** UPDATED 18th December: I’VE SUBMITTED THE FIRST DRAFT! Merry Christmas peeps 🙂 **
Lovely blog readers,
For too long, you have waited for a proper update on the book – forgive me. You see, since checking out from the real world of work at the end of August, I have been chained to my desk, but I’ve been entirely focused on finishing the book. I still have a way to go on that front, but I’m beginning to feel cautiously optimistic that I might actually get to spend Christmas just lazing about.
Don’t get me wrong, writing Science and the City (SATC) has absolutely not felt like a burden at any point. Not yet at least! I mean, there’s plenty of time for that to change before I submit the first draft, and it seems that every book-author on the planet has a minor breakdown, but so far, I’ve been absolutely loving it.
The whole SATC experience has been both the most challenging and the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I spend several hours every week on the phone just nerding it up with talented engineers and scientists. It is just such a pleasure and makes me remarkably happy. I’ve been away from The Lab for two years now, and I still find myself yearning for it. I miss the camaraderie, I miss the challenges, and most of all, I miss the constant learning. SATC has given me back a lot of those things, especially the lovely brain-ache you get from a day of research and data analysis. Its awesome.
Anyway, enough misty-eyed crap from me. Let’s give you an update and a bit of a timeline (as far as I understand it)
- I’ve met my editor, the lovely Anna, and along with (the equally-lovely) Jim, she will guide SATC into reality
- Draft chapters have been making the rounds of many of my friends and colleagues for the last couple of months. Without exception, the reviews have been REALLY helpful. I’d be lost without those volunteers. THANK YOU.
- The latest version of the book cover is being designed as I type – as soon as we finalise it, I’ll share it here
- I will be submitting the first complete draft on / before 18th December. EEEEEEEE! This is actually a bit earlier than the editor’s deadline, but it’s what I’m aiming for, and for a particular reason: It’s when the new Star Wars movie is being released. Even my own deadlines are nerdy.
- At some point in late Jan, I’ll get comments back from Bloomsbury, so I’ll make those changes / rewrite the entire book at that point. Hopefully the former 🙂 After that, there’s a lot of to-and-fro-ing, with illustrators being called in to do their thing, as well as turning my words into an actual book.
- Preview copies will go out to selected reviewers in early summer, with the hope to collecting a few promotional quotes to put on the cover. I guess it’ll be around then that SATC will become available for pre-order. EEEEEEEEE again!
- My publication date has moved a bit, so for those of you in UK / Ireland, it’ll be available from August 11th 2016. If you’re in the US, you’ll have to wait until October 25th. At that stage, I will be found in bookshops taking selfies with real-life copies. And moving them to prominent locations too, obviously.
- I will definitely have some sort of gathering in London in August, to celebrate the book’s launch. Let me know if you’ll be about then – I’ll be sure to invite you 🙂
What happens after that, frankly, nobody knows. Maybe someone will pay me to go on a worldwide book tour?! If any of you happen to be secret millionaires, do please get in touch 😉 I don’t know if I ever told you guys, but I didn’t get an advance for writing this book. I will only make money on sales (x% of sale price), so expect me to be pimping the crap out of SATC, and begging you all to buy a copy 🙂 Hopefully, if you enjoy it, you won’t need too much persuading to purchase a few copies for friends!
But, what’s actually in it? Well, I will be sharing the preface on here at Christmas, to give you a bit of teaser 🙂 But below is a draft contents page with a few hints about what you might find in each chapter. No-one outside the publishing team and a few long-suffering friends has seen this, so consider it a sneaky peak!
Science and the City: The Mechanics Behind the Metropolis
- Up: This chapter is about the most visible bit of a city – the iconic skyscraper – and hidden engineering they rely on
- Switch: In this chapter, we’ll explore electricity, and I promise you’ll finally understand how the grid works
- Wet: This is a chapter of two halves – water and waste. There will be plenty of toilet humour, I assure you!
- Way: We’ll head out on the open road in this chapter, and explore beautiful bridges and the science of traffic jams
- Drive: What good is a road without a car? In chapter #5, we’ll talk about everything from tyres to fuel cells
- Loco: We’ll dig our very own tunnel in this chapter, and I’ll tell you why ‘leaves on the line’ cause such a problem
- Connect: This chapter will talk about the less obvious networks that tie a city together – food / goods, communications and money
- City: This chapter will be a bit different from the others, maybe a bit more sci-fi than sci fact 🙂 But it will be fun.
This is NOT a book about architecture. It’s a book about the science, engineering and technology hidden in every aspect of city-living. Each chapter will give you some historical context, as well as explaining how all of these systems work today. In each chapter, I answer questions that I’ve been asked by friends and family, like “Is bottled water really cleaner than tap water?” and “Why is it always windy on the tube?”. We’ll also glance ahead to the future of each of these systems, and the many technologies that will make them possible. I’ve spoken to over 50 engineers and scientists for this book, and delved into countless current research papers, all to find the newest, coolest bit of science that will transform the city tomorrow.
So…. what do you think? To be honest, if you’re even half as excited to read SATC as I have been while writing it, then I’m happy.