Learn more about Jack here.

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What Jack’s looking for:

The son of a mining engineer and a poet, I naturally ended up with a doctorate in quantum physics and a love of Science Fiction, each using, as they do, a little of the extraordinary to understand the everyday.

SF’s capacity to disrupt and subvert dominant perspectives is central to why I fell for it, and I encourage submissions from writers from underrepresented backgrounds. 

What I look for above all else is the visceral impact of a story which leaves you changed. I first found this, in distilled form, in 2000AD Future Shocks, particularly those by Alan Moore, and I appreciate anything holding a Black Mirror up to our world, and to ourselves. 

Speculative – I’m not going to worry about genre classifications, bring me the next Never Let Me Go, Perdido Street Station or The Fifth Season. I am at home with the high-concept and I like it literary. Weird and troubling books in the vein of Palahniuk please.

Social Commentary – SF shines when it explores social organisation and highlights the idiocy and arbitrariness of our culture and its prejudices. I adore books like Ancillary Justice and A Memory Called Empire, continuing in the tradition of The Left Hand of Darkness.

Utopia/Dystopia – Show me something with the complexity of the Culture novels, or the unrelenting darkness of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Man in the High Castle. Ambiguity also allowed. 

Apocalypse/Singularity – Give me the desperate inevitability of Oryx and Crake, a pandemic as unusual as Embassytown, or a new Canticle for Leibowitz to sing. Visions that are not only outside the box, but over the horizon, thinking of Childhood’s End, or Skyward Inn. 

AI & Other Intelligences – I want to see someone do justice to our superintelligent AI overlords. Explorations of what it might be like to be a bat, dog, spider… So hard to do well, so worth it when it is. I delight in Banksian Minds and their quirky arrogance, but I adore the fearful incomprehensibility of Neuromancer or the Weaver. 

Scale Invariant – I span the spectrum. The overwhelming arcs of Foundation and Dune were among those that brought me to the genre, while Tchaikovsky’s Shards and Children series keep me here, but I am equally delighted with a deep zoom on finely drawn characters as in The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Little Green Men – Whether they come in peace, anger or obliviousness, I want attempts to think the unthinkable and conceive of first contact. A reality as disturbing as a dream in Annihilation, the masterful integration of the utterly alien in Rosewater, or the awe and scope of The Three-Body Problem. 

Multiverses and (W)alternates – You gotta love ‘em. Banks’ Transition did it well, and I’d welcome a book bringing the energy of comic multiverses such as Planetary. Fringe was a firm favourite, and I’ll allow a bit of steam if it’s coming with the intelligence and depth of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.