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Just a quick recap of the previous news hits that sat on the original site…

29.10.2009 :: News about another competition entry, a brand new short story and two book reviews for Deathray
Prize and shine. Earlier this year a duo of Drozbot targeted short stories –
plus one more mainstream piece – headed off for entry in the prestigious Bridport Prize http://www.bridportprize.org.uk/. Included in this submission was “The Herdsman”,
which you can read here on the site alongside two new pieces, “Valet of the Lost”
and “Pullover”.

I’m still none the wiser if I’m any richer or enboldened by a sense of pride and achievement, but I do now have some space to update Drozbot. As such, please find collected here a compact vanity piece called “Lightning Wing” along with two more reviews from the pages of Deathray magazine. I do hope that between them they provide some level of entertainment.

30.01.2009 :: A fresh and slightly moist short story, two reviews for Deathray magazine and some nice words from Aesthetica
Deviants and desires. Another year and, seemingly, another annual update to the site – must try harder/see me etc. Limp excuses aside, I did manage to end 2008 on quite a creative high. As such, some fuel for a few relevant news pieces here, plus the occasional nudge towards pertinent sites.

Initially I put a few tentative pieces on Deviant Art as a test bed for hauling some traffic towards Drozbot. This was followed by the creation of two short stories. One is still doing the competition rounds and will feature here later, while “Old Boy Wetwork” the second tale about a paternal secret society can be found among these pages.

The rest of the year was dedicated to reviews for Deathray magazine – two more of which feature here. Their publication kind of makes up for the lack of traction in my search for a suitable agent. Kind of…

The highlight, however, was the selection of “Hidden” as a finalist in Aesthetica’s 2008 short story competition – http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/. The story is currently on the shelves in WH Smiths and Boarders in the magazine’s 2009 annual. And feedback from the organisers can be found in the erm… Feedback section. So, not a bad ending to a difficult year of professional and financial uncertainty all told.

Finally, my thanks to Nick Ryan – http://www.nickryan.net/. It’s amazing the spur to creativity a small amount of interest and support can generate. Till next time.

27.01.2008 :: Two new short stories along with two new reviews
Double bubble on stories and reviews. Far too long I realise, but let’s just say that 2007 had its own set of distractions and challenges. That said, I did find some time to write. However, my output ended up being slightly sporadic and, paradoxically, both unfocused and targeted at the same time.

The unfocused elements came in the form of another entry to SFX’s Pulp Idol competition, along with a rather protracted editing of one of my earlier pieces. As a result, “The Indifference Engine” and” Mr Tesla’s Timepiece” respectively receive their first airing here. I say “unfocused”. What I actually mean is that the majority of my writing output has been channeled into reviews for Death Ray magazine. (Update 29.07.2011 – now defunct as well.) It’s a cracking title that definitely offers a left-field take on the various ‘pulp’ genres. As such, I’ve included a couple of my early reviews as a taster.

Finally, my thanks, once again, to Louis Savy for a second invitation to the Athur C. Clark awards at the launch of the Sci Fi London film festival http://www.sci-fi-london.com/. It was a stimulating evening, as ever, and seeing John M Harris waltz away with the prize more than made up for Kim Newman being unsociable at the bar. In your debt once again Mr Savy. All the best for April 2008.

And that, dear readers, is that. Other than to say that my good lady, Jo, is convinced 2008 will be a special and creative year. So here’s hoping that this is the first of many updates.

19.02.2007 :: An all new addition to the creative section in the guise of Little Boy Blue, plus Sky Blue (aka Wonderful Days) receives the Drozbot review treatment
Did the last seven months seem short to you? I’d like to say that both the newest arrivals to the site were born out of a torrid struggle between creative urge and pervasive block, but I’d be lying. I wrote them both an age ago and the usual fallow period prior to the editing process just dragged on, and on and… Well, you get the picture. They finally arrive here now for your appraisal.

As far as background goes for the story… “Little Boy Blue” was originally a hopeful entry to SFX’s http://www.sfx.co.uk/ Pulp Idol competition. Its failure to generate any interest there could well be reason enough not to post it on Drozbot. But, after a few subsequent rereads, I think it still has something to offer despite its sketch-like nature and brevity.

