JG Ballard British Library Event

Press release: J G Ballard: Further Reflections

Fri 23 Sep 2011, 18.30 – 20.30

£7.50 / £5 concessions

J G Ballard: Further Reflections Event

Book now for 23 Sep 2011, 18.30 – 20.00

Famous for his provocative, dystopian visions, J G Ballard was a writer so spectacularly imaginative and distinctive that his name has become an adjective in its own right. His fiction, often shocking, predicted the rise of terrorism against tourists, the alienation of a society obsessed by new technology and ecological disasters such as the melting of the ice caps. It ranges from science fiction and psychological fables (such as Crash) that uncover the weirdness of normality, to the iconic autobiographical work Empire of the Sun. His archive was acquired by the British Library in 2010.

This event will feature contributions by some of J G Ballard’s associates and fellow authors. Speakers include writers John Gray and Toby Litt; the producer of the film of Crash Jeremy Thomas; Bea and Fay Ballard and Claire Walsh. Chaired by Philip Dodd

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something for the weekend

Editorial vigilance has taken the weekend off at my local paper – The Bournemouth Daily Echo. Page five has an advert for this book:
The Third Testicle cover

The same page has a small feature, as it were, headed Ball held to raise funds. Of course it might be down to a sub-editor with a sense of humour, but it certainly raised a smile.

Here is a promotional image for the same title. Doctor Who fans and haters alike may be particularly amused.

The Third Testicle promo

vampire century award

Dracula cover, 1902Twilight fans probably need not bother trying to lobby for their favourite, as The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is proud to announce it will present the Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award at the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet in 2012. The Banquet will be held at the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City on 31 March 2012.

A jury chaired by Leslie S. Klinger and comprised of writers and editors James Dorr, Linda Addison, Ron Breznay and Jo Fletcher will endeavour to select the finest vampire novel published since Bram Stoker’s passing in the century 1912. Stoker, of course, wrote Dracula. Full details at the link above.

Meanwhile on a related note the Horror Writers Association blog has moved here.


Some notes on Christopher Priest’s The Islanders

Yesterday morning I received a signed copy of Christopher Priest’s latest book, The Islanders, direct from the author. This is Priest’s first book length fiction since the Arthur C. Clarke Award winning The Separation, and since the release of the film The Prestige, based on the author’s James Tait Black Memorial Prize winning novel of the same name. What follows are some spoiler-free notes towards a later review.

The Islanders, Christopher PriestIn the first 22 pages of The Islanders Christopher Priest uses the word ‘adjacent’ three times.

By some counts The Islanders is Christopher Priest’s ** book, if one includes works of non-fiction, chapbooks and works written under a pseudonym. Do we count chapbooks, small publications such as The Song of the Book? Does The Book on The Edge of Forever count? – an account of the non-publication of another book (Last Dangerous Visions) by another author which if it did exist would be an anthology of stories many other writers.

But even if we consider only Priest’s fiction it is still difficult to reach an agreed number. What of the two slightly different versions of the story collection Real Time World? Do we count one, or both? Or the different revised texts of the novel The Glamour – for which Priest also wrote another version as a BBC Radio play? Itself which exists in two versions, one running approximately 100 minutes, the other, containing exactly the same material but time compressed to fill a 90 minute broadcast slot.

The Islanders is Priest’s ** novel, if we count works written under a pseudonym. But which pseudonyms? It’s well known that Priest wrote the ‘book of the film’ of eXistenZ as John Luther Novak, but what about certain other books which have long been rumoured to have been the author’s work, but which Priest has always denied?

As Chaster Kammeston writes in his introduction to The Islanders, ‘I did not write this book, although there have already been rumours that I did.’ Christopher Priest, The Islanders back cover

Just as no one can be sure exactly how many islands there are in the world  – ‘There are no maps or charts of the Dream Archipelago. At least there are no reliable ones, or comprehensive ones, or even whole ones.’ – no one can be sure how many books Christopher Priest has written. All we can affirm is that The Islanders is one of them.

