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19 September 2016 @ 01:19 pm

Back in May I posted a cover reveal for a brand new anthology of fiction based on the Halo videogame universe, and this week - tomorrow to be exact - the book arrives out in the world in trade paperback, eBook and unabridged audio editions.

Halo: Fractures is nearly a dozen shots of action, adventure and high drama from this epic and deep science fiction mythos, and I've written one of them. "Breaking Strain" is set toward the end of the events of Halo 3, on a distant colony planet where the shadow of the Human-Covenant war falls dark and deep. My story joins fiction from a whole bunch of other cool folks, including my fellow Black Library writer Matt Forbeck and Star Trek novelists Christie Golden and John Jackson Miller, as well was Tobias Buckell, Troy Denning, Kelly Gay, Kevin Grace, Morgan Lockhart, Frank O’Connor and Brian Reed.

I've been hooked into the Halo games since I first ventured into the halls of the Silent Cartographer, back in the day of the original game on the Xbox, so it was a tick off my geek bucket list to be able to write some fiction for the series - and it's great to be part of such a stellar line-up.

Here's the back-cover blurb for the Halo: Fractures anthology...

A sensational short story collection in the expansive universe of Halo, the New York Times bestselling series!

Launch once more into galaxy-spanning conflict and legendary heroism…shards of an ever-expanding journey where human and alien alike find their finest hours in facing their greatest challenges.

These scattered stories span untold millennia, from the age of the ancient custodial race known as the Forerunners to the aftermath of the Covenant’s bloody war against humanity and even the shocking events surrounding the resurrection of the mysterious Guardians.

Halo: Fractures explores mythic tales of bravery and sacrifice that blaze brightly at the very heart of the Halo universe.

Check out the publisher page Here or read the official announcement on the Halo Waypoint blog Here!

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14 September 2016 @ 03:07 pm

When the Galaxy's Greatest Comic 2000AD arrived in the late 70's to rock my young pre-teen mind, one of the things that came with it was a revival of a classic British space hero - Dan Dare, star of the old Eagle comics that had been the equivalent entertainment for my dad's generation. The UK's equivalent of Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon, Dare was a two-fisted interplanetary adventurer in the mould of an RAF fighter ace or jungle explorer - and while his 1970's incarnation was different to his original 1950's version, he remained the very model of True Brit, with a stiff upper lip, a line in cool banter a steady hand on the stick.

Dan's been reinvented a bunch of times, not just in comics but also in cartoons and for radio - and so when B7 Media decided to tackle the character for the 21st century, I was delighted to be asked to take part!

As announced this week, Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures will be released in a few months time by the folks over a Big Finish (with whom I've previously worked on Doctor Who, Stargate and Highlander audio dramas); two box sets are on the way, with volume one featuring my episode The Red Moon Mystery coming out in December and volume two due in February 2017.

Working from the original take on Dare, we've written stories that are inspired by the classic Eagle comics tales - here's the blurb for mine:

The Red Moon Mystery - Unable to return to Earth, Dan Dare and the crew of the Anastasia head to the desolate planet Mars, where Dan's estranged Uncle Ivor is part of a research team working on a top-secret archaeological dig; but when they find the base wrecked and the scientists missing, Dare, Digby and Professor Peabody soon discover that the Red Planet is not nearly as dead as everyone thought and that Ivor’s expedition has woken an army of deadly insect-creatures that threaten to swarm and engulf the Earth… Dare must stop the aliens, but can he really resort to genocide in order to save the human race?

Read the full press release from B7 Media Here or visit Big Finish's website to pre-order the box sets Here.

08 September 2016 @ 12:54 pm

50 years ago today, Star Trek premiered on television, and it's really not an exaggeration to say that a phenomenon was created.

There's going to be a galaxy of think-pieces out there about this over the next few days, some of them thoughtful and some of them mocking, but I'm not likely to read the majority because I know exactly what Star Trek means to me. And I'm not going to get starry-eyed about this (well, maybe a little bit) because we are just talking about a TV show...but the fact is, Star Trek has exerted a huge influence on my life, both personally and professionally, and continues to do so to this day. And I love that.

I found this picture of me as kid a while ago; a photo taken on the morning of Christmas Day 1976, and I'm sitting on the sofa in front of some hideous flock wallpaper in my little Arthur Dent dressing gown, holding my new Dinky Toys U.S.S. Enterprise on the verge of some imagined adventure. I look that kid in the eyes and I think of how he has no idea where that ship is going to take him. I think about the exciting places he'll go to, the challenging ideas that will open up to him, the cool things he will get to see and do, the amazing people he will meet...all thanks to this one space show off the telly.

Ten years ago, I wrote about my thoughts on what was the 40th anniversary - here's what I said then and it still holds true:

Star Trek has been good to me. Through it's fandom I made at lot of friends, had good times and I met the most important woman in my life. It helped me earn my living over the years, helped me kick-start my professional scriptwriting career, kept my journalistic endeavours afloat during lean times, and - oh yeah - it gave me plenty of great stories that kept (and continue to keep) me entertained.

