On Catching Breath

David chimes in with some more updates and clarifications. Big thanks to him, as always, for keeping us in the loop!

-m

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Hi one and all,

I thought I should clarify on certain points. So let me add to what I said a few days back –

1. It’s important to emphasise that getting control back over Chung Kuo means the whole of Chung Kuo, not just English language editions, but throughout the world. First time around, back in the late eighties, early nineties, this involved Chung Kuo having fifteen overseas editions (apart from British and Commonwealth, USA, and Canadian rights. With Corvus, the only deals they got were for Turkey and Indonesia. Added to that I personally obtained a French edition through L’Atalante (which covers the opening 8 volumes). Oh, and I’ve never seen a copy of either the new Turkish or Indonesian editions. What having control means in this instance is being able to take the new format versions to the London Book Fair next year and stir up interest. We may even get a stall, to promote Chung Kuo. This ought – we hope – to get the series out there – in the clear view of foreign publishers.

  1. Reversion – Okay, but why not a new publisher? Hodder, perhaps, or Head of Zeus, both of whose Senior Editors were once great champions of Chung Kuo? My answer – because once more we would be losing the most important element in a project this large – control. Even with the best of intentions and the very best of editors, Chung Kuo has stumbled and fallen twice. That’s not going to happen again. This time we do it and we do it right. And backing me up in this endeavour will be my wife, Susan and my daughter Amy, who, incidentally, writes a mean fantasy novel, as you’ll discover in the next year or two. Oh, and please note that Fragile Books is owned and run jointly by Sue and I. Also that – for starters – we’ll be issuing new e-book versions, and, not too much later, print on demand versions. But eventually the aim is to get the physical books into the bookshops – something Corvus failed to do.
  1. Re-launch. Crucially important as once more it means ‘control’. It also means that I can keep that promise I made back in 2011 that the sequence would be completed with a brand new four volume finale that addresses all of those matters my critics – back in 1997 – raised. And there’s a big bonus for those of you who’ve been patient – some complete non-Chung Kuo never-before-published science fiction novels – THE BEAST WITH TWO BACKS – about two psychopathic and telepathic twins, IMAGINE A MAN – about memory and love, and THE WOUNDED, a 60,000 word space opera. They’re good books, all of them, and if they go well, I might even release – for the real die-hards – A PERFECT ART and SPRING DAY AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD – two early versions of CHUNG KUO, when it was still a single novel project. Before I wrote the 750,000 word version which was subsequently carved up into CHUNG KUO.
  1. Not included in Matt’s summary – and sitting alongside his newly re-vamped site – there’s the new website, which will relate not merely to the Chung Kuo series but to ROADS TO MOSCOW and MYST. There will also be a regular update, with extensive blogs and reviews of other sf novelists. In which vein I ought to mention that I’ve signed on to write an introduction to a new special boxed set edition of CHILDREN OF DUNE which will be out at the end of next year.
  1. The possible TV deal. This includes a possible franchise and all manner of spin-offs – audio books, computer games, comic books, graphic novels and possible stand-alone movies of SON OF HEAVEN and DAYLIGHT ON IRON MOUNTAIN, neither of which (as it’s currently planned) will be included in the TV version. But it’s crucial to state that even if Chung Kuo doesn’t come off as a TV series, it WILL get published through to the final volume, the final sentence. You see, control is the key to all of this. We have the resources to do this, all that’s needed is the sheer will to see it through to the end. Oh, and I ought also to mention that one of those four ‘finale’ books is already written. It just needs a good polish.

That’s it for now, guys. More in a week or so, when we’re back from Lanzarotte.

David Wingrove   29th October 2016

PS – Jim Burns is an old friend of mine from way back (the seventies) and he did the American versions first time round. He’s agreed to help us get this rolling, but I emphasise, Jim isn’t doing big illustrated covers like last time, He’s providing us with a central logo for the new launch. Oh, and just to clarify, I consider Jim the finest science fiction artist in the world and am honoured to be working with him, in whatever capacity.

Catching Breath

I wanted to take a moment to recap and unpack some of yesterday’s news. As I read it, there are three big and important updates. Let’s explore.

