Still Alive

Triumph. Note. Huge success. Etc.

First up, the Escape Artists websites, including the ones you don’t see but that we use to help run the ones you do see, are either borked or going very slowly at the moment. We’re aware of the problem, aware of its scope and the fix should start in a couple of days. We’re also very aware that this is, at least, the third time this has happened in the last year and believe me, we’re all as utterly pissed off about it as you are. We’re looking at a server change and better IT support in the short term. The plan’s in place, should be implemented soon and maybe next time will be the leap home. Or we’ll land on servers not powered by flywheel as, frankly, these seem to be.

So yeah, there’s an issue, we know there’s an issue, we’re sorry there’s an issue and we’re working on solving the issue. Also, we have always been at war with Eurasia.

In other news:

I am currently deep in the forest of deadlines, hacking a path through the underbrush and really, really hammering a metaphor into a thin flat sheet. There will be a Friday Film this week, even if all it consists of is either the words FILM AM GOOD written in 72 point letters or me explaining, in detail, why I may prefer the Robocop remake to the original.

Anyway, I’m still here just under a series of guns. Comic reviews are done, one interview is done and I’m 3000 words off the end of a ridiculously fun Victoriana assignment which has involved almost no crushingly tedious rules gonkery and an awful lot of marvellously loopy ideas. I really hope my concept for the Shepherds (Supernatural Church cowboys hunting the shards of the archangel Gabriel that were embedded in Arizona and its inhabitants 50,000 years ago when he exploded and caused Meteor Crater. AND I AM BEING PAID TO MAKE THIS STUFF UP!) makes it through for one. Once Victoriana’s done I may make myself take a day off and then come back with next week’s stuff which, right now, looks like this:

-One interview

-Comic reviews

-Three weeks of Pseudopod endcaps

-Two weeks of Escape Pod endcap

-Follow up emails for three more projects

-10th Doctor sourcebook

Oh yes, it’s also now officially official, and will be in another blog post, that I’m writing the 10th Doctor sourcebook for Cubicle 7′s excellent Doctor Who RPG. Writing the 6th Doctor one (Out this year!) completely changed my perception of 6′s run, for the better, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with 10 here. There are huge chunks of his run I love (The entire Donna year, two of the specials, some of the Torchwood season) I love and chunks of it (Fear Her, the rest of the Torchwood season, the entire endgame for the Martha season, the other two specials) that I really don’t get on with. Be interesting to see how that changes.

So yes, busy and indeed busy. More soon, promise.

Escape Artists Needs Your Help

So, this year’s metacast just went up. These are shows we put together to update you on how the shows are going, what our plans are, all that stuff.

 

This one is a little different, because we’re in very serious financial trouble. Like, we will cease to be an active and functional market by the end of 2013 levels of serious.

 

The show’s over here, and we sweated blood over this thing so do please click anywhere on this line to go listen to it.

 

If you can’t, or don’t have the time to listen to the whole show, here’s the text of my section which will give you the gist. It’s rough, there are sign off points to things you won’t get without listening in there, but it’s a good cliff notes version.

 

Good news first. We’re putting together some premium content to mark this metacast. It’ll be ready in December, so, if you are an existing subscriber on November 30 OR you have donated a one time of $50+ between this show going live and November 30, you will receive the premium flash content in December. See, plenty of time to jump aboard.

Now the bad news. This time is going to be a little different. You’ll get that, don’t worry, but you should know, upfront, we’re in serious financial trouble. So serious we’re looking the end of the company in the eyes at the end of 2013 unless you can help. The last thing we wanted to do was to just blindly beg for help without giving you some idea of what, and who, you’re going to be helping out though. So, get ready to meet the team. Listen to them, to their love for this work and what they have planned and please stay listening to the end. Because we’re not done. Not if you can help us.

 

First up we have Escape Pod, the Galactica of our ragtag fugitive fleet. Edited by Norm Sherman, with production, submissions and feedback being provided by the inimitable Mat Weller and Nate Lee, it’s produced over 400 episodes of science fiction. Here’s the guys, walking you through what they do, why they love it and what their plans are. Take it, Norm.

Thanks chaps. Now, let’s talk about Pseudopod. I’m actually smiling as I write this. I came to Pseudopod entirely through dint of being cocky. I heard that Mur was leaving, emailed Steve and literally said ‘I’d be dead good at this. Pick me. Go on, pick me.’ And to my rank amazement I was apparently top of his list for possible replacements. We reconfigured the show, with two-fisted uber genius Ben Philips taking full time duties as editor and me taking full time duties as host and away we went.

