Responses to Faith

“Wow. Uh, wow. That was my reaction upon finishing this stellar debut…FAITH, to be clear, is one of the most literary space operas I’ve ever read. It can be favourably compared to anything from Delany or Tiptree Jr…It just reads as masterful.” – Zach Jernigan,


“It is safe to say that Faith is the most bizarre and unexpected debut novel in American fiction in recent years…one hundred percent original and memorable…The novel stands out from any genre limits…breathtaking.” – FB Fantasy.


“A superb slice of traditional science fiction, reminiscent of the early (and very best) Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov, though sufficiently political to suggest we’ve moved on from those Astounding Stories days just a little. I found echoes of Asimov’s original Foundation trilogy, which is all to the good, and John’s characters are strong enough to carry off this most enjoyable piece of space opera. It’s my understanding a film may be in the offing. Can’t wait!” – Books Monthly,


“FAITH is a brilliant freaking book. It shows more imagination, more creativity, more conceptual thinking than any Sci-Fi novel I can think of…

“This is a book that first resists you. Then it grabs you. Then it appals and fascinates you. Then it abandons you. Then it grows on you…

“I feel that my encounter with FAITH has changed me in ways I never could have anticipated…a genius bit of writing, and an absolute home run for first-timer John Love.” – Steve Skojec,


“FAITH begins with the kind of opening sentence that grabs readers by the throat…

“FAITH succeeds both as a purely visceral, exciting story and as a meditation on the place of humanity in the universe…There is a kind of passionate wonder on display here that makes FAITH exhilirating to read, a novel that demands and rewards the reader’s attention form the first sentence to the last.”  – Katherine Farmar,


“A simply awesome, very exciting battle between two massive spaceships…it’s tactical, it’s psychological, nothing at all happens the way you’d expect, it becomes very philosophical, and it rarely lets up on the gas the entire time…

“A great read because it was so unexpected and unpredictable…This book definitely lived up to the hype.” – Jeff Raymond,


“I finished up FAITH by John Love a few weeks ago. I set aside the book and put off my reviews so I could ponder just exactly what I had finished reading. And, yes, it’s taken me a few weeks to get my mind around both the plot and the ultimate meaning that this book throws at its readers…

“When I finished this book (or as I neared the end and the ultimate truth of the tale began to take shape) I began to realize that this tale was way more than a simple ship versus ship story. Yes, the technology, descriptions of the fights, the variety of weapons that each ship throws at the other, the physics involved in sub-luminal travel and fighting… all of this is very entertaining and well written. But there’s a secret tucked into the story…and the secret doesn’t hit you until you’re so close to finishing the book that all of the mysteries and questions that have been raised about the Sakhrans, Faith, and the ship’s intentions all come together in one super-fast smack across the face…

I mean… I really didn’t see that coming. What didn’t I see? Read the book.” – James Floyd Kelly,


“Powerful and original…an intense claustrophobia…wonderful macabre humour. A fiercely gripping story…the tension and suspense do not falter.” – Fred Cleaver, Denver Post.


“This multilayered novel…Guts and glory indeed, but also depths to characters and relentless pacing, make this novel fit right into the top shelf of ship fighting fiction. If you like the ‘how’ of space warfare, good…and if you like some of the ‘why’, even better.” –


“Remember Peter Watts’ Blindsight? Blend it with Moby Dick, and then imagine it was written by Gene Wolfe. Now ramp up the tension and suspense to eleven. It’s hard to believe Faith is a debut novel. It reads so smooth and subtle that as the pages fly by under your fingers, all you feel is the copper tang of a nameless fear…

“Faith is the space opera that those of us who like that sort of thing have been waiting for…

“So tense, so sinister and disturbing that it pushes the boundaries between pleasure and pain, as it pulses with the rhythm and metre of an orchestral counterpoint…

“As I write this, it’s been about 24 hours since I finished the book, and I feel changed. A little heavier, a little more angular, like I just saw the edge of an iceberg before the fog hid it forever from sight. I feel affected, like I’ve been told only the first few words of something so very destructive that learning the rest of it could destroy a person.

“…I feel confident John Love’s Faith will be on my best of the year list.” – Redhead,


“Special and different…A totally enthralling story…Leaves you with that sense of wonder about space, what it can hold, and our place in it.
Whoever found John Love for Nightshade Books should get a bonus for finding the next great Science Fiction star. Love is going to eventually belong in the same breath as some of our greatest Sci-Fi writers.” – The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf and Book Review,


“FAITH is the story of choice and fate, about obsession, and the existence of God, but it’s also exciting and thrilling. There are space battles and explosions, but this isn’t Star Wars. It’s much more powerful… Highly recommended.” – James Powell,


“FAITH is a science fiction debut of the highest order. It has fascinating, well-rounded characters who will remain with you for a long time. It has gorgeous, understated prose. It is chock-full of tension, making it a compulsive page-turner. It has an intriguing fictional universe which, I hope, will host more novels in the future. It’s got one of the highest signal-to-noise ratios I’ve encountered in a long time…FAITH is a novel I maybe would have expected from the mind of Iain M. Banks – and if that isn’t a compliment for an SF debut, I don’t know what is…I’m already sure this novel will end up on my list of 2012 favourites.” – Stefan Raets,


“When the Hugo nominations come around for 2012, I’ll more than likely be listing John Love’s début, Faith, in the novel category…it’s extremely original, in all sorts of ways.” – Peadar O Guilin,


“John Love’s debut novel is tremendous science fiction that blends literary tradition with space opera…A psychological journey akin to that of Captain Ahab in Moby Dick…I have little doubt that the currents of this novel will ebb and flow in mind for years to come.” – Justin Landon,


” This debut novel delivers the goods…It seems virtually impossible to imagine an SF fan who won’t thoroughly enjoy the tale. ” – David Pitt,


“A huge widescreen premise…The perfect mix of space battles and politics.” – Charlie Jane Anders,


“Sophisticated, inventive and beautifully written, Faith is a cut above the rest. John Love has made an excellent debut.” – Allen Steele, author of Oceanspace and The Coyote Chronicles.


“The beautiful, brutal bastard of Iain M Banks and Peter Watts – absolutely brilliant.” – Sean Williams, author of The Resurrected Man and The Green Conjunction.


“Gripping and original.” – David Moles, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winning author.

Interview with Steve Skojec,

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me about your novel Faith. This is your first published novel, and this is my first interview with a novelist. You’ve already proven yourself. Hopefully I will be able to convince everyone that I know what I’m doing.

You do, if the way you described my book (see the end of this interview) is anything to go by. But it also reminds me of one of my favourite music industry one-liners, by Keith Richards: “Jesus Christ! These people think I know what I’m doing!”

I’ve read Faith, and I’ve now had some time to digest it. There were parts I loved and others I didn’t, but at the end of the day it was an overwhelmingly enjoyable read, and I think it’s really, in many respects, a work of genius. I hope it becomes a classic of the genre. It’s bursting with a sort of dark and fascinating creativity. At its heart lies a fascinating idea – the notion of just what Faith is and where she comes from. I don’t want to give anything away, but I have to ask: where does an idea like that originate? How long have you been holding on to it?

I can’t answer this as fully as I’d like without the possibility of giving something away. The idea which underlies the ending is something I’ve had since I was a child. Since I first started looking up at the night sky.

The protagonists in your book are…unconventional. They are all people with dark pasts. Criminals. Sociopaths. What made you choose to take this approach, and how did you go about making them relatable?

I didn’t set out to write characters with dark pasts. They sort of grew out of the demands of the story as I was writing.

I set out to describe a battle between two apparently invincible opponents. Two ships, one of human origin and one unknown, locked together in a battle so immense that it almost tears space-time around it. Those in the “human” ship had to be seriously unusual to make them a serious match for the unknown ship which had defeated every other opponent. When I started thinking about how they might become so unusual, it took me down this path: back stories of social or political or sexual deviance, unusually gifted people who are also Outsiders, in the Albert Camus sense. That led me on to some other things which helped thicken the consistency of the book’s universe: how these people were identified and recruited, how their ships were built and named, how the regular military regarded them, how the rest of humanity regarded them, and so on.

Those characters are there because the story demanded them. The natural chemistry between them did the rest. At times I felt they were writing their own dialogue!

