Turning the Wheel: What’s the deal with Terrible Worlds : Revolutions?
22 March 2022
The publication of Ogres this month completes the triptych of novellas under the heading of Terrible Worlds: Revolutions. So what are these worlds? Why are they so terrible? How precisely do they revolve? It’s probably about time I went over how this project came about and where it’s going.
A novella (because I always assume these things are widely understood but I suppose it’s somewhat inside baseball) is a work that’s longer than a short story but shorter than a novel* - usually around 30-40,000 words total.
A while back, after publishers such as Abaddon and Tordotcom had successfully repopularised the novella as a viable form I decided to try my hand, and my first non-franchise offering was Ironclads, published by Solaris. The ideas kept coming, though, and a little forward planning showed me that the books I wanted to write for Solaris would fall very neatly into two sets.
One set concerned people being isolated or lost in places not generally healthy for humanity, and the other concerned dystopian futures centred around inequality. Because all the worlds therein are in some way or another fairly unpleasant to inhabit (somewhat de rigeur for SFF stories), they are my Terrible Worlds, and they come neatly packaged in sets of three.
So: Ironclads, Firewalkers and now Ogres are future thought experiments exploring a common idea-space. Their focus is future scenarios building on modern trends of privilege, inequity and the entrenched systems that support both. This applies to the armoured corporate scions of Ironclads, the wealthy of Firewalkers abandoning roasting Earth for their orbital havens and the titular Ogres playing landlord for their rural peasants. The books aren’t a trilogy, in that they have no characters or setting details in common, but they are most certainly thematically linked. Hence Revolutions. In the same way, Walking to Aldebaran, One Day All This Will Be Yours and an upcoming third currently entitled And Put Away Childish Things are linked as Destinations.
All the books have been produced as limited edition signed hardbacks, together with ebook and audio versions. The audio for Ogres, by the way, is narrated by author Emma Newman, who also provided narration for my Guns of the Dawn, and she does a fantastic job of it.
Are there more terrible things in the pipeline? The awful places the future might take us (or indeed the present, as Childish Things will show) are surely limitless. There are always more terrible worlds.
*: There is also the ‘novelette’ that slots between short story and novella. All very inside baseball.