John Meaney's Blog

May 18, 2018

Where I Write
Anywhere, really, but by preference, right here. See how much I like interruptions when I'm at play. I mean work. (Writing is supposed to equate to suffering. Just for a moment there, I forgot.)

My writing desk looks like this:

With various trinkets that seem appropriate (and yes, that's my oldest and favourite kettlebell at the bottom of the picture):
The red skull came from Naples. There's a trilobite possibly visible in the previous pic that came from Arizona. Not sure I can remember where I acquired all the other trinkets...

I might do something like a cross-posting of this to my newly active Facebook page. Wow, do I have my finger on the 21st-century pulse.

Work is proceeding nicely on Tristopolis Requiem, by the way.

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Published on May 18, 2018 15:30 • 7 views

March 27, 2018

On The Brink
And the paperback is now available too!

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Published on March 27, 2018 14:50 • 19 views

March 17, 2018

A new look at the Cold War
The paperback's not out for a week or so, so I've not mentioned it yet, but I have a new Cold War thriller available on Kindle:

Here's the description:

November 1957: Sputnik circles in orbit. The free world sees a threat of atomic war.

Schoolteacher and former commando Paul Reynolds reluctantly agrees to work for MI6. In East Berlin, scientist Elsa Vadimova, desperate to escape, holds - or can steal - the price of freedom.
A secret from the past, an enemy within, a promise of the future.

... and in writing it, I found so many resonances with today's geopolitics. Also things that the original Cold War thrillers, written in the early 60s, paid little or no attention to: women in technology, also, well, technology, the psychology of East German citizens, the post-war anarchy in Central/Eastern Europe. I had a lot of fun trying to bring the period to life.

It's sort of a heist story...

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Published on March 17, 2018 04:42 • 5 views

January 26, 2018

Roll up, roll up...
I'm not much for this self-promotion thing, but Destructor Function is on special offer at 99p/99c on Amazon until 30th January. If you're a Kindle Unlimited user, then read it for free, along with Edge and Point...

If you want to know what I'm working on right now, this here cover design is a hint:

I'm maybe a fifth of the way through the 2nd draft, and taking it slowly. But yes, Donal Riordan returns...

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Published on January 26, 2018 12:03 • 6 views

January 7, 2018

I live in a Welsh valley these days, but I love travelling and cityscapes can still impress me. The resurgent Canary Wharf is dominated by the world of high finance. Among the towers sits Reuters Plaza, setting for several scenes in Destructor Function. On the building you can see the day's headlines scrolling past.

This is where Case and Dominika learn of the explosion in Oxfordshire.

The dojo where Case trains is loosely based on the old Marshall Street dojo of the late Enoeda sensei, where I was fortunate enough to train every week from February 1989 until sometime around 1996 or '97, when my attendance became spotty due to working at client sites away from home more and more (as opposed to four and a half hours minimum per day spent commuting between my house, some miles outside Tunbridge Wells, and London). That was when I was still working for Europe's largest software consultancy. And getting my first stories and novels published.

Nowadays, I mostly train in my back-garden dojo:

It's a breeze-block shed (in the US one would say cinder block), which means no heating in winter and no air-con in summer, but it suits me just fine.

But if I'm staying in a hotel, then my hotel room becomes my dojo. Or some quiet spot outdoors.. because, as Yoshiko mused back in my first book, it's the discipline you carry with you that makes you feel at home.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Published on January 07, 2018 08:23 • 2 views

December 23, 2017

New book!
And just in time for the holidays, my new contemporary cyber thriller...

Introducing Case.

When terrorists use cyber attacks and lethal bioweapons, who is going to defend you? Keyboard warriors? Intelligence officers? Special-forces operators? More often than the public knows, we need them all.

Sometimes the cyber geek, the spy and the fighter are the same man. Or woman.

When his best friend Fuad commits suicide on his wedding day, it seems unconnected to Case's investigation of cyber intrusion at a NATO airbase. But Fuad was a security specialist at a London bank, and a near-identical suicide inside the Air Force begins a hunt that leads from idealistic hackers in Berlin and Stockholm to manipulative psychologists and organized crime within the Moscow establishment, and a stolen Soviet-era virus without vaccine or antidote. But behind them all lies a combat jamaat, a jihadist group whose first target is going to be London, with a death toll that may eventually reach millions.

Can Case and his formidable senior partner Kat, both operatives of IACS - pronounced Eye-Axe - track down and stop the threat before masses of people begin to die?

... Happy Holidays, and enjoy!
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Published on December 23, 2017 13:39 • 13 views

November 24, 2017

Get the Edge... and Point!
Both titles are now out, freshly revised from the as-by-Thomas Blackthorne editions. Definitely superior. Edge and Point both feature Josh Cumberland. I expect to continue the series, possibly with prequels.

