Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Split the Difference

God, do I ever have an opinion about this: Chris M. Barkley and Patrick Nielsen Hayden have submitted a proposal to split the Hugo Award category for Best Editor into two categories: Best Book Editor and Best Magazine Editor. The idea being that while the magazine editors dominate the category, the short story is no longer the driving force of the genre, and great book editors such as David G. Hartwell (a finalist sixteen times without a win), Beth Meacham, Jim Minz, Betsy Mitchell, Jo Fletcher et al. deserve recognition they won't get when Asimov's, F&SF, and Analog dominate the category in voters' minds.

Now, while I lament their observation that the short story is no longer the driving force of the genre (and have my own humble plans brewing to address this - more on that later), when it comes to giving more opportunities for the great editors of our field to be recognized, I say "Hell Yes!" It's just an embarrassing shame that we (the community) thought it more important to create two separate Hollywood categories before addressing this.

I'd go one step further and suggest a Best Original Anthology category. It drives me bonkers that the World Fantasy Awards have a Best Anthology category, but the genre that gave us Dangerous Visions, the Orbit series, and The Science Fiction Hall of Fame doesn't recognize the category. That last volume was my introduction to science fiction to begin with!

Anyway, suffice to say I am 100% behind this proposal.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Life after Comic Con

Last week was the San Diego Comic Con. This is the largest comic book convention on the planet, and has grown over the years to be an all-purpose media expo. I don't have exact figures for this years attendance, but the total numbers including attendees, pros and exhibitors is probably somewhere between 93,000 and 97,000 folks. I've heard rumors that it was 10% larger than last year, so maybe we're closer to 100k to 110k. In addition to all the major players in the comic book industry, the convention regularly attracts Hollywood filmmakers (who debut their upcoming works as well as scout out new projects), video, card & role playing game producers, toy manufacturers & licensees, and a growing number of publishers. This year saw Del Rey, Simon & Schuster, iBooks, Bantam, and Scholastic, among others.

The convention itself was insane. Top Cow had Buffy & Austin Powers' star Seth Green signing his new comic book The Freshman on Friday and Saturday, so I spent two days staring across at him whenever the sea of people let up. For some reason, Showgirl's Elizabeth Berkley was hanging around there on Saturday too. I have a good friend in Los Angeles named Stephenson Crossley (pictured left) who had volunteered to drive down from LA and help out. A few weeks prior to the show, he got a gig working on a film in Baton Rouge, but he wanted to keep his word, so he flew at his own expense, arriving Thursday night at 1am and departing Sunday at 9pm. The poor guy had a red eye back, arrived at 7am, and went to work on his film set at 9am. I am immensely grateful and absolutely could NOT have done it without him. The aisles were constantly thick with people and there was never a moment when someone wasn't asking questions or looking at books.

Highlights of the con for me included evenings spent with artists Stephan Martiniere, Jon Foster, and Dave Seeley (all of whom are contributing covers to Pyr's third season) and Tor art director Irene Gallo, as well as Monkeybrain's Chris Roberson and Allison Baker, and artist John Picacio. I also got to see old friends Mike Colbert, Paul Silver, Eric & Jill Frederickson and Eric & Karen Forsberg, whose daughter, Lola, is pictured here on the right receiving a signed copy of Fiona Avery's novel The Crown Rose.

Finally, I was impressed with how many people from Alabama, both on my flight out and my return flight, were heading to the convention. It really pulls from everywhere and is not just drawing from California. On Sunday, I bumped into Ed Cunningham from my local comic store, Empire Comics. As Stephenson had to leave at 5pm to catch his flight, Ed kindly helped me break down the booth and cart it back to the hotel for shipping. I couldn't have done it without him either.

Oh, and while I mostly resisted the cornucopia of merchandise for sale, the geek in me has come home with 6 diecast metal Corgi Batmobiles. They have a whole line of them, from the 1940s roadster through the classic 60s open top to the weird manga cars of the late 90s and the rocket-like car of the 2000s. Heaven.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Preorder the Future

I've come home from the San Diego Comic Con to discover that my upcoming anthology, FutureShocks, is now available for preorder from No cover or book info online as yet (though you can see both here in an earlier post and the cover is pictured again right), but it's good to see this book slowly coming to life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Numerous and Sundry Articles

Phil Kloer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently interviewed Yours Truly for an article about the Harry Potter phenomenon called "The Harry Effect". In addition to myself, he talks with B&N's James Killen, graphic novel scribe Stephen Stern, the Book Nook's Steve Cohen, and the Sci Fi Channel's Dave Howe. The article, Kloer admits, is at least partially inspired by my own earlier piece in Publishers Weekly, "A Hobbit Takeover?"

