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About Adam

Adam Roberts is the author of a growing number of science fiction novels, short stories, essays and other writings. This site contains not just his blog, but everything you could ever want to know about everything Adam has ever published. And more...

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Welcome to www.AdamRoberts.com

This is www.adamroberts.com, official homepage of British science fiction writer Adam Roberts. Please use the links in the menu bar above if you're here to find out more about Adam's published books to-date, or more about Adam himself, or if you want to get in touch with Adam.

Or, if you're here to see what Adam's been up to recently, just keep reading:

Latest News

SFX reviews “Thumb”

By Adam Roberts | August 15, 2018
Categories: Reviews

Click to embiggen.

3 Comments to-date;

Final cover layout for “The Black Prince”

By Adam Roberts | August 1, 2018
Categories: Book News

I'm absolutely delighted with this, which is a thing of beauty and a joy forever: gorgeous Jeffrey Alan Love art, generous blurb from Francis Spufford, Big Wilson and Little Ad. Click to embiggen!

1 Comment so far

Minigraph

By Adam Roberts | June 8, 2018
Categories: Book News

I was asked to contribute a 'minigraph' (which is what the cool kids of academic publishing call a 20-30k-word monograph) to CUP's new Cambridge Elements Series: “A new series of research-focused collections of minigraphs on aspects of Publishing and Book Culture.” So I did.

You can find more about the Elements series here:

This new series aims to fill the demand for easily accessible, quality texts available for teaching and research in the diverse and dynamic fields of Publishing and Book Culture. Rigorously researched and peer-reviewed minigraphs will be published under themes, or 'Gatherings'.

I'm not sure when my vol is due out (later this year, I think) but Cambridge have now sent me the cover art, above. Brown and understated, which I quite like. Publishing and the Science Fiction Canon looks at the step-changes in the technologies of book and magazine publishing and distribution, and the connected explosion in literacy rates, that occurred at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th-century (I focus mostly on the UK and France) in order to make a particular argument about the science fiction of the period. Something remarkable happens to SF around the time of the Verne-Wells 'scientific romance' boom, I think. For centuries science fiction had been an interesting but small-scale aspect of a larger cultural context; but from roughly the 1870s-80s through to the 1930s it expanded hugely in terms of cultural production and popular appeal, growth that set the genre on its path to becoming what it is today, a massive and global popular culture. Exactly what did happen back then is a large question, and I try to unpack one aspect of it by reading key works in the context of the techologies of their material production and distribution. At any rate, it's one of the things I've been doing during my research leave.

No Comments Yet - Please feel free

FRSL

By Adam Roberts | June 5, 2018
Categories: Book News

Yesterday evening I was one of the latest batch of Fellows elected to the Royal Society of Literature. We all gathered in a venue in Bloomsbury, with existing Fellows and friends and family, for the induction process. The Society's President, Marina Warner, made a speech, and one by one we went on stage and signed the RSL's big book—the same one that they've used since the Society's creation, by George IV, in 1820. To sign our name we were offered the choice of: Byron's quill, George Eliot's quill, or T S Eliot's fountain pen. I chose the last of these. Above you can see my signature, top right; middle-left is that of my friend (and amazing writer) Frances Hardinge, just above Anthony Horowitz. So: my name, in the book itself! Blimey.

Amongst the other inductees were two friends and colleagues from the RHUL Creative Writing department, Nikita Lalwani and Ben Markovits. Royal Holloway Creative Writing is a subset of the English Department and not a large outfit as these things go nationally; but since our colleagues Jo Shapcott and Lavinia Greenlaw are already Fellows our small department is now home to five FRSLs. That's unmatched and, I think, unprecedented anywhere in the country.

Being made a Fellow gives me the right to add the letters FRSL after my name, and to take part as much or as little as I wish in the Society's various outreach and literary activities (I think I'll aim for the more rather than the less, so far as I'm able). It is, I hardly need to say, an immense and indeed rather staggering honour, wholly unexpected on my part, and just as wholly delightful and wonderful. As I sat and looked at the calibre of the writers around me being inducted, and reminded myself I was joining a select group that included my beloved Samuel Taylor Coleridge, not to mention Tolkien, Yeats, Kipling, Hardy, Shaw and Chinua Achebe (and amongst the living: Margaret Atwood, David Hare, Kazuo Ishiguro, Hilary Mantel, Paul Muldoon, Zadie Smith, Nadeem Aslam, Sarah Waters and J. K. Rowling) I found it, simply, hard to believe. And yet here we are. Honoured and humbled doesn't begin to cover it.

