The cover blurb for Son of Heaven, the newly-written prequel novel to the series:
Britain 2085: two decades after the great economic collapse that destroyed Western civilization, life continues only in scattered communities. In rural Dorset Jake Reed lives with his 14-year-old son and memories of the Fall. Back in ’63, Jake was a dynamic young futures broker, immersed in the datascape of the world’s financial markets. He saw what was coming – and who was behind it. Forewarned, he was one of the few to escape. For 22 years he has lived in fear of the future, and finally it is coming – quite literally – across the plain towards him. Chinese airships are in the skies and a strange, glacial structure looms on the horizon. Jake finds himself forcibly incorporated into the ever-expanding ‘World of Levels’: a global city of some 34 billion souls, where social status is reflected by how far above the ground you live. Here, under the rule of the mighty Tsao Ch’un, a resurgent China is seeking to abolish the past and bring about world peace through rigidly enforced order. But civil war looms, and Jake will find himself at the heart of the struggle for the future.
The series, previously published as eight volumes in the 1990s, has now been 'recast' as nineteen volumes, named as follows:
Son of Heaven, The Middle Kingdom, Ice and Fire, The Art of War, An Inch of Ashes, The Broken Wheel, The White Mountain, Monsters of the Deep, The Stone Within, Upon a Wheel of Fire, Beneath the Tree of Heaven, Song of the Bronze Statue, White Moon Red Dragon, China on the Rhine, Days of Bitter Strength, The Father of Lies, Blood and Iron, King of Infinite Space and The Marriage of the Living Dark.
In addition to the all-new prequel, the 'new' books consist of re-written editions of the previous books, split into somewhat smaller volumes, as well as half a million new words of material making up several new books, slotted into the end of the series (the previous concluding novel to the series was heavily truncated due to publisher pressure; Wingrove has restored this section in line with his original intentions).
The nineteen books will be published over a period of forty-four months, running from 1 September 2010 to 1 May 2014.
The full cover design for the first book is as follows:
In summary, I have to say I'm impressed. Taking into account that the original books are still relatively obscure to modern genre readers, this publishing scheme is the equivalent of Robert Jordan completing all of The Wheel of Time before publishing a word, or Steven Erikson doing the same for his Malazan series, and then the entire thing being released over a very short period of time. It's a highly ambitious project and I wish David Wingrove and Corvus Atlantic all the best for it and will, of course, be applying for a review copy ASAP :-)
Update: Due to publishing difficulties, the release of the first volume has been put back to Spring 2011, and Son of Heaven itself has been revamped slightly and a second prequel novel introduced, Daylight on Iron Mountain, suggesting that this will now be a 20-book sequence.