Good things: Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

18th Feb Assassins Apprentice PB inddHere’s my spoiler-free, part review, part enthuse about Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb:

I’m a little late to this party as the book came out in 1995 but in this case, better late than never is certainly true.

It’s good.  Really good. Imagine your favourite superlatives and ladle them liberally onto this book. Repeat until thoroughly excited.

Assassin’s Apprentice is quite simply one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. It’s beautifully written, accessible, character driven, nuanced, with a world that makes sense, full of twists and turns.

A word of warning: heart strings are pulled without mercy and things are not always easy for our protagonist so don’t pick this up when you want mindless fun or back to back silly fights.

I’ll definitely be reading the sequel(s) but I’m deliberately going to wait before I do to savour the anticipation.

If you haven’t already, read it!

Pete's BristolCon 2014 Schedule

If you’d like to come see me during BristolCon (or if you want to know where to avoid) this is where I’ll be:

12.00 – 12.45: Interactions. Conventions like Bristolcon are a great place to meet and chat with people you might previously have only been fans of, but sometimes that can be nerve-racking. Our panellists are here to convince you that writers are (often shy) people too, and we’re all fans of somebody! (Programme Room 2)

with John Baverstock (Mod), Claire M Hutt, Jaine Fenn, Peter Newman, David Gullen

12.50 – 12.55: Reading (Programme Room 2)

16.00 – 16.45: Getting Unstuck. A workshop for any writers who are stuck with a project. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or established, at chapter 1 or 100: so long as you have a project you can bring to the group, we can try to help you move forward with it. (Summit 1)

I’m particularly excited about this one but be warned it’s limited to 9 people. 5 places can be booked in advance by emailing programme [at] The other 4 are booked on the day. First come, first served!

18.00 – Writing Non-Human Characters. What are the challenges in writing aliens, robots, fairies and other non-human characters in F&SF? How do you get inside their heads and make them convincing? (Programme Room 1)

with Peter Newman (Mod), Cavan Scott, Pete Sutton, Amanda Kear (Dr Bob), Kim Lakin-Smith

Goodbye Kate

Kate was frightening good at a large number of things, from dressmaking to web design, from tango to medieval history, from psychology to roleplaying. She made a damn good roast too.

Whatever she turned herself to was spectacular, even if that was being late to things. I’ve never been so frustrated and so awed by one person and suspect I never will again.

Kate touched my life in a number of ways. She was the Maid of Honour at our wedding, an enthusiastic supporter of my writing (she also set up this website) and was an essential part of Emma’s life.

I know she struggled with anxiety and depression, with food, and often with the outside world. Yet despite that she achieved amazing things and touched a lot of lives deeply.

When I think of Kate, I remember her playing the perfect Fiona in an Amber live roleplaying game. I remember how epic she was running the Split Worlds live game at Nine Worlds 2013. I remember the mischief in her eye when Emma would finish reading to her and she would beg for ‘just one more chapter’. And I remember her hugs. She gave great hugs.

Goodbye Kate.

From left to right: Phil Tozer, Andrew Munro, Kate Harding, Me, Emma Newman, Daniel Singer, Amanda Henriques, Matt O'Connell

From left to right: Phil Tozer, Andrew Munro, Kate Harding, Peter Newman, Emma Newman, Daniel Singer, Amanda Henriques, Matt O'Connell

Tea and Jeopardy 27 – A chat with Gail Carriger

teaandjeopardy_300This week Gail Carriger visits the Tea Lair to talk octopi, archaeology and interesting food.

You can find it here.

If you’re interested in supporting Tea and Jeopardy and would like to join the Order of the Sacred Teacup, our Patreon page is here.

If you’d like to catch up on old episodes, there’s a full index here.



Tea and Jeopardy Episode 26 – A chat with John Hornor Jacobs

teaandjeopardy_300This week the wonderful John Horner Jacobs comes to the tea lair to talk smoking, the things we’d forgotten that were in Ghostbusters and being a musician. Also features chickens, a familiar looking tea lair and disrobing.

You can listen to it here.

