Plague Summer (1980).....
The Shift (1987).....
The Wizards and the Warriors (1986).....
The Wordsmiths and the Warguild (1987).....
The Women and the Warlords (1987).....
The Walrus and the Warwolf (1988).....
The Wicked and the Witless (1989).....
The Wishstone and the Wonderworkers (1990).....
The Wazir and the Witch (1990).....
The Werewolf and the Wormlord (1991).....
The Worshippers and the Way (1992).....
The Witchlord and the Weaponmaster (1992).....
Bamboo Horses (2005).....
To Find and Wake the Dreamer (2005).....
Note: the long numbers, e.g. 0-7091-8707-6, are ISBN numbers. An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number. This is a unique number which can be used to order a particular title from a bookseller or a library.
.....Plague Summer..... London:
Robert Hale, 1980 (0-7091-8707-6) and Palmerston
North, New Zealand: the Dunmore Press, 1980
"This book is about a career criminal who gets involved with an illegal drug deal at a time when there is an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in New Zealand. Availability? Well, it's possible to find this book in some libraries in New Zealand. It's about two hundred pages and about 60,000 words, and took me about two years to write. Looking back, it's hard to believe the amount of effort that went into writing something which, in retrospect, is fairly simple.
"The influences? Drugs were very much in the news at that time, and a non-fiction book that I read about an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain gave me a sense of how apocalyptic this would be for an agricultural country like New Zealand. I did most of my growing up in a rural part of Northland, in the north of New Zealand's North Island, with a dairy farm just across the road."
.....The Shift ......
London: Jonathan Cape,12 February 1987 (0-224-02389-6) and New York: Vintage Books (Random House), June 1987 (0-394-74739-9).
"This book was a finalist in the 1985 Times/Jonathan Cape Young Writers Competition and in fact was written for that competition. Having seen the competition details in a New Zealand newspaper, I raced through a draft of 30,000 words in six weeks in time to make the deadline. After the book was accepted for publication, my editor at Jonathan Cape suggested that longer would be better, so, at a more leisurely pace, I went through and doubled the length.
"This is a free-wheeling science fiction book with far too much sex and violence for some people's tastes. I unleashed my aberrant wit, giving it unrestricted liberty, and the result is like very hot curry: it has its fans, but it's definitely not to everyone's taste.
"Availability? In 2002 I did see a copy being advertized on e-Bay. Apart from that, this one could be really hard to track down ... although some New Zealand libraries undoubtedly have copies."
CHRONICLES OF AN AGE OF DARKNESS
"This ten-volume fantasy series was influenced by (a) Tolkien and (b) the Cold War.
"I was very much a child of the Cold War, growing up at a time when science fiction writers, looking into the future, saw (time and again) nuclear catastrophe.
"The "Chronicles of an Age of Darkness" series follows the lives of various characters in a world of war and weapons. Those who like it tend to like it a lot, and those who do not like it tend to recoil, as one might when one reaches for a towel and discovers, unexpectedly, that it is soaked with wet.
"(Is it really that bad? Well, no, I don't think so. But I was looking for a really hard-edged close-up-and-accurate description of reality. My objective has always been to see preciselyn, not to see through a veil of gauze.)
"Availability? Colin Smythe published some of the volumes in hardback, and at this writing (August 2002) I believe that some of the hardbacks are still in print (details at Amazon.com). I believe that some of the Corgi paperbacks are also available through Colin Smythe (once again, details at Amazon.com)."
"Note: each of these books is designed to stand alone, and any one can be read, out of sequence, without reference to the rest of the series. Each book contains a beginning, a middle and an end - no book in this series ends with an unresolved cliffhanger still waiting for its resolution."
.....The Wizards and the Warriors..... Gerrards Cross, UK: Colin Smythe, 1986 (hardcover) (0-86140-244-8) and London: Corgi (Transworld) 1986 (paperback) (0-552-12566-0). Published in the United States as Wizard War by Popular Library (Warner Books) June 1987 (paperback) (0-445-20422-2 ... first printing ... and then 0-445-20860-0 for later printings, these being sold in Canada as 0-445-20423-0 and 0-445-20861-9). Published in Germany (in German) as Der
Todesstein by Heyne, 1998 (paperback) (3-453-14034-6). top
"The Wizards and the Warriors, the first volume of the ten-volume Chronicles of an Age of Darkness series, is very much a standard Tolkienesque quest with swords, dragons, battles, magic powers and so forth. However, it differs from many other such sagas in that there is no clear dichotomy between good and evil."