4 Comments to-date;

Aftermath

By Adam Roberts | June 1, 2018
Categories: Book News

So it seems this is now all official and out-in-the-open. Dave Hutchinson, a writer I admire enormously (and I'm pleased to say, a friend) and I have been collaborating on a series of books for Rebellion. This is "The Aftermath" set a century or so after a massive meteor shower wrecked civilisation, as communities slowly struggle out of basic survival into rebuilding something more sustainable. Dave wrote the first volume, Shelter (available 12 June 2018, don't you know); and I've written vol 2, Haven, pictured above. I'll give you more information as and when Rebellion say I'm allowed ...

4 Comments to-date;

“By The Pricking of Her Thumb” Cover Re-Reveal!

By Adam Roberts | May 24, 2018
Categories: Book News

Here's Blacksheep's Thumb cover again, this time with one less typo! This is the one that will go out to the world.

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“By The Pricking Of Her Thumb” Cover Reveal

By Adam Roberts | May 19, 2018
Categories: Book News

The designers and artists at the mighty Blacksheep studio have, once again, done me proud. That's the cover to the sequel to Real-Town Murders: also set in future-Reading, another impossible murder for Alma to investigate, this time parsing Kubrick rather than Hitchcock. Now: I know I never write sequels, that I do something new each time I publish a novel. But it occurred to me that, never having written a sequel to any of my books, writing a sequel to one of my books would be doing something new. In this manner I aim to keep one step ahead of myself, going forward.

6 Comments to-date;

Verdadeira!

By Adam Roberts | May 17, 2018
Categories: Book News

The Portuguese translation of my History of Science Fiction (2nd ed 2016) is now out. I must say: I very much like that cover. Ficção Científica for the win!

2 Comments to-date;

What Does Adam Do All Day?

By Adam Roberts | May 11, 2018
Categories: Chitchat

Nice photoshop, no?

I'm a writer, so mostly What I Do All Day is write. Since the part I love most about being a writer is the actual writing, and the parts I enjoy least are all the other stuff, working through edits and doing proofs, pitching ideas and filling in my tax returns, reading swingeing reviews without collapsing in a heap, doing events and public readings and so on, this works out pretty well so far as I'm concerned. If you're thinking of becoming a writer, then I say (a) good luck! and (b) check in your heart that you actually like writing, the process of sitting down and putting words on a page, or a screen. Otherwise this profession will drive you mad. A writer is somebody who writes.

Much of my actual writing takes place in local coffee shops, because that's an environment that works for me (there are too many distractions at home: too much washing to be ironed, dishwasher-loading-and-unloading to work through, hoovering to hoover and so on). The occasional who does he think he's kidding? "working on his screenplay" yeah right glance I get from this or that fellow customer is just the icing on the cake. Mornings are mostly when I write new stuff; afternoons and evenings are when I tend to deal with admin and emails and invoices and so on, when I work on revisions and edits and do all the necessary but tedious para-gubbins. Mornings are more fun.

Yes, para-gubbins is a word. Sure. I'm a writer: I know words.

I work seven days a week; if I don't write on any given day it will only be because there are pressing eventualities compelling my abstinence. If you want, for whatever reason, to imagine me at work, then I invite you to impress the following stock-photo image for 'writer' upon your inner eye, which is the bliss of solitude. I look exactly like this. Exactly.

I am a writer but I'm not a very famous or successful one (not very successful in terms of community esteem, and more to the point not very successful financially speaking). But there are many bills to pay, kids to feed and an eye-wateringing large mortgage to service, so I have a day-job, working at the University of London teaching literature and creative writing. Writing, therefore, fills the time when university work doesn't crowd it out. At the moment I am on research leave, and writing All The Day. Next academic year my writing time will be squeezed, but I'll mountain that molehill later this year rather than right now, thank you very much. Sufficient unto the day, and so on and so forth.

