Nick Harkaway

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Nick Harkaway

Goodreads Author

in Truro, The United Kingdom


William Gibson, Georges Simenon, Anne Michaels, Anne Carson, Annie Pro ...more

Member Since
June 2008


Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall, UK in 1972. He is possessed of two explosively exciting eyebrows, which exert an almost hypnotic attraction over small children, dogs, and - thankfully - one ludicrously attractive human rights lawyer, to whom he is married.

He likes: oceans, mountains, lakes, valleys, and those little pigs made of marzipan they have in Switzerland at new year.

He does not like: bivalves. You just can't trust them.

Nick Harkaway is currently not accepting new questions.

Popular Answered Questions

Nick Harkaway ARGH! There's no such thing. Seriously: THERE. IS. NO. SUCH. THING. You know what there is? There's a bunch of problems, creative and otherwise, that…moreARGH! There's no such thing. Seriously: THERE. IS. NO. SUCH. THING. You know what there is? There's a bunch of problems, creative and otherwise, that can stop you writing. They are not block. They are important skills. For example: very often, around the middle of a book, I grind to a halt. I can go no further, everything I write is catastrophically stupid. I tend to get very upset about that, and I'm unmentionably annoying to be around for a few days. My wife generally has to remind me how to fix the problem.

The way you fix it is you go back to the beginning and you get rid of all the junk, broken stuff you put in back before you understood what the hell the book was actually about, the stuff that is now preventing you from doing the really amazing things that will make the book special. You have to re-envision the whole thing, understand what you meant but could not at the time express. Sometimes that means cutting heavily, sometimes it means changing great swathes, sometimes it's a question of reading that crucial passage that carries your book in potential and taping it up over your desk.

Calling that moment "writer's block" is slandering yourself. It's not a block, it's the process. Don't demonise it! Beg for it! It's what stops you from writing lousy prose, saggy plots, unsatisfying endings. LOVE YOUR CRITICAL FACULTY.

Alternatively: at any time in the course of a book, I may find I cannot write it, bash away at it, hate myself, and then realise it's because I haven't done my chores. I haven't paid the credit card bill or whatever.

Understand: your ability to write is bound up with who you are and with your moods. It is tied to whether you are happy, sad, tense, relaxed, blah. It is you. So when something is wrong with your inkflow, that means either that you've goofed creatively or that you're not fixing something broken elsewhere in your world.

Love your mutant power. Do not try to force it to do something. Learn to listen.(less)
Nick Harkaway Weeeeellllll, I get ideas the way you get hit by raindrops if you go outside in a storm. Some of them are good and if I'm lucky they collide with…moreWeeeeellllll, I get ideas the way you get hit by raindrops if you go outside in a storm. Some of them are good and if I'm lucky they collide with other ideas and then I have a story. Some of them are awful. Really, really awful. I sit bolt upright in bed and shout something about how I'm a genius and I write it all down and I wake in the morning to a note about how bananas are going to kill the King of Silesia and take over the world, and only a trained monkey called Newton, armed with a grocer's apron wrapped around the skull of a dead saint, can possibly save us. And I look at that and I have to admit that while it possesses the virtue of originality it is clearly crap.

But every so often ideas collide and produce something exciting, and then it's not a question of persuading myself to write, but of budgeting time to do other things like eat.

Where ideas come from... I think that's about taking the brakes off your mind. We're all trained as kids to stop thinking the ridiculous things and be sensible, and writing is about recapturing the possibility that there are invisible mousemonsters that sneak onto buses and chew the furniture and they are kept in line by a young woman with a magic accordion. It's about permitting yourself to touch the weird in search of the amazing.(less)
Average rating: 3.99 · 25,312 ratings · 3,937 reviews · 19 distinct worksSimilar authors
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3.92 avg rating — 4,197 ratings — published 2014 — 14 editions
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3.92 avg rating — 1,301 ratings — published 2017 — 10 editions
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Edie Investigates

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Twelve Tomorrows 2016

3.37 avg rating — 115 ratings — published 2015 — 2 editions
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Arc 1.2: Post human conditions

3.65 avg rating — 49 ratings — published 2012
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More books by Nick Harkaway…
My new book, Tigerman, is coming out on May 22nd in the UK, June 2nd in Australia and July 29th in the US.

