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The oaks and firs stood up as they reached the interstate and pushed on through the South West Pacific Highway to the Salmon River Highway, past places with names like Falling Creek, Tualatin, Joe Dancer Park and Erratic Rock.  Places you could walk out into and die and never be found.  He could imagine them seared by sun in summer and shrouded in snow in winter.  Hammered by hail the size of coins in spring and autumn, pounding flesh and smashing bone, processed to be carried off chunk by speck in the guts of birds. 

He had had a friend, a thin man with soft eyes and a tight jaw who ground his teeth whenever he was thinking, who’d walked out one day in a spare place like these.  He’d left a note by the front left wheel of the pick-up truck parked outside his cabin, pinned to the dirt by an old can of dogfood.  He was one of the generations who typed all day, and his handwriting had lost the fluency of daily practice.  The note read, “You won’t find me.  I am returning to the cycle of nature while I still can.  I don’t want to see the end of the future.  Tell my father I’m glad he has cancer.  Goodbye.”  He had scrawled a drawing of an empty hourglass at the bottom of the note.  Adam remembered flipping the note, and finding that it was scrawled on the back of a pharmacy receipt for a great many painkillers and four bottles of expensive mineral water, the stuff with extra vitamins in.  They never found him.  Adam presumed that the empty plastic bottles of pills and water were still bobbing around in a creek somewhere, as a final fuck-you to the littering world he despised, while he circled overhead, riding legion in the bellies of birds.

This is from the opening chapter of NORMAL, my next novella, soon to be published by FSG Originals.  It is being published in two ways.  In advance of the print edition coming out at the end of the year, NORMAL is being serialised on digital in four weekly parts.

Some people call it “abyss gaze.” Gaze into the abyss all day and the abyss will gaze into you.

I first wrote that "abyss gaze" line years ago.  This little book has been a long time coming.

There is a place, in the wilds of Oregon, within the secure perimeter of an experimental forest, where the people who think about the future are sent to recover.

If you’re good at it, and you spend your days and nights doing it, then it’s something you can’t do for long stretches.  Depression sets in.  Mental illness festers.  Some people call it a bad case of abyss gaze.  Gazing into the abyss all day leads to the abyss gazing into you.  If abyss gaze takes hold, and you’re lucky, you’ll be sent to Normal Head, OR.

Think of it as a summer miniseries, maybe.  A four-week show.

Here, the people who watch the future are unplugged and immersed in sylvan silence.

There's a philosopher, espousing a return to Dark Ages systems and values, claiming on any given day to be dead and/or possessed and/or an alien,  kept in permanent residence for both his safety and the world’s.  There’s a biologist who claims to be in constant conversation with her own gut flora, which she insists is actually the planet’s dominant lifeform, and refuses to leave because her vegetal owners like it here in the forest.

And there’s Adam Dearden, arriving here for the first time after catching a bad case of abyss gaze in Namibia.  He doesn’t want to tell anyone that one night in foggy Windhoek he met a man who wasn’t there.

And there’s the inmate who went missing from a locked bedroom the next day, leaving nothing but a pile of insects in his wake.

A locked-room mystery set in a remote rest home for broken futurists.  NORMAL.

Here is the dedicated page for NORMAL at FSG.

Here's the digital release schedule I was given:

July 12, 19, 26, and Aug 2

Now, the website says July 11.  So we'll have clarity on that next week.  We will also have links and confirmation of the digital services offering it for sale.

The print edition will drop on November 29, and I'll be doing a few events in America around that date.  Which are pretty much already confirmed internally with FSG, who have been arranging everything (brilliantly), so we already know where we're going. Those dates will be announced (a lot) closer to the time.

Please feel free to circulate this link, by the way.  I'm going to need all the help I can get with this one.

All press enquiries on NORMAL need to go to Sarah Scire at FSG Originals.

Hey, look at that.  I'm a book writer again.  Little book.  Novella.  But still.

(Can't wait for the complaints about the novella size.  One guy took me to task over GUN MACHINE on Twitter once, complaining that it wasn't a "proper" book because it was "only" 90,000 words long.  You can spot the guys raised on doorstop sff trilogies a mile off.)

(I like novellas.)

  • REAL LIFE magazine is an online magazine launched by Nathan Jurgenson, a social media theorist who, for the last three years, has been an in-house researcher/philosopher for Snapchat, of all places.  Which is paying for REAL LIFE. Which has also paid for his annual Theorising The Web conference. Which I still find amazing and delightful. Anyway. Nathan has assembled some fine people for REAL LIFE, and I believe it will be worth your attention.  Great introductory piece, which begins, "Videodrome is the best film ever made about the internet," so, you know, sold.
  • Kelly Sue and Matt have launched, a website intended to surround and inform on all their myriad projects from comics to television to apparel.
  • "Red Pinkertons" - "American detective pulp thrillers re-interpreted for a Soviet readership as ideological Communist adventure novels." (Warning: site in link hates ad blockers) 


I am still on a work death march here, and am hoping I can spend most of Tuesday in bed recovering -- I need to get three scripts wrapped by Monday night, and spend Weds-Fri finishing an episode of BOND, which should open up July to handle the NORMAL launch and, touch wood, write a tv pilot (PROJECT SANTA CRUZ), as well as the main draft of PROJECT KRONSTADT. I have a feeling that at least one of these things will be announced around SDCC, right in the middle of NORMAL's serialisation. By which time I hope I will have enough money in the bank to be drunk somewhere in Europe and able to ignore it all.

Speaking of Europe. I'm voting Remain on the 23rd. I hope my British readers are too, because the Leave campaign have made their view of Britain's future horribly clear in the last few days. is where you can usually find me dropping links during the week. is usually daily posts.

Snapchat/warrenellis is utterly random. I post to my Story, but otherwise tend to stay friends-only.


Okay, I have a ton to do today, so I'm out.  I trust you will forgive my giving up so much of the newsletter to the book announcement, but I don't have a new novel(la) published every day, so I figure you can deal with it.  I'll see you next week with a letter that isn't all LOOK AT ME PAY ATTENTION TO ME probably.