Epic Iran

Epic Iran

(Gold model of a chariot, 500-330BC) In the book I’m writing at the moment, the main character finds themselves torn from their ordinary life in my hometown of Barry. I wanted them to find an ally and mentor to help them navigate their conflict and keep them alive.I wanted this character, who I ended up…

‘British’.

‘British’.

I’d not long started my career in videogames when a game designer told me that good game design is giving people what they want, but also giving people something they didn’t realise they wanted, but now they’ve got it, they’re delighted. Similarly, if you cannot offer something new and compelling as an opposition party in…

Whiteshift

Whiteshift

Whiteshift, by Eric Kaufman, is an easy book to recommend you read, in part because it is a thoughtful, detailed presentation of some challenging ideas and in part because its subject matter couldn’t (coronavirus aside) be more important. There are aspects to the thesis I don’t accept or understand, but I now accept, more clearly…

Every step you take…Part 2 – Surveillance Capitalism

Every step you take…Part 2 – Surveillance Capitalism

“Maybe you don’t want to ask a question. Maybe you just want to have it answered for you before you ask it. That would be better.” Larry Page, 2014 “We expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers…we believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is…

The Sheltering Sky, The Damned United, The Raven Tower and Lanark

The Sheltering Sky, The Damned United, The Raven Tower and Lanark

I’ve been busy finishing my third novel. While I was wrestling with it over the last few months I managed to read a few books I’m now ready to recommend. Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky, first published in 1949, is the story of Kit and Port Moresby, Americans full of fashionably existential angst deciding to…

The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin

“In Paradise there are no stories, because there are no journeys. It’s loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward, along its twisted road.” The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood, is one of the best books I’ve read. It’s a delight to be able to say it so soon, comparatively speaking,…

The Wake & Rotherweird

The Wake & Rotherweird

The Green Man figure from the folklore of numerous cultures and religions manifests in these two glorious novels as a righteous and very english force; a saviour of tradition, a keeper of continuity. The Wake, by Paul Kingsnorth, is the tale of Buckmaster of Holland, an ‘oxganger’ in the 11th century just as the Normans…

The Southern Reach trilogy

The Southern Reach trilogy

I love Jeff Vandermeer’s work because I love HP Lovecraft’s work. But I enjoy Vandermeer more. Horror describes the ways in which people strive to escape the painful and grisly annihilation of the self. It can be personal or impersonal, understandable or insensate. It can also describe our confrontation with the unfathomable. This last is…

Newsletter #1

Newsletter #1

Here’s the contents of the first newsletter I sent out to my first couple of subscribers :) If you’d like some of this in your inbox occasionally, you can sign up via the link above! The future is quieter. I’ve set up this newsletter primarily so that I can keep in touch with anyone who…

Every step you take…

Every step you take…

…aka ‘Why I’ve decided to boycott Facebook and Google.’ It began innocently enough. I fancied popping along to Bristolcon for the first time and I was invited to do a panel called ‘You are the product’. I’d put it down as an option (the organisers offer a range of panel ideas and pick those options…

Dark Tales

Dark Tales

Dark Tales, by Shirley Jackson, is a hugely effective collection of short gothic horror stories written in the fifties and sixties. She died in ’65. I confess, like many I’ve spoken to about this book, not to have heard of her until a recent review of this collection, many of which were originally published in The…

The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind

“I was brilliant. Not just your run-of-the-mill brilliance either. I was extraordinarily brilliant.” Patrick Rothfuss has written an astounding debut that I cannot unequivocally recommend. Well, that’s not strictly true. I can, but it’s clear why, despite its assured place in the modern canon, it’s divisive. It’s easy to see why the book is captivating….