Matthew De Abaitua will be heading up to Liverpool Saturday (May 13) to take part in a panel as part of the Writing On the Wall festival.
The event is called Tax the Robots and… well the festival programmers can do a much better job of explaining the day than we can, so without further ado:
The term “robot” was coined by Czechoslovakian playwright Karel Capek in 1920 — “robota” being a Czech word for tedious labor. Today, robots assemble products better, faster and often cheaper than manual laborers, while more than 8 million U.S. airline flights a year are scheduled, guided and flown with the superhuman assistance of advanced software.
Recent reports in the UK suggest that ‘robots’, or software programmes, could replace up to 250,000 white collar jobs in the next few years; a Japanese insurance company recently laid off 80 staff and replaced them with robots. 02 in the UK are considering doing the same. In Liverpool, Merseyrail staff are stringing to prevent their own jobs being outsourced to autonomous colleagues.
The response of some during the industrial revolution was to smash up the machines; should we too become ‘luddites’ or is there another way? Head of Microsoft, Bill Gates, is just one voice calling for us to tax the robots as a way to smoothen the transition to an autonomous work force and ensuring that the payments from human workers into tax and national insurance, the bedrock of health and social care, are not lost. Employers, ever intent on cutting overheads, are eyeing up robots as a way of driving down labour costs. But weren’t robots, and tech generally, meant to free us, give us more leisure time and take the heavy load from us?
To discuss the implications of tech and robots and explore new ways of living, we have writers, trade unionists, activists, workers, commentators, etc., taking part in a series of panels and activities, including writing creative responses to explore and discuss the impact of technologies on our lives now and in the future.
Here’s Matthew’s panel:
Your Robots and You
Have you ever wondered what the future will look like, or wanted to help program a robot? Join Liverpool University’s Will Slocombe, writer Matthew de Abaitua, and computer scientist Louise Dennis, to consider our future with robots. You will get to consider the ways robots might change our lives, get to devise your own stories and graphics, and take part in deciding how a robot should act. Organised in collaboration with The Centre for Autonomous Systems Technology, University of Liverpool.
The event will be taking place on Saturday May 13 at Toxeth Library. For more information on WoWFest and to book your tickets, please visit the website.
It was a cold Tuesday morning when the Angry Robot team got into a car together to take a trip down south.
We were off to the printers for the day!
The journey was long and arduous, through freezing fog, until we emerged to glorious sunshine in Southend. Penny slept through the entire thing.
Now, our reason for the visit was simple. Two out of the three day-to-day Nottingham gang (Penny and Nick) hadn’t been to see our books being printed before. Oh, they’d heard all about paper thickness and book sizing but they hadn’t actually had the pleasure of seeing a novel transition from words in an online document into something tangible.
Our wonderful UK printing company, 4edge, is located in Essex and happily, they’ve just moved into new, bigger premises to deal with the recent increase in demand for their services. Once we’d arrived and after a quick cuppa in the office we were taken to the factory floor to see what all of the fuss was about.
First, we were shown how the typeset manuscripts that we and 4edge’s other clients send over are checked for correct sizing and scanned for any other possible errors in printing, for example page numbers. The first enormous machine we came to printed the covers, with various checks for colour bleed and automatic calibration to stop the colours drifting from the intended range. They have vast stacks of paper (we have our very own shelf!) on which four copies of a book are printed at once, which are guillotined apart by a man and terrifying machine (working at a speed which would have cost Nick many fingers). From there the books are manually sorted and prepared for binding.
Binding involves glue… Apparently 4edge uses two main types of glue, one for general printing and one super strength formula for larger books and those that need extra secure binding. There was a lot to be said about watching the precise nature of the gluing machine and the skill of the man running it. Watching the cover be fixed and then the whole book be chopped down into its final form was deeply satisfying.
I think the general consensus was that the cutting machine (see video) and printing machines *with clear viewing panels* – imagine how we stared at those reams of paper whizzing by! – were our favourites. There’s a great combination of manual work along with the automatic machines – you could say it was human and machine working in perfect harmony… Asimov would be so proud.
Excitingly, on the way around we got to see Bruce R Cordell’sThe Strange: Myth of the Maker being printed, the second print of Kameron Hurley’sThe Stars Are Legion AND the limited edition physical ARC print run of Jeff Noon’sA Man of Shadowsincluding watching the cover come off the line. In fact, there were Angry Robot titles spotted on shelves, in cupboards and in the mailing room. We also spotted a couple of titles by our parent company, Watkins.
