The Geomancer


Dirty Hands and Invisible Words

I'm interviewed, along with 13 other editors, in a two-part article called “Dirty Hands and Invisible Words: Speculative Fiction Editors Speak Out” in Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 34, July 2009.

Here is a taste:

What is entailed in editing a book? Or, put differently, what exactly do you do as the editor?

Anders: This is a big question, particularly in my case as I am the "editorial director" of the Pyr line, a role that encompasses more than just acquisitions. In this regard, I read all manuscripts that come in, select the very small percentage of these that I am interested in acquiring, present them to my parent company for approval, negotiate with the agents or authors for the sale, work with the author on any structural changes or clarifications/improvements that need to be made to the manuscript, select and hire the cover artist, art direct the cover, oversee/approve the internal layout of the book that is laid out by typesetting, write the back cover copy (in conjunction with the author and an in-house editor), art direct our in-house design staff for the typography and layout of the book's jacket, advised marketing on how best to advertize it, work with publicity on same, assist in all the various outward focused efforts that require book descriptions, help compile comparative buys for online retailers, and serve as an advocate both inside and outside of the house for the book. Inside the house, because my parent company publishes 100 titles a year on average (out of which Pyr is about 30), I am the book's advocate to remind all the various departments what the book is about, why it is important, and how to market and package it. Outside, I maintain our newsletter, blog, Twitter and Facebook pages/accounts, and travel about once every other month to speak at conventions and libraries on our book line. I also get asked for interviews about once a week now (which I happily/gratefully agree to, thank you), and I scheme constantly about how to get books into readers hands. So, basically, I eat breath and sleep science fiction and fantasy, and it's not uncommon for me to wake up at 3 am with something in my head like "OMG, we need to put a map in the front of Joel Shepherd's latest fantasy novel. I better get on that ASAP" or "Have I checked in with Stephan Martiniere to make sure the cover for The Dervish House is on track?" or "Did we switch that author photo of Mike Resnick on the jacket flap out with the new one he prefers?" With all of that going on, actually sitting down with a red pen and a manuscript seems like a very tiny portion of the job description.
The whole interview was very enlightening (for me too!). The other twelve editors are:

Philip Athans has been a full-time staff editor at TSR, Inc. and Wizards of the Coast since 1995.

Victoria Blake is the publisher and founder of Underland Press, an independent specialty press.

Paula Guran is the editor of Juno Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books.

Gabrielle Harbowy is a freelance editor, and editor-in-charge at Dragon Moon Press.

James Lowder has worked as an editor for both large publishers and tiny independents, on projects that include New York Times bestselling shared world novels and small, critically acclaimed creator-owned titles.

John Jarrold has run three science fiction and fantasy imprints in the United Kingdom, worked as a freelance editor, and now runs the John Jarrold Literary Agency.

Susan J. Morris the Forgotten Realms® line editor at Wizards of the Coast.

Darren Nash is the editorial director at Orbit UK.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden edits books for Tor Books, among other publishers.

Chris Schluep is a Senior Editor at Ballantine/Villard/Del Rey.

Simon Spanton is the editorial director at Orion/Gollancz Books in the United Kingdom.

Deb Taber is the senior book editor of the Apex Book Company, an independent specialty press.

Jacob Weisman is the founding editor and publisher of Tachyon Publications, an independent specialty press.


8 More Pyr Titles Arrive on the Kindle

A batch of eight more Pyr books has been Kindle-ized (though one is only listed as pre-order. Didn't know they'd do that with ebooks.)

They are:

Justina Robson's Chasing the Dragon (Quantum Gravity, Book 4)(Preorder)

Sean Williams' The Crooked Letter: Books of the Cataclysm: One

Chris Roberson's End of the Century

Gardner Dozois' Galileo's Children: Tales Of Science VS. Superstition

Sean Williams' The Hanging Mountains

Alexis Glynn Latner's Hurricane Moon

Theodore Judson's The Martian General's Daughter

Matthew Sturges' Midwinter

Again, no control of the order in which Amazon puts these things up. It is apparently based at least partially on demand, as logged by their "I'd like to read this book on Kindle" button. Click often.


For Your Viewing Pleasure: The Quiet War Full Cover Spread

Coming in September...
Cover Illustration © Sparth
Design by Jacqueline Cooke

"Shortlisted for this year's Arthur C. Clarke Award, this sweeping interplanetary adventure is also a thoughtful examination of human nature. ...McAuley (Cowboy Angels) moves deftly among five well-drawn characters in the thick of the action: a cloned spy, a hotshot pilot, a ruthless scientist, a bluntly independent biological engineer and an unscrupulous diplomat. They all, in different ways, must choose between the familiar and the new, struggling to reconcile conflicting desires. This compelling tale opens vast panoramas while confronting believable people with significant choices." Publishers Weekly starred review


everything is here for a reason

Words of wisdom from James Enge:
In an imaginary world, everything is there for a reason. The reason may be sheer inertia--the ground is made of soil, because it didn't occur to the writer to make it anything else. But a shrewd writer doesn't make those choices via inertia. He makes the ground into an angry vegetable that devours random people at the dark of the twelfth moon. She makes it into a vast expanse of shining incorruptible metal. They make it into something on purpose, to make an impact on the reader. Stuff that in realistic fiction would be corny--instances of the pathetic fallacy--are part of the basic toolkit for shrewd writers of sf/f. The whole world can be a metaphor in imaginative fiction.

Or not. Part of the impact of the metaphor requires the writer to take the material in the imaginary world at face value, as real for the purposes of the story--like a comedian keeping a straight face while telling a joke. I'll sleep on this and try to figure out if it makes any sense.


James Enge @ Joe Mallozzi's blog

James Enge, author of Blood of Ambrose,is the latest writer to guest-blog at Stargate writer/producer Joseph Mallozzi's wonderful book club blog. Last night, Mallozzi posted the results of his readers Q&A with Enge. The answers (and the questions) are well worth checking out, as always.

Here's a sample:
Q: I liked the fact that you chose to reveal back-story for these characters and their world throughout the book rather than write a prologue to explain these things at the beginning. What went into this decision?”

A: About prologues… the more of them I read, the less I like them. I think some writers confuse the process they go through (in creating the world, the characters, the backstory) with the process the reader goes through. If the reader feels like he or she is reading “Report on Planet X” or “Fodor’s Guide to Middle Earth” then the writer has blown it somehow. A successful beginning is more like introducing two people. If you want Bob to meet Shlomo, you don’t start by reciting Shlomo’s educational background, vocational aptitudes and credit history. You say, “Bob: meet Shlomo. Which one of you is buying the next round?” (Or something like that. I’m still working on that whole social skills thing.)


James Enge @ Adventueres on SciFi Publishing

James Enge, author of Blood of Ambrose,is the latest guest on the newly-returned Adventures in SciFi Publishing podcast. They discuss "Leiber vs. Tolkien fantasy, massive fantasy epics, and his beef with H.G. Wells."

Host Shaun Farrell reviewed the novel back in June. His verdict then: "James Enge writes Blood of Ambrose with a subtle elegance that disguises his extraordinary narrative skill. The humor is natural and unforced. The characterization rings true, even under the revelation of shocking realities. The horror is never glorified, and it is all the more horrific for it. And the plot grows with organic grace. You won’t find any quests here, nor the usual clich├ęs or trappings of epic fantasy. No, these pages drip the unexpected, and they will make you laugh and scream and cry and thirst for more. Simple put, Blood of Ambrose is a powerful and fun stand alone novel."

Stalked by a Bibliophile

The wonderful Charles Tan has posted an interview with Yours Truly on Bibliophile Stalker. I think it came off rather well, if I do say so myself. Here's a taste:
How has Pyr adapted to the changes in the publishing industry?

More trade paperbacks, fewer hardcovers. We’re getting serious about ebooks.

But I want to give a shout out here to our Director of Publicity, Jill Maxick, who I think was somewhat ahead of the curve on reaching out to online communities and bloggers. These days, that’s a no brainer, but five years ago when we were just starting out, Jill launched us out of the gate with a heavy outreach to bloggers, and treated online review venues with every bit as much respect as traditional print venues. Again, these days, that’s not a big deal, but the climate was different in 2004, and she deserves massive credit for being one of the first to get it. And that was essential when it came to Pyr making the splash it did.


