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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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2016: the Story So Far

By Adam Roberts | August 23, 2016
Categories: Awards

sadkant

Two-thirds of the way through and I think we can say: where fiction is concerned, 2016 is not turning out to be my year.

So: 2015 saw the publication of The Thing Itself, my sixteenth novel. I write a particular sort of fiction, and it’s not one that everyone (or even most) people grok. But given the sorts of things I’m interested in doing, as a writer, I don’t see that I’ll ever write a better novel than this one. Actually, I’d go further and say that my last few novels, say from New Model Army on, have been easily the best things I have done.

I don’t have a novel coming out in 2016. Indeed, so far this year I’ve written not very much. After all, confidence is a preference for the habitual auteur of what is known as ... WRITELIFE! and it turns out to be a quality that suffers more from the attritional than the sudden shocks.

As I note here, the odd thing is that outside the SF world, The Thing Itself has been really well received: some very good reviews, and colloquia such as this (very enjoyable) one. But inside the world of SF it has flopped. Of course, that it has failed to become a bestseller is hardly a surprise: it’s a sciencefictional novelisation of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Hardly the stuff of airport bestsellers. That it has failed to win or even to be shortlisted for prizes, or made any ‘best of year’ lists, or garnered any of the other signs of esteem with which SF recognizes its best, is more of a disappointment for me. It did make the Kitschies shortlist, to my surprise and delight, although it lost out in the end—not to N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season as I was expecting, but to Margaret Atwood's not-bringing-her-A-game The Heart Goes Last. Of course, it goes without saying that even weak Atwood is major news, bookwise. Thereafter The Thing Itself has conspicuously (conspicuous, that is to say, in its inconspicuousness) failed to make the shortlists of the Arthur C Clarke, Philip K Dick, Tiptree, BSFA, Locus, Hugo or Nebula awards. If you click this link you can find a lengthy list of other SF awards for which it has also failed to be shortlisted. Earlier in my career my books tended to make award shortlists but not to win the awards, which made them what in racing they call ‘also-rans’. Latterly, though, my writing has shifted from being an also-ran to a not-even-ran.

Of course, rather than accepting that my novel has failed, I might revert to the personal assessment noted above. I really don’t think I’m going to write a better novel in my career. But there is genuine danger, I think, in prioritising the personal over the community judgment. It slides so easily into the preen of the maniacal ego, the full Ayn Rand self-delusion: ‘you idiots refuse to recognise my genius! You’re all blind!’ and so on. Pff. Ockham’s razor has a simpler explanation: The Thing Itself failed to go over because it wasn’t good enough. And if it’s the best I can do, then logic dictates that I’m not good enough. Logic is a hard mistress but only fools refuse to serve her.

Of course, individual markers of esteem are specific data points, liable to varying degrees of distortion. What I’m really trying to do is pin-down a more subjective, overview sense of things. It’s been growing in me for a few years now, and writing The Thing Itself was, amongst other things, an attempt by me to turn that tide—to (apologies for the cliché) give it my best shot, to go for something more ambitious. Obviously, it hasn’t worked. On the subject of tides, I ought to have listened to Canute.

