Like most writers, I've had a couple of unpublished novels tucked away. One is sort of recent, though begun seven years ago - while the other, my novel-written-aged-20, will stay hidden, thank you - and I've mentioned it here in the blog from time to time.

It's New Jerusalem - an alternate history cold war spy thriller.

Genre-wise, it's not SF by most people's standards. I began New Jerusalem in 2003 (I recall discussing it with my then-US agent at World Fantasy in Washington DC - he was excited, but this was before Chabon came out with The Yiddish Policemen's Union) and worked on it between other projects.

It being outside the purview of my normal publishers, and featuring a Jewish spy as a protagonist, I've not put any effort into getting it out there - not with geopolitical events of recent years. In the book, the Middle East is at peace, but that's not what marketing-minded folk would think of first.

Here's the blurb:
Half-American, half-English and belonging nowhere, David Wolf is an atheist Jewish spy, physicist and killer, driven by his need for life on the edge, drawn to the clandestine world.

The year is 1962, and this is the independent Jewish state founded after World War 2 - inside the borders of West Germany and Berlin. With the Middle East at peace, the western world faces both Soviet and neo-Nazi terrorist threats.

Wolf's hunt takes him through a different Germany, an oppressive Soviet Union and finally to New York, confronting enemies of the mind and physical mass destruction.

So I've published it on Amazon US and Amazon UK as a Kindle edition. You can read it on a PC or an iAnything by downloading free software from Amazon, as well as on an actual Kindle.

Here it is. Let's see if it'll fly...



I'm in blog mode to do some minor admin, not intending to post, but I just glanced at a publisher's site with details of their latest fantasy books. So here's a question occurring to me for the zillionth time - why would people who believe in democracy want to read about kings and rightful heirs to thrones? Especially in the US - I mean, isn't that un-American? Ha!



Readers of Absorption will have noticed unusual spellings in the Norse timeline, particularly the names of two gods familiar to us all: Odin and Thor. In the book, they appear as Óthinn and Thórr, while a note at the beginning tells you how to pronounce the th for each name. It's ambiguous in English: consider THis and THing. (Or the one example I could think of where you get almost the same sound: thistle and this'll - as in this will.)

By the way, some readers will use written names as purely visual symbols, and not bother to sound them out. Others will be interested in the sounds. I've long believed this to be one of the distinctions we all make when choosing our favourite writers: if my primary mode of thought is visual, secondary tactile/somatic, and tertiary auditory, then a book giving similar emphasis to choice of words will resonate more with me than someone who perceives the world - and tells their stories - with different emphasis.

Anyway, back to Old Norse. When written, it would of course have been runic. When transcribed in modern texts, it's normally written in the modern Icelandic alphabet, which distinguishes between the soft th (as in THing), written as a sort of chopped-off phi symbol known as THORN, and the hard th (as in THis), written with the crossed-through 'd' called ETH (uppercase Ð, lowercase ð).

So Odin is in fact Óðinn, while Thor is Þórr.

Also, if anyone's read other books featuring Norse names, you might notice I've tacked an r on the end of names which is missing from the anglicized version, such as Brandr rather than Brand.

It turns out that Old Norse, like English, particularly the English of decades past, was forgiving of many different orderings of words in a sentence. The trailing (inflexion) r is a way of indicating the subject of the sentence.

So Brandr and Brand are both correct, depending on whether Brandr is taking action or something is being done to Brand. I've stuck with the first form throughout the book.

That's, er, in case you were wondering... (Or to put it another way, I have been a good boy and done lots and lots of research.)



Necroflux Day has been reprinted in the Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2010 edition, ed. Rich Horton.

Maybe when I've finished Transmission I can write some more short fiction, but finding the time is hard - plus I've got another writing project in the pipeline. Not to mention the computer science I continue to work on in my spare time (a reverse of my previous lifestyle). But seeing my copies of the anthology that arrived today, I really want to get some more short stories and novellas done.


TRANSMISSION clear. Jim Burns has painted the cover, so everything's done apart from, er, what was that little technical detail?

Oh, right... I have to actually write the thing, don't I? All's going well, luckily. Must've written 5000 words today.

And in domestic news, the lovely Mr and Mrs Reynolds came to visit at the weekend. Alastair told me about his new trilogy in progress, which sounds excellent, and we had a nice time all round.



To celebrate my blood pressure-back-to-normal training regime, here's what I did in a week-and-a-bit of training... (DB stands for dumbbell and KB stands for kettlebell.)