1. The rights to Chung Kuo have finally reverted to David Wingrove.

This is what we’ve been hoping and waiting for ever since Corvus hung us out to dry with the completion of the re-cast series. Now that David and Co. have the rights, that opens the door for the series to find a new home that will finally see the series out to completion. Which leads us to…

2. Chung Kuo will be re-published by Fragile Books, a new publishing outfit owned and operated by David Wingrove.

I think we can all agree that Chung Kuo has had not the greatest luck with its publishing history. In the series’ original run, a contract dispute led to a truncation of what was to originally be a 9-book series, resulting in a final book, Days of Bitter Strength, that neither its author nor its readers were particularly fond of (although, personally, I didn’t mind it as much as most). In its Corvus/Atlantic re-birth, all began well with what seemed like an enthusiastic publisher, but for whatever reason, Chung Kuo ended up getting the short end of the stick once again, leading to the latter half of the re-cast series evaporating without notice.

I feel like there’s no one that will treat the series better than Wingrove, himself. In that regard, I think Fragile Books is a good home for the series. I’m hopeful that the new

3. A possible TV deal for Chung Kuo is in the works, involving Headline Pictures.

To me, this is the most exciting bit of news. I think the first two were inevitable, but this could really be something cool. If you’ve seen Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, then you know that this is a production company that can do right by a sci-fi franchise, I think the Chung Kuo TV series is in good hands, particularly with DW involved a creative advisor capacity. If you haven’t seen High Castle, then I highly recommend you go check it out. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, I don’t know how you live your life.

In other news, to coincide with these happy times, I’ve started working a re-design for this site. Nothing too major, but definitely a fresh coat of paint. I’m also hoping to get some more robust discussion forums in place – something that won’t be ruined by spambots like the last one. If anyone can recommend or has experience with any (free) platforms, do let me know. Expect to see a redesign here fairly soon.

That’s it for now. More news as it comes.

Of The Passing Hours – Endings And New Beginnings

As promised, David Wingrove’s big Chung Kuo news. Good times ahead.

-m

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Of The Passing Hours – Endings And New Beginnings

Not for the first time, I’ve recently found myself in a kind of limbo as far as the CHUNG KUO books were concerned. With Corvus hanging on to the rights to the first eight, there was little we could do, unless we wanted to put out the rest of the sequence – Books 9 to 20 – in different covers. That is, if we chose to go the self-publishing route.

Of course, we could have continued the sequence in the same jackets, only at £1500 each new jacket image and a further £500 a time for the special cover design, that’s £2000 a cover, times 12, or £24,000 just to keep that wonderful visual look. And that’s not including what it would cost to buy the old formats off of Corvus!

So we decided to wait – until we had the rights reverted, making the project mine once more. And then we’d make a decision on how to proceed. All of which was deeply depressing as the days dragged along and the months passed, and the years…

In terms of writing, creative writing that is, it was a good job I had the third and final book in the ROADS TO MOSCOW trilogy to finish and re-work, and polish and copy edit. Which is what I got on with, re-casting the original Book Three – written in most part more than ten years ago – with a whole new ending – one that was darker than before. All of which is now done, the final polish made, the book – THE MASTER OF TIME – two weeks off being ready for its early April publication date.

But that wasn’t the only thing I did during that latest hiatus. For a start I helped get the material together to go out in the new website which will be launched in late November early December. A website that’s almost ready to go, and which my daughter Amy’s incredibly gifted web-designer boyfriend, Ben, has made for me from scratch. Oh, and before you ask, OF GIFTS OF STONES will still function alongside, utilising the same kind of material it’s featured these past five years. You’ll still get the chance to make your comments on how you see things going.

But where was I?

Oh yes. In anticipation of getting the rights back, we’ve launched a new venture, FRAGILE BOOKS, thanks mainly to the efforts of my wife, Susan, my second daughter, Amy, her boyfriend Ben and, last and very much least, me. Having finally got somewhere in our negotiations with Corvus to get the rights back, we finally got word from them that they were willing to revert.

One week later a letter came – an official document – saying that CHUNG KUO was now mine once again! You can’t imagine how that felt. To not be at someone’s mercy or whim. To have control over all that wonderful material once more.

And two days after that…

No. I have to go back four years to tell this next part of the story. Because this is what I’ve been keeping from you throughout this long silence.

Four years ago I had a wonderful three hour lunch with a man named Stewart McKinnon, who – in partnership with several others – runs a media company called HEADLINE PICTURES. We got on well back then and talked about developing CHUNG KUO for either film or television. For various reasons, however, that wasn’t to be, and I signed rights over to a big American TV producer, who bought them for three years and did…. Nothing.

