Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Last Post

A moment of silence for the demise of this blog.

It’s been a faithful friend for over three years, born witness to some momentous changes and events, and been here for me when I’ve needed to rant my arse off.

Most notably, it saw my return to the SF Convention circuit and the first, slightly fearful, postings of my fiction online…

…and look where that got me.

If you’d like to find out what happens next, you can find me here.

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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Fancy A Little Horror?


Written by my friend Michael Woodman, Brag Productions' short horror film ‘Get Well Soon‘ is opening this weekend!

Theodore Fisk has cancer, and 'Get Well Soon' follows his drug and alcohol fuelled decline. As pressure in his home and marriage escalates, inexplicable things start to happen in the house – Theodore’s nightmares seem to take on a more physical quality, and the fabric of reality gradually starts to unwind.

This film's very first ‘public’ screening will be taking place in a cosy little 24 seater screening room in Balham – the Exhibit. If you're keen on coming, please, please buy tickets now from Wegottickets:

Click here for 4.00pm screening – 24th July 2011
Click here for 5.00pm screening – 24th July 2011

You'll also get a chance to see ‘Golf With a Shotgun‘ which went to Cannes this year, directed by Kristof Deak


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Thursday, 9 June 2011

Announcing: FP/Gollancz Multi-Author Event!


YES! We're hosting one of our trademark multi-author signings - you know, the one where we all go down the pub afterwards.

At 6:00pm on Thursday June 23rd, Forbidden Planet 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London will be playing host to: -

• Ben Aaronovitch
• James Barclay
• Elspeth Cooper
• Stephen Deas
• Jaine Fenn
• M D Lachlan
• Tom Lloyd
• John Meaney
• Chris Wooding

To promote the release of Elspeth’s new book SONGS OF THE EARTH, Forbidden Planet has gathered a host of science fiction and fantasy talent into one event – an event to bring writers and fans together and to promote interest in new and different kinds of fiction.

This is one of our trademark multi-author events, bringing our guests out from behind their tables and giving their readers a chance to meet them and talk to them about their work. An array of fantastic books will be on hand to be picked up and signed – including works by every one of the writers present...

...oh, you know how this works. Turn up, get books, hang out with your favourite authors, go to the pub.

Got to love it!

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Saturday, 7 May 2011

A Very Short - and Very Honest - Blog Post

I saw a wonder today.

I took my Mother to the Science Museum. She’s never been; she’s lived on the edge of the city for many years, yet such things are a mystery to her. She knows Harrod’s, Harvey Nick’s, Oxford Street… but after that, the map says ‘Here Be Dragons’.

In the 60s, my Mum was air hostess, flying BEA and Jersey Airlines out of the Channel Islands. There are pictures of her, exquisitely glamorous with her little hat perched on top of her swept blonde beehive… I’ve no idea how I manage to be her daughter and such an irredeemable scruff. I knew the Flight exhibit would be special, but I don’t think I was prepared for how much.

This afternoon, I’ve spent an hour watching my Mother walk through her past, seen the memories shadow her gaze and pass across her face like ghosts. I don’t know what they were – only pieces – but to see her youth suddenly shining like that brought a lump to my throat and I had to turn away.

It’s easy to think of our parents as through their lives began when ours did, to forget that they were young and foolish and reckless too. Seeing my Mum transformed like that, seeing the magic of her twenties and thirties, her life and hopes and dreams, seeing everything she loved and lived for…

Even typing it now brings tears to my eyes.


That was quite the most wondrous thing.

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Friday, 29 April 2011

EasterCon 2011: RandomCon

In the early 1990s, we used to save up for months to go to EasterCon.

A pack of us, crammed in the back of a van, laden with re-enactment gear and scrounged-together dressing-up kit (the word ‘cosplay’ hadn’t been invented). We’d rent a room between us, two in the bed and six on the floor; we’d sneak out to the local corner shop and come back laden with cheap food and salty snackage and two-litre bottles of bad white cider.

And it was awesome.


I remember attending Writers’ Workshops, wide-eyed and wanting to learn everything, participating in the Masquerade (the immortal comment, ‘S&M rubbish, 8/10’ has stuck in my mind ever since) and falling flat on my face when a picture of my mate and I in full (brief?) costume appeared in centre spread of Starburst magazine. I think it was Issue 5.

This year’s EasterCon, then, was rather a landmark event.

I’ve grown out of my costumes (sadly sideways) and these days the van is packed with books and not people. I’m still not quite over the novelty of having a room to myself, never mind the engorging breakfast… and the use of swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam was verging on surreal.


Not as surreal, though, as the deluge of congratulations and questions that followed the announcement of my deal with Titan Books.

