Wednesday 2:30 PM
33 Cover Art in the Internet Age
CCC - Korbel 4CD
“Don't judge a book by its cover.” How does this maxim work in the internet age when books are sold online (with small images of the cover) or even more so in e-books.
John Picacio, (m)Laura Givens, Lou Anders
57 Signing (75 minutes)
CCC - Hall D
Cynthia Felice, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Lou Anders, Mike Resnick, Warren Hammond
Stroll With the Stars
A gentle, friendly 1 mile stroll with some of your favorite Authors, Artists & Editors. Leaving daily. 9AM, from the Big Blue Bear in front of the Colorado Convention Center,
returning before other Programming begins, definitely before 10.
Lou Anders, Paul Cornell, John Picacio, Stephen H. Segal
Friday 11:30 AM
CCC - Korbel 4E
Elizabeth Moon, James Patrick Kelly, Joe Haldeman, Lou Anders
Friday 5:30 PM
416 Pyr Books Presentation
CCC - Korbel 4CD
Lou Anders & authors and artists
Friday 8Pm - 11PM
Sheraton Party Floor
Pyr Party in Honor of Ian McDonald
455 The Comeback of Original Anthology Collections
CCC - Korbel 1C
New collections of original stories are appearing more frequently now than over the recent past. Original Anthology Collections may be substituting for or supplementing magazines as a market for short fiction. Why are we seeing this and what can we expect in the near future?
Ellen Datlow, Jonathan Strahan, (m)Lee Martindale, Lou Anders
655 The Coming Thing - what's next and newest in SF
CCC - Room 502
Panelists discuss what is next up in the SF pipeline.
What new crazy ideas and approaches should we be looking for? What's going to be popular next year, and after that?
Charles Stross, (m)Daniel Abraham, Lou Anders
Answers from such notables as Joe Abercrombie, Karl Schroeder, Nancy Kress, Orson Scott Card, Mike Brotherton, Jeffrey Ford, Jeff Vandermeer, Mike Resnick, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Jeff Somers, Paul Levinson, and Yours Truly.
This bit from Orson Scott Card caught my eye: "Science fiction is, in many ways, DEFINED by world creation. Anybody who's any good in this field knows how to create worlds, at least well enough to get by. So what we tend to value are the worlds that surprise us. The master of the surprising yet apt detail is Bruce Sterling; I point to his "Green Days in Brunei" as an exemplar."
Loved this bit on worldbuilding:
Science Fiction is a language of mirrors by which we (readers and writers) can compare and contrast our own society and its problems. This is clearly the case with the Jump 225 trilogy, so when you created this future history, how necessary do you feel it was to sort of destroy everything and restart?
Wiping the slate clean with an Armageddon scenario five hundred years before the events of Jump 225 was really just a narrative trick. It enabled me to focus on the things I wanted to focus on -- namely, software and business and sociology -- and conveniently ignore the things I didn’t want to talk about. AIs? Boom! They were destroyed in the Autonomous Revolt. Nuclear weapons? Boom! Used in the Revolt and then subsequently abandoned. Cloning and genetic engineering? Same thing.
It’s one of the things science fiction and fantasy do really well. If I had set the Jump 225 trilogy in today’s world, I would have gotten sidetracked by lots of issues that I just didn’t feel like dealing with. It’s funny, but I think setting the books in an imaginary world allowed me to get a tighter focus on the real world.
And this bit made me laugh:
If you could take any pre-existing fictional character and plunk them into the events of the Jump 225 trilogy, who would it be?
Dr. Strange. He’s a guy who hops dimensions all the time. He ought to know how to handle MultiReal.
But you should read it all, right?
