A Non-Fiction Book

September 20th, 2012 | spirit tracks, Work

This was the post at Publishers Marketplace:

Author of RED, CROOKED LITTLE VEIN and forthcoming GUN MACHINE, Warren Ellis’s SPIRIT TRACKS, about the future of the city, the ghosts that haunt it and the science-fiction condition we live in, to Sean McDonald at Farrar, Straus, by Lydia Wills at Lydia Wills (world English).

That’s Farrar, Straus & Giroux, an incredibly impressive publishing house with an incredibly impressive list.  Lydia’s an absolute miracle worker.

SPIRIT TRACKS is the working title of a book based upon the talk I gave in Berlin last year, which appeared here, in its original waytoolong form, in twenty-nine parts.

So… this is happening.  I am writing a serious non-fiction book for a serious non-fiction list.  Which is kind of strange, isn’t it?  As I said a few weeks ago, the career’s gone in an odd direction again over the last few years.  Sometimes I wonder if people will look back over my CV and ask themselves what the hell I thought I was doing.

I start this book next year, after I finish the current novel.  It may or may not have the same title when it’s announced as going on the publication schedule.  Really looking forward to working with Sean McDonald, who’s edited some of my favourite non-fiction over the last several years, including Steven Johnson’s magnificent GHOST MAP.

I’m a novelist and a non-fiction author now.  Strange days.


September 19th, 2012 | three panels


Olivia Fox – tumblr / twitter

Podcast List, 19sep12

September 19th, 2012 | daybook

A few people on Twitter have asked me lately what’s in my podcast list.  The list is very short right now.  (Also, can I say here how fucked Apple’s new Podcast app is?  I’ve gone back to the podcast function under Music on my iPhone, syncing with iTunes on my computer every night, because the Podcast app is so broken.)

Given that most people now use a search function on their podcast app of choice, or know how to use Google, I’m just listing unlinked titles for the most part.

I am always looking for more suggestions for podcasts under these general headings.  @warrenellis or warrenellis@gmail.com will get me.

General current affairs stuff:

Analysis  (BBC Radio 4) – Center for Strategic and International Studies – Stephanomics (BBC Radio 4)  – The Pod Delusion:  http://poddelusion.co.uk  –


Hidden History  (BBC Radio Ulster): Irish history with Dr Éamon Phoenix – Composer Of The Week (BBC Radio 3) – Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg (BBC Radio 4)


The Cargo Culte Audio Field Report: thecargoculte.com/  – Broken20 – Dublab mp3 blog – At Water’s Edge (very long ambient shows)

Other things (sciences, philosophy, art, weird shit):

Psychedelic Salon (I like the Terence McKenna talks) – Philosophy Now – Little Atoms – Artbound Weekly (KCET)



The Northland Trilogy

September 18th, 2012 | stuff2012

Stephen Baxter’s NORTHLAND TRILOGY – made up of STONE SPRING, BRONZE SUMMER and IRON WINTER – tells an alternate history where Doggerland wasn’t swallowed up by the North Sea by 5500BC, because the people of Doggerland built a great Wall to keep the sea out.

Doggerland is a fascinating thing, because its lowlands surely would have changed the course of history if they’d gone unsubmerged.  Ana, another of Baxter’s long line of sour autism-spectrum protagonists, leads the construction of a Wall that will eventually become a city in and of itself.

If Ana saw Zesi coming, she showed no signs of it. ‘This is the future,’ she said gravely. She held her own shovel over her head like a hunter’s spear. ‘The future.’

The first book is an amusing piece of world-building (quite literally),  It’s a bit airport-novel in more than one place, but it does have moments in it like the above, which I love.  The second book is a Ripping Yarn of the old school, with no real pretense of alternate-history beyond some dressing.

The third book postulates that the lack of agriculture in the Doggerland way of life, in this alternate world, allows a new glacial age to arrive.  Baxter also cites the Younger Dryas glacial period as being triggered by icy floods chilling the North Atlantic and killing the Gulf Stream.  Which is interesting, as a wall big enough to dam the North Sea would stunt the Gulf Stream all on its own, turning much of Britain and Scandinavia into tundra.  All the way through the third book, I was waiting for someone to reveal the secret of the sudden “longwinter” as “you dammed the fucking sea, what did you think was going to happen?”  But no, apparently some dodgy point about early anthropocene climate alteration was to be made.  Which, regardless of its potential veracity, just seems a lot less interesting than “we built this fucking great wall to save our civilisation and now it’s killing the world.”  Now that’s a ripping yarn.  It’s also, of course, my projection on to the author’s work and intents, and deeply unfair.  I remain disappointed with the last two books.  But STONE SPRING is often thought-provoking, full of potential, and a book to contemplate.

2000AD, Prog 34

September 18th, 2012 | comics talk

This comic, as you can probably make out, was released in 1977.  I bought it the week it came out.

And I don’t remember thinking twice about the cover.

You’d think I would.  I had persons of colour as my closest friends in infant and junior school, male and female, but this was the 1970s in south-east England: we’re not talking about a densely integrated area, and we are talking about a culture that was still very much casually racist.  My dad, once a soldier and a sailor, was extremely well-travelled and didn’t have a racist bone in his body, so I probably have a lot of attitudes inculcated in me from such a young age that I didn’t even notice.  But I’m not about to say I was colourblind, because I cannot possibly have been.

But I don’t recall this cover causing me to even blink.  And, believe me, my memories of 2000AD, and much of the culture I consumed as a kid, are still vivid to me.

Going back and looking around at comics of the time, this cover seems to me like a remarkable thing.  Totally understated, and yet saying a thing very clearly.  Quietly, but firmly.

An early Trev Goring piece, I think.  A marvellous object to find again.