Gollancz has acquired world rights to The Medusa Chronicles by Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds. This science fiction adventure is a loose sequel to Arthur C. Clarke’s Nebula-winning novella A Meeting with Medusa and “will be a true sense-of-wonder story,” according to the imprint’s announcement.
Clarke’s novella followed Howard Falcon, captain of an experimental airship, who after an accidental crash has most of his body replaced by prosthetics. Years later, he leads an expedition to explore the atmosphere of Jupiter, where he encounters a strange, jellyfish-like creature (the Medusa) before he must evacuate for the safety of the expedition.
According to the book’s summary, it appears that Baxter and Reynolds are focusing on Falcon’s identity as a cyborg, and his desire to return to Jupiter’s atmosphere:
Following an accident that almost cost him his life, Howard Falcon was not so much saved as he was converted, through the use of prosthetics, into something faster, stronger and smarter… but also slightly less human and more machine than he was. And with this change came an opportunity—that of piloting a mission into Jupiter’s atmosphere, and ultimately of making first contact with the life forms he discovers there.
Picking up the threads of humanity versus artificial intelligences and machines, and of encounters with the alien, this collaborative novel between two superb writers is a sequel to Howard Falcon’s adventures. A proper science fiction adventure, this is perfect for fans of Golden Age SF as well as the modern SF reader.
This is the first collaboration for Baxter and Reynolds, though their short fiction has been collected in anthologies previously. Baxter said in the announcement:
A Meeting with Medusa was arguably Clarke’s last great work of short fiction, and, we discovered, inspired us both when we were younger. Today the science of the story still holds up, and its encapsulation of a great theme—humanity vs. the machine—in the dilemma of a single individual remains very effective, and full of story potential. For me, working with Al on this project has been like working with Clarke himself, one more time.
A Meeting with Medusa has always been a touchstone text for me, one of the very first SF stories that I ever read, and with a resonance that has haunted me across the ensuing forty years. I could not have hoped for a better partner in this collaboration than Steve, and I hope our joint effort reflects our deep admiration and respect for the boundless imagination and essential good-natured optimism of Arthur C. Clarke.
The Medusa Chronicles will be published on February 18, 2016.