Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dragon*Con Schedule

This weekend is Dragon*Con (August 31 to September 3rd), in Atlanta, Georgia. As previously stated, Pyr will will be exhibiting in booth 709 in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom. On hand will be our authors Philippa Ballantine, Clay & Susan Griffith, Andrew P. Mayer, K.D. McEntire, E.C. Myers, Jon Sprunk, and Sam Sykes.

Meanwhile, my own panel schedule is as follows:

Title: Gimme a Break--Breaking In and Breaking Out
Description: The pros talk about breaking in--selling your first book or story and breaking out--finding a bestseller audience.
Time: Fri 11:30 am Location: Embassy D-F - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: Pyr Rising
Description: Pyr Publishing presents its up & coming writers and selections.
Time: Fri 02:30 pm Location: Regency V - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel
Title: Editors and Agents Tell All
Description: Here's a chance to learn direct from the horse', editor/agent's mouth how to sell your novels.
Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: Embassy D-F - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pyr Author Appearances at Dragon*Con

Dragon*Con is next weekend, August 31 to September 3rd, in Atlanta, Georgia. We will be exhibiting in booth 709 in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom. On hand will be our authors Philippa Ballantine, Clay & Susan Griffith, Andrew P. Mayer, K.D. McEntire, E.C. Myers, Jon Sprunk, and Sam Sykes. Additionally, artist John Picacio will be around on Friday.

They'll be authors in and around the booth throughout the convention, but here is our signing schedule so you can be sure to get your books autographed at these times. Additionally, be sure to check out the "Pyr Rising" from 2:30 to 3:30 in the Hyatt Regency V room. We'll be showing lots of debut artwork and talking about our recent and forthcoming books.

Friday, August 31

2:30 – 3:30       Pyr Rising panel w/Lou Anders, Philippa Ballantine, K.D. McEntire, Sam Sykes, Jon Sprunk, and Andrew Mayer.  Location: Regency V – Hyatt
(LIZ- to fit master schedule signs you can cut all the participant names and just have time, panel name and location.)

4:00 pm – 4:45 pm        Artist JOHN PICACIO

4:00 – 5:00 pm              CLAY and SUSAN GRIFFITH

5:00 – 6:00 pm             K.D. McENTIRE

5:00 – 6:00 pm              SAM SYKES

Saturday, September 1

11:00 am - Noon           K.D. McENTIRE

11:00 am - Noon           JON SPRUNK

Noon – 1:00 pm            SAM SYKES
Noon – 1:00 pm            PHILIPPA BALLANTINE

1:00 – 2:00 pm             ANDREW MAYER

2:00 – 3:00 pm              CLAY and SUSAN GRIFFITH
3:00 – 4:00 pm              JON SPRUNK
4:00 – 5:00 pm              E.C. MYERS

5:00 – 6:00 pm  ANDREW MAYER

Sunday, September 2

11:00 am - Noon           SAM SYKES

11:00 am - Noon           JON SPRUNK

Noon – 1:00 pm            ANDREW MAYER

1:00 – 2:00 pm              K.D. McENTIRE
1:00 – 2:00 pm              E.C. MYERS

2:00 – 3:00 pm              CLAY and SUSAN GRIFFITH

4:00 – 5:00 pm             PHILIPPA BALLANTINE

Update: On Saturday from 1:00 – 3:00 pm, E.C. Myers is signing at the SFWA table and so will not be appearing in the Pyr booth at that time.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tales of the Emerald Serpent

Tales of the Emerald Serpent (Ghosts of Taux)is a shared world anthology, very much in the tradition of Robert Lynn Asprin's  Thieves' Worldseries. It's the brainchild of Scott Taylor, a blogger and senior editor at Black Gate magazine. And it's a Kickstarter funded project, raising an impressive $13,418.

The book features stories from authors Lynn Flewelling, Harry Connolly, Todd Lockwood, Juliet E. McKenna, Michael Tousignant, Martha Wells, Julie Czerneda, Scott Taylor himself, and Rob Mancebo. The cover art is by Todd Lockwood, with interior art by Jeff Laubenstein and Todd Lockwood.

I confess to funding it out of curiosity to see just what was possible on Kickstarter, more an act of research than one of pleasure. However, I finished reading Tales of the Emerald Serpent this past Saturday, and my verdict is that I'm very impressed.

