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As a child I lived in Sydney, Australia. I was twelve when we returned to England aboard the P&O liner Orcades. I studied Astrophysics at Newcastle University. I loved Newcastle from the moment I arrived. I loved the university, loved the city and I especially loved the Geordies. I was reading a lot of science fiction – and began to write my own stories and launched the university's first science fiction society.
After that I worked in oil industry in the USA, and was posted to parts of the Middle East and the war-torn heart of Africa. It was both dangerous and well-paid. More than once I came close to being killed - and plenty of good men I knew never came home. I went to remote places like the Rub al Khali and the Congo, and I saw things most people don't see, or ever want to.
In my 20's I travelled to East Berlin and Warsaw, then to Moscow and Leningrad. I took the Trans-Siberian railway to Japan. I worked in Hong Kong and entered China proper as part of a project to develop that country's communications. I took tea with the heir of the last king of Upper Burma near Mandalay, and on the road to Everest base camp I just happened to run into Sir Edmund Hillary. After travelling around most of India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia , I returned home and got a job with the BBC. Four years later, I left the BBC to write.