May 2017 Update
by Duncan Lunan - 10:58 on 22 May 2017
May 2017 Update
So much has been happening that I haven't written a blog since August 2016. To start with the big news, Linda and I are emigrating. She's returning to southern Ireland, and taking me with her! We're being helped by Safe Home Ireland, whose task is to smooth the path for returning emigrants. We are moving to Clonakilty in County Cork, and we've now been accepted on the waiting list for housing. That may be a long wait so we're going to move in October this year, for various practical reasons, putting our books and furniture into storage meantime if need be. I'm gradually winding up my commitments: I'd already resigned as Chair of the Troon Writers Club before the move came up, and I've handed over the Chair of the ACTA SCIO charity to Gerry Cassidy.
We were in County Cork last month on a fact-finding visit – Linda loves Clonakilty, but I've never been before. It's on a tidal inlet on the south coast, two km from the sea, and strategically placed between Cork itself (which has a flourishing astronomy society and a space faculty at the University) and the Dark Sky preservation area in County Kerry, which is reckoned third best in the world and is featured in the June 2017 issue of Astronomy Now. There's lots of live music, and a big writers' club, two stone circles nearby and lots of other things making the location a good choice – plus being in Ireland, there will be opportunities for both of us which don't exist here. We'll miss being right next to the sea as we are here, and the different aircraft going in and out of Prestwick, and the new friends we've made since we came to Troon – but if I'm going to make a big step like this, this is the time to do it, because I'm fit and healthy and at 72 in October, I can't guarantee that will last for ever.
Still I have hopes of a long run. My mother died last year, sad to say, but only a few days short of her 103rd birthday, and then due to a fall. My father died at 94, in 2005, but then he had been shot three times in World War 2. Just how that came about was one of the issues that have delayed my putting the family history on my website till now. I grew up with the story that he'd been shot at point-blank range by a machine-gunner whom he then killed with a grenade – but the one time he talked about it himself, he said it had been with a middle distance with a machine-pistol, which does seem more probable, and his opponent was then killed by a friend of Dad's. At any rate we've now put the whole family story up there on www.duncanlunan.com/familyhistory.asp, all the way from Robert the Bruce. As part of a general update we've also updated my 'Science Fiction' section and the 'Elements of Time' one, and put up a special link for people looking for the spurious 'Black Knight' story which continues to haunt me, 43 years after its beginnings in inaccurate stories about me in the Daily Mail and Time Magazine.
Meanwhile, on the writing front, in September last year Shoreline of Infinity published my time-travel stories as "The Elements of Time", illustrated throughout and with a colour cover by Sydney Jordan, and adding 'Galileo at the High Frontier' to the collection published as "With Time Comes Concord and Other Stories" by Gary Gibson in 2012. Shoreline also plan to publish "Starfield", the anthology of science fiction by Scottish writers which I edited in 1989, going into paperback after all this time! The launch date for that is set for August 31st 2017 and it will be at the RSAS Barassie Works Club in Troon (4 Shore Road, KA10 6AG), where we had the "Elements" one.
At the same time we shall be publishing Issue 4 of Space and Scotland magazine, edited by Gerry Cassidy and myself, featuring all aspects of Scottish space and astronomy affairs. The origins of this idea date back to a project which was tried by Andy Nimmo in the Scottish branch of the British Interplanetary Society in 1962, and has been tried in several different forms since. ACTA SCIO, the educational charity which Linda and I set up in 2011 to handle the renovation (now the reconstruction) of the Sighthill stone circle, is funded by another Scottish charity for the first four issues, by which time we hope to have enough revenue from advertising to continue. We're producing it in 32 pages with a print run of 5000, which was completely taken up for the first two issues, with Issue 3 now in preparation. You can find Issue 1 online at
The Astronomers of the Future Club continues to meet on the last Thursday of the month in the RSAS Barassie Works Club (address above). We have a growing attendance with new members at every meeting, and speakers booked through to the end of September, funded by our grant from South Ayrshire Council, with adequate funds to carry on, to the extent that we may have an extra meeting in June. But I haven't booked speakers beyond September because so far, nobody has offered to take over the Club after we leave. If it has to close, it will be the first time I've ever had to shut a Club that was in such good shape, and I really hope someone will come forward.
Meanwhile I've continued writing critical and space notes for the Jeff Hawke Club, which has now achieved its target of four books with publication of "Earthspace", containing the first five 'Lance McLane' stories which were never reissued as 'Jeff Hawke', and "Jeff Hawke Junior", with the four alternative Hawke stories which appeared in the Junior Express and Express Weekly in the mid-1950s, drawn by Chris Jack and Ferdinando Tacconi. Vol. 10 No. 2 of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos is now in press, and reprinting the full run of the strip should be completed in three more issues. You might think it would all get simpler as we approach completion, but in fact it gets more complicated. As far as I can see, the final count of Sydney Jordan epsiodes peaks at over 10,200, considerably more than previous estimates.
I've continued reviewing SF and occasional fantasy for Interzone and Shoreline of Infinity. For Concatenation I now review mostly nonfiction, but I did make an exception recently (by request) for "Babylon's Ashes" by James S. A. Corey. My astronomy column 'The Sky Above You' still appears monthly in Troon's Going Out and The Ayrshire Post. Wyldwood Radio Magazine is no more, but the quarterly version now appear regularly in the Space and Scotland magazine and irregularly in Jeff Hawke's Cosmos. After dredging up still more items from my past, in clearing the decks for our move, my total count of published articles is now over 1350.
Lastly, after removal of the Sighthill stones in April last year, there should be news before long about the start of reconstruction. Keep watching for developments!