Friday, September 29, 2017

The Soldier - UK Cover

Here's the cover for the UK version of The Soldier - first books of Rise of the Jain. There's more about this here over on Macmillan Tor.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Macmillan Doing Stuff

So anyway, here's a thing: Macmillan are doing all sorts of good stuff. First there are my books appearing on Audible UK. Second, the one you don't know about till right now, is they're doing new covers for my backlist for another push on them. I've seen these covers and they are pretty damned cool. First up will be the Cormac books...

And here, for your listening pleasure, are soundcloud links to those books that are now up on Audible UK:

Thanks Macmillan!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Who Reads my Books: David Chapman


I started the whole Sci-Fi/Fantasy thing as a spotty nerdy teenager. Managed to lose the spots and teens, still a nerd! Cut my teeth as many of us do on Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein. Flirted slightly with the extremely misogynist John Norman and his planet Gor (I was a teenager!) and the “esteemed” Ron Hubbard. I later diversified to Sci Fantasy and remember devouring the Belgarion series by Mr and Mrs Eddings. I had an open order for every book as it came out. I still have quite a collection of hard copy books but nowadays most books are “Kindled” on the Ipad.

I got into Richard Morgan’s early books a few years ago and while waiting for the next in the series looked around for similar genre, found the Polity, and was converted! I love the whole Polity universe as it is painted on such a large canvas, there’s blood, gore and hydraulic fluid aplenty but generally Neal’s tone is one of optimism (As long as you don’t let the humans control anything critical). I also find listening to the audio versions an excellent way of covering large distances in the car without being bored to insensibility. Neal, thanks for the mental pictures, whether it’s C or Si based, you flesh (HiCr) out a character superbly. While waiting on the next polity instalment, I’m revisiting Gemmell and Pratchett, both sorely missed.

As for myself, I trained as a foundry engineer at college, left knowing everything and that I was the pinnacle of evolution. One week on the shop floor in a heavy steel foundry soon sorted that out! I started as a technician and worked myself up through production and then into sales. Covered steel, iron, aluminium and nonferrous alloys, die casting, moulding, investment casting and MIM before moving into the black art of metal powder manufacturing.

Anybody who has been associated with foundries will know our aversion to extremely hot metals combined with water. So when it was first explained to me during the factory tour that they atomise a 1650 C metal stream with high pressure cold water, my first instinct was to run!

Fortunately I stayed and moved into the position of Sales Director and got to learn so much about pressing metals, filtered metals and my favourite the spraying of metal powders. Who cannot be impressed watching a -53┬Ám superalloy powder being sprayed through a miniature jet engine at multiple Mach!

I worked within the engineering group for over 10 years before it was sold to an “Entrepreneur” who wanted to take us all back to “grass roots” Translation, stop trying to stay on the leading edge and make lots of simple things that can be copied and made cheaper in other countries. Ah, the foresight!
I left and the group was bust in 12 months

As many do when we can’t fall back to a real job immediately, I became a consultant! One contract involved doing due diligence on an obscure metal powder company in the middle of Slovakia. I had an option of this or a similar company in Oslo. I had spent most of my commercial life working in Asia and West Coast USA. I hate the cold! Due to an incredible lack of geographical knowledge, I presumed the town in Slovakia with the same latitude as Paris would be a better option in December than Norway. Brilliant deduction, I arrived in Zilina  "International" (2 flights a week only to Prague!) Airport on the 19th  December 2005 to find out that the temperature of -27C did exist outside the polar regions, f***king Oslo was +6C!!

At this time, Slovakia was still very “Socialistic” - grey concrete buildings, no colours aside from the candle lit cemeteries, and of course a metre of bloody snow everywhere. I was slightly surprised therefore to find that my source of more appropriate hat and gloves was a bloody big white building with Tesco writ large on the side. Despite this, the people were lovely even if the factory was tired, unkempt and downright dangerous in areas. I did the due diligence, I reported back and the German company I was working for, purchased the complete site.

A couple of months later I was tasked with going there as a technical consultant for a 3 month contract, 11 years later I’m still here (must cancel that return flight!) now a Managing Director and have never been so content.

I have a lovely house in the village with my very own mountain! The people are still lovely although the language is an utter bastard (Slovaks are SO proud of this), we now have a modern, productive and profitable company and a management team second to none.

