Tag Archives: David Bridger

Space train – a review

This is not an impartial review. David is my friend, and we’re writing together – a situation I got into because I love his work. I loved Space Train, it’s quite possibly my favourite book of his I’ve read so far.

I have read a modest amount of sci-fi along the way – I’m not an expert in the genre, but I’ve done enough of it to have opinions. This is character driven sci-fi, with the science at a level that seems plausible to a non-expert (me) and doesn’t weigh the book down. I seldom enjoy novels where the ‘hard’ science dominates the story. I’m much more interested in concepts, and this is a book with plenty of those.

What David has done here primarily is to use a futuristic setting in order to talk about tyranny, colonialism, capitalism and the violence that all creates. The Space Train itself carries people fleeing a tyrannical culture, and the story revolves around their experiences as said tyrannical culture goes after them. The cast are a mix of humans and really interesting aliens, and the whole thing has a bit of a frontiers/cowboy vibe to it as well. 

The story is driven by both grief and friendship. Many of the characters have endured loss and trauma in a war that happened before the book starts. There’s a lot in here about how people can support each other through that. The action is dominated by people trying to protect and take care of each other. The plot is powered to a large degree by a cast intent on building community, and there’s a large cast, reflecting that communal feeling rather than focusing entirely on one or two heroes. Different kinds of courage, loyalty and values are explored. There’s also a villainous villain who, had there been a movie version twenty years ago, would have been played by Gary Oldman, or perhaps Alan Rickman.

One of the things that really stood out for me was the way PTSD is dealt with in the story. One of the characters is dealing with a scenario that is so close to a previous horror they lived though, that they are repeatedly triggered. David does a superb job of expressing what happens during that kind of triggering, and how trauma often continues to be very present in a person’s life. As a reader, you can’t tell whether events are taking a turn for the worst or if you’re caught up in a flashback – which is also how that kind of triggering works for the person experiencing it. In terms of PTSD representation, this is one of the most powerful depictions I’ve ever read.

I loved it. If you think space socialism with a high paced plot is for you, then I heartily recommend you check it out.

More on the Publisher’s website – https://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/?ref=spacetrain

Mapping the Contours

Mapping the Contours is a poetry collection from some years ago, which I self-published. I’ve been swapping books with David Bridger a fair bit this year – we’re writing together and getting to know each other’s work has been part of that process. So, this isn’t an impartial review, but on the other hand, as a Druid and speculative fiction author David is very much the sort of person I hope would find my work resonant.

“I became aware of Nimue Brown one year ago, through her non-fiction books, the first one I read for research purposes being her “Druidry and the Ancestors – finding our place in our own history.” I found her mind impressive. Then I read some of her fiction, and found her creativity hugely impressive too.

Then she reviewed one of my novels, and then a second, and then we started talking, and then we became friends, and then we decided to co-author a fantasy series. It’s an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable collaboration in a creative relationship that has grown, and continues to grow, organically.

Now, for the first time, I’ve read her poetry. In her collection, Mapping the Contours, Nimue explores place and relationship in her life along the Cotswold edge. This is her, “…walking myself into the landscape, and walking the landscape into myself.”

It’s remarkable poetry. I read it slowly, then re-read it even more slowly, taking many individual poems in it as either mini-meditations and visualisations, or as starting points for deeper meditations.

I am grateful for this. Opening into my consciousness as it did at first with Nimue’s characteristic humility, it quickly became quite possibly the most meaningful collection of poetry I have ever read.

Mapping the Contours, Nimue Brown, published by the author 2018″

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You can pick up the ebook version for free from my ko-fi store – https://ko-fi.com/s/8e7caa2cfc

Dorset adventures!

I’m delighted to announce that I’m going to be co-writing with David Bridger. Regular readers of the blog will know that I’ve reviewed several of David’s books recently, and am really taken with his work. He’s also read some of my scribbings, and the outcome was a conversation about co-writing. I’m very excited to be working with him, and feeling enthused about where this project is going.

I’m happiest when I’m co-writing. I don’t do well with the author model of disappearing off, alone, for ages, to make something no reader will see for a couple of years. I need my creative processes to be much more interactive, so I thrive when I have someone to write for, and with. It’s also why I put a lot of stuff out into the world – I need the feedback and the sense of involvement.

