So, 'What If?'…
I have just surfaced from reading Richard J. Evans’s opinion on ‘what-if’ speculations in history, published in The Guardian on 13th March 2014. His thoughts are very heavily based in fact, rather than fiction, but there is a certain relevance to the theme of my upcoming novel, Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising. Thus, it seemed appropriate to spark off something of a debate on the subject of historical ‘what-if’.
“Perhaps it's because we're living in a postmodern age where the idea of progress has largely disappeared, to be replaced by uncertainty and doubt, and where linear notions of time have become blurred; or because truth and fiction no longer seem such polar opposites as they once did; or because historians now have more licence to be subjective than they used to. But it's time to be sceptical about this trend. We need, in this year especially, to start to try to understand why the first world war happened, not to wish that it hadn't, or argue about whether it was "right" or "wrong". In the effort to understand, counterfactuals aren't any real use at all.”Let’s see. To me, this reads in a manner which suggests Evans is clearly not a man who has any interest in speculation. None whatsoever. He deals in the currency of cold, hard fact, not the airy-fairy world of daydreaming and imagination. I have a lot of respect for that and what happened in history is what happened in history. Short of owning a TARDIS (or, for preference, a De Lorean) there’s not a lot we can do about that. What has happened has happened. We, as a species exist for the now and for tomorrow. We can’t change what has been and why should we?
- Richard J. Evans
This is why. Because we are also a species of dreamers and we have been gifted with something extraordinary. Something unique. Something that those embedded in the world of fact can sometimes lose sight of. We are storytellers. From the Viking skalds through to the parent sat reading a nursery rhyme to their infant child, we tell one another stories. We invoke fear, excitement, pleasure, laughter, tears with the written fictional word and to be able to read and write stories is a remarkable gift. I wonder if Mr. Evans reads fiction? I do hope that he does, although from the terse nature of his article (interesting and relevant as it is), I would think that if he does, he avoids the ‘historical fiction’ shelf in his bookshop. For my money, that’s his loss.
To spend hours or even a lifetime debating in earnest fashion the ‘what if’ scenarios outline by Evans in his article seems to me to be bordering on the wistful and in that, I see eye to eye with the author. But yet I disagree that ‘counterfactuals’ aren’t any real use at all. They encourage a deeper understanding of the historical events that surround an outcome. If you can take someone with only a passing interest in an event that changed the world – let’s say the first world war – and ask them what the world might have been like if xx had or had not happened, there’s a good chance they might go away and learn more about the actual facts. In that, you educate people. They learn. They gain interest. And that is a wonderful, extraordinary thing.
But at the same time, it’s human nature to have regret. It’s in our psychological make-up to wonder how things might have been different if we had only taken the other route to work the morning of that car crash, for example.
History is a living thing. We create history every day. It may not be earth-changing or world-shattering, but every action has a consequence. If you were to stop and consider all the actual possibilities of an action, you’d never do anything for fear of heading down the wrong pathway.
There are so many theories on this, the most well documented being that for every decision we make, the alternative decisions are played out in parallel dimensions. That somewhere, there exists another you who decided to actually sit down and revise for that exam actually then went on to university, then became the world’s expert on your chosen subject. Owns a beach house in the Caribbean. Drives a Lotus Elise.
Man. I hate that version of me.
Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising is speculative, what-if historical fiction with a twist. It has fantasy elements thrown in. There is magic. There are demons. There are most definitely consequences for actions. It is not in any way meant to be an academic study of ‘what would have happened if Richard III had won at Bosworth’ but it sure as hell makes me wonder.
Is that so very wrong? I don’t think it is.
Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising will be published in paperback and ebook in North America on May 27th and in the UK and Ireland on 5th June.
Someone else connected with Abaddon also spent the weekend proving that you can't keep a good king (bad king, shurely? - Ed.) down - Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley!
Those who've heard of Jason before will know that he enjoys donning armour, getting onto a horse, and galloping at a similarly attired gent with a long stick in his hand - but it turns out he also does a mean impression of the last King of the Plantagenets:
Here's some video of him charging around like a madman and no doubt we'll see the fruits of his battle-hardened labour soon.
