Baltic Sea UFO Probably Not UFO

Remember the mysterious UFO-shaped object from a few days back? Well it seemed to get a bit weirder when it was found all electrical equipment (allegedly) stops working when near it.

“The Swedish divers, who call themselves the Ocean X Team, claim the object is giving off electrical interference that keeps foiling their attempts to investigate it. “Anything electric out there — and the satellite phone as well — stopped working when we were above the object,” said diver Stefan Hoberborn in an Ocean X press release.”

Bunk, says some dude from the Mars Space Flight University via MSNBC.

“In this case, the team clearly has a lot to gain from an extraordinary claim,” he said. “Mr. Lindberg is already making plans to take ‘wealthy tourists’ down in his submarine to view the object. If he had used a rock hammer to break off a small piece of the object, a geologist could have determined whether it was a pillow basalt in a few minutes. But if it turned out to be a pillow basalt and not a ‘mysterious UFO-like object’, Mr. Lindberg wouldn’t have much of a business plan, would he?”

OMG that’s totally a UFO. What else could it be?! Oh, right. A rock.

Scrivener Quirkery and Kindle Fire

(Warning: This post is techie. It’s also only relevant to you if you want to use Scrivener to create Kindle-ready MOBI files ready for upload to KDP. If you do not meet this description, here is a link to a page of amusing animal GIFs instead.)

Sharing this in case anyone else hits the same problem.

I’ve been periodically using Scrivener to compile ASCENSION POINT into MOBI format, to see how it looks on my Kindle. I’ve also been using the Kindle Previewer, which cleverly emulates different types of Kindle (DX, Fire, iPhone, etc), and happily my book always looked great.

That is, until lovely fiancée came back from D.C. with a brand new Kindle Fire for realsies. Read more…

Be Optimistic! Hack Hawking’s Brain! Black Hole Destroys Gas Cloud! Muse!

A few cool snippets today. The first is this video on how humanity, despite what you might think, is actually pretty awesome sometimes. (Via io9.)


In related (kind of) news, I also came across this article on redOrbit

“The iBrain device being developed by Philip Low, a professor at Stanford, is a brain scanner that measures electrical activity.

“We’d like to find a way to bypass his body, pretty much hack his brain,” Low said in a statement.”

Which would be awesome – the more precious science we can extract from Hawking’s magic brain the closer I am to having a jetpack or being able to teleport to Hawaii. And finally, back on io9:

“Scientists have determined that a giant gas cloud is on a collision course with the black hole in the center of our galaxy — and the two will be close enough by mid-2013 to provide a unique opportunity to observe how a super massive black hole sucks in material, in real time.”

Which is a perfect excuse to link to this:


Not that I really needed one.

Freaky Solar System


“This newly discovered system is called Kepler-36, and it’s about 1,200 light years away. One of its planets is a rocky super-Earth about 1.5 times the size of our planet and 4.5 times the mass. Its companion, a Neptune-like gaseous planet, is 3.7 times the size of Earth and eight times the mass. And they’re very close to each other – about 30 times closer than any pair of planets in our solar system.

Because their orbital distance varies by only 10%, the view of the Neptune-like planet from the rocky planet must at times be pretty spectacular.”

I’m pretty impressed they got a photo, too. Oh, wait…

This could dramatically change how I create solar systems in my books; it simply never occurred to me to have very different planets that close to each other. Thanks, science!

Full article on io9 here.

Plotting on the Fly

With the final, professional edit of ASCENSION POINT on hold until August (lovely fiancée and I getting married in late July, so I’ve not got the time to properly engage with that just yet), I’m cracking on with drafting my second book, ROGUE.

It’s going pretty well – I’ve got a solid outline, a punchy main plot with lots of action, and an ending I’m hoping will come as a bit of a surprise. I’ve drafted the prologue and the first couple of chapters, and everything’s ticking along nicely.


It’s too short.

Or rather it will be, as the outline currently stands. I’ve roughly estimated word count to draft the remaining chapters, and I don’t think it’s going to break 70,000 words. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’ll still meet the technical definition of ‘a novel’, but I feel like it’ll need another 5-10,000 words to flesh it out, and give it a bit of depth. I don’t think the main plotline needs extending, so I’d like to weave in an interesting side/sub-plot.

Problem is I can’t think of anything right now. Hence the title of the post – I’m hoping that somewhere around chapter three or four the story, or the characters, will tell me what it should be. One of those satisfying ‘a-ha!’ moments we all so love.

Not this kind of A-Ha.

I’m sure it’ll Take On… come to… Hmm. There’s a pun in there somewhere.

The 101 Best SF Novels 1985-2010

I would really like a copy of this book, and also more time to read each and every one it lists – almost all of the spare time I used to spend reading is taken up by writing these days. Maybe I’ll have had time to read a few of them by the time the next edition comes out in 2035.

Review at Worlds Without End here.

Reading the entries sequentially, then, we get an episodic history of the last quarter century of science fiction. If I were to try to come up with any general trends after reading the 101 entries, in comparison to the earlier era of Pringle’s book, it would be that stories of space travel migrated into the far future (the New Space Opera mentioned in the Wright entry), while stories of posthumanity came to the fore in medium-term futures. In looking for similarities, both books have their share of alternate histories (more prominent in later years), and dystopias, which never seem to go out of style. It’s also heartening to see the increasing appearance of women authors. Pringle included nine books by women (including two by Le Guin, and only one prior to 1969), compared to about one-third of the authors in the new survey.

Reading Now: Imajica

Imagica – Clive Barker

I remember bringing this home from my local library when I was about twelve years old. My mum took one look at the blurb below, and refused to let me read it:

“A book of revelations. A seamless tapestry of erotic passion, thwarted ambition and mythic horror. Clive Barker takes us on a voyage to worlds beyond our knowledge, but within our grasp.”

I imagine it was the erotic passion she objected to. Mythic horror was probably fine.

Read more…

‘UFO Lying on The Bottom of the Baltic Sea?’

This is a bit freaky.

‘A Swedish expedition team has found an unidentified object at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, leaving some to believe it’s the remnants of an extra-terrestrial ship…The object had an egg shaped hole leading into it from the top, working like an opening. On top of the object, they found strange stone circle formations, which resembled small fireplaces. The stones were covered in something that resembled “soot.”’

Full article here, and just for fun here’s an artist’s impression:

(Image courtesy of

Why Magic Doesn’t Have To Make Sense

I found this article through, but I’ll link to the original on N. K. Jemisin’s own site here. It’s a superb argument against the dogmatic need for a magic ‘system’ in fantasy worlds – well worth a read.

I couldn’t agree with her more. My favourite fantasy of all time is Steven Erikson’s Malazan books, and the magic in that is absolutely batshit insane – almost every race has their own particular kind of magic, and they clash in utterly unpredictable ways, any of which might end up destroying the surrounding area (or entire world in some cases). Which means when there’s a conflict every forty pages you can rarely guess how it’s going to pan out. Who wins in a fight between a Jaghut and a T’lan Imass? (No-one, basically, but that’s another story.)

I should really get around to reading Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms soon, as well. And how good is this cover?!