Friday, December 28, 2007

Bookgasm's 5 Best Sci-Fi Books of 2007

Bookgasm has just announced their 5 Best Sci-Fi Books of 2007. Ryun Patterson has chosen Ian McDonald's Brasylas the # 1 title of the year. He says:

"Holy wow. Once I started reading Brasyl, I knew I would never see the world quite the same way again... Brasyl shows that Pyr has serious chops in acquiring new material in addition to picking up previously published gems. Read the review if you want more, but my first recommendation is this: Close your browser, put your computer to sleep, go to the bookstore, buy Brasyl, take off the dust jacket without reading it, and clear your calendar. You’re in for a treat. Along with McDonald’s River of Gods,it is easily one of the best books of the last 10 years."

Meanwhile, Joel Shepherd's two 2007 Cassandra Kresnov novels, Breakawayand Killswitch,tie for # 5.

"There’s not a lot about these books that I haven’t already said in my pair of breathless reviews, and while one probably would have made the list on its own merits, having two of these tomes in the span of a year really takes the cake. Pyr books has been knocking down doors in both publishing original fiction and bringing foreign work to North America, and Shepherd's Cassandra Kresnov series demonstrates the second half of this equation wonderfully. Why weren’t these books brought over sooner? How many other authors and ideas are just waiting to get picked up, gussied up with holy-cow-amazing cover art by the likes of Stephan Martiniere, and unleashed upon the unsuspecting North American public? More, I hope."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Murky Depths: The New Kid on the Block

I don't check my various social networking sites' emails and comments as often as I should. I'm torn between attempting to manage them better, and agreeing with Cory Doctorow's recent piece on "How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers will Kill Facebook." So my apologies for not noticing this very non-creepy, polite email until 12 days after it was sent. I haven't seen Murky Depths yet myself, so I can't make any qualitative judgments about it, but I am very happy to pass the word of its debut and welcome them to the short story publishing field:


Wondered if you might oblige new kid on the sf block, Murky Depths, with a mention on your blog (I mean, Bowing to the Future).

We're UK based but have editors in the States and currently sales between UK and US are virtually running neck and neck.

You can see what we're up to at the website

Terry Martin
Publishing Editor

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Lou Podcast: An Agony of Pleasure

Rick Kleffel's marvelous podcast, The Agony Column, just uploaded an interview with Yours Truly as their 279th show. "A Conversation with Lou Anders, Editor of Pyr Books" covers such diverse topics of my unorthodox route into publishing, the genius of John Meaney, my old anthology Live Without a Net, the state of short fiction and of SF in general, what Pyr is looking for these days from manuscripts, sneak peaks at various forthcoming works, and the genius (and limits) of William Gibson's intuition. And other things besides.

Incidentally, I was already so addicted to Kleffel's podcast before he had me on. So now I'm like through the roof. I get it from iTunes, but here's the link to the RSS feed.

Update 12/228/07: Rick writes this morning to let me know that he'll be broadcasting an 8 minute segment from our interview on San Francisco's KUSF during Talk of the Bay!

I've been kindled!

Hey, look at this. My out-of-print (but dear to my heart) anthology Live Without a Net is now available for Amazon's Kindle.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Here It Comes... "Net" Result of the Writers Strike

Readers of this blog will know I am very eager for the age of quality online filmic content on the Internet to gear up into full swing. Therefore, this is really exciting. And I love this final quote:
"The companies are pushing us into the embrace of people that are going to cut them out of the loop," marveled one show runner who is tracking the start-up trend but not participating. "We are one Connecticut hedge-fund checkbook, one Silicon Valley server farm and two creators away from having channels on YouTube, where the studios don't own anything."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sideways in Crime: Latest Cover

Here's a Christmas present! The good guys at Solaris just sent me a pack of cover flats from my forthcoming anthology, Sideways In Crime.Needless to say, I'm thrilled to death with my first Eggleton, and his work is complimented by a cool retro-design from Darius Hinks too. Nice, yes?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

SF Signal: My Thoughts to Your Thoughts

SFSignal has revived the single question group interviews that I so loved from the now defunct Meme Therapy blog. Their new feature is called, appropriately enough, the Mind Meld, and Yours Truly is honored to be in the second installment, along with Matthew Jarpe, Tobias S Buckell, Andrew Wheeler, and David Louis Edelman, answering the question, How has the internet impacted your ability to sell books and what impact do you see it having in the future?

Teaser: "It's been pretty obvious for some time that we've moved from top-down marketing to peer-to-peer referral, and you can make a strong case that the shift in the paradigm isn't just coming but has already occurred."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Three Hundred and Sixty

Once in another time and place, when I was particularly angry at the ignorance and unfairness of someone I worked for, a particularly wise flower child that it was my privilege to know saw the obvious frustration on my face. This gentle soul held his arms out at his sides and, when he was sure of my attention, turned a full, slow circle.

"Three hundred and sixty," he said, when he came round to face me again.

"What?" I asked, bewildered.

