The Geomancer


Pyr Makes 3 of Pat's Fantasy Hotlist Top 5

Three must be a magic number, because Pat's Fantasy Hotlist has just posted their Top Ten Novels of 2006, and once again Pyr is on the list with three titles.

Ian McDonald's River of Gods comes in at # 4.
Joel Shepherd's Crossover is # 7.
And Sean Williams' The Crooked Letter is # 9.

Pyr is also given the "Best Thing Since Sliced Bread Award", with the comment that we are "a breath of fresh air in both the fantasy and science fiction genres."

Pyr Makes 3 of Bookgasm's Top 5 (point five)

Bookgasm has posted their list of the 5 Best Sci-Fi Books of 2006.

David Louis Edelman's Infoquakeand Joel Shepherd's Crossovertie for fifth place. And, in a list that includes Tobias S. Buckell, Kim Stanley Robinson, and John Scalzi, the number one spot is given to Ian McDonald's River of Gods.

Of Infoquake and Crossover, Ryun Patterson writes:

"This pair of books is a great example of what Pyr is doing right. Infoquake is a tech-heavy exercise in scientific speculation that combines economics, high technology and business mechanics into an all-too-human story of greed, loss and redemption. Crossover isn’t satisfied with being just another hot-chick-android-assassin book and goes for some heavy-duty characterization (not unlike what’s been going on in TV’s Battlestar Galactica) that makes the kicking ass that much more tremendous."

"It’s at once cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk, awash in the verbiage of globalization and emerging-markets uncertainty. As the story’s huge cast of characters tumbles toward their individual destinies in tomorrow’s India, it’s hard to believe that McDonald doesn’t have a time machine stored somewhere in his backyard..."

And they open the list with this comment about the Pyr imprint:

"The biggest story of the year, in my opinion, is Pyr’s rise to prominence as a high-quality sci-fi imprint. Pyr has managed to round up a stable of authors and titles that represents the cutting edge of sci-fi and backs it up with promotion and marketing that pretty much outdoes the other imprints out there. Bravo, Pyr. Here’s hoping for an even greater 2007."

Congratulations to all six authors. On this end, we'll certainly do our best to make 2007 even better than 2006.


Quando il business è da fantascienza

David Louis Edelman, and Infoquake, have shown up on the Italian website, in a piece which, as far as I can tell, quotes Edelman's earlier interview on Sci Fi Wire. Now, I don't read Italian, but I do know how to call up Babel Fish, that wonderful web service that owes it's name to Douglas Adams but reminds me of nothing more than the opening chapters of Philip K. Dick's Galactic Pot Healer, in which bored employees in three countries push famous quotes thru translation software and back again, then play guessing games as to what the original text is.

Thus, in the spirit of PKD, who, I believe, would have appreciated Infoquake, I present these wonderful excerpts from the Babel Fish translation:

"We speak instead of Infoquake, novel of debut of trentacinquenne the American David Louis Edelman, programmatore, web designer, journalist and now also ski fi writer (operates its, between the others, the situated one web of the U.S. Army), which it seems to have inaugurated a new fantascientifico kind that same it defines one via of means between Dunes and the Wall ßstreet Journal. Interviewed from Ski Fi Wire, Edelman has delineated the weft of the book centralized on the figure of Natch, a businessman pitiless and lacking in scrupoli whose scope consists in launch on the market one new technology of which it ignores the real essence, potentially dangerous."

And, my favorite, this piece contrasting Infoquake and it's forthcoming sequel:

"While in Infoquake the action regards mainly the part, so to speak, mercantilistica of the matter, with taken care of descriptions of the tactics of sale and all the dirty ones makes up that they put in field the speculators without scrupoli, in Multi-Real the vicissitude takes a fold more political, even if the pure action does not lack in both cases, guarantees Edelman. Insomma, after the fantapolitica, the fantathriller, the fantaeconomia, the fantastoria etc etc, is the turn of the fantabusiness. "

Who couldn't be for that! Thank you Babel Fish and thank you, most importantly, Fantascienza, for helping spread the word.

Update: While we're on the subject, Paul Cornell - he of Doctor Who novel, audiobook & television fame - has just selected Infoquake as his favorite SF novel of the year. As he describes on his blog, the House of Awkwardness:

"My favourite SF novel of the year. A future of business and competition that we can all identify with, which neatly avoids apocalyptic cliché, and thus the adoration of the British SF critics. I’ve blogged about it before, otherwise I’d say more. And hey, catchphrases you can use online: towards perfection!"


