• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:


    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!

     

     

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The great rise and fall part II: Sean Williams delves into the heart of Geodesica

Here we have part two of Sean William’s piece on Geodesica, really getting to the heart of what has been explored. I really recommend reading the duology – two very different books that make up our story. Feel free to admire the way the covers sit together :). Click here to read part one of this piece.

AscentDescent

The future history of humanity helped define the shape Geodesica took. It could never have been a trilogy. Book one, to my mind, represents a rocket launching pad and book two the entire trajectory of the rocket, going up and then going in a beautiful parabola. That’s why Ascent and Descent have such different flavours and structures: Ascent is about a time of crisis in an “ordinary” interstellar empire, while Descent covers the entire span of Coevality–the million-year regime that comes about because of the invention of time travel.

Geodesica is a love story spanning nearly the full length of human history but it’s also, like all of my space opera novels, an exploration of what people might be like in the far future. Geodesica takes that latter inquiry in a direction I’d never gone before, that being: what will post-humans fight about? (See “Further reading” below for more on this.) Ultimately it’s a quest for selfhood and identity–the very same quest that occupies us in every stage of our lives–with giant explosions.

Of the latter, the teenage me and I agree, there can never be enough. Where aliens are concerned, though, I’m undecided. They make for great scenery, and they raise important philosophical and scientific questions. But in Geodesica, I decided, the issues I wanted to deal with were human issues, and so adding aliens to the mix would deflect attention away from where I wanted it to be. There are aliens in the books, but to a much lesser degree than in Orphans, say, where presenting humanity as a fragile species struggling to evolve in a hostile, alien universe was very much the point.

My favourite character in Geodesica is Isaac Deangelis, whose name means “he who laughs” but who has very little to laugh about through the course of his life. (Names are important to me. His surname, “of the angels”, was chosen deliberately.) Bred to be a ruler, he routinely juggles more concerns than we ordinary humans could bear, but he falters at simple interpersonal relationships. Only on losing everything does he realise that he has never been free. Ultimately he must confront himself and his own obsessions, and thereby learn how to live with himself.

That seems to be a universal lesson. It’s certain one I’ve grappled with myself, and I will continue to explore it in my fiction as long as I’m able. You can dress them up as space opera or fantasy as much as you like, but every story is really about us. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about writing, that’s it.

Sean Williams is the author of twenty-nine novels and over seventy short stories, and won an Aurealis this year for his collection of short stories in Magic Dirt (link below). To find out more about him, go to www.seanwilliams.com.

Further reading from Sean:

2006 Conjure GoH Address (the million-year romance)

“A Longing for the Dark” (the future of fighting), presented in podcast form, read by me, courtesy of the Terra Incognita Australian Speculative Fiction podcast:
www.tisf.com.au or
www.keithstevenson.com/terraincognitasf/tisf005.html or
www.keithstevenson.com/media/TISF_005.mp3

Lastly, “Night of the Dolls” (lots of the themes mentioned here), in my best-of short story collection Magic Dirt:
http://ticonderogapublications.com/publications/magicdirt.html
(Like “A Longing for the Dark”, this is a standalone excerpt from Geodesica: Descent)

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The great rise and fall: Sean Williams on Geodesica

Some time ago, I asked Sean Williams if he would write a piece for the Voyager blog, and he agreed to write on the Geodesica duology – made up of Geodesica: Ascent and Geodesica: Descent, two books which make a whole that I found amazing to read. So, in two parts, here is Sean’s piece, a wonderful exploration of writing these two books and the themes explored within them.

Ascent

Ascent

What’s Geodesica about? Perhaps I should start by describing where the idea for this story came from. As a young boy I spent a lot of time on buses, going back and forth between my home in Adelaide and the small country town where my grandparents lived. I’m sure I’m not the only such kid to have day-dreamed about taking a bus to another planet. In 1992 I tried to write a story about just that.

“Cloverleaf” detailed the escape of a criminal into a vast, space-bending maze that connected all the far-flung worlds of humanity’s future empire. He’s chased by cops and ultimately falls foul of an intelligence that has taken root inside the maze, an emergent property of the minds of all the commuters travelling through it like him.

No one bought “Cloverleaf”, and so the idea languished. It wasn’t until 2003, when I was looking for a series to follow Orphans, that the idea came out of the bottom drawer and leapt back into the forefront of my mind.

This being an old story for which I felt a great deal of affection, I quickly decided that it would be a “Williams with Dix” rather than “Williams and Dix” project–meaning that it was something I would work on alone, through development, pitching and writing, with Shane coming onboard much later to give me vital editorial support.

Descent

Descent

Having decided that, I proceeded to ditch almost everything about the original story except the central conceit and the title–and soon enough even the title went too. The duology was originally pitched as Cloverleaf, with individual volumes called Bedlam Watch and Palmer’s Wake. They then became Geodesica and Geodesica Falling before evolving into versions that ended up on the shelves.

Next I had to invent a new space opera milieu for the maze to intersect with. The one I settled on featured waves of progressively more advanced post-human sorts expanding outwards from Earth, each taking over territory controlled by their predecessors–something I’d never seen in fiction before. I made the maze of alien origin, something stumbled across and exploited, rather than built, and set the story off-Earth instead of starting at home and moving elsewhere–because sometimes the view over our shoulder is more terrifying than that ahead.

Sean Williams is the author of twenty-nine novels and over seventy short stories, and won an Aurealis this year for his collection of short stories in Magic Dirt (link below). To find out more about him, go to www.seanwilliams.com.

Part two of this piece will go up tomorrow, but below is the list of further reading that Sean sent through.

Further reading:

2006 Conjure GoH Address (the million-year romance)

“A Longing for the Dark” (the future of fighting), presented in podcast form, read by me, courtesy of the Terra Incognita Australian Speculative Fiction podcast:
www.tisf.com.au or
www.keithstevenson.com/terraincognitasf/tisf005.html or
www.keithstevenson.com/media/TISF_005.mp3

Lastly, “Night of the Dolls” (lots of the themes mentioned here), in my best-of short story collection Magic Dirt:
http://ticonderogapublications.com/publications/magicdirt.html
(Like “A Longing for the Dark”, this is a standalone excerpt from Geodesica: Descent)