People without willies riding bicycles, who knew?

I found out just now that while all the hoohah about the Tour de France has been claiming my attention, people with hoohoos have been cycling around Italy in the gloriously named ‘Giro Rosa’.

It’s the last fucking day of the race.

I’m an actual fan of women’s pro cycling, and yet this completely passed me by. I’m mad at myself for not keeping better track, but I’m also mad at the UCI and the media and my fellow cycling fans. Women’s cycling has had a bumpy ride over the years. Women’s Tours de France have been on and off and on and off – off since 2009 as audiences had been shrinking – and all the time with next to zero media coverage.

The UCI doesn’t let women ride races anywhere near as long as the men’s (the Giro Rosa is currently the longest at 10 days), so the spectacle is less, the money isn’t enough for many people to go pro in the first place, and then fans complain that the women aren’t as tough or as skilled as the blokes.

It’s a vicious circle. I don’t know how we get out of it, but I’ve bookmarked and I’m going to try to keep in touch with the women’s events a bit more closely from now on. I’ve also re-upped my personal campaign to get decent coverage on TV and radio, by starting a petition on, directed at the BBC’s sports director Barbara Slater. I’ll be tacking other organisations in other ways.

BristolCon Fringe Readings – March Available

Cheryl Morgan, who comperes the Fringe readings, always records and releases them as podcasts so that those folk who can’t make it down to the Shakey can hear what went down on the day.

At the last reading, I appeared alongside Scott Lewis and Rosie Oliver, and Scott and I both opted, completely coincidentally, to read the second chapter of our novel-in-progress. My WIP is called ‘Liminus’, and involves bohemian artists, thieves, robot Nazis and inter-dimensional tentacled monsters – something for everyone, hopefully. One day I’ll finish it, in the meantime help yourselves to Chapter 2.

Rosie gave us a kind of mezze course – a short story, a novel extract and a preview of her next CAT piece. Scott’s was a rollicking romp, one of the lighter sections from his WIP Aetherjack. I’m looking forward to reading the rest!

All three are here, plus a Q&A with Scott and myself which revolves around the novel writing process, tricky second chapters and whether or not there’s any point outlining.

Cap’n Clarke’s Airship Ball Report

Airship Ball 003 - sepia

…and it’s away! Saturday saw the second and final launch date for Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion, which now sails out into the world. Bon Voyage, old girl.

It was a… unique event, and an evening of firsts. The Folk House Cafe laid on a spread of cucumber sandwiches and superlative cake (I especially enjoyed the tiny coconut things), and folk turned up in their finery to eat it. We had the artwork from the anthology on display (unfortunately we had to tuck it out of the way, so you can get a better idea of it on Andy’s DeviantArt site.)


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John Hawkes-Reed talks robot elephants

The first divertissement came from John Hawkes-Reed, who gave us a world exclusive on an alternate history par excellence, of which you can read the transcript here: Hacking the Jaquard-7: the development of the steam-powered elephant automaton, complete with demonstrations of coding via organ-roll, and photographs telling of failed experiments therein.

We then had adaptations of two stories from Airship Shape; ‘Brass and Bone’ by Joanne Hall, adapted by Deborah Walker, and ‘Artifice Perdu’ by Pete Sutton, adapted by Pete and me.

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Ken Shinn, Myfanwy Rodman, Des Fischer & Jo Hall performing ‘Brass and Bone’


Ken Shinn again, Duncan Thow, Scott Lewis, Claire Hutt & Pete Sutton performing ‘Artifice Perdu’














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Cheryl gets cheese

Jo and I wanted to thank Cheryl for prompting us to do a steampunk anthology, and for going through unspeakable torment figuring out how to get Wizard’s Tower’s first ever print book into shops and through letter boxes everywhere. I was going to get a bouquet of flowers, but Jo suggested a bouquet of cheeses, and that seemed to go down pretty well. Cheryl has links to more info about the cheese on her write-up of the evening, if you’re into that type of thing.

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Half of Cauda Pavonis (people’s heads kept getting in the way)

Pat Hawkes-Reed's octopus cake

Pat Hawkes-Reed’s octopus cake

Next up were Cauda Pavonis, a local goth band who left their uber-drums at home and did their first ever semi-acoustic ‘unplugged’ style gig. It fit into the evening perfectly, with dramatic songs about Weyland Smithy and the carnivale noire.



The cake at this stage took a turn for the weird, courtesy of Pat Hawkes-Reed:






Heike Harding-Reyland as Queenie Green

Finally, we awarded the prize for the best representation of a character from Airship Shape. Honourable mentions go to just about everyone; so many people dressed up and they all looked glorious. There could only be one winner though, and a signed copy of Eugene Byrne’s Unbuilt Bristol went to Heike Harding-Reyland for her Queenie Green outfit. Many thanks to Eugene for so kindly donating the book, and for supporting the anthology with his incredible expertise on Bristol history. Well done to Heike for a truly amazing costume. I’ll leave you with Heike, her budding fern people, and a few other pictures of the revellers. Thank you all for coming, and making it such a fabulous night.