Go back and listen to my first show. It’s around episode 49 I think. I sound both young and TERRIFIED. It was a deeply weird feeling, sitting down in front of the mike and talking to the entire internet. Or at least a good chunk of it. I got less scared, I got better at it and I started…opening up. A lot of the stories we run affect me, and I found myself talking about how they did this through the lens of personal experience. I’m not joking when I say doing that kept me balanced and healthy during some of the things that have happened in my personal life during my time on the show. I wouldn’t be me, without Pseudopod.

I love this job. I can’t put it more plainly than that. Nothing I do is more enjoyable, and means more to me, than this. Nothing.  Shawn is one of the finest editors I’ve ever had the privilege to work with and Graeme, our sound producer does amazing work. I would dearly love to still be doing this job in 2014. We all would. Now, here’s Shawn to walk you through Pseudopod.

 

Now for something completely different. As I said at the top of the show, If you are an existing subscriber on November 30 OR you have donated a one time of $50+ between this show’s release date and November 30, you will receive the premium flash content in December. But as a special bonus,  Nathan from Escape Pod is here with a piece of flash fiction. Because even when were in trouble it’s still all about the stories.

 

Our youngest show next, Podcastle. I used to say fantasy wasn’t really my bag but that’s changed and that’s  entirely down to Podcastle. The sheer variety, and quantity, of stories Anna and Dave curate and put out has shown me just what a wonderful, deep genre it is and their love for it shines through in everything they produce. Now, here they are to talk about the show.

 

Thanks guys. Now, We’ve talked about how the company’s in trouble but now it’s time to hear not only just what’s going on but what you can do about it. Here’s our publisher and accountant, Paul to take things down to brass tacks.

 

That’s our show, folks. And if things don’t get better in three months, that really is our show.

You’ve heard from us all, heard what we’ve got planned, what this job means to us and how you can help. I’m not going to belabour the point, I’m just going to say this; we love this work, we love what we do. Please help us keep doing it. Without you, we’re gone at the end of the year.

 

Thanks for listening.

 

And from me…to me. Here are the links to the show websites. There are donation buttons on there and if you like the show, and can, please use them. I know some of you have issues with PayPal and I’m sorry, right now that’s all we’ve got and we’re working on an alternative. Unfortunately I have no time table for when that will be. When I do, I’ll let you know.

 

Here are those links:

 

Escape Pod

Pseudopod

Podcastle

 

 

Thirteen Horror Audio Anthology Now Out

Horror, for me, lives in audio.  The Man in Black or, as it used to be called, Fear on Four, has run on BBC Radio 4 for decades. The idea was, and is, simple; the Man in Black is the mysterious host of a short radio play, introducing it, setting the stage then coming back at the end for a dryly funny bookend to the unremitting horror. The most recent incarnation sees the mighty Mark Gatiss take the role. It’s wonderful stuff and it used to scare the living hell out of me when, aged 12 and upwards, I sat in bed and listened to it. That show is the reason I love audio horror, it’s the reason I work in audio horror and once you listen to it you may notice a couple of beats that I borrow from time to time over at Pseudopod.

 

It’s also one of the reasons I’m delighted to be part of Thirteen. Edited by two fisted genius Scott Harrison, it’s an audio anthology designed to mimic the old audio horror anthologies of the 1970s which did for Scott what The Man in Black did for me. That by itself would have my attention, but Scott’s not stopped there. First off, it’s produced by Neil Gardner. If you’ve listened to any audiobook in the last 5-10 years and enjoyed it there’s a very good chance Neil produced it. He’s one of the best in the world in his field, as well as being a phenomenally nice guy and he’s on top form here.

Then there’s the cast, on both sides of the microphone. Take a look:

Here’s the full track listing:

Side A

1 – Hidden Track (part 1) by Scott Harrison read by Barnaby Edwards

2 – Dead Space by George Mann read by Greg Wise

3 – A Girl, Sitting by Mark Morris read by Jilly Bond

4 – Finding The Path by Kaaron Warren read by Trevor White

5 – The Hairstyle of the Devil by Martin Day read by Arthur Darvill

6 – Down by Gary McMahon read by Stephen Rashbrook

7 – Visions by Cavan Scott read by Michael Maloney

8 – Half Life by Dan Abnett read by John Banks

9 – Hidden Track (part 2) by Scott Harrison read by Barnaby Edwards

Side B

10 – With Her In Spirit by Stephen Gallagher read by Frances Barber

11 – Tabula Rasa by Alasdair Stuart read by Lalla Ward

12 – One Hit Wanda by Kim Newman read by Samuel West

13 – A Glass of Water by Mark Wright read by Gemma Arterton

14 – Ghost Pit by Simon Clark read by Jeff Harding

15 – I Wish by Johnny Mains read by Steven Cree

16 – Hidden Track (part 3) by Scott Harrison read by Barnaby Edwards

 

On the authorial side alone you have some of the best voices in UK horror contributing work. Dan Abnett, Stepehn Gallagher, Kim Newman and Simon Clark are huge influences on my work, both non-fiction and fiction and authors like Kaaron Warren, Gary McMahon, Cavan Scott, Johnny Mains and Scott himself are some of the very best voices working in the field today.

