Category Archives: stephen palmer

Hairy London: the deluxe collectors’ edition

Hairy London by Stephen Palmer - the deluxe collectors' editionAvailable now!

We’re delighted to announce the deluxe collectors’ edition of Stephen Palmer’s wonderfully weird, and relentlessly hirsute, Hairy London.

A limited edition of fifty copies have been produced of this soft-covered hardback edition, perhaps the first time a book has come in its own fur coat.

Due to the natural finish, each copy varies slightly in appearance. If you have a preference for left, centre or right parting, please specify when ordering.

Beautifully produced, it’s time to get tactile with the hairiest novel we’ve read in a long time!

Available 1st April.

For enquiries about pricing and ordering this book, please contact infinity plus.


New titles from infinity plus

Two new novels just out from infinity plus: Hairy London by Stephen Palmer, a weird and wonderful retropunk Edwardian fantasy about the nature of love;  and from our infinite press imprint, Tomorrow by Nick Gifford, a young adult time travel thriller about a terrifying near future.

Details of all infinity plus books can be found at http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/

Hairy London by Stephen Palmer

Hairy London by Stephen Palmer

Available in paperback and ebook formats, March 2014
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=sphairy

What is love?

One evening at the Suicide Club three gentlemen discuss this age old problem – and thus a wager is made. Dissolute fop Sheremy Pantomile, veteran philosopher Kornukope Wetherbee and down-on-his-luck Velvene Orchardtide all bet their fortunes on finding the answer amidst the dark alleys of a phantasmagorical Edwardian London.

But then, overnight, London Town is covered in hair. How the trio of adventurers cope with this unusual plague, and what conclusions they come to regarding love is the subject of this surreal, surprising and fast-paced novel.

And the East End threatens revolution…

“Stephen Palmer is a find.” Time Out

“Stephen Palmer’s imagination is fecund…” Interzone

 

 Tomorrow by Nick Gifford

Tomorrow by Nick Gifford

Available in paperback and ebook formats, February 2014
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=ngtomorrow&imprint=ipress

Tomorrow: a future only you can see; a future only you can save…

When fifteen-year-old Luke’s father dies, his eccentric family threatens to descend into chaos. Luke distracts himself by helping to sort through his father’s belongings, a painful process which takes on an entirely new dimension when he discovers that his father had somehow had knowledge of events in his own future. This prescience is connected in some way to a recent spate of terrorist attacks, which would explain why security forces – and others – start to take an interest in Luke’s discovery. Just what had his father known, and why are Luke and his friends suddenly at the centre of it all?

Tomorrow: an emotion- and time-tangled thriller set in the War Against Chronological Terror.

Tomorrow: when three teenagers may have the power to save or destroy a world that is yet to be.

 

Praise for Nick Gifford’s work:

“The king of children’s horror” - Sunday Express

“Another great teen thriller.” Spot On

“Ingenious … this chilling story reads with all the power and demented logic of a thoroughly bad dream.” The Independent

“The pacing and plotting in this novel are superb. Twists and surprises occur at unpredictable intervals. And the ending is a blend of hope and menace … achieves a level of excellence equivalent to one of Ramsey Campbell’s books, neither condescending to his youthful readers nor slighting his adult ones. Now, that’s a truly scary accomplishment!” Asimov’s SF Magazine

“Guaranteed to scare your socks off.” Glasgow Herald

Tomorrow may never be the same again…

Other recent titles:

Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes by Claude LalumièreNocturnes and other Nocturnes by Claude Lalumière

Available in paperback and ebook formats, December 2013
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=clnoct

Twenty-five dark stories that span a daring breadth of genres. In these noir tales that unfold at the edge of realism, mythic nocturnes from impossible pasts, and disquietingly intimate stories of speculative fiction, Claude Lalumière explores our collective and intertwined obsessions with sex and death.

