Wednesday, 23 November 2011


The publicity people at William Morrow, my US publisher, asked me to to give some answers to a Q&A they'd prepared in advance of 'The Demi-Monde: Winter' at the end of December. One of the questions was:

Is it plausible that any government is working on a Demi-Monde of its own at this very moment?

A bloody interesting question! And to answer it I decided to trawl thru the web to see if there was anybody potty enough to be trying to do just that. I didn't have to trawl very far. I put in 'Virtual Worlds + Military Applications' into Google and up popped:

Now according to NextGov's FaceBook page it's a leading federal technology web site, a meeting place for government and industry managers to read the latest news and discussions and to share insights on deploying IT successfully to schieve agency missions.

What NextGov was discussing that so intrigued me was the news that the US Army wants to develop a massive virtual world populated by 10,000 avatars that are managed by artificial intelligence and operate over a 32-mile square simulated terrain. That stopped me: the Demi-Monde is 30 miles in circumference and, of course, is managed by its very own artificial intelligence, the quantum computer known as ABBA.

NextGov went on: officials at the ARDEC's (the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command) Simulation and Technology Training Center said that they want a systems intergrator to put together a virtual world that includes soldiers, vehicles and weapons that can move around a landscape built from Defense Department gigital terrain data. Of course my Demi-Monde was commissioned by the US Army's Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) based in Fort Jackson, South Carolina and the contractor chosen was ParaDigm CyberResearch. ARDEC might want to give 'em a call! 

ARDEC also said in its request for information that it wants to incorporate technologies used in massively multiplayer online games. The Demi-Monde is defined as a MMP simulation ... to recreate in a wholly ralistic cyber-milieu the threat-ambiance and no-warning aspect of ... an Asymmetric Warfare Environment. Snap!

Now the similarities to the tender document for the Demi-Monde simulation produced when ParaDigm pitched for the contract (you can check this out on might be coincidental but being a suspicious sod I went back to check on the visits made to the site. Now to identify if any of them were from the US military I used (a very scary site so you have been warned!) which told me that I'd had two visits from an IP address which seems to belong to US Defence Information Systems Agency. Pecular, right?

Now I'm not saying I've been ripped off (I mean when the NextGov quotes a guy called General William Loomey III as the govenment's spokesman they've gotta taking the piss; whatever next Wing Commander Burlesque Bandstand?) but I just hope the similarities between what the US military is cooking up and the Demi-Monde end here, otherwise we're all in deep shit. I think they should wait for the final volume before they go much further!

I wonder if I should ask for royalties?

Friday, 11 November 2011


Some great news to begin the month! I've just learned that DEMI-MONDE: WINTER is an Indie Next pick for the month of January in the USA!

Until about two minutes ago I didn't know what this was or why it's such a big deal so here's a description from the internet:

The Indie Next List, drawn from bookseller-recommended favorite handsells, epitomizes the heart and soul of passionate bookselling. Independent booksellers are and have always been discoverers of the next big thing, the next great read, the next bestseller, and the next undiscovered gem. The monthly Indie Next List flier, sent to members via the monthly Red Box and available for download online, includes a bookseller quotation and complete title information for each outstanding book. Each monthly flier also announces IndieBound hardcover Great Reads now available in paperback. The Indie Next List is also featured on the consumer website,

I'm really chuffed!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


After five weeks bloody hard work I have got 'Dark Charismatic' - my take on the Jekyll and Hyde story - into a state where I think it is now readable. I chopped about 45,000 words out so it now comes in at around 145,000 and most of the sex scenes are now on the edit room floor. I upped the gothic horror too which I think is a good thing.

This is the cover that Nigel did when I was thinking about self-publishing it two or three years ago.
I think I can ditch the bit about there being an 'erotic twist' now!

I'm now passing it over to Nelli to do a beta-read and once she's happy I'll have to decide what to do with it. It'll be a book that's all dressed up but with nowhere to go!

