‘The Long Earth’

What if there are multiple quantum earths? And what if we could go there?

Totally impossible of course, but it was once said of science fiction that it is a kind of exercise bicycle for the mind, which while it might not take you anywhere, may possibly tone up the muscles that might!

In a unique event at London’s Royal Institution, world famous authors Sir Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter come together on 21st June 2012 to discuss their new series of novels entitled ‘The Long Earth’ inspired by the many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory – aided by philosopher of physics David Wallace.
To celebrate this event, Forbidden Planet and the Royal Institution are proud to present a limited edition version of ‘The Long Earth‘, signed by Stephen Baxter and featuring a unique event-specific commemorative stamp. Get in quick though, as it will be limited to 2,000 copies!

If you miss it, you can see the full video of this unique event on the Royal Institution website from 11:00am on Tuesday 26th June.

 

Writing with Pinterest

Above my writing desk is – has always been – a collage of images.  They’ve shifted and changed over the years, but the ideas have remained. Up there now is my world map, pictures of characters, creatures, settings and inspirations, my cover art. It reminds me to keep working.

And for years, when I’ve started a new chapter, I’ve downloaded a relevant image as my desktop background – something that gives me the setting or the mood of where the event is occurring. Shift my word file sideways, and I know where I am.

So what does in the internet bring us? Oh look, it brings us Pinterest.

Quite apart from the glorious prevarication of hunting out and storing images and telling yourself its work, it’s a perfect place for finding character, costume, setting… a thousand, thousand images, more darkness and more light than you can fit in your head, on your desktop, or your wall. It’s a fantastic place to discover your characters, and to record how they’d grow and change. And it’s a perfect place to construct a plot – to build yourself a literal storyboard that can follow how your narrative will diversify and grow.

It’s also a good place for discovering writing theory. Follow Jennifer Jones’s Writers’ Workshop or author Trisha Goyer for insight and wisdom, and Cat Rambo has one of the most astounding collections of beautiful and inspirational imagery, plus some solid writing help to boot. Publishers are getting on the brand-wagon, as well – Tor keep boards of book covers and tantalising snippets of marketing information.

Keep a page of your own stuff – as Ecko’s presence grows, I can hoard it like treasure, all in one place, and no-one actually really needs to know how stupidly scared and happy it all makes me…

Above all, use it to dream – use it to record what you dream. It’s where we all started with this writing lark.

One last thought though – and back to the subject of desktops and wallpapers… please Pinterest – can you let us make screen savers out of our boards?

Iain Banks and Kim Stanley Robinson

How does that saying go? I love it when a plan comes together?

This one is thanks to Rose at Orbit and Jon at the Brish Library, and it goes something like this…

Forbidden Planet and Orbit Books, in association with the British Library, are delighted to present a unique opportunity to hear two giants of the genre in conversation about 2012, the end of the world, and the future of science fiction. This event will take place in the Auditorium at the British Library.

Tickets £7.50, concessions £5. Doors open 3pm, for a 3:30 start and the event will be followed by a public signing from 5 – 6pm.

For tickets or more information, you can find the event on the FP website.

Conventions, it seems, aren’t the only things that are changing with the times :)

EasterCon – The George Effect

You know how it is – when you’re at a Con, you do kind-of concoct the blog post in your head as you’re going along. (Or maybe that’s just a side-effect of being behind a table in the Dealers’ Room?) Either way, this one was going to be all about The George Effect. How GRRM was an absolutely lovely man – and about the effect that having Game of Thrones on prime-time TV, and then at the Con itself, had opened the doors to a whole new range of fans… fantasy becoming mainstream, new credibility and community, we know how it goes…

But hey, looks like David Barnett in the Guardian has done it for me.

Instead, there was a second thread to EasterCon, woven in with the first – and one that’s becoming more predominant with every event we’ve attended…

Costume.

Championed by the wondrously tea-making Doctor Geof, Steampunk, specifically, is becoming more than a thread, it’s becoming a full-on machine. Costuming has been loitering at Cons for decades, but it’s not about Trekkies any more – it has a new glamour and elegance, a full-on social involvement brought in precisely by the media that’s now representing our genre/s. Not only is George bringing in new fans, but the new expansion of the literary into the visual is opening events like EasterCon to a different swathe of people.

Rita’s absolutely right when she uses the word ‘inclusivity’ – this was an event that was all about the welcome. After the SFX Weekender, we were thinking about book conventions and how they’d have to adapt – and lo, here is EasterCon doing exactly that. The changes were obvious, even among the traders. More people, younger people, are attending and reading and and becoming involved.

I’ll talk about Ecko (you know I will!) but not here – this is the place for the ‘thank you’. This EasterCon was about the opening out of traditional social cliches and barriers…

George, genre, glamour and garment, I think we’ll look back at Olympus 2012 as a new beginning for us all.

