Showing posts from October, 2022


Wernigerode, European Tour 1995 Wendi fought her way free of the dream. It had been one of those nightmares, the irrational ones that could upset her for hours after waking up. She'd had none since the band had spent a month in Devon the previous spring and she had been hoping that they'd been banished forever by her strange experiences back then. But no. As familiar as the face of a school bully after the summer holidays, the dark red despair froze her brainstem as she struggled to open her eyes, move her limbs or do anything to escape its grip. There was shape to one side of her and she fancied it was Peter. He was speaking to her but none of the words made any sense. He shook her by the shoulder. "Hey, wake up. We're here." She ripped her eyes open. The dream's logic hung about her head in a cloud and a whimpering sound emerged from the back of her throat. Where the fuck was she? None of this made any sense. Shapes moved in front of a blinding white darknes

Communal Reality Goggles

The world around us largely consists of what we expect to see in it.When presented with something brand new, our brains first have to decode the signal that they get from the eyes. The picture passes through the first level filters where edges, shapes and colours are detected and assigned. After that the filters applied rely on our knowledge, memories and experience. It's only after that processing that an identity is assigned to the object. I am looking at a clock. When we're children a lot of what we see is still new to us so our sensitivity at detecting the unusual and never previously encountered is very high - a child walking into a familiar room where just one thing has been changed will spot that change almost immediately. However, as we get older we take a lot of the world as read. In particular we know our homes extremely well and it's unlikely we actually look at anything in them properly very often. This is where my glasses come into it. I wear glasses or contact

NOT all a dream

I've always had trouble coming up with the titles for stories, especially novels. I never thought of a satisfactory title for the first novel I wrote in around 1990 (near future science fiction, the dates of some of the events in which we've now passed) and for a long time my debut novel Comeback (an urban fantasy) was known only by the working title of Genie in Underland . This is an obvious reference to Alice in Wonderland , a book that at first glance does have some similarities to Comeback and was very probably an influence (subconscious or otherwise) - as a child the Alice books were amongst my favourites. Both have a female protagonist who enters a mysterious subterranean realm in pursuit of their goal. Both journeys start with a memorable descent – Alice's rabbit hole and Genie's escalator – into a world where the normal rules of logic have been waived. And I'd say the central characters do have some traits in common. Not that Alice is the equivalent of a c

Dream orbits

Firstly the disclaimer: yes, I know what dreams are likely to be in reality. No need for any "well actually" here as this is not a psychological treatise, it's a flight of fancy. A stream of consciousness. So please indulge me. There's nothing quite as frustrating as having an involving and fascinating dream only for the details to evaporate rapidly on awakening. The emotions linger around the head affecting the mood like the perfume of someone fascinating who's just left the room before you got to properly talk to them at a party. Your only chance if if they return - you can't follow them because you might get lost. Besides, what if they're busy? They're bound to be talking to someone else. And you don't want to bother them. Although to be honest I can't remember the last time I went to a party. When this happens with dreams you simply have to comfort yourself with the effect they've had on your mental state. If you're lucky it&#


Worldbuilding can be tricky if you're writing science fiction or fantasy. There's so much to do—the readers are unfamiliar with the background, social mores and customs of the novel's environment and as such are at a disadvantage when it comes to working out what's going on. The characters themselves are no help. They know all this stuff anyway, so there's no way they are going to be able to remind each other of what they've known for years without sounding unrealistic. One solution is to use an omniscient narrator but then if you're not careful there's a temptation to fall into the "telling not showing" trap... Convincing worldbuilding is a skill that it can take years to master. However there is a way around this if you're in a hurry. If you set the novel in the real world you can take the background as read— everyone knows all this stuff right? —and concentrate on the actual story. Interestingly there is an added bonus of using this me