Interview at SF Signal

I chatted to Patrick Hester recently for the SF Signal podcast, which is now online. We talk about steampunk, cover art, Going to the Moon, The Apex Book of World SF and lots of other stuff. Warning: quite a lot of bitching about steampunk follows!

And, for no particular reason, a picture – it’s funny because it’s true!

Photo’s from a pad thai place in Vientiane’s Talat Sao, or Morning Market


Osama podcast and Jesus review

Jesus and the Eightfold Path is reviewed in Abyss & Apex:

What happens when Lavie Tidhar,  an Israeli and Jewish author,  visits the story of Jesus with Zen koans and a Kung-fu movie sensibility? What happens is a romp.

Another reviewer called this book,  Kick-A** for the Lord,  and I’d have to agree.  Jesus and the Eightfold path is a mash-up of the story of Christ and martial arts movies. The Monkey King becomes one of the Three Wise Men. Each chapter starts with a familiar Biblical quote from the Christmas and Easter stories,  and sort of goes downhill from there – but in a good way. It is fitting that the cover looks like a seventies Kung Fu movie poster,  and it all leads up to The Big Fight Scene where the Chosen One throws the money changers out of the Jewish temple. Everything after that is simply the denouement.

Add a star if you’re a fan of martial arts movies,  and add another one (believe it or not) if you’re a Christian. As Gardner Dozois remarked,  it’s great fun.

And I joined the Skiffy and Fanty show to talk about Osama, global terrorism, opium and a bunch of other stuff – you can listen to it here.

Audio: “The Insurance Agent” now at Escape Pod

Glad to say my latest story to be up at Escape Pod is The Insurance Agent, first published in Interzone. It is read by Christian Brady.

The bar was packed and everyone was watching the Nixon-Reagan match. The fighters were reflected off the bar’s grainy wood countertop and the tables’ gleaming surfaces and seemed to melt as they flickered down the legs of the scattered chairs. The bar was called the Godhead, which had a lot to do with why I was there. It was a bit of an unfair fight as Reagan was young, pre-presidency, circa-World War Two, while Nixon was heavy-set, older: people were exchanging odds and betting with the bar’s internal gaming system and the general opinion seemed to be that though Reagan was in better shape Nixon was meaner.

I wasn’t there for the match.

The Godhead was on Pulau Sepanggar, one of the satellite islands off Borneo, hence nominally under Malaysian federal authority but in practice in a free zone that had stronger ties to the Brunei Sultanate. It was a convenient place to meet, providing easy access to the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and, of course, Singapore, which resented the island’s role as a growing business centre yet found it useful at the same time.

She wore a smart business suit and a smart communication system that looked like what it was, which was a custom-made gold bracelet on her left arm. She wore smart shades and I was taking a bet that she wasn’t watching the fight. She was drinking a generic Cola but there was nothing generic about her. I slid into a chair beside her and waited for her shades to turn transparent and notice me.

‘Drink, Mr. Turner?’

I liked the name Turner. It was Anglo-Saxon generic, a mid-level executive’s name, white as beige. ‘Call me James,’ I said. I liked James too. You could tell what a James Turner did just by hearing his name. The rest of me was tailor-made for the name, had been for some time: I had the kind of tan that suggested I had been East for just long enough to have acquired it, black hair that was short but not too short and had a decent but not overly-expensive cut, pale blue eyes behind shades that cost a lot of money to look like a knock-off.

There was a suggestion of a smile in the corners of her mouth and she said, ‘I don’t think I will.’

‘Mr. Turner, then,’ I said. ‘One name’s good as another.’ – continue reading, or listen in audio!