I've been watching bits of the original series in recent weeks and rediscovering some of what it was that made me love this saga. Yeah, it has dated all right, but there's still stuff at the core of that show that shines through, decades later. Let's be honest, if there wasn't something unique about Trek, we wouldn't still be talking about it. Some observers might think that in these troubled times it's naive to hold on to a mythology that talks about unity of purpose and a better tomorrow, but last night I watched a documentary about 9/11 and it made me realise that we need these kind of aspirational stories, now more than ever. Star Trek, like Star Wars and Superman et al, are the heroic myths of our era; reinvented, retold, but always with the same intention.

A decade after writing that, I don't have a lot to add. Star Trek is still here, with its original tales backed up by new books and comics, new movies and very soon a new TV series with a new crew on a new starship. I can't wait to see it. I've been lucky enough to tell a dozen stories in Star Trek's mythos, giving back to something that has - and continues to - mean a lot to me. I hope to carry on...maybe for another fifty years.

Once again, here's to all the continuing voyages...

05 September 2016 @ 01:21 pm
Partworks are a thing over here in the UK - handsome collections that build week-by-week into something you will treasure forever, so the adverts say. When I was a kid, I got the massive New Oxford Illustrated Dictionary and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft that way, and later when I started writing for a living I worked on The Official Star Trek Fact Files, the 007 Spy File and The Official Star Wars Fact File magazines - each issue is part of a larger whole and by the end of the run you usually have a impressive amount of material for your subscription.

Earlier in the year, the people at Hachette Partworks teamed up with Black Library to test-market The Warhammer 40,000 Legends Collection in a similar vein - each issue reprints a hardcover novel from the universe of Warhammer 40,000 and The Horus Heresy in a new larger format with bonus content, subscriber premiums and more. The test was a success, so this week (on Wednesday 7th to be exact) the full release for the collection kicks off, and you can learn all about it at the official website Here.

The Warhammer 40,000 Legends Collection is planned to run for 80 issues and it will feature a few of my novels, alongside work from m'colleagues Dan Abnett, Graham McNeill, Guy Haley, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Chris Wraight, Gav Thorpe, Rob Sanders and others - check it out at your local newsagent or use the link to subscribe direct...

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30 August 2016 @ 10:43 am
Radio 4's Front Row is one of the BBC's most popular and well-regarded magazine shows on arts and entertainment, so it was pretty neat to be asked to come on and talk about writing for videogames for an audience of listeners who are likely to be outside the wheelhouse of most things games related...

This month has seen two big new releases in the video gaming world: the highly anticipated No Man Sky, which promises an infinite, constantly regenerating universe for players to discover, and the latest instalment in the sci-fi blockbuster franchise Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. From an economic perspective, games have outperformed other creative industries for years, and they're also nurturing the best creative writing talent.
So how do writers fit in to this multi-billion pound industry? Novelist and scriptwriter James Swallow, whose game writing credits include Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and No Man's Sky, and scriptwriter and story designer Rhianna Pratchett, whose credits include Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, discuss.

Samira Ahmed interviewed m'colleague Rhianna Pratchett and I on last Friday's show, where we talked about our work on the Tomb Raider and Deus Ex games, as well as the nature of narrative design and the future of game stories; check out the show here via this Link - Rhi and I are on from the 13:26 mark.

23 August 2016 @ 10:32 am
The wait is over; it's time to get augmented and return to the dark world of cyberpunk and conspiracy in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided....

The year is 2029, and mechanically augmented humans have now been deemed outcasts, living a live of segregation on the fringes of society. Adam Jensen is now an experienced covert operative, forced to work in a world that has grown to despise his kind. Armed with a new arsenal of state-of-the-art weapons and augmentations, he must find a path through a wilderness of secrets and learn who to trust, if he is to unravel the vast conspiracy that threatens to control the future of all humanity...

Back in 2008 I was recruited to work on Deus Ex: Human Revolution with the Eidos Montreal studio, starting a working relationship with the EM team that I am proud to still be a part of eight years on. DXHR was a hit that earned us great criticial acclaim, including several award nominations (among them a personal BAFTA nom for Best Story!); I got to follow that up with original fiction in the novel Deus Ex: Icarus Effect and the eBook novella Deus Ex: Fallen Angel, along with story work on the mobile title Deus Ex: The Fall.

But now the next iteration of stories in the Deus Ex world have arrived, and it has been my pleasure to contribute to the critical path storyline for Mankind Divided - available today on PC, Playstation 4 and XBox One platforms. Also officially available today is Deus Ex: Black Light, my original novel that spans the gap between DXHR and DXMD, and Deus Ex: Hard Line, an exclusive digital novella available with the DXMD Day One and Collector's Edition releases.

For more information about the world of Deus Ex, check out the official site Here.

Deus Ex: Black Light is available from Titan Books Here.

