“John Meaney is a spectacular writer. He makes SF seem all fresh and new again.”
Robert J Sawyer
“John Meaney has rewired SF. Everything is different now.”
Thomas Blackthorne is the pseudonym of noted British SF author John Meaney. His most recent novels under his real name are [the very wonderful – MG] Bone Song and Dark Blood, set in a dark, gothamesque city called Tristopolis, and exploring other parts of that strange alternate Earth. Before that was the post-cyberpunk To Hold Infinity and the Nulapeiron Sequence of Paradox, Context and Resolution.
Paradox was voted the Independent Publishers’ Book of the Year (SF/Fantasy category), was first choice in the Daily Telegraph Books of the Year (SF/Fantasy category), and shortlisted for the British Science Fiction award. To Hold Infinity was also shortlisted for the BSFA Award, as was his novelette Sharp Tang. He has published short fiction in magazines and anthologies, including reprints in several “year’s best” selections.
That’s his writing. Here’s what John has to say about his life:
I was born in the “Irish ghetto” of northwest London, of Irish parents, and grew up in Slough, most famous for the Poet Laureate’s words (addressed to the Luftwaffe): “Come friendly bombs and drop on Slough/It isn’t fit for humans now.” So call me posthuman, if you like!
When I was five, my mother took me to the local library to join up. There, I found a book about a little boy who hid behind wooden crates next to a launch pad, sneaked on board a rocket, and flew to the moon. This was the time, on British TV, of Fireball XL5, the first Dr Who, and surreal offerings like Torchy, the Battery Boy. And, still before my seventh birthday, I read early Dr Strange and Spider-Man.
Soon I discovered the “juveniles” (as publishers used to call them) of Robert A Heinlein and Andre Norton, two very different writers who between them grabbed hold of the limits of my world and wrenched it in opposite directions, opening up the universe. As my age moved into double digits, I discovered adult SF, starting with Clifford Simak’s Time is the Simplest Thing. What vistas were opening up! The book begins with a robot crawling across a grey plain, and discovering an alien who broadcasts a thought to the robot’s linked-in human operator on Earth: “I trade with you my mind.” That scene is vivid in my mind, decades later.
Other book-moments endure, like the first human being in a million years to see a sunrise, in Arthur Clarke’s The City and the Stars; Paul Atreides flying over the desert of Arrakis in Frank Herbert’s Dune; and the amnesiac Corwin, driving with his brother Random, shifting between realities – between shadows – in Roger Zelazny’s Nine Princes In Amber.
Sometime in there I grew to love other kinds of fiction, and to discover physics (and psychology, and later, computer science). Until I was fifteen, physically soft and asthmatic, I lived only through books. The least athletic kids in my school played hockey (that’s field hockey, to Americans) rather than football (that’s soccer) or rugby. The least athletic of the least athletic got to play in goal, meaning that an asthmatic kid, wearing a thin jersey, was required to stand still for hours at a time in chilly British winters.
When I was fifteen, I started training in judo (during school hours, which wiped out the earlier negative associations to physicality), and soon after that in Chinese kickboxing as well. It changed my life. In one way or another, training in one style or another, martial arts have remained a way of life, a daily discipline. By the time I was at university, that had grown to include weight-lifting and running, and all the other auxiliary training that’s required.
And then… life. From dropping out, doing ‘interesting’ jobs, getting my degree, getting married, progressing through a career in IT, eventually becoming a trainer and my own boss. In all of this, I knew I wanted to write. For someone who remembers the little boy hiding beside the launch pad, and the alien offering to trade minds, what else could I possibly do?
More rave reviews of John’s work so far…
“Meaney is a wonderful writer who deserves worldwide recognition.” – Cheryl Morgan, Emerald City
“Meaney is one of the best authors of hard SF in the world…” – SFX
“…one of British science fiction’s most original and exciting practitioners.” – Barnes & Noble
“Fast paced, very entertaining and out of the ordinary… both haunting and engaging.” – SFFWorld.com
“Crisply written and vividly portrayed.” – Guardian
“Meaney’s creepy death-haunted world lingers in the mind long after the book is closed… a smart and spooky read.” The Times