- - June 13th, 2013
Today we digitally release a ground-breaking and definitive anthology of short stories from some of the very biggest names in science fiction and fantasy . . . Presenting:
WASTELANDS: STORIES OF THE APOCALYPSE
An anthology of post-apocalyptic short fiction from genre heavyweights such as Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Orson Scott Card, Cory Doctorow, Gene Wolfe, Jonathan Lethem, Paolo Bacigalupi, Tobias S. Buckell, Jack McDevitt, Neal Barrett Jr., Richard Kadrey and many many others….
(see a full list here)
At the same time, we’re also releasing THE LIVING DEAD – an anthology of zombie stories from even more superstars of the SFF genre . . . More on that next week, but for now it’s fair to say that if you’re into zombies and apocalypses, both these anthologies are perfect reading whilst waiting to see the WORLD WAR Z movie! They’re both edited by John Joseph Adams, the bestselling editor of many anthologies and a four-time finalist for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards.
Today we’re focusing on WASTELANDS: STORIES OF THE APOCALYPSE. We asked the authors involved to give us a few comments about what inspired them to write the stories included . . .
Cory Doctorow on his story “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth”from WASTELANDS
The most important thing about a system is how it fails, though mostly we pay attention to how it works. Who cares how many houses you could buy on cheap credit if they all end up as subprime roadkill when the whole crooked business unravels?
We tell ourselves that civilisation fails badly. Stories I love, from Day of the Triffids to 1984, paint a picture of a world where disaster is attended by riots, rape and cruelty. The reality – shown time and again – is that disaster is attended by kindness, care, and compassion. When the lights go out, we don’t eat each other, we help each other.
‘Elite panic’ is the sociological phenomenon that causes the masters of the universe to send guns into Haiti after the quake – ahead of the humanitarian aid. It’s why the City of London is blanketed in CCTVs. It’s why police all over the world are so pants-wettingly terrified of public protest and treat every march like a riot in potentia.
We need to tell ourselves stories about the goodness of our neighbours as remedy for the vile slander that our stories have told us about the human race. It is the only way to counter elite panic. Read the rest of this entry »
- - February 8th, 2013
This week sees the release of THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ) , the second novel in Ian Tregillis’s landmark series, the Milkweed Triptych. The trilogy began with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and concludes with the forthcoming NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ).
These novels feature a secret history of Twentieth Century conflicts in which scientifically-enhanced superhumans and dark magic collide. The result is described by Fantasy Faction as ‘oh-so compelling, fascinating and frighteningly convincing’ and by Cory Doctorow as, ‘some of the best – and most exciting – alternate history I’ve read. Bravo.’
It’s possible to draw a few parallels between the themes in the Milkweed novels and Charles Stross’s highly popular Laundry Files (including the recent THE APOCALYPSE CODEX – UK | ANZ) – a series of science fiction spy thrillers featuring Bob Howard, once an IT geek, now a field agent working for a British government agency dealing with occult threats. They’re what SFX calls ‘beautifully handled, believable and well envisioned – a highly enjoyable bit of spy-fi.’
For that reason we were really interested to hear these two exceptionally clever Orbit authors in conversation about their series. The results are below!
Ian: In an afterword to THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES (“Inside the Fear Factory”) you mention that while writing the first Laundry novel you were advised to avoid Tim Powers’s novel DECLARE. And that later you were made aware of the Delta Green supplement to The Call of Cthulhu RPG, which again resides in a similar neighborhood.
(After BITTER SEEDS debuted, people assumed I had been influenced by DECLARE, Delta Green, *and* the Laundry novels! But, like you with DECLARE, I wanted to avoid cross-contamination. So I didn’t dive into THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES until after I turned in THE COLDEST WAR, at which point I was 2/3 through the Milkweed trilogy and the story was on a ballistic trajectory.)
But of course even Powers wasn’t the first to marry espionage and the occult – Dennis Wheatley’s novel THEY USED DARK FORCES first appeared in 1964, and Katherine Kurtz‘s LAMMAS NIGHT was published in 1983, as just two examples.
In the above-mentioned afterword, you make a strong case for why it’s natural to blend horror, the occult, and espionage. So is this an idea that’s continually bubbling into the aether to be rediscovered by other writers? Or have we reached the point where we’re having a conversation within an actual subgenre?
Charlie: It is indeed an actual subgenre! Or maybe a sub-subgenre: a corner of that section of urban fantasy that is preoccupied with the interaction between agents of the state and the occult. Read the rest of this entry »