Progressive Science Fiction – Part 4

27 07 2014


In part 3 discussed the second of the first of the four points below about how the cutting edge science fiction was becoming less available in the shops due to:


  • innovative technology needs more knowledge and understanding than in the past, because we are dealing with a bigger body knowledge, and therefore needs in general more or better explanation of how it affects us humans
  • the more politically correct society limits the subjects we can write about when it comes to political and social science fiction themes
  • ‘new’ places requires more understanding and aligning with sciences to be plausible that requires a lot of work on the part of the writer, which in turn can severely detract from a writer’s income
  • publishers not wanting to publish or push the really innovative science fiction because they want to invest in ‘safe bets’, like something similar to what sold well before

This post goes onto to discuss ‘new’ places…

One of Arthur C Clarke’s strengths as a science fiction writer was describing new places exceedingly well. It didn’t matter whether it was a desolate moonscape or the rich vibrant life of the underwater world, you felt you were there, exploring it with him. In some ways, the late astronomer, Patrick Moore, made his fame by describing what you would see and experience if you were on another real world, using the scientific evidence available at the time.

Naturally, apart from when we improve our knowledge of the other worlds, these descriptions have been ‘in prnt’ for some time now. We are familiar with them, we know them only too well. So to come up with a new, let’s call it worldscape, would take more effort.

Let’s go through what needs to be done these days to make up a new world… a really new world (yes, I’ve done this, but it isn’t published). First of all you need to understand which of the human senses your world is engaging with. Apart from the traditional five senses known to the mediaeval world of sight, smell, touch, taste and sound, there’s senses of balance and temperature.

There is a kind of 8th sense, which I call the sense of the ethereal. It’s the understanding we derive from extrapolating of what we know of our world into what we cannot through any of our senses perceive. We can only interact indirectly with this, but that does not mean there won’t be consequences in our perceivable world.

A person in a spacesuit (if it’s working properly) can only use the senses of sight, gravity and the ethereal. The science fiction world has done sight quite extensively. After all there’s only a limited spectrum of colours and positions in which those colours appear relative to our eyes. Gravity has been played with e.g. Hal Clements, Mission of Gravity. We are only really scratching the surface of our experiences of the ethereal, and even then, it’s been mainly through the medium of quantum mechanics, which in itself has been limited to what science can demonstrate as an immediate consequence.

So if you want to go exploring, it has to something in the gravity domain not written about before or something in the ethereal. Now try imagining anything of this ilk, and even if you can, try describing it. Darned near impossible. Of course, if you can’t get the message across clearly, the publishers won’t, quite rightly, publish your work.

Even if you can, there are still hurdles. We are into this is something really new game and wary publishers, worried about guaranteeing income, will not touch it.

So what is the point of developing a completely new world to experience, putting in all the hard work to make sure you explain very clearly (and had it checked by independent experienced beta readers), and making the effort to overcome nerves to send out the work to potential publishers?

From my personal experience, I have to say none at all. It’ll never get published.  It is this that makes me believe that at least part of science fiction is stuck in a rut. Sorry to end on such depressing note.


The Evidence Continues to Mount Up…

20 07 2014

The issue about the bias against women science fiction and fantasy writers just will not go away. Why? Because it’s a bias that is real, tangible and has evidence.

The latest bit if evidence comes from Juliet McKenna about Waterstones having a bias towards displaying male-authored books. See here. This evidence has been added to by Cheryl Morgan saying that businesses have a bias against women in an indirect way. See here.

Quite frankly, the fact that this is still going on, nearly a hundred years after women earned the right to vote, is disgusting. If the genre can’t be fair and seen to be fair, then it deserves to wither and die. No right-minded citizen would condone such behaviour, and they’ll vote with feet and with what they choose to purchase. 

The trouble is that such actions will take the innocent down with them, the ones who are trying to do a good job, develop their art and generally give good entertainment. And this will happen as society in general becomes more fair-minded and justice-conscious over time, which in turn is a driver for globalisation. [Hint - this is a good theme for a science fiction story.]

And the publishing industry being in an chaotic maelstrom is no excuse. Decent people do not tolerate such biases, rise to the occasion and after a while get rewarded for their acting with honour. What is more, their businesses do well. [Look at history if you want the evidence.]

What I find extremely worrying is the comment on Cheryl’s blog:

 “At Finncon Elizabeth Bear noted that she found UK publishers much more hostile to women SF writers than in the USA.”

