19 December 2014


A Merry Christmas to all those of you reading this.

Every year I send out a story in my Christmas cards, and every year I put the previous year's online. The past ones are all archived on this blog, but 2013's was a touch experimental, being 720 words of prose supplied on seven cards that could be rearranged in different combinations to create 720 different narratives[1].

That isn't something I can really present via Blogger, but the indispensable Dale Smith has kindly translated it into PHP so I can publish it on my website.

I give you my 2013 Christmas 'story', 'Tableaux'. 

2014's story is more linear, and is a direct tie-in with the Devices trilogy, taking place between The Pendragon Protocol and the second book. I'm not sure quite what's going to happen with that one -- it may appear as an extra in the books at some point. (I'll tell you, though, that it's called "Mummers and Poppers: A Devices Story for Christmas".)

A very pleasing festive season to you all.

[1] Note for the mathematically competent: Yes, I know. One of them always comes first.

17 October 2014


51S94JB1VNLI’m delighted and slightly stunned to discover that, with the publication of The Pendragon Protocol, I now merit my own entry in the science fiction readers’ Bible, John Clute et al’s The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.  I owned the first edition from the age of twelve or thereabouts; I still have the 21-year-old second edition (see right) and its sister volume, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, on my shelves, and I’ve been avidly consulting the third edition since it went online in 2011. It’s difficult to express quite how proud I feel of finally warranting an appearance of my own in this arcane compendium.

Admittedly I don’t entirely agree with the details of my entry. (I’d argue, for instance, that while The Pendragon Protocol does indeed mention Christian values, it’s hardly uncritical of them, and that — while I’m delighted if the novel works for a Young Adult readership — that wasn’t actually the demographic I was primarily aiming for. Also, the Encyclopedia doesn't seem to be aware of Peculiar Lives, which I would have thought was pretty much up its street.)

This is scarcely the point, though. Among other things, John Clute (John Clute! The SF critic's SF critic!) thinks Of the City of the Saved is "ambitious". I'm unbelievably pleased about this.

* * *

Iris Wildthyme of Mars...Well, anyway. In other, not-at-all anticlimactic news, Iris Wildthyme of Mars now exists in hard copy, and is available to order from Obverse Books:
As well as writing the third Devices book (the second having been submitted to Snowbooks at the end of September), I'm talking to Stuart at Obverse about possible future anthologies. Watch this space.

19 September 2014

Iris and Sherlock (at last, but not together)

Tales of the Great DetectivesIris Wildthyme of MarsIt's rather later than expected, I know, but it's now possible to pre-order the two anthologies I've edited this year, Iris Wildthyme of Mars and Tales of the Great Detectives, from Obverse Books. If you're not of a mind to wait for another couple of weeks, or would rather not pay for the print versions (hardback and paperback respectively), it's also possible to buy and download the ebooks for consumption this very instant.

I'm very proud of both anthologies: a total of seventeen thoroughly talented people have contributed to them, they deal with two of my favourite genre characters (albeit in unfamiliar contexts in both cases), the covers are excellent, and I think they've turned out as really lovely books through and through.
Here are the links to do that ordering you'll be so keen on:

* * *

I've no particular reason to suppose that these will be the last anthologies I'll be editing for Obverse Books, but I thought it might be interesting at this point to look at who I've published so far (since with the publication of these two books the number nearly doubles). Excluding myself, the list goes like this:
    cover imagecover image
  • Helen Angove (Tales of the City)
  • Aditya Bidikar  (Iris Wildthyme of Mars)
  • Blair Bidmead (Tales of the City and Iris Wildthyme of Mars -- also the cover artist for Tales of the Great Detectives)
  • Simon Bucher-Jones (More Tales of the City and Iris Wildthyme of Mars)
  • Rachel Churcher (Iris Wildthyme of Mars)
  • Mark Clapham (Iris Wildthyme of Mars)
  • Jay Eales (More Tales of the City)
  • Elizabeth Evershed (Tales of the City and Tales of the Great Detectives)
  • Jess Faraday (Tales of the Great Detectives)
  • Kelly Hale (More Tales of the City and Tales of the Great Detectives)
  • Dave Hoskin (Tales of the City)
  • Juliet Kemp (Tales of the City and Iris Wildthyme of Mars)
  • Selina Lock (Iris Wildthyme of Mars)
  • Stephen Marley (Tales of the Great Detectives)
  • Chantelle Messier (Tales of the Great Detectives)
  • Lance Parkin (Iris Wildthyme of Mars)
  • Ian Potter (More Tales of the City and Iris Wildthyme of Mars)
  • Dale Smith (Tales of the City and Iris Wildthyme of Mars)
  • Daniel Tessier (Iris Wildthyme of Mars)
  • Susannah Tiller (More Tales of the City)
  • Richard Wright (More Tales of the City and Iris Wildthyme of Mars)
  • Andrew Hickey (Tales of the Great Detectives)
  1. That's 22 authors, eight of whom I've commissioned twice, two of whom co-wrote a single story, thus contributing a total of 29 stories (mine excluded). 
  2. Of these authors, if I'm remembering correctly, nine hadn't previously been published by Obverse Books or their online wing Manleigh Books; six were making their debuts as professionally published writers. 
  3. Of those 22 authors, 16 are British (and I believe in fact English), three American, two Australian and one Indian. However, two of the Brits are based in the USA, and one returned to the UK from India between their first and second commission. The book with the highest concentration of non-UK authors is Tales of the Great Detectives, half of whose contributors are American. 
  4. Nine of the authors are women, 13 men; of the stories, 12 are by women and 17 by men. (Those aren't great statistics, admittedly, but they're better than many genre anthologies manage.)  Of the individual anthologies, Tales of the Great Detectives has a majority of female authors, and Tales of the City at least achieves parity (although only if you exclude my contributions).
  5. To the best of my knowledge without having actually met them all (see 6), all but one of these people are white. 
  6. Eight of the authors are people I've met in real life: five of them I'd never interacted with prior to commissioning them. The rest, predictably, I knew online. (Only three of them are people I went out with, went to university with or invited to my wedding.) 
  7. Between us to date (counting co-author credits, and including my own titles this time), the contributors to these anthologies are responsible for 15 Doctor Who novels, four Bernice Summerfield novels, four Faction Paradox novels (with more in the works), four Señor 105 novellas, three Time Hunter novellas and something like 65 short stories for Obverse Books.
Those, then, are the facts. Suggestions as to what any of this might mean, or other ways in which I could (feasibly, and within the bounds of decency and good taste) break that list down, will be received with interest.

