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.

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

Latest News

First Fictions

By Adam Roberts | January 19, 2012
Categories: Events and Appearances

I'm appearing at the First Fictions event this weekend, at the University of Sussex -- Sunday 22nd Jan. It would be great to see you, if you're there, or thereabouts.

At 4pm I'll be interviewing the superb Elleke Boehmer, both a brilliant literary critic and postcolonial theorist, and an exceptional novelist.

Then, two hours later at 6pm, I'm talking about my most beloved subject, science fiction, sharing the stage with crime writer Andrew Pepper.

No Comments Yet - Please feel free

Ellison, and on, and on

By Adam Roberts | January 14, 2012
Categories: Book News

Through the frontdoor post-hole this morning: my copy of the Gollancz 'SF Masterworks' edition of this great classic of the genre, Edited By Harlan Ellison, by Dan G. Rous Visions. 600 pages of stories that changed science fiction: £9.99 on the back cover (£5.29 from amazon right now, I see), unmissable. This new edition incorporates introductions from both Mr Visions himself, and from Michael Moorcock (these date from a 2002 reissue of the book) plus a brand new extra introduction by me. Two more things: (1) I see the SF Masterworks series even has its own Wikipedia page; and (2) isn't that a superb piece of cover design by the peerless Vincent Chong? Check out his website page on the brief.

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By Light Alone

By Adam Roberts | January 13, 2012
Categories: Reviews

A little belatedly (must attend to this 'bsite more frequently): a brief round-up of things that have been written about By Light Alone. To begin with a couple of actual readers, since they're the most important people. First Lizzie Barrett, on facebook:

I have just finished By Light Alone by Adam Roberts. If you like political literary novels, if you like emotionally compelling stories, if you like science fiction, you will like this. Hell, if you like your words strung together in beautiful and profound sentences so that you reread them for the sheer joy of language, you will like this.

Then, for balance, an anonymous reader, reported by Michelle Howe:

I recommended BLA to a collegue who likes hard sf and political intrigue, so of course I thought he'd love it. He didn't, and now is telling everyone not to trust my recs or reviews.

Marmite-acious. Over on the Strange Horizons blog Niall Harrison, that tall man, has written a characteristically insightful and intelligent account of the novel, putting it in the wider context of plays novels what I write:

Adam Roberts novels, it seems to me today, often worry at questions of sincerity and insincerity -- or authenticity and inauthenticity... For someone often pegged as a quite cynical, sardonic commentator, Roberts' fiction concerns itself quite often with what you might call verities of "the human condition", as conventionally understood -- there are essays to be written about love in Adam Roberts novels, and war in Adam Roberts novels -- albeit rarely in conventional forms, indeed usually deliberately contrary or challenging: the emotional arcs in Swiftly most infamously, perhaps. And more significantly, science fiction as published today is a fundamentally sincere genre: earnest, even, both politically and stylistically. Because Adam Roberts novels are only ever sincere in backhanded ways, and frequently insincere in obvious ways, it's easy to see them as critiquing science fiction; and they usually are; but per Puchalsky they're usually doing more than that as well, I think.

Niall links to pieces by Rich Puchalsky and Paul Kincaid that I've mentioned before on this site, but he also links to an interesting essay by Lavie Tidhar about me qua problem, 'Shall I Tell You The Problem With Adam Roberts?'. The whole thing is thought-provoking, but Lavie's thesis is summed-up in his conclusion: 'He is both the Fool and Knave of science fiction.'

So there you go.

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Langer’s Science Fiction and Postcolonialism

By Adam Roberts | December 19, 2011
Categories: Book News

Here's something to take not of (erm, '... of which to take note') if you're interested in SF. The brilliant Jessica Langer's brilliant Science Fiction and Postcolonialism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) is now available. Three things you should do.

