Time to Cut the Cord with the Stone Age: my essay on The F-Word

The UK contemporary feminist website The F-Word has published my essay today: Time to Cut the Cord with the Stone Age.

I’m really delighted to raise the issues of future reproductive technologies in this forum. This is the subject matter I delve into in my latest 47North novel, Dreams Before the Start of Time.

So timely too. It’s now official in Nature – news was circulating last week – that scientists in the US have successfully used CRISPR gene editing on human embryos to delete the gene for a heritable heart condition. All experimental at this stage, but bound to be highly controversial.

No doubt this major advance will be discussed next week at my panel at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki: Human Reproduction in Science Fiction. See my events page.

And now I really must pack my bags for Nine Worlds and Worldcon 75! Hope to see some of you there.

The Rift by Nina Allan

Nina Allan’s astonishing novel The Rift came to mind last weekend, and not simply because of its imminent release. (I was fortunate to read this novel pre-publication and it is published today by Titan). It came to mind as I arrived home from my cycling holiday on the west coast of Scotland. I felt as though I’d slipped through a rift of sorts myself, from a parallel universe of spectacular scenery, of quiet roads and CalMac ferries, of clean air, seals and sea otters, where the intensity of the real world seemed unfathomably distant.

The Rift centres on the disappearance of seventeen-year-old Julie and her reappearance twenty years later to the astonishment of her sister Selena and her mother. Where has Julie been? Does she dare to tell them?

The novel starts out as a compelling contemporary mystery and morphs into speculative territory via a rift, it seems, in the fabric of space. Allan prepares the reader for this with subtlety. For example, there’s passing reference to her father’s interest in alien abduction testimonies. It’s also neatly presaged by Selena and Julie’s teenage in-joke about aliens.

Indeed, Allan foreshadows the alien worlds of Tristane and Dea: “Selena tried to imagine what it would be like to live in a world where everything was the same as it was in reality with one exception.” I knew something fantastical was going to happen when I read that! Read more

Mountainfilm, The New Normal, and 21 kids sue Federal Government over climate change

It was such a thrill being invited to Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, Colorado. Now that I’ve recovered from jet lag — made worse by an all-night vigil watching the UK election results coming in — I’d like to tell you about the high points of Mountainfilm, which include meeting an eleven-year-old girl from Oregon who is taking on the US Federal Government.

What, you ask, was I even doing at the festival? Well, I went to Mountainfilm with my husband Garry to talk about climate change — specifically about how our community of Ashton Hayes has spent 11 years cutting our carbon emissions. Garry gave a well-received and positive talk at the festival’s Symposium and over the course of the week we spoke with local residents, non-profit organisations and media about Telluride’s own plans for achieving carbon neutrality. The two points about the Ashton Hayes project that struck everyone at Mountainfilm were these: One, we don’t ever invite politicians to address our meetings. Two, we don’t argue with anyone. Several New Yorkers were pretty aghast; they couldn’t imagine not arguing.

Attorney Julia Olson with her client Avery McRae at Mountainfilm Symposium.

So, the major highlight for me… was meeting eleven-year-old Avery McRae who is the second youngest of 21 plaintiffs (all under the age of 20) suing the federal government for ignoring early warnings over climate change and endangering their health by continuing to burn fossil fuels. Avery was accompanied by her dad, a climate scientist, and lead attorney in the case, Julia Olson.

Juliana et al v. United States et al is working its way through the courts, so watch out in the news media for this fascinating and potentially game-changing legal action.

I was immensely impressed by Avery’s clear thinking and hard talking. It made me wonder if every politician ought to have an eleven-year-old at their elbow, watching every piece of proposed legislation crossing their desk. I’m sure Avery would ask: “Are you sure that’s a good idea? Is that really fair to us kids?” Read more

Interview at BSFA/SFF Annual Meeting, and a Conversation with Author Irenosen Okojie

Two brief updates that I’m really chuffed to share with you.

I’m really honoured that I’ll be a special guest of the British Science Fiction Association at their AGM and mini-convention on 17th June at Imperial College, London. Author Stephanie Saulter will be the special guest of the Science Fiction Foundation. The day’s mini-convention events – interviews and a panel discussion – are open to all. Tempted to come along? Here’s the latest information.

Irenosen Okojie, winner of a Betty Trask Award.

The Ada Lovelace Conversation #3 — Irenosen Okojie

As the Arthur C. Clarke Award’s  ‘interviewer in residence’ — what a great title! — I took the opportunity to chat with author Irenosen Okojie about her wonderful short story collection, Speak Gigantular. We discuss our varying approaches to fiction writing and where we find playfulness in the process.

This exchange proved to be a brilliant learning experience. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did! Read the Ada Lovelace Conversation #3 with Irenosen Okojie here.

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The perfect reader responses, latest reviews and a Korean translation

“Your books always break my heart. You’re like a really bad boyfriend. I know you’re going to leave me emotionally wrecked, but I can’t stay away :-)”

How sweet! I like the smiley face, too. This particular message appeared in my inbox last week. I shall frame it!

Over on Twitter yesterday, top marks to reader Mark Gerrits for selecting four great images for his tweet:

And what are ‘the critics’ saying? I’m bowled over that two reviewers, in particular, found time to review Dreams Before the Start of Time (47North) last week, seeing as they’re Shadow Jurors for the 2017 Arthur C Clarke Award. I’m referring to Megan AM (From Couch to Moon website) and Nina Allan (The Spider’s House website). They’re part of a team of nine critics who are currently reviewing science fiction novels released in 2016 and drawing up a Shadow Shortlist which they will reveal on 2 May—one day before the official Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist is announced. Exciting stuff.

