Thursday, June 29, 2006


Jim Baen, editor, publisher, and founder of Baen Books, died yesterday at the age of 62. He suffered a stroke on June 12, and never recovered from his coma. Very sad.

Not to everyone's taste but wildly popular with those they target, I don't own any Baen Books that aren't by Heinlein, but I've been very impressed through the years with many of Baen's innovative strategies, particularly with their enlightened view of electronic texts.

What's more, Toni Weisskopf and David Drake have suggested that people who wish to make a memorial donation "purchase copies of The World Turned Upside Down and donate them to libraries or teenagers of their acquaintance." What a wonderful way to be remembered.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

By the Way - Scalzi interviews Edelman

John Scalzi, about whom one cannot say enough nice things, interviews David Louis Edelman on his AOL blog By the Way today. David's debut novel, Infoquake, should be appearing in stores any day now and is already shipping from Amazon. Meanwhile, for excerpts, podcasts, and exclusive background material, check out the Infoquake website.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Keeping it Real, Gradisil, & Buying American

The latest issue of Cheryl Morgan's wonderful Emerald City is online, and this one includes two very enthusiastic reviews I'd like to call attention to. One is by Karina Meerman and is of Justina Robson's latest, Keeping it Real. The other is by Joe Gordon and is of Adam Roberts' latest, Gradisil.

Both reviews are of the UK editions of these novels, both of which were published by Gollancz and edited by Simon Spanton, the man who first brought you Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon and whose editorial judgement I am coming to greatly admire. In fact, I've yet to read a novel Simon selected that I don't think is positively brilliant. Both these books, certainly, are garnering wonderful reviews in places like Locus, SFX, Starburst, SFFWorld...

Now Keeping it Real and Gradisil will be coming out from Pyr in our Spring/Summer 2007 season. We expect to use a variant of Larry Rostant's fantastic cover for our edition of Keeping it Real, whereas the marvelous Stephan Martiniere has already turned in his artwork for Gradisil, to my and Adam's considerable delight, and I am anxious for the day when I can debut it here.

And speaking of that day...

If you live in the United Kingdom or one of the territories served by Gollancz, then I urge to rush out and buy these books right now. Justina's novel is the most over-the-top fun I've had with a book in long time, crazy Matrix action, cyborg-on-elf sex, blood sugar sex magick and rock'n'roll. I've not gasped for air in sheer delight at anything like this since Michael Swanwick's Darger and Surplus tales, and I've not seen anyone before exhibit the brazen chutzpah in takes to write total Power Rangers-style action sequences with such a straight face. And being Justina Robson, there's also a lot of brilliant speculation amid the fun and genuine troubled-girl angst. Think Robocop asking "Do I look fat in these jeans?" Whereas Adam, who has absolutely astounded me since I first read On, who is one of the smartest individuals it has ever been my priviledge to know, and who writes big concept SF of the Arthur C Clarke variety only filtered through a level of literate prose & multi-layered narrative that would do Theodore Sturgeon or Samuel Delany proud, has written a birth-of-a-nation epic that may be his finest achievement to date. Gradisil succeeds on both the macro and micro level, presenting a very convincing portrait of the decades just passed our current wave of non-NASA space exploration, where every dot com billionaire has his own rocket program, to the end of the 21st century when near-earth-orbit becomes a practical destination for people to go en masse, coupled with a very personal tale of revenge threaded through one family tree. Political satire and Greek tragedy. What's not to love? So yes, if you live in the UK or thereabouts, go pick up the Gollancz versions now with my blessing.