“Claude Lalumière’s stories are dark, mordant, precisely formed.” Lucius Shepard

 

Flowercrash by Stephen Palmer Glass by Stephen Palmer Memory Seed by Stephen Palmer

Memory Seed by Stephen Palmer

Available in ebook formats, December 2013
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=spmemsd

There is one city left, and soon that will be gone, for the streets of Kray are crumbling beneath a wave of exotic and lethal vegetation threatening to wipe out the last traces of humanity. In the desperate struggle for survival most Krayans live from day to day, awaiting salvation from their goddesses or the government. A compelling first novel set on a world both deadly and fascinating.

Glass by Stephen Palmer

Available in ebook formats, December 2013
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=spglass

A plague is spreading through the city of Cray. Nobody knows its origin and nobody has discovered a cure. Cray is dying. Of glass. As the city’s ruling council resorts to increasingly desperate measures to maintain order, two people’s lives are about to change…

Flowercrash by Stephen Palmer

Available in ebook formats, December 2013
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=spflwr

Zaïdmouth’s five communities are intertwined by artificial flower networks so complex they combine to create the virtual realities through which Zaïdmouth is run. Yet into this vivid world a bad seed is about to be sewn.

Expatria box set by Keith BrookeExpatria: the boxed set by Keith Brooke

Available in ebook formats, December 2013
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=kbexpbox

A lost colony, rediscovered by descendants of its original investors… When the expedition from the Holy Corporation of GenGen arrives on Expatria, for some it looks like salvation from a backward-looking, superstition-ridden society, but for others, it looks suspiciously like an invasion.

 

 

Also of note

Published by infinite press in December 2013:

Piggies, Flesh and Blood, Like Father and Erased by Nick Gifford

Gifford’s first four young adult novels are now available in paperback and ebook formats.

Piggies by Nick Gifford Flesh and Blood by Nick Gifford Like Father by Nick Gifford Erased by Nick Gifford

Piggies

Available in paperback and ebook formats, December 2013
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=ngpig&imprint=ipress

Transported to a world inhabited by vampires, Ben befriends a girl called Rachel. She takes him to her farm to prove she’s not like the other vampires, but that’s when he discovers a terrible secret. And why is the book called Piggies? That’s the worst horror of all. Optioned for film by Andy Serkis.

“Ingenious… this chilling story reads with all the power and demented logic of a thoroughly bad dream.” The Independent

Flesh and Blood

Available in paperback and ebook formats, December 2013
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=ngfandb&imprint=ipress

Matt’s home life is falling to pieces as his mother seeks refuge from divorce by returning to the seaside town where she grew up. Separated from his friends, bored and discontented, Matt gradually becomes aware that his mother’s family are the keepers of a terrifying secret.

“Another great teen thriller.” Spot On

Like Father

Available in paperback and ebook formats, December 2013
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=nglikef&imprint=ipress

Danny is terrified of being like his father, who ended up in prison after a night of savage violence. But then he finds his father’s diary and uncovers his dark thoughts – and even darker secrets. Who was whispering to his father, goading him, leading him on? And what if they are coming back for Danny?

“The king of children’s horror…” Sunday Express 

Erased

Available in paperback and ebook formats, December 2013
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=ngerased&imprint=ipress

You’re not paranoid if they really are after you. Someone is messing with Liam’s world. All the rules have changed and his life has unravelled completely. What he does know is that someone is watching him. There are no bystanders in this terrifying game.

“An exciting, fast paced book that will have you on the edge of your seat until the last page.” Word Up

 

infinity plus for booksellers

An increasing number of our titles are also published in paperback and all of these are available to booksellers. If you’re a bookseller and would like to stock any of our books, have a look at our titles in print for details. All print titles are available via Ingrams, but if you’d prefer to deal directly with us just get in touch and we’ll work it out.

All print titles: http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/booksellers.php

 

Details of all infinity plus books can be found at http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/


December round-up

Just out from infinity plus:

Nocturnes and other Nocturnes by Claude Lalumière (“Claude Lalumière’s extravagant imagination is matched by only two other qualities: his compassion for his characters, and his sparkling facility with language” Paul Di Filippo), plus new editions of Stephen Palmer’s first three novels (“Palmer is a find” Time Out) and an omnibus edition of Keith Brooke’s Expatria series (“This is a marvellous book that, despite the sequel … is a complete novel in itself. Treat yourself: buy both, and read them over and over.” Nexus). And in early 2014: the extraordinary Hairy London by Stephen Palmer, plus more from our best-selling author, Eric Brown.

