Author Archives: E J Swift

TAMARUQ cover

Nothing makes you so happy as a writer as the day you get to see the cover design for a new book, and I’m thrilled to share the artwork for the forthcoming TAMARUQ. Del Rey have produced three beautiful covers for The Osiris Project trilogy and this one might be my favourite yet. A big thank you to the designers for all their work.

tamaruq cover

And here’s the three covers together – I can’t wait to see the set in print!

Osiris UK cover final

cataveiro pb covertamaruq cover

 

 

 

 

TAMARUQ is released on 29 January 2015.

Reading recommendations – summer 2014

Some recommendations from the last few month’s reading – wonderful books all:

A Woman in Berlin – Anonymous

I stumbled across A Woman in Berlin in the history section of the beautiful Scarthin Books in Derbyshire – one of those oh this looks interesting moments that reminds you to browse bookstores more. The diaries of a German woman – a journalist in her pre-war career – during the final phases of WWII, it chronicles the Russian invasion and sacking of the city of Berlin. It’s a rare first-hand record of the civilian experience of defeat, and the history of its publication is equally fascinating – the first German-language edition in 1960 received such negative reactions that the text was withdrawn, and it was only in 2003, following the anonymous author’s death in 2001, that it saw print again. With its subject matter of rape and sexual collaboration for survival, this is not the easiest read, but what stays with me is the voice of the narrator; the resilience, the dry humour and lack of self-pity, the will to survive. I was especially struck by the author’s reflections on the returning soldiers. The myth of man, she says, has crumbled – ‘That has transformed us, emboldened us. Among the many defeats at the end of this war is the defeat of the male sex’ – an observation which sadly was not to be proven in the post-war era, but makes this even more of a relevant read today.

tale for the time beingA Tale For The Time Being – Ruth Ozeki

A Japanese schoolgirl writes a diary which in the aftermath of a tsunami washes up on a remote coastline in Canada in a Hello Kitty lunchbox. I loved the premise of this. Nao’s diaries are instantly engaging (so much so that I missed her initially during Ruth’s chapters); inspiring and heartbreaking all at once. As Ruth becomes immersed in Nao’s diary, the novel expands to reveal the fascinating histories of Nao’s family, including her ‘anarchist-feminist-novelist-turned-Buddhist-nun’ great-grandmother Jiko, her kamikaze pilot grandfather Haruki #1, and her post-Dot Com Bubble computer programmer father Haruki #2. Exploring the dynamics of power and bullying, Ozeki examines what it really means to be a hero.

hired manThe Hired Man – Aminatta Forna

I was blown away by Forna’s memoir, The Devil That Danced on the Water, and her novel The Memory of Love. The Hired Man is outwardly a quieter novel, but one that creeps up on you with increasing power. Protagonist Duro creates a slow-burn narration, flitting between a seemingly peaceful present, and the darker memories of the past, as the secrets of a Croatian town in the aftermath of civil war are gradually uncovered.

harry augustThe First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August has an outwardly simple premise: narrator Harry lives, and dies, and lives his life over and over again, each time retaining the memories of his previous lives. The way it is told is gorgeously intricate. I loved the circular narrative, the employment of form to echo theme, as the book moves back and forth through Harry’s lives, with some playful and at times truly dark historical visitations. The relationship between Harry and his one-time student Vincent is fascinating; as are the philosophical debates eschewing from that relationship. This is a great read from start to finish.

girl in the roadThe Girl in the Road – Monica Byrne

Two journeys are at the heart of The Girl in the Road – Meena, fleeing from India across the Trail, an energy-harvesting floating bridge which crosses the Arabian Sea. And Mariama, a young girl crossing from West Africa to Ethiopia, bewitched by fellow traveller Yemaya, who she worships as a goddess. There were so many things I loved about this – the wonderfully-rendered near future setting; the way the two characters’ journeys intertwine through stories and mythology; the fierce, at times savage voice combined with a gorgeous use of language. I also liked the way it touched on issues such as race, class, sexuality and mental health, whilst not foregrounding any of these; the narrative always comes first.

bad characterA Bad Character – Deepti Kapoor

Kapoor’s A Bad Character explores a very different Indian setting. Sometimes after reading something particularly epic it’s a joy to really focus down, and Kapoor’s novel is exactly that: a distillation of a relationship. Poetic, evocative, burning with suppressed desire and sexuality, it’s told in a series of staccato vignettes by a young woman in Delhi whose name we never learn.