You can keep up (if you dare) with Jason on his Twitter feed, plus Heirs of the Demon King is out in June and can be pre-ordered through Amazon in the UK and North America.
What if, I hypothesised, Richard the Third beat Henry Tudor into a pulp on that August day in Leicestershire? What would have happened to
This latest ebook exclusive from Abaddon in the Afterblight Chronicles series has been written by Malcolm Cross and we asked him to explain why setting his new novella on the ISS was the ultimate in horror settings.
My generation didn't have the moon landings.
The Space Shuttle was so passé it barely rated a news item, Skylab had long ago been abandoned and burned up, there was a fire on Mir and we hardly even heard about it. The International Space Station? It's been up there for sixteen years. Mostly we don't think about it.
For decades we all took human spaceflight for granted, and then Chris Hadfield burst onto twitter and Gravity rocked the Oscars, and then the spacemen over your head became real. For a lot of us it produced a brief disconnect with reality, a moment to dream in, a thrilling heartbeat where the silly childhood idea Star Trek might be real came back.
Obviously, I leapt at the opportunity when Abaddon Books offered me the chance to write about what happened on the ISS during the apocalyptic plague that kicks off their Afterblight Chronicles setting. Trouble is, for a good horror story, often you need to start somewhere normal and familiar, then take your reader to a place that's threateningly different.
The International Space Station? It isn't familiar. It's a flying can with two very different architectural styles in the American and Russian sections, constantly noisy with the hum of air circulation fans. Silence isn't peace and quiet -- it's a reason to panic in case the air goes stale and asphyxiates you. There are dozens of sunrises every day, and just as many nights.
Trying to make it seem familiar felt sacrilegious. But that was my first goal, working in the routine around day to day research, everyday life with big 'family' dinners the whole crew gathers for, and even being forced to swallow down toothpaste because, after all, you can't spit into a sink without gravity's help. Even if the International Space Station's a place where you can turn the wall into the floor and a corridor into a canyon to fly through with just a twist of the body, to the Astronauts who call it home, it really is home.
And like any home, it's a great place to set a horror story.
Orbital Decay by Malcolm Cross is out now in ebook from Abaddon Books and available direct from the Rebellion Publishing webshop.
Blackmore is the author of the urban fantasy novels City of the Lost and Dead Things and the 1930's pulp novel Khan of Mars. His short stories have appeared in the magazines Needle, Plots With Guns, Spinetingler, Thrilling Detective and Shots,as well as the anthologies Deadly Treats, Don’t Read This Bookand Uncage Me.
Forget the stale chocolates and badly-drawn festive image, we've got the Advent calendar you want right here...
Yes, every day in the run-up to Christmas we'll be offering a different ebook title for the tiny sum of just 99p!
Yes! Just 99 of the Queen's pennies (or corresponding amount of your non-British equivalent) and you could own some of the finest SF, fantasy, horror, and genre around!
So a little while back I doodled on here about expressions - turns of phrase with various roots - that have drifted, just a little, from their intention when first used. Like turn the other cheek or the game is afoot. Lovely little examples of how language and culture shift over time.
'Cause that's what editors do. Rock and roll, baby. Rock and fuckin' roll.
Anyway, it got a very modest feedback on Facebook and Twitter, and there was a little chat about misuses that people were fond of - or irritated by, as it happens - and a bit of fond discussion about usage and etymology. Then it came up again.
What about "literally"?
Ah, yes. So this is an old chestnut, and one which the internet's guardians of language are very fond of railing about (seriously, I love the Oatmeal, but I haven't got your back on this one). And it's had a bit of a resurgence in everyone's minds, lately, since the Oxford English Dictionary made the decision to include the figurative sense of the word in its entry.
(Many tophats flew off many heads, that day. Many monocles popped out in outraged splutter. That terrible, terrible day.)
Because seriously, this is a thing. And it's not a big deal. Untwist that there knicker, podner! And let me sort this out for you, so you can stop worrying yourself about it and go back to explaining the difference between affect and effect to people. Let me explain why your objections to this are all wrong...
"You can't just change what things mean in dictionaries!"