Meanwhile, here's a taste: "There’s another shift that happened around the early-90’s, right around the time when Chip Kidd and the Knopf design staff was making a big splash with their Random House covers. I think an unfair stigma was placed on illustration as being an element that 'limited' a book to a genre audience, and publishers therefore relied more and more on stock photography and in-house designers to create covers. In the process, they lost sight of the full potential of original drawings and paintings to sell product in the marketplace. Kidd’s a smart designer, but I often wonder if he perhaps helped spread that stigma in interviews because it glorified designers like him, at the expense of illustration. The fact is, publishing still thinks this way today and I think it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that stunts the growth of ideas, profit, and outreach. Somewhere along the way there, publishers generated this self-fulfilling prophecy that illustration limited audiences. Perhaps it’s just a nice story that helps them cut costs and save in-house jobs? The fact is, there are dozens of examples of illustrators who didn’t limit audiences, but instead transcended time and context, and expanded audience and profit. The list is long and diverse – try J.C. Leyendecker in the 1910’s, Norman Rockwell in the 1940’s, the aforementioned Powers in the 1950’s, and Dave McKean in the 1990’s, to name only a few off the top of my head. We’re talking about revolutionary cover artists of their time with huge critical and commercial impact that exploded the growth of their publications beyond the existing audience. So if it’s possible in those eras, why say that today’s mainstream audiences aren’t sophisticated enough to embrace progressive, original illustration?"
And hey, however the Hugos turn out, we're thrilled to be in such distinguished company.
From POD People, TCM Reviews, July 21, 2008: “Pyr is a new, up-and-coming science fiction press, and David Louis Edelman is one of their hot new stars…[MultiReal] is full of Big Ideas, in the best tradition of science fiction…Edelman is a programmer in real life, and his understanding of the process informs the book. Multireal is a deep book, full of plots and counter-plots, with a stunning vision of the future. It manages what seems to be impossible, making the act of computer programming exciting, while reflecting on the nature of government and business. This is high science fiction at its finest. RATING 10/10
I am interested in this, and in how it can be applied to the specific Point of Science Fiction.
Meanwhile, Of Blog of the Fallen asks "Do SF/F authors have to be SF/F fans in order to be good writers?" Lots of interesting comments, and lots of names you may recognize in the comments as well - including Solaris book's Mark Newton and The First Law trilogy scribe Joe Abercrombie. My own opinion, expressed a few times already therein, that while there is no point reinventing the wheel, a good book is its own justification. And a bad book, well...
Finally, speaking of Joe Abercrombie, here he is speaking to SFX. A sample, from his advice to writers: "The best thing I've found, if you're not writing anything good, is just to sit in front of it and write something bad. Put in some chair time. Then when you come back later in a better frame of mind, you may find some gems in the rubbish you produced. You may even find what you wrote isn't that bad, and with a bit of sharpening up you have pure gold...”
And look, here's another review comparing the series to Jim Butcher.
Media contacts, book reviewers, or bloggers interested in a meeting should contact her before August 6th to schedule a time. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: "Meet me at World Con." (Provide your cell phone number if possible so she can ensure you know the suite number before your appointment.)
"Batman can't really afford to lose. Losing means death—or at least not being able to be Batman anymore. But another benchmark is having enough skill and experience to defend himself without killing anyone. Because that's part of his credo. It would be much easier to fight somebody if you could incapacitate them with extreme force. Punching somebody in the throat could be a lethal blow. That's pretty easy to do. But if you're thinking about something that doesn't result in lethal force, that's more tricky. It's really hard for people to get their heads around, I think. To be that good, to not actually lethally injure anyone, requires an extremely high level of skill that would take maybe 15 to 18 years to accumulate."
He goes on to talk about the "reality-based training" that police officers undergo, because, "It takes years and years and years and years to have the poise to be able to perform when somebody is attacking you for real."
As interesting as the article are some of the comments, which take issue with his 2 - 3 year period for how long someone could maintain as Batman before they wore down, and another broader debate on whether "fluff" articles like this help or hurt the cause of science.
The Daily Dream is an LJ community created with the intention of capturing a
snapshot of the world's unconscious musings--all its anxieties and desires,
and all that is just plain meaningless as well. Or is it?
Members post their dreams every morning, or whenever they wake up, in simple
one-sentence summaries. Whatever captures the mood and the message, with as
few clauses as possible. Slowly, we hope, a bigger picture will emerge.
If you're interested in being part of this project, feel free to join up and
begin posting your own dreams. All are welcome. There's no charge.
