Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fast Forward Has Been Boing'd

Very happy to say that last night Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge was reviewed by Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing. Cory called the book "wonderful...some stupendous stories," praising stories by Kage Baker, Elizabeth Bear, Ken MacLeod, Ian McDonald, Gene Wolf, Pamela Sargent, George Zebrowski, Robert Charles Wilson, Mary A. Turzillo, and Justina Robson.

But Cory especially liked "Wikiworld" by Paul Di Filippo, which he calls, "
one absolute knock-out story ... that is among the most exciting pieces of fiction I've read in years... a vividly imagined, funny and weird story about a world run on gifts, wikis, rough consensus and running code."

And guess what? As Cory notes in his review - "Wikiworld" is online in its entirety for you to read! So what are you waiting for?

Update: Warren Ellis writes to say he thought "Wikiworld" was "
Fucking brilliant." So, seriously, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sung in Blood

Thank god for short novels. Once in a blue moon, I can actually fit one in between submissions and feel like I'm not completely myopic. As I've been wanted to do since I picked it up at the World Fantasy Convention last fall, and since I've just read five submissions back to back in rapid succession and wanted to reward myself and also clear my head, I forced some time that didn't really exist into enough of a block to be able to read something short and fast paced. I'm talking about Glen Cook's Sung In Blood. I was attracted to the book right off because of the wonderful Bob Eggleton illustration, and I've never read Glen Cook before, so I thought this would be a good, quick introduction to his work.

As it turns out, it both was and wasn't. The book, as the jacket warns but I didn't anticipate the degree to which it would be true, is a reworking of Doc Savage into a fantasy setting. A young scientist-magician inherits his father's role as the self-appointed Protector of a city (along with his father's tower laboratory and blimp armada) , only to find himself and his version of the Doc's Fabulous Five fighting off the machinations of an eastern emperor bent on conquest and modeled on Fu Manchu. The clipped style of the writing and the plotting, which puzzled one Amazon reviewer who clearly didn't get the allusion - "Curiously, the characters seem disimilar to other Cook characters he has created over time, and somewhat more shallow" - probably doesn't tell me much about Cook's usual output. But it tells me a lot about his sense of humor and his talent. Because I absolutely loved it. Just loved it. Guilty to be away from my submission reading, I read it at a furious pace that matched the nonstop action of the book, and laughed right up to the predictably open-ended conclusion. I don't know if a sequel were ever written - the open-endedness is part and parcel of the pastiche - but I'd love to read more adventures of Rider and his team vs the evil Shai Kei, and I sincerely hope Night Shade are considering commissioning a follow-up if none already exists. Really fantastic and highly recommended to lovers of good old pulp adventure, particularly if your name is Chris Roberson.

Meanwhile, my new iPod is totally psychic, because while it played songs like R.E.M.'s "Burning Hell" while I was reading Justina Robson's Selling Out in which a character travels to Demonia and the Smiths while I was reading a submission heavy on young man with old man romance, out of 4,736 possible songs it chose to play mostly long ballads from Yes' Relayer album while I was embroiled in this wonderous story.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fast Forward Fast Approaching

My next anthology, Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge, is due to ship from the printer tomorrow, and I am all giggly. For one thing, I think this is the best anthology I've produced to date (it's the fifth, though the two magazines used similar brain cells), and for another - it might also be the best looking (many thanks to John Picacio and Jackie Cooke). Only a few trusted freinds and colleagues had read it as of a few weeks ago, and they all concurred. But now the reviews are starting to come in and I'm happy to say it's so far, so good.

In addition to the PW review ("Outstanding!"), we have Neth Space:

"Lou Anders has a very ambitious goal – to start a new anthology series in the tradition of past landmarks like Damon Knight’s Orbit and Frederik Pohl’s Star SF. I have not read those series, but it’s safe to say that Anders is on the right track with Fast Forward 1...Short stories are always difficult for me to review, and collections even more so. Certain stories always exceed those around them, and others can be total failures. Anders has done well to avoid the failures, though some are as forgettable as the page number. Of course others still keep me awake at night. Fast Forward 1 is better than most – 7.5/10."


