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Originally posted by peadarog at Music Monday: SF/Fantasy's very best of best ever Music. Ever.

Nobody does specfic in music better than David Bowie. Or did, anyway. Of all his songs of the fantastic, and there are too many to list here, my personal favourite has always been "The Supermen". The song tells the story of godly creatures whose only impossible wish is to die. But the specfic elements are not just confined to the story: the music too, especially the percussion, gives us a sense of some great epic tale; the relentless beating of a monstrous heart. Even better is the language. It would be fantasy-twee if Bowie's phrasing were not so sincere:

Where all were minds in uni-thought
Powers weird by mystics taught
No pain, no joy, no power too great
Colossal strength to grasp a fate
Where sad-eyed mermen tossed in slumbers
Nightmare dreams no mortal mind could hold
A man would tear his brother's flesh, a chance to die
To turn to mold.

I'm glad there's not much of a video. In this case, it would only distract from the story. Here ye go.


The Grimm Future

I was wondering when I'd get a chance to announce this one! I'm absolutely delighted to be part of a new anthology of SF stories based on Grimm's fairy tales entitled... The Grimm Future.

What a fine cover it has! What a great line-up that includes our own Maura McHugh (splinister), as well as a number of other writers whose work I have long admired. I'll list the scribblers below, but first I want to thank hatgirl who critiqued my own tale, "The Madman's Ungrateful Child", and Erin Underwood, the editor and all-round fabuloid.

Table of Contents

  • “Introduction” by Erin Underwood

  • “Pair of Ugly Stepsisters, Three of a Kind” by Garth Nix
    based upon multiple Grimm fairy tales, including Little Brother and Little Sister,Rapunzel, Little Red-Cap, and Cinderella

  • “The Iron Man” by Max Gladstone
    based upon Iron John

  • “Zel and Grets” by Maura McHugh
    based upon Hansel & Gretel

  • “For Want of a NAIL” by Sandra McDonald & Stephen D. Covey
    based upon The Nail

  • “The Shroud” by Dan Wells
    based upon The Shroud

  • “Long-Term Employment” by Mike Resnick
    based upon Death’s Messengers

  • “Swan Dive” by Nancy Holder
    based upon The Six Swans

  • “The White Rat” by Dana Cameron
    based upon The White Snake

  • “Origins” by Carlos Hernandez
    based upon The Star-Talers

  • “Angie Taylor in: Peril Beneath the Earth’s Crust” by John Langan
    based upon The Brave Little Tailor

  • “The Three Snake-Leaves” by Jeffrey Ford
    based upon The Three Snake-Leaves

  • “The Madman’s Ungrateful Child” by Peadar Ó Guillín
    based upon The Bremen Town-Musicians

  • “Stories of the Trees, Stories of the Birds, Stories of the Bones” by Kat Howard
    based upon The Juniper Tree

  • “Be Still, and Listen” by Seanan McGuire
    based upon Little Briar-Rose

Reading, Watching, Novelising, Hogmanaying


Long-time friends will know that I always celebrate when a book I'm working on reaches the 40k word mark. For those who don't know, I do this for the stupid, completely arbitary reason that this is the minimum length for a novel. Anything shorter is at best a novella.

Well, today, at the crusty bottom end of 2015, my new baby, The Cauldron, is all growed up and ready to party. Hurray!


A great year for books is ending with quite a bang. A few days ago, I finished Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora. It's not my favourite book ever, but it packs quite a punch in the speculative science department. I don't doubt I'll be thinking about this one for years.

But if it's fun you want -- and who doesn't? We're all Cyndie Lauper at heart -- you could do a lot worse than Claire North's The Gameshouse series. This is a trilogy of novellas, where ever so clever people challenge each other to make or break whole nations, using ordinary folk as pieces. It's not a wholly original concept, but boy is this tremendous fun. Highly recommended. Unless you hate enjoying yourself.

WATCHING -- Never a Spoiler for You, My Beloved

I saw Star Wars, of course. My friends are all in love and want to marry it. For me, if was fun to kiss and cuddle at the back of the cinema. There was much giggling. But I doubt we'll ever see each other again.

On Netflix I really enjoyed:
F is for Family -- a 70s based cartoon sitcom that has fun with the styles and prejudices of the times. Nothing mind-blowing here, but likeable and nasty. Adults only.

Making a Murderer -- a true-crime documentary type thing, but so far above anything like that I've ever seen before that, after an indifferent start, it became totally compelling. Brilliant stuff.

