Coming Soon: This Twisted Earth

This Twisted Earth“When I pitched the gig I described it as a chance to ‘play cat’s cradle with Time.’ I hope you enjoy the game as much as we did.”
—from the Introduction

This Twisted Earth is the latest book from Dion Winton-Polak, the editor and anthologist behind Sunny, with a Chance of Zombies. Here, he theorized a version of our planet in which a strange cataclysm has left time itself in a tangle. This is a sandpit universe; in which the authors were encouraged to unleash their wildest dreams to create pulpy stories of danger, adventure, and dread-filled discovery.

This Twisted Earth contains 12 stories, and a further 12 creative fragments, including…

  • Stagecoach Mary and the Ride over the Mountains – a Western tale, pitting folk-hero Mary Fields against a pack of prehistoric predators.
  • Dead Horse Walking – a Mayan-noir detective story, digging into the mysteries of the world.
  • The Man who would be King of the Monsters – a sly spin on the Kipling yarn – featuring colossal monsters. Naturally.
  • Little Boy – a samurai leads an old woman through a death-haunted domain to find her missing son.
  • The Electric Eye of the Silver God – a rag-tag group of adventurers defy a horde of degenerates in order to claim one final, glittering prize.

Whilst the concept was originated by Dion Winton-Polak, the authors collaborated and brainstormed together to make this a truly shared world. The individual stories stand alone, but little details draw them together, and additional material by Dion is used to both strengthen this cohesion and plant seeds for future volumes.

The paperback edition of This Twisted Earth will be launched at FantasyCon by the Sea in Scarborough on 24th September, 2016. The editor and several authors will be available to answer questions and to sign copies of the book. There will also be an extremely limited run of hardback copies, available to purchase on the day.

The authors are multiple-award nominated author Adrian Tchaikovsky, author, comic scriptwriter, and editor Mike Chinn, author and academic librarian Jess Nevins, and widely published author Phil Sloman, along with Andrew Coulthard, Dave de Burgh, Drew Bassett, Hereward Proops, Jacob Prytherch, Keith Coleman, Matt Lewis, and Piotr Świetlik.

This Twisted Earth will be available from October 1st from 6ixminutes.co.uk

“Something about the forest made her brain itch. Diagonally across the middle of England, from Bristol up to Hull, were a series of craters that looked alarmingly like footprints. Anglesey, for some reason, glowed. Much of Scotland was covered by a glacier. Across the Channel, in the place of France, was some kind of black smudge. Most of it was off the bottom of the screen but the smudge looked, even from space, like it was… writhing.”
“The Ghost in Michelle”
Matt Lewis

Edge-Lit 4 Roundup

Sunny With a Chance of ZombiesThe Book Launch

Yesterday, I was at Edge-Lit; Derby’s annual (well, soon to be bi-annual) speculative fiction convention. Packed full of panel discussions, workshops, and book launches and sales.

I was there, once again, with KnightWatch Press, and this year we were launching the Sunny, with a Chance of Zombies anthology. The launch was for several of the press’ anthologies: Sunny, with a Chance of Zombies of course, along with Chip Shop Horrors, Killer Bees from Outer Space, and Nice Day for a Picnic. Yes, KnightWatch are not your typical horror publisher! There was also a reading by Terry Jackman, from her novel Ashamet, Desert Born. The launch was fantastic, and had a really good turn-out.

zombie

And, of course, it wouldn’t have been complete without a real-life (albeit undead) zombie, and some brain cakes. Well, it goes without saying, right? And, despite shaking like a leaf, my book reading went very well. In fact, it couldn’t have really gone any better (wink, wink. More on that another day.)

So, a huge thanks to KnightWatch Press, to Theresa Derwin and Steve Shaw, and the wonderful Dion Winton-Polak, editor of Sunny, with a Chance of Zombies. Also, my fellow Sunny reader on the day, Louise Maskill, whose story Run, Rabbit is also in the book. And of course, a massive thank you to Alex Davis and the whole Edge-Lit team.

So, the launch was great; we ate cake, we conquered our fears, we signed books, and we made new friends. Here’s to the next one!

The Panels

While the book launch kept me tied up for some of the day, I did manage to make it along to a number of panel discussions. I love this part of the convention, and I eagerly sit there, with pen and notebook, ready to grab useful hints, tips, insights, and soundbites.

The first panel, Into the Grimdark, featured authors Adrian Tchaikovsky, Gav Thorpe, and Sophie Sparham, plus Adele Wearing of Fox Spirit Books. It was a really interesting discussion about the elements and tone of grimdark fiction, and its place and future in the world of literature.

Adele Wearing pointed out that “Writers can’t help but respond to the world around them”, that the choice is to “either go in with escapism, and the lighter strands, or you reflect what’s really going on.” She added that “there is a mood for more flawed, everyday heroes, without the heroic persona.”

They all agreed that the genre is evolving, that it’s becoming something more playful, and satirical. Despite that, Adrian Tchaikovsky noted that “it is easier to write stories where everything’s horrible, because the conflict is given to you on a plate.”

The Looking Back panel discussed how much history is required in fantasy fiction, and it reiterated some of the points raised in the grimdark panel. This one featured authors Stephen Deas, Freda Warrington, Joanne Harris, Tom Lloyd, and Angus Watson.

Freda Warrington stated that “it’s almost impossible to write a book without history”, and, indeed, neither the panel nor the audience could think of an example. Joanne Harris went on to say that both stories and history—words that, in many languages, are almost identical—are a “shared narrative of being a human being, and the planet, and the cultures that we all come from”, that “they are entirely the product of their creator, who is entirely a product of their own time”.

They also discussed how historical accounts can’t be trusted, because they are written from particular perspectives, often embellished, twisted and changed over time. There are also huge gaps in our knowledge and evidence of the past. Joanne Harris pointed out that “history is as speculative as science fiction”.

The Death House signed by Sarah PinboroughThe third panel I attended, Monstrous Regiments, looked at the monster in horror fiction. It featured authors Adam Nevill, Sarah Pinborough, Mark Morris, and Alison Littlewood.

Such a panel couldn’t have avoided a debate on the zombie trend, and Alison Littlewood pointed out that their appeal was because “they’re not just zombies, they’re actually us. There’s an emotional connection”. Adam Nevill added that readers enjoyed “the fantasy of being a survivor”. But Sarah Pinborough personally found “much more emotional resonance” in ghost stories.

But there was clear agreement that readers didn’t want the old tropes and cliches, with Mark Morris concluding that they want “something different and new”.

All in all, another set of great panel discussions, and I only wish I could have attended more of them. Still, there’s always next year…