(Sorry, Americans: I do try, every time, to get them all sync'd, but the publishing industry doesn't take to it.)

I'm doing a bunch of publicity stuff around it and of course I'll be at some festivals this year - Hay and Edinburgh to name the two big'uns - and I'll be at the Literary Death M... Read more of this blog post »
9 likes ·   •  3 comments  •  flag
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Published on May 08, 2014 06:33 • 537 views • Tags: literary-fiction, new-book, novel, superhero, thriller, tigerman

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July 2014, Nick Harkaway
"On a radioactive island a middle-aged British sergeant becomes a crime-fighting superhero in Tigerman, a genre-bending adventure from the author of Angelmaker." ...More

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Nick’s Recent Updates

Nick rated a book it was amazing
Anti-Judaism by David Nirenberg
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Am reading this in bites because almost every page requires me to go and read something else to understand the discourse. An over-arching book which dives into the history of thought and its construction. Staggering and painfully revealing. More to f ...more
Nick rated a book really liked it
Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell
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Vigorous space opera peering into war and guilt - but not so much so as to detract from the action. Banksian (if that's a word) flavours, and plenty more to do. Swallowed it in a short space of time, will no doubt enjoy the next as well.
Nick rated a book it was amazing
H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
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Zinger. Strange, challenging, increasingly experimental. A short read which stays in your head and does things to it. The overlaps of concept with GNOMON are positively alarming, but the style and form are very different. I loved it.
Nick rated a book it was amazing
H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
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Zinger. Strange, challenging, increasingly experimental. A short read which stays in your head and does things to it. The overlaps of concept with GNOMON are positively alarming, but the style and form are very different. I loved it.
Nick rated a book it was amazing
Spook Country by William Gibson
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Quite possibly my favourite Gibson. Quite possibly a modern classic. Quite possibly the best book you'll read this year. The Blue Ant sequence is excellent and elegantly concludes in Zero History, but this is the one I come back to. Masterful prose, ...more
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua
Nick rated a book really liked it
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
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Lovely, very short book on the wonders of physics. Intended for the absolute neophyte, so hardly testing - although I did find new perspectives in the mix. Fractionally awkward translation in places, but a really enjoyable and almost poetic journey.
Nick rated a book really liked it
The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
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Would ANYONE be surprised if I said that this was great? No? Good. Because it is. Typical Butcher: ooh, look, new environment and concept set, guess I'll just make myself at home.

Steampunkish in that it features airships and tea, this is a long way
Nick rated a book really liked it
Crooked by Austin Grossman
by Austin Grossman (Goodreads Author)
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Nixon fights Cthulhu - not hand to hand, and not by name, but that's your premise, and let's just fess up and say Oooooooh, yeaaah!

Does it work? Yes, but maybe not the way you're thinking. Austin Grossman brings you Nixon like you've never seen him b
Nick rated a book it was amazing
The Star Fraction by Ken MacLeod
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Just one of my favourite books ever. Cracking UK-based future politico-punk, complete with left-libertarian communes and AI inception in a Balkanised Britain. Superb.
More of Nick's books…
“I love you forever. I am sorry I cannot love you now.”
Nick Harkaway, Angelmaker

“I have known heaven, and now I am in hell, and there are mimes.”
Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World
tags: mimes

“And don't tell me the end justifies the means because it doesn't. We never reach the end. All we ever get is means. That's what we live with.”
Nick Harkaway, Angelmaker


What book would you like to read in July to discuss in August (starting the 1st)? Important! Do not vote unless you will return to discuss, as it is unfair to participants to have tally affected by hit-and-run voters. Thanks, and see you in the discussion!

