Tuesday, January 06, 2009

For Your Consideration: Books I Edited in 2008

Yes, it's that time again. This year, I am eligible for both the Long Form and Short Form Best Editor categories, and there are several eligible novels out from Pyr as well. And so, for your award-nominating convenience, here are all the books for which I served as editor in 2008 at Pyr. Novels that debuted in 2008 are in BOLD.
  • John Meaney - Resolution: Book Three of the Nulapeiron Sequence
  • Kay Kenyon - Bright of the Sky: Book One of the Entire and the Rose
  • Kay Kenyon - A World Too Near: Book Two of the Entire and the Rose
  • Joe Abercrombie - Before They Are Hanged: The First Law Book Two
  • Theodore Judson - The Martian General's Daughter
  • Sean Williams - The Crooked Letter: Books of the Cataclysm One
  • Alan Dean Foster - Sagramanda
  • Robert Silverberg - Son of Man (reprint)
  • David Louis Edelman - MultiReal: Volume III of the Jump 225 trilogy
  • Mike Resnick - Stalking the Unicorn (reprint)
  • Mike Resnick - Stalking the Vampire
  • Joe Abercrombie - Last Argument of Kings: The First Law Book Three
  • Justina Robson - Going Under: Quantum Gravity Book Three
  • Tom Lloyd - The Stormcaller: Book One of the Twilight Reign
  • Lou Anders,ed. - Fast Forward 2 (anthology)
  • Sean Williams - The Blood Debt: Books of the Cataclysm Two
  • Mike Resnick - Starship: Rebel
Very proud of all these books and authors, quite a few of which are showing up on the various Best of 2008 lists online. And I'm very pleased as well that quite a few entries from Fast Forward 2 are showing up in the various Year's Bests' table of contents. And though it wasn't Pyr, the other anthology I edited in 2008 was the alternate history mystery, Sideways In Crime, and very proud of it too I am.

Onward to 2009!


Alvaro Zinos-Amaro said...

Congratulations! An impressive line-up.

Something I've been wondering -- what's the editorial process like for a reprint novel? How is it the same/different than from a novel first coming out? The gorgeous re-edition of Silverberg's fantastic SON OF MAN brought the question to mind.

Lou Anders said...

Very good question, and one that I think dovetails around some comments I've seen elsewhere about how readers should be considering the best editor Hugo categories too. Some folks were saying that since editing is a behind-the-scenes process -- they didn't know whether a book was improved, damaged or unaffected by its editing -- they didn't understand the category. And I think this is a misunderstanding over the scope and responsibilities of what an editor does. Yes, an editor edits (to varying degrees, depending on the demands of the manuscript. I've done everything from moved or eliminated whole chapters, to been instrumental in key structural decisions during the writing phase of certain manuscripts, to advising an author on what book they should be writing to begin with, to saying "this is perfect; wouldn't touch a thing" on others). But I'd say the chief function-of-an-editor-as-effects-the-reader is in selecting what books are being published to begin with. An editor has a personal taste that he/she brings to bear, to choose from out of the hundreds (thousands?) of possible manuscripts that cross his/her desk each year, the very few that will be actualized as real, paper and binding, slap a cover on it books. So, no, I didn't edit Son of Man at all, but the choice to reprint this classic and under appreciated work, which makes my Top Twenty list for the best and most visionary of 20th Century SF, as opposed to the nigh-infinite number of other books that could have filled the slot, is the result of the "editorial process" here. Same again for bringing across something like the Joe Abercrombie or Joel Shepherd novels, which were originally published in the UK and Australia respectively but passed over by other houses. There's a lot that an editor does that the public never sees, including the extremely important task of being a book's advocate in-house, so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle of the hundreds of titles coming through each year, reminding all the various departments from publicity to marketing to the art department, what the book is and why it matters and how it has to be treated one way while another book has to be treated another. But the role that matters to the reader the most IMHO is actually that of determining which book it is that makes it into the world. In my case, I'm reading for a very specific kind of book, even if it's not defined by a subgenre or style, to figure out which of the hundreds of manuscripts and pitches that cross my desk get to be "Pyr" books. So appreciating what an editor does starts with appreciating (or not appreciating!) the type of books that make up their list. Does that make sense?

