Monday, 4 December 2017

Two things that are new, some stories, and another novel

I've been head-down writing a new book for most of this year, so updates have been few and far between, especially these last few months. I'm pleased to have delivered the book in question, the direct sequel to Revenger, and hope to share a bit more news about it as we go through the usual editing cycle. The book does have a provisional title, but it won't be Revealer, although you'll see that listed here and there. That was a working-working title which wasn't ever meant to be shared with the world, although I really ought to know by now that these things soon escape into reality.

What can I say about it? Not much. Like Revenger, it's a first person narrative, but the voice this time belongs to Adrana, not Fura, and I think that lends the book a somewhat different feel, as well as giving us a different eye on Fura. I think it fair to say that this book is "dark". My next full-length novel will be a continuation of their story.

I might as well mention a few short story related things while I'm at it, some of which have been touched on in earlier posts.

"Holdfast", my story in Extrasolar (edited by Nick Gevers) has now been published, in a very handsome hardcover edition from PS Publishing:

http://www.pspublishing.co.uk/extrasolar-hardcover-edited-by-nick-gevers-4319-p.asp


"Night Passage", my new story in the Revelation Space universe, appeared in Infinite Stars, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and I'm pleased to say that it's already been picked up by one of the "Year's Best" anthologies.

https://titanbooks.com/infinite-stars-9264/

"Belladonna Nights", which takes place in the House of Suns universe (but prior to that novel) should appear in Subterranean Press's The Weight of Words before the end of 2017, although I've yet to see a copy:

https://subterraneanpress.com/slider-tabs/at-the-printer/mckean-the-weight-of-words

And that story has also been picked up for one of the Year's Bests, and I'm delighted by that as well.

I also wrote a story, exactly 2001 words long, for a tribute anthology to a certain author born one hundred years ago, but it now looks as if that book will be delayed until next year. More news on that one in due course.

Other than that, the only outstanding story of mine is "Different Seas", which will appear in Twelve Tomorrows, from MIT Press, again in 2018, although as yet I can't find a link to the coming edition.

So what else is new?

First up, the Foruli limited edition of Revelation Space is now out in the world, and, although I say it myself, I think it's an extremely impressive and desirable thing. It probably deserves a blog post all to itself, but for now, you can learn a bit more about it here:

https://foruli.co.uk/editions/revelation-space

(Click on the "images" tab to see a hint of the art prints that come with the signature edition).

It's taken quite a few years to get this thing into existence, but I think the wait has been worth it, and I hope the book does well for Foruli. Obviously, it's not cheap, but that's what "limited edition" means, and I think Reynolds completists, if such beings exist, will definitely want this.

The other thing that those hypothetical completists might want - and again, this merits a post of its own -  is the new album by Sound of Ceres, who are Ryan and Karen Hover from Colorado, and who make quite lovely music.

https://soundofceres.bandcamp.com/

Because, other than being very enjoyable in its own right, the record includes an original piece of fiction by me. That's right, a brand new short story, otherwise unavailable. It's not just any old vignette, either. I was sent the lyrics, and some early mixes of the tracks, earlier this year, and I tried to riff off the images and moods therein, creating a short story that has an integral relationship with the sounds on the album. It's a beautiful recording, especially in the vinyl edition, and very much recommended for those who enjoy dreampop, Cocteaus, analog synth sounds and so on. Really rather fantastic.

That's it for now. I have a short story to write next, then a novella, and then back into the world of Revenger. I hope all is well with everyone and wish you a satisfactory end to the year.

Al





21 comments:

  1. Thanks for the update! Glad to hear your keeping busy. Just ordered a copy of the Revelation Space limited. Thanks for the heads up.

    Rob

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  2. Hey Alastair,

    Do you have any plans to release your short stories in compilation form at some point? (Are you allowed to?)

    Also, I was wondering if you know anything about the Kindle versions of Six Directions of Space and Deep Navigation. Goodreads claims they exist but I can't find them on neither the US nor UK stores.

