Category: Orbit Australia
- - July 6th, 2015
Who said that in space, no one can hear you scream?
Next month Orbit is very proud to be publishing TRACER, a heart-stopping science fiction thriller set in the claustrophobic world of Outer Earth – a space station containing the last surviving humans in the universe…
To launch his debut, Rob Boffard will be embarking on an out-of-this-world blog tour across twenty-six sites over six days, starting on the publication day of 16th July.
Rob will also be visiting the UK in July, so stay tuned for events in your area. Follow him on Twitter (@RobBoffard) for all the latest news on publication.
Read the rest of this entry »
- - July 1st, 2015
Hi Louisa, and welcome to the Orbit team! Can you tell us a bit about SPEAK?
Sure! SPEAK is the story of five characters who are involved in creating an artificially intelligent doll. After these “babybots” are banned, gathered up, and shipped off to the desert, the children who loved them start to stutter and freeze. SPEAK tells the story of the babybots and their creators, from Alan Turing to a traumatized girl in the near future who gives her bot new language. These and other characters are all racing toward a world populated by lifelike machines, in which it’s difficult to decide who’s actually living, and who has real intelligence.
SPEAK has already been featured in Oprah magazine, raved about by Emily St. John Mandel, chosen by Wired and Huffington Post as one of their big books this summer, and is an IndieNext pick too. How does it feel for the book to be getting this much attention?
It seems to be an auspicious time for creative depictions of artificial intelligence. Just recently, all kinds of interesting books and films involving the topic have come out: Ex Machina, Chappie, Channel Four’s Humans, and Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice. Technology has radically challenged the ways we understand ourselves as humans: we reveal our secret traumas to artificially intelligent therapists; we relinquish our most personal information to data-mining software; we’re developing robotic soldiers to fight wars in place of humans. Fiction that questions the differences between humans and machines seems particularly important in this historical moment.
At its heart, SPEAK is about the very human need to be listened to, about having a voice, with characters from different times, different places, united by a very singular narrator. How difficult was it to bring this variety of voices to the page?
I actually find it easier to write in many voices than to settle into a single character. I discover so much of my characters in what they don’t see, what they’re unaware of, what they miss about the world around them. Writing in different voices allows me to set up those misunderstandings, and to see characters from new perspectives other than their own.
Some of Alan Turing’s chapters are the most touching and interesting in the book – what sort of research did you do to bring Turing and the other characters to life?
I read five or six biographies of Alan Turing, including Andrew Hodges’ excellent The Enigma, which contains long excerpts from Turing’s letters. That was helpful to me in getting Turing’s voice—his grammar, his diction, etc. The most challenging part of wrapping my head around his character was understanding his theories of computing and mathematics, which were essential to understanding his approach to the world. He couldn’t fully believe in an abstract idea such as the soul unless he’d found a mathematical way to prove its existence, or at least the possibility that it might exist.
Your first novel, the Waterstones Book Club title THE CARRIAGE HOUSE, is a contemporary family drama inspired by your time as a professional squash player. What first got you thinking about artificial intelligence as a subject for your second book?
In THE CARRIAGE HOUSE, I wanted to create a world small enough to control. I limited the novel to a single neighbourhood that was claustrophobic in its self-containment. For my second novel, I wanted to go to the furthest frontiers I could imagine, from religious dissidents in the seventeenth-century to AI inventors in the near future. I wanted to find what was human in foreign situations: robot dolls dying in hangars, a scientist undergoing hormonal manipulation. In the end, most of the book isn’t that far-fetched. Many of the characters are based on real people, and most of the science is closely related to science that already exists. But the book sprang up on the edges of what I understand and what I’ve actually experienced. Sometimes I think that if THE CARRIAGE HOUSE was centripetal, SPEAK is centrifugal. It always seemed to spin a little out of my control.
Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking both recently discussed their anxiety about AI and superintelligent machines. What is turning such giants of the science and technology world against AI, and do you share their concerns?
