BFPO 2003

Before I got into this blogging lark I used to stick posts up on my website Neal Asher Space and now, since I’m going to do some work there I though it might be an idea to move my BFPO (Battlefront Post Office) posts over here. Unfortunately, you’ll find that some of the links here no longer function.

Early February 2003
When I handed in the initial draft of Gridlinked, I was told I needed to lose the scooby-dooish ending — that there should be no need for explanation. I’ve since found that there’s plenty of people who want that explanation, so, if you press this link, you’ll see that ending. But don’t press it unless you’ve read the book!
Just had to put this somewhere: “In the film business, as probably in everything else, the best and most approachable people are those who are confident in their own abilities.” – Barry Norman.
My story The Thrake will be appearing in Hadrosaur Tales sometime soon.
Tor books have now signed up for Gridlinked and The Skinner. God Bless America!
New contract signed with Pan Macmillan for the three books listed below:
Cowl. Cowl awaits at the Nexus where he is attempting to poison the protoseas of Earth. He drags people back using organic time machines, the tors, which are in turn scales from the back of the torbeast: the Eater of Worlds. From the far future they are fighting him, as best they can, but even with the sun tap they do not have the power to reach that far back. Jane, dragged back, finds a freeloader in the piece of military tech she wears: the Muse 184. And Tack, the vat grown programmable killer who is after her, is given a mission important to the survival of the human race.
Brass Man. This is the sequel to Gridlinked and The Line of Polity, and I don’t really want to tell you much more than that, though some will guess certain elements of the story from the title!
The Voyage of the Sable Keech. This sequel to The Skinner takes place on Spatterjay, and who can guess what’s going to happen in that nightmare place. Possibly a borderline psychotic war drone called Sniper might put in an appearance, perhaps Sable Keech himself is around, and maybe a Prador adolescent survived its encounter with a Molly Carp. You never can tell.
3rd Feb. Over Christmas I received the dust jacket for the Tor (America) edition of Gridlinked, which will be coming out as a hardback in August.
Recently received an offer for Snow in the Desert as published in Spectrum SF 8 (check novellas page) to be reprinted in Year’s Best Science Fiction #8.
14th Feb. The forum is now operating on the Tor UK website. Come and have a chat!
W H Smiths will be doing some sort of promotion with The Skinner (pb) so it will be released early – next week in fact. (28/2/03)
10th April. Tor (UK), Macmillan’s new SF imprint can be found here . Ah, and there’s a message board up for me on the TTA website here
I’ve now added a gallery to this site in which to pin up any pictures of interest. There’s some from the Tor UK launch party, a picture of the American cover … I’ll add other stuff later.
I’m now also up on the Nightshade forum and if this continues I won’t find time to write any books.
22nd April. Book marks and note paper added to the gallery, and thumbnail pictures. Hope it all works.
24th April.
I’m told there’ll be a review of The Line of Polity in this Saturday’s Guardian by Jon Courtenay Grimwood. I’m also told that the first print run has nearly gone, so hang onto those first editions.
Now here’s something else of interest: the number you see on the copyright page 135798642 tells you what edition the book is. What I didn’t know, until it was explained to me by Rog Peyton (Andromeda), was how or why. Apparently it costs quite a bit to make alterations after the first printing, so the lowest digit in that number tells you the edition. When they do the second edition, they just delete the 1 so the lowest digit is 2, and so on. The number is arranged so you count 123456789 inwards from the outside, so that with each deletion it remains central on the page. Well there you go.
14th May. Ah, twas the Saturday after. There’s also been an excellent review by Peter Tennant in issue 34 of TTA. And while I’m on the subject, also in SFX by Saxon Bullock, and Starburst, and Dreamwatch. No doubt when I get a bad one I’ll implode.
120,000 words into Brass Man now.
I’ve removed the bookmarks and notepaper from the gallery as couldn’t get them to work properly. Stuck a couple of pictures up there instead.
16th June. Okay, it’s been a little while since I’ve written in here, and now is a good a time as any.
An excellent review by Russell Letson of The Line of Polity has appeared in the latest Locus; I’ve just recieved two wonderful hard back copies of Gridlinked from Tor in America (it’ll go on general sale next month); and of The Skinner, Tanith Lee says: ‘…absolute solid gold genius’ so overall I’m feeling pretty happy and sure I must be doing something right!
I’ve now finished the first draft of Brass Man. It weighs in at 145,000 words. I’m now leaving it alone and trying to forget it, so I can take a fresh look in a few months.
The Tanjen version of The Engineer being a bit of a rarity, and it seeming that this is a book some people would like to obtain, I approached Sean Wallace at Cosmos Books about doing a re-release. I thought first about calling it The Engineer Reloaded, but maybe that’s taking the piss. How about The Engineer Reconditioned? It will consist of the original novella and stories, but with introductions, and some extra stories. I’m presently working through it all again and cringing at the mistakes. I guess that when I stop doing that it’ll be time to give up writing.
At the end of this week I’m off on holiday to Scotland, but taking a detour to speak to the Hull SF group on Saturday 19th.
9th Aug. Precisely on the day Gridlinked was released in America I received an email from Gardner Dozois letting me know that he wants to publish two of my stories: The Veteran and the first Mason’s Rats story. The timing could not have been more perfect. I’ve also been sent an uncorrected proof copy of a book from Tor in America in the hope that I’ll offer some sort of quote. Does this mean I’m not the new boy anymore?
21st Aug. Major revamp here with the addition of anthology and magazine pages and a redistribution of everything else. I’ve just received copies of Year’s Best SF 8, and Terror Tales issue one, both of which you can see in the anthologies section. Erm, what else? I’m 28,000 words into The Voyage of the Sable Keech and they haven’t even built the ship yet…
