Black Library update!

Only two days after the release of Dark Deeds and I have more excellent news to impart! First of all, I’ll be at the Black Library Weekender this Saturday. I’m not on any panels or anything like that, but I’ll be wandering about the place and generally making it look untidy.

 

BL

 

 

Then, even more exciting from my point of view: Games Workshop are re-releasing NECROMUNDA, aka The Best Game They Ever Made. When it first came out in 1995 it was a complete breath of fresh air for me, someone who’d been playing Warhammer 40,000 for a couple of years. This was a game which took the grim, futuristic setting of 40K and combined it with the small-scale, progressional nature of Blood Bowl. However, there was also a very different feel to it, and not just in the three-dimensional gameplay. This was an urban, low-tech futurism, a game that focused on violent clashes between small gangs of civilians in a gargantuan, mouldering city block fifteen miles high, not giant battlefield combat. The background was gloriously detailed, it was dark, it was dirty, and it felt amazingly real. It quickly became my favourite game from Games Workshop and has remained such ever since.

Now it’s being re-released with new models and a new ruleset, Games Workshop will also need some fiction to go along with it… and, to my enormous joy, they turned to me. I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I’ve been commissioned to write a novella set in the world of Necromunda. Further details must remain under wraps until the appropriate time to reveal them, but for now just take it from me that THIS IS FREAKING AMAZING :D

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Barnes & Noble DARK DEEDS review

I know it’s their job to sell books, but this review by Barnes & Noble might just be the nicest collection of words anyone has ever said about my writing. Skim over lightly if you don’t like spoilers, because… well… there’s a few spoilers in there (an interesting thing I’ve noted about the difference between UK and US marketing, is that UK stuff feeds you some tidbits to get you interested where as US stuff basically seems to tell you half the plot so you know whether you want to bother with it).

Still, I can’t complain about quotes likes “Dark Deeds delivers a supremely satisfying space heist”, “This a sequel that not only doesn’t fix what isn’t broken, it manages to do its predecessors one better” and “Rourke’s sections are the most suspenseful part of the novel, grafting a taut, kinetic spy thriller onto what was already a pretty darn thrilling space opera adventure”.

*dances happily*

Now I just have to hope people buy it, I guess…

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DARK DEEDS IS OUT TOMORROW!

Apologies for shouting, but this is sort of exciting.

Apologies also if you’ve visited my website recently and have simply been greeted with a photography page. Long story short, a mate of mine was running the webhosting for this place and then he stopped doing webhosting without realising that he was still hosting my site, and then for some reason it redirected to his photography website. Which was prettier than my website, I’ll grant you, but not necessarily useful in this context.

ANYWAY.

Dark Deeds, the third novel documenting the adventures of the Keiko and its crew, is out tomorrow! Publisher’s Weekly have been rather impressed by it, giving it a starred review, and going so far as to call it my “fantastic third space adventure” and praising the “terrific action sequences”. So I’m pretty chuffed about that.

Also, I recently appeared on the “Signal Boost” part of the Skiffy & Fanty podcast, where I’m interviewed by Jen about it. You can listen to that here. Also appearing is SA Chakraborty, whose novel City Of Brass also sounds fascinating.

So, there we go. Dark Deeds is out tomorrow, and you should definitely go and pre-order it. It would make me very happy and probably contribute positively to world peace or something (look, it everyone’s reading my novels they can’t fight. I’m not saying it’s a perfect solution, but I’m willing to give it a shot if you are).

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A free short story!

I went to FantasyCon over the weekend, and I’ll do some sort of write-up of that later. However, for now I just wanted to share the news that I’ve put up a free short story over at my Patreon. This is called ‘Hunting Shadows’, an urban fantasy/horror short that featured in the ‘Night Terrors’ anthology from Kayelle Press in 2012. It’s set at and around the Goose Fair, which is a travelling fun fair that comes to Nottingham on the first weekend of October (and has been doing so, in various incarnations, for over seven hundred years!), and is basically treated as the official herald of autumn here.

