It’s been a while since I gave any updates about what I’m writing, so here, as we cross that invisible boundary between spring and summer, is why I’ve been working almost non-stop since September.
Fans of Beautiful Intelligence may be interested to learn that I’ve written a new artificial intelligence novel – not in the BI world, but somewhere different – which deals with Big Data and AI. The novel is called The Autist and focuses on three pairs of characters in the world of 2100, with one character inspired by Leslie Lemke, who I wrote about in my piece on Darrold Treffert’s book Extraordinary People. The novel is set in England, Scotland, in various European and African nations, and in Thailand. My hope is that Infinity Plus will publish this when it’s had its final edit-and-hone. If so, Keith Brooke and I expect that a spectacular new android image by the talented computer graphics artist Steve Jones (whose androids danced across the front of BI) will grace its cover.
I wrote two further novels earlier this year, which would best be described as alternate history with a dash of fantasy. Monique Orphan and Monica Orvan take place in late Victorian times in an English town called Blackbury, set in the region of Nossex. (It always bothered me that there’s a Wessex, Essex, Sussex and Middlesex, but no Nossex.) This YA novel in two volumes is currently being read by a publisher. The theme is selfishness in its various forms, with a feminist slant to the plot. Fans of the Factory Girl trilogy would enjoy it I think.
I also wrote a short story for Ian Whates’ No More Heroes anthology – to be published by PS Publishing later in the year – which I was really thrilled to place. This anthology is themed around the many marvellous pop and rock musicians we’ve lost in recent years. I chose Edgar Froese, the visionary leader of Tangerine Dream, whose music and surrealist attitude (Froese was a scion of Salvador Dali) continue to inspire me. My story The Birth Of Liquid Plejades has “an unusual structure” as Ian delicately put it, but I’m delighted it is to be published in what will no doubt be excellent company.
I’m also going to submit a short story for the Eibonvale Press anthology Humanagerie, but it may or may not be accepted.
Work continues on Woodland Revolution. Though I submitted this in its original prose form I’ve now reset it in what might be called blank verse, as this accentuates the style, and brings the work away from standard fiction plot-and-character notions. The theme of this work is how we approach death – a vital conversation to have in times when people are forced to travel to Switzerland to follow the so-called assisted suicide option. My work lays out a reason why this phrase needs to be replaced by something else. It’s a kind of meditation on a way of approaching death, but there are other themes and strands to it.
This autumn, all being well, I’m going to write a book – my first non-fiction work – that I’ve been trying to write since 1990. There have been three failed attempts so far, but I think now I’ve got everything in place for a successful fourth attempt. Queen Louise: A Brief History Of Sapience will be a scientific description of the human condition over the past 100,000 years. In this book I’ll describe such things as: why consciousness evolved; why we experience emotions and what they are; why we feel love and what it is; how narcissism can be used as a general description of human development and maturity; why we experience an arrow of time; what creativity is; why such delusions as the idea of a soul or spirit, an afterlife, and spirituality/religion in general were inevitable in early human cultures; what humour is; and more… Queen Louise by the way is an orang utan who wants to become human, and she has various conversations with the Time Traveller on these subjects. Some of the ideas in this book come from others – Nicholas Humphrey, Erich Fromm and Karen Armstrong to name but three – but the majority is my own work, developed over almost thirty years. As I’m highly unlikely to get this published by any publishing house my plan is to self-publish.
But now, summer is almost here and nine months of very hard work is almost over…
Destination: wine, women and song.