Corey J. White’s space opera Voidwitch Series continues: Mars Xi returns in Void Black Shadow, sequel to Killing Gravity.
Mars Xi is a living weapon, a genetically-manipulated psychic supersoldier with a body count in the thousands, and all she wanted was to be left alone. People who get involved with her get hurt, whether by MEPHISTO, by her psychic backlash, or by her acid tongue. It’s not smart to get involved with Mars, but that doesn’t stop some people from trying.
The last time MEPHISTO came for Mars they took one of her friends with them. That was a mistake. A force hasn’t been invented that can stop a voidwitch on a rampage, and Mars won’t rest until she’s settled her debts.
I loved the cover art for Killing Gravity and received plenty of comments on it, so I was sure it was going to be hard to beat, but Tommy Arnold absolutely knocked it out of the park with the art for Void Black Shadow.
This book a different beast to Killing Gravity, so I’m excited and a little scared to see it get out there. I’m sure some people won’t like it as much because it goes to some darker places, but it’s the book I had to write. Hopefully it ends up being well-received, because I would love to go into detail about where the book goes and why, but time will tell. We’ll both have to wait a few more months to see…
Two exciting things have happened recently, one of which I’d been meaning to post about for a while.
First, I signed with literary agent Martha Millard at Sterling Lord Literistic, based in NYC. Martha reached out to me after reading Killing Gravity, was super enthusiastic, and had some great advice for me in regards to turning this little book of mine into an actual writing career. Martha’s been in the business for a long time, and represents some big names in science fiction, like William Gibson and Ian McDonald. If you’d told teenage-me with his nose buried in Neuromancer that I’d one day share an agent with Gibson, I would not have believed you.
The second thing is that Warren Ellis was kind enough to find time in his consistently-crazy work schedule to write up a couple of paragraphs about Killing Gravity in his Orbital Operations newsletter.
I’ve been a fan of Warren Ellis’ comics, prose, and newsletters for a long time now, so this means the world to me. (And if you think ‘being a fan’ of a newsletter is a bit weird, you’ve obviously never subscribed to one of Warren’s. You’ll get everything from political, sociopolitical, and technological commentary, to recipes, to ‘reviews’ of books and films, music recommendations, the occasional blistering rant, and gems of writing advice. I’d say his insights into the writing process are invaluable for any writer, but particularly for anyone with aspirations to write in the comics field.)
Now, if you’ve somehow discovered my work before Warren’s, then let me make some recommendations. As far as prose goes, Normal is fantastic. It’s a 2016 novella put out by FSG, and it’s Warren at his abyss-gazingly best: hints of William Gibson’s Blue Ant trilogy and Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy (to me at least), with characters that could only have emerged from Ellis’ mind, and a sort of technological paranoia/perversion that seems a perfect response to the surveillance capialism of today.
For a look at the sort of ‘thinking out loud’ you get in Warren’s newsletters, you can’t go past Do Anything, which I could try and describe, but would probably fail – so instead, click here.
And in the comics realm, there is so much to choose from. Some personal favourites though:
Black Summer – a superhero decides the President of the United States is a war criminal beyond redemption who needs to be killed. But that’s not the arc of the comic, that’s the opening few pages. Was written as a response to George W. Bush deceiving the Western world into a fucked up war in Iraq, but will probably still appeal to people today who like the idea of POTUS being slain.
Desolation Jones – Ellis’ take on the classic ‘noir detective in LA’ genre, but where the detective is a former British spy who lost all fear and human empathy after being subjected to a particularly fucked up experiment, and who is on the trail of Hitler’s personal porn stash.
Global Frequency – a fantastic series of connected sci-fi one-offs. A TV pilot was filmed, and it’s criminal that it was never picked up – it had the potential to be something akin to Person of Interest meets Fringe.
Trees & Injection are two newer series, that have a couple of volumes each so far and are shaping up to be some of the best SF comics of the 2010s.
And if you’re more of a superhero person, Ellis’ runs on Stormwatch, Authority, and Planetary are some of the best super stuff you’re going to find.
So yeah, exciting times. But that’s enough for now. I’ve got a book to write and another book to edit. Take care of yourself, and those closest to you.
Recently I was interviewed by Alasdair Stuart over at Tor.com. Alasdair is behind Escape Artists (the family of SFFH podcasts which includes Escape Pod, Pseudopod, Podcastle, and Cast of Wonders), and the magazine Mothership Zeta… in other words, he knows his science fiction well. This comes across in the interview, with Alasdair asking a number of great, in-depth questions that gave me a chance to delve into a lot of the stuff that was going on in the background while I was writing Killing Gravity.
AS: What sort of aesthetic do these books have in your head? Is everything high tech and advanced, or we talking crunchy switches and Logan’s Run? I get a little of everything.
CJW: It’s definitely varied within the world, depending on a character’s personal preference, the level of tech they can afford, and environmental factors. I kind of think of it in terms of mobile phones—back in the day I could walk down the street, tapping out a text message on physical buttons without looking at the screen and the message would come out perfect, but if you try the same thing today with a smart phone, you either end up with a gibberish message, or you end up walking into someone/something. So as much as people want the Minority Report-style holographic interface, for certain people and/or at certain times, you need physicality. After all, in Minority Report, the fancy display is useless without the wooden balls laser-etched with premonitions.
