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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This is, 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.

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Latest News

Memory, Natural and Unnatural

By Adam Roberts | September 25, 2015
Categories: Events and Appearances

The Nature of Memory
Perspectives from Art, History and Neuroscience

6.30 – 8pm | Tuesday 29 September
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, London School of Economics

Jessica Bland, Principal Researcher in Policy and Research, Nesta

Sebastian Groes, Senior Lecturer in English Literature (University of Roehampton)

Adam Roberts, Science Fiction Novelist and Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature (Royal Holloway, London)

Barry C Smith, Professor of Philosophy (Birkbeck, University of London) and Director of the Institute of Philosophy

Chair: Hugo Spiers, Senior Lecturer in Experimental Psychology (UCL)

Our ability to recall the past is a fundamental feature of what makes us human. While neuroscience has advanced our understanding of memory, how do these insights relate to memory as understood in the classics, literature, philosophy and art?

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British Fantasy Award Shortlists

By Adam Roberts | September 21, 2015
Categories: Awards


An award with a distinguished lineage, but not one I have troubled before. This year, however, my collection Sibilant Fricative is shortlisted for the non-fiction prize, which is gratifying and surprising in equal measures. I don't expect to win, given the strength of the list, but I'm very pleased to have been nominated! The winners will be announced at this year's Fantasycon in October.

And here are all the nominations:

Best anthology
The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic 2, ed. Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber (The Alchemy Press)
Horror Uncut: Tales of Social Insecurity and Economic Unease, ed. by Joel Lane and Tom Johnstone (Gray Friar Press)
Lightspeed: Women Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue, ed. Christie Yant (Lightspeed Magazine)
The Spectral Book of Horror Stories, ed. Mark Morris (Spectral Press)
Terror Tales of Wales, ed. Paul Finch (Gray Friar Press)

Best artist
Ben Baldwin
Vincent Chong
Les Edwards
Sarah Anne Langton
Karla Ortiz
Daniele Serra

Best collection
Black Gods Kiss, Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)
The Bright Day Is Done, Carole Johnstone (Gray Friar Press)
Gifts for the One Who Comes After, Helen Marshall (ChiZine Publications)
Nick Nightmare Investigates, Adrian Cole (The Alchemy Press and Airgedlámh Publications)
Scruffians! Stories of Better Sodomites, Hal Duncan (Lethe Press)

Best comic/graphic novel
Cemetery Girl, Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden and Don Kramer (Jo Fletcher Books)
Grandville Noël, Bryan Talbot (Jonathan Cape)
Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Seconds, Bryan Lee O’Malley (SelfMadeHero)
Through the Woods, Emily Carroll (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
The Wicked + The Divine, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (Image Comics)

Best fantasy novel (the Robert Holdstock Award)
Breed, KT Davies (Fox Spirit Books)
City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Jo Fletcher Books)
Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books)
A Man Lies Dreaming, Lavie Tidhar (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Moon King, Neil Williamson (NewCon Press)
The Relic Guild, Edward Cox (Gollancz)

Best film/television episode
Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Black Mirror: White Christmas, Charlie Brooker (Channel 4)
Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn and Nicole Perlman (Marvel Studios)
Interstellar, Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan (Paramount Pictures)
Under the Skin, Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer (Film4 et al)

Best horror novel (the August Derleth Award)
The End, Gary McMahon (NewCon Press)
The Girl With All the Gifts, M.R. Carey (Orbit)
The Last Plague, Rich Hawkins (Crowded Quarantine Publications)
No One Gets Out Alive, Adam Nevill (Macmillan)
Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel (Picador/Knopf)
The Unquiet House, Alison Littlewood (Jo Fletcher Books)

Best independent press
The Alchemy Press (Peter Coleborn and Jan Edwards)
Fox Spirit Books (Adele Wearing)
NewCon Press (Ian Whates)
Spectral Press (Simon Marshall-Jones)

