Skip navigation

Category Archives: Fantasy

Cover of Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng. Purple cover with Queen Mab central. There’s been a bit of a theme in the books I’ve been reading recently. All have been set in or around the Victorian era.

Jeanette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun is an absorbing Gothic Fantasy, capturing the feel of Stoker and Bronte. Highly recommended, and you can find the rest of my review on SFFWorld.

Cover of One Cog Turning by Anthony Laken. Main colour deep blue with golden/copper cogs featured in each corner.Anthony Laken’s One Cog Turning is a fab, true to form Steampunk adventure with all the lovable rogues you’d want to find, yet with a delicious twist. Click to read my review on SFFWORLD.

When I opened my curtains this morning onto a non-descript autumn day, I found a rainbow waiting outside my window. Traditionally my view is nothing spectacular: a road, and houses in all directions. If I’m really lucky I might get to hear bird song over the new developments’ machinery.

New houses on green land, new houses on flood plains, new roads, new shops. Irritating drivers, thoughtless pedestrians. I might as well live in a fantasy world.

No one listens just outside of Hull any more than they do inside it, I suspect. Yes, City of Culture 2017 lots of things happening, not all of it ‘Hull’.  Yes there’s that stigma again.  An understandable one for those of you from Fantasycon who happened to have survived the meal offerings at Scarborough’s Grand.

Hull? Isn’t that the place the PM just compared to Detroit? There’s a lot about Detroit I like, but I do worry for the city up the road when targets are placed on things so few get. A bit like Shoreditch, and planners designing roads for towns they’ve never been in.

Yet, despite all these negatives and changes – be they wanted or forced upon us – I’m surrounded by endless references to worlds that don’t exist and a culture that cannot be bought in or rebuilt at any price. Even though ‘outsiders’ are trying. Generations ago the town told a king to ‘do one’, a true rebel revolt waiting to be found in the history books. And that’s not the only one.

While the politics at a local level might belong in a dystopian novel along with the rotting boats along its beck, buildings born from fishing wealth inspire Georgian alternate history tales down streets where Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell would be quite at home.

I still expect to see Lord Poppy (Emma Newman's Split World Series) here one day.

I still expect to see Lord Poppy and his entourage (Emma Newman’s Split World Series) here one day. Image by Jon Parkes Photography

Inspiration for Lewis Carroll lies in wait at one church, while Tolkien’s touch is everywhere. Under-crofts and ancient churches treasure their secrets, next to narrow staithes hiding murderous lore of their own. The source of the town’s multicultural world building stares us in the face as we pop in to Maccy D. The essential component to any fantasy novel, the ‘barter town’ market trades under many faces. The nightlife would give Bladerunner a run for its money.

The future veers out across the Humber where its bridges are swallowed in paranormal mist.

Avoiding its miserable mud as the fog rolls on, the ghosts of Romans still search for their missing mosaic. Further along, over lost raised walkways, souls continue their pilgrimage to towering standing stones. Secret rooms buried in rubble uncover the forgotten meeting places of the elite and still standing pubs hold tight to the conspiracies plotted there. Pillar boxes maintain their guard for the airships while buildings draped in tattered canvas plead for a hero to rescue them. Shelters crumbling into an eroding coast are blinded by the hazey sun while pirates saunter back down the estuary.

HMS Bounty approaching Paull. Humber Bridge in background. Image by Karen Constantine. Source BBC.

Not actually a pirate. HMS Bounty approaching Paull with Humber Bridge in background. Image by Karen Constantine. Source BBC.

There’s so much to complain about these days, yet we take so much for granted. Like an unexpected rainbow filling a grey sky with colour.

So I’m quite happy living in my fantasy world, and I’m certainly grateful for the endless inspiration. Its global and diverse population are a great source for characters and conflict. That unsuspecting hero? Hull is one great big community that won’t turn its back on a friend.

Of course the rule for Hull is you don’t mock Hull unless you’ve lived it. Everyone Back To Ours, is the phrase for the coming year so you can’t say you haven’t been invited.