If you feel that you’d like to get more short stories from me once you’ve read this, then please feel free to sign up to the Patreon for more (and original) content :)

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FANTASYCON 2017

Next Friday I’ll be zipping off to Peterborough for my first FantasyCon!

“But Mike,” I hear you cry, “you write scifi, not fantasy! Why are you going?”

Well, first of all, I’m published in scifi, but I wrote fantasy before I wrote scifi and I’m writing fantasy now, as it happens. Secondly, although it’s called FantasyCon it’s basically about speculative fiction in general, including scifi. Also, I can do what I want.

“And will anyone be stupid enough to put you on a panel here, like they did at Nine Worlds?” is very likely to be your follow-up question. And the answer is that yes they are because I’m on the ‘New Futures’ panel at 2.30pm on Saturday in Althorpe (Panel Room 2) with Ian Whates, Naomy Foyle and Nina Allen, and I’m on the ‘Other People’s Playgrounds’ panel at 3.30pm in the same place with Simon Clark and Tim Lebbon, and being moderated by Gav Thorpe in a turnaround of our roles at Nine Worlds.

“And don’t tell me they’re letting you DJ too, like Nine Worlds did, in their disco on the Friday night?” is almost certainly what any sensible person would ask after that. And my answer to that is “maybe”. They seem open to the idea, but it sounds like they’ve hired an actual proper DJ and I’m not sure whether someone like that would want an amateur using their equipment. So the attendees might after all get away without having me aiming tunes at them.

I might see you there!

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Adventures in London (again) and a NEW ANNOUNCEMENT

Yesterday I went to London to see the lovely people at Audible and be interviewed about the upcoming DARK DEEDS (yes, it seems the release date has been pushed back to 14th November. No, I have no idea why). After a brief alarm when they thought I was a different Michael Brooks who’d written something called The Quantum Stargazer’s Handbook (I’ll be honest, I’d love to be able to say I’d written something with that title) they worked out which author I actually was and got the right questions out! I’ll put a link up to the interview when it’s out, so you can hear me admit for the first time that I probably don’t know Ichabod Drift’s real name.

The NEW ANNOUNCEMENT is that…

(drum roll please)

…I have launched a Patreon! So if you want to read short stories by me on a regular basis then come and sign up. My goal is to get to $200, which (even with the current exchange rate, and tax) I think is a reasonable amount for a short story. I’d be very grateful indeed if you decided to sign up for what I’m sellin’.

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Nine Worlds – Sunday

At long last, the end is in sight.

The Sunday of Nine Worlds is always a bittersweet affair, since although the convention is still going it’s already started to lose attendees, and the sad business of checking out interferes with your ability to go to stuff. I was also tired from DJing the Bifrost until the small hours and then getting up to get breakfast. However, I made sure that I made it to the 10am talk “Space Is An Ocean: Spaceship Design Considerations For Writers”.

This was given by the excellent Nick Bradbeer, a naval architect who managed to expertly balance information with humour as he talked about the considerations for naval ships and then in what way those could be extrapolated to create spaceships that would feel realistic in the mind of a reader. He covered several very interesting points, of which I thought the most fascinating was about fighters ships in space: why are they there? After all, fighters at sea have a distinct tactical purpose, as they can fly much faster than ships can sail and operate in a different medium. However, fighter ships in space are in the same medium as capital ships, and there’s no reason why they should be able to fly any faster. Of course, you can have reasons to have fighter ships – two examples he gave were if long-range sensors weren’t good, so they’d act as scouts, and also if capital ships were excellent at killing each other in warfare but had poor defence against smaller ships, so the big ships would stay back from each other and launch clouds of fighters or bombers – but you need to have thought through why.

