Means mystical kick-in-the-head enlightenment, as you probably know. It's also the prequel to Shibumi - anyone remember that? Sort of up there with Shogun and (Gawd 'elp me) The Ninja among cult Japanese-themed novels. The new book is written by Don Winslow, keeping the "Trevanian" pseudonym of the earlier author.

...I was intrigued, but I picked up one of Winslow's other books instead, The Winter of Frankie Machine, and liked it loads.

In other non-SF, towards the end of last year I read John Le Carré's last few novels. All the verve and command of an old master, with all the rage of an angry young man. Probably the most impressive books I've read during the last 6 months at least. Gives me hope for the next few decades...



Much fun was had at Eastercon. The martial arts demo went down a storm - the con chair, Nik, described it as the most inspiring con event she'd ever seen. Blimey. Thanks to the redoubtable author/aikidoka Juliet McKenna and the awesome Al Davison, who showed that being in a wheelchair is no barrier to being a warrior.

Then there was the greatest British martial artist ever, not part of the con but there in the lobby - Steve Morris, present because Tricia Sullivan is his other half. (And you wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley, either.) Electrifying.

Lauren Beukes charmed everyone, but don't tell her I said so. I hung with Andy Remic, Dan Abnett, Mike Cobley, Ian Whates, Ian Watson (and Kris, Jess and Cristina), the lovely publishers from Angry Robot, the gorgeous publishers from Gollancz, Charlie Stross, Feòrag, Kari and Phil, and loadsa old friends from fandom: Rog Peyton, Steve Lawson, Alice Lawson, Sparks, Dave Clements, Amanda, MEG, Nige, Sabine... Blimey, they were all there.

I spent the entire con talking and laughing, seems like. I am, as we say where I come from, totally cream-crackered. Not enough to stop me finishing the revisions on Transmission, though.



Actually, I'm out in public quite a lot - shopping in Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's, the occasional Starbucks, visiting the library, walking down the street, jogging along the cycle track. And I'll talk to anyone, me.

Still, I shall be officially in public during Eastercon, including a signing session at noon on Saturday 23rd in Waterstone's, New Street, in the centre of Birmingham, a signing at 4pm back in the convention hotel, and MY BIG MARTIAL ARTS DEMO with Juliet McKenna, like the Bristolcon thing (that apparently went down well) with added pain and screams. That's at 9pm on Saturday.

Next month, on 13th May, I shall be the guest speaker at the Birmingham SF Group. This is going to be riotous fun. Plus, I intend to talk about a dark, hidden, taboo subject: where I get my ideas from. They're going to be astounded.

And I'm girding up, well, whatever, in anticipation of being Guest of Honour at Novacon 41 in Nottingham. That's going to be amazing, for all sorts of reasons. Major socializing, major fun

Spent last weekend training with the shotokan karate legend that is Dave Hazard, and never was a man more aptly named. Brilliant and dangerous. Best time I've had in ages.

Prior to that, spent a week teaching, first time for a long while - came away having bought a DVD set and one of those crazy Powerballs, two excellent recommendations. Thanks, guys!

And before that, I was in Oxford, exercising my brain, except when Juliet McKenna and everyone else in her husband Steve's dojo used me as a bendy toy. That was fun.