Monday 27 May 2013

On the Steel Breeze - cover and blurb

With the first round of edits now complete on On the Steel Breeze, I thought it was time for another update. I promised that I wouldn't talk this one into the ground before publication, but hopefully this teaser and back cover copy should provide some flavour of the book.

“Last of all, the Chibesa engines were lit. With the slowness of clouds the readied arks began to pull away from the birthing orbits. They went out in caravans, for mutual support. Each caravan was part of a larger flow of holoships, assigned to a particular solar system. It took years, decades, for the holoships to reach their cruising speeds, a whisker under thirteen percent of the speed of light.”

We have found a distant planet. It carries sign of an alien civilisation.


And on a fleet of holoships, vast asteroids hollowed out and turned into miniature worlds, millions of us are heading there. With engines designed to exploit a physics we barely understand we are on a one way journey, travelling at one sixth the speed of light, to a new home. And an encounter with the unknown.


And we take with us hopes and lies, secrets and betrayals. And another, quite alien intelligence.


The Akinya family have not finished with space. Their destiny still lies with the stars, however they get there, whichever of them make it.


And the Mechanism has not finished with the Akinyas…


  1. Nice! I hate to be pedantic, but I note that "cruising speeds...a whisker under thirteen percent of the speed of light." and "travelling at one sixth the speed of light" seem (prima facie) to be in contradiction. But perhaps I'm missing something...

  2. I'm not sure where the one sixth bit comes from (it's a draft blurb which I just cut and pasted) but the 13 percent bit is correct.

  3. Nice! I have been looking forward to this. Recently finished Pushing Ice and was wondering when your next novel comes out. The premise sounds superb.

  4. I thought Terminal World was the onset of a series. Maybe its modular/subdivided setting would be apt for developing as a game. I couldn't help picturing the ships in Terminal World as something like Ian McQue illustrations.

  5. Looks good. Looking forward to reading it when it comes out. Though I have just started The Prefect again so will need to finish that first.

    Is that cover for the UK version I assume?

  6. Norayr Gurnagul27 May 2013 at 18:35

    Nice cover art, looking forward to this. I have "Blue Remembered Earth" sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. I figured I would wait until "On the Steel Breeze" came out before reading BRE. When will "On the Steel Breeze" be published ? most online bookstores show end of August or September..

  7. Are they "holoships" because of some sort of holographics or because they are hollowed out asteroids?

  8. Congratulations! I'm really looking forward to it.

    It's easy to lose sight of this considering what big waves Revelation Space made, but it seems to me like your most recent books are even more fascinating and expertly constructed than the earlier ones that won you fame. I'm excited to see where the master-level thinker is going next. No pressure or anything ;)

  9. WHEEEENNNNNN??? Also, Audible?

  10. I had to cut myself off from reading mid-sentence when my eye caught 'Akinya' in the last sentence. I'm still working on 'Blue Remembered Earth' (and loving it). I'm one of those people that avoid any morsel of information that could obliquely be interpreted as a spoiler :-) So excited!

    Anonymous - Pushing Ice is one of my favorites. I love how it explodes into logarithmic weirdness at the end.

  11. Hi all - launch is still scheduled for August, although I'm not sure exactly when in that month.

    Orion - it's a play on them being hollow (mostly), but also containing everything, being whole worlds in their own right.

  12. Is there anywhere (other than Amazon and its likes which I will not condone, being an ebook reader) where I can buy the book without waiting too long after the launch date?
    I usually buy books from a link on the author's webpage but I'm not seeing any here or on the other site Google finds. Granted, I'm used to buying books written by less sucessful authors who have a stronger incentive to make buying easier.

  13. Yes, it's just over a seventh isn't it? 'Never trust your editor with maths' is the moral of this tale.


  14. Really intrigued by this one, "Blue Remembered Earth" had some great ideas and I love the idea of dividing the trilogy over thousands of years to showcase mankinds slow descent to the stars.

    I'm currently reading through the whole Revelation space series in a rough chronological order (started Redemption Ark at the weekend)and they are in my very humble opinion the finest future history in SF (Chaos City being my personal favorite in the series) so I'm looking forward to reading this new one to see if it matches up.

  15. Oh hell YES! This is an insta-buy for me :)

  16. Sorry for being crude, but my nether region twitched a little just then!
    So looking forward to this!

  17. Steel Breeze was also the name of a ship in House of Suns. Any connection?

    1. Hi Steve

      The answer to this was on an earlier thread on this topic

      I quote Al's response "C John: no coincidence. In fact there is a shout-out to the same lyric in House of Suns, if my memory serves. No connection to the two stories, though."

      The lyric is from Pink Floyd's Shine on you Crazy Diamond. :)

  18. How can there be more than one solar system if there's just one star called Sol? <_<

  19. Just wanting to say: waiting for a book of yours is ripe with the anticipation of being enchanted, enthralled, and enamored.

    It's hard to believe that it has been 12 (11?) years since I picked up my copy of Chasm City from the shin level shelf of Indigo in Toronto. Best literary decision of my life. House of Suns blew my mind. I immediately read it a second time, out loud, to myself, with plenty a glass of wine.

    Thank you for writing with such thoughtful passion.