Details of all infinity plus books can be found at http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/

Nocturnes and other Nocturnes by Claude Lalumière

Available in paperback and ebook formats from late December
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=clnoct

Twenty-five dark stories that span a daring breadth of genres. In these noir tales that unfold at the edge of realism, mythic nocturnes from impossible pasts, and disquietingly intimate stories of speculative fiction, Claude Lalumière explores our collective and intertwined obsessions with sex and death.

“In Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes Claude Lalumière plumbs the deep trenches of yearning, fear and the agonies of unfulfilled needs.” – from the introduction by Garry Kilworth

“Claude Lalumière’s stories are dark, mordant, precisely formed.” Lucius Shepard

   

Memory Seed, Glass and Flowercrash by Stephen Palmer

Available in ebook formats from early December

Memory Seed
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=spmemsd

There is one city left, and soon that will be gone, for the streets of Kray are crumbling beneath a wave of exotic and lethal vegetation threatening to wipe out the last traces of humanity. In the desperate struggle for survival most Krayans live from day to day, awaiting salvation from their goddesses or the government. A compelling first novel set on a world both deadly and fascinating.

“Palmer’s imagination is fecund, and his city, inhabited by clashing tribes of women (men are confined to breeding houses), with exotic biotechnologies which enable computers and other machines to be grown from genetically engineered seeds, is vividly drawn… a hectic but ultimately convincing debut.” Interzone

Glass
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=spglass

A plague is spreading through the city of Cray. Nobody knows its origin and nobody has discovered a cure. Cray is dying. Of glass. As the city’s ruling council resorts to increasingly desperate measures to maintain order, two people’s lives are about to change…

“This is a brilliant second novel and makes, like its predecessor, a welcome change in a genre clogged with tat.” SFX, Guy Haley’s choice as Best Original SF novel of the year

Flowercrash

http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=spflwr
Zaïdmouth’s five communities are intertwined by artificial flower networks so complex they combine to create the virtual realities through which Zaïdmouth is run. Yet into this vivid world a bad seed is about to be sewn.

“I would urge science fiction fans to read the novel… It’s an exciting and thought provoking story that is well worth seeking out.” Aural Innovations

Expatria: the boxed set by Keith Brooke

Available in ebook formats from early December
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=kbexpbox

A lost colony, rediscovered by descendants of its original investors… When the expedition from the Holy Corporation of GenGen arrives on Expatria, for some it looks like salvation from a backward-looking, superstition-ridden society, but for others, it looks suspiciously like an invasion.

“In the recognized front ranks of SF writers.” Locus

Coming in early 2014

Hairy London mark 5Hairy London by Stephen Palmer

Available in paperback and ebook formats in early 2014

What is love?

One evening at the Suicide Club three gentlemen discuss this age old problem – and thus a wager is made. Dissolute fop Sheremy Pantomile, veteran philosopher Kornukope Wetherbee and down-on-his-luck Velvene Orchardtide all bet their fortunes on finding the answer amidst the dark alleys of a phantasmagorical Edwardian London.

But then, overnight, London Town is covered in hair. How the trio of adventurers cope with this unusual plague, and what conclusions they come to regarding love is the subject of this surreal, surprising and fast-paced novel.

And the East End threatens revolution…

Also coming in early 2014, books by Eric Brown, Jack Deighton and more.

Also of note

Published in December 2013:

   

Piggies, Flesh and Blood, Like Father and Erased by Nick Gifford

Gifford’s first four young adult novels are now available in paperback and ebook formats from our infinite press imprint.

Piggies
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=ngpig&imprint=ipress

Transported to a world inhabited by vampires, Ben befriends a girl called Rachel. She takes him to her farm to prove she’s not like the other vampires, but that’s when he discovers a terrible secret. And why is the book called Piggies? That’s the worst horror of all. Optioned for film by Andy Serkis.

