All posts by Mark

Tor Books new website and Free Stuff

Deep Genre have a good link to the freebies currently available from Tor Books, which includes the whole of Kate Elliot’s Spirit Gate (Crossroads) book. This is becoming very common now amongst publishers, and may seem like a bit of a rash uncommercial move. However, as Cory Doctorow comments, people don’t want to read a whole book online, and will still buy print.

New Website Ideas

I am thinking about linking this blog to a more traditional website that would contain information on the following:

Favourite authors – useful links as well as essays on these authors, some written by me
Notes on my own writing
Links to favourite films and games

The idea would be to have an eclectic repository of ‘genre’ and ‘mainstream’ and to create an eclectic mix of interesting information and serious commentary.

The site would feature news syndicated from other sites and also a link to this blog where I would post updates.

The Evil Guest by Gene Wolfe

This evening I came across information about Gene Wolfe’s new title due in September – see But then whilst researching Sheridan Le Fanu I also found that he had written a short story with the same name. It will be intriguing to see if there is any link. In the current publicity for the book Lovecraft’s influences are referenced, but not Le Fanu as far as I can see.

The blurb for Wolfe’s book reads:

‘Set a hundred years in the future, An Evil Guest is a story of an actress who becomes the lover of both a mysterious sorcerer and private detective, and an even more mysterious and powerful rich man, who has been to the human colony on an alien planet and learned strange things there. Her loyalties are divided–perhaps she loves them both. The detective helps her to release her inner beauty and become a star overnight. And the rich man is the benefactor of a play she stars in. But something is very wrong. Money can be an evil guest, but there are other evils. As Lovecraft said, “That is not dead which can eternal lie.”‘

Sneaky Mr Wolfe. Am planning to read the short story soon and see if I can detect any possible nods and winks from the blurb on Wolfe’s forthcoming book. More findings soon hopefully!

Watch this space.

Sheridan Le Fanu Through a Glass Darkly

I finished the third tale in the book today – Mr Justice Harbottle. This story had an incredible atmosphere to it. It felt like Sleepy Hollow combined with Monty Python in the depiction of the crooked 18C judge. The main character is a hang ’em high type who is pursued beyond the grave by his victims. The sense of impending doom and descriptions of characters and settings, such as twisted rotting tress outside a carriage door, are what made it for me I think.

More on Sheridan Le Fanu here – and of course wikipedia –

Tales from Earthsea Trailer

If you like Ursula Le Guin and the Earthsea books then this is well worth watching. It takes up the story in the third book of the series – The Farthest Shore, with a bit of the fourth thrown in. I think it starts well, but the ending is a bit cheesy – par for the course of some Anime perhaps? See more information at

Sheridan Le Fanu Through a Glass Darkly

I’m currently reading Through a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu. This is not a novel per se, but a collection of five ghost stories connected by a common narrator – a Dr Hesselius. The stories remind me of some of the ghost stories by Henry James – Turn of the Screw etc, but also of Sherlock Holmes, as they have an almost investigative aspect to them. Often the afore mentioned narrator or even another Dr or priest is trying to find a medical or metaphysical explanation for strange occurences.

I am enjoying the first two stories that I have read so far – there is a good building of tension, which the Jamesian allusive prose adds to.

Iain M. Banks Interview on CNN

One of my favourite authors is interviewed on CNN – go here for the link

Interesting to hear that he cites Brian Aldiss as one of his influences. I often remember how good Aldiss’s Helliconia books were – they almost feel like a combination of Sci Fi and Fantasy – well a pre-industrial world with a scifi story framework around it, which is an influence on my own writing. Banks usually sticks to straight Sci Fi, but in some books he does experiment with pre-industrial societies, or he mixes technological levels – so the high Culture being the highest level, but in for instance Use of Weapons, the main character works as a mercenary on a lower technology world. An interesting comment on our world perhaps where technologies still vary around the world in actual take-up if not application. For instance although you can get Wifi in Kenya I don’t suppose there are many Masai bloggers?

Off at a bit of a tangent here, but well worth reading anything by Banks or Aldiss!

UK UFO Archives

Novelty UFO in Moonbeam, Ontario, Canada
Image via Wikipedia

Is this release a joke or something? Very odd, drawings on the back of a napkin done by some schoolkids with crayons by the looks of it – and they say education standards are slipping – certainly looks like we weren’t very creative or good at drawing back in the 60’s!

More info at the National Archives –

Perhaps the government is hiding the real stuff?

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Terry Pratchett on the One Show

Great to see Terry Pratchett looking so well on the BBC One Show last night. It was a very moving piece about the problems early-onset Alzheimer sufferers have to get drugs on the NHS – it’s becoming more and more of a problem as the population ages. Terry seemed mentally very eloquent – apparently it is affecting him more physically than mentally, which is a good thing for his writing. I wish him all the best.

I haven’t really read him since the first five or six books – during my idle youth, but I will definitely have to go through the rest of his works. Its a shame he has been sidelined as a supposedly cult writer, when in actual fact he is probably more ‘mainstream’ than that dreadful Rowling. His books tend to be satires on our modern society using Fantasy as a lens.

Link to the One Show on iPlayer:

And the One Show website: