Falling Sky

4/29/10

One month left to enter the Pyr and Dragons Adventure Contest!

Win a trip to Dragon*Con including dinner with special Pyr author guests and Lou Anders! Win a complete set of Pyr books published to date! Win a commemorative Pyr 5th anniversary keepsake! How? Submit a short essay on the theme: Five reasons why science fiction and fantasy is important to you. Contest description here; Complete rules here. All eligible essays must be received by June 1, 2010.

4/26/10

Good Morning America

Lou has been asking me to contribute to this blog for a while, and my only excuse for leaving it this long was, well, I was writing, you know. It's amazing how much of a conveyor belt everything becomes, when you're dealing with initial edits on one volume and the proofs of the previous one and the day job, and family, and, somehow at the same time as all of this, actually squeaking the time to write some new stuff as well. Yes, day job. It would be lovely to swan about wearing a beret and drinking absinthe all day like a proper artistic type, but some of us have mortgages.

Where was I? America. It's fantastic to finally (read: two months ago) hit US shores, and feedback from Lou suggests the books are meeting a positive reception. I got The Talk from my agent, when the deal with Pyr came through, about just how hard it is to predict what will and what won't cross the Atlantic well, but Shadows of the Apt seems to have made the crossing intact. There's an alarming about of feedback that seems to run "I really liked it despite the whole insect business," which I've not run into in the UK, but then again you have more (indeed some) dangerous spiders. Perhaps that's it. Me? I love insects, spiders and the whole of the rest of it. I envy you your dangerous spiders.

I also want to say, before the glass runs down and I have to rush off to fiddle with the mid-section of book 7 (whatever we'll end up calling that one) that John Sullivan has done absolute wonders with the US edition covers. I love them all, but especially the US Blood of the Mantis, which I think is due out in May. Jon's also a joy to work with because he will ask questions to make sure he gets the covers right, and we had quite a lot of back and forth on that one, so it's good to see it paid off in spades.

A Magical Mission Impossible

 
If 2009’s Midwinter was the Dirty Dozen in Elfland, this thrilling sequel is Magical Mission Impossible. Former lothario Silverdun becomes a priest, but finds himself bored. When his government recruits him as a spy, he takes the offer and is shocked when they demand he learn extraordinary physical and magical skills... Standard spy tropes—training sequences, double agents, betrayals from within—take on new life when melded with high fantasy, and Sturges has an easy ear for dialogue and character. Silverdun’s backstory is nicely fleshed out in the process, though fans of the first book should be warned that the other characters appear briefly or not at all.


4/23/10

My Life in eBooks

I read my first ebook in 1990. It was William Gibson's Count Zero, and I read it on Apple's Hypercard stacks program. I loved the experience, particularly being able to highlight a character's name and call up every occurrence of that character in the text. Hypercard didn't last, but I was hooked. I could see the future.

In 2000, I worked in a dot com start up called Bookface.com, long vanished now, but one of the first to be taken seriously in the ebook space. (First to market, first to, well you know...). While working at the company, where I read Michael Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Daughter in our proprietary browser-format, I found that reading online books radically increased my own purchase of physical books. This trend continues...

For the last year, I've been doing all my manuscript submission reading on Stanza for iPhone, and have recently been editing on it as well (most recently The Dervish House and The Goblin Corps). Now I've gotten an iPad, and I've started reading manuscripts in iBooks (using Stanza Desktop's "Save as ePub" feature to convert Word docs, which are then easy to upload to iTunes with a simple click of the "add to Library" menu button.)

I've learned that I can walk and read, and, in fact, walking and reading cuts down on all the distractions offered by the Glorious Desktop Screen, so I'm reading on Stanza for iPhone in the morning, and in iBooks on iPad in the afternoon in Starbucks. (I walked 11 hours over the last four days, by the way. Drunk a lot of coffee too.)

I've purchased books for the Kindle app, the Barnes & Noble eReader app, and the iBook app. And I've downloaded quite a few free ones. I don't own a Kindle or Nook, but I have played on the former briefly and borrowed the latter for a few days from my father - before it froze up on him and he returned it!  Yesterday, I finished reading Fritz Leiber's Swords & Deviltry on the B&N eReader on my iPhone, and I completed a 10 day long (chapter a day) read of Winnie the Pooh to my son on iPad.

So here's my thoughts on eReaders, with the caveat that my needs are fairly specific, given that I read more manuscripts than finished books, and YMMV.

First in general, I really don't like e-ink, which looks to me like reading off a digital watch. I do my pleasure reading in bed, from 6 to 6:35 am while my wife sleeps, and I need the back-lighting. And I like color. And I just much prefer the screen on my phone to the screen on either the Kindle or Nook.

