British Fiction Focus

Ark Leads the Robot Reboot

Gloomy as things looked for Angry Robot Books before the rapid round of deals done in November and December, there was light at the end of the tunnel, ultimately. In previous British Genre Fiction articles Chu’s Day and If Then What When I was pleased as a machine can be to report the British-based genre fiction imprint’s masterplan to get back on track, and a month later, the signs of the imminent Robot Reboot show no sign of abating.

In March, look forward to two terrific debuts—Ferrett Steinmetz’s first urban fantasy, Flex, and The Buried Life by Carrie Patel—in addition to a new edition of Ramez Naam’s Prometheus Award-winning science fiction novel, Nexus, ahead of the trilogy’s conclusion by way of Apex in May. And beyond that? A veritable raft of talent, with books by Rod Duncan, Danielle L. Jensen and Alyc Helms due soon—on top of If Then by Matthew de Abaitua of The Red Men renown and The Rebirths of Tao by bestseller Wesley Chu.

To make things still more interesting, Tuesday afternoon saw the announcement of another name to add to the Robot Army’s renewed roster: a recovering hippie by the name of Patrick S. Tomlinson, who lives, alliteratively, in Milwaukee with a Mustang and “a menagerie of houseplants in varying levels of health.”

Wait, you want to know more about the man? More than the amount of love he lavishes on his houseplants? Well… I can’t imagine why, but I suppose he did say some things—about Ark, the first of the two books Marc Gascgoine acquired the rights to release, and about his hopes for Angry Robot:

When my agent first told me I’d be working with an Angry Robot, I was skeptical. “Oh, no,” I said. “I’ve seen this movie and the whole human race gets eradicated.” But then I started to wonder why the robot was angry. And if it was angry, did that mean it had human emotions instead of cold, inflexible machine logic? If a robot can be angry, can it also learn to… love?

Oh, and I wrote a book set on a generation ship called the Ark. It contains many words. Some of them are even in the right order.

This order, approximately:

Humankind has escaped a dying Earth and set out to find a new home among the stars aboard an immense generation ship affectionately named the Ark. Bryan Benson is the Ark’s greatest living sports hero, enjoying retirement working as a detective in Avalon, his home module. The hours are good, the work is easy, and the perks can’t be beat.

But when a crewmember goes missing, Bryan is thrust into the centre of an ever-expanding web of deception, secrets, and violence that overturns everything he knows about living on the Ark and threatens everyone aboard. As the last remnants of humanity hurtle towards their salvation, Bryan finds himself in a desperate race to unravel the conspiracy before a madman turns mankind’s home into its tomb.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Ark, a “blend of mystery, action and Really Big Spaceship madness,” naturally, is slated for publication in the UK and elsewhere this very November.


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 Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.

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