“Ingenious… this chilling story reads with all the power and demented logic of a thoroughly bad dream.” The Independent

Flesh and Blood
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=ngfandb&imprint=ipress

Matt’s home life is falling to pieces as his mother seeks refuge from divorce by returning to the seaside town where she grew up. Separated from his friends, bored and discontented, Matt gradually becomes aware that his mother’s family are the keepers of a terrifying secret.

“Another great teen thriller.” Spot On

Like Father
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=nglikef&imprint=ipress

Danny is terrified of being like his father, who ended up in prison after a night of savage violence. But then he finds his father’s diary and uncovers his dark thoughts – and even darker secrets. Who was whispering to his father, goading him, leading him on? And what if they are coming back for Danny?

“The king of children’s horror…” Sunday Express 

Erased
http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/book.php?book=ngerased&imprint=ipress

You’re not paranoid if they really are after you. Someone is messing with Liam’s world. All the rules have changed and his life has unravelled completely. What he does know is that someone is watching him. There are no bystanders in this terrifying game.

“An exciting, fast paced book that will have you on the edge of your seat until the last page.” Word Up

And due in early 2014, Gifford’s new YA thriller, Tomorrow:

tomorrow_cover

When fifteen-year-old Luke’s father dies, his eccentric family threatens to descend into chaos. Luke distracts himself by helping to sort through his father’s belongings, a painful process which takes on an entirely new dimension when he discovers that his father had somehow had knowledge of events in his own future. This prescience is connected in some way to a recent spate of terrorist attacks, which would explain why security forces – and others – start to take an interest in Luke’s discovery. Just what had his father known, and why are Luke and his friends suddenly at the centre of it all?

Tomorrow: an emotion- and time-tangled thriller set in the War Against Chronological Terror.

Tomorrow: when three teenagers may have the power to save or destroy a world that is yet to be.

infinity plus in print

An increasing number of our titles are also published in paperback and all of these are available to booksellers. If you’re a bookseller and would like to stock any of our books, have a look at our titles in print for details. All print titles are available via Ingrams, but if you’d prefer to deal directly with us just get in touch and we’ll work it out.

infinity plus print titles: http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/format.php?format=p

infinite press print titles: http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/infinitepress.php

Details of all infinity plus books can be found at http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/


New: ebook editions of Stephen Palmer’s first three novels

Just out from infinity plus:

Memory Seed by Stephen Palmer
Glass by Stephen Palmer Flowercrash by Stephen Palmer

Memory Seed

There is one city left, and soon that will be gone, for the streets of Kray are crumbling beneath a wave of exotic and lethal vegetation threatening to wipe out the last traces of humanity. In the desperate struggle for survival most Krayans live from day to day, awaiting salvation from their goddesses or the government. A compelling first novel set on a world both deadly and fascinating.

“The exotic horticulture is as inventive as anything in Aldiss’ classic Hothouse, and parallels with present environmental concerns aren’t bludgeoned home… Palmer is a find.” Time Out

Amazon US - Amazon UK - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords

Glass

A plague is spreading through the city of Cray. Nobody knows its origin and nobody has discovered a cure. Cray is dying. Of glass. As the city’s ruling council resorts to increasingly desperate measures to maintain order, two people’s lives are about to change…

“Blending good science fiction with an elegant exploration of the relationship between humans and their ancient electronic creations, Palmer’s tale is littered with characters who behave in an ultimately believable way… This is a brilliant second novel and makes, like its predecessor, a welcome change in a genre clogged with tat.” SFX, Guy Haley *Best Original SF novel of the year: Guy Haley’s choice in SFX

Amazon US - Amazon UK - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords

Flowercrash

Zaïdmouth’s five communities are intertwined by artificial flower networks so complex they combine to create the virtual realities through which Zaïdmouth is run. Yet into this vivid world a bad seed is about to be sewn. Set in a vibrant future world, Flowercrash is the new novel from the acclaimed author of Memory Seed and Glass.

“I would urge science fiction fans to read the novel… It’s an exciting and thought provoking story that is well worth seeking out.” Aural Innovations

Amazon US - Amazon UK - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords

More:

 


Forthcoming titles in ebook and print

One of Us by Iain RowanYes, this post’s title says ‘print’.