I tend to be more optimistic about the future of AI, though I realize that Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking are more qualified to make predictions about computers than I am. But their concerns about the future of AI are equally valid when applied to the future of the human race. In reference to autonomous killing machines, for instance, this article asks the following questions: “how will they tell friend from foe? Combatant from civilian? Who will be held accountable?” But the same questions can be asked about human soldiers. Ideally, robots would be able to perform certain tasks better than we can because they won’t be programmed for fear, anger, or vengeance. And because we have those emotions, we’ll be able to perform other tasks better than robots. Of course it’s always possible that some evil empire could program a fleet of maniacal robots, but the same evil empire could also get its hands on nuclear weapons. Our primary anxiety, in my mind, should be less about preventing the development of robots and more about preventing the ascent of unchecked evil empires. That said, I do think it’s worth being hyper-vigilant about the effects AI will have on our economy and the uneven distribution of wealth.
Are there any stories about artificial intelligence that really stand out to you, or inspired you in creating SPEAK?
There are so many recent stories about AI that inspire me. My friend just sent me a story about Aibos, robot dogs that people have adopted as pets. At one point, these robot pets could be repaired if they were damaged, but now they’ve been discontinued. Soon, their replacement parts will be nonexistent. Suddenly the owners of these robot dogs are facing the idea of robot dog mortality. I also recently heard a story about a computer scientist in Wyoming who’s teaching robots how to adjust to injuries by giving them ‘simulated childhoods,’ a period devoted to play in which they learn creative ways of using their bodies. We keep robots as pets; we give our robots childhoods. Stories such as these ones beg so many interesting questions about what it actually means to be living.
SPEAK is released in digital and ANZ export edition this July, with a UK paperback to follow in Feb 2016 – preorder your copy today.
- - June 30th, 2015
Here’s some pretty cool news. Mark Zuckerberg has selected THE PLAYER OF GAMES (US | UK | AUS) for his bookclub!
If you’d like to join the conversation then head on over to Facebook and join the discussion on Zuckerberg’s page or on the official “Year of Books” fan page.
- - June 30th, 2015
Mark Zuckerberg selects THE PLAYER OF GAMES (US | UK | AUS) by Iain M. Banks as his next Book of the Year.
The Evolution of a Space Epic: The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey via Barnes & Noble Scifi & Fantasy blog.
Relive the hilarity and the horror of Phoenix Comic Con’s annual Author Batsu Game hosted by Sam Sykes.
Anthony Ryan participated in an AMA on /r/Fantasy answering a ton of great questions about Blood Song, Tower Lord, and the upcoming Queen of Fire (out in July).
Also on /r/Fantasy, readers discussed who they think will be the next big name in epic fantasy.
New DLC content was released this month for the Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. If you’re a fan of the game then you should definitely check out the novels.
Forbes takes a look at the fantasy genre from a scientific perspective with a shout-out for Brian McClellans’s Powerder Mage novels.
Julius Thomas, Tight End for the Jacksonville Jaguars, gave a shoutout to A DANCE OF BLADES by David Dalglish.
- - June 29th, 2015
We pre-empted a manuscript a few months ago that we read and loved instantly. The reads were unanimous — it was perfect!! It reminded us of Brent Weeks’s original Night Angel Trilogy, mixed with a drop of Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora and the brilliant characterizations of Brandon Sanderson. But to be honest, we just fell in love with the characters, HOPE & RED. Red is a thief — and Hope is a trained warrior. Their meeting — and their adventures will become a legend. . .
So we are over the moon to introduce you to a new author in the adult world, Jon Skovron and his novel, HOPE & RED, which we will be publishing in the summer of 2016.
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two young people from different cultures find common purpose.
A nameless girl is the lone survivor when her village is massacred by biomancers, mystical servants of the emperor. Named after her lost village, Bleak Hope is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance.
A boy becomes an orphan on the squalid streets of New Laven after drugs and disease take the lives of his bohemian parents. He is adopted by one of the most notorious women of the criminal underworld, given the name Red, and trained as a thief and con artist.
When a ganglord named Deadface Drem strikes a bargain with the biomancers to consolidate and rule all the slums of New Laven, the worlds of Hope and Red come crashing together, and their unlikely alliance takes them further than either could have dreamed possible.
- - June 26th, 2015
Are you as excited about the launch of Jim Butcher’s new series as we are? THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS (UK|ANZ) comes out 29th September, but you can preorder it today!
Filled with swashbuckling adventure, daring airship chases and thrilling swordfights, plus all the magic, wisecracking and dazzling heroics that make the Dresden Files so spectacular, this is not a series to miss. We’re very excited today to release our cover, by the fantastic Chris McGrath.
Jim Butcher, the no.1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels, conjures up a new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors . . .
Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.
Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the leaders of Albion – to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.
And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake . . .
- - June 23rd, 2015
I was fortunate enough to art direct David’s first series, the Shadowdance novels, so when I heard we were ready to work on his next series I was super excited. SKYBORN (US | UK | AUS) is about the Seraphim, an elite military force protecting a floating island of Weshern. The Seraphim guard the remnants of mankind, defying gravity using ancient wings and mastering powerful elements to wage war in the skies.
The new series has been a different design challenge from the Shadowdance books in that we wanted to convey a different feel for the cover art. In David’s first series, we wanted emphasis on the main character, a ninja-like assassin, and the books’ energetic action. In Skyborn, the characters are a bit more unique in that they have metal wings to fly, wield swords, and wear military uniforms. Ultimately, the new series needed to convey high adventure.
In what I would call serendipitous timing, the work of Tommy Arnold came across my desk as we were discussing the covers. His style just hit the nail on the head for this project. His ability to illustrate characters was spot on. He could also handle textures beautifully: fabrics, metals, flames, etc. And most importantly, his illustrations really pull the viewer in and engage you. It was a no brainer in reaching out to get Tommy on board.
So after settling on what we wanted for the covers, we got Tommy moving. I couldn’t have had more fun designing David’s super fun new series with such a talented artist!
I’m thrilled to present the cover to Skyborn by David Dalglish!
Skyborn, the first volume of a new series by David Dalglish, will be hitting shelves November 2015.
- - June 19th, 2015
Last month we released the paperback edition THIEF’S MAGIC, from the No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author Trudi Canavan. It’s book one in a brand new fantasy series called Millennium’s Rule – and judging from the fantastic reader reviews, it’s going down very well indeed!
We can now unveil the cover for the second book in the Millennium’s Rule series – ANGEL OF STORMS – out this November. We think this is looking stunning – if we do say so ourselves! – and we feel it really captures the sense of adventure and mystery that makes this series so thrilling.
The illustration shows the character Rielle, who is going to be swept away on a breath-taking journey in this book – by the Angel of Storms himself. Meanwhile Tyen, who has become a teacher of mechanical magic, will learn that the formidable ruler of all worlds, long believed to be dead, is back and enforcing his old laws . . .
Whether you’re an existing fan of Trudi Canavan or just a fan of fantasy in general, this series needs to be moved to the top of your to be read pile ASAP! #justsayin
Now available for pre-order
- - June 15th, 2015
Many congratulations to Claire North, whose THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST (UK | US | ANZ) has won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year.
The Award was presented at the Campbell Conference Awards Banquet and Conference, held at the University of Kansas and which focusses on the writing, publishing, illustration and criticism of science fiction.
Claire flew over from for the ceremony and – despite having had some issues getting the trophy through airport security – she is delighted and honoured to have received this prestigious award.
Congratulations to Claire, and to all the other nominees!
- - June 5th, 2015
Anna Jackson, Senior Editor at Orbit UK, has acquired World Rights in a three-book contemporary fantasy series by UK novelist James Bennett for a major five-figure sum. The agent is John Jarrold, and the first book, provisionally titled ASCENT OF EMBERS, will be scheduled for the second half of 2016. The sequels will follow over the next eighteen months.
This contemporary fantasy series features the last few remaining creatures from myth and legend hiding among us in human form. But the delicate balance between their world and ours is disturbed when a centuries-old rivalry resurfaces.
Acquiring editor Jackson said, ‘This highly imaginative and massively entertaining story grabbed our attention and wouldn’t let go. Fast-paced and action-packed, it explores what happens when the realms of classic myth and the real world collide. Our hero Ben Garston is one that the reader can’t help but root for, and fans of Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher are sure to be enthralled. We can’t wait to unleash this story upon the world!’
James Bennett is a British writer of fantasy and horror. Born in Loughborough and raised in Sussex, South Africa and Cornwall, his travels have furnished him with a love of different cultures, history and mythology. He’s had several short stories published internationally in the independent press, his latest ‘Broken Bridges’ in Fox Spirit’s European Monsters anthology earning a feature in Starburst magazine. James Bennett currently lives in West Wales.
Feel free to join him on Twitter: @wytcheboy
He said: ‘I’m delighted that my first major series has been acquired by one of the world’s leading publishers of SF and Fantasy. I’m sure it’s the beginning of an exciting ride!’