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De Abaitua, Matthew

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1971-    ) UK editor, journalist and author born Matthew Humphreys, legally changing his surname in early adulthood; active from the end of the nineties, a period marked by contributions to journals and with the nonfantastic "Inbetween" in Disco Biscuits (anth 1999) edited by Sarah Champion. He edited from 2000 to 2009. He is of sf interest for his first two novels, very loosely assembled into the Red Men sequence, connections between independent stories consisting primarily of presentation of the Near Future in which Britain has become a nightmarish Dystopia marked by a hypertrophied neoliberal deregulation of anything like a shared culture, culminating in a "Seizure": an infliction of paralysed redundancy on an entire people. In The Red Men (2007), much of it set in Hackney (an East London borough which only began to suffer the privations of severe gentrification after around 2010), Nelson Millar works for Monad Corporation, which specializes in the design and manufacture of the eponymous Avatar-like Androids, who stand in for corporation men when they have no time for living; by these Red Men tend to reduce into savage (but not inaccurate) Parodies of their originals. IF THEN (2015) is set in Lewes, Kent, a town now completely controlled by the Process, an intricate but not AI-based extended network or cloud, through which the world is monitored and controlled. De Abaitua's sense that the birth of something like the Singularity has nothing to do with Intelligence may not be prescient, but was welcome at a time when Genre SF continued to manufacture AIs. A second tale, buried within the Lewes events, creates analogues (not always clear) between the near future and the lessons of World War One, as experienced by survivors of the debacle at Suvia Bay, in the Dardanelles.

De Abaitua's more recent The Destructives (2016), does feature genuine AIs, "emergences" which have emigrated en masse to somewhere near Mercury, in a much expanded Space Opera venue, fraught with intimations of Homo sapiens's constrained post-Singularity future. [JC]

Matthew De Abaitua

born Ormskirk, Lancashire: 17 October 1971



Red Men

  • The Red Men (London: Snowbooks, 2007) [Red Men: pb/]
  • IF THEN (London: Angry Robot, 2015) [Red Men: pb/Raid 71]

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