Tag Archives: Book News

News about books and/or authors

Norman Spinrad freewares his latest unpublished novel

For those of you who don’t follow Warren Ellis’s blog*, I’ll pass on the news that the redoubtable Norman Spinrad has decided to release his latest and as-yet-unpublished novel, Osama The Gun, as free-to-read sections online. [At time of posting, that link is giving a 503 error thanks to the inevitable Ellis-readership Zerg-rush, so bookmark it and try again later.]

Apparently, Spinrad believes that he can’t get the novel published because of its political content. That fact, combined with the title, is certainly enough to pique my interest.

I think the greatest grin-inducer of this story is the idea of a former SFWA president cheerfully putting his work up on Scribd … 🙂


[* Yes, I know, the body-mod posts can be a bit frightening, even to a body-modder of sorts, but still …]

Winning Mars – Jason Stoddard is giving it away

As already noted at T3Aspace and reported by Gareth L. Powell, Jason Stoddard has decided to release an entire unpublished novel for free under a Creative Commons licence. Winning Mars is an expansion of the novella by the same name that appeared in Interzone #196.

Winning Mars by Jason Stoddard

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that Jason and I are friends, that he helped me out by building my concrete compound of doom in Second Life for me (and made a fine job of it too), and that I may have started this habit by convincing him to release his short story “Fermi Packet” in a similar fashion.

But in case you’re thinking that means you should take my recommendation with a pinch of salt, bear in mind that as well as being published in Interzone (more than once), he’s also sold short stories to Futurismic, Talebones, Darker Matter and Strange Horizons, among others.

What I’m trying to say is that this guy writes great science fiction, and that Winning Mars will be well worth your time. At this price (you know, like, free), how could it not be? All he asks is that you let him know what you though of it after you’ve read it, positive or negative.

So, what are you waiting for? Download the PDF of Winning Mars now, while stocks last!

[Cross-posted to Futurismic]

New Iain M Banks cover art and blurb revealed

You can stuff your Harry Potter where the sun doesn’t shine, because here’s a forthcoming title that’s genuinely worth getting excited about: Matter, Iain M. Bank’s forthcoming science fiction novel, the first to be set in the Culture universe for nearly eight years.

Cover art for Matter by Iain M. Banks

Understandably, this news is doing the rounds of sf bloggers everywhere … but I believe the scoop award goes to Ed Ashby* for being the first to spot the cover art and blurb ‘in the wild’ earlier today. The Orbit blog has an official announcement and a few ship names as a teaser. As if I needed teasing. A new Culture novel! wh0000t!

I’m very much hoping to wangle an interview with The Man Himself nearer the release date (ah, the perks of being on the editorial board of the UK’s longest running science fiction magazine), which should be quite an experience …

… but I doubt it will compare with having seen Banks having his brains eaten by Cthulhu.


[* Just realised why Ed Ashby’s name is so familiar – he was a regular on the IMB fansite forums back when I was still a regular there. Ah, those were the days … pre-blogging, I’d spend upwards of three hours a night on that forum. Great bunch of guys and girls. Sadly it’s locked to newcomers now, and I lost my password and user ID long ago. Selah.]

Publishing, promotion and print-on-demand

It’s been a lively week in the publishing world – or so it seems to someone who was away from his RSS feeds for a week.

Genre mags are giving it away for free

I’m very pleased to see that Fantasy & Science Fiction are experimenting with publishing full stories from their back-catalogue on their website. It’s a great way to raise the profile of the writers, and to drive traffic to their own site by providing uniquely valuable content with no strings attached.

They’re some way from the mass of content that Subterranean are giving away, but it’s a good start. I think the recent overseas postal rate hike is making a lot of the small press mags look seriously at new options before they discover a hard place to hem them in between the rock at their back.

For example, I will not be renewing my sub to Locus in paper format; not because the magazine is no good, but because the airmail price increase means that I might as well stick to getting the news from their website – meaning that I get it when it’s still relevant. Hard choices, sure, but it’s a changing world. Better to jump before the chasm gets too wide.

Talking of giving away content, Gareth L. Powell’s story “The Last Reef” is available to read in full on the TTA Press website, as is a teaser for his forthcoming “Ack-Ack Macaque” (at the bottom of the same page, as a downloadable image of the mag layout for the start of the story). We’re looking at ways of expanding the amount of content that the TTA Press site carries over the coming months; more news on that when I have it in a definite format.

The Waterstones cash-for-promo leak

Of course, there are other options for promoting writers – but as the recent alleged leaked memo from Waterstones confirms, they’re strictly for publishers who have a lot of cash to splash around. As someone who gets to see some of the machinations of the music industry, those figures aren’t even slightly surprising. The record companies, music press and brick-and-mortar stores work in very similar ways to the bublishing industry, and that’s a large part of why they’re in such a mire of quicksand at present.

