Daughter of Eden

• October 9th, 2015 • Posted in All posts

Daughter cover

The next and final Eden novel will be called Daughter of Eden.   (No publication date has been finalised as yet.)

As in Mother of Eden, the events in Daughter of Eden take place more than two centuries on from the events in Dark Eden, but on the opposite side of the great rift in the human society of Eden that occurred in the original book.

Mother of Eden was about Starlight Brooking’s experiences among the descendants of those who followed John Redlantern.  Daughter of Eden will follow Starlight’s childhood friend Angie among the Davidfolk, the descendants of those who remained loyal to John’s great enemy, David Redlantern.

Angie, who left her home to be become a shadowspeaker, will be present at two cataclysmic events that change the course of Eden’s history.

I think this book is the best thing I’ve yet done.


New interview

• October 9th, 2015 • Posted in All posts, Interviews etc

A new interview here with Science Book a Day, which is run by George Aranda in Melbourne, Australia.  The interview is mainly about Dark Eden .



• October 2nd, 2015 • Posted in All posts

A reader from New Zealand –or strictly a listener: he’s heard Dark Eden and Mother of Eden as audiobooks – writes to me as follows about the story of Eden so far:

I would love to see future development in the relationship
between the colonists and native life, more exploration of the intelligence
hinted at. Less of the nastiness or is it mental illness as a result if the
inbreeding. I know conflict is been used to create tension but it’s not so
inspiring to think the lowest denominators are so easily taking over

It seems to me that there are a number of different approaches that can be taken to the construction of any fictional world. One, clearly favoured by this particular reader, is to be optimistic, to write inspirational feel-good stories about people making discoveries and overcoming adversity. There is plenty of fiction that does just that.

Another, equally valid, is to be pessimistic, and to write stories that warn us about unpleasant places where we might end up if we’re not careful. J G Ballard described his work in such terms.

A third is to be neither optimistic or pessimistic but to attempt to hold up a mirror of some kind to the world we see around us. And this is the approach I incline to. I really don’t think the people of Eden are any “nastier” than the people of Earth. They’re just human, with all the virtues and vices which that implies. In fact, I defy anyone who follows the news to tell me that the planet Earth, taken as a whole, is in any way a fairer or kinder or safer place than the planet Eden!


The high priest of swimming pools

• August 11th, 2015 • Posted in All posts, Other people's books

Whatever else there is to be said about J G Ballard, he is surely the high priest of the swimming pool. Bleached empty pools appear over and over in his work (dating back, I suppose to the empty pools left behind in the international enclave in Shanghai as wealthy expats fled the advancing Japanese). In his hands they are wonderfully and seductively apocalyptic. No one else writes as he did about the glamour of annihilation.

But he has an eye for the full kind too, as here from Cocaine Nights:

Sprinklers sprayed across the lawns, conjuring rainbows from the overlit air, local deities performing their dances to the sun. Now and then the sea wind threw a faint spray across the swimming pools, and their mirror surfaces clouded like troubled dreams.




• July 11th, 2015 • Posted in All posts

I tend to be a bit resistant to the idea that just because something new has been invented, I need to have one, but I have finally succumbed and replaced my old phone with an iphone I bought from my daughter.  One of the main reasons I wanted it was to be able to take photos whenever I felt like it.  Specifically, I wanted to amuse myself by taking photos of the streets around my house in suburban Cambridge, when I wander them at night to walk the dogs.

It fascinates me how easily something familiar can be made strange, simply by putting a frame round it and isolating it from its surroundings.   This house is just down the road from me.  I pass it every day.  And yet in this picture it seems (to my eyes at least) a remote and mysterious place.


Below is a takeaway that’s just round the corner, but when I showed the picture to my wife, shorn of its surroundings, she didn’t recognise it.  Isolated like this, it seems to me to take on a slightly mythic quality, pregnant with possibilities and  meanings.  What is happening in there?  Who is that man?  Whose bike is that?  Whose car?  What is the significance of that strange name?  Yet, I could walk there right now, and it would just be a very ordinary takeaway on a very ordinary street

Double Seven

You could say this effect is a kind of trick.  By making something into a picture we confer a spurious significance on it.  But I’d rather look at it the other way round.  Everything is charged with meaning, with significance, with mystery.  We just don’t notice it most of the time because of the corrosive effect of familiarity.


Launch for Mother of Eden, July 15th

• June 29th, 2015 • Posted in All posts, News & events

There’ll be a launch event at Heffer’s bookshop in Cambridge (my home town), for Mother of Eden, on July 15th, 6.30 – 8.00.   Hope you can come!   Free tickets available via this link.

And here’s a nice review of the book itself from Gareth D. Jones.



I, clawfoot

• June 26th, 2015 • Posted in All posts, Interviews etc, News & events

Here is a guest post I did for Sarah Chorn, who edits a column on SF signal called Special Needs in Strange Worlds.   I am very grateful to Sarah for giving me an opportunity to discuss the people with disabilities who appear in Dark Eden and Mother of Eden (the batfaces, clawfeet and slowheads), as I don’t think anyone has specifically asked me about them before and they are absolutely central to the world of Eden.

