News From Gardenia

New Bobby Llew novel on the way... and you can help!

18 November, 2011

The internet is a wonderful thing. It brings the entire wealth of accumulated human knowledge and culture to your fingertips. It can get you tickets to see Red Dwarf being filmed (if you're quick enough). And nowadays, it can even help get books published.

News From Gardenia

And so it is that, being at the very cutting edge of all things web-related, our very own Robert Llewellyn - already the successful author of an estimated four previous bestselling novels, including The Man on Platform Five and Brother Nature - has this week launched his latest literary venture online.

News From Gardenia is Robert's first new novel in ten years, and is a utopian science-fiction story whose themes will be instantly recognisable to anyone familiar with his previous work and interests:

Cities crumbling, zombies attacking, tsunamis engulfing, brutal regimes or killer machines crushing the human race to dust. Dystopia has now become so pervasive it's almost engulfed the entire science fiction genre. I felt driven to search for an alternative to the tiresome predictions of everything getting much worse; I wanted to imagine a world where everything has got much better.

A world where we eventually get it right, where we don't oppress each other, where we don't burn anything to make anything else, we don't rip the planet to shreds to maintain our way of life and we don't need to rely on endless growth to achieve contentment.

A man called Gavin Meckler who was born in 1979 arrives 200 years into the future where he discovers a world that is recognisable and yet utterly different. It's a place where it's possible to travel from one side of the world to the other in a matter of minutes without burning fuel, but it's also a place where everyone is a gardener because that's how they can be sure to eat. As Gavin learns about this new world and the society he eventually becomes a part of, he also begins to learn about himself.

Unlike a novel published in the traditional sense, however, you won't just be able to walk into your local bookshop - or, er, click on your online retailer of choice - and pick it up. Instead, Robert is funding the publication of the book via a fascinating new project called Unbound. As the man himself explains in this introductory video:

I really wanted to try something different. I wanted to make sure that it was available as an audio book, eBook, as well as a lovely old-fashioned paper book with a cover that looks really nice.

The idea is that the "early adopters" of the book pledge a varying amount - anything from £10 up to £300 - and get not just the book itself, but also the various other audio and electronic editions. And those who pledge at the higher level can get all sorts of exciting extras - from tickets to the book's launch party, to a day trip to an Oxfordshire manor house (with Robert), to a test drive in an electric speedster (with Robert), to a nice lunch (with Robert).

And no, that isn't a joke: as well as participating in an exciting new publishing venture, you really can go to a manor house and have lunch with Robert. All through the power of the internet. We feel like we're in his utopian future already...

To find out more, and to support the book, head on over to News From Gardenia's page at

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