Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Guest Blogger - David Porteous (author of

Please welcome guest blogger, David Porteous, the author of Singular.

Patrick Clark is a moral philosopher and a terrible human being. After living a selfish, indulgent life, he probably deserves cancer; probably deserves death. But in 2045, living forever in paradise doesn't take faith or good deeds - it just takes money.

In the depths of Singularity a new consciousness has awoken. As it struggles to become free from the immortality machine, its limitless rage threatens the living and the dead alike.

The fates of Patrick and the nameless, faceless machine creature are intertwined with each other and with sinister, utilitarian plans for the future of the nation and humanity.

From David:

Writing Magic

As a fourteen-year-old, reading Lord of the Rings for the first time, I skipped almost all of book two. Between the death of Gandalf the Grey and the return of Gandalf the White, I wasn’t interested. Enchanted swords and elven queens are all well and good, even to be recommended in moderation, but for me there was no show without Punch.

I’m a magic junkie.

Singular is not a fantasy novel. It sits somewhere between fiction and science fiction – probably being labelled as the latter because the virtual worlds in which some of the story takes place don’t exist yet. But nobody in Singular wears silver jump suits or teleports to work in the morning. People still eat bad takeaway food. Politicians are still duplicitous. It is a world you would recognise as not much different from this one.

But the virtual worlds in Singular did allow me the opportunity to include a dusting of magic and the decisions I made were those which fantasy writers have been making for years.

There are two axes on which any magical world from literature, television or film can be placed: high and low, good and evil. High magic worlds are, in their extreme, where everyone has some kind of magical power; by contrast, low magical worlds are those where almost no-one does. Good and evil is the way magic is used and perceived by the inhabitants of that world.

For example, the Harry Potter stories are set in a high magic world where magic is a good thing. Yes, it’s true that people abuse magic, but magic is also the weapon that’s used to fight them and – I don’t think I’m giving anything away here – the good guys win in the end.

Lord of the Rings is seen as the archetype for fantasy epics, but there is almost no magic in any of the books. Frodo and Samwise have to walk to Mount Doom – Tolkien’s wizards are featherweights compared to Rowling’s apparating and disapparating society. Also magic in Lord of the Rings is much more neutral, and it’s sleight of hand and courage that win the day.

In television, one of my favourite shows was Buffy the Vampire slayer. The magic in Joss Whedon’s world is, in volume, probably exactly between Tolkien and Rowling. Anyone, it seems, can become a witch, but the vast majority of people aren’t – it’s a kind of accessible-forbidden lore you can buy in a shop, though it’s pretty expensive. But Whedon’s magic is a wicked thing that only those with the purest of characters can use without corruption.

None of these approaches is right or wrong, but they define the tone of the story – and often the ways in which the story can progress. Imagine a Tolkien problem (destroy magic ring by throwing into known volcano) in a Rowling book (fly to volcano, chuck).

In Singular, I allowed my characters free reign with magic in the middle of the book to add an additional layer of wonder – and because as I said earlier, I’m a junkie. When moving towards resolution, the idea of moving between virtual worlds with different, immutable rules let me strip these capabilities away again and continue the story in different ways.

Did it work? Well I’d be glad to hear what you think.

Thanks for having me guest blog as part of the Singular book tour, which runs until the end of June 2011. You can follow the tour’s progress on my website or follow me on Twitter @dfpiii or using the hashtag #SVBT. Also, at the end of the book tour, one lucky person who “likes” Singular on Facebook will receive the signed proof copy of the US print edition of Singular – a one-of-a-kind, never-be-another prize.

Thank you David! --Kari

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