Best magazine/periodical
Black Static, ed. Andy Cox (TTA Press)
Holdfast Magazine, ed. Laurel Sills and Lucy Smee (Laurel Sills and Lucy Smee)
Interzone, ed. by Andy Cox (TTA Press)
Lightspeed, ed. John Joseph Adams (Lightspeed Magazine)
Sein und Werden, ed. Rachel Kendall (ISMs Press)

Best newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award)
Edward Cox, for The Relic Guild (Gollancz)
Sarah Lotz, for The Three (Hodder & Stoughton)
Laura Mauro, for Ptichka (Horror Uncut: Tales of Social Insecurity and Economic Unease)
Den Patrick, for The Boy with the Porcelain Blade (Gollancz)
Jen Williams, for The Copper Promise (Headline)

Best non-fiction
D.F. Lewis Dreamcatcher Real-Time Reviews, D.F. Lewis (D.F. Lewis)
Ginger Nuts of Horror, ed. Jim McLeod (Jim McLeod)
Letters to Arkham: The Letters of Ramsey Campbell and August Derleth, 1961–1971, ed. S.T. Joshi (PS Publishing)
Rhapsody: Notes on Strange Fictions, Hal Duncan (Lethe Press)
Sibilant Fricative: Essays & Reviews, Adam Roberts (Steel Quill Books )
Touchstones: Essays on the Fantastic, John Howard (The Alchemy Press)
You Are the Hero: A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, Jonathan Green (Snowbooks)

Best novella
Cold Turkey, Carole Johnstone (TTA Press)
Drive, Mark West (Pendragon Press)
Newspaper Heart, Stephen Volk (The Spectral Book of Horror Stories)
Water For Drowning, Ray Cluley (This Is Horror)

Best short story
'A Change of Heart', Gaie Sebold (Wicked Women)
'The Girl on the Suicide Bridge', J.A. Mains (Beside the Seaside)
'Ptichka', Laura Mauro (Horror Uncut: Tales of Social Insecurity and Economic Unease)
'A Woman’s Place', Emma Newman (Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets)

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Well I Like Ebrei, and I Like Zombi, but Which Is Better? There’s Only One Way To Find Out …

By Adam Roberts | September 20, 2015
Categories: Book News


From semi-editor Lavie Tidhar, I learn that an Italian edition of Jews Versus Zombies is now on the cards (including my story 'Zayinim', at which, as I have already noted, I worked assiduously for months, perfecting and titivating the sentences, balancing the structure, refining the narratorial voice and undertaking whole weeks of detailed zom/hebie research). Which is molto cool-o. Lavie has more news though, for it seems the volume has become the focus of the high-powered academic attention of which it is so richly deserving. He reports:

An academic at Wesleyan University is giving a lecture based around Jews vs Zombies at the Association for American Religion meeting. Here is the description:

Tza'ar Ba'alei Chayim? Jews as Predators and Prey in the Zombie Apocalypse

There is an ongoing debate in Judaism around whether "stewardship" or "dominion" is the proper way to define our relationship to the rest of creation. What does it mean to have control over the Earth? And how do we practice tza'ar ba'alei chayim, concern for the suffering of living things, from our place at the top of the food chain. The short story collection Jews vs Zombies pushes those questions to their logical, and sometimes illogical extreme by plunging us into the post-zombie apocalypse where humanity is no longer the alpha predator. As both predators and prey, the Jews in these stories have to navigate new ethical concerns that Genesis never imagined.

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Rave, Rave Against the Dying of the Light

By Adam Roberts | September 12, 2015
Categories: Book News


So my latest, and in all likelihood last, collection of SF essays and reviews is now out -- Rave and Let Die: the SF and Fantasy of 2014 (Steel Quill 2015). 269 pages of material, including several never-before-published reviews of books, a lo-o-ong introduction overviewing the state of the genre, and a sort of short-story to finish things off. Steel Quill is an imprint of Ian Whates's NewCon press, so contact him for hard-copies; or you can buy the eBook for the insultingly low price of £2.99 over on amazon.