Claire Morley

Claire Fisher

Piotr Swietlik

Piotr Swietlik

Scott Lewis as 'Airship Shape'

Scott Lewis as ‘Airship Shape’

Kolonel Mustard as 'Bristol Fashion'

Kolonel Mustard as ‘Bristol Fashion’

Ken Shinn

Ken Shinn

Jo and I talk Airships with Cheryl on Ujima Radio

Cheryl has posted a link to a download of yesterday’s Women’s Outlook show, on which she and Paulette talked to various luminaries about women in the media before Jo and I invaded the studio to talk about Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion, and why steampunk and Bristol are such a perfectly engineered match.

Airship Ready – Launches Imminent


I’m a little tardy with the announcementising here, but there’s a bundle of Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion joy to shout about this week.

Firstly, the book is now available to buy as an e-book direct from Wizard’s Tower Press. If you prefer a good old-fashioned paper-based reading experience, you can get a print copy without causing capitalist guilt-pains by ordering from Tangent books. Amazon and the Book Depository have it, too, and currently they’re the places to head to if you want the hardback. (You want it. It’s silkily strokable.)

If you’re lucky enough to live in Bristol, you can also buy copies direct from us. We’ll be selling them at the Fringe reading in March (which I just happen to be reading at!) and at the two Airship Launch events.

The first and formal launch will be at Forbidden Planet on March 8th from 1-2 pm and will feature signings and readings from contributors. The second, sillier and more caketastic event will be the Airship Ball at the Folk House Cafe on March 29th in the evening. The Ball will involve dramatic readings, presentations, a Victorian picnic, a cosplay contest and music from Cauda Pavonis. Tickets are available from eventbrite, or (avoiding their fees) direct from us. Picnic tickets must be bought in advance, but a cheaper ‘latecomer’ ticket will be sold on the door, subject to availability. Contact me or comment here or on Facebook for more details.

There’s a discount on tickets for the Ball with a purchase of a print copy of the anthology.

What else? Oh yes, we had a lovely review from Martha Hubbard, who says lots of things but I’ll just quote this; “What has emerged is a collection of quirky, thoughtful, often challenging ‘what if?’ stories, that, whilst celebrating Bristol’s awesome technological achievements, and world class inventors and explorers, men and women of courage and curiosity, do not shy away at exposing its unsavoury past as a major slave transit port.”

…which is exactly what we were aiming for. \o/

We Will Publish – Join Us!

A couple of days ago, fellow writer and Bristol SF clan member Pete Sutton announced on Twitter that he was going to write, and submit, a story every month in 2014. Working on the stories would, as an added bonus, serve as warm-up sessions for writing a novel.

I immediately shouted ME TOO ME TOO and boarded that bandwagon with my cutlass between my teeth.

We bandied around the notion of punishment vs reward. I realised that I’m pretty much a ‘stick’ person (insert joeks here); I work best my shaming myself into doing it, so this project – public goals and all – is probably enough motivation in itself. Pete’s a ‘carrot’ person though. We decided that, if we could get enough people on board to ensure a decent pool of stories (after all, some of them hopefully will be sold), we’d do an anthology in 2015.

Peer review of each story is optional; I will pledge to crit every story sent in to the group.

In quick succession we hooked a few more writers, and the roster currently looks like this:

Pete Sutton (@suttope)
Roz Clarke (@zora_db)
Jon Allison (@joncallison)
Ian Millsted
Christopher Caldwell (@seraph76)
Derek Zumsteg (@milhous)
Stephen Blake (@uncannyblake)
Piotr Swietlik

More people would be very welcome! We realise that it’s pretty late in January, but if you want to join, don’t be put off – a story you’ve already written but haven’t submitted to market yet would do, or scramble something together quickly, or just skip January and carry on. You get a free pass – just this once, mind!

Whatever happens, at least one of the stories you write will see print, and hopefully many more.


Shout-Out – BSFA Nominations List

BristolCon’s 2012 GoH Gareth L. Powell has been listed for Best Novel for Ack-Ack Macaque, and he’s up against our 2014 GoH Emma Newman, with Between Two Thorns, and 2009 GoH Alistair Reynolds with On the Steel Breeze

One of the stories from Newcon Press’ anthology Looking Landwards, launched at BristolCon in 2013, has a Short Fiction listing: Charlie’s Ant, by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Andy Bigwood, BristolCon’s Art Show Wrangler and cover artist for both Colinthology and our forthcoming book Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion, have been listed for the BSFA award for Best Artwork, for the cover of Geoff Nelder’s Aria: Returning Left Luggage.

Emma Newman also has an entry for her podcast, Tea and Jeopardy.

You can get the full list of entries so far here, and they’re open for one more week.