19 April 2014

Mars (Your Enjoyment)

I imagine you've all been on tenterhooks (which look like this, apparently) for months now, waiting for the announcement of the author and title lineup for the utterly fabulous forthcoming anthology Iris Wildthyme of Mars.

Please now unhook yourselves from whichever tenter you've been occupying, because the time has now arrived when such an announcement can be made, and it looks like this:
Wandering Stars Ian Potter
Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Bad WeekendDaniel Tessier
Iris: Chess-Mistress of MarsSimon Bucher-Jones
Death on the EuphratesSelina Lock
And a Dog to WalkDale Smith
Talking with SporesJuliet Kemp
DoomedRichard Wright
The Last Martian – Rachel Churcher
Lilac Mars Mark Clapham and Lance Parkin
City of DustAditya Bidikar
The Calamari-Men of Mare CimmeriumBlair Bidmead
Green Mars Blues – Philip Purser-Hallard
Dale, Juliet and Blair will be familiar to readers of the City of the Saved anthologies as the respective authors of 'About a Girl', 'Lost Ships and Lost Lands' and 'Happily Ever After Is a High-Risk Strategy' in Tales of the City; as will Ian, Simon and Richard, who wrote 'The Long-Distance Somnambulist', 'Double Trouble at the Parasites on the Proletariat Club' and 'The Mystery of the Rose' for More Tales of the City.

People who like reading the kind of stuff I write (or who just follow Obverse Books' output) may also be aware of Selina through her Señor 105 e-novella Green Eyed and Grim, and of Aditya through his outstanding short story 'Dharmayuddha' in the Faction Paradox anthology Burning with Optimism's Flames. Both have also written and done other things with comics.

Rachel is a brilliant unpublished author who I've been trying to persuade to write for an anthology since I started editing them. Daniel is the winner of the open submissions competition to choose a new contributor for Iris Wildthyme of Mars: his story is a wonderful sequel to Edwin L Arnold's early, out-of-copyright planetary romance Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, also known as Gulliver of Mars.

Finally, Mark and Lance are prolific novelists and authors whose respective most recent works are the zombie novel Dead Stop and the acclaimed biography Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore. Mark has written for Iris before (in The Panda Book of Horror), but this is Lance's first work for Obverse. 'Lilac Mars' is a sequel to their earlier collaboration, Beige Planet Mars, published in 1998 (and therefore now 15% of the age of Gulliver of Mars).

I'm honoured and proud to have accumulated such a portfolio of talent for my first full-length anthology, and I'm terribly pleased with the stories they've all submitted. The book is designed as a tour of Mars as it appears in fiction, from the classical conception of the Ptolemaic heavens, through early scientific romances, the heyday of the pulps and the later vogue for 'hard SF', to the genre-blending of the 21st century. Along the way you'll find nods to a great many familiar names, plus more poetry, illustrations and maps than you might imagine.

We also have an updated blurb:

The Red Planet.
Everyone agrees about the colour, at least. The rest is up for grabs. 

Is Mars a dead and sterile desert, or teeming with life? 
Are Martians red, green or blue? Nubile and lithe, or monstrously tentacular? 
Are they long gone, or waiting still? How do they feel about visitors? 
Will we become the Martians? What kind of a world might we build on Mars? What myths, new or old, might we create there? 
Oh – and how many different colours can you put in front of ‘Mars’ to make a clever title?

These Marses are of course incompatible, contradictory, and in many cases quite impossible. And Iris Wildthyme has visited them all.

Iris Wildthyme of Mars is due out in the summer. I'll keep you posted when it's ready to pre-order.

03 February 2014

Four for 2014

Where have we got to, you may well ask, with the various writing and editing projects of mine which are due out this year?

cover imageHere's a rundown.

Further Encounters of Sherlock Holmes, the anthology of new Holmes stories edited by George Mann which opens with my "The Adventure of the Professor's Bequest", is out now from Titan Books, and has received at least one review (although it doesn't mention my story specifically).