1. Buy a copy.

2. Check out tomorrow (Tuesday, around 10 AM North American time), who are running an except from the book.

3. Nominate Dr Langer for a best-related Hugo and/or best-related BSFA award, if you have that power.

That is all. (What's that? My 'buy a copy' link goes to a UK site? Oh, right. Here you go).

3 Comments to-date;

Adam Robots

By Adam Roberts | December 13, 2011
Categories: Book News

Luke Yexley is a talented individual presently doing an A-Level in design. As part of his coursework, and in consultation with me, he has designed a cover for a collection of my short stories. And here's the result -- very nice, I think. I'd suggest you click-to-embiggen the above brother-of-simon Jay Pegg, and decide for yourself. [I have signed a contract with Gollancz to issue a collection of short fiction, actually: should be out some time next year I think].

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Kitschies Steampunk Evening

By Adam Roberts | December 7, 2011
Categories: Events and Appearances

Tomorrow evening (that's Thursday 8th December, 6:00-8:30pm at Blackwells Bookshop, 100 Charing Cross Road): entrance free -- come and meet Jonathan Green, Frances Hardinge, Kim Lakin-Smith, Philip Reeve, me, Lavie Tidhar and China Miéville. I shall wear a tie. It would be rude of you not to come.

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By Adam Roberts | November 23, 2011
Categories: Blogging

Read all about it.

1 Comment so far

Solaris Rising

By Adam Roberts | November 10, 2011
Categories: Book News, Events and Appearances

After three previous volumes (two of which contained stories by me) Solaris is rising again, thanks to the metaphorical yeast of Ian Whates, that excellent individual. My contribution this time is a story called 'Shall I Tell You The Trouble With Time Travel?' In this story, I tell you, the reader, the trouble with time travel.

[14 Nov: this just in from, whose reader reviews are, as we all know, infallible: 'OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I first read the Peter Hamilton story ... and the Adam Roberts story which features another crazy explanation of a sf trope, this time the paradoxes of time travel and has the expected superb prose and characters, while not much later I also read the Alastair Reynolds story which contained the author's trademark serious cosmological stuff interspersed with human interest that has made him the leading hard sf voice of our time ... In addition to the trio above, the stories by Eric Brown/Keith Brooke and Jaine Fenn respectively were also excellent ... great prose and characters added these two stories to the A++ top tier ones of the anthology. Overall I would say that Adam Roberts Shall I Tell You the Problem with Time Travel? is my favorite story of the anthology, but all of these five are stories that reminded me again why I love science fiction in the short form too!']

[17 Nov: A signing! A signing in Forbidden Planet, on Saturday 26th November at 1pm!]

[22nd Nov: My last update to this post ... I just saw the SFX review of this volume, sadly not online, which praised the whole thing, and praised my story in particular ('sublimely good ... worth the price of admission alone'). Which is nice.]

5 Comments to-date;

Is Science Fiction the only true relevant literary genre today?

By Adam Roberts | October 24, 2011
Categories: Events and Appearances

You want an answer to that question? Why, then, you must come along to this:

Event: Is Science Fiction the only true relevant literary genre today?
7 November 2011
New Scientist and the Waterstones Gower Street Lecture Series present, Is Science Fiction the only truly relevant literary genre today?

Simon Ings, author of Dead Water, will be chairing this panel discussion on the importance and relevance of science fiction as a literary genre in today's modern world.

The panel will include British sci-fi author and three-time nominee of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Adam Roberts, the director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Tom Hunter and John Sutherland, Emeritus Professor of Modern English Literature at UCL and author of the new book Lives of the Novelists.

Tickets are £6 for New Scientist readers and £5 for students. To purchase your tickets visit:

Is Science Fiction the only truly relevant literary genre today?
Chaired by Simon Ings
Date: Monday 7th November 2011, 7pm
Location: UCL, London, WC1E 7JG

5 Comments to-date;

Jahr Jahr Binks

By Adam Roberts | October 22, 2011
Categories: Book News

Sascha Mamczak, Wolfgang Jeschke (eds) Das Science Fiction Jahr 2011 (Heyne 2011) -- Es kam in der Post. Es war groß, sehr groß und gefüllt mit SF - inklusive einem Interview mit "Adam Roberts" von Sascha Mamczak. Voon. Der. Bar. (Seriously -- 1312 pages! How do they do it? Amazing)

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By Adam Roberts | October 15, 2011
Categories: Book News

Very exciting: the long-awaited, much-expanded 3rd edition of the genre's standard reference work, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (edited John Clute, Peter Nicholls and David Langford) has at last gone live -- or at least, its Beta edition has (you can find out what the 'beta edition' is, here). I've made some miniscule contribution to this by writing a few entries on SF Music; but really this staggering, amazing achievement belongs to Peter, John and David, not to mention the estimable Graham Sleight. I'm more delighted for them than I can easily say; and I'm very honoured to be associated with the project, even in a marginal sense.

Since going live, there's been a good quantity of feedback from fans and readers, which is an excellent thing. I'm very happy to take corrections where my music entries are concerned, of course; either here or through the site's own contact page (or via Graham's SFE3 blog). It's also good to get suggestions of SF music I've not yet got to: I'm very grateful, for instance, to Jez Winship and Neil Snowdon, whose long, thoughtful response to the release of the SFE3-beta contains a wealth of suggestions for more music entries. I'm writing some of these now, as it happens.

3 Comments to-date;

Cheltenham Literary Festival 2011

By Adam Roberts | October 11, 2011
Categories: Events and Appearances

I'm appearing at the Cheltenham Literary Festival tomorrow (Wednesday) ayt 17:00, in company of the eloquently intelligent Mark Brake. Come along: it would be great to see you! (The event is sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, an excellent organisation, and deserving of our support).

Now, now, you may be saying: that's all very well -- but what will you and Mr Brake be talking about? That's a good question. Come along, I urge you, and find out!

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Gollancz 50

By Adam Roberts | October 5, 2011
Categories: Book News

Here are 10 titles you have already read, or if you haven't you (a) ought to be ashamed, and (b) ought to read them at once. Gollancz have yellowed them up nicely, and put them on sale: check them out. One of them has an introduction by me! But I won't tell you which. Oh, alright, it's Pratchett's hilarious, brilliant Eric:

5 Comments to-date;

Wasson and Alder (eds) Gothic Science Fiction 1980-2010 (Liverpool 2011)

By Adam Roberts | October 4, 2011
Categories: Book News

Dev Wasson-Gothic Science Fiction (2)
Nice cover, what? This collection of ver interesting essays is now available, from Liverpool University Press. Its own extensive merits recommend it, without any need for my puffery; although I mention it here because I furnished a brief preface to the volume.

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Karel Čapek Gollanč Masterwork

By Adam Roberts | September 22, 2011
Categories: Book News

In today's post: extra-handsome SF Masterworks edition of two Karel Čapek titles ('R.U.R.' and 'War With The Newts') with an introduction by me. The intro covers various things, although doesn't have space for Čapek's famous collaboration with Jimi Hendrix, the concept album 'R.U.Rxperienced?', nor the 'special advisor' role Ken Livingstone played in the gestation of the War novel. But hopefully there's some interesting stuff in there anyway. On sale now.

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By Adam Roberts | September 21, 2011
Categories: Book News, Chitchat

That time of year again: a new academic term, which will (of course) soak up the lion's share of my time and energy until Christmas. I'll try not to go wholly silent here (or over here, either; here will keep on plodding its daily plod, regardless), but posting may de-frequentify.

Still: news is -- I've now written a first draft of this title, with some changes (the Captain is now called 'Cloche' instead of 'Mason', for instance). The plan -- if I can persuade him, and he has the time -- is for the most excellent Mahendra Singh to illustrate it, in his initmiable, wonderful way: check out his Carroltastic Snark blog for some examples of what he does. I'm toying with the notion of translating it into French and seeing if les gens Bragelonne would be interested in it. Otherwise, I'm adding a couple more goodies to what will be the e-edition of Jack Glass, my 2012 Gollancz title.

