This is one of those books you start working on, and once it starts gaining momentum, turns into one of your favorite projects. LOVE MINUS EIGHTY (US | UK | AUS) is a shining example of just that. The final product ended up being a combination of a two concepts using the transparent vellum as a way to play off those concepts together. Getting a chance to do a design with vellum paper is a designer dream.
Having such beautiful material to work with only made this project easier. LOVE MINUS EIGHTY is an absolutely wonderful story. Then, pairing this amazing story with the photography by Erin Mulvehill, a Brooklyn based photographer, kicked the package for this book up a whole new level. Her photography is as vivid and beautiful as the text.
The jacket is a subtle interaction between the female in the picture and the reader/viewer. She’s reaching out and pressing this button in order to start something.
I wanted the rest of the design to really take advantage of the vellum. I wanted the reader to explore the book and find all the subtle details.
To really appreciate the book is to hold the book in your hands and roll the book around. When you look at spine and the back cover on the jacket, you see elements from the books cover peaking through. Here are a couple videos showing the cover.
We have an amazing team here at Orbit. Our editors really saw the potential and worked with design to create a stunning package. Erin was a joy to work with. Our production team was a great liaisons to the printer keeping track of all the details and making sure everything was addressed that need to be addressed. LOVE MINUS EIGHTY is a great example of everyone just having fun!
It’s incredible when we look at how much Facebook, Twitter – and yes even the humble and now bizarrely relaunched MySpace – have changed our world and the way we interact within it, all in no more than a decade. It’s easy to see why some of the best science fiction has recently focused on the future of social media and technology in the hands of individuals, rather than governments or militant groups.
This year has seen the release of Google Glass – one of the most sci-fi-feeling inventions ever – which is a wearable computer intended to ‘free data’ from your desktop, and bring it right in front of your eyes.
Google Glass could be considered the first step toward what Will McIntosh calls a ‘system’ in his debut novel LOVE MINUS EIGHTY (UK | US | AUS).
Systems are lightweight and near-invisible personal kits that envelop your entire body, allowing you to overlay your world with virtual reality. This virtual overlay has become such a part of individuals’ daily life that the characters in LOVE MINUS EIGHTY (or the ones wealthy enough to afford them, anyway) feel stunted and naked without it.
These systems give users the ability to open a floating virtual screen anywhere in front of them and talk ‘face-to-face’ with multiple people at one time, to mute other people’s conversations on the street, to access personal information about anyone they pass in the street.
It’s possible to build your number of ‘followers’ in the near future too – but this no longer just means your fans will see everything you post in your stream. People can now genuinely ‘follow’ you around, with floating virtual screens that can wink open at any moment, anywhere, to hover around you as you go about your daily business, watching your life actions in real-time. You can follow others in the same way – if you care enough about what they’re up to. And if someone manages to gain enough followers, that’s when the advertising credits start to roll in . . .
The way Will McIntosh chillingly blends concepts from reality TV and social media highlights certain truths about how interact with one another: that the actions we take online are performed for an audience, and that our tendency toward voyeurism is increasing. As social media develops further and increases its prevalence in our lives, so too the implications of these changes will leach outward in speculative fiction.
In science fiction today, gone are the adorable sentient toasters of Red Dwarf, replaced with figures representing something much more sinister . . . Think of the chilling episode “Be Right Back” from Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror – where after a loved one’s death, reincarnation is possible by uploading their online persona into a disturbingly realistic organic robot. This reality really isn’t far away, given that tech such as Liveson exists now to look after your social afterlife – a service whose slogan is ‘when your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting’. It makes Will McIntosh’s musings about social media and reanimation after death feel chillingly real . . .
With the mind-blowing advances in technology and the explosion in the amount of time we spend on the internet in recent years, it’s not so much of a stretch to assume this complete integration of our on and offline lives could happen well before LOVE MINUS EIGHTY predicted in 2103.
Since my first novel for Orbit Books deals with how the technology of the future has changed our most basic human relationships, I thought I’d pay homage to some of the great love stories in science fiction, be they in books, on film, or on TV. Needless to say, these are my top five choices. Your mileage may vary.
1. Desmond and Penny in Lost
There’s something about waiting for your true love that is especially poignant, that feels like undeniable proof of the power and purity of that love. When Desmond tells Penny he’ll call her–in eight years–and eight years later Penny answers the phone, and they shout “I love you” into the phone, back and forth, back and forth, until the tenuous telephone connection fails, they had me.
2. Winston Smith and Julia in 1984 by George Orwell.
In the darkest future imaginable, a woman Winston Smith barely knows slips him a note that says, simply, I love you. In the lingo of the rom com, this is their meet, and it’s a beautiful one. Their love is what ultimately leads to their downfall; they betray each other, and when they meet on the other side of re-education, their lack of feeling for each other is so incredibly devastating because their love was so convincing.
