Ian McDonald: WorldCon Guest of Honour (Part 2)

This month, Ian McDonald is going to be a Guest of Honour at WorldCon in Dublin. Last week, we highlighted some of Ian’s series, and today we want to take a look at his stand-alone novels. You’ll notice a theme in the short intros, below, in that most of Ian’s novels have won and been nominated for a great many awards.

Let’s start with THE DERVISH HOUSE (most recent covers at the top), first published in 2009. This novel racked up an impressive number of awards and nominations — including winning the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, BSFA Best Novel Award, and coming in 3rd for the Locus Award for Best SF Novel. Published in the UK by Gollancz, and in North America via the JABberwocky eBook Program, here’s the synopsis…

Welcome to the world of The Dervish House — the great, ancient, paradoxical city of Istanbul, divided like a human brain, in the great, ancient, equally paradoxical nation of Turkey. With a population pushing one hundred million, and Istanbul alone swollen to fifteen million, Turkey is the largest, most populous, and most diverse nation in the new Europe, but also one of the poorest and most socially divided.

The Dervish House is seven days, six characters, and three interconnected story strands all woven around the common core of the old dervish house of Aden Dede. A terror attack, a vision of djinn, a commodities scam, a hunt for half a miniature Koran that holds the key to new technology, and a quest for a creature from Arabic legend — that may not be so legendary after all.

Here are just a few of the great reviews THE DERVISH HOUSE has received…

‘A lush, complex and hugely entertaining novel.’ — Guardian

‘[A] writer with an unerring instinct for finding resonance between theme and location… a rich and assured novel that, like much of Ken MacLeod’s recent work, revels in the shiny precision of the airport tech-thriller, yet insists on putting forward disquieting ideas rather than offering all-too-neat reassurances that you can somehow put escaped djinns back in bottles. This is as good as contemporary literary SF gets.’ — SFX (5* Review)

‘I know what to expect from Ian McDonald: broad vistas, intricately imagined futures, poetic language that transports and delights, a blend of mysticism and science that thrills and moves. But no matter how much foreknowledge I bring to a new Ian McDonald, I am always, always startled and thrilled by the exciting, moving epic story I find inside… To read McDonald is to fall in love with a place and to become drunk with it… I you’ve never read him, you’re in for a treat. If you’re a fan like me, you’ll be delighted anew. What a wonderful, wonderful book.’ — BoingBoing

‘McDonald has written some of the best SF of the last fifteen years… a mosaic of a story that can be admired for its finely-wrought pieces but not fully appreciated until the book is finished and looked at again from some distance. The biggest part of the thrill is wondering how the characters will inevitably intersect… McDonald, who is a native of Scotland, has an uncanny ability to write about other cultures authentically. He is a painstaking researcher and while he cannot always write with absolute authority, his dedication to making settings and characters feel alive is incredibly impressive… Ian McDonald has crafted a gorgeously lush novel, oozing with exciting, relevant ideas, a love letter to the Queen of Cities, to all cities, really.’ — Tor.com

BRASYL, which also won the BSFA Award for Best Novel, was first published in 2007, did for Brazil what Ian’s acclaimed RIVERS OF GODS and CYBERABAD DAYS did for India in British science fiction. Published in the UK by Gollancz, and in North America via JABberwocky, here’s the synopsis…

Be seduced, amazed, and shocked by one of the world’s greatest and strangest nations. Past, present, and future Brazil, with all its color, passion, and shifting realities, come together in a novel that is part SF, part history, part mystery, and entirely enthralling.

Sao Paulo 2031. Rio 2006. The Amazon 1732.

Three characters, three stories, three Brazils, linked across time, space, and reality in a hugely ambitious story that will challenge the way you think about everything.

Here’s some of what critics have written about BRASYL since it was published…

BRASYL is classic McDonald: a deep thinking, high-paced adventure story, exploring the quantum universe, combining sassy, believable characters with a captivating delight in language and storytelling. McDonald inhabits the Brazil – or rather, the Brazils – of this world and sweeps you along as no other writer in the field could manage.’ Guardian

‘A beautiful story, one that cries out to be read again and again. McDonald’s light is still shining brightly, and considering the consistent quality of his titles, we say long may it burn.’ SciFi Now

‘British author McDonald’s outstanding SF novel channels the vitality of South America’s largest country into an edgy, post-cyberpunk free-for-all… RIVER OF GODS (2004), set in near-future India, established McDonald as a leading writer of intelligent, multicultural SF, and here he captures Latin America’s mingled despair and hope. Chaotic, heartbreaking and joyous, this must-read teeters on the edge of melodrama, but somehow keeps its precarious balance.’ Publishers Weekly