Unfortunately I had to bail on the talk before he got to the promised addendum about airships for steampunk, as I needed to go and officially check out of the hotel before I appeared on the “Nine Worlds Podcast – Live”. However, on the way out I was lucky enough to briefly run into Claire North/Kate Griffin/Catherine Webb, who (as Kate Griffin) wrote the Urban Magic and Magicals Anonymous series, and whom as well as being a brilliant author and probably capable of kicking your arse via escrima is also one of the nicest people ever.

So anyway, Nine Worlds Podcast Live: indeed we were live, or at least three-quarters of us were: Misha, who’d co-ordinated the excellent Bifrost Cabaret and Disco the night before, was basically (and quite understandably) a semi-ambulatory hangover by this point thanks to too much alcohol and not enough sleep. However, Matt (a Nine Worlds crewer who is the podcast’s other host), myself and Jeannette Ng (whose debut novel Under The Pendulum Sun is coming out later this year) were all able to form cohesive and consecutive sentences. We hadn’t discussed beforehand what the topics of conversation were going to be and Matt decided to ask us about convention stories and roleplaying, which proved slightly unfortunate as neither Jeannette nor I have been to many conventions, and I’ve never really done any roleplaying (Jeannette does LARP, but not the tabletop sort). We did however hear stories about Matt’s goblin underpants helmet in something he played, we all talked about cats, and I shared my story of being the world’s worst mutant in the only role-play game I ever have played, a very simple X-Men one at Nine Worlds two years ago where I repeatedly catastrophically failed all dice rolls and finished by fatally phasing my head into a wall.

The last part of Nine Worlds for me was a talk on “Different Techniques of POV and the effect they have on the reader” by AC Macklin who has conveniently provided all the slides she used for it here. There was an awful lot of technical language, and I might have been a bit tired to understand it all, but it was still thoroughly interesting (and at least I have the slides to study at leisure!).

And that was it. Both Joe and I had decided that there was nothing else we really wanted to stay for, so we piled into my car and went back up the M1 (Joe fell asleep in the passenger seat, the bastard). And thus ended another (largely) brilliant weekend at Nine Worlds. It would be remiss of me not to mention all my non-panellist friends such as Jamie (whose attendance this year was a little more planned than a spontaneous Friday decision of “sod it, I’m catching the train down from Boulmer to go to a convention all weekend”, although she did end up staying at The Party Hostel again); Runalong and Hedwig; Lauren, whom I’d persuaded to attend and now appears to have decided that Nine Worlds is one of her favourite places ever; Jekri; and Hap, who did the BSL translation for my acoustic set at the cabaret last year (plus anyone else whom I’ve forgotten: my apologies).

I will be going back next year and look forward to meeting up with existing friends, as well as making new ones. If you can make it, I recommend that you do (early bird cheap tickets are only available until 31st August!).

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Nine Worlds – Saturday

Okay, here we go.

The main reason this write-up was so delayed was because of an incident that took place on the Saturday at Nine Worlds, and the aftermath of it. That’s now been resolved, and so I feel I can write about the weekend in full.

Saturday should have begun with “Orkish History 101″, a talk I was eager to attend as I’ve long held a soft spot for orcs/orks (my first internet username was Ufthak, when I joined the message boards of TheOneRing.net back in 2000, looking for information on the Lord of the Rings movies: Ufthak was an orc mentioned in passing by two other orcs in The Return of the King, in a conversation overheard by Sam Gamgee). Unfortunately it quickly became clear that the person giving the talk was unable to do so due to being ill, so I had to decide where to go instead. Sadly my other primary choice, “Archetypes in Fantasy” was already full up, so I went to “How To Write A Location You Can’t Go To” by Melissa Olson. This was a very informative and amusing talk, in which Melissa outlined what she uses to write locations: first, ones that she can visit, and how to maximise the useful time when there, and secondly, the ones that she can’t. Her techniques focus on finding a “useful local” who can answer questions, because how the locals talk and where the locals go is going to be very different to what tourists or visitors do! I also learned about a piece of Los Angeles that fell into the sea once.

