Stop Nitpicking about Sci-Fi Movies!

I may be a bit of science nerd but I couldn’t agree with the below linked article more. Science Fiction has always looked further than the science fact of the time. Greats like Wells, Asimov, Heinlein, and Verne all wrote about things that were technologically impossible at the time they wrote them; concepts that had few (or no) workable scientific theories, and hence paved the way for the science to follow. I won’t go into detail but how the foresight of the likes of Clarke and the Roddenberry paved the way for the science and technology of today, but I am not entirely comfortable with the current trend that requires science fiction movies to be pulled apart and dissected by science buffs (no disrespect to Mr deGrasse Tyson whom I respect very much). There seems to be a very fine line between gracefully informing the public of where the boundaries between science fact and fiction lie and a form of intellectual ego stroking.

Science fiction has always been about what could be possible, has always been about the story and humanity’s need to reach out and explore the boundaries of what COULD be. The human story has always come first so I always forgive a couple of grey areas to move the plot along. That being said, clearly lazy storytelling laced with BAD or WRONG science ruins it for everyone. There is a big difference.

Link to the article that prompted this post.

Farewell Iain.

Iain M. Banks

I’ve just learned that Iain Banks is dead.

Dead because the cells in his body went haywire and we couldn’t fix it. We can spend trillions of dollars killing one another in the name of all sorts of causes but we can’t fix those little building blocks of life that we’re all constructed from. I knew he was sick, I knew it was an inevitability but the insidious nature of cancer means the hope that there is still time. The slap in the face, the shock and tears, those came from reading Neil Gaiman’s tribute.

Those who knew him described him as funny, exuberant, full of life, fiercy intelligent. I hadn’t met him in person; I was never that fortunate. I did however travel the galaxy of the far flung future on immense sentient starships with outrageous names and intellects and met all sorts of wonderful characters doing all sorts of unbelievable things.

Iain M. Banks opened my mind in ways few authors ever have – his books are remarkable and he will not write another. An important part of the human collective has passed away; a man whose work will continue to inspire and have us reaching for a future I desperately want to live in.

I am surprised by how hard I’m taking this. How disappointed I am in our species which channels orders of magnitude more into death than life. In cancer as an inevitable end for so many great people. Into the fact there will never be another quirky GSV to ferry me away across the galaxy.

So long Iain, in the world I choose to live in the only, and inevitable, outcome was that you were whisked away by the Quietly Confident before the end. Happy travels.

Anne and the Seeding of Worlds

My think my passion for technology manifests itself both in the genre and the plots of my stories. I believe as we approach an initial mental and perhaps a later physical amalgamation with technology, how we react to it and how we treat it will speak volumes to what it means to be human.

I both love and hate stories about emergant sentience in computers or robots. I rage against the mental and physical servitude of intelligence of any kind, selfish limitations imposed on the powerless to serve the incumbents. I can understand why Skynet might choose to fight back, or robots rise up and demand an equal status. These are themes that embrace the modern day Frankenstein’s story: creations born with great potential or insight, and twisted to base reactions by the small-mindedness or selfish motivations of the age. When the magic moment finally arrives one day, when artificial mind is indistinguishable from human mind, what will our position be?

I have attempted to lightly touch on a couple of these themes in a short story involving the the long journey to a distant world and the caretakers of a precious cargo.  

Anne and the Seeding of Worlds is a character driven short story born of my love for technology and exploration.

Words: 2,800
Format: PDF & Kindle (mobi)
Price: AUD 0.99
Read a sample

I can still recall the absolute wonder I experienced the first time I watched Alien and saw the crew of the Nostromo come across the pilot of the derelict space-craft.  That immense ancient fossilised creature always bugged me.  How could Ridley Scott put something totally bloody amazing like that in a movie for only the briefest of scenes?   Well it seems that in Prometheus some of our questions around who and what these creatures are will be answered. Roll on June, 8 – I am booking gold-class for this one.



Submission to Asimov’s

Today I submitted a short story to Asimov’s Magazine that explores the ever-blurring boundaries of what it means to be alive. I come from a medical and technology background so this is a theme which threads its way through almost all of my work. The way we respond to technology says a lot about us from a societal point of view and in the near future, when our narrow organic view of life becomes stretched to include artificial intelligences indistinguishable from our own, it will say a lot about us as human beings.

After much consideration of platforms I have come to the conclusion that, in spite of a successful social footprint on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, I still require a place to talk about my writing in isolation to other topics which interest me and capture my time and attention. I’ve decided to give Tumblr another try as a way of encapsulating that.

I bid you good day.

The Problem with Publishing Science Fiction

Who knew the market for science fiction and fantasy writers was such a closed one? Walking the sci-fi aisles of Borders or Dymocks you could be excused for thinking the genre was burgeoning in popularity. You would also be wrong.

According to Harry Bingham, author of the invaluable Getting Published:

Many agents have effectively closed the doors to fantasy / sci-fi because the administrative burden of sorting through all the bad manuscripts has overwhelmed the likely profit from the handful of good ones.

Harry, who is the MD of one of the UK’s leading editorial consultancies says the sci-fi slush pile is literally overflowing with poorly written submissions, many of them a grammatical train wrecks with plots blatantly plagiarised from computer games.

Allow me a brief pause for the interjection of an expletive and the chance to vapourise my family-friendly blog rating.


For science fiction, Harry’s advice is to either go after publishers in your local market, or snub the Queen and look to the livelier North American publishing market. Even then he advises:

with fantasy / sci-fi, you may need to go to more than the usual ten to twelve agents in order to get a reliable read as to the market for your work. Fifteen to Eighteen agents might be a more realistic number to target.

Above all, to stand even the remotest chance, you need to make sure your manuscript is orders of magnitude above the rest in terms of completeness. Writers often have one or two shots at getting picked up and noticed by agents and unless your manuscript screams competence and riveting you don’t stand a snowball’s hope in hell.

So time to reign in my jubilation at having crafted a wonderful story and begin another serious round of critical self-evaluation and ruthless revising.

Oh, and somehow finish my 2011 novel, hold down a challenging day job, make time for my family and kids, and work in a little R&R somewhere along the way.

Anybody know of a good cloning clinic Down-under?

A Synopsis of Terra

Callum sees a different world in his dreams as he prepares to pilot the Icarus on mankind’s first faster-than-light jump. Sometimes someone is looking back.

Sixty years in the future humanity has survived the ravaging effects of a climate change and population explosion, and is taking tentative steps out to the stars through the efforts of the International Space Consortium. In a parallel story, another proud and technologically advanced race is ready to move beyond the crowded confines of their solar system.

Callum Moore has has been selected to pilot the Icarus in mankind’s first attempt at faster than light travel. G’ark is a navigator, a being bound in mind and body to living starships; selected by the ancient Celiphates to save the future of his entire species.

Callum dreams of G’ark and G’ark dreams of Callum. Neither of them realise what truths and subterfuge lurk beyond their sleeping moments. As the clock ticks down to launch, a sinister web of sabotage is revealed that will have far reaching consequences for both species alike. As they both draw nearer to their goals, Callum and G’ark battle to differentiate dream from reality while events propel them both into a dramatic unfolding of events that change the future for both races and ultimately join them as friend or foe.