When reading documents on the iPhone, Stanza is far and away the best reader, given how easy it is to upload, how easy it is to cut-and-email paragraphs (to authors, with notes) and also the general user-friendly and aesthetic experience of the reader itself. Because it's such a versatile device, it loses some formatting, particularly italics, so it's not my ideal reading device for commercially-available books, just manuscripts. The Kindle app, by contrast, is a much less comfortable reading experience. I've noticed weird kerning and leading between words in the way text is displayed, and I just don't find it comfortable on the eyes. So for commercially-available books, I use the B&N eReader software. It was the most comfortable read, the best display, in many ways, the most like Stanza actually. My only complaint is the number of books they offer that are currently missing their covers, and the inability to customize your ebooks by manually adding the cover you want back in (as you can with Stanza).

When reading on the iPad, iBooks is hands down the best experience. Now, it should be said, neither Stanza nor B&N has come out with an iPad-optimized version of their respective reader, though it is expected both will appear in May. By that time, however, I may be completely hooked on iBooks.

However, it should be said that Kindle for iPad is gorgeous, much much better than Kindle for iPhone, or really, the actual Kindle itself. And, while you cannot purchase magazines for your Kindle for iPhone ap, Apple has very wisely chosen to treat the Kindle for iPad like another form of Kindle, and you can read magazines on it. I downloaded samples of Asimov's and Realms of Fantasy, and was impressed with the display. I've yet to read a whole book on the Kindle for iPad app, but plan to soon (most likely starting with Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, since I already own it in this format as well as hardcover -- see prior comment about ebooks/physical books.) I expect I could be reading magazines on the Kindle app soon too.

Where iBooks scores over all of them is the ability to upload your existing ePub files into iTunes with a click, which is as simple and elegant as adding MP3s to iTunes has trained us to expect. And in its display. I would have thought two weeks ago that I wouldn't have cared less about replicating the look of a book turning pages, but I have to say it made reading Winnie the Pooh to my son, who thrilled at watching the pages flip under his finger. Also, the artwork in the book, essential for children's books of this age range, looked fantastic. The artwork in Kindle books, by contrast, looks much much better on the iPad than on the iPhone, but still has a box of contrast around it (the white of the illustration background against the white of their page). I have Elric: Stealer of Souls in Kindle format, though, and I must say that Picacio's artwork looks amazing. So I am nitpicking, as the Kindle books I've sampled on the iPad all look great and Kindle for iPad is a very close second to iBooks. And, of course, you cannot beat Kindle for availability of titles, which is key.

What I'd like to see from iBooks soon is the ability to annotate the text and export the annotations. As it is, you can already copy selections of text and then close out of the application and paste them into emails, which makes it fine for manuscripts requiring a light edit, but not great for ones requiring a heavy one. (For those, I'd use the Pages app, except that it is wonderful in all respects but one: it lacks a Track Changes feature, making it useless for editing!!!) I'd also like to see an iPhone version of iBooks, but since we are reportedly seeing that come the next OS update this summer, I'm happy.

In summary, I wish I could come down to just one app on one device, but I figure I'm going to end up using multiple apps on two devices, both with an i at the start of their names. I expect that for manuscripts I'll continue using Stanza for iPhone when I need to be at my most mobile, iBooks for iPad otherwise, and that for my own ebook purchases I'll probably stick to iBooks (whose selection isn't yet where it needs to be), with occasional purchases from B&N. I would have already purchased Swords & Death from them, if their eReader were optimized for the iPad. As it is, I'm waiting.

But I cannot see purchasing a Kindle or a Nook when you can purchase an iPad and have the option of all three reading platforms in one device, that also surfs the web, does email, plays games, streams movies, etc...

So, screw all those cliched complaints about "Where's my Flying Car?" - this is the future world I've personally been waiting on since 1990. I might even have to go full circle and reread Count Zero.

4/20/10

2010 Locus Awards Finalists

The 2010 Locus Awards Finalists have been announced, and we are thrilled and honored to see that Pyr has made the ballot three times. Ian McDonald's "Vishnu at the Cat Circus" is on the shortlist for Best Novella, whereas the book it comes from, Cyberabad Days, is up for Best Collection. Meanwhile, Pyr itself breaks into the top five for Best Publisher.

Huge congratulations to all the nominees. Winners will be presented during the Science Fiction Awards Weekend in Seattle WA, June 25-27, 2010.

