A Review of William Gibson's Agency

  I recently read some reviews on Goodreads saying that  Neuromancer  is badly dated, has thin characters and is written in an unreadable style. I think what grates on me the most is that - to an extent, they are right. When you write near future science fiction, it will, by its nature, date quickly. Style preferences have changed considerably since the early 80s. But none of their observations struck me as particularly fair. They might react quite differently when the future he is addressing is more immediate. As in Agency .

Unleashing my Inner Grotesque

Unleashing My Inner Grotesque I can only speak for one grotesque really, and he is me. If you know me, you may see something of my visage in this: If you don't know me, or you simply think it's a poor likeness, you'll just have to take my word for it, this is a self-portrait. I jumped the gun declaring it done. I haven't finished my patch on the back pocket of his pants, where I'm going to sign it. I was going to do it Monday, but backed away, since my darling Laura has forbidden me from using blowtorches on Mondays because that's the day when I'm drastically resetting my body clock after working two 12 hour weekend overnight shifts. Last time I tried waxing on a Monday I set fire to the wax brush and smeared blackened, melted plastic down the arm of my mini-me. That aspect of me is less grotesque than vaguely pathetic. The black gunk clings but it's easy to get off.  But I have always been aware of my inner grotesquerie. It calls itself self-pity. Self-

The Book After Which Everything is Different

I’ve never called myself a Chuck Palahniuk fan. I’ve been aware of him only since the  Fight Club  movie and have read only  Invisible Monsters  and  Fight Club . I’ve never been to one of his readings, though they seem to be pretty amazing and I’ll probably catch one if I get a chance. While looking him up online, I came upon a piece of his writing advice on Litreactor about avoiding the use of thought verbs. It was genius. It spoke directly to me and my worst tendencies as a writer like no teacher or article has before – and it came to me at exactly the right time. IE: while I’m on the fourth draft of the novel and that level of editing is at its easiest (which is a bit like saying it’s easiest jumping the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle when the sun isn’t directly in your eyes). When I discovered that Palahniuk had written an entire book on writing, it seemed like a good investment, even if all I was doing by buying it was paying him properly for the thought verb essay. I am del

A Musical Journey Through Time

Humans are not the only primates that sing. But the others are silver gibbons, and they warble like very loud birds. So perhaps homo sapiens were the first species to produce actual songs. And what kinds of songs were they? Lullabies? War drums? Using music to sooth or inspire fear in your audience can be more effective than speech. And what better way to play or to share your joy than to sing with someone? I can imagine a tribe of primitive people taking shelter in a cave. A woman singing softly to her crying babe is urged by other members of the tribe to lift her voice – to share her blissful gift with the others. They hum along, perhaps learn the words, maybe change or add some as they add their voices to the chorus, because there is strength and security in numbers. Having thus learned to sing, a man with a strong voice starts singing in a cavern, experimenting with echo. Others join in. The game finds a natural rhythm and structure, filling the space; bonding people together. Harm

Writing a "Fix-Up" Novel

     My upcoming project, The Gallowrat is going to be what is called “a fix-up” novel. This was a technique pioneered by Canadian expatriate science fiction writer A. E. Van Vogt in the 1950s – with his book “The Weapon Shops of Isher.”      Considered one of the stalwarts of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Van Vogt’s was hugely influential in the field. His story, “Black Destroyer” is considered progenitor of Alien and any of a number of SF movies featuring an interstellar monster that treats the human spaceship it's riding in as its personal hunting grounds.      As a close friend and intellectual sparring partner of fellow writer, L. Ron Hubbard, Van Vogt was pulled into the emerging world of dianetics, before it became scientology. Managing a dianetics centre in the 50s took up so much of his time and energy that his own writing production dwindled.      But being a very smart guy, he recognized the strength of his approach to writing. Van Vogt had an unusual kinetic sty

The Avenging Glory Name Game

  I’ve been talking a lot lately about the influence of popular culture (especially music) on the Avenging Glory diptych. For two thirds of the diptych, the title character, Glory,   is only able to speak in song (and advertising slogans). This is explained here. I wanted to use popular songs as the source for her dialogue, but the need to avoid copyright infringement resulted in my having to rewrite all the lyrics. I did my best to make sure those lyrics were reminiscent enough about the songs that inspired them that readers would be able to identify them. In a few cases, it should be easy. But mostly, it will be hard, but FUN – at least for anybody with a musical trivia bent who is tired of Sudoku and Crossword puzzles. Sort of musical acrostics – but without the strict conventions and the hidden quote at the end. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I came up with a promo idea…a sort of singing review of my book. It’s a rave review (of course!) The first person to te

The Hazards of Homage

On Saturday, May 15th I will be a guest on Ahkil Chawli’s Majestic Mutt podcast in which successful individuals with atypical backgrounds show why everyone is a Majestic Mutt. Recent guests have included Canadian Astronaut Dr. Dave Williams, accountant and comedian Neha Kohli, and physician/Wellness Coach Dr. Mashall Khan, I was thinking about talking points for the show and realised that there is a HUGE aspect of my work in progress – which is the second half of the diptych that began with my novel, The Human Template – that I have yet to publicly broach. On the surface, it very much goes against the grain of public opinion. Writers, more so than most in the art world, have long been obsessed with plagiarism and the laws that protect us from the spectre of having our work stolen: copyright laws. Certainly, computers and the changing way we read – or enjoy any kind of entertainment – has shifted dramatically over the past 25 years. It is easier than ever for unscrupulous people