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TitanCon 2018 Guests

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Rachael (R.B.) Kelly

Rachael (R.B.) Kelly

One of the aims of TitanCon is to provide a platform for local talent to showcase their work to a wider audience. R.B. Kelly is another local science-fiction author that will be joining us once again at TitanCon 2018, having won the 2014 Irish Writers' Centre Novel Fair Competition for her debut novel Edge Of Heaven (published 2016). In fact this won't be Rachael's first time at TitanCon, she was an attendee all the way back in 2011 and 2012. It is fantastic to hear that members of the TitanCon community are finding publishing success and we are pleased to welcome Rachael to this year's event.

Rachael's short fiction and non-fiction articles have appeared in magazines and journals around the world, and her short story Blumelena, was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2012. Her doctoral thesis, Mark Antony and Popular Culture, was published by IB Tauris in 2014. She lives and works in Belfast.

Edge Of Heaven

Danae Grant has a secret – the kind that could get a person killed, if it fell into the wrong hands. In the early twenty-second century, the habitable world is shrinking. The answer is Creo: a bi-level city that towers over the dust bowl of western France. Creo is the melting pot of nations, a Babylonian city of a thousand languages, where the dark streets explode with colour and violence. It's where you go when home is just a memory. It's where you go when you need to disappear.

But Danae can't stay hidden forever. The night she meets Boston Turrow marshal law is declared, and both their lives change irrevocably. Three hundred miles away, in the Réserve Naturelle de l'Auvergne, a dog-walker's gruesome discovery sets in motion a chain of events that will bring disaster in their wake. When the gates of the city close shut, they know the city is dying. Hidden from sunlight and fed air through ancient filters, the people of Creo have seen this kind of thing before. For a population of nearly 100 million, the implications are fatal – their plans for better futures turned to dust.

The secret Danae clings to may be the only answer to the new pestilence taking the lives of hundreds, but stepping forward is tantamount to suicide. Danae will have to make a choice: what will she give up to save the one glorious thing in an inglorious life?

Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald

We are thrilled to once again have Belfast's very own Ian McDonald back at TitanCon 2018. Ian is a science-fiction novelist best known for his BSFA award winning and Hugo nominated novels River of Gods (2004), Brasyl (2007) and The Dervish House (2010). Ian won the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Novelette for The Djinn's Wife (2006).

Ian McDonald was born in 1960, in Manchester, to a Scottish father and Irish mother, but moved to Belfast when he was five, and has lived there ever since. He therefore lived through the whole of the 'Troubles' (1968-99), and his sensibility has been permanently shaped by coming to understand Northern Ireland as a post-colonial (and so, in his view, de facto 'Third World') society imposed on an older culture. He became a fan of SF from childhood TV, began writing when he was 9, sold his first story to a local Belfast magazine when he was 22, and in 1987 became a full-time writer.

Ian has written 22 books, his first being the Locus Award winning novel Desolation Road (1988). Set on a partially terraformed Mars the novel outlines the history of a town called Desolation Road founded by a lone scientist and a collection of strays and castaways.

The Dervish House

Major themes of Ian's work include nanotechnology, postcyberpunk settings, and the impact of rapid social and technological change on non-Western societies. His 1990s Chaga Saga is particularly notable for its analysis of the AIDS crisis in Africa. River of Gods and it's companion novel of short stories Cyberabad Days (2009) is set in mid-21st-century India. Brasyl is set in the 18th and 21st centuries in Lusophone South America. The Dervish House (2010) took us to Istanbul, Turkey in the year 2025 and centred on the families that live in and around its titular house, it is at once a rich mosaic of Islamic life in the new century and a telling novel of future possibilities.

Everness is a YA series comprising Planesrunner (2012), Be My Enemy (2013) and Empress of the Sun (2014). The tagline of the series is "There is not one you. There are many yous. There is not one world. There are many worlds. Ours is one among billions of parallel earths." Everett Singh's father has left him with the most valuable object in the multiverse, a map of all the parallel earths called the Infundibulum, and now there are dark forces who will stop at nothing to get it. He's got wits, intelligence, and a knack for Indian cooking. Everett needs all the help he can get from friends like Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth and the crew of the airship Everness. Can this Planesrunner navigate the Heisenberg Gate between worlds, rescue his father and get the Infundibulum to safety?

Luna: New Moon

Ian's latest work is a trilogy of books that aim to do for the moon what his other work has done for India, Brazil and Turkey, which is to say write a thrilling story of the future that is rooted in the vivid realities of its location. The first book Luna: New Moon (2015) is described as Game of Thrones in space. It's a tale of corporate blood-letting and deceit on a massive scale set on a moon that, for all its lethal harshness, is described with such richness that you feel what it would be like to live (and die) there.

