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SIMON INGS is a novelist, science writer and occasional wildlife cameraman. Hwas educated at King’s College London and Birkbeck College, London. He has written several novels and one nonfiction book, as well as short prose and articles for national newspapers. His science features and interviews have been featured on national radio and in magazines as diverse as New Scientist, Wired and Dazed and Confused. He is currently the editor of Arc, a science fiction magazine launched by New Scientist in 2012. He lives in London.

 

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Simon Ings's website

Featured titles

WOLVES

 

Praise for Simon Ings’s fiction

 

One of the very few British writers [who is] both contemporary and genuinely challenging – James Flint, GUARDIAN

 

Modern science fiction in full pomp – Christopher Priest

At school, Connie and Micky were best friends. Together they cooked up all the ways the world could end. Years later, Michel imagines apocalypses for a living, and lives inside fantasies of the Fall. Conrad works in advertising, spinning aspirational dreams out of imaginary light. Their reunion promises to reveal who killed Conrad’s mother. It’s also going to make them a lot of money, wreck Michel’s marriage and maybe – just maybe – bring about the collapse of Western civilization.

 

Based on research in the booming field of augmented reality, WOLVES is a surreal whodunnit about what happens when unhappy men get their hands on powerful media. Part crime novel, part coming-of-age tale and part intellectual thriller, it should appeal to readers of Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood and Michel Faber’s Under the Skin – an informed, atmospheric cutting-edge tale of the near future.

 

Augmented reality is an appropriate and timely topic for Simon Ings because he was recently appointed the inaugural editor of Arc, a new science fiction magazine from the New Scientist stable. He was also among the first UK writers to report on the technology, interviewing in the 1990s one of its pioneers for the UK edition of Wired. Now, Ings claims, augmented reality’s time has come.

Publisher: Gollancz (Editor: Simon Spanton)

Publication: Spring 2014

Status: Manuscript

Length: 75,000 words


All rights available excluding:

World English Language (Gollancz)

RUSSIAN DOLLS

The Triumph and Tragedy of Stalin's Scientists

The extraordinary story of blighted hopes and wrong turnings, of betrayals and sacrifices – but also a celebration of careers and achievements that shaped the modern world. 

 
By the late 1920s, Joseph Stalin was effectively dictator of the Soviet Union. Under his rule, the world’s most well-funded scientific apparatus became an arm of the government. Stalin styled himself the Great Scientist and socialism itself was declared a science of happiness. But did Stalin swallow science – or did science swallow Stalin? Drawing from the biographies of more than a dozen leading scientific thinkers, RUSSIAN DOLLS asks whether, after so many denouncements, sackings, exiles, imprisonments and murders, Soviet science might actually have won the battle for power.

 
Soviet scientists were, for years, the best-funded, most officially well-recognised and best-resourced intellectuals on the planet. Those who survived the purges enjoyed unheard of privileges. But the victors in this scramble for power were not necessarily the greatest achievers, and the Soviet scientific breakthroughs that have most shaped our world – transforming our agriculture, our schools and our hospitals – are not necessarily the breakthroughs we remember. For the record: our understanding of how evolution works is Soviet. Much of our genetics originated in the Soviet Union. Our early-years education follows an early Soviet model. The science of ecology is founded on work wholly conducted in the Soviet Union. Modern neuropsychology was born in a Soviet evacuation hospital during the Second World War. The list goes on. 


Faced at the start of their century with unimaginable human and practical challenges, scientists of the former Russian empire tied their fortunes to the fortunes of a bankrupt revolutionary state. Far from being 'bourgeois' or 'fascist' they were, in word and deed, wildly radical, and Russia’s last true revolutionaries. Many were inspired by and worked enthusiastically for the revolutionary regime, but many also withstood, evaded and resisted it. This is their story.

 

Publisher: Faber (Acquisition Editor: Neil Belton)

Delivery: 31 January 2014

Publication: Autumn 2014

Status: Proposal

Length: 100,000 words

 

World rights: Faber

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DEAD WATER

 

Off the coast of Sri Lanka, a tramp steamer is seized by pirates. The captain has his wife and son aboard and knows that their survival depends on giving the pirates exactly what they want. But what can they possibly want with his worn-out ship and its cargo of junk?

 

On the island of Bali a tsunami washes up a rusting container. Inside, the mummified remains of a shipping magnate missing for 30 years and a hand-written journal of his last days locked within his aluminum tomb. Through the dusty industrial towns of India's Great Trunk Road, a disgraced female detective tracks a criminal syndicate. Her life has been ruined, but she will have her revenge.

