So come the end of next week I shall be hying myself hence to fabled Manchester, in search of enlightenment and shantih in the company of wise souls and skilled sensei of the SF Way….which probably will come down sharing drinks with Jim Burns, John Jarrold, Lavie Tidhar, Ian Sales, amongst many, luminaries each and every one! But otherwise I shall be engaged in panel moderating, once on the Saturday and once on the Sunday:
The Stars Are Your Canvas
Saturday 16:00 – 17:00, Room 7 (Hilton Deansgate)
Space opera is arguably the most unconstrained of SF subgenres, encompassing everything from the realism of McAuley’s Quiet War to the exuberance of Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy. How do writers find their own personal sweet spot between spectacle and science, and develop their own language for describing the biggest storytelling canvas of all?
Michael Cobley (M) Ian Sales, Alison Sinclair, Gavin Smith, Tom Toner, Jo Zebedee
Third Rock and Roll from the Sun
Sunday 20:30 – 21:30, Room 7 (Hilton Deansgate)
From Sun Ra and Bowie to Janelle Monae and even Coldplay, SF has cropped up across the spectrum of popular music. What – and who – makes good SF music, at the level of the lyric, the song, the album, or the opera? What do we get from SF music that we can’t get from other forms of SF?
Michael Cobley (M), Gary Couzens, Ruth EJ Booth, Phil Nanson, Dave Tamlyn
Should be a blast!
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Here’s our page in the Moniack Mhor brochure.
This will be taking place in Kiltarlity, near Inverness, from May 14th to May 17th. And there are still places available!
For further information try the writing centre’s Facebook page:
Or their actual website:
Well, from Bradford, host to this years Eastercon, and in fact outside the con hotel Bradford was indeed beset by icy winds, in drastic contrast to the near-saharan temperatures with which hotels bombard their guests these days. This is just a quick HOORAH for Ian Sales who won the BSFA Award for best short fiction for his story, ‘Adrift On The Sea Of Rains’. Huzzah, say I!
Just a little update on my summer and a gander at the weeks that lie ahead. Must admit that finishing The Ascendant Stars (and working on the outline for the next book, more on that anon) really sapped my gumption and other inner resources. Luckily, I did have to hand a couple of games by which I was able to relax those vital backbrain engines and build up the fuel that will be required. The games? – Deus Ex: Human Revolution (which was a wonderful reestablishment of the original game’s mechanics, narrative and pace, updated and augmented with excellent graphics – and a satisfyingly long play-time), and Dead Island (the zombie-apocalypse shooter to end em all! – great combat mechanics and a great melee weapon modification system, and another long game with plenty to interest and intrigue).
Of course, as you`d expect, there are other games on the horizon which will be mine (bwah hah hah), Bioshock Infinity and Skyrim spring to mind, but I may have to put them on hold for a year or so. Because, y`see, I am about dive brain-first into the first draft of a new book! – yes indeedy, another space opera set in the Humanity’s Fire universe and featuring a macro-engineered object that readers wont have seen before (unless I get scooped by some bright spark). Its a biggie, and should be an attention-grabber.
In the short-term, though, y`all can look forward to the publication of The Ascendant Stars in trade paperback edition on November 3rd, and it may well be that I shall be in London signing stock at a couple of book stores – this is not the same as a public signing, I should point out, rather I get to sign the bookstore’s stock of the new book (and possibly of the other ones as well), and a little sticker gets put on the cover of them.
But I suppose if anyone catches me on the way in or out and requests an autograph, how could I in all honesty refuse?
Okay, first off, I’ve known Dave Wingrove for over 25 years, from back in ’86 when I was manically assembling my 1-page Shark Tactics fanzine and mailing it free to anyone in the SF field whose address I could get hold of. So I was there when vol 1 of the original Chung Kuo saga, The Middle Kingdom, hit the shelves in 1989. Well, here we are, 22 years later, and Dave’s mighty epic – now substantially revised, renewed and reloaded! – is being republished by Corvus Books. The 1st volume (being the 1st of two prequel books) is Son Of Heaven, due for publication on March 1st. The publishers were kind enough to send me a reader copy which I at last got down to reading earlier this week.
In terms of the timeline, Son Of Heaven and the next, Daybreak On Iron Mountain, are intended to reveal how the world in 2065 (a harsh Bladerunner-esque near future) changed and became the ice-city world of tiers of The Middle Kingdom.
Most of the book centres on Jake Reed, a futures broker who works in the global VR moneyscape – he witnesses the collapse of the entire financial system and barely escapes London with his life, although everyone else he knows perishes in the ensuing chaos. His escape route takes him out to Corfe where he spends the next 22 years making a new life. The book actually begins at that point, 22 years after the Fall, and delineates a subdued world without phones or connectivity, small communities reduced to a near pre-industrial stage. However the relics and antiques of that dead Western civ are omnipresent, which gives that section of the novel an aura of sadness, like the dying notes of an immense symphony, still lingering on.