But if you live here in North American, can I ask you a favor, on behalf of myself, Pyr, and both of these authors? Please wait for our edition. I didn't used to think that it mattered. Sometimes I liked the UK cover better than the US, or I wanted a hardcover when the US publisher only brought the book out in trade paperback or mass market. Or I didn't want to wait. So yes, if you went through my own library, you'd see a few UK editions acquired in years past. But now I know better. There are a long list of deserving British and Australian authors that you don't see over here. There are others that you don't see here any more. Science fiction is not such a big market that the few hundred editions that slip through the specialty shops, or get shipped from don't make a difference. Oh, if you collect the UK versions of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, you probably aren't really going to make a dent in his sales, but for a lot of these writers, particularly of hard, literate SF, it does matter. This is Adam's first book in the US - something that many people, not just Yours Truly - think is long overdue, and how our edition of Gradisil does will very substantially effect whether his next work of sheer genius comes out in the US or not, either from Pyr or someone else. We're very fortunate to have Ian McDonald's magnificent River of Gods, which, unless you've been living under a rock, you know is being touted everywhere as being a monumental, landmark work, one of those once-in-a-decade achievements, a "must read," but Ian is an example of a writer who was out of the US market for several years before finding his way back in. He's very glad to be back, and we are priviledged to have facilitated his return. So my long-winded point is, if you admire these writers, and you want to see more of their work over here, please show your support for the US editions. Every person makes a difference. And hey, I'm not just talking about our authors and pimping our own books. This applies across the board. Go buy Bantam's edition of Jon Courtenay Grimwood's masterpiece; go pick up the Night Shade edition of the latest Iain M. Banks; get the Del Rey edition of that Hal Duncan book you've heard so much about. If you're a collector, and you've got to have that UK first edition - if the work means that much to you - consider buying both. Hey, I've got all three of China MiƩville's Bas Lag novels in their original UK hardcovers, absolutely, but I've got the Del Rey trade paperbacks too.

I appreciate your indulgence with this post. I've seen enough people posting on blogs lately, asking "Why can't I buy the UK version? Why should I wait?" You can make up your own mind, but I think a lot of people don't actually know the impact of buying outside their territory, and I wanted to set the record straight. And for those of you who've been supporting us when we bring you overseas talent, my deep and sincere thanks. There's a lot more where that came from.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

That Skiffy Smell

I have to say this: I really, really liked Scott Edelman's recent SciFi Weekly editorial, "Erasing the Smell of Sci-Fi." Scott tracks all the recent tv personalities, producers and actors, who have been bending over backwards in interviews to to distance their obviously science fiction-themed shows from science fiction, on the basis that it's not SF because it's good. Or about characters. Or what have you.

He quotes Carlton Cuse, show runner and executive prodcer of Lost, who understands that genre does not inherently dictate quality or lack thereof, but is a form, into which quality writing can fit, as well as it can fit anywhere:

"No matter what genre you write in, ultimately the stories are reducible to stories about the human condition. And I think people forgot that you could do that in the science-fiction genre. Stephen King is a great example of someone who writes books, for instance, that are very high-concept, and maybe they're horror or fantasy, but when you get right down to it, it's really about the people that populate those books. That's what's engaging about him as a writer. ... You could do that in a hospital show. You could do it in a law show. You could do it in a cop show. But hey, you could also do that in a science-fiction show. And they seem to think that you couldn’t until this show came along."

Format-prejudice is ugly. There are moments of real beauty and insight on Sesame Street. And I have seen some terrible Shakespeare in my time. The muse can strike anywhere, and most of any genre (including the "genre" of mainstream literature) is bad, with only a tip at the top of the iceberg that is truly something to behold.

I don't like the move right now to make "science fiction" a dirty word, to repackage science fiction books to look bland and nongenre, and I don't think people should be embarrassed about liking SF. Oddly, it seems similar to the way people (especially in the media) are embarrassed by the tag "liberal" these days. I want to scream that it was liberals that freed the slaves, emancipated women, enacted child labor laws, ended segregation.... Just as it was the vision of science fiction writers that built the world we live in today, because you have to imagine something before you can begin figuring out how to put it together. We are embarrassed by its most forward-looking thinkers, when we should be celebrating them.

Update: Can I just add how much I am starting to like the blog Meme Therapy? It's mix of science and science fiction is spot-on important. Here, a quote from geologist Robert Peckyno, supports what I'm trying to say above:

" I think that science fiction is critical to progress in science. Visionaries who radically change the world are often thought of as crackpots and fiction has been the inspiration for many great ideas. Tsoilkovsky, Goddard, Oberth, Von Braun and Korolev are collectively the foundation of rocketry today - every one mentioned being inspired by the Jules Verne story 'From the Earth to the Moon.' Arthur C. Clarke suggested orbiting relay satellites allowing world wide communication in 1945 - decades later it arrived. Go to any NASA facility and you will find desks with model 'Enterprises' and 'Starfuries.' Science fiction helps to provide the dreams and puzzles that todays engineers and scientists try to bring to life."