Friday (late at night c. 11 pm)

Hindu Push-ups x 100; Hindu Squats x 200; Neck Bridge x 2 mins; Forward Neck Bridge x 1 min.
4 x Superset: DB Bench Press and DB One-Arm row for 10 reps, then 12, 14, 16
2 x Superset: DB Incline Flye x 20 reps and KB One-Arm Swing x 15 reps each side
4 x Superset: DB Squats x 12 reps and DB Military Press x 12 reps
4 x Superset: DB Alterating Lunges x 24 reps and Dummbbel Lateral Raise x 12 reps
4 x Superset: DB Stiff-Legged Deadlift x 12 reps and DB Calf Raises x 12 reps
4 x Superset: EZ-bar curl and EZ-bar close-grip bench press for 12 reps, 14, 16, 18
4 x Superset: DB Reverse Curl x 12 reps and DB Triceps Press x 12 reps
Box splits x 2 mins.; overall light stretch

Saturday (night c. 9 pm )
Run x 35 mins.; Karate kata x 26 (the whole shotokan syllabus, takes an hour);
Hindu Push-ups x 100; Hindu Squats x 200; Neck Bridge x 2 mins; Forward Neck Bridge x 1 min.; Ab crunches x 100; Side bend x 10/side; Box splits x 2 mins.; overall light stretch

Sunday: rest

Monday: (night 10 pm)
Karate kata x 4
10 x Superset: Hindu Push-ups x 25; Hindu Squats x 50; kick-punch combo x 1 min.
(different kick each set: lead-leg front kick; rear-leg front kick; lead-leg side kick; rear leg back kick; step-up back kick; lead-leg hook kick; spinning reverse roundhouse; lead-leg round kick; rear-leg round kick... all combos done from orthodox and southpaw stances equally)
Burpees x 100 (slight pause after each 10); Neck Bridge x 250 seconds; Box splits x 2 mins; Calf and Quad stretch
4 x Superset: DB Bench Press x 20 and Ab crunch x 25
4 x One-arm DB Row x 20 reps per side
4 x Triset: DB Shoulder Press x 20 and DB Alternating Hammer Curl x 20 and DB Behind-neck Triceps Press x 20
Upper body stretch

Tuesday (night c. 9:30 pm)
Karate kata x 4; "Iron Jacket" x 2 mins. (i.e. martial masochism - hitting oneself with a stick on forearms, shins and torso);
Hindu Push-ups x 250; Hindu Squats x 500; Neck Bridge x 250 seconds; Ab crunch x 200; Box splits x 2 mins; Calf and Quad stretch
Shadowboxing x 15 mins (kicks, knees, elbows, punches, takedown entries and sprawls)

Wednesday (night c. 9 pm)
Run x 35 mins.; Box splits x 2 mins.; Heavy bag 4 x 3-min. rounds; Rolling breakfalls x 5 mins.; Quad switch groundfighting manoeuvre x 5 mins.
(Bagwork - round 3 start with Olympic punch-out x 30 secs.; round 4 start with pumping round kicks x 20 each leg)

Thursday (light day - mini workout, after midnight)
Hindu Push-ups x 100; Hindu Squats x 200; Neck Bridge x 2 mins; Ab crunch x 100; Side-bends x 10/side; light stretch

Friday (morning)
5 x Superset: Knuckle Push-up x 20 and Ab crunch x 20
Run x 35 mins.; Box splits x 2 mins.; overall stretch

Saturday (morning)
Hindu Push-ups x 100; Hindu Squats x 200; Neck Bridge x 2 mins; Ab crunch x 100;
Heavy bag 3 x 3-min. rounds; Box splits x 2 mins.; overall stretch
(Bagwork - round 3 start with Olympic punch-out x 40 secs. then pumping round kicks x 20 each leg)

Sunday: rest

... Haven't trained yet. Just as soon as I finish this blog. Big bagwork sesh coming up... Or I might alternate weights and shadowboxing, similar to the alternating bodyweight exercises and kick combos I did last Monday. (I like this: it gives power training and simulates real fight stress for the technique training.) Maybe I'll do both.

In other news... Had visitors this weekend: Mark and Rita Williamson along with sons Matt and Tom. Yvonne and I have only known Mark and Rita for three decades. Wow... Great to catch up, talk about space technology with Mark (he won “Best Space Submission” in the Aerospace Journalist of the Year Awards 2010, his second time winning - here he is interviewed in Physics World) and all sorts of nonsense with everyone.

On Sunday (after the Williamsons had departed for the Dr Who Exhibition in Cardiff) we played host to nephew Lloyd, neice Emily and hubby-of-neice Michael. All fight fans, so we spent an afternoon watching UFC 98 (the Machida-Evans fight and the Serra-Hughes fight) and a Chuck Liddell documentary. Marvellous way to spend an afternoon/evening.