The Bridge, Series 1 -- This was thoroughly spoiled for me by having seen the vastly inferior, English/French remake. Still, very well done, and I look forward now to enjoying a spoiler-free season 2.


Yeah, that's right. Have a great one, all my friends. I myself am on-call tonight, so I'll be sticking with with my books and good food. Take care of yourselves and I hope we'll meet in the New Year.

Almost a Date

It's looking very likely at the moment that my next published novel, The Call, will now appear on both sides of the Atlantic in September 2016 or thereabouts. Originally, the lovely UK Publishers, David Fickling Books, were aiming for Easter. But close cooperation with Scholastic will make for a far stronger release. Twitter, facebook and tumblr are all worldwide these days. Seems wise to take advantage of that!


I've just been out for an astoundingly beautiful walk, during which the Christmas fairies granted me the ending to the novel I'm sweating over right now. Thank you, Christmas fairies! Thank you!

Current working title? The Cauldron. It may very well change in the coming months.

Death of a Domain

I am sad over the loss of my domain "frozenstories.com". Basically, I was paying the domain name registration through an old email address and missed the expiry notice. An appliance company in China swooped in and ate it. I've been researching online and I don't think there's much I can do about it. *shakes fist at nearby fridge*

Happy Christmas

You know the drill. Have a lovely few days. Don't eat anybody you might need in the coming year. Ignore the haters and make as many new year resolutions as you like. Breaking them is what living is all about.

Hope to see you all soon!

The Real Danger of Videogames

It's rare indeed that I'll last more than a few levels of a videogame these days. And this despite the fact that I was a fiend for them growing up. Yet, just this week, I tried my hand at an old PC classic called Portal, and instantly fell in love. It's a beautifully weighted puzzler backed up by a wonderfully written, slyly humorous script.

"A bit of harmless fun," I hear you say. "Sure, you're entitled, and what'd ye be doing anyway only watchin' telly or readin' books? Am I right?"

Oh, yes, you're right. Entertainment is entertainment after all and it's not as if I was playing during writing hours.

But here's the thing. I don't plan my books. I'm what's known as a "pantser". I start a story and wait to see what happens. In practical terms, this means I rely on a constant stream of inspiration. At every moment of the day, whether I'm thinking of food, or bullying small children, or surfing the NetWorld, my subconscious is busy in the background solving my problems.

But Portal -- the brilliant Portal! -- took over that process. Two nights in a row I dreamed about the game, and while I had plenty of inspiration during the week, it was all about solving the latest fiendish puzzle.

Ah, well. I've finished it now and can get back to daydreaming fixes for plotting conundrums. I'm glad I don't play games all that often. I'm not sure I'd ever get anything done!


So, the copy-edits for my next book, The Call are done. This means that from now on I will have no further input until we all start marketing the thing and you poor sods begin to receive wheedling pleas asking you to buy it, sell it, publicize it, review it, give all your lives and worldly possessions over to the glory of ME.

Oh, relax! That won't happen for a while yet, I swear it.

It's been years since I've been through the mill of Traditional Publishing and I had forgotten just how much work goes into it. I had at least four full edits at the hands of several, highly qualified people, before the eagle-eyed and brilliantly pitiless line-editor brought death to a thousand commas. She uncovered a host of other tiny flaws. None of these would have ruined the story. None would have brought armies of furious readers onto the streets to take their rage out on shop windows or on poor little match girls in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But each of them acted as an irritation, working and working to pull you out of the story.

I had to pay about $1,200 to self-publish my previous novel, The Volunteer. The lion's share of that money went on a very thorough line edit. I shudder to think how much I would have had to pay over to get all the careful layers of polish
I'm getting on The Call.

I want The Call to be the best book ever written between now and the inevitable death of the sun. I wanted the same for The Volunteer, of course. But this time around, I have a large team at my back who all act as if they want the same thing; as if their very lives depend on it!*

Self-publishing is a wonder of our age and it has saved many fantastic stories from dusty drawers around the world. I don't doubt, that sometime in my life, I'll be making use of it again. But I won't and can't pretend that my work is better for never having anyone but me involved in its creation.

*Some exaggerations may apply. See Terms and Conditions.

Reading, Watching

Just a quick entry to say how much more good stuff has been coming my way over the last few days.


I've just finished with Adam Neville's Lost Girl. It's a grim cli-fi tale of a father's desperate search for his daughter. The tension -- as is Neville's speciality -- slowly, slowly rachets up until you can't breathe. Great stuff with a scarily believable climate apocalypse background.


Just started on season two of The Leftovers. I'm still not quite sure what episode 1 was about, but I enjoyed it immensely.