It's worth noting that I funded a second book project around the same time. That one achieved ten times its funding goal this past April, and two months past its estimated delivery goal, has yet to materialize.

By contrast, Tales of the Emerald Serpent made its funding on April 18th and had shipped out all copies of it's digital edition by June 26th. The delivery process was professional and efficient, with daily updates explaining which reward levels were being delivered when.

The book itself (and I've seen the physical edition though I speak here of the ebook edition) is a thing of beauty. Todd Lockwood's cover is absolutely gorgeous, and the cover is reproduced inside the ebook and - most importantly - at a decent resolution. The ebook also includes all the interior art, also at a high level of resolution, and has an embedded back cover. It's a good deal better packaged and presented than a good many books coming out of professional houses.

Also, note the medallions in the corners of the front cover. You'll see that three are in sepia tones, while the fourth, in the upper right corner, is in color. These medallions indicate what era of Scott's enormous history these stories occur in. This is similar to what the Star Wars books do, with the icons on the novels telling you where a story takes place in the Old Republic or the New Jedi Order, etc... It's a device that I've been kicking around in my own head for a while now, considering for a project I'm working on, and frankly I'm jealous Scott's beat me to it.

I would like it if there was some sort of introduction that placed this city in context. Perhaps some notes on how the idea came about (I've heard that it was the setting for a RPG campaign but nothing in the book confirms or denies this) or some background on the world in which the city of Taux resides. A glossary would also have been nice. More importantly, the book has a lot of invented races, the Aspara, the Jai-Ruk, the Kin. Wonderful pencil illustrations of these creatures were included in email updates sent out to the Kickstarter backers, but the book itself would really have been served by including them. I found myself logging on to Kickstarter throughout the reading experience to see who was what, and I imagine someone who wasn't a backer, and thus couldn't access the posted art, might have been even more confused. But given that few "traditionally published" anthologies even have interior art, Tales of the Emerald Serpent still comes out at the head of the pack.

Are there nitpicks? Sure. But speaking just in terms of the professionalism of the product, from its "customer service" to its presentation, I give this one an A-. And that's a very high grade.

Now on to the fiction...

The stories in Tales of the Emerald Serpent don't just share a location, they sometimes share characters. The various events described weave together in much the same way that the tales of Frank Miller's Sin City graphic novels do. They weave and wind through the Emerald Serpent tavern, the Silk Purse brothel, and the Raised Market, and events in one story are often alluded to in another. This adds a level of reality and credibility to the setting that makes me long for a detailed map of the city and another of the continent it's set on. What we do know of Taux we have to glean from the stories themselves. Taux is a sort of faux-Aztec or Mayan style city, whose original inhabitants suddenly vanished one day under mysterious, and presumably horrendous, circumstances. The city has been repopulated by immigrants from other cultures, though one wonders about the intelligence of anyone willing to live in a city where the stones whisper. To live in Taux is to convince yourself that whatever happened to them couldn't possibly happen to you. Having spent six years living above a fault line, I don't have any problem buying into this. Meanwhile, the way the book hints at something under the city and the very real possibility that something dire could be coming to a head is just delicious.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the best stories are by the most experienced contributors. Lynn Flewelling, Juliet E. McKenna, Martha Wells, and Julie Czerneda's tales are all excellent--Czerneda's in particular--while Harry Connolly's "The One Thing You Can Never Trust" is worth the price of the whole anthology by itself. His is the tale of Emil Lacosta, a merchant who deals in love potions (and whose best customer is the madame of the aforementioned Silk Purse), who is approached by a client with a very unusual request. I won't spoil it, but this was the story that made me sit up and take notice.

The big surprise for me was artist Todd Lockwood, who contributes the story "Between." Todd labored under the constraints of having to tie his tale directly into two other stories, but he does an admirable job. More importantly, his character of Torrent (the woman pictured center on the cover above) is marvelous--he can really write character--and I hope he gets to write about her again. Lockwood has long been regarded as one of the top illustrators of our genre, but I suspect, with his recent novel sale to DAW, that he will soon have a reputation as a writer as well.

There was only one story that I felt was below professional quality, though I won't say which one. Finally, Rob Mancebo's story suffers from essentially ending with a big "To Be Continued". It's a set up with no pay off, and I wish the book didn't end that way. But I liked eight out of nine stories in the volume, and that's an amazing average.

