(Most of this is true.)
So Veteran, my first novel, was published in 2010. There was something of a buzz about it beforehand. I was one of two SF debuts from Gollancz that year. Like most first time authors I was incredibly excited and looking forward to seeing the realisation of all my hard work and was sure that I would be the next big thing, yadda-yadda-yadda . . .
Then I read something on an SFF forum. It went something along the lines of:
Poster 1: I hear that there is a lot of excitement about an SF debut from Gollancz.
Poster 2: Yeah, I think that’s Veteran by Gavin G Smith.
(Oh yeah! I have arrived!)
Poster 3: No it’s The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi.
So who the fuck was Hannu Unpronounceable and what the fuck was The Quantum Thief, and why did my editor get a funny, wistful look in his eyes when he talked about this book?
Fast forwards to Eastercon, (for those of you don’t know, Eastercon is a convention, it’s held at Easter, there’s a clue in the name) and I hear that Hannu Unpronounceable is going to be there. By now I was sick and tired of hearing his name. I had hoped that he would be a sad, lonely, little man, who smelled of cat urine and spent most of his time masturbating into old copies of 2000AD. (Well, we all do it.)
-He wasn’t. He was tall and, if the reactions of the other carbon based life around me (and we’re talking all the genders here) were anything to go by, very attractive. They said annoying things like: “His cheek bones come out further than his ears!” (Because that’s a useful evolutionary trait! He probably gets his head stuck in railings.) “He’s so tall, and pretty and Finnish!” (I’m tall(ish), and Scottish, goddamnit!) Or they just drooled on themselves, totally insensitive to my burgeoning hatred for this man.
Maybe he’s a moron? After all **** ***** got published.
-He has a doctorate in String Theory. I mean talk about trying too hard!
Okay, attractive, smart, this guy has to be full of himself, a total prick.
-He wasn’t. He was really nice. One of those people that gave you the feeling that they’re really listening, genuinely interested in what you have to say. Smarmy fucker. I mean, who was this guy? Fucking Captain Finland?
The book. The Quantum Thief. That had to be shit, just a bunch of pretentious nonsense.
-It really wasn’t. It managed to do the thing that only the best of SF can do and that is turn science and technology into poetic prose. It’s a beautiful book, not just the prose, it has an excellent plot, compelling characters and it felt fresh, different, genuinely original, which is a rare thing.
Well. What a cock.
Perhaps it was a fluke?
-Then he released The Fractal Prince. It wasn’t a fluke.
I mean why, Hannu? Why!? Why did you have to debut the same year as me!? Why couldn’t you have fucked with Chris Wooding, or Mark Alder!?
War is Declared!
Skip forward another year to the next Eastercon. By this point my bitterness was at the point that it was starting to affect my physiology and I had started to resemble Grima Wormtongue.
After unsuccessfully trying to recruit other recently published authors to try and help me beat Hannu up*, a sort of Evil League of Authorial Evil (with me as Bad Horse, the Thoroughbred of Sin), I found myself opposite him in a restaurant. As I sat there nursing my resentment, and what might not have been my first pint, the way forward became clear. There was only one possible course of action. “I will destroy you Hannu Rajaniemi, this I swear!” I screamed at him. I think I may have startled some of the other diners. “I will bring your world down around your unfeasible cheekbones! I will have my vengeance! From this moment on I am your arch-nemesis!” As I was assisted from the premises I could tell by the slightly bemused expression on Hannu’s chiselled, northern European features that my words had hit home. Soon they would know my name!
The Truth About Hannu Rajaniemi:
Because the working man’s Buckeroo Banzai has a secret that he doesn’t think anyone knows, but I know. You see in Finland, Ferris Bueller’s homeland, there is a rite of passage. In order to reach manhood you have to have sex with a bear. ** (Apparently the trick is to nip in during the winter whilst the bear is hibernating.) Now, I happen to know that Hannu Rajaniemi has never had sex with a bear.
You see!?! HE’S NOT A REAL MAN!!! CHECK-FUCKING-MATE I THINK RAJANIEMI!!!
*We had it all planned. Sam Sykes and Stephen Deas were going to grab him. I was going to hit him with a model of a Super Star Destroyer and scream: “Try and come up with a unified theory for that, motherfucker!”
**Now before everyone becomes inexplicably angry with me, or Finland declares war, I should point out that this was told to me by a friend who in turn heard it whilst living in Finland from a Finnish guy, so it must be true. Or more to the point, it’s the Finnish guy who was defaming the country of Finland, and I am in no way legally culpable.