Nick Johnston of Quercus has paid a significant advance for a four-book series by UK novelist Rod Rees. The pre-emptive deal, with agent John Jarrold, is for World Rights.
The series is titled The Demi-Monde, and is set in a wonderfully imagined virtual world – the Demi-Monde of the title. Originally conceived by the US military as a training ground for their troops in the twenty-first century facing street fighting and enemies who use guerrilla tactics, rather than modern technology-based armies, the Demi-Monde was created by the world’s first quantum computer. Young singer Ella Thomas is sent there to rescue a VIP (she ticks all the boxes to blend into the world, which has a late-Victorian technology base) and discovers the world and its thirty million inhabitants, or ‘avatars’, are all too real. Especially those who run the world’s city-states, based on famous human monsters such as Reinhard Heydrich, Shaka Zulu, Empress Wu, Godfrey de Bouillon, Selim the Grim and Lavrentii Beria, with whom the world was seeded to make it more of a test… and that is only the beginning. The first volume will be published in 2011. There is already a fascinating website at www.thedemi-monde.com.
“Rod’s imagination and invention are quite outstanding,” said John Jarrold. “His characters leap off the page and his storylines fascinated me. This went out to mainstream publishers, as well as SF editors, since it has huge crossover potential to people who don’t necessarily think of themselves as ‘SF readers’, fans of films like The Matrix and the novels of Michael Crichton. Nick and his colleagues obviously felt the same, because within seventy-two hours of this project being submitted to major publishers in London and New York, he rang me with a wonderful pre-emptive offer. After discussion we came to terms, and I’m delighted to do my first deal with him, and with Quercus. Congratulations to Nick – and to those, including David North, Jon Riley and Ron Beard, who backed him so positively and strongly.”
Nick Johnston added: “In The Demi-Monde Rod Rees has created one of the most deliriously exciting worlds that I have encountered in fiction. It is an utterly believable place where anything goes and some of history’s most fascinating figures and cruellest tyrants rub shoulders with an almost extravagantly lifelike cast of characters. The fact that he uses this to explore some of life’s deepest dilemmas and suffuses it all with such a rich vein of humour is just the icing on the cake.”