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2025-09-25 08:43 am

PSA: Journal Security

As I go into full scale teaching, this blog will become default friends-locked.

This post will remain open to all. If you want to be added to the flist, please introduce yourself here and I'll see what I can do.

ETA: Comments to this entry screened
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2017-08-07 10:41 am
Entry tags:

Book diary 2017: the story so far

The Age of Scorpio, by Gavin Smith

Ultraviolent space opera with storylines over three epochs including apocalypses in the iron age, the rough present and the far future. A mixed bag - seemed almost formulaically killing off viewpoint characters at first but also oddly compelling. Not sure it was compelling enough to get the next 2 volumes though.

Moskva, by Jack Grimwoord (or John Courtenay Grimwood as he's known in SF circles)

Nice cold war thriller, well told and well written. Interesting to see JCG working in a different genre. He does it well!

Infidel, by Kameron Hurley

Sequel to God's War, with the Belle Dames seizing control and Nyx fighting back. Lots more insect action in this weird but fascinating world.

Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?, by Paul Cornell

The most recent Shadow Police novel. Paul's take on London and the magic and history that surrounds it continues to develop very nicely, and the aftermath of what our heroes did in the last novel has many effects. These are not cardboard cutout coppers but people who have real problems with the strange new world of crime they find themselves in. Hopefully there's another coming soon!

Waking Hell, by Al Robertson

Sequel to the excellent Crashing Heaven, and a return visit to Station. Lots more development of the fascinating future history Al has mapped out, with the aftermath of the last novel still playing out and the addition of some very nasty new adversaries. We also find out a bit about what happened to Earth, and it's not very nice. Happy to say I provided some inspiration for some bits of this. Not sure I can forgive Al for the Kneale Pits though :-)

Eidolon, by Libby McGuigan

Got this in a BSFA raffle and a nice short read it is. Slightly reminiscent of Einstein's Bridge in that a strong plot element is the need to stop a major particle physics experiment (in this case the LHC), but with rather more mystical and conspiracy elements as well.

Going Back, by Juliet Kemp

Writing group read of a members draft novel. Developing nicely, but other than that my lips are sealed.

Into Everywhere, by Paul MacAuley

Second (last?) Jackaroo novel, in which we learn a lot more about what's going on and see more of the very weird stuff Paul has developed for it. Really good mind expanding stuff.

Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely

Secret Santa present from work. Not a lot new to me here but some interesting demonstrations that we are not as rational as we like to think we are, and how various groups, from business to politics, use that to manipulate us. The writer has an interesting MO where he has an idea for something, then experiments on students to see if he's right.

The Fifth Season, by N K Jemisin

I can see why this won the Hugo last year - really good fantasy world with rounded characters, believable rivalries, and some really nasty goings on. The world here is quite unpleasantly hostile in many ways, especially to our lead character.

Revenger, by Alastair Reynolds

Hard SF Space Opera! Space Pirates! Space sailing! Mysterious technologies and swashbuckling heroines! Great fun and highly recommended.

The Hanging Tree, by Ben Aaronovitch

The latest Rivers of London book, and we head back into the core narrative after a trip to the country. This time we're in the high class part of London, which means a lot of visits to Knightsbrige and Mayfair. I can see Ben has the same opinion of 1 Knightsbridge as I do. Great fun.

Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson

KSR's take on generation colony ships, resulting in a story that is almost as optimistic as something by Peter Watts, but also realistic, human and believable. Will set the agenda for discussion of colony ships for years to come.

Killing Titan, by Greg Bear

Sequel to War Dogs that, despite it's title, spends a lot of its time just getting to Titan where, presumably, the third novel will provide the finale. A bit of a between book, but still enjoyable and with some interesting weirdness thrown in. The simple us vs. them of book one is eroding to something much more interesting and complex, with interesting similarities between Bear's Gurus and MacAuley's Jackaroo.

Empire Games, by Charles Stross

Merchant Princes the Next Generation starts well, though the real world is trying hard to be as nasty as Stross' surveillance state.

The Corporation Wars: Insurgence, by Ken Macleod

Another Volume 2, and with some of the usual problems. We get to see more of the Acceleration here and again the good vs. bad between Axe and Rac of volume one breaks down into something more complex. Looking forward to vol 3 to see where this is going.