When you push the logic through it boils down to this:

The British publishing industry will give way to, be bought out by, whatever, the American publishing industry. End of story.


Free to Enter SF Short Story Competitions

12 07 2014
Sorry this is a bit later than normal… chaotic lifestyle at the moment what with publications, story writing and Loncon3  preparations… Here’s my 6-monthly list of free to enter competitions in alphabetical order – well I don’t want to be accused of favouritism, do I?
a) Baen’s Bar – still going as strong as ever – see here. The editor goes through the subs and if you’re lucky enough to catch his eye it will get published with fee being paid. Be warned, he has very few slots available. But you do get critiques of what you submit from fellow writers.
b) James Patrick Baen Memorial Writing Contest that looks for hard, near future, space-based science fiction –  This competition will open on 1st October 2014 and normally closes mid-February the following year. Word count limit is 8,000.  See here.
c) James White competition- this is an annual competition – it opened on 1st June this year, though I can’t yet see a closing date for this – so keep checking as this seems to be moveable because they need to announce it at Eastercon. See here. Word count limit 6,000.
d) Writers of the Future contest – up to 17,000 words and many budding science fiction writers have worked their through their echelons Open for one story per quarter – unless of course you are successful! Their year ends 30th September. Its forum can be found here.
I don’t know whether it’s me or not, but there seems to be a bias towards the fantasy end of science fiction at the moment… BORING… I wants me raygun… remember some people have claimed that they can beat the diffraction limit that leads to the dispersion of power and diminishes its effectiveness over distance… and if they can bend light the way they say then can, then breaking the diffraction limit looks really feasible… which incidentally has interesting consequences for space travel… Out with the fairies, trolls, orcs, elves, dragons, witches, warlocks, vampires, werewolves, steampunk, backward time travel, fluffy literary science fiction, and in with the technology – real humdinger technologies that are appearing in our world here, now, in the near future…. (OK That’s me grumblings done for now…)

Progressive Science Fiction – Part 3

6 07 2014

In part 2 discussed the first of the first of the four points below about how the cutting edge science fiction was becoming less available in the shops due to:

  • innovative technology needs more knowledge and understanding than in the past, because we are dealing with a bigger body knowledge, and therefore needs in general more or better explanation of how it affects us humans
  • the more politically correct society limits the subjects we can write about when it comes to political and social science fiction themes
  • ‘new’ places requires more understanding and aligning with sciences to be plausible that requires a lot of work on the part of the writer, which in turn can severely detract from a writer’s income
  • publishers not wanting to publish or push the really innovative science fiction because they want to invest in ‘safe bets’, like something similar to what sold well before

Notwithstanding the debate I’m having amongst with my friends who are really into true non-dystopian science fiction (i.e. with no fantasy elements) about inspiration and innovation (or rather the lack of it at the moment), I’m moving onto the influence of politically correctness.

With the onset of global communications and jet-set travel, we have become aware of the traditions and beliefs of many cultures. We have also become aware of what can offend them. As, with the help of globalised e-books, our stories can reach obscure corners of the world (yes, my blog has been read by people in places like Mongolia), we authors try to avoid giving offence to anyone. After all we want to get our books out there, sold and read.

But for some of us, it means deliberately avoiding subjects that we have something to contribute to. But have you ever thought why it’s taboo there, perhaps the surrounding countries and nowhere else?

We all live in different landscapes, ranging from desert, through jungles, mediterranean climates, northern farmland, tundra and onto the ice-sheets and glaciers; from beside the sea, along rivers, into the rolling hills and then mountains. We had to adapt our way of living to these climatic conditions. It means warm clothes for the ice-scapes, being frugal for those areas lacking in abundance (e.g. lack of water in the desert) and our bodies adapting to breathe at higher altitudes (e.g. as the Tibetans do). It’s a no-choicer.

Naturally, some things become taboo, and anathema to those people. They feel instinctively it’s wrong. They react without thinking. And it’s that reaction that our stories, if we were to publish them, would come up against.

The problem is further compounded by zealots. Ones who go overboard in trying to impose their beliefs on the rest of society. What works for one place does not work for another. They will find themselves instinctively rejected.

Furthermore, if people emigrate from one culture to another, they will over time adapt more to their adopted home. Take a look at Britain – despite the Roman, Viking, Anglo-Saxon and Norman invasions, we still adapted to the our climate and how to farm the land, build from local materials and so on….

