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Two Recent Interviews, and Mortal Engines hits Netflix

  Here's a link to an interview I recorded back in the summer with Tim Taylor of the Time Team website - the online successor to the long-running and fondly remembered Channel 4 series of the same name.  The website archive features loads of interviews and much more - it's well worth checking out. I should have cleared all the DVDs out of my bookcase and filled it with more learned-looking volumes, but I forgot. And here's another interview , this time audio only, for Andrew Hall's Dead Hand Radio , a podcast which deals with the Cold War but branches out sometimes to encompass sci-fi and UFOs. I havent had a chance to listen to any of the other episodes, but I really enjoyed talking to Andrew and we covered quite a lot of ground. And finally, Christian Rivers's film of Mortal Engines has arrived on Netflix in the UK and Ireland. The story is much changed from the book, but it's full of good things and good people, so if you can approach it as a different take
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Bookplates for Christmas

The author Holly Bourne has come up with a neat way for authors to support indie bookshops this Christmas , in a year when those shops have been forced to shut for months on end and even more business than usual has been going to the online giants. Holly is encouraging authors and illustrators to supply free, signed bookplates to any customers who purchase one of their books from an independent bookshop. If you check the #SignForOurBookshops hashtag on Twitter you'll find a lot of big names have already pledged their support, so if you're planning to give books as presents, or just buy a big old stack of them for yourself, this is a nice way to personalise them. Naturally Sarah McIntyre and I wanted to get involved, so Sarah has designed 100 exclusive Reeve&McIntyre bookplates. They feature Kevin, the roly-poly hero of The Legend of Kevin, Kevin's Great Escape and Kevin and the Biscuit Bandit, but all our characters share the same universe so they'll look just fi

The Queen's Gambit

Walter Tevis was an interesting writer, and an exceptionally good one. I don’t think he’s exactly a household name, but several of his books were turned into movies which are - The Hustler (and it’s sequel The Colour of Money ) and The Man Who Fell To Earth . As a teenage sci-fi afficionado I knew him for the latter, and for a handful of good SF stories. Which must be why, sometime in the eighties I picked up a copy of The Queen’s Gambit. I don’t recall much about it except that it was a real page-turner: a memory of the grotty living room of my student house where I sat up all night reading it came back to me powerfully when I saw that it’s been adapted as a Netflix series. Since The Hustler and The Colour of Money are about the lives of professional pool players there’s an obvious thematic connection to The Queen’s Gambit , which is about a world-class chess player. But it also has a lot in common with The Man Who Fell To Earth , another story about a not-quite-human genius laid l
  Sarah McIntyre and I had the honour last week of hosting this year's Children's Book Awards, organised by the Federation of Children's Book groups, and voted for by young readers the length and, indeed, longth of the UK. Since the ceremony had to be online for obvious pandemical reasons we recorded our intro and links at my house when Sarah and her husband ventured down to visit us a few weeks back. (We had planned to do it in the garden, also for obvious pandemical reasons, but it was a bit blustery outside, so we retreated, slightly windswept, to my well-ventilated office.) You can see the ceremony here, including the announcements of the winning titles by the children of North Somerset Children's Book Group, and speeches by the winners themselves. Spoilers: here they are... We also wrote a special book awards based Kevin story for the occasion. If you'd like to read it yourself rather than listen to us do so, Sarah's put the full text up over on her blog .

Railhead - Alien Stations

Continuing a short series about the Railhead trilogy, salvaged from the wreck of my downed website... When I was working on Railhead it felt so stuffed with stuff that there didn't really seem to be room for aliens as well. I already had lots of non-human characters and creatures to introduce - sentient trains, androids, AIs, and genetically engineered dinosaurs. But obviously you can't have a sprawling space opera universe without aliens, so it was always my intention that the trains of the Great Network would eventually make contact with the trains of other civilisations. That happened in the second volume, Black Light Express , and by the time  Station Zero begins, aliens from all these different species are starting to find their way to human worlds, and the society established in the first book is poised on the brink of huge changes. Initially, I was quite keen to make my aliens properly alien. But gosh, it's difficult! It's very hard to invent a li

Railhead - Interstellar Connections

A few years ago Lisa Owen-Jones asked me some interesting questions about my novel Railhead as part of her MA project. Here they are, along with my answers, salvaged from the wreck of my old website. The Railhead Trilogy. Cover illustrations by Ian Mcque L.O-J: Music and other art forms feature heavily within Railhead. Is this a conscious or an unconscious part of your writing process? You seem to love music. Your instruction ‘Listen…’ being the first word of your novel. Zen running down Harmony street, the Interstellar Express ‘thundering down the line from Golden Junction, and singing as it came’. Zen then gets on the Helden Hammerhead – a fusion of two David Bowie tracks that were inspired by Kraftwerk.  I pick up a lot of references to electronic music in Railhead most notably to Kraftwerk and their albums ‘Autobahn’, ‘Trans-Europe Express’, ‘The Man Machine’ and their trademark motorik beat. Would this be a valid interpretation of your novel and if so why? PR: I’

Railhead A-Z

In order to save my website it became necessary to destroy it. Before I pulled the plug I rescued the longest post on my old blog. Here it is, like the lone survivor of a shipwreck: my A-Z guide to the ideas behind my novel Railhead. At the time it was written, Railhead had just been published. I'll be putting up some posts about the sequels, Black Light Express and Station Zero , in the coming days. Railhead cover art by Ian McQue A  is for Alternative Forms of Transport ‘What I need,’ I thought, when I’d been struggling on and off for a few years with my space epic (working title, ‘Space Epic’) ‘is an alternative to spaceships…’ I’ve always enjoyed space stories. I first started reading science fiction back in 1977, when the original Star Wars film made me realise that outer space could be just as good a backdrop for fantasy as Tolkien-esque worlds of myth and legend. (Actually, I didn’t see Star Wars until 1978, but its bow-wave of publicity hit these shores the p