Joel Shepherd's Waterstone's Page

Waterstone's in the UK is giving Crossover author Joel Shepherd his own author page, along with an online profile where he talks about "Vikram Seth, women's basketball, and Robert Heilein," among other things.

From the page:
Other than writing, what other jobs or professions have you undertaken or considered?

The most interesting thing I've actually done would be covering the women's basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 for an American internet magazine. Absolutely hectic, the only time I've ever worked 18-hour days. Considered? As a kid, I wanted to be a fighter pilot or airline pilot. Then, a movie director. Otherwise, I think I might have made a good Intel agent for CIA, ASIO - not a spy, just someone who analyses behind the scenes.


Kudos for WorldBuilding

Two more reviews, both of which praise their respective relevant works for world-building.

First, Neth Space remarks on David Louis Edelman's Infoquake:

"New ideas in the world of science fiction are hard to come by, and to be honest, I’m sure just how new Infoquake really is, but it feels new. David Edelman’s debut is about cutthroat economics, technologic innovation, and government control that are played out in corporate boardrooms, work stations, and product release presentations. Most importantly, Infoquake remains engaging throughout."

Then Pat's Fantasy Hotlist, along with some good things to say about Pyr, praise a book "that could elevate fantasy to new heights" when they say of Sean Williams' The Crooked Letter:

"...a superior tale, one that should satisfy even jaded readers. Surreal, imaginative, captivating, unique -- there's a lot to love about this one. Add this novel to your 'books to read' list."


Love Stricken & Agoraphobic: An Interview with Sean Williams

John Scalzi, he of Old Man's War and The Android's Dream, has been interviewing an author a day all week over on his AOL blog, By the Way. After wonderful interviews with Karl Schroeder, Karen Traviss, Charles Stross and Sarah Hoyt, Scalzi concludes his week with an interview with Sean Williams. They talk about publishing on two continents, writing solo and in collaboration, creator owned worlds vs shared universes like Star Wars, and how love can strike you at the oddest moments. Along the way, they also find time to discuss Sean's marvelous Books of the Cataclysm, of which two (The Crooked Letter, The Blood Debt) are now published here via Pyr in the US. Of The Blood Debt, Sean says:

"The book is simultaneously a chase novel and a romance, with various people trying to rescue family members and maintaining or starting relationships along the way. Love strikes us in the oddest places sometimes, and at the most awkward times. Its perversity is what makes it so addictive, I think. If it always came when and how we wanted to, where would be the fun in that? I'm getting married next year, to a wonderful woman who, like me, thought she would never tie the knot. That we're both willing and eager to do this thing that we've resisted for so long, with other people, is testimony to the amazing transformations that love can wreak, for good or ill, on the unsuspecting. To a certain extent, The Blood Debt is also about that."

Lightening Up the Shadows: An Interview with Joe Abercrombie

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist runs an interview with Joe Abercrombie today. Joe is the author of The Blade Itself, the first book in The First Law trilogy, published by Gollancz in the UK and forthcoming from Pyr September 2007.

I'm very excited by this book. First, it's one of the best fantasy novels I've read in a long time, and second, when it debuts in the US next fall, it will mark our first serious foray into epic fantasy. Yes, we've done some (I think) excellent fantasy already - more of it than people realize - with books like The Prodigal Troll and The Crooked Letter that I am very, VERY proud of. But those are fantasy plus, in this case fantasy plus wonderfully-realized Tarzan of the Apes pastiche and fantasy plus brilliant metaphysical quantum physics inspired afterworlds. They are tremendous books and you should read them right now if you haven't already (Go ahead; I'll wait) - just not what people think of when they speak of the post-Tolkien epic fantasy genre, the sure enough, dyed-in-the-wool fantasy of knights and wizards on a quest in an invented, secondary world. Which I've held off on publishing at Pyr until now, because, well, The Blade Itself is the first such work that came across my desk and knocked both my socks off at once. (I've had one or the other sock knocked off at a time before, but not both! Not both I tell you!) Because The Blade Itself is brilliant and subversive and imaginative and hysterical and dark, with great, great characters, none of which are entirely good or entirely bad, moments that make you ache and moments that are laugh out loud they are so funny without the book actually being a comedy. And I can't wait for you to see what I mean. (Of course, if you live in the US, I do urge you to wait. If you live in the UK, go right out and get the Gollancz edition right now, then come tell me what you thought.)

