Attack of the Space-knight Dragon-mutant

The fantasy genre is one of the most divided genres in the aforementioned police state of genre fiction (1). I’m not talking about science fiction here, or perhaps I am. It’s harder to draw that boundary than you think. After all, there is the distinct old-school “hard” science fiction, where the point of the story […]

Doctor Phinagler’s Amazing World of the Ignorant

Just a brief rant, really, and nothing much to do with anything except the human condition.   I’m a sporadic trawler of Youtube, and a short while ago I decided to scare up some natural history. I did a little searching on sea critters, and got the usual decent crop: octopus attacks shark, enormously long […]

The Art of the Matter

When is magic not magic? (1)   Returning to the book….   The ancient peoples that were to become the insect-kinden(2) had bartered their souls to the arthropods, but in exchange, they gained power. The link they forged to the races of the insect-kinds opened a door to a larger world in which the human […]

Great Fleas have Smaller Fleas… (1)

With that suitably insect-bound quote, on to pillage: The perils of publishing parasites (2)   This is actually a serious bit, somewhat more suited to arousing anger than cavalier treatment of arthropods by the BBC or genre snobbery. Basically: be warned.   You have sent out your book chapters to all and sundry. The road […]

The Secret Agent

You can submit direct to publishers, it’s true. In fact publishers may at first seem the more approachable. There are generally more of them, and they are more likely to be open for business as far as unsolicited manuscripts go. A lot of agents you talk to will tell you that they are, at that […]

The Hirsute Conspiracy

Palaeontology, hotbed of political controversy, jingoism and prejudice!   A bold statement, you might think. I mean, anthropology, yes. One can see how debates over the history and development of the various races(1) of man could be turned to a number of political ends, and generally highly undesirable ones, but go back far enough for […]

Crossing the Borders

There is an ugly phrase in our world: a world redolent of prejudice and hate, a phrase implicit in the discrimination against dozens of minorities, a phrase of evil.   This phrase is… genre fiction.   Once upon a time there was a happy, free land of infinite size called “Fictionia” and all sorts of […]

Rise of the Insect Tribes

As I was saying (1), in the mists of prehistory there arose the monster insects. This precipitated something of a mass extinction amongst the vertebrates. Once you’ve unlocked the shackles of the square-cube rule (2) you’re likely to find that, especially as the bigger insects get commensurably brighter (3). So: whither our poor stone-age humanity? […]

In the mists of prehistory there arose the monster insects…

…should have been the first line of the book. It isn’t. If I’d started in the midst of prehistory I’d never have got where I wanted to go. Fantasy stories are prone to have a past. Tolkien started it (1). Indeed, the Tolkien mould is very much the standard fantasy fare even now. The Tolkien […]


As in the late Robert Jordan (1).   I never actually read any Jordan. He was always so ferociously ubiquitous. By the time I became aware of the phenomenon that was Robert Jordan, everyone around me was reading book 6 or 7 of The Wheel of Time and the utter weight of literature placed an […]