Notes from sf author Stephen Palmer

Infinity Plus at Radish Fiction

Publishers of my novels Infinity Plus are trying out a new venture at Radish Fiction.

The idea is to send small, serialised parts of a work to the mobile device of the reader’s choice.

An interesting experiment of the internet age… Check it out!


Infinity Plus Books



Many thanks to all the bots who have recently given me a nice big spike in my stats.

The Planet In A Pebble by Jan Zalasiewicz

Having read two of Jan Zalasiewicz’s book before, I had high hopes for this one. The content of Planet In A Pebble is excellent, as before, but the writing style leaves a lot to be desired.

Zalasiewicz is a geologist who has done brilliant work popularising esoteric concepts in geology and palaeontology like mass spectrometry, isotope decay and strata identification. This book takes a single pebble from a Welsh beach and in thirteen chapters describes not only every process leading to its creation but every iota of information that can be extracted from it. In terms of the content, it is fascinating.

But the book is a bit of a struggle to read. At every opportunity Zalasiewicz adds comments in parenthesis or between dashes, 99% of which are either unnecessary, whimsical, or which could be incorporated into a better sentence structure. Usually I’m not bothered by writing style, but this book is in desperate need of an editor to cut out all Zalasiewicz’s clutter. To be fair, some sections are worse than others, but I really noticed it and it really irritated me. Which is a shame, as this is exactly the sort of book I’d like to see doing well.

For content, I would definitely give a 4* rating though.


Holiday photos (2nd half)

Brian Aldiss RIP

The SF world is waking up today to some very sad news. Brian Aldiss wrote many great novels, some of which were inspirational to me in my early days. But his masterpiece was Helliconia, which is up there with other masterpieces of the SF genre, I think. Helliconia gathered together all his brilliance – his characters, his world-building, his majestic vision, and so much more. He will be missed, but, of course, his legacy will live on.


Holiday photos (so far)

Improbable Botany completed

407 backers and £12,000+ raised.


Thank you to everybody who supported this project.

wayward inner

The Voices Within by Charles Fernyhough

Written by an author with a lot of experience of psychology and related disciplines, this fascinating book covers pretty much everything currently known about voices in our inner mental worlds – which, it turns out, is not very much. The final section of the book in fact is a survey of the considerable amount of work that still needs doing.

Two main theories characterise the book. The first theory is that inner voice is something children acquire as they internalise their normal speaking voice. This, the author suggests, leads to our inner monologue… or, more accurately, our inner dialogues. But as Fernyhough begins to unpick what we think we know about our inner voices he shifts towards a second theory, which is that the phenomenon is far more complex than we realise, involving more than just words and sound. By the end of the book he leans towards the notion that our inner voices (and there are always more than one) are one aspect of more which is internalised: other types of sensory and cognitive perception for instance. Inner voices come with much more baggage than just words.

You would think that a book with this title would focus on schizophrenia and other illnesses, but actually such conditions are a relatively small part of the deal here. That’s not so say the author doesn’t have much insight into the area – he does, and the insights are well worth reading. But so little is known and agreed about how our inner dialogue works there is clearly much more to come.

Fernyhough also touches on how creative people hear, perceive and use inner voices in their work – particularly authors. These sections are short, but fascinating.

A couple of niggles. Even one mention in one sentence of the fact that all human beings have a model of the world inside their head would have greatly helped. The latter chapters of the book, where “whole people” are mentioned as existing in our inner worlds (as indeed they do), would have benefitted from such a statement. It would have helped to put the whole argument of the book into a better perspective. I also think a few mentions of the considerable difference in how introverts and extroverts perceive their inner worlds would have helped. But these are small points, and likely will be addressed as psychologists begin to work with what this excellent author has put forward.



Improbable Botany – success!

The Kickstarter campaign for the Improbable Botany anthology has now exceeded its £7,500 target. Many thanks to all my friends and fans who pledged to support this! Wayward and the whole team are excited of course that the book is going to become a reality.


Improbable Botany – update

The Improbable Botany anthology on Kickstarter is now around 2/3 of the way home, with 129 backers and £4,772 pledged. But there are only 15 days to go, so Wayward Plants needs more, and soon! If you like the sound of ten high quality SF authors – Ken MacLeod, Cherith Baldry, Eric Brown, Simon Morden, Adam Roberts, James Kennedy, myself, Justina Robson, Tricia Sullivan and Lisa Tuttle – inside a truly beautiful and original volume, then pledge now. You only need £16 to receive the book, and that includes a free ebook version.

Please pledge now!