 

 

 

‘Vivisepulture’ – Get Deviant!

A newly published – and suitably twisted – anthology… one I’ve been looking forward to for MONTHS. Huge thank you to Andy Remic and to Anarchy Books for letting me contribute my own brand of deviance. And in some pretty awesome company!

GET YOUR MITTS ON ‘VIVISEPULTURE’, EDITED BY ANDY REMIC AND WAYNE SIMMONS!

Press release follows: –

Welcome to our anthology, a collection of weird and bizarre tales of twisted imagination by Neal Asher, Tony Ballantyne, Eric Brown, Richard Ford, Ian Graham, Lee Harris, Colin Harvey, Vincent Holland-Keen, James Lovegrove, Gary McMahon, Stan Nicholls, Andy Remic, Jordan Reyne, Ian Sales, Steven Savile, Wayne Simmons, Guy N. Smith, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jeffrey Thomas, Danie Ware, Ian Watson and Ian Whates. Artwork by Vincent Chong.

The anthology is dedicated to the late Colin Harvey, with great affection.

In the tradition of Poe, Kafka, Borges and H. G. Wells, this collection of weird stories are written with the primary drive of presenting twisted deviations of normality. Whether it’s the deviant factory workers of Neal Asher’s Plastipak™ Limited, the pus-oozing anti-cherub of Ian Graham’s Rotten Cupid, the acid-snot disgorging freak of Andy Remic’s SNOT, or Ian Watson’s alternate zombie-crucifixion, each story will drag your organs up through your oesophagus and give your brain a chilli-fired beating.

Vivisepulture is an EBOOK original anthology edited by Andy Remic and Wayne Simmons. Vivisepulture can be purchased from www.anarchy-books.com in PDF, EBOOK and MOBI formats.

EPUB versions can also be read on your PC/MAC by installing Adobe’s Digital Editions for free. Check out: www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/

Last Night’s Who Signing

Sometimes, things just work. No matter how big they may be, or how many cats need herding, they reach a kind of social critical mass – and it all just falls into place.

So it was last night.

Outside, we had fans queuing for hours in the cold – clutching dedicated pieces of Who memorabilia they’d treasured for years. We all know the return of Who has spanned the generations, bringing families together on a Saturday evening – my son is seven and no-one feels this more than I do. But to see it really brought to life is quite something. From the girl from the US with the TARDIS earrings and the painted jacket, to the Dad with FOUR eager cubs out there with him… truly, the Doctor spans space and time.

Inside, everything was gleefully organised chaos. Steven Moffat chatted to his gobsmacked fans, Mark Gatiss had a thing about peg dolls, Ben Cook offered very fine scarlet hair and Tom MacRae offered equally fine studded scarlet boots – the writers of Who are a garrulous and colourful bunch. The atmosphere they brought with them was voluble and festive.

Chatty or not, they’re efficient – flawlessly herded by Clayton Hickman and Garry Russell, the whole crew really linked with their fans and put in a sterling evening’s work.

Prior to last night’s event, we’d been a little nervous about accommodating something of that size – that many people, that many fans – but experience tells, it seems, both theirs and ours. Either that, or FP is bigger on the inside.

At the end of yesterday evening, a great many people went home laden with presents and smiles. They’d had a moment, and they’d snagged something cool for Christmas Day.

And that’s really what makes this stuff special.

 

BristolCon

Watching by the beady eyes of the Overlord, it’s been a busy weekend in Bristol.

Two signings at the store – an open-plan group event for a Rogues’ Gallery of local authors, flawlessly cat-herded by Cheryl Morgan, followed by the main man himself, Richard Morgan, bringing us brutality, bloodshed and gay elf sex with The Cold Commands.

Then, on Saturday, suitably armed with a well-earned hangover (and still watched by the Overlord), we unpacked a table of books at BristolCon, an event doubled in size from the previous year and featuring lots of familiar faces and @nametags.

So. Another Con. What’s so special about this one?

During both signings at FP, there was a strong sense of family – a connection between authors and readers and fans that spilled over from staffroom to shop floor and brought everyone together to buy books, and to swap ideas and stories. And that sense of community was both expounded and expanded at the Con itself – a lack of barriers, social and physical, and a welcoming warmth that made BristolCon something above the ordinary.

Nailed to the trading table as usual, Tim and I were nevertheless right in the middle of things – not only selling books, but establishing and re-establishing those lines of communication and support that pull us all together as an industry, and give us that reassuring sense of exactly where we need to be.

For me, the weekend was made special by re-bonding with an old friend I haven’t seen in nearly a decade (bless you, Ken) and by pub-crawling round the watering holes of the city in the company of another friend that I don’t see nearly enough. Though my capacity for beer is sadly lacking these days, it’s apparently been replaced by a capacity for Mexican Burrito(e?)s and cake. Whodathunkit.