Then there’s the voice cast. Some of the most talented, most recognizable actors and actress in the UK worked on this thing and they all knock it out of the park. These are people you’ve seen, or heard, before and that sense of familiarity, combined with the horror of the stories, creates a delicious sense of unease. Arthur Darvill, who made his name playing the single most decent man ever to travel in the TARDIS is on here. Michael Maloney, whose Hamlet is one of the best I’ve seen is on here. Frances Barber, Samuel West, Gemma Arterton, Jeff Harding, time and time again you’ll hear familiar voices on this album and each one of them is telling you the most wonderful, horrible things.

There’s one line that’s my favorite though:

 

11 – Tabula Rasa by Alasdair Stuart read by Lalla Ward

 

That’s me.Sitting in between Stephen Gallagher and Kim Newman which is the single most thematically appropriate running order I’ve ever been on. And that’s Lalla Ward, best known for playing Romana II in Doctor Who, reading words I wrote, using my hands and my brain and everything.

The story itself has a very odd genesis, and changed a lot between the original draft and this version. I’ll talk about that in a separate blog post. I remain very proud of it though which is both rare and an immense relief. It’s a nasty, focused little story and I can’t imagine it in any other voice, or any better company, than it is. I’m deeply grateful to Scott and Neil for doing such an incredible job on the disc, to the mighty Matt Dillon for the extraordinarily good cover art and to Lalla Ward for doing an incredible job on the reading.

 

Thirteen is available now, the link is below. If this is a success, there’s a strong chance it’ll become a series of albums, giving even more writers and voice artists a chance to scare you in the very best way. If you like audio horror, if you’re a Pseudopod listener, a Doctor Who fan or just devour audiobooks like they’re made of chocolate, believe me, this is for you. Thirteen is so good, it really is scary.

 

Buy Thirteen here

 

Read a review of it here

What I Did In February 2013

The first thing I did in February 2013? Draft this post so I don’t spend three hours at the end of the month building the thing. Usual rules apply, names and titles are usually clickable and the magic word ‘here’ will transport you to my wordspace. Or something. Anyway, first off, this happened!

So, a couple of weeks ago, Damien Walter put this piece up about Artisan authors, and how it’s a much more attractive, freeing way to get published than going through normal publishing houses. This pissed me off. Quite a lot at the time because I was having a lousy weekend. Instead of letting it fester, I got in touch with The Guardian, explained the problems I had with the piece and the stuff I felt Damien had missed and they, to my rank, slack jawed amazement, gave me a slot on the blog. It was huge fun and Damien, who remains a controversial figure in a lot of authorial circles was incredibly classy about me showing up on his patch and telling people, in a roundabout way, he was wrong. Or rather that there was a third way aside from the two he’d discussed…Regardless, it’s a piece I’m really proud of and it’s here.

 

-Controversy tango once again! Despite the press’ best efforts to convince the world that Judge Dredd would be tripping through the field singing tiptoe through the tulips whilst wearing a pink tutu and kissing boys, ‘Closet’ turns out to be a fantastically smart, very sweet story that reminded me, yet again, that I enjoy Judge Dredd far more when it’s about people rather than ‘LOOK! IT’S A THINLY VEILED POP CULTURE SATIRE! WE JUST KILLED!’ like it was for the ENTIRE 1990s. I review prog 1817 in its entirety here and my colleague Mr Steven Ellis has interesting points to make about the way the story was reported here.

-I love science, but I fear math(s), and as a result I tend to go a bit Gir when science goes past a certain ceiling of complexity for me. I was therefore utterly delighted when Ben Tippett, who is an actual real genius Doctor and everything, asked me to be a guest on the Titanium Physicists podcast. Every episode, the show has a guest on, who asks questions and a rotating cast of scientists answer these questions. In a way which frequently involves alcohol, often involves dirty jokes and in my case involved Arnold Schwarzenegger hurling Danny DeVito into a black hole to demonstrate time dilation. It was massive fun, Ben and his team do great work and I was delighted to blog about them here.

-Mitch Benn is one of my comedy heroes. One of the best musical comedians working today, he’s an essential part of The Now Show, a massive Doctor Who fan and is working on producing an entire album, from a standing start, in 24 hours, for Red Nose Day. I blogged about his plans here.

