Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Now?

So, last year I finished The Departure, second book of my last three-book contract with Macmillan and at the time due to be published this year. I immediately got on with the last book of the contract, which then had the provisional title Gabbleducks, and polished off quite a lot of it. Once I was back here in Britain, Julie Crisp (senior commissioning editor for Tor UK) told me she really liked The Departure and, since it was the first book of a new series (The Owner series), she would like to publish that series consecutively. This was a break from my usual  habit of books from a series alternated with something else i.e. the order of publication from the start with Macmillan has been: Gridlinked, The Skinner, The Line of Polity, Cowl, Brass Man, The Voyage of the Sable Keech, Polity Agent, Hilldiggers, Line War, with Prador Moon, Shadow of the Scorpion and The Gabble coming in through a route separate to my main contracts. I said okay, let's give it a try.

This now meant that I had to get Gabbleducks ready for publication this year, which I've done. It transformed somewhat in the telling and has now turned into The Technician. Julie now has that book and I'm chewing my fingernails waiting for a response on it. But this also means I've hit a bit of a hiatus. I am, effectively, a year ahead of schedule, so what do I do now?

Here are the choices I've considered: I could begin the next book in The Owner series, I could produce some short stories, I could pull that fantasy trilogy out of my files and start work on that, or I could set to work on writing a book about mine and Caroline's adventures in Crete - based on my journal entries - for which I already have the title: Cicada Scream.

I recently got an email from Jeremy Lassen at Night Shade Books in which he wondered if I might consider having a crack at something else for them: a new series, maybe a fantasy - something different to help me penetrate the American market. The fantasy, which I've always wanted to rework but have never got round to, falls into that category. So, if I set to work on that I've got a target market, though frankly I wouldn't expect difficulties selling it elsewhere.

So, right now I'm typing into my computer all my Crete journal entries in preparation for writing Cicada Scream. This will be a project I'll work on with no finish date in mind. This evening I'll print up the first book of the fantasy, The Staff of Sorrows, read it through and begin working on it with a pencil. More needs to be done than tidying up the English. The whole thing needs to lose its hackneyed fantasy clothing and there's some big structural changes that need to be made too.

 These I'll work on until the time comes for me to edit The Technician. After that I'm not sure how I'll proceed, just a case of wait and see.

You see, I can make plans.


Jebel Krong said...

oh please no fantasy - you'll turn into another john meaney... :p

seriously though - what's the allure of fantasy when you can do science fiction?

personally i'd love to see some more short stories from the polity :D

Neal Asher said...

The point here, Jebel, is that it's a fantasy I've already done -- it just needs some further work on it to make it publishable.

Afront said...

I was recently turned back on to fantasy after reading Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie and Alan Campbell. I don't care for all that hobbit and dwarf nonsense though: even accepting a bit of woo is quite a leap for me these days.

I loved all Richard Morgan's books until he "did a fantasy" - I read it but unfortunately it wasn't for me. I recently read Alastair Reynold's Terminal World which was very fantasy-like for much of the book. Fortunately I loved it, partly because I think he's a great storyteller but also because the magic could be explained rationally (and there weren't any hobbits in it).

Charlie Stross seems to do well straddling the genres. It seems his woo-less fantasy series sells well in the US. So I'm not too worried by Neal's diversion to fantasy - if it gets his name more known in the States then that's great: I have faith that it can turn out very well.

Martin Sommerfeld said...

I would certainly buy Neal Asher fantasy books. I am sure we wouldn't have to endure a 100 pages of pipe-smoking cookie-eating Shire-goodness, so no problem. ;-)

I disagree with Afront about the "bit of woo" though. As long as it does not get dumbed down to some boring "seen a million times" formula, I like my sorcerers, dark mages, spelled swords and so on.

So: By all means, go on with that Neal!

On a different matter: Maybe a bit late, but I just recently stumbled upon it and thought you might enjoy it, Neal: News Coverage Of "Frozen Britain"
In Britains defence I have to say that it's absolutely the same over here in Germany.