Meanwhile, check out Joe's interview, where he pontificates on such important concerns as:

"Characters, dialogue, humour, action. And the unfolding of the whole series will hopefully demonstrate that I can put a plot together in a tight spot as well (fingers crossed). The area for which I’ve garnered the most praise, however, is the nice feeling paper in which my books are bound. If you like nice feeling books, you can't go wrong with The Blade Itself."


Wall to Wall Pirates

David Louis Edelman is interviewed by John Joseph Adams over on SciFi Wire, where he talks about the science of bio/logics that make up a large part of his extrapolative future in Infoquake:

""There are programs to help you stay awake, and ... the beginning chapters revolve around a program called 'NightFocus 48,' which enables you, during the nighttime, to see better... "There's [also] a program ... called 'PokerFace 83. 4b.' If you want to project zero emotion, to prevent somebody from getting a read on what you're thinking, you fire up this program real quick, and your face just goes to this poker face, essentially. There are lots of programs like that, and I tried to give the impression these people are operating these programs all day long. It's almost like when you're sitting at a computer, there's the antivirus program going on in the background, there's a defragmenting program going on, Windows Update is updating, or a Linux package is updating. So these people are running thousands of programs all day long, [with] 90 percent of them just going on in the background; they're probably not even aware of them."

Meanwhile, good words from the December 15th Library Journal regarding Mike Resnick's Starship: Pirate:

"After his crew rescued him from trumped-up court martial charges, Capt. Wilson Cole, formerly a member of the galactic Republic and now an outlaw, decides to turn to piracy to survive. His version of what pirates do, however, differs from the standard pillage-and-plunder mode; other pirates are his chosen quarry. This sequel to Starship: Mutiny, set in Resnick's Birthright Universe (A Hunger in the Soul; "The Widowmaker" series) shows the author's genuine flair for spinning a good yarn. Snappy dialog, intriguing human and alien characters, and a keen sense of dramatic focus make this a strong addition to most sf collections, with particular appeal to the sf action-adventure readership."


Just Look At This, Will You?

For your viewing pleasure: the full cover spread for the reissue of Jack Dann's classic novel, The Man Who Melted, coming from Pyr January 07.

This is our first time working with artist Nick Stathopoulos, but not his first time illustrating a work by Jack Dann. If you look closely there is an easter egg buried in the cover, a reference to the cover of an Australian edition of the book which Nick also painted. Trouble spotting it? Here's a hint.

Cover design is once again by the wonderful Jacqueline Cooke. Right click to enlarge, of course. All very pretty, no?

Three More Pyr Reviews

A review by David Hebblethwaite over on for George Zebrowski's Macrolife: A Mobile Utopia. David writes:

"Macrolife is a novel with ideas at the fore. ... There's a welcome complexity to the issues examined. For instance, technology is not characterized as something wholly good or bad; but, more accurately, as a potential source of both problems and solutions, depending on how it is used... Zebrowski does not shy away from looking at the downside to macrolife; and there is much debate on the rights and wrongs of interfering with planetary civilizations, with no easy answers... The Library Journal quote on the cover says that Macrolife is 'one of the 100 best science fiction novels of all-time.' Whilst I'm not knowledgeable enough to be the judge of that, I am sure that the book is no less relevant now than it was in 1979. Whether macrolife as depicted here will be part of humanity's future, it is good that we should think about it -- and it is good that we have such an eloquent and spirited expression of the idea as Zebrowski's novel."

And a review on Lesley on the Eternal Night for Alan Dean Foster's Sagramanda compares the fictional city of the title with the reviewer's actual experience of India:

"Having been fortunate enough to visit a number of cities across India I did wonder how the city and population of Sagramanda would compare to the real people and places I have experienced. I was pleasantly surprised. As I read I could almost smell the air of Delhi or Kohlapur and feel the heat of the sun. What did impress me was the way the author introduced subtle touches of technology into the India of tomorrow; just enough to let you know you are in the near future without destroying the overall sensation of being in the Indian subcontinent."

Finally, Cheryl Morgan can't resist reading Justina Robson's Keeping it Real in time for the lamentably-final issue of the great site Emerald City:

"Black leather, motorbikes, elf rock stars who actually know what an electric guitar is for, a small nuclear reactor, and some big guns. And, because this is Justina Robson we are talking about, a heroine with a great deal of self-doubt who is just as likely to let go with the tears as with an Uzi... Yes, Keeping It Real is a thrill-a-minute adventure yarn full of sex and elves and motorbikes. But it is also a book in which dragons are well versed in quantum mechanics."


How I Promoted My Book, Part 2 by David Louis Edelman

Since so many people seem to be interested in my blog entry on How I Promoted My Book, I thought I'd post a few more random thoughts and suggestions about book promotion here.