Alvaro Zinos-Amaro said...

Thank you for your thorough and thoroughly explicative response :-) What you say makes sense. Let me throw a follow-up question back at you that arises from what you're saying. If the chief function of an editor, as pertains to the reader's immediate experience with the book, is one of selection -- of determining X will be published, Y will not -- is it possible, even in principle, for reader's to gain an accurate understanding of the editor's sensibilities based on the list of their edited books? Sure, you can get some notion, but that seems to reposition the editor's role into a highly subjective domain that many readers (such as the ones you mentioned may have misunderstood the best editor Hugo categories to begin with) may be oblivious to.

Of course, I realize there's a feedback process involved here, as dictated by money. An editor couldn't very well only choose to publish his/her tastes if such outlet found no commercial resonance whatsoever. When an editor is commercially successful, then, that would seem to imply that his/her tastes are at least partially in synch with those of readers. But other, more subtle considerations, come into play, since some editorial prestige may be in fact be construed as helping to form reader's tastes -- that is to say, that because a book appears under a certain editorial imprint of "note", readers may be inclined to believe that, in some sense at least, they _ought_ to enjoy that book or find something of merit in it (after evaluating author, genre, etc.)

I also think Son of Man is an astounding realization of visionary SF, btw. Any other titles in that Top Twenty that may see a rebirth through Pyr in the future? :-) And could you envision a scenario where actual line-editing editing might still apply to a reprint novel? (Ok, that was more than one question, I know).

Lou Anders said...

...is it possible, even in principle, for reader's to gain an accurate understanding of the editor's sensibilities based on the list of their edited books? Sure, you can get some notion, but that seems to reposition the editor's role into a highly subjective domain that many readers ... may be oblivious to.

I disagree. It's highly subjective, yes, but that subjectivity occurs on the part of the reader. So if you like the majority of books that an editor selects, then you like, or share, an editor's sensibilities. That's pretty simple and straightforward.

I'll tell you that when we started, we were told that an imprint couldn't have a brand, that only Baen and Daw had really managed to have a single brand identity, achieved by each carving out a very specific niche, and that anyone who published a broad variety of subgenres couldn't achieve the same thing. Then about a year and a half in, we began to hear back from distributors, chain buyers, critics and readers that a very distinctive Pyr brand was indeed developing. This now feeds back to my comment above about what books get to be "Pyr" books (as distinct from very good books published at other imprints), but I'll throw the question back at you and ask if you specifically think you have a feel for my sensibilities and what you think those might be?

As to reprints, for the foreseeable future I'm steering away and towards original works. And we did edit Chris Roberson's first novel when we republished it here, but that was because the original was self published and we republished it considerably expanded and revised (and retitled).

Alvaro Zinos-Amaro said...

I would place you in the category covered by "When an editor is commercially successful, then, that would seem to imply that his/her tastes are at least partially in synch with those of readers." I think we were saying the same thing; a concordance of subjectivity on the part of the reader _and_ the editor coming together is required for success...

"...if you specifically think you have a feel for my sensibilities and what you think those might be?" I certainly think I have an idea. But it would be better informed if I read a greater volume of the books (specially fantasy novels) that you edit, as opposed to just a selection. More empirical data would lead to a more accurate impression on my end. Based on what I _have_ read, I know there is at least some shared sensibility between Pyr's ouput and my own aesthetic -- enough, in fact, so that I actively look forward to new Pyr titles, and when I read them have not (so far) been disappointed.

Part of the beauty, though, I think, is that there is always the unknown factor -- even if I read every single book you edited, your subjectivity would still have a chance to surprise me (in a pleasant way).