We’re very pleased to announce that our next title, Iain Rowan’s superb debut crime novel One Of Us, will be available in both ebook and print editions. Iain has won the Derringer Award for his short crime fiction, and this novel was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger Award.

Also available in print soon will be Kaitlin Queen’s crime novel One More Unfortunate (already available as one of our best-selling ebooks).

And another one due soon in print and ebook editions is Eric Brown’s new collection of horror fiction, Ghostwriting.

Other forthcoming titles include Stephen Palmer’s monochrome gothic fantasy, The Rat and the Serpent, and more infinity plus singles from Lisa Tuttle, Eric Brown, David Levine, Kit Reed, Garry Kilworth and others.


Guest blog: Stephen Palmer on the writing of Hallucinating

Hallucinating by Stephen PalmerI had enormous fun writing Hallucinating.

The novel began as a free festival inspired short story that I wrote in the mid 1990s, taking all my musical loves—Shpongle, Ozric Tentacles, Tangerine Dream, Hawkwind and so many more—and weaving them into an idiosyncratic tale… a very idiosyncratic tale of musical invasion and psychedelic mystery. Although I loved, and still love, the festival/alternative/underground scene, there was an element of the scene that I felt an irresistible urge to satirise, notably the occasionally obsessive belief in UFOs et al that so many alternative folk succumb to. And so a tale of real/unreal alien invasion was born, with real/unreal situations and characters who inhabited this underground world…

The story was “published” only on my website. After a while I began to wonder what happened next, following the alien invasion and the remixing of the western world’s economy. I was living in the Westcountry at the time, and, inspired by the beautiful local scenery and by artists such as Nigel Shaw and Carolyn Hillyer who lived on Dartmoor, I wrote the next part of the tale, that in the novel became Part 2, Return Of A Tune. By this time, the turn of the millennium, Sean Wallace of Cosmos Books and Prime Books had asked me when I was going to complete the tale, which he loved and was interested in publishing. My initial response was that I wouldn’t complete it—I felt the tale was too idiosyncratic. It was not aimed at my SF readers, rather at all my underground and free festival friends. But eventually the lure of the story got to me, I planned and prepared the rest of the tale and soon began writing it.

Hallucinating plays with ideas of reality and illusion. One of the ways I wanted to do this was to include cameo appearances by real underground musicians, and so I contacted as many as I could, asking them if they would allow me to use them in the novel. All but one answered: all positive replies. I was delighted. And so Ed Wynne, Simon Posford, Steven Wilson and all the rest appeared in the book. Some of these musicians took it really seriously! Phil Thornton for instance told me what synths he’d be using for his imaginary gig, while Simon Posford insisted on having purple hair. And there were many in-jokes about Tangerine Dream, Hawkwind, Ozric Tentacles and all my other favourites. Yes, I had enormous fun writing the novel.

The ultimate game was to have myself appear, and so I did, though that decision was condemned by one reviewer, who thought it too self-indulgent: “The narrative voice is quite obviously pitched at festival folk, and the cameos from (now octogenerian) members of bands like Ozric Tentacles and Shpongle are intended to please quite a specific crowd. This I don’t have a problem with, but I did feel that the cameos were a bit indulgent — too much so when one electronic artiste by the name of Steve Palmer puts in an appearance … Shame, sir, shame.” But for a novel that was written about the musical world that I love and am part of, and which deliberately mixed fantasy and reality, I felt my appearance was appropriate.

I was particularly pleased that so many of the in-jokes were appreciated by my readers. As one reviewer pointed out, Hallucinating is the novel in which my rather silly, surreal sense of humour is most obvious. Other reviewers found the tale baffling: “Nulight is the colorful character. But the idealism vs. pragmatism makes Kappa a more complex and in some ways more interesting character” (Aural Innovations). Others liked it: “It is important to remember the title of this book. As none of the characters spend much time actually hallucinating (apart from a few mushrooms), it calls into question the reality of what is being told. What, if anything, is real, and if it isn’t real, then who’s hallucination is it?” (Vector).

