Micheal Cobley

Interstellar Tactics




David Wingrove's Chung Kuo Redux

Just a shortish update/recommendation for you on the epic future history of The Whole Damn World known as Chung Kuo, written by David Wingrove. The original 8-book saga was published in the UK by New English Library between 1989 and 1997 (and was also issued by another 18 publishers throughout the world). I knew David from letters and exchanges that took place during my frantic/manic Shark Tactics days, and was lucky enough to be in on the ground floor when his 1st Chung Kuo volume, The Middle Kingdom, came out. I was immensely impressed by David’s grasp of character, his meticulous and consistent world-building, and his ability to present a huge story across many storylines, all set against an epic backdrop.

I stayed with the Chung Kuo series to its star-spanning end; it was and remains practically a masterclass demonstration of the orchestration of characters and events, of human drama, flaws and nobility.

And it pleases me enormously to know that the epic of Chung Kuo, now revised and expanded, is due to be republished by Quercus Books. The saga will consist of 19 books, the first of which will be a new prequel to the entire story, showing how our world turned into the world of the 7 Tangs. The first volume is due out in May 2009 (just 2 months after your humble author’s newie, Seeds Of Earth) and will continue every few months until the final volume appears at the end of 2012. I would unreservedly recommend David’s work (including his partnership with Brian Aldiss in the Trillion Year Spree), so keep yer eyes peeled for it!


Since a lot of people seem to be reading this page first, I thought I`d provide a link to a later posting on Chung Kuo, which is


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  1. ms amy Says:

    September 22nd, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    19 books? The eighth was a disappointment even admitted by david wingrove himself.

  2. rockitboy Says:

    September 23rd, 2008 at 9:56 am

    I have it on good authority that DW is doing quite a bit of revision. Oh, and its coming out as 19 books due to each volume published in 2 parts.

  3. technobabbler Says:

    December 4th, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Yes, book 8 sucked. No I haven’t read book 8 as I found that the original publisher wasn’t going to pay for book 9, so David Wingrove had to add them together.

    However Quercus Books is allowing David to finish his work, so his fans will finally get to read the true end.

    HURRAY! Quercus Books has David Wingrove’s newest book, ‘When China Comes’ and we should see it late next year. Also he is working on a new Chung Kuo series.

  4. Jewell Says:

    January 14th, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Will there be a big gap between releases? I hope not. I’d love to get them all at once so I wouldn’t have to wait until 2012 for the entire set.

  5. rockitboy Says:

    January 14th, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    I think the plan is to publish a book every 5 or 6 months. Shall investigate.

  6. Gabriel Gonzales Says:

    April 18th, 2009 at 4:01 am

    As I understand, “When China Comes” will be available in the UK in May. How will those of us in the U.S. get our hands on a copy? Will it be sold by the American Amazon.com? The reason I’m concerned is because I haven’t seen it advertised anywhere, even though it’s due out next month.

    Oh, and David Wingrove does explain why book 8 was so weird. I can provide the website address where he explains it if anyone’s interested.

  7. rockitboy Says:

    April 18th, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I have had a couple of conversations with the great man hisself recently, and it turns out that the republication of the Chung Kuo saga, beginning with the prequel, will now take place next year, perhaps late spring 2010. Got that straight from DW. When that does come about, I imagine that there shouldnt be a problem about sourcing copies, either via Amazon or Ebay.

  8. Gabriel Gonzales Says:

    April 21st, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    Oh…okay. Thanks. I was pretty relieved two years ago when a man named Bob Newell who is also a friend of David Wingrove posted David’s explanation regarding book 8 on his website. For the previous 9 years I was actually afraid that David had been in a car accident or something because after writing all of those critically acclaimed books, he seemed to have disappeared.

    Thank you for the update. I don’t mind waiting another year as long as I can look forward to reading the upcoming books sometime. Whenever you talk to David again I would definitely appreciate you asking him whether Quercus is also willing to eventually publish the time travel epic that David wrote.

  9. Dave Says:

    April 24th, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I’ve heard from Quercus that Atlantic Books in the UK now have the ball for publishing the set. This falling down, or lack of interest, on Quercus’ part IS discouraging.

  10. rockitboy Says:

    April 24th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Can’t really go into details, but I urge you not to be discouraged. Matters are afoot.

  11. Dave Says:

    April 24th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    See? Even the most cryptic remark can raise my spirits!

  12. Gabriel Gonzales Says:

    April 27th, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Um……are you David Wingrove? If you are, OMG! You’re my favorite living author (my favorite dead author is John Milton)! I’ve always wanted to thank you personally for writing the Chung Kuo novels. They are such a breath of fresh air from all of the politically correct tripe we’re always inundated with from the entertainment industry. The story is very disturbing in a good way. That is, it makes people THINK! One of my favorite scenes in the entire saga is when Li Yuan asks his father, “Are we good men or evil men?” That scene just totally puts the reader on the spot with a question that is VERY difficult to answer. Many stories (and especially movies) are very condescending in that they make a good guy VERY good and a bad guy VERY bad so that the audience don’t have to struggle with any moral dilemmas. It is a huge compliment you have paid to your readers’ maturity level to constantly present us with moral dilemmas in your books. Please continue to do so.

