Monthly Archives: November 2012

Cyberpunk by Colin F. Barnes

This week I have a special treat in the form of a guest post by author Colin F. Barnes.

Colin is a writer of dark and daring fiction. He takes his influence from everyday life, and the weird happenings that go on in the shadowy locales of Essex in the UK.

 

Cyberpunk is one of those evocative words that often gets used in marketing for video games, films, and other visual arts. And for very good reason: the genre often features extrapolations of fashion, technology, architecture, and even physical appearance. So it naturally lends itself to a visual medium. See Blade Runner, or Ghost In The Shell as prime examples of this. But how does this sub-genre of science fiction portray itself in literature?

 

Hyper Reality and Interconnected Societies

 

One cannot talk about Cyberpunk in literature without referencing William Gibson’s classic novel, Neuromancer. It’s a touchstone of the genre and should be one of the first stops for anyone new to the world of cyberpunk. Within this book, Gibson expertly describes a near future where senses are turned up to the maximum; cities are illuminated by neon and giant screens, and humanity has augmented itself with technology. We are increasingly seeing a lot of this happening around us today.

 

One of the interesting things about Neuromancer is the prediction of the web and the Internet; this is a common theme amongst Cyberpunk—especially from the 80s where computing was just coming into the homes of ordinary people, and authors extrapolated how we would interact with the technology. Many stories feature networked computer systems, artificial intelligences, and characters that can manipulate these technologies.

 

More Than Just Technology

 

It’s fair to say that a lot of cyberpunk stories are centred on the technology and the humans that manipulate it to increase their talents/senses. But an often-overlooked aspect is the ‘punk’ part. Anarchic and dystopian settings regularly feature in a good cyberpunk story. The characters tend to be those living just outside of society’s rules: often criminals, hackers, or people intelligent enough to slip between the cracks and use the broken society to their advantage.

 

As we enter the information age, those who can control, aggregate, or create that information are the ones that rise to the top. We can see this today with the likes of Google, Facebook, and Twitter generating vast databases of information all generated by the people. A typical punk protagonist tends to be against the establishment, or looking for ways to break free from their increasingly restrictive grasp on their lives. In some senses, you could say these punks are anti-heroes. Much like the punks of the 70s.

 

Variations and Placement on the SF spectrum

 

Cyberpunk, much like horror or steampunk, can sometimes just be a flavour set atop another genre, or it can be wholly cyberpunk. It’s usually considered a sub-genre of science-fiction, and usually at the more realistic end as opposed to the more speculative end of the spectrum with such things as Space Opera or far-future stories. It’s not uncommon to find thrillers and noir settings with the Cyberpunk realm, especially as we move away from the 80s and early 90s where it had its heyday. We now see combinations of genres, such as cyberpunk/thriller, as our own technology starts to approach—and sometimes surpass—that of what was predicted in earlier novels.

 

It’s certainly a rich set of tropes and ideas that can be applied across the board of all speculative fiction. My own cyberpunk story, The Techxorcist, could be classified as a horror/sci-fi/thriller mashup, in that the story takes place in a cyberpunk future, but with elements of those other genres still visible within the tale.

 

I’d just like to take moment to thank Colin for his excellent post. You can find more about him here:

Website: www.colinfbarnes.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ColinFBarnes

 

He also has a new book out.

Artificial Evil: Book 1 of The Techxorcist is available as a paperback and ebook from:

 

Print $10.99 (£6.99)

Anachron Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

 

eBook: $4.99 (£3.20)

Anachron Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo

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Cover and Sale

This is it, the road to publishing Born of Hatred has begun. Once I get the edits back from my wonderful editor, we’ll be ready to go.

To celebrate the fact that we’re almost there, I thought I’d do a little sale of Crimes Against Magic. So, from now until the end of the weekend, the Crimes Against Magic is only $3.99 (£2.59). You can go here to get a copy.

 

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

In the meantime, I’m happy to share the incredible cover to Born of Hatred.

Once again, the cover was done by the wonderfully talented Eamon O’Donoghue. And no, that isn’t Nate on the cover.

I hope you all like it as much as I do, and have a good weekend.

Blurb – Born of Hatred

Okay, so I still don’t have a release date for Born of Hatred beyond saying in the next few weeks. For that I’m very sorry. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve had pneumonia and moved house. Not exactly the sort of things that make it easy to get things done. But once the cover and edits are back, it’ll be good to go.

In the meantime here’s the blurb for Born of Hatred:

There was a time when Nathan Garrett was feared. When the mention of his name was enough to stop his enemies in their tracks. That time has long since passed.

When Nathan’s friend asks for help investigating a pattern of horrific crimes, he reluctantly agrees. But his investigation leads to a serial killer who is something more, or less, than human, a creature of pure malevolence and hatred.

There are some things that even a 1600-year-old sorcerer hesitates to challenge. But when evil targets those Nathan cares about, his enemies will discover exactly who Nathan used to be. And why they will learn to fear him once more.

