Alexander Maskill’s first novel is not published until later this month – but he has already been honoured with an award from one of the masters of the fantasy genre.
He won the 2013 Terry Pratchett Prize for his book The Hive Construct, which he wrote while simultaneously studying for his undergraduate degree at the University of Leicester.
Sir Terry said, “Here’s a talented young writer who not only knows how to tell an exciting story, but a richly rewarding story full of ideas.”
With its vivid characters and bold concepts, The Hive Construct promises an explosive debut for Alex, 22.
Situated deep in the Sahara Desert, New Cairo is a city built on technology – from the huge, life-giving solar panels that keep it functioning in a radically changed, resource-scarce world to the artificial implants that seem to have resolved all of mankind’s medical problems.
But New Cairo is also a divided city – a vast metropolis dominated by a handful of omnipotent corporate dynasties. And when a computer virus begins to spread through the poorer districts, shutting down the life-giving implants that enable so many to survive, the city begins to turn on itself and slides into the anarchy of violent class struggle.
Hiding out in the chaos is Zala Ulora, a gifted hacker and fugitive from justice. Her fervent hope is that she can earn her life back by tracing the virus and destroying it before it destroys the city – or before the city destroys itself.
Alex, of Vicarage Drive, Old Town, has dedicated his book to his parents, Cherine and Greg Maskill, “for their tireless support”.
In thanking all those involved in making the novel a reality, Alex said, “It’s been an amazing experience, and one for which I’ll be eternally grateful.”
With a degree in politics to his name, he is about to embark on a Masters Degree course in Computer Science at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Meanwhile, a second novel is in the pipeline.
Alex is a former student at Cavendish School and Sussex Downs College.
The Hive Construct is being published in hardback by Doubleday and is priced at £16.99.