Some nice reviews for Final Days

Final Days has been out for a week or two now, and it's really heartening to see so many positive reviews already. I thought I'd stick one or two up here (at some point, I'm really going to have to think about expanding this blog into a proper website, with a page for each book, or something like that...).

Liviu Suciu, from Fantasy Book Critic: "While a loose sequel titled Thousand Emperors is scheduled for next year, Final Days is a standalone novel in all ways that matter and it is another very strong showing for the author."

Ove Jansson, at Cybermage: "a well written apocalyptic story that really engages once you get past the buildup."

Falcata Times: "Thought provoking, enticing and above all else a story that demonstrates the authors development through successive stories to become someone that is a sheer joy to read."

Mark Yon at SFFWorld: "I liked this a lot, in that it’s a plot-driven old-school type of tale with some great new ideas to make it work. I think this is Gary’s best to date, and look forward to the next in the series."

And I got my first review from the, er, Daily Mail, which took me by surprise: "...high-octane action, terrific future tech and a superbly imagined alien civilisation help to make this a page-turning belter from one of our best exponents of hardcore SF adventure."

Otherwise there's also a review in BBC Focus magazine, but there's no online version of it.

What's happening otherwise: I've spent the past few weeks doing very little of my own writing, but I'm starting to put together notes both for the next book - which is set in the same universe as Stealing Light and its sequels - and for some future projects, which I'm hoping will come out over the next several years. The Stealing Light book is going to be called either A River Across the Sky or River of Light; I haven't made up my mind which yet. As has been noted, there's a follow-up to Final Days, The Thousand Emperors, on its way next year, but it's worth mentioning again that it's not really a sequel as such; rather, both books are best thought of as stand-alone works set in the same universe. 



I was in a supermarket with my wife the weekend after the riots down in England. England, let's remember, not Scotland - when we have riots, it's over much, much stupider things than shootings or inner-city deprivation. Football, for instance. Images of looters running down streets with armfuls of Nike were on my mind as much as they were on anyone else's as I headed for an opticians just inside the front entrance of the supermarket. Unfortunately the opticians, unlike the (24/7) supermarket itself, was closed.

"You just missed it," we were informed by a guy manning a security station located between the opticians and the supermarket entrance. "Excuse me," he said, next directing his attention to Emma, "but are you actually Chinese?"

No, she explained, she was from Taiwan, and suddenly we found ourselves deep in conversation with this man, who had gone backpacking in China for a month and wound up meeting his fiancé there. He was thinking of retiring to Shanghai to live with her.

He mentioned the colossal bootleg culture in China, and how his wife-to-be was in the habit of acquiring ripped DVD's of current Hollywood releases at phenomenal speed and posting them to him so he could watch them in the comfort of his own home, sometimes before they even reached our own cinema screens. While he was proudly telling us this, I could see some kid with a mohican slowly wheeling a 40 inch Plasma TV through the doors behind him. The alarm started to sound. The kid kept walking at a steady pace, apparently oblivious,

"Excuse me," said our new friend, and we watched as he ran off and talked to the kid. Less than a minute later he and a security guard frogmarched the kid past us and into a tiny office. The guy who liked to watch bootleg videos of new movies had just arrested someone who'd tried to nick a TV on which, I suspect, those ripped-off DVD's would have looked pretty good. This struck me as an object lesson in irony.


Die Stadt und die Sterne

Something totally awesome happened to me just as I was on the run-up to completing the manuscript for The Thousand Emperors: I got an out-of-the-blue request from my German publisher, Heyne, to write the foreword to someone else's novel, at very short notice.

But not any novel, oh no. Only Arthur C. Clarke's City and the Stars. Not only that, it's by far the best paid fifteen hundred words I've ever written. Ok, yes, it's in German but, still, talk about feeling honoured; although it feels a little old-fashioned now, it was hugely influential on me as a writer - something I didn't realise until I reread it for the first time since my early teens in preparation for writing the foreword. 

When I say it had to be written fast, I mean fast. The publication date of Heyne's reissue of Die Stadt und die Sterne is July 11, just a couple of weeks after I handed the finished foreword in to them. It was translated, I think, within about twenty-four hours. 

It did seem unusual to me to get such a request at such very short notice, but a little bit of detective work reveals a possible explanation. I checked Amazon.de to see if the edition with my foreword was there, and it was...but on the cover, it said (in German) foreword by Dan Simmons. I scrolled through the Look Inside! preview and found my foreword there. So I'm guessing Mr Simmons perhaps had to pull out of writing the original foreword at very short notice, or something like that. Luckily for me, assuming that's what happened. 

You can see the foreword here, on Amazon.de, and in rather more detail, here, on Heyne Verlag's own website. In German, of course. If I can get permission from Heyne to post the English version of the introduction here at some later date, I will. 


Release date

Today is the official release date of both the hardback of Final Days and the paperback of Empire of Light, but if you're someone who occasionally drops by these pages and perhaps even - shock! - reads my books, you probably already have one or both, since they've already been shipping for a couple of weeks. I have celebrated by stripping one wall of my living room in preparation for this afternoon's re-papering - people ask me why I don't do a book launch, but these are rarely worth the trouble and, truth be told, I don't really enjoy being the centre of attention all that much. I will, however, be attending the launch of Hal Duncan's new collection here in Glasgow on Saturday evening - details of which can be found at halduncan.com.

I was disappointed not to find the words GET OUT OF MY HOUSE written in blood on the plaster behind the stripped wallpaper. I am struggling to resist the urge to buy some red paint and put those very words up on the wall before covering it over to freak future owners of this property when or if ever I sell it.

What else? I'm putting together outlines for some books I'm hoping to pitch to Tor about this time next year. Once I've done that, I'll start work on my next, already-contracted book for Tor, A River Across the Sky/River of Light (haven't quite made up my mind which title to use yet). This one is set in the Shoal universe, but features all-new characters and is set a couple of centuries on from the end of Empire of Light. It's also a stand-alone.

I also had the interesting experience of teaching a two-week course in science fiction writing at Strathclyde University immediately after emailing Thousand Emperors, the sequel to Final Days, off to Tor. Fun, but exhausting. When I get the chance or inclination, I'll try and write some more about that.