Tales of the Great Detectives, the anthology I've edited about the adventures of the Sherlock Holmes remakes in the City of the Saved, featuring stories by Stephen Marley, Jess Faraday, Chantelle Messier, Kelly Hale, Andrew Hickey and Elizabeth Evershed, is finished and sent off to Obverse Books. I can't show you a cover for that one yet, but I've already posted the blurb here. The current plan is for an Easter release.

Iris Wildthyme of Mars, the anthology of stories I'm editing about the adventures of Paul Magrs' character Iris Wildthyme on the red planet, is still in progress, due out from Obverse Books in the summer. It already has some truly excellent cover art, courtesy of Paul Hanley:

full cover design

Finally, The Pendragon Protocol, my original novel from Snowbooks which is the first in the Devices Trilogy, is finished (indeed, the sequel's half written) and due out in July. The cover for that, by the highly talented Emma Barnes, also looks fantastic, but I can't share a final version of it yet. I'll keep you posted.

22 January 2014

Tales of the Great Detectives

Good day to you all.

I'm pleased to say that I'm very close to submitting the manuscript for Tales of the Great Detectives, the third City of the Saved anthology.

Here's the draft blurb:
The Afterlives of Sherlock Holmes
The City of the Saved logo
The City of the Saved houses every human being who ever lived. Inevitably, its immortal Citizens entertain themselves by recreating those who never did. One fiction above all has drawn the attentions of the Remakers – a character existing in countless interpretations, many of them now alive and in business together as the Great Detective Agency.
These are their tales.
Read about Holmes and Watson’s sojourn in the strangely clichéd Mansion of Doom, about the Case of the Pipe Dream and the Adventure of the Piltdown Prelate. Learn what happens when a Watson falls in love, when a Moriarty goes missing, and when Sherlock Holmes comes face-to-face with his arch-nemesis, the sinister Dr Conan Doyle...

And here's the lineup of story titles and authors:

Young Sherlock Holmes and the Mansion of DoomStephen Marley
Eliminating the ImpossibleJess Faraday
The Case of the Pipe DreamChantelle Messier
Art in the BloodKelly Hale
The Adventure of the Piltdown PrelateAndrew Hickey
The Baker Street DozenElizabeth Evershed

I'm absolutely delighted, once again, to have assembled such a talented group of people to write in my shared universe.

Liz Evershed and Kelly Hale will be familiar to readers of Tales of the City and More Tales of the City as the authors of 'The Socratic Problem' and 'The Isis Method' respectively. Kelly in particular has form with the original Great Detective, being the author of the critically acclaimed Erasing Sherlock and a contributor to George Mann's Encounters of Sherlock Holmes.

Stephen Marley's a respected genre novelist, his best-known work being the Chia Black Dragon sequence of novels based on Chinese vampire folklore. His Doctor Who novel Managra was, as I've said elsewhere, a huge inspiration to me in creating the City in the first place, so I'm delighted that he's contributing to its world at last. Like Liz and Kelly, Stephen's written other short stories for Obverse Books in the past.

Jess Faraday is a novelist who's written period detective stories, ghost stories and a steampunk thriller, and is writing for Obverse for the first time. Her Ira Adler sequence juxtaposes Holmesian plotlines with Victorian London's criminalised gay subculture.

Andrew Hickey's a prolific blogger and critic of music, comics and Doctor Who, while Chantelle Messier contributed a brilliantly funny story to The Obverse Book of Detectives. Both also have self-published short fiction to their name, and Andrew at least has another professional commission in the pipeline.

All six have written seriously good stories which transpose Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, their friends, their enemies and their creator, to the City of the Saved.  I'm proud to be publishing them all.

Tales of the Great Detectives will be published in Spring 2014 -- more details will follow when I know them.

* * *

(And in case you can't wait until then for a book with my name on the outside and Sherlock Holmes' on the inside, Further Encounters of Sherlock Holmes, which includes my story 'The Adventure of the Professor's Bequest', is out imminently from Titan Books.)

cover image

19 December 2013


It's that time of the year again, when we hang mince pies on the tree and children gleefully stuff themselves with mistletoe. It's also the time when I send out a Christmas story to family and friends in, or in place of, Christmas cards. 

This year's one is a bit odd and experimental, and I'm honestly not sure how to go about presenting it here. That's all right, though, because I always blog these stories a year in arrears, so I have twelve months to think about it.

