Minding the Gap: the psychology of space

Monday, 7 October 2019

Space and satellite dishes alex cherney csiro

Minding the Gap: the psychology of space

The psychology of space travel, or at least the psychological effects of short- to long-term stints in the Big Dark, have been extensively studied, but less so the actual psychological value or ‘affect’ of space – beyond the tantalising accounts of astronauts, awed into epiphanic ruminations, or humbled into silence by the vastness, and the fragility…

Ways Through the Maze

Monday, 12 August 2019


I recently attended an interactive storytelling workshop (at the fabulous Phoenix Arts Centre & Cinema). It was connected to an exhibition there (‘Langoors in the Labyrinth’), and the creator conducted a workshop via Skype from India. All a bit strange and disembodied. Which was how it felt, interacting with the exhibit – a darkened room with two large screens which you explored via gamepads.…

Gods Playing Dice

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

1024px traveller books

Writing and RPGs

The classic edition of Traveller, Game Designer’s Workshop, 1977


As a young man back in the spiked, crimped velveteen 80s I spent many an happy hour enjoying sessions of role-playing games (now suddenly fashionable). These undoubtedly nurtured my writerly imagination for it is through them I caught the bug for storytelling and creating detailed scenarios. The three…

Walking On The Moon

Monday, 15 July 2019

Apollo 11 moon landing celebration

This week we celebrate (rightly) the 50th anniversary of the first Apollo landing on the moon - a momentous event in the history of humankind. Not only did it generate the largest TV audience to date, it created a historic moment of planetary self-awareness, a global polaroid, as we saw ourselves collectively, for the time en masse, as a single species on a rare and precious planet blessed with…

Jupiter the Great and the Little Women

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Giuseppe cades juno discovers jupiter with io

Giuseppe Cades, Juno discovers Jupiter with Io


Once there was a great king ...

...at least he was great in terms of his size and ego. He was known by many names but let's call him Jupiter. King of the Gods (he acted like a petulant god so hell he must be!) Jupiter had usurped his father, Saturn (some said killed, but those voices were hushed up) from the throne, and lorded it over…


Sunday, 19 May 2019

2013 09 21 bigeuropa002

In the vast silence of the black ocean a distant murmur disturbs aeons’ old sleep. Eyeless eyes seek the source, incensed at this invasion into its hermetic kingdom. A rumble, penetrating the ice-sheet – a ten-kilometre thick door no one had opened, until now. Suddenly a glow appears in the under-ice. A glowing red eye. Brighter and brighter – burning through the black. A seismic scream. The pain…

A Life on Ice - Read an excerpt from Black Box

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Snow cat

Morning. What counts as such on a chunk of ice in deep space. No way to tell except by the ship’s clock, the sharp trill of the alarm waking him, the vibration of the mattress, then finally, a shot blast of icy air. A scalding cup of coffee delivered to him by Butler.

‘Good morning, captain. Did you have a nice sleep?’

‘Fuck off.’

Grumbling, bleary-eyed, he pulled on his overalls and…

The Art of the Earth: creativity and protest

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Earth global globe 87651

Over the last week in London (and in major cities around the world) there have been an unprecedented number of high profile protests raising awareness about Climate Change and the need for governments to act now - initially by declaring a Climate Emergency. These have been largely co-ordinated by the group Extinction Rebellion, who were formed on 31 October 2018 (2 of the core members are from…

Hacking the Dark

Monday, 8 April 2019

Black box

Tom McCarthy asks: ‘Are all black boxes narrative vehicles? … Has the role of the artist, or novelist, become simply to demonstrate the black box’s existence, bring it to visibility …? Or is this what writers—Melville, Conrad, Sophocles—were always doing anyway? Or is the artist-writer’s role, as Burroughs might maintain, to open up the crypt and hack its source code?’ (2016/2018)  In my novel…

Red Sky Thinking

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Red desert

We need wilderness to imagine civilisation. In the ‘negative space’ of deserts, in particular, absences are telling. The very unpresence of people, and all the fabric of our towns and cities, becomes poignant. We imagine mirages of enticing watering holes, friendly faces, gentle voices, or a helping hand. Our solitude makes us painfully aware of all that we lack, even as we relish the peacefulness…

Apocalypse! (wow)