But it all boils down to us authors limiting what we can write about, or at least the way we can write about some things, even if we want to add healthily to the debate and wider human knowledge.

This in turn cuts of areas of social exploration that would be inspirational.

In some ways science fiction has more freedom than other genres. By setting our stories out of time zone and building a world to suit (e.g. H G Wells’ The Time Machine) we can highlight things that cannot be done in say contemporary fiction. And if we really want to put something risky out there, we can put it into an invented alien culture. Even so, the risk is that it does put people off.

Still, globalisation means we are becoming more and more constrained in what we can offer our readership. We’re losing territory that we would have previously had the freedom to write about.

What to do about it, other than invent aliens as I mentioned earlier? Go into the fantasy realms? I know of at least one author that has done exactly that.

Well…. there might be another way… the singularity – when we can load our minds into computers – is edging towards us (see note below) – if we load human minds, why not animal minds or constructed minds? It would certainly let us see things from another perspective.

Now which taboos would I be breaking if I wrote about any of these ideas….

In the meantime I have added some main authors to my science fiction history diagram below. It needs further development, but I’m getting there…


Note: There have been quite a few predictions that the singularity will happen soon. My caution is that they’ve recently realised that our brains also rely on quantum mechanical processes as well as the electro-chemical neurological processes. So I think the singularity will happen further in the future than is widely speculated. In the meantime, people will try and that means we will end up with part-ghost minds in the machines.




Another Bath Spa Publishing Success on its Way!

1 07 2014

I promised to keep you wonderful informed of publishing successes from fellow students on my MA Creative Writing course at Bath Spa University. Well, next up, to be published on 28th August this year, is Jane Shemlit’s novel ‘Daughter’. You can find more details here… and it’s already getting good reviews. And just look at the cover… Wow!…




She was on one of the courses I was on… so I had the pleasure of reading some early draft pieces of her novel…. even if she playfully elbow me in the ribs on one occasion!

I still remember the day when we handed in our final assignment… our precious half-a-novels that we had slaved on all through the year. We went to the pub for lunch. All of us sat round the table sipping our drinks, too exhausted and blown out of our minds to talk much… except Jane. She was hyper, couldn’t stop chatting, couldn’t wind down. To be honest, I think we welcomed her liveliness that day!

Her novel was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbitt award, which is given annually to the most promising novel on the MA course. I know the winning novel is due to published nest year, but am awaiting confirmation that it will come out on the suggested date before I say anything more. 

Yes, my novel was also one of the very few shortlisted, but as yet has to find someone interested in publishing it… sigh… such is life, the universe and everything.

Progressive Science Fiction – Interim Look Back

22 06 2014

As you good people will realise I’ve been rather overwhelmed with other very good things this week. So I haven’t had chance to put together a more erudite blog for this week. So below, paltry as it is, is all I can offer for now.

In order to understand why progressive science fiction is going to come to the fore, we need to understand how and why science fiction got to the place it did. I’ve drawn a little diagram, based mainly on the accepted understanding of how science developed, but it is still my own interpretation in places.


Note the time scale is not uniform.

When you look at the drivers for each science fiction period and align them to the times they were dominant, you quickly come to realise that a lot of it is in reaction to current issues. Science made massive strides during World War 2. So science fiction grabbed at it to try to work out the implications. Equally the sociology dominant 1950s was at a time when people were getting to used to the fact that the old world order of a class-riven society was gone and were trying to get their heads around the ‘what now?’ issue.

What I call the ‘first great floundering’ around in science fiction began with the New Wave, when science fiction ideas had slowed up enough for the talented writers of the day to search for something new to write about. Literary techniques came to hand. It is from this time onwards that straight forward story telling tended to be replaced by literacised works.

The brief flourish of military science fiction was due in part to the reaction to the Cold War and at the time, its apparent impasse. Needless to say this led on to the US Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) of the mid-1980s.

Cyberpunk was in reaction to the impending computer access by the man in the street. So it was a natural thing to do in science fiction.

But then things kind of slowed again and we now have the ‘second great floundering’. This time science fiction started to go into partnership with its sister genres of fantasy and horror (yuck – horror always sends a shiver down my spine).

So all in all, this diagram shows to me science fiction is, in general, a running commentary on the issues of the day.

Of course, the big question is ‘WHAT NEXT?”