The example of Chris Roberson's first novel is a really interesting scenario that would not have occured to me. Thanks for sharing! :-)

Lou Anders said...

This, of course, begs the question, "What Pyr books have you read and which ones are you looking forward to?" Your answer helping *me* to get a feel for *your* sensibility.

Anonymous said...


One of the things I most appreciate about Pyr's handling of reprint titles is that you put just as much care and time into the packaging -- cover illustraion, type font, etc -- as you do with original titles. There's no such thing -- for example -- as a John Picacio "knockoff budget cover" for reprints. His Son of Man cover art is just as powerful as any other cover art he's done for you.

Thanks for that. By reflection it shows how much care you put into the editing and packaging of new titles.


Lou Anders said...

Thank you Robert. I think that is one of John's best pieces of the year, in fact, though his b&w Elric work is truly amazing.

Alvaro Zinos-Amaro said...

Lou -- In no particular order, the first two of many Fast Forward anthologies to come, Galileo's Children, the Ian McDonald novels, Resnick's Ivory and New Dreams for Old, the Justina Robson titles, Silverberg's Son of Man and Star of Gypsies and Dann's The Man Who Melted. (I might be forgetting a few). I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy all the other Resnick titles (I'm thinking his Starship series and "Stalking" novels) and have considered David Louis Edelman's work.

The Son of Man cover is breathtaking, though I loved the piece for Star of Gypsies as well. Incidentally, Silverberg himself seems to have been taken with the latter, writing: "I thought Picacio's cover painting was magnificent, especially before all that type got slapped on it, and I actually asked the publisher to make my name smaller so that more of the painting would show. (I'm not sure they did.)" (This comment is viewable at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/theworldsofrobertsilverberg/message/2378). I saw one of the Elric covers in the store yesterday and almost made the purchase on the spot.

Lou Anders said...

Interesting. Do you mean all of the Justina Robson novels - the Quantum Gravity sci-fantasy series included - or just her hard SF novels - Silver Screen and Mappa Mundi? If the latter, then you've not read *any* of our fantasy novels (in which case I'd steer you to The Blade Itself as a starting point - or if aren't a big fantasy reader and you don't want to take on a trilogy, the forthcoming stand-alone, Blood of Ambrose). However, given the above, I'd say you should definitely check out the Edelman, and that you need the Kay Kenyon as well. And, of course, we do have three more McDonald books on the horizon, Cyberabad Days, Desolation Road, and, when we get to it, The Dervish House.

And yes, Bob wanted us to reduce the size of the font and John wanted to keep it, each taking the opposite position you'd expect from an author and artist. Magnificent cover though, one of my favorites.

And yes - Picacio did the interior of the first Elric book, and will do interiors for the 5th as well. He does covers for 1, 3, and 5. For years, Michael Whelan's Elric was the definitive for me, now it's the Picacio.

Alvaro Zinos-Amaro said...

The earlier Robson, and I have plans to read the whole Quantum Gravity series, but I tend to be one of those compulsive "wait-for-the-entire-series-to-be-published-before-starting-the-first-volume" readers. (Yes, that means I haven't yet started Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Might as well out myself on this one.) But I haven't really read any book-length fantasy for years now, so in this case that doesn't reflect on a particular like/dislike towards the Pyr titles.

Thanks for the recommendations! I'll keep the Edelman on my radar and have added the Kenyon to it. I'm looking forward to the McDonald, of course. (I still have my Bantan Spectra copy of Desolation Road, my first encounter with McDonald, but I'll be supportive and snap up the gorgeous new one when it's out.) And I'm likely to be up for any new anthologies or short-fiction collections as well.

Enge's Blood of Ambrose, you say? Are you trying to break my dry spell of fantasy, so that for years after I can say Pyr/Anders brought me back into the fold of the fantastic? :-)

Lou Anders said...

That is precisely what I am trying to do. And, of course, all three books in the Abercrombie trilogy are out and available now, something I've seen some fans waiting for the next GRRM point out online...