Finally, after a very tasty lunch, we were off on the drive home again. Penny slept through the whole journey.
Our thanks go to Dave and Carl who gave up their time to show a bunch of overexcited bookish people around. We really did have a top day!
We’ll leave you with this very pleasing video of a book being, quite literally, cut down to size (sorry about the hand reflection).
The Robots are descending on Innominate – the 68th British National Science Fiction Convention!
Known as Eastercon, this year it’s being held across 14 to 17 April 2017 at Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel. And it’s the best place to share in your love of science fiction, fantasy, horror and other geeky things with authors, artists, publishers and other fans too!
Amongst the outstanding guests you’ll find our authors Matthew De Abaitua and Jeannette Ng as well as the robot publicity manager, Penny Reeve. We’ll also be in the Dealer’s Hall, stand DR124, so come along, say hi and chat with us about some awesome sci-fi and fantasy goodness.
Here’s our bit of the program, but you can check out the full thing here (as always, subject to change).
Matthew De Abaitua Friday 14 April 20:30 – 21:30
Climate Fiction in the 21st Century (Panel)
Saturday 15 April 14:30 – 15:30
Timeless Speculative Technology. Or Not. (Panel) 19:00 – 20:00
Author Reading with Matthew and Dr Justin Newland. (Reading)
Jeannette Ng Friday 14 April 14:00 – 15:00
Harry Potter – Not An Appreciation Panel. (Panel)
Sunday 16 April 16:00 – 17:00
You Want A Revolution? I Want A Revelation! (Panel)
Monday 17 April 11.30 – 12:30
Hugo Nominations – Film and Television. (Panel) 13:00 – 14:00
Hair Braiding Workshop. (Workshop)
Penny Reeve Saturday 15 April 13:00 – 14:00
Sunday 16 April 13:00 – 14:00
Expanding Artificial Intelligence. (Panel)
You can register online right now but they’ll also have a range of tickets available on the door should you fancy joining us on a whim. Plus you can book a hotel room, should you be so inclined.
Check out the map below to see where we are for the weekend.
Sorry to report but the Robots are a little rust-tinged and creaky this morning, as we attempt to kickstart ailing battery packs back to life after a splendid weekend at the UK Fantasycon, organised by the British Fantasy Society. Held in the once-majestic shambolic splendour of the Grand Hotel in Scarborough, a combination of wonderful people, fine autumnal seaside weather and us winning the Best Independent Publisher 2016 award made for a brilliant time. Our faces are appropriately set in expressions of chrome delight. Read More
A dispatch from our own Robot-at-Large, Mike Underwood:
“The first week of July, Phil Jourdan and I strapped into our Robot Rockets and hurtled through the sky toward the Twin Cities for CONvergence, an excellent fan-run convention totalling around 7000 fabulous fans. But we were far from alone. Seven of our intrepid authors joined us for a weekend of spreading the word about All Things Angry and Robotic.
Anne Lyle, Alyc Helms, Carrie Patel, Craig Cormick, Ishbelle Bee, Patrick S Tomlinson, and Wesley Chu (a CONvergence Guest of Honor!) formed our Angry Robot author detachment for the weekend, speaking on panels about Reinventing Shakespeare, Colonizing Space, and many more.
Anne, Carrie, and Patrick carried out a Robot Invasion with a group reading on Sunday of the convention, yielding some excellent photographic opportunities.
Thanks to the staff of CONvergence, our hosts at the various hotels, and everyone who came up to meet us throughout the weekend. See you next year!”
It’s something of a bittersweet day here on the otherwise empty flight deck of our orbital leviathan. Our lovely colleague Caroline Lambe (right) is leaving us, if only temporarily, to have her first baby. We shall miss both her massively capable wrangling of AR’s promotions and publicity campaigns, and her occasional intimations that Ireland truly is the best country on earth, with equal sorrow. We love her and we’ll miss her.
Obviously, even at this late stage we have attempted to encourage her and Will to name their firstborn after us, and she has at least pretended that they will consider Angstrom as a middle name. We live in hope.
We did the whole lunch and pressies thing on Tuesday, as the Robot crew – including the ever-smiling Penny (left), now handling all our promotions needs – are now scattered to the four corners, but today is our Caroline’s last day for a year. So join us please as we bid her farewell, if only for a year, and wish her every happiness in the amazing adventure on which she’s about to embark.