What are the answers to questions like:

  • what is the next big technology that is going impact the ordinary person in the street?
  • how is society changing in reaction to the situation we find ourselves in?
  • where are we going to explore next and what will it be like?


Newsy ‘Stuff’

19 06 2014

I got my Loncon3 draft programme. I didn’t put in for much (had other things to do on my list), but I’m on one panel:


Duelling by Starlight: The Joyful Poetry of Space Opera

Space operas are stories of freedom: from the quotidian, or the logic of history, or the constraints of physics itself … and, often, freedom of the imagination, freedom of the pen. It’s sometimes said that the futures of space opera are fantastical, but when are they poetic? Consider the wit of Iain Banks’ Culture, the baroque of Justina Robson’s Natural History, or the ceaseless invention of Yoon Ha Lee’s mythic tales: how do these writers, and others, use language and narrative structure to liberate and excite us? And in our liberation, what do these writers let us see more clearly?

Robert Reed, Jaine Fenn, Adam Roberts, Elizabeth Bear, Hannu Rajaniemi

Please remember this is DRAFT only.

On another score, my fourth C.A.T. story Space Blind got an honourable mention from the second quarter of the Writers of the Future 2nd quarter contest (and that’s without Terry, bless him, at TWBPress having any editorial input!) So I must be doing something right!!!! Well pleased about this for other (rather complicated) reasons.

Progressive Science Fiction – Part 2

13 06 2014

In my last post  I argued that cutting edge science fiction was becoming less available in the shops due to:

  • innovative technology needs more knowledge and understanding than in the past, because we are dealing with a bigger body knowledge, and therefore needs in general more or better explanation of how it affects us humans
  • the more politically correct society limits the subjects we can write about when it comes to political and social science fiction themes
  • ‘new’ places requires more understanding and aligning with sciences to be plausible that requires a lot of work on the part of the writer, which in turn can severely detract from a writer’s income
  • publishers not wanting to publish or push the really innovative science fiction because they want to invest in ‘safe bets’, like something similar to what sold well before

So how can we push for progressive science fiction?

Let’s look at the first of the above points, the lack of innovative science and technology finding it’s way into science fiction. [I'll deal with the other themes in later posts.]

There is the general impression that there hasn’t been any of the big inventions in science lately to warrant new exciting science fiction stories, or if there are big inventions, they’ve been written about before and therefore appear as ‘old hat’.

Well, there’s been big breakthroughs in science and technology, but the real problem is they look as if they could make an impact on our every day lives. What is string theory or dark matter or dark energy going to do for us?

Well, that’s about to change. For starters, hot fusion as a source of energy is going to happen within a decade. It’s going to make a massive difference to the source our energy. The impact doesn’t stop there. There’ll be longer term effects on climate change because very much less hydrocarbons will be burned.

So what’s going to cause the next ouch point in our development?

Lack of water? No, not that. With fusion energy, we can build desalinisation plants. Deadly viruses decimating the human race? No, not that either. Doctors have a good understanding of how to develop immunisation capability. They just need sufficient time to do that development, and for that, we have quarantine methods to call upon. Asteroid busting Earth? Not that either. We’ve developed better Near Earth Object (NEO) monitoring systems to give us a lot of warning of an incoming, enough time to do something about it. Lack of food, due to lack of soil? No not that either. Worst case solution is to go and grab hold of an asteroid, grind it into soil and dump it somewhere suitable on Earth to add extra acreage. Overpopulation? Not even that. We’ve recently seen a tendency to reduce the rate of population growth either naturally or through the enforcement of laws, like the one-child only law in China.

In fact there are only five scenarios I can think of at the moment that would stop human progress:

  • volcanic eruptions throwing up so much dust into the air that it would stop or severely slow crops growing worldwide (as happened in c. 536 A.D.)
  • Earth’s molten core does wild, flips magnetic poles, starts reshaping the Earth rather suddenly and drastically
  • Sun changing so much it becomes a danger to us
  • humans destroy Earth with things like nuclear weapons (if this was going to happen, it should have happened in the Cold War)
  • sudden and catastrophic climate change

Well, we’ve seen stories about all of them, pointing out how to deal with these situations. So what we have here is there is nothing new to say syndrome. Whoa! Are you sure? Are you really, really sure? What about coming up with a way douse the volcanic dust back down to the surface? What impact would that have on the rest of the atmosphere? Would we live in the same world as before? Or in the molten core scenario, what if we could control the way we move tectonic plates to make more of the Earth inhabitable? It’s the same for all these scenarios, there’s questions to be answered we haven’t even started to look at. So why aren’t they being answered?