3. Joel and Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Joel and Clementine’s love is tumultuous, to say the least. Clementine is a force of nature, wild and unpredictable. She probably suffers from bipolar disorder. Joel is tight, introverted, and private; yet when they fight, Joel’s words are, if anything, more cutting than Clementine’s. They fight often, but somehow the passion in their arguments convinces us of the intensity of their love as much as their tender moments do. They erase their memories of each other, yet meet and fall in love all over again. These are two people who were meant to be together. Read the rest of this entry »
Today is the worldwide release of LOVE MINUS EIGHTY (US | UK | AUS) by Hugo Award-winning author Will McIntosh. Will is a truly original voice in SF and with this novel he’s given us a terrifying, uplifting, daring, and compulsively readable vision of where our path is leading.
Three hundred years in the future, technology has extended the lives of the rich and attractive decades. The wealthy can arrange to be reanimated multiple times, while in cryogenic dating farms, dead women await lonely suitors to resurrect them and take them home. In this big-hearted novel, the lovelorn navigate a world in which technology has found the outer limits of decency and love.
LOVE MINUS EIGHTY explores a time where we are completely entangled in social media, where life is a performance and privacy has lost all meaning, where our romances and relationships are choreographed in secret, and freedom is found in the ever-shrinking spaces off the grid. A time we can all relate to.
Read a sample, look at the amazing trailer and here is just some of the glowing praise the book has received so far:
Based on the Hugo-winning short story, LOVE MINUS EIGHTY (US | UK | AUS) is a haunting and compelling story which Kirkus called “speculative fiction at its most personal and powerful”.
In this full-length novel, Will McIntosh expands upon the complexity of love, loss, and death in a future where advancements in medicine and cryogenics have changed the dating game in a major way. Although the technology may be unfamiliar, the challenges these characters face while struggling with issues of identity, existence, and the search for love ring eerily true for all of us. Read the prologue on io9 or continue on to the first chapter below.
Chapter 1: Rob AD 2103
The woman across the aisle from Rob yammered on as the micro-T rose above street level, threading through the Perrydot Building, lit offices buzzing past in a colorful blur. He should have taken his Scamp. Public transport was simpler, but he always seemed to share a compartment with someone who didn’t have the courtesy to subvocalize.
For no reason except that she was annoying the shit out of him, Rob decided to scan her to see how much work she’d had done on her face.
As his fingers danced over the skintight system on his left arm, the woman glanced his way and curled her lip—a microexpression that was there and gone in a flicker. Now he had another reason to dislike this complete stranger. No, his style wasn’t elegant and seamless, and he was tired of being judged by the technological glitterati as lacking some vital core because he only cared about making his system function, not how he looked doing it.
If you think dating is hard now, I hate to tell you this, but it’s only going to get worse. Based on the Hugo-winning story, Bridesicle, LOVE MINUS EIGHTY (US | UK | AUS) is a cold and yet stirring look at the search for true love in the future. What is already a difficult task for us now becomes even more complicated in this twisted and poignant story penned by Will McIntosh.
Praise for LOVE MINUS EIGHTY:
“This is speculative fiction at its most personal and powerful, extrapolating current social and technological trends and exploring how they would affect future people simply trying to live their lives and make their existence matter to someone.” – Kirkus (Starred Review)
This month Orbit UK digitally released two titles from an award-winning author. I can honestly say that these two novels have affected me so deeply, stayed with me so long, that I just want everyone to read them. EVERYONE. So it’s just darn lucky I work in publishing, meaning I can actually help bring these books to you . . . (And yes, this is the best job in the world).
HITCHERS is a hard book to define. Part horror story, part contemporary supernatural tale, part post-apocalyptic adventure, part touching tale of grief and redemption. But ALL compulsively readable. Chilling, amusing, sad, creepy, gripping, and deeply, deeply affecting.
To start with, the book has just about my favourite prologue ever. Read it here, and see a brief excerpt below:
“You don’t think she’ll get fired, do you?” Lorena had asked drowsily as we drifted. “I didn’t mean to get her in trouble, even though she was incredibly rude to me.” She was still ruminating about the argument she’d had with our waitress at the Blue Boy Diner. I was ruminating about the argument I’d had with my grandfather that morning, which had far greater implications for our future.
What I didn’t know at the time was that we had no future. We had about twenty-five minutes.
Someone is about to die . . . and this opening sets up one of the most fantastically-crafted and creepy tales you’ll read. In fact, in not too long, a terrorist attack is about to wipe out half the population of Finn Darby’s home city.
With all this destruction around, it’s expected that everyone would be pretty upset. But what isn’t expected is the mass phenomenon that starts to occur after the attack. People start to blurt out voices beyond their control. They appear to be taken over by a sinister unknown force, and can do very little about it. What’s so disturbing is that these voices sound freakishly similar to the voices of the recently deceased, that somehow the dead seem to be “hitching” onto the living . . .
If I say much more then I’ll be giving away too much, but what I really want to get across is how addictive this book is, how intelligent and multi-layered the writing, how intriguingly unsettling Will McIntosh’s view of the afterlife, how heart-wrenchingly attached you’ll become to his characters.
So the moral of the story is – you need to read this (and that’s not even with my publishing hat on).