After that I attended a panel on “Representations of the City in SFF”, which saw an architect, a couple of authors and an editor (and marketer) talking about how cities can almost be their own character in SFF, and how writing about them and creating them can influence the novel. There was a lot of discussion about things like Brutalism and Modernism too, which I completely failed to understand. Anna Smith Spark apparently took issue with the panel’s representation of what Modernism is about, but then she’s more educated than me.

Not the best photo, I admit.

Not the best photo, I admit.

The next panel was “Fictional Religions In Video Game Worlds”, which was interesting despite the fact that I’m not really much of a video gamer, certainly not the sort of Dragon Age or Skyrim-type games that they were mainly talking about. It was still interesting to hear people talking about religions, and the attitudes to religion within games, especially given that within games the player sometimes gets to choose on how to interact with religions as opposed to a novel where the character’s interactions are determined by the author and the reader just follows along. This panel featured Lucy Hounsom and Jen Williams, both merrily geeking out about their digital adventures (Lucy was in cosplay as someone from Dragon Age, I think, although I don’t know who).

After that I saw this piece of cracking Deathstroke cosplay, and asked to take a picture with them.

Afterwards he noticed my 'Snake Mountain Gym' top and asked to take a picture of it :p

Afterwards he noticed my ‘Snake Mountain Gym’ top and asked to take a picture of it :p

And then came the panel that caused the problems: “Redemption in Scifi – From Vader to Teal’c and Aeryn Sun”.

I’d been asked to appear on this panel, and had agreed. We’d found out on the Friday that the person we’d thought was moderating was no longer going to be, and so one of us stepped forward as moderator instead. Unfortunately for me that person proceeded to violate many of Nine Worlds’ participation guidelines and some of their anti-harassment policies, including interrupting me while I was introducing myself to make a joke about the sexuality that I had (in the interests of diversity and representation) disclosed as part of my introduction. My immediate instinct was to say “fuck it” and leave: I took a spur-of-the-moment decision to stay to as to avoid disrupting the panel. I’m not sure I made the right decision: my opinion as a panellist was that the panel was something of a garbage fire in the end. I hope it was enjoyable for those that attended, at any rate.

(I’m not going to name the person responsible, but for the record it was neither Ro Smith nor Adrian Tchaikovsky. Both of them were lovely and I don’t wish anyone to mistakenly think it was one of them. If you really want to look up the listed panellists to find out who that leaves, so be it)

I didn’t stay to engage in any conversation after the panel as I was due for a signing at the Big Green Bookshop stall immediately afterwards (they’re the ones who were tweeting Harry Potter at Piers Morgan). I was signing right next to Mike Carey, which was awesome, although the difference in our respective lines was a little sobering (although hardly surprising!). I’d like to thank the people that came to either buy a book or have one signed – gratifyingly the stall had already sold out of Dark Run by the time I was due to sign there, although they hadn’t been able to get many in.

I then went to the “Creating Original Dystopia In A Somewhat Dystopian World” panel, where Anna Smith Spark and Adrian Tchaikovsky were talking about this subject as part of a larger panel (including Pat Cadigan, who memorably stated something along the lines of “I didn’t promise you flying cars, I promised you nihilistic dystopia: how do you like me now?”). Anna did state that she was worried about whether or not anyone would actually want grimdark any more, given the general state of the world, and maybe people would just prefer to read about fluffy unicorns instead. However, I wasn’t really in the right mental space to stay for all the panel due to still being furious about what had happened earlier, so I let myself out quietly to get some food before Swordpunk!

Swordpunk! was a workshop where you could sign up to spend an hour learning the very basics of swordplay as taught in medieval documents. I partnered against Joe, who foolishly opted to go for metal swords rather than wooden ones. They looked better, but I had real trouble getting my head (and arms) around one of the moves, so Joe ended up holding his four feet of steel out in front of him with arms extended for long periods of time while I tried to work out what the hell I was doing. We concluded by the end that Joe had the better “feel” for it (he’d done a bit of work with swords before), but when it came to swinging a length of metal for prolonged periods of time, I would have the advantage.