Helen-Macdonald-H-is-for-HawkH is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald

If you read one thing this year, read this. Macdonald’s deeply empathetic memoir encompasses two narratives: it’s the story of how she trained a goshawk in the aftermath of her father’s death, and the story of the troubled writer T.H. White. It’s a book about nature and a book about struggling with grief. By turns exquisitely poetic and unflinchingly raw, Macdonald explores what it means to be wild and what it means to be human, and the at times perilously precarious bridge between the two.

Cataveiro paperback out today!

Cataveiro, Book Two of the Osiris Project, is out in paperback today!

Copies are available through Amazon, Foyles, Waterstones, and The Book Depository, which offers free shipping worldwide.

Here’s the synopsis:

A shipwreck. And one lone survivor.

For political exile Taeo Ybanez, this could be his ticket home. Relations between the Antarcticans and the Patagonians are worse than ever, and to be caught on the wrong side could prove deadly.

For pilot and cartographer Ramona Callejas, the presence of the mysterious stranger is one more thing in the way of her saving her mother from a deadly disease.

All roads lead to Cataveiro, the city of fate and fortune, where their destinies will become intertwined and their futures cemented for ever…

And a few reviews:

‘… the soulful latest instalment in The Osiris Project and a superior sequel… new lead characters, a fresh story and some real action… CATAVEIRO has a soulful, lonely quality as Taeo and Ramona embark on their solitary missions, haunted by memories of the past and visions of what lies ahead… Their imperfections keep them grounded and likeable, preventing EJ Swift from slipping into predictable and clichéd characterisation… as dystopian fiction goes it is an intriguing world to get lost in.’  –  SciFiNow

… the standard dystopian set-up has given way to a compellingly drawn post-collapse world that feels scorchingly real and virtually limitless in its horizons. This is a very human book, a boldly compassionate book, a novel bulging with important questions about our own world which cannot fail to engage the sympathy and imagination of the reader.’ – Nina Allan

‘The characters within are fully rounded, have some wonderful little quirks and when added to the arc really generate a caring response within the reader. Back this up with great prose, solid pace work and of course some magical twists which, when backed with the authors own identifiable writing style all round, makes this a book that hit the spot for me as a reader. Top notch.’ – Falcata Times

‘Another beautifully-written novel… If you enjoy beautifully-written, literary science fiction, with less focus on being an action-packed blockbuster, then The Osiris Project is a must read.’ – Civilian Reader

And Osiris, the first book in the series, was reviewed over at J for Jetpack earlier this week:

‘Machiavellian politics, city in the sea, allegory for our times, great prose, human characters. An excellent debut novel that deserves to be read.’

LonCon3: Postscript

So, this weekend was LonCon3, and in the by now familiar spirit of cons, a mad, exhausting and marvellous one it was, full of all-too-brief meetings with new friends and old. I can’t imagine how much work went into programming such a vast event – huge thanks to all the organisers and volunteers who have done such an amazing job.

Highlights included meeting Frances Hardinge and Greer Gilman for the “You Write Pretty” panel on the Saturday (Frances was by far and away the winner with her Jabberwocky quote, but I’m still holding out for Jennifer Egan), and a thought-provoking discussion with David Hebblethwaite and Anne Charnock for the “Bridging the Gap” panel on Sunday. Also a big thank you to Adam Roberts who joined us at the last minute as our moderator was unable to be there on the day.

The Del Rey party on Saturday night was a lovely relaxed affair – thanks to everyone who stopped by and chatted (and to those who took a book! I do hope you enjoy). Blogger Voltron followed, and it was great to get the chance to put a few Twitter handles to faces.