I'd highly recommend Tales of the Emerald Serpent. I like what it does and how it goes about it. It's a smart, good looking package with some real gems of fiction inside. I have no knowledge of a sequel in the works, but I'd certainly fund a Tales of the Emerald Serpent 2.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Just a thought...

When I look backwards at my accomplishments, I feel old. When I look forward towards my plans, I feel young.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hungry for SF

The Library Journal has a big article on SF&F today called, "Hungry for SF: Genre Crossovers Retain Fans and Attract New Readers."

I'm quoted along with Tim Holman (Orbit), Paula Guran (Prime), Daren Turpin (Angry Robot), Diana Gill (Harper), Susan Allison (Berkley). But I get the last word.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Just a thought...

I'm all for change that benefits the consumer--after all I'm a big consumer myself--but only to the degree that it doesn't impact the creator. Tor's move to remove DRM is laudable and, more to the point, probably inevitable. Hachette's attempt to pressure authors to demand it be restored isn't great PR. But Hachette is correct that they will see sales erode in their territory from Tor books sold into non-US countries. This will increase pressure on other publishers to dispense with DRM. But another side effect will be pressure on publishers to only acquire World English rights to a title. This will be good for publishers and good for readers. But it will be bad for authors and agents, who will see an additional revenue stream go away. In an age of shrinking advances, our creators will be paid less. Of course, the ability to sell the ebooks unrestricted across multiple territories may see higher royalties. Or will it? See yesterday's thoughts about book sales. I'm frequently told, by pirates, that they *had to steal* the book because it wasn't being offered in their territory. Now that it is, will they pay for it? We need to make sure we support our creators adequately if we want them to go on creating.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just a thought....

Something that bothers me in the endless debate about the pricing of ebooks: It is a fallacy to assume that just because something can be *sold* indefinitely that it will automatically be *bought* indefinitely. The vast majority of books published will never break 10,000 sales. And the majority of most books sales occur in the first six weeks of its release. So let's remove the phrase "you can sell it forever" from the discussion.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Video read-through of the Pyr Fall-Winter 2012-2013 catalog

Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, of the wonderful Bull Spec magazine, does a video read-through of the latest Pyr catalog. He gets excited about quite a few things, admits to needing to read a lot more, and bags on one cover. But we appreciate the love, the attention, and the opinions! Thanks, Sam.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A Guile of Dragons featured in Kirkus "Not-to-miss" list!

Kirkus Reviews has posted their "11 Not-to-miss Science Fiction and Fantasy books for August." Of some 150 books out this month, James Enge's A GUILE OF DRAGONS makes -- and tops -- this list. They say:
"Enge is not only a writer of fantasy, he's a devoted fan educated in its history and evolution. That's no more apparent than in his adventures of Morlock Ambrosius, a swordsman wandering a world rife with various magical disciplines. In A Guile of Dragons, Enge takes us back to show us the origins of his hero, as the Longest War—the war between dwarves and dragons presumed to have been over and done with—reignites with the return of the dragons."

Monday, August 06, 2012

Of course they'll be giant robots...

When I was in college, I saw a debate between Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and a prominent scientist on the subject of whether or not we would ever create an android as sophisticated as Commander Data. Or at least that's what the debate was supposed to be about. Roddenberry spent the whole time reminiscing about how great he was for creating the original Trek, and the scientist, whose name I forget, was completely closed to the idea of humanoid robots. He said that the currently-existing robots were all single purpose devices -- like the arms used in automobile assembly plants -- and thus there was no need to ever create something that aped the human body.

Years later, when I would actually stand on the sets of Deep Space Nine and Voyager interacting with the casts and crews of those shows, I was glad to have at least been in the room with Roddenberry once.  But at the time, I came away extremely disappointed. I was disappointed in Roddenberry for refraining from saying anything of substance whatsoever, and I was disappointed in the scientist for having no grasp whatsoever of human nature.

Sure, he couldn't see utilitarian reason for building a robot.  But what the hell do we have pyramids and videogames and water slides for? I knew then, and this was a long time ago, that of course there would be robots and starships and ray guns and holodecks and everything else. Not because it was necessary, but because some fan would be in the driver's seat of the technical development. Is anyone surprised that every dot com billionaire is busy funding their own space ship? Come on.

