In which I am not Richard Morgan

March 1st 2012

Posted by: in: From the Author, Metrozone
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Of course, our surnames are very close to each other, and we are often therefore shelved next to each other – but we are manifestly not the same person. All of which is preamble to discussing this review of Equations of Life. Actually, I’m not going to discuss the review (though being given 9/10 and the reviewer risking life and limb to wrestle Theories of Flight from the tbr pile is very gratifying), but this comment here:

As for the idea that Simon Morden is the next Richard Morgan – hm, I’m not convinced. Morden might get bleaker as the series progresses, but throughout Equations of Life there is just too much rollicking joie de vivre bouncing through the chaos and destruction for any true Morganesque comparisons. Kovacs is capable of flashes of savage humour – but the breathless pace of Morden’s storytelling, with the constant plot twists corkscrewing off in all sorts of unpredictable directions without a pause for any sort of info-dump, or tastelessly graphic sex scene, gives Morden’s work an original charm all of its own. In fact, I think Petrovitch’s adventures have more in common with the early Harry Dresden stories…

I’m not exactly certain who’s been suggesting that I’m the next Richard Morgan. Or the next anyone, for that matter, when I pour heart and soul (see the artist suffer!) into being the first me. I am, as I readily admit, the sum total of all the stories I’ve ever read, plus whatever I bring to the table as specifically me. I’m reasonably certain most other authors, unless they’re being explicitly paid to be otherwise, are in the same boat. Or not the same boat – their own individual boats, in fact. The ‘author of the week’ pastiches as played out on Radio 4′s The Write Stuff are incredibly clever and astute, but acknowledged as pastiches. Anthony Horowitz’s latest Sherlock Holmes is both in the style of Conan Doyle, and undeniably Horowitz. So to say author X is the next author Y, is I think a disservice. Yes, of course I’m aware that marketing comes into it: every YA author has (I understand it’s compulsory) to be compared to either JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyer, and every fantasy tome has “The next JRR Tolkien” on the cover. But I wish they’d stop doing that.

What they mean, of course, is “Do you enjoy famous author Y? Buy this book from complete unknown X! There is a vague similarity in subject and/or style.” Which is fair enough, but it does somewhat indicate that the advance review copies didn’t yield quite enough quotable material to fill out the back cover. It’s obviously tough at the start of a career – if there is such a thing in writing these days – to get noticed. Been there, done that. And am probably still there and still doing that: I’m nowhere near out of the woods yet. Where I’m happier with comparisons is between books – there are a couple of reviews where Equations is likened to Altered Carbon, in that they have a hard-boiled crime-cum-dystopian feel to them, and they both fairly zip along. But even then, according to the Brainfluff review above, I singularly fail at being Richard Morgan.

It would be incredibly sad if, to make it in SF, you had to write as someone else. Richard is very much alive and well and still writing. I don’t plan on going anywhere for the moment. Plenty of room for both Morden and Morgan on those shelves. Just remember to put my books face out, okay?

3 Responses to “In which I am not Richard Morgan”

  • John says:

    I’m wondering as well why the reviewer would even compare you and Morgan. Having read your Metrozone trilogy and Morgan’s Takashi Kovacs trilogy, you are both vastly different enough to distinguish between you very easily. Other then the fact that your surnames are similar, both of you are British, and you are both fantastic authors, I can’t see any similarities.

  • Steve Page says:

    You have definitely carved out a distinct character and style as far as i can see (with my 35 years of adult reading experience) although I understand the Harry Dresden reference). As far as marketing of books goes, as a consumer of novels, I’m much more persuaded by a positive review by another well liked author than with a comparison with the same author by an unknown reviewer.

    • Simon Morden says:

      Yes. This. Which is why I’m particularly delighted by my Jon Courtney Grimwood quote – I presume (like me) he only does quotes for books that a) he’s read and b) he’s enjoyed.