The Sky's Dark Labyrinth Blog



At the dawn of the seventeenth century, the Sun revolved around the Earth according to God’s plan and as set down in the Bible. Yet some men knew that the Heavens did not move as they should and began to believe exactly the opposite – a heresy punishable by being burned alive.

The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth is the first in a trilogy of novels that dramatically bring to life key moments in our understanding of the cosmos – when our view of the Universe changed forever.


I'll be collecting all posts here that are relevant to The Sky's Dark Labyrinth.  Published during the course of 2011-2012, volume I, The Sky's Dark Labyrinth, presents the stories of Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei.


German Lutheran Johannes Kepler is convinced that he has been given a vision by God when he becomes the first man to distill into mathematical laws how stars and planets move through the heavens.  Galileo Galilei, an Italian Catholic, will try to claim Kepler’s success for his own Church, but he finds himself enmeshed in a web of intrigue originating from within the Vatican itself.  Both men become trapped by human ignorance and irrational terror to the peril of their lives and those of their families in one of the darkest, yet also one of the most enlightening, periods of European history.


Volume II, The Sensorium of God, features Isaac Newton and Edmond Halley.  Volume III, The Day Without Yesterday, recounts the story of Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble and George Lemaitre.


Confirmed publication dates so far are April in UK, June in Australia, September in Canada.  Forthcoming publications dates will be announced for South Korea, Japan and Greece soon.  I'll be talking about these books at various literary festivals and other venues across the UK this year.  Stay tuned for further announcements.  The book is published in the UK and Australia by Polygon Books and in Canada by McArthur Books.


To download a four page brochure about the trilogy, click here.


To contact the book's UK publicist, Jan Rutherford, click here.

To contact the book's Canadian publicist, Devon Pool, click here.

Exclusive live Q&A at Hay Festival

I'll be online at 3pm on Friday 3rd June, live from the Hay Literary Festival answering your questions.  Feel free to ask anything you like, be it about astronomy or writing or combining the two.  Please submit your questions in advance to the Hay Festival Q&A website.  That page will also be the place to follow the interview, or catch up on it after it has finished.


Do check out the other authors performing their own Q&As, there are some fascinating people participating.


My thanks to Siobhan Maguire for making this happen.  Also a big thank you to everyone who is coming along to my talk at 1pm that day.  You've made it a sell out and I can't tell you how appreciative I am!


P.S. 4 June 2011, the Q & A was great fun and if you look at Hay Festival Q&A website you'll see all the questions you sent in, thank you, and my answers.

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The Sky At Night choose TSDL as June Book of the Month

I couldn’t be more pleased to announce that the BBC’s The Sky At Night magazine has chosen The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth as their June book of the month. Kate Oliver has given it a four-star review, saying that: “the story is well paced and draws the reader along throughout.”


The review is not on line yet but you can read it alongside a mini interview with me, by Will Gater in the June issue, available in newsagents now.

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Guardian Science Weekly: Out of this World Science Fiction

I’m a guest on today’s Guardian science weekly podcast.  I had a great time recording it last week with two journalists I respect a great deal and read often, Alok Jha and Ian Sample.  We discuss the brilliant Out of this World science fiction exhibition at the British Library, the discovery of planets without stars and, of course, The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth.

Listen to the podcast here.

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The Sky's Dark Labyrinth: "a rich source of discussion for book groups."

In January, Newbooks Magazine, the magazine for readers and reading groups, chose The Sky's Dark labyrinth as one of their forthcoming debut novels of the year. I was especially grateful; it gave me a great boost as I sat and wondered whether anyone would really go for a novel based on 17th century astronomy.

Now, they have reviewed the book and I'm particularly pleased that reviewer Berwyn Peet has said, "a good read and as a rich source of discussion for book groups."

It is my intention to produce a reading group guide that can be downloaded to give some insight into my motivations and hopes for the book.  I’ve not completed it yet because I’m busy finishing the second book in The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth trilogy but as soon as the manuscript is with the publishers in a week or so, I’ll write the group guide – and that’s where you come in.

If you run a book group, what makes an interesting guide?  Would you be interested in receiving a copy of the guide or perhaps even talking to me over skype at one of your meetings.  

Please contact me through the form.   I'm keen to hear your seasoned opinions.

You can read the full Newbooks Magazine review here.

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Speaking the truth

I would like to extend my thanks to Pippa Goldsmidt who has reviewed The Sky's Dark Labyrinth for the superb LabLit website.


"The story of the Copernican revolution is usually summed up as a single moment in Western civilisation when science overturned religion, and people started to replace the Bible’s account of the world around them with theories based on physical observations.

But, as Stuart Clark shows in this skilful and fascinating fictional account of Kepler’s and Galileo’s discoveries, the reality of what happened was a lot more complex than a simple dichotomy of science vs. religion. To start with, religion itself was at war; the Reformation triggered battles for power across Europe, and the Catholic Church was only too aware that a new and better understanding of the natural world could help them gain the upper hand. The Church knew it couldn’t risk being left behind and becoming increasingly irrelevant in the modern world. And it was obvious to everyone that the old Aristotelian model of fixed spheres centred on the Earth just didn’t work. But how to dismantle that apparatus and set up a new model, while at the same time keeping hold of the power structures that the old model supported? ..."


You can read the full review here.  Pippa is a fiction writer too and you can read one of her astronomy short stories here.

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