‘Ian McDonald’s BRASYL, with its three storylines, is as close to perfect as any novel in recent memory. It works because of great characterization, but also because McDonald envisions Brazil as a dynamic, living place that is part postmodern trash pile, part trashy reality-TV-driven ethical abyss… and yet also somehow spiritual… McDonald’s novel is always in motion. This movement extends through time and alternate realities in ways both wonderful and wise, as the three storylines interlock for a satisfying and often stunning conclusion. McDonald has found new myths for old places; in doing so, he has cemented his reputation as an amazing storyteller.’ Washington Post

NECROVILLE, which was published in the US as TERMINAL CAFE, was first released in 1994. Currently published by Gollancz in the UK, here’s the synopsis…

In the Los Angeles ghetto of Necroville, the yearly celebration of the Night of the Dead – where the dead are resurrected through the miracle of nanotechnology and live their second lives as non-citizens – becomes a journey of discovery and revelation for five individuals on the run from their pasts.

With his customary flair for making the bizarre both credible and fascinating, McDonald tosses aside the line of demarcation between living and dead in a story that confronts the central quandary of human existence: the essence of non-being.

‘McDonald’s lush prose paints a vivid and credible Armageddon. World-building SF that’s punk, funky, and frightening: a fantastic acid trip to the end of the world.’ — Kirkus

‘McDonald, who won the Philip K. Dick Award for KING OF THE MORNING QUEEN OF THE DAY, reveals the workings of his bizarre society through the exploits of five friends as they search for the meaning of life in the Necroville at Los Angeles on the Night of the Dead. Sorting through five points of view requires some patience, but it is well rewarded. In the best science fiction tradition, McDonald provokes reexamination of current societal standards through the prism of another time and place.’ — Publishers Weekly

‘McDonald revels in the creation of brilliantly described near-futures and lushly exotic settings, and has more ideas in a book than most writers dream up in a lifetime… free-wheeling, mind-spinning novel… In NECROVILLE, decay sits next to fabulous invention, terrible privation next to limitless possibility… offers a graphic dystopian vision.’ Guardian

The next four novels we’ll take a look at are all published via the JABberwocky eBook Program. Here are their details…


Hundreds of years from now, the world is perfect. The Compassionate Society guarantees happiness, peace and total personal fulfillment to its citizens, and those less than satisfied are guilty of Paincrime.

Among them, count cartoonist Courtney Hall, who runs afoul of the Ministry of Pain when one of her cartoons hits a little too close to home. Pursued by the relentless Love Police, she drops down a rabbit hole into a counter-world of rebels, artists and enhanced raccoons.

Out on Blue Six is a fast, funny, bizarre story of an almost-Utopia–and almost-Utopias make the best dystopias.


In Ireland, three generations of young women fight to control the powers coursing through their blood: the power to bring the mystical Otherworld into our world, and change it.

Emily, Jessica and Enye must each face their dark side of human mythoconsciousness – and their own personal histories. But the forces of faerie are ever treacherous…

Filled with vivid, passionate characters you will never forget, King of Morning, Queen of Day is a spellbinding fantasy of the real Ireland.


Grandfather was a tree, Father grew trux, in fifteen colours. Mother could sing the double-helix song, sing it right into the hearts of living things and change them…

The Land is a living, breathing, sentient world, where careful skills and talent can manipulate its very substance into a myriad different shapes and forms.

This is the world in which Mathembe Fileli grows up, until the conflicts tearing her country apart shatter her village, her home and her family and scatter them to the four winds. Can Mathembe reunite her family in a world full of angels, talking trees, squalor and glory?


They’re ancient, power, enigmatic, and here.

Eight million alien Shian have come to Earth. Not as conquerors, or invaders, but as settlers. In exchange for their technology, they’re given places to live.

One of those places in Northern Ireland, where eighty thousand Shian settlers disrupt the old, poisonous duality of Northern Irish life. The Shian remain aloof from the legacy of violence — until a Shian family is murdered down to the last child.

Humans and aliens seem on a collision course, unless Andy Gillespie, ex-con, now Shian translator, can hunt down the killer before they strike again. But that’s not so easy in Northern Ireland…

In addition to these stand-alone novels, Ian is also the author of two collections, which are also available via the JABberwocky eBook Program:

EMPIRE DREAMS, published in 1988…

Published simultaneously with Desolation Road, the Empire Dreams collection coincided with the author’s nomination for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1985.