Tell your friends.
Who knows what currents flow at these depths, and what they might bring to
The end of the 1960s was characterized by hippy and peace movements, free love, and racial and class struggles. I can see something of that in this book. I know that it ends with a Bible verse and certainly has a title with certain connotations, but reading this I was reminded of something out of Dante or of Joseph Heller's Catch-22 when Yossarian is entering Rome through successively alienated images and events. There was something of magical realism in this novel also, which is well suited to science fiction. Was it challenging to portray an alien Earth so far into the unforeseeable future?
Mr. Silverberg: It’s always a challenge to invent a far-future world. But this was a challenge I was glad to accept, because it allowed me such freedom of invention.
Was there a pattern in your conceptions about how humanity, or any other species for that matter, would evolve? Where did your chief inspirations come from?
Mr. Silverberg: I had no pattern in mind in the evolutionary conceptions. The book was intended as a dreamlike vision, a surreal portrait of the future, not as a scientific text. One of my chief inspirations was a book called A Voyage to Arcturusby David Lindsay, which has some of the same emphasis on color and free imagination. But mainly the imagery came from my own dreams. I found that I was actually dreaming scenes from the book each night; I jotted them down when I awoke and wrote them later in the day.
People have always been intrigued by the fact that man seems to be the only thinking, sentient creature in the universe. However, in the distant future of Son of Man, mankind shares its sentience with seemingly innumerous different creatures. I took this to be the quality of humanity shared by everyone. In many ways, this seems like part of an ideal vision for Earth. Do you think this is a possible concept, evolutionarily speaking, or was it merely a vehicle of symbolism?
Mr. Silverberg: Most of those creatures are, in the novel, described as direct descendants of man – our gene pool undergoing vast diversion over the eons to come. My intentions were literary, but I also think it’s a very possible concept: despite today’s current anti-scientific attitudes toward genetic manipulation, we are destined to see such vast changes in the physical form of the human race in the next five thousand years (let alone a couple of billlion!) that we would not be able to recognize our descendants as human.
Sex is still of some importance, mentally, emotionally, and symbolically in this future world. But there are exceedingly few instances of procreation; I recall the young of the ferret creature in the wild part of the underground city. The Skimmers, Interceders, Eaters, and so forth, all seem immortal (or at least capable of living long past our concepts of mortality). Is procreation something that has been lost by the sons of men?
Mr. Silverberg: Some sort of reproduction is probably still going on, since even long-lived people like those in my book are not truly immortal. But the normal life-span has become so long that procreation is minimal, just enough to continue the species.
The descriptions were exceedingly beautiful. In many places, you captured the tragedy of loss. I am thinking of the moments when Clay is mourning the triumphs of his species and how utterly they have vanished with time. Are these the things that you, as an accomplished author, feel are mankind's greatest achievements?
Mr. Silverberg: Yes.
You have a long and illustrious career. Has the process and subject matter of writing changed for you over the years? Have your interests changed?
Mr. Silverberg: Not as much as one might think. The process of writing became much slower for me as the years went along, but my interests remain quite consistent.
Is there anything new coming up that we should look for on bookshelves soon?
Mr. Silverberg: I haven’t written a new novel in some years. I do have a pair of short stories coming up in anthologies edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.
John Picacio produced the cover artwork for this Pyr edition of Son of Man. We thought it suited the book well. How do you like it?
Mr. Silverberg: Very handsome. He’s a splendid artist.
I have heard many people say we are living in a strange age now. Son of Man is as relevant as ever for this reason. Do you have any words of wisdom to impart to sci-fi readers at this point in time?
Mr. Silverberg: No. Whatever wisdom I have available is to be found in my novels.
Thank you so much for participating in this interview, Mr. Silverberg! We appreciate the wonderful insight into the writer's mind.
For more information on Robert Silverberg and this book, Son of Man, visit the Pyr page. Interview conducted by Jacinta Meyers.