Ian read an excerpt from Luna: New Moon at our Literature Night in 2014 and it was a pulsating and exciting short story about a group of kids risking their lives in a game to run a short distance across the surface of the moon naked and without protection knowing they only have seconds to make it from airlock to airlock and not daring to blink because it will freeze their eyes shut which would mean certain death. It was brilliantly told with each step they took across the surface counted out and interspersed with fraught description of the danger and what was going through their heads, with the reading building in crescendo and tone as they got closer to the safety of the airlock or perhaps not making it at all.

The series continues in Luna: Wolf Moon (2016) and Ian is currently working on the conclusion to the trilogy.

Peadar Ó Guilín

Peadar Ó Guilín

In September 2007 Peadar Ó Guilín published his first novel, The Inferior, which the Times Educational Supplement called "a stark, dark tale, written with great energy and confidence and some arresting reflections on human nature." It tells the story of Stopmouth and his family who must battle for survival in a world of tribal societies. To live they must hunt rival species or negotiate flesh-trade with those who crave meat of the freshest human kind. There is but one law: Eat or be Eaten.

The second book in the series, The Deserter (2011), continues Stopmouth's journey as he attempts to understand The Roof and find the mysterious woman he loves who fell from it. The final book in the trilogy, The Volunteer (2013), is available as an eBook, or is available in print (only from Amazon).

Peadar put out another eBook called Forever in the Memory of God: And Other Stories in 2013. The collection comprises three stories The First of Many (a novelette that Peadar read the opening chapter of at TitanCon 2013), Forever in the Memory of God and Fairy Gold.

The Call

Peadar's 2016 novel, The Call, has been a huge success, scoring numerous nominations for prestigious YA book prizes, and has won several awards including - Children’s Books Ireland, Children’s Choice Award 2017, ESFS Achievement Award for Best Work of Fiction 2017.

The Call is a rich story mixing horror, survivalism and deep-rooted Irish mythology. The Wertzone has given The Call a great review and strongly recommends it.

What if you only had 3 minutes to save your own life and the clock is already counting down... Three minutes. Nessa, Megan and Anto know that any day now they wake up alone in a horrible land and realise they've been Called. Two minutes. Like all teenagers they know that they'll be hunted down and despite all their training only 1 in 10 will survive. One minute. And Nessa can't run, her polio twisted legs mean she'll never survive her Call will she? Time's up.

The next book in the Call series, The Invasion, was released in March 2018. Peadar has also contributed the latest collection in George RR Martin's Wild Cards series, Knaves Over Queens. Indeed, two of his pieces for that volume are set in Belfast - and one even gives the Wellington Park Hotel a small mention!

The Invasion

Peadar has been writing curious stories for as long as he can remember. One of his school reports claimed that he had "a talent for communication, which he abuse[d]." Since then he has written plays, published short stories and performed as a stand-up comedian. He has taken part in a project to translate the Linux operating system into Irish and is fluent in French and Italian. Peadar lives in Dublin where he toils night and day for a giant computer corporation.

As a fan of George RR Martin Peadar has been posting on the Westeros forum for years and in 2009 travelled to Worldcon in Montreal where the Brotherhood Without Banners took him firmly into the fold and made him one of their own. While signing copies of The Inferior for some of the BWB Peadar wrote a dedication that could not quite be read, it was supposed to say "...you are so awesome" but it looked like "...you are so enslaved". Within a few hours there were t-shirts and badges saying "Enslaved by Peadar Ó Guilín". I remain convinced that Peadar's fan club needs to be called The Enslaved and he really should try and work something about enslavement into his next novel.

The Enslaved of Peadar Ó Guilín badge

Peadar is now a regular at Irish conventions including Octocon in Dublin and is currently part of the team working on the Dublin 2019 WorldCon bid. He is always an interesting, enlightening and entertaining panelist. When first asked if he wanted to be a guest of TitanCon he thought it was a trick question, a horde of zombified wild horses could not keep him away! Peadar has proved a huge hit with the audience over the years moderating Game of Thrones panels and hosting our Masquerade in such hilarious style.

We invite you to be enslaved by Peadar Ó Guilín.

Jan Siegel

Jan Siegel

Jan Siegel is the pseudonym of fantasy writer Amanda Hemingway. Amanda co-hosted the 2016 Hugo Award Ceremony alongside her good friend Pat Cadigan, who was Toastmaster of WorldCon in Kansas City. They were both brillantly funny and did an amazing job.

Jan's first fantasy trilogy, the Fern Capel series, is a fantasy set in the modern world but exploring magical dimensions and a mythical past. She describes the real and magical worlds as being interleaved. Jan wanted to produce what was, in effect, a children's book for grownups, something that could be read and hopefully enjoyed by teenagers, pre-teens and their parents. She says that as a child she found all fiction entrancing, but some of that charm departed as she moved into the slightly more pretentious world of adult literature, and her aim was to recapture that magic while at the same time writing on a more mature level.

