The Early Days of a Better Nation

Friday, September 09, 2016

A Glasgow Saturday Night

Tomorrow evening, Saturday 10 September 2016, I'll be reading and talking at this event in the lively Glasgow arts venue The Old Hairdresser's:

Details here.

Suggested donation £5.
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Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Realm of the Sentients

Not a bad title, eh? I wish I'd thought of it.

In fact it's for the Edinburgh International Book Festival event where I'll be talking about my latest book, The Corporation Wars: Dissidence tomorrow, Sunday 14 August, 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm.

The book has had some great reviews: in the Scotsman, the Guardian, and from the perceptive Edinburgh blogger Tychy, among others.

One of those others, very gratifyingly, is Warren Ellis:
Edinburgh SF axis. Charlie Stross somewhere in town, Iain Banks in North Queensferry, Ken MacLeod in South Queensferry. All very interested in culture and politics to differing degrees. Ken McLeod is the most outwardly political of the three, as a writer, being an old Trot. He's been playing with different genre models of late, and, in this first book of a trilogy, I wonder if he hasn't decided to try and play a more commercial game.

No more old political forms in this one. Brilliantly, he sets up a world war between Accelerationism and Neoreaction. He starts it in the near future and projects it into the far future and tangles it up with artificial conscious intelligence and a kind of Permanent Late Capitalism and it feels right up to the minute. He's hit the main vein of conversation about locks on artificial intelligence and living in simulations and exoplanetary exploitation and drone warfare and wraps it all into a remarkably human, funny and smartly-designed yarn.

It is, in fact, a king-hell commercial entertainment. It's not a small book, but it rips along on rockets - and makes you feel bad for a guy called Carlos The Terrorist into the bargain. And, yes, it is about politics, framed in a way that is science fictional in that it also speaks to the science-fictional condition we currently live in where such things actually exist as part of the fabric of our slightly insane world. If that makes any sense. Anyway. It's smart and very Edinburgh SF Axis and you will probably like it if you're in the mood for science fiction.

What more can I say? Be there or be square, that's what.
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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Another free evening of SF in Edinburgh

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Is Science Fiction Past Its Sell-By Date?

This announcement is itself almost past its sell-by date, I know -- but here it is: tomorrow evening, Wednesday 18 May at 7.30, I'll be making a short introduction to a discussion of the above topic for Weegie Wednesday, Glasgow's writing network, at The Terrace Bar, CCA Glasgow, 350 Sauchiehall Street.

(Spoilers: no, it isn't, but not for the reasons you may think!)

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

The shape of things to come: books

Orbit have done a cover launch for my forthcoming space opera The Corporation Wars: Dissidence and very good it looks too.

They've also announced that it and the rest of the trilogy is to be published by Orbit in the US. The second volume, The Corporation Wars: Insurgence is due to be published in December 2016, and the third (provisionally titled The Corporation Wars: Emergence) in spring 2017.

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The shape of things to come: events

Here's my schedule of public events for the coming year:

Next weekend, 17-20th March I'm a Guest of Honour at Deepcon 17, Fiuggi, Italy. (The other guest is Walter Koenig.) A small ebook collection (in English, and in Italian) of three of my short stories is coming from Future Fiction.

Friday 6 May at 7 pm I'm giving a talk, reading and signing at Central Library, Stirling for Off the Page, the Stirling Libraries' Book Festival.

11-12 June, Justina Robson and I are Guests of Honour at Fantasticon, Copenhagen, Denmark.

On Monday 1 August I'm giving a Creative Writing Masterclass at the Scottish Universities International Summer School.

29 October: Fangorn, Sarah Pinborough and I are Guests of Honour at Bristolcon, Bristol, UK.

And finally (for now) ... next year, I'm the NESFA Press Guest at Boskone 54, which will take place on Presidents Day Weekend (February 17-19, 2017) in Boston, MA at the Westin Waterfront Hotel.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Free evening of SF in Edinburgh

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Looking Back

Well, it's been a year.

In personal and family matters it's been a good one. In terms of work, though, it's been something of a forced march. Entirely my own fault: I was doing work in 2015 that I really should have done in 2014. Instead, I deluded myself that with enough research and planning in 2014, I'd be able to write the first draft of a novel at a speed I'd never attained before. This made me uncannily relaxed about giving a lot of attention to the Scottish independence referendum campaign, having a good time at Loncon 3, and so on.

In a sense I was right: I did write two novels this year, but they each took longer than I'd allowed for and left little time for anything else. At the moment I have the page proofs of the first, the second is with my editor, and the third is due for delivery mid-April. The plan is for the books to be published at six-month intervals from May 2016, and so far it's on course.

What's it about? Well ...

The general title of the trilogy is The Corporation Wars, and the books are sub-titled Dissidence, Insurgence, and Emergence. It's a far-future space opera about uploaded dead war criminals conscripted to fight an outbreak of robot sentience in an extrasolar system, and kept sane by copious amounts of R&R in immersive VR environments, some of which are beta-tests of a planned future terraforming and some of which are based on fantasy RPGs. The conflict rapidly becomes much more complicated ... but has this been the plan all along, or has a clever stratagem all gone horribly wrong?

So I've been busy. Among the other things this has left time for:

Giving a course, with Mike Cobley, on writing SF and fantasy at Moniack Mhor; talking, with Nathan Coombs, about space and socialism at a Manchester Spring event (video here); delivering a keynote (links to video and transcript here) at FSCONS in Sweden; and taking part in various book and science festivals.

This year I've written introductions to five Gollancz SF Masterworks, and articles on:

'progressive' SF and human progress; SF and personal change; and spies and double lives in future and alternate Scotlands. Not yet online is my enthusiastic review of Brian Cox's BBC2 series Human Universe, in the Summer 2015 issue of Perspectives.

Not written this year, but published in 2015 for the first time after many vicissitudes, is a discussion with Sherryl Vint on animals, biotech and SF. I also responded to some very intelligent discussion for the Crooked Timber seminar on my novels.

Over the past few months I've been reading every Scottish poem published in 2015 (a still ongoing project, as they keep on coming) to select and introduce the next of the annual Best Scottish Poems, an awesome responsibility and a new challenge.

Among the things all this hasn't left time for is what ate so much of my time in 2014: involvement, however marginal, in actual political campaigning and argument.

Next year? We'll see.

Meanwhile, all the best for 2016!
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