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BSFA London Meeting 25th of April: Interview with Tade Thompson

Tade Thompson.jpg

Tade Thompson interviewed by Liz Williams

April’s special guest at the monthly BSFA London meetings is author Tade Thompson. His story The Apologists was nominated for a BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction for 2016 and also selected for Newcon Press’s anthology Best of British Science Fiction 2016. His novel Rosewater is the winner of the inaugural Nommo Awards and a John W. Campbell Award Finalist; his first novel,  Making Wolf,  won the Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award. The Murders of Molly Southbourne, his latest work, has recently been optioned for screen adaptation.

Liz Williams.jpg

Tade Thompson will be interviewed by Liz Williams, a multiple nominee for the Philip K. Dick Award and the author of many novels such as Winterstrike, Nine Layers of Sky, Banner of Souls (which was also shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award), The Ghost Sister, Empire of Bones, Darkland, Bloodmind, The Poison…

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The Silicon Critic by David Langford

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Milford participants often have distinctive personal crotchets when commenting on stories, and John Brunner’s (as I remember from the 1980s) was a particular sensitivity to repetition. Sometimes it seemed that the unintended re-use of a significant word too soon after its last appearance pained him more than a gaping plot hole. The “deliberate repetition for effect” card could be played only so often, especially if you hadn’t noticed the repetition of “repetition” and the fact that it’s now appeared four times in one paragraph.

Terry Pratchett was another author who worried about such things. In 1998 he invited me to write a little Windows application to monitor his own use of favourite words. This, he stipulated, was to be named Bicarb because the idea was to stop you repeating.

The computer screen here ripples and blurs to indicate a flashback. With (as we later decided) more enthusiasm than common sense…

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Response to a Flashy Challenge by Jim Anderson

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So this past weekend (7 and 8 April), I’ve been taking part in Sci-Fi-London 48 Hour Flash Fiction 2018.  On the Saturday morning, I was given the title for the story I would write (Fully Immersed), along with a line of dialogue that must be included (“Think of the good times, when we thought it was never going to end.”) and an optional scientific idea (Earth starts receiving transmissions from the multiverse) to use if I so desire.  I then needed to write and submit my story, between 1000 and 2000 words, by Monday morning.

It was interesting ride.  As I write this, back during that weekend, the story is done, barring one last pass for proofreading, and what I find most entertaining is that the finished story bears little resemblance to my first musings of Saturday morning.

Typewriter 3There are a lot of things I don’t know about the…

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Men in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Jacey Bedford

A comedy panel at Eastercon 2018 with Jaine Fenn (moderator), Juliet McKenna, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Jacey Bedford.

Comedy panel on Youtube

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Imprecise Words and Their Allies by David Gullen

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Typewriter 3I have fulminated about this at least once before. I’ve been doing a fair amount of critical reading recently and while my opinions on many things have changed over the years the ways some words are used still bug me for the same reasons. Here are a few of them and why they rattle my cage.

Almost, Seemed, Appeared
Pwimula Nesbytt pulled the saddle from Bismarck, her faithful battle-mole. She seemed to be upset about something.

Only seemed to be? And only about something. Do we care, do I need to worry? Either Pwimula is upset, or she isn’t. If she isn’t, don’t mention it. If she is, then you should say so, say why, and describe how she is upset – angry, tearful, irritated. Not doing so creates a false tension that implies the author, rather than the characters, is uncertain about what is happening.

Pwimula brushed away a…

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Are You a Plotter, a Pantser — or a Puzzler? By Ruth Nestvold

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Most writers have heard the question before: “Are you a plotter, or are you a pantser?” In other words, do you do a lot of outlining and planning before you start writing (plotters), or do you dive into a project with little or no pre-writing and write “by the seat of your pants” (pantsers)?

longshot nestvoldI was never completely comfortable with either term. On the one hand, I always knew I was more of a plotter than a pantser. Some of my writer friends can take a couple of prompts and immediately start writing. Pantsers barrel into the story and go for it, letting plot and character unfold as they write. For many of them, part of the magic of writing is discovering the story as they go. My late friend Jay Lake was a master pantser, and it baffled me how he could whip up a story out of little…

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Milford Writers’ Retreat 2018 – by Jacey Bedford

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Laptop window sunshineThe Milford committee has kicked around the idea of a writers’ retreat before, but this year we finally got around to organising one when we received an email from Trigonos advertising their spare winter dates. There was an enticing six day period from Sunday 25th Feb to Saturday 3rd March, and we snapped it up.

Sunshine portrait

Trigonos is pretty well perfect for a retreat. It’s not just the setting, which is gorgeous, but also the ambiance. Ensuite rooms with writing tables, a lovely library (with an open fire) for communal chat, excellent food, and a ‘we’re here to help, but we’ll leave you alone if that’s what you want’ kind of attitude. After the evening meal the staff all go home and we’re left to our own devices, so it’s very homely.

Breakfast at eight, coffee and biscuits at eleven, lunch at one (with delicious home made soup). Four p.m. is…

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Ideas and where to find them – by Jaine Fenn

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Earlier this week I was asked a question which may evoke a wry smile amongst fellow writers: ‘Where do you get your ideas?’I will be honest: my usual response to this old chestnut of a question tends towards glibness.

Sometimes I quote a response attributed to Asimov: ‘I just leave out milk and cookies overnight, and in the morning the milk and cookies are gone and there’s an idea there.’ Or, to put it another way, buggered if I know.

Sometimes I quote the late great Sir Terry Pratchett: ‘I don’t know where ideas come from but I know there they go: they go to my desk, and if I’m not there, they go away again.’ Or, to put it another way: what appears to have happened by magic to you, dear reader, is actually the product of a lot of hard work.

But this question was asked with…

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Vector’s pick of science news in 2017

Transdimensional ‘Transdimensional’ by Phil Jones

In the spirit of Vector’s traditional “Best of” print edition, which is nearly ready, here is our pick of science news for 2017.

First of all, water. Two new inventions for increasing the supply of drinking water caught our eye:

In other exciting news regarding fluids, albeit less immediately applicable: scientists have made a fluid with negative mass. But then, the usefulness of inventions is often hard to judge.

The New York Times is not a place where one expects to find encounters between the Navy and UFOs, but the NYT in 2017 has been a place to rival any dystopian SF. Therefore, it has been worth the extra effort to look for technoscience news which seemed less likely to transform our world in…

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Imposter Syndrome – Embrace the Experience by David Gullen

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Writers all over the world talk about Imposter Syndrome*, that feeling your success is undeserved and that one day the world will collectively blink, take a good long look at you and realise you are some kind of fraud.

pexels-photo-278312It’s something that affects people in many walks of life, creative or not. You would think it should be a simple thing to look at your own achievements and accept the success that years of experience, hard work, and learning, have brought. For many people it’s not always so. I’ll admit to being one of them. I don’t think my writing is good enough, I try with every piece I write to be a better writer. It’s the same with my leather-craft and, even though I can see the results and know I’m getting better, on some days I still feel like I’m an amateur.

I love our garden and…

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