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
2017, 336 pages, 3.91 stars
$9.99 Kindle, print from $6.28, available at libraries

"In a ruined, nameless city of the future, a woman named Rachel, who makes her living as a scavenger, finds a creature she names “Borne” entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic, despotic bear. Mord once prowled the corridors of the biotech organization known as the Company, which lies at the outskirts of the city, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly and broke free. Driven insane by his torture at the Company, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers like Rachel."
See book page for the remainder, long blurb.
  2 votes, 50.0%

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
2017, 353 pages, 3.76 stars
$17.08 paperback, $13.99 Kindle, $5.01 and up in used print, probably at the library

"Never Let Me Go meets The Giver in this haunting debut about a cult on an isolated island, where nothing is as it seems.

Years ago, just before the country was incinerated to wasteland, ten men and their families colonized an island off the coast. They built a radical society of ancestor worship, controlled breeding, and the strict rationing of knowledge and history. Only the Wanderers--chosen male descendants of the original ten--are allowed to cross to the wastelands, where they scavenge for detritus among the still-smoldering fires.

The daughters of these men are wives-in-training. At the first sign of puberty, they face their Summer of Fruition, a ritualistic season that drags them from adolescence to matrimony. They have children, who have children, and when they are no longer useful, they take their final draught and die. But in the summer, the younger children reign supreme. With the adults indoors and the pubescent in Fruition, the children live wildly--they fight over food and shelter, free of their fathers' hands and their mothers' despair. And it is at the end of one summer that little Caitlin Jacob sees something so horrifying, so contradictory to the laws of the island, that she must share it with the others.

Born leader Janey Solomon steps up to seek the truth. At seventeen years old, Janey is so unwilling to become a woman, she is slowly starving herself to death. Trying urgently now to unravel the mysteries of the island and what lies beyond, before her own demise, she attempts to lead an uprising of the girls that may be their undoing."
  1 vote, 25.0%

The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones
2017, 400 pages, 3.6 stars
$12.99 Kindle, cheap used copies, probably at library

"In the spirit of Station Eleven and California, award-winning novelist Holly Goddard Jones offers a literary spin on the dystopian genre with this gripping story of survival and humanity about a group of adrenaline junkies who jump -the Salt Line.-

How far will they go for their freedom--once they decide what freedom really means?"
See book page for longer blurb
  1 vote, 25.0%

The Given Garden by S.K. Munt
2015, 403 pages, 4.45 stars
$4.99 Kindle, $14.99 paperback, likely not available at lib.

"They told us that this new world was perfect

They told us that we were all equal under the eyes of the only God

They told me that I was nothing

He told me that he would protect me

They swear that I can trust them

I don't

How can I believe in something, in a world where faith isn't optional?"
  0 votes, 0.0%

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
2017, 594 pages, 4.13 stars
$10.99 Kindle, cheap used copies, available at libraries

"The Jorgmund Pipe is the backbone of the world, and it's on fire. Gonzo Lubitsch, professional hero and troubleshooter, is hired to put it out, but there's more to the fire, and the Pipe itself, than meets the eye. The job will take Gonzo and his best friend, our narrator, back to their own beginnings."
  0 votes, 0.0%

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
2008, 625 pages, 3.84 stars
$7.99 Kindle, cheap used copies, definitely at library

"Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love."
  0 votes, 0.0%

Parasite by Mira Grant
2013, 504 pages, 3.65 stars
$9.99 Kindle, cheap used copies, definitely at library

"A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system - even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives...and will do anything to get them."
  0 votes, 0.0%

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
2017, 608 pages, 4.32 stars
$1.99 Kindle, cheap used copies, at library

"Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she'd ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what's really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents— including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes."
  0 votes, 0.0%


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“A man breaking his journey between one place and another at a third place of no name, character, population or significance, sees a unicorn cross his path and disappear. That in itself is startling, but there are precedents for mystical encounters of various kinds, or to be less extreme, a choice of persuasions to put it down to fancy; until--"My God," says a second man, "I must be dreaming, I thought I saw a unicorn." At which point, a dimension is added that makes the experience as alarming as it will ever be. A third witness, you understand, adds no further dimension but only spreads it thinner, and a fourth thinner still, and the more witnesses there are the thinner it gets and the more reasonable it becomes until it is as thin as reality, the name we give to the common experience... "Look, look!" recites the crowd. "A horse with an arrow in its forehead! It must have been mistaken for a deer.”
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

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