I’m still a nerd, and as I’m a totally selfish bastard I live on my own. I still enjoy messing around with computers and playing with the latest available tech. In the UK I was heavily into car restoration and car building but nowadays the idea of a 5 speed gearbox crushing my nagers whilst laying on a cold concrete floor doesn’t have the appeal, I’m getting soft.

One of my first projects during the house reconstruction was to convert one of the garages into a model railway room, if it’s good enough for Rod Stewart it’s good enough for me. Always wanted one as a kid and as I now have the space, money and total selfish indulgence, I can allow my inner child to run free. Of course I tie it in to computer / tablet control / remote access etc.

Holidays in Asia and/or South France are still enjoyable, weekends working on small trains or in the garden, life is good!

Oh and the liking for warm climates? It got down to -30C in the village this Winter! ;-)

David Chapman
Dolny Kubin

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Soldier - US Cover

I've just received this image of The Soldier, first book of Rise of the Jain from Night Shade Books. Very nice indeed.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Sale: Transformation Trilogy

I'm clearing out some books in my loft so therefore selling some signed copies. Since there's a right mixture up there I cannot be arsed to sort them all out and list them so will be putting batches up for sale like these. Okay, I have UK mass-market paperback editions of the Transformation trilogy to go. Those are Dark Intelligence, War Factory and Infinity Engine. The cost is cover price plus postage - the books are £9 each while p&p in the UK is £4 and to the US is £11 (for example). These can be just signed or signed to you. I can be tracked down on Facebook and Twitter or you can leave a message here.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Who Reads my Books: Paul LaFontaine

I’m Paul LaFontaine, currently living in Breckenridge, Colorado. Love the mountains, skiing, hiking and the outdoors.

I grew up on classic science fiction that had been written 20 years earlier - Heinlein, A.C. Clark, Asimov. Even went really old school E.E. Doc Smith and the Lensman series. Ursula K. LeGuin’s the Lathe of Heaven. The Forever War. Consumed books on nuclear war, mutants, plagues. Always military themes. Fleets, dropship troopers, Mega-tanks, mushroom clouds.

In 1980 I read a novelette in Omni magazine by a then little known writer named George R.R. Martin called Sandkings. My love of bio-based science fiction, kindled by the Bugs in Starship Troopers, was stoked into a roaring inferno by Martin’s Sandkings that would inevitably lead me to a bunch of crabby characters on a certain moon in the future.

My first human science fiction hero was Bel Riose, the hapless General in the failing Empire of Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. Unstoppable when in command of his legendary 20th Fleet, the politicians ended his career. Aware of the thematic similarities only dimly as a teenager, I applied to and attended the United States Military Academy to become an officer in the Army of another empire in its twilight.

After deploying and participating in the First Gulf War and seeing how grimy and random war can be, I got out and tried business. Not particularly lucky or skilled, I was swept up into a bit of momentum when the internet happened. I got my first taste of the new capabilities that made Artificial Intelligence conceivable. I saw things at scale. Fast forward past a bunch of boring business stuff and I find myself sent to the UK to help build out the internet arm of the benevolent and beloved Ticketmaster. And it all began to come together - love of bio based science fiction, interest in AI and located in the UK where I was one short visit to a Waterstone’s away from crossing paths with Neal Asher’s work.

My first of Neal’s books was Gridlinked. I was blown away. Ian Cormac was a character I really connected with. The Polity had it all. AI, Golems, Sparkind, battle wagons, weird tech and critters of all types. Bless the Prador and the little children. Beware the Brass Man. Enjoy the creepy belly feel of picturing the reified Sable Keech.

I’ve read every book of Neal’s I can download. And that makes for some good reading.

I had a proud papa moment when my 24 year old son sent me a photo as he was deploying to the Middle East to participate in operations there. He took a pic of two books he had picked up for his trip. One was Dan Simmon’s Hyperion (a good one), and the other was Neal’s War Factory. A staple. I have taught him well.

Thanks Neal for your work! 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Gridlinked Free in Australia & New Zealand

Gridlinked free! This is a promotion for Australian and New Zealand readers. Gridlinked is free for one week, from yesterday, featured in iBooks First in a Series Free. Spread the word! Repost!

