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.

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.

Two weeks till the train leaves

February 4th, 2016

First stop, Down Station.

This has been a long time coming. A change of publisher, a change of editor, a change of direction: if I’m trying to constantly challenge myself as a writer, I’m doing it the hard way, it seems.

I’ve wanted to write a ‘proper’ portal fantasy for a while, and now I’ve done it, it’s inevitably not quite like anyone else’s. A portal fantasy is, for the want of a better definition, the pitching of ordinary people into an extraordinary environment. I can check both those off: Dalip and Mary, Stanislav and Mama, are just regular folk, doing their daily jobs, when they discover the entrance to Down. And when I say ‘discover’, it’s literally that. They open a door, and there it is.

Because Down is not Narnia, or Barsoom, or the Pliocene, I have to chase them over the threshold. Down is a world with a conscious magic woven into every leaf, rock and blade of grass. It’s a terrifying, beautiful place, full of danger and wonder. Neither do they find themselves alone, which is altogether more perilous. Down Station is the beginning of the story of how Down sits alongside our world, and their fates are intimately joined together. The story continues in The White City – which, because this is publishing, I’m doing the edits for now, while thinking about launching its predecessor.

I could give you all kinds of spoilers and teasers. Let’s not do that. Here are some reviews:

This is a very fast paced book, with intense moments of danger as well as being full of wonder. There are so many things to discover in Down not only geographically but historically…Morden has written a book full of mysteries that are just waiting to be discovered. (Fantasy Book Review)

Down Station is a fun and interesting read which I zipped through in no time at all! (Books By Proxy)

The world is an interesting and well realised one. The central characters are believable and feel entirely human (though I would like to see more of the supporting cast in the sequel). The plot rattles along nicely, and kept me enthralled to the last page (Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews)

Once again Simon Morden takes the fantasy genre and moulds it wonderfully…What makes Down Station so great is the immaculate pacing and the way character shapes fate for each of the well-drawn main characters (The Sun)

And a few from Goodreads:

The story was a kind of fantasy that I rarely see, very Robin Hobb-ish, and by the end, some of my questions were answered, and I had a lot more and GOD DAMN IT I NEED BOOK TWO.

This is an interesting read with a great new world to immerse yourself in, it is fantastical and thrilling, a great book to add to your fantasy/sci-fi shelf.

Overall, this is an excellent, fast-paced, and satisfying read, and I’m very much looking forward to reading more of Mary and Dalip’s adventures in Down.

Which are all nice. It is, of course, not everyone’s cup of tea – as I discovered with Arcanum, fantasy readers are sometimes quite conservative in what they’ll accept as fantasy, and if it’s too different to what they expect, they’re not going to like it. I’m going to warn you now: Down Station is different. At times, it’s startlingly different. It’ll keep you guessing. It’ll surprise you. It won’t give you all the answers, and the answers it does give are often replaced by better answers later on.

Obviously, I want you to buy it, read it, love it, and talk about it to your friends. That’s because I want this story to entertain as many people as possible – and starving in a garret isn’t a great way to go. But if I was going to go on and wish for one further thing, I’d say this: I want this story to breathe. I want you to imbue Down with life, to think of the rarely-opened doors as you pass them by on the street, to wonder what you’d do in Down and what you’d become. Because that would be brilliant.

I came across a quote from the theologian Frederick Buechner: even though he was writing about this world, it sums up Down so perfectly, I wonder if I hadn’t been subconsciously channelling him.

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.

One last thing: don’t forget the signing at Forbidden Planet in London on the 20th February with me and Tricia Sullivan, between 1pm and 2pm.

Posted in: From the Author, News and Updates, The Books of Down by Simon Morden on February 4th, 2016
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Launching the Alchemist’s Dream game page

January 22nd, 2016

In the spirit of my New Year’s message to myself to ‘Be bold’, I’ve cracked open pre-orders and other shenanigans on the Alchemist’s Dream.

I could, of course, fall completely flat on my face here. But it won’t be the first time. It certainly won’t be the last. Onwards!

Here is the page.

And here’s a promotional video I’ve knocked up.

Posted in: From the Author, News and Updates, Non-fiction by Simon Morden on January 22nd, 2016
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Down Station giveaway via Goodreads

January 20th, 2016

Gollancz are lovely and know that you want to get your hands on a copy of Down Station. So they’re giving a massive 15 copies away on Goodreads. The draw is open now, and closes on February 15th. Follow this link for the right page.