    Your time travel epic sounds AWESOME! From your letter on Bob Newell’s site I gather that it revolves around chess the way Chung Kuo revolves around weiji. I cannot WAIT to read it!

    Anyway, I guess I just made an ass out of myself if you’re not David Wingrove but just another fan who happens to be named “Dave.” Thanks for reading all of this anyway, though.

  13. rockitboy Says:

    April 27th, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Gabe – if I were DW, I would be a better writer, betcha! I have known David since about 1987 and he has been a great source of inspiration to me, both personally and professionally (in that his work is, as I’ve said before, a masterclass in writing). As I hinted above, some seriously major developments are in the offing, including a net-tastic website which DW hopes to get up and running by the autumn. And that will the global infohub of the Wingrove Milieu, for all your Chung Kuo needs!

    afterthought – ah, right, I see, you were replying to the guy above whose handle is ‘Dave’. No, he’s not DW either.

  14. Dave Says:

    April 27th, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Smile. No, I’m not, but want to be when I grow up.

  15. Gabe Says:

    April 29th, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Of course. Well, I guess I should have figured that out.

    Anyway, Dave (who’s not DW after all), do you mean to tell me that Quercus has reneged on the deal? That sucks! Are these books EVER going to be published!? I really want to read that time travel epic that DW wrote.

  16. rockitboy Says:

    April 29th, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Gabe – when the announcement is made, you’ll see that recent developments were not reneging on deals. Arrangements and finalisations are in hand – blimey, I`m trying to tell you without telling you, y’dig? Also, DW is very hopeful of getting a deal likewise for the Roads To Moscow time-travel novel, which I confess to having read in an early draft, and it was stonkingly good then!

  17. jewell Says:

    May 1st, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    i can’t wait. hopefully there won’t be anymore delays.

  18. Gabe Says:

    May 2nd, 2009 at 4:41 am

    Hmm……what I ‘dig’ is that you’re privy to some good news that you’re just not able to share quite yet. I’m okay with that, because the important thing to me at this point is that the news actually is GOOD. I can’t wait to hear it.

    Do you want to know how I first found out about DW? I was in a book store several years ago and found a novelization (you guys in the UK would probably spell that with an ‘s’ instead of a ‘z’) of the video game ‘Myst’ that I was quite impressed with. The sequel entitled ‘Book of Ti’anna’ completely knocked my socks off, and that’s why I decided to give the Chung Kuo novels a try. By this time book 7 was already mass marketed in paperback. Furthermore, I was a student in the University of Washington (majoring in China Studies, of all things) on my summer break. I basically slept all day and stayed up all night for weeks just reading one book after the other. Imagine how deeply I delved into the story, without time elapses between the first seven novels. I was glad when I finally got my hands on book 8 a while later, but the developments in that volume were a little disappointing.

    I really want to see how DW will mend the bad plot twists for Chung Kuo, and I REALLY want to read Roads to Moscow. I’m a lot more familiar with chess than I am with weiji. Hopefully it will get published sooner rather than later.

    Thanks again for keeping us fans abreast of the developments.

  19. chiwito Says:

    May 24th, 2009 at 2:25 am

    I gather from other book-industry websites that the switch in publishers wasn’t directly a consequence of Quercus’s lack of enthusiasm, but was fallout from the departure of the Cheathams [I prolly got the spelling wrong]{corrected}. Is it now certain that Atlantic is the new publisher? And that they will commit to the 19 book deal?

    Also, I originally discovered Chung Kuo because I am such an avid collector of any fiction which has scenes of the game of go/weichi. I’m also a big fan of epic political stories, whether in the science fiction genre or mainstream, so that is what kept me engrossed, but the go referencs are what originally brought it to my attention. Perhaps those of you who know Mr. Wingrove or have read the unpublished work could let me know whether any of his other work mentions the game.


  20. rockitboy Says:

    May 24th, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Assuming all goes according to plan (and as far as I am aware), Atlantic Books do intend to publish the full 19 book sequence, which will include the prequel, formerly entitled ‘When China Comes’ but which I am reliably informed will now be called ‘Son Of Heaven’.

    As for GO in any of David’s other works, he has written a couple of mainstream novels which have no reference, and he also wrote an epic, time-spanning novel called ‘Roads To Moscow’; I was lucky enough to read an early draft and any SF fan with a taste for tales that cross the ages would love it. No mention of GO, as I recall.