Read the whole interview at …

Posts by John Love on the “Night Bazaar” website

Rappelling Lesbians in the House of Lords

Happy New Year to everyone at Night Shade and Night Bazaar. Please forgive the title, but I wanted to get some attention. Also, it does have an element of truth. I haven’t worked in publishing or related fields, or written anything commercially, before now (my debut novel, FAITH, will be published today, January 3). Most of my career was in the music industry, as Managing Director of PPL, the world’s largest record industry copyright organisation. In 1988 I was sitting in the Public Gallery of the House of Lords in London late one night, waiting for the start of a debate on the Copyright, Designs and Patents Bill. At the time another piece of legislation, involving lesbian rights, was being debated. A group of lesbian activists sitting nearby produced some ropes and climbing equipment and rappelled (in Britain, we’d say abseiled) down onto the floor of the Chamber… – John Love, 3rd January 2012

“I like the idea of a special Hugo to be awarded (by force, perhaps)…”

“…to literary authors who write books dripping with themes filleted from mainstream SF and then deny that it’s SF because it’s not about robots or spaceships.” Terry Pratchett.

Tempting, and typical Pratchett, but perhaps it doesn’t describe the whole nature of the symbiosis linking SF and mainstream. SF has always provided themes and ideas which find their way into the mainstream, and the mainstream’s use of them isn’t always cynical or hypocritical. Sometimes, but not always.

I like to think of themes and ideas from SF living on in mainstream. It’s like the attitudes and cadences of punk rock living on in mainstream music, or like dinosaurs living on as birds – maybe reduced or diluted, but still there… – John Love,, 10th January 2012

Do Androids Dream of Movie Stardom?

Perhaps one of the best movies of any SF novel is Blade Runner. I grew up admiring most of Philip Dick’s novels, including “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, but at the risk of uttering heresy I’d say that the movie is better than the novel. It tightens the plot and adds visual brilliance and a film noir atmosphere. At the risk of uttering even further heresy I’d argue that the original version of the movie is better than the later Director’s Cut. The original has Harrison Ford’s voice-over, which I know he detested, but it adds to the film noir mood; he speaks like a figure from an Edward Hopper painting, sitting alone in a bar with a dangling cigarette and a crumpled raincoat. Also, maybe the ambiguity of the original’s ending is more haunting than the bleakness of the Director’s Cut… – John Love,, 17th January 2012

What do The Hitchhiker’s Guide and Pilgrim’s Progress have in common?

Not only the plot device of the innocent abroad. John Bunyan was inspired to write Pilgrim’s Progress after reading The Plain Man’s Pathway To Heaven – written by Arthur Dent.

Hitchhiker’s Guide is one of my genre favourites, in all its early forms: the original BBC Radio 4 programme, the equally original BBC TV adaptation, and Douglas Adams’ unequalled “Trilogy of Five Novels.” But not the Hollywood movie. I didn’t like that at all… – John Love,, 24th January 2012

“The covers of this book are too far apart.”

Apologies in advance for what will be a short post. I really don’t have much to contribute to this thread, simply because I’ve only had one thing commercially published – my novel FAITH, published on January 3, the date of my first Night Bazaar post – and so I’ve only had one set of dealings with one editor, Jeremy Lassen. It was unexpectedly painless, but more of that later.

Going back a stage, I should mention the edits suggested by my agent, Jason Yarn of Paradigm. They were very perceptive, and tightened the book while leaving most of it intact. Maybe Jason’s feel for what FAITH was about explains my (so far) only interaction with an editor… – John Love,, 31st January 2012

Stanley Kubrick’s Passion for Dressmaking

Stanley Kubrick, when he’d decided to film Thackeray’s novel Barry Lyndon, spent some time researching eighteenth-century costumes. Then he went to all the major film and theatrical costumiers, but was unsatisfied with what they offered him. His research had shown him that eighteenth-century ladies’ gowns were stitched in a particular way which wasn’t reproduced by modern costumiers. Only with the authentic eighteenth-century stitching, he concluded, could the gowns be made to hang authentically. So he ignored the costumiers, and had the  ladies’ gowns for Barry Lyndon made to his own specification… – John Love,, 7th February 2012

“Things are more like they are today than they have ever been.”

