- - April 30th, 2013
Today week we’re releasing NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ) by Ian Tregillis, the conclusion to the spectacular Milkweed Triptych. The series began with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ).
It’s hard to express just how much we are all head-over-heels in love with this series. This time, it’s not just me, Ian’s editor, who’s wanting to tell you how great the books are. The whole Orbit team has been clamouring to tell everyone just how much these books will blow your mind:
James Long, Orbit Editorial Assistant
“The Milkweed Triptych is simply one of the best trilogies I’ve ever read. These books are beautifully written, meticulously plotted and tell an incredible story built around a host of wonderfully-drawn characters. At heart these books tell an exciting adventure story about British warlocks fighting a secret war against Nazi supersoldiers, and are appropriately packed with explosive action sequences. Yet they’re also deeply moving, intelligent novels that will repeatedly shatter your expectations and make you ponder all sorts of questions about the power of love and the nature of evil. Quite simply, they’re brilliant and utterly unmissable.”
Felice Howden, Little, Brown Marketing
“I was initially enamoured by this series from the description: X-Men meets Inglorious Basterds. When I opened the first page to a Nietzsche quote and a scene where one child cunningly engineers the death of another, I knew it was something special. Then I discovered one of the main characters was a prescient German girl; a puppeteer manipulating the others on her choice of path through wars, births, deaths, friendships and hatred; making moves calculated years in advance with unimaginable consequences; throwing stones that rippled through the lives of everyone around her. And I was in love.”
Anne Clarke, Orbit Editorial Director
“I love the way the plot threads around and twists back on itself, just when you think you’ve got it all worked out, both within the books and between them. Every new page gives you another thread to pull. The writing itself is phenomenal, but it’s the characters and the plot – my god, the plot! – that have got me so hooked. I can’t wait to read Necessary Evil and find out how Ian manages to resolve such a tangled web. Ian’s poor protagonists dance like puppets for the unbearably sinister Gretel, but there must be a master plan behind it all. I can’t believe she doesn’t have one – though I do hope poor Raybould foils it and that he finds the redemption he so desperately wants. He deserves a break after all he’s been through!”
Anna Gregson, Orbit Commissioning Editor
“After having devoured the entire Milkweed Triptych at the speed of light, I can only conclude is that Ian Tregillis is an absolute genius. The Milkweed books are simply one of the cleverest, most engrossing series I’ve ever read. I often found myself chuckling out loud in public places at the pure brilliance of the plotting, the devious intellect of the protagonists, and the masterful skill of the author’s turn of phrase… Ian Tregillis takes an idea which is already hugely exciting in a very superhero-comic kind of way (mad warlocks fighting scientifically-enhanced Nazi übermensch), but then delivers the concept with such intelligence, such emotional power and such literary flair that you cannot help but fall head-over-heels for him as a writer.”
If you haven’t started this series yet and want to find out just why we’re going so crazy about it, you can get a taster with a free extract of BITTER SEEDS here.
- - April 26th, 2013
Poster for The Wolverine 3d film – coming in July 2013
I was interested (and I’ll admit it – a little excited) to read this recent article, stating that advances in gene technology could lead to a race of genetically superior human beings by the year 2045. These were apparently the findings of a Ministry of Defence think tank during a two-day summit last summer.
Alright – so sources such as The Sun and The Daily Mail might have sensationalised the think tank’s statements a touch by claiming that in a few years time, people will have Wolverine-style adamantium claws busting out all over the shop, and will be spontaneously whipping up tornadoes left, right and centre à la Storm.
But although a real-life X-men army might not exactly be right round the corner – the underlying gist of the claim could be entirely reasonable: that we’ll likely soon be using genetic technology to enhance the strength of the human body, to eliminate imperfections and to increase stamina.
But as time goes on, who knows what the limitations will be? Who knows if by genetically developing certain parts of the brain, we’ll discover unknown abilities – telekinesis, psychic powers, control over natural elements? One needs to have an open mind, and it might not happen in 30 years time – but it’s not entirely beyond belief.
Neither are the apparent risks and dangers that certain individuals developing those powers would present.
The MoD think tank also claimed that “it is possible that advances in biology, unequally shared across society, could generate genetic inequality”.
But it might not just be within one particular society that inequality is a risk. What happens, in fact, if one nation develops superhumans before another? Will it lead to an “arms race” of human augmentation, the winner of which will become the next superpower?
This is the terrifying and thrilling concept behind the Milkweed trilogy by Ian Tregillis. It starts with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ), and concludes with NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ – releasing this coming Tuesday). Read the rest of this entry »
During our recent conversation about his Laundry novels, Charlie Stross mentioned he’d started out seeking to revitalize the horror behind Lovecraftiana by drawing a connection between unknowable dangers and the very familiar terror of the Cold War arms race. I found that particularly interesting. After all, the Laundry series and the Milkweed books share a subgenre that pits agents of the secret state against super- or paranormal entities. So perhaps it isn’t surprising that we’ve both recast the thermonuclear deterrence of Mutually Assured Destruction as something even more precarious: the threat of a mystical and far more absolute annihilation.
(We even followed parallel lines of thought when it came to titles. Charlie called his story of the Shoggoth Gap “A Colder War,” while I went with THE COLDEST WAR for my tale of mystical brinksmanship.)
I was a child when the Reagan-era arms race began. But I had an early interest in science, so I’d already scoured the school library to read everything I could find about those wondrous things called atoms. Which unfortunately meant I had a vague notion of these things called atomic weapons. (Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to let me read this stuff? Way to go, mom and dad.)
Thanks to classroom discussions of current events at the time, I also knew we were building them as fast as we could. Halfway around the world, so was another monolithic power. And we were aiming them at each other, like lions circling and snapping their teeth. But at that age I didn’t understand why this was happening, or why our enemies were so terrible that global annihilation was preferable to their triumph in some abstract and incomprehensible conflict. All I knew was the world teetered on a razor’s edge, and that my fate rested in the hands of people who knew nothing of me, my parents, or my cat (good old Gadzooks).
That’ll mess with your head when you’re 10 years old.
And so I spent the early 1980s filled with an almost paralyzing dread. 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 »