I appreciate that for many people, especially unpublished folk hoping to become writers, ‘failure’ in this context will look like the wrong word. In another sense I haven’t failed. I’m trundling along, as I have been for years, and if my trundling is too low-gear ever to win the Clarke, or get an American deal, or be asked to GoH a UK con—to pick a random selection of indices of community esteem—then it at least is a trundling. For those without even that trundle, what I’m saying here may well look ungracious. It’s not that my career as a writer has been a series of unalloyed catastrophes: I wouldn’t have got to book 16 if that were true. I have had some intelligent, engaged readers, for whom I continue to be genuinely grateful. I have had some good reviews. One of my novels (Jack Glass) even won a couple of awards. As a white straight male, I haven’t had the sorts of obstacles placed in my way that women writers, writers of colour and LGBT writers tend to face—I’m very aware of that. Still, you who are reading this post will have some sense of what I mean, and you will, I’m pretty sure, nod a wry nod of recognition when I talk about the broader lineaments of my career as a writer. You see what I’m getting at, here. ‘Failure’ is a stark word, and no doubt a too brutal one for this context, but you see what I mean when I use it. Certainly there’s no merit in trying to live in denial. Churchill was asked, late in his life, why he considered himself a failure after all the things he had achieved. He replied: ‘to achieve all that, only to achieve nothing in the end!’ When I was younger I thought that a symptomatically psychopathological reply, an index to depression. Now I’m rather more sympathetic to it. It embodies a strange truth, I think, and one that needn’t be depressive. (I’m not depressed, for example.) At what point in a career does it behoove a writer to take stock and concede that it hasn’t worked? Not by book 3, surely; maybe by book 12? Or if not 12, then, what: 13, 14? 16? Or else, which magic number is the bellwether?

Good word, 'behoove'.

Ah well: it’s fine. First world problems, and so on. I feel no self-pity, not because I am pitiless, or so unegotistical as to have no self to hurt, but because the situation doesn’t merit it. There are two contexts, public and personal. In the larger sense of ‘SF’ in the round, my failure is a non-event, the very definition of a self-correcting issue—for if what I do mattered to SF then it wouldn’t fail, QED. The genre is currently in a place of rude strength and promise, and whether I personally succeed or fail is a perfect irrelevance to that. The only way in which it might be relevant is as an object lesson for other writers, and especially up-and-coming or would-be writers. A small constituency, but not an unimportant one. And as far as that goes, the moral is presumably: don’t do as I do. I’d boil this down to: don’t write novels that stray too far from the median of SF-Fan interest: don’t be too pretentious or clever-clever, don’t try to be too ostentatiously experimental or oddball. Of course, by the same token, I urge you: don’t be too middle-of-the-road or bland, don’t set out to write sell-out commercial pap. It’s a balance, as in so many things. Try to orient yourself—as I have, frankly, failed to do—in terms of where the genre is, and where it’s going. And here’s a little more advice: be better than I have been at cons and public appearances, at putting yourself about and pressing the flesh. A social media presence is important, but it’s not enough on its own. I’ve blogged and tweeted a great deal this century, but I’ve never been to Nine Worlds or the SFX Weekender (I mean, I’ve never been asked: but you should definitely go), rarely to Eastercon, once only to Worldcon and that was because it was in London. You need to get out there to a much greater extent than I have. You need to self-promote.

The second context is the purely personal one. And here the public crosses over into the private. If you really want to become a writer then you will have to develop a strategy for dealing with disappointment, since disappointment will come. I’ve tried various things, over the years, and this is the latest: which is to say, I've decided that consoling myself with the thought that next year could be better does me more harm, psychologically-speaking, than good. That’s a purely personal judgment, of course, and might not work for you—probably won’t, indeed. You need to hold tight to a quantum of self-esteem in order to be able to keep working, and only you can judge to what degree disappointment depletes that. My sense is that individual knock-backs are more survivable than you believe, but that the longer-term drip-drip, alas, is less. Though mourning stoop can be avoided if you take a route straight through what is known as ... WRITELIFE!

Enough of the doleful countenance: I’ve reappraised. My next novel, coming from Gollancz in 2017, will be a lot less ambitious (a lot less pretentious, you might say). It will be a near-future puzzle whodunit, and I hope it's entertaining, ingenious and readable. But that’s all it will be: it will attempt no Thing Itself-style contortions or clever-clevernesses, it will push no envelopes, certainly not to tearing-point. It will be small and humble so you don’t confuse it with mountains. I hope, obviously, that people buy it, at least in enough numbers to make it worth Gollancz’s while to keep publishing me. But I know ahead of time that it won’t get shortlisted for any prizes or make any best-of-year lists, and knowing that fact will guard my bruised ego from the annual round of hurt and despair known as ‘awards season’. That fact alone is valuable enough to me at this stage in my life.