It collects seven stories in one anthology which is sure to delight fans of Ian McDonald’s full length work.

First published in 1994, here’s the synopsis for SCISSORS CUT PAPER WRAP STONE

Words can control you, words can make you act against your own will… and words can kill.

Ethan Ring discovers computer graphics with profound effects on human minds — fracters. Dark political forces want his power, and Ethan must face the consequences of his creation, and his actions.

In search of redemption, he embarks on an ancient thousand-mile pilgrimage, but can he ever escape the forces that once controlled him, and can he resist the power of the deadly images tattooed onto his hands?


You can read an excerpt from EMPIRE DREAMS here.

Ian’s most recent stand-alone book is the BSFA Award-winning (Shorter Fiction) novella, TIME WAS, which was published recently by Tor.com

A love story stitched across time and war, shaped by the power of books, and ultimately destroyed by it.

In the heart of World War II, Tom and Ben became lovers. Brought together by a secret project designed to hide British targets from German radar, the two founded a love that could not be revealed. When the project went wrong, Tom and Ben vanished into nothingness, presumed dead. Their bodies were never found.

Now the two are lost in time, hunting each other across decades, leaving clues in books of poetry and trying to make their desperate timelines overlap.

‘[E]ntrances readers with this multigenerational novella of two time-crossed lovers who can only meet for brief moments separated by several years… beautiful writing… Fans of science fiction who enjoy a dash of history and legend will savor this tender story.’ — Publishers Weekly

‘This slender, poignant queer romance incorporates time travel and hints of hard science into a story as devastatingly sad—which isn’t to say bleak—as anything you’ll read this year.’ — B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog (Best SFF Books of the Year So Far, 2018, Honourable Mention)

Ben Aaronovitch is GoH at Picocon

We’re very happy to share the news that Ben Aaronovitch will be a Guest of Honour at Picocon this Saturday (17th)! Taking place in Imperial College’s Blackett Building in London, you can find full details here.

Ben is, of course, the author of the best-selling, critically-acclaimed Peter Grant series of novels and comics. The next book in the series, LIES SLEEPING, is due out later this year. Be sure to keep checking our site for the cover and more details (hopefully soon). In the meantime, the first six novels in the series are out now, published by Gollancz in the UK, and Del Rey (1-3) and DAW Books (4-6) in the US. The novels have also been widely published in translation all over the globe. The aforementioned comic series, co-written with Andrew Cartmel, is published by Titan Comics.

This weekend: Ian McDonald is a Guest of Honour at Norwescon!

This weekend, best-selling author Ian McDonald is a Guest of Honour at Norwescon! Here’s his con schedule…

Thursday, 13th

  • 5:00-6:30pm — Guest of Honour Banquet (Grand 2)
  • 7:00-8:00pm — Opening Ceremonies (Grand 3)

Friday, 14th

  • 11:00am-noon — Guest of Honour Reading (Grand 2)

Saturday, 15th

  • noon-1:00pm — Interview and Q&A with Ian McDonald (Evergreen 1&2)
  • 2:00-3:00pm — autographing session 1 (Grand 2)
  • 3:00-4:00pm — autographing session 2 (Grand 2)

Sunday, 16th

  • 4:00-5:00pm — closing ceremonies (Evergreen 3&4)

Ian’s latest series is the critically-acclaimed Luna series: NEW MOON and WOLF MOON. The series is published by Gollancz in the UK and Tor Books in the US. The series has also been published in a number of other languages (more on the way!). Here’s the synopsis for the first novel…

A corporate SF thriller and the deepest evocation yet of the terrors and rigours of life on the moon.

Luna is a gripping thriller about five corporate families caught in a bitter battle for supremacy in the harsh environment of the moon. It’s very easy to die on the moon, but with its vast mineral wealth it’s also easy to make your fortune.

Following the fortunes of a handful of disparate characters, from one of the lowliest workers on the moon to the heads of one of the most powerful families, LUNA provides a vast mosaic of life on this airless and terrifying new home for humanity.