One more thing I do, not on All The Days but on at least Some Of Them: I go about. This, generally, is not paid: I'm talking about readings, signings, events, talks, convention panels and so on. There's the general idea that this is 'publicity' and therefore a Sellar-Yateman-esque Good Thing in and of itself: that it leads, let's say, to enhanced sales, word-of-mouth buzz and through them to fame and respect and riches beyond the dream of Croesus. The truth, of course, is that it doesn't. Last month I did an event co-organised by Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Wolverhampton University: I went up, talked, answered questions, shook a few hands. I wasn't paid, and of the twenty or so (nice, enthusiastic) people who came to the event I guess two or three might have been inspired to buy one of my novels, which by itself won't cover the cost of the petrol I burned pootling up and down the M40. Still: nice to meet enthusiastic people. And sometimes I do these sorts of things because they are worthwhile in a general rather than a propel-Adam-onto-the-bestseller-list sense. So: I talk at schools and libraries where I can, to promote literacy and encourage kids who think they might want to be writers themselves. I have a few times gone into prisons and talked to inmates. Next Wednesday, terrifyingly enough, I'm addressing the Henley-on-Thames Women's Institute on the subject of 'storytelling'. That sort of thing. And last week I went to Vilnius and spoke to some very pleasant Lithuanian fans about Tolkien, and (the following day) about Pratchett. There was no fee there either, although the pleasant Lithuanians did at least pay my flight and accommodation. So that's something else I Do All Day, although as I get older, and less excited by the prospect of travel as such, I have, I think, come to the conclusion that I'll do less of it, going forward. Less travel will mean more time to do the main thing I want to Do All Day, which is read. And write.

Over 2018-19 I'll have less time for travel anyway, since I'll be one of the judging panel for next year's Kitschies. I'll need all the reading time I can squirrel away!

1 Comment so far

New for Spring

By Adam Roberts | May 4, 2018
Categories: Book News

The big news for Spring is that the novel I wrote out of Anthony Burgess's Black Prince screenplay, working with his idea of doing the 14th-century in the style of Dos Passos, is going to be published. Over at Unbound enough pledges have been obtained to make the book a reality (in October, I think), and there, at the head of this post, is the gorgeous Jeffrey Alan Love cover-art in which livery it will appear. I'm seriously delighted by this.

Otherwise things have been chugging along. The SF Awards season is coming to an end, with all the important prizes either awarded or shortlisted, which means I can now say that no novel or short-story I wrote during 2017 has troubled the shortlist drawer-uppers of any award. This was what I thought would happen, and although it's of course disappointing to me personally it's a matter of perfect indifference to SF as a whole (that's the third year straight this has been the state of affairs, which tells you something about where my work stands in terms of the genre's collective markers of esteem). I have some Real Town Murders sequel news to share, which I will do shortly, and one or two other things going on. But mostly, so far in 2018, I have been doing other sorts of writing, specifically (a) putting down the markers on a 'Literary Biography' of H G Wells, and (b) slowly building the argument for a scholarly monograph on Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

2 Comments to-date;

News for February

By Adam Roberts | February 10, 2018
Categories: Blogging

I've been busy. You wouldn't know it from this website, I concede; unless you were canny enough to realise that the reason updates have been so sparse lately is precisely because I've been busy. There will be more news soon, with concrete details, on books and other things; but for now I am breaking cover to record in this place that my project of reading the entire run of H G Wells's works (preparatory to me writing a Literary Biography of the man) has finally come to an end. A year, it took me, off and on. And at the other end of this link is the index to the blogposts I wrote recording my progress.

More soon.

2 Comments to-date;

Guardian reviews Real-Town

By Adam Roberts | November 3, 2017
Categories: Reviews

Link. As you can see the review fills a whole, spacious pararaph:

Never a writer to repeat himself, Adam Roberts yet again rings the changes with his 17th novel, The Real-Town Murders (Gollancz, £16.99), a fast-paced murder mystery set in a radically altered near-future Britain. With the majority of the population spending their lives in Shine, an immersive virtual reality, the country is a depopulated wasteland inhabited by exoskeletal exercise machines carrying comatose citizens. When a body is discovered in the boot of a car on an automated production line, private eye Alma is tricked into investigating the murder, soon finding herself mired in shady political shenanigans. As ever, Roberts’s use of the genre to explicate ideas – the allure of virtual reality and the consequent affectless society – is done with grace and economy, and what might have been a grim read is leavened by moments of irreverent black humour.

1 Comment so far

Interzone 272 (Sep-Oct 2017) Interview: Jo Walton

By Adam Roberts | November 3, 2017
Categories: Lit Crit, Reviews

Not that Jo Walton, though a very insightful and estimable Jo Walton nonetheless. His brief was to ask me a few questions about Real-Town, with a view to filling a page of Interzone. In the end we chatted, back and forth via email, until we had a 10,000 word dialogue. We both, I think, expected the magazine to request we trim this down to a tenth of its size, if you please, but hugely to their credit (I think) they ended up printing the whole thing, over 9 whole pages. Bravo, them!

... and so on. I won't reproduce the whole thing, or you'd have no incentive actually to buy a copy of Interzone 272. And you really should buy a copy: it's an all-round excellent magazine.

No Comments Yet - Please feel free

Morning Star reviews Real-Town

By Adam Roberts | October 10, 2017
Categories: Reviews

Click the image to embiggen, should you be so inclined. ‘Fabulously inventive and at times horrifyingly funny and action-packed.’ Can't say fairer than that.

