Angry Robot Books has acquired A Perfect Machine, a new novel from ChiZine Publications‘ Brett Savory, which is being described as “David Cronenberg meets William Gibson meets Sons of Anarchy.” Savory is Co-Publisher of the World Fantasy and British Fantasy Award-winning ChiZine Publications, which publishes the same “weird, subtle, surreal, disturbing dark fiction and fantasy” that ChiZine has collected since 1997 (albeit in longer form). In addition, Savory has had over 50 short stories published and is the author of two novels, In and Down and The Distance Travelled. When it came time to submit his third novel about angry robots to a publisher, Savory knew the perfect place.
No, that great dinosaur art above is not the book cover; Erik Mohr is designing the cover for A Perfect Machine. But in the meantime, here’s the synopsis:
Henry Kyllo is a member of a secret society called the Inferne Cutis. A Runner whose goal is to achieve full-body lead content. He is chased through the city every day by Hunters whose goal is to shoot the Runners—with the threat to both sides that if they do not participate, through a mysterious force no one understands, one of their loved ones will simply vanish from the face of the earth.
It is a symbiotic relationship steeped in history, tradition, and mutual fear. Rumours abound about what happens when a Runner achieves “ascension,” but it has supposedly never happened before, so no one knows for sure.
Except that it has happened before. And it is happening again. This time, to Henry Kyllo.
Henry’s friend, Milo, and his girlfriend, Faye, watch as Henry transforms into something otherworldly. Something made of metal, but still organic. As Milo and Faye struggle to hide him from prying eyes—including a man who’s been watching and studying the Inferne Cutis since the day they killed his sister—he grows larger and larger, but something inside him is changing, becoming… not him.
As the leaders of the Runners and Hunters struggle to keep their secret that this has happened before—and to whom—they’re also in a race against time to capture Henry, try to stop him before he becomes something more destructive than the world—in fact, the universe—has ever known.
Angry Robot Publisher and Managing Director Marc Gascoigne said:
Brett Savory has long been on Angry Robot’s radar. As one of the talented crew behind the splendid ChiZine imprint, over the last few years we’ve watched him win all the awards that we haven’t. His taste and talent-spotting in boundary-pushing speculative fiction is second to none, so we pounced upon this extraordinary visceral novel.
I knew it was a little on the nose when I submitted my novel about angry robots to Angry Robot, but we humans are fairly simple creatures, so I figured I had a decent shot. I’m pleased beyond compare that I have pledged my soul to the AR Overlords. They promise to return my family barely harmed, if I submit my manuscript on time.
A Perfect Machine will be published February 2, 2017 in the UK and February 7, 2017 in the U.S.
Below, Savory shares how A Perfect Machine took over a decade to come together in its final form…
How to Juggle Publishing and Writing (If By “Juggle” You Mean Stopping One Thing Entirely to Do the Other Thing)
My most recent novel, In and Down, came out in 2007. That’s nearly ten years ago now. The following year, my wife, Sandra Kasturi, and I started ChiZine Publications, for which we’ve won awards and stuff. So that’s nice. What’s not nice is that I had started a novel called Running Beneath the Skin—based on my short story of the same name—a couple of years earlier, and was a little over half finished it when CZP really started hitting its stride.
I didn’t touch the book again for about another six years.
As CZP grew, it demanded more and more of my time and energy, which, as one gets older, isn’t in as much abundance as perhaps it once was, so writing my own fiction just kinda fell by the wayside while Sandra and I built up CZP.
Finally, in 2014, there was apparently a break in the clouds, time-wise, for me, and I vaguely recall poking around in some old files when I came across the novel again. I opened it, and saw in the “Properties” section of the file that I had started it in 2004. Jesus Christ, I thought. That’s insane. I need to finish this damn thing.
Around that same time, I got some interest from an agent in shopping it around, so I told Sandra, and our managing editor, Samantha Beiko, that I wanted to take two weeks off from CZP work to focus on finishing the book. I stopped looking at emails, stayed off Facebook, and basically only wrote for those two weeks. I ripped out 30,000 words and finished the novel right as my two weeks was ending.
I had done it. Finally finished this near-teenager of a book!
And in the process, I remembered how much I enjoyed writing.
Aside from a short story or two being published during that long spell, I hadn’t really just sat down and concentrated on writing—for years and years I’d been focused on reading, editing, and publishing other people’s novels, novellas, and short story collections. I’d barely even thought about my own work. But after that two-week stint of hammering out the last third of the novel, I got back more than a soupçon of that fire in the belly for creating my own fiction.
In the end, the aforementioned interested agent and I wound up having a different vision of the final novel, so we amicably parted ways, and I started sending the book around on my own, with help from friend and former St. Martin’s editor, Jamie Levine. None of those leads panned out, and I had recently chatted with Mike and Marc at World Fantasy Con, and knew from their open-door submission period that they were looking for something fresh and original. So I sent it in to Mike, who passed it on to the editorial team.
The especially awesome thing is that my book is about angry robots, so I thought, Man, that’s a little on the nose, huh? Ha! How rad would it be for Angry Robot to publish my novel about angry robots?
One month later, I had an offer from editor Phil Jourdan, and here we are today.
The other amazing thing for me is that CZP’s incredible cover artist, Erik Mohr, has been creating outstanding artwork for us for eight years, so I’ve sat by and watched as well over a hundred of our authors have been spoiled by his killer covers. So when I signed on with Angry Robot, I asked Marc Gascoigne if I could have an Erik Mohr cover, and he said yes. So I’m going to explode all over the place when this novel hits the shelves with my very own Erik Mohr cover! My writing and publishing worlds converging in the best possible way.
We also decided that Running Beneath the Skin wasn’t a very fitting title anymore (the book had changed a lot as it got expanded from the short story on which I based it), and we settled on A Perfect Machine. Which is nearly as good as the title Phil Jourdan was angling for—Sex Hound Cabbage Party. I’d’ve loved to’ve seen what Erik would’ve come up with for that!
So, yeah, I don’t think when you’re a publisher you actually get the luxury of “juggling” that with your writing. You have to actively choose which one you want to do at any given time. And you need to allow yourself—without guilt—to put the publishing on hold to concentrate on the writing.
As for my current writing status? I’m halfway through my fourth novel, Lake of Spaces, Wood of Nothing, and I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to let that one age a decade before finishing it.