British Fiction Focus

No More Moriarty

Welcome back to the British Genre Fiction Focus,’s regular round-up of book news from the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry.

Today, Terry Pratchett does dragons and diaries, Anthony Horowitz moots Moriarty, Damien Walter decries the straightness of science fiction, David Mitchell signs on for a sequel, J. K. Rowling takes over the radio… and that?

That’s just a taste of all that’s to come in this week’s edition of the British Genre Fiction Focus.

To Reichenbach and Back

Sherlock Holmes The House of Silk Anthony Horowitz

By all accounts, The House of Silk was a huge hit, and a success in more than the commercial sense. “In spirit,” I wrote in my review for, “this new Sherlock Holmes story is so innately faithful to the legacy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s single most celebrated creation as to feel […] painstaking.” Critically, then, The House of Silk went down very well. So well that many expected a sequel to be announced hot on its heels.

Well, it took three years, and Moriarty certainly isn’t a sequel to Anthony Horowitz’s last dalliance with the great detective—instead, it takes place in the “days after Holmes and his nemesis […] apparently plunged to their deaths over the Reichenbach Falls”—but damn, it does sound like fun. Per the publisher:

Sherlock Holmes is dead.

Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind who has risen to take his place.

Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction, Frederick Chase must forge a path through the darkest corners of the capital to shine light on this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace.

On Twitter, the author, best known for his Alex Rider novels, said that “Sherlock Holmes does not appear (until the very end)” though almost “all the policemen Holmes ever worked with, including Lestrade, will appear in my new book.” Oh, and “look out for the appearance of the ‘dreadful’ Abernetties. One of the most famous untold Holmes stories,” Horowitz noted.

Look for Orion to release Moriarty in late October.


Discworld, Dragons, and Diaries

Shall we start with the bad news? We shall. Sadly, it doesn’t look like there’ll be a new Discworld book this calendar year. That said, we learned last week that Terry Pratchett fans will have a good bit to keep busy with.

Slated for publication in the UK this September, Dragons at Crumbling Castle is a compilation of short stories for younger readers—though older readers need not fear, as Kirsten Armstrong, fiction editor at Random House’s Children’s division, asserts:

These stories are full of Pratchett’s trademark wit and imagination and will be adored by anyone aged eight to 108. Brimming with knights, dragons, abominable snowmen and even more abominable crooks, they are a joy to read and share with young readers.

Early reports peg the length of Dragons at Crumbling Castle at about 400 pages including a number of full-page, black and white illustrations by Mark Beech of Yeti Spaghetti. With luck, its release shall be a salve on the sore sure to be left by the eighteen upcoming redundancies mooted by the management of RHCP recently. As to that, a spokesperson said:

The proposed changes are brought about by a need to create a realistic and sustainable cost base for RHCP to enable future growth. You cannot grow a business which is not profitable. This is a sad but necessary step to enable us to create a vibrant and exciting combined children’s division and we must lay the groundwork for our future success.

Terry Pratchett 2015 Discworld Diary

But let’s get back to Pratchett.

Beating out the release of Dragons at Crumbling Castle by a week or three, the latest of Gollancz’s lavish Discworld Diaries:

Developed in consultation with Sir Terry Pratchett, the Discworld Diaries are one part diary, one part guide to the arcane practices of the funniest creation in modern fantasy.

Each diary celebrates the unsung heroes of the Discworld universe; in this instance: those stoic, selfless minions from the farflung region of Überwald, the Igors.

Gollancz will produce the Discworld Diary 2015 in partnership with the folks at the Discworld Emporium, which I’ll have you know has its headquarters in a town officially twinned with Ankh-Morpork. When reached, representatives had this to add to the announcement:

As any Igor will tell you, “What goeth around, cometh around.” This excursion into Pratchett’s world of the Igors has taught us more about anatomy, and indeed “re-cycling” than one could possibly have wished to know. Regardless, we’re delighted to share it with you in this little tome. Hopefully it will have you in thtitcheth!

You know, I think it will.

Gollancz also announced that it had secured the rights to release Discworld Diaries, again in partnership with the aforementioned emporium, through 2017. As to that, over to Darren Nash:

From the moment we sat down with the team from the Discworld Emporium it was clear that they shared the Gollancz vision: fans producing wonderful things for other fans. We’re delighted to be working with them and with Sir Terry Pratchett, and confident that 2015’s will be the best Discworld Diary ever—until next year!


Odds and Sods

  • Sue Townsend, the creator of Adrian Mole, famously aged 13 and ¾—though he did, of course, grow older—mightn’t have been a genre author, but she was one of British fiction’s best and brightest. It was with a heavy heart that I heard she’d died last week at age 68. The Guardian has an obituary and an appreciation, not to mention the news that she was at work on a new book: her first since The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year in 2012. She’ll be missed by millions, I imagine.
  • With The Doors of Stone still a way away, Patrick Rothfuss’ legions of readers will be pleased to hear Gollancz has acquired the rights to release a Kingkiller Chronicles novella revolving around Auri in the interim. In exchange for a “substantial” six-figure sum, The Slow Regard of Silent Things will make its way to the UK this very November.
  • In this week’s Weird Thing, Damien Walter decries the representation of gender identity and sexual orientation in the genre. “As liberal democracies like Britain welcome their first gay marriages, queer visions of the future look prescient. But despite the success of these authors, SF still clings to an unrealistically straight vision of the future.”
  • Next up from the author of The Carhullan Army is a novel called The Wolf Border, “a return to the world of […] Haweswater” set to “investigate the fundamental nature of wilderness and wildness, both animal and human.” Faber plan to publish Sarah Hall’s latest in April 2015.
  • In the course of the two years Eleanor Catton spent reading and researching before beginning The Luminaries, this year’s Man Booker Prize winner learned to read the Tarot. In a fascinating article for The Guardian she reflects on the writing life.
  • As Solaris’ Jonathan Oliver says, “a Lovecraftian novel that brings something new to the field is a rare thing indeed,” but you can expect exactly that from Dreams of Shreds and Tatters: an urban fantasy affair revolving around the King in Yellow by Amanda Downum, author of The Necromancer Chronicles.
  • J. K. Rowling has announced that she’ll be one of five guest editors taking over Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 during the week beginning April 28. She’s expected to talk about subjects such as “the power and myth of the shoe in popular culture” and the issues actual (as opposed to invented) orphans are faced with today.
  • “A good girl’s greatest weakness is a bad boy,” apparently—this from the synopsis accompanying the cover art of Crushed by Eliza Crewe, which Strange Chemistry lately unveiled. Said sequel to last year’s Cracked, which kicked off the Soul Eater series, will be out in early August.
  • With The Bone Clocks coming in early September, Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell has signed a new deal with representatives of Sceptre. The three books include two novels, the first of which we should see in 2018, and a sequel to The Reason I Jump combining “[Naoki] Higashida’s writings about his life as a young adult with autism with Mitchell’s own contributions on the subject.” That’s coming next summer.
  • At the London Book Fair last week, Jo Fletcher Books bought a second saga from New Zealand’s David Hair, whose Moontide Quartet I called “a series which promises to recall epic fantasy’s finest” in my review of Mage’s Blood. The Lodestar Quartet is to take place in Urte too, albeit some time later, when it begins in 2016.

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and He’s been known to tweet, twoo.


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