4 Comments to-date;

Maxim Jakubowski on “Real-Town Murders”

By Adam Roberts | September 20, 2017
Categories: Reviews

This is a first for me, I think: one of my novels reviewed by the eminent crime-fiction reviewer Maxim Jakubowski at a crime fiction site Crime Time. Here's what he thinks:

Adam Roberts/THE REAL-TOWN MURDERS (Gollancz) Roberts is one of the prominent SF author of ideas (alongside another Brit, Ian Watson) and this locked room impossible mystery set in the almost future in which a body is found in the boot of a car inside a fully-automated factory where every inch is constantly under the scrutiny of CCTV, is a wonderful example of his craft and intelligence in full deployment. Alma is a private detective assigned to the case in a near future world where most of the population are in the grip of an addiction to the Shine, a web-based alternate reality in which people prefer to live, seeing that most jobs are now superfluous as computers and machines take on all of the burden. Alma has an ill partner at home in need of regular gene therapy which only Alma can provide, which badly limits her time and the distance she can put between herself, her erstwhile lover Marguerite and the actual case, which makes the fast-paced action an ersatz Hitchcockian race against time, which leaves one a tad breathless. A wonderful variation on one of my favourite crime fiction sub-genres. Gripping and ingenious.

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Burgess and the Black Prince

By Adam Roberts | August 29, 2017
Categories: Book News

In today's Independent, a good article on Burgess and my unfinished Black Prince project. Please pledge, if you can!

1 Comment so far

Alan Jacobs on “Real-Town”

By Adam Roberts | August 26, 2017
Categories: Reviews

As he notes in this detailed, generous and (of course you'd expect me to say so) perceptive essay on Real-Town Murders, Alan is a friend of mine. You may, accordingly, want to take his praise with a pinch of salt. Value judgement aside, it seems to me that he's basically right about my perversity, and I am certainly fascinated by a particular—I would say—sweet spot where pulp's kinetic verve meets the sorts of halting disintegration of language that characterise actual human discourse, that latter taste at least as old as my PhD work on Robert Browning, a poet of whom Lionel Trilling rightly said 'he was interested less in speech and more in the obstacles to speech'. But I can neither complain nor act surprised when I discover that other people don't feel the same way. Besides which, the Author Is Dead, and I'm an author, so my opinion shouldn't sway you. That said, I'm still alive enough to be genuinely grateful for Alan's kindness and frankly a little abashed by his high opinion.

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SciFi Now Reviews “Real-Town”

By Adam Roberts | August 26, 2017
Categories: Reviews

Must read now, it seems. Bear with me: there will be a couple of these over the coming weeks. Normal service will resume after that.

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Real-Town Murders: SFX review

By Adam Roberts | August 21, 2017
Categories: Book News, Reviews

My new novel, The Real-Town Murders, is officially published this coming Thursday (24th August), but already there are some reviews of it in the world. Above is what Jonathan Wright, of UK genre's premier magazine SFX, thinks of it. It's a pretty positive review, although as you can see I am docked a star for being too clever-clever (ah, how that phrase has dogged my career! Ah well.)

5 Comments to-date;

Anthony Burgess and Adam Roberts, “The Black Prince”

By Adam Roberts | June 10, 2017
Categories: Book News

I have a favour to ask.

So: Unbound are hoping to publish my collaboration with Anthony Burgess, The Black Prince. If you visit the Unbound page you'll discover more about the project: in a nutshell, I took Burgess's idea from the 1970s to write a historical novel about the Hundred Years War in the style of John Dos Passos (one of many projects the ridiculously prolific Burgess never finished), his basic structure and an unmade screenplay he wrote, and completed the novel. Just the idea that there might exist in the world, some day, a book with Burgess's name and mine on the cover fills me with an excitement it's hard to convey: so dedicated a Burgess fan-boy I am. In order to prepare for writing this project I re-read the entire run of Burgess's fiction, which only cemented for me my sense of how extraordinary and important a writer he was. I hope I have done his genius justice in finishing his idea: part of me thinks I have. At any rate it's unlike any other historical novel of which I'm aware.

For this to become a reality, though, I need anyone interested to pledge to support the project. You can do that at the Unbounders page, and if enough people do then the whole book becomes a reality. For each pledge you get a copy of the book with your name in it, additional material (depending on which pledge you opt for) and my genuine and unceasing gratitude.

