Ings, Simon 1965-
Ings, Simon 1965-
Born 1965, in Horndean, England.
Home—London, England. Agent—Peter Tallack, Conville & Walsh, 2 Ganton St., London W1F 7Ql, England. E-mail—[email protected]
Hot Head, Grafton Books (London, England), 1992.
City of the Iron Fish, Collins (London, England), 1994.
Hotwire, Collins (London, England), 1995.
Headlong, HarperCollins (London, England), 1999.
Painkillers, Bloomsbury Publishing (London, England), 2000.
The Weight of Numbers, Atlantic Books (London, England), 2006.
The Eye: A Natural History, Bloomsbury Publishing (London, England), 2007.
Contributor of short stories to magazines.
Simon Ings has become known for imaginative, well-crafted science fiction tales that are often classified as cyberpunk. Indeed, Ings welcomes this label, observing in Infinity Plus that cyberpunk "offers now the chance, not to wed sf to some putative ‘real fiction’ but—through its very specificity—to convey and interpret the world better than any other popular form." Cyberpunk, he went on to say, has become such a necessary genre in the twenty-first century, "because the world itself has become speculative and fantastical…. We live in an environment whose artificiality reaches inside us, poking through the blood-brain barrier with fingers of Prozac and Amitriptyline."
After publishing several cult novels, Ings attracted a wider readership with The Weight of Numbers. Often compared to the novels of Paul Auster and David Mitchell, the book follows several disparate narrative strands and includes both fictional and actual characters, moving from Blitz-era London to an Israeli kibbutz in 1950, from the NASA programs of the 1960s to guerilla warfare in 1992 Mozambique, from the fashionable London radicalism of 1968 to the decadence of late 1990s Hollywood. While some critics admired Ings's ability to spin such a complex narrative while revealing the subtle interconnections of its various plot lines, others found the novel frustrating. "Ings gets almost everything right" in this novel, wrote London Independent contributor Charles Shaar Murray, "yet it doesn't work." The problem, in Murray's view, is that the novel lacks "real emotional or intellectual pay-off." Erica Wagner, in the New York Times Book Review, concluded that "the structure of this book is simply too elaborate, the stories and lives too fragmented, to engage the reader in any meaningful way. If Ings's point is that the center cannot hold, that's a point that's been made before, and more coherently and with more concision, too." A Publishers Weekly reviewer, on the other hand, described The Weight of Numbers as a "Pynchon-on-speed romp" that is "held together to the very last page by humor, vivid depictions and a deeply compelling emotional core."
Ings's nonfiction book The Eye: A Natural History explains the chemistry, biology, physics, and psychology of the eye and eyesight. Doug Johnstone, writing in the London Times, praised Ings's meticulous research and clear prose, calling The Eye a "thoroughly engaging book [written] with refreshing clarity, enthusiasm and vigour."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Calgary Herald, August 13, 2006, Aritha van Herk, "Fiction by Numbers."
Independent (London, England), March 24, 2006, Charles Shaar Murray, review of The Weight of Numbers.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2006, review of The Weight of Numbers, p. 1093.
Library Journal, January 1, 2007, Barbara Love, review of The Weight of Numbers, p. 94.
New Scientist, May 12, 2001, Hugh Nissenson, "Superhumantity," p. 52.
New Statesman, March 27, 2006, Alastair Sooke, "Tangled Web," p. 53.
New York Times Book Review, March 11, 2007, Erica Wagner, "Unintended Consequences."
Publishers Weekly, October 23, 2006, review of The Weight of Numbers, p. 28.
Times (London, England), March 10, 2007, Doug Johnsone, "Read with a Trembling Eye."
Times Literary Supplement, June 30, 2006, Roz Keveney, "How the Sixties Felt," p. 23.
Infinity Plus,http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/ (May 18, 2007), "Ribbon Development,"
SF Site,http://www.sfsite.com/ (May 18, 2007), David Mathew, "Headlong, Backwards and Forwards: An Interview with Simon Ings."
Simon Ings Home Page,http://www.simonings.net/homepages/simonings.html (May 18, 2007).
Strange Horizons,http://www.strangehorizons.com/review/ (May 18, 2007) review of The Weight of Numbers.