Monday, 14 April 2014

'What if' we didn't write speculative histories? Sarah Cawkwell responds to the critics

So, 'What If?'…

I have just surfaced from reading Richard J. Evans’s opinion on ‘what-if’ speculations in history, published in The Guardian on 13th March 2014. His thoughts are very heavily based in fact, rather than fiction, but there is a certain relevance to the theme of my upcoming novel, Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising. Thus, it seemed appropriate to spark off something of a debate on the subject of  historical ‘what-if’.
“Perhaps it's because we're living in a postmodern age where the idea of progress has largely disappeared, to be replaced by uncertainty and doubt, and where linear notions of time have become blurred; or because truth and fiction no longer seem such polar opposites as they once did; or because historians now have more licence to be subjective than they used to. But it's time to be sceptical about this trend. We need, in this year especially, to start to try to understand why the first world war happened, not to wish that it hadn't, or argue about whether it was "right" or "wrong". In the effort to understand, counterfactuals aren't any real use at all.”
- Richard J. Evans
Let’s see. To me, this reads in a manner which suggests Evans is clearly not a man who has any interest in speculation. None whatsoever. He deals in the currency of cold, hard fact, not the airy-fairy world of daydreaming and imagination. I have a lot of respect for that and what happened in history is what happened in history. Short of owning a TARDIS (or, for preference, a De Lorean) there’s not a lot we can do about that. What has happened has happened. We, as a species exist for the now and for tomorrow. We can’t change what has been and why should we?

This is why. Because we are also a species of dreamers and we have been gifted with something extraordinary. Something unique. Something that those embedded in the world of fact can sometimes lose sight of. We are storytellers. From the Viking skalds through to the parent sat reading a nursery rhyme to their infant child, we tell one another stories. We invoke fear, excitement, pleasure, laughter, tears with the written fictional word and to be able to read and write stories is a remarkable gift. I wonder if Mr. Evans reads fiction? I do hope that he does, although from the terse nature of his article (interesting and relevant as it is), I would think that if he does, he avoids the ‘historical fiction’ shelf in his bookshop. For my money, that’s his loss.

To spend hours or even a lifetime debating in earnest fashion the ‘what if’ scenarios outline by Evans in his article seems to me to be bordering on the wistful and in that, I see eye to eye with the author. But yet I disagree that ‘counterfactuals’ aren’t any real use at all. They encourage a deeper understanding of the historical events that surround an outcome. If you can take someone with only a passing interest in an event that changed the world – let’s say the first world war – and ask them what the world might have been like if xx had or had not happened, there’s a good chance they might go away and learn more about the actual facts. In that, you educate people. They learn. They gain interest. And that is a wonderful, extraordinary thing.

But at the same time, it’s human nature to have regret. It’s in our psychological make-up to wonder how things might have been different if we had only taken the other route to work the morning of that car crash, for example.

History is a living thing. We create history every day. It may not be earth-changing or world-shattering, but every action has a consequence. If you were to stop and consider all the actual possibilities of an action, you’d never do anything for fear of heading down the wrong pathway. 

There are so many theories on this, the most well documented being that for every decision we make, the alternative decisions are played out in parallel dimensions. That somewhere, there exists another you who decided to actually sit down and revise for that exam actually then went on to university, then became the world’s expert on your chosen subject. Owns a beach house in the Caribbean. Drives a Lotus Elise.

Man. I hate that version of me.

Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising is speculative, what-if historical fiction with a twist. It has fantasy elements thrown in. There is magic. There are demons. There are most definitely consequences for actions. It is not in any way meant to be an academic study of ‘what would have happened if Richard III had won at Bosworth’ but it sure as hell makes me wonder.

Is that so very wrong? I don’t think it is.

Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising will be published in paperback and ebook in North America on May 27th and in the UK and Ireland on 5th June.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

It's all going a little 'Dicky the Third' down at Abaddon Towers...

Author Sarah Cawkwell recently wrote a piece for the Abaddon blog about her forthcoming new novel, Heirs of the Demon King, which is set in an England where Richard III didn't die at Bosworth Field and instead founded dark and despotic dynasty that rules the nation with terror and magic...

Someone else connected with Abaddon also spent the weekend proving that you can't keep a good king (bad king, shurely? - Ed.) down - Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley!

Those who've heard of Jason before will know that he enjoys donning armour, getting onto a horse, and galloping at a similarly attired gent with a long stick in his hand - but it turns out he also does a mean impression of the last King of the Plantagenets:

Here's some video of him charging around like a madman and no doubt we'll see the fruits of his battle-hardened labour soon.

You can keep up (if you dare) with Jason on his Twitter feed, plus Heirs of the Demon King is out in June and can be pre-ordered through Amazon in the UK and North America.