5th Sept. A few items: I see that Cowl is now up on Amazon for pre-orders, as is the hardback American version of The Skinner, which is to be released next April. You can now also find the list of my top ten fantasy books on the Guardian website at:,6109,1033620,00.html And I’m now 43,000 words into Sable (which incidentally won’t see the light of day for over two and a half years).
22nd Sept. The French rights to The Skinner and Gridlinked will be licensed to Pocket/Fleuve Noir (part of Universpoche – one of the largest publishers in France). It’s likely that they’ll start with The Skinner within the next 18 months and will then publish Gridlinked at a later date. Gardner Dozois at Asimov’s has now also accepted Strood for publication. And it looks as if Cowl will be coming out in hardcover next March.
28th Sept. I’ve come across (or been led to) a couple of interesting message boards: Malazan Empire & Dead Cities. The picture of the The Skinner dust jacket is up on Amazon, and now here. Sable is at about 70,000 and getting steadily more complicated and bloody. Gardner Dozois at Asimov’s has taken another short story: Strood.
6th Oct. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett should be required reading for so very many people. Here’s one sample: “Confiscate all weapons and crime would go down. … Amazingly, quite a few weapons were handed in. The flaw, was one that had somehow escaped Swing, and it was this: criminals don’t obey the law. It’s more or less a requirement for the job. They had no particular interest in making the streets safer for anyone except themselves. And they couldn’t believe what was happening. It was like Hogswatch every day.”
I’ve just received the cover picture for Cowl and it is now up in books.
A lot is being said about whether university tuition fees are fair. Not enough is being said about what is taught. Universities educate the people we need for the future. Perhaps we should subsidize the subjects that usefully educate our youngsters and charge for those that provide us with parasites and non-producers. This way we might end up with fewer law, sociology, psychology, media studies and political science graduates and more engineers, biologists, physicists and doctors. (pub. Mail on Sunday 19/10/03)
14th Oct. “Everybody against the war. People talking openly. How can a country go into a major war with a population so dead set against it?” was what William L Shirer (writer of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich) penned in his dairy about Berlin’s inhabitants, the day before Hitler’s forces invaded Poland. The next relevant quote has to be George Satayana: “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.” I guess this is to be expected from a government that shows as much contempt for its own country’s history as did Hitler for his…
9th Nov. ‘ONE OF THE BEST WRITERS OF ADVENTURE SF presently working anywhere, Neal Asher also creates the most horrific and wonderful monsters in the genre since the publication of Harry Harrison’s Deathworld. His novel The Skinner uses a wonderful device, in the heading to each chapter, of an ever-more-dreadful monster discovering that it is not the top of the food chain. Each of his Human Polity novels has more dash and brio than a handful of finely-crafted literary fictions, and their characters fizz off the page. The Line of Polity is Neal’s most recent novel, published this Spring.’ — John Jarrold writing in SFX (10 authors to watch) Thanks John.
10th Nov. In the hope that I might make some positive quotes, Simon & Schuster have just sent me a copy of The Darkness That Comes Before by R Scott Bakker. As Bakker was one of the ten authors mentioned in the SFX article below, I’ll certainly give it a go.
11th Nov. Just seen Matrix Revolutions. While Matrix Reloaded was about 70% crap, I have to say the Watchowski brothers have now managed to deliver the pure product. A triumph of special effects over content, with a cast from the plank school of acting: pure unadulterated crap. In a particular scene I was nearly overwhelmed by the urge to shout, “Give it one while it’s still warm!” but luckily, at about that point, my large intestine crawled up my spine and tried to throttle my brain.
8th Dec. The Turner prize has been won by a man in a frock displaying a pot decorated with mediocre pictures said to represent child-abuse. Much controversy surrounds the last-minute removal from the pot, by the winner, of the dry-cured turd wrapped up in a ribbon. Apparently it was a close-run thing because of the entry, by a Muslim lesbian, of a simnel cake decorated with a dead dog with a cucumber thrust up its bottom – said to represent the anger of vegetarian activists at the failure of Labour to ban fox-hunting. Judges of the prize said the entry of an ash-tray filled with tumours was risible and unsubtle, and that the competitor concerned had not truly learnt the art, taught in art colleges over many decades, of talking complete bollocks to justify crap to a bunch a pseuds. Rumours that there are people being taught how to draw, paint and create sculptures have been dismissed as highly unlikely. Who would come to view the products of such antiquated skills?
16th Dec. A lot has happened over the last month. Another crap Turner prize has passed into history and now the Hobbit has been found in Iraq. They checked him for weapons of mass destruction but only found a ring.
The Skinner has now been taken for translation by a Czechoslovakian publisher, and Gridlinked by a Spanish one, so things advance apace there. I’ve handed in Brass Man and the reaction seems good thus far, and am now continuing with Sable. Gardner Dozois has now accepted another story for Asimov’s. Softly Spoke the Gabbleduck he felt pretty sure he was going to reject because, although well-crafted, it covered much the same ground as half a dozen other stories. It was apparently saved by the gabbleduck. ‘I couldn’t not run a story with a creature as interesting and weirdly menacing as a gabbleduck in it.’
What else? Spending Christmas in Chester with one of my brothers and his family. Then it’ll be nose to the grindstone in the new year, and a long rest for my liver.

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