About this project
Improbable Botany is a brand-new science fiction anthology about alien plant conquests, fantastical ecosystems, benevolent dictatorships and techno-utopias.
This is the book plants don't want you to read...
Improbable Botany features newly commissioned short stories by eleven multi-award winning science fiction authors:
Ken MacLeod, Cherith Baldry, Eric Brown, Simon Morden, Adam Roberts, James Kennedy, Stephen Palmer, Justina Robson, Tricia Sullivan and Lisa Tuttle.
NEW AUTHOR UPDATE (15 July 2017): We’ve almost reached our goal… and with only a short time to go we're delighted to announce a new contributor -- an 11th author -- to our line-up...
Rachel Armstrong - Author, Futurist, Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society and Professor of Experimental Architecture. You can read more about Rachel in her bio below.
In support of the authors’ contributions, the book has been edited by Gary Dalkin, a former judge of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and former editor of Vector: The Critical Journal of the British Science Fiction Association.
We are delighted to say that Improbable Botany features incredibly rich and evocative jacket artwork, along with six full-colour illustrations, by Jonathan Burton – whose outstanding body of work has been featured by The Folio Society, Penguin Books, BAFTA, HarperCollins, Random House and The New York Times.
The book is being produced by Wayward, a London-based landscape, art and architecture practice - an award-winning collective of designers, artists and urban growers. Since 2006, we have transformed derelict sites into large-scale, design-driven spaces for local communities.
Exclusive backer-only content and pledge rewards
Backers, at all levels of this campaign, will receive an acknowledgement in the book and...
...a free e-book in EPUB format. Not only will this contain every story in the physical edition, but also Exclusive Kickstarter content - a collection of extensive (over 20,000 words) and insightful interviews with the book's authors, conducted by editor Gary Dalkin. This is the only place all of the interviews will appear together.
In addition to the above, illustrator Jonathan Burton has graciously allowed Wayward to offer backers limited edition A2 art prints of his work at higher pledge levels.
More details on the prints can be found below.
- Ken MacLeod - 'The Bicycle-Frame Tree Plantation Manager’s Redundancy' (a short story spin-off from his Arthur C. Clarke Award nominated book, Intrusion)
KEN MACLEOD has over the last two decades established himself as Scotland’s foremost proponent of politically-engaged science fiction. He burst onto the scene in the mid-nineties with a quartet of novels about the Fall Revolution, the first of which, The Star Fraction (1995) won the Prometheus Award for Libertarian Fiction and was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. The second volume in the series, The Stone Canal, also won the Prometheus Award, while the concluding title, The Sky Road, was honoured with the British Science Fiction Association Award. MacLeod followed this quartet with the Engines of Light trilogy, while The Night Sessions (2008) again won the BSFA Award. His most recent novels are Intrusion (2012), nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Descent (2014), and The Corporation Wars trilogy, Dissidence (2016), Insurgence (2016) and Emergence (2017). Poems (2015), with Iain Banks, collected verse both authors.
- Cherith Baldry - 'The Adventure of the Apocalypse Vine or Moriarty’s Revenge'
CHERITH BALDRY was a teacher, including for a period in Sierra Leone, before becoming a full-time writer with the Saga of the Six Worlds series (1989-94). Her three fantasy novels for adults are Exiled from Camelot (2000), The Reliquary Ring (2002) and The Roses of Roazon (2004). Books for children include Drew’s Talents (1997), Mutiny in Space (1997), the Eaglesmount Trilogy (The Silver Horn, The Emerald Throne, The Lake of Darkness (2001-04)) and Abbey Mysteries (2004-06). Baldry is currently part of the team writing the Warriors and Seekers novel series under the name of Erin Hunter. Her Warriors novel Midnight (2005) won the Golden Muse Award, while her most recent entry in the series is Shattered Sky (2017).
