Many spinning plates and a bit of sci-fi

Personal: Keeping so many plates spinning is making my brain hurt. I’m too old for this succession of 12-14 hour days. However, I admit that many of the spinning plates are much to my taste.

The routine editing can be a bore, but it doesn’t usually take more than ten hours a week and I make money from it, so no complaint there.

I enjoy my writing groups (Glossop and Mossley; I’m secretary of the former) so I always do whatever “homework” they impose.

I’m putting a lot of effort into planning this year’s Glossop Bookfest; thank goodness we have some other enthusiasts in the organising team because this isn’t a job for one person.

As coordinator of our local Society of Authors branch I get to work with another group of charming and talented writers.

As tutor of the Chapel Arts creative writing group I’ve had to take the lead in organising our two performances for this year’s Buxton Festival Fringe on 7th and 17th July, but again I have committed and talented people with me and we’ve designed two programmes of good and varied material.

Finally (apart, that is, from trying to write books!), I’m very much involved in the forthcoming Massive Autumn Book Launch Event run by Fantastic Books Publishing. This has required me to record online conversations with other writers, promote our various books, and of course to read and review a fair selection of my fellow-authors’ output.

Speaking of which…


Review: On the face of it, The Star Protocol is a run-of-the-mill science fiction book, the sort of novel that my late wife described as “Cowboys and Indians in space”. It’s a quick, entertaining read if you like plenty of action (sometimes rather bewildering action) involving battles, imagined (and by current knowledge implausible) technologies, and time shifts.  However, if you look below the surface, you’ll find more than that. The sometimes tongue-in-cheek use of almost every known sci-fi trope tells you that you’re in the hands of an author and illustrator who know exactly what they’re doing. More importantly, the story is more character-centred than plot-centred, which elevates it well above the level of “Cowboys and Indians in space”.

Once you’ve recognised this, you realise that under the rapid-fire narrative there are reflections on the ethics of government bodies that protect “public safety” and of the possible impact of artificial intelligence on culture. There are parallels with our familiar contemporary world, so as in all the best sci-fi (and fantasy) literature the story serves as social and political critique.

It isn’t my usual choice of reading, but I’m glad I read it. And let’s be honest – I enjoyed the fast-paced storytelling.

Simon and Ramon Marett, The Star Protocol, Fantastic Books Publishing, 2019; ISBN: 978-1912053148





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