I’ve been away these last few days, and now it’s time for a catch-up. Last week was the third annual Penguin General Bloggers’ Evening, when a bunch of book bloggers and vloggers gathered together at Foyles in London to hear eight of Penguin’s authors read from their latest books.

My favourite reading of the night came from Bernardine Evaristo, who read a hilarious passage from her forthcoming novel Mr Loverman. This was one of those rare occasions when a single short reading was enough to make me want to read everything an author had written – Evaristo was that good. It was also a pleasure to hear Mohsin Hamid read from How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia; I liked the book anyway, but Hamid was an excellent reader who brought it to life for me once again.

Other highlights from the evening included James Robertson’s ominous extract from The Professor of Truth; Jonathan Coe’s amusing scene from Expo 58; and Joanna Rossiter reading the opening of The Sea Change, a book that I already wanted to read, and am now looking forward to reading even more.


Then, at the weekend, it was off to Bradford for this year’s Eastercon. It was good to catch up with people like Kev McVeigh and Ian Sales; to have a proper chat with Nina Allan and Chris Priest; and to meet new people, such as Anne Sudworth (who paints the most wonderful pictures) and Stephanie Saulter (whose debut novel Gemsigns sounds interesting).

I was particularly pleased to take part in the “Best Books of 2012” panel, where a group of us recommended some favourite reads from last year. I went for Karen Lord’s Redemption in Indigo; Lucy Wood’s Diving Belles; and Adam Roberts’s Jack Glass – and I was able to sneak in a bonus mention of Keith Ridgway’s Hawthorn & Child during the audience questions. I picked up a couple of recommendations myself from the rest of the panel: I’ve read Frances Hardinge before, but her latest sounds interesting; and I’m coming to think I should try something by Chuck Wendig.

The BSFA Awards were also announced during the weekend:

  • Best Novel: Jack Glass by Adam Roberts
  • Best Short Fiction: ‘Adrift on the Sea of Rains’ by Ian Sales
  • Best Non-Fiction: The World SF Blog, edited by Lavie Tidhar
  • Best Artwork: Cover of Jack Glass, by Blacksheep

That’s a fine list of winners, a real vote of confidence in people who are concerned for the vitality of science fiction.

Now Eastercon is over for another year, and it’s back to reading (for the time being – I’ll be at the World Fantasy Convention this autumn, for instance). Now my attention turns to the Clarke Award, whose shortlist is announced in a couple of days. And it goes on…