Peter Watts is the Hugo-winning Canadian author of Blindsight, described by The Globe and Mail as, “a hard science fiction writer through and through and one of the very best alive,” which is a reputation he has lived up to among fans of hard science fiction. Through their Spring/Summer catalog, Tor has revealed details about Echopraxia, his first novel since 2006.
Prepare for a different kind of singularity in this follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight.
It’s the eve of the twenty-second century: a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues; where genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans and soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat. And it’s all under surveillance by an alien presence that refuses to show itself.
Daniel Bruks is a living fossil: a field biologist in a world where biology has turned computational, a cat’s-paw used by terrorists to kill thousands. Taking refuge in the Oregon desert, he’s turned his back on a humanity that shatters into strange new subspecies with every heartbeat. But he awakens one night to find himself at the center of a storm that will turn all of history inside-out.
Now he’s trapped on a ship bound for the center of the solar system. To his left is a grief-stricken soldier, obsessed by whispered messages from a dead son. To his right is a pilot who hasn’t yet found the man she’s sworn to kill on sight. A vampire and its entourage of zombie bodyguards lurk in the shadows behind. And dead ahead, a handful of rapture-stricken monks takes them all to a meeting with something they will only call “The Angels of the Asteroids.”
Their pilgrimage brings Dan Bruks, the fossil man, face-to-face with the biggest evolutionary breakpoint since the origin of thought itself.
Before becoming a writer, Watts acquired a PhD in Zoology and Resource Ecology from the University of British Columbia, which makes me even more curious to see that Echopraxia appears to deal with the merging of biology and technology. Watts is known as one of the best authors at weaving intelligent scientific exploration and debate into the narratives of his story, and everything about the synopsis for Echopraxia tugs at my interests. Peter Watts can be trusted with big ideas, and Echopraxia appears to be full of them.
Watts’ most famous novel, Blindsight had, erm… less than inspiring cover art, so it’s nice to see Tor giving him the attention that a writer of his calibre deserves. There’s an obvious similarity to covers for James S.A. Corey’s enormously popular Expanse trilogy, but the clean typography separates the two and also brings to mind Tor’s equally impressive work on the John Harris covers for John C. Wright’s Count to the Eschaton Sequence. I’m not sure how anyone could pass this book in a bookstore and not pick it up.
Explorations of Faith in the Sandbox of Fiction
I’m really grateful for Aidan’s invitation to come and guest blog here at A Dribble of Ink. When he approached me, we talked about a post on religion in fantasy, which is a rather broad topic – and one that’s of great interest to me. But as I’ve thought about it more and more, the topic has narrowed itself down to my own personal exploration of religion through the mechanism of writing. Anyone even the slightest bit familiar with my work will see that religion shows up in one form or another across my body of work, probably even more so than my other favorite exploration: apocalypse. Frequently, the two of them are hand in hand.
These days, I’m mostly known as the author of the series The Psalms of Isaak (hey, look at the religious language right there in the title!) but long before I wrote novels, I was slogging it out in the world of short stories with something in the vicinity of twenty stories published before my first novel found a home. And while one important aspect of my series is an exploration of the role of religion in human life and how it can be used as a weapon or tool, my short stories are wide-open playground jam-packed with far more opportunities to explore many of the “what-if’s” around the subject. Continue reading
Bouyed by seeing the Internet’s recent enthusiasm about John Scalzi’s Redshirts winning the Hugo Award for ‘Best Novel,’ Steven Erikson has announced that his next novel will not be a Malazan novel (though, Adam Whitehead of The Wertzone reveals that Fall of Light, the second novel in the Kharkanas Trilogy, is still in the works, merely delayed), but Willfull Child, a satirical riff on Star Trek.
Willfull Child is described as a ‘smart, inventive and hugely entertaining spoof on the whole mankind-exploring-space-for-the-good-of-all-species-but-trashing-stuff-with-a-lot-of-hi-tech-kit-along-the-way type over-blown adventure.’
An excerpt of Willfull Child last year on on Tor.com.
More details are available via the Amazon.co.uk page for the novel:
These are the voyages of the starship, A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange new worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life life-forms, to boldly blow the…
And so we join the not-terribly-bright but exceedingly cock-sure Captain Hadrian Sawback – a kind of James T Kirk crossed with ‘American Dad’ – and his motley crew on board the Starship Willful Child for a series of devil-may-care, near-calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through ‘the infinite vastness of interstellar space’…
Erikson is a delightful and sharply funny person, and I’ve always felt that this sense of humour was one of the highlights of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, so I’m glad to see him momentarily shifting away from the dark, sprawling world of the Malazan/Kharkanas novels into something entirely different. Mind you, it sounds alarmingly like Scalzi’s Redshirts, but Erikson and Scalzi are such stylistically different writers that I think the outward similarities only make me more curious to read Willfull Child.
So, let’s talk about the recently revealed cover for
The Way of Kin— err… wait, I mean Words of Radiance, the second volume in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. I won’t ever blame you for mistaking the two books, so, please, afford me the same luxury.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about one of publishing’s biggest catch-22 arguments. Fans have cried ‘foul’ time-and-again when publishers step in and change the style of a series’ covers midway through. It’s great when a completed series gets a re-issue, but, I think I can speak for most fans when I say that it’s nice to have a matching set of books on your bookshelf. On the flip side, though, there are a lot of cases of lazy design work, with the publisher, or at least the art department, jumping on board with what worked in the past and riding it until it keels over from exhaustion. A good example of this is the early cover for Brent Weeks’ The Black Prism. Orbit found huge success with Weeks’ first trilogy, in large part because of the striking covers. Back then, the hooded dude was still waiting tables, just trying to catch a break. Now, he’s everywhere, we’re sick of him, but he established a strong brand for Weeks and his Night Angel Trilogy. The first cover leaked to the public looked like a sequel to Weeks’ first trilogy even though it was an entirely new series. The cover was changed before publication. And then a new cover was issued for the recent trade paperback edition of the novel. It’s gorgeous. Orbit has done a great job of recognizing the need to create a strong brand for Weeks, but not at the expense of driving the concept into the ground. Continue reading
Ideology, Politics, and the Writer
This is a post about writing; it is not a post about politics.
This is a post about writing; it is not a post about politics. I want to make that clear from the outset. I am not trying to write a polemical piece, nor am I looking for a fight. Please, let’s try to keep comments and discussion to the writing issues.
My first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle (which I wrote as David B. Coe), was a fairly straightforward epic fantasy trilogy. But I originally conceived of it as something I called “an ecological fantasy,” because it played on ecological issues. I didn’t worry about putting off readers; in my callow arrogance I just figured that those who were interested in the issues would see what I was doing, and those who didn’t would still enjoy the story. The problem was, I used too heavy a hand in weaving those issues into my narrative. In its review of the final volume of the trilogy, Publisher’s Weekly noted this, saying, “Characterization, although present, plays second fiddle to ideology in this epic. It’s as if Robert Jordan began channeling Will and Ariel Durant.” Continue reading