In the meantime, here (and also here) is last year's story, "Jan". This one has a New Year theme, so you should feel free to come back to it in twelve days' time if you want to.

Interestingly (perhaps), while a lot of my fiction has dealt with gender fluidity one way or another, this is the first time I've written about an ordinary transsexual character in a (mostly) realistic present-day setting. I hope I haven't made a hideous hash of it. 


     He was waiting in the doorway as I left the club. Acid-washed jeans, blue converse trainers, spotless white T-shirt outlining his abs. The face I saw was young, white, perhaps my age, with a minimalist goatee I assumed was ironic. He loitered in the doorway, looking as much a fixture as if someone had screwed him there.
     For all I knew, someone might have. It was that sort of club.
     ‘Going home?’ he said, his voice smiling in the semi-darkness. He sounded like someone who was used to getting his questions answered.
     ‘What if I am?’ I snapped. It was none of his business. He wasn’t a bouncer – too slight, too well-spoken, wrong clothes altogether – and anyway their job’s to keep people out, not in.
     ‘The night hasn’t even got going yet,’ he said. ‘You’ll miss the festivities.’
     ‘That’s kind of the idea,’ I agreed, hoping to shut him up. I was in the middle of a major flounce-out after splitting up with a boyfriend, and stopping for an awkward conversation at the door wasn’t part of the plan.
     ‘Nearly midnight,’ he said, ‘on New Year’s Eve. And you’ve decided to split.’
     ‘Split?’ I repeated. ‘What, have we gone back to the ’50s? Crazy, daddy-oh.’ I was itching to leave, dreading the scene if Paul tried to come after me – he hadn’t taken it well.
     I could have just walked away, I realise. Lied perhaps, told him I was going to meet friends at the Square. For some reason I didn’t even think of it.
     ‘Would you prefer cleave?’ he asked. ‘That can mean split.’ It occurred to me then to worry that maybe he was some kind of serial killer. ‘Or it can mean cling. If you told me you were going to cleave fast, I wouldn’t know if you mean split quickly or stay firmly where you are.’
     ‘What are you on about?’ I’d asked, realising I could probably have left off the last word. (Was he high? Or was I, and he was actually talking perfect sense? It’s happened before.)
     ‘They’re called antagonyms,’ he said. ‘Words which can mean one thing or its opposite. Are you bound for home, or has talking to me bound you here? If I relax my oversight and let you go, will that be an oversight?’
     ‘Well, I’m glad we’ve had this chat,’ I said. ‘Call it what you want, I’m going home.’
     ‘Go where you like,’ he said. ‘You’ll still be on the threshold.’
     It was an odd thing, but since we’d been standing in that doorway, almost blocking it between us, not only had Paul not come after me, but nobody else had pushed past to get in or out of the club. I wondered where the actual bouncers had gone.
     ‘I know who you are, Jan,’ he said. And that really bothered me, because that wasn’t the name I used at the club. I hadn’t used it anywhere, except at the support group.
     I’d only recently decided it was going to be my real name.
     ‘Obviously you don’t,’ I said in as alpha-male a voice as I could muster while I tried to remember where in my man-bag I kept my rape alarm. ‘Because my name’s Ian. Jan’s a woman’s name. Or a foreign one.’
     ‘Well, quite,’ he said. ‘Two names, two identities. Two faces.’
     ‘It doesn’t work that way,’ I said, angry at him for making me talk about this at all. ‘There’s just one me. I’m being true to myself, that’s all.’
     ‘Cleaving,’ he said again.
     The clocks chimed then, prompting mad cheering from the Square and all the pubs and bars around.