I did have plans to write a sequel, bringing in the American hippy scene, but never found the motivation to begin it. Hallucinating stands on its own I think, with its suitably ambiguous ending…


New: Hallucinating by Stephen Palmer

Hallucinating by Stephen PalmerEurope, 2049.

Nulight, a Tibetan refugee and notorious underground record company owner, emerges from an obscure Berlin night club realising that an alien invasion is imminent. Or is he hallucinating? Contacting his ex-lover Kappa and the invisible man Master Sengel, he begins an investigation.

Then he is abducted. Released.

And soon the aliens invade.

To save humanity, Nulight and his motley friends must decide if the aliens are real or not – and if they are, what to do about them. For Britain has become a land of pagan communities and wilderness, where the strength and resolve for the forthcoming struggle may not exist.

Can music save Britain?

Can it save the world?

Hallucinating is a unique vision of future invasion and future music, featuring cameo appearances from Ed Wynne of Ozric Tentacles, Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, Toby Marks of Banco De Gaia and many more. Michael Dog has written a foreword. This new edition contains an afterword written by the author and a never before published “syntactic remix” of the original story, also by the author.

Samples and purchasing:
amazon.com (Kindle format, $2.99)
amazon.co.uk (Kindle format, £1.99)
Smashwords (various formats, including epub, mobi, Sony and PDF, $2.99)

“… [the] element of questionable reality raises this book above simply being a fairly entertaining read. This is an intriguing book with a novel take on the alien invasion theme that raises a number of questions about what we actually mean by alien.”
– Vector, BSFA

“Certainly the rock’n’roll science fiction vibe of the story and all the humorous bits adds to the fun of the book… conjures up some crazy imagery.”
– Aural Innovations

“…a tour de force in imagining possibilities that lie beyond our information age… If you enjoy the full immersion experience of neo-magic, you’ll [like] Muezzinland.”
– Gwyneth JonesNew York Review Of SF, on Stephen Palmer’s Muezzinland


Guest blog: Stephen Palmer – Muezzinland and the music of Aphrica

I wrote the first draft of Muezzinland in 1998. At the time I was working at the University Of Luton, which had a very good library – I would spend an hour a day there researching the novel, and having great fun doing it. At home, I had a book by Jan Knappert called African Mythology, which was the perfect resource for the various African folk tales that the novel makes use of. Muezzinland takes place in the Africa of 2130 (Aphrica, as I called it), where the “cyberspace” of the world has advanced from a neutral version to one with its own cultural flavour. In this world it is possible for a locally relevant folk tale to co-opt an unwary traveller: as Gwyneth Jones memorably put it in her review, “like awful pop-up adverts that take over your screen.”

The other research I did was to listen to lots of African music. I was already a fan of this kind of music, particularly the Arab influenced music of North Africa, but I liked West African music too. In this guest blog I want to signpost six African albums that I’ve enjoyed over the last few years.

Staff Benda Bilili Tres Tres FortThe first is Tres Tres Fort by Staff Benda Bilili. This group of paraplegic, wheelchair based Central African musicians have acquired exalted status in the last year or so because of their extraordinary story, but I bought the album when it came out, encouraged by the adulatory reviews. And it really is an incredible album, made by extraordinary people. All the members of the group effectively live as homeless people in Kinshasa, which is in the Democratic Republic Of Congo – a country beset by evils, as anybody who’s read Tim Butcher’s Blood River will know. But the band were “discovered” by Vincent Kenis of Crammed Discs, who went on to record the album in the vicinity of the Jardin Zoologique, where the group live, though there are a few overdubs recorded in somebody’s front room. The tracks are all joyous and wonderful, and I can’t recommend the album highly enough.

Toumani Diabate Mande VariationsIn 2008 a groundbreaking album was released by Toumani Diabaté, one of the acknowledged masters of the kora, the prime African stringed instrument. (I used the kora symbollically in chapter five of Muezzinland, played by the vodou-enhanced Baron Samedi.) Diabaté’s album was called The Mandé Variations, and it is a work played by the great man alone. Listening to it, I sometimes can’t believe this is one man playing one instrument, so fast and complex is the playing. It’s mesmerising, and makes for great listening.