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Who Reads my Books: Benjamin Eriksen

I was born in 1975 and am still not dead. When I’m not sleeping, eating, teaching, fighting or seeing my girlfriend or my kids, I like to read weird books. Science fiction, esotericism, popular science, the obscure and arcane, general weirdness with hooks and jaw muscles that lock up and bleed you dry. Through the years I’ve been paid money to do different things, like selling people books, screaming at men dressed in camouflage, calling people named Chris (Wherever you need to call an office, ask for Chris. He knows EVERYTHING. Debt collection was no different. I’ve spoken to literally hundreds of people called Chris.) and trying to make kids believe in their ability to master the Oxford comma. I’m Ben. Hi.

I’ve been favourably likened to a crazed berserker, which is plainly a load of dingo’s kidneys. I do yoga and read books. I got hooked on science fiction in grade school, when one of my oldest and dearest friends and I would check out as many anthologies from the library as we could, and then spent afternoons throwing those books back and forth between each our sofa. The floor was lava. The books smelled like vanilla. Our minds reeled. He is a professor of organic chemistry today. I am a schoolteacher. Back then, we dreamed of travelling to distant worlds, building generational spaceships, breaking the lightspeed barrier, watching the event horizon of a black hole, time paradoxes, artificial intelligences, alien species, quantum physics and escaping a world’s gravity well by use of nanotube space elevators. We were ten.

Aged 15, I was given “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams and laughed for a month. My mother would tell me she could hear me laughing through the wall and I had to go to school the next day, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, or so help me. Twelve years later I wrote my Master’s dissertation on the canonicity of that book series, and I still can’t decide if it was a really clever piece of work or I was trying to shout louder than Adams’ detractors. Even his biographers insisted his works were nothing but light entertainment.

There’s a certain sensitivity to the hilarity of the almost irrationally grotesque that I’ve only found within the works of some very few authors, such as Adams, Iain Banks, Alfred Bester and of course Neal Asher. Too often, science fiction could become too drawn-out, too senselessly descriptive. As all the purists know, be they on the space opera or hard sci-fi side of the fence, the truly great science fiction is about humanity. And when you get right down to it, the history of humanity is a kaleidoscope of grisly, seemingly unbounded brutality, walking hand in hand with a very inappropriate sense of humour.

When I was little, my mother gave me a piece of advice that I never forgot. “You can do two things about life. You can laugh, or you can cry. Your choice.” Where I think Asher stood out from all the science fiction I voraciously consumed through my adult years was in how it transfixed me like a deer caught in a truck’s headlights, insecure about its future as a hood ornament. I had bought “The Gabble”. I had no clue.

For those of you not in the know (Shame on you. Seriously.), the Gabbleduck is an enigmatic, pyramidal life form that is arguably sentient, seemingly indifferent to other life forms and speaks in weird vocalizations that never. Ever. Repeat. It baffled me. There was an almost Lovecraftian horror to the Gabbleduck. It spoke of hidden horrors, a race that had collectively lobotomized themselves in an ancient conflict, for possibly draconian reasons. It was hilariously funny and mind-numbingly dreadful at the same time. It was like discovering that your kindly grandfather kept the livers of dead men in neatly labeled glass jars in a hidden room in his basement, and he invited you to inspect and admire his collection as he regaled you with the curious stories of how they ended up in his care, laughing with fondness and a twinkle in his eye. It was all for the glory of the Dread Voice from the Beyond. And here is my collection of rare, vintage toothpicks.

Needless to say, I read every single book I came across by Asher. I laughed. I was nauseated. I was intrigued. Sometimes I tasted that painful ache of existential angst that sometimes spills out, and curiously, on those occasions I’ve felt reassured as if by Neal’s own hand reaching out, telling me it’s OK. And it was better than OK. Even in an uncaring, senselessly brutal and frequently hilarious universe, it’s better to laugh than to cry. Shakespeare’s oft-quoted passage about life being a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing is definitely not valid here.

On a related note, Shakespeare had so-called “trouble plays”, which defied categorization as either tragedy or comedy, somehow synergistically managing to create better comedy AND better tragedy at the same time. I like to think that Asher does something very similar in creating stories that straddle the gap between poignant tragedy and side-splitting comedy while still managing to keep their metaphorical trousers from splitting.

