Here it is...

From award-winning author John Meaney comes a thrilling tale of Tristopolis, a Gotham-like city beneath perpetually dark skies, where the bones of the dead fuel the reactor piles, indentured wraiths power the elevators, and daylight never shines.

Tristopolis has faced eldritch dangers before, with resurrected cop-turned-PI Donal Riordan at the forefront of keeping his city safe – but this time it's the ones he loves who face the deepest risk. Will he be in time to save them? Or will the only thing left be revenge?

I'm still having a blast writing Donal's adventures on that weird version of Earth. Hope you enjoy this one too!





Tonight (8:20pm BST) the Earth will be angled so that we'd get equal-length light/dark periods if only it stayed that way. In the universe of the Tristopolis books, of course, the Earth's orbit and axial rotation are phase locked, like Mercury.

Tristopolis Revenge will be out very soon...

Meanwhile, thinking of time's passage (cue Al Stewart songs here): in the first or second week of September 1972, as a 15-year-old non-athletic geeky schoolboy, I stepped onto a judo mat for the first time, and knew I'd come home. By the inexorable logic of simple arithmetic, I am now commencing my 50th year of training. And my feelings about that are... complicated.

This photo of me is from the early to mid-90s, perhaps half way through that half century of martial arts, taken in the Marshall Street dojo of the late great Enoeda sensei.

I could wax lyrical. Around the corner from Carnaby Street, you reached the old Edwardian swimming baths, climbed a hundred or more steep stone steps to the upper reaches of the building, to the full-time dojo. The repeated kiais of the lower-grade class would echo down the stairwell, and along the street outside. Subliminal scents of sweat and adrenaline, and perhaps a little blood, strengthened during the ascent.

Once, in my early days of training there, I turned up early, got changed into my gi, sat down in the changing-room without having seen anyone else, and thought: "I could just change back into ordinary clothes and leave." Because, despite being a black belt for over a decade at that time, what I experienced in that dojo was an intensity that I'd never have imagined before actually immersing myself in it. For intensity, read fear... 

Of course I trained that night regardless, and many other nights besides. I loved that place.

Another anniversary of sorts: in August 1996, while at the Worldcon in Los Angeles, I got a fax in the middle of the night from my agent, telling me I had a book deal, my very first. In October that year I actually signed the contract, so this is the 25th anniversary of the midpoint between fax and contract proper.

It wasn't until Easter 1998 that To Hold Infinity hit the shelves, by which time I was nearly 41 years old. As a senior consultant for the largest tech consultancy in Europe, I wasn't exactly dying to give up the day job... That just wasn't going to happen. If anything, my day job grew more interesting than ever. ("John, could you just nip over to Paris to check out the software engineers making this product?" "On my way, boss. Et ouais, d'accord.")

Here I am, signing To Hold Infinity when it was launched at Eastercon.


That's Steve Baxter and Peter Hamilton at the table with me, while I do believe the gentleman standing on the left is Simon Bisson, whose articles on Infoworld I've been reading very recently.

The original working title for the book was Summer Storm, Winter Flower. Then I changed it to Twisted Skein, before settling on To Hold Infinity. My New York sub-agent said he couldn't comment on the choice, because he wasn't good with titles. My UK editor said: "Old Blake is always good for a book title, isn't he?"

Was I too clever with allusions and Easter Eggs in my first few books? I still don't know.

Example: there are 36 chapters in To Hold Infinity, and each begins with a haiku. If you join the haikus together, matching the last word of one line with the first word of another haiku's line, the 36 haikus join together to form a tesseract (aka a hypercube). And the impact of holographic displays on alphabets and writing is a little tangential theme in the first couple of books.

Too clever by half? Probably.

Also too much dwelling in the past today. I think I'll just go to my dojo and train. Cheers!



 I couldn't resist... I had to find out what happens next. So I wrote this:

More on the new Tristopolis book very shortly.

Meanwhile, I'm feeling my age (64), which means I need to use my head when it comes to exercise:

...And that's why I don't write comedy. Ahem. But because it's a lifelong habit, near enough, I'm keeping up the daily training, despite the forces of entropy. I wouldn't be the same person without it.


And finally, vaccinated fully as I am, I ventured out to enjoy my first Starbucks coffee in 16 months.


...So I'm doing all right. Hope you are, too.



I quite like the WandaVision TV series, maybe in part because I'm old enough to remember the Dick van Dyke Show: if you haven't watched the series, you might not be aware that it begins in a "reality" modelled on 1950s TV shows. (And this would be a good point to exit this blog post if you want to avoid spoilers.... although Stephen King once said that spoiler alerts are for wimps.)

The name Agatha Harkness rang a bell for me, even though it was January 1970 when she first appeared in Fantastic Four issue 94. My copy shows the price as 15 cents, so it was a US import instead of a UK reprint. My copy of issue 93 shows the price as 1/- (in other words, one shilling), so the changeover to decimal currency from pounds-shillings-and-pence might have had something to do with it.

Back when we had real money. 12 pence to a shilling, 20 shillings to a pound. Thrupenny pieces (worth 3d, i.e. 3 pence), sixpenny pieces (aka tanners), and shillings (bob). A two-shilling coin was also called a florin. Two-and-six was half-a-crown (half crown coins existed, like ten bob notes). Pennies and ha'pennies (half-penny coins). Farthings (quarter pennies) had been removed from circulation years before, but you still occasionally saw the physical coin, even though it wasn't legal tender.

For further musings on my clearly advanced age, see the previous post... In this post here, I was intending to mention Agatha Harkness, who looked like this:

And for a total spoiler, the issue ended like this (with the Frightful Four defeated by the old lady herself, while the Fantastic Four were incapacitated):

I'm not a proper comics geek: I only hung onto a few comics from the Old Days. But still, nostalgia...

