A new short article is now up at SFF World, describing four influential books in my life. Special thanks to Mark Yon for setting this up.
First review just in; captures the novel perfectly.
‘This isn’t a comfortable read. It’s a haunting and deeply uneasy book that won’t offer you tidy solutions. If you’re looking for uncomplicated escapism, this isn’t it, but it is a book that can speak in some unsettling ways to that urge for escapism.’
I will be a guest author at the Asylum steampunk festival in Lincoln, 24th – 27th August. I’ll be appearing on the Saturday & Sunday, and featuring:
1. Q&A – automata & associated considerations, including the nature of consciousness, which is a field of specialism for me (approx 1 hour).
2. Q&A – relationships between fantasy and history (approx 1 hour).
3. Workshop – how to write a novel, with particular reference to steampunk. This will be a freeform workshop allowing participants to bring what they wish to the session (approx 1 hour).
This is the cover design for Tommy Catkins, due out from Infinity Plus on 26th July.
I’ll be revealing the cover artwork for my upcoming novel Tommy Catkins, published on July 26th by Infinity Plus Books, next Sunday.
I’m delighted to say that my new novel Tommy Catkins is published by Infinity Plus Books on 26th July. Big thanks to Keith Brooke for his excellence as an editor and his constancy as a friend.
The novel’s cover is finished, and will be premiered next month.
1915. Following a horrific experience at Verdun, Tommy Catkins – shell shocked and suffering head injuries – is sent to a mysterious island hospital in Wiltshire, where he is subjected to the primitive treatments of the era. But the island appears to be a portal to the enigmatic world of Onderwater, where lives a race of blue-skinned people with tails. Will Tommy be tempted by Onderwater, or will the love of Nurse Vann pull him back to reality, and recovery?
From Bacteria To Bach And Back: The Evolution Of Minds, by Daniel Dennett
I wanted to like this. I should have liked it. I didn’t much like it.
I’ve enjoyed this brilliant author’s previous work, not least the groundbreaking Consciousness Explained, but this… this has great substance, yet the writing is terrible. Every paragraph is broken up with digressions, stuff in brackets – even a single question mark in one instance – and more utterly unnecessary stuff that any editor would ordinarily have excised. But Dennett’s editor didn’t. As a result, the book reads mostly like the half-assed ramblings of a doddery old professor.
I’ll say it again – the substance is great. The middle section didn’t seem that important, but the opening and concluding chapters in particular were important and good. Dennett’s thesis is that all explanations which posit a dividing line between mind stuff and brain stuff, as with Decartes’ original concept, are misleading. He thinks the so-called Hard Question only appears if you take such positions. He also agrees with Nicholas Humphrey that the point of conscious, the reason for its existence, is that it makes things matter in human life. When you’re in love with somebody, that person’s highs and lows mean so much to you for exactly the same reason. You therefore make an effort for them, regardless of the circumstances. Similarly, the fact that consciousness is a user-illusion is no contradiction to the fact that we human beings matter to each other. For this insight, I applaud the author.
In a nutshell: good substance, dire writing.