Luna: Wolf Moon, by Ian McDonald

Another volume 2, but I felt this pulled it off very well. The dynastic war between the Moon's five families continues, but with a new and frightening player entering the game - Earth. Very definitely recommended.
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2017-07-25 10:00 pm

Cycling Diary: Day 138

Time in: 48 mins (34 cycling). Time back: 48:30 mins (36 cycling). 722 calories.

Still not up to full stamina yet, but I was pleased that a week of drinking beer in Bavaria hadn't set me back.

The junction heading north into Hyde Park from Exhibition Road continues to be a mystery. It is completely unclear to me how it is meant to work for cyclists. Are we meant to cut across traffic to reach the cycle lane, or gum up the pedestrian crossing, awaiting the crossing to go green so we can cross halted traffic and reach the cycle lane?
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2017-07-18 12:09 pm

Going back to Garching

I'm currently at a conference at the European Southern Observatory in Garching, near Munich. I lived and worked here for 2 years in the mid-90s and the last time I visited was in 2012.

It's nice to be back. I'm pleasantly reminded what a quiet, sleepy little town Garching is, and this makes a great contrast to London. ESO itself has also bloomed with 3 huge new buildings, a lovely new auditorium that we're using, and a new outreach centre, Supernova, currently being constructed.

The sun and the beer also help!
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2017-07-13 11:14 pm


Io story submitted to Apex.

God war story submitted to Deep Magic (after rewording of one profanity).
purplecthulhu: (Default)
2017-07-13 11:00 pm

Cycling Diary: Day 138

Time in 52:30 (35:30 cycling), time back 53:00 (36:30 cycling), 679 Calories.

Hard work being back in the saddle - definitely some condition lost over the long period off. Some changes on the route - there's a hole where a building used to be - but mostly not so bad. The junction at the top of Exhibition Road is still a mystery for cyclists. Whoever thought that was a good idea must have never ridden a bike in London.

A little sore now.
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2017-05-30 04:38 pm

Phish Phinding

It's so usefule that phishers are so bad at spelling and grammar that it makes their attempts to tempt you to click and activate trojans or to send your identity and credit card details are so easy to spot.

The most recent (3 copies of this identical email received in a week) started out:

Reversed Customer

But this does get me wondering what a 'reversed customer' would be. Does this mean they want to send me money?

Answers on a postcard...
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2017-05-24 02:59 am

Thwump (academic)

I usually refrain from THWUMP posts for academic writing, partly because I end up as a coauthor on lots of papers thanks to huge Planck and Herschel collaborations, but also because this is my day job and I don't get paid by the publishers of papers (sometimes quite the opposite in fact).

However, if you define a thwump post as being for paid writing I can now do one for an academic paper...

Back in January I was quite unexpectedly invited to submit a paper titled 'An Introduction to the Planck Mission' for a journal published by the IoP that is aimed at late stage students and general physicists.

They wanted about 20 pages of writing providing an introduction to Planck and its science by the end of May. It would then be refereed and, if accepted, published.

And if I could do this all to schedule they'd pay me 600 quid!

I didn't know such things could happen and, needless to say, have got the article in on time.

I'll reveal the journal's name and let you know where to get hold of the paper as an online preprint once it's accepted.
purplecthulhu: (Default)
2017-05-23 10:40 pm

A very Delta Green movie

Got pointed to this from the DG mailing list:

Alien Raiders:


A pretty good rendition of what happens when a night at the opera goes south, and a pretty good, claustrophobic sf/horror movie.

I know at lrast one person reading here might be interested.
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2017-05-22 02:29 am

Tory U-turn - not exactly strong & stable

A few days after their big social care plans in the manifesto we're hearing the screeching of brakes as a massive U-turn takes place.

All the result of the massive OAP Tory block vote seeing their nest eggs disappearing into the profit lines of future privatised social care megacorps (presumably owned and directed by Tory future ministers).

Pandering to vested interests is not the 'strong and stable' that May's mantra would predict.

