Category Archives: Science Fiction Topics

For the Love of Sci-Fi, and other things

A couple of days ago I went over to Manchester to the ‘For the Love of Sci-Fi’ convention. Three of us left Bangor at 7.15am on Sunday morning, arriving nearly two hours later in the queue to get in. Fortunately it was quite fast moving. There were horror stories of overcrowding the previous day, but we were lucky; Sunday wasn’t sold out.

I’ve never been to one of these before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have to admit, one of the main reasons for going was to see William Shatner’s talk in the afternoon. Gareth spent most of his morning queueing, first to get Dolph Lundgren’s autograph and then his photo, while me and Kevin wandered round the various stalls becoming a bit bored with it all. We went to see Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars) on the live stage and sat a long time before someone came out and said he was having trouble with his voice and wouldn’t be appearing. Disappointing. So we killed some time going round the trade stalls before watching the Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra rattling off some sci-fi tunes.

Who you looking at?

After finding Gareth, complete with photo, we went for some lunch and spent forever in a queue waiting to be served. We were annoyed to discover we could have been watching David Hasselhoff. Not that any of us are big fans; he just seems a very interesting character; a larger than life character. Instead we got cold queueing, then our food got cold as we tried to eat quickly before going back inside. Cold nachos with chilli isn’t as nice as when it’s hot.

Another thing I wanted to see were some Daleks which were supposed to be there, but they weren’t. We searched the hall for them but no Daleks. I wanted a photograph of myself with them. Oh well. We decided to go into the Live stage area and grab seats ready for William Shatner. We couldn’t get as close to the front as we would like to because it was already filling up. A magic show was in progress which was quite entertaining. Then Billy Dee Williams (Lando in Star Wars) came on stage for a Q&A session. He seemed very slow, and perhaps not as with it as he should have been (he is 80 after all). He seemed to suffer from memory problems and needed the occasional reminder and prompt. Shame really.

When I grow up I want to be a dalek!

What we couldn’t understand was why some people got up to leave after his session, with William Shatner due on stage five minutes later. The hall really filled up for him and I don’t think anyone was disappointed. For an 86 year old he was still quite sharp. There was the occasional slip, such as referring to Stephen Hawking as Peter Hawking once, though he didn’t repeat the error when naming him again. He also mixed up a few astronomical terms but the gist of his talk was clear and interesting. Then he did a Q&A session. He was very comfortable talking about himself (which we thought the Hoff would be as well). The time flew by. If he didn’t point out he’d overrun, the session could have gone on for hours. He was a very good talker and seeing him more than justified the cost of the ticket. I really enjoyed it.

Would I go to another one? That depends. In the morning me and Kev agreed it was probably a once in a lifetime event and this was that occasion. After seeing William Shatner I think I’ll reserve judgement and see what guests are lined up.

Plus points: William Shatner

Negative points: no Daleks (which were advertised) and no Ian McDiarmid

As you can tell, I’m a Star trek fan (more so than Star Wars, though judging by the costumes people were wearing it would seem more people were fans of Star Wars). Someone asked William Shatner what he thought of the new Star Trek (Discovery), and he said he hadn’t watched it. I have to agree with some of the criticisms of it from the audience – shallow characters and disjointed episodes. I’m hoping for better things when the series resumes in January now the Discovery (and all its advanced technology) has been shuffled off to wherever its gone (parallel universe perhaps). I found it hard to reconcile the fact that it was supposed to be set ten years before Captain Kirk went boldly where no-one (including, presumably, the Discovery) had gone before. He would have loved the technology of the Discovery on board the Enterprise. Can’t wait for it to resume.

With regard to my writing, I’m working on the comments I’ve received back from it being read. Several chapters have been rewritten, but, of course, this all has a knock on effect on the rest of the story. I’m less than a hundred pages from the end now. Releasing it this year won’t happen now. Hopefully it wont be too late into the new year. I’m still waiting for the cover design to come back, so I couldn’t have gone live with it yet anyway.

One of four draft copies printed for readers to comment on (temporary cover)

The short stories haven’t progressed. I’ll finish the two remaining stories once I’ve finished Times of the Changes.

Finding time to write is a problem. You would think, having retired, I’d have lots of time. It’s true what they say – I don’t know how I ever found the time to work. I think the problem is you fill your life with lots of other stuff – writing is just one of those things. Another is the local dog training club. I somehow seem to have not only become a member of the club, but get elected to the committee, and then become the Chairman. I’ve also taken on most of the computer based functions (apart from the Facebook side of it, which my wife handles), and I organise the Agility sessions as well – Nantlle Vale Dog Training Club, if anyone is interested (I’m as bad at putting entries on their blog as I am on my own! OK, perhaps not quite as bad.)

Instead of writing this, I could have been editing. Doh!

What I’ve been up to

There’s been quite a delay in the publishing process. When the new cover design appeared on the CreateSpace project page for the book, the title was too high. It was right on the edge. It needed to be shifted down a bit. I’ve now received the updated cover art and have uploaded it, along with the final(?) version of the text. I’ve sent that off to be reviewed so hopefully I will be ordering another proof copy by the end of tomorrow.

In the meantime I’ve been doing some work on Book 2 and editing a short story. I’m hoping to put a collection of short stories out by the end of the year. It’s been nice to get the brain back into coming up with new stuff instead of re-arranging something that’s been written for over a year now. It was strange, it took a long time to get back into the swing of it after so long spent proof reading and correcting.

I’ve also been doing some reading. Last year when I was shifting lots of stuff in my mum and dad’s loft I came across a box containing some of my old paperbacks. I was pleased to find that most of my collection of Edmund Cooper books was amongst them, though I seem to have lost a few of them somewhere. They now occupy the shelf above my desk, just above my laptop, along with some Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Fred Hoyle and AE Van Vogt, amongst others.

I’ve started re-reading them and am enjoying them again, although they all seem a bit dated now (both in terms of their technology and attitudes). For anyone interested in Edmund Cooper there is very good web site ( detailing his bibliography. I have most of his novels and short stories. At the moment I’m reading his novel Transit (published in 1964), and his collection of short stories, Voices in the Dark (published in 1956). I have my dad to thank for getting me into Edmund Cooper. Several of the books on my shelf are his old copies (Voices in the Dark, I hasten to add is one of them, being published the year before I was born). I’ve had to buy Kindle versions of some of the older ones because they’re beginning to fall apart.

Recently I was looking through a stack of old sci-fi books at my mum and dad’s deciding on which to rescue. Unfortunately some of the older books have been ruined by wood-worm. I was flicking through one book thinking it looked as if someone had been throwing darts as it, but on closer inspection the holes went through three books, and there was no mistake about it when the things decided to move up and down and across the page, taking out lots of words at a time. What a shame. I binned them. Tomorrow I’m going to check out some more to see if they’re worth hanging on to.