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More About Endings, About Spoilers.

Holy crap and what a fool I've been! And thanks to irishhatgirl for crystalizing this for me with a great piece of criticism.

People like suspence. They enjoy mystery. And I used to think -- until about two days ago -- that this mystery was the only thing that pulled them all the way to the end of a novel.

"No spoilers!" they cry on the interwebs and that sound rises to a scream just before every episode of A Game of Thrones or Dr. Who comes on the telly.

But then, how do we explain Mills and Boone Romance novels? We know from the first few pages that the feuding couple are going to be in each other's arms by the end of the book, so where is the mystery there?

I thought I knew the answer to that particular puzzle: I felt sure the readers leapt from page to page in order to figure out the how rather than the what. For example, how will the heroine overcome the mother-in-law who is a werewolf? Or the inevitable evil estate agent? Or the fact that she has seen her beloved with his sister and confuses the woman for a rival? How?

But it's not just that, is it?

We love these characters! That ditzy, quirky secretary, whose only friend is her cat. And Mr. Boone, the tycoon, her boss, who we soon learn has a tender side, hidden by arrogance only because he was hurt once before -- by a secretary, no less! So much do we love them that even though we know they're going to end up together, we want to share in their joy by watching it happen. We want to attend the wedding, even if it goes on for 20 pages after the actual plot has peaked...

By conincidence, I saw the last two (wonderful!) episodes of the Danish historical drama 1864 last night. Sure enough, we had a wedding. Sure enough, even though the main plot had been resolved, the director spent the last thirty minutes slowly resolving every remaining thread of the story. And it was beautiful.

No wonder people keep telling me my endings are abrupt!


Reading and Watching


Lots of good books are about to vomit forth into the world. I can't remember all of them, but I have just this minute helped myself to Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time. Yes, you have guessed correctly: today is indeed the day of its release, and I have been quick off the mark. Soon... soon all of the books will be mine.


As for TV, my pick of the last few weeks has been the Danish historical drama 1864. It's yet another story that plays "compare and contrast" between a rural idyll and the horrors of war, but it has a fantastic atmosphere. Every leader on both sides of the Danish/Prussian conflict seems insane (other than Bismark) and the small people get the grinding into the dirt that they deserve, and that we, the paying audience, deserve to see.

As the series nears its end, a few fantasy elements have started to creep in, and they just don't belong, in my opinion. Still, well worth a watch.

Also, listening to Danish is fun. Incomprehensible fun for the most part, but every now and again, entire phrases that are identical to English leap out of the dialog.

Other than that, I'm looking forward to the imminent return of Netflix's Orange is the New Black.

Now, if only I could cut the lawn...

When Farts are like Bullets

A thousand years ago, somebody wrote:

Atá ben is tír
ní abar a hainm;
maidid esi a deilm
amal chloich a tailm!

Which you could translate as:

There's a woman from this area
I won't mention her name
but her farts fly
like stones from a sling!

For some bizarre reason, it still shocks and amazes me to find that our ancestors were human beings, who loved to laugh and to mock each other. Who didn't spend every second on their knees in church, or dying of plague or boredom or Vikings. I mean, it's pretty obvious when you see some of the illustrations from the Book of Kells that even monks had grins plastered on their faces most of the time.

Anyway. Bloody rain. Am I right?

P.S. I found the quote here and have altered the translation a little to suit my own taste.


I have little to say for myself right now. I've spent the last few days up to my eyebrows in... nothing. I have relaxed like a pro. I have indulged and yawned and scratched parts of me that haven't seen fingernails in months. Now, I'm shopping for fingernail bleach. Anybody know a good brand?


On top of all that, I've been watching all kinds of stuff. About the best of the bunch, was the Netflix original series Chef's Table. It's a gorgeous, slow-paced documentary that gets right into the hearts and minds of famous chefs and exposes them, neuroses and all, to the light. Marvellous, beautiful. Uncomfortable for vegans, however. Still, I really enjoyed it when I was sick, since I couldn't handle anything fast-paced.

Then, last night, I saw its antithesis in Mad Max: Fury Road. Absolutely stunning action flick/freak show. One long, never-ending chase scene that actually works and that doesn't feel repetitious. If you like action and weirdness and insanity, this could be for you.


