Patrios in Beta / China Orbital / Daggers

Patrios in Beta

No, not a liturgy, but a milestone; THE PATRIOS NETWORK, the next Brigitte Sharp novel, has now gone out to my beta readers. 

You may recall I started writing it on February 1 – I finished the zero draft (which is my full-of-holes-and-notes version, not fit to be read by anyone) on August 1, and finished cleaning it up into a rough draft for my beta readers on September 1. Whether this is down to amazing coincidences of timing, or simply the spectre of deadlines, is open to debate 🤔

Why has this one taken me so long to write? Well, it’s not actually that long – from start to finished draft in seven months isn’t bad going for a full-length novel anyway, and when you consider that I’ve also been running the writers’ room for a videogame during that time, and thus only been able to spend half of each week on the novel… I’m pretty happy with that speed, to be honest. 

It also demonstrates the benefit of sticking to a daily word count; every day I was working on the book I wrote a minimum of 1500 words. The final word count of the zero draft was 118,000, which works out to 79 days of writing. I happen to know there were some days where I wrote more than my quota, so let’s call it 70 days of actual work. Like I said, I’m pretty happy with that.

(The beta reader draft, as you can see, is a few thousand shorter. The version that will go to my agent and editor after revisions might be shorter still, though that’s never guaranteed as it depends on what exactly needs rewriting…)

Anyway, it’s been a while, so here’s the blurb to remind you what this one’s about:

In The Patrios Network, MI6 cyber-analyst Brigitte Sharp faces her toughest and most puzzling challenge yet. A ‘deepfake’ video of an American politician calling for race war in Europe leads to violent clashes and a growing militia threat on the continent, while Bridge pursues a traitor to Paris with fatal consequences. What do online conspiracy theories, sudden power blackouts, and a Moscow grudge have in common? A night of blood threatens to explode, and Bridge must decipher the network’s dark agenda before time runs out…

Publication is currently scheduled for May 2022.

China Wants to Build a Huge Orbital Solar Power Station in Space

Shades of THE FUSE, the sci-fi graphic novel series I co-created with Justin Greenwood – China plans to test a new solar power technology that could use microwave beams to transmit collected energy from an orbiting platform. 

That solar collection is more efficient in orbit than on-planet, with all its messy atmosphere and whatnot, isn’t news. The tricky part of this question has always been about getting that energy back down to earth. In THE FUSE’s history, the platform’s early days used shuttles to literally transport huge charged-up batteries to the surface, then later developed microwave transmission (leading to the shuttle bays becoming barely-used relics… which was a plot point, natch). Looks like we’re going straight to microwaves if it does happen, though.

(But something tells me the Chinese facility won’t be five kilometres long, home to half a million people, and have its own police force…)

CWA Daggers 2021

Once again, I produced and directed an online version of the Crime Writers’ Association’s Daggers award ceremony. It was hard work, but a lot of fun, and having done it already in 2020 certainly meant this year was less stressful…

Or it would have been if my main computer hadn’t decided to suddenly melt down two days (!) before the event. Cue forty-eight frantic and sleepless hours of troubleshooting, finally figuring out what was wrong, and wrestling it back to life. I literally got it working just a few hours before the Daggers, and wound up running the entire ceremony – including the pre-recorded VT – off a Mac with just 8GB of RAM. Not recommended!

This is where I get stern with you all: MAKE SEVERAL REGULAR BACKUPS. This is a more or less brand new computer, bought late 2020 and worth several thousand pounds, and it still went belly-up. Without my local Time Machine backup I couldn’t have run the Daggers at all. Without my full Backblaze cloud backup, I couldn’t have subsequently restored my entire work data a few days later. You just never know. MAKE SEVERAL REGULAR BACKUPS.

Anyway, that aside 😅 You can watch the Daggers ceremony on the CWA’s YouTube channel:

Don’t Shoot

Ho ho, the puns just keep coming with this one. DON’T, the indie film directed by my friend Iain Lowson (and which I’m exec producing) is shooting principal photography in England this month. 

Monotone. Dull. Normal. Evelyn's existence is all of these things and nothing more – until she becomes aware of a humming noise. It starts to dominate her otherwise normal life. Driven to distraction, she hunts frantically for the source…

Because of the nature of this film – it contains only a single line of dialogue! – a lot of work will be done in post-production. But the shoot should be a lot of fun, too.

(No idea on a release date or festival appearances, yet. I’ll let you all know, of course)

Want to know the future? Ask a novelist

Finally, a story in the Guardian about military initiatives to assemble groups of novelists and futurist writers to predict crises and flashpoints. This actually isn’t new, or even especially rare: it’s been going on for years all over the world. But of course it’s rarely discussed in public.