  20. Honestly, I'm disappointed by this series.

    Maybe it was just me who thought upon reading the initial blurb of Blue Remembered Earth that the book would be in the vein of your near-future short stories, i.e. literally more down to earth, with only a few manned outposts on the moon where the myth arc begins and perhaps ends as well as a few of your famed timeskips at the end to cover the "realistic expansion into space" angle.

    But in the end the "African future" only amounted to window dressing. In the first 20 or so pages we learn mankind's settlements extend to circum-Jove, and then that there's an entire sovereign culture on the moon enjoying Earthside living conditions. And all that in ~150 years. I don't think posting photos of a 1910s plane and the Saturn V considering the latter could have suffered catastrophic malfunction while in use, all outside appearances aside. In a time even hardcore science-fictioneers start to question the "It is man's manifest destiny to conquer space!!1" doctrine it might be a good idea to work out an approach to the subject matter different from that of our grandparents. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good space yarn like many a nerd, but maybe we should move on from the Heinleinian "In the year 2000 the first starships will be completed and computers will be twice as fast and ten times bigger than today!" schema.

    Than there's the issue with the "criminality genes"... dear god, the "criminality genes". Not sure how you could come up with something so utterly wrong (and that not only in the scientific sense, seeing as this sounds awfully similar to Nazi eugenicism).

    The whole idea of the "African future" is undermined by this techno-utopia being in a waning situation mirroring the contemporary US courtesy of transhuman merman (transhumanism's liberal use opens a whole 'nother can of worms). While we're at it, Miss Andreadis would probably call your handling of African culture tin-eared given how the message of the book seems to be "Know how Africa can stop to be such a shithole? White man tech and culture!" Not to mention how major climatic changes are glossed over without so much as broaching the solution strategies, yet the US and China keep and gain superpower status, respectively.

    Honestly, I don't attempt to troll you, but I found it worthwhile voicing my points after I experienced the magic that was House Of Suns. That book worked because events started in ~3000 AD and it had a strong science-fantasy vibe. I'm just worried you may've peaked with it and it's all downhill from here. Wouldn't be the first time this happened in the world of art, wouldn't be the last...

    I really hope you find time in your tight schedule to explain your decisions.

    Thanks in advance.

  21. Although comments on this blog are moderated, I have only ever declined to post a handful of contributions, all of which were rejected because they were either irrelevant, incomprehensible or were vehicles for self promotion (sometimes all at the same time). Obviously, I'm as willing to post negative views of my writing as I am to post positive or neutral ones. All opinions are welcome, and I thank Esebian for taking the time to post. Regardless of any specific points of agreement or disagreement, though, and irrespective of schedules tight or otherwise, I am not interested in explaining my decisions. A novel is its own argument. It is a complex series of artistic and intellectual choices, none of which were taken lightly, and none of which I am required to elaborate upon or justify.

  22. Art allows us something very rare these days... Pure Subjectivity. Therefore no artist can ever peak. Sci-Fi gifts speculation to this.

    BRE provided our busted little planet with some much needed Clarkeian hope at a time when it was so vital and I loved it. Convinced our steel breeze will leave us comfortably numb for more.

    Wrt tight schedules AR took some much valued time for me once as a fellow space scientist when I was launching my now burgeoning space company showing great respect for his fans, industry and attitude. As furthered by his blog comment above.

    No one ever has to justify endeavor... Just keep it coming AR and we'll keep on reading. Least I will.

    Steve Lee - Astrosat.

  23. I know that everyone is entitled to an opinion, and this isn't North Korea, but I have to ask Esebian,do you need someone to talk too?, or did Mummy just not hug you enough? Either way, time for you to toddle back to the Dan Brown website me thinks, and no more coffee for you.

  24. I think I did come to BRE with a perspective similar to Esebian's... but I liked it anyway.
    How come?
    A) I figured BRE was more about why than how. In other words, if a technological miracle occured and provided a way out of humanity's current predicament, then what? What would all the sweat and the suffering have been for? Why is a most important question.
    B) At some point I decided it was an alternative history. There. Blood pressure lowered.

  25. Excellent! Looking forward to this.

  26. Just finished Blue Remembered Earth.


    The not so good parts: I have to admit it was a bit of a painful reading, at times, with it moving a bit too slowly for my taste. While I eagerly devoured all of your recent books in a few days, this one took me like three weeks to read. People are sent on a bizarre treasure hunt from the Moon to Mars, leaving unexplained (unless I missed something) why they could have not been sent to the Winter Palace right away. Readers are kept waiting and waiting for some climax to come but never actually getting there. Everybody and their dog suspected Eunice not to be really dead, but we finally get to learn that in the last couple pages of the book. The African theme seemed a bit tacked on (don't get me wrong: I love Africa having lived there a few years, not too far from Tanzania). There was possibly a slight abuse of new vocabulary/unexplained (or rather "undescribed") technology gobblydegook ("chinging", "aug", "quangle" etc), which gave me a deja vu of the cyberpunk era and was a bit unexpected of you.

    The good part: it looked to me like a big setting the scene/prologue installment, and the actual glimpses of the scene we were given - and what we can guess at or imagine - are really exciting. I have no doubt the rest of the saga will be as memorable and involving for me as the rest of the revelation space books were after the somewhat difficult start (for me) of Revelation Space itself. I have learned to trust your judgement.