Thought not. Well, I’ll just talk to myself until someone comes along.
I’m Nicolas, or Nick for short.
I am a lifelong fan of speculative fiction, which is a clunky and not very evocative term that encompasses science fiction, fantasy and horror.
From reading fantasy books at boarding school using no more than the tiny little light built into my cheap casio wristwatch, to having to find additional shelving for my science fiction collection after a move because… how many boxes?? … my love affair with speculative fiction has been a constant companion for as long as I can remember.
Calling out favourites is always dangerous as it has a tendency to polarise opinion and limit perspective, but I think I’m on fairly safe ground when I name Iain M. Banks as the author who made me realise that these genres, often looked down upon by mainstream fiction and relegated to a corner of the bookstore, next to either the children’s books or the erotica, could actually be used to great effect to make you think, to illustrate moral dilemmas, to bring to life stories in a way that didn’t result in empty flights of fancy, but in real characters, embedded into real narratives.
This required subtlety, self-control and a strong hand with characters, because when you get to rewrite even the rules of physics, it is all to easy to lose focus on stories that have real relevance to us today, and unfortunately these strengths were missing from much of what I had been reading for pleasure thus far.
So after crashing into The Player of Games, a book that very much opened my eyes, I stopped reading for a while. I stopped because in comparison, I thought that much of what I’d been feeding my brain from this genre was actually rubbish.
That’s what happens when you pick novels off a shelf because of the picture on the cover or the blurb on the back, or worse, the prominence of the position in the bookshop.
A few years and a lot of research later, I was reading Orson Scott Card, Alastair Reynolds, Neal Stephenson and others. I understood that while there’s still an awful lot of filler material out there, satisfying a childlike urge to wander the stars or solve problems with a wand, there’s also a great deal of extremely solid writing that holds its own against the standards of anything in the broader fiction category. These authors are a small selection of what you’ll now find on my shelf (and in the boxes, and in the garage, and under the bed, and in my ereader).
I started writing this blog for three reasons: