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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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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

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.

1 Comment so far

Hyperion. And on. And on.

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

Through the letterbox today: lovely new VG Masterworks edition of Simmons' Hyperion, with an introduction by me. Trundle over to Punkadiddle for some thoughts on this title (and, if you're so minded, longer thoughts on the sequel volumes). Worth buying, if you're looking for a good read.

3 Comments to-date;

Vote Early and Vote Often

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

Click to embiggen. (Hint: bottom right hand corner. That's right! Gollancz has been publishing since AD 196! Appropriately enough, that was the 'Year of the Consulship of Dexter and Messalla'; which explains why Orion publish all the Dexter books).

No, wait: you're looking in the wrong bottom right hand corner ... [Link]

13 Comments to-date;

Sawyer & Wright (eds) Teaching Science Fiction (Palgrave 2011)

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

Just in: this promising looking collection of essays by many luminaries of contemporary SF criticism:

The importance of science fiction to undergraduate literary studies cannot be underestimated. Its capacity to challenge students' social, political and cultural perspectives makes it invaluable in highlighting the contingent nature of contemporary society and the potential for change. Teaching Science Fiction is the first book in thirty years to address how science fiction might be taught to this effect. It presents comprehensive treatments of the major phases in the development of the genre including the scientific romance, Golden Age science fiction, the New Wave and science fiction's engagement with the postmodern. The book identifies and explores innovative teaching strategies which will both engage and challenge students whilst providing practical advice on how an sf course can be designed, delivered and evaluated. Sample syllabuses, a detailed chronology, a compact history of the genre and an extensive bibliography make this an invaluable guide for anyone teaching, or considering teaching, science fiction at undergraduate level.

Contributors include the currently BSFA nominated Paul Kincaid, Gary K Wolfe, Chris Ferns, Gary Westfahl, Lisa Yaszek, Rob Latham, Andrew M. Butler (he was using the stylish 'M' middle-initial to differentiate himself long before Iain Banks got in on that act), Brain Attebery, Uppinder Mehan, M, Elizabeth Ginway, Mark Brake, Neil Hook and of course the editors Andy Sawyer and Peter Wright, estmable SF scholars both. I mention it here because I'm in there too (my chapter is called 'Teaching Scientific Romance'); but there is a great deal of critical, theoretical and --as you'd expect from the title -- pedagogicaly practical meat between these covers.

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DIY Cover Design

By Adam Roberts | April 2, 2011
Categories: Book News

I'm wondering about putting out an ebook edition of an as-yet unpublished book. Not sure about it, to be frank; but I am at least wondering. And following this piece of good advice from [namedrop] Paul McAuley [/namedrop] ('one bit of advice - covers. Even a 70p short story needs a good cover. If you don't have any graphic design background get someone who has') I've been thinking about cover design. I wrote a novel called A Solid Gold Penny which hasn't yet been published; and in the absence of regular publishers badgering me to put it out themselves, I'm wondering if it might suit ePub -- either the whole thing, or else the first third, a self-contained novella-length piece about a seventeenth-century orphan who picks up the power of life or death after an alien encounter. Copyediting my own title, proofing it, putting it on amazon and so on are all ahead of me, and all more or less unappealing prospects: but Paul's point about covers is something else again. Probably I should pay someone who has graphic design experience to do a better job. What do we think of the above?
Update: another go, less funereally rendered, and taking on board Sensawunda's helpful pointers in the comments:

Update 2: still tinkering.

Update 3: picking up Paul R's ideas, and the comments thread in general.

19 Comments to-date;

By Light Alone

By Adam Roberts | March 26, 2011
Categories: Book News

The copyedited MS of By Light Alone has arrived. I'm going through it now. I think I shall change the ending a little bit. Just a little.

1 Comment so far

Cultural Life

By Adam Roberts | March 26, 2011
Categories: Chitchat

In other news, I discover I am part of Frank Skinner's cultural life.

3 Comments to-date;

NMA again

By Adam Roberts | March 26, 2011
Categories: Reviews

I still think, all things considered, that New Model Army is my best novel, though my confidence has been dented somewhat recently by its absence from the 2010 Locus Recommended reading list, the Clarke shortlist, the SF Site 2010 list and so on, and so forth. Anyway, in the circumstances it is heartening for me that there are people out there who do like the book: here, for example, is a thoughtful and perceptive piece by 'Antony' at SF Book Reviews.

4 Comments to-date;

Jeter’s Morlock Night (1979)

By Adam Roberts | March 16, 2011
Categories: Book News

Isn't that a lovely piece of cover design? You can, as the Germans put it, 'embiggenklick' that image to make it larger. What's more, Angry Robot Books have done a similarly impressive job on another Jeter re-release, Infernal Devices (see for yourself).

I'm mentioning this particular piece of SF Classic Reissuance not just for the sake of it, but because this particular Angry Robot edition contains not only an introduction by current Clarke nominee and friend-of-Jeter Tim Powers, but also what the blurb on the back of the book calls 'a Scholarly Afterword by Adam Roberts'. So there we are.

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Rich Puchalsky, ‘On Learning to read Adam Roberts’

By Adam Roberts | March 9, 2011
Categories: Reviews

Typical: you wait for ages for an 'On Learning to Read Adam Roberts' post, then two come along at once! Go to Rich Puchalsky's blog and check this one out.

8 Comments to-date;

Paul Kincaid, ‘Learning to Read Adam Roberts’

By Adam Roberts | March 8, 2011
Categories: Reviews

Read his column at Big Other. Kincaid is up for this year's BSFA Award for Non-Fiction (if you're a BSFA member you can vote for him). I hope he wins.

2 Comments to-date;

Reading ‘Graphs, Maps and Trees’

By Adam Roberts | March 2, 2011
Categories: Book News

Through the letterbox comes this handsomely produced volume: Reading Graphs, Maps and Trees: Critical Responses to Franco Moretti, edited by Jonathan Goodwin and John Holbo [Parlor Press 2009]. Go to the site, there, to download the book under a Creative Commons licence, or buy it for the cheap-cheap price of $18. It is, as it says, a group of essays responding to Franco Moretti’s Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History (Verso 2005; 'one of the most provocative recent works of literary history' apparently), all of which originally appeared as part of a book event on The Valve, now edited into book form. My contribution is one of the least (it is exactly what its title suggests it is, 'A Brief Note on Moretti and Science Fiction'), not because I don't think highly of Moretti's book (I do), but precisely because I didn't have much to add. But you should download or, better still, buy the book: the final essay, Cosma Shalizi's 'Graphs, Trees, Materialism, Fishing', in particular is a doozy. Holbo, half the editorial team, has blogged its appearance on Crooked Timber. Check it out.

1 Comment so far

Fringe Interview

By Adam Roberts | February 24, 2011
Categories: Chitchat

A while ago the estimable Scott Wilson interviewed me about parodies and such for Oz's premier genre magazine, The Fringe. You'll find the original here. If you don't do so already then you'll want to keep up to date with The Fringe, for it is good. At any rate, here's the Q & A:

The Fringe, Dec 2010

Scott: Thank you so much taking the time to chat with us here at The Fringe magazine. I’ve recently finished reading your latest novel, The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Adam: Thankee!

Scott: What inspired you to write the parody of the Hobbit, The Soddit, and now The Dragon With The Girl Tattoo, a parody of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo?

Adam: I am inspired by the muse of parody, Pistākia. We all are, all of us parodists. Anybody who says otherwise is a dirty liar. She visits us in the small hours and puts the bat of parody up our nightdresses. Metaphorically speaking,

Scott: I’m a big fan of parody books and novels, especially ones like Scary Movie and the like. Do you enjoy this genre of movie as well or do you prefer the written format?

Adam: I like anything that’ll make me laugh: films, TV, books, anything. With written parody there’s an additional level of admiration—writing properly comic prose is just, technically speaking, very hard, for the simple reason that it’s much harder to judge the timing of a gag when you write it for somebody else to read at their pace. Writers who can do that, like Wodehouse or Clive James, are a marvel to me. On screen, or telly, that’s easier (you control the pace, and therefore the timing). But certainly there are parodic films seem to me amongst the greatest masterpieces of cinema. I’m thinking of Woody Allen’s Love and Death, Airplane!, Shrek.

Scott: What do you think about the latest trend of the Mash Up novel, such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Do you think they require much skill to write compare to a parody where you are recreating the story in a humorous fashion?

Adam: I have nothing but contempt for a writer who would take a classic English novel and rewrite it so as to include zombies. Contempt, I say. Indeed, contempt is too weak a word for what I feel. I need a harder word. I feel nothing but granite for such writers. I feel nothing but diamond.

Scott: With the introduction of e-book readers, like Kindle and Sony Reader, there is a current debate about the piracy of e-books and the loss of the print media. How do you feel about e-books?

Adam: I feel love.

Scott: A lot of new writers often ask about the amount of pages or words that a published author produces each day. How much time would you spend writing on a typical day, (if a typical day exists for a writer that is)?

