Afloat on the ocean of Down

March 4th 2016

Posted by: in: News and Updates, Reviews, The Books of Down
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Well, that was … busy.

First, a signing at FP in London – well attended, I GOT TO MEET PAT CADIGAN. Pat – if you don’t know – was at the forefront of the cyberpunk movement with books like Synners and Fools, and they had an enormous influence on the genesis of the Metrozone and Freezone. And I got to tell her all that after I’d got my breathing under control. They say you should never meet your heroes: in Pat’s case, that doesn’t apply, because she’s as brilliant and funny and sharp in real life as she is in her fiction. And she’s kicking cancer’s arse. And I signed a copy of Down Station for her. I SIGNED A COPY OF DOWN STATION FOR PAT CADIGAN. We’re good here.

Then, a reading at the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, which is held in the roof-top bar in an outrageously upmarket hotel in Holborn (for reasons that are fascinating, but incidental). Inevitably, my discomfort rose to almost-but-not-quite critical levels, but I adulted and gained admission, whereupon seeing friendly faces calmed me. I don’t what it is about posh, but I just don’t do it. Then when we all reached the top, the full moon was rising red over the London skyline, and that was a diversion, and even though I was down to read third of three, it didn’t matter much. Thank you for putting up with my coarse northern ways, and those in the audience who later admitted to being born and brought up in the north-east but have been travelling incognito since through the publishing world. Your secret is safe with me.

All during that, I was staying at my mum’s, and replacing fence-posts, and trellis, and doing other gruntwork in the garden. Bookended by two roughly seven hour journeys to and from. I was driving pretty much for the whole of Down Station’s launch date.

How did that go?

There’ve been lots more reviews. No, I’m not going to show you the rubbish ones, of which there are fortunately few. As I said previously, it’s not going to be for everyone, however much I’d like it to be. What I want, what I need, is for Down Station to find its audience.

So, from Amazon (and in all seriousness, if you enjoyed the book, leave a review – it does make a difference):

Down Station is one of the most intriguing novels I’ve read in a fair while and I doubt I’ll forget it.

The book has, then, a very engaging and serious moral strand as well as the sheer sense of adventure that comes form exploring – and surviving in – a new land.

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.

And from elsewhere:

To wit, in terms of plot and pace, Morden’s ninth novel is tight and taut—and I’d argue that its relative brevity is a boon to boot. At approximately 300 pages, Down Station is a ways off wearing out its welcome when the literary kitchen closes its doors; though the portion sizes might be on the slight side, chef serves up a satisfying three-course meal here, leaving readers stuffed enough, but not so full that they won’t have an appetite for more when it’s over. And in case you weren’t aware, there will be more, folks: The White City beckons, and after that… why, this whimsical world is Morden’s oyster. (

A shining example of why I think a come back of modern portal fantasy, could make a significant impact on the genre. (Book Frivolity) The actual review is an audio one, linked here.

A twirling mix of fantasy, reality, a strange new land, and strange new people. (Planet Books)

I’ve been asked what the situation with US distribution. Bear with us, because we’re sorting that out. I know for sure that the kindle version is available here, and if you’re desperate for the hardcopy, then one of these is probably your best bet.

Also, The White City is due out Feb 2017. But since it’s written, and edited already except for the line edits, it might be brought forward to the end of this year instead. Watch this space.


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Mind the Gap: next stop, Down Station

February 12th 2016

Posted by: in: From the Author, News and Updates, Reviews, The Books of Down
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You can’t get off at Down Station, of course, merely glimpse it as you rush by between Green Park and Hyde Park Corner on the Piccadilly Line. But you can visit the outside of it. It’s on Down Street (unsurprisingly), third road on the left as you walk along Piccadilly from Hyde Park. This is what you’ll see:

Which is unprepossessing, but that door with the blue sign is precisely the door through which our beleaguered travellers find Down. And this is my invitation for you to find Down, too.

