Sea of Ghosts by Alan Campbell

Posted by mo | Posted in News | Posted on 14-04-2011


Congratulations to Bloc comrade Alan Campbell on the publication of his fifth book, ‘Sea of Ghosts’, on sale now.

This is what Alan has to say about his latest creation:

…It’s the start of a new series, which is very (and I do mean *very*) loosely based on the Deepgate stuff. Blink and you’ll miss the connection. All this means is that you don’t need to have read the Deepgate series first (but you should buy it anyway).

With this series I wanted to do something a bit different. A few people have pointed out that Deepgate was a pretty dark place. Not the sort of town you’d want to be stuck in without specialist training. With The Gravedigger Chronicles, I wanted to lighten things up. First and foremost, I wanted it to be an adventure story. I also wanted to focus on fewer viewpoint characters. So this time round there are, I think, only four.

Furthermore, I’ve opted to include magic in a more overt way. But I have a problem with this. Magic in fantasy is colourful, powerful, awe-inspiring, yes, and yet it I always find it just a little frustrating. There’s always a voice in the back my mind saying “How does this actually work? Everyone’s learning it, but why isn’t anyone actually trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of it?” The magic in Deepgate stemmed from Hell, which was, more often than not, simply the manifestation of subconscious fears and desires. At least I think that’s what it was, but I haven’t read those books in a while, so please do feel free to buy them, read them, and correct me.

We have magic in the real world, but we call it science. Electricity, magnetism, quantum physics – beautiful, jaw-droppingly awe-inspiring stuff. And yet we spend billions and devote lifetimes to trying to unravel the secrets of the cosmos around us. So why do characters in Fantasy so often accept magic without question? Why does Frodo never ask, “Cool ring, but how exactly does it make you invisible?” To me that’s akin to never wondering why the big yellow ball goes away at night.

In SEA OF GHOSTS, the treasure hunter and metaphysicist Ethan Maskelyne (named after the Reverend Dr Neville Maskelyne) takes on this burden. It’s a small part of the book, and possibly inconsequential to the main story. The point is, it doesn’t really matter if he does manage to figure out how his particular cosmos works, the important thing – to me at least – is that he’s trying.

Comments (1)

Great review of this in March/April Interzone, by the way. “Sea of Ghosts manages the by-no-means-easy trick of providing an emotionally satisfying conclusion to the book while not lessening its preparation for the story’s continuation in book two. As a result, Campbell’s new trilogy… is built on very strong foundations indeed.” Nice one, Alan!