18 August 2016 @ 12:42 pm

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided hits next week on August 23rd, but that's also the official release date for Deus Ex: Black Light, the prequel novel I wrote that connects the storyline of the new game to the shattering conclusion of the previous game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution...

At the conclusion of Human Revolution, cybernetically-enhanced ex-cop Adam Jensen was driven to stop a global conspiracy against his fellow augmented - an act that plunged the world into turmoil and threw Jensen into an uncertain future. Months later, he awakens in secure medical facility with missing memories and new dangers to face.

Black Light takes Jensen back to where it all began, on the mean streets of Detroit, and sets up the events that will lead him into Mankind Divided...

The year is 2029, and the shining promise of a new age of human augmentation is in ruins in the wake of the devastating ‘Aug Incident’ – a horrific catastrophe triggered by a cabal of shadowy power brokers, where millions of cybernetically-enhanced people suffered a forced psychotic break.

Awakening in the aftermath of a changed world, with gaps in his memories and suspicion on all sides, augmented ex-cop and former security operative Adam Jensen struggles to piece his life back together, in a new reality where ‘Augs’ have become the targets of hatred, fear and violent discrimination.

Now the dark forces behind the Incident are gathering once again, reaching out to manipulate the course of global events through terror and intimidation. To find the answers that he seeks and the people who destroyed everything he knew, Jensen must return to the ashes of the past, reconnect with old allies, and risk all to expose a deadly conspiracy – but in a world shattered by secrets, can the truth be brought into the light?

Deus Ex: Black Light is published by Titan Books in the UK and US in both dead-tree and ebook editions on the 23rd (details Here), and Milady Books will be releasing a French-language edition a few days later on the 26th (details Here).

Check out a sneak peek at the first few chapters of Here, or if you'd like to see more of the work by the novel's cover artist (one of the senior concept artists at Eidos Montreal), visit the online portolio of Bruno Gauthier LeBlanc right Here.

15 August 2016 @ 11:17 am
We're just over a week away from the release of the next iteraton of the Deus Ex videogame franchise on August 23rd, and I've been very proud to be a part of the writing team behind Deus Ex: Mankind Divided! But working on the story and script for the game hasn't been my only contribution to the world of this conspiracy-laden cyberpunk future - the 23rd will also see the release of Deus Ex: Black Light, a prequel novel that fills in some of the missing time between the end of the previous game Human Revolution and the start of Mankind Divided.

But that's not all: I've also authored the new original eBook novella Deus Ex: Hard Line (featuring the backstory of the character Alex Vega) which will be available as part of the Collector's Edition and Day One Edition releases of DXMD.

I love this moody, noir-inspired cover for Hard Line by Nicolas Lizotte, one of the senior concept artists at Eidos Montreal! You can see more of Nicolas's work Here at his online portfolio.

You can learn more about everything else in the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Collector's Edition by checking out this unboxing video with producer Jean-Francois Dugas Here.

09 August 2016 @ 10:00 am
No Man's Sky is here!

Today's that day the hype becomes real and the gateway to a galaxy of 18 quintillion explorable planets opens; I've been fortunate enough to write some of the lore for No Man's Sky, contributing key text to the game itself and writing "Ashes & Iron", an original short story for Adventures In No Man's Sky, a pulp SF collection that comes packaged with the game's Limited Edition release - and I am hugely excited to have been part of this ambitious new gameworld.

Check out my earlier posts about working on the project Here and Here.

You can pick up No Man's Sky on the PS4 in the ordinary or Limited Edition versions Here, via Steam for the PC Here, or get the exclusive Explorer's Edition Here.

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01 August 2016 @ 07:08 pm

August is going to be a packed month for cool videogame releases (certainly for me!), and it kicks off next week with the arrival of No Man’s Sky, the hotly-anticipated science-fiction exploration epic from Hello Games.

I’ve talked about NMS previously, because of my involvement with Adventures in No Man’s Sky, an original fiction collection published by Dark Horse Comics that comes packaged with the game’s PlayStation 4 Limited Edition collection.

I was lucky enough to be invited to contribute to the lore of the NMS universe along with famous artists like Angus McKie and Dave Gibbons.I got to write a short story called “Ashes & Iron”, for which Dave has drawn some fantastic illustrations in the style of the old classic SF pulp magazines like Galaxy, Astounding and Amazing Stories.

But what I haven’t talked about until now is that I was also invited by Hello Games producer Sean Murray to join his team and contribute some writing to the game itself.

The universe of No Man’s Sky contains many mysteries for players to unravel and much to explore – I am reliably informed that the game contains 184446744073709551616 planets. As much as that number looks like I just mashed my hand on the keypad, I am assured it is accurate (!)

I got to write a little of the material that intrepid explorers will find in abandoned locations across these myriad worlds, as well as lore that will peel back some of the unknowns around the strange phenomena known as the Atlas – and I can’t wait to get in there myself and start visiting some alien vistas.

No Man’s Sky is out on PS4 on August 9th, and PC a few days later. Check out the official website here.

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