Tuesday, 11 March 2014
This latest ebook exclusive from Abaddon in the Afterblight Chronicles series has been written by Malcolm Cross and we asked him to explain why setting his new novella on the ISS was the ultimate in horror settings.
My generation didn't have the moon landings.
The Space Shuttle was so passé it barely rated a news item, Skylab had long ago been abandoned and burned up, there was a fire on Mir and we hardly even heard about it. The International Space Station? It's been up there for sixteen years. Mostly we don't think about it.
For decades we all took human spaceflight for granted, and then Chris Hadfield burst onto twitter and Gravity rocked the Oscars, and then the spacemen over your head became real. For a lot of us it produced a brief disconnect with reality, a moment to dream in, a thrilling heartbeat where the silly childhood idea Star Trek might be real came back.
Obviously, I leapt at the opportunity when Abaddon Books offered me the chance to write about what happened on the ISS during the apocalyptic plague that kicks off their Afterblight Chronicles setting. Trouble is, for a good horror story, often you need to start somewhere normal and familiar, then take your reader to a place that's threateningly different.
The International Space Station? It isn't familiar. It's a flying can with two very different architectural styles in the American and Russian sections, constantly noisy with the hum of air circulation fans. Silence isn't peace and quiet -- it's a reason to panic in case the air goes stale and asphyxiates you. There are dozens of sunrises every day, and just as many nights.
Trying to make it seem familiar felt sacrilegious. But that was my first goal, working in the routine around day to day research, everyday life with big 'family' dinners the whole crew gathers for, and even being forced to swallow down toothpaste because, after all, you can't spit into a sink without gravity's help. Even if the International Space Station's a place where you can turn the wall into the floor and a corridor into a canyon to fly through with just a twist of the body, to the Astronauts who call it home, it really is home.
And like any home, it's a great place to set a horror story.
Orbital Decay by Malcolm Cross is out now in ebook from Abaddon Books and available direct from the Rebellion Publishing webshop.
Monday, 3 March 2014
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
Blackmore is the author of the urban fantasy novels City of the Lost and Dead Things and the 1930's pulp novel Khan of Mars. His short stories have appeared in the magazines Needle, Plots With Guns, Spinetingler, Thrilling Detective and Shots, as well as the anthologies Deadly Treats, Don’t Read This Book and Uncage Me.
Thursday, 9 January 2014
Monday, 2 December 2013
Forget the stale chocolates and badly-drawn festive image, we've got the Advent calendar you want right here...
Yes, every day in the run-up to Christmas we'll be offering a different ebook title for the tiny sum of just 99p!
Yes! Just 99 of the Queen's pennies (or corresponding amount of your non-British equivalent) and you could own some of the finest SF, fantasy, horror, and genre around!
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
So a little while back I doodled on here about expressions - turns of phrase with various roots - that have drifted, just a little, from their intention when first used. Like turn the other cheek or the game is afoot. Lovely little examples of how language and culture shift over time.
'Cause that's what editors do. Rock and roll, baby. Rock and fuckin' roll.
Anyway, it got a very modest feedback on Facebook and Twitter, and there was a little chat about misuses that people were fond of - or irritated by, as it happens - and a bit of fond discussion about usage and etymology. Then it came up again.
What about "literally"?
Ah, yes. So this is an old chestnut, and one which the internet's guardians of language are very fond of railing about (seriously, I love the Oatmeal, but I haven't got your back on this one). And it's had a bit of a resurgence in everyone's minds, lately, since the Oxford English Dictionary made the decision to include the figurative sense of the word in its entry.
(Many tophats flew off many heads, that day. Many monocles popped out in outraged splutter. That terrible, terrible day.)
Because seriously, this is a thing. And it's not a big deal. Untwist that there knicker, podner! And let me sort this out for you, so you can stop worrying yourself about it and go back to explaining the difference between affect and effect to people. Let me explain why your objections to this are all wrong...
"You can't just change what things mean in dictionaries!"
Well, that's just silly, for starters. If you couldn't "just" add or change words in the dictionary, it would look like this and would be worse than useless. Obviously English changes, and the dictionary tells us how to use words in English, so the dictionary has to change. You may choose to rail against drift in the language if you wish, although I can think of better uses of your time, but you can't really complain about the dictionary doing its job, which is reflecting how language is used. Don't blame the OED for being the world's pre-eminent English Dictionary...
"But it's the opposite of what it means! You can't do that!"