1 Comment so far

By Light Alone on the Radio 2 Book Club (with Simon Mayo)

By Adam Roberts | September 12, 2011
Categories: Events and Appearances

I'm thrilled that By Light Alone has been chosen for the Radio 2 Book Club, as hosted by the excellent Simon Mayo. I'll be appearing on the drivetime show next Monday (that's the 19th September, at 1800) to talk about the novel; and answering questions online afterwards. More details, and a free chapter, here.

1 Comment so far


By Adam Roberts | September 12, 2011
Categories: Book News, Reviews

Still available for e-download, at the ridiculously inflated price of £0.86p (or 99c), my dwarf novel Anticopernicus has been reviewed in a few places. For starters, Rich Puchalsky has turned his acute critical intelligence upon it [the review contains spoilers]:

The whole point of SF being a literature of ideas is not that it's supposed to be ideas about geosynchronous satellites that people later actually invent. Well, some fans think that it is, but I don't. It's supposed to be about ideas that de-center you, make you rethink where you are in ways that more realistic literature can't, because reality as we know it doesn't furnish what we need to see our position of privilege. Hard SF is supposed to do that with scientific ideas, ideas that have force because, as far as we know, they're really true. That is what is essential to hard SF, not scientific plausibility in all of the story's supports. So, does Anti-Copernicus work as hard SF? I think it does.

Rich knows both astrophysics and environmental science, so I value his judgment on this even more than I usually would. And Liviu Siciu (aka 'Fantasy Book Critic') has the following to say:

Anticopernicus (A+) is very good stuff and worth all the money and more, since it offers in those 40 pages what others offer in 300, while it has a great resolution in true sfnal spirit. Despite being self published, the editing was top notch too, with only one typo that jumped at me. Highly recommended as a blend of literary fiction, space sf and musings on humanity and our place in the Universe. Since the style is so Adam Roberts, I think Anticopernicus serves as a very good introduction to the work of the author, so I also suggest to give it a try if you want to see why I rate Adam Roberts in my top 10 list of contemporary sf writers.

There are some more reactions to the piece on Goodreads.

One more thing: soon after the book's e-publication I got an email from Ange Mlinko (after whom the protagonist is named); she subsequently blogged her reaction on the LRB blog. Interesting stuff.

1 Comment so far

Lemistry: A Celebration of Stanisław Lem

By Adam Roberts | September 8, 2011
Categories: Events and Appearances

When: Fri 9 Sep 2011, 18.30 – 20.00
Where: Conference Centre, British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

"A truly great European writer, Stanisław Lem (1921-2006) transcends both Polish literature and his chosen genre, science fiction. Best known for his twice-filmed novel Solaris, he was a virtuoso storyteller who packed his writing with philosophy, comedy, and allegory. This evening’s rich celebration features contributions by writers John Gray, Toby Litt, Wojciech Orliński and Adam Roberts, eminent translator Antonia Lloyd-Jones and film makers Ari Folman (currently filming Lem’s The Futurological Congress as follow up to Waltz with Bashir) and The Brothers Quay. Chaired by journalist and critic Rosie Goldsmith."

1 Comment so far

By Light Reviewed

By Adam Roberts | September 8, 2011
Categories: Book News, Reviews

I've been neglecting this website: apologies. I'll make things a little busier here, starting off with some reviews of By Light Alone. Here's Stuart Kelly, at the Scotsman:

TWO years ago, Kim Stanley Robinson declared that Adam Roberts ought to have won that year's Man Booker Prize. Roberts, like writers as diverse as China Mieville, Will Self, Ken MacLeod and David Wingrove, exists in that weird hinterland between literary and genre fiction. By Light Alone is both more interesting in terms of its ideas and more memorable in terms of the actual, sentence-by-sentence writing on the page than much of what passes as serious fiction. I once, in a rather exasperated moment, said that I yearned for a literature without dinner parties. By Light Alone, with nauseous and visceral brilliance, manages to be a great contemporary novel that includes even them. ... Roberts is asking important questions about the nature of need, the metaphysics of hunger and how revolutions come about, both technologically and politically. Maybe it's time for a new prize: not for "literary fiction" or "good reads" but for novels that actually challenge.