Monday, 24 March 2014

What Happens When Kings Don’t Die: Sarah Cawkwell on an England where Richard III won

We know now that long after the last Plantagenet king of England, Richard III, fatally came second at the Battle of Bosworth Field his body found itself unceremoniously lying beneath a car-park in Leicester.

But what would England look like if Shakespeare's favourite bad guy had won instead?

In June, Abaddon is launching a brand new historical fantasy series from an up and coming author: Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising is a thrilling alternative history by Sarah Cawkwell set in a world filled with magic and where, instead of the famous Tudor monarchs, there is an unconquered line of kings stemming from a victorious Richard III.

Sarah, who has previously written Warhammer novels, now brings her sense of history and visceral action to this fantastical re-imagining of the 16th Century. And we asked her to put together a few words to explain the series and what it's like resurrecting one of the most controversial Royal dynasties in English history...

What Happens When
Kings Don’t Die

When I was asked to consider an ‘alternative history-coupled with fantasy’ story, it took me about eleven seconds to decide whereabouts in history I would start.

A million years ago, when I was infinitely younger and certainly more impressionable, I went on a week’s holiday with my then-boyfriend to a remote little cottage somewhere in Scotland. Beautiful place it was: lovely walks, great fishing (for him), nice local pub (for me), no television and a shelf full of books that I could read whilst curled up beside a crackling log fire.

Amongst these books was the novelisation of a television series called The Devil’s Crown. I picked it up with vague disinterest and started reading it. By the end, I was in love with the Plantagenet family and this depiction of them. I can honestly say that returning that wonderful book to the shelf was the most heartbreaking separation from a book I can remember. I then started reading more and more about the Plantagenet family and find their legacy to be fascinating reading.

King Henry the Second was a true warrior king, a man who, whenever he saw something he wanted, would smack his hand down on a table, shout, ‘I WANT THIS THING!’, then go out and take it. I would put money down that he never once said ‘could you please pass the salt’.

This sense of self-entitlement also guaranteed him his wife, the remarkable Eleanor of Aquitaine, possibly amongst the most interesting and powerful women ever to feature in England’s history - and the mother of some of the most remarkable monarchs this country has ever seen.

Henry certainly did not suffer fools gladly and he was allegedly massively unpopular as a king. Yet in that novel, he became a sympathetic anti-hero. I’m a sucker for those.

Historical fiction is a delightful area of genre: accounts can be written that paint images of people who often exist only in dry, dusty history books, or as caricatures of their time. For example, the Bard immortalised Richard the Third as a tyrannical, hunch-backed monstrosity: others have argued that this is a great disservice to the long-dead king. History, so they say, is written by the winners and the losers are confined to pages where they are lampooned and ridiculed.

The Battle of Bosworth Field has been prominent in the news over the last couple of years due to the remains of King Richard the Third having been formally identified. Of all places for the last descendant of a great warrior king to be found, beneath layers of car park Tarmac in Leicestershire is probably one of the least dignified.

Richard the Third has perpetually been labelled as a nominal ‘bad guy’. That seemed like an interesting place to start.

What if, I hypothesised, Richard the Third beat Henry Tudor into a pulp on that August day in Leicestershire? What would have happened to England if he had reigned for more than the twenty-six months he did?

But even that was not the true point of divergence for this story. It would have been easy enough to re-write human history based on a Plantagenet victory that day and indeed, this is where Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising opens. But the story goes back further than that. What is it that gave Richard the strength to overcome on the battlefield?

For the answer to that, we look further back in history. We visit King Richard, the Lionheart, a man who is variously portrayed as either Sean Connery, or a shining beacon of English leadership (although many historians claim he didn't speak a word of English and preferred to live in Aquitaine rather than the country over which he ruled). The Devil’s Crown portrayed Richard in a very unsympathetic light which I feel was remarkably brave.

I went with the middle ground. King Richard the First returns from the Holy Land and the Crusades with a gift for the people of his country. He brings with him the gift of true magic: a mastery of the elements and weaving of spells and incantations that bring power and prosperity to his small island. The people of England embrace this gift and the country flourishes. The spread of magic across the known world brings an era of harmony.

You know it can’t possibly last. Let any power fall into the wrong hands and it will inevitably become a warped and twisted terrible thing. So once the ‘wrong’ people start using the gift, magic slowly pollutes the country and becomes something to be feared and banished, no longer to be embraced.

By the time King Richard the Third, the last of the Plantagenets takes to the battlefield at Bosworth, the monarchy is broken and England is a place torn apart by tyranny and war. Bosworth is the last hope for Richard and in order to perpetuate his line, he must  call upon the powers with whom his distant ancestor bargained and make a deal of his own.

For every bargain made, there is a price to be paid. Richard’s greed and lust for victory condemns his ancestors to a nightmare.