There’ve been some more reviews in the last week:

Down Station is filled with choices that mirror well into the real world, the sense that we are never too far away from chaos, and it’s the decisions we make that define our future. 9/10, A ‘must read now’. (SciFiNow)

…a balanced, nuanced, story with no absolute heroes and villains, but plenty of muddled, baffled people trying to do the right thing, to make their own history. (Blue Book Balloon)

This book was really good! Exciting, imaginative and unexpected. It felt different and creative and had a good story. The world was fascinating, the characters diverse and the plot was very intriguing. (How to Become a Heroine)

All of which are good signs. There are over 250 hoping to win a copy over at Goodreads (draw still open at time of posting). And the first three chapters are now online, in lovely audio (not read by Cathy Tyson, who had to pull out at the last minute due to family commitments, but by Thomas Judd, who does a very fine job indeed).

The book itself is out on Thursday, but I’m signing copies (along with Tricia Sullivan, who’s going to be there with Occupy Me) at Forbidden Planet in Shaftsbury Avenue, London, on the 20th of Feb, 1pm-2pm. It’d be brilliant to see you there. I’m also supposed to be at the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club on the 23rd – I’m a little unclear as to where that’s actually being held, but hopefully I can snag a native guide to help me find it.

What else can I say about Down Station? If you want a story of ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinary situations, which have morally complex and not always noble solutions, where secrets can kill and lies are mandatory, then Down Station is what you’ve been waiting for. Even if it’s not, I’ve had more than one reviewer comment, “I didn’t expect to enjoy this quite as much as I did.”

Open the door. Step through. Find Down in all its terrible glory.

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Arcanum launch party signing photo thing

February 17th 2014

Posted by: in: Arcanum, News and Updates
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And lo, it came to pass, that even though the forces of darkness (here represented by the somewhat inclement weather submerging the entire of the south of England – which is the important bit as any fule kno – and winds so strong that my hat almost blew away) raged mightly, they did not prevail.

But enough of the cod seventeenth-century language. The book was launched. It was read from. The bloke what wrote it answered questions about it. He even signed a few copies. It was a success! Huzzah!

Many, many thanks for a brilliant turn-out from the home team, and for Helen Holmes Photography for taking the photos in what was universally acknowledged as not the best lighting conditions (Forbidden Planet Newcastle’s book dept is essentially a basement lit with fluorescent tubes).

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Locus and Arcanum sitting in a tree…

February 14th 2014

Posted by: in: Arcanum, From the Author, News and Updates
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It’s a long review (as befits a long book, I suppose) and I’m not going to type it all out – it’s the better part of a page. Suffice to say, the reviewer thinks I’ve done rather well, and again, from the comments in the review, I’m gratified that they’ve “got it”. Yes, it’s epic fantasy: yes, it’s science fiction: yes, it’s a deconstruction of familiar tropes but it’s done with reverence and love.

Here’s the conclusion: “Any attempt to summarize a work this enormous, ambitious, and ultimately powerful can only give the reader a few starting points. I needn’t fear disclosing too much plot when so much lies ahead – along with fascinating characters whose actions, fears and ultimate fates become absorbing enough to lift the book well beyond the level of a clever concept. It achieves the drama of the best epic fantasy while taking the form apart and putting it back together, still very much alive.”

Also: book signing! Forbidden Planet! Newcastle! Tomorrow, 1-2pm!

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Reminder of the Thy Kingdom Come event

November 26th 2012

Posted by: in: From the Author, Metrozone, News and Updates
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Two whole days before I descend on that London for the launch of Thy Kingdom Come – the book!

There will be copies for sale, as Jared pulled the pre-order when two-thirds of the print run had gone – but I’ll sign pretty much anything (not other author’s books – I’m given to believe that’s bad form…), and there will be readings and questions and general milling: it’s at Blackwells, Charing Cross, it’s on Wednesday 28th November, and the fun starts at 6pm. Tickets are free, but the store have asked if you could reserve a place by emailing them at:

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New essay: Money flows to the author is now up

September 10th 2012

Posted by: in: From the Author, News and Updates, Non-fiction
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Sorry that the title of the post is a bit ronseal, as they say. I do have other news, but I’ll attempt to post that either later today or later this week.

