So I'm supposed to be a) fit and b) a coffee addict. I'm heavier than I ought to be and my blood pressure is way too high for someone with my supposedly healthy lifestyle. So cutting the coffee intake by over 90% still leaves me drinking 2 cups a day for now. No withdrawal symptoms. But as I write this, I'm sipping a decaf espresso.

You might wonder why, but decaf espresso has to be an oxymoronic paradox, and you know me. Bizarrely, the first sip gave me the nice shudder that the real thing delivers. Perhaps it's the bitterness and not the caffeine jolt.

I'm not writing at the moment (but don't tell my editor at Gollancz, the most wonderful Simon Spanton). Having sent in Point (to Marc Gascoigne at Angry Robot) I've been not exactly chilling - I've homework to do for my studies at Oxford. I thought I was going to miss the deadline totally, then everyone got given a week's extension. I might still miss it, but with less justification... Oh, well.

Some time next week, Transmission (vol 2 of Ragnarok) will draw me into it.

I've been blasé about writing 2 books a year and interleaving the process (which is one of the subjects of my software engineeering thing - precise mathematical descriptions of interwoven processes that may be partially indeterminate) but in fact I have felt woefully overcommitted to the publishing schedule. (Next time I have multiple contracts on the go at the same time, I'll be very careful about the proposed delivery dates.) Every moment spent on Point has been a moment not spent on Transmission, hence a continuing background stress. It's been hard to see the creation of Point in five-and-a-bit months as a triumph, although it kinda is.

No formal feedback yet, but I'm sure it's better than Edge.

I'm pondering deeply before diving back into Transmission. Absorption is challenging because of the disparate timelines - I always knew this was going to be a challenge to write and possibly read. Compare this to, say, Barbara Kingwood's Poisonwood Bible. The different viewpoints (not timelines) give different accounts of the same family's story. (To be fair, although it's her most famous work, I prefer some of the others.) Or think of the Godfather, whose protagonist is not one person but the Corleone family.

Getting that unity when your characters don't meet or interact so much (on the basis of living centuries apart on different worlds) is the challenge.

But that's not really what I'm thinking about.

Some people prefer Paradox to Absorption. I knew what I was doing (as Norman Spinrad surmised) when I wrote Paradox: writing in a hang-on-or-fall-off style without allowances. In an earlier blog entry, a nice person commented that he had in fact noticed my combining symbolic logic (Z notation) with Sun Tzu's Art of War in one of the throwaway snippets about strategy planning. And there's a genuine hypothesis about the nature of time underpinning the book, which is why several reviewers said they could not tell where the real science left off and the made-up stuff began. In a sense, it's because only the wackiest of engineering was fictional - the spookiness of time as it persists in physics is still there.

So one reviewer, looking at Absorption, liked it while considering Paradox to be (allow me a blush here) perhaps one of the best SF books ever. A couple of reviewers, when Paradox appeared, compared it to Dune.

Perhaps a writer should ignore reviews totally.

Maybe there's a dilemma here. Or maybe there isn't. Some people might like Paradox as much as Dune, but, like, here's where the sales figures come in. Not as many people have read Paradox, not by a very long shot.

But I'm feeling that a bit of impenetrable physics and bilingual puns in several languages and logic games and related stuff might start infesting Transmission and Resonance to a larger extent than I'd intended. (You thought I'd sorted out the nature of time? I haven't even started.)

I'm also thinking that Thomas Blackthorne might be writing some very different stuff in the next years.


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