of security, before inevitably she belts out “GET IT OUT, GET IT OUT, GET IT OUT.”

I flinched.

Perhaps it's that I wasn't expecting it, or perhaps it's because there was such power in her, such raw emotion that it cuts you to the quick. If there's one thing Bitter Ruin excel at, it's emotional rapture- somewhere between musical fireworks and heroin.

So, we come to their return to Glasgow, and to the lovely setting of Ivory Blacks. First up is Jim Byrne, who I have to admit is pretty awesome. Despite the fact that he offers us the choice between Blues and Country; which I think must be the Red Neck/Deliverance equivalent of Sophie's Choice, he plays some decent songs. I meet him later and get his autograph; congratulating him on a job well done.

This is followed by the sensation that is Hannah O Reilly. I have never heard of her before; though in retrospect I had never heard of Ruin before Amanda Palmer...Perhaps this is the onset of some kind of insane constant loop of finding great acts through support. I certainly hope so.

Hannah is a larger than life personality, an irresistible lure always willing to engage with the crowd. And do we ever engage. Whether we're cheering along to songs about murdering an old lover, stabbing a prostitute with her own shoe (“Stilleto”, which elicited a gleeful Wayne's World quote from me) or joining her in climaxing throughout “Valium Country”, she never fails to impress, entrance and entertain.

She also has the banter down with the audience, regaling us in a southern drawl about how she likes to kill folk, or playing with her kazoo. Multi-talentedness is always a delightful plus!

I buy her album and she signs it; not simply with her name, but with interesting little notes. She does this at the bar, we share a bit of banter- mostly about how awesome I think she was- and all is right with the world. Except...

Well, in my pursuit of autographed trinkets and celebrity association, I lose my place in the crowd. I was at the front, the very front, for two bands! Admittedly that only served to put me next to the shrill drunk fans who've been shouting with bemusing regularity throughout, but it was the front!

I settle in a few rows behind, and wait.

The ruination begins, and it is wonderful. Opening with “The Vice”, Bitter Ruin are on top form. Georgia's robotic movements remind you of something from an old play- like a figment of black and white come to life. Doll-like and wonderful, she is complimented perfectly by Ben's artful guitar work and well-pitched vocals. From there we are into “Soldier”, an ode to a relationship you can't escape from. Again, it is wonderful.

I'll drop to highlights now; we have Stand to Attention; the old favourite with all the photographing! Full of passion and power, lyrics are belted out by Georgia, accompanied by Ben's insistant military phraseology; a mantra and a backbeat .

There is “Dancing Dolls of Porcelain” where we all have to be extra rowdy at the chorus in order to win sweets, and we succeed beautifully; the song is one of my favourites from the new album- catchy and upbeat with that constant edge of dark passion.

“Brand New Me” is another song which grips you; a light and fluffy sort of a song that Georgia encourages you to imagine as draped in Wizard of Oz imagery. Her gently dark lyrics are wonderfully executed, especially towards the end.

New song Relief features more of the same sort of chemistry; a cymbal banging ode to the wild west, with our heroes in a stand-off. I have to admit I was impressed by this one, and wish it was available for repeated listening...

Arses were signed. We shall avoid all mention.

Deficiency of You is another song from the new album, and another that goes a little slower. Meditative and musing, it's a shared song- showing off the talents of both Ben and Georgia; either of their efforts never fail to ensnare.

Outrageous is a song that I was looking forward to hearing live, since they didn't get to play it at Oran Mor. Very high pitched, it is launched into with aplomb

Old favourite“Trust” makes a wonderful appearance; I've always loved the chemistry that exists there- the back and forth dynamic of the band, the overlapping singing before the confrontation. “How can you ask me to trust you again?” implores Ben before Georgia snaps “Did I ask you to trust me at all?” I love it.

Soundproof Box. Soundproof Box. What can I say about Soundproof Box. I never actually knew it was about a ghost till they told us; but it remains perhaps my favourite song from the new album (Trust is likely my favorite from the old). It's hard to relate to a song about being disconnected from life, when it touches so deeply- it's an emotional tug at the heart and with the revelation of it being about being a ghost unable to interact with a world you loved, I can't help but relate the title to a coffin.

The time is running short, but the band come back for a few more songs (Encouraged by the awesome chant of “FUCKING BEN!”. Chewing Gum plays, and I remember seeing them for the first time; I remember that shudder, that shock running through me, before the onset of stunned awe. It grips me just as much as the first time.

Beware is their last song of the night, a song notable in that if you don't like it you get to see the band dead. It's a sad sort of back and forth edged with a wariness about love (at least in my opinion). It's a beautiful end to the evening; a sad and haunting end which promises only future happiness.

After all; they have to come back some time, and Hannah gigs in Scotland. I can only hope that my calender is a little bit more crowded in the months to come. :)


Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Forgive me my sins, audience (If you even exist, I could be wrong but I hardly think I'm a chittering hub-hive of watchery), it has been far too long since I last visited and regaled you all with stories.

Suffice to say; I'm really bad at this.

Blogging I mean; any other failings are to be elaborated upon at far later dates. I'm sitting here at 3.30am, mindlessly watching TV and exchanging whimsical texts; hardly the stuff of grand blogging endeavours, not the sort of things that dreams are made of.

All this is, you'll understand, cresting on a rather mixed wave; work is taking it's toll on me, the extra hours really battering me about. The fact that my leg is killing me from boxing doesn't help matters (And it's hardly going to heal up with all the pulling and lifting I do at work), siiiiiiigh.

What else, what else; sushi and drinking have so far been the bouyants for this week, enjoyable little pursuits to take my mind off of the awful month-and-a-bit long drudgery. More on my social dalliances at a later date.

To the point; this is my call to arms, an actual kick in the arse for actual bloggerific progress.

Wish me luck, I'll damn well need it.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Boredom rides the star wind

Wednesdays are rueful days of nothing and fail. This is self evident in the fact that I do resoundingly little on Wednesdays compared to the rest of the week. Even writing and reading tend to take swan-dives into nothingness.

I really ought to remedy this, but by the gods I have no idea how I would start. I actually thought that changing my gym habits to neglect Wednesday would break up the week and provide me with some much needed breathing room. A fool. I was a fool!

Instead I'm looking forwards, plotting for my future. I'm considering doing a Postgraduate Diploma, so that I have a chance of getting into a Masters degree. At the moment I'm looking at a nice (but pricey) online course in Edinburgh.

Details as they emerge, blog/audience.