British Fiction Focus

An Irregular Anthology and An Interactive Festival

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

Though many of us are still reeling from the abrupt closure of Strange Chemistry, the show must go on, and indeed, it did. In the last week we’ve heard about three separate festivals, one of which—Gollancz’s inaugural multimedia extravaganza—is sure to prove particularly interesting to fans of the fantastic.

But before that, this: the exclusive announcement of Jurassic London’s latest anthology, which promises to do for the Age of Reason what The Lowest Heaven did for the exploration of space.

An Irregular Anthology

If there was a better science fiction anthology released last year than The Lowest Heaven, I don’t know its name. “As inspiring as it is inspired,” as I wrote in my review, Jurassic London’s considered collaboration with the National Maritime Museum had this reader at least on the edge of his seat, so it gives me immense pleasure to tell you that the two are reteaming for an anthology called Irregularity.

Let’s press release, people!

Irregularity is the result of our latest collaboration with the National Maritime Museum. The anthology’s release coincides with Longitude Season and the opening of Ships, Clocks and Stars, a major new exhibition marking the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Act.

Using the Longitude Act as the jumping off point, Irregularity is inspired by the great thinkers of the Age of Reason—those courageous men and women who set out to map, chart, name and classify the world around them. The great minds who brought order and discipline to the universe. Except where they didn’t.

Irregularity contains new stories of natural law and those that disobey it, including:

  • “Fairchild’s Folly” by Tiffani Angus
  • “A Game Proposition” by Rose Biggin
  • “A Woman Out of Time” by Kim Curran
  • “The Heart of Aris Kindt” by Richard de Nooy
  • “Footprint” by Archie Black
  • “An Experiment in the Formulae of Thought” by Simon Guerrier
  • “Irregularity” by Nick Harkaway
  • “Circulation” by Roger Luckhurst
  • “The Voyage of the Basset” by Claire North
  • “The Assassination of Isaac Newton by the Coward Robert Boyle” by Adam Roberts
  • “Animalia Paradoxa” by Henrietta Rose-Innes
  • “The Last Escapement” by James Smythe
  • “The Darkness” by M. Suddain
  • “The Spiders of Stockholm” by E. J. Swift

From John Harrison to Ada Lovelace, Isaac Newton to Émilie du Châtelet, these stories showcase the Age of Reason in a very different light.

Irregularity Jurassic London

But wait… there’s more! “Irregularity also contains an afterword by Sophie Waring and Richard Dunn, Head of Science and Technology at Royal Museums Greenwich,” in additions to illustrations by Gary Northfield “based on imagery from the archives of the National Maritime Museum.”

Exciting, right? I reached out to the anthology’s editor, Jared Shurin, for a quick comment about how it was working with the National Maritime Museum again. A real pleasure, evidently:

“They’re generous (and very patient) partners, with fantastic ideas. The Lowest Heaven was something of a dream project, and the challenge with Irregularity has been to raise the bar even higher. A theme like Irregularity’s—the tension between order and chaos—is incredibly tricky, but also wonderfully rewarding. It has been a lot of fun working alongside Richard and the rest of the Museum team to weave it in to every aspect of book’s art and design, as well as the stories themselves.”

Irregularity will be available as a paperback, an ebook, and a limited edition of 100 hardcovers sold exclusively through the National Maritime Museum, where the upcoming anthology will be launched on 24th July as part of Dark and Stormy Late, an “off-kilter evening” meant to mark the opening of Ships, Clocks and Stars and Guiding Lights: 500 Years of Trinity House and Safety at Sea, complete with “readings, signings, activities, wine and all sorts of goodness.”


An Interactive Festival

Gollancz Festival

Last week, Gollancz surprised the pants off its fans by announcing plans to partner with Waterstones Piccadilly for “an interactive multi-media genre fiction festival” starring an alarming number of the imprint’s authors.

According to The Bookseller, “the event will include readings and panels at the shop, with activities also taking place across platforms including Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube.” Per the press release:

Midway between genre-fiction convention Nine Worlds GeekFest (Heathrow, 8—9th August) and The 72nd World Science-Fiction Convention (Loncon 3, ExCel London Docklands, 14—18th August), Gollancz will celebrate their galaxy of remarkable authors by presenting science-fiction and fantasy fans with a unique multi-media fiction festival. On Wednesday 13th August 2014, Gollancz will host a creative programme of daytime digital author events, and from 6—9pm on the same evening they will also offer genre fiction readers the chance to attend a selection of unique panels, readings, Q&As and signings all hosted by retail partner Waterstones Piccadilly.