Posted in: From the Author, News and Updates, The Books of Down by Simon Morden on January 20th, 2016
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Defying Reality at Forbidden Planet London on 20th February

January 15th, 2016

No, really. Apparently that’s in my skill-set now.

*shakes fist* I DEFY YOU!

And in case that doesn’t work, you are cordially invited to join award-winning me and award-winning Tricia Sullivan, who will be flogging signing copies of Down Station and Occupy Me respectively (we can sign each others books if you want, though that’s normally frowned upon) between the hours of 1pm and 2pm at the Forbidden Planet Megastore on That London’s Shaftsbury Avenue – nearest Tube station being either Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square.

There may be an opportunity for both of us to talk about our new books, and probably time afterwards for chatting, assuming that neither of us has become wildly popular overnight…

Details are here, and more news as it arrives.

Posted in: From the Author, News and Updates, The Books of Down by Simon Morden on January 15th, 2016
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Love and Fear in Down

January 11th, 2016

One of the philosophical concepts I had to consider when writing Down Station was that of Libertarianism. Down has a great deal of space, and natural resources, and people are free to do whatever they want, in that they are literally free. Down has no government, no imposed order, no unifying code. Down is – deliberately so – a tabula rasa, a blank slate on which anything can be written.

And given that abundance, and given that space, it could reasonably expected that people would individually or in small groups, set themselves up and live free lives, unfettered by a morass of rules and restrictions. Down is made for liberty.

One of the practical criticisms of Communism is that it doesn’t allow for human nature: that, having taken away the incentive for personal gain, no one will do the necessary grunt work, resulting in an impoverished, collapsing society. The only way thereafter to ensure that the farms keep harvesting and the machines keep turning is coercion. In other words, fear.

It’s also a practical criticism of Libertarianism. Having elevated the concept of personal autonomy to be paramount, there is an inevitable conflict between personal autonomies. Human nature, being what it is, will again result in an impoverished, collapsing society. Fear of the other – the non-aggression principle being as much use as a candle in a hurricane – is the only law.

There are, I believe, two reasons to … I’m not even sure what the word for the concept here is, since experience tells me that my ethical standards are the product of both my choices and my upbringing, and that’s the same for all people, at all times … I’m going to go with ‘follow a set of moral rules I have not wholly designed for myself’. So, sorry, sociopaths.

One is fear. It could be a social fear – shame – that leads compels me to fulfil my obligations. It could be judicial fear, the fear of personal or financial sanctions, that means I keep the law to avoid prison. It could be a more visceral, violent fear, that pain will follow if I don’t comply to an order or expectation. Fear is a powerful incentive, but only applicable if I think you can carry out your threat. If there’s no chance of sanction, there’s nothing to stop me from doing whatever I want, should I wish to do it.

The other is love. Love works all the time, even when there’s no one looking. Love is not an overseer. Love leads me to follow the Golden Rule (expressed positively as ‘Do to others what you would want them to do to you’) for more effectively and completely than fear ever will. Mutual respect for the other person, philia, and the urge towards charity, agape, are the cornerstones on which we build our communities.

I can imagine a communist society that’s inspired wholly by love. I can (with a greater stretch) imagine a libertarian society that’s inspired wholly by love. The problem with both of these is that humans are not generally wholly inspired by love, and those of us who try to be, are not all of the time. And even in the post-scarcity environment that say, the Freezone aspires to, communism is much more likely to be successful than libertarianism. The Freezone acknowledges our natural urges: that’s why there is human governance, and that it is exercised in tandem with an all-seeing AI.

My personal view is that libertarianism is just as capable of crossing the event horizon as communism. Human nature will produce a Somalia or a Congo as readily as it will Stalin’s USSR or Pol Pot’s Cambodia. But we don’t even have to go that far to see that those who have lost their fear of consequences act out their ambitions on the streets of our largest cities: libertarians don’t seem to be moving to those places we consider ‘lawless’.

There are nuances here: considering the nature of minarchies, and ‘night-watchmen’ states alleviates some of the problems, but still leaves the fetishisation of property rights unchecked, and that the only right of the poor is to starve to death.

Down, while not a paradise, had the potential for a new start. That it turned into a brutal, unforgiving world is not its fault. It’s ours.

 

 

Down Station, the first book of Down, will be published by Gollancz on February 16th 2016

Posted in: From the Author, Metrozone, The Books of Down by Simon Morden on January 11th, 2016
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