Sunday, 6 November 2011


Just read that The Demi-Monde: Winter will be the 17th imprint of Nouveaux Millénaires the new series of SF books that J'ai Lu (my French publisher) have launched this year. From what I can understand this is going to be a series of the best of SF so I'm in some pretty auspicious company. The first book in the series is 'Flowers for Algernon' - or 'Algernon et moi' - which is one of my all time favourite books (if you haven't read it, do so, it's brilliantly poignant) and will be followed by works from writers of the ilk of Nick Sagan and Philip K.Dick. I'm really honoured.

Of course, that J'ai Lu has entitled this their nooSFere is quite a coincidence too. Teilhard de Chardin's noosphere - the emergence of a unified global mind - is an intergral part of the fourth Demi-Monde book, The Demi-Monde: Fall. Small world ... or perhaps, better, Monde!


Friday, 4 November 2011


Nice recent review of Winter carried BookGeeks, see

For his début novel, the first in a four-book story cycle, Rod Rees has taken on the well-used SF theme of virtual reality and the consequences when worlds collide. From cyberpunk novels to some particularly well-known episodes of Star Trek (which, with its holo-decks, could conjure up virtual realities for its characters at the push of a button), it’s a popular idea – so the execution of it, and the characterisation and storytelling, are the keys to success if originality is the goal. Fortunately, Rod Rees has demonstrated considerable prowess in all of these areas in Winter.
The Demi-Monde is a totally immersive virtual reality environment created to train US soldiers in asymmetric warfare – a simulation so realistic that players can forget they’re in a game at all, populated by millions of AI characters called Dupes. Everything about the simulation is designed to foment tension – limited access to natural resources, over-population, competing ideologies and the presence of a number of Singularities, characters modelled on the despots, tyrants and hard men of history, including Shaka Zulu, Henry VIII, Robespierre and Reynhard Heydrich. But (it won’t surprise you to learn), something’s gone very wrong in the Demi-Monde: the Dupes have realised that soldiers and other visitors walk among them and have started taking hostages – since to die in the game is to die in real life, the simulation can’t be turned off. Worse, somehow, the daughter of the US President has been drawn in to the game and captured. The stakes are very high indeed.
The unlikely heroine of the rescue mission is Ella Thomas, an 18-year old jazz singer – the only person who has the attributes to exploit a back door in the programme. Behind enemy lines, she has to adjust to the unique reality of the programme – and before too long she finds herself caught up in the middle of a war, started by Heydrich against a neighbouring zone, with genocidal intent. Also fighting against Heydrich are a rag-tag Polish resistance, led by the daughter of an aristocrat who works for Heydrich. Along the way, Ella meets versions of Alasteir Crowley, Leon Trotsky and Josephine Baker, among other figures from history, falls in love, and generally becomes completely immersed in the simulation despite the fact that she should be the only person in there who knows it isn’t real. Except she’s not the only one – some of the Dupes have worked it out too.
Everything about the Demi-Monde is beautifully thought out – the Orwellian delight in perverting the English language, a consideration of what would happen if all these characters from history were alive at the same time, a well-realised alternate system of physics and chemistry, and so one. It’s a rip-roaring story that does not pull any punches, with the desperate defence against Heydrich tragically evoking the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in its bloody desperation. It also has some great characters, including Ella and her Dupe partner-in-crime Vanka Maykov, and succeeded in leaving this reader very keen to know what happens next. Roll on Spring!

Many thanks my Geeky friends!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


The US editing of 'The Demi-Monde: Winter' is scheduled for the end of December and things are starting to pick up on the promotional front which is all very exciting.

This is the advert which will go on the site 'Shelf Awareness' (and people think my puns are bad!) which, from what I can make out is the reference site for bookstores in the US.

Thank you to Mr Rollins for the kind words!

HarperCollins have also been building a very impressive FaceBook page which you can check out on

Now THAT is a bloody big internet address! I think the page (pages, actually) look very nice indeed (take a bow Shawn) and hopefully over the next few weeks there'll be lots of good stuff going up to intrigue and entice.

One of these is a competition to win a copy of the US edition. This has been posted on the HarperCollins blog.

All-in-all it looks very good. I'm pleased.