British Fiction Focus

Down to Down Station

It’s been a while since we last saw Simon Morden, author of last year’s hugely ambitious Arcanum and the four Metrozone novels starring Samuil Petrovitch, but the blog post he put up on Tuesday explains how very busy he’s been—talking terms with a new publisher at the same time as beginning The Books of Down, a brand new fantasy series I asked the author to elaborate on. He did:

Down is a world that is joined to ours, at different places, and at different times. It’s both a direction and a destination. Down is inhabited by people who have reason to find it—whether they are desperate for adventure, escaping justice, or fleeing persecution. Finding your own way to Down is impossible. Down finds you when you least expect it, but when you need it most. Finding your way back to where you started is a different matter entirely. Down is a place of extremes: the forests are vast, the mountains touch the sky, the seas endless. The creatures that live there are from our myths, and there is magic for those who wish for it.

Down, however, is not safe. Down welcomes everyone equally, and changes everyone according to their nature. The good become saints. The wise become sages. The compassionate become healers. The strong become heroes. But Down turns the greedy rapacious, the liars into traitors and the genuinely wicked, oh, watch out for them…

Simon also said that The Books of Down mark “a bit of a departure” in terms of his work to date:

“Despite all the magic in Arcanum, that book was still, in the end, a science fiction book—though probably better described as a fiction book about real science. Down Station is about actual magic, wild and unconstrained, and how it affects our normally rational protagonists is part of the story. In some respects, it’s an old school ‘portal’ fantasy, though it owes much more to Edgar Rice Burroughs than CS Lewis. There is a deeper mystery, though: what’s the purpose of Down? Finding out that answer is something that’s going to be a slow burn through all three books.”

The first of which we’ll see next year. In February, in fact—at least according to Amazon. I know, I know—that’s an age away. But with Simon already making headway with the Second Book of Down, provisionally entitled The White City, it sounds as if the sequels will be released in relatively quick succession thereafter… so there’s that!

Morden Petrovitch

I followed up on a couple of other things Simon suggested in his post when I traded emails with him the other day. Most notably, the news that he had a new publisher: Gollancz. The author asserted, however, that the split with Orbit, his previous publisher, was “entirely amicable.”

But some among you must be wondering what the change in management means for Sam and Maddy and the other folks we met in Metrozone. Well, as Simon put it in his post: “I’m not sure yet. I have an extant first draft of Petrovitch 5, The Edge of Space, so yes, there is more to come, I just don’t know when. There will, with luck and a following wind, a sixth following on from that.”

That wasn’t assurance enough for yours truly, so I pushed the terribly tolerant fellow a little further:

“There’s obviously some contractual hurdles to overcome if either Orbit were to continue with Petrovitch, or Gollancz were to acquire the rights to the earlier books. I’m in charge of neither option, but will definitively state here and now that there will be, a some point in the next few years, two more Petrovitch books, even if I have to distribute them myself through my army of robot warriors. Prepare for the New Machine Jihad!”

Do I have to?

If needs must and it means more Metrozone, I dare say I do…

In the interim, I hope you’ll join me in anticipating a proper introduction to the King of Crows, whose tricksyness apparently puts Sam’s to shame.


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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