ILTYT_Adventure said...

Making a list helps sort things out does it not?

And I agree with the Jebster, when you are sitting around doing bugger all but procrastinating, you should write little Polity shorts. And without telling you your own game; all those little gems like why a building AI chose the rat as it's avatar, whose personality was Snipers originally put together from yaddah yaddah yaddah..

Anyway, I'll wind my neck in and leave you alone.


Anonymous said...


Didn't you write the fantasy series a while back? If that's the case, your style will have firmed up since that time.

I suppose what I am trying to say is, your not the same author. What may start out as a "polishing" exercise, could turn into a complete rewrite which means your trip into fantasy land could be long one.

Also trying to crack the american market with fantasy, while having a nice back catologue of sci fi, seems a little bit arse about face.

Anyway's your the boss and if you don't know what your doing by now, we're all pretty doomed.

Michael Stone said...

What is it with everybody here? A writer needs to follow his muse, doncha know, and I for one will be happy to read a Neal Asher fantasy. It may be a resounding success, it may not. We'll never know until he tries. And I can't imagine Neal willingly subbing anything he wasn't 100% happy with himself.

Yeah, okay, I'm going. You can all his "Sycophant!" at me now. :)

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

i have a feeling that fantasy is gonna hit big again here in the u.s. having said that there is very little that really tickles my warts the right way that's in print.

i really like Poul Anderson's "On Thud and Blunder" take on that end of sword, short on stumble heroics (http://www.sfwa.org/2005/01/on-thud-and-blunder/). Jack Vance's Dying Earth for the most part is pretty incredible, alongside Matthew Hughes sarcasm of the hot rod Vance type world of the Archon. these two very rarely do me wrong-for all you haters of the genre anyways.

the short stories tho...wow. The Gabble is such a hoot.

thats my advice: useless eh?

maybe this is my cup of gris:
Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie and Alan Campbell. never heard of em.

bascule said...

Having really got back into fantasy over the last few years, I for one am chuffed to bits at this news.

I can't just read SF after SF all the time anymore.

Unknown said...

We'll I'm not a writer but I think common sense says 'work on something you'll enjoy'.

If you don't enjoy it, it's likely we won't either.

I'm not a fantasy fan either tbh. I've read LoTR but not a lot else. Assure me Neal that a few folks will meet their ends horribly and I'll give it a go.

Anonymous said...

You plan nothing! You're just bored and you're trying to find something to do! :D

I'm not really in to fantasy, but reading Hamilton's Void series, I think Inigo's dreams could have been it's own book. Really, I think it's castles, swords and magic scrolls that put me off. Elves, like Vulcans, just piss me off. I was born 200 years too early, so a lot of it just isn't relevant to me :)

Write whatever you want, I'll try to read it. But I vote short stories not connected with any of your established universes. Or you can just start the next Owner book so I won't have to wait for it.

Neal Asher said...

Thing is, I wrote a fantasy trilogy, then the first book of a second trilogy whilst carrying too much of a load of Roger Zelazny, Stephen Donaldson and others besides. As I wrote these I slowly grew out of that - they in fact took me from manual typewriter through green-screen 1 meg hard disc computer to what I have now. Since the fantasy I've produced getting on for a million and a half words, most of which have gone under an editor's pencil, and my writing and my tastes have changed a lot. Suffice to say that when I rewrite it, it will be more along the lines of the weirder end of my SF.

Unknown said...

I disagree with all the "fantasy-naysayers". I think that a fantasy from you mr Asher would be something quite interesting and fun to read. Think about it, if the element of weirdness from your SF books comes in to play in your fantasy books then that would be a fresh turn on the fantasy genre and I would love to read that.

For those of you who think that the fantasy genre is "unfresh" then I can recommend Joe Abercrombie, like someone else mentioned. He takes the familiar and twists it completely and nobody is safe in his books, you never know what he might do to or with his characters and that is refreshing!

Xanares said...

I've read your excerpt from it and I liked it, so I just say bring it on Neal! :)