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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Pirate Utopia by Bruce Sterling

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Here at last is the small hardback book I spent most of February and March working on. Pirate Utopia is published this week, and I’m pleased that it’s been very well received, with reviews drawing attention to the illustration and design as well as the text. This is a dieselpunk alternate history which begins in 1920:

WHO are these bold revolutionaries pillaging their confused European neighbours? The Futurists! Utopian outlaws of Italy’s tiny Regency of Carnaro, unlikely scourge of the Adriatic Sea!

It is the end of the Great War, and yet there is unrest in newly formed Carnaro. Carnaro is utterly in thrall to all things new, no matter how impractical or improbable. Futurism unites artists, pirates, propagandists, veterans, scientists, and libertines alike; military innovation and unabashed gratification rule the day. No one will rest until they crush Europe’s communists, capitalists, fascists, and bewildered coastal townsfolk.

But some have theorized that the Soldier-Citizens of Carnaro are not completely sane. At the dawn of mutiny, they are led by on ever-changing, passionate coterie, which may include:

* Lorenzo Secondari, the infamous Pirate Engineer, leader of ferocious Croatian raiders (and theatre enthusiasts)
* Blanka Piffer, staunch patriot and smartly clad Syndicalist manager of a torpedo factory staffed exclusively by women
* The Prophet, charismatic warrior-poet ruthless dictator, and very active proponent of free love
* The Ace of Hearts, dashing aristocrat spy, yogi, drug pusher, and combat pilot
* The Art Witch, the compelling Milanese millionairesse in the inner circle and mysterious, avid occultist

Two infamous Americans have arrived in Carnaro offering a Faustian bargain. Will HP Lovecraft and Houdini betray their own nation, and lead the Futurists to international glory?

No need to emphasis the pertinence of a story of global political turmoil appearing at this point in time. Back in March the traumas of Brexit and the US election were mere possibilities rather than the unavoidable facts they are today. Pirate Utopia doesn’t necessarily reflect the present moment but some of the resonances are, shall we say, suggestive. Bruce Sterling, as noted earlier, is a futurist (as distinct from a Futurist), and had this to say recently about the current state of affairs.

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The chapter spreads and other interior graphics run variations of the works of Fortunato Depero and others. Depero was an ideal choice not only because his work tends to the cartoonish—this is a humorous book about serious matters—but much of it is bold and monochromatic, ideal for deployment as black-and-white graphics. Ordinarily I’d write a little more about the art influences, but since I already did so inside the book itself it seems better to encourage those who want to know more to buy a copy. You can, however, see a few more of the page layouts here. A book about Interesting Times for Interesting Times. Join the Futurist Revolution!

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Futurismo!

 


 

Posted in {art}, {books}, {design}, {politics}, {science fiction}, {work}.

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3 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by James W

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    This looks great! Love the illustrations.

    By the way, any news on your own novel? I think you said it was completed but you’re still looking for a publisher?

  2. #2 posted by John

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    Thanks, James. The novel was completed years ago—I’ve since written another, longer one!—but it’s still in limbo. Publishers have been dissuaded by either the structure or the content (deemed by some to be “excessive”) or a combination of the two. Since this is one of my personal projects—as opposed to commercial work which often involves a degree of compromise—I wasn’t prepared to radically alter the thing.

    So I’m currently considering publishing a limited edition hardback myself. The only obstacle at the moment is money since the book is laid out, proofed and typeset. I’m hoping I may have the money available at some point next year although working freelance means you can’t always depend on future earnings. Needless to say, any positive news about this will be posted here.

  3. #3 posted by James W

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    Thanks for the reply John. Hope you find a publisher soon. I was going to suggest a few but I expect you probably know all the ones I could think of. I’m sure you’ve asked them but would Strange Attractor be interested?

    If you do decide to self publish perhaps you could set up pre-orders for slightly more expensive remarqued copies to help cover the printing costs?

 




 

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