Master of Time in the house!

I finally received my copy of Master of Time today. It’s a little beat up from the transatlantic journey, but it’s here. Reading the first few pages, I’m realizing that I remember basically nothing from the first two books. Either I read the first two books way too quickly, or I’m starting to get old, or my brain is turning to mush from being in a PhD program. I suspect it’s probably a function of all three.

Anyhow, I expect it will come back to me as I make some progress. I may check in periodically with some reflections.

If anybody would like to leave any spoiler-free thoughts about the last book in the Roads to Moscow trilogy in the comments below, please do!

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.

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.

Leave thoughts in comments!

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

 

Living Upstairs

Blog reader Adrian Banks sent along a link to a recent New York Times opinion piece (In China, a Vast Chasm Between the Rich and the Rest) about the growing divide between the rich and poor in China. The last line, Adrian notes, are particularly interesting. Remind you of anything?

“The only difference is we [the lower classes] cannot see the sun. In a few years, when I have money, I will also live upstairs.”

Environments and Imagery in Chung Kuo

Nothing fun from David today, but I do have some thoughts to share about imagery in the world of Chung Kuo — something we haven’t really discussed at length here (touched upon briefly when I redesigned the site a few months back) but I think deserves some discourse. This’ll apply more to what will take place starting in The Middle Kingdom, but was touched on briefly in Daylight and Paperhouse, and obviously these are my own opinions and interpretations.

By the way, if anyone else has anything they’d like to share (reflection pieces like this, fan fiction, fan art, etc.), I’m more than happy to post here.

Jump past the break for more on Environments and Imagery in Chung Kuo.

Continue reading Environments and Imagery in Chung Kuo