To have pleased a critic as intelligent and perceptive as Kelly is very gratifying indeed. Here's the equally intelligent Guy Haley at SFX:

Is it possible for a writer to follow the precepts of Moore’s Law, doubling their capacity for excellence with every book? Probably not, but Adam Roberts is giving it a spirited try ... Roberts cunningly pricks out the ridiculous shape of our society with wickedly sharp satire. Inequality and self-obsession are his targets, and yet he manages to hit them while keeping his characters entirely human and sympathetic. No-one does SF parables quite like Roberts, and as usual it’s all spun from the most amazing prose. Taken in isolation, his sentences here tend to the overly candied, but the effect of them en masse is hypnotically poetic. It’s brilliantly effective, and affecting. Roberts’s SF novels are all worthy of praise, but there’s a certain majesty to By Light Alone – better rush out now and buy it, before the mainstream literary establishment sweeps Roberts under its wing and tells us he’s not aloud to play out with the nerds anymore. It’s hard for us sometimes to credit some of the claims made by PR, but when Gollancz calls Roberts one of the most important writers of his generation, it’s something of an understatement: this man puts art at the heart of our genre.

Here's the estimable David Barnett, in the Independent on Sunday:

If By Light Alone were written by David Mitchell or Margaret Atwood, for example, it would doubtless be said to "transcend its science fiction" roots, as all literary fiction which borrows SF trappings must. But By Light Alone is unashamedly SF, and would that half the supposed "literary" novels on the shelves today were as well written, thoughtful and intelligent as this.

And here is James Lovegrove, in the Financial Times:

Adam Roberts is our most intellectually engaged and literary science fiction author, crafting sentences the equal of any by Ian McEwan or Kazuo Ishiguro. His 11th novel, By Light Alone, hinges on the idea that genetic engineering has created hair that can photosynthesise sunlight. The world’s poor survive simply by being outdoors, while the rich shun the treatment and consume expensive food. ... Not only is the novel a satire about the gulfs of understanding between rich and poor but also an affecting study of the gulfs of understanding between parents and children.

Finally here's Gwyneth Jones, in the Guardian. A rather negative review -- though it's an honour to be reviewed by a writer of her stature:

Every element in the story of Leah's disappearence and return will be equally, annoyingly shorn of context, all details blurred and dim – swamped in the mush of Marie's utter indifference, and George's helpless failure to connect. Clearly, one of the targets of Roberts's satire is a fat-headed culture of ignorance. Likewise, there's a righteous purpose, as well as some malicious glee, in the obesity motif. The titanic blimps who stomp through these serious pages, in a pastiche of gross-out reality TV – Very Fat People Having Sex; Very Fat People Sicking Up Their Dinners – are there to teach us a lesson. By making visible the invisible blubber that swaddles our own beautiful people – the sickening cushion of wealth that smothers empathy – Roberts strips the super-rich of glamour and lampoons everyperson's complicity in the toxic religion of greed. If some readers are offended or sceptical of his motives, that's a risk he seems happy to take. At the Ararat resort there is an attraction called the Ice-Cream Mountain, a Brobdingnagian treat obliquely recalling the mountainous diamond in F Scott Fitzgerald's story, "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz". Fitzgerald's influence is cited in the publicity for By Light Alone, and invoked by the novel's handsome cover; and justly so. But Roberts's updating of romantic jazz age pessimism is ironic. The wondrous gem has become an infantile heap of goo. The rich just aren't different enough, these days. Extreme wealth isn't a tragic, interesting disease, it's a planet-wrecking blight. It's not pretty, and it's not romantic.

