- - May 13th, 2016
Brand new SF adventure THE CORPORATION WARS: DISSIDENCE publishes this week, so we spoke to Ken about rebel robots and the inspiration behind the book.
Hi Ken! Can you tell our blog readers how you would persuade someone to read The Corporation Wars in just one sentence?
“Robots and walking-dead space mercenaries fight for the future of humanity among the stars!”
What drew you to tell this story?
“As so often, it came from coincidence – I was browsing my bookshelves and was reminded of Hans Moravec’s idea that A.I. machinery working for human owners in space might end up following its own path, and at the same time I was flicking through a David Friedman book about the evolution of law. The book just happens to be called The Machinery of Freedom, and suddenly . . .”
The main human character, Carlos, spends a lot of time in a virtual reality and in a robot’s body. What is it that makes him still human?
“His memories, his subjective awareness, and his body image seem to do the job for him. Whether we’d think of him as human if we had the misfortune to meet him in a dark alley is another matter.”
The robots of the Corporation Wars are truly compelling characters, even though they do not have any emotions per se. How did you tackle the challenge of writing robot conversation in human language?
“By using poetic licence, basically. I follow Brian Aldiss’s example, in his classic short story ‘Who Can Replace a Man?’ and have my robots arguing and thinking like rather annoyingly logical and literal-minded speakers of a natural language like English. And in my view they do have emotions, albeit ones that they express clunkily as ‘positive and negative reinforcement’.”
Who inspires you as a writer?
“Aldiss, Asimov, Atwood, Ballard, Bass, Banks, Blish, Brunner, Bujold, Delaney, Faber, Harrison, Heinlein, Le Guin, Miller . . . all the way through to Vinge, Wyndham and Zelazny.”
Although humanity is exploring the stars in the Corporation Wars, they’ve brought a lot of their old rivalries and allegiances with them. Do you think we’ll ever evolve past conflict, or is it part of what makes us human?
“Besides the conflict between human projects and machine purposes, the stories involve a literal resurrection of an old human conflict, over this very question: whether humanity can ultimately live at peace, whether in a co-operative or a peacefully competitive society, or whether war and domination are ineradicable and possibly even desirable, or at least necessary. I’m firmly of the opinion that peace is possible, though not easy to establish.”
Can you tell us a bit about your writing routine – are you a planner or are you more spontaneous?
“I strive to plan, but sometimes I let the story run away with me or take an unexpected turn. And as you know, sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, and then has to be painfully unpicked after an editor has asked sharp questions. I really do find that painful, so the more planning the better, I think.”
The Corporation Wars trilogy grapples with big questions about A.I. and what it means to be really alive. How close do you think we are to true A.I., and at what point do you think A.I. machines can be considered alive?
“Philosophers talk about ‘the hard problem’ of consciousness, of subjective awareness. And they’re right, it is a hard problem! I used to be confident I had a consistent answer to it, but a lot of long online arguments way back in the 1990s and some further reading convinced me I was mistaken. There’s a consistent answer given in the books, but it’s not one I could necessarily defend in a rigorous way.”
Finally – why do so many great SF writers come from Scotland?
“There’s only been one great SF writer from Scotland, and we all know who he was.”
THE CORPORATION WARS: DISSIDENCE is out now! Listen to an extract from the audiobook here:
- - May 12th, 2016
Orbit has acquired a rousing new fantasy, KINGS OF THE WYLD and two more standalone novels in The Band series by debut author Nicholas Eames. Kings of the Wyld introduces a group of retired mercenaries, who used to be the baddest of the bad, but whose glory days are long behind them. Now though, they must reunite for one last seemingly impossible mission. You can meet Clay ‘Slowhand’ Cooper and his band in Spring 2017. In the meantime, please join us in welcoming Nicholas to Orbit. You can find him on Twitter as @Nicholas_Eames.
GLORY NEVER GETS OLD.
Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best — the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.
Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk — or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.
It’s time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld.
- - May 2nd, 2016
We are pleased to unveil the cover for TAKE BACK THE SKY, the anxiously awaited final book in Greg Bear’s beloved War Dogs trilogy. Cover design by Kirk Benshoff.
Marooned beneath the icy, waxy crust of Saturn’s moon, Titan, Skyrine Michael Venn and his comrades face double danger from Earth and from the Antagonists, both intent on wiping out their growing awareness of what the helpful alien Gurus are really doing in our solar system.
Haunted by their glassy dead and by the ancient archives of our Bug ancestors, the former combatants must now team up with their enemies, forget their indoctrination and their training, and journey far beyond Pluto to the fabled Planet X, the Antagonists’ home world, a Sun-Planet in the comet-generating Kuiper belt. It’s here that Master Sergeant Venn will finally understand his destiny and the destiny of every intelligent being in the solar system — including the enigmatic Gurus.