Away from the world of scribbles, I’ve just received two of my all time favourite pieces of science fiction (Camp Concentration by Thomas M Disch and Replay by Ken Grimwood). Both of these lost delights returned courtesy of Bookmooch http://bookmooch.com/ which is a brilliant point driven literary exchange site.

So, all in all, a bit of a quiet start to the New Year, but just enough of a spurt of interest to keep the creative juices from complete stagnation.

Till next time, farewell!

14.07.2006 :: The short story “La Cucaracha” receives its first airing here alongside all new book and film reviews
Season’s Heatings! It’s been a hectic few months since my last update but somehow – in between ligging my way into the Arthur C Clarke Awards (see below), weeping over the World Cup and changing jobs – I’ve managed to pull a few things together for this update.

First out of the sweltering word bag is a reworked short story called “La Cucaracha”. An extended sketch in its original form, it now finally appears here as a more structured piece. Hopefully you’ll find it of interest.

Keeping it company are two new reviews. Hector Christie’s thought provoking ‘The Final Curtain Call’ reignites the flames of direct action in an apathy laden age. Conversely, Robert Altman’s ‘Quintet’ gets an altogether chillier reception both here and over on The Encyclopaedia of Fantastical Film and Television www.eofftv.com. A few of you asked after the exact location of the Save the Green Planet review on Kevin’s superlative site. So here’s the direct link as the piece appears under its Korean title:

http://www.eofftv.com/eofftvreview/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=261:jigureul-jikyeora-2003&catid=2:science-fiction&Itemid=13

Finally, I just wanted to dedicate some space here to a couple of worthy causes both genre related.

I mentioned earlier that I attended the Arthur C Clarke Awards in April – where the ever gracious Geoff Ryman won the judges’ approval with ‘Air’. Anyway, the award ceremony was held in the Apollo Cinema, Regent Street as part of the Sci-Fi London Film Festival. Master of ceremonies for the evening was the charming Louis Savy, and my ticket was thanks to his kindness. Many thanks Louis for making a small dream a reality.

If you like your Sciffy in celluloid format, then this festival really is a must:

http://www.sci-fi-london.com/

And last, but by no means least, comes Gillen & McKelvie’s gripping new comicbook mini series, Phonogram:

http://www.kierongillen.com/

“In Phonogram, any of the ways music can affect people are treated as magical events.”

I really can’t recommend this highly enough.

20.02.2006 :: A folio of winter scribbling resulting in the biggest update to Drozbot since its inception
Well, I had hoped that the winter months would lead to an upswing in my output and, in all honesty, I’m pretty satisfied with the result. Gathered here for your consideration are two new book reviews, two film reviews (more on these later) and an all-new short story.

Opening the show  is a review of Ricardo Piglia’s Money To Burn, followed by Guiseppe Genna’s darkly prophetic and conspiratorial In the Name of Ishmael.

Next up are two sci-fi film reviews currently being hosted over on Kevin Lyon’s excellent Encylopedia of Fantastical Film and Television. The site is like an Internet Movie Database for fanboys, and I’m delighted that Kevin is up for including me as a contributor. Read reviews for both Casshern and Save the Green Planet here, or head over to Kevin’s site via:

www.eofftv.com/

Last, but not least, is “The Herdsman”. It’s an entry to Writing Magazine’s annual ghost story competition and concerns a haunted livestock farmer coming to terms with the culling of his stock by MAFF during the recent foot and mouth epidemic.

So, that pretty much wraps it up for the opening post of 2006, except to say a heartfelt thanks to all of you that supported me throughout 2005.

19.10.2005 :: Two exceedingly fresh reviews posted onto the site today, along with an all new short story

It’s been a while I realise, but the joys and tribulations of a holiday and house move have taken precedence. Anyway, roll on the dark months and an increase in productivity as autumn officially kicks off with not one, but two new book reviews and a short story!