Link to "Is Tolkien war propaganda"? question in diary.
"Western thought is focused on thesis versus antithesis. In its most vulgar, simple-minded form, this boils down to the notion that if we can see the bad guys standing over there then it necessarily follows that we must be the good guys.
"A certain number of fantasy trilogies buy into this notion without reservation, to the point where they constitute propaganda in favor of genocide. A case in point is Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which can be read very much as an argument in favor of genocide, the intended victims being the race of orcs.
"The fact that orcs do not actually exist is really neither here nor there. The cultural attitude itself is dangerous, particularly for people who lack the sophistication to understand that life is not a cowboy movie.
"By identifying an axis of evil or a kernel of evil we can give ourselves the right to kill on suspicion, to libel alien cultures, to imprison our enemies without trial, to tear up international treaties, to make war without necessity, to trash nation states then to walk away from the smoking rubble without any regrets for the collateral casualties buried in the rubble.
"Sounds extreme? Well, the evil influence that is warping my world view in the direction of the extreme is the daily newspaper ...."
Link to "Is Tolkien war propaganda"? question in diary.
.....The Wordsmiths and the Warguild..... Gerrards Cross, UK: Colin Smythe, 1987 (hardcover) (0-86140-267-7) and London: Corgi (Transworld) 1987 (paperback) (0-552-13130-X). Published in the United States as two separate volumes, both paperback, by Popular Library (Warner Books). The first volume was The Questing Hero March 1988 (USA 0-445-20654-3; Canada 0-445-20655-1). The second volume was The Hero’s Return October 1988 (USA 0-445-20664-0; Canada 0-445-20665-9). The same two-volume format was followed by Heyne for the German-language edition, published in paperback as Held Wider Willen (1998) (3-453-14035-4) and Toguras Ruckkehr (1998) (3-453-14039-7).
"The Chronicles of an Age of Darkness series got off to a good start with The Wizards and the Warriors which featured the invasion of the south by an army from the north. My next step was to write The Women and the Warlords which, logically enough, featured a character who accompanied that army of invasion.
"The Women and the Warlords was, apparently, a miscue, at least from a commercial perspective. Nobody said so outright, but I was politely asked to write an intermediate book to sit between The Wizards and the Warriors and The Women and the Warlords.
"Not really understanding why I was being asked to write this additional book, I nevertheless sat down and wrote it, and had fun doing so ... the result was The Wordsmiths and the Warguild which is the story of Togura Poulaan, a rather hapless young man who endures all manner of adventures but achieves nothing. If he had achieved something, he would have upset my ideas for the overall structure of the series, which was already becoming difficult to control.
"As The Wordsmiths and the Warguild was not a long book to start with, I was a bit dismayed to have it cut into two parts for American publication ... but much worse was to come in due course."
.....The Women and the Warlords..... Gerrards Cross, UK: Colin Smythe, 1989 (hardcover) (0-86140-265-0). The hardcover was co-published by Dufour Editions of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, with the ISBN 0-8023-1286-1. London: Corgi (Transworld) 1987 (paperback) (0-552-13131-8). Published in the United States as The Oracle by Popular Library (Warner Books) July 1989 (paperback)(in the USA as 0-445-20914-3 and in Canada as 0-445-20915-1. Published in Germany (in German) as Die Traumdeuterin by Heyne, 1998 (paperback) (3-453-14919-X).
"In retrospect, The Women and the Warlords was a big commercial mistake, and probably killed the series, although by then the series had so much momentum going that it took a while to die. The book focuses on a woman, one Yen Olass Ampadara, who gets about as bad a deal in life as it is possible to get.
"However. This is my favorite book in the series. I don't know why I'm so emotionally invested in it, but probably it's because it's the one that took the most effort to write.
"Of my first twelve novels, this is the only one written from the viewpoint of a woman, and writing from that viewpoint meant that every single little thing was difficult. Scenes that I would otherwise have written automatically had to be thought through carefully.
"In fact, from a technical point of view, this was the most difficult book that I've written.
"The main problem with The Women and the Warlords is that, by and large, the main character does not have a lot of fun, and all too many readers seem not to have had a lot of fun either."