Well, that's just silly, for starters. If you couldn't "just" add or change words in the dictionary, it would look like this and would be worse than useless. Obviously English changes, and the dictionary tells us how to use words in English, so the dictionary has to change. You may choose to rail against drift in the language if you wish, although I can think of better uses of your time, but you can't really complain about the dictionary doing its job, which is reflecting how language is used. Don't blame the OED for being the world's pre-eminent English Dictionary...
"But it's the opposite of what it means! You can't do that!"
Why the hell not? Cleave means "to stick together" and "to separate." Sanction means "to grant approval to" and "to withdraw support from." Fast means "moving quickly" and "fixed and immobile." Trimming that tree, are you? Would sir like the secateurs or the tinsel?
And anyway, it doesn't. People say that the modern usage of literally means "figuratively," but who in the history of saying things with your face has ever actually pointed out, mid-metaphor, that they're being metaphorical? Can you imagine anyone saying, "My father figuratively exploded when he saw the scratch on the car; I say figuratively, because I don't want you to be alarmed at the prospect of my father's detonation. He's actually quite well. I meant to say he was very angry."?
(You can? Huh. I'd keep away from that guy. I bet he tucks in his t-shirt and collects used matches.)
The contemporary, figurative use of the word literally actually completely depends on both the speaker and the listener being aware of its traditional meaning. It's used for emphasis. I'm presenting what is clearly a metaphor ("I'm neck-deep in paperwork down here!") and then playfully suggesting that it's not a metaphor ("No, help me! I'm genuinely, literally, neck-deep in paperwork here! Haha! It's funny because it's not in fact true, but I'm pretending it is!") in order to emphasise the metaphor.
Get it? It's supposed to be funny, you jerk. And you ruined it.
I love you. Please don't be angry.
"But it's not what it's supposed to mean! It's new!"
You're dead right... in about the seventeenth century.
This usage goes back hundreds of years. There was only just such a thing as dictionaries when people started using literally this way.
Jane Austen was "literally rocked in bed" in a stormy night; Mark Twain was "literally rolling in wealth"; Louisa May Alcott's land "literally flowed with milk and honey." This is not a new thing. How can it be an irritating change to the language you speak if it happened before your grandmother's grandmother was born? There is honestly no way you can claim to remember a time when you only knew the original sense of the word and was unpleasantly surprised to discover its new meaning.
Which means you've learned your distaste of its figurative sense. Someone - some low-down son of a gun - has gone to the trouble of teaching you to be irritated by a usage that's been utterly ubiquitous since long before the people who taught the people who taught the people who taught them to hate it were even born.
So frankly, if you're gonna get angry at someone, I'd track down that guy. 'Cause he just plumb filled your world with aggravation to no good effect.
So shut up and set down your coffee and donut - yes, I can see you, stop hiding it behind that stack of paperwork and pretending it's somebody else's donut; it's okay to eat donuts, I don't mind - for just one moment and check this motherfunster out right now.
Because E. E. Richardson, the brilliant and talented young adult horror writer, has made her adult debut right here at Abaddon Towers, and it is awesome.
Ritual Crime Unit: Under the Skin is a novella, the first in a new series of urban fantasy police procedurals which I'm frankly sure will have nerds all over the country saying "Who Aaronovitch? Is that even a real name?" in about a month. Maybe two, tops.
Elizabeth come to my attention via the open submissions month last year (which you may remember), and was a very happy discovery.
Here's the blurb:
A tough, hard-nosed career officer in the male-dominated world of British policing, DCI Claire Pierce of North Yorkshire Police heads Northern England’s underfunded and understaffed Ritual Crime Unit. Unregarded by the traditional police, struggling with an out-sized caseload, Pierce is about to tackle her most shocking case so far.
Following reports of unlicensed shapeshifters running wild in the Dales, DCI Pierce leads a failed raid to capture the skinbinder responsible. While the dust is still settling, a team from Counter Terrorism turns up and takes the case off her.
Pursuing the case off the record, she uncovers something murkier and more terrible than she suspected. Has her quarry achieved the impossible and learned to bind human skin?
Under the Skin is available right now, from the Rebellion Store, from Kindle (US, UK, and elsewhere) and most other ebook channels. If you don't buy it, you might be unprepared.
It's even available, in strictly limited numbers, as a physical edition from Forbidden Planet! These babies are signed and numbered, and won't last long.
