Fiona Curran

Art and JG Ballard: Geologic Time and Lucid Dreaming

Writer JG Ballard, the great dystopian visionary, said in an interview back in 1975, ‘I think I always was a frustrated painter.’ He went on to say: ‘They are all paintings, really, my novels and stories… I approach many of these stories of mine, like the Vermilion Sands stories – even the novels like Crash – as a sort of visual experience.’ This comment appears in Extreme Metaphors – Interviews with J.G. Ballard 1967-2008, in which he frequently declares his love affair with visual art.

And, in 2003, in an interview with art critic Hans Ulrich Obrist, Ballard said, ‘I think the surrealist painters had the biggest influence on me – De Chirico, Ernst, Dali and Delvaux. These are all painters of mysterious and disconnected landscapes, through which the few human beings drift in a state of dream-like trance, which had a direct and powerful appeal for me.’

Art’s science fictional turn

Ballard’s enchantment with art has been reciprocated over the decades as artists have taken inspiration from science fiction, and there’s no sign of abatement. Two exhibitions in London this month present solo shows by artists who specifically respond to Ballard. I rushed to both exhibitions clutching my copy of Extreme Metaphors. Read more

A Conversation with SF Author Neve Maslakovic

Neve Maslakovic switched from being a research engineer to being a fiction writer. Both professions are creative endeavours, she says, but in science fiction you don’t have to stick to the Rules of the Universe. The ink is now drying on the manuscript of her third novel. In this conversation, we explore are similar backgrounds, discuss our different paths to finding a publisher, and find we share a love of writing dialogue. Read more

47North Releases A Calculated Life, Today

The 47North editorial, design and publicity teams have surpassed themselves! In the space of just two months — since acquisitions editor David Pomerico signed me up — they have created a fabulous new cover for A Calculated Life, expedited my manuscript through the editing and proofing process, organized the audiobook and generally ‘put the word out there’. I’ve been involved at every stage in the process!

Little did I know when I took the difficult decision to self-publish my novel that, eight months later, I’d be signing a book deal with a US publisher. Read more

Hugo Awards Short Stories 2013: My Favourite

Three short stories are in contention for the Hugo Award and they are diverse. I’ve enjoyed them all. And, as I’m writing a few short stories at the moment, I’ve found it fascinating to read the best of 2013 (as nominated and selected by members of the World Science Fiction Society).

Here’s an admission: I’d intended to read all the shortlisted novels because I wanted to compare them with the Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist, which I reviewed here earlier this year. But with all the work involved with my novel’s new release by 47North, I scaled back my ambition. First, I opted to read all the shortlisted novellas, and later I scaled back again and decided to read the shortlisted short stories. So I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon reading these stories in the shade of my apple tree. Read more

front cover

New Cover Release for A Calculated Life: Pre-ordering On!

front cover

And the back cover is fab, too!

One step closer! I’m thrilled to show you the cover art for the new edition of A Calculated Life, which is now available for pre-ordering on Amazon.

It’s been a wonderful experience having my self-published novel signed by 47North and the team has done a sterling job. The new cover, by theBookDesigners, has an echo of the original (I was surprised by that). And the paperback format is brilliant because the artwork wraps around the spine, with fragmentation of the image on the back cover. Just gorgeous. Great typography, too! I hope you like it.

My editor David Pomerico presented me with several covers. There was a clear consensus on the final choice!

As well as working with the 47North team, I’ve been carrying out research for a new writing project. I’ll tell you more once I’ve progressed beyond scribbles, post-it notes and chaotic bashing at my keyboard… Read more

Nine Worlds GeekFest #2: Why Is The Future So Binary?

Nine Worlds GeekFest explored sexuality and gender in science fiction in a fascinating range of debates including Why Is The Future So Binary? This super-packed-out event witnessed a lively exchange between the author-panelists and the attendees, who shouted out examples of gender diversity in SF literature. The event successfully drew together a list of fictional worlds featuring gender non-conformity as opposed to the usual girl-meets-boy scenarios. (More books for the To Read list!)

Alex Dally MacFarlane pointed to the classic example – Ursula K Le Guin’s novel The Left Hand of Darkness, set in a world without gender. ‘Le Guin pokes at gender binary,’ said MacFarlane. And chairing the discussion panel, Tori Truslow told the audience, ‘We need more! SF writers seem to think, “Le Guin did that so we don’t need to do it.”’ Read more

Utopia

Nine Worlds GeekFest #1: Is Our Future Utopian Or Dystopian?

Science fiction writers are getting ‘carried away with fear,’ according to author Tricia Sullivan. ‘There’s a failure to imagine a positive future. As a writer it’s harder to build things up than blow things up… Finding an element of hope really does mean disabling all my instincts as a science fiction writer.’

Sullivan was part of a four-author panel debating the question Is Our Future Utopian Or Dystopian? at Nine Worlds GeekFest 2013 in London last weekend. Her remark came in response to a challenge from Tom Hunter, director of The Clarke Awards, who chaired the event. He asked: ‘How do we find an element of hope?’ Sullivan quoted from Oscar Wilde: ‘The basis of optimism is sheer terror.’ (From The Picture of Dorian Gray). Read more

Latest Shenanigans: Strange Horizons • 47North • Hugos …

Before you all hit ‘silent mode’ for the month of August (that is, those of you who live in the northern hemisphere), I thought I’d bring you up to date with what’s happening in my little world. It’s just one month since I received the email from David Pomerico at 47North offering me a publishing deal, and it’s been full-on hectic – in a good way – since then. But before I tell you what’s happening with the new edition of my book…

strange horizonsOver at Strange Horizons (SF articles, reviews, new fiction), you’ll find my review of Ioanna Bourazopoulou’s What Lot’s Wife Saw, translated by Yiannis Panas. This dystopian novel won the The Athens Prize for Literature.

While you are there, I’d recommend the article Evaporating Genres, by Gary K. Wolfe. Gary examines the crossover of SF with historical fiction, horror, fantasy and thrillers. Also, Niall Harrison is reviewing Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus, which my local book group is reading at this very moment. Read more

A Calculated Life signed up by publisher 47North

Big news!

I’ve signed a book deal with David Pomerico of 47North, Amazon Publishing’s science fiction, fantasy and horror imprint, for a new edition of my dystopian novel A Calculated Life.

How sweet does that sound? I can barely believe it.

The 47North team is based in Seattle and over this summer they will create a new cover for my novel, copy-edit and proofread the manuscript, including changing the text to American spellings (!), and release the new edition in mid-September 2013.

The original edition of A Calculated Life, with British English spellings and the great Mack Manning cover, will be available until the release of the 47North edition.

I’ve read some excellent feedback online from authors about their working relationships with Amazon Publishing and I can’t wait to get started. 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