If you’re interested in supporting Tea and Jeopardy and would like to join the Order of the Sacred Teacup, our Patreon page is here.

If you’d like to catch up on old episodes, there’s a full index here.


Pete's FantasyCon 2014

Last weekend we went to FantasyCon in York for fun and frolics.

York is a long way away*. Luckily Emma and I shared the journey there and back with Joanne Hall who came prepared with chocolate éclairs to get us through the dark times…

We arrived a day early which meant we were able to enjoy a little of the city, including the splendid Ghost Tour, which is run by a very dapper gentleman with top hat, cane and gorgeous voice who also happens to be the father of one Alasdair Stewart.

My, what a high ceiling this  room has.

My, what a high ceiling this room has.

Friday saw me doing a reading and moderating a podcasting panel with the lovely Stephen Aryan, Alasdair Stewart and Emma Newman. It was the first time Em and I were on a panel together and I’m happy to report that both dignity and marriage survived the encounter intact.


Lee Harris takes his duties as con organiser very seriously...

Lee Harris takes his duties as con organiser very seriously…


There was also Karaoke which featured more than its fair share of amazing performers**. Probably the less said about my involvement the better…


This picture is ripe for a caption competition.

This picture is ripe for a caption competition.






Saturday night was the first ever live Tea and Jeopardy show which I couldn’t have been happier with. Emma was amazing, Toby Whithouse (our guest) was a really good sport and the audience, well, they were simply splendid. Special thanks to Marguerite Kenner and the Redshirts who looked after us so well that night.***




Photos by the amazing Annie Catling

Photos by the amazing Annie Catling


Latimer also did the scoring for Just a Minute, hosted by Paul Cornell and featuring Kate Elliott, Stephen Gallagher, Gillian Redfearn and Frances Hardinge. They were absolutely brilliant.


And for the first time I got to attend Super Relaxed Fantasy Club! Despite the late hour it was packed with lovely people. Well done to the SRFC grand wizards Den Patrick and Jen Williams for organising and to those who read for our pleasure: Laura Lam, Edward Cox (whose new book The Relic Guild is out VERY soon!), Niel Bushnell and Emma Newman.

Sunday there was just time to see a couple of panels before going to the awards banquet and ceremony. I had a thoroughly good time at the former and thought that Paul Cornell did an excellent job of running the ceremony despite technical support that was so bad it was bordering on comic. Big congrats to all the 2014 winners!

In summary it was a great con****.


*About 240+ miles or 5 hours in a car.

**Juliet Mushens and Andrew Reid, I’m looking at you.

***And throughout the con. The Redshirts were amazing.

****There’s so much I haven’t said. Panels, readings, and Charlaine Harris’ voice! I could listen to her all day.


Tea and Jeopardy Episode 25 – A chat with N K Jemisin

teaandjeopardy_300This week, the brilliant N.K. Jemisin comes to the Tea Lair to talk conventions, computer games and cartoons. Also features books, an AI and some funky chickens!

You can listen to it here.

If you’re interested in supporting Tea and Jeopardy and would like to join the Order of the Sacred Teacup, our Patreon page is here.

If you’d like to catch up on old episodes, there’s a full index here.



Where I'll be at FantasyCon 2014

And, as if by magic, the FantasyCon schedule has arrived! Here’s where I’ll be:

Friday 5th September

6.00pm – Reading

7.00pm – Podcasting for beginners
What makes a really good podcast? Which are the ones you should be listening to? How can you make your own?
Peter Newman (m), Alasdair Stuart, Emma Newman, Jennifer Williams, Stephen Aryan


Saturday 6th September

7.00pm – Tea and Jeopardy with Toby Whithouse
Join the Hugo-shortlisted podcast team of Emma Newman and her butler Latimer, as they grill Guest of Honour, Toby Whithouse. Warning: Contains mild peril!
Emma Newman, Peter Newman, Toby Whithouse

I also hear rumours that Latimer is going to be here (as scorer):

8.00pm – Just a Minute
Our resident quizmaster, Paul Cornell, hosts this classic panel gameshow.