-In December, Merlin was wound up after a five year run. Two weeks ago as I write this, Being Human followed suit. The manner of both announcements was odd, and their close proximity triggered alarm bells, or seemed like it should..I blogged about pareidolia, the human tendency to see patterns where there aren’t any, and what it might mean for Doctor Who‘s oddly small scale 50th Anniversary year, here.

-Fearless Defenders, the latest new title in Marvel’s Marvel Now! relaunch was released early in the month. It’s huge fun, teaming street level detective and martial artist Misty Knight with Valkyrie, the last Shield Maiden of Asgard and Doctor Riggs, a really enthusiastic archaeologist. A full on action movie of a book (The first issue features Viking Zombies. VIKING. ZOMBIES.) I reviewed it here.

-I also talked to Fearless Defenders writer Cullen Bunn about the book, his acclaimed supernatural western Sixth Gun and it’s upcoming TV pilot. You can find that interview here.

-Aaron Murphy is one of the best, most talented indie comic creators working today. I took a look at Aaron’s work and the life of the indie creator, here.

-Zero Hour involves the Rosicrucians frantically hiding a huge object beneath a European cathedral as they race to complete 12 clocks that will be handed to the 12 new disciples who will save the world from Hitler, only to be brutally murdered just as the object beneath the cathedral is moved. Then it’s the present day, in New York, and a conspiracy journalist and his wife find one of the clocks.

Then the opening credits hit.

Zero Hour is not remotely calm, and is already getting savaged critically because, frankly, most of my contemporaries are idiots who have two modes ‘Heartbreaking genius/Sucks’ and wouldn’t know the middle ground if it walked up to them, shook their hand and said ‘Hello, I’m the middle ground.’ I, however, am very familiar with the middle ground and really rather liked Zero Hour. My review of the first episode is here.

-Lightfields is the follow up to last year’s surprisingly excellent Marchlands, a done in one season ghost story on ITV. Set in 1944, 1975 and 2012 at the same building, it follows a death, the consequences leading up to it and the terrified ghost it leaves behind. It’s great and my review of the first episode is here.

-Meanwhile, immensely talented writer and artist team Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton have decided that the best way to bring back the old 1960s adventure newspaper strips is to write and publish a new one and pretend it’s an old one. It’s a very clever idea, complete with Avengers-style kink and fashion and an entire back story for the poor doomed creators. I interviewed them about the project, Goldtiger, which is on KickStarter right now, here.

-Achtung!Cthulhu is a fantastic looking new Lovecraftian RPG set during World War II. Speaking as a postmodern nerd, the concept of being able to marry HP Lovecraft’s work with Hellboy‘s past, Indiana Jones, The Mummy franchise and Charles Stross’ The Laundry series has me positively giddy and that’s even before we get to the game itself. The KickStarter is active now, and I talked to Chris Birch, head of publisher Mophidius Games about it and the upcoming Mutant Chronicles relaunch, here.

-JR Blackwell is one of my idols, an amazingly talented photographer, writer and game designer amongst many other things. She’s also the Creative Director of Galileo Games, who, with games like Bulldogs!, Kingdom of Nothing and Shelter in Place are pioneering the idea of games with a social conscience which manage to talk about issues without being preachy. I spoke to her about the IndieGoGo campaign for The Lost, the fiction anthology that ties into Kingdom of Nothing, as well as Galileo’s overall plans, here.

-We Are Monsters is a fascinating, and deeply nasty looking, horror movie currently being funded on KickStarter. I interviewed John Shackleton, the writer and director, here.

 

Monkeybrain Comics continue to be one of the smartest, and most diverse digital comics companies out there. I reviewed the first issue of their latest title, High Crimes, a crime comic set on Everest, here.

I have a thing for really good police procedural drama, stemming from an early exposure to the wonderful Homicide: Life on the Street. As a result, I grabbed the chance to review Red Team issue 1, written by Garth Ennis and with art by Greg Cermak, with both hands. The story of a detective unit who decide to kill a suspect and find they’re both good at it, and have a taste for it, it’s the best thing Ennis has done in some time. The review is here.

-Amelia Cole and the Unknown World is one of the best titles Monkeybrain Comics put out. It’s smart, fun take on urban fantasy is like Harry Potter if Hermione was the main character crossed with Supernatural and a wicked sense of humor. I talked to writers Adam P Knave and DJ Kirkbride about the end of volume 1 and the plans for volume 2 here.

-Hellblazer is dead, long live Hellblazer. Vertigo’s iconic, 300 issue British horror title finished this week and, after talking to fellow Bleeding Cool staffer Adi Tantimedh, I put together a piece about something which may ease the post Hellblazer blues. Pilgrim is a series of radio plays following a man who has lived 800 years, knows every secret the UK holds and wants one thing; to die. It’s a stunning series of plays that’s just started it’s fourth run on Radio 4 as I write this and I walk you through what it is and where to find it here.

