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.

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

Of Gifts and Stones: A Retrospective… and Moving Forward

I’ve been doing some soul searching lately. This site has been around since February 2011, when the re-release of Chung Kuo was announced. A lot has changed since then. The re-release has been cut off at the hip, but Roads to Moscow is now a thing (a thing you all should be reading if you’re not already). I originally created this site to archive of the old essays that were floating around the internet for a fear that those sites would disappear and we (the relatively small and disconnected Chung Kuo fanbase) would lose that content forever. It grew into something I never would have expected… a community. A small one, yes, but there are regular readers and commenters (that’s you!) who also care about these works and want to see them continue and grow and succeed. And on top of that, David Wingrove, himself, became an integral part of the site, regularly supplying the community with updates and special content. Hell, the man dedicated one of his novels to me. This site has been

I first read Chung Kuo as a freshman in high school. Here I am now, 30 years old, starting a doctoral program this year, and I can’t help but look back and reflect on the effect Chung Kuo has had on my life. Small influences, but influences nonetheless. I took Mandarin in college. I visited China. I feel like the lessons in Chung Kuo about hierarchy, control, culture, and diplomacy have enabled me to approach the real works with a more critical, nuanced eye.

Having reflected on these things recently, I’ve decided to dedicate more effort into this site and this community.

Starting with… Twitter. I’ll be semi-live-tweeting as I read from @giftsandstones, starting with The Ocean of Time, which I’ve just started now that I’ve finished a re-read of The Empire of Time. Expect the first of these tonight or soon. I’ll be including the chapter number in parenthesis and a hashtag for whichever book I’m on.

I have other goals in mind for the site – some big, some small. A redesign is in order, perhaps. For sure, I want to get off horrible GoDaddy and migrate to a better web host. That might include some downtime, but hopefully not much.

I’ll leave you with two questions. First, has Chung Kuo, Myst, Roads to Moscow, The Trillion Year Spree, or any other Wingrove work left an impression on you to the degree that it has me? Second, what would you like to see out of this site? Return of the forums? A Kickstarter to re-re-publish the books? Let me know, and we’ll make it happen,  hopefully together.

Zaijian for now…

-Matt

 

Of What Is Past or Passing Or To Come

David resurfaces! Full text after the break.

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Of What Is Past or Passing or To Come

 

A few minutes before I fell off the tracking board, I dialled my brother to find out how he was and what he’d been up to. Ian’s seven years younger than me, and as a child I looked after him while my mum and nan went to work, to keep the proverbial wolf from the door. Recently he married a lovely young woman named Claire, almost twenty years younger than him, and they’ve settled and had two children, George and Rosa.

So there I am, on the phone, asking my brother, “How are you? How’s things?” And he answers, “I was great up ‘til five minutes back. I’ve just heard. Claire and the kids have been involved in a car crash.”

While Ian works in London, Claire and he are based in Norwich, where – even as all this was happening – they were supposed to be moving to, having sold their flat in London to buy a much bigger house near Norwich.

Over the next few hours further news came in. Things could not have been much worse. We learned that a big estate car had crossed the road and hit Claire’s car head on, trapping her in the car, from which the fire brigade had had to cut her out. The kids – just picked up from nursery, ten minutes earlier, sustained far smaller injuries, but they were shook up and frightened. They were taken off to hospital even as the fire brigade did their best. Claire’s mum, who lived five minutes’ walk away from where the accident took place, got a phone call and ran all the way to the site, where she was told it was eighty per cent likely Claire wouldn’t survive. Continue reading Of What Is Past or Passing Or To Come

Roads to Moscow, Book 2: The Ocean of Time

Happy new year everybody! Yes, I’m still here (and I hope you are, too). I haven’t heard from David since September, but I trust that all is well and that he’s keeping busy with writing.

Amazon UK has Roads to Moscow, Book 2: The Ocean of Time available for pre-order with a stated release date of March 26 – right around the corner!

Here’s the cover (click the image for hi-res version):

There’s also some additional info over at the Random House page for the book.

I’ll post any new news as it comes in… (and if anybody knows of anything I’m missing, please fill us in!)

News bits and a happy birthday to David!

David’s sent along some updates, including some upcoming projects. Wishing him a happy birthday! Full text after the break.

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It’s been busy here in North London these past few days, but nothing to do with writing. Monday last was my sixtieth birthday – and yes, I was surprised, too! – and we all enjoyed celebrating it. I saw a lot of old friends and was given some wonderful presents – including (from, my darling Susan) a one week holiday on my favourite Greek island, Poros, which we’re off on in a week or so’s time. Continue reading News bits and a happy birthday to David!