Mars, 600 years in the future, is dying. Five hundred years after the Chinese conquered the Red Planet, the great work of terraforming is failing. The human-machine Consensus of Earth had persuaded the AI Emperor to follow the Golden Path into a vast virtual reality universe, leaving behind an ungoverned planet swept by hunger riots and the beginnings of civil war. Enter Wei Lee, a lowly itinerant agricultural technician: rock 'n' roll fan, dupe, holy fool - and unlikely Messiah. After stumbling on an anarchist pilot hiding near the wreckage of her spacecraft, he's drawn into a revolutionary plot that has been spinning for decades. With the help of a ghost, the broadcasts of the King of the Cats, a Yankee yak herder, and a little Girl God, Lee travels across the badlands, swampy waterways and vast dust seas to a showdown at the summit of the biggest volcano in the Solar System. Not even the God-like Consensus can predict the outcome of his struggle to define his own destiny . . . Epic in scope, Red Dust's spectacular, fast-paced story brilliantly brings to life the planet that has captured our imagination like no other.
I'm the author of more than twenty books, including science-fiction, thriller, and crime novels, several collections of short stories, a Doctor Who novella, and an anthology of stories about popular music, which I co-edited with Kim Newman. My fiction has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell award, the Sidewise Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the British Fantasy Award for best short story.
Before I went over to the dark side and became a full-time writer, I worked as a research biologist in various universities, including Oxford and UCLA, and for six years was a lecturer in botany at St Andrews University. My chief research interest was symbioses between unicellular algae and coelenterates, including green hydra, sea anemones, and reef-forming corals. I'm still a huge fan of all things to do with science, and spend too much time tweeting about weird and wonderful stuff as UnlikelyWorlds; Time magazine listed me as one of their top 140 most interesting tweeters in 2013.
I live in North London, and haven't yet walked down every street in the A-Z. But I'm trying.