Narrative Transport. The official Michael Pryor website.
  • April14th

    gold coast supanova 6

    Many more pix below the break!

    I’m just coming out of a very busy – but delightful – fortnight where I was a guest at Supanova Gold Coast and Melbourne. It’s good to see this popular culture extravaganzas having a healthy reading and writing stream (thanks to Ineke Prochazka) with so many fans flocking to chat with authors and have books signed. For me, it’s a chance to catch up with people I’ve known a long time, like Isobelle Carmody or David Cornish, but also to meet people I’ve known about for ages, like Jim Butcher. We do panels together, we chat between sessions, we share seats on the bus – it’s a very convivial time in a world of books, reading and writing, which is one of the many reasons I have the best job in the world. At least, for me it is.

    Even though Supanova (and the other similar festivals/conventions/hootenannys) have their celebrities, guests and megastars, the days really belong to the fans who come along in stonkingly great numbers. Tens of thousands of them roll up in their finery and have a couple of days of sensory overload.

    While there, I get to see many, many, many of these fans as they stroll past the author area. I’m always impressed by the effort that many put into their costumes. Many hours of dedication is needed to achieve the perfection that they attain, and their reward is the approbation of their peers. Read More

  • March26th

    Reading has become a more stratified activity than ever.reader3 small

    Imagine a Healthy Food pyramid, but instead populated by readers.

    At the bottom, sadly, are people who don’t read at all. I’ll leave analysis of whether this section of the community is growing or not to people with massive research grants.

    In the middle is a big grey area comprising people who read occasionally, people who dip in and out of reading, and people who go for long periods without reading much but who don’t mind a read every now and then.

    At the top are my people – the ones who love a good story, the ones with a reading pile, the self-confessed readers.

    But it’s my belief that a new sort of reader is emerging, the ones at the pointiest part of the pointy end of our Reading Pyramid. Perhaps they’ve always been around, but now they’re growing in numbers and becoming a force to be reckoned with.

    I call these people the Super-readers.

    A Super-reader is distinguished from an ordinary reader by a number of things:

    • Their reading pile is potentially life-threatening if it collapses on them.
    • They know what a TBR list is, and they fret about it.
    • They’re like chain smokers – when they finish a book they must have a new one to go on with.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA
    • They read their favourite books more than once. Many, many times more than once.
    • Consequently, they might have more than one copy of a favourite book as their first has worn out – and YOU CAN’T THROW OUT A BOOK.
    • On a train/bus/tram, they’ve become good at reading covers upside down because they’re fascinated by what other people are reading. You never know, someone might be reading what they’re reading and, thus, A CONNECTION IS FORMED!
    • A persistent nightmare for a Super-reader is being caught without a book to read. Therefore, they often travel with two (or more) books.

    Some rarer characteristics of Super-readers:

    • They dress up as characters from their favourite books.
    • They write to their favourite authors, praising or questioning about minutiae.
    • They write fan fiction.

    Regardless of all this, the single defining characteristic of Super-readers is their love of books. This often means they love to talk about reader2 smallbooks. This, of course, has been facilitated by technology. Super-readers congregate, thanks to the internet. They talk about characters, about back stories, about potential sequels, about rumours of film versions and how they’re bound to spoil the book.

    Super-readers are extraordinarily affirming for a writer (‘They like my work!’) but they are also extremely demanding – in a good way. They read closely, carefully, and won’t be happy with anything less than a writer’s best.

    Super-readers keeps a writer on her or his toes, and that’s a good thing.

     

  • March16th

     

    I took a break from my latest Work In Progress and started thinking about how I could save the planet. As you do.

    I swivelled away from the computer, hands behind my head, tossing up between instituting a utopian regime and formulating a plan to maximise innate human potential without our developing those really huge craniums when my gaze landed on the bookshelf in my study. That’s when I realised that, in many ways, I’m already doing my part in saving the world.

    You see, with the accepted science pointing out that we have an unfortunate rise in Carbon Dioxide levels and that these increased levels are responsible for an accelerating Greenhouse Effect which is bumping up global temperatures with some decidedly nasty outcomes waiting for us, it behoves us all to do something about reducing the amount of Carbon Dioxide floating around and doing its best to make us all miserable.

    That’s why we have all this talk about Carbon trading and Carbon Offsets and Carbon Sequestration – which is where I see my greatest contribution coming to the fore.

    Carbon sequestration is generally thought of as pumping vast volumes of Carbon Dioxide into underground reservoirs, but it can mean locking up carbon in many ways – just so long as it doesn’t break down and become CO2 in the atmosphere.

    My answer? Gazing at my bookshelf, there it is. Books. Books are made of paper. Paper is made of trees. Trees are made of carbon (mostly). If we burn trees, that’s bad because it releases carbon. If the trees rot, it releases carbon (bad). But making the paper into books which sit on shelves all neat and protected, well, that’s locking up all that carbon for hundreds of years. It sits there, unspoiled, a handy carbon sink for posterity. Every book is helping, every shelf. Every library is a vast world-saving lock-up, doing its best to keep up from the devastating effects of world-wide Climate Change.