Blood of Ambrose - an excellently crafted tale

Monsters & Critics on James Enge's Blood of Ambrose:
"This excellently crafted tale tells a familiar story in a world filled with magic and all emotional turmoil of a terrified youngster struggling to gain acceptance. Divided into five main chapters, the world building is topnotch while centering on the four main characters. The emotions have a genuine feel and Lathmar’s angst draws sympathy without being overdone."


For Your Viewing Pleasure: A Revised Version of Tom Lloyd's The Grave Thief

Cover Illustration © Todd Lockwood
Design by Grace M. Conti-Zilsberger

We do listen to feedback.
A different crop of the art, a new type treatment, and voila!

And the full cover:

Blood of Ambrose @ Joe Mallozzi's Book Club Discussion

This week kicks of a discussion of James Enge's Blood of Ambroseat Joseph Mallozzi's Weblog.Joe kicks it off with his thoughts on the book.
"Enge’s prose is tight and efficient, devoid of the rambling, oft-unendurable meandering descriptive passages that typify the high-fantasy genre. The setting is rich in detail, a masterful creation of world building, while the magic system that runs through the narrative proves ferociously imaginative yet impressive in its consistency. The characters are interesting – particularly Ambrosia and Morlock – yet miss the depth that would have made them truly memorable....Still, a unique and entertaining read with plenty to recommend it in terms of the myriad of inspired elements on hand to facilitate and complicate: flesh golems, mechanical spiders, the living dead, inelegant leaping horses, sorcerers, and mazelike castle passageways to make Mervyn Peake envious. An impressive fantasy debut."
Joe ends the post by soliciting questions for the forthcoming Q&A with James.


Tolkien's Sigurd and Gudrun

How long is my Strange Horizons review of the latest posthumous Tolkien publication? Pretty long.

(Actually it's part of a larger, secret strategy of mine to question the assumptions of SF and F characterisation, which I take to be bound by 'a rather stiffly limitedly consecutive logic of human motivation.' We need a couple more SFF Hamlets, and a couple fewer SFF Luke Skywalkers and Sigurds. Or so I believe ...)


Things to Look Forward To For the Next Year

Because I've just compiled this for Locus, no reason not to share here. (When we get as far out as next summer, things might shift a little bit, might drop another title in, etc... but...)

August 2009:
Mike Resnick, Stalking the Dragon (A Fable of Tonight, 3) - trade paperback, comedic urban fantasy
Justina Robson, Chasing the Dragon (Quantum Gravity 4) - trade paperback, urban fantasy

September 2009:
Tom Lloyd, The Grave Thief (Twilight Reign 3)- trade paperback, epic fantasy
Paul McAuley, The Quiet War - trade paperback, science fiction
James Barclay, Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven 1) - trade paperback, epic fantasy

October 2009:
Joel Shepherd, Sasha (A Trial of Blood & Steel,1) - trade paperback, epic fantasy
James Enge, A Crooked Way (2 of 3) - trade paperback, fantasy/swords & sorcery
James Barclay, Noonshade (Chronicles of the Raven 2) - trade paperback, epic fantasy

November 2009:
Mark Chadbourn, The Silver Skull (,The Sword of Albion, 1) - trade paperback, historical fantasy
Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Diving into the Wreck - trade paperback, science fiction/space opera
James Barclay, Nightchild (Chronicles of the Raven 3) - trade paperback, epic fantasy

December 2009:
Mike Resnick, Starship: Flagship (Starship, 5) - hardcover, science fiction

January 2009:
Kay Kenyon, City Without End (Entire and the Rose, 3) - trade paperback, sci-fantasy
Kay Kenyon, Prince of Storms (Entire and the Rose, 4) – hardcover, sci-fantasy

February 2009:
David Louis Edelman, Geosynchron (Jump 225 Vol III) - trade paperback, science fiction

March 2010:
Joel Shepherd, Petrodor (A Trial of Blood & Steel, 2) - trade paperback, epic fantasy
Adrian Tchaikovsky, Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt 1) - trade paperback, epic fantasy

April 2010:
George Mann, Ghosts of Manhattan (1 of 2) - trade paperback, steampunk pulp/superhero adventure
Adrian Tchaikovsky, Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt 2) - trade paperback, epic fantasy