What else? Well, today (Saturday 12th Sept) there was a Forbidden Planet signing event: that's Ian on the left, James Lovegrove in the middle, and on the right it's ... no: wait. Isn't that George Clooney!!? [peers closer at photo] No. No -- my mistake. That's me on the right.


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By Adam Roberts | September 4, 2015
Categories: Events and Appearances

The University of Glasgow 'Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities' group is running a writing competition. You might want to enter it, you know.

We are pleased to announce a creative-writing competition for science fiction on the theme of medicine, health, and illness.

Science fiction has a long tradition of medical stories: Frankenstein (reanimation), The Island of Doctor Moreau (surgery, tissue grafting), Brave New World (eugenics), Flowers for Algernon (disability), I Am Legend (contagious disease), The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (terminal illness), Woman on the Edge of Time (psychiatry), Never Let Me Go (cloning, transplantation) … and many others. Our creative-writing competition is intended to stimulate new work in this fruitful area.

We invite science-fiction short stories (and also self-contained novel excerpts) of up to 3000 words that address themes of medicine, health, and illness. Some possible ideas for work might be:

Future/alien medicine and doctors
Computerized/robotic healthcare
Engineered diseases and alien plagues
Future/alien conceptions of health and illness, including mental health and illness
Utopian/dystopian visions of health, illness, and medicine
Cosmetic and/or elective surgery/transplantation/modification
Present and future disabilities, and their social/cultural (de)construction
Public health and population health, at a global or galactic level
Alternate medical history (what if a medical pioneer had died young, and/or a particular discovery/advance never been made?)

Entries should be no more than 3000 words, and no entrant may submit more than two entries.

The top three entries, and up to seventeen runners-up, will be published in the competition anthology.

First Prize: £300
Second Prize: £200
Third Prize: £150
Runners-up: £50

Entry is free of charge and open to anyone over 18. Please see the full competition rules.

Entries should be submitted by the deadline of 31 January 2016 using the online form.

I mention this here because I've agreed to be a judge. So, enter, and I will be all ...

... on your work.

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By Adam Roberts | September 3, 2015
Categories: Chitchat

The evergreen i09 has a list of 'The 10 Most Unfilmable Books (That Absolutely Must Be Made Into Films)'. You could click on the link, if you wanted to, and find out which ten unfilmable books they think should be so honoured. If you wanted to.

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Thing Itself, The

By Adam Roberts | August 26, 2015
Categories: Book News

THE THING ITSELF nick fiddle

As SF Signal notes, this is coming soon. Currently slated for a 17th December 2015 release. It's the novelisation of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason the world has been waiting for. Also, it solves the Fermi Paradox. You're welcome.

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Landor’s Cleanness

By Adam Roberts | August 6, 2015
Categories: Book News, Lit Crit

I've neglected this author website rather shamefully, and from now on I shall try to be a little more assiduous with updates. Starting with notice that the TLS has reviewed Landor's Cleanness (Oxford Univ. Press 2014). Not wholly dithyrambic, but a pretty positive judgement overall by Jacqueline Bannerjee. I can't deny the 'rather desperately chatty', nor that Landor's reputation is probably unsalvageable. But I'm happy with 'noble', 'close, well-considered and best of all honestly questioning', and 'worth waiting for' is like that old ad for beer. Heineken, was it? Later on she calls it 'a big publishing event', which is nice, if clearly untrue.




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2015 John W. Campbell Memorial Award Finalists

By Adam Roberts | May 11, 2015
Categories: Awards

The Campbell finalists' list has been announced. And here it is:

Nina Allan, The Race (Newcon Press)
James L. Cambias, A Darkling Sea (Tor)
William Gibson, The Peripheral (G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Daryl Gregory, Afterparty (Tor)
Dave Hutchinson, Europe In Autumn (Solaris)
Simon Ings, Wolves (Gollancz)
Cixin Liu (Ken Liu, translator), The Three-Body Problem (Tor)
Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (Knopf)
Will McIntosh, Defenders (Orbit)
Claire North, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (Redhook)
Laline Paull, The Bees (Ecco)
Adam Roberts, Bête (Gollancz)
John Scalzi, Lock In: A Novel of the Near Future (Tor)
Andy Weir, The Martian (Broadway Books)
Jeff VanderMeer The Southern Reach Trilogy (FSG Originals)
Peter Watts, Echopraxia (Tor)

You'll notice that Bête is on that list. You'll notice, too, how chuffed I am at that fact.

