Tag Archives: near-future

The Guardian on Beautiful Intelligence

Great review of Stephen Palmer’s Beautiful Intelligence over at the Guardian: “…a thrilling chase across a ravaged Europe, a burgeoning North Africa and balkanised US, interleaving excellent action set-pieces with fascinating philosophising on the nature of consciousness. A gripping read to the poignant last line.”

Full review at the Guardian.

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New: Beautiful Intelligence by Stephen Palmer

Beautiful Intelligence by Stephen Palmer

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AI or BI? Artificial intelligence or beautiful intelligence?

The race to create a sentient machine is headed by two teams, led by former researchers at Ichikawa Laboratories, who escape the regime there – and each other – to pursue their own dreams in the world beyond Japan.

Leonora Klee is creating a single android with a quantum computer brain, whose processing power has never before been achieved.

Manfred Klee is creating a group of individuals, none of them self-aware, in the hope that they will raise themselves to consciousness.

But with a Japanese chase team close on their heels, will either be successful before they are trapped and caught?

Beautiful Intelligence is a fast-paced, philosophical thriller that confronts questions of how we will create artificial sentience, and whether it will be beautiful.

“A supremely odd yet deeply rewarding experience…” Jason Pettus, CCLAP

“Stephen Palmer is a find.” Time Out

“Stephen Palmer is a writer you should read. His work is unique, original, sometimes challenging, always fresh and sometimes barking…” Amazing Stories

Cover by Steve Jones
Published: 01 Jul 2015

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwords

Buy this book in print (ISBN: 1511550627): Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaCreateSpace – and other booksellers


Deep Future by Eric Brown: pre-order for 99c/77p

Deep Future by Eric BrownEric Brown’s collection Deep Future: available in ebook formats for the first time. Publication date is 23rd September, but this title is now available for pre-order at Amazon at the knock-down price of 99c/77p!

Deep Future collects ten tales of the past, present and future by the award-winning author of the best selling Helix. Whether he’s writing about aliens coming to Earth, virtual reality, alternate worlds or immortal men, Brown imbues his fictions with a concern for character and an abiding passion for story.

Meet Edward Sinclair, a man grieving the loss of his daughter, and the scientist who just might be able to bring her back from the dead…

Ben Henderson, a gem-cutter, and what happened one summer on a far-away colony world…

The telepathic Tavernier and his involvement with a strange alien race who will change his life forever…

Claudine Hainault, a schoolgirl who turns her back on the chance to live for ever when the Kethani come to Earth…

And many other humans – and aliens – from the imagination of one of Britain’s finest SF writers.

Pre-order from: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon Canada


Tomorrow… may never be the same again: New YA release by Nick Gifford

Just out: Tomorrow by Nick Gifford

Tomorrow by Nick Gifford - a young adult time-travel thrillerTomorrow: 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

“A contemporary thriller with overtones of Orwell and Huxley about it.” Rhyl Journal

“A story that genuinely chills and chafes at ethical and moral certainty… Erased is a real romp of a read. That it equips readers with an awareness of the mechanics of inhumanity must be a step towards ensuring history’s mistakes are not repeated.”Achukareviews

“An exceptional new talent in children’s literature … a bold, shocking and completely unputdownable horror story.” Waterstone’s Books Quarterly

“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

Buy this ebook from: Amazon US – Amazon UK

Buy this book in print: Amazon US – Amazon UK – CreateSpace

You know you live in the 21st century when…

  • …you catch yourself swiping at a printed page to turn it over, or when you check middle-top or bottom-right of the page for the time
  • …you write something in a notebook and feel horribly exposed when you can’t press Save and have it instantly backed up to the Cloud
  • …you recall how you used to get a pale tan band from wearing a wristwatch
  • …you communicate with people in the same room by Twitter or Facebook status
  • …you fuel nostalgia trips with YouTube because all of life is there
  • …you go to work by jetpack. Oh no, sorry, we’re not quite there yet, are we?
  • …you feel cheated that life doesn’t have an undo button
  • …events just don’t seem genuine until they’ve been validated by Twitter and Facebook, with a healthy dose of Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube
  • …some of your best friends are people you’ve never met
  • …the kind of conversation you used to have with friends down the pub becomes the perfect topic to blog about

Nick’s back! New teen fiction from bestselling author of Piggies

‘The king of children’s horror’ – Sunday Express

After a bit of a break, Nick Gifford (alter ego of infinity plus proprietor Keith Brooke) has returned to teen fiction with a short story: The Ragged People – a story of the post-plague years.