Keep in mind that there's no one set way of marketing anything, or we'd all be swilling down New Coke. This is especially true with the book publishing business, which certainly must rank as one of the most bizarre businesses in existence. So your mileage with my suggestions may vary.

Lastly, let's remember that I have exactly one (1) to my name (obligatory Amazon link here), which has been on the shelves for a grand total of five (5) months. So if Orson Scott Card says one thing and I say another, you might want to, y'know, strongly consider following his advice instead. (Unless he's talking about politics, religion, or homosexuality. I dug Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead like everyone else, but the fellow is a wee bit unhinged.)

And now, once again, we present Dave on Marketing:

Market for the long term. Some people will tell you not to bother with a particular marketing effort because it's not going to sell any books. But sales or marketing are completely different animals. Marketing is for building reputations, for generating buzz, for spreading the word, and for creating positive impressions, among other things. The ad agencies who spend millions of dollars on Pepsi commercials don't expect you to run out the door that instant to buy a six-pack; neither should you expect that everyone who reads your blog is going to click straight over to Amazon. The ultimate goal is to boost your writing career, not just the immediate fortunes of one particular book.

Take your book seriously. This was one of the hardest things for me to do after I'd signed my contract with Pyr. Not that I wasn't utterly serious about the content of the book. But in order for other people to take your book seriously, you have to be serious about the way you market it. You need to be able to stand tall, hold up your book, look a skeptical customer in the eye and say, "I wrote this. It frickin' rocks. It's worth your time and money."

...But don't take it too seriously. You are marketing a piece of literature, after all, and not a miracle pill to cure leukemia. Many people buy books simply for diversion or entertainment, and they'll resent an author who believes their book should be read for moral edification and uplift. Hyperbolic statements about the quality of your book ("best thing since sliced bread," "better than Jesus," "Foundation is amateurish in comparison") should be left to your blurbers and reviewers.

Network like a mad fiend. It's the prime irony of the field: many of us are writers because we're not comfortable communicating face-to-face. I would much rather sit hunched in the garret scribbling by candlelight than walk around a meeting shaking hands. But the Cranky Lonesome Writer in the Attic routine doesn't work nearly as well as getting out there and pressing the flesh. And if you're in science fiction, remember this: no matter how socially awkward you feel, there's always someone within a stone's throw who's ten times worse.

Keep a file of stock promotional materials handy. If you carry around a briefcase or laptop bag, it's a good idea to keep business cards, review sheets, catalogs, and (of course) a copy of your book with you at all times. You never know when they'll come in handy. When you're at home, make sure you have a short bio and synopsis of the novel primed on your computer for quick access. You're going to be cutting and pasting this stuff a hundred times.

Spread your e-mail address far and wide; answer all of your e-mail. If you've got something interesting to say, people will want to contact you. Make sure your e-mail address is easy for them to find. Personally, I don't bother with the spam protection measures that most people use — the Google and Outlook spam filters work pretty well in concert, and I'd rather wade through a dozen extra pieces of spam than risk losing a single message.

Work with your publisher, not against them. As I mentioned in my last piece, the success or failure of your book in the marketplace largely rests on your publisher's efforts, not yours. You can certainly add some shine of your own, but as far as marketing and promotion of your book goes, you're clearly the supporting player. Find out what they have in mind to promote your book. Learn to know where you can offer your assistance, and where it's better for you to just stay out of the way.

Come up with a nice tagline for your book and keep it handy. You have no idea how often friends, acquaintances, strangers, colleagues, co-workers, etc. will ask you "so what's your book about?" They don't want to hear a five-minute exposition about the Three Goblin Warlords in the Kingdom of Vogelvix and the missing Crown of Wobblesparkutron, and how it's up to a plucky heroine with a band of quirky adventurers to blah blah blah. When someone asks me what Infoquake is about, I simply say, "Dune meets The Wall Street Journal." It's short, it's punchy, and it's on the book jacket. Sometimes I also use one of the lines from the Barnes & Noble Explorations review of the book that called Infoquake "the love child of Donald Trump and Vernor Vinge."

In the end, it's the writing that counts, not the promotion. I've read a lot of blogs about book promotion that complain that writers aren't supposed to be good at promotion, that it's the job of publishers and publicists to do this crap. And while I don't entirely agree, I will say this: your primary job is to write. If the books suck, chances are they won't sell no matter what you do. (And please, no Dan Brown or Terry Goodkind wisecracks here.)