Brian Ruckley's News & Views

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Winterbirth Going International

Just in case any non-Brits are visiting (and very welcome you are, if so), it might be worth mentioning that there are to be translations of Winterbirth. Dutch, German, Russian, Polish and Romanian editions are in the works so far - exciting stuff for your average first-time author who thought just trying to get a UK publishing deal was being optimistic!

The first to see the light of day is likely to be the Dutch edition from M, scheduled for around April 2007. Current plans are for the German edition, from Piper, to hit the shelves in Autumn 2007. I am in awe, by the way, of those who have the skills to translate a novel. Being functionally illiterate in any language but English myself, their abilities seem almost magical to me.

And for anyone toying with the idea of buying the good old-fashioned English language version of Winterbirth, a reminder that if you contact Transreal Fiction they can sell you a signed (and optionally personalised!) copy, as reported in this post. It may be an enormously valuable heirloom one day. Or a handy signed doorstop. Never know when you might need one of those.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Torchwood

The first two episodes of Doctor Who's 'adult' spinoff Torchwood: Not too bad, I suppose (am I the only one who thinks alien sex vampires are a bit dull?), but got to admit I was - probably foolishly - hoping it would be brilliant. And it wasn't, really. I can't help but think it's actually a kids' show with an 'adult' skin grafted onto it. People get messily killed, there's plenty of inter- and intra-gender mouth-on-mouth action, even some bonking. But all that's just the bodywork; the chassis and engine underneath don't feel quite so grown-up. The pacing of each episode's pretty much flat-out, the plotting seems a bit reliant on people behaving like complete idiots and the characters talk and behave like unruly teenagers half the time (characteristics it shares with Spooks - a show that in the last couple of seasons seems to have given up all pretence of realism and turned into a live action cartoon, if you ask me. Which you didn't.)

Basically, it's Dr. Who with added sex and violence, which I suppose does make it an adult show, in the post-watershed kind of sense. It's got potential, so I'll give it another episode or two to really win me over. Makes me kind of miss Strange and Ultraviolet, though: brief UK efforts to do sf/f/h for grown-ups. In my possibly rose-tinted memory glasses, they both had a darker tone, a slightly more measured approach to cranking up the tension and characters who talked and behaved like adults engaged in at least vaguely serious business. Both disappeared from our screens very quickly. Not enough of us liked them, evidently. Which just goes to show ... something. That my attention span's too long, probably. Or that I'm just a grumpy old man (already? How did that happen?).

Monday, October 23, 2006

Signed Copies - an Update

So ... I said a few days ago that there were only two ways to get my signature in a copy of Winterbirth:

(a) ask Orbit to send you a signed bookplate thingy for insertion into your copy, and

(b) search the bookshops of Edinburgh for the signed copies that most of them have (or certainly did have a week or two ago).

Well, now there's a third rather more user-friendly option that works even for those who don't live anywhere near Edinburgh: contact Transreal Fiction, Edinburgh's specialist sf/f bookshop, and they will be happy to sell and post you a signed copy. There might be ever so slight a delay, since I will have to actually pop in there to sign the thing, but it'll only be a few days. A (very simple!) personal dedication or inscription should be possible if you ask for it.

I believe Anderida Books, a specialist seller of signed first edition books of all kinds, also has a few signed copies in stock at the moment, or will do very soon (as well as whole host of other tempting offerings for the discerning book collector).

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

More Gazetteering

A bit of background info on the Inkallim, a group with a key role in the story of Winterbirth, has been added to the Gazetteer page.

And, in other news, this guy likes Winterbirth. Which is nice.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Future of the Human Species

Can't resist pointing this out: apparently we're all going to be either elves or goblins in 100,000 years time. It's been suggested to me that this makes you wonder if the guy who did this study played a bit too much Dungeons & Dragons when he was younger. Equally, it makes you wonder if he shouldn't be reading a bit more science fiction now. All science is speculative fiction when it comes to the far distant future of the human species, but this strikes me as a particularly dull, unimaginative version. Do we seriously think that 100,000 years from now (that'll be, oh, about 333 times as far into the future as the very first industrial steam engines are now in the past) the most dramatic changes in humanity are going to be that half of us are tall, pretty and bright and the other half are squat, ugly and dim? My money's on something a bit more drastic having happened by then. Maybe we'll all be disembodied minds living in elaborate tin cans, or genetically over-engineered 250-year-olds with too much time on our hands, or spindly giants trotting around a terraformed Mars. Or extinct, of course. To be honest, if this really is what the best of us are going to look like in the future, extinction doesn't seem such a totally bad idea.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Fabulous Fungus

I freely admit to having no excuse for this post other than that I like the photos - but I'm allowed a random, dumb post every now and again, right? Right? Anyway, at the risk (probably a 100% guaranteed kind of risk) of sounding odd, I like fungi.


