Egoism and the Hero’s Journey

I blame Ursula Le Guin.

I read The Dispossessed recently and, aside from the obvious depths I found around exploring unconventional political philosophy, the conflicts between home and self and the morality of knowledge, I was struck by a particularly technical aspect of the writing.

So I had a go at hammering it out over at the Unsung blog. And spare a thought for poor old Shevek.

What cyberpunk was and what it will be

‘The spectacle [of cyberpunk] only becomes more refined and integrated with our lives as time goes by. It is still alarming that the most prophetic of dystopias was also the most ludicrous: the kitsch consumerism, corporate corruption, metropolitan bankruptcy and technological sheen of RoboCop (1987). There is no longer a delay between tragedy and farce, as Marx once conceived.’

Read the full article.

Unsung update: Grievances, live lit and Missives book launch

It’s been a busy spring so far, with lots of things happening at Unsung Stories. I still occasionally have days wondering how I managed to land this gig, and here’s a few reasons why it’s all pretty exciting.

Unsung Signals

First, we’ve launched Unsung Signals, a digital line focusing on mid-length fiction, novellas, small collections and the like. This came about because we had some submissions come in which were excellent, but completely the wrong length to print. So rather than rail about the economic realities of physical products and small presses, we made Signals.

Winter by Dan Grace is already out, a wonderful piece of writing about revolution, folklore and magic. It’s confident elliptical stuff, etching out a world in so few strokes.

Our second title, The Bearer of Grievances by Joseph McKinley, was published on Monday and I love it. It’s a collection of 8 stories, all linked, all full of the same black comedy. It’s a satire on bureaucracy and technology which reminds me of Terry Gilliam, David Cronenberg and Douglas Adams. It makes me do the same inappropriate laugh that Ben Wheatley films do. And I’m normally the one telling people how hard SF comedy is to write.

Unsung Live #3

The third instalment of our SFF live lit night takes place on 27th April at the Star of Kings, Kings Cross. This is a great fun night where authors get a platform to perform short fiction. This time we’re very proud to say we have Stephanie Saulter (Gemsigns, Binary, Regeneration) and Ian Whates (Pelquin’s Shadow, City of a Hundred Rows and founder of NewCon Press), with more TBC.

Tickets are free but limited, so RSVP to secure your place.

The Arrival of The Arrival of Missives

More Aliya Whiteley! After the wonderful response we had to The Beauty, it’s really exciting to say that we are publishing Aliya’s new book The Arrival of Missives.

The launch party is on 3rd May 2016 at Blackwells Holborn and is free and open to all. Come help us celebrate, hear Aliya read and answer questions, and maybe share a cider with me once I’ve put the microphone down.

Hackney Gothic

New ideas brewing here; this time the world outside my window, askance. Something about Hackney sits strange on me. It’s not just the weird moments, which abound for those inclined to look. It’s more than gentrification, the way affluence rubs against absence. Change is on the horizon, but in a predictable form.

It’s the things that have always been here. That bounty of the world’s cuisines and mythologies living like ships in the night. When opening doors in my block reveals church on Sunday, jum’ah on Friday, voodoo practitioners any day and the timeless disinterest of us, the godless. Architecture functioning as the archaeology of taste. A city where no-one agrees what it means to be romantic.

One man’s melting pot is another’s syncretic haze.

Of signatures and agents

I am all spectacularly delighted to announce that my novel, Of Falls and Angela, is now represented by Leslie Gardner at Artellus.

2016, it seems, will be a year of exciting things. It’s barely two weeks old and I’m already squandering my year’s allowance of exclamation marks. You get four a year, remember. Watch this wanton extravagance:

I’VE GOT AN AGENT!!!!

Data Riker Picard carThat’s me committed to 12 months of modest expression. Totally worth it.

We’ve been working together on the manuscript for a while now and it’s feeling much, much stronger for it. Editing is arguably a game of diminishing returns on effort, with the final improvements being disproportionately hard to achieve. I’m talking about the fine-tuning here, the polish and sheen, when you nail that alchemical something – the last few per cent. And working with Leslie has made those last steps possible. I’ve been asked more astute and complex-to-answer questions about my writing in the last few months than ever before. I love it.

So here’s to 2016, and I’ll let you know any more exciting developments as soon as I can.

Best reads of 2015

For those so inclined, you can find out what my favourite reads of 2015 were over at the Unsung Stories blog. They’re not the most bleeding edge things because I’m picking back over classics I’ve missed, but they are all good, promise.

Unsung Stories Best of 2015

We’re winding up the Unsung automagical-blogomaticaliser at the moment as well, so you should see more regular content there in 2016.