20 June 2014

Duck and Cover

Did I mention that the cover design for Iris Wildthyme of Mars (created by Cody Quijano-Schell around Paul Hanley's outstanding artwork) has now been finalised?

No? Well, it has.

I'm amused that, of the three covers of books which are out this year with my name on them...

full cover design

full cover design

TPP full cover

...two have union jacks on them, two have city skylines, and the other pair have something more unusual in common, which I'll leave it to you to discover. (One instance of it isn't at all easy to spot on the version above.)

I must say, I'm really very pleased with all of these. I'd say Iris Wildthyme of Mars and The Pendragon Protocol are easily the two best covers for books I've been published in, and Tales of the Great Detectives is great too.

17 June 2014

Oh, What a Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Pendragon Protocol by Philip Purser-Hallard

The Pendragon Protocol

by Philip Purser-Hallard

Giveaway ends July 01, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

02 June 2014

Detective Art

The cover has now been finalised for Tales of the Great Detectives, the third City of the Saved collection due out from Obverse Books in the next month or two.

The artwork is by the polytalented Blair Bidmead, with cover design by Cody Quijano-Schell, and it's a bit of a departure from the previous Tales volumes (click for full-sized versions):

large cover image

full cover design

I'm really pleased with how this has come out. Blair's captured just the right blend of tradition and weirdness, as well as visualising the headquarters of the Great Detective Agency exactly how I've always pictured them.

We have a new version of the blurb as well:

The Afterlives of Sherlock Holmes

The City of the Saved logo

The City of the Saved houses every human being who ever lived... but some of its immortal Citizens need more. For the Remakers, one fiction above all exerts its fascination: a character existing in countless interpretations, many of them now recreated in the flesh and in business together as the Great Detective Agency.

These are their tales.

In the Agency’s annals, the City’s many Sherlock Holmeses solve the Case of the Pipe Dream, experience the Adventure of the Piltdown Prelate and explore the strangely clichéd Mansion of Doom. A Watson falls in love; a Moriarty goes missing; and Holmes comes face-to-face with his arch-nemesis, the sinister Dr Conan Doyle...

Hopefully the book will be appearing for preordering from Obverse soon. I'll let you all know as soon as that transpires.

17 May 2014

Sorry, Site

It's been a source of increasing bother to me that my website, conforming as it does to the design I cobbled together in about an hour and a half in 2004, now looks distinctly dated, as if designed by characters from Neuromancer. Given that I have the first volume of a smart professional new trilogy due out soon, this issue needed resolution... but with over 200 pages at www.infinitarian.com, there clearly wasn't any likelihood that I'd manage to redesign them all, or shunt them to a platform where redesign was easier, any time soon.

Today I unveil my solution, proudly cobbled together in an hour and a half yesterday afternoon: the Devices Trilogy microsite at WordPress, dedicated solely to the new novels, with character sketches, some notes on heraldry and two entirely separate bibliographies. There's also a dedicated blog, which does raise the question of whether I continue blogging here. In the short term the answer's yes, at least about non-Devices stuff, but the jury's out on that one in the long term. I may, indeed, migrate all the content from the www.infinitarian.com site to WordPress, bit by bit.

Remember, Tales of the Great Detectives and Iris Wildthyme of Mars are also due out in the coming months. In the meantime, please feel free to read, comment on and share the new site to your hearts' content.

04 May 2014

Enter the Pendragon

It's a year to the day since I submitted my urban-fantasy thriller The Pendragon Protocol to Snowbooks. Today we finalised the cover design:

The image was created by the outrageously talented Emma Barnes, and I love it to pieces. The way it balances thriller and fantasy, modernity and antiquity is wonderful, and the endorsement from Simon Morden is the icing on the cake.  

Here's the blurb again:

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 Pendragon Protocol is out on 1 July from Snowbooks. I'll post ordering details at some point over the next few weeks.  

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