Brian Ruckley's News & Views

Friday, August 28, 2009

Odds and Ends from Around the Net

A few choice items from internetland that caught my eye recently:

My all-powerful editor and publisher, Tim Holman, the head honcho of Orbit, had started up a rather good blog - The Publisher Files - which has recently included some great stuff. First off there was graphic evidence for the intuitively obvious tendency of fantasy book covers to feature certain genre props with great (perhaps even monotonous?) regularity.

Then, there's the still more interesting numerical analysis of the astonishing rise of urban fantasy in the US sf/f market. It's not often a distinct sub-genre comes from (almost) nowhere to frankly kick the butt of all the other longer established forms of a genre. Lots of interesting and thought-provoking tidbits in the article and the comments.

Meanwhile, over at the Grasping for the Wind blog, two fun posts in which a whole army of sf/f bloggers (must be a better collective noun than that for sf/f bloggers? Can't think of one right now ...) rveal which of the many fictional fantasy or sf worlds they'd actually like to live in: part one and part two. Me, I'd go for Iain M Banks' Culture every time, I think.

And finally, I recently discovered the TED Talks page (and subscribed to its feed). An insane number of videos of talks by lots of very smart folk on interesting topics - just about every topic under the sun seems to be in there somewhere, in fact (if you're in an apocalyptic state of mind for example, there's Stephen Petranek on ten ways human civilisation could be destroyed, and what to do about them, and Martin Rees on humanity's potentially grim future).

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

What I'm Writing

As promised in the last post here, some brief details on the new book I'm writing. Yes, the fine folks at Orbit, in their infinite wisdom, seem to feel that the world could withstand further literary output by yours truly. (I say wisdom, but it might just be some ghastly administrative error on their part, of course. No matter. They signed the contract, so they're stuck with me now).

The working title (and so far everyone, including me, seems to quite like it, so I imagine it'll probably survive all the way through to publication) is The Edinburgh Dead. The setting is, as you might guess, Edinburgh; specifically, Edinburgh in the first half of the 19th century. Since I write fantasy rather than history, though, it's not quite as simple as that.

I'm taking some gruesome and rather famous aspects of Edinburgh's past and spicing them up a bit with veteran warriors, magical conspiracies, killers both human and decidedly not, desperate combat and sinister goings-on in general. In short, it's a dark, heroic fantasy set in 19th century Edinburgh. With swords and gaslamps.

As for publication date - because I know someone will ask about that sooner rather than later - I can't say exactly, but I'll be delivering the manuscript next year and barring exceptional circumstances it takes at least nine months, more likely something approaching twelve, to go from that point to publication. So you can do the math yourselves.

I'm having a lot of fun working on this so far. It's a stand alone novel, and that makes a very pleasant change after turning out a hefty trilogy like The Godless World. I'll no doubt report back here on the creative process and progress (watch out for that mid-book slump of despair and self-doubt!), but I'll leave it there for now. Got stuff to write.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

While we're on the subject of e-books ...

Talking about e-books (I did mention the one dollar Winterbirth e-book, didn't I?), a few other fragments of the discussion about the technology that have come to light recently:

Orbit's own Tim Holman talks at some length about e-books on the Dragon Page podcast. It's well worth a listen. Anyone who doubts that publishers are expending a lot of precious brain time on this whole area will quickly be disabused of such notions. Anyone who thinks publishers actually know what's going to come of all the changes infiltrating the industry will be similarly disabused. But knowing isn't what's important; preparing flexibly and imaginatively for unpredictable change, and being willing to try stuff and see what works, is what's important. I think.

Another publisher - this time a new one, Angry Robot Books - wants to know how much an e-book is worth to you, the reader. It's not a brilliantly designed survey (says he huffily, knowing only just enough about survey design to make him wildly over-confident and huffy), but the basic question is obviously at the heart of where this technology is going. And it's a tough one to find a fair answer too.

Just how tough is evidenced by ... the 9.99 e-book boycott on Amazon. At the time of writing, irritated readers have now tagged over 800 e-books on Amazon.com as being unjustifiably expensive. Not an unreasonable sort of price point for the protestors to settle upon, you might think (and I sort of agree), but check out the commenters on that original GalleyCat post. Not everyone is onboard, and there's no doubt the situation is not as clear-cut as a lot of the protestors probably think.

This one's going to run and run and run. The tough questions certainly aren't going to go away, indeed I suspect they're only going to get tougher as time and technology advance. I have no clue what the publishing industry and the world's reading habits are going to look like twenty years from now. I remain somewhat unconvinced that anybody else does either, and I still think all the amazing opportunities opening up before us are balanced by definite risks in the medium term. Which makes it all jolly interesting, if nothing else.

And mildy related: by coincidence I had two folk e-mail me this week asking, in their different ways, whether an audio version of the Godless World trilogy was available, or ever likely to be. Short answer is that such a thing doesn't exist at the moment, and as far as I know isn't likely. I'm almost certain - I could check my contract to be absolutely sure, of course, but it's filed away, I'm feeling lazy right now and I expect someone will correct me if I'm wrong - that the rights to such a version reside with Orbit, so they are probably the people to ask about it, if there's an army of you out there craving Wintebrirth in your ears.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Books and Orbit

For no reason other than that I was idly thinking about it just now (terrible thing, the way the mind wanders when you're supposed to be writing ...), in no particular order and without comment, my favourites amongst the books I've read so far this year:

Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny

River of Gods, Ian McDonald

Britain BC, Francis Pryor

The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch

The Civil War Vol. 2, Shelby Foote

Winter Tales, George Mackay Brown

And look: Orbit (my very nice publishers) have a spiffy new website covering both the UK and US bits of their increasingly globe-spanning empire. It's got a corporate blog and future publishing schedules (as pdf files) for anyone who's curious about what's in their pipeline for the next year or so.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Orbit USA

Orbit's new USA imprint is showing its first signs of life: orbitbooks.net. And the first book displayed on their publishing schedule is ... Winterbirth. It's scheduled for release in September. This is a good and exciting thing.

As is pretty much always the case, crossing the Atlantic involves a new cover, so here's what Winterbirth will be wearing in the US this Fall:


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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The US of A plus Free Books!

Just before I get to the point of this post, since it has an American theme: people keep saying George W. Bush is now a lame duck, so what might a lame duck President find to do with his time? Answer here.

So, to our main story. A bit slow out of the blocks with this news, since it's been agreed for a little while now, but: I'm delighted to say a deal's been done for Winterbirth to be published in the USA. Getting published in the UK and various European countries would, to be honest, have been enough to keep me happy for a long time - adding the US to the list is a fantastic thick crust of icing on the cake.

The US edition will be one of the first books to appear from Orbit in the USA, making it part of one of the more ambitious undertakings seen in sf/f publishing for a while. Orbit's turning itself into a globe-spanning genre empire, with a foot in each of the three biggest English-speaking markets (which I suppose makes it a tripod - a form with a noble sf heritage).

Same continent, different country, and look: I'm being given away for free. (EDIT to update: that competition's finished now, so the freebies are no more, I'm afraid)

And here, one more time, is the info on how to buy a signed copy of the UK edition, in case anyone's still toying with that idea.

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