     * * *

     ‘Do you think you’ll ever replace him?’ he called after me as I left the club. I guessed he was talking about Paul, who still – I noticed – wasn’t following me. It still wasn’t any of his damn business.
     I walked to the nightbus stop and rode home with the rest of the city’s least enthusiastic revellers. At home I stripped off Ian’s paint-the-town-gay party outfit and put on the clothes I’d bought for Janet. I phoned Declan, wished him a happy New Year, and arranged to meet him for a drink that Saturday.
     I called it off when I heard about Paul.
     Poor Paul. I’d been living with the knowledge of my hidden self for ages, but he’d had no idea.
     That night I’d told him I wasn’t who he thought I was, that Ian was just a part I’d been playing since I was born, and that the real me was someone Paul wouldn’t be interested in, what with him only fancying men and all.
     I might have tried to soften the blow, a little. In fact I’d suggested that the last thing Jan needed as she embarked on her new life was a gay boyfriend reminding everyone of where she’d come from, what I’d been before.
     Like I say, he took it badly.
     He’d wanted to follow me out of the club, I heard later, but his mates – my ex-mates now, mostly – held him back. Let him go, they’d said, the silly drama queen. Let him screw up his life his own way. Paul wasn’t convinced, but he’d never been in the running for the Most Assertive Homosexual awards, so he let himself be persuaded.
     He wasn’t happy, though. After the party ended, when the others left the club and headed back to Clive’s for more drinkies, Paul said he’d take a taxi home. Instead he wandered the streets – thinking ahead, looking back. New Year’s a time for reflection, after all, and I’d given him plenty to consider.
     I suppose he was thinking about transitions and transformations, the faces we wear inside and outside. The people we are with other people, the people we are on our own. Whether he’d ever see me again, and if so who I’d be.
     They cornered him behind the railway station – a bunch of drunk straight lads turfed out from one of the clubs, poisoned by lager and machismo. The police said it was a mugging, but the CCTV footage showed them beating and kicking him without any preamble, one of them grabbing his wallet just before they ran.
     By the time I heard about it Paul was in hospital, in a coma. They’d kicked him in the head a lot, and he had bleeding on the brain. I tried to visit, but his parents had already heard I’d dumped him, and had come to their own conclusions. That door was closed to me now.
     The one I opened led somewhere different.
     The support group where I’d met Declan was a mixed one, men who were really women getting together with women who were really men to swap advice and experiences. Declan had been born Deborah, Deb rather than Dec, and he was further along the way than me, three months of testosterone injections under his belt and living as a pretty convincing man despite his woman’s body.
     At first, things with Dec were fine. He knew his own mind, which I liked, especially compared with Paul’s diffidence. I liked the way he took charge and made me feel protected. With Paul it had usually been me in the driver’s seat, and no girl – I’d told myself, not really having a clue what most girls wanted – wants that.
     After we moved in together, things began to go downhill. Dec started wanting to know where I was when I was out, who I’d been seeing, who I’d been talking to, especially about him. When I said I was allowed some privacy he’d get shouty, sometimes aggressive. He’d always apologise afterwards, blaming it on the hormones.
     How much of it was really the testosterone, how much was acting out his newfound manhood, and how much was just Declan being Declan, I don’t know. My own hormone regime was making me weepy and moody, and living as Janet I was getting depressingly familiar with the kinds of perils that wait for a woman out in the world on her own – stuff which had never impacted me when I walked and talked and dressed like a man. All in all, I was inclined to forgive Dec and preserve the status quo.
     That was until I discovered he’d been cheating on me. An impressive feat, you’d think, under the circumstances, but obviously there are methods. We had a stand-up, knock-down row which ended with me telling him I was leaving. That was when he hit me – for the first, and I’m pleased to say the only time. Luckily his body was still mostly a woman’s, and mine still mostly a man’s, so I was able to get away from him with little more than a black eye.
     The local women’s shelter wouldn’t have me – people like me are always a bit of an embarrassment in those sort of places – and I spent a tense few weeks with my brother and his wife, who ‘understand my lifestyle choices’ but won’t trust me near their kids, before I could get a flat of my own.
     By then, Paul was dead, without ever coming out of his coma. They’d caught the bastards who’d done it from the CCTV images, and put them away for a few years – that’s roughly what a gay man’s life’s worth, apparently – but it hadn’t helped him. He’d hovered on the threshold between death and life for six months, before eventually his parents took the plunge and pulled the plug.
     I was devastated. I told myself it was the thugs who’d killed him, not me, but it was still my fault he’d been in their line of sight that night. I wondered how much more could go wrong in one year.
     I was still transitioning, of course – no-one could take that away from me, at least – but I couldn’t go to the support group any more. I’d tried for a while, but it hadn’t worked out, not with Dec there. My one-to-one counsellor worked out that I was depressed – not a very strenuous way to earn her paycheque – and flagged up a concern that the hormone treatment was having an adverse effect on me.
     And so there I was, that next New Year, having lost not one but two boyfriends to horrific male misbehaviour, with no friends, no likelihood of any new boyfriend any time soon, and the threat that the one source of hope in my life might soon be taken away from me.
     A couple of Paul’s friends – my former friends – had kept in touch with me for his sake, though fewer and fewer during the year, and after his death only the ones who’d liked me more than him in the first place. A couple of them – Ryan and Geoff, specifically – invited me along to their New Year’s bash. Come on, they said, everyone’s going to be there. Nobody will think anything of it. There’ll be all sorts.
     It was idiotic of me to take them up on it, really – but honestly, where else was I going to go?