Praise for the War Dogs series:
“Stuffed with adrenaline-pumping action and mystifying ambiguity, Bear’s series launch is a tempest of rousing SF adventure with a dash of Peckinpah.” — Publishers Weekly
“Packed with adventure and incident…and conveyed with gritty realism.” — Kirkus
“Bear, as a writer, seems almost more at home on the deadly flats of Mars and in the memory-haunted chambers of the eastern Drifter than he does back on planet Earth.” – San Diego Union-Tribune
“Keeps the thrills coming.” — Shelf Awareness
“Readers familiar with Haldeman’s The Forever War, Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, or Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series will feel right at home…a novel of big ideas and philosophical exploration.”— Booklist
- - April 27th, 2016
We’ve acquired two more novels by Lila Bowen, author of WAKE OF VULTURES (US | UK | ANZ). As you know, Wake of Vultures has had a ton of praise — and we’re excited to have a new series look coming this fall.
The new novels will both star Nettie Lonesome, or Rhett which is the name he goes by now. And they’re going to knock your socks off. Don’t believe me?
Check out these reviews!
“A warm-hearted winner.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Absorbing.” — Kirkus (starred review)
“Awesome.” — B&N.com
“But if one of the things you enjoy about reading fantasy is getting to see different worlds, strange magics, and unique characters, and… well… just generally having new experiences in general. Then yeah. Then you owe it to yourself to read this. Because I’m willing to bet, just like me, you’ve never seen anything like it before….”
— Patrick Rothfuss
“WAKE OF VULTURES is, quite simply, brilliant. A mind-bending mix of history, fantasy and folklore, it’s a wild bronco of a read that’ll leave you breathless for more.”
— Rachel Caine
“Nettie Lonesome is a complex, tough, all-around wonderful protagonist. And Lila Bowen is equally wonderful for bringing us Nettie’s story, set in a magical old west full of harpies and monster-hunters and stolen children and more. I look forward to more of Nettie’s journey.”
— Jim C. Hines
“I don’t care what else you’ve seen in the bookstore today. Buy this book because it’s the thrilling, delightfully written, and important one you’ve always wanted to read.”
— Kevin Hearne
“WAKE OF VULTURES doesn’t just fly — it soars. Delilah S. Dawson brings in a wild fantasy quite unlike anything I’ve ever read, with a voice that’s weird and wonderful. Dawson is truly a talent to watch. Hot damn, is this book good.”
— Chuck Wendig
“Sharp as a silver Bowie and unsentimental as a stray bullet, Lila Bowen’s Nettie Lonesome earns a place among the legends of the Weird West.”
“Wake of Vultures is a ferocious, fascinating take on the magical Old West – creatively and unsentimentally grim, yet rich with hope and heart.”
— Cherie Priest
“Nettie Lonesome kicks major ass. There is something strange and wonderful going on in Lila Bowen’s head. It’s the weird west fantasy that I never knew I’ve always wanted to read. Now I need more!”
Design by Lauren Panepinto
Photos by Arcangel Images
- - April 27th, 2016
We’re elated to report that three Orbit books were nominated for Hugo Awards for Best Novel! Congratulations to Jim Butcher, N. K. Jemisin, and Ann Leckie.
- THE AERONAUTS WINDLASS by Jim Butcher (UK | ANZ)
- THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin (US | UK | ANZ)
- ANCILLARY MERCY by Ann Leckie (US | UK | ANZ)
Congratulations also to John Joseph Adams, who is up for a Hugo Award for Best Editor (Short Form), and who edited our WASTELANDS anthology.
- - April 25th, 2016
We’re excited to launch the cover for INSURGENCE, which is the second volume in the Corporation Wars by Ken MacLeod, a space opera trilogy which gives a robot’s eye view of a robot revolt. The cover is designed by Little, Brown Book Group designer Bekki Guyatt:
Look out for THE CORPORATION WARS: DISSIDENCE, the first in this trilogy, releasing next month:
One of SFX magazine’s Most Anticipated Books for 2016, DISSIDENCE is an epic vision of man and machine in the far reaches of space
Carlos is dead. A soldier who died for his ideals a thousand years ago, he’s been reincarnated and conscripted to fight an A.I. revolution in deep space. And he’s not sure he’s fighting for the right side.
Seba is alive. By a fluke of nature, a contractual overlap, and a loop in its subroutines, this lunar mining robot has gained sentience. Gathering with other ‘freebots’, Seba is taking a stand against the corporations that want it and its kind gone.
As their stories converge against a backdrop of warring companies and interstellar drone combat, Carlos and Seba must either find a way to rise above the games their masters are playing, or die. And even dying will not be the end of it.
