Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Big Sky: The SF Masterworks project

Since 1999, Millenium and, subsequently, Gollancz has been publishing the very best science fiction novels in the SF Masterworks series, starting with Joe Haldeman's The Forever War (1975), right up to the latest addition of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Monday Begins on Saturday (1965) and stopping off at other science fiction greats like Phillip K Dick (multiple times), Robert Silverbert, HG Wells, Frederik Pohl, James Blish, Poul Anderson, Greg Bear, Arthur C Clarke on the way.

It's a fantastic series of 'must reads' for anyone who loves SF. As part of the LonCon3 celebrations, science fiction enthusiast Peter Young has put together a beautiful two-volume fanzine containing over 250 reviews of all the SF Masterworks published to date. It's an amazing achievement and I'm proud to say my review of Christopher Priest's mind-bending Inverted World is included in the second volume.

The collected reviews appear in Big Sky #3 and Big Sky #4, which you can download for free right now at

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Breaking news - the quantum drive that shouldn't work

I'm more than a little excited by the news coming out of NASA that tests on a so-called microwave drive appear to produce thrust that is theoretically impossible.

This from the site:
While criticism of his concept was abundant, nobody has managed to prove it wrong.
Behind it all is some pretty speculative quantum physics.
At the tiniest of all known scales, the universe does not seem to obey its own rules.
One of the concepts this drive claims to exploit is an effect called quantum vacuum fluctuation: Where particles spontaneously create themselves in the vacuum of space, before quickly blinking out of existence again.
Somehow, these rare — here one minute, gone the next — particles are being captured and turned into plasma inside the microwave drive. This plasma, when directed, imparts thrust.
If true, it’s a source of fuel delivered direct to the engine — without weighty or dangerous fuel tanks.
And it’s constantly re-creating itself.
The theoretical physics behind zero-point energy has been around for years and the drive of the ship in Horizon also makes use of spontaneously created particles.

One of the big problems in stellar space travel is how much fuel a craft would need to carry to travel any appreciable distance in a relatively short space of time, the weight of that fuel and the difficulty of replacing it when it's gone. If this works, it could remove a major barrier to space travel.

The Lenticular - one third there

Today I put the finishing touches on book one of The Lenticular series, at least insofar as I feel I’ve done all I can with it, the story is in good shape and it’s time to move onto a more detailed redraft of book two. I’d originally called book one The Way of the Kresh but I’m not sure I’ll stick with that. The three books could easily be called Invasion, Rebellion and Annihilation. Book one deals with the invasion of the Kresh homeworld by the Earth-based Hegemony and book two covers the fight by the Kresh to take back their planet. As for book three – well, let’s just say things don’t go well for any of the parties involved.

Anyway, whatever I end up calling the books, today is a big milestone in bringing the Kresh story together.