Spooky Soup and Science Fiction

I went back to Preston on Tuesday, to the Halloween edition of Word Soup - Spooky Soup!  Terrifying tales were told; spines were shivered.  Jenn Ashworth read from her as-yet-unpublished new novel, Cold Light, and you can read a different extract here, in the current volume of the Manchester Review.  Can't wait to get my paws on the real thing when  it comes out.  (Actually, now that I think of it, she should have finished the novel by yesterday, right Jenn?? ) Amongst other wonders, a local singer/songwriter performed several gory numbers, Richard Hirst gave us a multi-media history of zombies and their liberal-arts tendencies, and Rob Shearman read a story from his new collection, Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical.  Rob's the writer behind the 'Dalek' episode of Doctor Who, a fact which got me and my boyfriend very excited altogether, and I got to bond with him in the pub afterwards by moaning about lots of different things - a fine way to get to know people, I reckon.  We got back to Manchester at about half one on the morning, just to make sure I was nicely brain-fried and hungover for some intense Woolf-reading in the university library all Wednesday.  Fun.

Today, Saturday, I went to another Manchester Literature Festival event, When It Changed, which was the launch of a new science-fiction anthology by Comma Press.  The book, also called When It Changed, is a selection of sceince-fiction stories written by a selection of writers working in collaboration with scientists.  In the anthology, each story has an afterword by the scientist who informed or guided the writer's work or inspiration.  The panel consisted of Geoff Ryman, who'll be one of my MA tutors after Christmas, Patricia Duncker, Adam Marek, who I saw reading at Tales of the Decongested in London last summer (I bought his book from him in the pub and drunkenly demanded he sign it; he was lovely), and two scientists, Dr. Tim O'Brien, an astrophysicist, and Professor Steve Furber, a computer scientist who's designed loads of fancy microprocessors.  Anyway, these two spoke about their research and their interest in science fiction, and the writers read from their anthologised stories.  It was very entertaining stuff; I bought the anthology afterwards and accosted Geoff Ryman to say hello, and then I met some fellow twitterers, Andrea and James, and I think I perhaps saw Elizabeth Baines in the crowd, though it could have been a looky-likey, and there's only so many internet/book people I can accost unexpectedly in one week without giving the world a hernia.

Then I thought that was enough high-fallutin' gallivanting for a while, so we went to Asda, where I ate (possibly) more than my fair share of free sample tubs of Cheerios.  And now I'm watching the Phantom Menace and thinking that it's still bloody awful, when I should be back to reading Woolf.  Procrastination is a fine thing.

Workshop in less than two days.  Gulp.

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