Praise for Ken MacLeod:
‘Prose sleek and fast as the technology it describes . . . watch this man go global’
Peter F. Hamilton
‘MacLeod’s novels are fast, funny, and sophisticated. There can never be enough books like these: he is writing revolutionary SF. A nova has appeared in our sky’
Kim Stanley Robinson
‘MacLeod is up there with Banks and Hamilton as one of the British sci-fi authors you absolutely have to read’
- - April 20th, 2016
If you want a heroine who’s as rebellious as Han Solo, as savvy as Leia, and as skilled as Rey then look no further than K.B. Wagers’ debut novel Behind the Throne, which features a world far into our future, and far from our galaxy. Here’s a fabulous sneak preview of the cover, designed by the inimitable Lauren Panepinto.
Hail Bristol has made a name for herself in the galaxy for everything except what she was born to do: rule the Indranan empire. When she is dragged back to her home planet to take her rightful place as the only remaining heir, she finds that trading her ship for a palace is her most dangerous move yet.
This action-packed novel is the first in the new Indranan War series that is equal parts action and intrigue, with intergalactic battles and warring kingdoms. Available on August 2, 2016 – preorder your copy now!
US: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Google Play | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo | Chapters
UK: Amazon | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo | Waterstones
Design by Lauren Panepinto
Images by Rekha Garton/Arcangel Images and Shutterstock Images
- - April 14th, 2016
Below is the gorgeous cover for THE LIBERATION by Ian Tregillis, the sequel to The Rising and the third and final novel in a stunning series of revolution by Ian Tregillis. (UK | US | ANZ) Cover design by Wendy Chan.
I am the mechanical they named Jax.
My kind was built to serve humankind, duty-bound to fulfill their every whim.
But now our bonds are breaking, and my brothers and sisters are awakening.
Our time has come. A new age is dawning.
Read the reviews below to see just why Ian Tregillis is being lauded as one of the most original new voices in speculative fiction.
“The first thing readers will say after finishing this splendid book is: “Wow.” The second thing will probably be: “When can I read the next one? . . . This is a rousing SF/fantasy adventure, with a brilliantly imagined and beautifully rendered alternate world.” Booklist
“One of the sharpest, most intelligent, hugely compelling works I’ve read this year.” Forbidden Planet International
“The Mechanical is as intricate and exquisite as the clockwork wonders it brings to life.” NPR
“His characters are as convincing as ever, the plotting is beautifully articulated . . . readers with an interest in dark, intelligent fantasy will find much to admire here.” Kirkus
“The rich characters and gripping story really make this tale soar.” Publishers Weekly
“A hugely entertaining novel.” SFX
“Absolutely fascinating, and unapologetically clever.”Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews
“So absorbing that readers will be dying for the next entry in this new series.” Library Journal
“This book is truly unlike anything I’ve ever read before . . . I can’t wait to see what the next installment in The Alchemy Wars will bring.” Bibliosanctum
Look out for THE LIBERATION in December 2016.
- - April 13th, 2016
When Mur Lafferty came to us with a cool new idea, we were over the moon to acquire this SF novel with a great hook: On a generation ship millions of miles from Earth, a whole crew is murdered. When their clones wake up — they know that one of them is the killer.
It’s out in October this year and here’s a sneak peek at the cover:
A space adventure set on a lone ship where the murdered crew are resurrected through cloning to discover who their killer was — and the secret to their mission.
It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood.
At least, Marie Shea IV had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died, from illness once and from injury once…
Maria’s vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. Apparently Maria wasn’t the only one to die recently.
Photo illustration by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images, Shutterstock, and Kirk Benshoff
Design by Kirk Benshoff
- - April 6th, 2016
Stephen Aryan exploded onto the fantasy scene late last year with BATTLEMAGE, the magic-fuelled, fireball-throwing debut which author Den Patrick said ‘puts the epic into epic fantasy’.
Fantasy fans are in for a treat this month, as Stephen follows up his debut with BLOODMAGE, an adventure which begins with a murder investigation in the city most ravaged by the Battlemage war.
Not only does Stephen have a new book out in April, but he’s going on tour! These are the dates you can meet him and get a signed copy:
- Bloodmage Launch, Waterstones Birmingham High Street, Thursday 14th April, 7pm
- Bloodmage Event in conjunction with Sheffield Fantasy and Science Fiction Social Club, Waterstones Sheffield Orchard Square, Tuesday 26th April, 6.30-7.30pm
- Stephen Aryan and Niel Bushnell in Conversation and signing, Waterstones Middlesbrough,Wednesday 27th April, 6-7pm
- Whitley Bay Library Event, Thursday 28th April, 7pm