The Geomancer


Keeping it Real & Gradisil: Buy American!

The latest issue of Cheryl Morgan's wonderful Emerald City is online, and this one includes two very enthusiastic reviews I'd like to call attention to. One is by Karina Meerman and is of Justina Robson's latest, Keeping it Real. The other is by Joe Gordon and is of Adam Roberts' latest, Gradisil.

Both reviews are of the UK editions of these novels, both of which were published by Gollancz and edited by Simon Spanton, the man who first brought you Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon and whose editorial judgement I am coming to greatly admire. In fact, I've yet to read a novel Simon selected that I don't think is positively brilliant. Both these books, certainly, are garnering wonderful reviews in places like Locus, SFX, Starburst, SFFWorld...

Now Keeping it Real and Gradisil will be coming out from Pyr in our Spring/Summer 2007 season. We expect to use a variant of Larry Rostant's fantastic cover for our edition of Keeping it Real, whereas the marvelous Stephan Martiniere has already turned in his artwork for Gradisil, to my and Adam's considerable delight, and I am anxious for the day when I can debut it here.

And speaking of that day...

If you live in the United Kingdom or one of the territories served by Gollancz, then I urge to rush out and buy these books right now. Justina's novel is the most over-the-top fun I've had with a book in long time, crazy Matrix action, cyborg-on-elf sex, blood sugar sex magick and rock'n'roll. I've not gasped for air in sheer delight at anything like this since Michael Swanwick's Darger and Surplus tales, and I've not seen anyone before exhibit the brazen chutzpah in takes to write total Power Rangers-style action sequences with such a straight face. And being Justina Robson, there's also a lot of brilliant speculation amid the fun and genuine troubled-girl angst. Think Robocop asking "Do I look fat in these jeans?" Whereas Adam, who has absolutely astounded me since I first read On, who is one of the smartest individuals it has ever been my priviledge to know, and who writes big concept SF of the Arthur C Clarke variety only filtered through a level of literate prose & multi-layered narrative that would do Theodore Sturgeon or Samuel Delany proud, has written a birth-of-a-nation epic that may be his finest achievement to date. Gradisil succeeds on both the macro and micro level, presenting a very convincing portrait of the decades just passed our current wave of non-NASA space exploration, where every dot com billionaire has his own rocket program, to the end of the 21st century when near-earth-orbit becomes a practical destination for people to go en masse, coupled with a very personal tale of revenge threaded through one family tree. Political satire and Greek tragedy. What's not to love? So yes, if you live in the UK or thereabouts, go pick up the Gollancz versions now with my blessing.

But if you live here in North American, can I ask you a favor, on behalf of myself, Pyr, and both of these authors? Please wait for our edition. I didn't used to think that it mattered. Sometimes I liked the UK cover better than the US, or I wanted a hardcover when the US publisher only brought the book out in trade paperback or mass market. Or I didn't want to wait. So yes, if you went through my own library, you'd see a few UK editions acquired in years past. But now I know better. There are a long list of deserving British and Australian authors that you don't see over here. There are others that you don't see here any more. Science fiction is not such a big market that the few hundred editions that slip through the specialty shops, or get shipped from don't make a difference. Oh, if you collect the UK versions of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, you probably aren't really going to make a dent in his sales, but for a lot of these writers, particularly of hard, literate SF, it does matter. This is Adam's first book in the US - something that many people, not just Yours Truly - think is long overdue, and how our edition of Gradisil does will very substantially effect whether his next work of sheer genius comes out in the US or not, either from Pyr or someone else. We're very fortunate to have Ian McDonald's magnificent River of Gods, which, unless you've been living under a rock, you know is being touted everywhere as being a monumental, landmark work, one of those once-in-a-decade achievements, a "must read," but Ian is an example of a writer who was out of the US market for several years before finding his way back in. He's very glad to be back, and we are priviledged to have facilitated his return. So my long-winded point is, if you admire these writers, and you want to see more of their work over here, please show your support for the US editions. Every person makes a difference. And hey, I'm not just talking about our authors and pimping our own books. This applies across the board. Go buy Bantam's edition of Jon Courtenay Grimwood's masterpiece; go pick up the Night Shade edition of the latest Iain M. Banks; get the Del Rey edition of that Hal Duncan book you've heard so much about. If you're a collector, and you've got to have that UK first edition - if the work means that much to you - consider buying both. Hey, I've got all three of China MiƩville's Bas Lag novels in their original UK hardcovers, absolutely, but I've got the Del Rey trade paperbacks too.

I appreciate your indulgence with this post. I've seen enough people posting on blogs lately, asking "Why can't I buy the UK version? Why should I wait?" You can make up your own mind, but I think a lot of people don't actually know the impact of buying outside their territory, and I wanted to set the record straight. And for those of you who've been supporting us when we bring you overseas talent, my deep and sincere thanks. There's a lot more where that came from.

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