Don't you think she looks tired?
purplecthulhu: (Default)
2017-04-29 11:06 am

On Skye!

This is a good thing, despite a 2 hour delay on the sleeper.

Oh dear - am I now posting tweets to dreamwidth?
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2017-04-23 01:49 pm

Back to Dreamwidth

I'm going to try to post a bit more here and become part of the Dreamwidth Renaissance triggered by all of us refugees from the Russian annexation of LJ.

So what has been happening?


Just bounced a story off Analog and Clarkesworld - not sure what to do about this one. I may send it to Lightspeed when they reopen for SF. Asimov's is a possibility, but my experience is that if one of the big names doesn't take a story none of them will. Suggestions on a postcard please (the story is set on Io so if any of you know of relevant anthologies please let me know).

I was shortlisted for the Clarke Centenary anthology competition at Eastercon. The reading went well, but I didn't win. Would be interesting to see voting figures. I have a plan for this story but need to do some editing before that can be put into operation.

The Novel is being worked on, after some very useful comments the writing group. Coming back to it fresh, and reading/editing it over a compressed time frame leads me to think that it might not be as execrable as I have been thinking for the last umpty years. I'm now about 10000 words from completing another major re-edit incorporating comments form the writing group. This last 10000 us going to be the hardest as it's been suggested that I need to put some more speed bumps in the way of my protagonists, so it's likely to grow from 10000 words, but I think I may soon be able to send it to potential agents. Scary!


While my own research is grinding along - with the unexpected speedbump of being commissioned to write a (paid for!) paper on 'An Introduction to the Planck Mission' for money! - my PhD students are doing well. My more senior student especially is going great guns right now, with loads of proposals submitted and several projects nearing the point when they can be turned into papers, as well as one paper close to being submitted. People have been asking me pointed questions about when they might be looking for a job, which is a good sign.

More broadly, though, science in the UK is in trouble. We've had flat cash for 7 years which amounts to a real terms cut of about 15%, and there is no sign of this changing in the foreseeable. In fact, what with Brexit coming at us like a steam train, there is no light at the end of the tunnel at all. About 40% of my department's funding comes from the EU in some shape or form - whether ERASMUS students, EU grants or whatever - so things are looking a bit bleak right now. I am looking at possibilities outside academia (see novel above - though I'm not stupid enough to think I can make a living writing SF unless I'me amazingly lucky) and outside the UK. I have one application in for a job in mainland Europe already.


Eastercon was fun - it was a lot less work than being a GoH as I was at Mancunicon, but there were a couple of fun readings - the one above for the competition and another for Shoreline of Infinity who just published a story of mine - as well as the usual. I managed to get to a surprising number of panels as an audience member.

Looking forward to Helsinki in August!

State of me:

It's not easy being bouncy and optimistic when you feel the country you live in isn't yours any more, and when the forces of ignorance, prejudice and privilege are taking hold across the world. William Gibson's view of the future is looking ever more likely and Dystopian is now a recognised fictional form on bookshop bookshelves. Still, we're off to Skye shortly and that always helps.
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2017-04-12 05:23 pm


No sale to Analog for the Io story :-(
purplecthulhu: (Default)
2017-04-09 09:30 pm


The story I submitted to the Clarke anthology competition is one of the finalists!

Three of us get to read them in a programme item at Eastern on Saturday afternoon. If you're there come along, listen and then vote for me!!!
purplecthulhu: (Default)
2017-04-08 12:23 pm

Leaving LJ

It's been fun, but the new T&C are too much.

Once my LJ has completed import it will be deleted.
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2013-01-02 12:25 pm

Blog feed

My Wordpress blog is now available as a Dreamwidth feed:


Thanks for the help setting this up!
purplecthulhu: (Default)
2013-01-02 11:32 am

Wordpress feeds to Dreamwidth

Anyone know if it's possible to establish a feed account on DW the way it is on LJ?
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2009-11-10 10:06 am

Two days left!!!!!

Another reminder about the Great Debate on Human Spaceflight at Imperial on Thursday.

If you intend to come, please do register before hand to make sure you get a seat and that we have enough wine for the refreshments afterwards.

More infomration available here.
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2009-09-25 08:53 am