Gollancz acknowledged delivery of the book a couple of days ago. As far as I know it’s still on course for April 19th 2012. Meanwhile there’s a brief extract here.
Anna Kearney: Anna is trying to come to terms with her life. Since Michael Kearney walked into the sea off Mann Hill Beach, she’s remarried & has a grown-up daughter. Though she spent decades “pretending to be an adult”, Anna remains as dysfunctional as ever, haunted by her own suicide attempts & a dream she can’t explain. She’s trying, in her confused and self-defeating way, to return to physicist Brian Tate the data collected in the Tate-Kearney experiments.
World X: The crew of the Nova Swing strip the remaining assets of Madame Shen’s circus, shipping illegal aliens from planet to disused planet across the Halo. Who is the mysterious M.P. Renoko ? Why is he so interested in diner aesthetics ? What is the true nature of the quarantine orbit ? Irene the mona loses faith in the party universe. For Liv Hula & Fat Antoyne, there’s an unwelcome meeting with an old acquaintance.
Saudade City: Lens Aschemann’s assistant investigates a series of unlikely killings. She doesn’t seem to be any better at investigation than Aschemann, but everyone is too scared of her to complain. “Rig” Gaines, a mid-rank EMC fixer with a satisfyingly broad remit, introduces her to a million-year-old experimental artefact. She gets a boyfriend. She searches for a name. Fans of Aschemann’s 1952 Cadillac roadster will be delighted to find that its engine has been uprated to 1000 horsepower.
War. Rockets. Disturbing imagery. Appearances by characters from previous fictions. Sex tourism. Gigantic objects in space. Death of a loved figure. Faux retro. Bad behaviour presented without sufficient moral positioning. Weird behaviour presented without comment. A book, in short, which reproduces the exact experience of the 21st Century Cultural Minimum. Pearlent will work better if you’re familiar with Light & Nova Swing.
In the early 80s I wrote a note about a little girl called Anna, having a tantrum in a bookshop. Something about her relationship with her mother, whose name I have forgotten, made me feel Anna would have a disordered life. I never could make anything of this note. It lay dormant for 20 years, then gave birth to Anna Kearney in Light. It was dormant again until this morning when I took the original Anna out of her box &, handling her very carefully in case she fell to pieces, wondered for the millionth time if I could do anything with her: only to realise, finally, that I already had. This Anna’s mother was thin, epileptic, nervy. Hindsight leads me to suspect she didn’t eat much. This Anna is my key to the Anna I need to write in Pearlant–a woman now 50 years old & setting out on the last part of the unconscious journey of the author.