Indeed, this is the (unexpected) discovery I have made. It is that having been holding out against failure for a long time, having been committing to hope, trying to make what the writing better and so on, it is rather liberating to let all that go. I’m never going to win a Clarke, never going to get shortlisted for a Hugo, never going to get an American deal, and it's …. relieving, actually. The emotion is a largely positive one, muddied if at all only by a slight sense of embarrassment that I ever thought those things in the first place. Indeed, given our culture’s toxic Trumpoid obsession with winning, winning and winning again, with winning so much we get tired with winning, there may even be a principled merit in failing, provided only we accept the failure as our own, and don’t try to shuffle off responsibility onto others. As far as that goes, I have been privileged to have had a group of brilliant people around me: publishers, friends, supporters. The failure has nothing do with them, and everything to do with me.

It’s possible, and even likely, that my relief here has to do with some strange recognition, what you might call a homecoming. Because, of course, failure has always been one of my main themes as a writer, one of my major fascinations. There are plenty of people who write can-do hero characters, who structure stories around monsters defeated and challenges overcome, boldly-going and uplifting. I’ve always been more interested in the ways life is a tapestry of passivities and small-scale failures; I’ve always found underachievers both more dramatically interesting and less aesthetically mendacious. Karma, you could say. There are other, more complicated registers of affect too. In an age that prizes simplicity and success there is some contrarian pleasure in being difficult and failing. Failure is pure in ways that success, which is always compromised, can never be. And failure is English too: culturally and socially and personally. Plus as they say (and they say truly): it's hardly the end of the world.

So: I'll be publishing nothing in 2016, I think; and in 2017 will be publishing a shorter SF whodunit, designed to be entertaining and readable and so on. We'll see how that goes, I guess. *Sings* Awlll the people ... so many people ...

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26 Comments to-date;

26 Responses to “2016: the Story So Far”

  1. Paul Kincaid Says:
    August 24th, 2016 at 10:03 am

    All I can say is that The Thing Itself was the book of yours that I have enjoyed above all others. But then I have to recognise that my tastes do seem to be somewhat rarified and increasingly out of tune with what the mass of sf readers seem to like. But I thought in that novel you achieved something that the last few novels have been steadily reaching towards. It is everything a truly great book needs to be: intellectually stimulating, engaging, surprising, and surely, on a sentence by sentence level, the best writing you have ever done. The Joyce pastiche was brilliant; I would love the book for that alone. I'd love to see you continue in that vein, but I appreciate you can't write for an audience of one.

  2. Simon Bucher-Jones Says:
    August 24th, 2016 at 10:48 am

    For what its worth, The Thing Itself was one of my favourite books of 2015 perhaps the favourite (I don't usually quantify works in that way)

    Simon Bucher-Jones

  3. S.C. Flynn Says:
    August 24th, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Just as long as you are not leaving us, Adam!

  4. David Harris Says:
    August 24th, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    I was saying to someone at work yesterday that failure is much more interesting - and more useful to study - than success. Although I was thinking more of industrial and systems disasters...

    I'm really sorry about this. It looks to me as though there is a deluge of books out there, and a lot of them are very good, and many very good ones don't get the recognition they deserve. I have loved and enjoyed your books since I discovered them (at Yellow Blue Tibia) and when I know one is coming out it brightens my life and gives me something to look forward to.

    There may be other authors whose books I'd have equally enjoyed if their author had written a newspaper article that made me think "Who is this and what he HE written?" - but they didn't, and you did. Time and chance ruleth all - and the race is not to the swift, not the battle to the strong.

    Looking forward to your 2017 book (and your books are ALWAYS entertaining and readable!)