The playlist is also embedded here, for your viewing pleasure. Partake of all of the robotic wisdom and wisecracking from the comfort of your cubicle, cabana, or wireless-enabled mobile artillery platform.
If you missed the live show, you can watch the whole thing here. Please note that you’ll want to turn up the volume for the first 23 or so minutes, as Kameron’s audio was soft until she switched over to a different mic.
It’s that time again, folks – time for Angry Robot Live!
This month, we’re bringing you a discussion of Scope and Scale in Fantasy – from the intense back-alley tales of sword & sorcery to the world-breaking sagas of epic fantasy, the genre spans a huge range in terms of scope. Our panel will discuss the benefits and tradeoffs of operating at different scales, and we’ll dig into what makes tales at the different levels of scope powerful in their own ways.
The panel includes:
Kameron Hurley, Kitsschie and Sydney J. Bounds Award-winner and nominee for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. Her The Mirror Empire drops on August 26th in the US/CAN. Anna Kashina, author of the Majat Code (Blades of the Old Empire, and The Guild of Assassins, which releases on August 5th in the US and CAN). Paul S. Kemp, New York Times-bestselling author of Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons novels, and the author of the Tales of Egil and Nix (The Hammer and the Blade, A Discourse in Steel). James A Moore, author of over twenty novels, nominee for the Bram Stoker Award, and author of Seven Forges and The Blasted Lands.
The panel will be Tuesday, July 29th, at 8:30 PM EDT (5:30 PM PDT), and should run about an hour.
If you have any questions for our panelists, please feel free to post them here in the comments, tweet them with #ARLive, or join us to ask them yourself!
Hello, all! Mike here, with news of our third Angry Robot Live! panel.
On Wednesday, at 11:30AM PDT/2:30PM EDT/7:30PM BST, we’re going to be talking about series writing (how to do it, why to do it, how not to do it), with four fantastic Angry Robot authors:
Adam Christopher, Sir Julius Vogel-award-winner and author of Empire State, The Age Atomic, Seven Wonders, Hang Wire, and others. Anne Lyle, Syndey J. Bounds-nominated author of The Alchemist of Souls, The Merchant of Dreams, and The Prince of Lies. Carrie Patel, author of the forthcoming The Buried Life and Cities & Thrones. Chuck Wendig, John W. Campbell-nominated author of Blackbirds, Mockingbird, The Cormorant, The Blue Blazes, and many more.
RSVP for the event here. As before, there will be some prizes for people who ask questions of our illustrious panel. If you won’t be able to join us for the hangout, you can leave questions here in the comments or on Twitter the day of with the #AngryRobotLive.
At the start of the month, Senior Editor Lee Harris and Exhibit A editor Bryon Quertermous and I all climbed into our Angry Robotic jets and hurtled through the sky to Phoenix, Arizona, where we promptly melted.
End of story.
Not quite. The heat was intense, and it put our cooling systems into over-drive, but we managed to make our way to the convention center for Phoenix Comic-Con.
Phoenix Comic-Con had a very well-designed and well-run literary track, and the staff overall did a great job, especially considering how rapidly the convention has been growing (It had 55,000 attendees last year, and 77,000 this year). Despite the brutal heat, all robot units returned home operational and ready to continue operation.
As most of you know, I don’t come from a scifi or fantasy publishing world; my previous role was in publicity for Irish non-fiction titles as well as crime fiction, and that oft-controversial term, literary fiction. I wasn’t utterly new to the terms SF / F / WTF (maybe I was to WTF!) as through my own personal reading, I’ve read – and loved – Scott Lynch, Philip Pullman, and Eoin Colfer, and had the usual childhood favourites such as Narnia and Harry Potter. I love True Blood, Buffy, and Star Trek, amongst others but can’t quote you lines or tell you what happened in every episode. Ever. I joined the queues to see The Hunger Games, Snow White & the Huntsman, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Spiderman, Stardust, and a host of other movies, but because I really enjoyed them, not because they were genre specific.