.....The Walrus and the Warwolf..... Gerrards Cross, UK: Colin Smythe, 1992 (hardcover) (0-86140-294-4) and London: Corgi (Transworld) 1988 (paperback) (0-552-13327-2), the same printing being later marketed by Colin Smythe with the ISBN 0-86140-395-9. The first third of this was published in the United States as Lords of the Sword by Roc (Penguin USA), 1991 (paperback) (USA 0-451-45065-5; Canada 0-451-45065-5).
"The Walrus and the Warwolf was a big hit with the people who might be described as my hard-core fans. By this stage, the series was already critically short of readers, but those who got this far reported finding themselves amply rewarded.
"The Walrus and the Warwolf is a very long book but it was easy to write for a number of reasons. First, I had finally gotten myself a word processor which allowed me to save text to disk - everything I had written previously had been done on a typewriter. (The Wizards and the Warriors, which is another very long book, went through three typewritten drafts.)
"The second reason why The Walrus and the Warwolf was easy to write was because by this time I was writing full-time. I had become a full-time professional writer ... in fact, I had the privilege of writing full-time for about seven years, until the money finally ran out.
"As I was ignorant of the fact that by this stage the Chronicles of an Age of Darkness series was in deep trouble in the marketplace - in retrospect, I think someone gently tried to communicate this to me, but I was too ignorant to take the hint - I was feeling extremely optimistic.
"In addition to time, technology and optimism, I had chosen an easy structure. The Walrus and the Warwolf focuses on a single character, Drake Douay, and it is a picaresque novel - that is to say, one about the adventures of rogues. It is very easy to control a novel which consists of a single hero having a string of adventures, so technically, despite its great length, this was a very easy novel to write.
"For the American market, a decision was made to cut the book into three separate volumes. I was asked to suggest where to make the breaks, which I did, and my suggestions were accepted. At that stage I was untroubled by the news that the book would be published in fragments, as the considerable length, coupled with the picaresque structure, made it perfectly reasonable to think that three novels could be made out of the single original text.
"I was also asked to write three pieces of introductory material, one for each of the projected three books, to try to compensate for the breaks. I did this, too.
"However, in the end, only one of the three books was published. After that, nothing happened with regard to the next two volumes. In the United States, the status of the The Walrus and the Warwolf was that one third had been published as Lords of the Sword ... and after that, nothing.
"This remains the worst thing that has happened to me in the course of my writing career."
.....The Wicked and the Witless..... London: Corgi (Transworld) 1989 (paperback) (0-552-13439-2).
"This is the story of Sean Kelebes Sarazin, and I remember being particularly pleased with it because what I got down on paper was pretty much exactly what I had planned to write.
"I have often had the experience of losing control of a project, of running up against insurmountable technical diffficulties, or of tearing up my original plan five or six times to try a different approach ... not an efficient way to write.
"However, in the case of The Wicked and the Witless, what I planned to do is exactly what I did.
"Such considerations are, of course, meaningless to the reader, who cannot tell whether a book does or does not square with the writer's original plan.
"In writing The Wicked and the Witless I successfully wrote a book which overlapped the action and time frame of some of the earlier books in the series. However, doing this proved so difficult that, even though I pulled it off, I was persuaded to change the scene for the next two books."
.....The Wishstone and the Wonderworkers..... London: Corgi (Transworld) 1990 (paperback) (0-552-13536-4); stock from this printing was subsequently marketed by Colin Smythe with the ISBN 0-86140-397-5.
"The Wishstone and the Wonderworkers is the sixth book in the Chronicles of an Age of Darkness series and represents something of a disjunction.
"One of the odd things about writing this series was that I was working in something close to a total vacuum, with very little feedback in the form of editorial comment, reviews or fan mail. (Not zero, but little.)
"I later figured out that one of the big problems a lot of people had with the Chronicles of an Age of Darkness series was that the books vary considerably from each other in length, setting and tone. It's not a consistent product, in other words.
"From my point of view, it was logical to vary each book, as I was conscious of the fact that I was still learning my craft, and I did not want to simply repeat myself.
"In the case of The Wishstone and the Wonderworkers I had additional, pragmatic reasons for wanting to change the way I did things.
"In the course of writing the first five books of the Chronicles of an Age of Darkness I got thoroughly sick and tired of the mechanical business of moving characters across vast swathes of landscape. Since the environment was distinctly low-tech, travel was usually by ship or by horse. All I know about ships is that they float (if you're lucky) and all I know about horses is that they have four legs (and can sleep standing up).