Anyway, the full text of this year’s Greenbelt talk – “Money flows to the author: making books pay in the 21st Century” is now up. If you would like to hear me instead, the talk was recorded for the first time ever, and is available for a small charge from

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Piracy 2: the pirates strike back

January 30th 2012

Posted by: in: From the Author, Non-fiction
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(Hell’s teeth, Morden – you’re such a nerd)

Well, that was interesting. Having fumed righteously against piracy in all its forms, I was contacted by a real live pirate (arrrr!) who put his side of the story. And I’m such a bleeding heart liberal, I not only took the time and trouble to read what he had to say, but also think seriously about the points he made.

And surprisingly (to me, at least) I am partly convinced: it’s certainly more nuanced than I allowed for. So I’ll try and go through some of the issues raised again, but this time with my special They Live glasses on. And yes, I do have plenty of gum.

Do I own the copyright to my work?   Yes. Yes I do. And yes, my ability to charge for my art depends on me being able to assert that right. As the original creator of a piece of fiction, I can choose to do one of several things with it: I can give it away for free (under a Creative Commons licence) like I have done with Thy Kingdom Come, for example. This way, the work can be distributed freely without alteration, but also without allowing anyone else to attach their name to that work. I’m happy to do that with older pieces of work – and one of the things I have to think about next is whether I do the same thing with Heart. I can also release excerpts of my work as ‘tasters’ (or advertising, if you like). If you like what you’ve read so far, you can then continue to read when you purchase a copy.

Do I need paying for my work?   Again, need is relative. Which is something I’ll touch on later. But for the moment, I live in a scarcity-driven capitalist economy. The future is not going to come and save me, supplying me and my family with fabbers and a Mr Fusion for all my energy needs. Likewise, I cannot eat a good reputation. One day I will. I have worked in a Gift Economy before, when I was a research scientist at a university. I provided not just my employers (the Natural Environment Research Council) with original research, but the whole world. In return, I was given enough money to live on: for the length of my contract, it didn’t matter if I produced one paper in a peer-reviewed journal, or half a dozen, but whether my contract was renewed at the end of it did depend on the quality of what I’d done already, that is to say, my reputation. I believe this is also a workable model for artists. But we’re not there yet. Click to read the rest of this item…

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Piracy and SOPA

January 20th 2012

Posted by: in: From the Author, Non-fiction
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Right then. Piracy. SOPA/PIPA. Stuff like that.

I have very mixed feelings about the whole thing. On one hand, people who download music, films, books and audio that they would have ordinarily had to buy in order to listen to/see/read are stealing copyrighted material from their copyright holders. Downloaders make it increasingly difficult for artists to firstly, earn anything from their work, and secondly, make a living from their work so they can give up the day job and concentrate solely on their art.

In the case of the Metrozone books, they were pirated within a couple of days of being released as ebooks. Orbit (and their parent companies LittleBrown and Hachette) try and get those copies removed from file-sharing sites as soon as they can: they do so because the person uploading those files has no right to make them publicly available without the copyright holder’s consent.

And that copyright holder is not Orbit, or some faceless megacorp. It’s me. I’m the creator of the work, and it’s my copyright. By torrenting my work, you’re denying me income which I could put to good use – like repairing my roof and walls, which badly need doing, or saving for my children’s education.

Furthermore, because I’m losing digital sales, the next time I sell a book to Orbit, my advance goes down. Lost sales for the publisher results directly in lower advances for authors. Which means that fewer authors will be able to support themselves, and perhaps their families, with their work – and the vast majority of writers make peanuts as it is. With long, long hours and little pay, they’ll have to do something else instead of dedicating the time and effort into producing good prose.

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Eastercon blog 3

April 25th 2011

Posted by: in: From the Author, Metrozone, News and Updates
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I’m not going to have time to do this in the morning, as I have to be packed and checked out of my room by 10am. And yes, I intend not to be up at the crack o’dawn. So I’m here with a cup of (decaf) tea and my 3G dongle, while the ventilators outside the window rumble away and the lights of the NEC shine through the nets.

Sunday. Easter Day. It’s weird not being in church – it was weird last year, and it will remain weird – attending an SF convention over what is several of the most significant days of the Christian calendar with no religious input at all is a strange experience for someone who has always attended at least two services over the four-day period. Yes, I am at work: not so much selling books, as doing that nebulous networking thing that may or may not produce fruit a month or a year down the line. Being seen and showing willing is almost important as meeting people and saying the right things.

