Tag Archives: news

Viking Says Yes to #YesGayYA Book

Rachel Manija Brown reports that she and Sherwood Smith have sold their post-apocalyptic YA novel Stranger to Sharyn November at Viking, for publication in winter 2014. This is the novel that set off the #YesGayYA storm almost exactly a year ago, when Brown and Smith reported that an agent had offered them representation on the condition that they make their gay protagonist straight or remove all references to his orientation (and his boyfriend). Intriguingly, Brown’s post on the sale makes no mention of an agent–but the sale is certainly proof that major houses are not averse to publishing YA with major non-straight characters, so hopefully the agents who believed the book unreppable will reconsider their approach to similar works.

EDIT: Brown has updated the post to reflect that Eddie Gamarra and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein of the Gotham Group were the agents for the sale; she says they came on board after Brown and Smith had begun discussions with Viking.

Worldcon Breaking News

Josh and I are hard at work on turning Worldcon news and interviews into articles for the SF/F focus issue of PW (September 10! Mark your calendars!) but here’s some breaking news for you in the meantime.


  • The Hugo Awards results, of course.
  • During Neil Gaiman’s acceptance speech for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (for his Doctor Who episode “The Doctor’s Wife”), he let it slip that he’s on the third draft of another Doctor Who script. Cue much squeeing.
  • …except from those people who couldn’t see his speech because Ustream cut off the awards ceremony webcast, citing copyright violation. That would presumably be because the broadcast included clips of the Best Dramatic Presentation nominees; the clips had been provided by the studios and were used and streamed legally, but that didn’t stop some DRM-hound program from blocking the transmission. Cue much outrage.
  • The London in 2014 team won its unopposed bid to host the 2014 Worldcon, which will be called Loncon 3 and already has a sterling line-up of honored guests. Josh and I promptly upgraded from “friend of the bid” to full membership. I have so far dodged all attempts to get me to volunteer, though I did offer to make myself available as a consultant on programming matters. That’s totally different from volunteering, right? Anyway, I expect it will be an excellent convention and I’m really looking forward to it.
  • The 2015 bid is hotly contested by Orlando, Spokane, and Helsinki, plus a Phoenix AZ bid for the 2015 NASFiC if Helsinki gets the Worldcon the 2014 NASFiC. (Apologies for the error.)
  • LoneStarCon 3, the 2013 Worldcon in San Antonio TX, has announced that it will have a Spanish-language programming track–presumably not just about Spanish-language work but actually conducted in Spanish. That would be very exciting.

Publishing news:

  • Harper Voyager is “actively seeking new authors with fresh voices, strong storytelling abilities, original ideas and compelling storylines” to submit manuscripts for consideration for a new digital-first line. Submissions will be open for two weeks only, October 1–14, at www.harpervoyagersubmissions.com (link not live because the site isn’t up yet). Distribution for accepted, published titles will be worldwide (world English rights). Executive Editor Diana Gill says they’re looking for “novels, novellas, short stories, interstitials.” Get those manuscripts polished up!
  • Patty Garcia of Tor Books tells me that Harry Harrison turned in the manuscript of his memoirs just two weeks before his death in August. “We had originally scheduled it for spring but we are trying to move it into late fall,” she says.
  • A source I cannot name informs me that Jim Butcher is supposedly about to turn in the manuscript for Cold Days, the 14th Dresden Files novel, currently slated for a November 27 release. The series pub dates have been creeping later for a while, from a year-long gap between volumes to nearly a year and a half since Ghost Story came out last July. Fans will be very relieved to see this one hit the shelves.

Speaking of the Dresden Files, I’ve been quite enjoying getting to walk around Chicago, but it is a little disappointing to encounter neither mobsters nor monsters. Any suggestions for Dresden-related landmarks to visit before we head home?

One Small Step for a Rover

If you’re even the slightest bit of a space geek, you probably already know that NASA’s Curiosity rover safely landed on Mars very early Monday morning Eastern time. For those who weren’t able to stay up and watch the landing on NASA TV (or in Times Square, where I’m told the crowd was chanting “Science! Science! Science!”), have a video of the “touchdown confirmed” moment at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. You might want to have tissues handy, and definitely turn the sound on.