You also need to look out for LOVE MINUS EIGHTY, which will be a big worldwide release from Orbit next summer.
And you also need to put pressure on Film4 to make sure that they actually make a film out of the rights they optioned for ‘Bridesicle’, the Hugo award-winning short story that LOVE MINUS EIGHTY is based on, because it would make the best, most wonderfully weird, chilling and entertaining movie ever.
Will McIntsosh is the Hugo Award-winning science fiction author of SOFT APOCALYPSE and HITCHERS (both released as digital editions this Thursday in UK and ANZ), as well as the up-and-coming LOVE MINUS EIGHTY (released worldwide in June 2013). Will tells us below about exactly what kind of apocalypse he envisages . . .
I’ve had a longstanding interest in the end of the world. I’m not a True Believer – I don’t have a six month supply of freeze-dried food and a ten year supply of ammo stored in a bunker under my house – but I do believe the likelihood of an apocalypse is greater than most people think.
In most apocalyptic literature, the apocalypses are caused by sudden, surprising, cataclysmic events, like nuclear weapons, meteors, or killer viruses. I wrote a novel about a “soft apocalypse”, where things unravel slowly, over the course of decades. Rather than one event, a series of events cause a long, slow decline, and the world population dies off gradually. If there is an apocalypse, I think this is how it will happen. Here’s why.
A social psychologist named Dan Gilbert pointed out that the human mind has evolved to react primarily to immediate threats, especially if those threats have a clearly identifiable cause, and especially if that cause is an identifiable person or group of people. In other words, we’ve evolved to react to immediate threats perpetrated by human villains. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were exactly that kind of threat. During the cold war, the threat was nuclear annihilation, and the villains were the leaders of the Soviet Union or the United States, depending on where you lived. These sorts of threats scare the hell out of us. We sit up, pay attention, and take action if we can. Read the rest of this entry »
You might have noticed a new name starring on the Orbit schedule for next year: the phenomenal talent Will McIntosh.
Why we think he’s exceptional – why we were all desperate for him to join the Orbit list – is that he writes not only ground-breaking science fiction, but also some of the most moving, touching, and simply human stories you’ll ever read. They’ve affected me deeply – and I can’t imagine how anyone could read his novels without being equally entertained and moved.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that Will already has a Hugo Award to his name, as well as nominations for the Nebula, Locus, John W. Campbell and Compton Crook awards.
Next June, Orbit is launching a worldwide release for Will’s novel LOVE MINUS EIGHTY, a spectacular full-length novel based on Will’s Hugo Award-winning short story, BRIDESICLE. It imagines love and loss 100 years into the future, in a world where technology has reached the outer limits of morality and romance. Check out the cool cover above.
However, we know that it’s a long time to wait till June to see just what kind of stunning fiction this author is producing. So this December, in the UK, Australia and New Zealand we’re releasing ebook editions of two titles previously only released in the US: SOFT APOCALYPSE and HITCHERS. They’ll both be available to buy digitally on 6th December 2012.
SOFT APOCALYPSE, which was nominated for the Locus, John W. Campbell and Compton Crook Awards, is Will’s debut novel. It asks the question: what if the world isn’t destined to end as we always imagined it – in explosive, dramatic fashion – but what if instead, humanity is set to just slowly crumble?
Following Jasper and his nomadic tribe, a group of formerly middle-class Americans, the novel sees a world going from bad to worse – and then worse still. Resources keep getting scarcer, people keep getting poorer, and the fabric of society is slowly disintegrating.
This account of a severe decline is highly intelligent and chillingly realistic. But at the heart of the tale is a very human, touching story about how a normal guy tries to make ends meet and find love in the dangerous new place his world has become.
HITCHERS is something rather different, but with an equally engrossing human story at its core. It’s a chilling supernatural thriller in which both horror and dark humour collide.
When an act of terrorism kills hundreds of thousands in Atlanta, USA, Finn Darby is lucky enough to survive the attack. But Finn soon develops a disturbing affliction – when he starts to blurt things out in a strange voice beyond his control. And it seems he’s not the only one experiencing this problem – in fact thousands of people are suffering from the same affliction.
Either all of Atlanta is having a mass psychological breakdown, or else the dead are returning to possess the living . . .
So there are many different ways to enjoy the exceptional writing of Will McIntosh. And don’t forget that Orbit fans worldwide can also get a very quick taster of what Will’s writing with his Orbit Short Fiction title THE PERIMETER. It’s a chilling tale about the planet Clay and the perimeter fence that keeps its strange creatures at bay. One unlucky woman is about to discover just what lives beyond it . . .
In 2010, Will McIntosh astonished us with his Hugo Award-winning short story, “Bridesicle,” so we signed him up to write a couple novels for Orbit. But we never lost sight of the fact that McIntosh is a consummate short story writer, and we are thrilled to publish his new one on our Orbit Short Fiction program.
The Perimeter” is set in a human colony on a distant planet; beyond the colony’s borders, strange fauna with sinister agendas lurk. All this creepy tale needs is Rod Serling standing in the foreground, saying “Picture if you will …”