Simultaneously using the two largest event spaces in the Waterstones Piccadilly store, the Gollancz Festival 2014 will include a solo talk by The Name of the Wind author Patrick Rothfuss, and a reading by The Gospel of Loki author Joanne M. Harris. There will be the chance to meet Gollancz’s talented 2014 debut novelists (our ‘Class of 2014’) and to participate in a spectacular selection of panel discussions with a brilliant range of Gollancz authors touching on hot genre topics.

So who are all these authors? Well… take a deep breath, readers:

The Gollancz festival will include physical and digital participation from Ben Aaronovitch, Joe Abercrombie, James Barclay, Elizabeth Bear, Anna Caltabiano, Edward Cox, Joanne Harris, Joe Hill, Stephen Hunt, Simon Ings, John Hornor Jacobs, Tom Lloyd, Scott Lynch, Paul McAuley, Elizabeth May, Suzanne McLeod, Richard Morgan, Den Patrick, Sarah Pinborough, Adam Roberts, Alastair Reynolds, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Gavin Smith, Jon Wallace, Chris Wooding and more.

And more? Evidently, yes. Mere hours after the initial announcement, the participation of another array of authors was confirmed, including “Richard Morgan, Justina Robson, Hannu Rajaniemi, Nalini Singh, Jaine Fenn, A. J. Dalton, David Moody, Pat Cadigan, Miles Cameron, Kit Berry, Greg Bear, Peter Higgins, Elspeth Cooper, Robert V. S. Redick, Mitch Benn [and] Phillip Mann.”

Apparently, there are still others to come.

This is sure to be cool. Could well be crazy. Let’s end the item with a quote from Gollancz’s Publisher Gillian Redfearn:

“We are delighted to be working with Waterstones, and so many brilliant authors, to launch the Gollancz Festival. It’s for fantasy and science fiction fans everywhere, and with our combination of digital and bookstore activities the festival has a real ethos of inclusivity, whether you’re in Waterstones Piccadilly, on social media, or joining an interactive panel from the other side of the world. Wherever you are, come and join us on the 13th!”


Odds and Sods

  • China MievilleYou read the new China Miéville short story published on yesterday, right? Well, in the course of introducing it on the Tor UK blog, Julie Crisp finally confirmed that the award-winning author—a favourite writer of mine, furthermore—has been at work on “a fantastic collection of short stories which we’ll be publishing in June next year.” A little later than expected, then, but I’ll take what I can get whenever I can get it.
  • Titan Books has acquired a new trilogy by Adam Christopher. “Set in an alternative 1960s Los Angeles and starring a robot detective and his boss,” The LA Trilogy is, according to the author, a hybrid of SF and crime “inspired by Raymond Chandler’s parody of science fiction in a letter to his agent.”
  • Angry Robot overlord Lee Harris has left the aforementioned publisher to take a position as Senior Editor of the newly announced Imprint. Coming so hot on the heels of Exhibit A and Strange Chemistry’s abrupt shuttering, many might wonder what this means for Angry Robot as a whole. The answer? Nothing, notes Harris. It’s just a case of “unfortunate” timing. Well, sincere congrats if you see this, sir.
  • Orchard Books has acquired “a word-of-mouth sensation” in the making and slated it for publication this autumn. The Witch of Salt and Storm, by debut author Kendall Kulper, is said to present “the ever-compelling world of witchcraft in an exciting new light.”
  • The Guardian are currently considering which nine novels to nominate for their 2014 First Book Award. They’re crowd-sourcing the tenth nomination, though, and one commenter has already suggested some speculative fiction for the judges to consider. If there’s a debut you deem deserving, head on over there and have your say.
  • Though the deal is “still subject to regulatory approval,” Hachette has basically bought Perseus.
  • Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, David Mitchell, Mark Haddon, Malorie Blackman and Eoin Colfer are among the authors appearing at this year’s Cheltenham Literature Festival. The Edinburgh International Book Festival certainly has more in store for the discerning genre fiction fan, but that’s quite the line-up, right?
  • And let’s finish with news of yet another event of interest: Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Michael Morpugo and Melvin Burgess are just a few of the folks to feature in the Bath Children’s Festival, which is to take place in late September and early October, immediately before the celebrations at Cheltenham.

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.


Back to the top of the page

This post is closed for comments.

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.