But eventually the time comes when someone has to make a stand and Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising brings together a number of unlikely individuals whose stories and journeys race towards a final, fateful showdown at dawn on the day of the Winter Solstice…

Heirs of the Demon King is out in June and can be pre-ordered through Amazon in the UK and North America.

About the author

Sarah Cawkwell is an English author based in the North East. Old enough to know better, she’s still young enough not to care. Married, with a son and two intellectually challenged cats, she’s been a writer for many years, contributing to the Warhammer universe. When not slaving away over a hot keyboard, Sarah’s hobbies include reading everything and anything, and running around in fields with swords screaming incomprehensibly. Her minimum bribe level is one chocolate orange.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

370km up and nowhere to run: Malcolm Cross on space station horror story Orbital Decay

Imagine being trapped in a tin can moving at five miles per second with unspeakable terrors inside and nothing but pitiless vacuum outside. That's the horrific situation facing the astronauts of the International Space Station in the brand new ebook from Abaddon Books - Orbital Decay.

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

He's always seen ghosts ... but they've never offered him a job before.

Dead Stop
by Mark Clapham

The latest ebook exclusive release from Abaddon Books

ISBN (Mobi): 9781849975353  ISBN (Epub): 9781849975346

In 2012, we put out an open call for submissions from Abaddon Books and this month sees the release of the first e-novella from one of the authors who answered our call!

The new digital exclusive from Abaddon Books is Dead Stop – a chilling new Tomes of the Dead novella from Doctor Who and Warhammer 40,000 writer Mark Clapham.

David Larkin can see ghosts. It’s a blessing – or a curse – that’s been part of his life since his eleventh birthday. It’s not much use to him, and he mostly just tries to ignore them and get on with life, travelling around and keeping to out of the way places where not too many people have died.

Until the ghost of Melissa appears to him, in a forgettable truck-stop diner on a highway in the American Midwest, warning him about the flood of zombies heading his way. Melissa offers him a deal: she’ll help David escape the zombie horde – in exchange for finding her zombified body and destroying it...

Dead Stop is available through the Rebellion online store as well as on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and all good online retailers.

About the author

Mark Clapham has been writing professionally for 15 years, which probably counts as a career. He has written novels for the Warhammer 40,000 and Doctor Who book ranges, and lots of other things that you can find out about at the modestly named He lives in Exeter with his wife, the writer Mags L Halliday, and his daughter, but prefers to vacation in Raccoon City.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Chuck Wendig’s 'Gods and Monsters' series for Abaddon to continue with 'Myth Breaker'

Abaddon is very proud to announce the next title in the Gods and Monsters series, created by genre superstar author Chuck Wendig.

Gods and Monsters: Myth Breaker by Stephen Blackmoore will be the second novel in the series and will be published in December 2014.

Wendig imagined a brand new world for Abaddon Books last year, in which gods and goddesses are real and fight one another for mankind’s belief and devotion. But when one god drove all others out of Heaven, it was back to the bad old days of cults and sycophants, and the terrible retribution the gods visit on those who spite them. Gods and Monsters: Myth Breaker continues the story of humanity pitted against both the natural and the supernatural in a world of violence and faith.

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.

Chuck said: “Stephen Blackmoore is the exceedingly worthy heir to the Gods and Monsters throne, and unto him I bequeath my crown, my sword, my whiskey bottle (it’s empty, sorry), my robot butler, my monkey butler, and what’s left of the ragged cheesecloth that is my soul. COURAGE TO HIM.”

The first people the gods stopped talking to, back in the day, were the Chroniclers: people who were touched by the divine. Prophets and storytellers; Moses, Homer, Hesiod. Chroniclers don't just tell the stories, they make people believe. And when the gods don’t keep up that connection, they go mad.

Growing up an orphan, Louie Fitzsimmons always had conversations with “invisible friends,” could see patterns in the world that no one else could see. He suffered bouts of mania and depression, but with a regimen of drugs and therapy he grew out of it as a teenager.  When he was thirteen, he ran away from the orphanage and got in with organized crime as a drug runner, skimming the pharmaceuticals he sold to keep his visions at bay. Now, thirty-five years old and burnt out, Louie’s had enough. With access to the mob's finances, he plans to go out in a big way.

Only he can't. Things are conspiring against him: a broken down car, a missed flight. It's bad enough being hunted by the mob, but the gods – kicked out of the Heavens, stuck on Earth without worshippers – need someone who can tell their stories, get the word out, and they aren’t letting him go. And there are new gods on the scene, gods of finance and technology, who want him too.

Caught between the mob and two sets of rival gods, Louie hatches a plan that will probably get him killed. If his powers can make the gods, there's no reason he can't break them...

The critics on Gods and Monsters: Unclean Spirits:

“The style is gonzo and rapid-fire, with bizarre imagery and flashes of violence and the grotesque.”

