Ola dear reader. I’ve just returned from a week in Tarragona, swimming, working on my tan (result: patchy, confusing outbreaks of melanin across arms, calves, nose) and eating too much tapas. Seriously. One night we over-ordered accidentally and the concomittant queso-coma nearly did for me. We also saw lots of lovely Spanish dogs, who, I’m happy to report, appeared well-treated and loved by their owners. Oh, and on the last day, the temperature on the beach was 47.5C. Holy cow.

So that is literally what I did on my holidays. I watched far less Spanish psychic TV than last time, I’ll confess. But on with my gig news!

This week, I have gigs in London:

On Wednesday, it’s Homework! Doors at 7:30pm, Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. The theme is ‘Research’, and I’ll be previewing the first page of my new novel (still ‘in-progress’). There’ll also be new material from Joe Dunthorne, Ross Sutherland, QI Elf Dan Schrieber, and Guardian film columnist Charlie Lyne. Expect journeys into the dark world of research, featuring true stories of goat’s blood, artificial horse vaginas and secret danger-cults at the turn of the millenium.

On Saturday, it’s RAP Party. It’s at the Southbank Centre. It’s a big show of poetry inspired by hip-hop and the related culture, featuring – naturally – lots of tracks. I’m not going to be rapping at it, sadly. Bwah. I know. But I will do a poem and talk a bit about why I love hip-hop, even though I don’t know an awful lot about it!

Don’t forget I present a radio show every Tuesday morning, 9:30am-12. You can listen live online. John Osborne is away this month, doing his Edinburgh show, but I will be ‘holding the fort’, which is a military metaphor meaning ‘to present a radio show solo’.

This Week, I Have Mostly Been Reading

The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2013, edited by Rich Horton. I know I have mentioned this before, but I was only a few stories in! I read the rest on holiday – a really fascinating anthology.

Some of the early pieces felt a bit clunky and exposition-heavy and generally not inspiring, but as I persisted I found some great stories that really felt like lovely, sparkly treats. The Governess and The Lobster by Margaret Ronald was particularly good, and – oh shit, would you look at that, the whole damn thing is available to read, free, online. So you can immediately check and decide whether I’m talking out of my jacksie.

All in all, the Fantasy tended to be better than the SF. Sometimes a lot of space-based SF feels – to me, at least – like a delivery system for some author’s idea for a neat spaceship or means of mining a comet tail or whatever. Great, wow, you had a cool idea. Just write down the fucking idea! Don’t half-heartedly trudge through the motions of draping a paper-thin story around it. This isn’t porno.

But, y’know, Sturgeon’s Law. The 10% that isn’t shit is a bloody joy.

I’m suffering from short story fatigue now, so looking forward to heading back into some longer works. A little more literary fiction would be nice, too. Just for a change o’ pace.