'Hilarious and disturbing'

Latest newsletter, on finding 'good' in a sea of 'ok' and (somewhat relatedly) James Patterson:

The thing is about creative quality - or cultural quality - or however you want to call it - it is a fantastic living experiment in watching standards erode. If I read, or ‘consume’, a lot of stuff in a row that’s fine, I very, very quickly find that ‘fine’ becomes ‘ok’, or even ‘good’. My own expectations become managed, as I convince myself that what I’m consuming is satisfying, simply because I’m consuming it. The sunk cost fallacy + a DIY shift in social norms = boiling the frog of quality. (And, of course, this very much applies to any other area as well, from Netflix binges to creative campaigns.) Given enough adequacy, you can forget what good looks like.

The midyear 'Reviewers' Choice' picks for Tor.com, including my three selections: 

...a slow-burning, introspective science fiction novel; an examination of human resilience in impossible conditions. Think of it as the sociological, characterful version of The Martian, or a secularised, contemporary version of The Sparrow. A unique perspective on ‘hard’ SF, and I hope to see it in discussion come awards season.

I sadly can't claim this fantastic long-read as my own, but a terrific piece on South Asian science fiction, with a few references to the 'excellent' The Djinn Falls in Love:

One of my favourite stories in this vein is ‘Bring Your Own Spoon’, a short story by Bangladeshi SFF writer Saad Hossain, published in an excellent anthology edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin called The Djinn Falls in Love. The story is set in a futuristic, dystopian Dhaka ravaged by climate change, a world where the boundary between the human and superhuman worlds has become threadbare because of a collective struggle for survival... With masterfully done world-building and brimming with hope (very hard to pull off in a dystopian narrative), Hossain uses a distinctly desi mythological figure to comment on the unique ways in which climate change and capitalism are affecting contemporary South Asian society.

And a terrific review of The Best of British Fantasy 2018, courtesy of the British Fantasy Society:

Suspenseful and well-written, most of the stories in this collection steer an alluring path between being emotional yet stylish, traditional but also meaningful for our times, hilarious and disturbing, psychologically consistent yet weirdly easy to identify with.

 


The Mystery of Choice

A newsletter, on the experience of reading 70-odd 'randomly' selected digital mysteries:

Retailers are curators in a broader sense than simply selecting which products to carry. They choose how to present the content as well - price, display, context - the works. Amazon’s laissez faire approach is one extreme; perhaps something like an airport W.H. Smith would be the other, with every inch of shelf-space rigidly controlled.

A review up at Tor.com of Wastelands: The New ApocalypseA fairly blunt headline, but, well, I stand by it.

Wastelands: The New Apocalypse provides a hefty buffet of the contemporary American apocalyptic story, each one—again, broadly—about people finding themselves at the end of the world. A heartless soldier finds his humanity. A thuggish goon finds his heart. A shy comedian finds her voice. A scared young woman finds the strength to stand up for herself. A conflicted playwright finds her buried talent. Stories of people that, in a time of adversity, tap into previously untapped stores of courage, cunning, and self-esteem. People who have lost everything, but finally found their purpose.

And another, of Claire North's absolutely brilliant The Gameshouse:

The Gameshouse hosts a ‘higher league’: a semi-mythic level of play, where the most talented, brilliant gamesters can wager the impossible - memories, ailments, even years of their life. Here, the games aren’t played on boards, but with people. Risk, Diplomacy, chess: played with real countries, real armies, and real lives. All for the sake of the game.

I'll be cavorting around Bradford over the next few weeks, at the excellent Bradford Literature Festival - my favourite event of the year. I'll be running a session on marketing at the Creative Sector Industry Day, and chairing panels on fatherhood and the night in literature. I'll also be hosting a panel on stereotypes in literature, as part of the 'takeover challenge' - programming designed by a local academy. I can't wait.

And, finally (and perhaps of the most interest), submissions are now open for The Best of British Fantasy 2019


Covers, Daggers, Launches

TBOBF2018Nice news all around. 

The cover for The Best of British Fantasy has been revealed - illustrated by the amazing Matty Long.

You can now pre-order the book (including the snazzy limited hardcover) directly from the publisher.

The book will be launched on June 1 at London's Star of King's pub, starting at 1pm. Join us - and a vast array of authors - for the occasion. 

A bit of Outcast Hours news as well. Lavie Tidhar's near-future noir, "Bag Man", is in the running for a CWA Dagger. A great honour. More about this strange, genre-hopping book here.

 


The Outcast Hours is Out

Slightly belated, but, hey! After a year of construction and months of fretting and weeks of self-promotion - The Outcast Hours is, indeed, out. 

The details of this scrumptious new anthology are here, including links to some of the particularly flattering reviews. Mahvesh and I kicked off the launch with three events - two in London, one 'virtual' on reddit - and are now in the awkward 'post-launch, just stare' stage. If you don't have a copy, it is never too late. If you do have a copy, well - thanks.

Incidentally, if you are a school/prison/library/community centre/other institution that would like a copy for your shelves, please let me know, and I will happily send you a copy for free. While they last.

Admin news: the newsletter has migrated over to substack, and contains deep and meaningful thoughts about good intentions and publishing with form.