British Fiction Focus

Londons Burning: Covering Down Station by Simon Morden

Late last week, Gollancz announced that they’d acquired “two sweeping science fantasy novels from Philip K. Dick Award-winning author, Simon Morden.”

BFFs of the BFF had heard about these books before, of course, because in early February, thanks to a good, long talk with the man and the mind behind Metrozone, we were among the first folks to go Down to Down Station. Admittedly, we were just tilting at windmills way back when, but now, everything’s official! To wit, click the clicky bit to see the official synopsis, comments from several Simons and some absolutely cracking cover art by the BSFA Award-winning designers of Adam Roberts’ Jack Glass.

Let’s start with the story:

A small group of commuters and tube workers witness a fiery apocalypse overtaking London. They make their escape through a service tunnel. Reaching a door they step through… and find themselves on a wild shore backed by cliffs and rolling grassland. The way back is blocked.

Making their way inland they meet a man dressed in a wolf’s cloak and with wolves by his side.  He speaks English and has heard of a place called London—other people have arrived here down the ages—all escaping from a London that is burning. None of them have returned. Except one who travels between the two worlds at will.

The group begin a quest to find this sole survivor; the one who holds the key to their return and to the safety of London. And as they travel this world, split between North and South by a mighty river and bordered by The White City and The Crystal Palace, meeting mythical and legendary creatures, they realise they are in a world defined by all the Londons there have ever been.

“It’s entirely natural that these strange, wonderful stories have found a place at [such] a strange and wonderful publisher,” author Simon Morden said of the signing. “It feels very much like coming home.”

A second Simon—associate editor Simon Spanton, in fact—spoke of the thrill of publishing “a book that takes your expectations and plays with them in such an entertaining way.”


“It’s been a long time since I read a novel that had such a unique feel […] as Down Station,” Spanton added. “It’s an absorbing step into a constantly surprising world. And Simon is full of more equally fascinating proposals. It’s wonderful that he’s joined Gollancz.”

Where that leaves the next two Metrozone novels—novels Morden has promised to personally distribute through his army of robot warriors if all else fails—remains to be seen, but here’s hoping Down Station and its sequel, provisionally titled The White City, do well enough to warrant the release of the rights to Morden’s previous series from Orbit.

Better that than the New Machine Jihad, no?

“A grand and sweeping science fantasy built on the ideas, the legends [and] the memories of every London there has ever been” said to be “reminiscent of Michael Moorcock and Julian May,” Down Station has been slated for publication on February 18, 2016 in Great Britain and beyond.

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 lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.


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