She says: "I read fiction addictively to get as far out of this flat and blighted 'real world' as I can. When a friend recommended Ian McDonald's River of Gods, I was dubious; 600 pages, including a glossary of Hindi terms? But it worked... There aren't many literary sci-fi thrillers that deliver a mind-expanding metaphysical punch, and this one ended all too soon. But in the afterglow of McDonald's lushly blooming imagination, even the real world is looking better."
This forthcoming World Science Fiction Convention, on Friday night, August 8th, from 8pm to 11pm, at the Sheraton Denver Hotel ...
We will be hosting a Pyr Party in specific honor of Ian McDonald's Best Novel Hugo nomination for Brasyl,and in general for all of our authors and readers and friends. And you are all invited!
I say "we" are hosting because my Director of Publicity, Jill Maxick, will be making her first ever convention appearance at this time. (The first official visit from anyone else at my company, though Editorial Assistant Jacinta Meyers did visit Prometheus-local EerieCon last April and wrote up this excellent report.)
Jill will be coming in Friday to help set up for and host the party, and she'll be staying through Sunday morning so that she can attend the Hugo ceremonies as well. (This means that she'll be available all day Saturday if any of the authors, reviewers, critics, bloggers etc... that she deals with would like to take a meeting. Please do! I want it to be worth her time so she'll come again.)
Naturally, the hotel is unable to give me a suite number until check in that Friday morning, but fortunately the Pyr Books Presentation will be held at 5:30 PM that Friday afternoon - so I'll be able to announce the room number to everyone there. And, the Sheraton being the only party hotel, it shouldn't be too hard to find this and every other party, as per always, right? If not, just look for the bald guy running around doing 1,000 different things and ask him where the party is going to be.
Great advice in both interviews, and I'm down with all of it. Some of my favorite bits:
SFX: So what's the most powerful lesson you've learned about the writing business in the time that you've been working in it?
Spanton: "Being good isn't good enough - you have to be excellent or at the very least good and very different. The hardest rejections are when you are so close to being publishable you can smell it, but you have yet to take that final step. And the step you need to take may very well be different for each and every editor you send your work to."
SFX: What's the biggest mistake that inexperienced writers make when trying to get into the SF scene?
Fletcher: "Not reading enough, either in the genre or outside. If you don’t know what’s gone before, you don’t know what’s really an original idea. If you’ve not read much SF, you might think building an elevator to the moon is the coolest idea ever – and not realise that one of the world’s most successful SF writers ever had that particular idea 30 years ago – Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise was published in 1979... and Charles Sheffield's first novel, The Web Between the Worlds, also published in 1979, features the building of a space elevator. Robert A Heinlein's novel Friday, published in 1982, has a space-elevator type construct, the Nairobi Beanstalk, Larry Niven’s Rainbow Mars, a few years later, has a Hanging Tree, an organic Skyhook. So it doesn’t mean you can’t use that idea, but you do need to use it originally – and even if you’ve never read Fountains of Paradise, for example, you can bet your bottom dollar that a great many of your potential readers will have, and may well think you’re ripping off a master, even if you’re doing it unknowingly."
SFX: Should an author be encouraged to write what they love, or what sells? Fantasy does well at the moment, so does that mean an aspiring author should keep his nose out of hard SF?
Redfearn: "Write what you love. If you don't love it, why should anyone else?"
Well worth checking out. Meanwhile, here's an excerpt, apropos in light of my earlier post on conflating an author with his/her protagonist:
Update 7/09/08: John Joseph Adams conducts another interview with Edelman over on the SciFi Channel's Sci Fi Wire:
The political factions in the Jump 225 trilogy are divided between governmentalists and libertarians. If you were a character in the books, which would you be?
A lot of people who’ve read Infoquake assumed that my sympathies lie with the libertarians, because that’s where Natch’s sympathy lies. But I’m definitely more conflicted in my politics. I like to pick and choose among the different parties and philosophies. I have some definite liberal tendencies but a number of conservative ones as well.
You’ll discover in MultiReal that the political situation is much more nuanced than Natch makes it out to be in Infoquake. The central government, which really seems like the epitome of evil in Infoquake, is a conflicted organization itself with some do-gooders working in the fringes. And the libertarians are full of self-interested schemers who’ll stab you in the back.