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Alan Jacobs on Bête

By Adam Roberts | April 14, 2015
Categories: Reviews

Hard to think of a contemporary writer-critic I esteem more highly than Alan Jacobs. Over at his 'New Atlantis' blog Text Patterns, he gives his reactions to reading Bête.

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Caroline Edwards and me, 12th May 2015

By Adam Roberts | April 14, 2015
Categories: Events and Appearances

nottingham popcult.jpg-large

Hope to see you there.

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Looking Forward: 2016

By Adam Roberts | April 14, 2015
Categories: Book News

THE THING ITSELF nick fiddle

Nothing finalised yet, but it looks like this could be an early-ish 2016 release.

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Jews versus Zombies

By Adam Roberts | February 24, 2015
Categories: Book News


Rebecca Levene and Lavie Tidhar have edited these two volumes, Jurassic have published them, proceeds will go to a very worthwhile charity, and from March, you'll be able to buy either (or both!) here. It's e-book only at the moment, but a limited edition hard copy is coming, and perhaps an omnibus. Zombies contains my story 'Zayinim', at which I laboured and struggled over a period of many months, honing and polishing the sentences, adjusting the structure, refining the narratorial voice and undertaking whole weeks of detailed zom/hebie research. I can only hope you like the result.

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Locus: Best SF/Fantasy of 2014

By Adam Roberts | February 1, 2015
Categories: Book News

The complete list is here. I was delighted to see Bête listed amongst the (very strong) list of best novels; and doubly-delighted that Sibilant Fricative: Essays & Reviews is listed amongst 'Best Non-Fiction'. Triple delight awaited me when I saw that “Thing and Sick” (originally in Solaris Rising 3) is listed amongst the 'Best Novelettes'. Good gracious, if I were to carry on looking down this list, and found yet another of my 2014 titles, perhaps the short story 'Trademark Bugs: A Legal History', included as well, well I would reach quadruple delight, and that would have serious health implications for my frail body. So I'll stop.

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Saint Rebor

By Adam Roberts | January 25, 2015
Categories: Book News

A new collection of short stories: available now. I believe there are 150 actual copies for sale, all signed by me; but there's no limit to the number of e-book copies available, and they're only £2.99 a pop. Amazing!

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Twenty Trillion Leagues: American Edition

By Adam Roberts | January 21, 2015
Categories: Book News

The US edition of Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea is out now. That's very exciting news! There's also an audio-book version for download, narrated by Christian Coulson. One more thing. Follow this link -- this one, here -- down, down into the depths of publishing's marianas trench, and you'll find an excerpt of this latter.

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My Six Best Books of 2014 …

By Adam Roberts | December 18, 2014
Categories: Book News

... in a more-literal sense than is usually implied by these sorts of headlines.

1. Bête, a novel: it's the best of me. £6.49 on Kindle; still some hardcover copies left in stock (pricier, but makes a better gift. Look at that cover art! I mean, obviously I can't claim any credit for the cover art. But you have to agree: it is a thing of beauty).

2. Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea, a novel. Gorgeously illustrated by the sublime Mahendra Singh. A piffling £5.49 on Kindle; only four hardcover copies left anywhere in the world. What are you waiting for?

3. Sibilant Fricative, a collection of essays and reviews. I believe that all hardcopies of this title are sold now; so it's Kindle only: but at £3.42 it's a steal. (Many of the pieces in that volume first appeared on my Punkadiddle blog; but I've taken that blog down now, so if you want to read those pieces you gotta buy the book. Cunning, no?)