The wide-eyed twenty-something that attended those Writers’ Workshops is not really that far in the past – and the realisation that sometimes these things do come true is still a little overwhelming. It’s magical, it’s scary, it’s not quite solid. There’s a part of me that still expects to wake up with my mates all snoring round me.

Slotted in with all of this were other moments of bizarre comedy – moderating a panel with the Guest of Hono(u)r and a line up of fantastic authors, being asked to attend a Con event as an author in my own right (which I didn’t) and seeing my name in print for the first time… it all added up to blow my little mind.

Though that might’ve been the (cringe) Johnnie Walker…

Back to the point though. Thanks to the ludicrous overpricing of the hotel, Alex and I resorted to sneaking carrier bags of provisions into the building. Between gasping in horror at the bar prices, and counting out our pocket-change like skint and errant kids, the irony of this wasn’t lost on either of us.


While ‘Illustrious’ could well have been renamed ‘RandomCon’, the humour of it all did reveal one core truth. Seems time goes in a circle – no matter who you are, where you go, or how your life changes, it’s all comes back to where it started.

And to who you started it with.


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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Book Deal Announcement!!

From the Titan Books website - as I'm still kinda speechless...

Titan Launches Original SFF Initiative with First Time Author


In the week preceding key science fiction and fantasy convention, EasterCon, Titan Books are delighted to announce the acquisition of worldwide rights to a fantastic debut fantasy novel and its sequel by first time writer, Danie Ware.

In searching for fresh talent to kick-start Titan’s new SFF enterprise, editor Cath Trechman unearthed exactly the kind of inventive manuscript she is looking for from within the Titan Entertainment group itself: a fantasy story written by historical combat enthusiast Danie Ware. As the publicist and event organiser for Titan sister company and cult entertainment retailer Forbidden Planet, Danie is already known and respected by many in the SFF community and has been writing epic fantasy at every opportunity her busy work schedule allows.

The currently untitled novel following Ecko, a cybernetics-enhanced warrior, is scheduled for publication in 2012. Cath Trechman says “Danie has created an extraordinary fantasy world, filled with rich, vibrant characters, and a story that is thrilling, compelling and wonderfully unpredictable. We at Titan feel very lucky to have found such a remarkable talent so close to home.”

(Ummm - Squeeee?!)

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Saturday, 16 April 2011

Foursquare Day

Hi, my name is Danie and I’m addicted to Foursquare.

Everywhere I go, if I can legitimately claim that I stopped, out comes the iPhone and I have to check in. Have to. No, you don’t understand, I HAVE TO.

People I’m out with roll their eyes and laugh at me – ‘on foursquare again’, but I can’t bloody help it, damn thing has given me OCD. I must add that extra location, that extra point. I must, dammit!!

It’s not like I’ve actually found a use for it – I’ve never had a foursquare bonding moment with a random SocMed stranger, nor gained a free coffee from a local ‘special’. So why the blazes can’t I leave it alone?


Badges. I need those steeeeenking badges. Just like my son at Beaver Scouts, getting a badge gives me a lift (plus I don’t have to sew the bloody things on). That magical ‘unlock’ email – hell, if I could powder that feeling, and sell it in little plastic bags, I’d be rich.

Or in the dock, one or the other.

But my OCD doesn’t stop there.


Foursquare’s points system lures me with a beckoning fingernail – in the earlier incarnation, there were points for adding new places and we rapidly ascended to be Mayors of our houses, workplaces, local supermarkets… (I was very amused when one of my colleagues added Titan House a second time as Titan Publishing – just so he could get those points too). Now, though, that compulsion has been expertly fine-tuned, being Mayor has perk-points, you can gain additional pluses for repeated visits in a week or for returning to a location when you’ve been absent for a while. Dear Gods, I don’t stand a chance, with all those lovely, handy increments so easily available…


MUST… CHECK… INNNNN…

And even worse than THAT – Foursquare now teases and tempts you, coaxes you like the snake in The Jungle Book. The site offers a visible leaderboard; it tells you as you overtake someone, dangles the next person in your sights like a plump and juicy target. That same competitive urge that leads you to compulsively place the last eBay bid just so you can win… yeah, you know the one. That.

Obviously, the practical uses for business are colossal – I’m starting to look at it with a Marketeer’s eye. Honest. (For example, Foursquare is an urban thing; it’s amazing how it hasn’t caught on outside London).

But in the meantime, as those steeeenking badges rack up and the lists of my Mayorships increase, as my friends roll their eyes at my newest addiction, I’m wondering…


Would it be bad form to check in when I roll up outside the Foursquare Rehab Centre..?


