PKD Award and Norwescon weekend

As mentioned in January, my novel Failed State is a nominee for this year’s Philip K. Dick Award. The awards ceremony will be at Norwescon again this year, but as suits our Dickian moment, it will be virtual, which means you can attend from wherever you happen to be (as long as you can jack in). The event will be Friday, April 2, at 7 p.m. Pacific Time, and will include a short reading from each of the nominees. Details here.

I’ll also be doing a longer reading from the book Friday at 6 p.m. Pacific, and joining a panel about the award Friday at 2 p.m. Pacific with Gordon Van Gelder and fellow nominees Alastair Reynolds, Christopher Brown, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and M.R. Carey.

Saturday, April 3, I will be participating in two panels: one about sentences, and one about “Beautiful Horror,” a topic of great interest to me lately.

I hope to see some of you there. Here’s the full schedule:

Friday, April 2
All About the Philip K. Dick Award
Mt. Rainier Stage
2–3 p.m.PT
Join award administrators and nominees for this year’s Philip K. Dick Award discuss the award and its legacy.
Gordon Van Gelder (M), Alastair Reynolds, Christopher Brown, Adrian Tchaikovsky, M.R. Carey
Reading: Christopher Brown
Seaports Stage
6–6:30 p.m.PT
Christopher Brown reads from his 2021 Philip K. Dick Award-nominated work Failed State, about a lawyer juggling two intertwined cases in the aftermath of a second American revolution
Philip K. Dick Awards
Grand Ballroom Stage or Twitch
7–8 p.m. PT
The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually at Norwescon with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust. The award, for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States, is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust. Come hear readings from the nominated works.
Saturday, April 3
Sentences: I Walk the Line
Seaports Stage
noon–1 p.m. PT
Sentences are to fiction as bricks are to architecture. But unlike your average brick, a single sentence can stick in readers’ memories for the rest of their lives. Panelists will discuss great first sentences, descriptive sentences, last lines, and why these examples resonate with them (and readers). What is meant by varying sentence structure and what goes in to writing a great sentence?
Carol Berg (M), Corry L. Lee, Charlotte Lewis Brown, Nancy Kress, Christopher Brown
Terrifying Flowers in Sunlit Fields: Beautiful Horror
Mt. Baker Stage
2–3 p.m.PT
Horror is known for the dark and grotesque. But Midsommar and Annihilation are two recent horror movies notable for being colorful, gorgeous, and well-lit. Our panelists discuss examples of beautiful horror, and when it works or doesn’t work to show us all the monsters clearly in broad daylight.
Glenn Dallas (M), Evan J. Peterson, Leigh Harlen, Eliza Gauger, Christopher Brown

Recent pieces and upcoming appearances

Happy almost Halloween. In addition to my weekly Field Notes, from which this photo of a beautiful roseate skimmer comes, I’ve been keeping busy with the tail end of the launch of Failed State, and wanted to mention a few new items among my articles, interviews and appearances:

Over at, I have a new essay up on the ways in which our darkest science fictions and contemporary headlines seem to be bleeding into each other, and how we can fix that: Dystopia as Clickbait: Science Fiction, Doomscrolling, and Reviving the Idea of the Future.”

Over at Transfer Orbit, Andrew Liptak has the full transcript up of a long interview we did about Failed State and lots of other topics related to my approach to SF and other themes: “Failed State’s Christopher Brown on building utopias out of dystopias.”

And tonight, October 19, I’ll be appearing with my colleagues Cory Doctorow and Bruce Sterling as part of the public lecture series Cory is doing to promote his terrific new book, Attack Surface. The theme of tonight’s virtual conversation at Anderson’s Bookshops in Chicago is  Cyberpunk and Post-Cyberpunk, and it should be a fun and wide-ranging conversation—Cory and Bruce are two of the smartest people I know, and old friend I always love to talk with. VIRTUAL EVENT: Cory Doctorow in Conversation with Bruce Sterling and Christopher Brown, 7 pm CDT, October 19, 2020, via Anderson’s Bookshops.




FAILED STATE—upcoming virtual events

Failed State

My new novel Failed State, the follow-on to last summer’s Rule of Capture, will be published three weeks from today on August 11. As you might imagine, it’s a challenging time to launch a book, with bookstores mostly closed, publishing staff and reviewers all working remotely, review copies and events all moving to exclusively digital and virtual formats, and all of us distracted by current events. In some ways, that suits the book, which takes place in the aftermath of a nation-breaking crisis, as lawyer Donny Kimoe finds himself trying to save his own skin by brokering a deal between two warring factions—one an autonomous community trying to beta-test a greener future in the drowned ruins of New Orleans, the other a cabal of Dallas-based biotech tycoons who want to feed a starving world from their patented seeds and get rich in the process. Here’s what some of the early reviews have said:

The novel is as tense and thrilling as any of Brown’s work, and as full of rage and hope. It’s a novel that truly reckons with the enormity of  both our climate emergency and the system that produced it – a tale of  human imperfection and redemption.” — Cory Doctorow, bestselling author of Walkaway

“[A] larger-than-life near-future legal thriller of environmental collapse and social rebuilding… Brown adds new layers to the wildly imaginative dystopian setting of his first two works, now with an emphasis on environmental law. The scenes of sunken New Orleans are vivid and will keep the pages turning.” — Publishers Weekly

Failed State is in continuity with my prior two novels, Tropic of Kansas and Rule of Capture, and ties together those storylines in a way that tries to germinate the hopeful seeds they planted and get closer to utopia. But while the books work together, each is a standalone, and can be read without the others, and/or be read in any order.