Dystopia is a fine word, concentrated and resonant, for society gone wrong. We like to think that complexity (of politics, economics, technology, religion, demographics) means there are now more ways than ever in which society can go wrong. But that was also the perception in the past – in the the eighteenth century (Swift, Hogarth), the nineteenth (Dickens, Dostoevsky, Zola), and the early twentieth (Fritz Lang, Brecht, Orwell, Kafka, Huxley). Dystopia has always been a literary theme and a philosophical perception, but it didn’t always have such a good label… – John Love,, 13th February 2012

Alphabet Soup.

I feel like I’m full of soup. Possibly also something else beginning with S, but definitely soup. It sloshes around inside me when I walk. It’s made up of bits of  everything I am. All the memories and relationships, all the music and reading and experiences and obsessions and loves and hates and hopes, that I’ve known. Then, like the arm of a jukebox when a coin is inserted, something reaches down into that soup and plucks out a combination of bits to make a book. Is the combination random or deliberate? And is the coin Inspiration? And is this becoming a clumsy mixed metaphor or what?.. – John Love,, 21st February 2012

Love is a matter of Chemistry, Sex a matter of Physics

“Sex and feelings…the elements of Romance.” I’ve decided this must mean the depiction of a full relationship: not just opportunistic, up-against-the-wall sex, but a relationship involving sex and love which reaches across divides. The divides could be physical, biological, cultural, religious, or political. And, SFF being what it is, those divides will be more numerous and varied than in other genres… – John Love,, 28th February 2012

It hung in the air in exactly the same way a brick didn’t

As an SF writer and reader I’m naturally well-disposed towards the idea of alien craft. I’d like to think that some UFO stories may have a basis in fact, though I’m very sceptical: most of them, I’m sure, are either hoaxes or genuine mistakes. For those which aren’t, there’s another explanation which is just as thought-provoking: that some UFO sightings are actually sightings of advanced prototypes of human origin.

The test flights of the B-2 Stealth bomber prototype were probably the cause of a flurry of sightings in the 1980s of a huge black boomerang-shaped UFO… – John Love,, 6th March 2012

A Conventional Virgin

I must apologise in advance for what will be a short and rather unhelpful post. It could hardly be anything else, as I’ve never been to any SF conventions. I’ve been a compulsive SF reader for almost as long as I’ve been able to read, but I suppose I’ve been rather like a lurker, consuming the medium but not actively socialising. I hope that will change now I’ve had a novel published, but it’s only one novel and it was only published in January, so the occasion hasn’t arisen yet… – John Love,, 13th March 2012

The Shock of the New.

I had a long and interesting career in the music industry, but not as a performer. My love of music is equalled only by my inability to perform it or compose it. In the absence of those abilities I ran PPL, the world’s largest record industry copyright organisation, and worked for performers and record companies by doing rights negotiations and fighting legal cases. To quote Elvis Presley (US Male), I said all that to say all this: because of where I spent most of my working life, the word Punk has a particular resonance for me… – John Love,, 20th March 2012

“A novel must be exceptionally good to live as long as the average cat.”

When I finished writing my novel FAITH, I experienced what I thought was a strange reaction: I closed the file on it and didn’t want any more to do with it. This isn’t to say I reacted against it. I felt proud of it, and still do, and I reckon I’ve written it as well as I’m able to. It was simply that I felt I’d said everything I wanted to say about those people and that universe, and any more would be mere tinkering. At least, that’s how my agent explained it when I described it to him, and he said it’s not uncommon for authors to have such a feeling. Do any of the other Night Bazaar authors recognise it? When Lord Chesterfield said that a novel must be exceptionally good to live as long as the average cat, he probably had a life of eleven or twelve years in mind… – John Love,, 27th March 2012

Interview with Andrea Johnson, Little Red Reviewer

I recently reviewed John Love’s debut novel FAITH.  A brilliant novel, FAITH is the story of who we are and what we’ve become, of our place in the larger universe.  More intimately speaking, it’s the story of Commander Aaron Foord, the sociopathic crew of his Outsider ship the Charles Manson, and the alien spacecraft know as Faith that they’ve been sent to destroy.  The Charles Mansonis the last hope of the Commonwealth, but which is worse, the cure or the disease?

