Return to Caraqui

by wjw on March 10, 2022

I’m currently writing my Great Lost Opus, which is to say the third book in the Metropolitan sequence, which was never written because my editor was fired and his fiction line canceled before I could get started. I’ve been promising it for 25 years, and I’ve decided that it’s time to deliver.

Starting work on this long-delayed project involved my reading the first two books, Metropolitan and City on Fire, for the first time in many years. And my reaction, from the perspective of 25 years, was “Holy shit! This is the best stuff I ever wrote!”

So now I have to ask myself if after all this time I can make the third book as good as the first two. It’s an intimidating prospect, even though I know I’ve learned a few things in the last two-and-a-half decades. I’ll try like hell to make it better than the first two, but at this stage I can’t guarantee anything.

Certain elements of the books seem more of-the-moment now than when they were originally published. The two main characters are people of color, and the book’s discussions of race and privilege seem more a part of today’s discussion than what was happening in the Nineties.

Accordingly I’ve commissioned new covers from Elizabeth Leggett (including a cover for the book I haven’t actually written yet). Back in the 1990s you couldn’t put a person of color on the cover of a fantasy novel, but you sure as hell can now, and I want the covers to make clear the diverse casting of the books.

And then, of course, there’s the question of whether I can sell the series again to a publisher. I’m reasonably confident that I can, though maybe not to the Big Five. If I can’t sell it, I can publish it myself (and hey, I’ll already have cover art).

I’m writing the book entirely on spec, the first book I’ve sold in, well, ever where the serious writing didn’t wait until I had a contract in hand. So it’s a bit of a risk, but I’m better situated than I was a quarter-century ago, and I can afford risks now.

So far the writing is going slowly, which was also a frustration with the first two books. But COVID and the lockdown have made it difficult for me to maintain concentration— I’ve become very easily distracted— and the war in Ukraine hasn’t helped. So bear with me, this may take a while.

You have my permission, however, to salivate.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

David Goodger March 10, 2022 at 1:10 am

Loved Metropolitain & City On Fire. Wherever the new book is published, I’ll buy it. But then, WJW is an author whose work I’ll always read, regardless. Gotta re-read Aristoi one of these days…

John F. MacMichael March 10, 2022 at 1:59 am

Excellent news! I have always wanted to hear the end of this story.

Mister Dalliard March 10, 2022 at 3:43 am

Take as much time as you need. My money is here when you’re ready. I read Metropolitan and City as ARCs and have been waiting since then for the ending. A little longer won’t hurt.

In the meantime..yaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!!!! (Runs around cheering like a 5 year old too full of sugar.)

Tucker McKinnon March 10, 2022 at 11:16 am

Oooh.

My dream is for Subterranean Press to do fancy editions of these, including the third (and however many future)… but actual mass-market publication is also a desideratum.

John Appel March 10, 2022 at 1:31 pm

Holy smokes, this is the best news I’ve heard in a while! Insert your favorite version of the “Shut up and take my money!” GIF here.

Andrew Moreton March 10, 2022 at 2:26 pm

Never thought the third book would appear. Glad to hear it will and will buy it as soon as possible . Probably one of the few physical books I will buy

Oofoe March 10, 2022 at 5:42 pm

Really happy to hear about a new Metropolitan! The first one was a real standout with a lot of interesting stuff that I wanted to see better explored. Will have to find and reread it in preparation…

Um…. (tugs cap) I don’t suppose that it’s within the realm of possibility then that a certain… ah… Allowed Burglar might get another outing? Just asking. For a friend.

David Moles March 10, 2022 at 7:03 pm

Fantastic news! I’ve been waiting for this one for 25 years.

(And for much of that time thinking about the scene in METROPOLITAN where Aiah explains privilege to Gil, and telling people “Walter Jon Williams got this right in 1995; what’s your excuse?”)

Paul Cooper March 10, 2022 at 10:57 pm

Great news. For the last 25 years, I have felt the missing book sort of like the hole where a tooth should be.

Ralf.T. Dog. March 11, 2022 at 12:32 am

“Holy shit! This is the best stuff I ever wrote!”

Dude, we have been telling you this for the past 25 years. Did you think we were joking?

Bruce Arthurs March 11, 2022 at 1:58 am

Hoorah! And thank you!

Shawn Dritz March 11, 2022 at 3:51 am

SO looking forward to this!

Derek March 11, 2022 at 5:28 pm

Wonderful news.
Those novels are so inventive, yet grounded in the traditions of mythology—Faustian bargains, Jungian archetypes, the Promethean quest to ascend via the gift of plasm, intriguing hints of plasm as a collective unconscious, feng shui…

If traditional publishers demand too many compromises, please consider Kickstarter or similar.

(I may have submitted this twice, apologies)

Juanma Barranquero March 11, 2022 at 7:54 pm

Best out-of-the-blue news I’ve had in quite a while. Yay!

Charlie Stross March 12, 2022 at 12:17 pm

“Holy shit! This is the best stuff I ever wrote!”

Yeah? Why do you think I’ve been nagging you about it for years? 😉

A lot of stuff from 25 years ago is no longer worth re-reading because time waits for no author, but these two were and remain stand-outs and I look forward to book 3 with grabby-hands.

James Davis Nicoll March 12, 2022 at 12:30 pm

What dark rites are necessary to speed this along?

Jaakkola Jani March 12, 2022 at 12:42 pm

Please, make this a crowdfunded project. I want you to give you my money and I want to read this.

Frank Shannon March 12, 2022 at 2:15 pm

Great news everyone!

John F. MacMichael March 12, 2022 at 5:26 pm

If you have any difficulty finding a publisher to take this on, please allow me to add my voice to those above in recommending you use Kickstarter (or another crowdfunding platform) to get this into print. I, for one, am ready, willing and able to put my money where my mouth is on this project.

John Appel March 13, 2022 at 2:46 pm

For those worried about this book not finding a home, I’ll just point out that Walter is represented by one of the top agents handling SFF, Joshua Bilmes, founder of Jabberwocky Literary. Nothing in publishing is certain (especially these days) but my money is on Joshua finding a house to take this series, even if not one of the Big 5 (or 4, or whatever number we’ve got right now.)

Steve Chesney March 14, 2022 at 8:38 am

Take my money…..

David Stewart March 14, 2022 at 5:39 pm

D’accord!

wjw March 15, 2022 at 12:45 am

Thank you all for the good wishes!

There’s no particular need for a Kickstarter, particularly at this stage. I haven’t written the book yet, and as John A. says, I’ve got a top agent. I have high confidence I’ll be able to place the series somewhere, even if it isn’t the Big Five (or Four, or wherever).

DensityDuck March 20, 2022 at 2:54 pm

Yay!

Michael Rousine March 23, 2022 at 2:51 pm

Finally.
These are absolutely the best of your books. And Aristoi.

Grainer Dogget April 22, 2022 at 3:24 pm

Dear John, i wish you all the power, concentration and spirit of the world, and a bit more!
Take all yhe time needed, my money is waiting for the moment. “Metropolitan” and “City on Fire” are my “first shelve” books since the first time in late 90-ees I found “Metropolitan” in a library, where i used to take refuge from many shit of the teenage years, during my service in the military, and later family life.
Thank you so much for a wonderfull, exiting adventure, and even more for a possibility of returning in that world once again!

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