I expect I’m going to be fairly guarded with the content for this one, but that there will be interesting things to say about the process. One of the many things David and I have in common is that we’re interested in tradition, and in the spirits of places. Which is how we get to a photo of me reading an excellent book of Dorset folklore. Cover by Katherine Soutar, who is a friend of mine. I don’t know Tim Laycock personally, but I’m really enjoying his storytelling style. The History Press, who publish this, are local to me, so they were my go-to starting point.

I spent some time in Dorset as a child, which is an interesting thing to draw on. Those childhood memories have dreamlike qualities. I’ve also read some Thomas Hardy – Tess of the D’urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, neither of which I actually liked. However, in terms of fictional Dorset, Hardy is a force to be reckoned with, so I’m going to dig in and read a few more. He’s also, according to the internet, a very good source for Dorset conjuring traditions. Hold that tantalising thought!

The Honesty of Tigers – a review

In the opening pages of this novel, Ken Jackson dies, and is reborn as himself. He is able to relive his own life with full memory of his first shot at it and to try and fix the things he thinks went wrong. It raises so many questions about what any of us would do differently if we knew how some of those choices would play out. But of course once you start changing things, you no longer really know how anything works anyway.

This is an engaging story about identity and choice, and about what we think we know and how partial that always is. The setup allows us to see multiple versions of the same people, and impressively, this is never confusing! The writing is incredibly skillful, with two closely related timelines playing out side by side for the majority of the book, in a way that always makes perfect sense. 

The story is set, for the greater part, in a Cornish fishing village. The sense of place really contributes to the atmosphere and the character of the book. Further, David draws on a rich seam of traditions, conveying a time and a place on the brink of change. From the 1960s onwards, the fishing fleets declined, taking other traditional industries with them and draining the life from traditional communities. This is handled with a sensitivity that never romanticizes what’s lost but doesn’t encourage you to be seduced by the idea of ‘progress’ either.

For the Pagan reader, there are generations of magical women, traditional herbalism and people who are deeply rooted in their landscapes. This is more in the wise woman tradition than practicing Paganism, and again it’s handled deftly and deeply embedded in the story.

David Bridger is a thoughtful, insightful author whose appreciation for messy, human lives lights up every page. I am entirely smitten with his writing style. If you like books with unpredictable shapes, this has a very satisfying and surprising story, richly emotional and ultimately hopeful.

Wild Times – a review

Wild Times Cover

This book could have been written with me in mind. It’s my first foray into anything explicitly Hopepunk, this is clearly a genre I need to explore.

There’s magic here that I think will work for many Pagan readers. It’s not a rehash of a Pagan path nor is it heavily based on folklore, although there are a few elements here and there. The familiar stuff plays out in unfamiliar ways. This is a fantasy scenario that overlaps the real world, has elements of urban fantasy, and in many ways reminded me of Charles de Lint. Only, this is set around the south west of England, in landscapes familiar to me, which is wonderful.

I love getting to read stories with bisexual and polyamorous characters. There’s a lot of this, but it isn’t what’s driving the narrative. This is just who people are and how they relate to each other and that makes me very happy.

There’s a lot going on in this story – people and places, action and interaction. There’s also a lot of thinking about how to live, what to do, and all of that centers on cooperation. Philosophically speaking, I felt very at home here. This is a book with a lot to say about community and how we relate to each other.

Werewolves on motorbikes. Old gods who show up as strange children. Revenge. Romance. Pirates. Magical otherworldly beings. Ghastly plots that must be foiled. Sinister government agencies. If you like stories in which magical and extraordinary beings are present in our world, and there are thin places that take you to otherworlds, this is a book for you.

I found the writing engaging and I very much want to go and live in the version of reality this book offers. It’s a big book, which I was glad of, it’s been a welcome escape for me in the last week, and I have taken much joy in it. If it sounds like your sort of thing, then I heartily recommend it.

This isn’t David Bridger’s only book, and I hope to be back for more of his work.

More on the publisher’s website – https://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/?ref=wildtimes