British Fiction Focus

Covering The Promise of the Child

Having been blown away by the greatness of Nemesis Games, Neal Stephenson’s astonishing Seveneves and, in recent weeks, Aurora by the always awesome Kim Stanley Robinson, it’s fair to say I’ve been riding the space opera train lately—and you know what? I don’t want to get off.

Nor need I, thanks to Gollancz, as the Orion imprint followed through this morning on its earlier acquisition of “a space opera epic in the grandest tradition of Iain M. Banks’ Culture series or Asimov’s Foundation novels, written in a vivid prose reminiscent of David Mitchell.”

I’ve been quietly excited about The Promise of the Child “and its two even stranger sequels”—this according to the author, Tom Toner—ever since Gollancz pre-empted the rights to release the Amaranthine series last summer, and confirmation of its potential excellence came today. Not, as you might imagine, because the blurb is brilliant…

In the far future, man has spread out into the galaxy—and diversified. Some humans have evolved physically into strange new forms. Some have become immortal. Some hark back to the old ways. And why shouldn’t they?

Choice is all in the glorious galaxy of The Promise of the Child: a living system that stretches from the sleepy Old World to new terraformed planets and Dyson spheres built around artificial suns. For as long as we can remember (and some have lived 12,000 years) we have delighted in a rich new existence.

Yes, there have been wars, but we are content in our splendour. Art is revered, life is easy, death forgotten for many. But now there are rumours of a bid to oust the Emperor and a worrying story that our history is not as we remember it—that something else left Earth at the same time as humanity…

Nor do you find me so obscenely eager to read The Promise of the Child because of the leafy sphere Brighton-based designer Patrick Knowles placed centre stage on this morning’s metallic cover—though its simplicity is quite striking, right?


No, I’m surer today of this debut’s tremendous potential because… well, just take a look at a few of these quotes, folks—from a who’s-who of hard-to-please peeps like Adam Roberts, who’s at one with Will McIntosh, Karl Schroeder, Loren Rhoads and Michael J. Martinez in calling The Promise of the Child “space opera like you’ve never seen it before: absolutely brilliant.”

Tom Toner himself, a Beeb baby and fine art graduate who has lived in London since his return from down under, is “over the moon” to have landed at Gollancz. The feeling’s mutual, too, as associate publisher Simon Spanton was “utterly delighted” to land the Amaranthine series from this “unique talent” last summer.

Gollancz plan to publish The Promise of the Child in the UK and the rest of the Commonwealth on November 19th, with Night Shade Books following suit in the States.

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and He’s been known to tweet, twoo.


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