Technology changes what humans do. We’ve recently seen some of the effects of the information revolution and a lot has been written about that. Similarly with the genetics revolution that is slowly starting to take a toehold in our world. But they’ve been written about quite extensively, haven’t they? Well… only parts have. What about the effects of genetic manipulation on the human brain? The options for that are infinite. What about the effect of quantum computing being able to solve certain types of problems and not others? Won’t we veer away from our currently anticipated developmental path? So why aren’t these questions being answered?

So we have humans needing new tech to solve potential problems and new tech is changing the way humans live in significant ways we have yet to encounter or even guess at, none of which is being explored in science fiction. Why not? Surely we have a vested interest in understanding these issues?

There are several contributory reasons why such progressive science fiction is not seen on the shelves.

  1. Publishers being over-cautious in their investment is one reason, but the way round that is short stories. Only time-wise short stories do take longer to develop and write because of the world-building aspect. And writers can’t live on air.
  2. People being scared of change, good or bad. It’s a natural tendency for people to want security and feel happy. This is where the recent trend towards horror in science fiction has led progressive science fiction astray. Nobody believes science fiction can have a happy ending. Well, that’s just plain crazy. But it does mean that the public need persuading there is science fiction out there that can have a happy ending. This would take time and persuasion on a step by slow dragging step basis. But it only takes on spectacular story to hit the headlines…
  3. Finally the writers themselves are for various reasons not breaking the mould. Some need to earn money and have to write what they can sell. Others who have what they call got a day job, don’t have the time or patience to develop the necessary innovative story line. And yes it does take time and effort.

The odds are surely stacked against progressive science fiction. But the thought of ‘it only takes on spectacular story to hit the headlines…’ keeps haunting me. And it ought to haunt the short story magazines as well. Because that story would make a fortune….




Progressive Science Fiction – Part 1

6 06 2014

There’s been a few posts lately about science fiction not being cutting edge like it used to be and falling behind the progress made in literary science fiction. David Hebblewhite for instance states:

“But, when I look at genre sf published in the UK, I simply can’t see that they have equivalents (to literary fiction) emerging. I wish I could. All in all, though, my reading is showing me that sf has a lot of catching up to do.”

He states that the New Weird movement typified by the emergence of the likes of China Mieville was the last time science fiction had that progressive nature.

I have in previous blogs stated that part of the problem is that publishers have to make sufficient profit to stay in business, which means they have to publish what they think will sell sufficient copies to get their money back. With the recession there has been a natural tendency to sell variants on what has successfully sold in the past, which means cutting edge science fiction, the really new and exciting stuff, does not get an on the shelf place in bookshops. But it appears the literary fiction has done this. So why doesn’t science fiction?

Nina Allan tends to some extent to agree with him.   She argues that the lack of the cutting edge science fiction is showing up with a lack of innovative writing techniques. There I would tend to agree with her.

There are two reasons why people would write in innovative forms. The first is to see how form can change the mood of the story content, to give a richness and hidden depth to the writing. The form usually resonates with the content, but there exceptions that indicate some form of literally deception is going on. The second is because the english language that we all know and love is totally inadequate to get new ideas across. Simple examples include coming up with new words to cover new concepts. I’ve had to do this quite a few times now and believe, I’ve scoured the dictionaries to find the right word and it just did not exist.

Whilst I have seen some literally mood-inducing techniques being written and published, there is a distinct lack of the latter type of innovative writing, the one where the ideas push to change the language.

Ian Sales makes an interesting point. Science fiction is stuck with the acceptance of past tropes. Writers are not examining science fiction assumptions. I know some of them have been found wanting when science has stepped in to say they are not true, but they are still written about as if nothing has changed. We are living with a science fiction that was written in the past to be read in the past, not in the here and now. He, like me above, argues that this is in part due to the commercial nature of science fiction publication today.

O.K. This is where we are at at the moment. Can anything be done about it?

Well, let’s look at the underlying reasons for why science fiction was written in the past. They included:

  1. Working the impact of new technology on the way we live
  2. Examining the current social and political issues of our day through extrapolation into the future or on another world
  3. ‘Experiencing’ places that we ourselves will never be able to reach through the means of fantastical journeys

Each of these reasons has in general one of two endings for the characters. The first is to reject the new order they are dealing with by expounding in a fictional sense on why it is not a good idea, which in general is not something that is that obvious (it’s usually a story about discovering why it is such a bad idea). The second it to embrace the new order and see how it changes the characters.

