Monday, April 23, 2018

Book Signing

  • [Neal Asher signing The Soldier]
NEAL ASHER will be signing THE SOLDIER at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore on Thursday 17th May from 6 – 7pm.
The first novel in the brand new RISE OF THE JAIN series!
A hidden corner of space is swarming with lethal alien technology, a danger to all sentient life. It’s guarded by Orlandine, who must keep it contained at any cost – as it has the power to destroy entire civilizations. She schemes from her state-of-the-art weapons station, with only an alien intelligence to share her vigil. But she doesn’t share everything with Dragon . . .
Orlandine is hatching a plan to obliterate this technology, removing its threat forever. For some will do anything to exploit this ancient weaponry, created by a long-dead race called the Jain. This includes activating a Jain super-soldier, which may breach even Orlandine’s defences.
Meanwhile, humanity and the alien prador empire keep a careful watch over this sector of space, as neither can allow the other to claim its power. However, things are about to change. The Jain might not be as dead as they seemed – and interstellar war is just a heartbeat away.
Neal Asher lives sometimes in England, sometimes in Crete and mostly at a keyboard. Having over twenty-five books published he has been accused of overproduction (despite spending far too much time on the social media, or kayaking and walking) but doesn’t intend to slow down just yet.

Event Locations & Times

London Megastore
Thu 17 May 2018
From 18:00 to 19:00

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Soldier Covers

Here are the full covers of The Soldier in hardback and trade paperback. Nice quotes here from some big beasts in the SF world. Unexpected.



Friday, March 02, 2018

Exercise Sweet Spot

Damn, how much exercise is too much? I never seem to be able to hit the sweet spot.

In the last months I was going to the gym 3 times a week for an hour plus each time (over a number of weeks I'd taken it up from three-quarters of an hour). This exercise consisted of 20 mins warm-up on a rowing machine or cross trainer, followed by a varied selection of weight lifting. I seemed to be rolling along fine with that. I then changed it to half an hour in the morning on weekdays, except for one day when I went in the afternoon and did about an hour. This was because I was dopy in the morning and it seemed to take forever to get going. I thought this might give me a boost and it did. For a week I was fine and much more awake. I steadily upped the time to (thus far) 37 minutes and then just as steadily, along came increasing midday knackerdom and the need for a ‘power knap’ (which always sounds better than a snooze on the sofa).

One of the things that came across in various articles I read was that if your basing your life around your exercise then you’re getting a bit OCD with it. Well I guess I am in the sense that my work is suffering because I’m wearing myself out. Another thing I read was that, per week, 150 mins of moderate exercise or 75 mins of intense is a kind of minimum, while 3 to 5 times that is best. I was doing the 3x – about 3.5 hours intense, but dropping 3 hours when I moved to the mornings and steadily climbing again. But it didn’t seem to work out so well.

I guess one has to look at other factors. I’m no spring chicken anymore; I’m 57 (Fuck! How did that happen?). It could simply be that I need to slow down a bit and get more rest, which is an idea I do not like at all. Also, though there’s no blood involved, men go through hormonal cycles. Perhaps I just hit a testosterone dip or something? Then there’s the time of year and the weather. It’s Winter and like us all I definitely slow down at this time of year. Also, right now, it’s Siberia outside. It’s not beyond reason to suppose evolution has provided us with a genetically transcribed instruction: ‘Snow, cold, slow down shutdown and conserve.’

Anyway, in the end I can read all sorts of articles on the internet about this sort of stuff, but always they fail to apply to me. A lot of strength training bumph is focused on the age groups ten or twenty years behind me, where you can basically get away with hammering your body. Look at ‘senior’ stuff and it’s always ‘you need to maintain your health with a little gentle exercise’ and ‘take advice from your health practitioner’ and, essentially ‘don’t go taking my advice and blowing the rivets out of your heart’.

I guess I’ll just have to keep altering things, trying new things, and hoping to find the exercise sweet spot for me.       

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Night Shade Books Announces . . .

New book announcement: Polity-universe classics from Neal Asher!

Exciting news, sci-fi fans! After a long time trying to make it happen, we’ve just acquired the rights to several Neal Asher backlist titles: Gridlinked, Brass Man, and The Skinner.
Now, that’s pretty great for lots of reasons—after all, Asher’s books are always incredible—but there’s one thing in particular we want to point out: with these acquisitions, we are now in the very unique position of being the first US publisher ever to hold the publishing rights to every title in both the Agent Cormac and Spatterjay series, which were in many ways responsible for launching Asher into his current state as a successful, high-profile author of science fiction.
If you’re an Asher fan already, as you all should of course be, you’ll know that his publishing history here in the states has been frustratingly spotty, with different books within the same series coming out from different publishers, which has made it hard to keep up with them. But, that said, now that these books will finally all be available in the US from the same publisher (us!) for the first time, we’ll have an opportunity to try and do things the right way, and we plan to take full advantage of it.
That starts with our new mass-market paperback editions, which will come with brand-new, and seriously cool, covers (with art by Neil Lang). Tor UK put these together for their own upcoming reissues of Asher’s books, and we just liked them so much, we knew we had to do the same. Check them out—as well as the accelerated-release schedule we’ve put them on (because who likes waiting?)—below:     
(TENTATIVE) RELEASE SCHEDULE:
September 2018: Gridlinked

October 2018: The Line of Polity

November 2018: Brass Man

January 2019: Polity Agent

February 2019: Line War

March 2019: The Skinner
April 2019: Voyage of the Sable Keech
May 2019: Orbus
____________________
We also want to remind you all that this isn’t our only project in the works with Neal—his newest book, The Soldier, is out in hardcover this May! Check it out here for all the info.
Follow us on Twitter @NightShadeNews for more updates, and keep checking back here for more posts, announcements, and cover reveals—we’re always putting up new content!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Altered Carbon ReSleeved

So, I sat and watched Altered Carbon on Netflix. A few episodes in I lost track of what the hell was going on. This was due to actors mumbling, changes in language introduced for no purpose and, frankly, a viewer with tinnitus. Turning on the subtitles solved the problem. 


