Hi everyone. I wanted to give you a quick update on my progress with the new AUTUMN novels. They’re coming along nicely, but I’ve had a couple of major interruptions since I announced them earlier this year (namely the onset of a global pandemic swiftly followed by a heart attack), and it’s become clear that I’m not going to make the October release I’d originally scheduled for AUTUMN: DAWN. Apologies.
I’m hoping that AUTUMN: DAWN will now be released in April 2021, with the other books in the new trilogy – INFERNO and EXODUS – following in quick succession. It’s been an absolute blast returning to the world of AUTUMN after nearly a decade away, and though the new books will be very different on a number of levels, the same bleak tone and the overwhelming scale of the apocalypse feels just as it did when I started writing the first book back in 1997. If you’ve not read the original books, you can find a huge amount of information and stacks of free AUTUMN short stories at www.lastoftheliving.net.
Today’s the day that the first book in THE BLEED series finally hits the shelves. It’s been a long time since MARK TUFO and CHRIS PHILBROOK invited me to play in the apocalyptic wonderland they were cooking up, and I’m very pleased to have been asked along for the ride. It’s been a blast so far, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where our merry (not really) band of characters end up.
This is an apocalypse like no other, and now we get to share it! THE BLEED: RUPTURE is out today.
Less than a week to go until THE BLEED: RUPTURE is released. Here’s a glimpse into the third and final story strand…
When the grandfathers to the grandfathers were young, the race of gods stepped through time and space, appearing in the North. Fleeing an ancient, world-eating evil they called the Bleed, they came to build anew, in peace. Other than strange hair and eye colors, they appeared similar to normal human beings—but they were taller, stronger, and smarter, and were ripe with powers from their home world. They brought unheard of learning and experience with them; they built their Endless City from one edge of the North to the other, with its mile-high walls and towers of stone, steel and wood soaring above that. They ruled the world from afar, without war, or even effort, ever watchful for the signs of the Bleed, their unending, ever-hungry foe.
They took husbands and wives and left thousands of half-breed children behind when the enemy they fled bled through the fabric of the worlds. Deep in their city, servants of the evil ate at their new home, one bloody soul at a time. They made their stand at the edge of the world, almost a score ago, and not one god has been seen since.
A week today will see THE BLEED: RUPTURE hitting the shelves as an AUDIBLE EXCLUSIVE as well as a paperback and ebook. I have two BLEED-related things to share with you today. First, some very kind words about book one from my good friend, CRAIG DILOUIE:
“From three of apocalyptic fiction’s most innovative authors, THE BLEED series pits humanity against an infectious, all-consuming evil in stories packed with great characters, interesting ideas, and plenty of good end-of-the-world fun.”
And here for your pleasure, because you can’t have too much of a bleeding good thing, is the cover for book 2. RAPTURE is due in March 2021.
The first book in THE BLEED trilogy – RUPTURE – written by CHRIS PHILBROOK, MARK TUFO and myself, is released on 14 July. Here’s an introduction to the second story strand which takes place on the moon.
Base Station New Start, Sea of Crises, Earth’s Moon Surface
It was 2035, the year the earth came to a tipping point it could not recover from. Deforestation, pollution, melting of the polar ice caps, overpopulation, and an inability to provide enough food had pushed the world into a war that dwarfed the two great wars combined. Nearly every country that had a standing military had joined the fray, battling for scraps of an ever-diminishing supply of resources. Alliances were tested, broken and reformed on a continual basis. It got to the point that most didn’t even know which side, or who exactly, they were fighting with anymore. Humanity was on the brink of extinction, and somehow killing each other seemed the best solution. For twelve years, unbridled savagery was released upon the planet. Billions died in the conflict, and there seemed no end to the misery. War and the wretchedness of it were all anybody knew.
It was a French woman, Esmee Marchand, who had covertly approached what remained of the governments with a plan to save what was left. Esmee had been an ecologist; she’d studied at Harvard and Cambridge University before the war started. She bore witness to the destruction of her planet and had switched her field of focus to terra-forming. She’d devised an original method of rejuvenating environments; creating safe zones for human life, and with this knowledge in hand, she had offered an escape, a fresh start. So, even as countries tore themselves and each other apart, scientists and technicians worked in secret to create rockets and gather the materials, people and animals that would inhabit the moon, always with hope that someday they could return to the earth, once peace had been restored and the threats facing our survival had been removed. What they did not know, what they could not know, was that the Bleed had found their oasis among the stars, and it was doing what it had always done: destroy.
As I mentioned last week, the first book in THE BLEED trilogy – RUPTURE – is released on 14 July. Written by CHRIS PHILBROOK, MARK TUFO and myself, we’ve each created a specific world that we’re going to introduce you to over the remaining weeks leading up to publication. This week, present day London (although bear in mind that present day London looked a lot different to today’s actual present day London when this book was written!).