 

In a backstreet Mayfair office, an automated distress signal is picked up on a private satellite network. A ship is missing. A Dead Water ship. Dead Water is the key to everything. A code name for a covert operation initiated during World War Two. But why is it unravelling now, and what will the consequences be?

 

Publisher: Corvus

Pub Date: 1 August 2011

Length: 352 pages

 

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THE EYE
A Natural History


Ings deals with... all parts of this thoroughly engaging book, with refreshing clarity, enthusiasm and vigour. It's a real eye-opener – Doug Johnstone, THE TIMES

A rich and eclectic survey, with an intriguing nugget on almost every page – Graham Farmelo, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

In many ways it's the perfectly judged popular-science book. [It] will bring out the intelligent 12-year-old in us all – Marcus Berkmann, THE SPECTATOR

Ings has succeeded in writing an elegant, entertaining and up-to-date overview of cutting-edge research... utterly compelling – Gail Vines, INDEPENDENT.

Ings has a good eye for memorable anecdotes and striking facts. More importantly, Ings is a very good explainer of scientific concepts – Robert Hanks, TELEGRAPH

* We spend about a tenth of our waking hours completely blind.

* Only one percent of what we see is in focus at any one time.

* We exist in a world we see that’s always about half a second behind the real one.

* In fact you don’t need eyes to see – blind volunteers have been taught to see through their chests.

* Wasps can’t see, but map their surroundings instead.

* If we are stared at, our heartbeat rises and our galvanic skin response alters.

* Why do humans have whites to their eyes when other species don’t?

* Could it be that thinking arose as an evolutionary response to seeing?

* Without eyes, would minds exist at all?

Be prepared to have your eyes opened!

Using a spellbinding mix of scientific research, mathematics, philosophy, history, neuroscience, anecdote and language theory, in THE EYE Simon Ings unravels brilliantly the never-ending puzzle of how and why we see in the way that we do.

From looking at the work of a huge range of theorists and scientists, to myths and personal experiences, and with the help of a beguiling mix of illustrated visual conundrums and enigmas, Simon Ings triumphs with a compelling dissection of the age-old mysteries of the eye that’s both seriously interesting and interestingly fun.

This is the eye’s whole story, fusing eye and sight into a single narrative – the science and art of vision told for the first time.

Publisher: Bloomsbury (UK)/Norton (US)*
Pub date: 19 March 2007 (UK)/13 October 2008 (US)
Length: 336 pages

All rights available excluding:
UK & Commonwealth, US, Germany (Hoffman & Campe), Italy (Einauid), Japan (Hayakawa), Portugal (Aletheia)

For international rights contact Bloomsbury

*Published in the US as A NATURAL HISTORY OF SEEING

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The Weight of Numbers

The Weight of Numbers is unerringly well written, and engrossing to the last page – Lionel Shriver

One of the most exciting - and relevant - books of the last year. Booker material, for sure – ARENA

Simon Ings’ ambitiously genre-defying novel is a virtuoso display of imaginative plotting – FINANCIAL TIMES, ‘Novels of 2006’

Ings weaves an ingenious, shimmering web of contiguity and chance... a feat of meticulous plotting – Alastair Sooke, NEW STATESMAN

It is unlikely there will be a finer written fiction this year... Ings arrives at a new heart of darkness – Chris Petit, GUARDIAN

On 21 July 1969 two astronauts set foot on the moon; far below, in ravaged Mozambique, a young revolutionary is murdered by a package bomb. Strung like webs between these two unconnected events are three lives: Anthony Burden, a mathematical genius destroyed by the beauty of numbers; Saul Cogan, transformed from prankster idealist to trafficker in the poor and dispossessed; and Stacey Chavez, ex-teenage celebrity and mediocre performance artist, hungry for fame and starved of love. All are haunted by Nick Jinks, a man who sows disaster wherever he goes.

As a grid of connections emerges between a dusty philosophical society in London and an African revolution, between international container shipping and celebrity-hosted exposés on the problems of the Third World, THE WEIGHT OF NUMBERS sends the spectres of the baby boom’s liberal revolutions floating into the unreal estate of globalization and media overload.

Publisher: Atlantic (UK)/Black Cat (Grove Atlantic) (US)*
Pub date: 2 March 2006 (UK)/21 February 2007 (US)
Length: 432 pages

All rights available excluding:
UK & Commonwealth, US, Canada (HarperCollins), Czech Republic (Lidove Noviny), France (Editions du Panama), Germany (Manhattan), Greece (Malliaris), Italy (Saggiatore), Portugal (Leya), Russia (AST), Spain (Bibliópolis), Turkey (Everest)

For international rights contact Atlantic Books

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