Snubbing it? You can probably do one. 😀




Disaster has happened. A little bit of research for a current project has turned into a new project of its own. Mission creep is lethal in my household – painting a wall quickly becomes a complete room renovation. I suspect this little idea may well follow the same path.

Pub to the to the right! Yes those beams are old.

Pub to the left…pub to the right! Yes those beams are old.

You know how it happens, you walk into a pub for a lazy Sunday afternoon and suddenly want to share the fantastic place with all your genre-mad-mates, right?


Well then. I know there are many SFF fans in the Humber area. Be they readers, authors, game creators, graphic novel writers, they create and consume a culture of magic and wonder.

Promoting anything is hard work and costly, an indie author has limited options to get his work noticed. Even the traditional published writers have a trek as alas, the Humber area is remote and isolated from the busy happenings further along the M62 – even more so from the hub which is London.

With Hull City of Culture waiting in the wings I thought it high time our geek genre had a spotlight too. A chance for local authors to grow their social networks outside of the social media, meet fans from the area and allow readers to discover new work.

If you don’t try, you won’t know…right?

So Humber-SFF was born, not to compete with others but to make the genre more accessible as a whole.

It made sense to hold it on the 27th of August, a bank holiday weekend neatly between Nine Worlds and FantasyCon By the Sea. We’ve even got a whole pub* to ourselves.

27833741It wouldThe Sign in the Moonlightn’t have happened without the help from friends behind York Pub Meet and Sheffield SFF Social (Thank you!) not to mention the fantastic author Daniel Godfrey who was 100% behind the idea from the start (Pre-order his book!). David Tallerman’s also graciously agreed to be part of this momentary insanity (So buy his short story collection).

*We have one half of the present day pub to retreat to post-readings. The Monk’s Walk is thought to be formerly two pubs one holding the name The George and Dragon.

Book cover for When the Heavens Fall

When the Heavens Fall

While I have been working on Story-Craft and other writing things, I had the fortune to win a copy of When the Heavens Fall which lead to writing an interview with the author. Marc Turner is a lovely chap (<- understated Yorkshire twee) and I recommend reading his book, not to mention ordering the next in the series, Dragon Hunters.

You can read the whole interview over on


The Winds of Winter

The Winds of Winter

The fantasy world’s 2016 started with G R R Martin telling the world, “I’m not done yet.”I can’t imagine the amount of stress the post must have caused him. He must have felt the weight of every word he typed, knowing the internet meltdown it would bring.

Question: Does Winds of Winter ever need to happen?

A1: Commercially, of course it does.

A2: For Closure. Not necessarily, the show will give us that.

A3: Creatively.

Not for me.

As expected (sadly) a rage of “how dare you be a living breathing person” happened. Haters gonna hate, right?

Why? Fans have developed friendships because of Game of Thrones, based on discussions and debates about what will come. If all story lines are finalised, all books are completed and all texts analysed …what then?

Those who read and watch get to enjoy two differing story arcs, both set in the same world featuring the same characters. Both ‘universes’ are official, it’s not a case of rebooting the most popular narrative. And both spawn a wealth of creativity in their wake, including a library load of books and comics you can be reading, savouring and interacting with. Quite possibly reducing the pressure on the author. Writing is fun, but not when surrounded by stress, demands and deadlines.

In true epic fantasy style, hate was met by the white knight (dire wolf?) of the loyal and understanding followers, all happy to wait and simply grateful for the update. Perhaps there should be an award for “Best Unfinished Epic” ?

What seems like a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away...

What seems like a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…

Me. I’m still a Sansa fan. I was when I picked up the first book back in the 1990s and will continue to be.

I enjoy discovering books/films/shows that wouldn’t have happened if Game of Thrones had not seen the light of day. I can talk about dragons with people who have never lifted a doorstep from Orbit, Gollancz, Tor, and haven’t a clue who Harper Voyager are and don’t get “Fantasy” in general.

Finished or unfinished, there’s a lot to be said for the awesome that started in Winterfell.

So. Your turn now, what other authors will you discover in the meantime?