Yep, and I’m all misty-eyed again. *happysniffle*

Sometimes advances in science are hard for science fiction writers and readers to swallow. Where SF asks questions, science has answers, and for futurians who guessed wrong and science fantasists who prefer to paint on blank canvases, those answers can feel like slammed doors closing off avenues of speculation. But watching my Twitter feed explode with space geekery and cheers, watching a tiny, grainy picture get retweeted over 26,000 times (undoubtedly more by the time you read this), all I could think of was how many doors this opens for writers and readers, how many stories will be filled with the literally gritty details of what things are really like on Mars, and how many new mysteries we’ll be able to investigate with six wheels firmly on the ground.

On the Air

On Wednesday, PW senior editor Mark Rotella and I recorded a one-hour BEA special for Sirius XM Book Radio! We chatted with the fabulous Nelson DeMille, shared memories of Ray Bradbury, and gave listeners a taste of the BEA experience. It aired at 7 p.m. on Sirius channel 80. Did you tune in?

A Gathering of Like Minds

From Tempest Bradford comes the welcome news that the Interstitial Arts Foundation is restarting its monthly salons:

Literary and artistic salons started back in 17th century France, when inspiring hosts and hostesses gathered “stimulating people of quality” together to refine their taste and increase their knowledge through conversation. Today there may be fewer wealthy patrons willing to host an event in their townhouses, but there is always a need for artists to meet other artists, to explore other circles of creative influence, to cross borders.

Our salon aims to bring together writers, visual artists, musicians, performance artists, crafters, academics and other people of quality in New York City for a relaxed evening of conversation.

The salon will take place every month on the 4th Tuesday at Vagabond Café in Manhattan. Details at the link.

Nebula Awards Weekend, Day 1

After a morning conference call, I packed up and took a cab back to the convention hotel. There were no further hotel shenanigans, for which I am very glad; showed up, checked in, got reimbursed for my cab fare, all good. I got my badge, nabbed lunch at the hotel buffet (surprisingly tolerable), and headed up to the press room. Jaym Gates, SFWA’s press officer, is terrific. Even though she was dealing with hotel shenanigans, she still managed to get me set up with free wi-fi and line up a couple of interviews with Nebula nominees Mary Robinette Kowal and Rachel Swirsky. The audio of those will be exclusive to SFWA’s member site, but I’m hoping to at least post excerpts here.

After that I went down to the bar and ended up talking with a gaggle of folks (I’m trying not to turn this into namedropper central) about Readercon, Philcon, Lunacon, and other events of days gone by. Gardner Dozois told a hilarious story of the time he and George R.R. Martin, both young and broke, went around a convention trying to find an editor who would buy them dinner, and finally one took pity on them and got them each a hot dog from the cart outside the hotel. Be kind, editors! You never know who that pesky young writer will be someday.

I ran into James Patrick Kelly, who somehow talked me into being on a 10 a.m. panel tomorrow about e-books and self-publishing; this is what I get for snubbing the convention program. I did actually go to a panel, too: Jim Kelly, Connie Willis, John Scalzi, and James Morrow talking about how to write humor. They were all very responsible about staying on topic rather than zinging off snappy one-liners, but Scalzi managed to do both by describing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as “an extinction-level event for comedic science fiction.”

After that was the mass signing, which I endured for about an hour before fleeing to my room for a blissful hour of peace and quiet. I went back downstairs at about 7:15 to find several people discussing an email that had just been sent out by Jason Williams of Night Shade Books. (He also sent me a copy with permission to quote from it.) Night Shade’s had a couple of hard years; Williams cited the collapse of Borders and difficulties with a distributor, and also admitted that when SFWA put Night Shade on probation, they “needed the kick to get our affairs in order” and have continued to struggle to make payments on time (which may be why Cat Valente recently announced she would no longer be working with them). None of that is really news, though. The newsworthy bits are three:

  1. Night Shade has signed a distribution deal with PGW, including domestic and international e-book distribution through Constellation. “Ebook sales since we went live with Constellation in December have literally doubled.”
  2. They’ve also signed “a huge audiobook deal, that will not only include 20-30 backlist titles, but also a guaranteed audio rights deal for every non-reprint novel we have going forward.”
  3. “A wave of checks will go out at the end of this month, and another will go out in early July. After that, we’ll be paying bills in the beginning of every month…. We are making more than we are spending, and that means that we are operating with cash left over to pay off that back debt. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I’m going to be doing my best to make sure that everyone that is owed is getting money on a regular basis.”

Most of the reactions I heard were variations on the theme of “We’ll see”. I think it’s great that Night Shade is continuing to look to the future, but I suspect they’ll have image problems long after those debts are paid off (assuming they do get paid off).

I pulled myself away from the conversation for a wonderful dinner with Geoff Ryman and James Morrow at a nearby Ethiopian restaurant (thanks to Eileen Gunn for the kind recommendation), and came back fashionably late for the nominees’ reception. In a bit of accidental comedy, Scalzi left E. Lily Yu off the list of short story nominees (an error he quickly corrected) and then sent them through the wrong door for their group photograph. I caught up with Lily a bit later and she said happily, “That was actually the best thing that could have happened. I was so nervous before, but after walking into a supply closet with Adam-Troy Castro and Sheila Williams, now I’m not nervous at all!” So if you have pre-award jitters, supply closets are apparently the way to go.

I circulated and chatted for a while, and eventually the party shut down; most people decamped to the bar, but I wanted to spare my voice for the panel (seriously, why did I agree to do that), so Danielle and I got tea from the consuite and then headed for our room. I ironed all my shirts, hung up my suit, realized with some vexation that I had left my captoes at home and would be stuck wearing less formal shoes, and sat down to write this post. Now, to sleep. Tomorrow, the awards!

Link Roundup

I spent the last week on vacation and came back to a pile of links in my inbox! The least I can do is share them with all of you.

What else happened while I was out?

Watch the Space Shuttle Arrive in New York

New Yorkers who are out and about between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. on Friday may get an unusual sight: a low fly-by of the space shuttle Enterprise. The plane carrying the shuttle will circle the city at low altitude before landing at JFK and making its way–by water, I assume–to its new home on the deck of the Intrepid. NYCAviation.com has the details on the shuttle’s expected path and the best places to watch. Thanks to Andrew Porter for sending the info along.

Eastercon Followup

  • BSFA apologizes to everyone regarding the recent unpleasantness.
  • John Meaney doesn’t seem to feel the need to apologize to anyone but Lavie Tidhar.
  • Nicholas Whyte on the best parts of Eastercon.
  • Alex Dally MacFarlane on the less nice parts of Eastercon. Mirrored from her blog; the two links have quite different sets of comments.
  • …and a follow-up post regarding some of the criticism she got for daring to say that Eastercon was not 100% perfect. In the comments: “I’m willing to apologise for not caring about racism today, in favour of caring about the the way the criticism of the event comes across. I’m willing to care about racism tomorrow though.” I… wow.
    • Tangentially related: Tori Truslow on the word “exotic”, including some very good discussion in comments. A while back I adopted a policy of excising that word from any prose I edit, pretty much for the reasons given there. If you can’t replace “exotic” with “foreign” and keep the sentence’s meaning intact, then the sentence is almost certainly laden with unpleasant cultural baggage and needs to be reworked entirely or omitted altogether.
    • And tangentially related to that, Charles Tan on “World SF”. Quite long, and worth reading in its entirety.
    • And in case you missed it, Saladin Ahmed on Game of Thrones‘s blinding whiteness. Do not read the comments. (h/t Aliette de Bodard for most of these links)

Hugo Nominees

Shamelessly copied and pasted from the Whatever.

