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Simon Spanton - Editorial Expert

About Simon Spanton

Simon Spanton has been a publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy, as well as mainstream fiction, for 25 years, the last 19 years of which has been as Associate Publisher at the prestigious publisher, Gollancz. In that time he published authors such as Ben Aaronovitch, Peter F. Hamilton, Scott Lynch, Richard Morgan and Brandon Sanderson. Prior to that he was a bookseller.

He’s always believed the genres of SF and Fantasy should be home to bestsellers with the widest possible appeal as well niche titles. They should be about a sense of wonder and strangeness conveyed by gripping stories, peopled by empathetic characters and told in satisfying prose. That thought process will be at the core of his selections each month for Lovereading. As well as reading he’s likely to be watching a film, walking or cycling. Although not at the same time.


Latest Reviews By Simon Spanton

The Passenger
Award-winning thriller and historical crime writer F.R. Tallis heads into supernatural waters with his new novel. The Passenger is an atmospheric and highly worrying tale set in and around a German U-Boat in 1941. Despite Lothar-Gunther Bucheim’s acclaimed novel Das Boot (and the film based upon it) the story of the German side of the U-boat campaigns of WWII is relatively unknown. It’s horrifying stuff. The U-Boat war was one of squalor, constant stress, crushing danger and moments of sheer terror. Tallis has done his research and his hero Captain Lorenz and his crew live out ... View Full Review
False Hearts
This is an intensely personal and affecting SF novel. Set in San Francisco in the near future there is much to recognise here and little in the way of outlandish science to alienate the reader. But at its core is a relationship that will initially feel very alien to most readers, yet Lam deals with it with such honesty and sensitivity that we are soon drawn in. Taema and Tila were born as conjoined twins. Bought up in reclusive a Californian cult that eschewed modern medicine and all technology it is not until they leave at sixteen that they are ... View Full Review
The Sudden Appearance of Hope
Claire North has made a quick and special reputation as an author who writes speculative thrillers that, via the experience of a sympathetically and closely drawn central character, examine an aspect of how we see or interact with the world around us. The Fifteen Lives of Harry August and Touch were thought-provoking in the best way and never less than engaging and gripping stories. Hope follows in their steps. Fans of Matt Haig will find themselves drawn to her story. Hope isn’t remembered. Starting when she was sixteen people simply stopped remembering her. Once she was out of ... View Full Review
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel
This is a novel that grew from a cult Podcast; Welcome to Night Vale. You don’t need to know the Podcast (I didn’t) to enjoy the book (I did, very much). Night Vale is like any small town in America. Or at least like any small town as seen by Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury. Or even by Thomas Pynchon or Stephen King in their more whimsical moments. We have the features of everyday life but we also have aliens, conspiracies, secrets and mysteries drawn from the woozy histories of every bit of off-beat American pop-culture ... View Full Review
Gilded Cage
Vic James’ magical yet chilling debut novel describes an alternate contemporary world in which, since the 1640s, Britain has been divided between the Equals, a ruling Aristocracy who have magical skills at their fingertips, and the commoners, the vast majority of the population with no magical skills and little hope. To even become a full citizen, to be able to own your own home, to travel abroad you must go into slavery for ten years – working either in the cities or on the vast estates owned by the aristocrats. There are clearly metaphors here about the distribution of ... View Full Review
The Haunting of Hill House
From the title you might imagine that this novel would be the most conventional of haunted house stories, but a line on page one suggests the true flavour of the chills to come: “Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within…”. That “not sane” is the key. From there we are back to the usual sort of premise. The lonely Eleanor is invited by psychic investigator Dr Montague to join a small group to stay for the summer in the notoriously haunted Hill House. At a loose end and seeking ... View Full Review
This is a welcome reissue for Pantomime, the first volume of Laura Lam’s sparkling and original fantasy trilogy. Set in a world not unlike our own 19th century it tells the story of Gene a teenager who runs away to join the circus. Lam weaves something very special from this familiar set-up. She takes chances, embraces the point of view of the outsider, the different and is not shy of leaving mystery to the reader. Gene comes from a wealthy and noble family but chafes at the roles open to her, for she feels herself to be an ... View Full Review
The Cthulhu Casebooks Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. The prolific science fiction and fantasy British author James Lovegrove switches literary roads and begins a new, promising series, The Cthulhu Casebooks in which the worlds of Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft mingle to interesting effect, and Holmes and Watson will confront the weird and horrors from the depths. This is thoroughly enjoyable pulp in the grand old tradition as Watson, back from his harrowing combat experiences in Afghanistan, becomes Holmes' sidekick to investigate a series of curious deaths in London's East End, which appear linked to a sinister Oriental drug lord but soon ... View Full Review
A Monster Calls (Movie Tie-in)
Grown from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd and beautifully illustrated by Jim Kay, Patrick Ness’s extraordinary A Monster Calls has already won numerous awards and earned universal praise. There is now a major film coming and this is the tie-in. So I’ve come to this shamefully late and can only confirm that it deserves every award, every word of praise. Written for any reader this is a truly universal story of stubborn love, terrible loss and wild magic. Books rarely make me cry but I was often in tears reading this book. It tells the ... View Full Review
Angels of Music
Kim Newman is perhaps best known for his wonderfully entertaining sequels to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which took the Vampiric Count into various eras of the twentieth century. Most notably, in Anno Dracula, identifying the true identity of the notorious WWI German fighter ace known as the Red Baron… Immensely erudite and wonderfully witty Newman is a master at twining period detail and the fascinating details and surprising facts and linkages of history into page-turning genre adventures. Now with Angels of Music he steps away from the saga of his many faced Dracula to spin a standalone tale ... View Full Review
A Monster Calls: Special Collector's Edition
This is a gorgeous illustrated hardback of the award-winning novel complete with added interviews with author, illustrator director and cast and photos from the production. Grown from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd and beautifully illustrated by Jim Kay, Patrick Ness’s extraordinary A Monster Calls has already won numerous awards and earned universal praise. There is now a major film coming and this is the tie-in. So I’ve come to this shamefully late and can only confirm that it deserves every award, every word of praise. Written for any reader this is a truly universal story ... View Full Review
Wolfhound Empire
This is an omnibus volume of three short but quite spectacular SF thrillers. I would also guarantee that they are quite unlike anything else you have read before. Striding along the shadowy border between SF and Fantasy, Peter Higgins has imagined something that feels a little like China Mieville writing a John le Carre novel. With a dash of Gorky’s paranoia and Martin Cruz Smith’s edge-of-your-seat plotting. Set in a world that feels like an alternate Russia (but isn’t) the trilogy compresses a sense of Sovietesque history between 1939 and 1969 into a few short months ... View Full Review