Narrative Transport. The official Michael Pryor website.
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  • November15th

    I was inspired by Linda Nagata’s thoughtful article to write this one. Hard SF can be a hard sell. Of all the multifarious and diverse aspects of Science Fiction, Hard Science Fiction is the one most likely to get non-readers recoiling in horror. It’s the SF sub-genre most parodied, most vilified and most misunderstood.

    Which is a shame because, as with most things, the best of it is superb. Hard SF discusses, foregrounds and takes seriously an aspect of modern life that is shamefully neglected in literary fiction: science and technology. If these feature in literary fiction today, it’s superficially or with, at best, a jaundiced eye.

    As has been my wont with these recommended reading lists, I’ll foolishly venture a definition: Hard SF is the branch of Science Fiction where accurate representations or extrapolations of science and technology are vital to the story. It has many overlaps with Space Opera and other SF sub-genres, but fuzziness like that is part of the glory of genre definitions.

    Ringworld – Larry Niven (1970)

    One of the great Hard SF adventures, this rattling good yarn takes the notion of the alien artefact and runs with it, imagining an artificially constructed world that rings a sun. The world is nearly two million kilometres wide and has a diameter roughly that of Earth’s orbit around our sun. It’s a jaw-dropping conceit, and it’s just the backdrop for shipwreck story of monumental proportions. Great fun.

    Red Mars – Kim Stanley Robinson (1993)

    The first of a trilogy, this book is a rigorous exploration of exploration, where humanity is opening up Mars for colonisation. The technical, engineering challenges are foregrounded, but the ecological and the political are by no means ignored. Absorbing and ultimately moving.

    Permutation City – Greg Egan (1994)

    Australia’s own Greg Egan . It doesn’t get much harder than this, with quantum ontology, artificial intelligence and simulated reality just part of this onslaught of cutting edge concepts. It’s philosophical, abstract and dense. Tasty stuff.

    Revelation Space – Alastair Reynolds (2000)

    Space, with all of its unlimited possibilities. Lots of nanotechnology, human modification, and heavy spaceship engineering doesn’t overpower the character exploration and interaction, which is sharp and profound in this far future world.

    Up Against It – MJ Locke (2011)

    More nanotech in a society in our asteroid belt. The everyday difficulties of living in such a hostile environment are presented with verve and panache, with a rogue Artificial Intelligence thrown in for good measure. This is extrapolation of the best kind. It’s careful but creative with its prognostications and never forgets the importance of a strong narrative.

  • February19th

    And here it is, the book trailer for ‘The Subterranean Stratagem’, the second book of ‘The Extraordinaires’ series.

    More magic, more mayhem, more mystery and much, much more Kingsley and Evadne!

  • February2nd

    Here we are: the stunning, atmospheric, brooding, enticing cover for ‘The Subterranean Stratagem’, the second book in ‘The Extraordinaires’ series. Random House Australia does quality work!

    I love it.

    Publication date: April 2

  • April3rd

    I’m highly chuffed that Extraordinaires 1: The Extinction Gambit has been gonged as a Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book. Congratulations, too, to the others on the list – it’s an honour to be in such company.Stylish, mysterious, evocative.

    The full list of Notable Books is here.

     

     

     

     

     

  • March16th

    The best way to prepare for the future is to imagine it. In our imaginations we can anticipate where we’re going, where our lives might be, the shape of the world to come.Shiny!

    10 Futures is a very different book for me, a real departure from the wonderful Steampunk worlds of ‘The Laws of Magic’ and ‘The Extraordinaires’. I needed to abandon the gloriously formal and extended language of the Edwardian era and use language that is more clipped and direct. And 10 Futures doesn’t have much humour, which was a real wrench for me, but different contexts and different milieus require different approaches to writing.

    10 Futures isn’t just random speculating. Each story segment has been carefully researched, and this is one area that was consistent with my last ten years of writing. The only difference was that instead of researching history, I was researching current trends and then trying to find good, evidence-based extrapolation. I looked at societal and cultural trends as well as scientific developments and asked the classic question: ‘What happens if this goes on?’

    As well as this exploration of trends and wondering about the direction of humanity over the next hundred years, I was also considering the nature of ethical issues and moral dilemmas. Do morals change over time, or are some situations eternal? What affects our judgement of right and wrong? How could this change in response to a changing world? Should it change in response to a changing world? Read More | Comments

  • January17th

    I can finally divulge details of the top secret project I’ve been working on for some time. 10 Futures is a series of linked stories which explore humanity’s next hundred years. Ten story segments, ten possible futures, each with its own challenges and opportunities – overpopulation, worldwide financial collapse, medical miracles, the rise of artificial intelligence, virulent pandemics, global warming/climate change, greatly increased lifespans, religious fundamentalism and war.

    Shiny!

    What unites these stories is the presence of Tara and Sam, best friends forever, coping with the futures that we are setting up today. Every one of the story segments is based on a current trend or development – technological and sociological – with the assistance of a simple question: what happens if this continues?

    I spent a great deal of time researching these trends, and every item I uncovered was balanced by my need to work with the human aspect of these changes. the How do you grow up in 2050? In 2080? In a world where water is rationed? In a world where freedom is unknown? In a world where your partner is chosen for you by your genetic suitability? Much will stay the same – people will still be people in 2100 – but some new ethical and moral dilemmas will be spawned. What are the rights of clones? What is the punishment for water theft in a world where everyone is thirsty?

    I’m immensely proud of 10 Futures. Imagining the future is important. If we don’t think about it and talk about it in an informed and thoughtful way, we’re stumbling ahead blindfolded. Is that any way to proceed?

    10 Futures comes with an extensive set of Teachers’ Notes aligned to the Australian Curriculum and will be available in April. For more, including ordering details, see the Random House Australia site.

  • November4th

    Yes, I really do.

     

  • October24th

    Extinction Gambit

    This could be the ultimate ‘Extinction Gambit’ teaser: my advance copy, nestled in my steely grip.