Born of Hatred is an action-packed, Urban Fantasy set in modern-day England with historical flashbacks to late nineteenth century Montana. It’s the second book of the Hellequin Chronicles, following the widely praised Crimes Against Magic, which introduced sorcerer Nathan Garrett.

Hopefully that will tide you over until I have more to tell. In the meantime, I’m arranging something frankly awesome as a competition for the launch of Born of Hatred, or thereabouts, and only those who have read Crimes Against Magic will be able to answer the question I’m going to ask. So, fair warning, if you haven’t gotten a copy yet, or read it, you may want to consider doing so. You can find out where to get a copy here.

Next Big Thing

Last week Tom Harris tagged me to do the Next Big Thing, a sort of publicity drive for authors, where we answer ten questions about their upcoming, or recently published work. You can read Tom’s great post, here.

So without further ado. Here’s the the answers to the ten questions about my upcoming book.

What is the working title of your book?

Born of Hatred (Book 2 of the Hellequin Chronicles)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It was a natural progression of the story from book 1, Crimes Against Magic, which came out in April. But before then, I knew I wanted to deal with the undead, but not use Vampires or Zombies, the story sort of came from there.

What genre does your book fall under?

Urban Fantasy, although a few people have called it Action Adventure, which I’m perfectly okay with.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I don’t really think about who might play what character. But I think Michael Fassbender would do a good job as Nate. 

Eva Green would make a great Olivia.

Gerard Butler as Thomas Carpenter.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I hate synopsis. Hate them. But I’d say:

The time when Nathan Garret was feared is long since passed, but when his friends are targeted by a relentless evil, those who stand in Nathan’s way will learn to fear him once again.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Like my first book, it’ll be self-published. I find it suits me very well at the moment.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About four months. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Jim Butcher or Kelley Armstrong are the obvious ones, although we all write very different kinds of story.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I take my inspiration from things I’ll see, read or hear about during the day. So there was probably no one thing that inspired me. Unless you count my wife and daughters. They inspire me to write every single day.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

If you liked Crimes Against Magic, you’ll love Born of Hatred. And if you didn’t like Crimes Against Magic, well I think Born of Hatred is better written and an over all better book. But I’m sort of biased in thinking that.

And if you were interested in what I had to say, you should go read the following people’s Next Big Thing next week.

Colin F. Barnes – He has his up today, you can read it here. Colin is a quill-wielder of vibrant, edgy fiction, mixing sci-fi, horror and thrillers.

Paul TobinPaul has written hundred of comics, working with such characters as Spider-Man, Batman, and his own creations, Colder and Bandette. He also works for video game companies on projects like Angry Birds, and many others. His first novel, Prepare To Die! was released last summer to a wealth of delicious reviews.

Sean Patrick Traver – Sean writes about witches and weirdness in the City of Angels. Check out his world at www.SeanPatrickTraver.com.

Review Advice From a Newbie, to a Newbie.

This was meant to be posted last Thursday, but as I’m in the middle of moving house, I got precisely nothing written last week. Still, better late than never.

This is not my new house. Mine has a bigger moat.

So, your book has been published and people are buying it. Firstly, take a moment to realise how utterly awesome that is, because seriously, you are now in the minority of people who write. But at some point during your published life, you will get reviews. It stands to reason—if you sell books, you’ll get reviews.

Now, not everyone who reads your book will leave a review. From my experience about 0.5% of all sales will result in a review from a member of the public. At least on Amazon. Obviously that doesn’t include people you’ve asked to review the book, like bloggers.

And if those first reviews are good ones, you will feel over the moon. In fact every single time I see a 4 or 5 star review it makes me smile. To know that people out there are not only reading, but enjoying my work is an incredible feeling.

But there are times when you get a bad review. They will sting, and sometimes you’ll get angry about it. So here’s some advice for dealing with them and about reviewing yourself.

Sometimes you may even get ‘Ren angry’.

1. Do not reply to any review – Seriously, don’t do it. Not even if the reviewer has been nasty, or doesn’t appear to have actually read the book at all, just brush it aside. It’s easy to find a number of writers, artists, musicians who have done this and it hasn’t worked well for any of them. Sometimes it’s just better all round to shrug your shoulders and move on.

2. Do not give other writers bad reviews – Okay, this is just very much my own opinion, but giving bad reviews to other others is a terrible idea. Even if you don’t use your own name and you create an account just to do it (and really, if you have that much time, you need to get more writing done), it’s an extraordinarily bad idea. For a start if you ever get caught, you will be in the firing line –something that has happened to a few big name writers this year. But from a more human point of view, you’re all in the same boat. You’re all trying to get your work out there for people to read, and being negative about another writers work (review wise) just feels shitty to me. You can think someone’s work is dreadful, but actually officially stating it is just setting yourself up for criticism from others.

And that’s it. Basically, don’t let other people get to you and don’t be a dick to other people. If you don’t think you can handle bad reviews, stay away from Goodreads/Amazon and the like because they’re going to happen and you may as well accept that now. And the best way of dealing with a bad review? Write some more.