In September I was invited to speak as part of Terra Fiction: Coded Matter(s) in Amsterdam, an event curated by FIBER and De Brakke Grond which brought together speakers working in the fields of art, literature, science, design and digital culture to reassess man’s future relationship with the earth and the cosmos.
Terra Fiction was the second installment of FIBER’s ongoing Coded Matter(s): Worldbuilding project. These lecture events question the design of contemporary world visions and technological narratives, which are contributing to greater socio-economic inequality and environmental destruction. Speculative designers, art-scientists and writers share research and evolving ideas to imagine futures that position humans and our technologies inside a more balanced ecology.
My talk discussed the role of speculative fiction in imagining alternative worlds, and how it might offer us a vision for a better future, sharing approaches to world-building in fiction, and considering the challenges for the writer in creating a believable universe. I discussed The Osiris Project trilogy which is set in a world radically altered by climate change, and my current novel in development which explores marine ecosystems and the changing nature of our relationship with the environment.
The event was beautifully staged at the Vlaamse Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond and it was a privilege to present alongside a hugely inspirational array of speakers: writer Pippa Goldschmidt, who discussed whether we can create new ways of thinking about space exploration that go beyond the exploitative character of capitalist models; Maja Kuzmanovic and Nik Gaffney, co-founders of FoAM, a distributed laboratory for speculative cultures; Jay Springett, a writer, theorist, promoter of DIY culture and editor of Solarpunks; Ivan Henriques, a transdisciplinary artist and researcher; and Miha Turšič, artist, designer and researcher. I left the event buzzing with ideas.
Many thanks to the curators Jarl Schulp and Fabian van Sluijs who put together a fantastic programme and looked after us so wonderfully, and to Michelle Kasprzak who moderated the event with warmth and humour.
Border Sessions is a yearly tech culture festival on a mission to kick-start and fuel challenging ideas, experiments and endeavours, with a strong focus on multidisciplinary projects. The program is built around five main tracks: Humanity, Society, Cities, Nature and And Beyond. This year I was thrilled to be invited to speak at the conference on 14 June.
The festival is held in The Hague, with the conference staged across the Theater aan het Spui and the adjacent Filmhuis Den Haag.
I was interviewed by the brilliant Arno Wielders, co-founder of the global initiative Mars One. We spoke about The Osiris Project and Paris Adrift as well as discussing speculative fiction and the writing life.
The festival has a wonderfully wide-ranging programme and on the same day I was able to attend a presentation on Ocean Floor Restoration – ideal for current writing research.
A huge thank you to everyone at Border Sessions for inviting me! If you’d like to find out more about the festival, take a look at the website here.
I’m very much looking forward to joining the line-up for this year’s Bradford Literature Festival, a fantastic programme of events running from 30 June to 9 July:
“With over 300 events packed into iconic venues across 10 days, we celebrate the written and spoken word in all its wonderful forms. Every year we invite world-renowned authors, poets, musicians and artists to visit our spectacular city and share their expertise and passions with you, the audience.”
I’ll be taking part in two events:
The Reality Behind Dystopian Futures
Sarah Govett, Oliver Morton, E. J. Swift with Jon Turney
Saturday, 1st July 2017 | 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm
University of Bradford – Norcroft Auditorium
Claire North, Jared Shurin, E. J. Swift with Shanon Shah
Sunday, 2nd July 2017 | 4:30 pm – 5:45 pm
Bradford College – Dye House Gallery
I’m delighted to join the line-up of authors for Unsung Live 7 on Tuesday 21 February, an evening of storytelling for fans of contemporary speculative fiction. The evening runs from 7.00 – 9.00pm at The Star of Kings (126 York Way London, Greater London N1 0AX, London).
If you’re interested to attend, it’s a free event but space is limited so you’ll need to sign up here.
You can find out more about Unsung Stories – a fiction imprint of independent press Red Squirrel Publishing – on their website here.
I’m looking forward to two events this week – on Thursday 6 August, I’ll be at Fantasy in the Court in the evening alongside a host of SFF writers. Fantasy in the Court is hosted by the marvellous Goldsboro Books (Cecil Court, London) in association with Hodderscape. Find out more and book tickets here.
