ON THE STEEL BREEZE is only ten days from UK publication, and at least one bookseller seems to have copies in stock already, although they may not yet be for sale. Having just returned from America, and with my post still to be collected from my neighbour, it's entirely possible that there might be a finished copy in my mail as well. I'll find out soon enough. It's always a sobering moment, the first time you hold the end product. Months or years of work, distilled into a rectangle of card and paper. This is it - no more changes now.
It seems odd to have said so little about this book, but I swore some time ago that I would avoid talking it to death before publication, a trap I suspect I fell slightly into with Blue Remembered Earth. On the other hand, I'm genuinely excited to see what the world makes of it. And, of course, not a little nervous about that same reception. This is the middle book of the "Poseidon's Children" trilogy but, from my standpoint at least, it feels like quite a different book to its predecessor. In my more pretentious moments, I've suggested that this is the darker second movement of a symphony, and there's no doubt that, in parts, the book is markedly more violent and dystopian than Blue Remembered Earth. If BRE explored some unabashedly utopian ideas, then OTSB offers a sort of critique or reflection on where some of those trends might end up given another century or two of development. Yes, stuff goes wrong in this book. Bad stuff happens to people, people do bad things to each other, and there are deaths - quite a lot of them, in fact. That's not to say that it's an out-and-out dystopia, any more than the real world of 2013 is. But there's a good deal of peril, there are ominous developments, and things that we might have thought we understood at the end of BRE turn out to be ... otherwise, and not always in ways we might have wished.
I'm tempted to say more (in fact, I've just deleted a paragraph of expository waffle, telling you all about Chiku Akinya, my central character) but I shall refrain. In the meantime, the prologue and three chapters of the novel are now available to read on the Gollancz website, and here are the links:
Hope you enjoy these excerpts, and (if you soldier through them) that they provide some incentive to read the whole book.