October Newsletter: Interzone and Book Reviews

Continuing on with my experiment in posting a shortened version of my monthly newsletter here,  as well as to email subscribers. Keep in mind if you subscribe, you get to download a free prequel novelette to my most recent book, Devil's Road. There's other stuff, as below, that is often exclusive to subscribers.

Are you a fan of audiobooks? I got seriously into them last year after an eye operation meant I couldn't read my Kindle for a couple of weeks. Since then, I've produced a couple of my own based on my short novels Ghost Frequencies and Devils Road, with the first of those being narrated by the actress Seylan Baxter, whom some of you might have seen in a fairly recent episode of Doctor Who and also in the surprise hit horror film Host.

The audiobooks are available on audible.com and on audible.co.uk, but right now I'm giving away copies of Ghost Frequencies to users of the UK site – unfortunately, I've run out of the codes necessary in order to give away copies on audible.com. That's just a function of popularity — audiobooks are a lot bigger in the United States than they are in the United Kingdom, so freebies for audible.com tend to go a lot faster - and the fact that Audible on either side of the Atlantic provide me with only a limited number of such promotional codes. 

But I do still have some copies to give away to UK audible subscribers, so if you're interested click on the link below. Be warned: they tend to run out fast. 

And if you do like it, I'd be enormously grateful if you left a review, even just a couple of lines.


Quick note: I think you have to be a member of audible to take advantage of these, but joining audible doesn't actually cost you anything – not until you want to actually buy something anyway. Or at least, that's what I've been told. If I got that wrong let me know.


Excuse me if I big myself up a bit this month, but I don't publish that much short fiction and I like to trumpet about it when I do.

I mentioned in passing in the previous newsletter that I had a new story, Warsuit, in the current issue of Interzone magazine, which has for a long time been the premier British science fiction magazine. It's where I first found writers like Paul McCauley, Alistair Reynolds, Eric Brown, Liz Williams, Storm Constantine and many many others. Being published in the magazine that published those names and countless others over the last several decades is and will always be a big deal for me.

This makes my third fiction publication in Interzone since 1994. Most of the short fiction I've written has actually been in the last half-decade, with Scienceville appearing in Interzone in 2015 and subsequently recorded for Starship Sofa a year later, and Senseless appearing in Shoreline of Infinity magazine a little more recently. Those stories and others can be found in my collection Scienceville and Other Lost Worlds.

One thing that particularly distinguishes Interzone from other publications apart from the quality of its fiction is its appearance: it's one of the most attractive magazines there is, featuring artists as much as it does writers. I honestly don't think there's been a magazine focused around science fiction that's looked this good since the days of Omni. Take a look at the attached pictures of my contributor's copy that arrived here in Taiwan: image of interzone cover

interzone interior design
interzone warsuit design
m. john harrison spread

And the Internet being what it is, there are already a couple of reviews of Warsuit out there. Here's a snippet from a review on sfrevu.com:  "Story had a lot of heart. Well done."

And a very nice Goodreads review from user Jeppe Larsen: 

"“Warsuit” by Gary Gibson takes place in an otherwise unexplained war zone, following a scavenger hunter who finds a broken mechsuit robot that he hopes can bring him enough money to get off the planet. However, the robot, or Golem as it is called in the story, is still alive with the mind of its now-dead operator. Even though they are hostile to each other at first they conclude they need to work together to survive and as the story moves forward we learn more about these two people and some interesting developments and explanations about the war situation is nicely revealed. Also really well written."


Here's a quick rundown of some of the books I've read recently which I think you might like:

WORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks

I first read this as an e-book more than ten years ago, and before I bought my first Kindle – at the time, I had a Sony Reader, having become obsessed with the idea of E-ink devices ever since I read about an early Sony prototype in some probably long-gone technology magazine of the early 2000s or possibly even the late 90s.

I'm not precisely an aficionado of zombie fiction, but as you've surely guessed if you've been following along with his newsletters I do have a soft spot for the intersection between horror and science fiction, but WWZ is actually much more than that.

It's loosely modelled after a real-life book by the author Studs Terkel who, in the wake of World War II, travelled around the world interviewing different people about their experiences of the war. The author Max Brooks (son of Mel Brooks) takes the same structure for the story of the journalist travelling around interviewing people about their experiences during a zombie apocalypse which is now largely under control.

What you get then is a collection of short pieces written from different points of view from all around the world of people surviving a science fictional conflict whether it's from the perspective of Japanese nerds trapped in their apartment buildings or astronauts watching it all from the ISS. The effect is remarkable, lending the book as a whole a powerful sense of vérité that lies at the heart of its subsequent success. If all you've seen is the quite terrible movie starring Brad Pitt, trust me when I say the book cannot be judged on that basis.

MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Ostensibly a horror novel set in Mexico in the 1950s, but one which proved to have a surprisingly erudite science-fictional underpinning. I've seen the author's Silvia Moreno-Garcia's name about for a while – she's produced stories about settlers on Mars, a vampire novel set in Mexico City (Certain Dark Things) and I think also a couple of crime novels, but it's with Mexican Gothic that she's seen sudden and huge success with the book hitting the bestseller lists in recent weeks.

The story is about a young woman sent by her father to find out the fate of another member of the family recently married off to a wealthy young man who lives in a remote part of Mexico, in a huge and rambling house known as High Place built by the owners of a nearby silver mine. Of course, it soon turns out that something is terribly wrong, starting with the letter written by the young wife telling of voices coming out of the walls. 

On the surface, it appears in every way to be a full-on Gothic horror novel, but it isn't long before Moreno-Garcia reveals her fundamentally science-fiction roots in the rationale for everything that's happening – and does a fantastic job of it.


A non-fiction work. Essentially a biography of a novel, in this case, 1984. It's an attempt to assess both the influences and the cultural impact of Orwell's final work of fiction.

The first third covers many of the utopian and dystopian novels written prior to 1984, including works written by Hg Wells (The Sleeper Wakes), Yevgeni Zamyatin (We) and many others. The middle third covers much of Orwell's life, including the influence of his participation in the Spanish civil war and his time working for the BBC propaganda department during the Second World War up until the time of his death in early 1949 and immediately following the first publication of the book with which his name would forever be associated. 

After that, the book is primarily concerned with the impact on the book and its interpretation – and misinterpretation – in the following decades by creators, thinkers, artists and writers all across the political spectrum, as well as an analysis of the different adaptations both of 1984 and of works that either borrowed or outright stole from it. It's a remarkably erudite piece of work, and unfailingly well-researched. If you've read 1984 more than a couple of times, you probably need to read this.