Guest Post: “Love and Hate for 4x4s” by Jon Wallace

WallaceJ-AuthorPicFor those of us who navigate London by tube and bus, it can be easy to resent the city’s Range Rover drivers. The hulking black monstrosities are every bit as staggeringly inefficient a modern indulgence as the plastic water bottle, the sort of thing that makes us throw up our hands and ask: ‘have we all gone quite mad?’

For what good do they do driver or pedestrian? There are no mountains to conquer in London; no swamps or muddy tracks. They bloat beyond their parking paces. They burn through fuel and fume out our streets; and they draw the eye to our unequal distribution of wealth, almost as such as the ubiquitous chauffeured Black Mercedes.

Well, perhaps that’s the point; their presence on the tightly packed, jumble of central London streets could be a willfully calculated offense to those with shallower pockets. Bring on climate change, the drivers seem to say. Drown the riff raff, make it a swamp again, and let us dominate the surface alone! Continue reading

Guest Post: “Writing Exodus, or: How to take on too much and learn to love it” by Alex Lamb

LambAlex-AuthorPicExodus, the third novel in the Roboteer series comes out this month. It was, by far, the most difficult creative project I’ve ever undertaken, and also, probably because of that, the most satisfying. Never have I teared up so much whilst writing, or laughed so hard, or felt such terrible tension. Why was it hard? There were many reasons, both personal and creative. In this post, I’ll do my best to share them.

The most obvious cause of my problems was that I had set myself up with an almost impossible challenge. Before I wrote Nemesis, the book that precedes Exodus, I had made the decision that the trilogy would need to answer the enormous question that I set up in Roboteer:

What is the difference between an intelligent species that survives, and one that wipes itself out? Continue reading

Guest Post: “Write what you know… even if that’s just being an idiot” by Tom Lloyd

Write what you know, it’s the first piece of advice a writer will get. It’s sometimes useful too. After eight years and almost a decade as a published novelist, I was starting a new series and so I asked myself what I’d learned, what I liked and what I wanted for the next few years. But this time round I wasn’t some newbie, I was a wise and skilled crafter of words who utters profound witticisms as he works the room of industry types, right?

Much to my disappointment that clearly wasn’t the case. I was pretty much the same damn fool I’ve always been. Well meaning, stubborn not the cleverest, getting on a bit with something of a food preoccupation – not without some skill but not ever likely to be one of the biggest and brightest stars in the sky. So hey, write what you know? Continue reading

Interview with SAM PETERS

PetersS-FromDarkestSkiesUKLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Sam Peters?

Sam Peters is a writer and a… something else that is kind of hard to pin down exactly but right now is somewhere on the boundaries of a mathematician or a physicist (except not the sort who actually pushes the boundaries of anything new) and an engineer (except not the sort who actually makes anything). The sort of technology middleman who might have ended up on the Golgafrincham second ship if real physicists and real engineers ever actually got together. Right now Sam is something of an expert on Fast Fourier Transforms, which should have everyone zoning out right about now so unless you want to discuss the Cooley-Tukey algorithm and optimization of the Split Radix method let’s talk about something else, quick!

Your debut novel, From Darkest Skies, will be published by Gollancz in April. It looks rather fabulous: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

I’d call it a Science Fiction thriller wrapped around a love story. It’s partly Keon’s search for the truth about what happened to his missing wife Alysha and partly about him coming to terms with her loss and the consequences of where his grief has taken him – the recreation of Alysha as a simulacrum wrapped around an Artificial Intelligence. Keon and Alysha were basically spooks so the truth he’s looking for turns out to be a lot more complicated than he first thinks. A lot more complicated and a lot more dangerous. Continue reading

Excerpt: BLOOD UPON THE SAND by Bradley Beaulieu (Gollancz)

beaulieub-3-blooduponthesandukToday, we have an excerpt from Brad Beaulieu‘s highly-anticipated Blood Upon the Sand, the next novel in his Song of the Shattered Sands epic fantasy series. First, the synopsis:

Second in epic new fantasy series of mystery, prophecy and death within the ancient walled city of Sharakhai, home to the Twelve Kings…

Çeda, an elite warrior in service to the kings of Sharakhai, is learning their secrets even as they send her on covert missions to further their rule. She has already uncovered the dark history of the asirim, but it’s only when she bonds with them, chaining them to her will, that she feels their pain as her own. They hunger for release, they demand it, but their chains were forged by the gods themselves and are proving unbreakable.

Çeda could become the champion the enslaved asirim have been waiting for, but the need to tread carefully has never been greater. The kings are hungry for blood, scouring the city in a ruthless quest for revenge, while Çeda’s friend Emre and his new allies in the Moonless Host are laying plans to take advantage of the unrest in Sharakhai, and strike a major blow against the kings and their god-given powers.

The shifting tides of power are fickle and dangerous, though. The Kings and the Moonless Host have their own agendas, as does the dangerous blood mage Hamzakiir, whose plotting uncovers a devastating secret that could shatter the power of the hated kings. But it may all be undone if Çeda cannot learn to control the growing anger of the asirim that threatens to overwhelm her…

Blood Upon the Sand is due to be published next week by Gollancz in the UK, and DAW Books in North America. Now, on with the excerpt!

Continue reading

Upcoming in 2017… Gollancz & Orion

upcoming2017-orion

A selection of anticipated novels from Orion Books (and imprints).

Featuring: Joe Abercrombie, Dan Abnett, Mark Alder, Brad Beaulieu, Ezekiel Boone, C. Robert Cargill, Steve Cavanagh, Mason Cross, Aliette de Bodard, R.J. Ellory, Emily Fridlund, John Hornor Jacobs, Ursula K. le Guin, Ian McDonald, Andrew Pyper, Alastair Reynolds, Simon Wroe

Continue reading

Guest Post: “On Worldbuilding” by Simon Morden

mordens-authorpicOne of the joys of writing novels over writing for the screen is that your budget is infinite and your imagination is unfettered. You don’t have to worry about the cost of the number of suns your planet orbits around, nor about the practical effort required to have half a dozen alien races, none of whom conform to a basic upright and bipedal morphology, appear repeatedly and interact with your human characters.

In Down Station, when I blew up London – which in and of itself is a somewhat technical task, involving setting fire to the Underground and melting the streets around Mayfair – I needed somewhere for my survivors to run to. That somewhere was Down, which has more in common with Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Julian May’s Pliocene Earth than it does C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. I wanted Down to be both eerily familiar and surprisingly different: you can, of course, read the Books of Down and not worry about what happens under the bonnet, but as the author, that’s exactly what I had to do – open it up and tinker with the engine until I was happy with how it all worked. Continue reading