4. Get Started in: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy (Teach Yourself: Writing). Freshly published!

5. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (Edinburgh University Press). The first new edition since 1983 of this foundational classic of literary criticism; all annotation loose-ends tied up, new facts about the tortured compositional history of the book uncovered, 200-pages of introductory matter. And an eye-wateringly expensive price. What you gonna do? Academic publishing is a strange thing.

6. Landor's Cleanness (Oxford University Press). The best critical monograph on Walter Savage Landor available! Well, strictly speaking, the only critical monograph on Walter Savage Landor available. But that's still something.

A: So. That's a lot of books.
R: It is.
A: For one year, I mean.
R: Well, it's not quite as Stakhanovite as it may, at first blush, appear. It's more a reflection of the exigencies of publishing, or more specifically of different kinds of publishing.
A: How so?
R: Well: take the two academic titles. Landor's Cleanness was written 2011-12, and OUP decided they wanted to publish it towards the end of that latter year. If it's taken until October 2014, that's partly because the wheels of academic publish grind slow. The Biographia Edition was also mostly finished by the end of 2012; and revised and readied for the press in 2013. Of all the titles in the photo above it was the one that took the most labour, partly because compiling it and writing the intro was just a laborious business, and partly because the proofing was an immensely painstaking matter. It's a scholarly edition of a classic of English letters; I had to get the text right.
A: Still!
R: Well, except that my day-job is Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature, and pursuing research of this kind (Coleridge, Landor) is a large part of that job. Those two titles represent the main focus of my Professorial energies for nearly four years; that they both happen to appear within months of one another is just a coincidence.
A: And the Sibilant Fricative thingy?
R: Again: it's a collection of essays and reviews written over a five year period (indeed a couple of the pieces are even older than that). The labour was in pulling them together, and in that task I was aided by the mighty Ian Whates.
A: Two novels though!
R: That's a little anomalous. I don't usually publish two novels in one year! What happened is that Twenty Trillion was originally slated to appear in late 2013, but got bumped back (in the event I didn't publish a novel in 2013). Bête is the novel I'm conscious of having been writing 2013-14, and it was trickier to write than most of my fiction. Chris Priest called it 'sluttishly freeform', which (I confess) rather pleased me, in part because it means I was able to bury what might otherwise have been too procrustean a substructure (to do with riddles, Sophocles, St John, Mythago Wood, Ted Hughes and a couple of other things).
A: So will there be two novels from you in 2015?
R: As if.
A: And the Get Started In?
R: That was a commission. Being a professional writer means taking commissions seriously (provided only that they are serious commissions; as this was), and therefore finding the time to write them, to spec and as well as you can.
A: So!
R: So.

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“Eternal Treblinka of the Spotless Soul: Bête by Adam Roberts”

By Adam Roberts | October 1, 2014
Categories: Reviews

That most excellent critic Niall Alexander has reviewed Bête (in slightly spoilery mode) over at Snip: "This, then, is not some novelty novel, but a fully-fledged philosophical fable for our age. Affectionate albeit barbed, far-fetched yet oddly plausible, and dark, but not without a certain spark, Bête is as smart and as satisfying and as challenging as anything any of the Adam Robertses have written."

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‘Books And Such’ reviews Bête

By Adam Roberts | October 1, 2014
Categories: Reviews

"When I started reading this I suspected that the novelty of talking animals would be the basis of the whole book and there would be little substance thereafter but I was completely wrong. Bête is a fantastic work of fiction that is funny, insightful and more importantly…important! Focusing on real life issues that we face today, this is a work of genius that I thoroughly enjoyed.'

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Stuff Magazine too!

By Adam Roberts | September 19, 2014
Categories: Reviews

Very nice.

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Starburst review Bête

By Adam Roberts | September 18, 2014
Categories: Reviews

... and it's a doozy. The last three paragraphs:

"Graham, as narrator, is a character we can all identify with, a man who knows his flaws and accepts them as part of who he is. It’s a pleasure to read about him and, thanks to the skills of the author, we’re immersed in his journey rather than simply being told about it. There are moments of laugh-out-loud hilarity, yet when Graham feels pain, we feel it too; when he hurts, we hurt along with him, to the point of sharing his sadness. Be warned – there may be tears.