I’m going to be attending the banquet and awards ceremony on the Sunday as Emma is nominated for two British Fantasy Awards! I’m also quite fond of banquets.

MegazordCon (aka Nine Worlds 2014 and Loncon3) Part 2

Here’s the belated follow up to part 1 as I got a little distracted by other things yesterday.

As you may have heard, Nine Worlds 2014 was a lovely convention. Full to the brim with a wide variety of things to do (from geeky crafts, to geeky food, to Waterdancing classes, to books and films and makes room for a bit of real science too!) all tied together with bows of inclusiveness and ribbons of fun.

I got to meet lots of new people, went to a brilliant talk about Black Holes*, did my first public reading of The Vagrant, and met the Goblin King.

In fact, the event was pretty much perfect so long as we don’t talk about the food prices or the lack of service in certain parts of the hotel…

Regardless, I’ve booked to go back next year, and by the sounds of it, so have a lot of other folks. And I’m already looking forward to it!

I used to think of Nine Worlds as a large convention but that changed when I went to the Excel Centre for Loncon3. It was huge! Like Death Star huge. Even the ten thousand or so attendees didn’t manage to clutter the place. Everything I went to was well attended, and whenever a big name was involved, people were packing every available space.

I had minimal commitments during the convention which meant that I spent most of the time talking to people, catching up with old friends, making new ones and generally failing to go anywhere I’d planned to go. And it was glorious!

Between the marathon bouts of socialising, I had my first panel, was interviewed on camera, and had a great time at the new peoples greeting session on the Friday, which was packed for two hours with people making friends. Lovely.

The Hugos are classy. You even get a fancy ribbon if you lose!

The Hugos are classy. You even get a fancy ribbon if you lose!

And there was the Hugo awards. They were amazing. It’s been a long time since I’ve needed to dress up for anything and I must admit I rather enjoyed doing it again. Our category was announced early so we didn’t have to stew for too long. We didn’t win but we came fourth! Not bad for a podcasting whippersnapper.

I have to say, that I was really proud of the results. Every winner was deserving, every speech dignified (and sometimes funny) and overall, the message was one of inclusivity.

Yay us!


*I'm now pretty sure they do exist.

And then the misogyny kept coming.

WARNING: All links in this post are upsetting either in their use of language or content.

So I was all set to write a post about how wonderful and inclusive Nine Worlds was this year and about how the results of the Hugo awards made me feel genuinely proud and hopeful.

But frankly, I’m finding it hard to hold onto that feeling under the sheer onslaught of misogyny flying around the web at the moment.

Whether it’s in politics where women are being talked about in the most bizarre manner.

Or in the games industry, where Anita Sarkeesian expresses an opinion and is sent death threats.

Or in responses to book reviews. Where again, a woman expresses an opinion and is called a c***.

The thing that links these examples for me is the thread that women are not being seen as human beings. Somehow, in our culture, we are sending the message that if a woman makes a point, not only is it okay to shoot them down but that it’s okay to do some with a deluge of offensive, hostile, degrading language.

That if they dare to voice an opinion it’s entirely okay to threaten them with assault, to sexually threaten, to talk about disfiguring them, or slitting their throat.

It’s not okay. It’s sick and wrong.

And I can’t believe that it’s even necessary to say in this day and age in a so called civilised society. I mean, isn’t this obvious?

Isn’t this just idiot level being a human?

Apparently not for people like Michael, who thought that this was an appropriate way to debate the merits of a computer game. Not life and death. Not even a major change to the law or to somebody's standard of living.

A computer game.

If Michael owns a dog, I doubt he’d use the kind of violent, hate filled language that he does in this message.

I nearly didn’t write this post. I think a lot of other better educated and more affected people than me have already spoken out. But then I couldn’t stand the idea of my silence being taken for compliance.

And even as I write this, I can see more examples. Like the one where a woman is punched in the face at the Notting Hill Carnival because she asked a man to stop groping her.

And I don’t even know where to start on what the  World Congress of Families are doing.

It makes me sick.