Technology Ideas:

New technology that we can can perceive the impact of is becoming less abrupt in our lives. Think of home computers. They were such a change to the way our lives ran when they first became affordable in the 1980s. Now it’s a case of upgrade this or change the choices in that. The difference is less perceptible for the upgrades than for the introduction of home computers. Worse, we have a fairly good idea of how they are going to improve int he future as we’ve identified how the upgrades are trending. So we know what’s going to happen. It’s become boringly predictable.

Whoa… that can’t be right. Technology is making huge progress – some at the early stages e.g. Alcubierre’s Drive, some at the later stages – well on the way to curing heart disease and loads between. But I hear you say, a lot of this has been written about before in science fiction.

Some, but far from all. What for instance is the impact of the different types of calculation that the faster quantum computing offers us? It’ll major on some problems and leave others untouched. It’ll make a quite a difference to which type of problems we solve and what the impact of that lob sided bias in problem-solving has on society. Has anyone written about this? Or what about cold fusion becoming a reality and its reliance on say palladium. What effects with mining this mineral have on our world? I won’t go on, but there are loads more like that – and they all have a big impact on the way society will evolve. But we’ve not seen them in the science fiction. Why?

My guess, is that it’s hard to research the subject in the first place. Hands up who knows about quantum computing? Not all that many of you, are there? So it just doesn’t get written about!

Social and Political Developments:

The human is changing, imperceptibly from year to year. We are growing taller and bigger in other ways. The wiring in our brains are changing to different stimuli. We are changing our diets, which has an impact on our health and moods.

But who amongst the science fiction writers has picked up on these changes, extrapolated them to see what could happen and written a novel to highlight the changes?

In the past we had authors like H G Wells and their novels like The Time Machine to highlight potential extremes of society.

What will happen to sexuality if the planet gets hotter? Will we go round with even less clothes and what happens under those circumstances?

What happens if we are forced through epidemics or climate change to think and act as global race? For all its ills, competitiveness between nations produced societal progress in its various guises.

The trouble is we are now living in such a ‘politically correct’ society that controversy is avoided, certainly if you are publisher wanting to sell books.

Experiencing New Places:

Earth is now well mapped and measured. Yes there are still a few surprises, but they tend to be on the small scale.

So that leaves the planets etc. Again we know an awful lot about them, and therefore they are more predictable in their nature than when the golden age science fiction was being written. It takes work to get the facts straight. Work that professional writers don’t have the time for to read up and digest. If you look around at the harder end of science fiction writers today, you’ll see most of them have come from specialist backgrounds. Alastair Reynolds did an astrophysics doctorate and worked at ESA. Geoffrey Landis works at NASA. Charles Stross and John Meaney have expertise in information and computing technology, from which they can develop ‘computing worlds’.

And even if you come up with a new world, it has to be consistent with the laws of science. And that is hard work that takes time, which detracts from income. No wonder a lot of writers, who don’t have relevant areas of expertise, have fled to worlds of fantasy.


So all the major themes in science fiction are suffering from one problem or another, which means cutting edge science fiction is becoming less available on the bookshelves.

Is there anything that can be done about it? Apart from a few exceptions to the rule, can we have progressive science fiction?


Aphrodite Terra Anthology on its way…

5 06 2014

Ugh! That was a nasty parasitic viperous spam attack and hence my silence over the last couple of weeks or so. But it seems to have abated. So I’m back!

And back with a grin….

I’m delighted to say that a short story of mine has been accepted by Ian Sales for his Aphrodite Terra anthology – see here for details.

And like  him, I’m delighted to see five of the six stories are by women! I know he will have picked each story on grounds of merit, so this is a genuine result to show women can do better then men sometimes! I’m looking forward to seeing what the others have produced.

On a personal note that makes six out of the eight planets in our Solar System where I’ve had a story published as you can see from the table. [Ian has not announced the title of my short story yet and hence the asterisks.] I find it really crazy that two of the most interesting and therefore easiest to write about planets are still waiting to be written.

Slide1For the record the order of publication was: Mercury, Neptune, Earth, Jupiter, Mars and now Venus.

And yes, I’m aware Larry Niven’s first published short story was also on Mercury… ahem… this is where I tiptoe away…


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