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The Spaces Between Stars

Apr 11, 2011 in Books, Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors, Mulholland News

Cité interditeMy name’s Warren Ellis.  I’m mostly a science fiction writer.  I’m sometimes also a crime writer.  These are essentially the same thing.

Let me try and explain that.

I don’t think HG Wells and Raymond Chandler ever met.  I don’t know that they would have had a lot to say to each other if they did.  Perhaps Wells might have gloweringly reprimanded Chandler for being mean about his friend AA Milne’s detective novel.  Or perhaps he might have asked for a go on Chandler’s wife, I don’t know.  But I like to imagine that an interlocuter bringing them together – perhaps in 1940, Wells’ twilight and Chandler’s emergence – would have explained why they should talk.

It was HG Wells, in large part, who made science fiction into social fiction.  You can trace back the roots of that movement to Mary Shelley and beyond, but it was Wells who both concretised it and gave it common currency.  Science fiction is nominally about the novum, the new thing that disrupts the world of the story.  But THE INVISIBLE MAN is not about an invisibility process, just as THE TIME MACHINE is not really about a time machine.  The great Wells fireworks were novels about the human condition, the sociopolitical space and the way Wells saw life being lived.

In crime fiction, of course, the story is nominally about the crime: the disruptive event introduced into the world of the story.  But THE BIG SLEEP isn’t about a murder, and FAREWELL MY LOVELY isn’t about a missing person.  Chandler’s great leap – and of course there were antecedents and even peers, but it’s Chandler who is indelible – was to make crime fiction fully an expression of social fiction.

These became the dual tracks upon which our mediation of the 20th Century ran.  Science fiction and crime fiction contextualised, explored and reported on rapidly changing and expanding modern conditions.  And they did it in ways that spoke to the felt experiences of our lives, to our hopes and our fears, in ways that other fictions, or even other reportage, couldn’t approach.  Science fiction and crime fiction explained to us where we really are, and where we might be going.

So when I write science fiction I’m a crime writer, and when I write crime fiction I’m an sf writer.  I’m talking about our lives, and the way I see the world.  I’m writing about the new thing, the disruptive event that enters that world, its repercussions and the attempts to deal with it.  But I’m talking about where I think I am today, and what I think it looks like.

In GUN MACHINE, I’m writing about a disruptive event: a small sealed Manhattan apartment filled with hundreds of guns, each one used in a single unsolved homicide.  But what I’m talking about is money, the acquisition of power, the deals we make in the name of security, the unique soul-killing exhaustion that comes of caring too much for too long, and the faces madness take in our lives.

Also quite a lot of people get shot.

I just have to trust that the good people at Mulholland Books will catch me when I get confused and give my New York City police detective rocket pants and a ray gun.

[Editor’s Note: We are proud to announce today that Warren Ellis is joining Mulholland Books for two books, the first of which will be GUN MACHINE and will be published in Fall 2012. Warren Ellis is more than just a writer. He is a movement. We are thrilled to be the publishers of GUN MACHINE.]

Warren Ellis is the award-winning creator of graphic novels such as TransmetropolitanFellMinistry of Space and Planetary, and the author of Crooked Little Vein. The film Red, based on his graphic novel, was released in October 2010. He has written a number of graphic novels under option for film and TV. He is personally adapting his series of Gravel graphic novels into a screenplay for Legendary Pictures. He lives in south-east England.

Mulholland Books will publish GUN MACHINE in Fall 2012.

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20 Responses »

  1. This is fantastic news! Ellis has such a unique voice, and those of you unfamiliar with him should read his comic series Transmetropolitan, Planetary, and Global Frequency, as well as his fast paced debut novel Crooked Little Vein.

  2. Outstanding news! Another wonderful feather in Mulholland’s already quite colorful cap. I shall eagerly await GUN MACHINE.

  3. I knew he was going to kill them all.

  4. This is a very good thing, I love Warren for his Science fiction and comics but I also loved his first novel Crooked Little Vein so much that I have read it four times and will probably now have to get it out again. If you do not know his writing you are in for a treat and if you do your probably as happy as I am to here these are coming. I had just started to follow Mulholland for your popcorn fiction and now you could not have made me happier. And as a P.S. if you have not read Warren one of the best things you could try from him is Fell, a mystery and so much more, and Transmetropolitan which is close being Hunter S Thompson in the near future, that will hopefully make you want to read more of this great writer.

  5. I am very excited to hear this. Crooked Little Vein was a wonderful read.

  6. I am very happy to hear this. While it means less comics I will find a way to get through.

  7. This is the single best news I’ve heard in ages. Think that pretty much covers it.

  8. Hello Warren,
    thank you to use my picture for your article. If you or somebody is interesting to prepare covers for books, I’m available. Bye

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