  5. Rosie Oliver Says:
    August 25th, 2016 at 9:16 am

    'Bread and circuses' - a famous Roman saying came to mind when I read this.
    If I may put this as a analogy - from the books of yours I've read, you've been writing about 'bread' i.e. trying to progress science fiction in practical political debate. You are now going to write about 'circuses' with the hope that it will gain you more popular recognition.
    Why do I recognise things this way? Because in some ways I'm going down the same path. I like to write about the impact of likely discoveries and inventions on human society. Those stories that are easily seen as dealing with extrapolations of current scientific trends readily get published. Those that are a result of genuine and surprising serendipity don't. Yet, it is the latter that carries the more important implications and messages.
    What I'm trying to say is don't give up. Take a rest, yes. Restore your energy and enthusiasm, yes. In the long term, your contribution will be remembered long after a lot of the 'circuses' stories are forgotten.

  6. Duncan Says:
    August 25th, 2016 at 9:52 am

    This was very saddening to read. You are a writer I admire a great deal, and it's upsetting that you would be at a point where you think you need to write this post.

    For what it's worth, I'm a SF 'fan', and have followed your work for years. The Thing Itself is a triumph. I can't think of another way to describe it. It's crazy to think you won't be attempt something so bold and so different because of it's reception in the awards circle. I'm not a writer or in the profession so of course I have no idea exactly how much weight it holds, but I understand the need to feel accepted, I guess? I don't know if that's fair to say to say. So do you feel it's a measure of success? I suppose of course it is, but I think it's important to consider two things: 1) there are too many awards in this as in everything else, they become meaningless and 2) there is literally a sh*t-ton of writers and general material to wade through, who has the time?

    I've admired what you've been doing for years, and part of the reason is because you aren't mainstream, and it never seemed to be too much of a concern to you. You were writing different SF, and no it wasn't to everyone's taste. But I've been in a ska punk band for nearly 10 years and that hasn't been cool for a long time. But I love it!

    I've looked forward to every release you've put out - 1 or 2 fell flat, I won't lie, not because they were bad, but they just weren't to my taste. It happens. But the exciting part was knowing that every new novel was going to be completely different to the last. There aren't a lot of writers out there like that, and I've read an inordinate amount of SF (amongst others). The Thing Itself is damn near a masterpiece. Salt and On are the first ones I read and still my favourites. Gradisil was grand and sprawling, The Land of the Headless was surprisingly enthralling, Jack Glass was an incredible romp.

    My point is it takes a lot to hook me into a story these days, but with your work it's almost a 100% success rate.

    I guess I can empathise on the smallest level actually - I was lying earlier about not being a writer. I submitted 2 short stories to the SF and Medical Humanities for the University of Glasgow competition, one you are a judge for, and neither made the short list. So that's probably it for my writing 'career'. I never held out much hope though. I'm currently trying to write comic books with a friend - which is an even bigger minefield. But I feel more like I just need to get things down before I can move on.

    I'm rambling! I know you weren't fishing for compliments, this felt like more like it was written after letting out a very long sigh. You've been doing it for a while so I understand your position, but it'll be a sad day when I don't have another novel of yours to look forward to. Every single one of your novels has pride of place on the book shelf in my living room.

    For what it's worth,
    A fan.

  7. Gary Flood Says:
    August 25th, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    But.

    I haven't read 1-14, but I did read (and really admire) 'Jack Glass' because I picked it up after a recommendation in (I think) 'SF Signal.' And I really was impressed with it, and I shared it with my book group, who also admired it. No shit.

    I KNEW I'd buy this the second I came out as I love the Thing-world (as I call it) so much. I also loved the idea of a serious take on Kant in an SF context. (I could have done with maybe a bit more Thing, but what the hey.)

    I *loved* this book. Clever, great pace (I loved the narrative structure), great ideas - even, yes, why not, 'the sense of wonder'. I loved the pastiches, very clever and subtle, the mark of a writer who hasn't just done a lot of research but has real feelings/awareness of other genres and our common literary context.