  21. Gabe Says:

    May 24th, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    From reading David Wingrove’s letter on the Bob Newell site I gather that Roads to Moscow will center around chess the way that Chung Kuo centered around weichi. I’ve only read his published work. What introduced me to him was his ‘Myst’ books (book of Ti’Ana was the best one).

  22. Gabe Says:

    May 24th, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    So it’s Atlantic Books that have picked up the torch now? Wow, we’ll probably have to wait another year before MAYBE we’ll see a new novel published. Then again, a year from now we’ll probably just find out that we have to wait ANOTHER year due to some other change. Sorry,…I’m not in the best of moods right now.

    To be honest, though, I’m a lot more interested in reading the time-travel epic than the retelling of Chung Kuo. I want to know if Atlantic, Quercus, or anyone else is going to publish Roads to Moscow (as a side note, I think that’s poorly titled…it sounds like some kind of documentary about Russia that one would be forced to watch in a high school history class).

  23. chiwito Says:

    May 24th, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks for the info, Gabe and Rockitboy. I appreciate it. I do like tales that cross the ages, and am hoping just as much as all the other Wingrove fans for the appearance of Roads to Moscow.

  24. jewell Says:

    July 3rd, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    so, everythings gone quiet on the chung kuo front has it?

    i really wish david wingrove himself would come out and clarify what the situation is regarding the republication of his books.

  25. rockitboy Says:

    July 3rd, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Well, the republication process is, er, proceeding on course. I’m not privy to every last detail, but I can say that this is definitely going ahead. Details have been confirmed and yes, paperwork has been, er, exchanged. I`ll see if I can get Mr W hisself to get in here and drop a line. But in any case, by the autumn DW intends to have his own website up and running with updates and teasers and all manner of Chung Kuo goodness to keep y`all happy.

  26. Dave C Says:

    August 21st, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Any more news re the Chung Kuo saga? As a fan first time round I was gutted when May passed with no Chung Kuo book.

  27. rockitboy Says:

    August 21st, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Shall be having a chinwag with the man this weekend; see if I can winkle any definite news outa him!

  28. rockitboy Says:

    August 23rd, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Right, what I can tell you is this – book one of the expanded saga is due for publication next year after June, perhaps late autumn (well, y’know, recession blues etc); all the books will have Ltd Edition slipcase releases, prior to publication in hardback and softback; Dave is still intending to get at least a blog of some kind up and running before the end of ’09, not least because there is a LOT of background and ancillary material he wants to get onto the net for readers and fans of the series. He also told me to say how much he appreciates the loyalty of his readers, and that he will have something much more concrete to say – either here or elsewhere – in about 3 weeks time.

  29. Henry Servin Says:

    September 1st, 2009 at 6:36 am

    It is good to hear that Mr. Wingrove will have a renewed opportunity to have his books read. I was lucky to find his original book 1 in a book store in Jimbocho, Tokyo back in early 90′s. It was a good read then, as it is now. Best of luck to all of us and Mr. Wingrove

  30. Gabe Says:

    October 19th, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Well…um…it’s been a little more than 3 weeks…so is there anything more from Dave?

  31. rockitboy Says:

    October 19th, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Gabe – I know, doesnt time gallop past? – which is quite typical for the publishing industry (for any industry-accounced deadline always add another month!) Anyhow, Dave W tells me that Atlantic/Grove should be about to make a public announcement this week, now that the Frankfurt Book Fair is over for another year.

  32. Gabe Says:

    October 21st, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Oh, I get it…so then this public announcement will actually come in about a week + 1 month, right? (haha)

  33. rockitboy Says:

    October 22nd, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Yeah, something like that. Spoke with Mr W today and he’s patiently waiting for some of the final, FINAL milestones to be completed before real and reliable information can be announced. I can reveal that the Chung Kuo saga will be appearing from Corvus Books, which is an imprint of Atlantic-Grove – you can download their catalogue (which mentions the first volume, Son of Heaven) from this link;


  34. johnc Says:

    October 24th, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Checked out the catalogue – DW is mentioned last page… June 2010 as the release date. Hmm… I really hope and pray this is going to come off… and the web site too.

    Picked up the Middle Kingdom when it first came out… ’89, Swansea University book shop (Taliesin), of all places. Read the back, liked it, bought it. Brilliant.

    I’ve read the whole series a bunch of times… I’d reread all the books every time a new one was released. Didn’t have a major problem with the The Marriage of the Living Dark – yes, it was a bit abrupt – but I liked it. That said, I’m looking forward to a more detailed version.

    As for the pending releases – I want everything: limited edition versions (because I want them) plus paperback reading versions.

    Come on DW!! We are so excited!

  35. Dave Says:

    January 15th, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Nearly three months since last post. Anyone have an update?

    Could 2010 be “the year”?? ;o)

  36. rockitboy Says:

    January 15th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    More recent info on this thread:


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