British Fiction Focus

Those Lost Lovegroves

Think you know James Lovegrove? Think again.

Having read Redlaw, large parts of the punchy Pantheon saga and several of his Sherlock Holmes stories, including The Stuff of Nightmares—highly recommended, by the by, to those looking to spend some time with the great detective after his absence from Anthony Horowitz’s Moriarty—I thought I knew him too. I may have been… mistaken.

He’s the author, as it happens, of an alarming number of novels—almost forty if you figure in his fiction for children—which predate by decades this wave of his work. A fair few of those lost Lovegroves were nominated for prestigious prizes, too: Days and Untied Kingdom, for instance.

Both books have fallen out of print since. A sad thing, that. A happy thing, then, that The James Lovegrove Collection—a series of three volumes collecting the early work of the aforementioned bestseller—is poised to resolve the problem posited.

Publishing in December 2014, Volume 1 collates two of Lovegrove’s earliest works: Days (nominated for the 1998 Arthur C Clarke Award) and Untied Kingdom (nominated for the 2004 John W Campbell Memorial Award). […] Solaris Books, who also publish Lovegrove’s Godpunk and Dev Harmer series, are delighted to have the opportunity to bring fans of Lovegrove’s work back to the origins of his writing, rediscovering past and unavailable treasures in his prolific canon of work.

“It’s a real pleasure,” Solaris’ Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Oliver emphasises, “to be able to re-present these two extraordinary novels to the word. James has a vibrant and exciting backlist that shows the breadth of his talent and showcases some of the very best fiction in SF.”

The feeling is mutual, too. You can clearly see Lovegrove glowing in the quote below:

“I was delighted when Solaris proposed republishing my early novels, from the time when I was a cult author, slowly and steadily carving out a niche for myself. The Hope, Days, The Foreigners, Worldstorm, Untied Kingdom, Provender Gleed—these are the books where I was exploring genres, discovering what I liked and didn’t like, finding out about the process of writing, and having a great deal of fun at the same time. These are works written by a twentysomething and thirtysomething author with everything to prove and nothing to lose. They’re gory, satirical, fantastical, bizarre, playful and subversive. Looking back from the vantage point of being a mature, some might even say middle-aged, well-established writer, I can view them objectively and with great fondness, appreciating them for what they are: the rambunctious, effervescent, boundary-pushing progeny of a rambunctious, effervescent, boundary-pushing mind. It almost makes me weep how heedlessly confident I was as a young man and a young writer, how keenly transgressive, how daringly coarse. But I won’t be weeping, because I’m happy. Happy that the novels are being given a new lease of life and the freedom to roam once again. I can’t wait to see all three volumes in the series, each collecting two books, old texts resplendent in new livery, looking for a new audience, hungry to be heard again.”

Me either, readers. Me either.

Roll on the remaining volumes of The James Lovegrove Collection, which are to be released in 2015 and 2016. But let’s not get so far ahead of ourselves just yet!

Before I go away, a bit about Days:

Days is a gigastore the size of a small city, whose security are licensed to kill and whose seven owners brood in the penthouse, far removed from the desperate scramble of consumerism. But at what price commerce? Security man Frank has lost his reflection, Books are entering a localised war with Computers, and there is a riot in Third World Instruments. Time for another flash sale…

And here’s how Untied Kingdom begins:

When the village of Downbourne is raided and schoolmaster Fen Morris’s wife Moira is snatched, there are no authorities to turn to. In the absence of its government—in exile in the Caribbean following the ‘Unlucky Gamble’—and subject to random bombings and leaflet drops, the UK is lawless and falling apart. Their marriage was a disaster, but Fen sets out to recover her anyway; but does she even want rescuing?

Find out more about both books when the first volume of The James Lovegrove Collection is published in physical and digital editions on December 4.

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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