Nothing Here Newsletter

If the updates here on the website are too infrequent for your tastes, then your best bet is to sign up for the Nothing Here newsletter, which I run with some friends of mine. I think of it as something like a podcast in text form – we share a bunch of interesting links and recommendations, with room for a little conversational back and forth.

If you’re here at this website, then you already know who I am, but let me introduce the rest of the nothinghere team:

We occasionally have guests on board to talk about their projects, interests, et ceteras, and we also have a paid subscription tier for bonus letters – more in-depth reviews, short fiction, weird essays, and other miscellanea. Sign up below, or if you visit this link you can hit the Archive link to get a taste of what it is we do every fortnight.


I’ve mentioned previously that a big chunk of Void Black Shadow takes place within a suitably horrific imperial prison. So, when it was time to come up with something for the blog, I decided to look into prisons of science fiction and fantasy.

In looking for hints of books I could read for the article, I came across this entry at the sf-encyclopedia. It was of limited value though, skewing heavily toward old white guy books, covering a lot of short stories, and including books that merely mentioned a prison but were not really relevant. I don’t regret reading Ian Banks’ Player of Games as it was my first foray into the Culture series, however, the four paragraphs that mentioned prisons were hardly enough to warrant an inclusion in the encyclopaedia, IMHO.

Another book I read, but didn’t end up using was Charles Stoss’ Glasshouse. I mainly left it out because it had a lot of parallels with Hannu Rajaniemi‘s The Quantum Thief, but wasn’t quite as good (again, IMHO). I would go into more detail, but I wrote a whole heap today, still want to work on some other projects, and would prefer it if my brain didn’t leak out of my ears.

Also – I’m not sure if it’s too late, but the most recent free ebook giveaway from the Newsletter was The Quantum Thief, so if you haven’t already signed up, do so now!

Three Years

Today it has been three years since Marlee Jane Ward and I started dating. But I’m not going to go into how we met, our first kiss, or any gross stuff like that, instead I just want to acknowledge how big an influence Marlee’s brilliant Welcome to Orphancorp was on Killing Gravity.

I’ve talked before about my musical influences for the book, and I believe I’ve mentioned in an interview that Akira was also an influence, specifically this scene:

But I haven’t really talked before about Welcome to Orphancorp. When I was studying writing at University, I’d been reading a fair bit of Chuck Palahniuk and writing mostly in the first person. So ten-ish years later when I decided to get serious about writing science-fiction I felt as though first-person was too juvenile* because it was the form I had used when I was writing… well, juvenile shit. But then I read Marlee’s Welcome to Orphancorp and realised exactly how powerful first-person can be. I mean, just look at the excerpt at this link and try not to be lost instantly in that world and in Mirii’s perspective.

When I had a loose outline for Killing Gravity, I still hadn’t decided on a POV, but it was Orphancorp that convinced me I should go with first person (that, and a scene right in the middle of the book that I knew would work best in first), and I’ll forever be grateful to Marlee for that. Without Orphancorp, Killing Gravity wouldn’t have been the same book, and maybe it wouldn’t have been a good enough book to get picked up.

So if you haven’t read it, you really should.

*There tends to be a bias against first-person perspective among a lot of readers and writers. I’m not sure why that is. It could be that it’s often used in YA, so people who deem YA to be beneath them lash out against it, or it could be that people think it’s cheating because the reader can see everything that’s going on inside the character’s head. I think it’s a tool, and like any tool it has its purposes – and if you write it off as either a reader or a writer, I think you’re going to miss out on some great opportunities.

The Structure

You’ll find a new story by award-winning author Marlee Jane Ward up at Slink Chunk Press, The Structure.

Disclaimer: Marlee and I are… close.

An old lady who she thought looked very kind once hit her Mama on the head with a chunk of concrete and twisted rebar. She grabbed their full trolley and took off, with Destiny in it. Destiny jumped out, skinned both her knees and as she cried the lady laughed at her. Lantra cried too. Destiny tried to help by collecting a few bits and pieces on their way home. Mama told her she was a good girl, hugged her and smeared blood and tears all over Destiny’s best t-shirt.

This man looked very dirty and scary and his face was all dirty and peeling. Lantra stared forward as he approached. When he passed the man reached into his sack and pulled out a bottle. He flicked it into the trolley and it rattled in around Destiny’s feet.

“Luck for the day, ladies,” he said, and tipped his hat, even though he wasn’t wearing one. Lantra smiled a tight-lipped smile back at him and Destiny picked up the bottle.

“Thanks mister!” She called after him. She felt good that the man had been okay, but even more assured of her theory. You could really never tell what people were going to be like out here.