The first book in the series, Prospero's Children (1999), opens with sixteen-year-old Fernanda "Fern" Capel and her younger brother finding themselves isolated in a remote house in Yorkshire where they become entangled in the search for a mysterious key that may be hidden there. The second book, The Dragon Tamer (2000), is set some years later and Fern is about to make a marriage of suitability rather than love, when shadows from her magical past reappear to disrupt the proceedings. The final book in the trilogy is called Witch's Honour (2002) in which Fern must battle a witch who has been invigorated by a dip in the River Styx and is therefore invulnerable.

Multiverse

The Sangreal Trilogy uses the same background as the Fern Capel series, but with a whole new cast of characters. In the first book, The Greenstone Grail (2005), a desperate mother spirits away her infant son, seemingly drawn (chased, perhaps?) to the small English village of Thornyhill. She ends up on the doorstep of old Bartlemy, a curious man who has lived on the forested land for as long as anyone can remember - and who comes to believe that the child is destined for great things...

Nathan's adventures continue in the second book, The Traitor's Sword (2006), as he searches for the second of the three Grail relics in the mediaeval kingdom of Wilderslee. In the final book of the Sangreal trilogy, The Poisoned Crown (2007), Nathan has to find the lost crown on a planet covered entirely by water, while contending with a malevolent sea-goddess, assorted marine monsters, an imminent war between merfolk and selkies, and a topless mermaid.

Jan's most recent YA work is The Devil's Apprentice (2013). The Devil is retiring... but who's taking over? When teenage Pen inherits the job of caretaker for a London building with no doors and only a secret entrance from the caretaker's lodge – which she must never use – little does she know it will lead her into unbelievable danger. For Azmordis, also known as Satan, a spirit as old as time and as powerful as the Dark, Immortality is running out.

Amanda also writes romantic comedy novels under the pseudonym of Jemma Harvey. The first of these is Wishful Thinking (2004), which Amanda says she began almost at random, simply to see if she could do it, and enjoyed it so much she kept writing. It's is a feelgood story for people recovering from flu and broken hearts, a holiday book for the beach or the aeroplane. Her second romantic comedy, Kissing Toads (2006), is a cynical take on the world of makeover TV. A gardening show goes on location in a Scottish castle owned by an ageing rock star to make a series in which they have to not only fix up the rockery but re-plant a maze which is cursed and re-enact scenes from the dodgy past of former lairds.

Jan's latest publication is Multiverse, a poetry anthology which sees her joined by guest poets including actress/comedienne Helen Lederer, artist/critic Julian Bell, and of course Pat Cadigan. Never one to rest on her laurels, she is also working on crime fiction, adding yet another string to her very diverse bow!

Jo Zebedee

Jo Zebedee

Jo Zebedee hails from just outside Belfast, and writes a mix of sci fi and fantasy. Described as a 'thoughtful and intelligent' writer (British Fantasy Society journal), she is the author of five novels and numerous short stories.

Her first work, The Inheritance Trilogy (Tickety Boo Press, 2015), presented a dark Space Opera inspired by classic SF. In it, she challenged the trope of the 'chosen one' and questioned what it would ask of someone to fulfil that role. Exploring psi powers, military leadership and political intrigue against a backdrop of Jo's characteristic close character work, the trilogy presents an ambitious first work.

Jo says that "what I wanted to do was to take the SFF trope of the 'chosen one' and ask what it would mean to be that chosen person. What would it do to their relationships, their friendships? Their sanity? I wanted to explore that against a classic SF setting, so there's plenty of action, FTL tech, some military scenes, and the backdrop of a big space opera world." Abendau's Heir can be categorised as grimdark and takes the characters, and the reader, to some very dark corners of the universe.

Waters And The Wild

Jo is best known for her second novel, Inish Carraig, set in a post-alien invasion Belfast. The city presents a familiar, but changed, picture, which challenges perceptions of Belfast. Described by sfbook.com as 'a gritty post invasion novel. There is a tense realism to the key scenes of conflict and some supporting cast manage to maintain a position of ambiguity right up until the end of the book. Scenes in the dark countryside where life becomes a desperate struggle from one moment to the next are chillingly real. The truest monsters in the text are particularly awful examples of humanity.'

Jo is currently working on a screenplay of the original novel, and a sequel to it, where she is intent on trashing the rest of the country, too.

Also set in Northern Ireland is Jo's first fantasy novel, Waters and the Wild (Inspired Quill, 2017). A blend of psychological horror with fantasy elements and a strong storyline focused on mental health and its fallout on wider families, Waters and the Wild is an ambitious project. 'It’s not a fairy tale as you know it; it’s almost more akin to a thriller feel, a cat-and-mouse game through the landscape and Amy’s head.' Sffworld.com

Jo lectures on creative writing and fantasy and sf fiction for the Crescent Arts Centre and the Irish Writers Centre, and has received support from the Arts Council of NI for her writing. She’s delighted to be welcomed along to TitanCon again and can’t wait to catch up with everyone.