Here's the description for Edge:

Josh Cumberland’s daughter lies in a coma she will never wake from. He can’t help her, but perhaps he can save someone else.

This is near-future Britain: storms, flash whirlwinds and floods. A legalized knife culture. And a missing rich schoolboy, whose buried memories hold the key to political corruption at the highest levels.

Josh is a cyber specialist, ex-special forces and relentless. Can he pull a country and a world back from the edge of disaster?

And two reviews:

“Cumberland leaps off the page, a trained killer whose anger and grief at his daughter's condition is brilliantly portrayed; the depiction of his simmering rage, barely held in check, and how he channels it, provides a masterclass in characterisation.” The Guardian

“What starts off as a simple missing persons enquiry develops into a full-blown coup against a fascist state... Set in a Britain extrapolated from today's violent streets, yet still highly recognisable, Edge is the first in what will hopefully be a long running series.” Total Sci-Fi

Both ebooks are available right now, exclusive to Amazon in order to participate in Kindle Unlimited. Paperbacks to follow. (There's no reason, these days, to delay ebook publication if the paper editions aren't ready yet.)

Since they show as brand new, fresh books, they'll also start off with no reader reviews. Please leave an honest review if you like the books!

Coming soon: Destructor Function, Case Book 1. A Case & Kat novel. If you like Josh Cumberland, I think you'll like Case. And as for his colleague Kat... she's a scary piece of work.

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Published on November 24, 2017 03:16 • 9 views

October 23, 2017

Books are imminent
And so, it begins...

In part to whet the appetite for my new contemporary cyber thriller, Destructor Function, I have two books about to appear in fresh, revised editions. For the first time under my real name, Edge and Point are about to reappear.

There's a thematic similarity here, since the two books featuring Josh Cumberland explore the links between traditional action-adventure (with ex-special forces operators) and 21st century cyber expertise, while Destructor Function, featuring no-first-name Case and his formidable partner Kat, brings the same concerns to the present day.

On the other hand, the political backdrop to Edge and Point seems even more, well, pointed than before, especially the off-stage events in America. The story's setting, though, is near-future Britain, a world of flash floods and whirlwinds and electrical storms, of political corruption and a legalized knife culture, but still a place where people, for the most part, just get on with their lives.

Josh is tortured by family tragedy, and Eric Brown, reviewing Edge for the Guardian, used some very kind words to describing him, including "a masterclass in characterisation".

My new protagonist Case, appearing shortly, is less embattled than Josh, but his mind doesn't quite work like other people's, and that creates a different kind of tension.

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Published on October 23, 2017 11:45 • 14 views

September 21, 2017

Absolute Fave
In lieu of announcements on forthcoming books, but in keeping with the cyber-related theme of the titles that I will be announcing, I would just like to mention my favourite TV show. It's been decades since I enjoyed a programme as much as Halt and Catch Fire, currently in its fourth and final season.

I was hooked by the end of Episode 1, Season 1, when serious-faced IBM executives poured into the offices of the fictitious Cardiff Electric, clearly meaning business. That show got so much right, and never mind the little glitches here and there, like the glimpse of a mainframe terminal running the wrong OS in Season 3. Like the show, one of my forthcoming books includes an incident that owes a serious debt to Soul Of A New Machine by Tracy Kidder. It's been over 30 years since I read it, but I remember it clearly.

Perhaps I should mention that when I wrote my first program, dinosaurs roamed the Earth and pterodactyls were flying overhead. As a physics student at Birmingham, I coded in BASIC on an Open University Univac and the physics department's DEC PDP-11. (There might not have been real dinosaurs, but my jeans had flares and my friends were wearing platform shoes.) My first commercial programming job involved maintaining RPG II applications with data in flat files and program-described I/O on a System/34, while working on the really exciting stuff: the redesign, recoding and migration of the entire enterprise onto the RDBMS and other cool features (for the time) of the System/38. Those were the days.

(Check out my free story, Whisper of Disks. If you'd ever been in an old-school machine room with banks of disk drives, especially alone at night, you'd know exactly where the story's title came from. They whisper like ghosts. I remember them still.)

The terms "IT" and "software developer" did not exist. If you'd said you were cutting code for a web app using a full technology stack, employing continuous integration on build servers, or spinning up new servers in the Cloud, no one would've know what you were talking about.

I wonder what kind of jargon the software engineers of 2057 will be using...
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Published on September 21, 2017 14:41 • 33 views

June 30, 2017

At Our Peak
Al Reynolds and I on the summit of Pen y Fan, the highest point in Southern Britain, June 2017.

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Published on June 30, 2017 10:39 • 38 views

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