All you need is a chainsaw and sentient volcanoes.

It’s funny what sticks in mind. It’s been a busy enough week, we’ve been getting a new flue put in the chimney because we had a chimney fire on New Year’s Eve; the weather has been determinedly clashy and I’ve been trying to get work done both inside and outside the house.

Inside it’s putting together a ‘blog tour’. This is the current approved method of using social media to sell a book. You grab friends with blogs and they host a piece from you saying what a wonderful person you are and what a wonderful book it is.


Here’s one I did on Will Macmillan Jones’s blog to give you an idea.


Honour demands that each one be different and ideally interesting, luring the unwitting reader into parting with their hard earned cash and buying the book.


Outside I’m been trying to get some more hedging done. I finished one hedge, used the stuff cut out of that to fix the gaps in a second hedge and made a tentative start on a third. Unfortunately it’s too wet and slippery to work there. Sliding gracefully into a water-filled gutter whilst wielding a chainsaw isn’t an experience I want.

But it isn’t as if I’m short of hedges that need tackling. So today I decided I’d go and just drop a few thorns in the corner of a field, tidy it up a bit, you know the sort of thing. But when I get there, before I can drop the thorns, I need to get rid of a bit of elderberry. The minute the chainsaw hits the elderberry I realise it isn’t merely rotten, the only thing holding it together is the ivy that has strangled it. So I’m there hacking out elderberry and trying to get rid of the ivy in the hawthorns before it strangles them as well.

And all the while I’m trying to remember about Sentient Volcanoes. You see I’m sure that Jack Vance (The late, great Jack Vance, finest Science Fiction and Fantasy Author of the last two centuries) wrote a story that included them. I can almost picture the story in my mind, but be blowed if I can find it or find any reference to it.

So in spite of the fact that I’m busy, I’m juggling branches and billhooks and ivy and all the while dodging the briars and trying to keep my feet, I keep trying to remember this story about Sentient Volcanoes.

I suppose that this is one reason why I admire Jack Vance so much. He could throw out ideas, perhaps as an incident within a story, or even a story told by someone in a story, and there was just something about it that grabbed you. He’d use phrases or paint pictures that would stick in the mind. So that even when he’s gone, busy people still have his stories running round in their heads as they try to get some work done.

I’m not an ambitious person. I’ve never been particularly turned on by money or fame (and people make a habit of keeping me well away from the levers of power) but if I could write a story which did what his did, I’d think I’d made it. I suppose I’m looking for my own equivalent of his sentient volcanoes.

Don’t know whether I’ve found them yet, you’ll have to read Justice 4.1 (The Tsarina Sector)


But not just yet, it’s not out until March 1st

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6 thoughts on “All you need is a chainsaw and sentient volcanoes.

  1. M T McGuire February 21, 2014 at 8:26 pm Reply

    I love the line about sliding gracefully into a ditch, chainsaw in hand. I also love that you’ve tagged this billhook. People looking to buy a nice billhook on line will get a real shock when they come here. They might buy the book though. Sentient volcanoes…. that sounds like a kind off gaia thing.

    I do enjoy your posts.



    • jwebster2 February 21, 2014 at 8:36 pm Reply

      Youngest daughter put me right on Facebook. They appear in Jack Vance’s Lyonesse trilogy 😉

      But glad you enjoyed it

      • M T McGuire February 21, 2014 at 8:58 pm

        Looks good. I have to read some Jack Vance. Soon.

      • jwebster2 February 21, 2014 at 9:48 pm

        Lyonesse is a good place to start, I think it’s probably some of his best work.

        Incidentally it was used as the background for a roleplaying game in France, (I assume under license)
        and it achieved the distinction of producing a rule book which had the highest nipple count ever achieved in the industry.
        Note that this doesn’t really reflect the books 🙂

      • M T McGuire February 21, 2014 at 11:04 pm

        Now I really am agog!

      • jwebster2 February 22, 2014 at 7:31 am


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