     * * *

     As I passed through the lobby of the intimidatingly expensive apartment block where Geoff and Ryan had their flat, someone was waiting for me. Converse trainers, tight white T-shirt, acid-washed jeans – the styles a year advanced, the goatee even more microscopic and self-aware.
     This wasn’t him, though. This was a black guy, with the same self-assured air. ‘Leaving already, Jan?’ he asked.
     The voice was different too. I mean, obviously – it was a different guy. But he had the same amused drawl.
     ‘Um, yes,’ I said, a bit nonplussed. ‘Do I know you?’ I hadn’t seen him at the party, but I’d been hideously distracted for most of the time.
     ‘You met my other half,’ he said. ‘This time last year.’
     ‘Ah,’ I said, and paused. He didn’t volunteer a name. ‘So is this a hobby, or do you both loiter professionally?’
     I was just passing the time. The evening had gone badly – very badly, excruciatingly badly – and I was off home to watch Jools Holland on the TV and drink about a pint of vodka. Either that or throw myself quietly off a bridge somewhere – not at the stroke of midnight though, because that would have been tacky. I hadn’t quite decided.
     I suppose I was on what you’d call a threshold.
     ‘You could stay too,’ he said, ‘if you want. Of all Ryan and Geoff’s friends, they’ll be saying later, only Jan’s left.
     I remembered his boyfriend’s obsession with ambiguous words and phrases. At some point in the year, when I’d been bored, I’d looked antagonyms up on Wikipedia. Janus words, they’re called, after some ancient god with two faces. I tried one of my own. ‘So are you going to sanction me for leaving, or are you going to sanction it?’
     He looked at me calmly. ‘You haven’t had a good year, have you?’
     ‘Wow,’ I said. ‘You guys are perceptive as well as weird and creepy.’ I never had worked out how his boyfriend had known that I was Jan.
     He smiled. ‘Wait here with me,’ he said. ‘It’s not long till midnight.’ He was right, I hadn’t made it out in time to get home for the chimes. Too many people had wanted to talk to me about Paul.
     ‘With you?’ I said. ‘Why would I want to do that?’
     ‘It may help,’ he said. ‘You ran out on us last year, and that didn’t work out too well, did it?’
     I shrugged. ‘I don’t suppose I’ve got much else to look forward to.’ He was the first man who’d seemed interested in my company for quite a while, and it wasn’t long to wait, in any case.
     I stayed with him till midnight sounded and all the roars of welcome for the New Year rose up from half the flats in the building. As the clock tolled on the church down the road, he said, ‘New Year’s a time for reflection, after all.’
     The way he said it, it sounded like the sort of thing people say in church.