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

John martin last days of his wrath

The future is over. Through the cliché of the Post-Apocalyptic, it has been strip-mined of meaning. The ubiquity of the teleological narrative in mainstream media – the end-narratives of the ‘end times’ – has created franchises of nihilism, which advocate a political quietism that shuts down hope. In the schlew of P-A movies since the 1970s onwards we have been seduced by disaster-porn: burning…

Rocket Woman

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Spacex ripley

The inspiring success of the recent SpaceX launch – the test flight of the Dragon capsule which will reboot America’s homegrown space programme (since 2011 they have been paying to use Soyuz craft to get to the ISS) – has stirred imaginations. In the year of the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 flight which made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin the first men on the moon, it is small wonder…

New Year, New Horizons

Thursday, 3 January 2019

New horizons

As the Earth completed another voyage around the sun and people across our pale blue dot celebrated the new year in staggered waves of time zones, incredible images and achievements from space convey both a sense of awe and wonder at the majestic beauty and mystery of our galactic neck of the woods, and offer us a perspectival shift, reminding us how tenuous are fragile ecosystem is, and also…

Dream Movie

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

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Dream Movie: visualisation in novel-writing

It has been sometimes said that ‘pictures are better on the radio’. The true could be said for fiction. The problem with so many screen adaptations of our favourite books is the literalisation of the narrative’s ambiguous energies and the corresponding colonisation of our imagination. The vision of each character, each scene – once unique to each…

Extinction Fiction

Thursday, 22 November 2018

A harvard physicist explains why we could be in the middle of the sixth mass extinction

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I don't feel fine…


In my eco-SF novel, Black Box, I ask ‘what will survive of us?’ This goes beyond the current trend in what is called ‘Climate Fiction’ or Cli-Fi, and could be termed ‘Extinction Fiction’. I wanted to look hard into the abyss, but crucially still see a gleam of light – an approach I have defined as Goldendark in my PhD…

NaNoWriMo - write til your fingers burn

Wednesday, 7 November 2018


November sees the return of the annual writing marathon, National Novel Writing Month (https://nanowrimo.org/), an initiative which started in Berkeley, California, and is now followed around the world by legions of enthusiastic writers, hammering out their magnum opus while fuelled by caffeine, chocolate and dreams of movie adaptations... or maybe that was me! For after winning a national science…

Goldendark - a creative resistance

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Goldendark sunset

It has been an intense and busy time here aboard the Black Box mothership. I have been preparing for my Creative Writing PhD viva for the last couple of months, and on Monday it took place on campus at the University of Leicester. I had to offer a robust defense of my thesis: 'The Knowing - a Fantasy: a novel enquiry into creative process, form and genre' (a transmedia novel and critical commentary…

Neil and Me

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Armstrong in aldrins visor

I was born within a month of the first historic moon-landing on 20 July 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down in the Sea of Tranquility, watched by an estimated audience of 600 million people – an unprecedented moment of global consciousness and the culmination of nearly a decade of effort, sacrifice and tragedy: JFK’s 1961 dream come true. And perhaps being in utero, when Armstrong…

The Music of the Spheres

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The music of the spheres iv  the aethon by mrboltzmann d5it9ap 1024x768

Recently, on 29 September, 2018, a concert was held in the Barbican, London, to mark the centenary of Gustav (Von) Holst's suite 'The Planets'. The BBC Symphony Orchestra played each of the seven planets (as were known to Holst) magnificently, and there was a fascinating introduction to each provided by Professor Brian Cox, who compared what was known about the planets in Holst's time, compared…

The Sprinter and the Marathon Runner

Thursday, 2 August 2018

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In writing the first draft of Black Box I tapped into two sides of my writing personality – the sprinter and the marathon runner. With the former, I dashed out 10,000 words for a Literature Works science fiction novel competition, ‘One Giant Write’, a couple of summers ago. The idea had been knocking around in my subconscious, like a billiard ball in zero gravity, for some time. I’d just finished…

The Crowdfunding Model of Publishing

Friday, 27 July 2018

Printing press

The crowdfunding model of publishing as used most successfully in recent times by Unbound and Kickstarter has a long and distinguished history. Formerly known as ‘subscription’ publishing and in its heyday during the 17th and 18th Century, the likes of William Blake, Jane Austen, Doctor Johnson, Mark Twain, William Morris, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, Edward Thomas, and many, many others…