Yes, yes, of course I've been reading. Every day, I assure you and in quantity. As always, the good stuff has to be winkled out of its burrow. But I enjoyed Ian McDonald's Sacrifice of Fools. What if 100,000 aliens had landed in Northern Ireland just as the peace process was getting started? I found the results to be intriguing; the aliens to be fascinating; and the politics to be real.

I've also just started Charles Stross' The Jennifer Morgue, and my hopes are high.

Other than that? Pretty much zippo and zilch. I'll be taking today off and I have a course at work all next week that will have me keeping very strange hours indeed. What about you?

The Drowner Hits Facebook... Hard.

Yes, a cursed flu type thing is keeping me off the internets, and yet, older versions of me are still out there, still causing havoc... For example, my very short story, The Drowner, has returned from its watery grave to terrorise Facebook. You can read it here! Or... you can choose not to, and spend the rest of your life steeped in anxiety and regret. You will be a poignant figure that others will point to, a warning to small children of what they might become should opportunities slip away...

Am I over-egging it a bit?

It's all part of showcasing Irish fantastic fiction as the bid to bring WorldCon to Dublin in 2019 ramps up. Lots of incredible authors have already contributed, and there'll be a new one every week until the entire population of the world has been awoken to the power of our cause.

Other than that, does anybody else keep getting the same flu every few months?

Signal Boost: Hank Quense

My friend and fellow author, Hank Quense, is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for his next parody novel, Moxie’s Decision. Here is a link to the web page:  Hank has put together a great rewards program of ebooks, print books, critiques, and one-on-one lectures on fiction writing, self-publishing and book marketing.
Check it out.

Writing, Watching, Puppies

Wow! I've had one of those bizarrely productive days I read about on other people's blogs, but never quite believe are real. I've typed "The End" on the first draft of "The Fairy Killers" and am madly happy about how it turned out. I cooked, with wholly horrific results. I cycled. I cleaned. I bought vegan ice-cream. It's like I'm one of those super-persons that Netflix are making series about.

I've even found time in the last few weeks to watch everything under the sun. Far too much to blog about here, really, but a quick summary can't hurt too many people.


Yup, I've seen it all. I like Netflix's Better Call Saul, although some of the episodes grab me more than others. I particularly adored the one from last week, called Marco.

Other Netflixy stuff? There's quite a lot of it at the moment, isn't there? It's of very high quality, but it's not all good. Bloodline, in particular disappointed me, for all that the first ten minutes of episode one were gorgeous. But I just don't care about any of it, or any of them. I can't.

Daredevil is much more enjoyable, but nowhere near as brilliant as most of the internet appears to think. It always seems to me that people who like superhero stuff add 20% to their review scores and close their eyes to the most appalling clichés with the remark, "Well, what do you expect? That's superheros!" But yes, I'm up to episode 5 and will certainly watch the rest of the series, because, in spite of the clichés, it does the most important things right: an interesting and likeable lead character; an interesting villain. And violence.

What else?

I'm giving Orphan Black a second chance. I have made it up to episode 5 this time and am beginning to enjoy just how well the main actor portrays her many roles and how much fun she is having with them. The plot should grab me more than it's doing, but I'm not ready to quit just yet.


The entire internet has given its opinion about the Sad Puppies Hugo controversy, so why not me?

I'm going to shock a lot of my friends by saying I have a lot of sympathy for their cause. I too, have found the Hugo shortlists awful these last few years. There are exceptions; some fabulous stories still make it through. But yes, I confess that when reading some of them over the last few years, I have thought that there was no way a particular work could have made it onto the ballot unless dozens of people were voting their friendships or their politics.

But that's a popular vote for you. Any popular vote. And all my sympathy comes to a screeching halt with the introduction of a voting slate. Two wrongs do not make a right, and this became crystal clear last year, because the stuff the puppies voted onto the 2014 ballot was even worse, a lot worse in some cases, than the normal dreck, which was at least well-written dreck, or ambitious dreck.

You know what my plan to fix the Hugos is? I'm going to read a crapton of fiction, and every time I come across something that excites me, I'm going to say so right here on this blog. If enough people do that, genuinely great stuff like Robert Jackson Bennett's City of Stairs might not be shut out of the awards next time around... by a Slate.

All my opinions are just opinions. Except they're my opinions and therefore special.

Anyway, time for some of that ice-cream. Who wants some?