     * * *

     We stayed together a little longer, chatting some more before I went back inside.
     I caught up with some old friends, made up with a few I’d fallen out with. By the time I went home to change, a few short hours before the sun returned, I felt – not happy, certainly, but not as bleak, and certainly with no immediate thoughts of suicide.
     Over the following weeks, I learned that my counsellor had cancelled her note of concern, predicting that my spirits would soon be improving. I started going to the support group again, despite Dec’s presence. It helped a little.
     After a while, I sold my place and went to stay with my brother and sister-in-law. When I slowly developed a black eye, I took this as a signal to move in with Dec.
     Our first hours together were stormy, violent even, but when he healed the pain in my eye I forgave him. I even forgot about his infidelities. Over the coming months I watched as he became less domineering and controlling, at times even sweet and affectionate as the testosterone left his body.
     My oestrogen levels were decreasing too, the hormone drawn out steadily into the doctors’ needles and packaged away. I found myself becoming more irritable and angry. It wasn’t something I liked about myself, but it seemed a tiny price to pay for all the other ways in which the world was getting better.
     Halfway through the year, at the flick of a switch, Paul returned, suspended between death and life. His parents waited anxiously at his bedside for the first signs of his consciousness returning.
     By the time Declan and I parted company, we respected each other as equals. We’d go on seeing each other at the support groups, of course, but by then I was too excited about Paul’s imminent recovery to go on worrying about him. In anticipation I stopped wearing women’s clothes, and started dressing myself as Ian again.
     They’d searched the prison system diligently for men who could redeem themselves by curing Paul. They’d brought them together in a courtroom so that they could be given their mission. Eventually, as New Year approached, the hospital put him in an ambulance and shipped him, still unconscious, to the back alley where these good samaritans would do their healing work. A crowd of well-wishers had gathered, and one by one they left him lying there, calmly waiting for these men and their merciful ministrations. One of the ex-convicts had even found his wallet, and was looking after it for him.
     A little later, Paul was restored to full and vibrant life. By the time I reached the club, he was waiting only for me to make him complete.
     ‘Do you think you’ll ever replace him?’ someone asked me as I stepped up to the doorway, and I knew that I never would.
     A great roar went up all around us, as midnight chimed.

     * * *

     ...Thinking ahead, looking back. New Year’s a time for reflection, after all...

     * * *

      ‘Do you think you’ll ever replace him?’ the white guy with the acid-washed jeans and minimalist goatee called after me as I left the club. I guessed he was talking about Paul, who still – I noticed – wasn’t following me.
     I started to walk toward he nightbus stop, planning to ride home with the rest of the city’s least enthusiastic revellers, worrying slightly that the weird word-obsessed stranger would follow me, half-hoping that Paul might.
     Suddenly I stopped, and turned round. I’d realised that those last words were another of the man’s weird equivocations. It might well be true that I’d never find another boyfriend to fit the space that Paul had taken up in my life... but I could easily put him back where he belonged. I’d taken him out, but I could still replace him. It wasn’t too late.
     I stared at the stranger, who was looking after me with a sly smile.
     So what if I was a woman inside? Paul loved me, I knew that. He wasn’t a shallow person – less so than me, in fact, if I really thought his presence would hamper me in my new life as Jan. If I could adjust to being a woman, perhaps Paul could adjust to loving one. It should be his choice, in any case, not mine.
     The alternative... well, I didn’t know what the alternative was. Declan, I supposed. But that was all unknown territory, and I wasn’t looking forward to exploring it.
     I hurried back. Paul couldn’t have left the club yet.
     As I approached, the stranger stepped aside, moving across the doorway in front of me. He slumped there, forehead to the wall, hands folded behind his back. His other face smiled ironically at me: a skinny black guy leaning comfortably back against the doorjamb, the beard this side of his head even tinier and more self-restrained.
     ‘Tell your other half Happy New Year,’ I said.
     His smile didn’t waver – I didn’t even see his lips move – as he replied, ‘You’re welcome.’
     I stepped back across the threshold.

© Philip Purser-Hallard 2012

A merry Christmas -- and, vitally, a happy New Year -- to all. 

26 October 2013

Competition winner

I can now announce that the open submissions competition for Iris Wildthyme of Mars has been won by Daniel Tessier's story, "Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Bad Weekend". If you've been paying attention, you may realise that this is a sequel to the out-of-copyright Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, aka Gulliver of Mars. It's a lovely idea for a story, and one I'm really looking forward to editing.

Congratulations Daniel!

16 October 2013

Gullivar's Trousers

It's often difficult to know whether Edwin L Arnold's Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, known more pithily as Gulliver of Mars, is meant satirically, as its even more cumbersomely titled predecessor was.