    Lastly I was listening to an episode of Reply All (a podcast) the other week and they were talking about Email Debt Forgiveness Day. It reminded me that I once e-mailed you a question about g-forces and how it's expressed in terms of acceleration, and you answered me back with like a four paragraph explanation. I never got around to replying so I just wanted to say - like, 7 years later - that I really appreciated it.

    Hope you have good day and thanks for writing such fantastic fiction.

    Chris

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    1. Hi Chris - the way it's been happening as we do a collection every few years, so other than most recent ones, most of the short stories are now collected. There will probably be a new collection before too long. As for that email, all is forgiven!

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  3. Hi Mr. Reynolds, I cannot wait to read the new book. You are without a doubt my favorite author, and--as a librarian--my signed copy of Revelation Space is one of my prized possessions. I don't know if you'll see this, but I suppose I wanted to ask your permission for something. I'm a little bit of a musician, and have been trying to come up with a name for a project I've had in the works. Last night it hit me: Sun Stealer. It's perfect! Anyway, I know there are a few groups out there that have referenced your work, but I thought I'd ask if you mind if a middling-at-best post rock/metal musician makes another reference.

    Warm regards -Michael

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    1. No problem, Michael - and good luck with the project!

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  4. So, does that mean we get two books next year? Elysium Fire and 'Not' Revealer?
    And it sounds like with all these short stories you keep writing, we'll just have to have another collection too. Make it So, please.
    Good luck with it all.

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    1. Just the one novel next year (2018); the Revenger sequel will be early 2019. If we started work on another collection now I doubt it would be ready before 2019 either.

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    2. All good. Happy either way.

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  5. Thanks for the great news regarding your upcoming publications. Just started re-reading the Revelation Space books in preparation for Elysium Fire.

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  6. Hi, Al. I have a question about Elysium Fire. Is it a (more or less direct) sequel to The Prefect or just set in the Revelation Space universe?

    Best wishes for you and yours for the holidays!
    Thanks for the stories that you tell. My personal favorite will always be (Live) At Budokan. :)

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  7. Direct sequel to The Prefect - same characters, same set-up, just a different crisis.

    Thanks for liking At Budokan - I'll pass it on to Derek.

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  8. Wow! I'm psyched about the Revenger sequel. I loved that world, the mystery of opening those baubles and the treasure inside, the rickety ships, and those freaky skulls with the lost tech inside them.

    It reminded me of a video game, but in a good way.

    Speaking of video games, I'm working my way through Space Hulk: Deathwing, in which you take on the role of a half-machine soldier breaching old derelict starships to find any useful data or artifacts still left inside. And these ships are spectacular -- ancient, creaking behemoths rendered in a very gothic style, which remind me of Quaiche and his mobile cathedrals from Absolution Gap. No freaky Queens who enjoy sadomasochism via clones, though.

    Cheers

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  9. As one of the self-professed "completionists", was very excited to see the Foruli book finally launched (snagged myself copy number 2!!). Gotta admit, while I love reading them, collecting all the short stories spread through-out the sci-fi literature world is quite the task -_-

    Recently got a friend hooked on RS. She read the whole series and is now eagerly waiting for the Prefect sequel :)

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  10. I was able to find Infinite Stars and The Weight of Words on Book Depository and Amazon respectively. Very much looking forward to reading Belladonna Nights.

    All the best.

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  11. This Sound of Ceres album is really cool- it reminds me of, as you mentioned, Cocteau Twins, crossed with something that would be right at home on Warp Records. I've not purchased the vinyl/read the story yet, but I look forward to doing that.

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  12. Dear Alastair Reynolds

    Although this reply contains high praise I am afraid you might not like my reason for writing it. But I hope it may be food for thought, and taken as such.

    Some 5-7 years ago I bought the first volume of Revelation Space. About one hundred pages into it, I had ordered everything you had ever written; all solo books in hardcover editions, all short stories in various anthologies, also in hardcover editions where applicable. I presently own over thirty books for this reason, including all original Reynolds books from Gollancz.