Second Update: The wonderful Louise Marley has posted some thoughts on her journal that dovetail nicely with what Scott Edelman is saying. Louise points out that perception does matter because:

"...our genre only gets seven per cent of the market. That's why fine books like The Time Traveler's Wife and Wicked aren't marketed as science fiction at all, but as mainstream. It's a matter of perception by the reader. But how do we address this, and why is it this way? All of us who publish in our little ghetto of genre have had the experience of someone who doesn't normally read sf/f picking up one of our own works because of friendship, and being surprised at how much they like it. You know, that familiar sentence that begins, 'Well, I don't normally read science fiction . . . ' My thesis is that, actually, they do, but they don't know it. "

Monday, June 19, 2006

Of Possible Interest: Sci-fi book signing planned at Oread Books

From J-W Staff Reports:

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Kansas University’s Oread Books plans a book signing featuring 10 noted authors of science fiction and fantasy on July 8.

The authors attending the book signing will include Lou Anders, Robin Wayne Bailey, Bradley Denton, James Gunn, Kij Johnson, Frederik Pohl, Pamela Sargent and George Zebrowski. They will be joined by two additional authors, the to-be-announced recipients of the 2006 John W. Campbell and Theodore Sturgeon Awards.

The book signing takes place in conjunction with the annual Campbell Conference and its John W. Campbell and Theodore Sturgeon Awards. The Campbell Conference is the concluding event of the yearly Writer’s Workshop and the beginning of the Intensive English Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction, through the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at KU.

The event begins at 12:45 p.m. in the Oread Books lounge in the Kansas Union. It is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Look What Just Appeared in the Inbox

Now this looks interesting....


June 13, 2006 — Six award-winning fantasy and science fiction authors have started the group blog DeepGenre. Located at, the blog will explore multiple aspects of the reading and writing of genre fantasy and science fiction.

"Science fiction and fantasy, like the broad umbrella that is mysteries, performs in more areas than 'escape' and 'entertainment,' though we’re big on entertainment, too," writes Kate Elliott on the blog. "SFF engages with ideas. We’re looking to discuss this on all levels, from the practical concerns of authors writing fiction, to the interplay of life with art and art with life, to the ways in which the NFL can be used as a model for early medieval band warfare."

Current Contributors

The current contributors to DeepGenre include:
· Constance Ash has written and edited SFF, including the Nebula-nominated Flower Kiss and the Philip K. Dick award-nominated anthology Not of Woman Born. She uses her skills as a professional researcher for herself and others by digging into history, past and present.
· Carol Berg is the author of Geffen Award winner Transformation, and the other Books of the Rai-kirah – Revelation and Restoration – as well as The Bridge of D’Arnath Quartet and the 2004 Colorado Book Award winner Song of the Beast. Carol is a former software engineer who took up writing epic fantasy when her three sons started to need less of her time.
· David Louis Edelman is the author of the SF business novel Infoquake. Over the past ten years, he has programmed websites for the U.S. Army and the FBI, taught software to the U.S. Congress and the World Bank, written articles for the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun, and directed the marketing departments of biometric and e-commerce companies.
· Kate Elliott is the author of Spirit Gate, coming in October 2006. She has also written Crown of Stars, a seven volume fantasy novel starting with King’s Dragon, and The Novels of the Jaran, and has co-authored The Golden Key with Melanie Rawn and Jennifer Roberson.
· Katharine Kerr is well known on both sides of the low, meandering stone wall that separates High Fantasy from Science Fiction. Her epic Deverry series has won her millions of fans around the world. Her SF novels include Snare, Polar City Blues, and Resurrection. Her latest Deverry novel, The Gold Falcon, is now available in the UK and will be published in the USA in July.
· Lois Tilton's fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, Sturgeon and Sidewise Awards. She is known for a number of vampire novels, including DarkSpawn, and for dozens of short stories that cross the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, horror and historical fiction.

