On My Shelves: The Apocalypse Codex

Bob Howard, former network admin, now applied computational demonologist and sometime field agent for the it-doesn't-exist agency called the Laundry, has managed to survive the nearly soul-shattering events of The Fuller Memorandum, which puts him directly in line for something more terrifying: promotion, possibly into even having responsibility for other people. Unfortunately, as with many things Laundry-related, promotion is an offer you can't refuse – at least, not safely. And with CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN (more colloquially known as "When [ Continue reading... ]

On Writing: The Danger of Metawriting, OR, How I Wrote A Book That Did Exactly What I Wanted And Screwed It Up Anyway

The Arenaverse novels – Grand Central Arena, Spheres of Influence, and now Challenges of the Deeps – are inarguably my most successful solo novels. Grand Central Arena itself has continued to bring in significant amounts of money for me even now, seven years after release. I'm also very proud of the Arenaverse itself; developing it was, and continues to be, a huge challenge. One of the Arenaverse's key aspects from a writer's and reader's point of view, of course, is that it is not merely a story but a salute to, and occasional commentary [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Fuller Memorandum (Laundry Files #3)

Bob Howard, IT expert, computational demonologist, and sometime field agent for the ultra-top-secret U.K. agency called The Laundry, is back. Fresh from the James Bondian adventure of The Jennifer Morgue, Bob's married to Mo, who he rescued in the first book and who returned the favor with a vengeance in the second, and while any marriage that includes two people who know about the Great Old Ones and their impending arrival in CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN isn't going to be filled with picket fences and cheery nights all the time, you might hope that [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Nero Wolfe, Revisited

Recently, I was in a discussion where I referred someone to the first version of this review/overview of one of the best series of mysteries ever written. To my surprise, the point I referred them to… wasn't there. I then found that, somehow, several pieces of the review had been left out. Thus, having also recently re-read the entire series, I decided it would be worthwhile to re-publish this review – with some considerable and considered additions! In a timeless brownstone in New York City, on West 35th Street, there lives a very [ Continue reading... ]

Lying About the Future, OR Reality is Unrealistic

I've written, to this point, five hard-SF novels, with two more on the way – the Boundary Series (Boundary, Threshold, Portal), the Castaway Planet novels (Castaway Planet, Castaway Odyssey, and forthcoming Castaway Peril), and one tentatively titled Fenrir. As hard-SF novels, I worked hard to make these stories as accurate-to-known-science as I could, within the limits of dramatic necessity and the need to not bore my readers with calculations and details that they didn't really want. But even within hard-SF, the author has to make a lot of [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters of Phoenix Rising, Chapter 50

Now we jump far, far ahead to near the end of the book. This chapter was deleted because the book ended very, very differently. Not only did Xavier only show up for a couple of chapters (being sent off to Idinus of Scimitar rather than the Wanderer, and thus not traveling with Tobimar and not showing up for the final battle), but also there was no "screw you" trap following Thornfalcon's death, and after their meet-and-greet, the three companions did, in fact, burn Thornfalcon's mansion to the ground and didn't confront the remaining Justiciars [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters of Phoenix Rising, Chapter 4

So, Toron had begun an investigation last time...   Chapter 4. "I am sorry, Victoria." The huge draconic creature's voice was soft. Kyri couldn't believe it. "But… nothing?" "Nothing, little Vantage." Toron's clawed talons slashed the air in his own anger. "I have used all my senses. I have spoken with all of note in this part of Evanwyl, from the Watchland and the Justiciars down to every living servant of the neighboring houses. I have meditated in prayer in the center of the wreckage, tasted the ashes for their [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters from Phoenix Rising, Chapter 3

Seeing these deleted chapters gives a feel for how much can be cut from a book without it being immediately noticeable. I'd basically written out the investigation of the Vantages' murder and deleted the whole thing!   Chapter 3.      "No, Milady." Thornfalcon's face seemed even longer and sadder than usual beneath the silver-beaked helm. The poet and would-be swashbuckler of the Justiciars of Myrionar, Thornfalcon's lugubrious exterior usually masked a playful romantic, ready with a compliment for a lady or a quip to set a room [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters from Phoenix Rising, Chapter 2

These chapters were mostly cut because they kept us from getting to the core action. There's still a fair amount of information in them that might interest readers, though the crucial parts I tried to stuff into the remaining chapters.     Chapter 2.      Kyri stared numbly down at the remains of the front door; with cruel irony, the fire-charm on the door had remained intact, so the huge portals were unscorched, smeared only with water and soot from the rest of the mansion but otherwise marred only by the deep [ Continue reading... ]

On Writing: The Maintenance of Belief

Anyone heavily involved in SF/F fandom will have encountered something that shattered their "WSOD" – Willing Suspension of Disbelief – and kicked them out of their immersion in the story to say, in one way or another "What the heck? That made no SENSE!" As an author, of course, I have to be very sensitive to this; I don't want my readers cranking along happily and then suddenly having their train of thought derailed. This is not, of course, something it's possible to avoid in a universal fashion; things that won't bother 99% of readers will [ Continue reading... ]