DO IT! DO IT NOW! YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND ON IT!
About The Author
E.E. Richardson has been writing books since she was eleven years old, and had her first novel The Devil’s Footsteps picked up for publication at the age of twenty. Since then she’s had seven more young adult horror novels published by Random House and Barrington Stoke. Under the Skin is her first story aimed at adults. She also has a B.Sc. in Cybernetics and Virtual Worlds, which hasn’t been useful for much but does sound impressive.
So bit of a serious moment here (what do you mean, I never did Day Two of my con report; it's coming, okay?). So the fine folk at reviews/fiction/geek culture website warpcoresf.co.uk have asked us to highlight stuff going on at Lincolnshire County Council, and this is serious stuff. Libraries are many people's primary or sole source of books, and they deserve our protection.
Here's the spiel:
Lincolnshire County Council plan to close all but 15 of the county's library buildings. They want to reduce the hours of the remaining libraries, take mobile library stops down from 400 to 126, sell off buildings, and cut 170 skilled library jobs. In all, these cuts are worth some £2 million, out of a front-line libraries budget of around £6 million.
You can read more details of the campaign here.
In order to save our libraries, we need to make our opposition to these cuts known before the 3rd of December, when the council executive make their decision. This is an outrage that will cut thousands of people off from the discovery of literature, it will damage literacy rates, and it will deprive many people of access to the internet. Libraries are also hugely important for midlist writers, for whom discovery is proving harder thanks to the closure of so many independent book stores.
Please tweet your opposition to @savelincslibs. If you'd like to go further and blog about this, an email to firstname.lastname@example.org will ensure I see your post and get it included in the Save Lincs Library links round-up, Facebook page, and so on.
I've heard quite a few authors say things like "Well, I'll help, but I don't know what good I can do." Having heard Patrick Rothfuss state that he still considers himself a newbie during a panel on world building at WFC, I suspect a lot of authors underestimate their impact on people. Please don't. Every word of support matters a great deal to the campaign, and to those communities that are threatened with losing their libraries. You are all more awesome than you suspect.
The Facebook page is here.
So, here a day so far. Good times.
GUYS THIS EVENT IS LIKE HUGE there's thousands of people here, and loads of panels, and people wandering around and oh my god.
We managed to scramble onsite about 2pm yesterday, rushed to get our stand set up (Molcher above looking pretty), and sold books for a couple of hours.
I was in a panel, "When does copy-editing go too far?" (Hint: The answer is DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I'M A FUCKING EDITOR! ON YOUR KNEES, WORM!), and was predictably fabulous. I shared the stage with Jo Fletcher, Oliver Johnston, Rina Weisman, Laurel Hill and Ramsay Campbell. Illustrious old company.
Dinner was Wagamama's after a fruitless search for the many bijou restaurantettes we knew Brighton was full of, then booze until real late.
Honestly, I think the barman spiked my beer with alcohol. I'm a trifle disappointed. Bit of a hangover.
Today was bookselling and more being fabulous. Clifford Beal showed me an awesome pizza stand in town for lunch. And now I have no hangover, which all said is better than having a hangover. Quite relieved.
There are parties waiting; will update tomorrow.
About the Authors
Paul Finch is a former cop and journalist, now turned full time writer. He first cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, THE BILL, and has written extensively in the field of children's animation. However, he is probably best known for his work in horrors and thrillers. He has won two British Fantasy Awards and the International Horror Guild Award, and has written Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish as well as scripts for several movie adaptations of his own stories and novellas. Paul lives in Wigan, Lancashire, with his wife Cathy and his children, Eleanor and Harry.
Matthew Sprange has a solid history in roleplaying design as well as writing over two dozen gaming books, including the Babylon 5, Judge Dredd and Starship Troopers games, and has won two Origins Awards for his work in miniature wargames. Death Hulk is his second novel, with his first being a trip into the Babylon 5 universe, entitled Visions of Peace.
Toby Venables is a novelist, screenwriter and lecturer in Film Studies at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. He has since worked as a journalist and magazine editor – launching magazines in Cambridge, Peterborough, Oxford and Bristol – and once orchestrated an elaborate Halloween hoax for which he built and photographed a werewolf. He still works as a freelance copywriter, has been the recipient of a radio advertising award, and in 2001 won the Keats-Shelley Memorial Prize.