Out of Eden

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

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As part of my research for my eco-science fiction novel Black Box I visited the amazing Eden Project in Cornwall. This inspiring initiative, the vision of Tim Smit, transformed old china clay pits into a showcase for Earth's biodiversity and state-of-the-art sustainable design. At the heart of the reclaimed industrial landscape, now bursting with greenery and fascinating art and displays…

Black Box - a new review

Monday, 25 June 2018

This is a review of Black Box from the insanely talented Tom Brown, co-creator of the awesome Hopeless, Maine graphic novel series and illustrator par excellence. I am sure he won't mind me posting his thoughts on the book here, but do check out his wares via the link below, and his blog also. Much wonder awaits the curious. 

Black Box

Posted on June 19, 2018 by gothicmangaka



Friday, 18 May 2018

National space centre 2 915px

Fancy an author's tour of the National Space Centre? One of the rewards on offer for patrons of Black Box.


Splendid, enticing rewards await those who sign up to this mission to save planet Earth and pledge to support Black Box. Amongst the delights on offer are: original artwork of a character or setting of your choice from within the novel’s story-world; custom fiction based upon the…

Filming in a Nuclear Bunker - new video!

Friday, 11 May 2018

Wanting to create a more atmospheric video to promote the novel, a couple of weeks ago I arranged to film in a remarkable location - a perfectly preserved nuclear bunker high in the Cotswolds, next to Broadway Tower. The bunker is part of the much-loved, ridiculously photogenic National Trust property - the highest point of the Cotswolds. It is one of a network of over a thousand monitoring stations…

First Interview!

Friday, 11 May 2018

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An unusual, but insightful interview - pour yourself a cuppa and enjoy!

Blake And Wight . com Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews


Soup Of The Day with sci-fi author and poet Kevan Manwaring

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats…

Black Box - first review!

Friday, 11 May 2018

Brainstorm 2008

Black Box is a science fiction novel from Kevan Manwaring. It is a text poised to be unleashed upon the world and I think it’s exactly the kind of story we need right now. Set against the backdrop of a dying Earth, the story manages to both square up to the disaster we are unleashing upon ourselves, while refusing to give up all hope. It is, in every possible way, a journey into utter darkness…

The Alien DJ

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Dodgy space themes album

Is it me or am I the only one who finds it hard to separate Sci-Fi from soundtrack? It is almost impossible to think of the opening credits of Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope without the adrenalin-surge of John Williams’ classic theme-tune blasted out to the backstory disappearing to its vanishing point (or Darth Vader and his stormtroopers without the Imperial march); the shock and awe of the…

Under the Ice

Friday, 4 May 2018

Cryobot nasa jpl

In the vast silence of the black ocean a distant murmur disturbs aeons’ old sleep. Eyeless eyes seek the source, incensed at this invasion into its hermetic kingdom. A rumble, penetrating the ice-sheet – a ten-kilometre thick door no one had opened, until now. Suddenly a glow appears in the under-ice. A glowing red eye. Brighter and brighter – burning through the black. A seismic scream. The pain…

Europa Survey Base

Friday, 27 April 2018

Halley vi research station151

Commander Boone killed the engine on the skiddoo and gazed back at the base, a sense of pride filling her. The complex of hexagonal units resembled a carbon ring. The designers had coded into its architecture the building blocks of life. An apt structure for the Europa Survey Base and its search for life on Jupiter’s apparently bleakest of moons. For that to be a sustainable search the crew, vulnerable…

The Sci-Fi Croft

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

​Some background behind writing the first draft of Black Box.

 As I was up in Edinburgh doing research in the archives for a week I thought, what the hey, why not have a Highland fling? But instead of tossing the caber willy-nilly, so to speak, I decided my ‘fling’ would involve a 9-10 day solo writing retreat in a remote croft on the coast of Wester Ross. Boy, I know how to party! Actually, I…

Survival Manual for the Human Race

Friday, 13 April 2018

Things may seem pretty bleak out there at the moment - geopolitical unrest, climate chaos, displaced populations - and threats are real not only to the peace and security of our families and communities but to the very existence of humankind as the dominant species upon this planet. It all feels like The Eighties: the sequel. It was back then, living in the shadow of the Cold War as a teenager, that…

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