As the novel progresses, society inevitably alters and adapts to the new animal intelligences and, while it’s all very believable, it’s not necessarily in the way the reader would expect. Ultimately, because Bête is about this one man, it’s all seen through his eyes; it feels post-apocalyptic at times until being reminded that society, however different, still exists.

The greatest science fiction novels take into account the changes on the people affected by the advances in technology, and Bête ranks with the best of them. What could have been just quirky and satirical – it is both – becomes so much more through intelligent writing that takes the reader through a whole range of emotions. Bête is a wonderful book that, once begun, insists on being read in one sitting; darkly comic, it’s a deeply thoughtful, moving and uplifting story from a master of the genre."

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SFX reviews Bête

By Adam Roberts | September 17, 2014
Categories: Reviews

Jon Courtenay Grimwood: four and a half stars. I'm delighted; Jon is one of the most astute critics (quite apart from being one of the best writers) of his generation. Over on twitter he said: "pretty sure I said where Professor Roberts and Adam Roberts meet. Certainly meant it." My cup runneth over.

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The first review of Bête is in.

By Adam Roberts | September 13, 2014
Categories: Book News, Reviews

It's always a slightly nerve-wracking time, immediately before and immediately after a novel comes out. Reviews are posted. And must be read. Inevitably, every time you read a new review your heart glollops a bit with fear (after all: maybe this one will be the one that utterly cremates your writing and crushes your butterfly-fluttering soul). Luckily for me, this The List notice of Bête (the first review of the book I've seen) is not too negative:

Imagine if your food could talk back to you? That’s the extremely high-concept opener much-decorated sci-fi author and academic Adam Roberts plays with in his latest novel, opening on a bizarre but starkly amusing sequence in which a cow tries to reason with the farmer who’s about to fire a bolt into its head. By page three he’s already quoting The Smiths’ ‘Meat is Murder’ to him, and the farmer’s almost spurred to fire just for that.

The conceit in this instance is that many of the world’s animals have been ‘chipped’ in order to allow them to speak as normal humans do. Roberts’ prose is intricate and rich in scientific language and explanation, but it’s also dryly funny and on-the-nose when it wants to be, making this book about so much more than a quirky sci-fi concept. Like the best speculative work it unpeels greater themes, from the morality of AI to humanity’s relationship with its food sources, and also what the very act of possessing language and expression does to our minds.

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Ten books

By Adam Roberts | September 8, 2014
Categories: Chitchat

This meme was circulating on Facebook, and I succumbed: ten books that have 'stayed with me', or had a particularly shaping influence upon me. I'm copying my answers across to here too. The strange thing was, almost as soon as I posted this list to FB I felt (as I noted in the comments, there) 'more than a little nervous, actually. Posting this feels -- weirdly exposing. Like I've given away the key to my soul. Perhaps I should delete it.' Of course, this unease was a sort of optical illusion. Nobody else cares enough about my choice of books for said choice to leave me, in any way, vulnerable. That was the feeling, though. Odd, no?

So! 10 books that had a properly shaping influence upon me. Since this is about forming me and my taste the list is going to skew adolescent, and accordingly more than a little gauche. Nothing to be ashamed of, that, in and of itself; although it's a bit worrying how male my key texts all used to be. Anyway: here we go.

1. Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are. One of my holy books.

2. Tintin. I'd tag the whole of Hergé's output if I were allowed (and who's to say I'm not allowed? You? YOU'RE not the boss of me.) But if I'm not allowed, I'd settle for the two moon mission books. I havered between choosing this and choosing the two Lewis Carroll Alice books, which, in some sense, occupy a similar picture/text place in my imagination's storeroom.

3. The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings. One novel, you know.

4. Tennyson's 1832 Poems -- this began with falling deeply for 'Mariana', mediated through a profound reaction to Millais painting of the same name; but it lead quickly through into all his other early lyrics. The Lotos Eaters! Ah, The Lotos Eaters.