Maybe it's a failure of imagination on my part, but I struggle to see how anyone could not find this stuff - found covering the stump of a felled tree - at least mildly appealing. I mean - check out the colours, the texture, the curves. Nature really deserves to win the Turner Prize one year. I'd rather look at this stuff than pretty much every arty video installation I've ever seen. Which isn't a huge number, admittedly.


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Friday, October 13, 2006

A Tentative Schedule, Signed Copies, Vicious Books

Got a couple of questions via the website, the answers to which may be of wider interest, so:

When are the second and third books in the trilogy going to be published? The plan is for a roughly annual schedule, so Book 2 should be out late 2007, Book 3 late 2008. Plans are fragile things of course, but that's the one in place unless and until something changes. Titles are to be confirmed - I think I know what Book 2's called, but at the moment I've got title block over Book 3 ...

How can I get a signed copy? I'm afraid for the time being there are only two ways, and one of them's relevant only to a few readers. The first is to contact Orbit ( Orbit(at)littlebrown(dot)co(dot)uk with the (at) and (dot)s replaced as appropriate, of course ), and ask them to send you a signed bookplate that you can put into the copy you've already bought. The second applies only to those geographically fortunate enough to live within easy reach of Edinburgh: most of the bigger bookshops have signed hardbacks for sale (unless they've improbably sold them all already).

And finally ... got my first report of Winterbirth-induced bloodshed: "In an incident as freakish as it was dramatic, at 6am this morning I managed (in my sleep) to knock my newly acquired hardback copy off the shelf above my head and deliver a gash to the forehead ... Luckily I wasn't blinded but I think I will gain a black eye." Obviously I regret any pain and suffering caused, though a little bit of collateral damage is probably inevitable in the cutthroat world of publishing. And it does seem strangely appropriate, given the not-unbloody cover art.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

In the Nooze

Nice review of Winterbirth in The Times over the weekend, which was particularly pleasing because it's comparatively - and given that The Guardian has dropped its similar sf/f review column, perhaps increasingly - rare for the genre to get even this kind of quite brief mention in the 'quality' press. I can't get that worked up about this low level of coverage - newspapers have no duty or responsibility to cover anything they don't want to, and plenty of other 'genres' don't get drastically better treatment - but I am mildly curious about the reasoning behind it. As a wholly uninformed guess, I imagine it's to do with some or all of the following:

(a) a belief that newspaper readers aren't interested enough in sf/f to justify the column inches

(b) an assumption that sf/f readers only read sf/f, and will therefore look to more specialist outlets for info on new releases

(c) a belief that sf/f books automatically don't have enough substance to merit more extensive coverage

(d) a personal lack of interest in the genre amongst those who commission the reviews

Others will know far better than me whether there's any truth in this, but from a personal point of view, while I suspect there might be a grain of truth to (a) and (b), I've actually found sf/f readers to quite often be rather diverse in their reading taste and habits, up to and including newspapers! With that as a rather feeble excuse, I offer a random selection of recentish newspaper stories that I found interesting in one way or another:

From the footballing frontline: pigs seen sprouting wings. I'm still in a kind of delighted shock about this.

We're all toast by the end of the century.

The latest 'but is it art?' installation to grace Tate Modern's fantastic turbine hall. It sounds great to me - wish I could go and see it.

How much is a load of people showing each other short videos worth? $1.6bn, apparently.

Is this the price of investigative journalism in Russia?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Gazetteering

We (that's me and my esteemed webguy) have added a new section to the website, called 'Gazetteer'. It's a cupboard into which we'll cram various odds and ends relating to the Godless World trilogy. To start things off, there are the maps that appear in Winterbirth and a little background info on the Five Races of the world. More stuff will follow in due course. You can check it out here.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Busy Skies (with sound effects!)

This is a bit of an aside, but never mind - I'm my own editor here, and a lax one at that. It's been a busy, autumnal couple of days overhead: skeins of geese, honking along in high altitude Vs; a big flock of lapwings paddling across the sky.

And a visit from one of the great success stories amongst Britain's wild birds. Buzzards put in an appearance here fairly regularly, even though we're on the edge of a pretty big urban area, and every time I see or hear one it's one of life's little pleasures. The buzzard's voice is fantastic, the stuff of wild lands (and available for your listening pleasure here). When I was a kid, I didn't see buzzards very often. A 20th century cocktail of persecution, not enough rabbits to eat (bad stuff, that myxomatosis) and toxic pesticides had hammered the population. Nowadays all those problems are, to some extent, reduced. Result: buzzard population explosion, especially in the last ten or fifteen years. They've been breeding like ... well, rabbits, and are now close to being the UK's commonest bird of prey, if they're not there already. And if that means I get to hear them over my garden, I'm glad.

Go on, listen again. It's cool - a little bit of wilderness on your PC.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Real Books

Winterbirth has finally completed its long transformation from soup-of-vague-ideas to real live book. It has now entered both hardback and trade paperback bookhood. One or other, or both, may well be available in a bookshop near you right now at, of course, a very reasonable price. I think they're pretty.

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