"....a great anthology, filled with numerous and diverse stories and is bound to please any fan of science fiction."


"All the entries are strong with the best being those concentrating on everyday people dealing with commonplace technology like Paul Di Filippo’s 'Wikiworld' and Justina Robson’ 'The Girl Hero’s Mirror Says He’s Not the One' (in Mappa Mundi world) and those bringing the past into the future such as Tony Ballantyne’s 'Aristotle OS' and Ken McLeod’s 'Jesus Christ, Reanimator.' This is a fun collection that forecasts where technology will take humans including those left behind struggling with yesterday’s artifacts."

More as I know it!

Update: And here it is, the website the Eternal Night has posted an interview with Yours Truly, where we talk about the usual things and maybe a few unusual, along with the introduction I wrote for the anthology, "Welcome to the Future," where readers of this blog won't be surprised to find me proselytising the cause of SF yet again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Compare and Contrast: Children of Men with The Da Vinci Code

In an interview in Filmmaker magazine, Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón said of adapting the P.D. James novel, "I had the story I wanted to tell so clear in my head that I was very afraid of reading the book and getting completely confused. I read an abridged version of the book, and Timothy J. Sexton, my writing partner, read the [entire] book."

But there may have been a novel he did have in his head instead, or at least a film based on one. Consider Dan Brown's work vs. Children of Men:

  • Both have protagonists who are contacted by associates who pull them into a conspiracy only to die.

  • Both protagonists are left in charge of the protection/safely of a young woman.

  • Both protagonists must flee with said young woman when those she should be able to trust (the cops or the fish respectively) turn out to have their own agendas.

  • Both flee to the protection of an older colleague/mentor who lives in an estate in the country (and happens to be played by a famous British actor).

  • Both must get the young woman out of the UK and into the waiting arms of a secret and mysterious organization.

  • Both young women are special.
Coincidence? When Theo (and what does "theo" mean?) asks Kee who the father of her child is, her first response is to jokingly tell him that it was a virgin birth.

Just something fun to think about. Of course, there is one more point of commonality - both are also better films than books!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Just What the Doctor Ordered - an Elephant in the Bathtub

My wife and I are presently watching the Extended Version of the The Return of the King. We're a bit behind on this, I know, but although we watched the previous two extended films when they debuted, we got married, bought a house, had a child and launched a publishing imprint all in the last few years, so we're a bit behind. But while watching it, I was, of course, again struck by how incredible the world building is. Say what you will about Tolkien - and you can, my wife is really struck on what an elitist society it is, Mr. Frodo - but there is little in literature or cinema to approach this scale of obsessional detail.

Now, just last week I was grooving on the new Essential Guides to the Star Wars universe, which just really make me heartsick. I was a huge fan of the The Next Generation Technical Manual, which was the first tech manual for an SF show that wasn't just some shit thrown together to sell to the idiot core, but was a really fantastically detailed bit of speculation in its own right, and the Star Wars guides are like that seven times over. The heartsickness comes in because while I am an ubergeek for the world building, I always feel that Star Wars is a bit of a rotten apple, with a beautiful skin of books, comics, games, reference manuals etc.. wrapped around an inferior core cinema property. In other words, I wish all that effort went into a better (or better executed) central storyline.

So, watching the final Lord of the Rings, I was wondering/lamenting how long it would be until someone sought to bring a work of SF or F to the screen again with that level of realism, verisimilitude and detail. A long time I thought, given that there are few properties that command that many decades of affection and few studios willing to make such a decade long commitment to a project.

