The Music of the Spheres: A Rock Dystopia

So this blog has been “out of service” for a while, though its glorious contents remain here for you to digest at your leisure.

Since I wrote almost all of it, it is now appropriate for me to tell you about something new and exciting by me: A novel! The Music of the Spheres is a story that mixes alternate history with crime fiction and a musical theme.

The blurb:

It’s an alternate 1968 in which recreational drugs aren’t illegal; in fact, giant pharma companies push them as regulated products with full governmental sanction to a class of drugged-out hippies that are nothing but cash cows living in a fake counterculture. Musician Simon Hastings of leading psychedelic band The Spheres discovers the true callous darkness of this arrangement when his band’s singer is poisoned by one of these drugs — and it’s clear the death was a professional hit. Through a dystopian landscape, Hastings determinedly searches for the murderer, with the help of a cast of eccentric psychedelic rock heroes. Hastings gradually becomes aware that true rebellion will require a lot more than just blissing out and making noise. The Music of the Spheres is both a darkly comedic romp and a loving paean to musical idealism.

The story behind this novel is:

When I started working in publishing as an editor and was working on all these 80,000-word tomes, I became curious. I knew I had English language skills, but could I generate a satisfying story of that length? My own interests were as a musician, not a writer, but it seemed a good winter project.

So, in 2000-01, I spent lots of time writing this story. It was inspired by my lifelong admiration for Michael Moorcock’s alternate histories (A Nomad of the Time Streams, particularly), combined with my love for the bands of the psychedelic era (Hawkwind, Gong, Pink Floyd, the Soft Machine, etc.). Some characters are very, very loosely based on these people, but not directly, as you would find in, say, Butterworth’s Time of the Hawklords. The idea was to create a romp with plenty of music, dark humour, zany situations, but also a serious undertone critiquing capitalism and its role in the music industry, among other things.

I didn’t do anything with it, self-publishing being really hard to do well in those days. And being in publishing, I know getting an agent or a publisher is like winning the lottery, so I didn’t want to waste time in that pursuit.

So I saved it on a disk and forgot about it. Or so I thought.

Around 2012, I had a computer blow up, and I had not been backing up properly. Eventually, it occurred to me that I had no idea what happened to this novel.

Imagine my dismay to find that it was not on any drive, nor could I find the disk.

It was gone forever!

That really irritated me, but life goes on.

A few years ago, after a move, I miraculously found a dusty printout at the bottom of a box and praised my twenty-something self for his foresight.

Upon reading it, I realized it was not really that bad! I became determined to retype, reedit, and revise the entire thing. This turned into a two-year project, since typing up a novel is very hard work…hard on the wrists.

Now that self-publishing is easy and convenient, I am able to bring this to you in a pretty nifty paperback edition with a great cover by designer Laura Boyle, priced to sell. There’s also a dirt-cheap ebook version.

Music fans, fans of crime fiction, and alternate history buffs may well enjoy The Music of the Spheres. No squares need apply, though, man!

NOTE: I see Coldplay is putting out an album with this title. I’d like to thank them for being inspired by me. ;>




2 responses to “The Music of the Spheres: A Rock Dystopia

  1. Looking forward to reading the new version. I bet it’s greatly improved with all your subsequent editorial expertise. I always felt bad that I was so unhelpful with it, but it wasn’t a genre I felt I could understand and intelligently critique. I also felt the audience would be very small, but I could have been wrong about that. In my experience, highly visual people and highly musical people are generally not great readers.

    So I hope you sell a tonne and prove me wrong! I’m going to get a copy and try again. It might make a good antidote to too much of Obama’s A Promised Land that I’m working my way through right now.

    Glad you’re staying healthy!


    Sylvia McConnell Sent from my iPad



    • It’s a small but mighty audience! As for whether it’s improved…well, I did a lot of work with all those years of experience behind me, but it really was a lot better to start with than I had feared all those years!


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