5. Macbeth. [MACBETH? Argh! Hot-potato-orchestra-stalls-Puck-will-make-amends. *tweaks nose*] This was my O-level Shakespeare; the tomorrow-and-tomorrow speech still has the power to lift the tiny hairs at the back of my neck. Not my favourite Shakespeare any more, but the most shaping and influential of his plays on my *coughs* development.

6. Robert Graves The White Goddess.

7. Nabokov, Pnin. "Lolita" is probably a better novel, and Pale Fire certainly a cleverer one, but Pnin is the most moving, as well as the funniest. It also contained some of Nabokov's best prose. It's also short. I read my Dad's old penguin copy. If I weren't allowed Pnin I'd choose "Signs and Symbols", my single favourite ever short story.

8. Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London. I was a suburban middle-class kid, and material deprivation was a purely notional matter in my life. This book made poverty real to me, imaginatively, and changed the way I saw the world. I could fold Nineteen Eighty-Four in here, too.

9. Dickens. I'm tempted to mention either Little Dorrit or Our Mutual Friend, as they are now my two favourite Dickenses. Dickensseses. But the fact is, it was reading Dombey and Son, and more particularly the chapters detailing little Paul's decline and death, that first took the top of my head off. I remember reading it mouth open at the sheer skill of the writing.

10. Roald Dahl, "A Piece of Cake". This is a tricky one, really: I read Dahl's kid's writing, of course; everyone read it when I was growing up. It was almost compulsory. And there was a TV series made of his adult 'tales of the unexpected' short stories, which was also pretty popular. But this one short story was in a different category: a brief, autobiographical piece about him flying a Gloster Gladiator over the desert, crashing it and waking up in hospital with his burns all bandaged. I remember reading it as an early teenager, for no real reason, just because I chanced upon the paperback. It had the most profound effect upon me. I'm not sure I could diagnose why, or how: it's not a twist-in-the-tale piece, or a sample of his grotesque monstrous inventiveness. Indeed, it's rather oblique. Nor was I particularly interested in world war 2, or the RAF, or flying or anything like that. But the plain fact is: before I read it I had no ambitions to be a writer (I wanted, in point of fact, to make animated cartoons). Then I read it. And after I had read it I wanted to be a writer. Simple as that. Perhaps it had to do with its obliqueness, or its queer reticent potency: it struck me very forceably at a very deep level and I couldn't see how it had done so. At any rate, something vast shifted about inside me as with the motion of great waters, and I wanted to be a writer. Which is, now, what I am.

No science fiction? I know! And I read SF obsessively as a teenager (as I still do). Le Guin would be the eleventh title: The Dispossessed most likely. Though I also loved Earthsea.

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Finished copies of Bête now in …

By Adam Roberts | September 4, 2014
Categories: Book News

I'm extremely excited by this ... you can tell, by the ellipses ... these are the ellipses of an excited author ...

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News for August, or ‘Who Hath Not Seen Thee Oft Amid Thy Online Store?’

By Adam Roberts | August 29, 2014
Categories: Blogging

In the parching August wind cornfields bow the head, sheltered in round valley depths on low hills outspread, and I have been moderately busy. I went on holiday, came back, spent time at Loncon, came back from that. Here's a round-up post of news.

1: is that I have finally rolled up the scroll named 'Punkadiddle'. As you'll see at the end of that link, the best of the old blog is now printed up in a book, £3:42 from amazon online store as e-book, so: you know. Buy! Buy! Buy!