After this, and encouraged by a member of Nine Worlds crew who’d been “off duty” in the Redemption in Scifi panel and had been equally outraged, I went to the Info Desk and informed them of the various infractions that had taken place during that panel. My statements were very sympathetically received and I was advised to put in all in an email so nothing got left out, which is what I then went and did.

Now, the reason why this blog post was so late in coming is that it took until last night for me to be fully updated on what had actually been done as a result of it. That seems like quite a long time – three weeks since the event, in fact. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Nine Worlds is staffed and crewed by volunteers, who all have their own lives to live alongside operating the convention (including going to WorldCon the weekend after, for several of them). I didn’t feel that I could recount the events of Nine Worlds without touching on the thing that made me so angry, but likewise I didn’t feel I could do so without talking about how it was handled. Up until last night, I didn’t know exactly how it had been handled.

What I can say is that, despite the length of time it took to fully communicate with me about what had been done, I am satisfied with the outcome and I feel that Nine Worlds have acted entirely appropriately and in line with their advertised policies and guidelines. They don’t just talk the talk, they do walk the walk as well (it just might take a little time to let you know about the walking).

So, anyway.

After I’d chilled out for a bit following Swordpunk!, it was time to get ready for the Bifrost disco. I caught the end of the cabaret, then (an hour later than planned, because these things never go to time), we opened the disco. I was delighted to find that the huge wait hadn’t put off the waiting crowd, and the dance floor was quickly filled by enthusiastic punters as myself, Lum and Elaine (who DJ’d with me last year) proceeded to play music at people. I didn’t take any pictures of the dance floor, as it would be impossible to get everyone’s consent beforehand, and consent is very important at Nine Worlds, even for photos. However, someone did manage to get a photo of me when I was DJing, and it’s fairly safe to say that I was enjoying myself at this point:

I like to sing along when the night's going well.

I like to sing along when the night’s going well (photo courtesy of Steve Lacey)

I also managed to dance so hard that I knocked the metal tip off one of my New Rock boots:

Whoops.

Whoops.

And just like last year, I had a truly awful creation of my own to drop on the crowd. This one wasn’t my idea, however, as during band practice a week or so prior someone had suggested mashing up Captain Hammer’s “The hammer is my penis” line from Dr Horrible’s Singalong Blog with “Cant Touch This” by MC Hammer. And so I did. And played it at 1.30am. And got a mixture of utter confusion and all-consuming laughter from the dance floor, so I call that a win.

I got to bed at some point after 2:30am. And there was still a day to go…

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Nine Worlds – Friday

Friday dawned bright and early, bright enough that even London looked quite good.

And that takes some doing.

And that takes some doing.

With hotel breakfast achieved it was time for the first session of the day: An Audience with Chris Wooding. I first found Chris Wooding’s Tales From The Ketty Jay series in Waterstones because someone working there had marked it as “like Firefly, but with airships”, which was good enough for me. It’s a thoroughly entertaining series, although it was interesting to hear how he’d felt he had to end it because he could no longer think of a way to make air combat sound fresh and new. The talk was a very good insight into the life of someone who’d been writing novels since his teenage years, and whom had basically been making a living from it for most of his adult life (a somewhat different journey to my own).

I perhaps didn't catch the best expression here.

I perhaps didn’t catch the best expression here.

After that I went to a panel in the biggest hall they had, with the somewhat lengthy title of “Police and the Supernatural: Law Enforcement Professionals’ View of Urban Fantasy”. This consisted of a police officer (dressed as Judge Dredd!), a civil servant involved in writing laws and (I think?) a prosecutor or something of that sort (it’s been a few weeks, I’ve forgotten the details) discussing Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers Of London and Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police series, and comparing how realistic their depictions of policing were. It threw up some very interesting tidbits, like how police procedures change so fast that basically by the time the novel is published, it’ll be out of date anyway. There were also a couple of truly shocking things mentioned, such as how the Metropolitan Police’s reaction to the Stephen Lawrence murder was to pack all the black officers off to Bristol with virtually no notice to have a conference so they could come back and tell the Met how it was racist… (this was brought up in response to a discussion of how the police would react if supernatural beings were found to exist and they had to find a way to police them: it was suggested that the same thing might happen!)

