Friday, May 30, 2008

The New Swords & Sorcery

Well, I see Jonathan has outed us, so here's the Big News.

For some time now, my fellow Hugo-nominated editor Jonathan Strahan and I have been kicking around the idea of collaborating on an anthology. We had various ideas - all science fiction - shuffling around on the back burner. Independently of this, I started musing, around the time that The Lies of Locke Lamorawas first published, and before news of Del Rey's reissue of all the Elric books, or even that Richard Morgan was about to start writing fantasy, that Swords & Sorcery was due a come-back. Or rather, that the rather sophisticated S&S that was already being written was due its musical chairs spot at the front of the class (which is really all a comeback is).

Either way, I found myself thinking quite a lot about S&S. The least profitable idea to come out of this was a temporary obsession/conclusion that the Coen Brothers had to direct the Elric movie in black and white. A much more profitable (and implementable) notion was to do an anthology. I'd about decided that was the course when, at the Saratoga Springs WFC last year, Jonathan told me he'd been thinking the same thing (anthologies not Coen Brothers films). We realized this was the project we'd been searching for and so - viola! - Conquering Swords: The New Swords & Sorcery (working title) was born. We put a pitch together, Jonathan's agent Howard Morhaim handled, and we are VERY excited to announce that Diana Gill of Harper bought. Harper Eos published Jonathan and Gardner Dozois' The New Space Opera,so this is a very good fit, and gives you something of an idea of the scale of the project. The book will be out in 2010 and we'll let you in on the very exciting contributors list soon.

MIND MELD: Who's Driving This Bus?

SF Signal's back with another Lou-inspired Mind Meld question, this one, "Q: Although science fiction was born on paper, sci-fi presented through visual media (film and television) has significantly higher audiences. Which medium, then, is the driving force behind what science fiction is and where it's headed, and who is driving it?"

They open with novelist John Scalzi, IMHO one of the best and brightest of 21st century SF, saying it's apples to oranges, they're only indirectly related, but really it's the one with the money. This is followed by Stargate: Atlantis executive producer Joseph Mallozzi saying that film & TV is a case of too-many-cooks but it pays well, and the freedom of the novelist to chart their own vision independent of interference is the driving factor.

Other contributors include Yours Truly, Gary K. Wolf, Joe R. Lansdale, Lucius Shepard (who reminds us that it's all compromised crap), Paul Levinson, Mike Resnick, Charlie Jane Anders (with a nice sounding sound bite about how the future is open source fiction), Paul Cornell, Mike Brotherton, and Lawrence Person.

I was particularly struck by what Paul Cornell said - who has written for prose, television and comics so is certainly the most qualified to know:
Certainly, prose SF is always first to any given concept, but public awareness depends not on one movie, but on dozens of Sci Fi Channel movies of the week, parody, advertising use, etc. That public awareness is important, in that SF seeks to portray what happens 'if this goes on', and such satire only really bites if the public recognises the truth of the future being described, as used to be the case with Arthur Clarke's descriptions of the vastly agreed-upon post-Apollo future of humanity in space.

So at the moment, to some degree, in this matter of the public's collective unconscious vision of where it might all go, what's to be done and what's wrong right now, TV and the movies are indeed taking the lead, the superhero trope, Lost and Battlestar Galactica all, for instance, asking 'is my instinct about what the look on that person's face means enough, or do I need some greater insight into their nature in order to be safe?' Dick got there first, but the development of that thought has happened largely outside of prose.
Me, I think that the much smaller, but potentially richer, vein of SF literature charts the vanguard that gradually trickles down and informs the larger, vastly more successful media, which in turn throws up images that get reabsorbed by the literature. Symbiotic, but we're talking whales and those little fish that swim alongside them (I'm still seriously jet lagged).

Still, I think the best case that the literature is still driving (even if the media train it tows behind it is overshadowingly large) is this bit from Joseph Mallozzi's blog:
So who is John Scalzi? Well, he’s just the guy who renewed my interest in SF literature and restored my joy of reading, a joy I am forcing upon you all via this book of the month club. I used to read a lot as a kid, particularly scifi, but as I grew older my hours spent in the company of Asimov and Clarke lessened considerably. Given everything that was going on in my life, reading became an indulgence I no longer had time for. I would continue to read at a more leisurely pace, but I was no longer the voracious reader of my early youth when I would devour two or three books on a good week. Then, a couple of years ago, I sat back and took stock of things. Here I was, a fairly successful writer/producer who, unlike my co-workers, didn’t spend my free time golfing, playing video games, or traveling. So, what was I doing with my free time? Well, to be honest, I didn’t have a lot of it because I’d feel guilty if I wasn’t working on something or, at the very least, thinking about working on something. I realized that I was being ridiculous. I worked hard enough during the season to earn some downtime. I needed a hobby. Something I could enjoy guilt-free. Preferably something that would help me relax and yet, at the same time, keep my mind active. And that’s when it hit me. Reading! It offered the enjoyment and relaxation of a regular hobby but, in my case, also offered the benefit of serving as a means of research and education.I joined an SF online book club, enjoyed the first two selections, and then along came John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. I was blown away. It was fun. It was funny. And, most importantly, it was clever as hell! I loved it, and most everyone I have recommended the book to has loved it as well.
So, Scalzi writes book. Book so good that TV producer of long running, successful SF franchise loves book. TV producer becomes avid SF reader, promotes SF novels to his thousands of fans, spends all day reading, thinking about, proselytizing SF.