YO THIS IS SOME CRAZY SHIZ RIGHT HERE.
So we're so keen to get you into our critically-acclaimed Afterblight Chronicles and Pax Britannia series that we're offering the first book in each series, Simon Spurrier's The Culled and Jonathan Green's Unnatural History, absolutely free!
They're free on our own website, and on as many online stores as we can manage. GET THEM! YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN WE'LL CHANGE OUR MINDS!
Well, World Fantasy Con is almost upon us, when the genre publishing world descends upon Brighton and makes it 27.1% more crazy...
We have a host, no, a bevvy of book-writing braves attending the con who will be furiously scribbling their monikers into books thrust beneath their clever noses. The Abaddon and Solaris signing schedule looks thusly:
Steve Rasnic Tem
Jan Siegel (Amanda Hemingway)
Gareth L. Powell
So I thought, heck, I'll just blog about it. Here are four of my favourites:
Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw
How It's Used: Usually to describe the violent and impersonal nature of Nature; them animals, they do so love to bite and scratch and stuff. Grr.
And love Creation's final law
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravin, shriek'd against his creed
Where It's From: A little thing I like to call The Bible. Matthew, chapter 5. It's from the middle of Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount," where he passes down the law on how people are gonna behave from now on.
How It's Used: This is something your mum or teacher used to tell you if you were bullied or provoked at school. It suggests stoicism and self-discipline; just look away ("turn your cheek") and ignore them.
What It Really Means: Jesus was going a bit further than just "don't rise to their bait." He's telling you to actively participate in your own victimisation; if a man hits you on one cheek, he says, then turn the other cheek so that he can hit that one too. Your mum should not be telling you to do this. The Sermon is famously one of the most challenging parts of Christian doctrine, presenting such an extreme model of virtue that it's usually seen as rhetorical rather than intended literally.
I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
Where It's From: Shakespeare, baby. Specifically, Henry IV Part 1, Act 1, Scene 3. Although it's also probably Sherlock Holmes's most-quoted line (from The Adventure of the Abbey Grange) after "Elementary, my dear Watson."
How It's Used: Generally, to suggest a game - you know, with dice and a board, and cards or something. It means something interesting and challenging has begun in earnest.
What It Really Means: It's a hunting metaphor. The "game," in this instance, is an animal hunted for its meat (as in "game bird" or "game pie"). When the game is "afoot," it's on the run and the hunt has begun. Holmes most certainly used it in that sense - his "game" being Sir Brackenstall's murderer - but hunting is less relevant to most of us than it used to be, and so nowadays we mostly assume he's talking about chess or something. He liked chess, right?
Where It's From: The Bible, natch. Luke, chapter 10. It's one of the "Parables," which were sort of moral riddles that Jesus used to tell his followers. He was crazy about riddles.
How It's Used: A Samaritan, "good" or otherwise, usually means someone who helps a stranger - especially one in dire need, who others are ignoring - with no expectation of reward or recognition. Aww. There's even a suicide charity called The Samaritans - without the "Good," which makes me insanely suspicious of them.
What It Really Means: The Good Samaritan of the parable behaved in exactly that way, sure enough. But the point of the story was that Samaritans were famed for their selfishness and officiousness; "good Samaritan" was intended as a surprising dichotomy. A bit like saying "good investment banker" or something (of course, the Samaritans are an ethnic and religious community that exists to this day, but I guess it's okay to be a bit racist when you're quoting the Bible).
So those are four of my favourite slightly misused phrases. What are yours?
If you missed out on this summer’s best books from Solaris, Abaddon and Ravenstone, now’s your chance to catch up with all of these recent releases at just £4 each!
Act now! This sale is only on this weekend!