And speaking of Vision, which we nearly were... In the first Captain America movie, in the 1940s expo where Howard Stark is presenting, you can see a frozen red man-shaped (and man-sized) figure in a glass display cylinder. That looks like the original Human Torch, a character who was around before Johnnie Storm took that superhero name, and who was actually an android.

In the comics, it was that android's body that became, or was used to grow (I can't remember which) Vision's body. I don't think Ultron had anything to do with it, although I might be wrong.

I do remember Ultron in the mags, though. At the end, when you see Ultron's lifeless head lying in a sandy waste, you also get the famous Ozymandias poem in full. I learned it by heart (and still know it word for word) from that comic book, not from a poetry book. (That's not an issue I still have, though.)

Maybe not a true fan, but no anti-comics snobbery from me, folks.

Stay safe!


 ...years of age, that is. Also still pushing weights, not daisies, so I've much to be thankful for even when the universe throws little reminders my way regarding entropy and duration and all that.

My favourite modern book on physical training is probably this one, written by two former US Olympic judo coaches. I particularly like the incorporation of Karl Gotch's wrestling calisthenics (as popularised by the not-always-popular Matt Furey, but used by top American and Japanese grapplers for decades now) along with weight training. John Saylor, on his blog, expresses puzzlement about self-defence-oriented martial artists lacking the athleticism of those who compete. I couldn't agree more, even though my cardio is nowhere near the level it ought to be right now.

One of the many judoka appearing in the book's photos is Dr AnnMaria De Mars, whose blogs are well worth a read. She's a tech entrepreneur, she's taught maths at every level from young kids to post-docs, been a working engineer and a software developer (she still codes), and possesses four academic degrees despite starting life on the wrong side of the tracks. She was also the first American to win the judo world championship (regardless of gender), in 1984. And one of her daughters is the judo/MMA legend, Ronda Rousey.

For pure personal nostalgia in the physical training world, however, I can't get any better than this book, written by the guy who designed the weights room at Birmingham University, where in 1975 I first started serious (by my standards) weight training. You'll note that the benches lack upholstery, and cardio machines are non-existent in the weights room.

Howard Payne was a faculty member. He was also an Olympian and multiple Commonwealth Games competitor, won Commonwealth gold in the hammer throwing, and was multiple times West Midlands regional powerlifting champion. 

(You'll hear people say that in the 1970s athletes were discouraged from lifting weights because of the "it will slow you down" fallacy. The all-styles karate UK team captain, Ticky Donovan, said exactly that right in front of me in 1978 or '79, and to be fair, he was astoundingly fast: he must have hit me about two hundred times during the three minutes that he fought me. I was the person he chose to fight (use as a mobile punchbag) in front of all the other trainees, at the end of a weekend training course at Aston University. He was a terrific karateka, but in this he was wrong, and the Birmingham University athletes knew this. (I'd also trained once with Terry O'Neill at Cyril Cummins' dojo, and Terry was like a transporter-accident-melding of Arnie Schwarzenegger and Bruce Lee. He produced picture-perfect technique when dropping people for real, when working as a bouncer in the violent old days in Liverpool, as well as in international competition.))

I recognise and remember most of the athletes pictured in Howard Payne's book, though I only knew one or two by name. (One of them was a wado-ryu black belt.) The photos would all have been taken while I was training there. The book appeared in 1979.

Some postscripts:

1) I should add that Ticky Donovan didn't actually hurt me, but instead hit me so often that my brain short-circuited: the same effect that escrima fighters attempt to produce with rapid sequences of stick-fighting strikes rather than single heavy blows. Ticky's control was as amazing as his timing, distancing and technical brilliance.

 2) There's a fandom link for anyone who attended a Liverpool Eastercon at the notorious Adelphi Hotel. Yvonne and I checked in there once at 2 a.m. and it was a war zone outside. A drunk, aggressive young lady smashed the glass of the locked revolving doors, and eventually got inside the hotel that the staff had tried to keep her out of. In another incident around the same time, and that I initially misinterpreted, a young woman knocked on the door screaming for help, while a bloodied, bare-chested man came running up behind her. I thought he was her attacker, but in fact they were both fleeing a total psycho who was in pursuit. (The psycho had torn the shirt off this innocent guy's back!) The source of the trouble, I believe, was the Banyan Club that was located below the hotel; and that was where Terry O'Neill worked the doors. Sooner him than me.

Both the dealers' room (I seem to recall) and at least one fan's hotel room were burgled during that con...

3) Remember the maxim: the older I get, the tougher I used to be. Although there's an opposite saying about old age and sneakiness...   ;-)

4) One of the guys pictured in Howard Payne's book was a local Brummie (inhabitant of Birmingham) who was actually still at school, or so I was told, rather than a university student. Years later, when I watched the Commonwealth Games on TV, he'd come out of retirement to compete in the shot putt aged forty or so (as far as I recall) but his day job was strength and conditioning coach at Stanford University in the States. Not bad!

5) In Paradox, which first appeared 21 years ago – my second published novel – Tom Corcorigan learns the "Five Sigmas" of fighting from Maestro da Silva. I eventually added a sixth to the list, as you can see in the first photo overhead. 

(This was long before I ever heard business consultants talking about 6 Sigma and, for pity's sake, 6 Sigma black belts, which used to sound like an insult to me... until I decided I didn't care. Likewise coding dojos. Coding kata, however, is not an insult, because "kata" in Japanese has a much broader scope than martial arts. And in fact, the notion of dan grades can also apply to things like playing Go or formal flower arrangement... just not with coloured belts.)

... Stay strong, stay safe, everyone!