Captivating and frightening, once I picked FAITH up I could not put it down. You can read my review here, and visit John Love’s website for more information about the book and links to other reviews and interviews. If you like what you see, I encourage you to buy the book from your favorite local bookstore (no local bookstore? here’s the Amazon link for trade paperback and kindle).

Please welcome author John Love, as he answers a few questions and sheds some light on how this brilliant novel came into existence. By the way, for those of you who are keeping count, this is my very first author interview!

Thanks for joining us, can you tell us a little more about yourself? What do you do when you’re not writing?

I spent most of my working life in the music industry. I was Managing Director of PPL, the world’s largest record industry copyright organisation. When I retired I started doing things in the community aimed at quality-of-life issues: I belong to a number of safer neighbourhood, conservation and community development bodies. I’m also a Governor of a local school for special-needs children.

Apart from my family, London and cats, my favourite things include books and book collecting, cars and driving, football and Tottenham Hotspur, old movies and music.

For a debut novel, FAITH is incredibly impressive. Can you tell us a little bit about what went into creating it?

Thank you. Perhaps I could answer in two parts: Process, and Research.

Process first, by which I mean how the idea – the basic premise – of the book came to me. I could list some of the books or films or other influences which I’d carried for years and which combined to make the premise of FAITH (I won’t, because they come up later) but I’m not sure what else they combined with, and where it came from. And (most relevant to your question) how it came.

I do know that the premise for FAITH came fully-formed, and all at once – I could actually tell you the day it came, what I was doing and where I was. It came years before I sat down to write it, because of the demands of my job. But when I did write it, the premise remained completely unaltered.

That seems to be how the process works with me. I’m writing a second novel now whose premise also came to me earlier and has, so far, also stayed the same.

But if FAITH’s premise remained unchanged, its moving parts didn’t. Things like plotting, characters, and back-stories changed as I wrote the book. I found it a bit like assembling an engineering construction: while writing I might have an idea for a back-story or a character-trait which would strengthen the construction like a strut, passing through it three-dimensionally and reinforcing every bit it touched. The process of fitting it into the structure where it could do most good was one I found fascinating.

Read the whole interview at

Interview with Sally Janin,

Please welcome John Love to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Faith, John’s debut, was published this month by Night Shade Books.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

John:  Rather grandly, I used to tell people that I preferred writing key passages with pen on paper first: the texture of the paper, the feel of the nib, and so on. Like a real auteur. Pretty soon into writing FAITH, all that got thrown out. Word lets me put key phrases at odd positions, then fill in the gaps, until the whole moves into focus. More impressionist than linear.

And I like some malt whisky, and a cat, within easy reach.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

John  Hitchhiker’s Guide is one of my SF favourites, in all its early forms: the original BBC Radio 4 programme, the equally original BBC TV adaptation, and Douglas Adams’ unequalled “Trilogy of Five Novels.” But not the Hollywood movie. I didn’t like that at all.

Some other SF favourites are:
Alfred Bester: his novels and stories from the fifties.
Ursula LeGuin: almost anything of hers.
Jack Vance: the Demon Princes novels especially (most of his others too, but sometimes he goes on autopilot).
Iain M Banks: almost anything of his….

Read the whole interview at …

Interview with Justin Landon,

Toward the end of last year I read and reviewed a space opera debut from Night Shade Books — Faith by John Love.  The basic premise is that 300 years ago an unidentified ship visited the Sakhran Empire and left it devastated.  One Sakhran recognized the ship for what She was and wrote the Book of Srahr.  When they read it, the Sakhran’s turned away from each other, sending their Empire into a slow but irreversible decline.  They called Her, Faith.  Now She’s back, threatening the human Commonwealth and the only thing standing in Her way is the Charles Manson.

I found the novel captivating and I felt compelled to chat with the author a bit about what he was trying to accomplish.  Check it out!

Justin: The thumbprint of Moby Dick is all over Faith.  There are also a lot of of other influences, some of which I saw and others I’m sure I didn’t.  What made you want to bring those influences into a classic SF setting?