Best Novel (932 ballots)

Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor)
A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra)
Deadline by Mira Grant (Orbit)
Embassytown by China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

[I note that all but the Martin got starred reviews from PW. None appeared on my best books of 2011 list, nor would they have even if I'd limited myself to novels, but I'm not surprised that my tastes differ significantly from those of the majority of Hugo voters.]

Best Novella (473 ballots)

Countdown by Mira Grant (Orbit)
“The Ice Owl” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction November/December 2011)
“Kiss Me Twice” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s June 2011)
“The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s September/October 2011)
“The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” by Ken Liu (Panverse 3)
Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)

Best Novelette (499 ballots)

“The Copenhagen Interpretation” by Paul Cornell (Asimov’s July 2011)
“Fields of Gold” by Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
“Ray of Light” by Brad R. Torgersen (Analog December 2011)
“Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com)
“What We Found” by Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011)

Best Short Story (593 ballots)

“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld April 2011)
“The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick (Asimov’s April/May 2011)
“Movement” by Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s March 2011)
“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011)
“Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” by John Scalzi (Tor.com)

Best Related Work (461 ballots)

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight (Gollancz)
Jar Jar Binks Must Die… and Other Observations about Science Fiction Movies by Daniel M. Kimmel (Fantastic Books)
The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature by Jeff VanderMeer and S. J. Chambers (Abrams Image)
Wicked Girls by Seanan McGuire
Writing Excuses, Season 6 by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Jordan Sanderson

Best Graphic Story (339 ballots)

Digger by Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press)
Fables Vol 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
Locke & Key Volume 4, Keys to the Kingdom written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Schlock Mercenary: Force Multiplication written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (The Tayler Corporation)
The Unwritten (Volume 4): Leviathan created by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, written by Mike Carey, illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) (592 ballots)

Captain America: The First Avenger, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephan McFeely, directed by Joe Johnston (Marvel)
Game of Thrones (Season 1), created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss; written by David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson, and George R. R. Martin; directed by Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Tim van Patten, and Alan Taylor (HBO)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates (Warner Bros.)
Hugo, screenplay by John Logan; directed by Martin Scorsese (Paramount)
Source Code, screenplay by Ben Ripley; directed by Duncan Jones (Vendome Pictures)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) (512 ballots)

“The Doctor’s Wife” (Doctor Who), written by Neil Gaiman; directed by Richard Clark (BBC Wales)
“The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech,” Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon (Renovation)
“The Girl Who Waited” (Doctor Who), written by Tom MacRae; directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
“A Good Man Goes to War” (Doctor Who), written by Steven Moffat; directed by Peter Hoar (BBC Wales)
“Remedial Chaos Theory” (Community), written by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna; directed by Jeff Melman (NBC)

Best Semiprozine (357 ballots)

Apex Magazine edited by Catherynne M. Valente, Lynne M. Thomas, and Jason Sizemore
Interzone edited by Andy Cox
Lightspeed edited by John Joseph Adams
Locus edited by Liza Groen Trombi, Kirsten Gong-Wong, et al.
New York Review of Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell, Kevin J. Maroney, Kris Dikeman, and Avram Grumer

Best Fanzine (322 ballots)

Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
The Drink Tank edited by James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia
File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, et al.
SF Signal edited by John DeNardo

Best Fancast (326 ballots)

The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe
Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts (presenters) and Andrew Finch (producer)
SF Signal Podcast, John DeNardo and JP Frantz, produced by Patrick Hester
SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente
StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

Best Professional Editor — Long Form (358 ballots)

Lou Anders
Liz Gorinsky
Anne Lesley Groell
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Betsy Wollheim

Best Professional Editor — Short Form (512 ballots)

John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Stanley Schmidt
Jonathan Strahan
Sheila Williams

Best Professional Artist (399 ballots)

Dan dos Santos
Bob Eggleton
Michael Komarck
Stephan Martiniere
John Picacio

Best Fan Artist (216 ballots)

Brad W. Foster
Randall Munroe
Spring Schoenhuth
Maurine Starkey
Steve Stiles
Taral Wayne

Best Fan Writer (360 ballots)

James Bacon
Claire Brialey
Christopher J Garcia
Jim C. Hines
Steven H Silver

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (396 ballots)

Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2010 or 2011, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).

