Dortmund

• March 26th, 2015 • Posted in All posts, News & events

This is me at Dortcon, with the other guests of honour, artist Lothar Bauer on the left of the picture (a man of few words, who says his pictures speak for him: we are flanked by two of them here) and fellow SF writer Karsten Kruschel on the right.

Dortcon pic

As with Sferakon last year in Zagreb, I was a little daunted in prospect by the idea of attending a convention whose primary language would not be English, but (also as with Sferakon) I was made extremely welcome, people put themselves to a lot of trouble to make sure I was included, and I had a great weekend.  Special thanks to Arno and Gabi (my main hosts), Michael who first suggested inviting me, and Gregor who acted as my interpreter when one was needed (making me feel like some kind of international statesman, as he murmured into my ear.)

I know a huge amount of work and worry, over a long period of time, goes into planning these events, which most attendees (including me) don’t really see.  What I see, and most attendees see, is a little peaceful island, where gentle and imaginative people can gather for a couple of days of conversation and friendship and playfulness.

This was my first real visit to Germany. Fascinating listening to German spoken all around me.  Perhaps because, from an early age, my sisters and I were cared for by German au pairs, I’ve always liked the sound of the language.  I find it musical, where many English people find it harsh, and could quite happily just sit and listen to its cadences, even if I didn’t have someone to interpret.  The tantalising thing about it is that, though I can’t understand it, it’s so obviously a close cousin of English that I can’t quite let go of the idea that, if only I tried hard enough, I could.

It’s interesting how every country has its stories, its past events, it’s preoccupations, which it must keep going over and over, just as individuals have events in their own lives that they must visit and revisit over and over: the old DDR and what had happened to it when Germany was unified, for instance, was clearly one such topic, even more than twenty years on.

My fellow writer and guest of honour Karsten grew up in the DDR.  He told me all SF in the DDR had to depict a socialist future (so as not to violate the Marxist creed of the inevitable triumph of socialism).   When he studied for a PhD thesis on dystopian literature, he had to have special permission to look at George Orwell’s 1984, which was held in the university library but was forbidden to the general public.  He had to go to a special room to read it.

Now to me, that sounds like a scene from an SF novel in itself.

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Dark Eden en Francais

• February 13th, 2015 • Posted in All posts, News & events

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I’m delighted to say that Dark Eden will come out in French on April 2nd. The book will retain the English title.  This is the rather striking French cover design, which I see as the dark planet Eden against the brightness of Starry Swirl.

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US cover for Mother of Eden

• February 13th, 2015 • Posted in All posts, News & events

Here’s the cover for the US edition of Mother of Eden.   The story is set on both sides of the sea which Eden people call Worldpool.

 

Mother of Eden US cover

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The Holy Machine for 99p!

• February 3rd, 2015 • Posted in All posts, News & events

The kindle version of the Holy Machine is available this month for 99p.  Good God, you’d pay that for three mouthfuls of coffee!

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Early reviews of Mother of Eden

• January 30th, 2015 • Posted in All posts, News & events

Earlier than I expected, this review from Steven Shaviro*, which I noticed this morning, was the first I’ve seen of Mother of Eden.  He likes it.  Phew!  The book is due out late May/early June, in US and UK editions.

This evening I find there’s another review  (also positive, I’m pleased to say) from Speculiction here.

(*He wrote a longer piece about Dark Eden here.)

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Sola fide

• December 3rd, 2014 • Posted in All posts, News & events

A new story of mine, ‘Judgement’, appears in a new anthology, In the Empty Places, published as a fundraiser for the Bantuan Coffee Foundation, a charity which helps victims of child prostitution and trafficking in Indonesia and elsewhere.

The story imagines what it would be like to discover that we lived in a world where the Protestant theological principle of sola fide was literally true, so that anyone who did not believe in Christ, regardless of their own conduct, really would be damned forever.

It is terrifying to live under a brutal dictator who may torture and kill you if you dare to criticise him, but imagine living under an omnipotent and omniscient creator who is so incredibly cruel that, if you don’t believe in him, he won’t even let you die, preferring to have you tortured for all eternity!

Others will have to judge how well the story works, but it certainly terrified me when I was writing it!

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New Marcher now available as e-book

• August 5th, 2014 • Posted in News & events

The new version of Marcher is now available on kindle.   Paperback will be out in ten days.

aaa marcher cover

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Mother of Eden: revised publication date

• August 3rd, 2014 • Posted in All posts, News & events

Publication date for Mother of Eden has now been put back to Spring 2015.  This will be the publication date both in the UK and the US.