May 2010:
Mark Chadbourn, The Devil in Green (Dark Age Book 1) - trade paperback, urban fantasy
Adrian Tchaikovsky, Blood of the Mantis (Shadows of the Apt 3) - trade paperback, epic fantasy

June 2010:
Mark Chadbourn, The Queen of Sinister (Dark Age Book 2) - trade paperback, urban fantasy
Ian McDonald, The Dervish House - hardcover, science fiction
Matthew Sturges, The Office of Shadow - trade paperback, fantasy

July 2010:
Mark Chadbourn, The Hounds of Avalon (Dark Age Book 3) - trade paperback, urban fantasy

August 2010:
Kay Kenyon, Prince of Storms (The Entire and the Rose, 4) PB after hardcover, sci-fantasy
Jon Sprunk, Shadow’s Son (1 of 3) - trade paperback, fantasy



Gardner Dozois, in Locus July 2009:

"...although I like a well-crafted dystopian story as well as anyone else, the balance has swung too far in that direction, and nihilism, gloom, and black despair about the future have become so standard in the genre that it's almost become stylized, and almost default setting, with few writers bothering to try to imagine viable human futures that somebody might actually want to live in."



For Your Viewing Pleasure: Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven)

Dawnthief © James Barclay
Cover Illustration © Sam Hadley
Design by Nicole Sommer-Lecht

Coming September 2009:

"Action fantasy at its best. Dawnthief stays fresh, sparky and intelligent (enough) throughout. A great start to what I'm sure will be a memorable series." —SFX

The Raven: six men and an elf, sword for hire in the wars that have torn apart Balaia

For years their loyalty has been only to themselves and their code.

But, that time is over. The Wytch Lords have escaped and The Raven find themselves fighting for the Dark College of magic, searching for the location of Dawnthief. It is a spell created to end the world, and it must be cast if any of them are to survive.

Dawnthief is a fast paced epic about a band of all-too-human heroes.

Ian McDonald's brilliant Mars book, DESOLATION ROAD, finally back in print

Wonderful praise from Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing for Ian McDonald's Desolation Road. Doctorow calls it "one of my most personally influential novel" and compares the book to Kim Stanley Robinson's famous Mars trilogy, adding, "the two are very good companions, in that McDonald captures almost everything Robinson got (in a third of the number of pages), and adds the poetry and spirituality of Mars in the bargain."

He goes on to say that Desolation Road, "pays homage to David Byrne's Catherine Wheel, to Ray Bradbury's entire canon and to Jack Vance, blending all these disparate creators in a way that surprises, delights, then surprises and delights again. Spanning centuries, the book includes transcendent math, alternate realities, corporate dystopias, travelling carnivals, post-singularity godlike AIs, geoengineering, and mechanical hobos, each integral to the plot."



A World Too Near up for 2009 Endeavour Award

I am extremely pleased to report the news that Kay Kenyon's A World Too Nearis a finalist for the 2009 Endeavour Award!!

The winner will be announced at OryCon, which will be held in Portland November 27-29 (and at which Yours Truly will be attending as an Editor GoH). The winner will receive a grant of $1,000 and an engraved glass plaque.

The Endeavour Award honors a distinguished science fiction or fantasy book written by a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. The judges this year are: Joe Haldeman, John Helfers, and Sarah Zettel.

The other finalists are: Anathem by Neal Stephenson, Ill Met in the Arena by Dave Duncan, Long Walks, Last Flights and Other Stories by Ken Scholes, and Space Magic by David Levine.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Science Fiction is Dead! Long Live Science Fiction!

So writes Paul Goat Allen in Unabashedly Bookish, the B&N Book Club blog. He quotes Orson Scott Card as saying that science fiction is “no longer a cutting-edge genre – the edge is now in fantasy.” Then Goat praises Ken Scholes’ Psalms of Isaak saga as being "actually post-apocalyptic science fiction cloaked in grand-scale fantasy."

I'm not sure I'm onboard with Goat's position, though I agree with his conclusion, that, "the hybridization of genres that I blogged about a few months ago – It's the End of Genre Fiction As We Know It – and I Feel Fine – has affected science fiction just as noticeably as fantasy, mystery and romance. But it’s a good thing. It’s bringing the originality, the sense of wonder – and, most importantly, the readers – back to science fiction. Science Fiction is dead. Long live Science Fiction!"