Why the hell not? Cleave means "to stick together" and "to separate." Sanction means "to grant approval to" and "to withdraw support from." Fast means "moving quickly" and "fixed and immobile." Trimming that tree, are you? Would sir like the secateurs or the tinsel?
And anyway, it doesn't. People say that the modern usage of literally means "figuratively," but who in the history of saying things with your face has ever actually pointed out, mid-metaphor, that they're being metaphorical? Can you imagine anyone saying, "My father figuratively exploded when he saw the scratch on the car; I say figuratively, because I don't want you to be alarmed at the prospect of my father's detonation. He's actually quite well. I meant to say he was very angry."?
(You can? Huh. I'd keep away from that guy. I bet he tucks in his t-shirt and collects used matches.)
The contemporary, figurative use of the word literally actually completely depends on both the speaker and the listener being aware of its traditional meaning. It's used for emphasis. I'm presenting what is clearly a metaphor ("I'm neck-deep in paperwork down here!") and then playfully suggesting that it's not a metaphor ("No, help me! I'm genuinely, literally, neck-deep in paperwork here! Haha! It's funny because it's not in fact true, but I'm pretending it is!") in order to emphasise the metaphor.
Get it? It's supposed to be funny, you jerk. And you ruined it.
I love you. Please don't be angry.
"But it's not what it's supposed to mean! It's new!"
You're dead right... in about the seventeenth century.
This usage goes back hundreds of years. There was only just such a thing as dictionaries when people started using literally this way.
Jane Austen was "literally rocked in bed" in a stormy night; Mark Twain was "literally rolling in wealth"; Louisa May Alcott's land "literally flowed with milk and honey." This is not a new thing. How can it be an irritating change to the language you speak if it happened before your grandmother's grandmother was born? There is honestly no way you can claim to remember a time when you only knew the original sense of the word and was unpleasantly surprised to discover its new meaning.
Which means you've learned your distaste of its figurative sense. Someone - some low-down son of a gun - has gone to the trouble of teaching you to be irritated by a usage that's been utterly ubiquitous since long before the people who taught the people who taught the people who taught them to hate it were even born.
So frankly, if you're gonna get angry at someone, I'd track down that guy. 'Cause he just plumb filled your world with aggravation to no good effect.
Monday, 11 November 2013
So shut up and set down your coffee and donut - yes, I can see you, stop hiding it behind that stack of paperwork and pretending it's somebody else's donut; it's okay to eat donuts, I don't mind - for just one moment and check this motherfunster out right now.
Because E. E. Richardson, the brilliant and talented young adult horror writer, has made her adult debut right here at Abaddon Towers, and it is awesome.
Ritual Crime Unit: Under the Skin is a novella, the first in a new series of urban fantasy police procedurals which I'm frankly sure will have nerds all over the country saying "Who Aaronovitch? Is that even a real name?" in about a month. Maybe two, tops.
Elizabeth come to my attention via the open submissions month last year (which you may remember), and was a very happy discovery.
Here's the blurb:
A tough, hard-nosed career officer in the male-dominated world of British policing, DCI Claire Pierce of North Yorkshire Police heads Northern England’s underfunded and understaffed Ritual Crime Unit. Unregarded by the traditional police, struggling with an out-sized caseload, Pierce is about to tackle her most shocking case so far.
Following reports of unlicensed shapeshifters running wild in the Dales, DCI Pierce leads a failed raid to capture the skinbinder responsible. While the dust is still settling, a team from Counter Terrorism turns up and takes the case off her.
Pursuing the case off the record, she uncovers something murkier and more terrible than she suspected. Has her quarry achieved the impossible and learned to bind human skin?
Under the Skin is available right now, from the Rebellion Store, from Kindle (US, UK, and elsewhere) and most other ebook channels. If you don't buy it, you might be unprepared.
It's even available, in strictly limited numbers, as a physical edition from Forbidden Planet! These babies are signed and numbered, and won't last long.
DO IT! DO IT NOW! YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND ON IT!
About The Author
E.E. Richardson has been writing books since she was eleven years old, and had her first novel The Devil’s Footsteps picked up for publication at the age of twenty. Since then she’s had seven more young adult horror novels published by Random House and Barrington Stoke. Under the Skin is her first story aimed at adults. She also has a B.Sc. in Cybernetics and Virtual Worlds, which hasn’t been useful for much but does sound impressive.
Thursday, 7 November 2013
So bit of a serious moment here (what do you mean, I never did Day Two of my con report; it's coming, okay?). So the fine folk at reviews/fiction/geek culture website warpcoresf.co.uk have asked us to highlight stuff going on at Lincolnshire County Council, and this is serious stuff. Libraries are many people's primary or sole source of books, and they deserve our protection.