On the other hand, the first episode of BBC's The Last Kingdom was a great disappointment. I like the books quite a bit, and I imagined the makers of Vikings must have been quaking in their boots when a series covering much of the same territory was being made by a great institution like the BBC. Well, they must be laughing now. The Last Kingdom drops the ball on all the things Vikings gets so right: the alien cultures of both the raiders and the Anglo-Saxons; the child actors; the fight scenes etc. I wonder how Bernard Cornwell feels about it?


Currently about 12,000 words into a sequal of my forthcoming novel, The Call. I've had a few weeks where travel and illness and the day-job kept me from doing proper work on it, but I feel I'm back in the swing at last.


More soon.

Watching, Reading, Being


Busy, busy, busy! In ten minutes I'll have soap in my eyes as I get ready to go and watch The Martian. Hurray! But don't feel let down thinking I never watch anything on the little box in my living room, because I totally do. There's been some great stuff on lately: Fargo has restarted with a bang on Channel4. The Returned and The Leftovers and Vikings and The Last Kingdom are all under weigh, but I have yet to catch up with them.

Even better than all of these is an amazing little detective series on BBC called River. Holy moly! I think it's the saddest thing I've ever seen, but so bloody good and so clever that I can't tell you a single thing about it without spoiling everythig for you. If you have a chance to watch this one, please give it at least one episode to make up your minds. I think it's brilliant.

Other than that, I really loved the hilarious New Zealand comedy What we do in the Shadows. It's a mokumentary about four old-fashioned vampires sharing a flat in a modern city. I laughed and laughed and my only regret is I didn't save this one for watching with friends. It would make a great party movie. It's on Netflix if you're interested. And you should be!

At the opposite end of Netflix's humour scale, we have Beasts of no Nation. The story of a child soldier. Gorgeous cinematography only augments the absolute horror of the situation. It rambles. It's hours long. But I was never bored and feel it does justice to the traumatic subject matter.


I've just got hold of Adam Neville's latest, Lost Girl. Looking forward to getting stuck in to it.


All my cons are fled and I'm left with a long winter of shivering, writing, and wishing I were elsewhere. On the bright side, however, life is awesome and full of stories. Seriously, Peadar, cop on! Oh, and you'd better come out the other side of this with a new book.

More soon.

My New Novel Publication Deal: The Call

Anybody who has so much as passed me by in a corridor over the last few months, must have been thinking to themselves, "What's he in such a good mood for? He's a vegan. He can't even eat cheese, for heaven's sake!"

Well, it looks like the details are finally out there in the world...

To cut a long story short -- although it's more of a novel, really -- my new book, The Call will be out some time next year. I'm so proud of this one and ridiculously excited about it. I don't have a blurb for it yet, but basically, it's a YA portal fantasy. It takes place in an Enid Blyton boarding school with massive casualties and a severe lack of ginger pop.

My old friends at David Fickling Books will be publishing the novel in Ireland and the UK. Meanwhile, brand new best buddies at Scholastic will put my name in lights all over the US. *cough*.

I'm grateful to all of them. As well as to my beta readers and the Cons that let me roadtest parts of the book on innocent punters.

That's it! I'll share the publication dates when I get them.


Ian McDonald's Luna: New Moon is Brilliant

I'll try not to go on and on here -- the title of this post fully expresses my feelings on Luna: New Moon. But I will go on a little bit.

Ian McDonald has spent much of his career exploring Science Fictional ideas in countries and cultures different from the Western default of white-picket fences and apple pie. He's been in Turkey and Brazil, India and Africa. Japan. Belfast. Now he's decided to mash them all together and slap them down onto the horrifically unforgiving surface of the moon.

His mad experiment has resulted in a brand new culture. It's brutal, fascinating, even exhilarating, with its own laws and artforms and customs. There are people known as "wolves" who skirt the edge of madness whenever a full Earth hangs in the sky; there is a pack of runners on an endless hypnotic jog around one of the cities, where people join or leave as they approach exhaustion. Fashion changes lightening fast, but that's OK: a few minutes can get you a whole new wardrobe printed out.

It's a wild-west claims culture fuelled by murder and complicated contracts. It's packed with a horde of POV characters, all of whom have very different quirks, needs and ambitions.

I don't want to spoil it for you, but man, there are some great set-pieces in there, and while the plot seems to meander a bit at the start of the book, it all comes together beautifully for a big-screen action-packed finish.

I think this is Ian McDonald's best book so far, and for once, I'd love to see a sequel.



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