Thursday, July 05, 2012


Occasionally, one of my short stories is reprinted in an anthology.  Here are the the latest two, both with a common theme.  War & Space: Recent Combat, which reprints 'Rats of the System'.  And SF Wars, which reprints 'Winning Peace'.

Oh, that perennial topic of SF, war.  War as a condition of being human.  Or of being intelligent.  War as a plot device - a quick and dirty way of putting everything to hazard.  Wars asserting human territoriality in a universe that frankly doesn't care - turning the entire solar system, or the entire galaxy, into a battlefield (now there's hubris).  Wars fought on the assumption that western capitalism is the best and only model for civilisation that we have.  Wars refighting Vietnam on bug planets.  The twentieth century stamping its combat boot into the face of humanity, forever.  It's heartening that a fair few of the stories in these collections argue against these assumptions, or don't take them at face value.

 I seem to have been writing a fair bit about war, recently.  Or rather, about failed attempts to avoid war, and about the aftermath of war.  Readers of The Quiet War, Gardens of the Sun and In The Mouth of the Whale will know that I'm not especially interested in generals and admirals, and the tactics of epic space battles.  'Rats of the System' is a quick little story about two mismatched people trying to escape an implacable pursuer; 'Winning Peace' is about two former enemies finding a common cause.  And right now, I'm finishing a novel in a post-war, posthuman future without a space battle or space marine in sight.  Heading out of the world-city Ophir to the semiautonomous free zone of Tannhauser Gate.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Local Colour

I've reached that stage, in the final push to finish Evening's Empires, where in addition to cutting cutting cutting I have to keep going into the office to jot down sentences that have to be inserted somewhere:
Most of her family were traders from Ceres and most of them were still there, she said, selling biologics to each other.  'My mother brought back dogs.  Do you know dogs?'

Monday, July 02, 2012


I'm very pleased to announce that my story, 'The Choice', has won the 2012 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.  Congratulations to Charlie Jane Anders, and to Ken Liu, whose stories 'Six Days, Three Months', and 'The Paper Menagerie', won second and third place.  The winners are selected each year by a jury of experts, from stories nominated by a wide range of reviewers, serious readers, and editors.  I'm thrilled that they've chosen my story this year.

I won't be able to go to the award ceremony, over in Lawrence, Kansas, but Sheila Williams, the editor of Asimov's, which published 'The Choice', will accept on my behalf.  I've been to Lawrence once before, way back in the twentieth century, when Fairyland won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.  It's a pretty intense experience.  As well as the award ceremony, there's a short-story workshop, panels, and a visit to the University of Kansas's huge science-fiction library (enlarged since my visit by, amongst other things, Sturgeon's manuscripts and books).  Fred Pohl, who's a jury member, and his wife, Betty Anne Hull, gave me a lift back to the airport.  As we drove through endless fields of Kansas corn, I got Fred to sing a verse of 'Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'' - you know, the one about corn being as high as an elephant's eye.  Science fiction takes you to places stranger than you can imagine.

If you're interested, you can read part of 'The Choice' for free, here.  It's available in various Best SF collections, too, and will be including in an upcoming audio-book anthology.
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