The Ragged People: a story of the post-plague years - post-apocalypse fiction from Nick GiffordThe story is set in an England ruined by terrorists’ biological warfare attacks; it’s a standalone tale, but if there’s enough demand there will be further installments, and maybe even a full-length novel. Further full-length titles are also due from Nick; details to follow as they become available.

Here’s the jacket copy:

Life in the refugee camp is hard for Dan and his brother Rick. They sleep huddled together with a thousand other refugees in an enormous warehouse, and they spend all day queuing for food and water and medicine, watched over by soldiers in anti-contamination masks. And all around them, people are dying: dying from hunger, dying from one of the new plagues, or dying simply because they have lost the will to live.

Selected from a line-up by the intimidating Mr Wiley, the boys leap at a chance to leave the camp and go to live in the Brightwell Community, but their hopes are soon dashed. Is a life of forced labour in a land at the mercy of raiding gangs and ever-mutating plagues really any better than the UN refugee camp had been?

A gripping post-apocalypse story of two brothers struggling to survive in a Britain devastated by biological warfare, from the author of the bestselling vampire novel Piggies.

Praise for Nick Gifford’s work:

‘Guaranteed to scare your socks off’ – Glasgow Herald

‘A bold, shocking and completely unputdownable horror story’ – Waterstone’s Books Quarterly

‘A cut above the usual horror tale’ – School Librarian

‘Really spooky! I’d definitely try out other books by this author as Nick Gifford makes you want to keep reading’ Teen Titles

‘One of the most original horror tales of recent times … you’ll have to go back quite a way to find a debut novel that is quite as striking as Piggies‘ – Rhyl and Prestatyn Journal

Nick Gifford is the bestselling author of Piggies, Flesh and Blood, Incubus and Erased, and he has been described by the Sunday Express as ‘The king of children’s horror’. His work has been optioned for movies and has featured on various bestseller lists, at one time out-ranking JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books.


That moment where you realise you might have started a new book? Yes, that one.

I always knew this story sequence might turn into a book, but I hit the point on Saturday where I started to wonder that if I’m writing the second story then, technically, have I crossed over that tipping point into actually writing another book?

It started with ‘likeMe‘, a short sharp near-future tale that made it into science journal Nature‘s ‘Futures’ fiction column late last year. But for various complications the story would also have been in one of this year’ Year’s Best anthologies.

One of the sessions I did at this year’s Alt.Fiction in Derby was a reading with the lovely Al Reynolds, and I chose ‘likeMe’ for that: keep it short and hopefully leave them wanting more. This got me thinking about the story again, and I realised that there was a lot more to be written. Discussion at the reading confirmed this for me: I’d written a snapshot of a pandemic-ridden future where reality is overlaid with layers of real-time-everywhere social networking, a brief view into a world I knew I would have to revisit.

On Saturday, a change of plans left me with a day suddenly free. I was ahead on the ebook publishing for infinity plus, I didn’t have to be anywhere… it was a chance to write a short story on spec for the first time in months.

I had a lovely time browsing through my notes, reminding myself just how many stories are sitting there waiting to be written, and then I settled on ‘War 3.01’, another shortish story set in the ‘likeMe’ future. After a good day’s writing I have that one written in draft, and now my mind keeps coming back to the possibilities.

The idea is to try to portray this fragmented, sensorily-swamped, falling-apart future in a set of short stories, ranging from flash fiction of maybe 2-300 words up to stories of around 3000 words. Characters will appear as walk-ons in one story, central in another, peripheral in another. And gradually, through this barrage of splinters, a mosaic should emerge.

Blimey, I really do think I’ve started what will turn into a book.

What kind of book? It won’t be a long one, that’s for sure: even 70,000 words of story splinters would be pretty tough going, I reckon. I’m thinking around 20-30,000 words would be enough for the bigger picture to emerge, for it all to start to cohere, without losing its way. The idea, after all, is for a densely-packed set of images.

Not exactly commercial, I know!

There are some excellent indie presses out there, though, who aren’t scared of shorter books. Or I might go straight to ebook with it, which in many ways would be appropriate: a new medium, and an incredibly fast turnaround from writing to publishing.

The final confirmation that in my head it’s now a book slotted into place yesterday evening when I was out running, always good thinking time in a busy life. An explanation for events in the new story… what if I applied that on a grander scale? Hmm… Suddenly there was a rationale for the whole story sequence, something that pulled them together and gave them shape.

So: this is how it’s possible to start writing a book by accident. Be warned.


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