2 Comments to-date;


By Adam Roberts | July 29, 2011
Categories: Book News

Author copies arrived today. Looks even more beautiful when held in the hand than it does online. You can pre-order a copy, or wait until the 18th August when it hits the shops.

Another thing occurs to me: I'm proud of this one.

7 Comments to-date;


By Adam Roberts | July 21, 2011
Categories: Book News

Adam Roberts, Anticopernicus (2011). £0.86p, or equivalent. Available for Kindle download on Amazon now.

Update: also available for download in EPUB format from Wizard Tower books (same price). While you're there, you may want to check out their other many excellent books.

A tentative dipping of one of my toes into the world of e-publishing, this: a Dwarf Novel called Anticopernicus: four chapters (about 15,000 words) never before published, and not to be made available in any other way, yours for the low-low price of eighty-six pence, or equivalent prices in cents, American or European. And yes, that is the proper terminology: it's the same across the world -- in French (roman nain), German (Zwergroman), Russian (карликовая роман), Arabic (كوكب قزم), Chinese (矮行星) and so on.

The book is a brief but I hope readable and thought-provoking Alien First Contact/space flight yarn, and it also happens to contain the answers to the following two questions, which have been tormenting modern science -- (a) what, precisely, is dark energy? and (b) what is the solution to the celebrated Fermi Paradox? I think I'm right in saying that the answers to both questions proposed in Anticopernicus are new and original; and I hope they have some dramatic effectiveness, although I can't claim they're necessarily right. But you never know. If you have a Kindle, or have downloaded the (free) Kindle app to your smartphone or iPad, then I ask you politely to go to amazon and spend 0.86p on this short tale. I'll be very grateful if you do.

At any rate, this is my first endeavour in the world of auto-ePublishing. I don't expect to the book to sell enormously or make me much money; but if it does reasonably well (and 'reasonably' means: anything that isn't catastrophically badly) I may publish another dwarf novel via the same route at some point in the future. (Remember: 30% of that 86p goes straight into my pocket! Alternatively you could just give me 28p when you see me next).

One final note: the splendid cover art you can see there was done by the very talented Bruce Asher. If you're looking for cover- or poster-art for any reason, I recommend him: he works quickly, to a high standard, and his rates are very reasonable.

15 Comments to-date;


By Adam Roberts | July 5, 2011
Categories: Events and Appearances

From Wednesday 6th July through to Friday 8th I shall be a guest of NIFFF: that is to say, the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival. Check out their website (you'll find me hiding, with others, behind the 'New Worlds of Fantasy' link on the left-hand sidebar). If you happen to be in beautiful Neuchâtel, come up and say hello. It'd be nice to see you.

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Nová Dobrodružství Julese Verna II

By Adam Roberts | June 21, 2011
Categories: Book News



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Dragon with Girl Tattoo

By Adam Roberts | June 20, 2011
Categories: Reviews

David Pitt, evidently a man of critical discernment, reviewing books in in the Canadian Chronicle Herald:

And, just for the heck of it, you should also check out Adam Roberts’ The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo (Gollancz), a wickedly funny parody of the first Millennium novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It follows the events of Larsson’s book pretty closely: Hellfire Vagner disappeared three centuries ago, journalist Kaal Brimston is hired to find out what happened to her, and Lizbreath Salamander ultimately solves the mystery. Larsson’s dark, complex novel is an almost obligatory target for parody, but Roberts, who also wrote the hysterical The Va Dinci Cod (a spoof of The Da Vinci Code), shows a lot of respect for the source material. Sure, he makes fun of it, but he also clearly understands what Larsson was doing, and, on its own terms, this parody is as layered and surprising as the original.


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Herbert, Hellstrom’s Hive (1972)

By Adam Roberts | June 20, 2011
Categories: Book News

The latest handsomely-covered Gollancz Masterwork reissue (with an introduction by me) popped through the door. Interesting lesser-known Herbert, well worth checking out -- a snip at £6:39.