Those rights reverted to me in December 2015. The same day I emailed Stewart. Are you still keen on developing CHUNG KUO? I asked. He said he was and took me to lunch for another wonderful long session. Only this time we took things further, meeting up in Headline’s offices in Golden Square in the middle of London, once or twice a month for the next six months, slowly building a whole new CHUNG KUO scenario. In fact, not just one, but four different synopses came out of this process, the final one of which was IT. What we had been working to all that time.

A contract followed. As luck and coincidence would have it, just two days after the reversion document plopped through the letterbox.

Now, before some of you out there ask the question, HEADLINE got a lot of praise, and several prestigious media awards, for making and producing THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, and in the six/seven months we worked – as a team – on developing CHUNG KUO for television, I understood why. It’s rare to find a group of people so intelligent and keen as Stewart, Jess and Christian at Headline. Right now they’re putting together a funding package. And then?

It’s exciting, but hardly a given. One doesn’t count chickens and a lot of wood has been touched. Against which the time seems one hundred per cent right to make CHUNG KUO for television. All of you know how rich it is, how darkly yet accurately it reflects the world in which we live.

So what can I tell you?

I’m afraid the answer is… nothing… not yet. We’ve a long way to go and it would be hubris indeed to say it will get made, but I have a great trust in the team I’ve been working with. I imagine it’ll take a good 12 to 18 months to get to the stage where you could see something. IF it ever gets made. But in the meantime I’ve several other CHUNG KUO related tasks, like getting the first 16 books out in new packaging, and re-writing the last four books in the sequence.

Towards the last, we should be getting the new jacket design this week, and the logo a few weeks after that – courtesy of Hugo award winning artist Jim Burns.

So the coming months are going to be busy. Busy, busy, busy. So wish me luck. We’ve pencilled in a re-publication date for the first eight books – in the Spring of next year – maybe even the same day as MASTER OF TIME is put out. Then it’ll be one new book roughly every two months until the end of the year (which’ll take us up to book 12, maybe 13).

At which point things might slow a little, if the TV project gets off the ground, because I’ll be acting as creative advisor if we get things going. Which won’t involve me writing scripts – that was established very early on – but will see me have a kind of steering role in things. The gentlest of hands on the tiller, if you like.

So this is to thank Jewell, Random Dude, Luke, Angel L., Kaneda, Brendan, Zaroff, John, Brad, Goonda, Jesse, Frank, Neil and everyone else who has helped me – by their encouragement – through this latest barren stretch and out into those sunlit vistas. I’ve a message for you all –

WATCH THIS SPACE

David Wingrove – Tuesday 25th October 2016

 

No News Is Good News

I know all’s been quiet on the Chung Kuo front for a while, with several folks asking if there’s been any update regarding the release of the remaining books in the sequence or about who’s holding the rights to the books.

And all is still quiet. As of now, there’s no news to share. But…

Yesterday, Mr. Wingrove personally reached out to me and promised a big update to come in the coming weeks, hopefully by the first week of November. Although I don’t have specifics to share, I get the sense that this is going to be very good, very interesting news.

Keep your eyes peeled and watch this space.

The Master of Time (Roads to Moscow, Book 3) now available for preorder

Big thanks to Kaneda for pointing out the The Master of Time, the third and final book in David Wingrove’s Roads to Moscow trilogy, is now available for pre-order with a release date of April 6, 2017. So far only the Kindle edition is appearing on US Amazon, but the Kindle and paperback versions are on Amazon UK. Here’s the cover and description:

master

As the German and Russian forces seek to destroy a third, seemingly-unstoppable faction, Otto Behr reluctantly finds himself at the centre of all timelines, his very existence the catalyst by which reality itself will be reset or destroyed.

But for Otto, the battle to become the Master of Time has become a fight for family, love and reality itself…

I know there’s been concern about if and when we’d see this book, so this is good news for all of us, despite the fact that we still have a bit to wait.

Pre-order on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk.

DeepMind 5, Humanity 0

Hello all! Fear not: despite some extended breaks, I’m still in the game of reporting anything I hear regarding Chung Kuo, Roads to Moscow, or anything else from the pen of Mr. David Wingrove. A couple of days ago, when I saw in the news that a computer had finally beaten a human champion at Go (otherwise known to us Chung Kuo fans as wei chi), I made a mental note to post about here. And then, out of nowhere, a post appears from David in my inbox.

Without any further ado, here are some reflections from Mr. Wingrove about the significance of the event and its repercussions on AI in general. Full text after the break. And hopefully more news soon!