    I am in awe of your darkly glittering prose, your larger than life characters, the way you can tell in two pages what would take most authors a hundred, and I hold the Revelation Space series in the same respect as Frank Herbert's "Dune" series, Stephen Donaldsons "The Gap" series, Dan Simmons' "Hyperion" series: As works that stand out in their own unsurpassable category and class.

    As you may gather, I have been the real life equivalent to the imaginary completionist you mention.

    But: My enthusiasm is becoming dampened by all your additions and announcements of sequels/additions to this, that, and whatever you might ever have written.

    Please understand that I am not the kind of fan who would tell the artist what to do. You are the owner of your own work, and of your imagination. And as a lifelong science fiction reader (starting forty years ago with Clarke's novelisation of "2001" at age 11) I cannot disregard that authors in the genre have often created wonderful and complete universes by adding here, and there, in a seemingly never-ending process.

    So I do not intend this as a criticism. I just wanted to share my personal reaction, which is not enthusiastic but more like: (*Deep sigh*) Well, if yet another collection of additions to tales that have already been told is published, I will probably still consider buying it. But I am finished hunting down every single story in a growing myriad of publications.

    I wish that when you contribute to anthologies with new stories, they would not be "another story in the X universe", but rather unique stories, that I might later enjoy in a collected volume.

    And much more importantly: I am getting frustrated with all the books I would like to read, or have already read, that are now awaiting sequels.

    I found "The Prefect" absolutely exquisite (often reminding me of "Chasm City"); but the announcement of a sequel did not make my heart soar, on the contrary. I have it preordered, but would immensely prefer to have something preordered that was not a sequel to a book that cannot possibly get any better.

    I feel (personally) that your work is becoming atomised and fragmented, at least seen from my perspective. If, for example, an intermezzo story between Prefect/Aurora I and II is really relevant, it should be a prologue in volume 2, not an online short story floating around somewhere.

    I am truly sorry for saying this, so please remember that my admiration for your talent is unchanged, and that I am not trying to tell you what to do. Just saying that the amount of sequels, add-on short stories, and the resulting feeling that no single work of yours may ever be completely finished, has become a let-down in my personal view, where books I was looking forward to reading have abruptly been reduced from stand alone novels to "part X in an unfinished series of N volumes" (where N is a complete unknown, seemingly also to yourself), and which I fear you may not be able to finish before I (now aged 54) am dead of (hopefully) old age. I feel a deep need to know how many volumes a series will be and when it is expected to be finished, truly finished once and for all, before I can take an honest interest.

    I wish you would declare more works finished at a clearly specified point, that's all.

    Respectfully, and in hope of your forgiveness from someone who will continue to consider himself a fan,

    Asger Harlung
    Denmark

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  13. That's perfectly fair, Asger, and I appreciate your thoughts.

    With regard to the stories mentioned in the above post, Night Passage was specifically requested by the anthologist to be a Revelation Space universe story, so it's not a case of it displacing some possible other story which might otherwise have been written. As for "Belladonna Nights", I can't help the way my mind works. When I saw Dave McKean's illustration it immediately triggered a visual connection to part of the House of Suns universe, and I knew that story had to be written. The fact of that story's existence doesn't change House of Suns; it's set earlier, to begin with, but it's also extremely peripheral to the story developed in the novel. I also mention "Different Seas" in the post, and that's a story unrelated to anything else I've done, as is "Holdfast", the only other story I had out in 2017.

    I've declared only two of my novels to be the last word on that subject: Century Rain and Terminal World, both of which felt like one-offs when I was engaged with them. But in other cases, I love the idea of eventually returning to a prior canvas. They're not obligatory sequels, since (I'd strongly contest) the initial novels are self-contained on their own terms. But the idea of not ever returning to Chasm City, the Glitter Band, etc, fills me with gloom and horror. As for the notion of completing a sequence and being done with that, that's not really how I operate, either artistically or intentionally. The Revelation Space books, for instance, are not telling a larger story in the manner of Wheel of Time or A Song of Ice and Fire; each book is a story in its own right that just happens to slot into a nebulous future history stretching across thousands of years. None of of them is Book X of N because that would imply some preconceived structural form with a beginning, middle and end. I'd much rather see the universe as a rich seam of stories and connections that I occasionally "mine" with a novel or story, rather than some N-volume saga that a reader is obligated to follow from start to finish. I'd feel similarly about any hypothetical novels in the House of Suns, Pushing Ice or Revenger universes, too. Well, that's my take on it, at least. I suppose all I'm saying is any reader should feel to dip in and out of the books and stories as they please, much as I dip in and out my favorite crime, thriller and historical novel series, very rarely reading each installment.

