I'm delighted to show off our fabulous cover visual for EMPIRE GAMES by Charles Stross. The book is a thriller involving (at least) two powerful nations, one coerced spy and a number of alternative timelines - these only accessible to the initiated. And as a battle for control hits a new high, all hell is about to break loose.
THE COVER LOOK
The cover itself is edgy, urban and it gives me a sense of predatory watchfulness - a theme key in this book of spy-craft and conspiracy. The streets seem to almost close in to entrap the unwary, with surveillance cameras bristling out of sight. We did try to put them in sight, but they had to be out-of-proportion giant in order to see them given the scale of the buildings - which looked stupid. Ugh, reality, reality. There are a number of great locations we could have chosen in the book, but we've gone for a modern New York feel, as the most recognisable to the majority of readers. Miriam Beckstein's alternative industrial revolution New York sounds cool but browsing readers might not 'get' this quite as quickly! The colouring, graphic approach and urban setting also give a nod to the latest THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE cover. And I think it's no bad thing to signal your alternate history credentials!
It's a time of ambition, treachery and dangerous secrets...
Rita Douglas has just about had it with her dead end job. Then the Department of Homeland Security makes her an offer she can’t actually refuse. Soon she’s reluctantly training for a top-secret operation as a US spy, where latent genetic abilities make her the only viable candidate. And these genes can be switched on to allow her to visit - and infiltrate - alternate timelines. For the United States is waging a war on terror, targeting assassins who can skip between alternate worlds to deliver death on a mass scale. Rita will be the state’s secret weapon.
Miriam Beckstein is a cabinet-level politician in an industrial revolution US. And her agenda is to champion progress. Her dearest wish is to accelerate her world's tech before their paranoid American twin finds them. It would blow them all to hell. After all, they've done it before. Each timeline also battles dangerous internal conspiracies, as a new cold war threatens to turn white hot. But which world is the aggressor – and will Rita have to choose a side?
PRAISE FOR CHARLES STROSS
The multiple-award winning Stross will be known to many of you. But for those who'd like an introduction, here's just some of the praise for his work:
'A festival of ideas in action, fast moving and often very funny'
'Stross’s ability to combine interesting ideas with solid plotting is one of his great strengths'
Asimov’s Science Fiction
'Fast-paced and engrossing and will leave readers ravenous for the next installment'
'One of the defining phenomena of twenty-first century SF is Charles Stross, for the quality of his work at its best''
THE COVER ITSELF
Here it is ... and don't you love the animation. Not, of course, something for the final printed book - yet anyway!