-Matt

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Anyone who has read CHUNG KUO over the years will understand the significance within the work of the Chinese game of Wei Chi (known in Japan and more commonly in the West as Go), the most ancient and probably the world’s most complex and difficult game.

As Major DeVore says in Chapter Twenty Eight of The Middle Kingdom, “A Game Of Static Patterns”

“He glanced at the machine again. It was a complex game, and he prided himself on a certain mastery of it. Strange, though, how much it spoke of the difference between East and West. At least, of the old West, hidden beneath the levels of the Han city, the layers of Han culture and Han history. The games of the West had been played on similar boards to those of the East, only the West played between the lines, not on the intersecting points. And the games of the West had been flexible, each individual piece given breath, allowed to move, as though each had an independent life.  That was not so in Wei Chi. In Wei Chi once a piece was placed it remained, unless it was surrounded and its ‘breath’ taken from it. It was a game of static patterns; patterns built patiently over hours or days – sometimes even months. A game where the point was not to eliminate but to enclose.

East and West – they were the inverse of each other. Forever alien.”

The quality – or suzhi – of certain characters in the books is often measured by their mastery of (or failure to master) the 19 by 19-space Wei Chi board. And for good reason. Since we have entered the age of computers – that is, effectively since the 1950s onward – no one had managed to come up with a programme which came even close to defeating the greatest Masters of the game. Indeed, it was believed that it would be a long time yet – estimates were given of ten to thirty years – before we finally broke through that barrier.

Only… yesterday, Nature magazine published an article called “Mastering the game of Go with deep neural networks and tree search”, claiming to have done just that. Just as Gary Kasparov lost to DeepBlue in 1997, so, it seems, Fan Hui – European Wei Chi Master – was beaten in five straight games by the latest challenger to the ‘Go’ crown, DeepMind, using a new software called AlphaGo. Continue reading DeepMind 5, Humanity 0

Earthlight

It’s been a long time coming, and I’m glad it’s finally here: Earthlight, a brand new, unreleased, Chung Kuo novella available for free digital download, exclusively from Of Gifts and Stones. Earthlight takes place in the year 2105 and adds to the story of the Osu, one of my favorite aspects of the Chung Kuo universe.

I’m told this is the first of many new wonderful things to come.

Thanks, as always, to Mr. Wingrove for continuing to provide the fan community with new content and for allowing me the honor of hosting it.

Download Earthlight now in PDF format.

Crash Landing in China

New blog entry from David about the recent turbulence in the Chinese stock market. Full text after the break.

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Crash Landing in China

Or, China, Burning.

For a long time now there’s been concern over whether China’s long-sustained economic growth could continue, and many China experts have been asking openly whether, if things did go wrong, it would be a soft landing or a crash landing, and, if the latter, then how it would affect the rest of the global economy.

Well, now we –partially – know. China’s growth can’t be sustained, and we don’t need China experts to tell us that. It’s finally happened, in Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, as well as in other stock markets throughout the world. Continue reading Crash Landing in China

Backwards

Mr. Wingrove checks in. And yes, a plan is in the works to roll out something exciting. More to come.

Full text after the break.

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Backwards

Sue’s up in Manchester, at a short term conference for Coronation Street, leaving me down here in London, furiously self-motivating myself to get Book Three of the time travel trilogy – THE MASTER OF TIME – written. And?

Well, it isn’t easy. I think I have the rough shape of the ending, but I have a problem. ROADS TO MOSCOW isn’t an easy book to end. Continue reading Backwards

GenSyn in real life?

I’m writing this from the site of the eMerge Americas conference, sunny rainy Miami Beach, right before the second day of the conference proper begins. In a session yesterday, a speaker mentioned a company I had never heard of before: Synthetic Genomics. This company claims to have produced the first synthetic cell, and also works on “humanized organs” and “digitizing life.” As crazy as this sounds, this isn’t some goof company or hoax — they have financial backing from BP and a few different venture capital firms.

Sound familiar? In case you need a refresher, Genetic Synthetics, or GenSyn, is a mega-corporation in the Chung Kuo universe that creates artificial life forms and other constructed genetic products. Once again, life imitates art.

For what it’s worth, I think GenSyn rolls off the tongue far better that SynGen.

For a short story that illuminates some of the life of a GynSyn creation, check out One Moment of Bright Intensity, which takes place during the events of The Middle Kingdom.

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