And the very nice (ok, lovely!) people of Pornokitsch have announced their new anthology, Pandemonium: Stories of the Smoke - released in an e-book edition and a hardcover edition limited to just 100 copies (of which over half, I’m told, are already gone!)
The anthology will contain my “Brief History of the Great Pubs of London”, of which the entry below may serve as a sample.
The Crypt, St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields
Not a pub in the traditional sense but we like it, having spent at least one boozy occasion there. Also they serve a mean apple crumble with custard. An 18th century crypt below the church of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, it has high stone arcs and a hushed but convivial atmosphere. Rumours that this is where Count Dracula made his abode upon arrival in England on board the Demeter are probably false, though it is worth noting many of the staff are notoriously pale. Vampire aficionados do make pilgrimage to the otherwise quiet cafe, and the use of flash lights, like the carrying of wooden stakes, is discouraged.
I’m off on Thursday for the SFX Weekender in Prestatyn, Wales. Known to me previously only for the Philip Larkin Poem (“Come To Sunny Prestatyn / Laughed the girl on the poster, / Kneeling up on the sand /In tautened white satin… etc.)
We’ll be launching two new books at the Weekender. The Great Game from Angry Robot Books – the third and, at least for the moment, final instalment of the Bookman Histories novels – and Going To The Moon, my picture book about a boy with Tourette’s, a collaboration with brilliant artist Paul McCaffery published by Murky Depths.
I will be hanging around the whole weekend – ideally somewhere warm (like the pub!). However, I will be doing a couple of official things on Friday:
- 17:00, Screening Zone – “How do you put the Punk into Steampunk?” panel, with Stephen Hunt, Robert Rankin and Jonathan Green (Moderator).
- 18:00, Bartertown – I will be signing copies of The Great Game (and whatever else is available!), alongside Andy Remic.
In addition, at 19:00, I will be going to the Kitschies Award ceremony (Screening Zone), where Osama is currently nominated for Best Novel.
Hope to see some – many! – of you there! I intend to be holed up in the pub with nothing but a packet of cheap sausages and a renegade dalek for company.
My latest short story, The Stoker Memorandum, is now up at Daily Science Fiction – it is set in the world of The Great Game and, in fact, partly drawn from the novel – a taster, if you will!
Warning: may contain Steampunk!
Abraham Stoker’s Journal
— From the archives of the Bureau of Secret Intelligence, Pall Mall, London, Classified Ultra, for Head of Bureau Eyes Only —
I had finally arrived at this city, with darkness gathering, casting upon the city a most unfavourable appearance. Having checked into my hotel I drank a glass of strong Romanian wine, accompanied by bear steak, which I am told they bring from the mountains at great expense. I had not enquired as for the recipe.
I am sitting in my room, watching the dance of gas light over the city. tomorrow I set off for the mountains, and as I write this I am filled with trepidation. I have decided to maintain this record of my mission. In the event anything were to happen to me, this journal may yet make its way, somehow, back to London.
Let me, therefore, record how I came to be at this barbarous and remote country, and the sorry tortuous route by which I came to my current predicament.
My name is Abraham Stoker, called Abe by some, Bram by others. I am a theatrical manager, having worked for the great actor Henry Irving for many years as his personal assistant, and, on his behalf, as manager of the Lyceum Theatre in Covent Garden.
I am not a bad man, nor am I a traitor.
Nevertheless, it was in the summer of 18—that I became an unwitting assistant to a grand conspiracy against our lizardine masters, and one which I was helpless to prevent.
It had began as a great triumph for my theatrical career. Due to a fight between the great librettist W.S. Gilbert and his long-time manager, Richard D’Oyly Carte, over – of all things – a carpet, I had managed to lure Gilbert and his collaborator, the composer Arthur Sullivan, to my own theatre from D’Oyly Carte’s Savoy. We were to stage their latest work, titled The Pirates of the Carib Sea, a rousing tale of adventure and peril. The first part, and forgive me if I digress, describes our lizardine masters’ awakening on Caliban’s Island, their journey with that foul explorer Amerigo Vespucci back to the British isle, their overthrowing of our human rulers and their assumption of the throne – a historical tale set to song in the manner only G&S could possibly do it.
In the second part, we encounter the mythical pirate Wyvern, the one-eyed royal lizard who – if the stories in the London Illustrated News can be believed – had abandoned his responsibilities to his race, the royal Les Lezards, to assume the life of a blood-thirsty pirate operating in the Carib Sea, between Vespuccia and the lands of the Mexica and Aztecs, and preying on the very trade ships of his own Everlasting Empire, under her royal highness Queen Victoria, the lizard-queen.
Irving himself played – with great success, I might add! – the notorious pirate, assuming a lizard costume of some magnificence, while young Beerbohm Tree played his boatswain, Mr. Spoons, the bald, scarred, enormous human who is – so they say – Wyvern’s right-hand-man.
It was at that time that a man came to see me in my office. He was a foreigner, and did not look wealthy or, indeed, distinguished.