"When I sat down to write The Wishstone and the Wonderworkers it struck me that things would be distinctly easier if I did my best to preserve the unities of time, place and action. Consequently, the action of this book, and of the following book, The Wazir and the Witch, is set in and around the city of Injiltaprajura, the ruling city of the island of Untunchilamon.
"When I was a child, I left England at the age of five or six and spent the next two years on a tropical island called Ocean Island. This island (otherwise known as Banaba) is near the equator. There is (and was) no airport. Ships arrived about once every six weeks or so bringing mail. The ships also brought in water.
"Ocean Island was the model for Untunchilamon ... in other words, when I was writing The Wishstone and the Wonderworkers, and its companion book, The Wazir and the Witch, I was reaching right back to childhood memories."
.....The Wazir and the Witch..... London: Corgi (Transworld) 1990 (paperback) (0-552-13537-2); stock from this printing was subsequently marketed by Colin Smythe with the ISBN 0-86140-398-3.
"Neither The Wishstone and the Wonderworkers nor The Wazir and the Witch advanced the overall arc of the series. They were in fact set a bit earlier than the previous books. By this stage things had gotten so complicated that I was having trouble figuring out what the overall arc was, far less how to handle it."
.....The Werewolf and the Wormlord..... London: Corgi (Transworld) 1991 (paperback) (0-552-13538-0); stock from this printing was subsequently marketed by Colin Smythe with the ISBN 0-86140-399-1.
"This is a werewolf story, as might be guessed from the title, and is partly about the convenience of having enemies. It is also partly about the inconvenience of possessing oil, particularly if you are an ork, and the oil happens to be inside you - in your blubber, that is.
"The particular technical challenge I set myself for this book was to write a book which is entirely set at night. This is more difficult than might be thought - let your attention slip just momentarily, and suddenly it's broad daylight again."
.....The Worshippers and the Way..... London: Corgi (Transworld) 1992 (paperback) (0-552-13848-7); stock from this printing was subsequently marketed by Colin Smythe with the ISBN 0-86140-400-9.
"The Worshippers and the Way was the ninth book of the series. As with books six, seven and eight, it was written with the idea of preserving the unities of time, place and action.
"In the case of this book, the main technical challenge was the plot, and I am very pleased with the result.
"The action is set partly in the high-tech Combat College, a remnant of an ancient civilization, and partly in the low-tech city of Chi'ash-lan."
Update by Hugh, 2002 December 1:-
"Today I got an e-mail from a reader in New Zealand who politely pointed out that, no, the Combat College is not set in Chi'ash-lan but in Dalar ken Halvar. A little surprised at this assertion, I checked, and found that, yes, the text clearly and unambiguously says that the Combat College is in Dalar ken Halvar."
Dalar ken Halvar: aka City of Sun: aka City of the Season:
capital of Parengarenga. Though set high on a vast mountain
plateau, it is by no means cool, for the Hot Mouth on the city
outskirts (one of the several Mouths of the upland plateau)
constantly outbreathes hot, dry, dessicating air.
The city is where it is because of the Combat College, the
nearby silver mine wealth (less than legend's rumouring, but
nevertheless substantial), the secure defensive positions afforded to the paranoid by the upthrusts of those miniature mountains
known as the Caps, and the Yamoda River's reliable waterflow -
water being always and ever the first and last essential of urban
Hugh continues, 2002 December 1:-
"Looking at the above, I have to confess that I don't remember the Hot Mouth, the several Mouths of the upland plateau, the Caps or the Yamoda River.
"At this writing, the CHRONICLES OF AN AGE OF DARKNESS series is several projects in the past.
"One of the necessary tasks I had to do when I stopped writing the CHRONICLES OF AN AGE OF DARKNESS was to break the spell of dragons and swords so I could move on with the next thing, whatever that was going to be. This, plus the passage of time, plus all the work done on subsequent projects, explains my own fuzzy grip on the work."
click to read free sample TO FIND AND WAKE THE DREAMER
.....The Witchlord and the Weaponmaster..... London: Corgi (Transworld) 1992 (paperback) (0-552-13849-5).
"By this time I had finally figured out that this series was no longer finacially viable. (I was probably the last person on the planet to work this out.) So I wrote this to be the wrap-it-all-up-and-end-the-arc book.