On a more serious note, the weekend was also made special (and a little bizarre!) by Jo asking me to do a reading from my own forthcoming title at BristolCon next year… I guess some part of me will never quite grasp that this is real until… not I’m standing there with my heart in my mouth, my book in my hand and (hopefully!) some people to read it to.

That… and my FREE KITTEN.

Size Matters Not

This is fantastic.

Daniel, the lad in the picture, had only picked up a needle once before. But he was a huge fan of Warwick’s work, and came to the signing with this gorgeous little amigurumi Wicket finger-puppet, made by his own fair hands.

Warwick was delighted with it – and Daniel went away with a grin like the sun coming up.

Moments like that are absolutely magical, and make me remember how very, very lucky we are to be able to do what we do.

 

FantasyCon 2011

The best place to be in a heatwave? Brighton seafront.

Yeah, you’d think.

Bless the Royal Albion Hotel, shambling sprawl of saggy Victoriana in which no self-respecting Steampunker would ever set boot – there’s something both familiar and comedic about it. But the names and faces of UK SF/F publishing have weathered the chalets of the SFX weekender and know no fear.

Brighton in the shimmering heat was ghastly – the heaving, sweating masses of sunburned and lagered up public massing outside, seething along the promenade and the beach. They cheered the endless mass of VW campers on Saturday morning, and dropped so much litter that the army of roadsweepers woke us all up at 6am on Sunday… when I went for a walk along the beachfront in the early and the cool, the garbage resembled nothing so much as post Fatboy Slim in 2002.

Seriously. How can people do these things?

Inside the hotel though, it was cooler and calmer than the sweating town of Brighton.

There were lots of questions about my forthcoming book – thanks particularly to Kari Sperring for her empathy, and to Mike Carey for extending a wonderfully unexpected hand of support. Thanks also to Tony Lee for spoiling my son, and to the legendary Brian Aldiss who, while signing in our room, joined Stephen Jones to serenade us with the chorus of ‘When You’re Smiling’ – a memory that will be making me smile for a long time to come.

We worked a long day, but a good one – Alex discovered a truly glorious cake shop, we indulged in fish’n’chips on the pier and free wine from multiple book events including those of our own Titan, the irrepressible Christopher Paolini and the new brand new Jo Fletcher Books.

A good time, as they say, was had by all.

My mother asked me recently, in fun, are you a ‘Geek’ then, Dan?’ with an intonation on the word that spoke volumes from the Daily Mail. My answer is now as always – ‘Yes, of course I am’. And all I have to do to understand my choice is to look at Brighton seafront on a sweating Saturday afternoon.

Long shift or no, I would rather be where I was than outside frying myself on the hot stones.

And, hell, as I passed Mister Rankin on my way back into the Albion, I guess I was wrong about the Steampunkers. Maybe it’s the perfect place for a little far-fetched fiction!

Authors Vs. Zombies – the Rise of Cross-Genre

Cross-genre: a cardinal sin. And yet.

As I understand it, if we’re going to tackle the concept, we have to identify with one part of the ‘cross’– it has to be contemporary before it can get mashed up. But where do such genres as urban fantasy and horror end, and cross-genre begin?

And who decides?

Cross-genre is everywhere – from Cowboys Vs. Aliens to Zombies Vs. Cheerleaders, its mixed signals are all around us, and we can’t get enough.  Take the success of Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, and the swath of crossed classics that followed – the first title was popular enough to jump format to graphic novel… and crossing format boundaries and well as genre boundaries is indicative of just how popular this is.

In comics, we have Zombies Vs. Cheerleaders. Zombies Vs. Robots converted from comic to book format and there’s a Zombie add-on for the Western genre game Red Dead Redemption—

Yeah, okay, there’s a pattern here. Zombies are replacing Steampunk as the New Cool. But even if we take out shambling dead friends out of the equation…

Let’s turn instead to Avatar – the big screen sensation that had dragons fighting helicopters. There have been a whole series of movie releases that have picked up this theme – Cowboys Vs. Aliens, Aliens Vs. Ninjas (AvN) and Attack the Block.

And it’s not just the big screen. Jonathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards’ TURF seems to be every genre rolled into one; Jasper Fforde’s ‘One of Our Thursdays’ and Ian Whates’ ‘City of Hope and Despair’ have brought cross-genre into this year’s books. And there are more boundary breakers to come.

Cross-genre is everywhere, in every format, and it’s on the rise. With or without zombies, we seem to be able to identify with it just fine.

In our industry, we inhabit the world (worlds?) of speculative fiction. Speculation is what we do, already, so surely breaking these boundaries is part of our remit?

Let’s do it.

 

 

(P.S – Steampunk Vs. Zombies. Steamed Zombie. ZombiePunk. You know it has to happen).