‘Smart, funny, passionate and at times quite dark, McDonald brings the touch we’ve seen in RIVER OF GODS and DERVISH HOUSE to an entirely new culture as it evolves in a distant hostile place where business or family rules all… it’s terrific. My only complaint: it leaves you wanting the second book right now!’ — Jonathan Strahan on LUNA: NEW MOON

‘Superb near-future series… scintillating, violent, and decadent world. McDonald creates a complex and fascinating civilization featuring believable technology, and the characters are fully developed, with individually gripping stories. Watch for this brilliantly constructed family saga on next year’s award ballots.’ Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on LUNA: NEW MOON

‘Mafia-style mining families clash in a compelling fantasy that offers up all the pleasures of a cut-throat soap opera in space… That McDonald is able to spin a compelling story from this unforgiving set-up is testament to his skill as a writer… One thing Luna does exceptionally well is to puncture Old Heinlein’s assumption that a frontier society based on the primacy of the family and a disregard of conventional laws would end up like idealised smalltown America. Luna argues that any realistic future colonisation of the moon will be much more The Sopranos than The Waltons. LUNA is as gripping as it is colourful, and as colourful as it is nasty.’ — Guardian on LUNA: NEW MOON

No one writes like Ian McDonald, and no one’s Moon is nearly so beautiful and terrible… Ian McDonald’s never written a bad novel, but this is a great Ian McDonald novel… McDonald has ten details for every detail proffered by other sf writers. Not gratuitous details, either: gracious ones. The fashion sense of William Gibson, the design sense of Bruce Sterling, the eye for family drama of Connie Willis, the poesie of Bradbury, and the dirty sex of Kathe Koja and Samuel Delany… McDonald’s moon is omnisexual, kinky, violent, passionate, beautiful, awful, vibrant and crushing. As the family saga of the Cortas unravels, we meet a self-sexual ninja lawyer, a werewolf who loses his mind in the Full Earth, a family tyrant whose ruthlessness is matched only by his crepulance, and a panoply of great passions and low desires. LUNA: NEW MOON is the first book of a two-book cycle. Now I’m all a-quiver for the next one.‘ BoingBoing

‘Powerful sequel… compelling throughout. Each of McDonald’s viewpoint characters is made human in fascinating and occasionally disturbing detail, and the solar system of the 22nd century is wonderfully delineated. Fans of the first volume will love this one and eagerly look forward to the next.’ Publishers Weekly on LUNA: WOLF MOON

NEW MOON was one of the most interesting sci-fi novels of 2015, with smart ideas on humanity and economies matched by street smarts, political brawls and murder in the streets. LUNA: WOLF MOON turns that up to eleven – it’s a fascinating story, which is also a tense, enthralling read.’ Sci-Fi & Fantasy Review

‘A Howling Good Read… No one builds a world like Ian McDonald does… There are no wasted moves, nothing that isn’t vital because, in the end, everything is vital. Everything matters… it is fascinating, all of it… McDonald’s corporate war is a gorgeous thing, fought with every tool available… McDonald is able to wrap the biggest events in constellations of the smallest so that a cocktail party here, a discussion of ’80s retro fashion (all mall-hair and WHAM! T-shirts), a love story and a day at work for a guy who cleans solar panels all build and coalesce to form the background radiation of life in this unstable future. Every moment with his characters makes them precious, real and alive.’ NPR on LUNA: WOLF MOON

Upcoming Event: Ian McDonald is a Guest of Honour at Norwescon!

Critically-acclaimed, best-selling science fiction author Ian McDonald is going to be a Guest of Honour at Norweson 40 next month! The con takes place at SeaTac, Washington, from April 13th-16th, 2017.

Ian’s next novel, LUNA: WOLF MOON, is due out later this month, and will be published by Gollancz in the UK and Tor Books in the US. Here’s the synopsis…

A Dragon is dead.

Corta Helio, one of the five family corporations that rule the Moon, has fallen. Its riches are divided up among its many enemies, its survivors scattered. Eighteen months have passed.

The remaining Helio children, Lucasinho and Luna, are under the protection of the powerful Asamoahs, while Robson, still reeling from witnessing his parent’s violent deaths, is now a ward — virtually a hostage — of Mackenzie Metals. And the last appointed heir, Lucas, has vanished of the surface of the moon.

Only Lady Sun, dowager of Taiyang, suspects that Lucas Corta is not dead, and more to the point — that he is still a major player in the game. After all, Lucas always was the Schemer, and even in death, he would go to any lengths to take back everything and build a new Corta Helio, more powerful than before. But Corta Helio needs allies, and to find them, the fleeing son undertakes an audacious, impossible journey — to Earth.

In an unstable lunar environment, the shifting loyalties and political machinations of each family reach the zenith of their most fertile plots as outright war erupts.