Mur Lafferty
Stina Leicht
Karen Lord *
Brad R. Torgersen *
E. Lily Yu

*2nd year of eligibility

Congratulations to all the nominees! I actually kind of hope Chris Garcia and James Bacon win for last year’s acceptance speech. It was truly a great moment.

Firsts: Michelle “Vixy” Dockrey points out that Seanan McGuire is the first woman to ever appear on the Hugo ballot four times in one year (twice under her own name, twice as Mira Grant). I’m pretty sure this is the first time a Hugo acceptance speech has been nominated for a Hugo award. It may also be the first time an April Fool’s joke has been nominated. Kevin Sonney says Ursula Vernon is the first woman to get a solo nomination for Best Graphic Story. And if this isn’t the first time the novella ballot has had five women on it I will be very surprised. For that matter, is this the first time any Hugo category finalist slate has contained no white men?

The gender balance in most of the categories makes the dramatic presentation ones really stand out for their long lists of men’s names. We still have a long way to go in publishing–but it looks like Hollywood and television are even further behind.

Link Roundup

Link Roundup

Some very good and very sad news today.

  • A couple of years ago, I wrote, “If I could subscribe to a publisher like a magazine or a book club—one flat annual fee to get everything they publish—I would subscribe to CZP.” Today ChiZine publisher Brett Savory wrote to me to say that I (and you) can do just that: they now offer e-book only, trade paper + e-book, and limited hardcover + e-book annual subscriptions, all with heavy discounts. Details here.
  • Author Spider Robinson’s daughter has been diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Spider’s wife and longtime collaborator, Jeanne, died in 2010 after her own battle with cancer. I hope that family catches a break very soon. (h/t to James Nicoll)
  • Over on PWxyz, Peter Brantley smacks Penguin into the middle of next week with a brilliant essay on the importance of e-book lending.
  • Paul Cornell pledges to evict himself from any convention panels he’s on where men outnumber women, and to invite a female audience member to replace him. Reactions predictably vary. (h/t to Graham Sleight)

Link Roundup

Lots of interesting news tidbits hitting the inbox today:

Turnover at Strange Horizons

Surprising many people, Susan Marie Groppi has announced that she is leaving the Strange Horizons fiction editing staff after nearly eight years at the magazine, seven as editor in chief (for which stint she won a World Fantasy Award). This announcement comes a month after Karen Meisner also left the fiction department, leaving Jed Hartman the last editor standing.

Susan, who will be “actively involved” in the process of hiring her and Karen’s replacements, says, “Our goal is to put together a strong and fabulous editorial team that will continue to publish groundbreaking fiction from all over the speculative fiction spectrum — and represent all of the voices in our community. We’ve already started speaking to a few promising candidates, but we’re interested in hearing from applicants who we might not have already considered, so we invite anyone who’s interested in what we’re doing at Strange Horizons to consider applying for a position as a fiction editor.”

In 2006 and 2007, I had the pleasure of reviewing several books for SH. Niall Harrison (then head of the reviews department, now editor in chief) and Susan were terrific to work with, and I was very proud to be affiliated with the magazine. I hope they can find some wonderful new editors to carry on SH‘s tradition of excellence.

Link Roundup

I get a cold, you get links:

Boneshaker on the Big Screen

The legendary Hammer Films will be collaborating with Cross Creek and Exclusive Media to produce a film of Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, presumably to be followed by its sequels (soon to number five) if the movie does well. The series takes place in an alternate America where the Civil War has dragged on far longer than in our timeline, with added elements of airship pirates, zombies, and various steampunkery. The books are very cinematic and have tremendous commercial potential. I’ll be especially interested to see how the lack of clichéd romance and the thoughtful treatment of Civil War–era race issues (particularly in the spin-off title Clementine) are translated onto the screen.

A Brilliant Writer Goes Silent

According to a friend of Suzette Haden Elgin, Elgin has become disabled and will be unable to return to blogging. Reading between the lines, I suspect her writing career is over as well.