 

Some time ago I jokingly mentioned that Sue Perkins, one half of one of my all time favorite comedy duos (Seriously, Morecambe and Wise, Garrus and Wrex, Mel and Sue, in that order), would make a particularly excellent female 10th Doctor. This was partially because I was watching Great British Bake Off and partially because, being a contrary bastard, the ‘EEEEEEEEEEEWWWWW! GIRLS!’ response that the real ale section of Who fandom had when the idea of a female Doctor was floated really irritated me.  And when the idea was mentioned again on Twitter a few nights ago, I got thinking. And that means stuff tends to happen. So, I wrote an alternate history of the show, as if the Doctor had always been a woman. So, if you want to read about Joyce Grenfell’s turn as the 1st Doctor, how the 4th Doctor and The Good Life are connected and who is currently playing the 11th Doctor, go here.

Oh and this story went CRAZY. The NME picked it up, as did the Sun‘s website, the Mirror‘s website, Digital Spy, io9 and Ghana Nation. I’m still getting it retweeted into my twitter feed from people who I don’t even follow. Which is BRILLIANT. And yes I’m working on a follow up.

-On a more sedate note I prove, using science, and by science I mean words, that Die Hard 5 is actually Mission:Impossible 4.5. See the truth here.

 

Don’t call it a comeback, as Lionel Lionel Cool J once sung, but I’m back at travellingman.com!

-Achtung!Cthulhu is a splendidly adaptable new RPG combining the mythos with the Second World War. I talk about their KickStarter here.

-Goldtiger, by the mighty duo of Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton, is the greatest 1960s newspaper adventure strip that never was. OR IS IT? I talk about this complex, smart, fun project’s KickStarter here.

-Whilst my issues with how DC have been comporting themselves with their creative staff, and several of the choices made, continue to grow, they’re also continuing to put out interesting work. My review of the first issue of Justice League of America is here.

-I was also pointed at a very interesting looking KickStarter campaign for Sorako. Written and drawn by Fujimura Takiyuki, it’s a subtle, slice of life series that’s very comparable to the work of creators like Eddie Campbell and Marc Ellerby. My piece about the campaign is here.

-Speaking, as we were up page, about Hellblazer, my review of that final issue is here.

-Whilst my review of the very excellent first issue of the Nova relaunch is here. I loved this, very much The Last Starfighter, crossed with the horror of being trapped in a small town back Glee had in its early, best years, and superheroic punching.

-Kill Shakespeare is a fascinating book exploring what happens when Shakespeare’s characters are all real, all worship him and go to war…The third volume, Tide of Blood, has just started and my review of the first issue is here.

 

 

 

-They Go Bump by David Barr Kirtley is a very clever, subtle, hideous story about invisibility. Actually it’s about three different levels of invisibility; the invisibility of individual identity in the military, the invisibility of the lower ranks to the upper as anything other than a deployable asset and the invisibility offered by an experimental piece of technology. It’s a nasty, fun piece of work and I narrate it here.

-Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Tamarisk Hunter is a story I’ve actually seen the genesis of first hand. I’ve seen Tamarisks in Texas, know what they do to the soil, and having spent four months in California know how delicately balanced it’s ecosystem is. The story’s a fascinating, bleak piece of near future environmental SF and I introduce it here.

-Michael Swanwick’s The Very Pulse Of The Machine is either tragic, hopeful, or a little of both. It’s a hard SF disaster story with a head dose of neo spiritualism and optimism to it and it’s one of my favorite stories of his. I introduce it here.

 

-Marc Laidlaw wrote the Half Life games, all of them and I’m delighted to see that he’s clearly used the hundreds of hours of my life I willingly paid that experience to create some fantastic short fiction too. Episode 319-Cell Call, is one of my favorite episodes of all time, a wonderfully constructed, utterly chilling look at what happens when you pass through the looking glass and don’t even know.

-Matt Wall provided the second story for February, with episode 320-The Man With The Broken Soul. A considered, measured, terrifying look at the consequences of splintering a human soul, and the immortality that comes with it, it was read with typical authority by Elie Hirschman.

-Episode 321-I Am The Box, The Box Is Me by Kyle S. Johnson is a slow burn stream of consciousness piece that speaks to both the stains left by trauma and a particularly horrible version of the afterlife. It’s a difficult piece but stick with it, it’s more than worth it.

-Episode 322-Cry Room by Ted Kosmatka is one of my favorite stories. Ever. Ted draws a subtle knife of implication and horror across social expectation and the daily grind of looking after a family to create a story which, like the Cry Room itself, is exactly what you bring to it. It’s hopeful, horrific and utterly brilliant.

