2015

Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch

The first of an urban fantasy / crime fiction series, Rivers of London follows the adventures of a rookie copper-turned-apprentice-wizard, Peter Grant, and his boss, the last wizard in England. A unique blend of police procedural, supernatural mayhem and threads of fascinating hidden history woven through the very fabric of the plot, Rivers of London is fast-moving, funny, full of warmth and features one of the greatest and most historically rich cites in the world: London.

Cityread 2015 Highlights

We kicked off with the launch at Covent Garden, which included elements from Rivers of London and an in character actor (Ben Bailey Smith aka Doc Brown) as Peter Grant. Jaguar Land Rover provided a 1960s Jaguar worth £150K for the launch and the Metropolitan Police and police cadets gave out books. Ben Aaronovitch signed copies of the books and volunteers from libraries across the capital helped. The promotional music video about Rivers of London, co-written by and starring Ben Bailey Smith, also formed an important part of the 2015 launch.

33 library services delivered a programme of events designed to develop readers’ interest in the chosen novel, the author and theme of the book. Events this year picked up on the location for the book (Covent Garden), the central theme of London’s rivers and sub themes of hidden London, the Metropolitan Police and Punch and Judy.

In partnership with Look Left Look Right theatre, Cityread, again, produced an immersive theatre element with performances at Westminster Reference Library on Saturdays and Sundays throughout April. The top floor of the library was converted into a special police department, dedicated to training new recruits of the Supernatural Sciences Branch. In groups of up to 16 people, recruits were given an induction by DS Peter Grant, before meeting characters from Rivers of London.

Another highlight was the original short story ‘King of The Rats’, written by Ben, for Cityread 2015, and read on the Mail Rail by Doc Brown.

Ben Aaronovitch’s commitment to Cityread was enormous and his insistence on visiting a library in each of the 33 participating boroughs was an enormous success. In addition, he wrote a short story for Cityread London that was filmed in front of an invited audience in the depot of the Mail Rail. Read by Ben Bailey Smith, the filming of The King of the Rats, a short story based in the universe of Rivers of London, was picked up by fans of Ben Aaronovitch, those following Cityread London and Golancz and by Sci Fi bloggers.

About Ben Aaronovitch

Ben Aaronovitch was born in 1964. He had parents, some brothers, some sisters and a dog named after a Russian cosmonaut. He also had the kind of dull childhood that drives a person to drink, radical politics or science fiction.

Discovering in his early twenties that he had precisely one talent, he took up screenwriting at which he was an overnight success. He wrote for Doctor Who, Casualty and the world’s cheapest ever SF soap opera Jupiter Moon. He then wrote for Virgin’s New Adventures until they pulped all his books.

Then Ben entered a dark time illuminated only by an episode of Dark Knight, a book for Big Finish and the highly acclaimed but not-very-well-paying Blake’s 7 Audio dramas. Trapped in a cycle of disappointment and despair Ben was eventually forced to support his expensive book habit by working for Waterstones as a bookseller.

Ironically it was while shelving the works of others that Ben finally saw the light. He would write his own books, he would let prose into his heart and rejoice in the word. Henceforth, subsisting on nothing more than instant coffee and Japanese takeaway, Ben embarked on the epic personal journey that was to lead to Rivers of London (or Midnight Riot as it is known in the Americas).

At some point during the above, the most important thing in his life happened and he became a father to a son, Karifa, whom he affectionately refers to as ‘The Evil Monster Boy’. The Evil Monster Boy will be reaching university age soon, so all donations will be gratefully received.

Ben Aaronovitch currently resides in London and says that he will leave when they pry his city from his cold dead fingers.

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