    Think about it. Buy books and save the planet. It’s your duty to do so.

  • February21st

    In the lead-up to the publication robotwireframeof Machine Wars in April, I thought a little pre-reading might be in order. Helped by the intelli-swarm via Facebook and Twitter, here’s a range of books that feature our mechanical friend, the robot.

    For Younger/Middle Readers

    Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot – Isaac Asimov and Janet Asimov. Fun Asimov robot stories.

    Ernest Pickle’s Remarkable Robot – Max Dann. A robot for a best friend?

    The Andy Roid series – Felice Arena. Part robot, part boy, these action packed adventures zing along.

    The Robot King – Brian Selznick, author of Hugo Cabret

    The Monster Republic – Ben Horton. Teen cyborgs in a scary world.

    I, Robot – Isaac Asimov. These stories feature Asimov’s famous ‘Three Laws of Robotics’

    The Iron Giant – Ted Hughes. Masterly.

     

    For older readers (some graphic contents, advanced concepts and themes)

    Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams. Hilarious fun with the memorable secondary character, Marvin the Paranoid Android.

    Infernal Devices trilogy – Cassandra Clare.

    Frozen/Shattered/Torn – Robin Wasserman.

    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Phillip K Dick. The classic SF novel that spawned Blade Runner.

    Robocalypse – Daniel H Wilson. The end of the world, robot style?

     

  • February11th

    And we now have a back cover for Machine Wars,final back cover due April. In the spirit of all good back cover blurbs, read and be tantalised.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • January21st

    And here it is, a teaser for Machine Wars – my 34th book, due April from Random House Australia.

     

     

    The metal menace emerges.

  • January16th

    Actually, I didn’t discover it because it’s been there all the time and I’ve just learned about it. And I’m sure that no linguistics professors want to keep this rule a secret; I just wanted to have one of those clickbait teasers suggesting a great conspiracy to keep language matters away from us. alphabetBecause that would be the sort of weird world that would make my day.

    This is a fascinating language quirk and if anything is worth a bit of blogging, this is.

    This rule is a rule we all know, whether we know it or not. It’s something we all understand at a deep and instinctive level rather than an intellectual one. We know it because we do it all the time – and if the rule is broken we shudder with nameless fear.

    It’s called the I A O Rule. Still not ringing any bells? It works like this. Whenever you repeat a word in a phrase, but change the vowel, the order is always I before A before O. Pitter patter. Tip top. Ding dong. Shilly shally. Hip hop. To see how deeply ingrained this understanding is in us, try it the other way around and try to avoid grimacing. Tat for tit. Zag-zig. Raff-riff. Brac-a-bric.

    See, you knew this all along. You understood that language worked like this, even though you didn’t know that there was a hard and fast rule at work. Technically, the rule is referring to ablaut reduplication. The ablaut refers to the vowel change, the reduplication the word doubling, but it really doesn’t matter, does it? You knew it anyway.

    Language. Where would we be without it? I mean, we’d sort of be in a world of endless mime, so language is probably good thing.

     

  • January9th

    For those who’ve been inspired by 10 Futures and who are constantly thinking about the future, here’s a thought-provoking site from the BBC. Logging on directly from your brain, anyone?

     

  • December20th

    And here it is: the superb, stylish, sensational cover of Machine Wars, my 33rd book, due in April from Random House Australia.

    Machine Wars

    I love it!

  • December13th

    It’s that time of the year again, andwinner 2 small I’m not talking about the festive season. I’m talking about that end of year musing that gives us the parade of ‘Year’s Best Books’ lists or ‘Holiday Reading Guides’ that are starting to feature in the arts pages and corners of the online world.

    I must admit a certain weariness with which I contemplate these lists, for I’ve read them for years forlornly hoping that one of them, one day, would feature a genre title.

    And by genre, I mean Fantasy and Science Fiction. Occasionally, the compilers of these lists let a Crime title creep in, probably because it lends the compiler a touch of raffishness, hinting that they could go out onto those mean streets if they needed to.

    What I look for so vainly is a ‘Year’s Best’ list that understands that quality comes from all aspects of literature. Instead, I see repeated year after year a narrow, blinkered selection that excludes a wide and rewarding range of literature.

    I’ll go out on the limb and guess that the compilers of these lists haven’t read lots of Fantasy and Science Fiction and then said to themselves, ‘Well, really, none of these measure up’. I stick my neck out and claim that they haven’t read any (or much at all) in these fields. It’s like they’ve eliminated these books from contention even before the contest has been announced.

    They’re not even considered.

    Yes, I know that I’m guessing and that I’m possibly traducing thousands of ‘Year’s Best’ list compilers, but my view has been formed after seeing decades where NO genre books have appeared on such lists. Read More