Somehow, everything in this complex sprawl of a city feels like it’s interconnected. More than seven million people live here and work and play and learn here, and despite the fact most of them stay happily within their own little bubbles, doing all they can to avoid talking to anyone else, the day-to-day runs pretty much like clockwork. The masses are together, yet isolated. People weave around each other along the clogged pavements, side-stepping without even looking up from their phones, skillfully avoiding collisions. The traffic stops and starts along heavily congested roads in bad tempered order. Deep underground, tube trains race from station to station at speed, dumping hundreds of people at a time onto platforms already crowded with hundreds more waiting to get on and be whisked away elsewhere.
It’s an incredibly complicated but largely well-oiled machine. It copes with occasional accidents and interruptions, compensating to keep everything moving. It would take something catastrophic to stop the whole damn thing in its tracks. Something way out of the control of Transport for London or the Metropolitan Police. Something bigger than anything ever seen here before. Something inexplicable and indisputably huge. Something mind-bending, world changing, even perception altering.
Something like what’s going to happen next Thursday.
It began as a barely perceptible greenish glow illuminating the underbelly of a disconcertingly specific section of the overcast gray sky above the heart of the city. Hardly anyone noticed it at first, preoccupied as they were, as usual, with the Thursday morning commute. At just before seven o’clock, few people were in the mood to be interrupted or diverted. The daily race to their weekday destinations had begun.
But the glow remained and slowly increased in brightness, the bile-green hue growing brighter, more and more noticeable. There was something of the Northern Lights about it, but the possibility was so remote, and anyway…surely not with this much cloud overhead? In any case, whatever it was, it wasn’t as important as the meeting at the offices near Westminster at nine sharp, or catching the connecting train to Milton Keynes at eight-twenty-three, or making that appointment with the casting director of that show and not looking like a complete hungover mess, or getting a decent place in the queue for tickets for the—
Everything changed when the cloud cover was breached.
It looked like a comet—a luminous nucleus with a sickly green-tinged tail—but its movement was all wrong. Instead of racing across the London skyline, it was instead bearing down. And actually, as crowds of people now gazing skyward began to realize, it wasn’t racing at all. The impossible mass seemed to be drifting down with control, sinking slowly as if coming in to land. As the comet-thing descended, its speed almost so slow now as to be imperceptible, people began to react.
Most stopped dead in their tracks.
There were collisions on pavements and bumps in the road as people spotted it. Those who hadn’t yet looked up followed fingers pointing skyward and all began to sense the early morning light changing. The subtle green tinge which had been barely noticeable now covered the city. It made everything and everyone look unwell.
Folks who normally completed their morning commute without saying a word to anyone they didn’t know began to look to each other for explanations, though none were forthcoming. In an atmosphere of anxious uncertainty, strangers quickly became allies. Pointless questions were posed, pointless because even though no one had any answers, it didn’t stop them asking. It was a nervous thing. As the bright mass continued its painfully slow descent towards the heart of the city, people nudged those next to them and cocked their heads in the vain hope this was just a publicity stunt they’d not heard about or a scheduled light display their fellow commuters might have seen mentioned on the TV news.
It wasn’t long before panic set in. Despite the absolute lack of detail or information, one thing was clear as crystal: whatever it was up there, it was heading directly for the center of London on an unstoppable collision course. The true size of the comet—if that was what it really was—had been hard to discern, but when an Emirates Airbus 380 flew past and was dwarfed, and then a phalanx of military helicopters crawled in front of it like tiny but well-coordinated spiders, it became painfully apparent to everyone watching that this thing was huge. As in capable of wiping out the whole of London huge.
As in…capable of ending all life on Earth.
Subdued British politeness turned to absolute fucking terror.
In contrast to the well-rehearsed order of just a few minutes ago, the pavements and streets were now chaotic in the extreme. And the faster people tried to walk or run or drive to safety, the slower everything became as one collision became two, two became four, and four became many more. It didn’t take a genius to work out that if—when—the comet hit, the area for miles around this place would cease to exist in seconds. Of course, that didn’t stop most people trying to get away.
Jennifer Allsopp wasn’t like most people.
She knew that it probably wasn’t worth running. She instead looked up at the glowing orb in the sky overhead, watching it tumbling over and over towards her. Although she’d have given anything to be somewhere—anywhere—else right now, she knew she was stuck. She could run at full speed for as long as she could manage, but it wouldn’t make any difference. She could catch the fastest bullet train (if they even had them here), but she knew she wouldn’t get far enough to escape the inevitable impact and blast wave.
Best not to bother trying, she decided. Save your energy.
