When Swans Return
My new novel, and other things
This week my third novel, Alexandria, is published in paperback in the UK by Faber & Faber. Novelists are contractually obliged to boast about their books when they come out, even though most of us find it quite uncomfortable. Still, we’d find it more uncomfortable if nobody read them, so we have no right to complain. You should never listen to a novelist complaining about anything, except in essay form.
Alexandria was originally to be published, with disastrous timing, a couple of months after covid arrived. It finally came out last year, but it hasn’t been a good time to get books noticed, especially books about the end of the world; and Alexandria is that kind of book. The final part of my Buckmaster trilogy, it is set a thousand years in the future, in what was once the English fens, and its theme, you may not be surprised to learn, is humanity (or what remains of it) versus the Machine.
Like my other books, Alexandria bends language in an attempt to peel it away and see what lies beneath. Words, as I explored at length in my last non-fiction book Savage Gods, are tricky things. We have to question them sometimes, or they will assert themselves over us and pose as reality, instead of simply pointing us towards it. Alexandria explores words, birds, the meaning of the human body, progress, God, land, the eschaton: all my usual themes, in other words, only this time with a story - and some plot twists.
I won’t say anymore. Instead I’ll offer up this video conversation that I recorded on first publication with my friend Martin Shaw, mythologist and author, who has long dug into the same veins. You can hear me reading from the book, and listen to us exploring its wider themes, whilst admiring both of our luxurious lockdown beards.
In other news:
I’ve appeared on a few new podcasts in recent weeks:
I spoke to Russell Brand for his weekly podcast Under The Skin, and enjoyed it a lot. The man knows how to ask questions. You have to sign up to the Luminary platform to listen, alas, but you don’t have to pay.
I had a long conversation with Mary Harrington on the Rebel Wisdom podcast about the Machine, its project of busting limits in all areas and how this amounts to a war on nature. I suspect we could have gone on for hours.
I spoke to Jonathan Pageau on his podcast The Symbolic World about civilisation, control, faith, reason and how to survive the Matrix. I only wished we’d been talking in a pub instead of over a Zoom link.
There are more talks and conversations available on my Youtube channel.
I’ve also scheduled some forthcoming events for this year, in the UK and Ireland. These will actually be - gasp! - live. You can find them on the events page of my website. More may be forthcoming, so keep an eye out if you have any interest.
Many thanks as ever for your support.