Thursday, 21 March 2019

Envy me

Or not, as the case may be.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Out now

Permafrost, my new novella from Tor books, is published today.

Here's the description:

Fix the past. Save the present. Stop the future. Master of science fiction Alastair Reynolds unfolds a time-traveling climate fiction adventure in Permafrost.

2080: at a remote site on the edge of the Arctic Circle, a group of scientists, engineers and physicians gather to gamble humanity's future on one last-ditch experiment. Their goal: to make a tiny alteration to the past, averting a global catastrophe while at the same time leaving recorded history intact. To make the experiment work, they just need one last recruit: an ageing schoolteacher whose late mother was the foremost expert on the mathematics of paradox.

2028: a young woman goes into surgery for routine brain surgery. In the days following her operation, she begins to hear another voice in her head... an unwanted presence which seems to have a will, and a purpose, all of its own ? one that will disrupt her life entirely. The only choice left to her is a simple one.

Does she resist ... or become a collaborator?

To reiterate, this is a novella, not a novel, so you're getting around 34,000 words of fiction, spread over about 180 pages. Were you so inclined, you could easily read it in a long sitting. I mention this because (based on prior experience) there do always seem to be some readers who expect a novel's worth of content from what is clearly marketed as a novella, and feel disgruntled when the actuality fails to meet their expectations. (These categories are somewhat arbitrary, and definitions vary, but as far as the majority of SF readers are concerned, a novella lies somewhere between 17,500 and 40,000 words. My earlier story Slow Bullets was about 45,000 words in its initial form, but we very deliberately reduced it to a shade under 40,000 just so there'd be no ambiguity about its nature.) So, please, be aware that what you're getting here is equivalent to around six or seven short stories, and perhaps a third of a typical novel, and about a tenth of a big fat doorstopper.

Writing in Locus, Liz Bourke called the story elegant, and described it as an enjoyable, engaging and thought-provoking novella, while also saying that she found the handling of time travel original. In Library Journal, Tina Panik called it "outstanding" and compared it to Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy.

Here's a link to Tor's page for the book:

And Barnes and Noble:

And Wordery:

Other retailers are available.


Monday, 18 March 2019

Happy Birthday to Me

53rd birthday present from my wife. Thanks to the nice people in PMT in Bristol who helped me try a variety of Strats before settling on this lovely specimen. I'm a lucky chap!

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Love, Death & Robots

Two of my stories have been adapted as part of Tim Miller and David Fincher's new animated anthology series for Netflix, entitled Love, Death & Robots. The stories are Zima Blue, from 2004, and Beyond the Aquila Rift, from 2005. Although they're both approaching a decade and half old, and I've written a great deal since, I'd have to admit that they are still among my favorite personal stories. Both pieces lent their titles to collections, and both were originally bought by Peter Crowther, of PS Publishing, to whom I remain indebted. I'm very pleased that they've been adapted, and I look forward to seeing the episodes in their entirety. Aside from the stage production of Diamond Dogs (which was also a story bought by Peter!) these are the first adaptations of my work in any medium.

Here's a link to Netflix's own page for the series:

Be warned that the trailers are very much Not Safe For Work. There's a lot more out there if you're prepared to dig around, including some mini-trailers for the individual stories.

The series premiers on March 15th.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Stay Frosty

Ahead of the publication of my new time-travel novella Permafrost later in March, have put up an excerpt from the story. Head on over to to take a look, if you're so inclined.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Mark Hollis

Few bands meant more to me in the Eighties than Talk Talk, so I was very saddened to learn of the death of Mark Hollis, who was both the singer and the main creative force behind the group.

I took a interest in them around the time of their second album, but it was the third - 1986's The Colour of Spring - which really convinced me that there was something interesting and innovative going on:

I bought this album - the cover art is by James Marsh, who also did a slew of JG Ballard editions around the same time - within a day or two of its release in March, taped it, and then took the cassette back with me to university. I played little else that term, and the music was a perfect accompaniment to the gradual shift of seasons from winter into spring. Nobody else was making music that sounded anything like Talk Talk at the time. After the clever, driving synth-pop of their first two records, this album was a swerve into analog minimalism, weirdly forward-looking at the same time that it harked back to the musical textures of the sixties and seventies, evoking Traffic, Procul Harum and so on with Mellotrons and organs in sharp counterpoint to the typical sequenced excess of mid-eighties chart material. A great deal of music recorded at this time hasn't worn well, due to heavv-handed production and an over-use of drum machines, keyboards and assorted in-vogue effects, but Talk Talk's records still sound timeless. I bought The Colour of Spring against the advice of music reviewers, incidentally, who gave the album rather lukewarm notices. They couldn't have been more wrong.

I saw Talk Talk in concert in Newcastle town hall that same year, and I followed them through the rest of their career - into the increasing starkness of their subsequent two albums, and the almost unbearable melancholy of Mark Hollis's one solo record. And that was it. Talk Talk ceased to exist; Mark Hollis stopped making music almost completely, preferring the sanity of a family life over the serial indignities of the music business. I'd read the occasional interview or article over the ensuing years, and had come to the conclusion that it was very unlikely we'd ever see any more recordings from Hollis, under any banner. Six albums worth - plus a few extras - hardly amounts to an afternoon's listening. It would be churlish to complain, though, given the quality of the music, the care with which it was created, and the quietly influential reach it's had in the ensuing decades. We could have done a lot worse.

Oh, and I liked Talk Talk so much that one of their songs provided the last line of a novel.