 

So that was February, where I lost a couple of days to illness and grind. It’s okay, I’ll make the time, and words, back up and there are a few holdovers that should land in March, with luck:

-Various SFX blog pieces

-Several roleplaying projects

-Two more introductions to books.

-A short story. I got commissioned for. Seriously.

 

Oh and I mentioned the book, right?

 

The Pseudopod Tapes Volume 1 is a collection of all the writing I did for Pseudopod in 2012, revised and expanded. You won’t hear me ask for donations, won’t her me use the words Creativecommonsattributionnoncommercialnoderivativeslicence which I’ve now said so often they just become one. No, none of that. Instead you’ll get;

-A discussion of the cross medium fictional geography of Gotham City

-Pieces of history, personal and global.

-Why climbing is a bit like meditation.

-Discussions on horror, personal and fictional.

-A single piece of flash fiction.

-The 2012 Halloween Parade

-Answers to the 2012 Halloween Parade

 

And loads of other stuff. I’m really proud of this book and I’ve been deeply honored by how well it’s been received. So if you fancy it it’s available in print or ebook form. Adele and the crew at Fox Spirit along with superlative cover artist SL Johnson did amazing work, as did the nice people that put it on cake for the launch party. See? The cake was NEVER a lie.

 

See you…actually in about a week. These articles are INSANE, even collating them as I go, so I’m going to try weekly roundups instead. So, check back in seven days for Chapter 1 of All The Words I Wrote In March! Shorter! Faster! More explosions! Probably not actually but definitely the first two!

Want to talk to me about the article? Got something you need written?  Come see me on Twitter at @alasdairstuart or email me.

 

What I Did In December 2012

Okay there was clearly sleeping and eating and Christmas, and visiting my parents (Which was lovely) and having a cold (Which was less lovely) but NONE.THE.LESS. this is what I did in December and the people I did it for.

 

-Blogbusters  only made one appearance this month, but it was a doozy, looking at the Naughty and Nice lists for genre fiction for 2012.

-I reviewed the wonderful Behind the Sofa, a collection of short essays by celebrities about their favorite Doctor Who memories. It’s a fantastic book, with proceeds going to Alzheimer’s Research and the review is one of the pieces I’m proudest of this year.

-My old friend Scott Harrison has a very well deserved and rapidly burgeoning career as a short fiction editor and an audio drama writer. He’s written the second of Big Finish’s excellent Confessions of Dorian Gray (Starring Alexander Vlahos, fans of Merlin!) series and I reviewed it here. It’s not, despite the frantic points-scoring in the comments, an unnecessary sequel (Although I would watch the SHIT out of The Mayor Of Casterbridge 2: The Final Battle), but rather the second in a series of short audio plays about Dorian Gray making his way through his endless centuries of decadent, beautiful, empty life. Scott nailed this, and it was a pleasure to review. I’ll be looking at Resurrection Engines, the steampunk take on classic literature anthology he edited, in the new year.

-The last year has been marked by a sudden and very welcome upswing in paranormal police fiction, with Ben Aaronovitch’s excellent Rivers of London series, Paul Cornell’s highly acclaimed London Falling (I’m sure it’s great I’ve just not had time to read it yet) and the graphic novel release of Gordon Rennie and Tiernen Trevellion‘s excellent Absalom. An aging, charmingly decrepit copper who worked with the best including Charlie Barlow and Jack Regan (The first not the second, at least so far…), Absalom runs a team which helps keep the uneasy peace between London and Hell. Steeped in the history of the city, crammed full of great dialogue and ideas and cheerfully horrible, I loved this. Now if we can just get the rest of Caballistics Inc collected…

-Professor Elemental is a steampunk British rapper. Oh and he has a comic. And it’s as brilliant as he is, which is to say rather a lot. Here’s my review of it.

-Whilst IDW continue to do great work with the Doctor Who comics, the UK-based Doctor Who Magazine have been doing them for a lot longer.Wider in scope, far more prepared to mess with the status quo as a result and frequently brilliant (The Iron Legion is still the stuff of my favorite nightmares) they’re one of the very few gems of Who fiction that remain largely hidden. I reviewed The Child of Time, a collection of the first few 11th Doctor strips and Jonathan Morris‘ first work on the character here, and it’s fantastic.

-Ecko Rising, Danie Ware‘s debut novel, does the near-impossible; making heroic fantasy interesting and grounded at the same time as avoiding sliding into the muddy booted slog that a lot of pseudo-Game of Thrones books become. It’s a stunning book, made all the more so by the fact it’s a debut, and I interviewed Danie here.