First up, an appraisal of the re-release of A Merritt’s The Moon Pool. Once famously described by James Blish as being “almost unreadable”, the question remains whether a work such as this is worthy of a pedestal in the pantheon of SF ‘classics’.

Next we have a much more up-to-date examination of John Meaney’s Resolution – the concluding part of his excellent Nulapeiron sequence. So, if you really want to discover if Tom Corcorigan finally figures out the sound of one hand clapping, feel free to dig in.

There’s also a fresh creative posting for those that are interested. “Identity” is a cautionary, near future tale written in response to the current farcical introduction of biometric ID cards in the UK. If, like me, you like being as informed as possible about any governmental assaults on our civil liberties, then do check out the following sites:

www.no2id.com
www.liberty.co.uk

They’re both well worth a detour.

Finally, on a news front, there’s the recent discovery of the SciFiction archive on the US SciFi Channel site. (Update 29.07.2011: sadly now defunct.)

If you’ve got a networked palm PC, or Blackberry or WAP phone then I suggest you bookmark this site. Not only are the stories of a consistent high quality, but they’re also presented in a PDA friendly format. Needless to say, my daily commute to work has become a whole lot more tolerable.

05.07.2005 :: Brand new short story and book review now featuring on Drozbot.com
So here we are again. ‘Streetwise’ is the latest creative addition – another previous entrant to Science Fiction Writers of Earth which arrives here in a slightly extended/revised format.

And accompanying it is another review for Val Stevenson’s excellent site www.nthposition.com/. I do hope you find them both interesting and stimulating.

05.05.2005 :: New short story, book review and genre links all go up on the site today
‘Dusted’, one of my previous entries to the SFWoE short story competition, gets posted on the site. Additionally, my review of Todd McEwwn’s ‘Who Sleeps With Katz’ has it’s first aring.

I’ve also recently received the latest edition of the Internet Review of Science Fiction. This monthly publication is an excellent net-based repository for SF critical essays, reviews and genre news.

And finally, 2005 sees the return of WorldCon to these shores!

22.03.2005 :: New short story posted on Drozbot.com
The overall intention for this site is for it to become a showcase for my creative writing. But, without some extra texts for visitors to have a read of, that’s a pretty redundant notion. So, for those that are interested, I’ve just uploaded a second short story, called ‘Hidden’.

04.03.2005 :: Science Fiction Writers of Earth post an interview with me on their site
Science Fiction Writers of Earth: What was your first reaction when you received notice that you won our 2004 contest?

J.E. Bryant: Honestly? I grabbed my good lady wife and squealed like an overly excited child.

SFWoE: Tell us how you came to write ‘Delivery’ and a little about the story.

JB: Ubik is definitely a strong contender for the source of the idea. There’s a great scene in the novel in which hero, Joe Chip, argues with a front door that refuses to open for him because he’s bankrupt. You look at that brilliant concept – devised by Dick back in 1969 – then you look at the current trends in home automation and that niggling unease about technology gone wild suddenly transforms into something more ominous.

What I wanted to achieve with ‘Delivery’, and the darkly comic notion of death by furniture, was dip into that part of us that stills distrusts new technology, while dodging any obvious cliches. Gardener, against this backdrop, emerges as our technological ambiguity personified. He’s knowledgeable about programming, but he’s also the kind of technocrat who would read something on the Net about the overuse of coltan in mobile phones, and then refuse to get his handset upgraded.

I’ve always admired tales where oppositions give rise to complexity. I’m not sure if I achieved this with ‘Delivery’, but that’s definitely the sort of direction I wanted to head in.

SFWoE: Have you won any competitions besides the SFWoE 2004 contest?

JB: My mother always likes to recall the day that I won a Cadbury’s poetry prize when I was at secondary school – but I really can’t remember anything about it. One of my first short stories did get placed in a University led competition, which resulted in my reading an extract to an audience in which Hanif Kureishi was the guest of honour. It was a nerve-wracking experience to say the least. Other than those two high points – and now this incredible third – it’s pretty much been a decade of rejection letters.