Keep writing books, please. I need them.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Sea of Rust - C. Robert Cargill

As you know I occasionally get books sent to me for comment. Some I don’t comment on because I don’t like them. The worst ones are those that are okay. How do I make a comment without damning by faint praise? But I had no real problems with this. Here’s what I sent back to the publisher:

Thanks for sending me 'Sea of Rust'. I've read it now and here's a few thoughts: I had my doubts at first reading a book without human characters but in the end that made no difference at all – they were human really. I did think it a bit US-centric and grimaced at the usual 'red-necks are the bad guys' stuff but otherwise I did enjoy it. The writing and story-telling were engaging and, despite them being robots I cared about the characters and more besides. In the end, robots with plasma weapons and chain-guns, battling in a post-apocalyptic world ... what's not to like?


Monday, September 04, 2017

Who Reads my Books: Dave Coster

My Name is Dave Coster, I grew up near Cambridge, (UK) and People call me Bear, seems to be based on physical resemblance rather than sexual proclivity, and, I am a Gearhead, this being the generic descriptor for those seemingly unable to stop fiddling with all things mechanical (cars, motorcycles, airplanes, that sort of thing, Turbo charged preferably but not fussy) I started with radio controlled cars and boats, Helicopters, then I discovered motorbikes when I was about 13, Dad had them, so I had them. I still have them.

This mechanical predisposition is apparently genetic, my Great grandfather, Carl Skinner (mothers side), was also known to dabble. He and his brother examined the flow of fuel flowing through a glass sided carburettor and dissatisfied with the atomisation of the fuel at low engine speed, came up with a variable venturi carburettor, this became the S.U Carb (skinner union) fitted to all kinds of things, from Morris minors to the Hurricane and Spitfire. My Grandfather, Peter Skinner and his sister Barbara, were very well known car racers, hill climbers in the 1930's. I can definitely feel it in the blood.....

I started an apprenticeship at 16 in 1989 at a Cambridge aerospace company, and have been there ever since, (am I lacking imagination? Quite possibly!) starting as an airframe fitter on L1011 and MD11’s, then moving to Hercules C130 (RAF), now working as a Airframe and Engine Technician on C130J superhercules, which I really enjoy. (28 years this year) I did have a brief spell on the Pegasus Satellite launch vehicle in 1993, so that is my one claim to space fame!
I started a family in 1999, two boys now 17 and 13, sadly divorced in 2010, but then happily remarried (nice lady, madder about Mbikes than I am!)

In 2004 I had a brush with the big C. This was a scary time as any who have been through it or had a loved one go through it can attest to. I had probably the best one you can have (ie most treatable, Testicular) but still had a time of it, orchidectomy, chemo, followed by a large operation, followed by MRSA, which was worse than the cancer, and lead to the surgical incision (24 inches) splitting open again, 67 metal staples to be removed, 8 months to recover, such fun, but, a positive result, and I am still here. This is down to the NHS, much berated, but ultimately they saved my life, the team that dealt with me were all without exception above average human beings in every sense of those words. We cried a lot as a family, but we also laughed a lot, we found something good in every day, we got through it. I am always happy to talk about the experience, there is a stigma that need to be broken here I think.

My science fiction addiction took an early hold with Star trek (TOS) and Tom Baker as the doctor, terrified behind the sofa, followed by Blake's seven (running around the woods arguing over who is going to be Avon.....), Starwars, Blade runner, Alien etc etc etc, This was followed (begrudgingly at first, I had not been struck by the reading bug) by some Arthur C Clarke and then with enthusiasm, C S Lewis, Fred Hoyle, H.G Wells, Asimov, Wyndham and others of the time and before,  and later, much later, discovering Alastair Reynolds, Stephen Donaldson (Gap series!) Patrick Ness and of course our Beloved Neal Asher, who has consumed the entire top shelf of my bookcase, and is now starting on the second shelf, poor old Asimov has had to shuffle along......

So Neal Asher.
I will try not be embarrassing but Neal can always edit it,  what is it that draws Me in? Basically it boils down to Physics, the man writes beautiful Physics! models that are sufficiently robust in the face of all he is trying to achieve in the story. Many have tried and failed before him, but inevitably if you find a hole, disbelief creeps in, suspended no longer, you find yourself making allowances for your writer, skipping over these inadequacies to continue the story line......not so with Neal, lots of research and intelligent extrapolation are evident AND he can tell a story in a modern but unique and thoroughly refreshing manor.

Thank you Mr Asher Sir, for all till now and for the future

PS , is it Me, or are a lot of Asher fans seeming involved (past or present) in aircraft engineering ??

Dave Coster

Aeronautical Engineer

Marshall Aerospace