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Sunday, 10 April 2011

Kapow!


Comics culture is expanding. And a day at Mark Millar’s Kapow! is all you need to see it for yourself.

We know Comic Cons; we’re used to the demographic and the slightly grubby, lightless venues. We’re used to long boxes of variant covers and collector’s editions, to fans that flick through them for the rare ones they don’t yet own.

For the outset, Kapow! was going to do things differently.


This is a stronger event, brighter, more dynamic. This is big; this is shiny. Under the sunshine coming through the roof of the Design Centre, there’s a heaving, mobile statement about the modern changes in Geek Culture. Cybercandy are here, and the London Rockin’ Rollers. This is cool – and it knows it.

The audience is younger, hotter, better dressed – and there are more girls than ever.


From behind the FP stall, we see a lot of ink, top-end body art and some arsekicking alternative fashion. There’s a teasing gleam of Steampunk, a timeless flicker of Who, an errant Manga cosplayer – but here, the costumed characters, too, have presence and quality. The ones present in force are the Superheroes, the icons of our childhoods, but like the culture itself they’re streetwise now – they fuse retro with all growed up.


As the culture expands, then, so does its personal expression. No longer is the comic restricted to the printed page. We know that Superheroes have made the big screen and become socially acceptable; we know that independent comics have found new expression on the web. What we’re seeing now is that comics imagery is permeating youth culture, fashion and self-expression. It’s not just for nerds anymore – or has the very word expanded at the same rate?


On my way in on the train, there was a guy in Marvel headphones; at the event itself there are accessories from jewellery to household d├ęcor. FP are doing a roaring trade in Kick Ass mugs and travel-pass holders – and the Genki Gear guys have likewise expanded their product range.

Keeping a lookout for Kapow!’s best geek t-shirt (the guy in the ‘Han Job’ tee probably won that one hands – erm – down) got me thinking.


Rebellion’s Keith Richardson commented that more people were asking him about 2000AD, about where they should start and what they should read. If the readership is expanding, and events like Kapow! are turning comics culture into a lifestyle choice… then the old belief that the t-shirt is the ultimate geek status symbol is surely becoming outmoded.

And the best accessory is taking over.

So – am I talking pants? What do we think of these as a winner?




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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Flash Fiction: The Sixty


A shout of thanks to artist Andy Bigwood, who asked me to contribute a piece of flash fiction for his forthcoming title The Sixty.  Launching at EasterCon, containing no less then forty authors who each add a thought to one of Andy's superb illustrations, The Sixty is a collection of science fiction and fantasy art illuminating brave new worlds, dark realities and fantastic realms.

Andy was recently shortlisted for the BSFA Award for best artwork for his cover for Conflicts. You can see some of his artwork on his deviantART page - and you can check out The Sixty, here.

And in case you have any doubts:

Gorgeous juxtapositions of the nearly familiar and the oddly alien - of textured other-world terrains and the strange beings that belong there, even if they're us. City architecture merged with airships or deep space, forming poignant gestalts that always work. Inspired stories in a book of images. Everything combines to produce art that is new, lustrous and haunting.
- John Meaney, Author of the ‘Ragnarok’ Trilogy

Andy's beautiful, unique artwork, blended with gems of fiction by exciting contemporary writers, creates a most original dream world. It's a treasure trove, a box of gorgeous delights that you'll want to dip into constantly. Just curl up by the fire and lose yourself!
- Freda Warrington, Author of ‘Elfland’ and ‘Midsummer Night’

Andy Bigwood has created a wide and varied range of images and has brought them together with an impressive collection of fiction. His passion for his work shines throughout and the whole book is a treasure-trove of creative minds.
- Anne Sudworth, Fine Artist

Privileged to be a part of the project - thanks, Andy!


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Saturday, 26 March 2011

Twitter - Don't Be A Cunt

Earlier this month, Mashable did a piece on Twitter and ‘the happiness divide’ – does the site divide the happy and the unhappy?

Positive energy attracts positive energy – we know this – it’s hardly Social Media genius to realise that Twitter encourages you to be upbeat and outgoing. If you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and you provide interesting communication, then that’s what you’ll attract. Eventually, we become the centre of our own audience.

But perpetual optimism can be fake. Can’t it? Shiny-shiny? Aren’t we supposed to be socially genuine? Well, fuck yes – we all have crap days. When your personal life is in disarray and you’re dealing with too much Big Shit, the chirpy-chirpy tweet-tweet can be both ludicrous and facile. No-one says you have to be positive all the fucking time – and good riddance to those who leave your list because you’re human.


