Thursday 21 January 2021

Anthology giveaway.

Here's the roll - if your guess was within 1 of 870 and I've not mentioned you - let me know.

There were several people within 2 of the right answer and I've randomly selected two of those: Mel (from the comments on this blog post) and Ewen Daynes (from the comments on the Grimdark Facebook group). Nobody guessed the exact number. But Derek Schmidt (from the comments on the Grim Oak Press Facebook group guessed 871).

I need to free up some shelf space and I have duplicates / spares of quite a few anthologies - so I'm giving them away.

I'm giving them away in three groups of three. I have stories in 8 of the 9 collections. I will sign the ones I'm in.

Group 1 - Hardback edition of Unfettered III from Grim Oak Press + Paperback edition of Blackguards from Ragnarok + paperback UK edition of George Martin's Wildcards #26

Group 2 - Hardback edition of Unfettered (I) from Grim Oak Press + paperback edition of Legends II (from the Gemmell Awards) + paperback UK edition of George Martin's Wildcards #26

Group 3 - Hardback US edition of George Martin's Wildcards #26 + hardback ARC of Unbound from Grim Oak Press + Heroes Wanted.

I will be rolling three ten-sided dice to generate a number between 000 and 999. All you have to do is guess the number. The 3 people who get closest will win the three groups of books. You can comment here to enter or on any of the social media posts I make about this.

So, if this was my roll then the guess closest to 743 would win.

NOTE: If you win and you are outside the UK I'm going to ask you to paypal me the cost of postage (& to the US this could be around $15). I don't do this when I'm giving away books I've written, but these only contain traces of Lawrence.

The contest will end on Saturday 30th of January.

- it's worth pointing out that if you're commenting here anonymously ... I might have trouble letting you know you've won 😅 - drop an email address in your comment if you're not going to see the reply, or just give your guess on social media

- if I'm unable to contact a winner within a week I'll move on to the next person.

Good luck!


Monday 18 January 2021


I wrote this piece on aphantasia for the Guardian last year.

I thought I would reference it here and elaborate somewhat. There seems recently to have been an explosion of people realising this is how they are - I won't say that they "have aphantasia" as that makes it sound like an illness or defect.

One early report on the - again I won't call it a condition - state of being was on the BBC and demonstrated a profound lack of understanding. It included such statements as:

Ironically, Niel now works in a bookshop, although he largely sticks to the non-fiction aisles.

"I couldn't really imagine what it's like to not imagine, I think it must be a bit of a shame really."

I doubt that anyone who has read my books thinks I would stick to the non-fiction aisles or that I can't imagine...

The misunderstanding lies in the fact that visualisation is such a central part of most people's imagination. For many the seeing of images in their head is synonymous with imagination. But aphantasia isn't a disability or lack. Think of it in terms of taking a different path to the same destination.  

There's literally nothing that the majority of people can do that an aphantasic cannot. It's simply a matter of how they describe their own internal workings / experience when doing it. That's why it took so long to be recognised. Most aphantasics don't know that their internal experience is any different from that of the 98% who see mental imagery. 

Various thought-provoking questions have cropped up over the years when considering the matter of artificial intelligence. One of them is to consider a black box that when asked a lengthy series of question responds in a way that leaves you unable to distinguish its answers from those of a person. The question then is: is the source of those answers intelligent, irrespective of the manner in which they were generated? I.e it could contain a phone through which a person was responding, or a computer coded with an AI algorithm, or a cunning array of clockwork, or a trillion ants working collectively, etc. Most consider that if a device provides feedback indistinguishable in character and quality from that of known intelligences then it would in fact be intelligent.

The extension here is that if someone acts as though they have an imagination then ... irrespective of the mechanics behind it (or the subjective description of the experience generated alongside those mechanics) ... that person has an imagination.

I can't visualise a spade, but I know what one is and I call a spade a spade.

Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #Prizes #FreeContent 


Monday 11 January 2021

My reading in 2020

I've not done well in 2020 reading-wise and managed a poor (even for me) 9 books this year, down on last year's above average 16. 

I know some bloggers devour 200 or even 300 books in a year. I've no idea how. But I do like the fact that I can remember what happened in the books I've read, and I doubt that would be possible if I read ten times as many.

Here's my reading in 2019. I've been doing this a while so you can step back quite a way.

As ever, every headline links to my review of the book on Goodreads.