Love: In my bio notes for Nightshade I said that science fiction books are among the first I can remember reading, and they’ll probably be among the last.  I love the genre, in all its forms.  Whenever I have an idea for a book, SF is the automatic default option for expressing it.  The genre gives more freedom to make philosophical or political points – and it makes for a good read. I’m currently writing a second novel, and again I turned automatically to SF as the best medium for saying what I want.  It will be a kind of political thriller, but with strange edges.  I set it in the future (about fifty years from now) so I can play with ideas about how politics, economics, technology, culture and religion could develop by then

Read the whole interview at …

New Voices in Science Fiction and Fantasy interview

Q & A with Night Shade Books for next year’s “Night Bazaar” section of their website

First, we’d like to know what you think about Night Shade’s aggressive schedule of debut authors and novelists. Do you feel like you are part of something?

Absolutely I do. It feels like I’ve joined a community. Like I belong here.

I’m hugely appreciative of Nightshade’s new novelists policy. In Britain, as an unknown author, it seemed difficult to get any agents or publishers interested. That didn’t stop me trying (everybody knows how many rejections J K Rowling received) but I got a distinct impression that who you know mattered more than what you know. It seemed very cliquey.

I was contacting agents simultaneously in Britain and the USA, and the responses from the USA – even when they passed on the book – seemed to show more genuine interest. I had a couple of near misses in the USA (but none in Britain) and then a breakthrough when Jason Yarn of Paradigm Agency showed strong interest. He really seemed to get what the book was about – not only its themes, but the way I’d set out to write it. And, through Jason, I found Nightshade.

When Nightshade came in I immediately had this feeling that I’d fallen among the right people. The way Jeremy Lassen and Ross Lockhart edited the book, the way Allan Kausch and Amy Popovich dealt with the interior layout and copyediting, was uncannily close to what I wanted to do when I first sat down to write it.

I feel like I’ve come home.

Second, we’d like to hear something about being a new author/novelist. How do you feel your novel will stand out from what was already on the shelves? Do you feel like you are doing something new? Do you want to be a part of something new? What are you looking forward to most about the publication of your book?

When the novel is published in January, there are three things I’d most like to ask readers (the first is the most important, the other two are equal second):

  1. Did you want to turn the page and find out what happens next?
  2. Did you care about the characters? (Not Did you like them? Characters don’t have to be nice to be believable and complex and make you want to know what happens to them.)
  3. Did you think the book tried to be original and different? If you didn’t, what other book or books did you think were most like it?

Science fiction books were among the first I can ever remember reading, and they’ll probably be among the last. So to have written a science fiction novel which is going to be commercially published gives me the most pleasure I could have with my clothes on.

If it has any political resonances for now, they’re at best oblique. But I hope it has some other resonances. About identity and free will: what makes us what we are, and what makes us what we do. About love and friendship: what forces bring us together, or keep us apart, and why we don’t recognise them. And about the absence of simple good and evil: the complexities which make each of them part of each other.

I don’t know whether any of those things, if they work, will make the book different; but I hope they do.

Interview with Charlie Jane Anders,

Interview with, July 18 2011

The actual writing of Faith took about fifteen months, but I’d had the idea in my head for a few years before that. My job in the music industry (I was Managing Director of PPL, the world’s largest record industry copyright organisation) meant I never properly sat down to write it until after I retired. Before then, it existed as disconnected scraps of dog-eared paper. Once I’d written it I looked on the net for agents active in the SF field who were open to submissions from new authors. Jason Yarn of Paradigm was about the tenth agent I contacted, and he seemed to get what the novel was about. I signed a deal for Paradigm and Jason to represent the novel about a year ago. Nightshade’s offer came about three weeks ago.

I’ve always liked the idea of a serious literary novel which is also a really good page-turner. That’s what I always wanted Faith to be. If I had to choose between the categories you mention (hard military SF and space opera) I’d say it’s closer to space opera. But I always wanted it to have a philosophical dimension too. I tried to write it so it goes deeply into character, and raises questions of identity and motive (sorry- that sounds pretentious) but the peg on which all that is hung is the story of a space battle against a mysterious and increasingly strange opponent. The key is the opponent’s identity, and that is revealed, fully, right at the end.

Read the whole interview at interview …