As I’ve said before, this is something the genre publishers should learn from sooner rather than later. Being smaller, they have the ability to change more quickly, being less caught up with the train-wrecking momentum of the big boys.

Harry Haxxor and the Pilfered Plot

The saturation of blather about the forthcoming final installment of [popular children’s fantasy series that I can’t be bothered to name-check] is reaching ridiculous proportions. I was more than a trifle suspicious when I saw the news that OMGHAX PL0+ SU|/||/|4RY G4N|<3d FRUM W3BSIT3ZORZ!!!1!!1, and Bruce Schneier also seems to be less than convinced that this is anything more than a publicity stunt.

The question of which side of the fence the stunt has come from will likely never be made apparent – at least not with the same degree of headline-grabbing fervour as the original story.

OUP just wishes Google would ask first

On the subject of the pilfering (or not) of licenced content, an executive of the Oxford University Press has gone on the record as saying that all publishers really want is the opportunity to give permission for their work to be digitised by Google, rather than the opportunity to refuse the permission already assumed.

I need to research this matter more thoroughly, so I’m not going to call one way or the other on the veracity of the claims until I know the facts of the matter. But there are hints that publishers are starting to wake up to the usefulness of the digitisation projects, even though they don’t want to go back on their earlier statements of outrage.

Espresso Print-on-Demand Machine goes live in New York

If nothing else, digital copies of public domain material could become far more useful and accessible in the next few years, once a few more libraries and bookstores follow the New York Public Library’s lead, and install Espresso Book Machines to print titles on demand for customers. Until we reach a point that the vast majority of readers are prepared for reading in electronic formats at all times, these devices are as close as the publishing industry can get to the just-in-time customer-satisfying power of downloaded music – and as such represent a wise step forwards in trying to adapt to a changing business landscape.

‘Anima’ by Dalian Hansen – book set in Second Life to hit Amazon?

If you’ve been waiting for me to make a post about Second Life that genuinely intersects with the world of science fiction, your moment has just arrived.

3pointD reports that a gentleman who goes by the name Dalian Hansen in SL is due to release a novel set almost entirely in Second Life, Linden Labs’ virtual world. As they provide no link to the source (it was a personal tip-off, apparently), I shall snip Dalian’s description/synopsis from the 3pointD announcement:

“Ben Tao is the avatar of a fired programmer who hacks Second Life. His goal is to profit from a false intellectual property claim. However, instead of changing the creation date for the items he has stolen, he is actually sending them back in time to the creation of the 3D world. This software exploit opens a wormhole of conflicting realities that unfold in a disjointed nightmare. Ben quickly finds himself controlled by an entity who robs him of all free will. Or is he just going insane? As the digital and real worlds merge in his mental interchange, he uncovers a secret that affects all of humanity. From this bleak future, Ben has only one chance to escape.”

Well, nothing groundbreaking there, at least from an sf-nal storytelling angle. After all, cyberspace was named in ink-and-paper fiction way back in 1984 thanks to Bill Gibson, the concept was arguably being kicked around before that, and there’s been plenty of recent (and forthcoming) novels dealing with virtual worlds and MMOs.

What’s important is that this book is set in a real, extant metaverse platform – if that synopsis is to be believed, it explicitly names Second Life as the arena of action. Whether or not that will encourage people who might not have bothered with ‘some sci-fi rubbish’ to read it remains to be seen … as does Linden Labs’ reaction to having what I assume is a trademark being used in such a way.

What also remains to be seen is whether it’s any good, in novelistic terms. A swift google of the name Dalian Hansen reveals that the man behind the avatar is “[a]n internationally award winning photographer based in Asia”, and an experienced virtual business boffin to boot … but that tells us nothing of whether or not he can write for toffee.

The 3pointD report quotes Hansen as saying that:

“… preview editions will be published as a prim book in SL and as a paperback available from CafePress.com, both due July 7, with a hardcover edition available on Amazon.com as of July 27 …”

It also makes the point that neither Amazon or Cafepress have a listing for the item in question as of yet (and hence is hesitant to report the news as a definite). So I think we can assume it’s a self-publishing job … but again, that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be any good. I get the feeling that Hansen is the type who wants to lead with virtual business methods, so maybe it’s as much a proof-of-concept as anything else.

But there’s only one way to find out for certain, and that’s to go straight to the horse’s mouth. So I shall be attempting to get in touch with Av. Hansen in SL later tonight, to see if he’d like to talk about this further.