This is tremendously sad news. Suzette Haden Elgin was one of the first writer–bloggers I started reading. Her voice was distinct and distinguished, and she was always irrepressibly herself, no matter what the topic: writing, finding new ways to be published and read, languages and linguistics, feminism, health, poverty, peace. She founded the Science Fiction Poetry Association; she helped countless people defuse and escape difficult situations with her book The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense; she wrote linguistic SF, most notably the Native Tongue trilogy, that both linguists and laypeople could enjoy and appreciate.

Elgin is now 75 years old, and I think she has been having health trouble and other difficulties for some time. In early 2009 she combined her three newsletters into one; last December she stopped sending out newsletters altogether. Six months ago she said that she was rewriting her latest novel, start to finish, in longhand, as she recently had to give up her ancient computer and couldn’t get the hang of working in Word. Perhaps it was predictable and inevitable that even brief blog updates would become too difficult for her—but that doesn’t make it any less awful.

I’m grateful that Stephen Marsh tracked her down and spread the word. I hope Elgin is comfortable and happy. And I will miss her earthy, serious, wise words more than I can say.

All the Cool Kids are Doing It

Apparently comics are the hip thing these days! Stephen King and Joe Hill are collaborating on a story that will be comicified by IDW, and Ace just picked up a graphic novel trilogy from Charlaine Harris. Also I hear there’s a comics convention or something that a bunch of SF/F/H authors are at right now. I foresee a copiously illustrated future in which Heidi MacDonald and I merge our blogs into a single hybrid blog because the SF/F/H and comics worlds have become one and the same.

…or possibly I’m hallucinating due to sleep deprivation. Funny how all my hallucinations look like they were painted by Alex Ross.

EDIT: Yen Press announces two forthcoming manga adaptations: Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogies and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Chronicles of Nick YA titles. It’s spreading!

Someone at Amazon Launches a Speculative Fiction Imprint

My esteemed colleagues on the news side of the office report that Amazon has launched 47North, a new imprint dedicated to SF, fantasy, and horror. The report includes the names of most of the launch authors; I recognize perhaps half, and the ones I recognize have a broad range of writing styles, so it seems pretty clear that the imprint will not, at least at first, have much of what the kids these days are calling a brand identity. That fits with the extremely vague name, which is derived from Seattle’s position on the 47th parallel north latitude. You might as well call an imprint “You Are Here”.

(Actually, You Are Here would be a pretty cool name for an imprint.)

What I haven’t seen is any mention of who’s going to be heading up the editorial side of the imprint. This is not a small omission. Alex Carr’s announcement in Omnivoracious says “we” a lot, but it’s not clear who “we” are or what part Carr will play. Carr also says, “As 47North’s catalogue grows, so too will our ideas about what makes up each respective genre, and we hope you’ll be there to help guide us.” I read this as confessing a) that no one involved with the imprint really knows much about speculative fiction and b) it doesn’t matter because all they care about are providing readers with whatever those readers want or think they want. If readers put themselves in the “SF/fantasy/horror reader” box, then 47North is for them!

Am I the only one scratching my head over this approach? It’s very Amazon, of course, but recommendation engines don’t apply to unpublished manuscripts. Carr, or whoever is calling the shots, is not going to be able to open a browser window that says “If you liked submissions 4, 187, and 2169, you should also read at least the first fifty pages of submissions 28 and 492″. At some point, any acquisitions editor has to tell readers what they’re going to read, and that’s very not Amazon. My belief is that if one is going to go into this extremely difficult business, one should at least go in with a great deal of genre knowledge, so as to make up for the lack of useful market data (because in this industry there is basically no such thing) with a well-trained gut instinct. That is also, apparently, not Amazon. Or if it is, they’re not telling who’s going to be providing them with that knowledge, other than the collective readership.

I am really not fond of Amazon’s business practices (particularly the ones enumerated here). That said, I wish them success with 47North as I would wish success for any new genre fiction imprint, and I hope to see their mysterious, nameless, faceless editors at a convention or three.