But, since joining the Angry Robot team early this year, words like utopian, dystopian, steampunk, epic fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, xenobiology, are now the norm, and it has been an exciting, occasionally-overwhelming, world to discover. I’ve been flung in all sorts of reading directions, mainly by Strange Chemistry’s reading guru Amanda, and was addicted to George R.R. Martin within about 3 pages; fell in love with John Green’s phenomenal YA story The Fault In Our Stars; am currently reading Kushiel’s Dart, and have read – and had varying reactions to – dozens of our Angry Robot and Strange Chemistry titles. I’ve learned that fantasy is more my own personal thing than scifi, although Wesley Chu‘s The Lives of Tao (Vote for him at Goodreads Choice Awards here!) and Ramez Naam‘s Nexus became some of my all-time favourite books, and that Chuck Wendig‘s books suit my crime-fiction-grotesque-scenes-loving-self.
However, not any of the above made me feel fully qualified to attend last weekend’s World Fantasy Con in Brighton. I admit I had major preconceptions. I have met some terrific people over the course of the last six months, but also have discovered that genre world inhabitants can be, and I hasten to point out can be – not are, protective of their world. Sometimes, rightly so. One of the panels over the weekend discussed the issue of “The Mainstream and Us”, showing that the positioning of “genre fiction” is still an issue. I did fear that conversations would be way over my beginners-level head, and wondered that if many of the attendees knew each other from various cons, how open would they be to a newbie? I should never have worried. It was a great weekend, and I wanted to tell you a little about what it was like for a newbie:
Before heading to Brighton, I had been told that this was a very “bar-friendly” convention. I was unsure as to the actual meaning of this – were people going to be sitting, drinking, at 11am? If so, I should have been into this world a long time ago. She jests. Kinda. But that does actually sum up the convivial nature of this convention: from any time of the day, people would gather in the lobby bars and drink coffee – at least, in the early stages of the day – and meet those faces they knew, but also those they did not. Hats off to the organisers for the “newbie” area of the bar, where those who didn’t know too many could congregate and meet fellow newcomers.
A lot of the talk I heard was about the size of the crowd – approx 1400 attendees – and how this allowed for a more open, warm, atmosphere. When I asked Lee for some reference point on this, he said WorldCon is akin to the London Book Fair; I see now that I had a nice, gentle, first convention experience! The layout of the hotel and the event halls was easy to navigate and all close together. This made for easy access if one was running from one panel to the next, or wanted to get to the dealers’ room to stock up before meeting an author. Any time I wandered from one room to the next, I saw friendly faces, and the “red coats” were ever-present ensuring that people know where they were going and were OK. Huge congratulations to them!
I had a couple of aims for the weekend: to meet our attending authors – and some for the first time!, to meet as many people from my online world as possible, to try and not fangirl if I saw Scott Lynch, to attend panels, and to generally get a better sense of the fantasy world. What I didn’t expect was to have so much fun whilst doing all of it!
Better Than I Ever Thought It Would Be
From the minute I arrived at the Hilton hotel and bumped into Lizzie and Claire from the Big Green Bookshop reading and writing groups, the weekend was one big friendly affair. I met old and new faces, chatted to strangers and made new friends; sat in on interesting panels that were open and encouraging; mingled at the mass signing; enjoyed the parties of Tor and Voyager; had long lunches with our authors – inventing futures for Mike Shevdon’s family members!; was made cry by Mike with a synopsis of the most haunting story he’s writing; laughed with Jonathan L. Howard over a pizza dinner; queued at the wrong hall with Wesley Chu before his own ninja reading; and of course, hung out with my colleagues outside the office.
As for me and conventions? Sign me right up. My advice: leave any preconceptions at the door, and throw yourself into this wonderful – and wacky – world. I’m not sure any other genre of writing could be so open and welcoming. To all the lovely bloggers and online friends that I met: Mieneke, Ellie, Vicky, Charlie Jane, Annalee; to our authors: James, Adam, Kim, Anne, Mike, Jonathan, Laura, Wes, Joseph, Emma, and all those that I didn’t get to meet; to Darren & Jo; to Lizzie & Claire; to the new friends, agents, and readers alike, that I met, thank you all so much for a fantastic first con, and I look forward to seeing you all again!
Now to get myself to the shop and buy up all the books I discovered, or else knew about and am now urged to buy their books because of their brilliant panels: Holly Black, Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, Garth Nix, Tanith Lee, Hal Duncan, Adrian Stone, Tad Williams, and many, many more, await!
PS: I completely fangirled when I met Scott Lynch. Oh well!
Angry Robot Author Wesley Chu, author of the soon-to-be-published science fiction secret agent extravaganza The Lives of Tao, will be appearing alongside a few fellow Chicago-based science fiction writers at Open Books on Thursday February 28th.