2. I have agreed to act as a judge for next year's Kitschies, which (a) means my own novels are guaranteed NO place on the shortlist, hurrah! (or, wait ... boo?) and (b) a Niagara of books has begun flowing through my front door. The good news is that I get to swap aesthetic judgment with the rest of the panel, all of whom are considerably cooler than I: Kate Griffin, Kim Curran, Frances Hardinge and Glen Mehn. The downside is: it's a lot of reading. There's another downside, which I'm thinking of converting into an upside. You know what they say: when life gives you lemons and industrial quantities of sugar -- make lemonade. Often, after I read a book, I'll write (and blog) a quick review, Writing out my thoughts makes those thoughts clear in my head. Writing, I fear, comes more naturally to me than thinking. So I figured: what if I reviewed every title? Last year I believe the K.s had more than 300 submissions, so I'd be committing myself to a peck of work. But I could turn into a project. Like Magnetic Fields writing and releasing 69 Love Songs. I could do 369 Love Songs: SFF Novels Editions. What do you reckon?

If I review 369 titles at, say, 500 words per review (which if I'm honest is the shorter end of my horribly prolix reviewing habit), we'd be looking at 185,000 words. That would make an interesting e-book: The Complete Science Fiction and Fantasy Output of 2014 Reviewed! (I don't doubt there are many more than 369 SFF titles released in any one year; but it would be a broader sample than the usual review collection manages, and might be interesting to do). At any rate I've made a start: check out the August entries over on the SibFric blog. This may putter out, or gather prodigious steam. I'm honestly not sure.

3. At Loncon Ian Whates launched a book with a story by me (and stories by others, more noteworthy than I) in it: mine being 'Baedecker’s Fermi' in Paradox: Stories of the Fermi Paradox ...

He also launched Sibilant Fricative: the Book. As I mentioned above: Buy! Buy! Buy!

4. Another thing I did this summer was write a 'How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy' book, for the people who used to publish the 'Teach Yourself' franchise, but who have now rebranded them as 'Get Started In'. The proofs for said book came in this week.

5. I also wrote something long-ish for Jared Shurin that may appear as a book-length publication at some later point. I'm quite proud of it actually, but pride is a sin, and I don't want to compound my sinfulness by dilating on the matter here.

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Sibilant Fricative

By Adam Roberts | July 6, 2014
Categories: Book News

Newcon Press are publishing this collection of SF/Fantasy related essays and reviews, with a preface by BSFA Award-winning critic Paul Kincaid, in August (I believe the launch is at Loncon): Newcon supremo Ian Whates facebooked the above photo to show that actual copies are now in existence. Exciting stuff!

I set up the like-named Sibilant Fricative blog in large part to flog, er to 'promote' the book; and so I shall. The blog has accumulated a variety of other things upon it (none of which are in included in the Sibilant Fricative book, confusingly); but don't let that distract you. I intend to flog, er, promote this title within an inch of its life.

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Bête Bound Proof

By Adam Roberts | June 22, 2014
Categories: Book News

... in my grubby hand. Looks nice!

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Cover Reveal: US Edition of Twenty Trillion

By Adam Roberts | June 18, 2014
Categories: Book News

I'm not a big fan of the idiom 'cover reveal', actually. It's the 'reveal' part, like I'm a stage performer whisking a white sheet off something as the audience oos and aas. Still that is the idiom, and I'll run with it. So. [takes breath] ... St Martin's Press in New York New York will be putting out Twenty Trillion; and here is the very very lovely cover they have come up with. Isn't it fine?

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By Adam Roberts | June 12, 2014
Categories: Awards

It's been quiet around here for a little while. Awards seasons has been in full spate and *sigh* it's been an awards season without room for anything I published in 2013, so there's been nothing to report. But just when I thought it was going to pass me by entirely came the rather wonderful news that my short story 'Tollund' has been shortlisted for the 2014 Sidewise Awards. The Sidewise, as you know very well, is dedicated to alternate-history, and this year's shortlists look very strong. I'm delighted to be in such company. Winners will be announced at Loncon.

'Tollund' was written for Jared Shurin's excellent collection of original Mummy fiction, The Book of the Dead. That link will take you to purchasing opportunities, of which you should definitely avail yourself. My story's title, of course, makes reference to the single Seamus Heaney released with Madness back in the 1980s:

"Some day I will go to Aarhus
In the middle of our street
In the middle of our street,
To see his peat-brown head

Such a great poem.

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