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By Adam Roberts | June 20, 2011
Categories: Chitchat

Hiatus may refer to:

Hiatus, Recess (break)
Hiatus, a small difference in pitch between two musical tones
Hiatus (linguistics), a phonological term referring to the lack of a consonant separating two vowels in separate syllables, as in co-operation
Hiatus (television), a break of several weeks or more in television scheduling
Hiatus (anatomy)
Hiatus, a discontinuity in the age of strata in stratigraphy
Hiatus (band), a Belgian crustcore band
Haitus (housemove), the enforced and massively frustrating gap of two-and-a-half-weeks between moving into a new house, and finally getting the Sky Broadband (for which we are paying) up and running.

Still, I'm back now. And 'Belgian Crustcore' sounds very cool.

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By Adam Roberts | May 11, 2011
Categories: Events and Appearances

OK? Here's what next week holds:

Out of this world?: Why Science Fiction speaks to us all

Friday 20 May 18.30 -20.00

The British Library Conference Centre

Throughout history, people have asked ‘what if?’. We have always allowed our imaginations to create other worlds as expressions of our wildest dreams, hopes and fears, and so better to understand our own. ‘Science Fiction’ expresses this human need in potent ways, but so does the work of Swift, Lewis Carroll and George Orwell. The story and present state of our speculations are explored by Erik Davis, China Miéville, Adam Roberts and Tricia Sullivan. Chaired by Sam Leith.

Tickets £7.50 / £5 available at, by calling 01937 546546 (9am-5pm Mon-Fri) or in person at The British Library

Do come! There's lots of other sfnal stuff stuff going on at the BL over the summer, too. And The British Library exhibition ‘Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it’ opens on Friday 20 May as well. Come! I insist!

3 Comments to-date;

Justina Robson, Heliotrope (2011)

By Adam Roberts | May 7, 2011
Categories: Book News

In the post today: the excellent Justina Robson's first collection of short fiction [published by the Australian press Ticonderoga; in the UK you can buy it from amazon]. I get a copy because I wrote the introduction (Justina in her acknowledgements is kind enough to call it 'insightful', and too kind to point out that it's far from flawlessly proofed -- sorry about that). But if I hadn't been complimentaried a copy I would have bought one anyway. Robson is a great writer, and her short pieces are some of her best.

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The Rees reading

By Adam Roberts | May 7, 2011
Categories: Lit Crit

The last twelve months, like all the previous twelvemonths in my writing career, have not been lucky for me in terms of awards (of course you may think this has nothing to do with luck and everything with my many writerly demerits); but I have been lucky in a number of, I think, genuinely insightful critical readings of my novels. After Paul Kincaid and Rich Puchalsky, comes another really perceptive piece by Gareth Rees: 'Four novels by Adam Roberts'. I am, naturally, very far from the best-placed individual when it comes to judging rightness or wrongness with respect to this sort of thing; but I can say that I recognized myself in his nuanced, insightful piece.

Although I can see influences from both modernism and postmodernism in Roberts’ work, I think his books are actually a fairly traditional form of science fiction: idea-driven, short and punchy, not too bloated with world-building, aiming for an original mix of style and substance. He’s writing the kind of book that I used to find in the library between bright yellow Gollancz covers when I was young: like mid-period Robert Silverberg (A Time of Changes, To Live Forever, Dying Inside, ...), or early Ian Watson (The Embedding, The Martian Inca, Alien Embassy, ...). Energetic, stripped of detail, stylistically distinctive, short enough that you can forgive them their faults. This kind of work doesn’t garner many awards or collect much in the way of a fan base, so it’s always been a minor part of the publishing mix, and authors who made a mark in this niche have usually had to break out of it to gain mainstream success: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Silverberg and Watson both turned their talents to multi-volume fantasy. Roberts has yet to take that path.

Good call on the 'I nodded' on p.83 of Headless, too: that slipped through the net.

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