…of being in Malta. From May 2 to 9th my wife and I holidayed at the Preluna Hotel, Sliema for the third – possibly fourth time. It’s on a magnicently paved shoreline and while we stroll along it, the locals are jogging, speed-walking or walking like us. I am thinking of plot lines while my wife talks to me. I nod but, honestly I am really listening too. She made me leave the laptop behind in Chester for the first time. That’s okay, it’s only a week and I had books to read such as Alastair Reynold’s Space Revelation, Vernor Vinge’s Fire Upon The Deep and Michael Summers’ The is Shop – more on those later. In spite of the reading I did get writerly withdraw symptoms after three days and so we took the ferry to the island of Gozo. It’s so laid back, picturesque and deeply moving with its awful history. In 1551 pirates in the pay of the Ottoman empire abducted the entire population of Gozo and took them to Tripoli and Constantinople slave markets, except for those to infirm for the journey. Surely their spirits cry out for revenge and that’s where my magic realism fantasy novel, Xaghra’s Revenge comes in. I take two of the abducted and two contemporary people and play around with their histories and emotions. The reader experiences the slave trade of those days and the frisson when past and present collide. If you are a publisher and are interested then go speak to my agent Rebecca Pratt for a taster.
While in Malta I met author, John Bonello. He writes fantasies, among other genres, in Maltese and is enjoying success with his local publisher, Merlin.
There’s a second-hand bookshop in Chester on the City Walls – website is http://citywallsbooksandmusic.webs.com/ Michael Summers works there and has written a delightful and thought-provoking anthology of science fiction called The Is Shop. Only £4.50 plus p&p – contact him at the shop or via the website. The emphasis of the stories is on science so these are truly science fiction but with humour and characters to enjoy. The first story I admire a lot – The Is Shop in which a young recruit to the shop is mystified by the lack of stock and so much wordplay and intrigue. It’s a shop story like no other.
I have chosen Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge as my choice book for the Chester Library SF book group for later this year, so I had to read it! I chose it because I like the concept of the Technological Singularity coined by Vinge – ie that one day the artificial intelligence machines on Earth will be sufficiently savvy to take over and humans will be redundant. I asked another SF group which of Vinge’s ficiton does this well and they said Fire Upon the Deep although ironically it was published after his paper on the TS. Very intelligently written with two children as main characters – a nice touch for what are adult concepts. Group mentalities in aliens is something I have written too in various stories.
Revelation Space is also interesting but rather cliched and with contrived resolutions in my opinion. I’m glad I read it.
Saint Margaret’s Bastion in Malta and my wife
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