Conclusion A: Books still inform media.
Conclusion B: Both Scalzi and Mallozzi deserve big hug.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Free Online Stuff

Over at the Pyr website, we've added a Sample Chapters page that aggregates all the free reading in one spot (there's a lot of it!), and also a page that displays all our book banners for downloads.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A sly variation on the traditional cyberpunk novel...

Publishers Weekly on David Louis Edelman's forthcoming MultiReal.The bold emphasis is mine:

A sly variation on the traditional cyberpunk novel, Edelman's sequel to 2006's Infoquake views a stunning new technology through the eyes of the cutthroat executives vying to market it. MultiReal, a reality-altering tool combining biological programming and quantum physics, threatens to plunge a far-future world into chaos, but before it can penetrate the furthest reaches of society, Natch, an entrepreneur and rebel, must find a way to market and distribute it. He faces tremendous resistance from legislative bodies, competing business concerns and the ominous black code embedded in the mechanisms that enhance his body. Edelman brings fresh air to the technological thriller, but his characters remain somewhat anemic and caricatured, particularly Jara, Natch's second-in-command. MultiReal itself is firmly established as one of the most fascinating singularity technologies in years, and the inconclusive feel of this installment will build anticipation for the third Jump 225 book.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Apologies for Being So Quiet

I know this blog's been quiet of late. Reason? I've been away for 24 days in China - in Changsha, SuZhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Back now, jet lagged and ill. But will blog the trip, with photos, once my brain & body returns.

In the meantime, here are some news items worth pointing out / catching up on:

The Blade Itself author Joe Abercrombie has partaken of a mammoth Q&A on Stargate: Atlantis executive producer Joseph Mallozi's Blog.

Over on Omnivoracious, Jeff Vandermeer called Kay Kenyon's Entire and the Rose series (of which Bright of the Skyand A World Too Nearhave so far been published) a "modern classic." Whereas Greg L. Johnson of SFSite, calls the series "one of the most imaginative creations in recent science fiction history."

Joe Crowe of RevolutionSF has reviewed Chris Roberson's Paragaea: A Planetary Romance."Parageaa is a step ahead of most modern fantasies. It's not a blatant setup for a 17-part trilogy. Roberson isn't so in love with Paragaea that he spends pages of real estate describing the flora or the history. It's a backdrop for his characters to move through, and that's plenty. Best of all, it's fun. It plays in the backyard of Philip Jose Farmer, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Michael Moorcock."

There's probably more, but I can't think straight right now.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Science Fiction Gold

Hey, I've just been informed that Matrix Online has uploaded the full 7,000 word text of the interview that Lon Cohen conducted with me to their website, here as a PDF. (The edited version appeared in Matrix # 186.)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Lou Talks in Three Articles

Lots of Lou on the Web!

SFSignal is back with another Mind Meld. This one looks at Hollywood Science Fiction and asks "What other story, or stories, do you believe are deserving of being made into movies and why?" In addition to Yours Truly, responses are from Peggy Kolm, Michael L. Wentz, Michael Blackmore, SciFiChick, and the always interesting John C. Wright. Wright argues that, as a visual medium, "A science fiction movie that does not involve spectacle and special effects is not taking advantage of the primary strength of movies." I concur. I'd pick my list from some newer works though, as nothing dates like the future. Still, as I say in my own piece, with the cost of CGI dropping, there's going to be more of everything, so I think they'll be enough to keep us all happy.

Meanwhile, I'm interviewed about illustrator Stephan Martiniere over on in "The Future Will Be Bio-Mechanical." Some very nice samples of his work, including the concept art he did for the I, Robot film that happens to be the piece that lead me to put him on our edition of River of Gods.(And speaking about Ian McDonald books, although I'm not in it, there is an interview with Ian talking about both Brasyland the forthcoming The Dervish House up at Post-Weird Thoughts.)

Finally, GalleyCat uses the occasion of Michael Moorcock's Grand Masterhood to quote me and others talking about John Picacio's genius in a piece titled "A Grand Master's Greatest Character Reborn." This is, of course, about Picacio's recent work conceiving and illustrating Moorcock's Elric: The Stealer of Soulsreissue for Del Rey as well as our own The Metatemporal Detective.Michael Whelan's Elric has always been the definitive portrayal of the character for me. Until now. Go see why.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Call it: Heads or ... Heads.

I'm down with this. In fact, it looks a lot like Neal Adams treatment of the character.