Welcome to SimonMorden.com

This is the website of Simon Morden, author of the Metrozone series, published by Orbit Books in the UK and USA.

Here you can read Simon’s latest News and Blog Posts, find information on his books, read published essays and get in touch with the author.

Sign up for Simon’s email newsletter, Bread and Salt.

If you’re here for the Alchemist’s Dream boardgame, then click here.

If you’re here for the Heart project, this is the main page.

Competition time!

October 28th, 2016

Book blog Bart’s Bookshelf have snagged a copy of both Down Station and The White City from Gollancz, and they’re giving them away!

Enter here.

Posted in: News and Updates, The Books of Down by Simon Morden on October 28th, 2016
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Happy birthday to The White City

October 27th, 2016

In all the rush to do blog posts and email interviews for other people, I completely forgot to do one for here…

The White City

So here we go: the second Book of Down, The White City, is published today and is available from all the usual outlets. While I do usually try and make sequels at least have the potential to stand alone, The White City isn’t going to make a whole lot of sense without having read Down Station, but fortunately there are two low-cost options to catch up – the mass market paperback (retailing at a reasonable UK£8.99) or the Kindle e-book (priced at a ludicrous UK£2.99). Of course, the original trade paperback with the bigger shinier cover is a thing of wonder, and probably worth getting just for that.

The White City follows directly on from events in Down Station. It’s a bit of road trip (although, not giving anything away that the cover doesn’t, much of that is by sea), and because my player characters don’t pay any attention to the DM, they split the party early on. Which, inevitably, leads to shenanigans of the highest order when they do get back together again.

As with all my books, you can file it under ‘intensely personal’, because that’s the nature of the beast, but this one was more so than most. The first book I’d written after my father died. I was worried enough that I sent a note along with the first draft, telling my editor pro tem that she was to tell me if there was leakage from the Real World into the Down, because I was too close to the manuscript to spot it. I appear to have got away with it, mostly. The story is chiaroscuro: the dark is as dark can be, but the lighter stuff (pirates!) is quite fun. Until that bit turns dark too. But the ending – I hadn’t known until that point what was going to happen, and I was shocked. I think you will be too. But shocked in a good way.

So, here it is, my *counts fingers* ninth novel/novella. Enjoy.

Posted in: From the Author, News and Updates, The Books of Down by Simon Morden on October 27th, 2016

Fire Sale! *

October 10th, 2016

*Does not involve actual fire


When you get a book published by a major publisher, one of the things that normally happens is that you get sent a box of the books, to distribute as you see fit. You’ve not had to pay for them, and they’re simply a thank you. I’m now mumble-mumble books down the line, and things are starting to back up a bit. We lack for storage space here at Morden Towers: I’ve already filled one cupboard, I’m spilling out into others, and I’d like to shift as many of these as possible, just to free up some more room.

Because they don’t actually owe me anything, I can reasonably flog them off at whatever price I decide, plus postage and packing.


  • UK£1 per book – you’ll need a paypal account to transfer the money to me.
  • When they’re gone, they’re gone. This is strictly first-come, first-served.
  • You pay postage and packing on top – books are heavy, but I’ll keep the costs down as much as a I can. I’ll let you know how much that’ll be when you order, but before you pay, so you can make an informed decision. As a guide, anything up to 2kg will cost £2.85 2nd class Royal Mail, UK only, plus whatever packaging is required.
  • I’ll ship them anywhere in the world. Since you’re paying the postage, it’s no more trouble for me than it is posting to the UK.
  • Offer will close on December 21st 2016.
  • All books are as new, or as new as they can get sitting in a box in a cupboard for a few years. None of them are damaged.
Title Publisher Format Stock
Brilliant Things Subway PB In stock
The Lost Art DFB Hardback none
The Lost Art DFB(US) Hardback In stock
The Lost Art Corgi MMPB none
Equations of Life Orbit UK PB none
Equations of Life Orbit US MMPB 2 left
Theories of Flight Orbit UK PB none
Theories of Flight Orbit US MMPB 6 left
Degrees of Freedom Orbit UK PB 5 left
Degrees of Freedom Orbit US MMPB 2 left
The Curve of the Earth Orbit UK PB none
The Curve of the Earth Orbit US Trade PB 5 left
Arcanum Orbit UK PB 1 left
Arcanum Orbit US PB In stock

(last updated 0010GMT 16 October – post is suspended for a week because I’m away from my desk, but orders will still be accepted)

(UK and US editions are going to be slightly different – the first three Petrovitchs in the US are the smaller, fatter, ‘pocketbook’ type paperbacks.)