-Juliet E.Mckenna has been doing the near-impossible for a while now, with her Einarinn series of linked series mapping a fascinating, politically driven fantasy world into existence. They’re a stunning ongoing achievement and I interviewed Julie about them here.

-When I was about 15, the first Batman/Judge Dredd crossover came out and it was the single most muscular, flexed, teeth-bared comic I’d ever read. It still is, and I was delighted to see it and the three sequels collected in a nice hardback edition. I reviewed it here. I didn’t flex throughout writing the review. But I was tempted.

-I also contributed to the 25 Movies of the Year piece, getting to show some love for Sinister and Hotel Transylvania.

There’s some other stuff pending for SFX, including a couple of reviews and a look at some great small press work but this is what’s up right now.

 

-I didn’t so much consult on this excellent piece Brendon put together about the Star Trek Into Darkness teaser as endless watch the thing over a period of a couple of days and then provide a tiny insight into one thing. By the way, Brendon’s trailer breakdowns are extraordinary, go read this one, on Oblivion. You’ll learn stuff. Good stuff. I did.

-Thanks to him, I also got to do a little pictorial archaeology, when a series of Kevin Eastman sketches for an abandoned fourth live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie surfaced. They’re…let’s say muscular, but I had a lot of fun speculating as to what the plot of the movie would have been. Someone in the comments suggested it was going to be based on the After the Bomb RPG background and I can certainly see that.

-I also interviewed the heroic creative team on Amelia Cole and the Unknown World. I love Monkeybrain Comics‘ entire line but Amelia Cole is the standout for me and it was a pleasure to talk to the entire team, at length, about their experience on volume 1 of the book and what’s in it’s future.

 

 

It’s all go in Escape Artists Towers this month, and I’ll talk about why in…(checks watch)…about a week. In the meantime, our stories for December were fantastic, with the month kicing off with Episode 311: Flashes on the Borderlands XIV: Resistance! Flashes is our regular collection of flash stories and this was a corker, with Matthew Acheson‘s No Further (Read by my dad no less! Hello father!) followed by Jayne Chant’s The Conchie and Henry Lu’s Bitter Tea & Braided Hair. I’m very fond of Flashes, and it’s often one of our strongest features but this one is something special.

Hunter James Martin‘s chilling Feeding the Machine was episode 312, a story about work, drudgery, slavery and freedom and the point where all four meet. This is one of my favorites of the year and it’s the sort of story horror is uniquely equipped to provide, combining something relatively mundane with the fantastic to chilling effect.

Episode 313:The Dead Sexton is a J.Sheridan Le Fanu story, which, as some of you have probably already worked out, means getting hold of the author’s PayPal details proved a little…tricky. It’s an excellent piece, published in 1871 and steeped in regional dialect, set in the Lake District town Le Fanu invented of Golden Friars. It’s also an absolute beast to read so Shawn very sensibly approached my Dad again. My grandfather was from the region, so my Dad knew enough of the dialect to get by but it was still a hell of a challenge and he did fantastically well. Go have a listen, it’s a very different piece to what we normally run and a fascinating example of how horror has changed over the last century.

Episode 314 hasn’t been released just yet but you can read the outro for it early in the BOOK I HAD PUBLISHED THIS MONTH! YAAAAAY! (KERMIT ARMS)

 

The Pseudopod Tapes Volume 1 is a collection of all the writing I did for Pseudopod this year. Every outro I did is in there, revised and expanded so you don’t need to have just read or listened to the story to get them, and there’s also a collection of all the closing quotes and the answers to this year’s Halloween Parade. It’s available in print or ebook form and it’s something I’m incredibly proud of. One of the things I’ve always felt is a problem with my work is I never actually bloody finish it and this is a real thing, torn from my head and dragged into print by the fine people of Fox Spirit and my own hand. I love it to tiny pieces. And isn’t the cover by SL Johnson lovely? Delicious on cake too…

 

So if saying if you have left over vouchers from Amazon or you’re a fan? Give it a try.

 

That was (most of) December. Next up? Next year…

 

 

Want to talk to me about the article? Come see me on Twitter at @alasdairstuart or email me.


The book is launched, the cake is not a lie.

So I wrote a book. And Fox Spirit have published it and it’s available now.

A book.

A whole entire book.

I’m really, really happy with it and on Friday we had the official launch party. A small group of friends came round, a huge amount of chilli was prepared and The Pseudopod Tapes was sent on its way.

Plus there was cake!

The lovely people at Devine Cakes were able to put the cover on a cake which was apparently designed to only feed eight people, as it was the smallest size they sold.

 

It’s two days post launch.

 

It’s still half there.

 

It may be GROWING.

