10 days to go until the release of my next novella*. And when I say next, it’s only my second (after the tentacular Another War). There isn’t much I can tell you upfront about it, because to say too much would be to ruin the reading experience – it’s a multiply-layered mystery, set in the deepest of deep space. It’s very much a return to Proper Science Fiction, written with a calculator in one hand and a text book in the other, while I peck out the actual letters with my nose: you don’t get to see any of my working, but it did need to be there, lurking in the background, for plot purposes.
So what can I tell you about it? Apart from the fact that it’s brilliant and has a spaceship on the cover which I’ve never had before. Or that I had the best time ever writing it.
I bought a book on special relativity so I could check through what I remembered and incorporate the latest thinking.
I wrote some of the ms in a shed in a forest in the Cairngorms, recharging my little laptop up from a car battery which itself was topped up using a solar panel.
I am currently obsessed with artificial intelligences, how they might perceive the world and how they would arrive at an ethical framework.
You’ll notice some nods to some of the SF greats: Philip K Dick, Arthur Clarke and Larry Niven specifically.
The MacGuyvering that happens is done in real-time. None of the story was plotted out first, and I just hoped I could work everything out as I went along.
The book comes in three flavours: ebook (kindle), paperback, and signed, limited edition hardback, and is part of a 4-set collection of SF novellas from Newcon Press, with contributions from myself, Alistair Reynolds, Anne Charnock and Neil Williamson. The set will be ‘officially’ launched at Eastercon this year, but I wouldn’t necessarily wait if you want the hardback. The Reynolds has already sold out…
*shorter work – it clocks in at 35,000 words. Please don’t get cross online because it’s not a full-length novel, like one Amazon reviewer did for Alistair Reynold’s The Iron Tactician, because they didn’t read any of the details and subsequently felt ‘cheated’.
Some of you lucky ones have been given a book for Christmas, so inevitably, you’ve hit the internet to find out who this Morden bloke is and whether he’s any good. So, here’s a quick primer before you delve deeper into the website (free stories, even a free book, essays, stuff like that…).
Yes, I have a PhD in planetary geophysics. I don’t use it explicitly in most of my stories, but you’ll discover that even when a story is allegedly a fantasy, it’s also science fiction. And yes, I accidentally got to handle a piece of Mars.
Some of my characters are quite sweary. I’ve got a bit of a reputation for that. Sometimes (Sam Petrovitch, Peter Buber, Mary) they just are, because people just are. At least Petrovitch mostly swears in Russian.
I don’t write the same book twice. Some authors with ongoing series follow a formula. I don’t: I like to challenge myself each and every time to write something different. It probably loses me readers, but it keeps my interest.
I’ve inexplicably fallen in love with running, at a late age. I’m not very good at it, but neither am I as terrible as I was when I first started. I run for all sorts of reasons – fitness, community, mental wellbeing – but chiefly, to feel the burn. Weird, I know.
My newsletter is one of the best ways of keeping up with what I’m doing. I started it half way through 2016, and genuinely enjoy writing it. I try and send it out every month, and you can subscribe to it here.
There’s lots more stuff about cats, politics and religion, but that’s for another day. Anyway, enjoy the book, and hopefully you’ll buy more!