Friday, October 31, 2014

Horizon - win a free copy three ways

Horizon is published today, and to celebrate I'm running three giveaways.

All you have to do to win a free epub of Horizon is to:
The draw ends on 4 November and I'll contact the lucky winners then.

Thanks for your support!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Horizon - on the cusp

I have a strong feeling of unreality on the eve of Horizon’s publication. It’s a feeling that has been dogging me for a couple of weeks now. As writers we invest so much time, thought, effort and care into our writing it consumes a large portion of our lives. For expanses of time the worlds we create are more intimately known and understood by us than the world we live in.

I don’t imagine I’m any different to many other authors who finally get to see their first novel published. It’s been a long pathway. Starting back in the late 90s (the exact year is lost in too many rewrites), I attended a short TAFE course run by Aurealis editor Dirk Strasser on ‘Writing SF, Fantasy and Horror'. That led to a slush pile reader job at Aurealis and both those things opened me up to writing again. I’d done a lot of writing as a child and teenager but all that had ground to a halt by my twenties. As a result I enrolled in a TAFE professional writing and editing course and the novel writing module forced me to come up with an idea for a novel. That was the seeds of Horizon. A couple of years on and I had a reasonable draft. A meeting with Jack Dann helped me to get that draft in front of TOR in the US. Subbing novels ‘on spec’ takes a long time. About 2½ years passed with a rejection at the end. Marianne De Pierres stepped up and, on her recommendation, I subbed it to Orbit UK. A couple of years later Horizon was rejected. The novel dropped into my bottom drawer, but I hadn't stopped after Horizon so by then I had a few published short stories and a decent chunk of a space opera trilogy drafted. 

Then HarperVoyager opened up its digital submissions in October 2012. I subbed Horizon and waited. February 2014 rolled around and Horizon was picked up for digital publication through the Voyager Impulse imprint. The time between then and now has been filled with editing, proofing and final polishing. It’s nearly November. Horizon is out tomorrow. It’s an intimate story, told in the confines of a small spaceship with a handful of crew. But the action has repercussions far beyond that. It deals with ideas that are important to all of us right now, including global conflict and the shift of power, and climate change and the adequacy (or otherwise) of humanity’s response, as well as showing  the lengths people will go to protect what they think is important. I think it’s a good story, but others will be the ultimate judges. All I can do is hope that you enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Horizon - 2 days till launch!

It's only 2 days until Horizon is published by HarperCollins!

I'll be running giveaways on my Google+, Facebook and Twitter accounts from Saturday to Tuesday where you can win a free copy of the ebook.

And from next Monday the Horizon blog tour kicks off. Here are the dates and sites:

3 November - Voyager Blog - Horizon Chapter One (extract)
4 November - Trent Jamieson's blog - Character Building: Meet the Crew
5 November - Darkmatter Fanzine - Welcome to Magellan: Inside the Ship
6 November - Lee Battersby's blog - Futureshock: Charting the History of Tomorrow
7 November - Joanne Anderton's blog - Engage: Tinkering With a Quantum Drive
10 November - Ben Peek's blog - Stormy Weather: Facing Down Climate Change
11 November - Rjurik Davidson's blog - Time Travel: Relatively Speaking
12 November - Alan Baxter's blog - Consciousness Explorers: Inside a Transhuman
13 November - Sean Wright's blog - From the Ground Up: Building a Planet
14 November - Greig Beck's Facebook Page - Life Persists: Finding the Extremophile
17 November - Marianne de Pierres' blog - Interview

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Super-sized crops

One of the issues facing the Earth of the future that I touch on in Horizon is food security.

With global population set to soar between now and 2050, particularly in third-world countries, it's a real problem working out how we can feed everyone. Science, of course, has a way of finding solutions, but these can throw up a host of other technical and ethical issues.

An article in the current New Scientist discusses a new process that could supercharge plants by swapping out their naturally evolved photosynthetic 'engine' with a genetically engineered replacement that will increase crop yields by 25% and reduce the amount of irrigation required.

It sounds like a miracle cure, but there has long been resistance to Genetically Modified (GM) crops due to the fear that GM plants escaping into the wild could wreak unforeseen havoc with the biosphere.

Certainly supercharged plants that escape would rapidly outcompete wild varieties for space and sunlight, but rising food pressures may mean we're forced to take that chance. There's also the important fact that supercharged plants will suck up more CO2 as part of the photosynthetic process, which could have a significant effect on climate change.

One possible solution to the problem is to supercharge wild varieties of plants as well, in order to level the playing field while reaping the benefits.

Given the alternative, this is an issue to watch closely.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Horizon - cover reveal

HarperVoyager Impulse have produced a beautiful cover for my SF thriller Horizon that really illustrates some of the themes of the book (amongst other things). Horizon is out 1 November.