Between this panel and the next I encountered this giant squid cosplaying as Cthulu:

Something something his noodle appendage?

Something something his noodle appendage?

The next panel was “Classical Monsters In Popular Culture”, which was about how monsters from classical literature had been reimagined and used today. This was a slightly weird one in terms of some of the language used, in that one of the panellists was talking about “Monster Theory”. I thought that she was talking about why humanity created stories about monsters, and why they kept coming up over history, but the way she was talking about it almost made it sound as though she thought the monsters were real and they themselves were trying to find a way into our collective psyche, as active agents. I’m assuming I just misinterpreted that. Either that, or someone might need to call the Met and tell them to be on their guard. However, one truly glorious thing the panel did bring to my attention was the existence of ‘The Birds Barbie’.

Yes, this is/was an actual thing.

Yes, this is/was an actual thing.

I required lunch by this point: happily the Novotel in Hammersmith is handily located for a whole bunch of food places (very different to the Radisson Blu in 2015, where the options were the McDonald’s next door or a long traipse into the suburbs to find a pub). After achieving pizza it was time for the next event, which was “Breaking The Glass Slipper Podcast Live!” Breaking The Glass Slipper is a podcast about women in SFF, featuring fantasy author Lucy Hounsom amongst others. I don’t tend to listen to podcasts as I struggle to concentrate on conversations I’m not part of when I can’t see the participants (I think it’s the whole “partially deaf” thing), but I went to see it live because my friends RJ Barker and Anna Smith Spark were on it talking about their recently-released debuts.

RJ (left) and Anna (right)

RJ (left) and Anna (right)

The regular BTGS crew (Lucy Hounsom on the left, the only one I've actually met)

The regular BTGS crew (Lucy Hounsom on the left, the only one I’ve actually met)

It was a very interesting conversation about female characters, traditional fantasy roles, grimdark etc, although I had to leave before the end (because they overran, damn it!) as I had to go and prepare for my own panel: “Interpretations Of An Interstellar Humanity”.

I’d actually come up with this idea for 2016, but although it was originally accepted it then was discarded as they’d overbooked panels. I resubmitted it for this year and, thankfully, it made it through. I wanted to talk about the depiction of interstellar human societies in science-fiction, why creators made the decisions they did when writing about them, how realistic they thought they were, and so on. To this end I was joined by Zoë Sumra, Temi Oh (whose debut isn’t coming out until 2019, because publishing is glacial) and former Games Workshop creator and current Black Library author Gav Thorpe, who graciously stepped in at the last moment when another panellist had to cancel with only a few days to go.

The last panel I was on at Nine Worlds was the “Ewoks!” panel on Saturday evening last year, which was tremendous fun but which also only had about twenty people in the audience. This one filled one of the rooms, which must have been about a hundred seats, and it filled it with five minutes to go before we started to boot. I was moderating a panel where people were actually being turned away.

Also, half of the microphones didn’t work properly.

However, we got around that by sharing, and (at least from my point of view) had a very interesting and thoroughly entertaining conversation about what we wrote, why we wrote it in the way that we did, and what we enjoyed or disliked about other interpretations of it that we’d seen. Part of it was about how realistic you can actually have it if you’re depicting an interstellar society, bearing in mind the huge distances involved (Zoë’s solution involves stable wormholes; mine involves an Alcubierre Drive), and this actually fed nicely into a talk I attended on Sunday morning… but more on that in due course.

