March 19th 2013
Posted by: Simon Morden in: From the Author, Metrozone, News and Updates
Tags: Degrees of Freedom | Equations of Life | Metrozone | Orbit | Philip K Dick award | Samuil Petrovitch | The Curve of the Earth | Theories of Flight | Thy Kingdom Come
Or, as my editor said on the phone yesterday, “It’s really difficult to embargo a book these days…” The Curve of the Earth has been spotted up and down the land, and other lands, previous to this day, and The Evil Tax-dodging Corporation Which Must Not Be Named (no, not the one that sells coffee, or mobile phones. The other one) seems to have been shipping copies since the weekend. But today is the Official Launch, so I should really post about it.
It’s a funny old business really. Here I am, in the middle of the final edits for Arcanum, and a book I wrote a year ago is coming out now. There’s a slight feeling of “is this happening to me?” about it, an air of bemused detachment, because while I lived and breathed this story during its creation, and then all over again for the edits, it’s now in my past, while for many of you, it’s in your present or even your future. This launch is certainly less nerve-wracking than the bang-bang-bang release of the first three books. I’m older, and a lot more sanguine, for one thing. More confident even (thanks again, Philip K Dick award!). What I’m looking forward to most is hearing what you think of it: Petrovitch is all grown up. He’s been at more-or-less peace for ten years. Then … this happens. And dear Lord, he’s angry. Not incandescent angry, but coldly calculating angry. Which makes him far more dangerous to both his enemies and his friends.
Do you need to have read Equations of Life, Theories of Flight and Degrees of Freedom to enjoy The Curve of the Earth? Actually, no. The story will probably be richer if you have, but I’ve written it in such a way (avoiding the as-you-know-Bob infodumps) that it’s not necessary. Orbit have kindly released an ebook omnibus if you need to catch up, but you can reasonably do that afterwards if you want, just in the same way it’s not necessary to have read Thy Kingdom Come before starting on Equations. Someone told me they’d read the original trilogy in reverse order. Okay, not recommended, but hey.
However you choose to read about Petrovitch, his world is now four books and a short-story collection long. Enjoy responsibly. You can, of course, hear from the man himself in this exclusive interview posted at the Orbit website. It’s a bit sweary (as you’d expect) but it’s quite enlightening. It was recorded just before the events of The Curve of the Earth, so it should give you some idea to his state of mind at page 1…
June 10th 2012
Posted by: Simon Morden in: From the Author, Ignite, Metrozone, News and Updates
Tags: audio book | Degrees of Freedom | Equations of Life | Greenbelt | Ignite | Lauren Panepinto | Metrozone | Philip K Dick award | Samuil Petrovitch | Theories of Flight
I’ve been contemplating writing this post for a few weeks now (which is why it’s gone a bit quiet), and it appears to be the case that the only way to get my thoughts out is to just start and see what happens: which is pretty much how I write books anyway…
I’m not one for annual celebrations. I’ll be more specific: I’m not one for annual celebrations that involve me. Birthdays, having had so many of them, are something I can honestly take or leave. Cake is nice, but the fuss involved for the rest of the family is out of proportion. Christmas is important for other reasons, but not necessarily the gift-giving and mountain of food cooked. My wedding anniversary, I admit, becomes more significant with every year that passes because it actually represents an achievement that is greater than simply staying alive. But one orbital revolution is pretty much the same as the next. What matters is what’s done during it.
It’s been a year since Degrees of Freedom was published, and by extension fourteen months since Equations of Life started to savage the eyeballs of the world. How did that work out for me? Pretty well, it turns out.
I had some concerns. Chiefly, the covers and the publishing schedule. No one was ever going to argue that the cover art (designed by the hugely talented Lauren Panepinto) was neutral. Some people loved them. Some people hated them. It’s impossible to tell whether or not they boosted sales or suppressed them. They were, however, talked about in the best Wildean sense. For a Z-list author, that wasn’t a bad gamble to take.
Publishing three books in three months is like taking a writing life and smashing it repeatedly against a wall. It’s a big thing, releasing a book into the wild: there’s an awful lot of emotional energy stored up in just one novel, along with the concepts of ‘professional’ and ‘career’. To do that bang-bang-bang? I’d underestimated how draining it would be. Reception was magnificently mixed from the ‘what fresh hell is this?’ to the ‘crowning moment of awesome’. Realising that not everybody like your book and watching them say so in a public forum are different things. My skin is considerably thicker than it was a year ago, and probably a good job too.
As time went on, several good things happened. Sales, while not stellar, were good enough – Equations of Life earned a reprint in both UK and US editions, and what’s more surprising is that it’s still selling. I’m given to understand that most books sell most copies in the first six weeks after publication; not young master Petrovitch. I don’t know what that means yet, but if new people are still discovering the Metrozone while there are newer, shinier books out, then I’m happy.
The audio books of the Metrozone were a revelation, and certainly the closest you’ll get to a cinematic experience for the foreseeable future. Toby Leonard Moore has done a simply stellar job of reading them, far, far better than I could ever do.
I’ve also got fan mail, and not in the creepy odd way, either. Smart people have written to me about stuff. I’m a bit behind in my replies, but I’ll try and get around to everyone shortly. It’s fascinating to hear about where you are and what you do, and how we stumbled into each other’s orbit. And fans have also got me into tvtropes.org, one of my all-time favourite websites. The Metrozone is built on tropey goodness, played straight, lampshaded and averted, often all at the same time, and I’m delighted to find my books in there.