4/14/10

Praise for Geosynchron and the Jump 225 Trilogy

With Geosynchron out now, and io9 selecting Infoquake for their Book of the Month Club discussion, now is a good time to look at some recent praise for Geosynchron and the series it completes:

“The Jump 225 trilogy could well be the best science fiction series of the new millennium. David Louis Edelman deserves his place among the most talented sci-fi authors in the field today. Highly recommended.” Pat's Fantasy Hotlist

“This smart, idiosyncratic blend of cyberpunk, libertarian entrepreneurship, and social engineering will, I think, stand as a seminal work of 21st century SF.” Locus

“Takes the series one level higher, beyond mundanity to true sense-of-wonder SF, so it finally plays on the level of the masters of modern SF… An A+ and so far the best core-SF novel I’ve read in 2010.” Fantasy Book Critic

“The Jump 225 trilogy is a must-read, an instant classic and a work of SF that will help define this first decade of the 21st century, and could cast a long shadow for many years to come.” SFFWorld

Geosynchron is an engaging conclusion to a thrilling, thought-provoking saga.” io9

4/13/10

For Your Viewing Pleasure: Shadow's Son

Shadow's Son © Jon Sprunk
Cover Illustration © Michael Komarck
Design by Nicole Sommer-Lecht


In the holy city of Othir, treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, just the place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and few scruples.

Caim makes his living on the edge of a blade, but when a routine job goes south, he is thrust into the middle of an insidious plot. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers, and sorcery from the Other Side, his only allies are Josephine, the socialite daughter of his last victim, and Kit, a guardian spirit no one else can see. But in this fight for his life, Caim only trusts his knives and his instincts, but they won't be enough when his quest for justice leads him from Othir's hazardous back alleys to its shining corridors of power. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow's Son....  

Coming in June!

4/8/10

For Your Viewing Pleasure: The Office of Shadow

The Office of Shadow © Matthew Sturges
Cover Illustration © Chris McGrath
Design by Grace M. Conti-Zilsberger


Midwinter has gone, but that cold season has been replaced by a cold war in the world of Faerie, and this new kind of war requires a new kind of warrior.

Seelie forces drove back Empress Mab at the Battle of Sylvan, but hostilities could resume at any moment. Mab has developed a devastating new weapon capable of destroying an entire city, and the Seelie have no defense against it. If war comes, they will almost certainly be defeated.

In response, the Seelie reconstitutes a secret division of the Foreign Ministry, unofficially dubbed the "Office of Shadow," imbuing it with powers and discretion once considered unthinkable. They are a group of covert operatives given the tasks that can't be done in the light of day: secretly stealing the plans for Mab's new weapon, creating unrest in the Unseelie Empire, and doing whatever is necessary to prevent an unwinnable war.

The new leader of the "Shadows" is Silverdun. He's the nobleman who fought alongside Mauritane at Sylvan and who helped complete a critical mission for the Seelie Queen Titania. His operatives include a beautiful but naïve sorceress who possesses awesome powers that she must restrain in order to survive and a soldier turned scholar whose research into new ways of magic could save the world, or end it.

They'll do whatever is required to prevent a total war: make a dangerous foray into a hostile land to retrieve the plans for Mab's weapon; blackmail a king into revolting against the Unseelie Empire; journey into the space between space to uncover a closely guarded secret with the power to destroy worlds.
Coming in June!

New novel contest!

Hey, folks. Your Friendly Neighborhood Upcoming Pyr Author is back.

I'm holing another contest. You can win a signed copy of one--or possibly more--of my novels, potentially including The Goblin Corps, the first of my upcoming novels from Pyr. Click here for details.

4/6/10

For Your Viewing Pleasure: The Queen of Sinister

Cover Illustration © John Picacio

After the Age of Misrule comes the Dark Age! 

A new Dark Age has falled across Britain. With the sudden return of magic, our modern, technological society has crumbled. Cities lie in ruins, communications are limited. Gods and monsters walk the land. In this new time, myth and legend has become realtity; nothing is quite as it seems.

The plague came without warning. Nothing could stop its progress: not medicines, not prayer. The first sign of the disease is black spots at the base of the fingers; an agonizing death quickly follows. But this is no ordinary disease....

Caitlin Shepherd, a lowly GP, is allowed to cross the veil into the mystical Celtic Otherworld in search of a cure; her search takes her on a quest to the end of a land of dreams and nightmares to petition the gods. Caitlin is humanity's last hope, but she carries a terrible burden: a consciousness shattered into five distinct personalities ... and one of them may not be human. The Queen of Sinister is the latest installment in Mark Chadbourn's brilliant new sequence: exciting, evocative, terrifying, and awe inspiring. 

Coming in June!

4/5/10

Pyr Announces Four Award Nominations, Citations and Wins

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 5, 2010

Contact: Jill Maxick, 800-853-7545
jmaxick@prometheusbooks.com


Pyr Announces Four Award Nominations, Citations and Wins
Author Ian McDonald, Editor Lou Anders, and Artist Stephan Martiniere Recognized

Amherst, NY -- Pyr, a science fiction and fantasy imprint of Prometheus Books, is proud to announce two Hugo Award nominations and to congratulate Pyr author Ian McDonald on accolades for his books Cyberabad Days and Desolation Road.