    I like fiction - like this - that is challenging, not afraid of being brainy, has the confidence of its own voice, asks me questions and makes me work. That's why I like this, and Bolano and Peter Watts.

    I can understand why you are disappointed about not making the lists, of course I am. But I think the Hugo politics and what Angela Nussbaum (another wicked-sharp brain and pen I like) has already said about the mess that is the Clarke this year... maybe you can let yourself off the hook a bit.

    DON'T stop being hard, clever, pretentious and odd. It's you, you do it brilliantly well, and it's special and wonderful.

    When I bought the book in my local Waterstone's, the lovely assistant told me she had been taught by you at Goldsmith's and really rated you: 'This one's a Renaissance Man.' Agreed.

    Let the book work its magic out there, forget this season of awards, and know your work finds fans who get a huge amount of pleasure and think time out of you.

    Bloody well done.

  8. Gary Says:
    August 26th, 2016 at 6:17 am

    I'm not quite finished with The Thing Itself, just yet, but I think it is [expletive] brilliant! I started it on a whim, did not have a clue about you as an author (no offense!) and came here for that very reason that -even before i am finished- I HAVE to know who this author is because I am blown away. Now, I certainly have no power over awards, kudos, or other symbols of esteem, but if I did, you would have heaps my friend. I just haven't really read anything quite like this book and I have been telling all of my friends about it. A note on that, I don't have many nor influential friends. I also don't believe any of them are "ready" for a book like this. But I am going to push it anyway. For what it is worth, I love this book and will be working my way through your other 15 books next. I hate to hear that I may be reading "your best"! Chin up ya bastard, this book is beyond great!

  9. Paul Rydeen Says:
    August 26th, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    You're great! You're awesome! I love your work and I read all of it! THE THING ITSELF was really cool! That's a lot of exclamation marks! I live in the USA and thanks to Amazon the lack of an American book deal isn't hindering my access to your work. Please keep writing as long as you have ideas and the drive to do so. The books themselves are the success you achieve.

  10. Science Fiction and Science – The Relationship | Rosie Oliver Says:
    August 28th, 2016 at 10:18 am

    […] a novel published this year and his short novel due out next year will be more commercially based. See here for more information. Added to this comes the news that SFF market is slightly contracting – see here for […]

  11. Paul Bond Says:
    August 29th, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Well Mr Roberts, all I can say is that I've found all of your novels interesting, most of them good and a few of them absolutely brilliant. The Thing Itself fall's into the latter category, along with Jack Glass and Yellow Blue Tibia. The same applies to your short stories although most of them fall into the category of brilliance, so get to it man! a near future SF whodunit? sounds great, cant wait. I remember Kim Stanley Robinson saying that he thought Yellow Blue tibia probably deserved to win the Booker, I don't know about that, but I do know it sits comfortably in my top SF reads of all time. So, thanks for the work and thanks for this post, all the best, Paul.

  12. Adam Roberts Says:
    September 1st, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    I want to thank everyone who has commented on this post, and say how grateful and touched I have been by everything said. In point of fact I thought I'd turned off comments for this post, since I wasn't trying to provoke a debate or discussion (or, worse, look like I was fishing for compliments and reassurance). But it seems I've managed to turn off comments for all subsequent posts but not this one. Annoyingly. But I am genuinely grateful for everyone who has taken the time to say something here.

