Secret Cargo Review

This is the first thing I have seen from Charles Christian since ‘This is the Quickest Way Down’ and I was instant taken back to the quirky style I remembered. This is slightly outside of his Urban Fantasy playpen; much more Steampunk and very good at it too. The technology concepts are quite delightful.

Having said that I did think that both the main characters turning out to be unlikely closet ancient (20th Century) history geeks stretched the plot a little and did in some ways seem a vehicle to mention a lot of books and films. I didn’t quite get what that was to do with the story, and it did distract a little from the main plot. Which was a shame, as I enjoyed the simplicity of the setting and the retelling of a classic abandonment story.

On the flip side I loved the idea of an AI system that had a primary interface about as helpful as a DOS session
Of course, I can’t tell you much else about it without going into spoilers. It is, after all, a short story. I’ll settle for saying that its very much up to the standard one would expect from Charles.


Guilty Pleasure

I need to confess to a guilty pleasure. A book sat on my TBR shelf for many months. Years in fact. More than half the time it was in the back row an never go tot see the light of day. I bought it, hardback, for a pound at a charity shop. I’m not sure I ever expected to actually read it. You see, it was by William Shatner.

Couple of things. I love Bill. He was the closest thing I had to a father figure in my childhood (which would explain much) and I have a lot of time for the old sod. But lets be honest, unless you had previous knowledge, who amongst us would not look at a book by Bill and expect cheesy kitsch of he highest order. Also, there were two other names in much smaller print under his (Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens), and I’ll leave it to you to figure out which names did most work.

And yet I loved it. In fact, I devoured it, and it cost me many a late night and a groggy morning in work the next day. The story covers a time before Kirk and Spock entered StarFleet, and so the book could even be called Young Adult.

Kirk and Spock, pursuing two different lines of enquiry, end up connected by the very things they are investigating. The story deals with many subjects that are alluded to but never fully explored in the ‘original series’ universe – Spock’s dispute with his father and the ubiquitous ‘Finnegan’ to mention only two – and manages to do so in a way that does not require time travel or an alternate reality. They even manage to squeeze in a passing nod to Jonathan Archer.

And I think that may be one of the things that appealed to me. Rather than bending and existing reality to fit the new and exciting model (whisper softly the names of all the films that have done just that), this is carefully constructed to fit with an existing and well loved universe. Without going back through to check – and why would I want to spoil things by doing that – I cannot remember anything that jarred me as being out of context.

The book was well-paced, humorous, and the characters were in the main believable. In truth, Jim did not ‘bed in’ quite as well as Spock, but again it was not enough to distract from the story.

Do I recommend it? Not sure. It very much suited me, but on this topic I may be a niche market. If you were to see it in a charity shop, though, for a pound...


Retrospection free zone

Personally, I don't get this obsession people have to summarise their year in January. Seems a little to close to oanistic for me. If the events you are bragging about were sufficiently bragworthy, they would have been mentioned at the time. If your followers are interested, there is a diary on your blog to let them scan back through the high spots.

Face it, the majority of people who see your 'that was last year, post already know what's in it.

Rather than sitting in a dark corner of the pub mumbling into a half-finished pint over past glories, I am more of a standing alertly at the bar with a nice glass of Chateauneuf du Pape, enthusing about how much I have to look forward to this year.

My short story "Change of Address" will be out in the Fox Spirit anthology 'Girl at the End of the World' early in the new year.

"Warrior Stone: Underland", a YA urban fantasy novel, is scheduled for publication in February, again through Fox Spirit.

"Maverick", a SF/Fantasy mash is due for publication through Metaphoric in May.

Plus, Amunet is now edited and ready to find a new home. Anybody who knows an agent looking for a brilliant new talent with a Steampunk/Urban Fantasy YA/NA novel ready to go, drop me a line.

Hmm: busy, busy, busy - but never boring :)

Be successful, be happy, and be splendid


Tales of the Fox and the Fae

fox-and-fae front-cover-1

Sorry to start the new year with an advert. There's a more personal post coming an a few days I promise. I did just have to tell everybody about this: Tales of the Fox and the Fae, from Fox Spirit (my publisher) is out soon and it looks so good I wanted to let you all know. Available soon on Amazon, or take a look at the link here