KDP and ME

Yes, I've been writing a lot lately, and how I thank you, sweet readers of the sparkling eyes for asking about it. I'm within a week of finishing the first draft of my new book, The Fairy Killers. That makes me so happy I hereby swear to refrain from murder and ice-cream at least until I have finally typed "The End".

In the meantime, my experiments in eBookery continue.

Every friend I have on this earth has already availed themselves of my short story collection, Forever in the Memory of God. I thank you. I kiss each of your toes with the appropriate reverence, because I love my friends.

I have put the book into Amazon's KDP (Kindle Select) program. This brings both good news and heart-breaking sorrow:
-From now on the book will cost a mere 99c plus taxes -- hurray!
-But it will only be available for the Kindle -- sob!

I apologize to the owners of ePub readers, as well as to the families that continue to support them in this time of woe. But since nobody has bought that particular book in several months, I feel the day has come to have some fun with it...

In the meantime, try to enjoy yourselves. I'll be sharpening my knives and watching each and every one of you...

LUXCON, TITANCON, How Conventional!


That's two years running now, I've been to the Grand Duchy as a guest at LuxCon, and two years where they've treated me like the rare and precious orchid that I am. After 2014's shocking surfeit of sun, the organisers provided plenty of rain this time to keep my Irish skin from drying out. And they even supplied me with friends: writers like Adrian Tchaikovsky and Aliette de Bodard; actors, like the lethal Miltos Yerolemou; and of course, the constant travelling pack of buddies known as the Brotherhood Without Banners, who will never abandon you to sip coffee alone.

LuxCon continues to astound. It should be tiny, but it is vast and vibrant. Alive with CosPlayers and Collectors; gamers and artists and surprisingly multilingual children.

Should you go next year? Well, that depends on whether you prefer having a good time or weeping alone in your cold bedroom. I won't judge you.


And holy crap! Have you seen the guest list for TitanCon? Joe Abercrombie, soon to be the bloody tyrant of all Ireland, will be attending his first Con on this side of the Shattered Sea. I spoke to him at WorldCon last year and hinted at how nice it would be if he could somehow get over his leprechaun phobia. And yes, it's a recognised condition. Seems that Phil must have "shown him the instruments" as they say*, and finally got him to give in.

It will also be great to share a table full of curry with last year's Queen of the Con, Pat Cadigan, as well as the witty and brilliant Sarah Pinborough.

And that's just the imported talent! The Belfast authors alone would promote outbreaks of hysterical swooning at any Con in the world. Look at Ian Mcdonald! On an island infested with famous writers, people ought to be building statues to him and sacrificing their children at his mighty marble feet.

Anyway, you should come. I mean it. I'd love to see you there. You'd love to see you there. Bring chocolate.

*Not a double-entendre. I swear it's a reference.

Reading, Writing, Watching... LuxCon!

Yes, my filthy chums, it's been a while, but I haven't forgotten you! Oh, no! I will have my revenge, and you, you will be the star...

But until then, oh future victims, let us share our entertainments.


Yes, I've been doing a bit of that. Pick of the bunch lately has been Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It's a literary post-apocalyptic story. Lots of quiet musing about lost technology while stabbing brigands. I lapped it up and asked for more, but none was to be had.

I also spent quite a while on sample chapters of the Latest Fantasy Blockbusters, but none were to my jaded taste. So far, this year, the fantasies I enjoyed most were by authors I already knew: Adrian Tchaikovsky and Joe Abercrombie. More soon when I have it.


I got to the end of Wolf Hall eventually. Beautiful stuff. A stunning end to Anne Boleyn -- like a helpless little bird, when we used to fear her so much! Or despise her! And Netflix's Better Call Saul is an easy, quirky watch. But most of all, I am delighting in Adventure Time. A 10 minute per episode cartoon about a boy and his dog* that makes me feel... joy. No other word for it. When I watch it, I feel exactly how I imagine five year olds feel when they're lost in play. Give it a go! Give it a few gos until you lose yourselves in it!


Holy crap! 60,000 words of what I am now sure will be called "The Fairy Killers". I'm having a great time with it, I really am. Except that I'm about to butcher my favourite character and that can't be right, can it?


LuxCon is just around the corner, so, if you love SF or gaming or CosPlay. If you have a pulse, get ye to Luxembourg go! It was an amazing experience last year. They had frites! And you could have some too. The website is here.

*No, not that boy. Or that dog.


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