Turns out I was wrong, as this article on SciFi Wire about James Cameron's Avatar attests. Now, while the project isn't based on an existing property, the director commands the clout in this case and the studio will risk the commitment. Now, this sounds exciting, doesn't it? As Cameron says:

"For me, as a lifelong fan of science fiction and action, Avatar is a dream project. We're creating an entire world, a complete ecosystem of phantasmagorical plants and creatures, and a native people with a rich culture and language. The story is both epic and emotional. The two things that make this film even possible are pioneering advances in CG effects and performance capture, as well as my 22-year relationship with Fox, since only with great trust can you operate so close to the cutting edge. I plan to honor that relationship by bringing them a winner. And I have the team to do it, the best team of artists and technicians I've ever been privileged to work with. This one's going to be a grand adventure."

Now, say what you will about Cameron, but he does know real SF (at least enough to appropriate it), his films are smart, his characters well drawn, and he even matches Peter Jackson for obsessive world building, renting a Russian nuclear sub to make sure he had the china dining ware on the Titanic right. And the very next project from the director of the highest grossing film of all time should certainly command a lot of attention. Which means that this film could be very good for SF, both for cinematic SF - Cameron often pioneers new effects and this may open the door to a post-Star Wars era of truly epic SF filmmaking now that Lucas' franchise is done - and for the literary variety as well, as tales of outer space and fully-realized alien cultures are thrust into the brightest of limelights. I've been preaching a pendulum swinging return of SF for a while, as well as a new focus on single planet exploration (drilling down from the vastness of space opera), so I'm pretty heartened to see this. Elephants and bathtubs and all that.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

David Louis Edelman on NPR this Sunday

David Louis Edelman, author of Infoquake, which, did I mention, B& just picked as the # 1 SF novel of the year in their Editor's Choice: Top Ten SF&F Novels of 2006 - is scheduled to be on NPR's Weekend Edition this Sunday, in a feature report from the Agony Column's Rick Kleffel which also includes such notables as TC Boyle, Jeff VanderMeer, Charlie Stross, Amir D. Aczel...and John Carpenter's THEY LIVE.

As Rick says, "Not Your Usual NPR Lineup. Not anyone's usual lineup for that matter." Reportedly, the chances are that the piece will air in the second hour of Weekend Edition.

Update: The piece, entitled "Writers Find New Fiction Source in Economic Genre" is now online at, where it is available in both RealAudio and Windows Media formats.

Update 2: Rick Kleffel emailed to say that the piece was in the top twenty-five of NPR's "Most Emailed" list until today (1/10/07) and that this is "quite a long time" for a piece to stay on the list. Hopefully this will lead to more SFnal reports on NPR. Thanks to everyone who helped spread the news! Meanwhile, Rick has uploaded a DRM-free MP3 version of the piece to his website, the Agony Column. BoingBoing also gave the piece a mention. We're the "and others."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Fast Forward - Full Jacket Spread

Feast your eyes on this!

Art is by the amazing John Picacio, design by Jackie Cooke.

Not the last minute addiiton of the PW quote.

Ooh and ah at the bold statement this illustration makes.

Update: There's a really good interview with John Picacio, which also happens to display the above illustration sans text, over at SFRevu.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pyr makes 3 of B&'s Top Ten SF&F Novels of 2006

I'm very pleased to announce that B& has just picked three titles for inclusion in their Editor's Choice Top Ten SF&F Novels of 2006 list, prompting our publicity department to issue the following press release:

For Immediate Release

January 3, 200

"The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread Story of the Year"
Several Year-End "Bests"Cap 2006 for SF&F Imprint
Including Barnes & Noble's SF&F Book of the Year!

Amherst, NYBarnes & Noble online today posted their Editor’s Choice lists for the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2006. Three books by Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books, are in this Top Ten Novels of 2006 list, including the top spot!

The Barnes & Noble Science Fiction/Fantasy Book of the Year, Editor’s Choice, is Infoquake by David Louis Edelman—a debut that ingeniously mixes business with pleasure, or as B&N puts it, “equal parts corporate thriller, technophilic cautionary tale and breathtakingly visionary science fiction adventure.”

The other two Pyr books included in this best of the year list are The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams at number four (“prepare to be blown away,” they write) and Resolution, the conclusion to John Meaney’s three-book Nulapeiron Sequence, at number six.