"By the time I sat down to write The Witchlord and the Weaponmaster I had been trekking in Nepal, which helped out with some suitably epic scenery. In fact, I figured out some of the plot for this book as I was hiking along Himalayan trails in a world which (then) was without electricity.
"This book is physically massive, and contains about a quarter of a million words. By this time I had long since abandoned my word processor and had graduated to a fully-fledged computer. The Witchlord and the Weaponmaster was written with a word processing program called PC-Write running under an operating system known as DOS on a computer which had a twenty-megabyte hard drive ....
The Witchlord and the Weaponmaster could reasonably be described as Tolkien on steroids. It is the story of the questing hero Guest Gulkan.
I was very pleased with the final result, which did make it into print, but by then, as a commercial proposition, the series was dead."
.....Bamboo Horses..... 2005
"My novel Bamboo Horses is my first foray into the print on demand arena.
"This is a fairly complex fantasy novel with murder mystery elements and is set in the land of Nizon. In Nizon, people do not eat in the normative fashion with chopsticks. Rather, they eat with scissors. However, their landscape is recognizably modern - cellphones, e-mail spam, death cults, adolescent delinquency, party pills and so on and so forth.
"The hero, Ken Udamana, tries to figure out the nature of the murderous threat against himself and his family. The body count rises. Meantime, Ken also grapples, albeit peripherally, with family history. Uncle Grendabous, who has not yet been forgotten, was the notorious Fishhook Killer. And, what's more, in a historical sense the Udamanas are a war crimes family.
"Ken is a business manager, but he is also a human being, with all the possibilities and potentials which that entails. Furthermore, he lives in the permissive zone, which complicates life, because those who spend long years living in the zone have a tendency to acquire powers ..."
.....To Find and Wake the Dreamer..... 2005
"Okay, now here it is, the ultimate fantasy novel, To Find and Wake the Dreamer. This one pulls out all the stops. After a quarter of a century in the business, I know where the stops are. If I found one, I pulled it. All the way out.
"This story of suicide bombers and a society heading for a clash of cultures, big time, is written for the age of shoot to kill. It features, amongst others, the fearless exorcist Danzburg Tosterburger; the whiny singer Crabgirl Matilda (who emerges from the background to have a traumatic encounter with an energetic condom standing three meters tall, this on the day of the machinegun massacre); Sable Tauranga, intrepid girl reporter and big time vodka fan, and small businessman Ibrahim Chess, who finds himself in the role of the last sane man in a world going mad.
"The setting is the city state of Oolong Morblock, population twenty million or so. Two percent of the population have paranormal powers, and about eight thousand of these - but nobody knows which eight thousand - have the capacity to glorst. To glorst? To cause themselves to explode. They're walking suicide bombers, and there's no way to detect them.
"This is a LONG novel, well over five hundred pages. The first thirty chapters are online as a read-for-free sample:
Although this book is possibly going to end up being the first volume in a series (meteorite strikes and suicide bombers permitting) it has been written as a self-contained novel complete with a beginning, a middle and and end.
"A milieu map can be viewed online:-
view map of city state of Oolong Morblock
So what's next?
"After finishing the Chronicles of an Age of Darkness series, I eventually went back to university, finished off my degree (which ended up being a BA with a double major in English and Japanese) and then moved to Japan and started teaching English.
"I arrived in Japan in 1997. Over the next seven years, I did a lot of work on short stories, some of which were published in various outlets in England, Australia, Ireland, Canada and the United States.
"However, I also continued work on my major fantasy series, Tales of Oolong Morblock.
"In 2005, I spent the whole year in New Zealand, living with my parents and undergoing treatment for cancer (lymphoma). The story of this made a medical memoir, Cancer Patient, the full text of which is online on the zenvirus.com web site.
"In 2005 I also finished off the Bamboo Horses novel and, additionally, the first volume in the projected Tales of Oolong Morblock series, this first volume being To Find and Wake the Dreamer.
"At this stage I'm not sure how far I'm going to get with the series, but it is possible that it could ultimately run to twelve volumes, all set in the city state of Oolong Morblock.
As I head into 2006, my publication plans also include a projected collection of short stories, The Succubus and Other Stories and a collection of poems to be called Arc of Light.
"I am also planning to publish, when I can find the time, the three volumes of a fantasy trilogy which I completed back in the 1990s. This trilogy has the overall title Oceans of Light. It is set in the archipelago of Chalakanesia and consists of the books West of Heaven, East of Hell and North of Paradise."