We here at Solaris and Abaddon have gathered together a tip top table of talent for the weekend's festivities, ranging from debut authors to old hands. We're very pleased to announce that the following authors will be appearing at WFC13:
Guy Adams (The Good The Bad and the Infernal)
Clifford Beal (Gideon's Angel)
Simon Bestwick (The Faceless and Tide of Souls)
Chaz Brenchley (Desdaemona)
Ellen Datlow (Poe)
Jetse de Vries (Shine)
Paul Finch (Stronghold)
Jonathan Green (Pax Britannia)
Amanda Hemingway (The Devil's Apprentice)
Ben Jeapes (Phoenicia's Worlds)
Paul Kane (Hooded Man trilogy)
James Lovegrove (Pantheon series)
Juliet McKenna (Hadrumal Crisis series)
Lou Morgan (Blood and Feathers)
Libby McGugan (The Eidolon)
Gareth L. Powell (Ack-Ack Macaque)
Gaie Sebold (Babylon Steel)
Lavie Tidhar (Osama)
Jonathan Strahan (Edge of Infinity)
Steve Rasnic Tem (Deadfall Hotel)
Ian Whates (Solaris Rising)
Conrad Williams (Loss of Separation)
Geoffrey Gudgeon (Saxon's Bane)
To celebrate the coming storm, we'll be giving away books all month on our blogs and Twitter - so stay tuned!
So me and Jon have just (Well, not just; about a week ago. I was tired. It was a long flight, okay? Just shut up about it already.) got back from San Antonio, TX and the nerdapalooza that was LoneStarCon 3. And it was epic.
First off, San Antonio is hot. Like, hot. Like, okay, I'm from a pretty hot place myself, but this was actual, for real, fuck-you hot. It hit 105 degrees, and while I'm pretty sure that's some sort of crazy Imperial measurement, I wouldn't, having lived through it, put actual money on that.
But San Antonio is a place where "profligate waste of energy" ran into "oppressive subtropical heat" and broke. The convention took place in colossal indoor spaces, whole cathedrals of glass and steel, that were nevertheless cooled to bone-chillingly cold temperatures. I should, on behalf of whales and dolphins and Greenpeace protesters everywhere, have been affronted at this, but as you opened the door and this blast of frigid air hit you, all you could think was, "It's worth it. Never say it isn't."
But they have this whole semi-wonderland called the "River Walk" (pictured above). It's this spectacularly artificial tree-bedecked network of walkways, bridges and balconies built just below street level lining the river, and it's kind of shaded and lined with shops and cafes, and it really is quite lovely, even if it makes you feel like you're at Center Parcs.
And never mind all that, because for the first time in my life, dear readers, I was in the United States. So I got to all kinds of stupid shit that really don't matter, but are in their tiny way kind of amazing. Like ride in an actual yellow taxi (there's Arianne "Tex" Thompson, one of Solaris's writers, on the left); it's just a fucking taxi, but it's a proper Murican yellow taxi and I was in it and it was cool and shut up.
And we ate a lot. Texans do not believe in small portions, and that really isn't just a colourful reputation or the kind of rubbish boasting people do when they're being a bit jingoistics. We didn't have a small meal all weekend. We actually took to ordering bar snacks. And not eating them all.
But it was a good opportunity to meet and connect with folk, and enjoy the company of some extremely friendly people, and here's a picture of some of us hanging around at just about the hippest BBQ joint you can imagine (seriously, they had all ethically-produced, locally-sourced meat, and they did things like asparagus icecream accompaniments; it was cool but a bit jarring), with Jennie Goloboy, Tex, Jon, Libby McGugan, Bean Jeapes and John Carter Cash's right arm.*
We also went up the Tower of the Americas, which is mildly famous, although I had to think a bit to make sure I wasn't thinking of Stratosphere or the Space Needle, because all of these observation towers are really terribly similar. At any rate, it turns out it was built for the '68 World's Fair, and it has an obligatory moving restaurant in it, so we could very gradually see all of San Antonio pass beneath us as the sun set, which was lovely. And we had some really very nice food (a lot of it, natch) with Jack Skillingstead, Nancy Kress, Libby McGugan, Ben Jeapes, Brenda Cooper and a friend of Brenda's whose name I didn't catch.
So it was a very good time for walking around, eating, drinking (be very cautious drinking margaritas in San Antonio; or, perhaps, be very cautious ordering a second margarita in San Antonio - they're really quite strong, a fact that you won't fully appreciate until you're already started the second one and realised you should have had a coke). And it was an awesome time for meeting people: authors, agents, members of the SFWA and fans in general, and our esteemed peers and rivals across the pond.
