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.

02 October 2013


You may remember me a year or so ago mentioning Matt Kimpton, a fine writer of short-stories who died from complications arising from his cystic fibrosis at the tragically young age of 35.

Obverse Books published more of Matt's fiction than anyone else. In memory of him, and in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Obverse have put out a collection called Storyteller: A found book, which I'd urge you all to buy. (That's Matt on the cover, dressed as an Anglo-Saxon skald.) The authors of its thirteen stories include some of my favourites among the writers I know -- such as Simon Bucher-Jones, Liz Evershed, Ian Potter and Rick Wright, who've all contributed (as I once hoped Matt might) to the City of the Saved collections.

There's no particular genre or series connection, but the book's based round an exceptionally cool concept: the authors have each taken a title from an endpaper listing books published by the long-defunct Unicorn Books, and created a new short story to fit it. Contributor Cav Scott goes into more detail here.

So -- it's a book written with love, based on an intriguing concept, by excellent authors, in an impeccable cause. What more would you need?

Oh, yes -- at £1.99, it's also astonishingly cheap. Do buy it.