It’s been sixteen years since I read Richard Morgan’s excellent book so in essence I was coming to this like a newby. I remembered that there was a particularly violent and cool character called Takeshi Kovacs, that people had cortical stacks and that they could be resleeved, and that they could also be tortured in virtual reality . . . and that is about it. This series gave me precisely those things and I enjoyed it very much. My criticism would be that it did not have the breathless excitement of the book because I remember putting that aside feeling like I’d been put through a rolling mill. In fact in this, towards the end, I started to feel that the action was too stylized and dragging. However, it is smart enjoyable science fiction and streets ahead of most of what is out there. I wouldn’t put it on a par with The Expanse but I would put it far above the Trek dreck and all that Marvel superhero nonsense.    

I then noted that quite a lot of people were criticizing this because it’s ‘not like the book’ and ‘unnecessary changes have been made’, so I skim read a bit of the book. These critics are right. I note that religion has been dropped in there in an ‘understanding’ way, while in the book (just from the bit I read) it got a similar treatment to what I gave it in my The Line of Polity. I believe it got the ‘oh you idiots’ atheist treatment. Roles and story lines were swapped and consolidated like Quellcrist Falconer, like Kovac’s past and no doubt others things I would only be aware of if I read the book again. And I don’t have much of a problem with these.


I understand how you need to take a lighter more understanding view of religion if you are not to alienate a large portion of your audience (I reckon this was why Tor US, while publishing my books, made size excuses about The Line of Polity and didn’t publish it). Many of the other changes were maybe unnecessary but they were the vision of those who were translating it to the screen. So what? We got some damned good SF, taken seriously, on our screens and, FFS, the book has not gone away! It also means that other works are more likely to appear! Some changes I would say were necessary and they were improvements. Science fiction has moved on in sixteen years and, for example, I much prefer the version here of Bancroft’s house to the one described in the first chapter of the book.

Other criticisms have been that it was a pastiche. Well, I would argue that all science fiction is that – it is built upon what went before. Yeah, I saw the spinning ceiling fans, the noodle bars on the streets and the overall street scenes and thought, ‘Blade Runner’. I also note that Kovacs floating in the tank and the ‘fallen angel’ woman were very much like the signal image from The Expanse. But it all worked. It is up to you whether you denigrate these as pastiche or smile at the hat-tips.  

In all I enjoyed this. It wasn’t entirely the book we read but, well, even the books we read aren’t that when we return to them. Hence the title above: this was Altered Carbon ReSleeved.  
  

Congratulations Richard Morgan!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Falcon Heavy

Watching Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy launch into space, seeing two of its boosters land with the kind of precision that looked like CGI and seeing, FFS, a Tesla car swinging round Earth with a manikin in the driver’s seat, had me the most excited about space travel and exploration I’ve been for an age. Why is this important? The rockets are reusable, the cost is coming down at an astounding rate but, most importantly, Musk is showing that space exploration and travel can be carried out by private sector enterprise. In fact it can be carried out better. We no longer have to wait for moribund, government-controlled bureaucratic behemoths like NASA to get us into space.


This launch also had another effect on me illustrated by a tweet I saw last night. I paraphrase: ‘There’s a Tesla car heading to Mars and you’re still on about Trump?’ In one evening I completely lost interest in politics and still feel that way this morning (but it will inevitably return).


There was one negative in this and that was the third booster failure. One of its engines failed to ignite (some fuel problem?) and it missed the drone ship to plummet into the sea at hundreds of miles an hour. But even this is a relatively minor mishap in something of this scale. Firstly, other rockets aren’t even reusable and, consequently, are a damned sight more expensive (“The nearest peer competitor is the Delta 4 Heavy at roughly half the thrust and from four to as much as ten times the cost.”). Secondly, it turns out that these rockets won’t be used again anyway since Spacex has the next iteration ready (I think).


There have been naysayers. Some feel that Musk should have sent some scientific instrument rather than a car, and that this was a crass publicity stunt. They have obviously failed to understand the financial aspect of the publicity generated by this stunt. Doubtless their inclination is for science under the aegis of big government, and they find private enterprise distasteful. Another, apparently on TV this morning (I didn’t see this since I don’t have a TV licence and therefore don’t watch live TV) was bemoaning the ‘pollution’ of space and of Mars by sending a car up. Beside the fact that the car will not actually end up on Mars, this is quite ridiculous politically correct ‘environmentally conscious’ virtue signaling. It also shows a complete failure to understand the barren hostile immensity beyond Earth. Seriously, fuck off.


Elon Musk is a man with a dream and he is not buggering about in achieving it. He wants us up in space, constantly, on Mars, on the moon and elsewhere. I love too that he is obviously also a lover of science fiction. Culture ship names and that ‘Don’t Panic’ on the dash screen of the Tesla demonstrate this. And his dream, in the end, has revitalized the dream of space exploration for us all.