And we got a bit of tourism in! Did you know that San Antonio's where the Alamo is? I didn't. (Okay, you did; I guess you're just a better person than me. Whatever.) Anyway, it's just right there! You can just walk to it. It's not even, like, a bus ride outside town or anything; it was right around the corner from the convention! There's Jon on a terribly pretty fountain, and me by the entrance. That thoughtful expression is me remembering the Alamo, something I gather you are encouraged to do in Texas.
"So shut up about your holiday abroad!" I hear you cry. "What about the con?" Well, I'm glad you ask.
It was immense. Thousands of fans, creators and community people, talking, showing, watching, trading, selling, buying, arguing, discussing, and generally advancing and promoting the genres and media we all love. It was amazing to see the commitment and passion on display everywhere. We sat on panels - our early-morning, still-jet-lagged, still-frankly-kind-of-hungover "Solaris Presents" (which came out as "Abaddon, Solaris and Ravenstone Present" in the end) panel went really rather well given the time and our mental states, the gender parity and economics-of-publishing (mostly about Print-on-Demand and ebooks) panels Jon sat on were a lot of fun, and the horror panel that Lee Harris very kindly invited Jon to step up to was amazing - but mostly we met people, talked about past achievements, future ambitions, and the future direction of our world.
And rather wonderfully there was a full-scale reproduction of part of the bridge of the Enterprise from the original series of Star Trek. Here we are being captains. Are we not masterful (and fat; I kind of look like later-era Kirk, while Jon looks like earlier, sexy Kirk)?
And then there were the Hugo awards. It's actually kind of awe-inspiring being there. It's always nice being invited to any awards ceremony, and it's always very gratifying to be present when the wonderful people who create the stories we read and publish are acknowledged and applauded for their efforts, but there a lot of awards, you know, and you can get kind of used to them. But the Hugo's the first award you hear about, in our circles, and it remains - to me at least - a fairly special accomplishment set out from the rest, however jaded you get. It was awesome to actually go to one.
Huge congratulations go to all the winners and finalists of the prestigious awards (and especially to Pat Cadigan, whose contribution to Jonathan Strahan's Edge of Infinity won the trophy for Best Novelette), and huge thanks to Paul Cornell for a brilliant ceremony.
After that was the after-party, where I got to meet some of the organisers and members of the SFWA, which was a brilliant opportunity and which I was genuinely excited to be doing.
So, yeah. That was What We Did On Our Weekend. I hope you had as good a time as we did.
*And yes, three of the people in that picture are British. Never mind that.
Join myself, David Moore and a handful of authors as we take you into the intriguing world of Solaris, Abaddon and Ravenstone. Upcoming titles will be revealed and our selection of authors will be on hand to talk about their work.
Gender in SF
How has SF influenced and reflected the changes in gender and gender roles over the past half century? As we look back to the work of writers such as Ursula LeGuin and Joanna Russ in the sixties and seventies, what can we say about their impact and that of their heirs today?
I will be joining Vylar Kaftan, Eileen Gunn, Tili Sokolov and Lezli Robyn on what promises to be a fascinating panel.
The Changing Economics of Book Production
My fellow panelists for this are Tom Doherty, John DeNardo and Steve Silver.
Willie Siro's marvelous Adventures in Crime and Space store in the dealer's room will be hosting several of our author's signings over the weekend. These are:
Friday 11am - Ben Jeapes signings Phoenecia's Worlds and other titles.
3pm - Jack Skillingstead signing Life on the Preservation and other titles.
Saturday 12pm - Chuck Wendig signing Gods and Monsters and other titles.
2pm - John Carter Cash signing Lupus Rex.
Anyway, hope to see some of you there!
So yeah, it's August. Which means we're all just about ready for summer and it's already half over. Because that's how this shit works. We're British, and there's rules.
So while you're chewing your way through burned hamburgers at your dad's poorly planned barbecue, planning what to sacrifice among the approximately a billion awesome things there are to do on the Bank Holiday weekend, and alternating between complaining about the oppressive heat (when it's sunny) and how basically we haven't had a summer (when it's not sunny), I thought I'd make the days pass a little more pleasantly and announce three new books that came out this week.
Yeah, that's right. Count 'em.
Because I love you, and I want you to be happy.