“The tone, the pacing, the characters, all of it, and honestly, this story is just plain fun. Dark, sometimes horribly creepy, but fun.”
Fantasy Book Critic

“… full of stark realities dragged through gutter-filled dreams ...
Even now I cannot seem to shake this novel free.”
SF Signal

Thursday, 9 January 2014

"Braaaaaaaaaains!" Or how to go back in time and make a zombie book cover...

Now out in ebook and on Amazon (or available as a paperback and ebook in North America), The Secret Zombie History of the World is a collection of three nerve-rending novels about famous zombie outbreaks of the past thousand years.

... or they would be famous, if they hadn't been suppressed by the authorities. Luckily, thanks to publishing these important stories as 'novels' rather than exposés, we've been able to get the truth out - that mankind has come closer than we realise to succumbing to the zombie apocalypse.

Toby Venables, Paul Finch, and Matthew Sprange have all bravely turned fact into fiction, lest They take notice and shut us down. Such brave warriors for the truth!

But to complete the illusion, we needed a cover; one that would accurately reveal the horrors contained within. And to make those horrors a reality, we naturally turned to our PR guy, Mike.

Mike dresses up at weekends. Mostly as a Roundhead but he has previously been spotted as a rather portly Judge Dredd and a beggar. (how would we tell that that was a disguise? - Ed.) One day in the office, this slightly unwell history obsessive declared that along with two of his 'friends' (shome mishtake, shurely? - Ed.) he was going to put the history into the hysterical (or possibly the other way around - Ed.) and provide our cover designer with some "authentic" images on which to base the cover... He was last seen clanking off into the distance with a determined look on his face (first and last time - Ed.)

Ed! Do you mind?! >:(

Anyway, along with his mates David Eliot Cooper and Rob Temple of Histrionics he found a spot in the grounds of Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds to get some shots of the three 'ages' in which the novels of tSZHotW are set: Vikings, Medieval, and Napoleonic.

These are the results...

Oh dear...

And lo. These images, SOMEHOW, were turned into this rather lovely book cover by the wonderous Pye Parr.

So now you know.

Reports that the participants have now disappeared after being bundled into cars by men in black suits and sunglasses have not yet been confirmed...

Monday, 2 December 2013

Ditch the pound shop Advent calendar - the Abaddon and Solaris daily December deals are here!

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

The "Literally" Thing

Hey, yo!

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.)

But wait!

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.

You're welcome.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Ritual Crime Unit OUT NOW!

Hey all,

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.


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

Save Lincs Libraries!

Hey all,

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 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 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

World Fantasy Con Report, Day One

Wotcher all,

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

The Secret Zombie History of the World
by Paul Finch, Matthew
Sprange & Toby Venables

Coming to life on 10th Dec
in paperback (US & Can)
and ebook (worldwide)

$12.99/$14.99 ISBN 978-1-78108-160-0

Northern Europe, 976 AD: a Viking crew find themselves in a bleak land of pestilence, where the dead return as draugr to feed on the flesh of their kin and a dark castle in a hidden fjord hides a terrible secret.

Britain, 1295 AD: A young English knight joins a force sent to capture a castle from Welsh rebels, but druids summon an army of the undead, bent on revenge. Will the stronghold – once thought impregnable – hold out?

The Cape of Good Hope, the 1820s: Captain Havelock discovers his ship and the French frigate he has been ordered to hunt down are not alone as an enemy thought long since vanquished rises from the deeps...

This is The Secret Zombie History of the World – an omnibus of historical zombie stories, released in this new format for the North American market, that reveals the outbreaks that have plagued mankind for hundreds of years. From Viking ‘draugr’ to the medieval undead and Napoleonic corpses, this trio of tales from the popular Tomes of the Dead series will keep you awake at night wondering just how close humanity has come to joining the hordes of the infected!

Toby Venables, Matthew Sprange, and Paul Finch each weave historical fact into thrilling tales of rotting revenants and cutthroat cadavers!

About the Series
Rotten bone and raddled flesh, shuffling perils and moaning menaces – Tomes of the Dead re-imagines the zombie genre not as an endless retread of the same tired themes, but as a prism crack’d, exploring the gut-churning, flesh-biting world of the shambling dead from new, different and unexpected directions!

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



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

The Abaddon/Solaris signing schedule for next week's World Fantasy con is now up!

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:

Lou Morgan
Jonathan Green
Steve Rasnic Tem
Guy Adams
Jonathan Strahan
Jan Siegel (Amanda Hemingway)
Paul Kane
Clifford Beal
Gareth L. Powell

Geoffrey Gudgion
James Lovegrove
Ian Whates
Gaie Sebold
Simon Bestwick
Ben Jeapes

We're looking forward to it - hope to see you there!