For More Information
For more information about DeepGenre, contact blog administrator David Louis Edelman via e-mail at dedelman (at) The DeepGenre blog can be found at

Monday, June 12, 2006

Crossover about to Cross Over

I just blogged about this over at the Pyr site, but I'm tickled pink enough to mention it here too. Publishers Weekly has just reviewed Joel Shepherd's Crossover, and I'm very happy with what they have to say. Joel's book has enough kick ass action sequences, sex, and neat SFnal concepts to be a nice commercial hit, but it's layered, nuanced, and savvy enough to put it above the usual girl-robot run-of-the-mill norm. Joel's got a knack for describing the complexities and realities of politics, whether its on an interplanetary scale, between departments or coworkers in a government office, or between people in romantic entanglements. He's great with characters, stacks the book full of strong women. And he's also the first writer I've seen to really internalize and reprocess the kind of constant back and forth telepathic communication that wireless technology will soon make possible and which you see in Mangas like Ghost in the Shell. He's got the chip-in-the-head future down, in a smart, fast-paced, sexy, meaty, multicultural, military SF/police procedural and I can't wait to unleash it on the U.S. this August. Meanwhile, here is what PW has to say:

Set in the far future, Australian author Shepherd's energetic debut introduces Cassandra Kresnov, an experimental killer android-with-a-heart who has defected from her League Dark Star special ops assignment. Graced with a yen for human art almost as insatiable as her libido, Kresnov first tries to melt anonymously into Tanusha, the sybaritic capital of Callay, a planet of the League's galactic archenemy, the Federation. But Cassandra can't leave her martial past behind when she's caught up in a heroic struggle to protect the Callayan president from assassination by Federal forces. Shepherd's intriguing heroine and strong female characters bode well for this projected series. Lacing Cassandra's search for identity and acceptance with plenty of hand-to-hand combat and racy sexual exploits, Shepherd also convincingly presents vividly realized ethical dilemmas: what happens to soldiers when the war is over? can a culture that opposes the artificial manufacture of life accept its creations? Shephard grapples with some genuinely thought-provoking questions on the nature of humanity."

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The New Who Review - "The Impossible Planet"

For years, I have maintained that the only difference between the 4th Doctor episode, "The Ark in Space" - in which a lone insectile alien is feasting upon and laying eggs in a colony of humans held in suspended animation on a vast space station - and James Cameron's Aliens is special effects and a few one liners, that the former would be as terrifying as the latter if it had the same budget and didn't have monsters unfortunately made of green bubble wrap. I've always wanted to see a quirky British man thrust into helping a crew of space roughnecks fighting a H.R. Gieger monster. Doctor Who has always been properly sci-horor, but it's amazing the effect you get when you take the old Cthulhu evil entity that the silly humans can't help but let loose from his aeons long imprisonment and you combine that with the set designs and acting from something out of Aliens or (the lamentable but appropriately gritty) Event Horizon or films of that ilk. You know, a crew of marines or criminals or prospectors who all wear grey tshirts and camo pants and work in some drag, largely metal environment with a lot of corridors with the pipes showing. Add in one wandering Time Lord and you get something that is paradoxically very much in the tradition of all the old and overdone Bug Eyed Monster plots - so overused in the old Who (and subsequent books, and audio plays, and spin offs) - and yet which feels almost nothing like anything that has come before tonally. My what a difference a budget makes! This is classic Who rendered as only your imagination could have done so before, when it took active participation to fill in the holes in the wobbly sets and to make Sutek or Azal genuinely scary.

Never mind how could Satan have been imprisoned for an eternity AND woven into the fabric of earth (long range telepathy?), or how something that's only 500 (light?) years away from earth can be outside the TARDIS' knowledge (but maybe that's just cause it's past the event horizon of the black hole, not that it's distant), I'm totally into seeing the Doctor injected into a Ridley Scott sci-horror cinema. I'm so behind this! More please, more!

