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 on…

Manchester: A Tale of Two Dystopias Read more

Volkov Commanders

Art Encounters of The Margaret Atwood Kind

I posted this last week on The Huffington Post under a different title: Art, Social Collapse and Apocalypse: Spaceship Unbound

Imagine discovering, in a post-apocalyptic world, a trove of ancient newsreels and an old projector. You’re desperate to retrieve memories of your lost civilisation so… you rig up a bicycle-powered generator and start the film rolling. This appears to be the scenario constructed in Manchester’s Castlefield Gallery, currently presenting Spaceship Unbound – a group exhibition that takes Margaret Atwood’s post-apocalyptic novel The Year of the Flood as a starting point. Read more

Students discover lost Blake etchings in Manchester’s John Rylands Library

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An exhibition next month at John Rylands Library in Manchester will present previously lost etchings by poet and artist William Blake. The librarians at John Rylands suspected their collection of over one million books included many commercial etchings by Blake. But the students discovered more than expected, under the guidance of Manchester University’s Blake specialist Colin Trodd. I understand that over 300 etchings were discovered in the collection.

John Rylands library Achivist Stella Halkyard said :

As well as being a creative artist, Blake was an engraver and produced a wide variety of work.

The students had some specialist training in identifying prints from David Morris at the Whitworth Art Gallery before hunting through the collection. They found out we actually had a huge number of commercial engravings by Blake.

During the 18th and 19th century, engraving was looked down on as an art form, and commercial engraving more so.

But Blake is a hugely influential figure whose work was ahead of his time and whose poems are taught in our classrooms.

It is incredibly rare to have so many engravings by Blake together in one place. It is an incredible array of subjects and really showcases his talent.”

So put a note in your diaries: Burning Bright’: William Blake and Art of the Book runs at the John Rylands Library from February 7 – June 23

 

Manchester: the perfect setting for Science Fiction

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Baby at Manchester University

So why did I chose Manchester and the North West of England as the main setting for A Calculated Life? It’s not simply because I know this city and region (I could have chosen London, which I know well enough).

The fact is that Manchester shouted out as being totally appropriate. I couldn’t resist. You see, A Calculated Life is set later in the 21st Century. It’s Science Fiction or, as others might classify the novel, Speculative Fiction. It presents a dystopian view of the future – one in which humans have adopted many advances in neural implant technology and genetic engineering. As Ray Kurzweil argues in The Age of Spiritual Machines, once we discovered computation we reset our future evolutionary path.

So where better to locate this futuristic novel, than the city where the first commercial computer was developed. Read more