  13. helion Says:
    September 4th, 2016 at 2:25 am

    It's been only a month now since I discovered you as a writer. I stumbled upon The Thing Itself and by the end of the second chapter I was absolutely sold. I had to read more, so I continued with Stone, Yellow Blue Tibia and Jack Glass - each so different! - and I might have just been lucky with my choices, but i thoroughly enjoyed every single one of them. Then I found your blog, and was dismayed to read this post. Although as a reader I don't really care if an author has received any of the big sf awards, I can imagine the sense of accomplishment a writer must feel when getting one, as well as the wider publicity one's work would get. Did The Thing Itself deserve to be at least shortlisted? It definitely should have been. The Thing Itself was a pleasure to read, despite the somewhat depressing Kantian outlook (hey - I love me some aliens in my universe). A smart book, high-concept, brilliantly written, it approaches that elusive cult novel quality. But should your object lesson for up-and-coming writers stated above - no straying too far from median fan interests, not being too clever, nor experimental- be heeded? No, not if you aim for genuinely interesting books. Original, intellectually stimulating novels from writers that don't presume readers are idiots are quite scarce.

    Please carry on, and all the best from a fan in real-life late-night Korkura :-)

  14. Freddie deBoer Says:
    September 5th, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    One of my all-time favorite song lyrics, thanks to its universality: "you wanted more and you got less and it hurts/but it could be worse, yeah things could be so much worse."

  15. Phil Says:
    September 5th, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    I sometimes wonder at the time it takes to make music - every undistinguished B-side, every track 17 of 19 on the artist's second CD, every Van Morrison cover cranked out by a wedding band, represents hours of work behind the scenes, bashing it out over and over again, just to get it right. Reading an anthology of short stories the other day, I found myself marvelling in much the same way. I've had three short stories published (only one in a publication you'd have heard of) and about as many poems (ditto);
    Elizabeth Taylor published four collections of short stories. Did she rework every story in each collection as many times as I did mine? Did she get as many stories bounced back to her for every one published as I did (O those sympathetic notes!)? If so, where on earth did she find the time for all that writing - and how did she get anything else done? If not - if she could just write a story, get it published, rinse and repeat - then what was her secret? How do people do it, this business of being published (in publications people have heard of)?

    I guess there are noses pressed - enviously, ruefully, despairingly - to the glass all the way down, or all the way up (how does Margaret Atwood do it, writing larky social-conscience skiffy and being treated like she's Bertrand Russell?). My own brief experience of earning a living as a writer is probably a dream for some (I've got to admit the hours were good). It depends what you consider success - by a lot of metrics getting to 16 novels with a seventeenth on the way is not too shabby.

    There's a point, too, about literary success. I think Alan Jacobs is probably right about serious works taking time to find their audience. I can't entirely endorse his comments, as I haven't yet read The Thing Itself, but I think I'd count NMA as a serious work in these terms - one with a message that will take time to deliver.) So if you're the poor sod who's written something that sits a bit askew to conventional wisdom and speaks a language people may not realise they understand, what do you do while you're waiting for the world to catch up? This makes me think of Brian O'Nolan, who knew what he'd achieved on a literary level with At Swim-Two-Birds but thought, mistakenly, that this would translate into worldly success, or at least enable him to give up the day job. Eventually he got tired of waiting for this to happen and contented himself with railing against the world and getting drunk (and repeat). Perhaps you just have to send the work on its way and look to the next one.

  16. Phil Says:
    September 5th, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    Also meant to get this link - on what you might call mid-table success - in there somewhere. And to say that - although it may seem that I've been haunting your various comment sections for decades now - I was almost completely unaware of your work until Adam Robots crossed my path and made a fan of me (and of my son). The audience for your stuff is out there, they just need to get lucky enough to find it.

  17. Wally (waxbanks) Says:
    September 6th, 2016 at 1:13 am

    I've read three of your books now (not counting Fribilant Sicative in both book and blogpost forms) -- the Russian one, the hair one, the animal one.

    All three I shook my head at.
    All three I shook my fist at, like my actual literal fist.
    All three I laughed aloud at.

    For several years I've dropped you into conversations about books, like Oh I was reading this Adam Roberts thing, ever heard of him? No? Of course you haven't, no one has. Brilliant fucking writer. Bearded. His Twitter feed is mostly execrable puns, stay well clear of that, but in thirty years everyone'll realize what a run he's having. (And then it's one mighty cultural forehead-slap and, presumably, posthumous honours.)