And I love how all the old cliches - he shows up, they automatically trust him - are totally sold by the strength of the writing and Tennant's acting. And he may look like Peter Davison with the young mug and the tennis shoes, but he's really somewhere between Tom Baker (for alien wackiness) and Sylvester McCoy (lonely god). Tennant could easily become my fav if he sticks around long enough, (but I am easy and I love them all).

Oh and Tardises are grown? Written language is translated as well as spoken words? Once again they've gone and confirmed some fan-speculation/books continuity. Never in a million years would I expect the new television show to be so respectful of continuity or to be able to work so much of it in without overburdening the new viewers. I'm really impressed.

So many things are finally being done right - Batman, Who, Lord of the Rings, Battlestar Galactica. Almost makes one wonder if Hollywood (and the BBC) isn't evil anymore. Of course, there's always X-Men III to restore my lack of faith.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Californiai Dreamin'

A nice review of FutureShocks showed up today:

"Lou Anders oversaw the fine anthology Live without a Net: his latest compilation, FutureShocks, gathers new science fiction and horror stories which have roots in biological, technological and sociological change and feature works by seasoned authors, from Paul Di Fillipo and Mike Resnick to Harry Turtledove and Louise Marley. Any who enjoy speculating about the future's dangers will relish a collection which gathers engrossing stories of future dangers." - California Bookwatch, June 2006

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Red Rain! Red Rain!

Wouldn't it be cool if this were true?

Godfrey Louis, who twenty-five years ago co-authored the original paper on panspermia - the idea that bacteria from outer space originally seeded life on earth - is investigating the mysterious "blood rains" that have been falling over Kerala, India for some years now.

Louis has discovered that the strange cell-like structures that are giving the rain its name are thick-walled, red-tinted, live in extreme temperatures, and seem to reproduce despite lacking any DNA. His theory - they're from outer space.

This certainly makes more sense to me that rival theory that a meteor pulverized a cloud of high flying bats. But what interests me is my own reaction to this: the mixture of hope and serious doubt that this time will be the one. I believe in life on other worlds, but don't think it's ever been here. I believe life existed on Mars, but am not sure we've proved that yet. Panspermia makes a lot of sense, so why couldn't this be evidence of it? As we continue to explore our own solar system and the universe at large, at some point it's inevitable that we will encounter something other, even if its just bacteria on a jovian moon, so when are things going to tip from we're all alone to no we're not?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Fast Forward TOC

All the stories for my upcoming anthology, Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge are now in. Fast Forward is an unthemed, all original, all science fiction anthology, due from Pyr February 07. I'll be assembling the book for the rest of the month, including penning what I hope will be a substantive introduction, but today I've been obsessing over the Table of Contents. I love putting TOC's together and take them as seriously as I used to take making mix tapes back before you could just drop and drag and burn. Back in the day when it could take you a whole afternoon to make a mix, there was a real art to it. You couldn't just put any old song next. You had to find the right one to follow the previous tune, and you could spot an amateur immediately if they put two songs by the same artist back to back on a tape. So, what's offered below isn't final in terms of its order (though I have a sense that it's close), but here are the authors and their stories. I'm guessing there's one or two surprises, and there are also certainly stories - like Ian McDonald's "Sanjeev and Robotwallah" - that will make fans of the respective existing worlds they are set in very happy:

Robert Charles Wilson - YFL-500
Justina Robson - The Girl Hero's Mirror Says He's Not the One
Paolo Bacigalupi - Small Offerings
Robyn Hitchcock - They Came From the Future
Kage Baker - Plotters and Shooters
Tony Ballantyne - Aristotle OS
Elizabeth Bear - The Something-Dreaming Game
Stephen Baxter - No More Stories
A.M. Dellamonica - Time of the Snake
Larry Niven & Brenda Cooper - The Terror Bard
Louise Marley - p dolce
Ken MacLeod - Jesus Christ, Reanimator
Mike Resnick & Nancy Kress - Solomon's Choice
Ian McDonald - Sanjeev and Robotwallah
Pamela Sargent - A Smaller Government
Mary A. Turzillo - Pride
Robyn Hitchcock - I Caught Intelligence
George Zebrowski - Settlements
Gene Wolfe - The Hour of the Sheep
John Meaney - Sideways from Now
Paul Di Filippo - Wikiworld