Thursday, 21 January 2010

February Reading

Around the end of December, I realised that January was going to be a hectic month. By the 31st, I had to:
  • Finish planning and write Symphonie Magnifique;
  • Finish researching, plan and write The Man Who Ate Germany, a piece on German unification under Bismark for SPM;
  • Work with Allegra to plan and write a piece on being a Steampunk every day instead of just for gatherings and conventions for SPM;
  • Think about, plan and write my story for an anthology being published through Vagrants Among Ruins;
  • Read and review Hartman the Anarchist for SPM;
  • And I’ve just found out about a Big Finish competition to pitch an idea for an audio drama featuring the Fifth Doctor (the best Doctor) and Nyssa.
In most realities, any one of the above would take a whole month.

I impressed myself and submitted Symphonie Magnifique to Crossed Genres on the 13th. I’ve since been working with Bismark, the mad Junker. I’m in London for the Steampunk Spectacular this weekend, but I still have confidence that it will all be done on time.

The anthology story has had to be pushed back due to factors outside my control. Partly, I’m relieved. I’m also partly annoyed, because I had a nascent, half-formed idea which I was beginning to nurture when I found I’d have to somehow keep the embryo warm but in status.

All this unfortunately means that I don’t have time for reading this month. Well, I do, but only reading which serves the Greater Good. That’s annoying, because I got some books for Christmas and spent the few pence I had left from my wages this month on more books. So, February I’m going to read. And no one can stop me!

As well as all the magazines and 'zines, we have:
  • The Judge Dredd/Batman Files and Vendetta in Gotham. Seriously, Dredd vs. Batman? The first scene, the first scene, has Batman squaring off against Judge Death.
  • Grandville. Written by Bryan Talbot and inspired by the work of nineteenth-century French illustrator Gerand, who worked under the pseudonym Grandville and frequently drew anthropomorphic animals. When it was claimed by both the furry scene and Steampunk scene, I decided I had to get it. It arrived on Tuesday, and it’s a beautiful book. It’s hard-backed and the covers are textured like those volumes from the 60’s which still lurk on my parent’s bookshelves, and the inside covers have an almost marbled design which echoes those same books. The binding is solid… in short, it’s turned all the shortcomings of graphic novel production into things to be proud of.
  • Steampunk. Steampunk short stories collected and edited Jeff and Ann VanderMeer. I’d be a fool to walk away. Especially because I submitted Of Mice and Journeymen to the follow-up anthology, Steampunk Reloaded.
  • The Apex Book of World SF, edited by Lavie Tidhar. Difficult though it’s been for me to accept, the world of SF/F has tended to be dominated by white, western, able-bodied men. The strange new worlds and brave new civilisations imagined have, a lot of times, had WWAM values at their core no matter the fantastical creatures which populate them, and the colonies and cities of the future are images of our western metropolises. It takes delicacy and skill to open up new cultures to old minds like mine, and I trust Lavie’s judgement to collect stories which, above any sort of agenda, are stories. They entertain, create and are driven by ideas and characters first and foremost. I brought this book because I need to read it and because the publishers need to be supported for producing it. Also, the publishers need to be supported!
  • Crimea, by Trevor Royle. The Crimean war is, in my opinion, the Steampunk European war. In the comfortable houses of those in charge, it was a cluster-fuck of diplomatic and military blunders with each side only being saved by the disasters of the other. In the tents of the soldiers, it was filled with breath-taking acts of humanity and bravery by both sides which have become part of our treasured history. It was also the first ‘media war’, the battlefield ending up on the breakfast tables of London the same way the Vietnam war was beamed live into the living rooms of a generation.

There are probably enough straight reviews out there already, but I may write something about the Apex book on it’s Amazon page as @apexjason would like some good reviews there (even if he wouldn’t send me a review copy :P). I’m sure I’ll be inspired to write something here by all my reading. And I’m expecting to reap bountiful harvests of fiction-fertilizer, especially for The Colossus Engine, my Crimea war story about a plucky group of rag-tag soldiers and their attempts to destroy Britain’s ‘ultimate weapon’ before it can be used.

And it looks like I’ll have a chance to put some of those fiction-flowers to good use: I’ve just got an email from Absent Willows about a new fiction contest they’re running. The universe may or may not be trying to tell me something, but I’m going to err on the side of caution and act like it is. After all, of all the things you could piss off the universe is probably one to avoid.

1 comment:

Jason Sizemore said...

"There are probably enough straight reviews out there already, but I may write something about the Apex book on it’s Amazon page as @apexjason would like some good reviews there (even if he wouldn’t send me a review copy :P)"

Yeah, yeah, everybody's looking for a handout. ;)