 

It’s also delicious, incredibly light and beautifully iced and no I can’t tie any of those metaphors to the book but I can say the launch party was brilliant, and that our first review is both in and very good, and also that this is a real highlight of my year. I’ve got a book out there:) Which of course means it’s time to plan the next one…

 

 

Announcing The Pseudopod Tapes Volume 1

I wrote a book this year. Want to see the cover? COURSE you do!

 

 

Isn’t that lovely? I am a sucker for old school microphones and the tentacle wrapping around it is just beautiful. That’s the work of S.L. Johnson, cover artist and genius. See the little Fox head on the mike? That’s the symbol for Fox Spirit Books, Adele Wearing’s publishing company who are putting the book out. Fox Spirit have got some amazing books on the roster and I’m in frankly humbling company, so I’m delighted not only that my first book (MY! FIRST! BOOK! THAT’S A REAL THING THAT’S HAPPENING!) is coming out but also coming out through them.

 

So what’s in it?

 

Good question Socratic dialogue version of me! It’s every endcap essay from this year, from Pseudopod. Every week I hosted the show, I wrote a short essay about something in the story that I’d noticed, or how the story had made me react. It’s a format I’ve sort of fallen into by default and I’m really pleased with how it works on the show, especially as it lets me simultaneously flex my critical muscles and spend some time leading the applause for the author and the story, which are, let’s face it, the stars of the show at Pseudopod.

Here though, it’s all on me. So, each one of the essays has been massively revamped, expanded and in a couple of cases completely rewritten to stop you constantly having to refer back to which episode I’m talking about and also to take advantage of a format where I don’t have to segue to a call for donations after 500 words. This was a good chunj of what I did during NanoJourno and the end result is 40,000 words worth of very largely new material.

In addition to the main essays there are two appendices. One is a complete listing of every ending quote from every episode which will, when read in order, confirm my deep fondness for Supernatural, the ’70s hair rock that the soundtrack to that show is crammed full of and Planetary. The second appendix is a complete breakdown of single inhabitant of this year’s Halloween parade, with running commentary on both.

 

We’re going to be publishing in ebook format for $5.99, and there’ll be a createspace option for anyone who wants a print copy too. Nearer the time, as in, in a couple of days, I’ll put up a post with full details of the launch date, the blog tour I’m going on to help promote the book and exactly when, and how, you can buy it. There’s a lot of work still to do, but not for now. For now, all that matters is that this is done, a thing I made is ready to go out into the world. I can’t wait to see what you think of it.

 

 

NanoJourno Update: Day 18

Today was more small scale project wrangling. The Arc Squadron blog post is up, the Pornokitsch interview is prepped and ready and I got some useful stuff done talking to Adele about the book. Tomorrow I’ll get the ball rolling with the EA editors, and get some promos in place on the shows for the book’s release. I can also now reveal the book is called:

The Pseudopod Tapes: Not The End Of The World, Just The End Of The Year

My publisher, Fox Spirit, have also just put up this very kind press release, announcing the book.

I also dug up my mostly complete interview with Mikee Bridges, the founder of Gamechurch. Gamechurch is an interesting organization, one part magazine, one part evangelical movement, one part computer game fans and journalists. I’ve seen enough passive aggressive, ‘Hey look we know rap music’ pseudo-contemporary Christian bullshit to last a lifetime so I was very, very cautious. However, Mikee’s been a great interviewee, very open , very willing to engage and fiercely honest. It’s a great piece and it should, hopefully, be up on the blog this week.

NanoJourno Update: Day 15

 

The great clearing of outstanding jobs really hit today. Despite the morning being lost to a series of shatteringly frustrating phonecalls with EDF, a company that somehow manage to provide us electricity without actually having us on contract or conducting any form of inter-department communication, I’ve filed six reviews today. They’re all comics I picked up at Thought Bubble 2011 and I like the idea of getting them in just before Thought Bubble 2012. There’s a certain symmetry to that, plus it’s a good show, so anything I can do to promote it is done.

Tomorrow is…more reviews! There’s one more Thought Bubble piece and a pair of graphic novels then on to GenCon clean up. The plan is to have my decks cleared and take the back two weeks of December all the way off. Plenty to do between there and here though.

NanoJourno Update: Day 14

 

Halfway point, or close enough to see it, and the tempo has definitely changed. The Pseudopod book is out with beta readers, the appendices for it are in place and just need a formatting and typo pass so I’ve spent today digging into the pickup work I’ve had to do. This has meant writing a blog post about Last Resort, doing three edit passes on an actual short story that’s actually going to be in a book (I know!) and writing a piece about the trailer for Oz:The Great and Powerful . Light duty but I’m still finishing the day with about 3000 words on the clock.

Tomorrow, more blogging and the return of the Thought Bubble review pile, joined by the GenCon Business Card Mountain. Then, it’s off to the movies.