- Eric Brown - 'Ice Garden'
ERIC BROWN made his first fiction sale to Interzone in 1986 and since then has published more than 50 books. His novel Helix Wars (2012) was shortlisted for the Philip K. Dick Award and two of his short stories have been honoured with the British Science Fiction Association Award. Murder By The Book (2013) marked a departure, being the first Langham and Dupre Mystery, a crime novel set in the 1950s. His latest titles are Jani and the Great Pursuit, the second volume of a Steampunk series set at the height of the British Empire, and Murder Take Three, the fourth Langham and Dupre novel. He writes a regular SF review column for The Guardian.
- Simon Morden - 'Shine'
SIMON MORDEN is both an award-winning science fiction writer and a scientist with a PhD in Geophysics from Newcastle University. His debut novel, Heart, was published in 2002. The first three Metrozone novels, Equations of Life, Theories of Flight and Degrees of Freedom (all 2011) collectively won the Philip K. Dick Award (the series was re-titled The Samuil Petrovitch Trilogy in America). The story continued with The Curve of the Earth (2013), while other works include the collection Thy Kingdom Come (new edition 2013) and the fantasy Arcanum (2013). Most recently Morden has launched a new series so far comprising Down Station and The White City (both 2016) and this year published the acclaimed novella At The Speed of Light. He has been an editor of the British Science Fiction Association magazine Focus, a judge of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and is a regular speaker at the annual Greenbelt Festival.
- Adam Roberts - 'Black Phil'
ADAM ROBERTS made his debut with Silk and Potatoes: Contemporary Arthurian Fantasy (1998). Since then he has authored many novels, from Salt (2000) to The Thing Itself (2015) and his latest work, The Real-Town Murders (2017). In addition Roberts has published six novellas and story collections, four further volumes of criticism, including The History of Science Fiction (as part of the Palgrave Histories of Literature) and eight comic spoofs. Jack Glass (2012) won both the John W Campbell Award and the British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel. Roberts has a PhD from Cambridge University (Robert Browning and the Classics) and is currently Professor of Nineteenth Century Literature in the Department of English at Royal Holloway, University of London.
- James Kennedy - 'Advent'
JAMES KENNEDY is the author of the YA fantasy The Order of Odd-Fish (2010), from which the title Improbable Botany is derived. The Order of Odd-Fish features a knighthood of dilettante warrior-scholars, each of whom each dabble in a different field of useless study, such as Pointless Weaponry, or Unusual Smells, or the Science and Art of Dithering, and yes, Improbable Botany. Kennedy is the founder of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, a development of the Newbery Medal, the highest award in children’s literature in the US.
- Stephen Palmer - 'You Bringers of Oxygen'
STEPHEN PALMER made his debut with Memory Seed in 1996, quickly establishing himself as one of the UK’s most surreally fantastical writers. Further novels include Glass (1997), Flowercrash (2002), Muezzinland (2003), Hallucinating (2004), The Rat & The Serpent (2005) and Urbis Morpheos (2010). Palmer’s recent story, ‘Palestinian Sweets’ (in the NewCon Press anthology La Femme) and novel, Hairy London (both 2014), a wild Steampunk comedy-adventure, both demonstrate a fascination with radically transforming England’s first city. Beginning with The Girl With Two Souls (2016), Palmer’s Factory Girl Trilogy, marks a successful move into Young Adult fiction.
- Justina Robson - 'Strange Fruit'
JUSTINA ROBSON made her debut with Silver Screen (1999), which was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick and British Science Fiction Association Awards. Her second novel, Mappa Mundi (2001) was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, while her third, Natural History (2003) came second in the John W. Campbell Award. Living Next Door to the God of Love (2005) was nominated for the Campbell, Dick and BSFA Awards. Robson studied linguistics and philosophy at the University of York and has been a secretary, technical writer and fitness instructor. Robson’s Quantum Gravity series comprises five novels, beginning with Keeping It Real (2006) and concluding with Down to the Bone (2011), published the same year as her first collection, Heliotrope. Her most recent novels are Glorious Angels (2015) and The Switch (2017).