‘My name,’ he told me, ‘is Karl May.’ – continue reading!
A few bits and bobs:
I will be participating in a panel at the SFX Weekender: “How do you put the punk into steampunk?” – Friday, 3rd February, 5PM
New review for The Great Game! Giving it 10/10 and saying “The plot is fast-paced, the book is action-packed, the cast of characters astounding … Every scene was vivid before my mind’s eye … an outstanding Steampunk novel. Gripping, multi-facetted, and fascinating.”
Remember we will be officially launching The Great Game at the SFX Weekender in only 2 weeks’ time!
Also a new review for Cloud Permutations, from Strange Horizons – a thoughtful examination of the novella, calling it “fascinating and infuriating” – works for me!
And my The Great Game related story, “The Stoker Memorandum” was sent out to subscribers of Daily Science Fiction this morning – it should be available free online in about a week’s time.
Not only returns to, but surpasses, the promise of the first volume of the series… I heartily recommend The Great Game; not only a satisfying read, but an enjoyable, fun, and interesting one too.
And here’s an actual photo of the printed book! I’ve not seen any yet myself, but this is proof they’re real! (courtesy of SF Signal)
And here’s another review of Osama!
Osama is several things; a hard-boiled detective novel, an alt-history and, in places, it feels like a document of the last decade or so. Also, impressively, Tidhar has created an intensely personal work, yet one which manages to keep some critical distance from what is an emotive subject. I wonder if it is this that makes Osama the most assured piece of work I’ve read by him… This is an incredibly brave, but more importantly, assured novel from Tidhar. It deserves a wide readership.
And hey, Going To The Moon is back from the printers and here’s proof!
It’s alive! Alive!
We’ll be launching both The Great Game and Going To The Moon at the SFX Weekender, 2-5 Feb. in Prestatyn, Wales. Should be fun!
Just a short extract from The Great Game:
Was it a sickness of the age, or of its sciences? Did it drive its practitioners mad, or were they mad to begin with?
You had to be a little crazy, Smith always reasoned, to delve into life’s bigger questions, to ask – why are we here? or, what happens when I do this? or why is a raven like a writing desk?
Why was a raven like a writing desk?
Because there’s a B in both, as Mycroft used to say.
Science was an alien way of looking at the world. It required asking questions, and then setting out to answer them, experimenting, trying to get the same results each time –
And in the process inhaling all kinds of potentially quite dangerous gases, or experimenting with lethal death rays, or ravenous bacteria, or intelligent machines that would, unexpectedly, go berserk –
If you weren’t a little mad to begin with, Smith reasoned, you were likely to be more than a little on the unstable side by the time you spent a couple of lonely years in a draughty lab, poring over unknown chemicals, building weapons of mass destruction or trying to meld together human-dog hybrids. You’d see it time after time: with Moreau, with Jekyll, with Darwin and Frankenstein (both père and fils) and Edison (with his desperate quest for the perfect mechanical doll), Brunel the mad builder, Stephenson with his locomotives, and those people from the Baltimore Gun Club who tried to shoot themselves into space and ended up squashed like bugs by the acceleration.
Scientists were mad, it was a well known fact, there was nothing to it. You just had to use a soothing voice, avoid making any threatening gestures, and slowly go around them if you could.
Having finished the first draft of The Great Game, I’m now starting to go over it, proofing and editing and generally hoping it doesn’t suck.
So far it doesn’t!
I keep running into bits I like. Anyway here’s one!
He’d first met Alice in Venice, in sixty-five it must have been. The year of the Zanzibar Incident, though he had not been involved in that particular affair.
The Bureau had sent him to the Venetian Republic, the lizards negotiating a secret treaty with Daniele Fonseca, the republican leader, against the Hapsburgs. It was baby-sitting duty for Smith, watching the British envoy from the shadows as the treaty was negotiated. And it was Venice, in the spring, and he met her one night when Hapsburgian agents attacked his envoy and Smith, outnumbered, had scrambled to save the man.
She had stepped out of the shadow, a young girl, glowing – so it seemed to him, then, romantic fool that he was – in the light of the moon. Her long white legs were bare and she wore a blue dress and a blue flower behind one ear. She smiled at him, flashing perfect white teeth, and killed the first of the would-be assassins with a knife throw that went deep into the man’s chest, a flower of blood blooming on his shirt as he fell.
Together, they eliminated the others, the envoy oblivious the whole while to the covert assassination attempt, then disposed of the bodies together, dragging them into one of the canals and setting them adrift, Alice’s blue flower pinned to the leader’s chest. It had been the most romantic night of Smith’s life.
I finished The Great Game tonight.
This is the third Bookman Histories novel. It will come out in Feb. 2012.
Might pop out for a glass of wine!
This is possibly how it starts:
The boy didn’t know he was about to die, which must have been a blessing. He was an ordinary boy whose job it was to take messages, without being privy to the contents of said messages. The boy walked along the canal. The sun was setting and in its dying light the observer could see a solitary, narrow boat, laden with bananas and pineapples and durian, passing on the water on the way home from market.