Here's the spiel:
Lincolnshire County Council plan to close all but 15 of the county's library buildings. They want to reduce the hours of the remaining libraries, take mobile library stops down from 400 to 126, sell off buildings, and cut 170 skilled library jobs. In all, these cuts are worth some £2 million, out of a front-line libraries budget of around £6 million.
You can read more details of the campaign here.
In order to save our libraries, we need to make our opposition to these cuts known before the 3rd of December, when the council executive make their decision. This is an outrage that will cut thousands of people off from the discovery of literature, it will damage literacy rates, and it will deprive many people of access to the internet. Libraries are also hugely important for midlist writers, for whom discovery is proving harder thanks to the closure of so many independent book stores.
Please tweet your opposition to @savelincslibs. If you'd like to go further and blog about this, an email to firstname.lastname@example.org will ensure I see your post and get it included in the Save Lincs Library links round-up, Facebook page, and so on.
I've heard quite a few authors say things like "Well, I'll help, but I don't know what good I can do." Having heard Patrick Rothfuss state that he still considers himself a newbie during a panel on world building at WFC, I suspect a lot of authors underestimate their impact on people. Please don't. Every word of support matters a great deal to the campaign, and to those communities that are threatened with losing their libraries. You are all more awesome than you suspect.
The Facebook page is here.
Friday, 1 November 2013
So, here a day so far. Good times.
GUYS THIS EVENT IS LIKE HUGE there's thousands of people here, and loads of panels, and people wandering around and oh my god.
We managed to scramble onsite about 2pm yesterday, rushed to get our stand set up (Molcher above looking pretty), and sold books for a couple of hours.
I was in a panel, "When does copy-editing go too far?" (Hint: The answer is DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I'M A FUCKING EDITOR! ON YOUR KNEES, WORM!), and was predictably fabulous. I shared the stage with Jo Fletcher, Oliver Johnston, Rina Weisman, Laurel Hill and Ramsay Campbell. Illustrious old company.
Dinner was Wagamama's after a fruitless search for the many bijou restaurantettes we knew Brighton was full of, then booze until real late.
Honestly, I think the barman spiked my beer with alcohol. I'm a trifle disappointed. Bit of a hangover.
Today was bookselling and more being fabulous. Clifford Beal showed me an awesome pizza stand in town for lunch. And now I have no hangover, which all said is better than having a hangover. Quite relieved.
There are parties waiting; will update tomorrow.
Wednesday, 30 October 2013
From the Viking undead to zombie knights and Napoleonic revenants: this is the Secret Zombie History of the World
About the Authors
Paul Finch is a former cop and journalist, now turned full time writer. He first cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, THE BILL, and has written extensively in the field of children's animation. However, he is probably best known for his work in horrors and thrillers. He has won two British Fantasy Awards and the International Horror Guild Award, and has written Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish as well as scripts for several movie adaptations of his own stories and novellas. Paul lives in Wigan, Lancashire, with his wife Cathy and his children, Eleanor and Harry.
Matthew Sprange has a solid history in roleplaying design as well as writing over two dozen gaming books, including the Babylon 5, Judge Dredd and Starship Troopers games, and has won two Origins Awards for his work in miniature wargames. Death Hulk is his second novel, with his first being a trip into the Babylon 5 universe, entitled Visions of Peace.
Toby Venables is a novelist, screenwriter and lecturer in Film Studies at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. He has since worked as a journalist and magazine editor – launching magazines in Cambridge, Peterborough, Oxford and Bristol – and once orchestrated an elaborate Halloween hoax for which he built and photographed a werewolf. He still works as a freelance copywriter, has been the recipient of a radio advertising award, and in 2001 won the Keats-Shelley Memorial Prize.
Tuesday, 29 October 2013
YO THIS IS SOME CRAZY SHIZ RIGHT HERE.
So we're so keen to get you into our critically-acclaimed Afterblight Chronicles and Pax Britannia series that we're offering the first book in each series, Simon Spurrier's The Culled and Jonathan Green's Unnatural History, absolutely free!
They're free on our own website, and on as many online stores as we can manage. GET THEM! YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN WE'LL CHANGE OUR MINDS!
Thursday, 24 October 2013
Well, World Fantasy Con is almost upon us, when the genre publishing world descends upon Brighton and makes it 27.1% more crazy...