As always, I didn’t get to see as many panels as I planned, but “The World at WorldCon: South and South East Asian SF” was fantastic, and I really enjoyed “My Opinions: Let Me Show You Them”, with a panel full of bloggers on the Sunday. I also managed to attend the NewCon launch and pick up a copy of Nina Allan’s wonderful new novel The Race.

By Sunday evening I was more than ready to swap the windowless hangar of the ExCel for the sofa, so followed the Hugo excitement from afar – only to learn that had I stayed, I might have caught a glimpse of David Tennant.

Next time.

Update on The Osiris Project in the US

A few people have asked me what’s happening with the next two books in The Osiris Project trilogy in the US, and I’m now able to give a proper update. Night Shade Books will continue to publish Osiris in print and ebook form, but they will not be publishing Cataveiro (Book 2) or the third installment in the trilogy.

For readers across the pond, if you’d like to get hold of a print copy of the Del Rey UK edition of Cataveiro, I’d recommend ordering from The Book Depository, which offers free delivery worldwide. The trade paperback edition is available now, and the smaller paperback will be published in September.

I’m also hoping to have a US ebook of Cataveiro available soon – more information to follow as I have it.

Irregularity

Delighted to say I have a story in upcoming anthology IRREGULARITY from Jurassic, the details of which were posted today – very exciting as it’s the first I’ve seen of the table of contents. Here’s a bit about the inspiration behind the anthology:

“Using the Longitude Act as the jumping off point, Irregularity is inspired by the great thinkers of the Age of Reason – those courageous men and women who set out to map, chart, name and classify the world around them. The great minds who brought order and discipline to the universe. Except where they didn’t.

Irregularity contains new stories of natural law and those that disobey it, including:

  • “Fairchild’s Folly” by Tiffani Angus
  • “A Game Proposition” by Rose Biggin
  • “Footprint” by Archie Black
  • “A Woman Out of Time” by Kim Curran
  • “The Heart of Aris Kindt” by Richard de Nooy
  • “An Experiment in the Formulae of Thought” by Simon Guerrier
  • “Irregularity” by Nick Harkaway
  • “Circulation” by Roger Luckhurst
  • “The Voyage of the Basset” by Claire North
  • “The Assassination of Isaac Newton by the Coward Robert Boyle” by Adam Roberts
  • “Animalia Paradoxa” by Henrietta Rose-Innes
  • “The Last Escapement” by James Smythe
  • “The Darkness” by M. Suddain
  • “The Spiders of Stockholm” by E. J. Swift

IRREGULARITY will be available in ebook, paperback, and a limited edition hardback.

I’ll be attending the launch event at the National Maritime Museum on 24 July – tickets are a fiver and you can get them here, so do come along if you can.

Upcoming events – WorldCon & Fantasy in the Court

A couple of events updates: firstly I’ll be attending Fantasy in the Court, an evening for fans and writers organized by Goldsboro Books on Tuesday 12 August, which already has a fantastic line-up of authors.

I’ve also received my draft schedule for this year’s WorldCon (Thursday 14 – Monday 18 August), and from everything I’ve seen it’s shaping up to be a really interesting programme. I’m down for the following panels:

You Write Pretty

Friday 21:00 – 22:00

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say, so let us behold some fine fantastical sentences. Our panel have each picked a sentence, and will have a chance to make their case for why theirs is the fairest of them all — but it will be up to the audience to decide.

with Geoff Ryman (M), Greer Gilman, Frances Hardinge, Christopher Priest, E. J. Swift

Bridging the Gap

Saturday 16:30 – 18:00

Iain Banks’ work was famously divided into ‘mainstream’ and science fiction, but this division wasn’t always applied consistently. For example, Transition was published in the UK as mainstream fiction, while in the US it was classed as science fiction, and Banks himself declared that it was ‘51% mainstream’. This sort of boundary blurring can be seen in both ‘slipstream’ texts and in mainsteam works that engage with science fiction. In this panel we will discuss writing that crosses boundaries – real or imagined – between science fiction and the mainstream. How has the divide been understood and characterised? How has this changed over time? Who is currently writing across this divide and to what effect?

with Preston Grassman (M), Anne Charnock, David Hebblethwaite, Grá Linnaea, E. J. Swift

Looking forward to both of those!