At the Speed of Light is almost here!

January 10th 2017

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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.

  1. I bought a book on special relativity so I could check through what I remembered and incorporate the latest thinking.
  2. 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.
  3. I am currently obsessed with artificial intelligences, how they might perceive the world and how they would arrive at an ethical framework.
  4. You’ll notice some nods to some of the SF greats: Philip K Dick, Arthur Clarke and Larry Niven specifically.
  5. 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…

Buying details are here.


*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’.

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Goodreads giveaway

December 22nd 2016

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Just a quickie before Christmas – there’s a giveaway, organised by Gollancz, of both Down Station and The White City. Link is here.

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Competition time!

October 28th 2016

Posted by: in: News and Updates, The Books of Down

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.

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Happy birthday to The White City

October 27th 2016

Posted by: in: From the Author, News and Updates, The Books of Down
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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.

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Cover reveal for The White City

August 16th 2016

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(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…

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

August 4th 2016

Posted by: in: From the Author, News and Updates, Non-fiction

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.

Click to read the rest of this item…

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Bread and Salt #3 posted tomorrow

July 25th 2016

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Ronseal – if you want Bread and Salt in your inbox, then you can subscribe with a couple of clicks (and a bit of typing your email address) here. It contains a pleasant degree of stuff, as well as my belated Inconjunction report (which I’ll post here too).

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July 6th 2016

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I’m back. This is pretty much a place-holding post, because I’m still a bit spaced: I’ve slept for 14 hours solid, and that’s probably the same amount of sleep I’ve had all weekend, so there might be some further catching up to do.

I had a brilliant time. The committee looked after me fantastically well, and I had many and varied fascinating conversations – almost everyone wanted to talk about Brexit – with many and varied fascinating people. There’ll be a much more full report in the next day or so, when I’ve recovered. I’ll just leave this here for now…

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Bread and Salt 3

June 28th 2016

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Just a reminder that my newsletter, Bread and Salt #3 will be delayed until after I come back from the USA (this weekend!) and clear some urgent deadlines. If you haven’t signed up yet, then this is the place to do it.

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Bread and Salt #2

May 24th 2016

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I’ll be mailing out the second edition of my newsletter at the end of the week: if you haven’t already done so, why not subscribe? It’s utterly free and mostly painless. Promise!

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