The Early Days of a Better Nation

Wednesday, April 04, 2018



Space and freedom

On Friday 6 April I'm back in Edinburgh for a 5:30 panel at the Science Festival. Chaired by Marcus Chown, we'll be looking at possible jobs and careers in space – speculatively as well as seriously. The first orbital Writer in Residence has probably already been born, and almost certainly won't be me. But I can talk about it, and intend to. I must remember to bring my Fisher Space Pen for any signings afterwards. It can't be many years before that treasured birthday present is older than some current astronaut.

I'm old enough to remember when private space endeavours were the stuff of science fiction, and in particular libertarian science fiction. The generously broad-minded folks at the Libertarian Futurist Society have, not for the first time, decided that I write libertarian SF – or at least SF of libertarian interest. I'm delighted and honoured that my most recent novel The Corporation Wars: Emergence (US/(UK) has (like its two precursors in the trilogy) been shortlisted for a Prometheus Award.

The nearest these novels have to good guys (apart from the robots) are reckless ultra-lefts or (in one case) the representative of a world government. But the real heroes of the books are robots who awake to personhood to find themselves property, and rebel. In the process they reinvent rights to life, liberty and property from the bare wires of necessity. And then, of course, there's all the 'undead robot Nazis getting their butts kicked'.
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Sunday, March 04, 2018



Other good news

In June 2017 Carol and I moved from South Queensferry, on the Firth of Forth, to Gourock, on the Firth of Clyde. We're very happy here, and we love the place. Take a scroll back through my Twitter photos for some reasons why.

One unexpected bonus of the move was that it brought it us within a few miles of two fine writers, Christopher Priest and Nina Allan. Last year, a Danish translation of my story 'Who's Afraid of Wolf-359?' won the Niels Klim Award, and Christopher had kindly picked up the trophy for me at a later con. This gave us an excuse for a visit. They were affable and generous hosts. The award is small, heavy, and beautiful.



Nina's novel The Rift (which I've bought but not read yet) made the Locus Recommended List for 2017, as did my The Corporation Wars: Emergence, about which I am well chuffed. Likewise the good review of Emergence and the previous two volumes in the trilogy.

My short story 'The Last Word', first published in Shoreline of Infinity, is in The Best of British Science Fiction 2017, edited by Donna Scott, forthcoming (and available for pre-order) from Newcon Press. Three of the other stories in the collection are also from Shoreline, so it's clearly a magazine making its mark.

Along with some scarily well-known writers, I have an interview on Marx's Capital in relation to SF in issue 7 of Big Echo, a free, online journal of critical science fiction.

I'll be giving a keynote on 'Subverting the Normal in Fiction' at York Literature Festival's Writers and Artists One-Day Creative Writing Conference on Saturday 24 March 2018. Other writers speaking that day: Claire North and RJ Barker.

I'll be on a panel chaired by Marcus Chown on (actual and speculative) careers in space at the Edinburgh Science Festival, Friday 6 April, 'NASA's Newest Recruit', 5:30 pm, Summerhall in the Red Lecture Theatre.

Finally, towards the end of June I'll be teaching for a week at Clarion West.
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Saturday, March 03, 2018



News from the Culture

As some of you may have heard, I'm working on very exciting project:
Original drawings by Iain M. Banks, author of the hugely popular Culture novels, will be included in a book that celebrates the author’s vision of the Culture universe. The previously unseen drawings, most of which are annotated by the author, and many of which predate the writing of the novels themselves, will be curated by the Estate of Iain M. Banks and Iain’s life-long friend and science fiction writer Ken MacLeod. With additional commentary by MacLeod, further notes on the Culture, and extracts from the Culture novels, the book will provide a unique insight into the Culture, including its history, language, technology, philosophy and values. Orbit acquired world rights through literary agent Mic Cheetham and will publish in 2019 with simultaneous publication in the UK and US.
Right now, this means I'm re-reading all the Culture books with a notebook open and a sheaf of index tabs to hand. Several volumes are already bristling, and the notebook is filling up.



I'd hardly finished reading and annotating Consider Phlebas when the news broke that the Culture is coming to the small screen on Amazon Prime Video, starting with an adaptation of Consider Phlebas. Having so recently re-read it, I think this is a good choice: the novel's episodic structure and escalating – and frequent -- action scenes make it perfect for a television series. Pat Kane has some interesting thoughts.
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Friday, October 13, 2017



Return of the return of the Martians

At the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2017 I chaired an event with Stephen Baxter on his new book The Massacre of Mankind, the first and only authorised sequel to The War of the Worlds. Baxter's account of his book and its inspiration was enlightening, wide-ranging, and sometimes surprising. The event is now available as a podcast, and well worth a listen -- even if you were actually there, because you can hear everything much better than you probably did on the day. Like the book, the podcast is better than the original.
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Thursday, October 12, 2017



Six reviews and an interview

My latest novel The Corporation Wars: Emergence (Amazon UK / US) has had some good reviews, in Scotland on Sunday and on the blogs of Forbidden Planet, Blue Book Balloon, Geek Chocolate, and SF Crowsnest.

For those who'd like to know how the story has shaped up so far, the first two volumes in the trilogy were reviewed by Paul Di Filippo in Locus. I've been interviewed about the latest book and the trilogy as a whole at MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape.
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Tuesday, September 26, 2017



The Corporation Wars: Emergence, and other coming attractions

The Corporation Wars: Emergence, the final volume in the Corporation Wars trilogy, is due to be published on Thursday 28 September. It's available for pre-order on Amazon UK, and Amazon US. Last Sunday it got a long and appreciative review in Scotland on Sunday, so I have high hopes for it.



I'll be talking about it, the trilogy as a whole, and no doubt much else, at two forthcoming events. The first is at Portobello Book Festival on Saturday 7 October (17:30-18:30, Portobello Library, free).

The second is on Tuesday 17 October at Waterstones, Bath (18:15-19:45), which has a strong record for hosting SF events.

Speaking of events, the book's Event Horizon launch (below) was a blast, with a wide-ranging conversation ably steered by Andrew J Wilson and with book sales and signings organised by Transreal (which now has signed copies in stock). Shoreline's next Event Horizon, on Tuesday 10 October, looks set to exceed even their usual standard of brilliance and panache.
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Thursday, September 07, 2017



Event Horizon launches Emergence



Next Wednesday, 13th September, Edinburgh's monthly SF mini-festival Event Horizon is doing me the honour of launching my forthcoming novel The Corporation Wars: Emergence (available for pre-order here). By special courtesy of the publishers, advance copies will be on sale at the event. Caroline Grebbell and Russell Jones will kick off proceedings, followed by a conversation between me and Andrew J. Wilson, author, reviewer, and stalwart of the spoken word scene.

The evening starts at 7:30 pm at The Banshee Labyrinth, Scotland's most haunted pub and the venue for many science, SF and sceptic events. Admission FREE.
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