So, in that spirit, here's why it will all be real one day:

Exhibit A: The real life Batcave home theatre. This article in the Daily Mail is confusing, as it shows two different designs, and claims to be an actual home theater designed by Elite Home Theater Systems, stating that it's been built by a rich fan in Greenwich, Connecticut for a cost of $2 million.

The Daily Mail article then shows two different theater set ups: one that fuses the Batcave with gothic architecture from Gotham City and aspects of Wayne Manor, and one that is all cave, sans bookshelves, fireplace and computers.

Elite Home Theatre's own page only shows the first cave, says they only did the design, and that the actual construction is being done by another firm for a resident in California. So the article may have conflated two different Batcave style home theaters.

My guess is that they provided two different concepts and one of them was chosen, or these were two different designs for two different clients, one in Connecticut and one in California.  Elite's page also indicates that while they only provided the design, construction is under way. Okay, so this thing does/will exist and there are possibly two of them. I seriously want there to be a third, and I know right where it goes.

Meanwhile, here's why Voltron: Defender of the Universe will fly in our skies one day.  Japanese robotics expert Wataru Yoshizaki and artist Kogoru Kurata have created a robot that you can ride and battle in. The Kuratas costs a mere $2.37 million dollars and shoots rubber BB pellets (for now), runs on diesel fuel and goes up to 10 mph. You can ride inside it or control it from your smart phone. How long until Japanese girls in crash helmets and shorts are policing the streets of Tokyo in these babies?

So yeah, the Enterprise, from NCC-1701, through every A, B, C, D, and E, will absolutely exist one day. Not because it's the best design for a space ship, but just because some fan somewhere in the position to do so will make the call.

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Politics of Fantasy

Cover art by Steve Stone
The latest Pyr newsletter, the Pyr-A-Zine, has an amazing Q&A with James Enge, discussing his just released novel, A Guile of Dragons (A Tournament of Shadows, Book 1), that is very worth checking out.

One of the interesting questions concerns the anarchic politic system of the Graith of Guardians, which lead to a discussion of why so many fantasy novels operate in monarchies. James answer is very interesting. You'll have to go to the newsletter for the full response, but he begins by saying, "There's a complaint about imaginary-world fantasy which is partly valid and partly nonsense. The complaint runs something like this: Always with the kings, and the dukes, and the princesses. Where's the pluralistic democracy? Do you fantasy people HATE FREEDOM? Personally, I love political freedom so much that someday I'm going to buy some for myself."

Meanwhile, an excerpt from the Q&A has sparked a very interesting debate in the comments section on io9, when they used the interview as a springboard to ask, "Why do epic fantasies always take place in monarchies, instead of democracies?"

So the newsletter, the io9 debate, and, of course, the book itself, are all well worth checking out! 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A GUILE OF DRAGONS hits shelves!

It's here!! James Enge's A GUILE OF DRAGONS is on shelves now!! "Excellent epic fantasy"--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY starred review. Cover art by Steve Stone.

It's dwarves versus dragons in this origin story for Enge's signature character, Morlock Ambrosius!

Before history began, the dwarves of Thrymhaiam fought against the dragons as the Longest War raged in the deep roads beneath the Northhold. Now the dragons have returned, allied with the dead kings of Cor and backed by the masked gods of Fate and Chaos.

The dwarves are cut off from the Graith of Guardians in the south. Their defenders are taken prisoner or corrupted by dragonspells. The weight of guarding the Northhold now rests on the crooked shoulders of a traitor's son, Morlock syr Theorn (also called Ambrosius).

But his wounded mind has learned a dark secret in the hidden ways under the mountains. Regin and Fafnir were brothers, and the Longest War can never be over. . . .

BISG Report Finds More E-book Buyers Buying Print Books

An article in Publishers Weekly entitled "BISG Report Finds More E-book Buyers Buying Print Books," has this interesting statistic:
"...the percentage of e-book consumers who exclusively or mostly purchase e-books fell from nearly 70% in August 2011 to 60% in May 2012. Over the same period, the percentage of survey respondents who have no preference for either e-book or print formats, or who buy some genres in e-book format and others in print, rose from 25% percent to 34%."

The article also notes that the Kindle Fire has overtaken the iPad among ebook consumers. No surprise there, though iBooks remains my personal preferred reader.  I am hopeful that iTunes will eventually include ebooks in their iMatch service so I have Cloud storage for my non-iBookstore purchased epub titles.