The year 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the conclusion of one of my favourite fiction projects, the Stone trilogy.
This set of three fantasy novels – Stone & Sky, Stone & Sea, Stone & Sun – was published by Voyager books, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of HarperCollins, between 1999-2001. Through the course of the trilogy, I took my hero, Victorian explorer Jonah Lightfoot, and his Kansan companion Annie West on a wild adventure across the vertiginous face of a strange world called Stone, also known as Amara. Along the way I brought them into the company of a pair of Neolithic humans called Malya and Gerent, a dragon called Kythe, a Russian tree spirit and a giant whale-woman … plus many characters and creatures from even stranger stables.
So what is Stone? Well, it’s a wall. A very big one. As they traverse it, Jonah and Annie spend a long time clinging to its most precarious ledges before discovering some of the more interesting ways to travel across its surface. The longer they spend in this peculiar tilted realm, the more they ponder on its true nature. What is Stone’s true shape? How is it able to provide access to the fathomless treasure chest of human memory? Does the wall have a bottom? A top? If so, what lies there?
As you may have guessed, the Stone books were my way of letting my imagination run wild. A youthful diet of science fiction classics like Larry Niven’s Ringworld and Bob Shaw’s Orbitsville had left me eager to create a sprawling fantasy playground of my own. The Stone concept also drew heavily on Philip José Farmer’s Riverworld series, in particular the way it draws secondary characters from a grab-bag of historical eras. Ultimately, Amara is more parallel world than it is Big Dumb Object, and its connections with our own Earth are manifold and, ultimately, crucial to Jonah’s understanding of it most secret workings.
You can read synopses and reviews of all three novels at the relevant pages on this website. The original paperback editions are all currently out of print, but those of you with a keen nose will no doubt track down used editions. I do hope to republish the Stone trilogy at some point in the future, but be warned, it’s likely to be the very distant future. In anticipation of what will be a very long-term project – and inspired by this anniverary – I’ve dug the original manuscripts and noodled with them a little, to see if there’s merit in revising the text to create a Special Edition, as I did with my first novel, Dragoncharm.
Update October 2022: Since writing this blog post, I have republished the Stone trilogy in paperback and for Kindle. You can read extracts from all three books below.
• Buy the complete Stone trilogy from Amazon