Please note that there are no copies of Thy Kingdom Come, Heart or Another War – Thy Kingdom Come CDs are all long gone, and the JurassicLondon hardback is, as mentioned, a rarity only to be found in second-hand bookstores . Heart is available as a free ebook, and hardback and paperback via Lulu (links on my website – http://www.simonmorden.com/books/heart/ – and also Amazon) but I don’t hold stock. Another War is available via Telos (http://www.telos.co.uk/product/another-war/). I’m not including Down Station or The White City in this, either: this is just my back-catalogue.

I’ve let subscribers to my newsletter have first shout. Now I’m offering it out to the masses. Any questions and queries, just ask, and of course I’ll be happy to sign any of the books to whomever.

Orders, queries and questions here -> brilliantthings@blueyonder.co.uk

Books always make excellent Christmas presents…

Posted in: From the Author by Simon Morden on October 10th, 2016

Cover reveal for The White City

August 16th, 2016

(Click for bigger)

Well, isn’t that smart? The good folk at Blacksheep have done it again, and given me a cover to be proud of. The White City (Down #2) will be available in trade paperback from all the usual outlets, 27th October 2016. You can pre-order it now, of course. In the next couple of days, I’ll be making up a page on this site, for easier navigation…

Posted in: From the Author, News and Updates, The Books of Down by Simon Morden on August 16th, 2016

Change is inevitable and there’s nothing you can do about it

August 4th, 2016

Warning: this is a long one, and possibly a bit rambling. tl;dr, the title.

The amphitheatre is now little more than a ruin. The gates have gone and the seating disassembled by the unscrupulous and opportunistic to become carts or tables. The shrines have vanished, no doubt after being desecrated, and their niches lay empty and abandoned. The spectacles, the pageants, the contests of my childhood will never return. It is now dark where it was once light. Soon the Saxon wolf will overtake us. Many have left the town already. The rest will leave soon. No one will remain who remembers. Not even me.

Commios Atrebates, circa 390 AD


When I’m down at my mum’s, in the family home in the village I was brought up in, my usual morning running route takes me to the old Roman amphitheatre at Silchester, where I stop, take a breather, and then run back. It’s a very pleasant route – most of my running is usually either urban or in the park – through the back lanes where there’s hardly any traffic at all, and mostly I’m left to my own thoughts as I navigate a twisty-turny course between high hedges and up/down big hills.

It doesn’t look any significantly different from four decades ago, when I used to walk and cycle the same back lanes, and the temptation is to think of the landscape as timeless. It’ll always be that way, and there’s no reason for it to change. Which is, of course, nonsense, and evidence literally stares me in the face at the half-way point: the amphitheatre.

There’s a little board just at its southern entrance, with a picture showing what it would have looked like in its prime: an oval structure with high, banked walls, a flat arena, with gates guarding the two opposite entrances. It’s thought that there were gladiatorial fights there, along with equestrian events (probably the beginning and/or end of a cross-country race) and other festivals. It’s in a remarkable state of preservation, considering it’s literally in the middle of nowhere in particular, and is nigh on two thousand years old.

A lot has happened in those two thousand years, but I’ll say that again. Two thousand years. My morning run starts in a village which is mostly Victorian and ends at a Roman amphitheatre. That’s an awful lot of history I’m moving through. This landscape is ancient. Not one bit of it remains even close to ‘natural’. We’ve resurfaced every single part of it, several times, and very little evidence remains of the previous iterations.

The roads I’m running on. They might be Roman (and briefly, they are). They might be Saxon. They’re probably much later than that, reflecting the consolidation of land around the time of the dissolution of the monasteries or the much later enclosure acts. The fields, the stands of trees, even the course of the river I cross. Not one single thing is the same.

And here I start to get to the point: you can’t save it. You can’t. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try. No matter what laws you enact, or armies you employ, or people you drive out or kill. It won’t stay the same. Yes, you can hold back the tide for a little while. But all that does is drive the water higher on the other side of the dam so that when it fails, it fails catastrophically.