"In Infoquake, our hero, Natch, managed to connive his way into co-owning this mysterious new technology called MultiReal. Now, in the sequel, this all-powerful government agency called the Defense and Wellness Council decides that MultiReal is too dangerous to be left to an unscrupulous businessman, so they come after him with both barrels."
- Ian McDonald's Brasylcame in 4th for Best Novel with 204 votes (75 of which were first place votes)
- Fast Forward 1came in 9th for Best Anthology with 87 votes (30 of which were first place votes)
- Yours Truly also came in 9th for Best Editor with 88 votes (41 of which were first place votes)
- Pyr came in 10th for Best Publisher/Imprint with 104 votes (25 of which were first place votes)
"As SF, it's a brilliant imagining of a near-future that not only extrapolates convincingly from current technology and culture but fills in the gaps with world-building so detailed as to verge on the tedious."
"Others have imagined a future in which nano-machines have colonized the human body, ...but few have done so as convincingly as Edelman does in these books."
'Others have also focused on the business side of SF, ...but I've never encountered an SF writer whose focus is so relentlessly on the nuts and bolts of the entrepreneurial world, from the boardroom to the factory to the sales office, and who—pontification aside—can make the minutiae of that world seem as exciting and dangerous as a military operation."
But the reviewer does seem to have tripped up on the idea that because Dave's character Natch is the protagonist that he is being held up as a laudable individual. As witness:
"I have no doubt that others will be enamored of a novel in which the main character is frequently referred to as 'the entrepreneur,' as if there were no higher accolade available, and no one else worthy to bear it. Whenever I came across this descriptor, I simply replaced it with 'the demigod' and read on."
Mind you, I'm not arguing with the review - because it's always a bad idea to contest someone else's subjective opinion - and I'm plenty happy with the quotables above. I'm just interested in the notion of protagonist as role model because a few other people came away with similar sentiments from the first book. (I myself worked for someone very much like Natch once upon a time, and so had no trouble recognizing exactly what he was.) But I find myself wondering why we seem to have such a hard time with flawed protagonists in SF. Our sister genre, mystery, is practically built on the adventures of broken human beings you might want on your case but wouldn't necessarily enjoy having a beer with, loaning money to, or dating.
Anyway, I find this amusing, given that Dave himself just compared Natch to Adolph Hitler here in his post on John Scalzi's Whatever blog author spotlight, The Big Idea.
"The sword & sorcery trilogy that began with The Blade Itself (2007) and Before They Are Hanged (2008) comes to a violent, sardonic and brilliant conclusion. ... All these people are believable, especially as they dabble in grimly convincing magic and struggle to hear their consciences through the roar of carnage and betrayal. Abercrombie is a fresh new talent, presenting a dark view of life with wit and zest, and readers will mourn the end of this vivid story arc."
Two-time British Fantasy Award-winning author Mark Chadbourn has signed a six-book deal with US publisher Pyr.
The highly-acclaimed SF and fantasy imprint will publish the first of Chadbourn’s epic Elizabethan fantasy sequence, The Swords of Albion, in Fall 2009, with books two and three in subsequent years.
Pyr has also acquired the rights to Chadbourn’s British Fantasy Award-nominated Age of Misrule sequence, described as “One part Lord of the Rings, one part Illuminatus!, one part Arthurian romance – 100% original!” The three books—World’s End, Darkest Hour and Always Forever—will be published in Spring/Summer 2009.
Chadbourn says: “I’m very excited to be working with Pyr on the launch of The Swords of Albion and the US debut of Age of Misrule. Pyr has a dynamic, cool and smart approach to the genre, which, of course, is an excellent fit for my writing!”
Pyr Editorial Director Lou Anders says: “Mark is a brilliant writer — who not only has a tremendous imagination but manages to marry his vision to a very readable, accessible and fast-paced style. It's amazing to me it's taken this long to get him to America, but between these six books and the epic fantasy trilogy that Solaris recently acquired (Click HERE for the Solaris deal details), that egregious oversight is about to be resoundingly corrected.”