- Tricia Sullivan - 'Who lived in a Tree'
TRICIA SULLIVAN moved to the UK from the US in 1995, making her publishing debut the same year with the ‘The Question Eaters’ and the novel Lethe. Someone to Watch Over Me followed in 1997, while her third novel, Dreaming in Smoke (1999), won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Further novels include Maul (2003), Double Vision (2005), Sound Mind (2007) and Lightborn (2010). Sullivan’s Everien fantasy trilogy, written as Valery Leith, comprised The Company of Glass (1999), The Riddled Night (2000) and The Way of the Rose (2001). Occupy Me (2016) gained Sullivan her fourth Clarke Award nomination. Her latest novel is Sweet Dreams.
- Lisa Tuttle - 'Vegetable Love'
LISA TUTTLE received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1974 and her first novel, Windhaven (1981), was written in collaboration with George R.R. Martin. Other novels include Lost Futures (1992), The Mysteries (2005) and The Silver Bough (2013). Her brand new novel is The Witch at Wayside Cross (2017), a second adventure for Victorian detectives Jesperson and Lane, introduced last year in The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief. Stranger in the House, the first volume of Tuttle’s Collected Short Supernatural Fiction, was published in 2010. Her most recent collection is Objects in Dreams (2012). Of her short fiction, ‘In Translation’ won the British Science Fiction Association Award and ‘Closet Dreams’ the International Horror Guild Award. As Lucy Daniels, Tuttle has written novels for children and her non-fiction includes Children’s Literary Houses (1984), The Encyclopedia of Feminism (1986) and Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction (2002).
- Rachel Armstrong - ‘The Living Stones of Venice’
Rachel Armstrong is Professor of Experimental Architecture at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University. She is a Rising Waters II Fellow with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (April-May 2016), TWOTY futurist 2015, Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society and a 2010 Senior TED Fellow. She researches the inner life of “things” seen and unseen, and experiments with the very stuff of life to ask how we may design and build our world differently. Armstrong is the author of a number of academic books including Vibrant Architecture: Matter as a CoDesigner of Living Structures, Soft Living Architecture: An alternative view of bio-informed design practice (in press with Bloomsbury Academic) and Liquid Life: Design in the era of hypercomplexity, uncertainty, incompleteness and change (in development with Punctum Books). In 2018, her novel 'Origamy' will be published by NewCon Press.
- Gary Dalkin - 'Improbable Botany' Editor
Improbable Botany has been edited by GARY DALKIN whose editorial projects include the highly acclaimed Dead Leaves by Andrew David Barker, as well as the definitive biography of multi-Oscar-winning composer John Barry - The Man With The Midas Touch, by Geoff Leonard, Pete Walker & Gareth Bramley. Gary is a former judge of The Arthur C. Clarke Award, a former editor of Vector, and has written extensively on genre for Amazing Stories, Interzone, SFX and many others.
JONATHAN BURTON has designed a truly beautiful wrap-around jacket and story artwork for Improbable Botany. Jonathan's laboured, life-like illustration has the aesthetic and conceptual edge to some of the classic American illustrators of the 20th Century and his ability to create accurate, melancholic characters has won him numerous awards over the years. Jonathan, who originates from the UK, now lives and works from France.
His past and present clients include The Folio Society, Penguin Books, BAFTA, MONDO, Harper Collins, Random House, Nautilus Art Prints, New York Times, The Times, Plansponsor, Egmont Books, Milan Editions, New Scientist, Athens Film Festival, Care for the Wild, Royal Mail and many others.
Illustrations: (left) 'The Bicycle Frame-Tree Plantation Manager's Redundancy' and (right) 'You Bringers of Oxygen'
Illustrations: (left) 'Vegetable Love' and (right) 'The Ice Garden'
Illustrations: (left) 'Strange Fruit' and (right) 'Advent'
There are 10 pledge levels on offer, listed below. As previously indicated, backers at all levels will receive the free e-book with Exclusive Kickstarter content.
in addition, Backers at the 'Everything Edition' pledge reward level will receive a free A2 print of the book's jacket art, which will not be offered separately to backers of the campaign.
