A Foxy Fellow

Growing up the book I read most often, more than my favourite Narnia books (The Magicians Nephew and The Horse and his Boy), more than the Jungle Books whose poems I could recite by heart (and some I still can), more even than the Just So Stories, was Fantastic Mr Fox. It was my quick fix read. Full of cunning and humour and people it was easy to dislike. I grew up on a small holding, we lost our chickens to foxes over a couple of weeks and the whole thing was so messy and upsetting we never replaced them.  Yet this fictional fox was so full of charm and wit and cleverness I was very firmly on his side. I still have my original copy. The cover is missing. It fell off with over use.

As an adult (technically if not always in behaviour) of 35, there are many books I love. Many tales I’ve reread a dozen or more times and every time found something new to surprise and delight me. I still read Fantastic Mr Fox. He is still my favourite literary hero.

The stories in Fox & Fae celebrate the fox for all the wonderful attributes they share with Dahl’s creation. The book also explores the downsides of being beautiful and clever. It also visit the flip side of that, in ‘A Crackling Fart’ for example our foxy fellow’s superiority and cleverness are his downfall as much as his greed. It’s a wonderful collection of stories and I hope someone somewhere will take one of our foxes to their heart as much as I did Fantastic Mr Fox.

Tales of the Fox and Fae will be out this summer in the mean time there are plenty of other Fox Spirit titles out there.

If you check out the rest of the site you will find a small number of foxes caught on camera around the world. Fox photos are by Phil Knott.

You are a Time Lord

I will be attending the Futura event in Wolverhampton this June and it has got me thinking about reading and the appeal of the speculative fiction to me and obviously others. I came to the conclusion that I am a Time Lord and so are you.


I have travelled to other worlds, fought a million battles, won and broken a thousand hearts, lived endless lifetimes, changed age, gender, race, religion, sexuality, even species more times than any Time Lord. I have both ridden, fought and been a dragon. I’ve watched worlds created, pass through their evolution and burn out. I’ve mastered the broadsword and the lazer canon. I have matched wits with Moriarty and I have been Nemesis. I have read.  

Every work of fiction is in its essence a portal fantasy. Every book, whatever genre, offers the reader an opportunity to lose themselves utterly in another mind. It’s more obvious is the fantastic genres than in literary, because who really thinks of someone else’s mundane and slightly depressing life as portal to another world. It is exactly that though, simply by merit of not being your life, your thoughts and your actions. All fiction is fantasy to some degree, but not all fiction is the fantastic! Personally I prefer to zap myself into lives I could never really live, something truly beyond what I could expect to experience in my every day.

It’s a choice too, whether to experience a book immersively or as a spectator.  Some people simply read a book and walk away, but I prefer to fall into it, to let my imagination conjure it around me and to be a part of it for a while. I know a lot of passionate readers do the same.  I think it partially explains the hoarding mentality of many book lovers (this one included). All those shelves don’t just hold wonderful stories, they hold open the doors to other worlds. They allow us to travel through time and space. On the outside they are a few inches of paper, on the inside they contain whole worlds and systems we can visit at will. They are, in short, our TARDIS. You don’t need a madman in a blue box, you need books. With books instead of travelling with a Time Lord you become one.

No wonder so many spec fiction fans watch Dr Who when readers are all Time Lords!