I obviously need to mention the Philip K Dick award. If the three-in-three months schedule has a legacy, this was it. The first time a trilogy of books was nominated, they won. ‘What does it mean to you?’ people ask. It means that every book I write from now on will have ‘Winner of the Philip K Dick award’ on the cover. It means that I probably have more artistic freedom to do other things. It means I get to write some short stories again for a couple of anthologies I’ve been invited (invited!) to be part of. It means I’m very busy at Greenbelt this year, and probably at Eastercon next.
It does mean there’s an extra weight of expectation – one I’m putting on myself – to be better still. Book 4 of the trilogy ‘The Curve of the Earth’ is already at the publishers and it’ll be out next March. It is, I think, a different book again to books 1, 2, and 3. Expect an older, more thoughtful Samuil who’s capable of even greater acts of destruction simply because he’s better resourced. There is Science! of course, and big explosions, but the real drama is in his cybernetic heart.
The work in progress is Ignite. Followers on Facebook will know this has now passed the 200,000 word mark, and I’m probably heading towards 300,000. It is a startlingly different beast, and I have no idea how it’s going to be received by my publishers when they get hold of it – the Metrozone it most surely isn’t. My agent, however, is reading it in chunks – when he got to the end of the last of the chapters I’d sent him, he wished wistfully there were more. This is a hopeful sign. I have until the start of December to finish it – leaving myself some time to revise the manuscript too. It will be done – I haven’t missed a deadline yet, but it is very, very big. I do wonder if I’ve simply bitten off more than I can chew, but if I’m going to fail, I’m going to do it spectacularly. Wish me luck.
April 23rd 2012
As someone on Facebook just commented, shouldn’t an award as cool as this be, you know, cooler…?
It is, as we say in these parts, Ronseal, after the wood preservative that “does what it says on the tin”. But in a slyly knowing meta-way, a prosaic Philip K Dick award which symbolically represents something greater than itself while still maintaining its understated certificate-in-a-frame reality is actually mocking the more flamboyant but less confident awards that are determined to be self-consciously physical representations of triumph.
Pretty cool after all, eh?
April 7th 2012
My lovely wife (and this just shows how lovely she is) watched the live streaming content and then phoned me up to tell me I’d won. Having staggered to conciousness, because let’s face it, 4am in the morning is not my best time, she played me the relevant bit over the phone, and yes – there it was: Ellen Wright reading out my acceptance speech, some of it in Russian.
“Yobany stos! I appear to have won. What I have failed to do, however, is appear in person to collect the award and thank the judges, for which I sincerely apologise.
I’m reasonably certain that any author sitting down to write an award-winning novel would be in the grip of massive hubris – and therefore almost certain to be destroyed by the gods – and winning anything, let alone the Philip K Dick award, couldn’t have been further from my mind when I wrote Equations of Life, Theories of Flight and Degrees of Freedom.
What I did do was set out to have a huge amount of fun. I hope that showed through, even as Petrovitch lost yet another body part to be replaced with shiny, shiny metal. I appreciate that the series isn’t exactly ‘high art’, and the books have been on the receiving end of brickbats as well as bouquets. Apart from writing them – and there’s a tip right here: don’t write something you’re not enjoying, because life is genuinely too short – what I’ve enjoyed most is hearing from people who Get It. Not that I’m suggesting for a moment that “What would Petrovitch do?” is any way to approach decision-making, but the sparks of recognition some of you have been kind enough to tell me about, or just post on the internet, have meant a great deal to me. Every author seeks an audience, and I’m very lucky as I have the smartest and best audience in the world, people who read science fiction.
It’s probably a good thing I’m not actually on stage at the moment because I would be blubbing like Gwyneth Paltrow, and no one wants to see that. Thank you for this tremendous honour. I’m going to let Ellen sit down now: vyp’em za to, chtoby u nas vsegda byl povod dlya prazdnika! (May we always have a reason for a party!)”
Which pretty much sums it up. Thanks to everyone involved over in Seattle, judges, organisers and audience. Onwards and upwards.
April 1st 2012
After charging down to London for the Olympic Park 5 mile run (not me, I hasten to add), I find myself back in the Metrozone next weekend for Olympus – the 2012 Eastercon. I’ll be there from Friday afternoon until Monday afternoon, and am appearing on the official programme precisely once: the Personal is Political, on the ethics of writing, at 7pm on Sunday in Room 38.
I will, at most other times be found wandering the corridors of the Con hotel (note: no walk-ins: the Con is officially full), listening to panels and propping up the bar. I am, as ever, always up for a chat about stuff in general, the Metrozone in particular, and will sign pretty much anything as long as I’m not going to get arrested/divorced for it afterwards.
With luck and a following wind, I’ll be blogging Eastercon again. There’s also a small matter of the Philip K Dick awards being announced Friday night, Pacific Daylight Time. That’s an 8 hour difference, I think, so if the ceremony starts at 6.55pm PDT, it all kicks off at 3am on Saturday as far as I’m concerned. It’s also being streamed live on USTREAM, so I could, if I was conscious, watch someone else win the award! Feel free to commiserate with the humbled loser on Saturday morning.
January 10th 2012
No, not that sort of vibrating…
The Metrozone series – all three books, no less – have been nominated for this year’s Philip K Dick award. I am properly stunned. Dick is one of the authors I not only enjoy, but admire: big concept stuff, played out at the personal level.
Congratulations to all the nominees – I’ll be dining out on this for a while!
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