On lasers and Sabbath-breaking

I’ve come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t be allowed to read ‘meta’ on what makes good science fiction. I’ve just read an article in SF Signal on the most overdone/useful/damaging tropes and stereotypes in SF/F. I came away from that feeling that I am writing the most unmitigated rubbish. Old fashioned science fiction that’s about humanity pitted against aliens and has spaceships and faster than light drives and young men running around with lasers is, well, old fashioned. I can tick most of their tropes with a “Yup! Got that one.” and an “Oh hey! Got that one too!” At least I can say that with a gay hero whose love interest is another man, I don’t fall into the trap set by all those hero stereotypes. He does shoot aliens though. Does that count?

Work on the revision of the second Shield book is going on apace. I’ll admit that the last couple of weeks have been difficult for various reasons – my mother appears to be trying to fit a year’s worth of hospital appointments into the shortest possible time span, for one thing – and I could procrastinate for England at the next Procrastination Olympics and beat the entire world into abject submission. Hey, I procrastinate, people, by having little brainwaves like wondering what quotes I could find on procrastination. Thomas de Quincy wins the gold medal there : “If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.

My favourite diversion this week has been the search for a good word count meter that I could use to keep track of progress in revising Shield 2, and next month in writing the steampunk-coffeeshop-Egyptologist romance. Silly people in my life (and I’m looking at you, husband dear) asked in wondering tones if Word had removed the word count functionality. Well, duh. Of course not. But that’s not what I’m after here. I don’t just want a cold, emotionless absolute number. What’s inspiring about that? I want something that shows my progress towards the target. Something with colour to it. Something that inches along the screen from one side to the other, the bar of colour growing ever longer as I write. Something that celebrates achievement and progress. Something that throbs with the emotion and joy of creation, that shares that with the world.

Well, look at it.


Doesn’t that just make you throb?

And yes, this entire post was another effort at putting off, for a few minutes at least, opening up the current draft and working on the next chapter.

Told you. For England.



  1. Well, I wrote a lovely comment here about knowing when to trust your gut and when to learn something new, but I couldn’t log in the first time and WP ate it. The short version is ‘sometimes what people think is wrong is really right.’

    Yes, you need to polish your craft daily and you need the advice of experts and objective friends from time to time. You also need to know when to trust your storytelling gut. 🙂


    • Yup. Absolutely. I won’t be changing anything I’m writing.

      It amused me that all the big famous sci-fi things appear to revolve around the same stuff – the Chosen One is a biggie, isn’t it? At least I try and avoid that! I think I was a little taken aback by the mood of “Well, we know scientifically that we’ll never travel faster than light so that isn’t science fiction, it’s fantasy; and all *real* science fiction has to have An Issue, and really you should be looking at stuff like neural enhancements and nanotech.” Pfft. I prefer writing about pretty boys running around with lasers shooting aliens. Far more fun.

      Besides, I think Bennet has quite enough Issues, thank you!


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