Month: April 2010

Solaris HQ Visit

I popped over to Solaris HQ last Friday to meet the editorial team and record a podcast interview and a reading.  They inhabit a building which, from the outside, looks just like a large warehouse-like building on an industrial estate in west Oxford.  Ah, but when you get inside…

Well, the huge statue of Judge Dredd versus Judge Death in the lobby gives you a pretty big hint that this is no ordinary place.  And then there’s the vast open-plan room full of dozens of workstations where dozens of computer programmers are beavering away on video games for Rebellion.  And in one corner of this hive of industry there’s the Solaris den, where Jon, Jenni, Ben and David lurk, plotting their nefarious schemes.

I cast pods with David in a soundproofed booth for about half an hour — some fascinating questions, and he’d really done his homework — and then recorded a chapter of The Age Of Zeus.  It’ll all be up on the Solaris website at some point, and I’ll let you know when it is so you can have a listen yourself.  The reading was quite hard work but I enjoyed it.  I did, however, chicken out on doing the accents for the American and Australian characters.  Personally I think I’m pretty good at accents but my wife assures me that I’m not and that every time I try it ends up sounding like I’m trying to impersonate an Asian-born Welshman.

I suppose the trick would be to write an Asian-born Welshman into the next novel.  Then I’d be quids in.

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Age Of Zeus Reviews Part 2

Couple more very positive notices for Zeus

First there’s this courtesy of Fantasy Book Critic’s Liviu Siciu, who raved so wholeheartedly about Ra last year.  Let me extract from it just one pertinent paragraph out of many: “And the action is just unbelievably good, keeping the reader on his/her edge of the seat so to speak; the monster hunts and later the direct fights with the Gods are the highlights of the book, while the humor and the jibes balance the tension well – though the explicit titles of mythporn movies that are used as cover against the all-seeing Argus who is now the ‘global moderator’ of the world are not for the easily offended.”

And then we have this, courtesy of Detra Finch.  If I may quote the actual review segment of it in its entirety: “***** FIVE STARS! A brilliant combination of modern warfare and Greek mythology. Though the synopsis has the sound of Fantasy, believe me when I say this is Science Fiction. One must read the entire story to fully understand my meaning. Author James Lovegrove’s writing style is intense. His plot is creative, impressive, and could almost be called noble – no matter which side of the battle line the reader may mentally stand on. Lovegrove is on his way to greatness.”

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BSFA Survey

Just received a copy of the BSFA’s British Science Fiction & Fantasy Survey.  Edited by Paul Kincaid and Niall Harrison, it’s a fascinating and compendious overview of the state of the genre in this country, or rather overviews plural, because it consists of a survey conducted in 1989 as well as one conducted last year.  I took part in the latter, and although I’ve yet to identify where any of my comments appear in the book, I’m sure some do somewhere and I’m sure they’re typically wise and insightful.  Everyone else’s seem to be, at any rate.

What is surprising is that, when I checked my biographical details in the back, I discovered that it mentions Untied Kingdom being shortlisted for the 2004 John W. Campbell Memorial Award.  Why is this surprising?


Not an inkling.  Not the smallest clue.

Nobody told me at the time.  Nobody told me afterwards.  Not one single person saw fit to think that I might be interested to know this flattering and encouraging fact.  The publisher didn’t stick it anywhere on the paperback cover.  I was, until this week, completely ignorant of it.

There are lots of things I could say about this, but I’ll confine it to a simple “tchoh” accompanied by a resigned roll of the eyes.

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Age Of Zeus Reviews

The first couple of reviews of The Age Of Zeus have emerged, and here are the links: The Hub (you’ll need to scroll about two thirds of the way down) and Total Sci-Fi.  Both are cockle-warmingly positive.  In Total Sci-Fi, Den Patrick describes the book as “a good, enjoyable romp with plenty of bang for its buck” and “a fun read that doesn’t get bogged down with technology or lengthy paragraphs of exposition”.  Which is pretty much what I intended.

In The Hub, meanwhile, Martin Willoughby praises the book’s humour, saying, “There were some points where I giggled out loud. Humour isn’t the main selling point of this book, but there is enough of it, not always of the gallows variety, to give the story the occasional lift and add a touch more human-like reality to the characters.”  And he concludes, “This is one of those books that I have no regrets about reading […] a fine book, a thumping good read and well worth the money”.  Although, oddly, and rather aggravatingly, this comment appears only in the pdf version of the magazine, not in the online edition where the last three paragraphs of the review, the ones that carry most of the thumbs-up stuff, seem to have been left out.  Harrumph!

Mr Willoughby does raise an issue which I feel duty-bound to address here.  “There is also one thing that troubles me,” he says.  “About halfway into the book, there is a reference to the World Trade Centre and the twin towers. Given that this book was written at some point in the last 18 months and it is not set in the past, why was that left in? It’s a small point, but I wonder how many readers will come to that point and flinch.”

The reason the Twin Towers are still standing is simple.  The Olympians have been in charge of things for a decade.  In that time they’ve stopped all wars and eradicated all known terrorists.  And who was responsible for the September 11th attacks?  Terrorists.  I didn’t feel the need to spell this out  in the novel.  In fact, I thought the World Trade Center reference was a rather splendid way of doing it by stealth.  The chapter set in the Middle East also makes the point when it details how hard a time Islamist extremists have been having since the Olympians took over.

Hey-ho.  It’s still a stonking review, though.

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