Science fiction and fantasy

A Rising Tide Floats All Boats

30th July 2012

Musings and rants

La Revolution: A Series For Our Time
In the television series La Revolution, French aristocrats are afflicted by a mysterious disease, whilst peasants go missing in suspicious circumstances.

Pandemic Reading
As the Covid pandemic rages, it has affected the way we read in a number of ways.

Reading Resolutions For The New Decade
Here are seven reading resolutions suitable for the 2020s.

Mastodon For SFF Fans
Where to go in the Fediverse to find the best speculative fiction and literary discussions.

Nine Political Books That Change The Conversation
Following news that Simon and Schuster plan to publish an inflammatory commentator, here are nine political books that deserve more attention.

Penguin Random House Withdraws Union Recognition
Penguin Random House have decided not to recognise Unite and the NUJ as a result of staff negotiations, leaving the publisher with a stain on its reputation as an employer.

Authors Support Stop Funding Hate
Some authors have had enough of divisive and xenophobic elements in the British press, and are willing to make an ethical stand.

Women In SFF: Indie Edition
A list of indie and self-published women writing in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other speculative fiction genres.

Amazon Finally Makes KU Appealing For Novelists
The new per-page payout for the Kindle Unlimited subscription service makes it a much better deal for authors of longer novels.

Thoughts On The Sieghart Report On Libraries
The Sieghart report on libraries missed its mark by miles. Yet the real cause of the decline of the UK library network is depressingly obvious.

A Shout-Out For The Good Guys
When nastiness dominates online conversations about books it is time to appreciate the well-behaved authors.

Critique Circle: Shaping Fabulous Stories
The appeal of a certain writing critique website. Or, why I have neglected this blog.

Where Shall I Point This Pitchfork?
Some thoughts on Jonathan Ross, Loncon, and the twitchfork mob.

Reading Is Not A Race
Why I will be abandoning annual reading challenges in 2014.

What Book Discovery Is Missing
The current state of book discovery is narrowing our reading choices and squeezing out midlist writers. How can it be fixed?

50 Shades of this, 50 Shades of that. It seems like everywhere you look someone has an opinion on the bestselling book. If only someone had thought of writing erotica before 2012.

Of course they did, and Sylvia Day's Bared To You is creeping up the bestseller lists in 50 Shades' wake, as is Marina Anderson's Haven of Obedience. The whole erotica genre is enjoying a resurgence as readers finish E.L. James' trilogy and ask, "if I liked 50 Shades of Grey, what else will I like?"

This is great news for writers such as Laurell K. Hamilton, whose work steams like an orgy of kettles. But there's a lesson in here for anyone involved in publishing, I think.

Dragons, Magic and Swords, Oh, My!

Epic fantasy is hot with commissioning editors at the moment, according to this post at Pubrants. It seems that in the wake of A Game of Thrones and The Hobbit, people are starting to remember what they loved about the genre, and the search is on for the next big, sprawling, dragon-infested quest to save a world we'd never heard of and can't pronounce.

This news gratifies me no end. For one thing, I have my own epic fantasy novel, Melody of Demons, in submission. Moreover, if I read nothing for the next six months except books about elves, dungeons, high magic and weird places, I'd be in heaven. Or the Six Duchies, Rolencia, Cenaria, or even Villjamur. There's so much you can do with made-up worlds.

Also, it's about time someone made Robin Hobb's Farseer books into a movie. That would be awesome.

Leather Pants

So with all this evidence that one author's success breeds success for others in their genre, I really don't understand Stephen Leather's approach. There's a good round-up of the kerfuffle on Steve Mosby's blog. If you're not already familiar with it, Stephen Leather has been called out for sock puppetry and bullying tactics by Jeremy Duns, and in particular for writing scathing one-star reviews of the work of rival author Steve Roach.

The ethics of this tactic are pretty pathetic, that much is obvious. But what the buzz around 50 Shades and epic fantasy shows is that wantonly knocking fellow authors is also counter-productive.

I don't believe writers have to hold off from ever criticising each other's work, because that would stifle free speech and seem a bit phoney. But nor should they treat other writers as competition that must be sabotaged at every opportunity. Even for those who don't get caught (or admit to such behaviour at a packed crime festival), it's a waste of energy when being supportive and nurturing talent in your genre is so much more profitable.