Returning to Kinshasa and Crammed Discs, one of the albums I bought a while after it came out was Congotronics by Konono No1. The musicians on this album featured on Bjork’s Volta, and it was hearing her music, and reading the reviews of how Congotronics was recorded, that made me want to buy it. Konono No1 first appeared in the ‘seventies in the Bazombo region near the Congo/Angola border, but their debut had to wait until 2004 to get a release. Most of the musicians on the album use the African thumb piano, the likembe, elsewhere known as the mbira, and the music is full-on African trance, played and recorded through microphones and amplifiers scavenged from old equipment (including parts from ruined cars). It’s an astonishing sound world.

konono no1 Congotronics tinariwen aman iman

Travelling now to Saharan North Africa, one of the best known musical exports of that area is Tinariwen, whose politically charged desert-blues, as it has come to be known, is popular all over the Western world. The band play live and have recorded quite a few albums, one of the best being Aman Iman: Water Is Life, which takes their sound to new, electric levels. The band are seven in number but are often augmented by local singers, and they sing in their native Tamashek language, some of their work being rooted in the freedom struggle of the Touareg people. Other tracks exhort the Touareg to put aside tribal rivalries and unite to better cope with the modern world, or as with Izarharh Tenere to celebrate the beauty of the desert. The music is simply entrancing. issa bagayogo mali kouraThe album was recorded in Bamako, Mali, a country that has for some time inspired my imagination, not least Timbuktu, where two central chapters of Muezzinland are set.

Also recorded in and around Bamako (on the Bamako Mobile Studio) was Mali Koura by Issa Bagayogo, a Malian who has brought the sound of the n’goni to the Western world. Released on the forward thinking Six Degrees record label, the album merges traditional Malian music and sounds with synthesizers and modern production techniques. It’s a great mixture. Sometimes, augmenting traditional music with Western sounds doesn’t work, but on this album the fusion is fabulous.

Finally on this brief tour I come to Fondo by Vieux Farka Touré, who is the son of world-famous Ali Farka Touré, the much loved musical maestro. Touré senior was globally feted, and worked with some major Western stars, not least Ry Cooder on the Grammy award-winning Talking Timbuktu. vieux farka toure fondoHis son Vieux had very big boots to fill following Ali Farka’s death from bone cancer in 2006, but on Fondo he certainly does. He has a distinctive guitar sound, at once slender, slinky and soca-infused, that makes all the self-penned tracks on the album a delight to listen to. There’s also one traditional song, the Timbuktu classic Walé, and a guest appearance by Toumani Diabaté, so this album comes highly recommended from me.

I hope that this mini tour encourages you to explore the wonderful African music that is out there. You won’t regret it!

~

Muezzinland by Stephen Palmer

Muezzinland by Stephen Palmer

Life has changed in the mid 22nd century. The aether is a telepathic cyberspace. Biochips augment human brains. AIs, concepts, even symbols can be dangerous. Mnada is heir to the Ghanaian throne, yet something has been done to her brain that has made her insane, something to send her fleeing north across jungle and desert towards the mysterious place called Muezzinland.

Available from:

amazon.com (Kindle format, $2.99)
amazon.co.uk (Kindle format, £2.15)
Smashwords (various formats, including epub, mobi, Sony and PDF, $2.99)

“…a tour de force in imagining possibilities that lie beyond our information age… If you enjoy the full immersion experience of neo-magic, you’ll [like] Muezzinland.”
– Gwyneth JonesNew York Review Of SF

“…succeeds when many other similar attempts to fuse the mythic and the modern fail… in Muezzinland, the hybrid thrives, creating a compelling and cohesive vision… It’s an unusual and successful combination.”
– Matrix magazine, BSFA

“While the plot can be read as a relatively straightforward thriller, the book as a whole is considerably more than this. It succeeds in integrating the elements of myth and high technology, producing something of a hybrid that feels right.”
– Vector magazine, BSFA


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