The article was picked up by the Cox News Service and ran in a few other outlets (sometimes truncated, and sometimes with slightly different quotes). Here it is at the Kentucky Lexington Herald-Leader and the Berkshire Eagle as well.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Pyr Booth at the San Diego Comic Con

Everyone attending the San Diego Comic Con next week, feel free to stop by the Pyr booth and say hello. We're number 2046, next to MonkeyBrain Books in 2048. MonkeyBrain's Chris Roberson will be signing copies of Here, There & Everywhere on Saturday at noon (though in truth he will never be far away), and Fiona Avery will be signing copies of The Crown Rose at 3pm on Saturday.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Essentially Speaking...

So, Tor Books and the SCI FI Channel have just announced their new cross-promotional scheme, Sci Fi Essentials, in which one lucky Tor book a month will receive the channel's seal of approval and be promoted on the website, newsletter, and even on the television channel itself. First out, Cory Doctorow's Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, (which has a gorgeous Dave McKean cover.) I must say, I have a mixed reaction to this move, coupled with no small amount of curiosity.

Obviously, this is their bid to create something like the Oprah Book Club for geeks, and the editorial director in me has to admire their marketing ingenuity. But whereas that world famous committee-of-one selects from the pool of all books - or at least, all books that might appeal to Oprah personally enough to get on her radar - this one is paid advertising by and for only one publisher. Now, as the largest SF&F publisher in the world, that's still a pretty large pool to draw from, and I'm sure the selectees feel damn lucky (Karl Schroeder is next up, followed by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson), so more power to them. But I'm bothered that there's no mention in the press release nor on the site itself that I can find as to what the selection criteria are, nor who is doing the selecting. I think I'd feel better about this if there were a recognized jury of SF peers involved, or even Ellen Datlow over at SciFiction, rather than what I suspect is a purely marketing & publicity-derived listing. I feel it's a shame that the Sci Fi Channel didn't launch something like this independent of Tor and offer their stamp-of-approval in a way that potentially commanded more authority and garnered more respect.

Still, I don't actually feel that the stamp-of-approval from the Sci Fi Channel is going to sway anybody in the core community of science fiction readers. Readers who are paying attention enough to have heard about this, or care, are already well-aware of who Cory Doctorow is and don't need the stamp-of-approval from a channel primarily known as rerunning a lot of really slocky horror movies and some direct-to-video embarrassments to tell them what's what in genre writing. (For my part, if I pick up Someone Comes to Town it will be for the aforementioned gorgeous cover, only now the collector in me will be hoping I can get that dang Sci Fi Channel sticker off without damaging the jacket!)

No, this isn't aimed at us, at least not as the number one target, but is, I believe, aimed primarily at that larger pool of science fiction viewers, they who watch every episode of every Babylon 5 spin off but never buy a book that isn't a Quantum Leap or Buffy tie-in. Now, those of you who have followed my writing here and elsewhere know that I've long been irked by the disparity between literary and cinema SF. And, honestly, if this new marketing scheme results in a few of the SF viewer crowd actually discovering "the real stuff" who wouldn't have done so before, well then, I don't think I'm going to fault it.

Ultimately, I think I feel about this about the same as I do about the somewhat controversial Quill Awards, that joint venture between Publishers Weekly parent-company Reed Business Information and NBC Universal Television Stations. (The controversy here revolves around the potential of Publishers Weekly to reap enormous profit in ad revenue from publishers anxious to impress the voters - select industry professionals who are all PW subscribers.) Still, as an effort to encourage reading and literacy in the mainstream with the creation of an "Oscars for books," I can't really begrudge the Quills success. I'll be watching it closely and hoping-against-hope that NBC doesn't get bored with it and drop it in a year or two.

So, congrats to Cory and more power to the Sci Fi Channel & Tor. I'll be watching this with interest as it develops. Meanwhile, I wish the Sci Fi Channel had the good sense to start filming our own Oscars, the Hugo ceremony. Maybe more Hollywood producers would start picking up their awards if they knew they were going to be on television, and the exposure for all our writers would certainly go a long way in bridging the gap between the literature of science fiction and its too often inferior cinematic counterpart.