Panacea >Build 1.0

A dear friend’s book launched today. It’s a young adult, cyberpunk fugitive thriller set in the near future, featuring ground-breaking AI, cybernetic enhancements and band of resilient teenagers with a rebellious spirit.

It’s well worth your time, and I’m not just saying that because I know Charli well; I genuinely enjoyed reading it the first time I got to, and I’ve enjoyed reading it since. Charli’s great at making the characters the centre of the story, making big political themes all about the people that they impact. It’s a diverse story, too, with a multiplicity of viewpoints, including queer and BAME characters.

You can read the first chapter on Charli’s website, and buy the ebook on Amazon. There’s a physical book coming soon, too. I’ve popped the blurb below.

The first in the Panacea Series, the story begins in Panacea >Build 1.0 where, during an arrest over electricity curfew violations, former party animal Taiye’s life is changed forever when she uses violence to prevent an act of police brutality.

Felicity, a rich girl with rebellious ambitions; Russ, a hapless boy with robotic enhancement to his body; Persephone, a ground-breaking artificial intelligence; and Alex, a hotheaded girl who just wants the whole fucking world to burn, all join in to help Taiye escape London to the free-land of Scotland.

Together they all have a role to play in the introduction of The Panacea – a cure for all injury and disease – to the world.

In which we get a little fermented

Short one today; it’s been a long day.

I was in a terrible mood earlier; I spent hours this morning trying to get Gmail to let me access two email inboxes from the one account. After trying every troubleshooting guide I could find, it just seemed to work, with no explanation a little while later. I’ll just chalk it up to… I dunno… witchcraft?

The one thing that never fails to cheer me up, however, is It’s Alive! with Brad Leone. I watched the most recent one where he ferments mushrooms and it’s both a great idea and hilarious. Brad’s full of energy and enthusiasm for the stuff that he’s making, and the show has developed a really off-beat sense of humour that I really love. If you’re into food, do it at home and mad science, it’s probably for you. That said, if you’re into food at all, all of the Bon Apetit videos are great.

Continue reading “In which we get a little fermented”

In which the Twitter addiction sinks its claws in

Last week I said good bye to Twitter for good. It’s been on the cards for about a year and a half; at one point I deleted the account and then signed back up about six months later. I’ve been on some sort of social media for the last… thirteen or fourteen years? Maybe a little bit more? and it’s taken this long for me to come to the conclusion that it’s just not for me. I don’t get any enjoyment out of it, I’ve never really been able to utilise it to boost my actual creative outlets (like this blog) and I can’t seem to use it in a healthy way. I’m either scrolling in a mindless, addictive way, or I’m getting furious at the garbage other people have posted. The last few years I’ve noticed it has a negative impact on my mental health – being signed up to one of those services and using it regularly creates a back ground anxiety buzz in my life that, really, no one needs. I haven’t used my account for about three or four months, except for occasional check-ins, so I decided it was time. Time for the final social media account I own to go the way of the dodo.

Since then it’s entirely been on my mind. It’s the strangest thing. I went weeks without thinking about it, and now it’s gone, it keeps bubbling up in my thoughts. ‘Hey, I wonder what’s happening on Twitter?’ ‘Hm, I’ve got a spare five minutes while the kettle boils and the tea brews; download the Twitter app and see what’s going on!’

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Conspiracy of Ravens by Lila Bowen (Review)

TL, DR: Vultures and coyotes, railway men and Durango rangers, shapeshifters, magic, revolvers and carrion; the second in the Shadow series soars through them all, while exploring the character’s experience closely. Recommend.


Conspiracy of Ravens begins where Wake of Vultures left of, and this review contains spoilers for that book. You’ve been warned: HERE BE MONST – Uh, wait… HERE BE SPOILERS.

Continue reading “Conspiracy of Ravens by Lila Bowen (Review)”

III

Writing turns me from one person into shards of multiple people bound by nothing but a single skin.

‘Find your voice’, they says, ‘write like you,’ they says, but when you’re several different voices depending on what you’re writing and how seriously you want to be taken, or whether you’re feeling flippant today, or simply just pouring the junk out, feeling like one person is hard enough, let alone one voice.

Fiction is even worse. It requires you to get into the head of a character enough so that when someone reads a voice on the page, they can’t see me moving their mouths or my face behind their mask. After a while you begin to lose track of where you stop and they begin and vice versa.

At least, that’s how it is for me, anyway; it’s probably not a sign of something worrisome.

And sarcasm never comes across properly.

Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow (Review)

TL, DR: Come for the nerdy futurism and its pertinent analogies, stay for the like/hateable characters, their problems and their snappy dialogue.


Art is a member of Eastern Standard Tribe, a group of like-minds that have taken advantage of widely available instant communication to form an online tribe, whose common denominator is the Eastern Standard Time zone, its geography and culture. This tribe operates like a not-so-secret society or fraternity; where once you’d intern your frat brother, ESTribe tells us, now you’d intern your tribesman. Art is an industrial saboteur for EST, and in the politics and machinations of cross time-zone espionage, Art is doing his best to cover himself in glory… and avoid becoming collateral damage.

Continue reading “Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow (Review)”

The Monster List of Books 2017

bookstackI didn’t manage to read enough during Twenty-Seventeen. Including books I re-read, books I began but didn’t finish, and books I read for the first time, I read a paltry thirty-nine books, which was still somehow more than last year. If you subtract the ones I didn’t finish (nine) I still managed more than last year. A miracle. If only I was ten again. I had plenty of time to read then. Out of school, when I should have been asleep, in school, during Maths… Continue reading “The Monster List of Books 2017”

Kurt Vonnegut: Letters

I had Kurt Vonnegut: Letters for Christmas and got through it in short order. I’ve only read two of his stories, Player Piano and Slaughterhouse-Five, but they made a big impression. His letters reveal a blunt human being, who occupies a space that encompasses someone who simply uses their skills to make a living and someone who is devoted to the art and craft of their work. He shows that the two aren’t necessarily incompatible. I want to share some bits that I thought were interesting. Continue reading “Kurt Vonnegut: Letters”

Mare Ridden

The moonlight that filtered through the tangled branches of the nightmare pines was tainted by their boughs, and where it touched the snowclad ground, black twins of the twisted branches lay. In the still night a single draught slid across the moonlight snow towards the peacefully slumbering farm. It slipped over a snow drift and gently tipped a latch on the stable door, creeping inside. In the gloom of the stable, something in the draught watched the black horse’s nostrils flare as it sensed the presence, whickering in fear. The draught swept across the hay-strewn floor, towards its prey.

 *

               At the horse’s scream, Karl jerked from his sleep, breathless and sweating. The house was silent but the scream still quivered in his ears, worming its way into his brain, thundering through his heart and racing in his breath. It shivered down his spine. Around him his dark bedroom loomed, and the formerly safe room, his day-time sanctuary from the arduous work of the farm, leaned in close as though waiting for its moment. Continue reading “Mare Ridden”