"Degrees," he replied with a soft smile. "Any direction you want. Any time. You can go right now. Leave from right here. Nothing's keeping you that isn't in your mind."

Thanks, man. That was a moment.

The Devil's Final Curtain

The aforementioned Pyr year end round-up and contest over on Symphony for a Devil is now over. Both of the winners chose works by Justina Robson as their books of choice. And Yours Truly didn't do too badly in the round-up of vote requests either, though as my anthology contains several Pyr authors within, I had an unfair advantage!

Calico Reaction reports:

"There was a total of 31 entries, which isn't bad at all (but what do I know, it's my first contest!). 16 of those entries were from women, and 15 of those entries were from men. Which I find very cool, even if it bores the rest of you."

Update: Street Teamer an excellent piece of hard science fiction, and making me even more impressed because I absolutely cannot stand hard science fiction."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

So first my buddy Sean Williams sends me this, from an article on Dark Stars on

"It is conceivable that gigantic dark stars may exist today, and although they do not emit visible light, they could be detected because they should spew gamma rays, neutrinos and antimatter and be associated with clouds of cold, molecular hydrogen gas that normally wouldn't harbor such energetic particles, he adds."

So, I'm fascinated and I go to said article to see more about these "dark stars" and I read:

"Perhaps the first stars in the newborn universe did not shine, but instead were invisible 'dark stars' 400 to 200,000 times wider than the sun and powered by the annihilation of mysterious dark matter, a University of Utah study concludes... Dark stars may explain why black holes – collapsed stars so dense that not even light escapes – formed much faster than expected. [Associate professor of physics at the University of Utah] Gondolo says black holes existed only a few hundred million years after the big bang, yet current theories say they took longer to form. 'These dark stars may help. They could collapse into black holes very early because they are very short-lived and formed when the universe was young, at least in one scenario.' Another possibility is that dark stars lasted quite a while but eventually turned into conventional stars. Gondolo and colleagues, however, argue the gas cooling and dark matter heating within a dark star can remain in balance, allowing dark stars to survive, but that depends on certain assumptions about the mass of neutralinos."

And so, of course, my first thought is that clearly dark stars were what filled the sky when the Old Ones were in power. And when the stars changed to conventional stars, that's when R'lyeh sank. Natch.

And trying to check the spelling on R'lyeh, I pop over to wikipedia and what should I find but (emphasis mine):

"...the nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh ... was built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults . . ." —H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"

From the dark stars! There it is, all the way back in 1928! All hail the green, sticky spawn of the stars!

Congratulations to Jeff Carlson

Great news for my friend Jeff Carlson:

Jeff Carlson sold German rights for Plague Year and its two sequels to Piper via the Donald Maass Literary Agency, in best bid auction, for a “significant deal” in high five figures. Included in the contract are bestseller bonuses, which, if attained, will make the overall deal worth six figures, plus royalties. Piper intends to publish the first volume in September 2008 as “part of a special marketing campaign aiming to link phantastic and mainstream novels in order to widen the range for ‘phantastic thrillers’ in both the mainstream and the science fiction/fantasy market,” including advertising, special pages in Piper catalogues, and cross-promotion in genre and non-genre media. Spanish rights for Plague Year sold to Minotauro in a preemptive bid over Plaza / RHM. The first sequel, Plague War, is slated for release in North America in August 2008, with the next title set to follow in Summer 2009.

Congrats, Jeff!

Lou Plugs Historic Birmingham

I have, in times past, been something of a reluctant Southerner. I left the Deep South for some two decades. And for a long time, it seemed that the only time Birmingham ever made the news it was because we'd done something horrendously medieval - like being the only station to ban Ellen's kiss or sticking the Ten Commandments up in a courthouse. Not far removed from that Simpsons episode where the old men want to burn a visitor for teaching the metric system. ("Old ways are the best ways! Forty rods to the furlong!"). I stayed gone a long time, and my return was very much less than willing. But over the last few years, I've come to appreciate where I am a bit more than I did when I lived here the first time, (and not just because it's about as far from the Yellowstone Caldera as one can get in the continental US. Did you see that Discover Channel special? Man that freaked me out! But I digress...)

The line I usually give people is that when I left Birmingham in the mid-80s, your choices were pool or darts, Alabama or Auburn, Baptist or Presbyterian, Bud Light or Michelob Light, Hank Williams or Lynyrd Skynyrd. Not to mention black or white (and not a lot of overlap). So when I returned almost two decades later, I was surprised to find that Bud or Michelob had morphed into Newcastle or Guinness. And there were at least seven sushi bars that I counted (at least one of which is really good), a huge Asian population that certainly wasn't here before, same for the huge Indian population and the Latino one, students walking around from as far away as Quebec, Starbucks in every suburb, biracial couples everywhere, and Jane Seymour seating at the table next to me at the restaurant that Gourmet magazine named the number five best in the country. And thanks to the top notch medical school at UAB, it was almost a rarity to hear a southern accent. And we have a very healthy independent film scene. Not the town I remembered at all.