This past week I was interviewed by Stefan over at Civilian Reader about Killing Gravity, my inspirations, and plenty more. Go check it out.
This was my first interview, and I’m keen to do more. I’m looking forward to being interviewed by someone who’s read Killing Gravity, and having a real conversation about it. But I guess that will probably have to wait until after its release.
I mentioned this just briefly last time, but just in case you missed it: did you know you can preorder Killing Gravity? It’s only early in the book’s push – we’ve revealed the cover, but not an excerpt yet, and I haven’t had a chance to do any interviews (and perhaps I won’t – I’m still a nobody after all). But trust me when I tell you, it’s a good book. If you like the telekinetic carnage of Akira, or if you want a space opera that’s focussed on one small group of people and not a huge fight for galactic control, or if you just really like Tommy Arnold’s cover art, then you can preorder it now. You can find it online at Barnes & Noble, Wordery, Amazon, and the Book Depository.
And, OF COURSE, you’ll be able to ask for it at your local independent bookseller. Any bookstore with a decent range of science-fiction and fantasy will be able to source it, and in fact Powell’s already has it on their site for preorder (Powell’s is an amazing store. Bibliophiles simply must check it out if they find themselves in Portland). For my fellow Australians, any store that carries books from Tor.com’s range will be able to order it in for you – like Readings for instance – but depending on the databases a store uses, they might not be able to find it.
So there you go, my very first proper shill. I’m immensely proud of this book, and I hope it does well… if only so enough people hang around and read the sequel that I’ve been wrestling with these past few weeks.
When I woke up this morning my phone was blowing up with twitter notifications, because the Killing Gravity cover got officially revealed at Barnes & Noble’s SFF Blog.
Click the link, go on, click it. You’ll see the awesome cover, with art by Tommy Arnold, and read a blurb that’s so good I want to read the book. You might also notice that Killing Gravity is due out on May 9th, 2017, and is available for pre-order, which is very cool and weird and another one of those things that makes me realise ‘oh shit, this is real, isn’t it?’.
Over at Tommy’s website he posted a version of the cover art sans title, cover quote and that jerk name, which looks a little something like this:
And Tommy was also kind enough to share some of his working sketches on twitter:
In A and C, you’ll see how Tommy was toying with getting Seven into the art too, which I love. Seven is Mars’ weird experimental cat thing, and a special part of the book for me. In some ways, Seven is the heart of the book – I mean, not really, but pet owners will know what I mean when they read it. She’s vicious and loving and lazy and crazy just like any good cat.
One morning in early July, I woke up to an email from one of the editors at Tor.com Publishing. They’d recently had an open unsolicited submission window and I’d submitted the manuscript for my sci-fi novella Killing Gravity. It had received a really quick form rejection from another publisher just a few weeks earlier, so I had basically convinced myself there was no way a publisher with as much clout as Tor would want it (Lesson the first: personal preference is a strong condideration in editorial decisions. Just because one editor rejects a story, it doesn’t mean it [and by extension, you] are rubbish). The email subject read “Offer on Killing Gravity,” and I had so thoroughly convinced myself of the impending rejection that I actually thought, That’s a strange way to phrase a rejection.
Honestly, if the email subject had simply read: “RE: Submission – Killing Gravity” there’s a chance I might have deleted it unread (Lesson the second: never, and I mean NEVER, self-reject).
Needless to say, I opened the email.
I literally couldn’t believe it, I was in shock. My first response was to send my partner (the award-winning author of Welcome to Orphancorp, Marlee Jane Ward) a message reading: “Fuck. Motherfucking Tor want to buy my fucking book.” 6am eloquence is not my forte. My second response was to stumble through, knock on my housemate’s bedroom door, and repeat the news to her more-or-less word for word (she later said she thought something terrible had happened, like a death in the family, because I was white as a sheet. When I said ‘in shock’ I meant literally).
Marlee and I had already planned a trip to the States, which meant it was perfectly timed for us to be able to meet up with my editor Carl Engle-Laird in New York, and even receive a tour of the tour offices in the historic Flatiron building. It also meant I could have an editorial meeting with Carl over beers in Kansas City while we were there for WorldCon. Sure, the internet’s an amazing tool, but there’s nothing quite like face-to-face. It’s great when everything just falls into place.
Now here we are, a few months later. The announcement has been made, including the amazing news that Tor.com Publishing are going to publish Killing Gravity’s sequel, and now I can talk publicly about it. Something I mentioned on twitter is that a big part of why this is so exciting (besides it being my first book, which is a huge deal on its own) is that Tor.com Publishing’s line of novellas is consistently of a super high quality, with multiple award-winning novellas, brilliant emerging and established authors, beautiful cover art, and an editorial desire for better representation with their authors and books. To think that Killing Gravity got chosen out of slush to be published alongside Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom, Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti, Kij Johnson’s The Dream-Quest of Vellit Boe, as well as upcoming titles from Charles Stross, Cassandra Khaw, and Laurie Penny (not to mention all the other well-regarded authors whose work I haven’t checked out yet), is incredible. Talk about external validation… (I’d had 130 short story rejections in the 18 months before this sale, so Lesson the third: it’s all about forward motion).
So if you need me, I’ll be here, talking about Killing Gravity, offering advice, posting fiction (my own, and links to others), and trying to make the most of this opportunity to kick-start something resembling a writing career.