Monthly transmissions

April 2021 transmission

Greetings, fellow galactic residents.

Airstrip One is out of full lockdown, so we no longer rely on raids on the food-transport network of the Morrisons Alliance to feed our colonists. We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re sci-fi fans, we have imaginations… defeating reality and dreaming of better things is what we’re best at, isn’t it?

This month in writing…

Work is well underway on the sequel to The Kassini Division. With the working title, Rise Of The Exiles, the ‘difficult second album’ almost instantly presented a conundrum that many sci-fi authors writing sequels must have faced: stick within the same timeframe as the first book, or time-jump a decade on, to open up fresh aspects of the storyworld? I’ve gone for the former, since it’s a fairly seismic epoch in the universe anyway, and it will enable me to preserve continuity with the characters, rather than have to backfill 10 years of experience and galactic goings-on. 

Anyone who enjoyed The Kassini Division should find that the sequel, Rise Of The Exiles, sticks fairly closely to the pacing, format and style. That’s the plan, at least. So those familiar Star Warsprequel fears that beset every single sci-fi fan won’t be realised here. No mystical mitochondrial spores or long-winded bureaucratic meetings will darken your door. Any spores will be non-mystical, any meetings will be brief and exciting.

The month in SF reads…

This month, I’ve re-read Ascent by Jed Mercurio – I know, the Line Of Duty guy. This alternative space-race novel is packed with exceptional depictions of life in a fighter squadron, intense descriptions of dogfighting and – something I didn’t notice first time around – incredibly economical but poetic descriptions of landscape and weather, mediated through the super-keen eyes of an ice-cold fighter ace in the cockpit of an equally freezing MiG. Not read it? Can’t recommend it enough.

Since I’m currently preoccupied with how to convincingly expand a sci-fi world and come up with a compelling opener, I’ve also revisited a book that gets overlooked in our endless cycle of the new – 1984. I used to think that The Day Of The Triffids was untouchable in terms of masterful opening exposition, but Orwell’s utter intensity and the relatability of its main protagonist just edges it. I don’t think there’s a more believable and visceral opening to any sci-fi novel, and if you’re trying to write this stuff yourself, well, there are about a thousand lessons to keep on learning in the first 10 pages alone. 

I also dipped into Soviet Space Dogs by Olesya Turkina for a lovingly researched history of the canine contribution to the final frontier, beyond the iconic Laika. Buy the hardback for its beautiful full-colour photography and take a walk around the block with a pack of furry ghosts of the space age.  

SF on the viewscreen this month…

Three things that my inner-SF snob almost persuaded me to ignore, but which I’m glad I didn’t.

1] Upload – stick with the series, despite the apparent superficiality, it’ll reward you…

2] Upgrade – this 2018 cyberpunk film is far more satisfying than its marketing suggests. It seems as though all you’re getting is a mindless big-screen cutscene aimed at teenage gamers, which is true on some level, but it’s also a brilliantly crafted retro throwback to 80s SF cinema that’s well worth your time, especially if you enjoyed the stylised thrills of Hardware and more recently, Altered Carbon.

3] Prospect – crazy crystal miners, dirty, unreliable hardware and worldbuilding worthy in places of Ridley’s Alien… an unassuming, introverted SF film that leaves a dreamlike after-image on the mind.

SF gaming this month…

Just the sheer anticipation of this. Enough said.

SF listen of the month…

Still returning to the mutating charms of Jon Hopkins’ Immunity, which, together with its follow-up, Singularity, offers stick-on-repeat aural teleportation to soundtrack any manner of creative task. Also, in the same vein but with more of a musically eclectic, found-sound feel, Cenizas and Telas by Nicolás Jaar are sophisticated instrumental treats. Both are full albums, created and released last year by the American-Chilean soundscape master.

And for those in need of a one-off dose of Kryten-rock from 2009, look no further than Dzihan & Kamien’s Bazooka.

12 short stories for less than one Galactic Credit

Why isn’t there a 99p coin? And what does 99p buy you these days? Not much… except it does buy you my book of short stories. Conversations With Droids features 12 original science-fiction tales set in the same universe as my debut novel, The Kassini Division. You’ll encounter bughunts with a difference, brutal game therapies, mysterious quantum birdlife, Earth’s longest-surviving brand… and much more. It’s here to buy right now on Amazon.

Any other business? 

As you’ve no doubt heard before, reviews on Amazon are the lifeblood of any author – but they’re especially important for spreading the word when you’re starting from a black hole of new-author anonymity, as I am. If you’ve read, enjoyed or even mildly tolerated The Kassini Division or Conversations With Droids, please consider leaving a rating or review at Amazon – it’ll help spread the word to other sci-fi fans and will help me continue to write more in the same universe. Thanks!

Oh, if you want to know what an insanely angry battle droid thinks of the world, follow @RustDroid_EO on Twitter.

That’s it for this month. Send your comments, reviews, questions, recommendations, furious rebukes and anything else Kassini Division-related to I’ll do my best to reply. 

It’s a hostile universe… stay safe.


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