The UK bookseller Waterstone's also included two Pyr titles on their list of Top Ten SF for 2006: Crossover by Joel Shepherd and Paragaea by Chris Roberson.

Publishing blog Bookgasm posted a Best 5 Sci-Fi Books of 2006 list in which three of the best five books were from Pyr. River of Godsby Ian McDonald topped their list at number one, while Infoquake by David Louis Edelman and Crossover (both first novels) tied for fifth.

According to the science fiction and fantasy reviewer for Bookgasm,

"The biggest story of the year…is Pyr’s rise to prominence as a high-quality sci-fi imprint. Pyr has managed to round up a stable of authors and titles that represents the cutting edge of sci-fi and backs it up with promotion and marketing that pretty much outdoes the other imprints out there. Bravo, Pyr. Here’s hoping for an even greater 2007."

The imprint will certainly do its best to make 2007 even greater than 2006:

In February, Pyr will launch a new hard science fiction anthology series, Fast Forward 1, dedicated to presenting the vanguard of the genre and charting the undiscovered country that is the future. In March, Pyr will publish Keeping It Real, the first of Justina Robson’s Quantum Gravity titles that are being hailed as her “breakout” books—the most entertaining, fun, and commercial of her novels to date. Promotion for Keeping it Real includes a special music track by The No Shows (—the hottest rock band of 2021.

In May, it’s “Bladerunner in the tropics” with Brasyl by Ian McDonald, the writer the Washington Post said is “becoming one of the best sf novelists of our time.” McDonald moves from India (River of Gods) to past, present, and future Brazil, with all its color, passion, and shifting realities, in a novel that is part SF, part history, part mystery, and entirely enthralling.

Pyr has already begun developing a reputation for publishing “smart” science fiction. But in September 2007, Pyr gets fantastic with its first straight-up commercial epic fantasy novel: The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. This book will lead Pyr’s Fall-Winter 07-08 season and be launched at Book Expo America in June 2007.

In other 2006 year-end awards, the blog Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist called Pyr a breath of fresh air in both the fantasy and science fiction genres” and gave the imprint the creatively named and gratefully accepted “Best Thing Since Sliced Bread Award.”

Interview and a Starred Review

Today's been pretty good so far. Ernest Lilley, over on SFRevu, has just posted his interview with Yours Truly, where we talk about Pyr, Fast Forward 1, media SF, Hollywood, and a host of authors (including Ian McDonald, Kay Kenyon, Justina Robson and Joe Abercrombie). I think it came out pretty well, considering I was typing my responses until the wee hours.

So, that goes up on SFRevu this morning, and within minutes, I get word from our wonderful publicity director that Publishers Weekly has given my upcoming anthology, Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge, a Starred Review!!

They praise stories by Robert Charles Wilson, Mary A. Turzillo, Paul Di Filippo, and Ken MacLeod, and say:

"The solid, straightforward storytelling of the 19 stories and two poems that Anders (Futureshocks) gathers for this first in a projected series of all-original SF anthologies speculates on people's efforts to "make sense of a changing world." The contributors don't necessarily assume that humans will find it easy or even possible to cope with all the changes around and within them-but they'll try, which is just part of SF's continuing dialogue about the future... All the selections in this outstanding volume prompt thoughtful speculation about what kind of tomorrow we're heading toward and what we'll do when we get there."

What's more, they've selected John Picacio's wonderful cover illustration for the table of contents page. We've stopped the presses, literally, to get the PW quote on the cover, so the timing couldn't be better.

Meanwhile, Fast Forward 1 debuts in February, with the following TOC:

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

And it's worth mentioning that my good day actually started yesterday, when I found this Ideomancer review of Fast Forward 1, which concludes with the sentiment: "This anthology is proof hard science fiction is still a vibrant, worthwhile endeavor for any writer; here's hoping this anthology series has a long, healthy life." Here's hoping indeed.