Oct. 19th, 2016

I'm keeping to my once a month update, and this one has been busier than most. Though it seems I've said that most months this year...

Highlight of weirdness as the book launch for "Thirty Years of Rain". It's an anthology of stories to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers' Circle. Or the GSFWC, as it's called in most places, or The Circle, as past and present members tend to call it.

I found out about the anthology the day before submissions closed, tossed off a quick 2,500 words or so, and was gratified when it was accepted. For one thing, it put me in the same book as some lovely people, including, for the first time, Bill King, who's been my best friend since the early 90s.

I went slightly meta-fictional, setting the story in the Bon Accord (a popular haunt of the Circle) in the late 80s, at the time I first thought I'd try my hand at submitting to the Glasgow Herald Short Story competition. It was my take on what those days felt like, and if I have been supremely upstaged by the final story in the collection (a superb long tale called "The Circle" a fiction on writers' circles and on friendship and on soap opera) then there's no shame in that.  It's no small thing to say that joining the Circle changed my life - as well as the aforementioned best friend, I met my future ex-wife through the group, as well as the best boss I've ever had and some people who still hate me, or love me, or couldn't give a damn one way or another.

It was the time of William Gibson books, of mirror-shades and 72 hour drunks in off-season hotels, of loving well if not wisely, of turkey shoots and combat Twister, of growing up, eventually. In 1993 I left Glasgow for Newcastle to get married, trailing clouds of something behind me, and for a long while I took a certain pride in being the black sheep of the family.

Fast-forward 23 years, and I was in the same room as Barry, Al, Mike, Jims S and C, Craig and Elsie, and we were talking again about stories. There were many others there, some of whom I've met since 93 (Neil and Brian and Elaine for a start, and Neil, who apparently I met outside an Amanda Palmer gig, long ago) and a long list of absent friends, Bill and Gary, Phil, Veronica and Irene, and, most of all, Duncan, who started the ball rolling.

We looked, I think, much the same. Well, some of us have acquired gravitas (or, at least, gravity) but some really have mastered the art of stepping outside the timestream - I'm looking at Elsie Donald, Craig Marnock, and Hal Duncan. Hal looks elegantly wasted, of course, but he's looked that was since he was 17.

I signed books. I drank a little wine. I let the years drop away, and I reassured a somewhat bewlidered girlfriend that these were my tribe. And that most of them didn't bite.

Don't look back, the laureate says, but I did, and I didn't turn to salt.

I'd say goodbye to them, the jokers and the thieves, the heroes and villains, the happy and the sad, but they aten't dead, they haven't gone. There are new members now, bright eyed, bushy tails, flourishing their barbed tongues and sharp eyes like unrusted weapons. I salute them, pass on the baton, and reflect that it there's one thing you can say about a Circle it's that it keeps on rolling.

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