After my panel I then had a choice. I had tickets for the Pennywise gig just up the road in Shepherd’s Bush, but there were still panels I wanted to attend. I compromised and went to the “Twisted Tales: The Dark Side Of Fairy Tales” panel (featuring a Chris Wooding now rather more tipsy than he had been at 10am), where the panel discussed various folktales and fairy tales and how the originals tended to be rather more gruesome and grisly than the sanitised Disney versions we see today. However, once that was done I wandered off up the road. I missed out on seeing Teenage Bottlerocket, but did manage to catch most of Good Riddance:

Good Riddance

All of Face To Face:

Face To Face

And then the headliners themselves, a band I’ve liked for close on twenty years but have never seen before. I did have tickets to see them once, for the short period of time when Zoli from Ignite was on lead vocals, but then he broke his coccyx and the gig had to be cancelled:

Pennywise

 

It was excellent fun, and I managed to avoid dying in the mosh pit. As I was leaving I also bumped into my friends Luci and Stuart, which was a nice surprise. Then I walked back to the Novotel and joined the Friday night disco before slinking off to bed at about 1.30am.

And the weekend was not even halfway done…

 

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FITC & Nine Worlds – Thursday

It’s a bit overdue, for various reasons, but I think it’s time for me to do a quick recap of my annual Long Weekend Of Geekery.

I’d sadly lost Eleanor from my Nine Worlds crew this year, as she was going to WorldCon the next weekend instead. However, I’d gained Joe, and on the Thursday morning I drove over the Derby to pick him up before we headed south on the M1 towards London. It was actually a very reasonable journey, and we pulled into the Novotel at Hammersmith not that long after we’d hoped to. Joe headed off to his hotel and I promptly bumped into Anna Smith Spark who was just behind me in the check-in queue at the Novotel. Anna’s debut grimdark novel The Court Of Broken Knives came out in July, so she was attending Nine Worlds as an author for the first time (I first met her two years ago at my first Nine Worlds, in a roundtable discussion about how badly Dorne had been treated in the Game of Thrones TV series). I then went up to my room, and discovered that I had pretty much the same view as last year, minus a building which had now been knocked down…

2016

2016

And 2017

And 2017

I then went to grab a pizza in the Novotel’s bar, which saw Joe trying the same thing only to be resoundingly ignored by the staff who were supposed to be taking orders! In the end I had to collar one for him.

I'm not that easy to miss.

I’m not that easy to miss.

With food achieved I introduced Joe to my friend Alice and *her* friend Kat so he had someone to take part in the Nine Worlds Icebreaker Quiz with, while Anna and I went off to Fantasy In The Court.

Fantasy In The Court takes place at Goldsboro Books, just off Leicester Square, and is a lovely evening where authors, publishers, agents and the general public mingle and chat in and out of the bookshop. While I didn’t experience a repeat of last year’s hilarious occurrence where the editor and publicist from a major publisher casually asked Eleanor if she wrote fantasy at all (because you know, that’s just the sort of thing that happens at these events), I did get to chat to the increasing number of wonderful people I’ve come to know on “the circuit”, including the ridiculous, antler-enthusiastic RJ Barker (another recent debutant, with Age Of Assassins); my former Del Rey UK stablemate EJ Swift (go check out the Osiris series) whose new book Paris Adrift has recently been picked up by Solaris; AJ Smith, who was bemoaning that his Head of Zeus editors won’t let him call his collection of mythology from the world of The Long War “The Smitharillion”; and various other authors whose writing names don’t consist of two initials with the second one being a ‘J’, such as Jen Williams and Anna Stephens (yet another debutant, with Godblind currently making waves).

With Fantasy In The Court done (and pretty much everyone else a bit drunk) I headed back to the Novotel, where I bumped into Lum, one of my co-DJs for the Saturday night. She took me down to see the main hall, where the tech crew were putting the sound and light system through its paces. We also found this:

I immediately demanded Premium DJ Fluid.

I immediately demanded Premium DJ Fluid.

And so with that I went to bed, ready (I hoped) for the next day and what it would bring…

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