Two launch-related virtual events are coming up that I hope some of you will be able to join us at:

Second Life Book Club – July 22

Tomorrow, Wednesday, July 22, at 12 pm Pacific I will be on the Second Life Book Club with the amazing and prodigious British science fiction writer Paul McAuley and host Bernhard Drax. It should be a blast, assuming I can navigate my way around inside the Matrix okay. If you aren’t on Second Life, you can catch the event on YouTube here.

Virtual Book Launch – BookPeople Austin – with Cory Doctorow – August 12

On Wednesday, August 12, at 7 pm Central, Austin’s original indie bookstore BookPeople will be hosting a virtual launch for Failed State, and I am delighted to be joined at the event in conversation with my good friend Cory Doctorow. Cory has been a great supporter of all three books, and a big influence on them, especially through his championing of a less Hobbesian view of humanity and the possibility of more utopian futures. You can pre-register to join the event on Zoom here. And if you would like a signed copy of the book (or of any of my other books), BookPeople is taking preorders for me to sign before the event.

Thanks for your support and interest in my work, and I look forward to seeing many of you at one or both of these events.


Texas Monthly interview: Will Dystopian Times Inspire Utopian Art?

I recently had the opportunity to talk with fellow Austin author Nicky Drayden and Texas Monthly Deputy Editor Jeff Salamon about writing science fiction in the post-pandemic world, for the magazine’s future-focused July issue. A condensed version of the interview appeared in the print issue that hit the stands this past weekend, and the full transcript is now available online. I really love the headline they came up with, which is a theme I have been thinking about a lot, and I totally dig the illustration by Mark Pernice (included above), which channels the groovy spirit of the great 1970s sf paperback covers.

Texas Monthly: Will Dystopian Times Inspire Utopian Art?




Ecotopia as reality TV

We can’t have our friends over during time of pandemic, so instead we have invited the whole world over.

When we were first approached about the opportunity to participate in the Apple TV + series HOME, my wife and I were wary. We are pretty private people, at least with respect to our domestic life, and the idea of inviting the whole world into your home is a lot to get your head around. But in the end, we concluded it was too good an opportunity to share the ideas we believe in, about rewilding the city and hacking the way we think about the domus. And we were very lucky to get to work with an incredible team helmed by director Doug Pray, who understand the story we and our neighbors had to share about how our project fits into a wider movement and deeper history, and who had the gifts to draw out how our intersections with urban nature had impacted us in our personal lives.

The end result is beautifully done, and accurately captures the story of how we took on this project. In a short 30 minutes, it manages to tell some of the dark history of this land, and provide a window into the possibility of a more ecotopian future. For readers of my novels and nature writing, it provides a window into the environment that has influenced that work. We are honored to have had the opportunity to be part of this, and hopeful that the story and message will inspire others to take on similar projects. The whole series is remarkable, with a diverse array of equally utopian projects, and perfect viewing on the eve of Earth Day.

HOME on Apple TV +, Episode 7: Edgeland House, Austin

More at my newsletter, Field Notes

Field Notes and Failed State

I’ve started a new weekly newsletter of urban nature writing over at Substack. I’ve been wanting to do more with this material for some time, and a newsletter seems like an ideal format. If that sounds of interest, please check it out and consider subscribing—the first installment of Field Notes is out this morning.

In other news, my new novel FAILED STATE is in the production queue. This one features the same protagonist as RULE OF CAPTURE, lawyer Donny Kimoe, only this time he is defending a client who has been hauled in front of a post-revolutionary truth and reconciliation tribunal. It tries to get a little closer to utopia than the last two books. It’s available for preorder, and the cover by Owen Corrigan is pretty awesome. Summer 2020 totally needs a hot pink post-apocalyptic lawyer story.

Failed State


RULE OF CAPTURE a Kindle promotion for January

Rule of Capture

My novel Rule of Capture has been out for six months now, which means it’s bargain ebook time—my publisher Harper Voyager has the Kindle version available beginning today for less than the price of a cappuccino, far enough in advance for those who want to check out the follow-on Failed State when it comes out in August 2020.

Thanks to all of you who have already checked the book out and shared your thoughts on Amazon, Goodreads, social media, and by word of mouth.

RULE OF CAPTURE—on Kindle in January for $2.99

Failed State

Also available for pre-order: FAILED STATE


SF Author as Talking Head

My interview about Rule of Capture with the nationally syndicated PBS public affairs show Story in the Public Square is now up on the show’s page, after playing on stations around the country last weekend—a fun and wide-ranging conversation about lawyer stories, true dystopia, and lots more. This is my second time on the show, and I am deeply appreciative to the hosts, Jim Ludes and G. Wayne Miller, for having me back.