As a writer of minimal craft and even less native talent, I often wonder what the components of a good story are – and, of course, what the components of a marketable story are. Thanks to Andrew Wheeler, I now know what to put into my first novel-length effort:
“If there’s a book out there that can be honestly sold by a cover of a mostly-naked woman riding a dragon while a spaceship explodes in the background, I’d love to see it. (I bet I could sell a whole lot of them.)”
[Yes, I know, it’s just a bit of humour.]
Looks like the good old cover art debate has reared its head again, with Rick Kleffel ranting passionately about the need to abandon ‘slabs with abs’ and ‘Fabio-alike’ cover art, especially in the fantasy genre, and the always lucid Andrew ‘SFBC’ Wheeler deflating the issue with the perspective of a man who works in publishing – those covers get used because those covers sell books.
You want my opinion on this issue? Well, I don’t really have one. Sure, I can appreciate a good piece of cover art, and I can see when one is cliched and out of kilter with the book’s content. But it’s what’s beneath the cover that really interests me, and if the fiction is good enough I don’t give a damn what’s on the front and back. I’ve never understood this idea that people are embarrassed to be seen reading certain books in public – I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, I’m just saying that I can’t imagine it ever happening to me.
That having been said, I spent my teenage years as an RPG geek who read every spin-off novel he could get his hands on, so maybe I self-medicated against chainmail bras and leather nappies with aversion therapy early on. Then again, those who’ve seen what I look like are probably well aware that the last thing anyone sat opposite me on a train is going to notice about me is the book I’m reading at the time! 🙂
The second issue of Hub Magazine shows a marked improvement from the first, in terms of presentation – they’ve reigned in the images embedded in stories, which has made things a lot more readable. Some of the background images still make the text hard to follow, but there’s always a balance of compromise between impact and readability. What is plain is that they’re listening to their readers, which bodes well for the future. Continue reading Magazine Review: Hub, Issue #2 (Winter 2007)
It’s probably obvious to any regulars here that I’m trying hard to ‘raise my game’ with this whole reviewing/criticism gig. Luckily, a resource that may be of great use to me (and maybe to you too, if you’re of a like mind) has come to light. Continue reading An incomplete bibliography of worthwhile science fiction and genre criticism
It’s a brave move to launch a print magazine devoted to short genre fiction in a climate where everyone seems to be trumpeting the decline of the scene, and that is exactly what the producers of Hub magazine have decided to do – a paying market for both fiction and non-fiction, in glossy (if small-format) magazine quality (as opposed to small-press chapbook). I’ll leave the debate as to whether they can last the course without trimming back on writer’s fees or magazine quality for those who know the industry better than I, and report from the reader’s perspective. Continue reading Magazine Review: Hub #1