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Ings, Simon

Entry updated 11 March 2024. Tagged: Author.

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(1965-    ) UK author who began publishing sf with "Blessed Fields" in Other Edens III (anth 1989) edited by Christopher Evans and Robert P Holdstock; and who has become moderately prolific as an author of short stories. His first novel, Hot Head (1992), heatedly and congestedly, and with moments of Cyberpunk-ish brilliance, presents the life-story and adventures – in Virtual Reality and other realms – of a lesbian Muslim wanderer in the early twenty-first century. The sequel, Hotwire (1995), complexifies the portrait of the post-modern, AI-governed, information-choked, literally hotwired world City; the protagonists are also hotwired into Sex, which is deemed epiphanic. Ings's second novel, City of the Iron Fish (1994), also focuses on the image and allure and deadliness of a City, though a very different one whose physical existence in this instance seems as arbitrary as all other physical phenomena in the world of the novel; it is reminiscent of complex fantasy edifice-cities such as Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, or M John Harrison's Viriconium. But a surreal dance of speculation – about Cosmology in general, as well as the reality-making function of Art in a world which lacks natural meaning – distinguishes this novel from its models.

Later novels, which tend to respond less hyperkinetically to the changing world, include Headlong (1999), whose Cyborg protagonist finds, through a thriller-like plot engendered by the seeming death of his wife, that Earth is, in a sense, room enough; Painkillers (2000), a thriller with marginal sf content; and The Weight of Numbers (2006), an ambitious anatomy of contemporary, sf-inflected "pattern recognitions" – William Gibson's novel is a clear influence – of the shape of the world, recognitions which deprecate sf as a tool for understanding the future, while at the same time they utilize sf tools to adumbrate the enormous weight of the all-consuming planet engine: a world that may only be discerned through sf eyes: but wrongly nevertheless. The protagonists of Wolves (2014) are involved in the creation of a Near Future world-blanketing coercive Media Landscape through a Virtual Reality Technology known as Augmented Reality, helping create a Dystopian environment whose will-sapping contours reflect a late J G Ballard conviction: that we no longer own ourselves. The Smoke (2018) – the title being a familiar nickname for London, where the action climaxes – depicts a Near Future world whose three versions of Homo sapiens struggle to cope with the fractal intensities of things to come. [JC]

see also: Rose Red.

Simon David Ings

born Petersfield, Hampshire: July 1965


  • Hot Head (London: Grafton, 1992) [pb/Stephen Player]
  • City of the Iron Fish (London: HarperCollins, 1994) [pb/uncredited]
  • Hotwire (London: HarperCollins, 1995) [illus/pb/Simon Pummell]
  • Headlong (London: HarperCollins/Voyager, 1999) [pb/Jacey]
  • Painkillers (London: Bloomsbury, 2000) [pb/William Webb]
  • The Weight of Numbers (London: Atlantic Books, 2006) [pb/Kerry Roper]
  • Dead Water (London: Atlantic Books/Corvus, 2011) [hb/blacksheep]
  • Wolves (London: Gollancz, 2014) [pb/Jeffrey Alan Love]
  • The Smoke (London: Gollancz, 2018) [pb/James Nunn]

collections and stories

  • The Rio Brain (San Francisco, California: Night Shade Books, 2003) with M John Harrison [story: chap: first appeared February 1996 Interzone: pb/uncredited photo of Samuel Beckett]


works as editor


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