I’m sure Commios thought, growing up in a Romano-British town, behind its high flint walls, that it was permanent. He’d live there, and die there, and so would his children. Then the Romans pulled their legions back and the Germanic tribes, by invitation and intimidation, displaced them. They had different priorities, different technologies, and Calleva disappeared under the farmland. The building stone was carried off, the roads dug up, and very many years later, archaeologists examine the remains. (editor’s note: I made the Commios quote up. I’m a writer. It’s what I do.)

Let’s bring it up to date. My dad was Chair of the Planning committee on the Parish Council. He fought long and hard to preserve the ‘village envelope’, to keep it the same geographical extent, to stop ribbon developments forming between this and neighbouring villages. To an extent, he succeeded. The village has only doubled in population by infilling and a couple of modest new estates on land within the parish boundary, when the external pressure had been for them to accept very many more.

But what else was achieved? The doctor’s surgery is overwhelmed, the local schools, the local railway station, the sewage pumping station, the roads, are all at the limit, or over the limit, of their capacity. Houses have two, three, four cars parked outside them, and the houses themselves are pretty much all north of half a million pounds. People with what I’d classify as ‘normal jobs’ simply can’t afford to live there any more. I grew up with labourers’ children in my school class, the sons and daughters of engineers and servicemen. Now, people down the street are ‘something in the city’.

The village is still there. But the village of my youth has gone. Many of the buildings are the same, but the people, the ethos, the community has gone. The heroic attempts of my dad and his colleagues to preserve what they could has been partially successful only in ways that have sown the seeds of the inevitable destruction of what they wanted to save.

The morning trains take rich people away to work elsewhere, and bring in poor people to clean their houses and look after their children. Before, they’d be living next door to each other. Now, they live miles apart. I talked to him about this several times before he died. He eventually accepted that perhaps such an aggressive defence had contributed little except a massive increase in house prices that meant his own children could only give a disbelieving chuckle as they passed the estate agent’s window.

Change is inevitable. Resisting change is perhaps noble but ultimately futile. Managing change is wise, but even then, change – the abrupt collapse of the Roman Empire, the Norman invasion, the break-up of the abbey estates, the Enclosures Act, the arrival of the railway – can be disruptive and unexpected. That something else will come over the horizon to break down the walls is a certain: less certain is what that’ll actually be.

Here’s the other thing, though. Change is always forward moving. It’s dynamic, destructive, often chaotic and frightening. The one thing it doesn’t do is look back, because you can’t go back. You. Can. Not. Go. Back. There’s no rebottling the genie or closing the lid on Pandora’s Box. There’s no recalling the legions. It doesn’t happen like that.

This is the part where I talk about Brexit. Yes, there were all sorts of reasons to vote to leave the EU, and none of them I was at all convinced about. But the least convincing of all was the slogan ‘take our country back’. Because you can’t. I know it was a rhetorical device, but to me it summed up everything that was wrong about the Leave campaign. Back to when there were fewer brown people in the country? Back to when we had an empire? Back to when we had an unelected oligarchy involve us in foreign wars we barely understood but felt the pull of false patriotism to support?

Back to when ‘we’ had control? We never had control. At best, ‘we’ nudged the direction of the wheels as we hurtled down the slope. At the worst, we were simply captives in the runaway cart. Even those who were in control (and unless you’re sitting on roughly a billion quid, it’s not you) were just as much victims as we ordinary folk were. They just got a better carriage to their destruction.

Everything that Leave are trying to preserve will be swept away, like the high walls and the amphitheatre of Calleva Atrebatum, like the abbeys and the manors and the commons and the forests and the hedges and roads and even the names of the places we live. History tells us that this is true. The very land itself bears witness to this.

Change is inevitable and inexorable. Our humanity is fragile and impermanent. But the only certain stability in this churning sea of change is ourselves, our persons, our love and our hope. Neither are we doing this on our own: there are others out there, who are simultaneously not frightened of change and wanting to carry their dreams into the future.

The next few decades are when I’m going to grow old and die. I’ll be gone, and I’ll have left a few academic papers, some stories, a handful of remembrances soon to be forgotten and that’s pretty much it. The wave of time will wash over it all, as it has done almost everyone else for the whole of recorded history. There’s nothing I can do about that. It’s the people around me that make the journey worthwhile, and if I can do justice, love mercy and walk humbly on the way, my work will be mostly done. Helping others and equipping them – not least of which my children -to ride that wave is the point, and the hope that one day, they may arrive at the stranger shore.



Posted in: From the Author, News and Updates, Non-fiction by Simon Morden on August 4th, 2016