Breakfast was a much more civilised affair – no light opera fans mixing it with the SF crowd – so I get to eat my own body weight in fried food again, wash it down with tea, back to my room to blog. That done, because I’d heard good reports about the pool, and having remembered to bring my trunks and goggles, I headed for the hotel pool.

And very pleasant it was too. Being roughly circular and having a strip in the middle laned off for Proper Swimming, I got into my usual swimming fugue of just swimming quite quickly, not worrying about the time or how many lengths I’d done, not really thinking about swimming at all. There were maybe three or four other people in the pool at the same time – certainly not enough to even be vaguely distracting. Just swim and swim and swim until I felt I ought to come out. To be recommended.

Truth be told, signings and readings are odd things for writers. What if no one turns up? I’d chatted to a few of the dealers, and they weren’t doing fantastic business, the Dealers’ room being much quieter than I remember it from Eastercon 2010 – perhaps the effect of folk having less money in their pockets, fewer attendees, the hotel prices. Also, as I found out from the Forbidden Planet people, the hotel’s restriction on leafleting and putting up posters: always a big part of a con, but not allowed except on the very few notice boards dotted around the hotel.

So I yakked to the FP folk, signed their stock, and flogged a couple of books to someone I managed to dazzle long enough that their good sense and judgement was clouded and their wallet opened. Straight after, there was another author event in the Fan bar. I got to sit next to Stan Nichol, who is lovely, but such was the (lack of) interest, we talked to each other pretty much for the whole hour we were scheduled to be there. The lovely Bella from Orbit graciously plonked a pint of Illustrius in front of me, and Liz Williams passed the authorial ‘Consequences’ game to me for a suitably outrageous addition. I had to work with an enraged giant porcupine in the previous sentence, but I don’t know why it was enraged, and what happened to it after I passed it to Stan.

Also signing was Rod Rees. I’d had my eye on a copy of his Demi-Monde for a while, and he very graciously, because I was his first and only customer the entire session, pressed a newly minted copy of the wonderous Quercus hardback on me, signed and stamped, entirely free. An amazing gift, and straight to the top of my to-read pile.

I had afternoon tea (or hot chocolate in Bella’s case) and played on Bella’s Sony e-reader thingy. I still remain to be convinced of its superiority over the humble paperback, but certainly, for an industry pro, it beats lugging around a dozen manuscripts. They certainly have their place.

The reading. It’s hard, when you’re a classic introvert, to read something you’ve written, out loud, in public. I used to have real problems (as in Too Much Information sort of problems): now I just get incredibly nervous. My secret weapon was BSFA award-winning, Nebula award nominated (and later on that evening Hugo award nominated too) Aliette de Bodard. She’s this tiny bundle of talent who is clearly going places, and I was very lucky to be paired with her – because people came to hear her, and stayed to hear me. I’m grateful. She read a hauntingly beautiful story about the Aztecs. I read stuff that made people laugh. I was even forgiven when I went on too long. But there were cookies and flapjacks as well, and the audience nommed appreciatively.

Phoned home on my steam-powered and increasingly unreliable mobile, then downstairs to hear the Hugo nominations. Orbit have two authors in the Best Novel category: Mira Grant for Feed, and NK Jemsin’s A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

A long beer in the Fan bar with Roy Gray of Interzone, some mad New Zealanders, and a couple of others – the conversation naturally turned to rocket planes and real ale. And so to bed.

Tomorrow sees me here almost to the bitter end, but not quite. I’ve a panel at noon, and the train leaves late afternoon. I have to assume there’s a world outside the con for me to return to – it does become very bubble-like after a couple of days.

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Eastercon signing/reading reminder

April 24th 2011

Posted by: in: From the Author, News and Updates
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While I’m on.

I’m signing Equations of Life and Theories of Flight on the Forbidden Planet stall in the Dealers’ room, 2pm.

I’m reading with (Nebula nominated and BSFA-award winning) Aliette de Bodard at 7.30pm in Gladstone. We have cookies.

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