5 Comments to-date;

Real Town Murders

By Adam Roberts | May 19, 2017
Categories: Book News

RTown2017

Cover reveal: book comes out 24th August. It's part locked-room puzzle-whodunit, part SF/Hitchockian thriller, and part literary-pretentious meditation on location, gender, bodies and death. So, that's three parts; but you get all three for one low, low price!

6 Comments to-date;

New Short Fiction for May

By Adam Roberts | May 10, 2017
Categories: Book News, Short Fiction

comet

A (free!) short story: 'In the Night of the Comet'.

1 Comment so far

Some Recent Reactions to “The Thing Itself”

By Adam Roberts | April 30, 2017
Categories: Reviews

TTI

Reactions to The Thing Itself continue to bubble under. On Twitter Gwilym Eades‏ called it ‘one of the best novels of any genre’ and ‘[the] Kind of book u finish reading & u want to read everything else by the author’, and added a link to his blogpost discussing the novel; and Philip Christman has reviewed the novel very generously for the Christian Courier, saying it ‘provides all the thrills of an airport-bookstore read, and a universe besides’. Particularly gratifying for me is that he also says the book ‘provokes some important questions’, in particular: ‘is the God of Kant also the God of Abraham, Ruth and Jesus? Karl Barth for one would say no’.

Also, and though it's not specifically related to TTI, I'm a huge-enough XTC fan to have been ridiculously chuffed by this tweet from Jonathan Thornton.

1 Comment so far

H G Wells Blog

By Adam Roberts | April 24, 2017
Categories: Blogging

Wells terracotta bust Jo Davidson 1930

I'm reading through the complete run of H G Wells books (fiction and non-fiction both) in order, and blogging about each as I do. You'll find the results on my Wells at the World's End blog, should you be interested. Be warned though: some* of the posts are pretty long ...

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*All

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Bethany (2016)

By Adam Roberts | March 23, 2017
Categories: Book News, Reviews

Bethany1

The most recent Interzone includes a full-page review of my short novel Bethany. Here's the final paragraph:

Bethany2

I say a little about how I came to write Bethany at the end of this (be warned, quite long) blogpost on Endo's great novel Silence. It's the last three paragraphs, so you can scroll down to those if you like. Or not.

3 Comments to-date;

Russian Esquire list 10 Notable Translated Novels

By Adam Roberts | March 15, 2017
Categories: Book News

... and guess what's number 10. Мне очень приятно!

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Kim Stanley Robinson and Francis Spufford

By Adam Roberts | February 14, 2017
Categories: Events and Appearances

KSRFS

... are appearing in Waterstones Piccadilly on the evening if the 3rd April, 2017. Starts at 7pm. My understanding is that tickets are limited, so if you're interested you should probably reserve yours sooner rather than later. I'll certainly be there, and as it says on the other end of that link, I have written 'works in both the fiction and critical genres.' So there's that too!

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New for 2017

By Adam Roberts | February 6, 2017
Categories: Chitchat

Glyphi

I've been neglecting this blog lately, and will strive to neglect it less in the future. There's been little to report, though. Life has been going on, of course; though I'm not vain enough to believe that anyone is interested in bulletins from that front. Same old same old. As noted in previous posts on this website, 2016 was a quiet year for me publication-wise. The Thing Itself was selected as the book of the year by the great critic John Wilson, which delighted and rather startled me. A couple of the Strange Horizons reviewers honoured it likewise; which was lovely, if achronological, since the novel is a 2015 title. Ah well.

One SF-related thing I did publish in 2016 was the much-expanded 2nd edition of my Palgrave History of Science Fiction. This hasn't made any awards shortlists or anything, and, following my resolution of the 23rd Aug inst. infra, I am blithe about this fact. That said, I was pleased on behalf of Anna McFarlane and Paul Graham Raven, excellent young critics both, whose chapters from the Glyphi Adam Roberts: Critical Essays (ed. Christos Callow Jr. and Anna McFarlane, 2016) volume made the BSFA Awards longlist. Congratulations to them, and fingers-crossed for when the shortlist is announced. (Glyphi have allowed interested parties to download the two chapters in question; if you click the previous link you may still be able to do so, if you're interested!)

Some new things are coming from me, probably, later this year. I'll keep you informed.

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Dec 8th: Contemporary Writers Launch: Adam Roberts, Rupert Thomson, Tom McCarthy

By Adam Roberts | November 28, 2016
Categories: Events and Appearances

eventbrite

See you there?

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Eurocon Barcelona 2016

By Adam Roberts | November 28, 2016
Categories: Events and Appearances

eurocon1

I was there. The above is a photo of Aliette de Bodard and I enjoying a laugh over that most chucklesome of topics, Jules Verne.

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