We have a host, no, a bevvy of book-writing braves attending the con who will be furiously scribbling their monikers into books thrust beneath their clever noses. The Abaddon and Solaris signing schedule looks thusly:
Steve Rasnic Tem
Jan Siegel (Amanda Hemingway)
Gareth L. Powell
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
So I thought, heck, I'll just blog about it. Here are four of my favourites:
Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw
How It's Used: Usually to describe the violent and impersonal nature of Nature; them animals, they do so love to bite and scratch and stuff. Grr.
And love Creation's final law
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravin, shriek'd against his creed
Where It's From: A little thing I like to call The Bible. Matthew, chapter 5. It's from the middle of Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount," where he passes down the law on how people are gonna behave from now on.
How It's Used: This is something your mum or teacher used to tell you if you were bullied or provoked at school. It suggests stoicism and self-discipline; just look away ("turn your cheek") and ignore them.
What It Really Means: Jesus was going a bit further than just "don't rise to their bait." He's telling you to actively participate in your own victimisation; if a man hits you on one cheek, he says, then turn the other cheek so that he can hit that one too. Your mum should not be telling you to do this. The Sermon is famously one of the most challenging parts of Christian doctrine, presenting such an extreme model of virtue that it's usually seen as rhetorical rather than intended literally.
I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
Where It's From: Shakespeare, baby. Specifically, Henry IV Part 1, Act 1, Scene 3. Although it's also probably Sherlock Holmes's most-quoted line (from The Adventure of the Abbey Grange) after "Elementary, my dear Watson."
How It's Used: Generally, to suggest a game - you know, with dice and a board, and cards or something. It means something interesting and challenging has begun in earnest.
What It Really Means: It's a hunting metaphor. The "game," in this instance, is an animal hunted for its meat (as in "game bird" or "game pie"). When the game is "afoot," it's on the run and the hunt has begun. Holmes most certainly used it in that sense - his "game" being Sir Brackenstall's murderer - but hunting is less relevant to most of us than it used to be, and so nowadays we mostly assume he's talking about chess or something. He liked chess, right?
Where It's From: The Bible, natch. Luke, chapter 10. It's one of the "Parables," which were sort of moral riddles that Jesus used to tell his followers. He was crazy about riddles.
How It's Used: A Samaritan, "good" or otherwise, usually means someone who helps a stranger - especially one in dire need, who others are ignoring - with no expectation of reward or recognition. Aww. There's even a suicide charity called The Samaritans - without the "Good," which makes me insanely suspicious of them.
What It Really Means: The Good Samaritan of the parable behaved in exactly that way, sure enough. But the point of the story was that Samaritans were famed for their selfishness and officiousness; "good Samaritan" was intended as a surprising dichotomy. A bit like saying "good investment banker" or something (of course, the Samaritans are an ethnic and religious community that exists to this day, but I guess it's okay to be a bit racist when you're quoting the Bible).
So those are four of my favourite slightly misused phrases. What are yours?
Friday, 18 October 2013
If you missed out on this summer’s best books from Solaris, Abaddon and Ravenstone, now’s your chance to catch up with all of these recent releases at just £4 each!
Act now! This sale is only on this weekend!
Tuesday, 1 October 2013
We here at Solaris and Abaddon have gathered together a tip top table of talent for the weekend's festivities, ranging from debut authors to old hands. We're very pleased to announce that the following authors will be appearing at WFC13:
Guy Adams (The Good The Bad and the Infernal)
Clifford Beal (Gideon's Angel)
Simon Bestwick (The Faceless and Tide of Souls)
Chaz Brenchley (Desdaemona)
Ellen Datlow (Poe)
Jetse de Vries (Shine)
Paul Finch (Stronghold)
Jonathan Green (Pax Britannia)
Amanda Hemingway (The Devil's Apprentice)
Ben Jeapes (Phoenicia's Worlds)
Paul Kane (Hooded Man trilogy)
James Lovegrove (Pantheon series)
Juliet McKenna (Hadrumal Crisis series)
Lou Morgan (Blood and Feathers)
Libby McGugan (The Eidolon)
Gareth L. Powell (Ack-Ack Macaque)
Gaie Sebold (Babylon Steel)
Lavie Tidhar (Osama)
Jonathan Strahan (Edge of Infinity)
Steve Rasnic Tem (Deadfall Hotel)
Ian Whates (Solaris Rising)
Conrad Williams (Loss of Separation)
Geoffrey Gudgeon (Saxon's Bane)
To celebrate the coming storm, we'll be giving away books all month on our blogs and Twitter - so stay tuned!