The Swords of Albion, which will be published in the UK and Commonwealth by Transworld—Mark just signed the deal with the UK publisher yesterday, June 30th—follows Elizabethan England’s greatest spy:
Meet Will Swyfte—adventurer, swordsman, rake, swashbuckler, wit, scholar and the greatest of Walsingham’s new band of spies. His exploits against the forces of Philip of Spain have made him a national hero, lauded from Carlisle to Kent. Yet his associates can barely disguise their incredulity. What is the point of a spy whose face and name is known across Europe?
But Swyfte’s public image is a carefully-crafted façade to give the people of England something to believe in, and to allow them to sleep peacefully at night. It deflects attention from his real work and the true reason why Walsingham’s spy network was established.
A Cold War seethes, and England remains under a state of threat. The forces of Faerie have been preying on humanity for millennia. Responsible for our myths and legends, of gods and fairies, dragons, griffins, devils, imps and every other supernatural menace that has haunted our dreams, this power in the darkness has seen humans as playthings to be tormented, hunted or eradicated.
But now England is fighting back!
Magical defences have been put in place by the Queen’s sorcerer Dr John Dee, who is also a senior member of Walsingham’s secret service and provides many of the bizarre gadgets utilised by the spies. Finally there is a balance of power. But the Cold War is threatening to turn hot at any moment…
Will now plays a constant game of deceit and death, holding back the Enemy’s repeated incursions, dealing in a shadowy world of plots and counter-plots, deceptions, secrets, murder, where no one—and no thing—is quite what it seems.
The entire world is the battleground: from Russia, across Europe, to the Caribbean and the New World. And while great events play out in the public eye, the true struggle takes place behind the scenes—the Spanish Armada, the Throckmorton Plot, the colonisation of the Americas, the Court intrigues, the battles in Ireland and against Spain, the death of Marlowe, the plagues, the art, the music, the piracy, the great discoveries…all are simply window-dressing as the great sweep of recorded history is peeled back to show the truth behind.
Lou Anders says of The Swords of Albion: “I first encountered Elizabethan Superspy Will Swyfte in the short story "Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast," originally published in The Solaris Book of New Fantasy (and subsequently selected for Hartwell and Cramer's Year's Best Fantasy), and fell in love at first read. I was weaned on Ian Fleming and Fritz Leiber, and this wonderfully fun character seemed to marry both these loves into one. I wrote Mark to ask if there were any more planned outings for Swyfte, and was thrilled to hear back within minutes that a proposal for a trilogy was going out the very next day. Naturally, I couldn't wait for the next day. Now, I can't wait for him to finish writing the first novel. And the second. And the third…”
The Age of Misrule deals with the return of the Celtic gods to modern day Britain and is steeped in the mysticism and mythology of the Isles with an edgy modern take—from Fabulous Beasts firebombing the rush hour-packed motorway outside London to the ancient secrets of Avebury stone circle.
Lou Anders says of The Age of Misrule: “Every once in a while you read a work that treats its subject so well you realize it's the last and final word on the topic. Like the way a certain Boy Wizard pretty much owns the school for magic space, and the idea of all of reality being a virtual illusion ends (for the foreseeable future) with the film The Matrix. That's the sense I got reading the books of the Age of Misrule. Mark's rigorously-researched exploration of Britain's sacred sites reads with such authenticity that I can't imagine there being any other explanation. That it underpins a fantastic adventure story chocked full of great characters—a sort of modern day Lord of the Rings transposed onto contemporary Britain—makes for a simply irresistible combination. I can't wait to spring it on unsuspecting Americans . . . they have no idea what's in store for them!”
Praise for Mark Chadbourn:
"A contemporary bard, a post-industrial Taliesin whose visionary novels are crammed with remixed mythologies, oneiric set-pieces, potent symbols, unsettling imagery and an engaging fusion of genre elements. His work is distinguished by breakneck but brilliantly controlled plots, meticulous research, deft characterisation and a crisp, accessible prose style" ~ Zone-SF.com
"Reminiscent of Alan Garner (the highest compliment I can pay to someone working in this mythic mode)." ~ SFSite.com