In this post, I also reveal that I am in a way the original for the so-called clawfeet.  Which, now I think about it, may partly explain my decision to make the clawfooted Jeff Redlantern very wise and absolutely irresistible to women.

*   *   *

Incidentally, in the post I mention a story (“Jazamine in the Green Wood”) which appeared in my short story collection, The Turing Test.  The collection also includes the short story called “Dark Eden” which provides the background to the novels, and twelve others. (Most people seem to like “Piccadilly Circus” the best, with “Karel’s Prayer” probably coming second.)   So I’ll take this opportunity to mention that this (prizewinning) collection is now available on kindle in the UK at the ludicrously cheap price of £1.99.  Less than a coffee in a cardboard cup.


Mother of Eden ebook problem resolved

• June 20th, 2015 • Posted in All posts, News & events

I’m really sorry that a number of people in the UK who bought e-book versions of Mother of Eden over the last two weeks found that it was defective, with chunks of missing text.  (There’s been no problem in the US as far as I’m aware.)

This problem has now been resolved.  The faulty file has been replaced, and I’m assured that if you bought the e-book in the last few days it will be fine.

If you bought one before the problem was fixed, you will automatically be sent a copy of the corrected version, though I’m afraid this may take a few weeks.

If you still have queries please  email publicity at atlantic-books.co.uk.



• June 10th, 2015 • Posted in All posts

Following on from my previous post and the distinction made by Ishiguro there between literature that is “improving” in the sense of providing “spiritual and intellectual nourishment” and literature that is “improving” in the sense of being a way of climbing up the “class ladder.”   This distinction interests me, and also has some slight tangential relevance for what I’m currently writing (Eden 3), so here is a bit more thinking aloud about it:

I’m aware first of all of an immediate (and somewhat priggish) reaction on my part which says that the first of those two meanings relates to the true function of literature (or other kinds of artistic activity), and the second meaning does not.  “Real art is about improving the soul, not about showing off,” this priggish part of me wants to say.

My second thought, though, is that this initial reaction is similar to that of a Christian who complains that we have lost the true meaning of Christmas.  The celebration of the birth of Christ is actually not the true meaning of Christmas, but is a meaning that has been grafted onto a winter solstice junket that existed long long before Christ was born.  And my best guess is that the idea of art as a form of spiritual nourishment (or the even more recent idea of art as subversion) is likewise a meaning that has been grafted onto a long pre-existing activity.   The status aspect almost certainly preceded any idea of art as some sort of personal exploration by the artist.

For surely it is obvious that artistic activity, even way back in history, was all about status, power and conspicuous consumption?  The paintings in the tombs of pharoahs, the colossal relief carvings of muscular Assyrian kings: these things not only depict the power of these rulers directly, but also demonstate it. Look, they say, I am so wealthy and powerful, that I am in a position to have thousands of skilled craftsmen devote their time entirely to me!

In the same way, the tapestries and paintings hanging on the walls of stately homes demonstrate both the wealth and the discernment of their owners, while the artists who made them would have been almost entirely dependant on those wealthy people’s patronage.  And this extends beyond the visual arts.  The praise poets employed by Anglo-Saxon and Brythonic kings, for instance, demonstrated the power, wealth and taste of their masters, not only by singing their praises, but by the wit, skill and beauty of their verses.

The conspicuous consumption aspect of the visual arts is really no less blatant now than it ever was.   Claims that contemporary art serves some kind of subversive purpose often seem quite ludicrous to me when that same art is snapped up by billionaires for huge prices that are then trumpeted in the media.  (Indeed, in some cases, artists seem to have been granted a kind of alchemical power to turn essentially dull and uninteresting objects into investment opportunities and status symbols.)

In respect of books, music, film, plays, which can be consumed relatively cheaply, the link is a little less obvious: simply owning or consuming them does not directly demonstrate our wealth (unless of course you choose to pay for a box at the theatre: you don’t get much more conspicuous than that!), but it certainly can (as per my previous post) demonstrate how refined, discerning, fashionable or “hip” we are.

I’m not even sure that we can know for certain ourselves whether the “improvement” we seek from a book or an exhibition of pictures is of the first or the second kind.  We humans are such status-seeking creatures.  Just like our closest primate relatives (and most other social animals), we are constantly aware of and concerned about our position in the social hierarchy.  It’s as fundamental as sex, and like sex is all tangled up with our other motives.   You go to some fashionable arthouse movie, say, to be elevated by the cutting edge ideas and the ground-breaking cinematography, but can you really be sure that you aren’t least partly motivated by the agreeable awareness that, unlike others, you possess the necessary degree of refinement to enjoy these things?

I guess, if we can speak about pure aesthetic pleasure (pleasure unsullied, so to speak, by the status-climbing instinct) then the times we can be most certain that we are in its presence, are when we are enjoying something that isn’t fashionable, and that won’t win us status points for being seen to consume it.