The occasion is the launch of Chicago Writers Conference Events at Open Books. The series kicks off with this particular evening of Science Fiction readings hosted by Hugo and Nebula Award–nominated author William Shunn. Wesley will be reading from The Lives of Tao and will be happy to answer questions about the book, or being a writer, or his life as a kung-fu stuntman. (You think we’re kidding about that last part, don’t you? We’re really not…)
It’s a free event, open to all, and runs from 6.30 to 9.00 p.m. Open Books, “an award-winning nonprofit social venture that operates an extraordinary bookstore, provides community programs, and mobilizes passionate volunteers to promote literacy in Chicago and beyond”, can be found at:
213 W. Institute Place
Chicago, IL 60610
(1 block north of Chicago & Franklin el stop.)
Is it the weekend already? Phew! So here’s the plan: tomorrow, bright and early, get yourself to a bookstore. Find that great section at the back or up the right side where those extra-lovely books are… and buy some books. Could be ours, could be other peoples’ – but you know you want them, you know you need them. Make them yours, bring them home, job done.
On SFFWorld.com, Mark Yon took a good, long look at Dead Harvest and declared it highly recommendable: “In a crowded world of Urban Fantasy, it’s difficult to make an impression amongst the many, many tales out there. However, as far as urban fantasy goes, this is one of the most assured debuts I’ve read since first reading Jim Butcher’s first Dresden.”
Dead Harvest was also reviewed over at sheneverslept.com, where it scored a perfect five out of five tentacles: “Dead Harvest grabbed and held me from beginning to end. Chris F. Holm has crafted a nicely dark urban fantasy with a truly unique protagonist”. Likewise, blogger Elizabeth A. White was suitably impressed, saying: “Holm takes a pinch of fantasy, a little supernatural, a dash of hardboiled crime fiction, and blends them into a pitch-perfect adventure in a way that is nothing short of authorial alchemy.”
Plus, Dead Harvest was profiled by Eric Beetner for CriminalElement.com‘s Fresh Meat files and reviewed by blogger Stephen West. And the frankly rather awesome cover art triumphed in the February Cover Wars over at The Qwillery (and we know that Chris wanted that one, badly).
Upcoming Titanic/30 Days of Night mash-up sensation Carpathia by the superb Matt Forbeck was reviewed by lovevampires.com, Starburst magazine and Adventures Fantastic. And just as this round-up was going to press… um, screen, the chaps on Lightsaber Ratting were so taken with it they suggested “there is no way that this book doesn’t become a movie”, and the venerable Starburst said “Fans of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula will find a lot to love here, as will anyone who prefers their horror with a hint of claustrophobia.”
Gav Thorpe talked to The Shell Case about his work in the Warhammer universe, as well as the forthcoming conclusion to his Crown of the Blood saga: The Crown of the Usurperand his plans for the future. He also did valuable service on his own blog, crunching the numbers on classic fantasy tropes: http://mechanicalhamster.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/elf-preservation-part-one/
Lovely Lauren Beukes, modestly not mentioning much about her massive, massive new book deal (me and her mother, Mrs Harris, are so damn proud), was interviewed by Bruce Sterling. Yes, that Bruce Sterling.
Anne Lyle was lovely enough to share some advance secrets from her upcoming magical Elizabethan fantasy The Alchemist of Souls with Fran Terminielo.
The lovely KW Jeter was Guest of Honor at Steamcon III recently. Check out the pics and a great write up from Steampunk News. We think all our authors should get an official convention photo done with a girl with a boat on her head. No, just because.
And finally, no skateboarding puppies this week, but instead the lovely Lavie Tidhar gave great podcast for the Skiffy & Fanty Show in this discussion of his new novel Osama. It’s not by us, but it’s bloody great so fair dues and all that.
Well personally I think we should have one of these every week.. but I’m told this is, for now, a one-off special event for all our Antipodean chums.
If you’re going to Conflux, Australia’s premier SF convention, at the end of the month, be sure to join a trio of our best authors for some metallic fun and games. Out in force and pressing the flesh of all you grateful meat-things will be local Robot representatives Jo Anderton, Trent Jamieson and Kaaron Warren, for a full hour of meet & greet & readings plus (we’re told/warned) some appropriately AR-themed refreshments.
Oh, if only we could be there too… (don’t finish that sentence).