The Islanders documents certain aspects of The Dream Archipelago, the central setting for Priest’s story collection The Dream Archipelago. The Dream Archipelago was of course location for half of what is perhaps Priest’s greatest novel, The Affirmation. The Islanders is not a sequel, it is perhaps not a novel in the conventional sense, but a geographical, historical, biographical gazetteer of a place which seemed an ‘alien’ world in The Affirmation, half of which was located in a world parallel with our own (in that it contained a country called England with a capital city called London), while the other half introduced us to a country called Faiandland with a capital city called Jethra and a previously unknown chain of islands spanning the entire girth of the planet.

In The Islanders Priest writes about the world which is home to The Dream Archipelago as if it were exactly as real as the world in which we live, of which so far he has made no mention.

In a year or two, if shelved in order of publication The Islanders will separate Priest’s previous novel, The Separation, from his next, to which it will be adjacent. That novel already has a title. It is called The Adjacent.

*

You can read my interview with Christopher Priest here.

Imaginings Anthology Series

This just in from Ian Whates at NewCon Press…

 NewCon Press is proud to announce an exciting new venture, Imaginings.  A series of short story collections (approximately 50,000 words); each volume will feature the work of a single selected author, bringing together the very best of that author’s previously published but uncollected short fiction, as chosen by the author themselves, plus original stories. Imaginings will be published at three or four month intervals. The first volume will appear January 2012. There will be a signed and numbered hardback edition limited to 100 or 125 copies, plus an e-book & kindle version.  No paperback edition. Each volume of Imaginings will feature generically similar cover design and layout (though with individual cover art), so that the books build into a credible series. The signed hardback editions of Imaginings will be available to buy via the NewCon Press website, priced at £19.99 (plus shipping, currently £2.50 per book within the UK). Or… Imaginings can be purchased via subscriptionThe advantages? Reduced price.  Two volumes: £38.00, three volumes: £55.00, four volumes: £72.00.

  • Shipping within the UK will be free (and discounted for overseas subscribers).
  • Subscribers will ‘buy’ a number within the limited edition run.  Every volume you receive will feature that number, which remains yours exclusively until the subscription lapses, at which point it will become available to others.
  • In addition to the hardback volume, subscribers will receive a free copy of the e-book.
  • Subscribers are guaranteed a copy of a high quality, very limited book which is likely to sell out rapidly and become highly collectable.

The first six authors to feature in Imaginings have already been selected.  The precise order of publication has yet to be determined, depending on a number of factors; not least the authors’ individual schedules and commitments.  Alphabetically, then, the first six authors to grace Imaginings with their finest work will be: Nina Allan Stephen Baxter Pat Cadigan Jon Courtenay Grimwood Tanith Lee Adam Roberts To subscribe and ensure you don’t miss out, contact Ian Whates at: finiang@aol.com

Fantasy Fiction Is Good For You

The Guardian reports that new research suggests reading fiction – even, shock, horror, fantasy fiction! – is good for you and society.

Shira Gabriel and Ariana Young conducted a study involving reactions to reading extracts from the Harry Potter and Twilight novels. In Becoming a Vampire Without Being Bitten: The Narrative Collective-Assimilation Hypothesis they write: “The current research suggests that books give readers more than an opportunity to tune out and submerge themselves in fantasy worlds. Books provide the opportunity for social connection and the blissful calm that comes from becoming a part of something larger than oneself for a precious, fleeting moment.” (Full article published in the journal Psychological Studies).

Or as Keith Oatley, professor of human development and applied psychology at the University of Toronto comments, “I think the reason fiction but not non-fiction has the effect of improving empathy is because fiction is primarily about selves interacting with other selves in the social world.” He adds, “reading fiction improves understanding of others, and this has a very basic importance in society, not just in the general way making the world a better place by improving interpersonal understanding, but in specific areas such as politics, business, and education. In an era when high-school and university subjects are evaluated economically, our results do have economic implications.”

Coming soon, Harry Potter and the Psychopathy of Bankers.

 

 

Welcome

Status

Just a test and welcome message. My old site, garydalkin.com, was hacked, and rather than struggle with the horrors of 1&1 hosting any longer it seemed a good impetus to move completely over to WordPress. So here I am with my content ported over, slightly revised and prettified with more pictures. It was a steep learning curve, but if you don’t count the design of WordPress and the template I’m using, then it was all my own work, and all the more satisfying for it. I’m certainly glad I kept complete backups of my content. You never know when they will be needed. So if you haven’t already done it, backup your online content now. Believe me, it’s worth the effort.

Proper blogging will begin tomorrow.