Certainly, Twitter is a Bird With Two Beaks – I’m just not sure that they’re positive and negative. If you’re genuine, you should have both.

No, I think they’re something else completely.


As an illustration, the Little Blue Bird has today given me communication, support and outlet. On this day of protest marches, it brings sight of the outside world; lets me feel a part, even though I’m apart. And with tragic news, it gives a sense of community and closeness when we all feel like we’ve lost a friend. I’m under House Arrest and Twitter is insight, human and company.

And the opposite?

I’m steering away from the obvious. For example, I don’t mean the Time Sink – we’ve all fallen into that one. We’re used to the spammers and the porn and the soulless marketeers. The banality is inevitable, the narcissism quintessential. We’ve learned how to manage this stuff.

No, the Dark Side I mean is Twitter’s real negativity: lack of consideration. Information is sensitive stuff. It’s not about optimist or pessimist – it’s about responsibility.


Throwing up other people’s delicate personal information; preaching exaggeration and melodrama in order to gain attention. Deliberate misuse of your audience to make yourself feel important. If you want to shout the loudest, be the biggest, or play pointless pretty flame-wars, fuck off and visit a forum. National, political or personal, take a moment and think before you fucking tweet.

Be positive, be negative, be sarcastic, be banal – have an opinion and speak it honestly.

Just get a grip on your fucking ego.

And don’t be a cunt.



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Monday, 21 March 2011

Heresy and The Tenth Doctor

Okay, you got me… I never really liked Tennant as Who.

Before you stone me for heresy, though, I’m a child of the Seventies and Tom will always be the Doctor to me. I miss the jelly babies and the scarf; I miss the voice and the humour and his wonderful, powerful presence. Seeing him on stage at the SFX Weekender, last year, was a throwback to my SF roots.

But!!

Having said that, Titan Merch have just released images of their latest 9” limited edition maxi-bust featuring Tennant as the Tenth Doctor – and I might just change my mind. It’s gorgeous. It’s got the pose, it’s got the stare, it’s got the tight sense of dynamism and the posture and the sharp suit. It's even got the sonic screwdriver.


There’s a strong sense of motion to the flow of the garments – his energy is palpable. Hell, he almost looks like he’d move.

My son is a Tennant Fan – I guess we all fall for the Doc we grew up with. And looking at this particular release, I’m wondering if he might have a point after all.

He’s startlingly contemporary – and I guess you do have to move with the times. He is the Doctor, after all.


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Thursday, 10 March 2011

A Touch of Anarchy

...or possibly a touch of madness!


The ever project-driven Andy Remic is launching a radical, multi-media new imprint called Anarchy Books - and I'm delighted alarmed to have been asked to contribute. In a literary event horizon sure to damage reality as we know it, the anthology 'Vivisepulture' will be impact in .pdf, ebook and MOBI formats. And yes, it's absolutely heaving with deviance. From the press release: -

"Weird tales of twisted imagination by Neal Asher, Lauren Beukes, Eric Brown, Ian Graham, Vincent Holland-Keen, James Lovegrove, George Mann, Gary McMahon, Stan Nicholls, Andy Remic, Jordan Reyne, Ian Sales, Steven Savile, Wayne Simmons, Jeffrey Thomas, Danie Ware, Ian Watson, Ian Whates, Conrad Williams, and artwork by Vinny Chong."


Anarchy Books is out of the darkness, sticking its greasy tentacles where other imprints dare not go. Look out for Andy's own SERIAL KILLERS INCORPORATED, complete with music album provided by th3 m1ss1ng (featuring Jon Bodan from Atlanta's Halcyon Way) and short film shot and chopped by Grunge Films, plus, a little later in the year, his SF novel SIM. There's also SF/horror novel MONSTROCITY by Jeffrey Thomas, then horror novel RAIN DOGS by Gary McMahon.

My own anthological (is that a word?) contribution is called 'Disturbed' - it seemed appropriate.

Frankly, it's all enough to put you off your lunch - but hey, it's a little corner of ANARCHY.

Finally, there's ANARCHY in the UK!







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Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Forbidden Planet does... The Royal Wedding?!

When the Royal Wedding Street Party memorabilia starts arriving in the Forbidden Planet office, you realise that you're facing the most surreal event yet. In eight years of doing this, I've never had to wear a cardboard waistcoat before...

But! It gets better!

On Saturday 2nd April from 1pm, Forbidden Planet will be celebrating the forthcoming marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton – with our very own in-store street party.

Join Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston, artist Gary Eskine and Owen Jollands as they bring you the wedding of the year - with the Markosia Comics release of ‘Kate & William: A Very Public Love Story’.