This book has been through quite a metamorphosis since an early version appeared under the title Gela’s Ring (in Tony and Barbara Ballantyne’s online magazine Aethernet.)   I’m very proud of it – in several different respects it’s my best book yet – and I feel confident as I can be that it’ll be worth waiting for.

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Launch of Marcher (new and improved version)

• July 26th, 2014 • Posted in All posts, News & events

The new and extensively revised version of Marcher from Newcon Press, with its striking new cover by Ben Baldwin, will be launched at the World SF Convention in London on Friday 15th August 16.30-17.30, Library (Fan Village).

At the same event Newcon will also be launching: Nina Allan’s new novel The Race, Adam Robert’s collection of essays and criticism, Sibilant Fricative, a new edition of Kim Lakin-Smith’s Cyber Circus, and a new anthology, Paradox.

aaa marcher cover

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My Loncon schedule

• July 10th, 2014 • Posted in All posts, News & events

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I’ll be taking part in several panels at the World SF Convention in London in August (Loncon 3), and my schedule is below.

  • Not with a Bang, but with a Metaphor: Panel, Thursday (14th August) 12:00 – 13:30 Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)

Blurb: From Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, apocalyptic and dystopian futures are a perennial favourite with writers who might be labelled ‘mainstream’ or ‘literary’. Why do such scenarios have an appeal that goes beyond a genre readership? What does a non-genre apocalypse have to offer that a science fictional one might not, and vice versa? Do we all share broadly similar nightmares, regardless of what ratio of science to sensibility we prefer?

Other panellists: Jacob Weisman, David Hebblethwaite, Paul Weimer, Noa Menhaim.

(A few thoughts about apocalyptic stories and their appeal here.)

  •  Through a Hollywood Adaptation, Darkly: Panel, Thursday (14th August) 18:00 – 19:00. Capital Suite 8 (ExCeL)

Blurb: Thanks largely to the ever-increasing number of film adaptations of his work, Philip K Dick is one of the small number of genre authors whose names have been commodotised: “Dickian” is now a shorthand for paranoia, shifting realities and unstable identities, or even for the condition of twenty-first century life in general. But to what extent is this cliché precis an accurate reflection of the breadth of Dick’s work? What other themes and preoccupations can we see in his novels and stories? How far does his influence on modern SF really extend — and what rewards does his work offer to new readers today?

Other panellists: Christi Scarborough, Grania Davis, Malcolm Edwards.

(Some thoughts of mine on this topic here.)

  • Autographing 3 – Chris Beckett.  Friday 12:00 – 13:30, Autographing Space (ExCeL)
  • Kaffeeklatsch.  Friday 14:00 – 15:00, London Suite 4 (ExCeL).  With Kim Stanley Robinson.
  • Launch oaaa marcher coverf Marcher.   Friday 16.30-17.30, Library (Fan Village).  Launch of the new and revised edition of my 2nd novel Marcher, from Newcon Press, along with Nina Allan’s new novel The Race, Adam Robert’s collection of sssays and criticism, Sibilant Fricative, a new edition of Kim Lakin-Smith’s Cyber Circus, and the new Newcon anthology, Paradox.
  •  The Canon is Dead. What Now? Panel, Saturday (August 16th) 19:00 – 20:00. Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)

Blurb: On the one hand, initiatives like the SF Gateway are helping to ensure the SF backlist remains accessible to today’s readers, and an increasing number of “classic” SF writers are receiving the establishment seal of approval in series like the Library of America (Philip K. Dick) and the Everyman Library (Isaac Asimov). On the other hand, the SF readership is increasingly diverse, with fewer readers who have come to the field via those “classics”, and many who find little of value in them in any case. In other words the traditional SF canon is no longer tenable — but the history is still out there. So what alternative models and narratives should we be using to understand the field’s past? Should we be working to expand the canon, or to describe multiple overlapping histories — or something else?

Other panellists: Kate Nepveu, Connie Willis, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Joe Monti

(Some thoughts on this topic here.)

  • Interzone and Beyond: British SF magazines of the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s: Panel, Sunday (August 17th) 15:00 – 16:30.  Capital Suite 3 (ExCeL)

Blurb: Interzone has been a stalwart of the British genre scene since it first launched in 1982, publishing early stories by Charlie Stross and Stephen Baxter, as well as authors from outside Britain like Aliette de Bodard and Eugie Foster. But the past thirty years have seen a number of genre magazines launched in the UK, including Postscripts, Black Static, Infinity Plus, and The Third Alternative. How have they influenced the British genre scene? How did they find their own niches in the UK SF market, and which careers have been launched in their pages? And what is the importance of British SF magazines in an increasingly global and online market?

Other panellists: Wendy Bradley, Malcolm Edwards, David Pringle, Gareth L. Powell.

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