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    1. Dear Alastair

      First and foremost thank you for you reply, for taking my comments seriously and in the intended way.

      I do understand your thoughts, and there is nothing to say against them as they are. And truth to tell I wouldn't object at all to you, nor any other artist, suddenly getting a "must out" idea building on previous work.

      I don't entirely agree that the RS series isn't a series. I read them all chronologically, except the short-stories which i read after the novels.

      They are not linear, clearly, but they do form a complex pattern, where the characters and their stories intertwine, and where the most fulfilling read is entire and ordered.

      The prefect is (or was) a perfect example of a stand alone story in an already defined universe. But now comes a sequel, and it gives me a headache trying to decide if I should read on without the first book fresh in mind, or start over, without expecting book 2 to be the end of it.

      That is how my mind works, and I cannot help that either :-)

      I still have the notion that when the same characters continue their stories, then the premises and points from other books are left out if the reader jumps in and out, so from my perspective the reader does not really have the freedom you may think. I think by definition a sequel means the first story cannot be considered to be finished, and it makes no difference if the structure wasn't fixed or planned from the start. Niven's or Anderson's future histories might not have been planned out from the start either, but they still form chronological series of events that interconnect - like Revelation Space.

      I think there are two truths here: The Universe is endless (if with the capital U you refer to everything that ever was and will be, and not just our big bang part of it), and hence no story ever stands alone. On the other hand, our lives are not, and from that comes the (human) perspective that there is no point to a story if it does not end. You are approaching this from the Universal perspective, which is absolutely valid (and mot surprising from a former astronomer and grand scale science fiction writer), I am getting frustrated because in my limited time I prefer closure to sequels.

      The "universal" and "limited human life" perspectives are both right of course.

      What I do suggest is a kind of compromise: I do, will, and (obviously) must, respect your desire to reopen one train of thought or another. But I would still hope you will consider that closure can be a very good thing. I would still be much happier to start on Revenger knowing that you would end the series with a bang in volume 3 or 4, than wondering when this series will actually stop. (But then I don't dip in or out of anything; when I read Sherlock Holmes, I read it all (preferring the creation chronology over the "timeline" chronology, where the chronology question only goes to show that when stories grow large enough they become patterns rather than lines, but still within the a defined frame of starting and ending points).

      By the way, I read Century Rain aloud to my wife, exactly because this was a clear stand alone book. She really liked it, and like me deeply appreciated your prose and composition.

      Thank you for your time in any case, and not least for your work. I will continue collecting cover to cover Reynolds books, for now having the Blue Remembered Earth trilogy and Terminal World reserved for my next reads. And still hoping I can one day regard "Revenger", "Aurora" and other works as trilogies, tetralogies, septologies, or whatever may be the case :-)

      Best,
      Asger

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  14. Thank you, Asger - fascinating and thought-provoking.

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  15. Asger does have a point, but for me, when an author involves themselves in a big series like WoT or Dune or whatever, they quite often become stale. I think doing different things and then sometimes dipping back into old territory would keep the mind nice and limber and hence, new stories from an older series would come out crisp and fresh.

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  16. Just to clarify, when you said 'My next full-length novel will be a continuation of their story' was that referring to 'Not Revealer' or a potential further book?
    I am really looking forward to Elysium Fire as The Prefect was excellent, but I can't say I enjoyed Revenger much, so at the moment I am hoping you move on from that series (though will be glad to be proved wrong). I'm one of those who appreciated the Blue Remembered Earth trilogy, and would love more in that vein (maybe I'm just getting old!).
    Anyway, thanks for all the great reads.

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