The 2010 Hugo Award ballot was announced yesterday, Easter Sunday, at Odyssey 2010, this year’s Eastercon. We are thrilled to celebrate our two nominees:

· Pyr Editorial Director Lou Anders, nominated for the fourth consecutive year in the “Best Editor - Long Form” category.
· Ian McDonald's “Vishnu at the Cat Circus” from Cyberabad Days, nominated in the “Best Novella” category.

The Hugos are international, fan-voted awards. All members of the World Science Fiction Society are eligible to vote. The Hugo Awards Ceremony will be held at this year’s World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), ‘Aussiecon 4’ in Melbourne, Australia on September 5, 2010.

McDonald’s original novella “Vishnu at the Cat Circus”--which closes out the Cyberabad Days collection and serves as a sequel to River of Gods--will be included in the Twenty-Seventh Annual Edition of Gardner Dozois' The Year's Best Science Fiction.

Lou Anders says, “I’m enormously honored to be nominated in the ‘Best Editor - Long Form’ category for the fourth year in a row. I'm equally, if not more gratified, to see Ian McDonald in the ‘Best Novella’ category. Ian is one of science fiction's premiere authors and he is at the top of his game.”

Anders’ fourth consecutive Hugo Award nomination coincides with Pyr’s fifth anniversary celebration.

“We're extremely pleased and grateful for the tremendous reception Pyr has received,” says Prometheus Books President Jonathan Kurtz. “The taste, vision, and stewardship of Editorial Director Lou Anders has been instrumental in shaping the brand since March 2005.”

In related news, Ian McDonald's Cyberabad Days was given a 2010 Philip K. Dick Award Special citation. The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States.

Additionally, cover artist Stephan Martiniere has won the British Science Fiction Association Award for “Best Artwork” for the cover of Desolation Road by Ian McDonald.

Pyr has published six books by Ian McDonald: River of Gods; Brasyl; Desolation Road; Cyberabad Days; Ares Express and The Dervish House (forthcoming in July 2010).


# # #

4/3/10

Ian McDonald's Cyberabad Days wins 2010 Philip K. Dick Award Special Citation

Ian McDonald's Cyberabad Days has won the Special Citation from the 2010 Philip K. Dick Awards, presented Friday night at Norwescon 22 in SeaTac, Washington. Huge congratulations to Ian, and to PKD Award winner C. L. Anderson, whose Bitter Angels won the award. From the official press release:

2010 Philip K. Dick Award Winner Announced
It was announced on Friday, April 2, at Norwescon 33, in SeaTac, Washington, that the winner for the distinguished original science fiction paperback published for the first time during 2009 in the U.S.A. is:

            BITTER ANGELS by C. L. Anderson (Ballantine Books Spectra)

Special citation was given to:

            CYBERABAD DAYS by Ian McDonald (Pyr)
The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States.  The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and the award ceremony is sponsored by the NorthWest Science Fiction Society.  The 2009 award was given to EMISSARIES OF THE DEAD by Adam-Troy Castro (Eos) in a tie with TERMINAL MIND by David Walton (Meadowhawk Press).  The 2009 judges were Daniel Abraham (chair), Eileen Gunn, Karen Hellekson, Elaine Isaak, and Marc Laidlaw.

This year’s judges are William Barton, Andy Duncan, Bruce McAllister, Melinda M. Snodgrass, and David Walton.


For more information, contact the award administration:
                                                            David G. Hartwell (914) 769-5545.
                                                            Gordon Van Gelder (201) 876-2551

For more information about the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, http://www.psfs.org/:
                                                                        Contact Gary Feldbaum (215) 665-5752

For more information about the Philip K. Dick Trust: www.philipkdick.com

For more information about Norwescon:  http://www.norwescon.org/:
                                                                        Contact NorthWest SF Society: (425) 686-9737

4/1/10

A foray into YA and contest entries now accepted!

Just yesterday, Pyr decided to acquire our first Young Adult title, Ari Marmell's Household Gods. It's premature to say whether or not Pyr will go on to create an entire YA line within our imprint, but every time we expand the brand into new terrain (steampunk, mass market paperback, etc.) it's exciting, especially this year as we are celebrating our 5th anniversary and are so proud of Pyr's continued growth and development.

Speaking of Pyr's 5th anniversary, today is the first day of accepting submissions to our Pyr and Dragons Adventure essay contest! Eligible essays are welcome from now to June 1, 2010, but be sure to follow ALL rules and requirements. Check here and here before entering.