Friday 7 – Saturday 9 August is Nine Worlds Convention at the Radisson Blu Edwardian, Heathrow, London. This is my first time at Nine Worlds; according to the website: “It’s about gaming, film, cosplay, fandom, literature, science, geek culture, meeting people and having a really big party.” (Sounds good to me.) I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday and participating in a panel on Sunday afternoon:
“The Stars My Destination” – Exploring the Future of SF – 1.30pm – 2.45pm, Sunday 9 August
We’re living in a science fiction world, where technology and global warming are changing things faster than sci-fi writers can type: so where does the future of sci-fi sit?
Gavin G Smith, Paul McAuley, E. J. Swift, Matt Suddain, Naomi Foyle
Exciting! You can find out more about Nine Worlds here.
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.
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!
Reading from Cataveiro
A big thank you to everyone who came down to Drink, Shop & Do in King’s Cross last week for the fantasy-themed Speakeasy, or, ‘That Night Where They Do Writing’, and to Nicci Cloke and Ian Ellard for asking me to participate. I had a lovely time listening to readings from fellow authors Alex Bell, Rosie Best, Charlie Fletcher, and Den Patrick (along with the obligatory flash fiction contest over the interval, which featured pandas).
Nicci and Ian run the night monthly with different authors taking part and it’s well worth checking out – you can reserve a table for free, listen to fiction and have a drink at your leisure.
You can read all about the night over at the Speakeasy blog here.
This weekend saw an expedition to Suffolk for Latitude Festival, where I was speaking as part of the Ebury Does… programme. It was my first time at Latitude and as glorious as the music was the chance to get out of London for a few days and switch off the phone.
My talk was on the Friday. I tracked down the Ebury tent in the morning (located in the suitably whimsical Faraway Forest) and found the team setting up after a hellish 9-hour drive from London the previous day. A couple of hours later I returned for my talk and found the tent full of cushions, beanbags, deckchairs, and of course books, including a very shiny array of Del Rey UK titles. I was truly delighted when people turned up for the talk as the tent was a little off the beaten track and I had no idea how it might go. I read the prologue from Osiris and spoke about my influences, how I got into SF, and my inspiration for the trilogy. However, SF readers are everywhere, as I later ended up talking to a group of French electro swing musicians from Toulouse, one of whom recommended some French SF for me after a conversation in Franglais about George Orwell, and my housemate helpfully describing Osiris in his (far better than mine) French.
The rest of the weekend I was free to relax and enjoy the music. Highlights were Beth Orton, who had the crowd mesmerised and was just a joy to hear; Josephine singing with guitar in a small tent away in the forest – her voice was even more stunning live than on her album; the Mark Lanegan Band being generally cool; Laura Mvula; and Everything Everything. I’m always interested in how some artists are far better recorded and others live, and I’d see all of these again. I caught a few songs of Daughter, who I hadn’t heard before, and bought her album as soon as I got home (in fact I’m listening to it as I write this). I also saw the Ballet Boyz on the waterfront stage performing a piece by Russell Maliphant, I think called ‘Falling’, which was spectacular, and reminded me once again just how powerful contemporary ballet can be.
This week it’s back to digital screens and reality. Cataveiro is almost signed off on the edits front and I’ll be getting stuck into Book 3 in the next few weeks. Onward…
A very quick note to say this weekend I will be at Latitude Festival courtesy of the marvellous folk at Ebury Publishing to fly the flag for Del Rey UK (or at least, to brandish a Del Rey book). The Ebury Library has a full line up of authors and I’ll be speaking on Friday 19 July at 2pm, on how I came to write in the genre of Science Fiction and Fantasy, how I got published, and discussing the inspiration for the Osiris Project trilogy.
Here’s a link to the full Ebury Does… schedule: http://www.latitudefestival.com/line-up/artist/ebury-library-does
Do come say hello!
Now it’s off to pack as much mosquito repellent as my bag can hold and of course, a hula hoop.