Then Arnold throws in a passage like this:
     What had they done with her? Surely they had not given her to the ape-men -- cowards though they were they could not have been cowards enough for that. And as I wondered a keen, bright picture of the hapless maid as I saw her last blossomed before my mind's eye, the ambassadors on either side holding her wrists, and she shrinking from them in horror while her poor, white face turned to me for rescue in desperate pleading -- oh! I must find her at all costs; and leaping from bed I snatched up those trousers without which the best of heroes is nothing, and had hardly got into them when there came the patter of light feet without and a Martian, in a hurry for once, with half a dozen others behind him, swept aside the curtains of my doorway.
...which (I hope, at least) rather gives the game away.

The open submissions competition for Iris Wildthyme of Mars is now closed. Many thanks for all your submissions, and a winner will be announced to appearing in the anthology by the end of the month.

03 October 2013

Three Announcements

OK, pay attention. 2014's going to be a ludicrously productive-looking year on my CV, as in addition to Iris Wildthyme of Mars, I'll have three projects being published. I'm announcing them now, in order of overall excitingness.

* * *

First of all -- and least exciting in that you could probably have guessed it was going to happen, but still I think pretty cool -- I'm editing a third City of the Saved anthology for Obverse Books, for publication next Spring.

This one has a more focussed theme than the others -- it's called Tales of the Great Detectives, and it deals with the adventures of the City's Sherlock Holmes remakes. I'm delighted with the authors I've lined up for it, including one returning contributor from each of the first two City volumes, and a couple of rather higher-profile names. I'm really pleased with how this is looking, and will add further details here as they firm up.

* * *

The second thing is eerily similar in one respect, but distinctly more unexpected. I've contributed a short story to George Mann's Further Encounters of Sherlock Holmes, the follow-up to his 2013 anthology Encounters of Sherlock Holmes, which will be published by Titan Books in February. This is a straight Victorian adventure (more or less), without the SF trappings of the City stories.

I've adored Sherlock Holmes since I was at school, and the fact that I've somehow ended up nearly simultaneously writing a story about the original and editing a book about his various media incarnations, is odd and thrilling. Writing for Holmes, in Watson's voice, was a real buzz -- so much so that I went slightly mental and wrote the last 5,000 words of the story in an afternoon, completely shattering my previous words-per-day record of a little over 3,000.

I'm really pleased with my story for Further Encounters, which is called "The Adventure of the Professor's Bequest", and is a sequel of sorts to two of the canonical Holmes stories.

* * *

And, best of all... For a while now, I've been being mysterious on Twitter and Facebook about a secret longer project I've been working on. For various reasons, it's taken a while to finalise, but I can finally announce it.

In May next year, Snowbooks will be publishing my novel The Pendragon Protocol[*], the first volume of a trilogy named The Devices. It's a slipstream urban fantasy thriller, and the blurb I've suggested to them (still subject to change, obviously) goes like this:
     The Circle are the modern-day successors of the Knights of the Round Table.

     Armed with the latest military hardware and operating from a hidden fortress on the South Bank of the Thames, they protect 21st-century Britain from certain very specific threats – criminals who, like the Circle’s own Knights, have characters from Arthurian legend living inside their heads.

     Jory Taylor, the Knight bearing the device of Sir Gawain, has grappled on the Circle’s behalf with mercenaries, serial killers and far-right terrorist cells. However, when he is captured by Gawain’s traditional enemy the Green Knight, he discovers a new side to the myths he lives by – one which, as he learns more about this clandestine world, becomes both threateningly personal and terrifyingly political.

     The legends of King Arthur are not the only stories with influence on the British psyche – and some of the others have their own, very different agendas.

     A smart, contemporary political thriller and a new kind of urban fantasy, The Pendragon Protocol is the first volume in the Devices trilogy.
The sequels will probably be published around the same time in 2015 and 2016 -- again, more details here as they emerge.

I am, as you might be able to imagine, so terrifically excited by this as to be nearly incoherent.

* * *

For all I know there'll be other things next year as well -- it's still only October 2013, after all. In the meantime, though, that's surely enough to be getting on with.

[*] Or possibly The Pendragon Protocols -- we're still deciding.