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 othe…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: 3.98 · 31,694 ratings · 4,722 reviews · 19 distinct worksSimilar authors
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Edie Investigates

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Arc: Volume 1

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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 Matc Read more of this blog post »
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Published on May 08, 2014 06:33 Tags: literary-fiction, new-book, novel, superhero, thriller, tigerman

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On a radioactive island a middle-aged British sergeant becomes a crime-fighting superhero in Tigerman, a genre-bending adventure from the author of...
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Nick’s Recent Updates

Nick is now friends with Ray Leigh
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
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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

“People don't want children to know what they need to know. They want their kids to know what they ought to need to know. If you're a teacher you're in a constant battle with mildly deluded adults who think the world will get better if you imagine it is better. You want to teach about sex? Fine, but only when they're old enough to do it. You want to talk politics? Sure, but nothing modern. Religion? So long as you don't actually think about it. Otherwise some furious mob will come to your house and burn you for a witch.”
Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World


Vote on a book to discuss in March. As always, read as soon as you want, and we'll begin discussing on the first of March. Please vote ONLY if you'll return to discuss if your choice wins. Happy voting!
::: Voting is open through January 24th :::
I'd recommend putting a library hold now on any books that appeal to you.

The Last Dog on Earth by Adrian J. Walker
2017, 400 pages, 3.93 stars
PAPERBACK ONLY in the US, but UK has more options, NOT yet in library.

"Every dog has its day…

And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be.

Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outside.

But when an abandoned orphan shows up in the stairwell of their building, Reg and Lineker must brave the outside in order to save not only the child, but themselves…"
  6 votes, 33.3%

After the End Amy Plum
2014, 352 pages, 3.66 stars
$2.99 Kindle, cheap used, at library

"She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past."
  6 votes, 33.3%

Angelfall by Susan Ee
2012, 288 pages, 4.17 stars
$0.99 Kindle, cheap used, not at library

"It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again."
  4 votes, 22.2%

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
2018, 431 pages, 4.24 stars
$9.99 Kindle, paper from $7.77, *may* be at library (it's fairly new)

"A meteor decimates the U.S. government and paves the way for a climate cataclysm that will eventually render the earth inhospitable to humanity. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated timeline in the earth’s efforts to colonize space, as well as an unprecedented opportunity for a much larger share of humanity to take part.

One of these new entrants in the space race is Elma York, whose experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too—aside from some pesky barriers like thousands of years of history and a host of expectations about the proper place of the fairer sex. And yet, Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions may not stand a chance."
  2 votes, 11.1%

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
2008, 531 pages, 4.12 stars (note length)
$11.99 Kindle, cheap used, at library

"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%


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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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