Illustration: 'Improbable Botany' Jacket Cover Artwork
The pledge rewards for this campaign are listed below:
Every backer, regardless of amount pledged, will receive the free Kickstarter backer-only edition e-book (as mentioned above).
Since 2006, Wayward has produced cultural and community projects, transforming derelict sites into large-scale, design-driven spaces that have engaged local communities and inspired international audiences.
Part survival handbook, part page-turner, Improbable Botany is a fond companion piece to many of Wayward’s past collaborations and was commissioned ahead of our 10th anniversary celebrations in 2016.
Highlights of our first decade include: the Urban Physic Garden, a radical re-envisioning of historic medicinal gardens; The Queen’s Walk Window Gardens, an 80 metre allotment in-front of London’s Southbank Centre, built from reclaimed windows and visited by over 8 million people; the Union Street Urban Orchard, the feature project of the London Festival of Architecture in 2010; and The Spice Exchange, an extraordinary timber pavilion interlaced with thousands of spice jars and commissioned by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Photos: (top left) The Urban Physic Garden; (top right) the Union Street Urban Orchard; (bottom right) the Spice Exchange at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; (bottom left) The Queen's Walk Window Gardens.
Science fiction keeps alive Wayward's very beginnings, when we first rehomed an alien-looking orphaned plant, and has been a guiding influence in our work with narrative environments. It celebrates what excites and intrigues us about the future - the limitless potential of the biophilic city and of things to come.
Our Improbable Botany anthology results from a 2013 collaboration with Ken MacLeod and Whitechapel Gallery.
As part of 'The Spirit of Utopia' exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2013, we envisioned the possibilities and challenges of growing food on the moon and further developed a narrative collaboration - a landscape of bicycle trees - based upon Ken's acclaimed novel, Intrusion. We are delighted that we can continue our collaboration with Ken through the pages of the this book with his spin-off short story, ‘The Bicycle-Frame Tree Plantation Manager’s Redundancy’.
The physical book's specification is as follows:
- Softbound book with French Flaps
- Dimensions - 133mm x 200mm
- Pages - 300 pages approx.
- Cover - Printed on 300g Munken Lynx with copper colour foil block
- Text - Printed on 100g Munken Lynx
- Illustrations - Printed on 150g Munken Lynx
The specification for the e-book is almost finalised. We understand that the text content will be reflowable and that all content - including the illustrations - will be included, alongside the Exclusive backer content.
As of the start of this Kickstarter campaign, Improbable Botany is ready to go into production, but your help is needed to get the project out into the world.
The funds raised by this campaign will be used towards all development, production and fulfillment costs to date and going forward, including the story commissions, artwork, editorial and design - as well as other costs associated with the creation of the book.
Any profits after costs derived from this Kickstarter campaign will be put towards Wayward's community green space projects, including future developments of the Urban Physic Garden.
The book, posters and art prints will be printed in Europe and then shipped by haulier to our fulfilment centre in the UK.
This digital edition is being prepared by a well-respected conversion agency and its contents will be finalised as the physical book goes to print. This is so we can distribute the free digital edition with Exclusive Kickstarter backer content as pledge rewards arrive in people's hands.
There are no immediate plans to publish and distribute a physical edition of Improbable Botany through traditional retail channels. Realistically, to do so would divert our attention away from projects that our small design practice is currently working on and would stretch us.
Risks and challenges
The stories are written and the illustrations created. The book has been designed and we have lovingly created hand-bound test copies (as you can see in the campaign's promotional materials).
For the above reasons, we don't imagine many challenges in completing this project. We simply need to supply the book to the printer and hope that there aren't any delays, manufacturing or fulfilment issues.
We have a very good fulfilment partner handling the freight and shipping logistics. They are very experienced with crowdfunding campaigns and worldwide shipping.
That all being said, we are excited to get the book into backers' hands!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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