Weird Space: Satan's Reach, second book in the critically-acclaimed Weird Space series.
Telepath Den Harper did the dirty work for the authoritarian Expansion, reading the minds of criminals, spies and undesirables. Unable to take the strain, he stole a starship and headed into the unknown, a sector of lawless space known as Satan’s Reach. For five years he worked as a trader among the stars – then discovered that the Expansion had set a bounty hunter on his trail.
Following last year's The Devil's Nebula, Eric brings us a new core character - the world-weary telepath Den Harper - and introduces us to a new, seedy neighbourhood in the Weird Space universe. Still lots of horrible aliens to contend with, though, to say nothing of the oppressive Expansion.
Weird Space is available in both paperback and ebook versions right now.
Pax Britannia: The Ultimate Secret, a new novella in the long-running Pax Britannia steampunk series.
The Ultimate Reich. The great enemy of Magna Britannia, the unwavering stronghold whose power extends from the depths of Africa to the outlands of Mexico, and even across the barrier of time itself. For more than half a century, the Führer’s empire has plagued the world, but thanks to the efforts of a brave handful, the Reich’s most terrible secret may be on the verge of exposure.
Reaching out across the pond to grasp both Jonathan Green's Ulysses Quicksilver books and Al Ewing's El Sombra tales, The Ultimate Secret shows you corners of the Pax world you've never seen before, from the ancient cobbles of Socialist Rome to the crowded villas of Buenos Aires.
The Ultimate Secret is available exclusively in ebook format.
Judge Dredd Year One: The Cold Light of Day, the second novella in the wildly successful Judge Dredd Year One series.
2080: All leave for the Judges in Mega-City one has been cancelled: they are needed for crowd-control during the annual Mega-City 5000 motorbike race. the race crosses back and forth across the city, from north to south, and millions of people are expected to line the streets to cheer on their favourite teams and riders.
In the ongoing story of Old Stoney Face's rookie year, Joe Dredd is confronted with a grizzly murder that he could possibly have prevented, five years ago in his cadet days. But can he really be held accountable for another man's crimes? Can you be judged for an oversight you couldn't possibly know about at the time?
The Cold Light of Day is available exclusive in ebook format.
*Yes, me. And while I'm not going to say I'm going to kick a puppy if you don't buy this book and validate me, I'm not going to say I'm not going to, either.
So in case you don't routinely hang out with people dressed in tweed and decorated with brass (and why not, fine body of men and women), you should know that the Victorian Steampunk Society (I'll confess I feel that the qualifier is unnecessary, both because, as a rule, pretty all steampunk is Victorian and because, in the event that a member wants to muck about with some non-Victorian steampunk, nobody's likely to say they can't...) holds what are probably the most important awards in the steampunk community - the Victorian Steampunk Society Awards - every year at the Asylum.
Now, our one and only Jonathan Green, author of the ever-popular Pax Britannia series, has blogged about this fact and about how the ground-breaking readership-led Time's Arrow, eighth book in the oldest still-ongoing steampunk series in the world, is eligible for this year's award. And I thought, "You know what? He's bloody well right! I must remind my internet 'peeps' right away, so they can get a shift on and nominate it so as it gets onto the short list, what?"
So I urge you to jump on the VSS Awards web page (linked above) and nominate it now, get this fine work on its way to a richly deserved award...
But what does the Expansion want with a lowly telepath like Harper? Is there something in the rumours that human space is being invaded by aliens from another realm? Harper finds out the answer to both these questions when he rescues a young woman from certain death – and comes face to face with the terrible aliens known as the Weird.
Eric Brown continues to expand the Weird Space universe, which he created for Abaddon Books, with a fast paced action-adventure that pits humanity against unimaginable terror from beyond.
About the Author
Eric Brown began writing when he was fifteen, while living in Australia, and sold his first short story to Interzone in 1986. He has won the British Science Fiction Award twice for his short stories, has published over forty books, and his work has been translated into sixteen languages. His latest books include the SF novels The Serene Invasion, Satan’s Reach, and the crime novel Murder by the Book. He writes a regular science fiction review column for the Guardian newspaper and lives near Dunbar, East Lothian. His website can be found at www.ericbrown.co.uk