The second section is a long flashback, showing Jake’s experiences 22 years ago during the Fall, a global collapse whose instigators meticulously concealed their hand in it. The final section returns to the present, those last weeks before China arrives, building its great cities, covering the British landmass in whiteness. It is seen again from Jake Reed’s viewpoint, and from that of a Chinese general, Jiang Lei, a cultured man in charge of a brutal process designed to winnow down the native British population, to exclude undesirables from those who will allowed inside the massive city. The undesirables are executed.
Other reviews, and the Wikipedia entry, have pointed that the central theme is the clash between unchanging balance and the forward motion and consequences of change – the War of Two Directions. Son Of Heaven’s characters also reveal the division between cultured civility (Jiang Lei) and the authoritarian love of raw, naked power (Wang Yu-Lai) which is a strong component of Chinese establishments ancient and modern. A similar division, between the elite enclaves and the ‘unprotected’ underclass, is also visible in the Britain of 2065, almost as if the West was already moving towards a severely stratified society.
In summary, a terrific, highly readable book with standout characters, a steady build towards an awful, inexorable fate, and an excellent introduction to the Chung Kuo saga.
So the story goes thus – glossy bigpro mag SFX is launching its Summer of SF Reading, in association with booksellers Waterstones, and this glittering evening event is due to take place at Waterstone’s Picadilly branch in London on May 10th, commencing 5.30pm with a bit of multi-celeb signage involving the likes of China Mieville, Adam Roberts, Dan Abnett, myself and others. For some official and more comprehensive info on this event, click on the link below:
And if you’re in town that day, why not pop in and say Slainte!
Always a pleasure, never a chore, got a review in Waterstones’ Book Quarterly mag, and its also in the online version, here -
Not only but also, Waterstones is offering The Orphaned Worlds as part of their 3-for-2 offer. Be the first on your block!
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Super-Wow! – just found out that Seeds Of Earth earned a recommendation by the Guardian newspaper here in the UK, in the Guardian Weekend section of November 28th, on a page titled Gadget Fiends! My book came in at – cough – no 5, baby! Orbit have archived a piccy of it – go hence to gaze and wonder:
Just wish someone had, er, told me about this. See, I get most of my news from online sources these days, rather than buying papers. How cybertastic of me!
I could have added ‘corrupt’, or ‘bought and paid for by private health corps’, but that practically goes without saying in American politics today. The latest bolus of batshit craziness comes from that paragon of lowbrow gruntertainment, Sarah Palin. This excerpt came from a CNN report:
“”And who will suffer the most when they ration care?” she wrote. “The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”
Hot damn, of course! That’s what Obama has been planning all along! I bet he sat down with his advisors one day and said, ‘Y`know, we really need to do something evil, just to make sure Amurrica knows that we can outdo the Bushes at anything…I know! – lets put together a healthcare reform package which rations out treatment and sticks Downs Syndrome sufferers at the end of the queue! Yeah, I can already see our poll ratings rocketing….’
Which is what Palin and the rest of the knuckledragging rightwingers believe, or rather have been stoked and pumped and urged and blanket-hysterialised by Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and the rest to believe. I look and I listen to the frenzied mania over national health provision and I thank god-or-whoevers-in-charge that I live here in Great Britain. Thank god that after WW2 the electorate had the innate rational, good sense to do away with private health, that the Attlee government persisted with enacting the provisions of the Beveridge Report. Here’s a snippet from the Wikipedia page:
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Clement Attlee’s Labour government created the National Health Service, based on the proposals of the Beveridge Report , prepared in 1942. A White Paper was published in 1943 and was followed by considerable debate and resistance, organised by the British Medical Association, with the final BMA ballot in May 1948 showing GPs and hospital doctors in England against the new service. The structure of the NHS in England and Wales was established by the National Health Service Act 1946 (1946 Act) with the new arrangements launched on 5 July 1948. This was driven by health and housing minister Aneurin Bevan. The founding principles of the NHS called for its funding out of general taxation and not through national insurance.
Services would henceforth be provided by the same doctors and the same hospitals, but:
services were provided free at the point of use;
services were financed from central taxation;
everyone was eligible for care (even people temporarily resident or visiting the country).
The NHS is a collective decision, a collective recognition that someone living down the road that you dont even know has the right to free hospital treatment. The right to be cured, the right to be helped, the right to succour. The enemies of Single-Payer in the USA do not want those rights for ordinary Americans. Deluded, clutching their Stalinist fantasies about ‘socialised medecine’ to their chests, these people are the enemies of the poor and the sick, nothing less. Sure, no system is perfect – we regularly hear stories about failures in care under the NHS, but the stories that come out of America detailing the pain and suffering and heartbreaking anguish inflicted on those with no money, or those whose health insurer decide to frak with their lives just to make a buck, makes my blood boil.
And if Obama’s reforms fail? Well, when Gore was cheated out of the presidency I was sure that there would be uprisings, same with Kerry. But, de nada, nothing, zip. And so it probably will be with this – I hope that Americans will not meekly allow the wealthy and their demonic corporations to kick them back down into the gutter. We`ll see.