    I'd like to sock you chummily on the shoulder and give a short speech about the stiffening of the upper lip and the keeping up of the pecker and cetera. But this is no time for chummy penis/mouth talk. I'll just remind you instead not to lose sight of the difference between '"good" enough to win awards' and 'good.' Keep writing Adam Roberts stories, ambitious or (relatively) un-. They matter, which is what matters. I think.

    --wa.

  18. helion Says:
    September 6th, 2016 at 10:27 am

    ...besides, as the great Werner Herzog said: "I'm not out to win prizes - that's for dogs and horses."

  19. Adam Browne Says:
    September 13th, 2016 at 8:27 am

    What a novel. It's the only novel that's held me to the end for months. It satisfies in style and substance. It does everything good literature is meant to do, and everything good sf is meant to do. Congratulations on a wonderfully successful piece of writing.

  20. Phil Christman Says:
    September 14th, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    I want to add to the praise for THE THING ITSELF that has appeared here, although I realize that that praise is fundamentally beside the point that you were making. You're judging yourself on whether you've met the needs of the existing SF audience, and I guess you're right that the evidence for that proposition is bleak right now. But THE THING ITSELF is one of those books that will gradually call its own particular audience into existence; its impact will be deep and slow. That's not the success you were aiming for, but it is more than most writers get, including many award-winners.

    I say this very confidently because, man, do I love this book. I think about it all the time.

    And I really object to the idea that it's a "clever-clever" or "pretentious" novel (though you and I may just use those terms differently). A smart 16-year-old could read it and enjoy most of it except for the more difficult of the pastiche passages; and that same 16-year-old is going to LOVE those passages at 28 or 30 when she or he or ze rereads the book, as s/z/he surely will. Treating your audience like they're smart and curious IS, in the long run, the most democratic, least elitist way to write.

  21. Marc francis Says:
    September 14th, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    The thing itself is a wonderful achievement of engaging plot mixed with a depth of thought that i found very fulfilling as a reader. Unpublished as i am, i would be proud had i produced such a compelling read.

  22. marly Says:
    October 15th, 2016 at 2:14 am

    I'm quite aware of the drip-drip-drip that comes to the writer who does not really care for marketing and pressing the flesh, and I know whereof you speak! But I just want to say the most consoling thing I know: that John Wilson is probably the best-read editor on the planet, and it was John who told me to read you because "everything you write" is interesting.

  23. Adam Roberts Says:
    October 17th, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Again: thank you to everybody who has commented on this thread, and for all the heartening things you have said.

  24. Tyler Says:
    November 13th, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    I agree with everybody on here; I feel grateful to have been able to read and enjoy your books. Such original ideas. And I hope you continue to write many more novels. And I would say don't give up on an american deal. There are so many different scifi publishers and a lot are expanding.

  25. VINICIUS RODRIGUES Says:
    January 4th, 2017 at 5:16 am

    Just finished The Thing Itself. Loved it. What a beautiful distillation of Kant, and what a great take on religion and transcendental feeling.

    I can only think that you're succumbing to that you criticize, this 'trumpian'ethics of winning, of being above everyone else, of getting the prize... See, there is no prize, in the end, other than the value you give yourself.

    Of course, many things will affect how you value yourself, but I can tell you that if you wrote this marvelous novel - your 16th - there is no way you should be calling yourself a failure as a writer, even though the awards are not there, and commercial success is not following... anyways, all I wanna say is, you have readers - I'm a new one - who admire you and wanna see you writing again. In fact, I loved the discussions about religion and God in this book, and would love if you could reply to me privately about how you came to them...

    V.

  26. David Stevens Says:
    January 22nd, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Stuff it. Stuff them. Be MORE ambitious. Why not?

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