So I've softened a little bit. And tried to see beyond some of my own prejudice, (word choice very much intentional.) And get down with where I'm from.

Which means that when the good people at Turner Publishing Company asked me if I'd like a complimentary copy of Historic Photos of Birmingham,I surprised myself by saying yes. It surprised my wife even more. And what really surprised me was how affected by the photographs I was when the book arrived.

Some background: Birmingham was founded in 1872, and was built around the iron and steel industry (the name was taken from Birmingham, England). It was called "The Magic City" - as I've known since childhood - because it grew up overnight "as if by magic", springing from a population of 3,000 to 38,000 in less than two decades.

So I don't know why I'm surprised by all the industry in the pictures - like I still expected just rural farms and tractors. Lots of shots of furnaces and miners, trains and construction. (We've always had a heavy Greek population. As a kid, I thought the statue of Vulcan that loomed over the city was our tribal god, and figured a bigger town like Atlanta must worship Jupiter or something. No foolin'.)

The shots of the city circa 1900-1930 are amazing. I had no idea we used to have street cars! Or special towers were workers manually operated stop lights! Or hosted three balloon races! Or that early 1900 traffic cops dressed so absurdly - the one from the 1920s looks like he think he's the German kaiser or something. The shots of aging confederate soldiers blows my mind and evokes a strange form of pity. But most affecting is the photo of the "company guard" standing watch over a worker village in 1937, shotgun in hand to deal with any trouble-makers who show signs of unionizing. Or the 1960s shot of an African-American man protesting outside a department store with the sign "We'll buy when Loveman's hires Negro clerks. Jim Crow must go." (Something bitterly ironic about a store named Love Man that doesn't love all men, isn't it?) Mostly, there's just this overriding sense of time, and history, and stories lost forever, and how the past really, truly, is another country. One right here next to me, but inseparably far away. And I'm glad that James L. Baggett's book helps me visit it, if only just a little.

If you're not in or of Alabama, this might not be your thing (though maybe it is - there's a lot of history in this town - and they do have a whole series of historic photo books). If you are an Alabamian, this is certainly worth your time. Especially if, like me, your appreciation of your town is a work-in-progress.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Symphony for a Devil

Two summers ago, it was my great pleasure to attend the Campbell Conference at the University of Kansas. While there, I dialogued a great deal with Diane Turnshek, SF author and director of the Alpha Writers Workshop, "the science fiction, fantasy, and horror workshop for young writers," about ways to introduce SF&F to new readers.

The result was "the Pyr street team," a group of ten (now fourteen) readers, all between 15 and 25, who volunteered to read arcs (advanced reader copies) of Pyr books in exchange for blogging about them, ideally in places and communities that Yours Truly might not be hip enough to be up on. Diane handpicked the members from Alpha, submitting them to me for final approval, and we've been up and running since August, 2006.

One of the conditions going in was that I insisted this not be the propaganda wing of Pyr books, and stressed to the team that they were being asked to blog honestly about a book, whether they liked it or not. Part of this is my concern that if it were strictly propaganda it would smell as such and therefore be of little use. Part of it is my feeling that honest, intelligent discussion is more interesting and engaging than straight praise. And part of this is my desire to get real feedback on Pyr books from actual, (non-professional) readers. The result has been very informative - if sometimes painful. Because honest they have been! (Hi, Shara.)

What I didn't expect out of the program was the degree of communication that would evolve between Yours Truly and the members, with some very interesting genre-related discussions on our private email list. I'm not sure but what this hasn't actually been the most valuable aspect of the whole program for me.

Now, one of our most active participants, who blogs as Calico Reaction and Symphony for a Devil, has launched a year-in-review series of linked posts she's calling the Pyr Trifecta. Two of her three posts are up now. First is what she styles her "serious" post, Pyr Post # 1: A Year in Review, where she looks back at everything she's read from us in 2007. She discusses our cover art as well, with some good words for both Stephan Martiniere and John Picacio. And she breaks her reading down into four categories: Wanted to Like and LOVED; Wanted to Like and DID; Really Wanted to Like but Didn't, Sadly; and Didn't Think I'd Like and Didn't. (See that note about honesty above.)

Pyr Post # 2: 2007 Superlatives is more light-hearted. As she explains, "Remember the good old high school days, and those oh-so-lovely senior superlatives that were really a popularity contest but supposedly represented the best in our class? I thought it'd be really fun to do that with the 2007 crop of Pyr titles..." Books are awarded such interesting categories as Coolest Premise, Most Likely to Make an Awards Ballot, Most Likely to Make a Kick-Ass Motion Picture, and Best "Girl" Book.

Any nice things said about Yours Truly was probably paid sponsorship, but the rest of it is well worth reading.

Update: Pyr Post # 3: Pyr Book Giveaway !!!! is up now. It's a contest in which two lucky winners get the Pyr book of their choice, selected from out of the 2007 books discussed. Also, there's a poll, the results of which I'll be curious to see. Check it out!