SFWoE: Is writing a fairly recent endeavor for you, or did you get started early in your life?

JB: Early on, as indicated above. I was lucky to have a run of great teachers throughout my time in education – Jill Pirrie most notably – plus had the benefit/curse of possessing a borderline addiction to the written/spoken word. I think one of my first real genre novels was The Knight of the Swords, which I found in a cupboard after my brother had left the family fold. After that, once the Moorcock switch had been flipped on in my head, there was no going back.

SFWoE: What writing schools or workshops have you attended?

JB: The first course was one on screenwriting, which ran at Birkbeck College in London. It was exactly the kick I needed at that point in my life to drive me back into higher education. From there I went to The University of North London where I had the opportunity to specialise in science fiction as part of my English BA. There was also a creative writing unit there that I signed up to, which had Deborah Levy as writer in residence – obviously a great spur.

Beyond university? Well, about a year ago I enlisted in weekend course hosted by Helen Carey which was hugely beneficial, and I’m planning to attend a writers’ masterclass, with Rose Tremain, at this year’s London Book Fair.

SFWoE: What did you learn or gain from this training?

JB: Way too much to even attempt to list here. The two most influential tips that I find myself coming back to time and time again are: always get to the page (regardless of what bullying/bribes that might entail), and think of your writing as a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

SFWoE: Who are the writers that have most influenced your work?

JB: I find that I can go back time and time again to the likes of Philip K Dick, Ursula K Le Guin, Iain M Banks and Bruce Sterling without ever being overly disappointed. Of late, though, names like Dan Simmons and Neil Stephenson have regularly appeared on my reading list.

SFWoE: What books or short stories are your favorites?

JB: Ursula K Le Guin’s The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, Michael Moorcock’s The Time Dweller and Edmund Cooper’s Jupiter Laughs have all been massive, influential hits in my reading history. I regularly think about returning to all three at some point. Unfortunately, something fresh always keeps turning up and catching my eye. The UK magazine Interzone was, and still is, another big source for new, innovative and amazing tales.

SFWoE: What do you plan or hope to accomplish next with your writing?

JB: Predictable, I realise, but I’ve had some good feedback from a few agents on a proposed steampunk trilogy that I’m currently touting. It’d be great to secure a deal on this and have the incentive to finish it and move on to another project. I’ve also got the first three chapters of another novel pretty much complete, but that’s on the back burner for the time being while I concentrate on getting my website up and running. (It’s www.drozbot.com for those interested, but do bear with us, it’s like a virtual building site at the moment!). Beyond that… Who knows…

SFWoE: What advice would you give to future SFWoE contestants?

JB: Keep at it and don’t be afraid to experiment. Sci-fi’s all about being brave enough to try something entirely new. Even if readers come away scratching their heads and saying, “I don’t get it…” we all still need to push the envelope and create texts that challenge/astound/mystify our audience.

SFWoE: Thank you Jonnie, for this interview. Do you have anything else you would like to say before we close?

JB: Just to say a heartfelt thanks to all of those who have taken the time to read and comment on my short story. Oh, and to wish the best of luck to all the entrants to the 2005 SFWoE competition.

03.03.2005 :: Drozbot.com goes live!
Finally, Drozbot’s all up and running and ‘Delivery’ is the first of my short stories to be posted. I’ve also included a link to some of my book reviews from Val Stevenson’s critically acclaimed site, www.nthposition.com/. Whether you enjoy them or not, do feel free to email me on feedback@drozbot.com with any comments.

15.02.2005 :: Drozbot.com secured as domain name for this website
Increased interest in ‘Delivery’ leads to my securing a domain name and work beginning on the construction of this site – heartfelt thanks, once again, to the technical dexterity of Sajjad Majid. You can also find out more about the site origins and the ideas that will hopefully drive it forward elsewhere on the site.

10.02.2005 :: Delivery wins the Science Fiction Writers of Earth 24th annual short story competition
Out of a field of 143 entrants from around the world, ‘Delivery’ ends up taking first place. (Update: 29.07.2011 – sadly SFWoE no longer exists.)