This is a signing with a difference – not only the perfect opportunity to discover the story of Wills and Kate in graphic novel form, but to have your picture taken with the happy couple (well, kind of) and to enjoy the classic retro feel of an old school street-party, complete with tiaras and bunting.

We can’t promise we’ll be taking it too seriously – but we can promise that it will be done in true Forbidden Planet style!

Also available will be the two commemorative one-shots ‘William Windsor: A Very Public Prince’ and 'Kate Middleton: A Very Private Princess’. Make sure you pick up your commemorative copy.

The Forbidden Planet London Megastore is the largest of its kind in the World. It’s the true home of Sci-Fi and Cult entertainment, the heart of Geek Chic.

But we can do 'cheese' too...


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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Warm Up for KAPOW! at Forbidden Planet

In a special pre-KAPOW! event, ANDY DIGGLE, JOCK and JAMIE DELANO will be signing at FP London at 6:00pm on Friday 8th April... and may well be in the pub afterwards!

Grab yourself a copy of the Titan Books publications of Rat Catcher and Hellblazer: Pandemonuim - and get a head-start on the hottest, newest Con!

According to underworld legend, the Rat Catcher is a peerless assassin who specialises in silencing mob snitches. There's just one problem – he doesn't exist. Now there's a pile of dead bodies in a burning safe house outside El Paso. The Rat Catcher has finally slipped up, and a washed-up FBI agent has one last chance to hunt him down. Follow Andy Diggle’s tale of two master man-hunters in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, each of them hiding a secret from the other.


In Hellblazer: Pandemonuim, an alluring Muslim woman catches John Constantine's eye and brings troubles to his doorstep: a bombing in a London museum, mysterious ancient Sumerian artifacts and a terrifying creature running rampant with renegade intentions. To save his life and freedom, Constantine embarks on a desperate trail, blazing from the back streets of London to the detainment centres and battlegrounds of contemporary Iraq. Hellblazer: Pandemonium brings original Hellblazer writer Jamie Delano together with fan-favorite artist Jock to tell a tale about war and terror in a horror story tailor-made for the 21st century.

The best comics events - at Forbidden Planet!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Hands-On at the Science Museum


If I ask my son where he wants to go for a day out, he always answers the same – the Science Museum. He never tires of it, there are so many things to look at and play with. And for as long as he wants to go, I’ll always take him. I’m proud of my mini-geek and encourage him to learn as much as I’m able.

But it got me thinking today – why is it such a win?


When I was a kid, the Science Museum was kind of static. There were cool things to look at, sure – but those dear old Massey model tractors in the agricultural display have now been ploughing that little dirty circle for forty years. Even the model trains on the balcony of the ground floor – yes, you can press a button and watch the steam-pistons, but they’ve long since dropped off the timetable.

As attention spans become shorter, so the Museum’s displays have adapted, they’ve become brighter and more interactive.


Isaac loves the space-age stuff – it’s shiny and out-of-this-world and larger-than-life. He particularly likes the movie of the thousands of satellites that orbit the Earth, and the new spherical-holo of the global climate. These things have vivid, compelling colour and movement; it makes them real. It’s much easier to explain global warming to a child when the globe is right there in front of him.


Downstairs in the basement lurks hell-on-earth – the ‘garden’ where the very little ones go to learn about basic sensory input. I fear the noise (particularly at half-term) but I’m very happy that the Cubs are hands-on from the ground up – literally.

As we explore the ‘Secret Life of the Home’, it occurs to me that learning, just like media, has become all about ‘interactive’; it’s about making things real and accessible. And that starts with shrieking noise of the smallest kids - and it goes all the way up.


Around us, as communication becomes faster, easier and worldwide, so learning becomes about sharing and experiencing – not about 'being taught'. Chalk-dust has become just that. Now, Isaac gazes fascinated at the workings of cockpits and CDs and VCRs; we play classic ‘Pong’ from 1978. These things are history to him, but they’re a part of my life experience and we can share them and learn together.

It brings us closer. And it’s fun.


As the years of new layers have been added to the displays, yes, it has become a little chaotic. The old tractors are next to the modern plastics; classic 1970s Dan Dare looks out over a floor of games about modern energy and resource (though I daresay he’d approve).

Communication, both media and education, is changing – and it’s very good to see that our kids can be really involved in this from the youngest age.


Today, I’ve been asking Isaac to take pictures – hopefully, encouraging him to look at what’s around him and to enjoy the learning experience. Some of his pictures are on this post. You’ll find the rest on his very own Flickr page, here. 

Needless to say, he has help me download them and choose them and label them. I think it's all part of the same experience.


video