I blush as I copy and paste Nina Allan’s comments:

“I greatly admire this book. I love the music it makes when listened to in consort with its equally accomplished predecessor. Most of all, I’m delighted and inspired by Anne Charnock’s writing talent, her contemplative, forensic, insatiably curious approach to speculative fiction. The three novels she has produced to date constitute a significant literary achievement in their own right, as well as being the springboard from which – I feel sure of it – Charnock will leap towards still more confident advances in the novels to come.”

No pressure, then. Read the full review here.

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RELEASE DAY: Dreams Before the Start of Time

I can hardly believe I’m typing this: my THIRD novel is published today — Dreams Before the Start of Time.

This near-future novel suggests what it will mean to be a parent, a child, a family when science offers new ways of conceiving and giving birth — when artificial wombs free women from the pain and dangers of childbirth, when eggs can be created from stem cells, when a man can create a baby without a woman, and a woman can create a baby without a man. How will these breakthroughs affect relationships and the status of motherhood in society?

In other words, as a writer of speculative fiction, I give myself license to imagine both the intended and unintended consequences!

Dreams Before the Start of Time, published by 47North, received a boost pre-release, receiving a starred review from Publishers Weekly. And today, release day, I’m thrilled to bits to read this review on From Couch to Moon.

Here are snippets of early reactions to the novel: Read more

Susan Duerden on Narrating Dreams Before the Start of Time

Susan Duerden

ONE WEEK to the release of Dreams Before the Start of Time, and I’m really delighted to tell you that award-winning actress Susan Duerden is the main narrator for the audiobook edition. Her performance is simply wonderful, which comes as no surprise to me since Susan also narrated my first novel, A Calculated Life.

I’m fascinated with the transition from manuscript to novel to audiobook. As I listen to the audio, I feel I encounter the novel anew; it feels unfamiliar, in a good way, and I find myself grinning all the time that I’m listening. 

Last week, we chatted by email and Susan very kindly took the time to answer a few questions:

Is there a particular character or storyline that appealed to you in Dreams Before the Start of Time?

I absolutely loved Dreams Before The Start Of Time and narrating it was a joy. I particularly loved the character Toni and her storyline. She left such an impression on me. I was so glad she reappeared throughout the book. I really loved her sense of humor, especially in the face of adversity. I thought her relationship with Atticus was wonderfully written.

How do you prepare for a new narration project? Read more

Kickstarter for 2084 – Orwell inspired anthology – plus latest reviews

Support this Kickstarter!

I’ll keep this as brief as I can for all you lovely but busy people: I’m in a fab line-up of authors for the short story anthology 2084 (Unsung Stories), and any support for the Kickstarter will be massively appreciated! There’s a special edition of the anthology with its own cover art for the Kickstarter campaign. Fingers crossed we meet the target.

Stories by Jeff Noon, Christopher Priest, James Smythe, Lavie Tidhar, Aliya Whiteley, David Hutchinson, Cassandra Khaw, Desirina Boskovich, Ian Hocking, Oliver Langmead and me.

My own story, “A Good Citizen” imagines a future with weekly referendums and a universal wage. Picture a world with a recurring nightmare of near-Brexit proportions!

Early reviews for Dreams Before the Start of Time

Publishers’ Weekly has given a starred review to my upcoming novel. This is a brilliant start for Dreams Before the Start of Time, my third novel. For those who don’t know PW, this New York-based magazine reviews some 9,000 novels a year and gives a starred review to those ‘of exceptional merit’. It’s a go-to magazine for those in the publishing industry. So needless to say I’m pretty chuffed. Read more

Novella Release! The Enclave from NewCon Press

enclave-hardbacks

The limited edition, signed hardback! I love it!

All three formats of my first novella, The Enclave, have now been released by NewCon Press: eBook, limited edition hardback and paperback!

I’ve always stated that I’d never write a sequel to A Calculated Life (47North). And I haven’t done so! 

The Enclave cuts across the world of A Calculated Life with a cast of new characters. I felt strongly that I had far more to say about the lives of the unenhanced, fully organic population living out in the enclaves. And it was immensely rewarding for me to return to that world.

It’s a standalone novella (a smidge over 20,000 words). If you’ve read A Calculated Life, I hope you’ll enjoy the occasional echo from that novel.

If you’re tempted to read the novella… you have the choice of a splendid limited edition, signed hardback (or paperback) from the NewCon website here. Or a Kindle eBook here.

Many thanks go to Ian Whates at NewCon Press for inviting me contribute to this wonderful series of four novellas, including works by Alastair Reynolds, Simon Morden and Neil Williamson. Art work by Chris Moore. Read more

A Conversation with Matt Hill, Author of Graft—Finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award 2017

Matt Hill's novel Graft is a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award 2017.

Matt Hill’s novel Graft is a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award 2017.

It’s incredibly timely to post this conversation—originally published by Strange Horizons under the title Manchester, A Tale of Two Dystopias—because of two exciting events:

Last week, the Philip K. Dick Award announced that Matt’s novel Graft is a finalist for the 2017 Award. Many congratulations, Matt!

And in two weeks’ time, NewCon Press will publish my novella, The Enclave, written in the world of A Calculated Life—itself a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award in 2013. You can pre-order the Kindle eBook or Paperback/Limited Edition Hardback 🙂 Read more