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

Hay Festival #3: Rhianna Pratchett on Writing for Games

I’m back from Hay Festival, the campervan is unpacked and I’ll be posting my favourite snippets from the 10-day literary event over the next few days. First up, Rhianna Pratchett in conversation with Guy Cocker.

Rhianna Pratchett

Rhianna Pratchett: A Narrative Paramedic

‘Fifteen years ago when I was a games journalist, no one talked about narrative,’ said Rhianna Pratchett to a multi-generational Hay audience. Even today writers in the games industry, she said, were seen as narrative paramedics. ‘It’s only when a story is bleeding so badly that someone will say, “We really need a writer.” A lot of projects out there are like that.’ In general, writers were brought in too late because the industry failed to appreciate how much they added to a project. “There needs to be a narrative logic so that players actually care.”

Rhianna Pratchett is perfectly placed to comment on writing for the games industry. In 2007 she was a BAFTA nominee for her work on Heavenly Sword and she won a Writers’ Guild of Great Britain script award for Overlord. She’s also known for developing the voice of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. Read more

Favourite Quotes from Write the Future Micro-Conference

I’ve deciphered my scribbly notes from last week’s Arthur C Clarke Award and Write the Future micro-conference, organized by Tom Hunter,  and I thought I’d share my favourite quotes from the day:

Lauren Beukes, author of Zoo City (winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2011) and The Shining Girls, quoted Muriel Rukeyser:

“The universe is made of stories, not atoms.”

Ben North of HarperCollins quoted Ludwig Wittgenstein:

“If a lion could speak, we could not understand him.” Read more

Arthur C Clarke Award Winner? Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

Dark Eden

You can just see Chris Beckett at the podium if you squint.

Chris Beckett was presented with the Arthur C Clarke Award 2013 yesterday evening at a packed event at the Royal Society. Many congratulations! I hope this award will create a bigger readership for his brilliant book, Dark Eden.

And I’m holding off to the second paragraph to say – I told you so!

Yesterday I stuck my neck out and said Dark Eden was my favourite on the shortlist (and I’ve read and reviewed them all on this blog over the past month). It was the second book I read on the shortlist and here’s the review. Read more

My Favourite on the Arthur C Clarke Shortlist

Well, I’ve slept on it… and I’ve re-read my reviews. There are two novels that, for me, stand out from the six on the 2013 shortlist:

Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden and

Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars.

Each of the remaining four novels obviously have great merits in terms of subject matter, plot, writing quality or experimental daring in genre cross-over. But I’ve taken into account particular issues that rankle with me. For example, I’m a tad averse to meandering tales and loose writing styles. Read more

Arthur C Clarke Award #6: 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

I have to admit that I haven’t read Kim Stanley Robinson’s fiction before and on the strength of 2312 I’ll read his Mars Trilogy, which established him as a big hitter, with a literary bent, in the realm of hard SF.

Truth is, I don’t really gravitate to other-world science fiction. I suppose because I’m mainly interested in social science fiction I’ve tended towards Earth-based scenarios. I’m now thinking I should reconsider this bias.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 is the sixth, and final, novel I’ve read on the shortlist for this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award. The winner will be announced tomorrow evening (1 May) at the Royal Society in London. And I’ll be there! Read more