Adam: I have kids now: my daughter’s nine and my son will be three in a couple of weeks. God knows I love them, but they don’t half knock a dint into the amount of time I have to write, and perhaps more pertinently the amount of energy. That and the fact that I have a day job, to help me pay the mortgage (I’m Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London) means that my time is squeezed. So the answer to your question is: I write at every opportunity I get. It means, at least, that I’m necessarily more disciplined. About the use of my time than I have hitherto been. If I’m in college, I’ll write at odd moments, usually in the evening. If I’m not, I’ll drop the kids at school and nursery, and go sit in a coffee shop with my laptop. I’ll buy the biggest cup of coffee they sell, a huge porcelain bucket of coffee, plug in my iPod with some suitable music, and then write like a dervish for as long as I can. Well. Not like a dervish, I suppose. Dervishes spin round and round. I don’t write like that. That would make me dizzy.

Scott: What sparked your interest in writing and did you start off by writing short stories or go straight to working on a novel? What markets did you send your short fiction to?

Adam: There are good reasons why new writers start with shorter fiction, to hone their craft, and to get into the habits of submitting work, dealing with rejection, selling stuff, building a reputation and so on, before going on to novels. As it happens, I didn’t do that. I do write short stories, sometimes, but only if someone specifically asks me to. Otherwise I’ll write a novel. There’s something about the novel form, its length and complexity, its elbow-room or its heft, that feels righter to me than shorter modes. So, no, I didn’t start by writing shorts—I wrote novels from the get-go. At first I wrote crap novels. Then I wrote novels that were less crap. Eventually, the crapness quotient of my novels diminished.

Scott: How do you approach your writing? Do you tend to develop a story in your mind and then proceed to conduct some research or is more of an organic method where you write the story first and research any technical aspects later?

Adam: It’s a pretty weak-ass answer (and I know Australians despise weakness), but “it depends”. Generally a medium path is needful: if I don’t know anything about what I’m going to write it’ll turn into sprawl; but if I know every last detail, all plotted and planned in advance, then the actual writing will become a chore, and that fact will communicate itself to the readers. Actual hard research I’ll partly do in advance, and partly as I go along; but the rest of it I’ll have some sense of what I’m doing, but leave myself space to surprise myself too.

Scott: As a writer it is interesting to hear what other writers read in their spare time. It is often surprising to hear the genres and variety of books other authors read. Can you tell us what are you reading at the moment and what you five favourite books are?

Adam: I read all the time: in bed before I go to sleep, when I’m sitting on the loo, on the train, when I’ve an odd moment, sitting in a chair, whilst I’m waiting for the kettle to boil, whilst the telly is on, whilst I’m cooking (a book in one hand, a pan in another, you see how it goes). My wife told me off for reading whilst I was driving, once. I mean, I wasn’t actually reading and driving at the same time; but—well, you know. Waiting at a red light. A book on the passenger seat. Pick it up, read a sentence, read another, hear the car behind me beeping, put the book down … and so on. If I were asked to offer advice to a new writer it would be: read as much as you can, as widely as you can. What am I reading right now? Well, I’m typing this in the evening (UK time) of the 7th December 2010. I’ve just finished reading Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, because the Guardian asked me to review it (it’s good). I’ve also just re-read Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son (1907), because I have to lecture on it, this Friday (it’s really, really good). And, connected with that, earlier this afternoon I read quickly through Gosse’s father’s Omphalos (1857) in Google Books’ collection of out of copyright stuff. Omphalos is an attempt to reconcile Genesis with geological science, marvellously and ingeniously bonkers. I’m now reading David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which is OK so far, although it’s not really blowing my mind. Or any other part of my anatomy. My five favourite books? That’s a really tough call. The big influences on me as a writer are things like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, which I read first when I was twelve and have read every year since, more or less; Le Guin’s Dispossessed; Nabokov’s Pnin, or some of his short stories; one of the big late Dickens—Bleak House, maybe; or Dorrit—an early Chris Priest novel and … or wait, is that five?

Scott: There seems to be a lot more options available to authors to get published now compared to say a decade ago. What advice would you offer to unpublished writers in approaching publishers for the first time?

Adam: Be professional. It’s probably a good idea to get yourself an agent, but if you don’t: do a little research, treat the publishers as human beings, be professional, show a little respect, and a little common sense.

Scott: If you were stranded on a desert island, what five authors would you like to have as companions and why?

Adam: I’d want five very large, very buoyant writers, so I could strap them altogether to make a raft and come home. G K Chesterton, Dumas père, the rather wonderful Sam Sykes, writers like that. To be honest, I don’t know if I like the sound of this desert island very much. What’s the bookshop situation here? How easy is it for me to get coffee, and new books? Do they play cricket? What am I doing here?

Scott: Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to your next book.

Adam: Thank you! No, it’s a greater honour for me.

I think that about covers all the necessary bases. In the end I finished reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, and thought it was OK, although it didn't really blow my mind.

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