As I hope you already know, the first book in THE BLEED trilogy – RUPTURE – is released next month. Co-authored by CHRIS PHILBROOK, MARK TUFO and myself, it’s a wild and epic horror/science-fiction/fantasy story that spans worlds and universes. It’s like nothing I’ve been involved in before, and I can’t wait for you to read it. Due for release on 14 July, it’ll also be available to listen to on the day as an AUDIBLE exclusive release. Chris, Mark and I wanted to build your anticipation so, every week between now and release, we’ll be sharing an excerpt with you. This week, allow us to set the scene with an introduction…
The planet was so old that it didn’t have a name. The people who lived there were nameless too. They had evolved and grown over countless generations and had become a strong and complex society. The needs of all individuals were considered; the collective was everything; the past, the present and the future were always in mind.
In this utopian society, the rule of law was sacred. People understood that, for them to remain strong and prosper, their friends, families, and neighbors needed to be strong and prosperous too. And for generation after generation, those principles held true and people worked with each other for collective reward. But the multiverse is a whirlwind of chaos, and sometimes no matter how hard people try to plan for it, chance and circumstance conspire to devastating effect.
A massive spinning, rolling lump of rock hurtled through the void of space and hit the planet, and though the initial damage of the impact was limited, the long-term implications were stark. Clouds of noxious dust and ash were spewed into the atmosphere, plunging the planet into a brutal ice age. Oceans froze. Crops failed. Millions died. And the millions more who survived now faced the most uncertain of futures.
When there’s not enough food to keep everyone alive, how do we decide who lives and who dies?
The ancient society collapsed with terrifying ease and speed.
With the world’s equilibrium now out of balance, it became a fight for survival. The society was torn in two. On one side, those who still believed in the values of their elders and the past did all that they could to help as many people as possible. Those on the other side of the divide, however, said fuck you to the rest of their world. Base and carnal, they spilled the blood of their brothers and sisters without a second thought. The roads and rivers ran red.
This was the genesis of the Bleed.
Those who still believed in the values and structures of their ancient society used their collective wisdom to find a way of escaping the hell their planet had become. Able to travel between different worlds, universes, and dimensions, they became gods and sowed the seeds of all civilizations throughout the multiverse.
Those left behind, consumed by anger, jealously, and rage, became demons.
The abandoned people of the Bleed stole the technology of the gods and set out for revenge. And wherever they found the children of the gods, they attacked. They mutated and killed. They turned natural worlds against their indigenous inhabitants; insects became giant monsters, life-giving water turned to blood and was filled with disease….
Blinded by its anger, the Bleed won’t rest until the gods and all other living things are dead and it is the only thing that remains.
THE BLEED: RUPTURE is released on 14 July. THE BLEED: RAPTURE follows next March, with THE BLEED: ARMAGEDDON to follow in September 2021.
Over the course of the last couple of months in lockdown, I’ve been working my way through a box set of 21 Hammer films. Some are great, some are not. One of them – QUATERMASS AND THE PIT – just happens to be one of my favourite films of all time and, when I realised I’d not recommended it here, I thought I’d better correct that. It also gives me an opportunity to plug issue 60 of SCREAM MAGAZINE, which just happens to feature an excellent article about the various adaptations of Nigel Kneale’s tale.
Professor Bernard Quatermass is one of my fictional heroes. He’s a man in search of truth and explanation; someone who refuses to be bullied by the military or the media or politicians into making assumptions or rash decisions. It’s interesting – watching the TV news from around the world right now, you can see more than a few Quatermass-like characters biting their lips in the background while our so-called world leaders talk nonsense and bullshit their way around the truth about the pandemic and its effects.
There are four Quatermass stories, and all of them are worthy of your attention. The first, the Quatermass Experiment, was a ground-breaking serial first broadcast live by the BBC in 1955 which told the story of the first manned space flight. On the ship’s return, two of the three-man crew are missing. The sole survivor begins acting strangely and it soon becomes clear that he has been taken over by an alien presence. I can only imagine how terrifying this must have been for viewers back in the day, prior to the beginning of the space race, as they watched huddled together around their black and white TV sets. But it’s QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, the professor’s third outing, which is the most well-known of Kneale’s stories. To my mind, the 1967 Hammer adaptation is a classic.
During excavations in London a large unidentified object is unearthed. It defies definition although the area has always been associated with diabolical evil. Within its walls Professor Quatermass discovers the remains of intelligent alien creatures that attempted to conquer the Earth in prehistoric times and, through their experiments on early man, altered human evolution to its present state. Though dormant for many centuries, the power supply from the excavations is being drained by the ship until its terrifying force can be unleashed and the creatures can reinstate their violent dominance over man.