WOLF MOON is the sequel to the critically-acclaimed NEW MOON, which is out now, also published by Gollancz and Tor Books.

Justina Robson is a Guest of Honour at Imagicon!

Robson-ThumbJustina Robson is a Guest of Honour at Imagicon, held tomorrow at the Congress Center De ReeHorst in Ede!

Here’s the schedule for the Guests of Honour:

  • 10:45 – 11:30: Signing session (Beethovenfoyer)
  • 12:30 – 14:30: Reading session with Q&A (Cerise)
  • 16:00 – 17:00: Signing session (Beethovenfoyer)

Justina’s latest novel is GLORIOUS ANGELS, published in the UK by Gollancz. Here’s the synopsis…

On a world where science and magic are hard to tell apart a stranger arrives in a remote town with news of political turmoil to come. And a young woman learns that she must free herself from the role she has accepted.

Always vivid, always full of stunning ideas and imagery, Justina Robson is the Clarke Award-winning author of some of our most exciting, yet philosophical SF. A new novel from her is a major event in the SF calendar.

The author’s next novel, THE SWITCH, is currently due to be published next year, also by Gollancz.


Kari Sperring to be Guest of Honour at Novacon 44!

Kari-headshot2We’re delighted to report that Kari Sperring is the Guest of Honour at this year’s Novacon! The convention will be held at the Park Inn Hotel in Nottingham, from November 14-16, 2014. Still early days, so details are thin on the ground, but be sure to check out the Novacon website, Twitter and Facebook page for information over the coming weeks and months.

Kari is the author of two acclaimed fantasy novels, LIVING WITH GHOSTS and THE GRASS KING’S CONCUBINE. In case you weren’t aware of the novels (shame!), here is some information and reviews…

SperringK-LivingWithGhosts-BlogLIVING WITH GHOSTS (DAW Books, 2009)

This highly original, darkly atmospheric fantasy novel immerses readers in a world where ghosts and other malevolent spirits seek entry into mortal realms— invisible to all but those who are not entirely human themselves. Drawn into the ancient city of Merafi, yet barred from entering by an ancient pact sealed in blood, these hungry haunts await their opportunity to break through the magical border and wreak havoc on the city’s innocent denizens.

And as a priestess and prince weave a sorcerous plot to shatter the pact and bring ruin on Merafi, only a failed assassin-priest who is now a courtesan, a noble lord married into the ruling family of Merafi, an officer of the city guard, a woman warrior who was the former lover of a now-dead lord, and the ghost of that lord himself stand between Merafi and the tidal wave of magic that may soon bring ruin flooding down upon the city.

Here’s some of what critics have said about the novel…

‘… a brilliantly atmospheric novel with complex yet understandable characters and a dark setting filled with sensation. A recommended read for those with a taste for something a little different.’ — Mithril Wisdom

‘The characterization in particular is well above what I normally expect from SF&F. The magic is interesting too: very subtly done… a very impressive debut. Here’s hoping there are more books to come.’  —  Cheryl Morgan

‘From suffering husband to sneering dominatrix, there’s a character for every taste in Ghosts, but the vulnerable, bisexual Gracielis is by far the standout… the characters are so appealing that you hang on every twist of their carmined lips… [a] beguiling, bewildering novel…’  —  Strange Horizons

‘… if you love a tale that concentrates on the feelings and emotional aspect of the characters then this is a book for you. Well written with the authors enthusiasm clearly coming through the tale its definitely a story that will remain with you long after the final page is turned.’  —  Falcata Times

SperringK-GrassKingsConcubine-BlogTHE GRASS KING’S CONCUBINE (DAW Books, 2012)

A return to the same amazing and atmospheric world of LIVING WITH GHOSTS, a story set several hundred years later.

When a wealthy young woman, obsessed with a childhood vision of a magical Shining Palace, sets out with her true love to search for a legendary land, she discovers the devastated WorldBelow – the realm of the Grass King – and the terrifying Cadre, who take her prisoner, and demand she either restore the king’s concubine… or replace her.

Here’s a selection of the critical response…

‘Readers who are looking for a beautiful and original work of fantasy should pick up THE GRASS KING’S CONCUBINE… an enjoyable read, and I think that fans of thoughtful fantasy should give THE GRASS KING’S CONCUBINE a try.’ — Strange Horizons

‘This is a rather wonderful book… a beguiling sub-plot… Sperring has created an unusual world that surprises at every turn, giving the pleasures of high fantasy whilst avoiding the worn-out tropes.’ — Living in the Maniototo