I shuddered at the thought of switching editors mid-stream, as many of my colleagues have been forced to do.
Editor’s Note: When news came that Bradley P. Beaulieu was leaving his publisher, Night Shade Books, and making the change to self-publishing, I was puzzled and intrigued. I’ve invited him here to talk about his experience, his decision and the changing landscape of publishing. If you’d like to support Beaulieu, he is currently running a Kickstarter to support the relaunch of his trilogy, The Lays of Anuskaya.
Several months back, I learned that my editor, Ross Lockhart, was let go from Night Shade Books. It had been very good to work with Ross up to that point. He was enthusiastic about the series, he kept the wheels of publishing (at least for my books) oiled and running smoothly, and he gave me some great advice on the series. I’m grateful he was there to help for all three of the books in The Lays of Anuskaya trilogy, and I shuddered at the thought of switching editors mid-stream, as many of my colleagues have been forced to do. Such a change can end up well in the end, but it can just as easily cause serious and permanent damage to an author’s career.
So Ross’s departure was worrying news, indeed. It comes as no surprise to any who have cared to look that Night Shade has been a cash-strapped business for some time. This is bad enough, worrying about where your future with them was headed, but the loss of my editor made me doubly worried about how my books would now be handled. Taking a pragmatic look at the change, cutting back on staff is normal in business. It can help a business survive. But when it happens it means that fewer people will be doing a lot more things, at least in the short- to medium-term. None of this boded well for the release of my third book, which frankly I hadn’t heard much about from my publisher. Not having heard anything different, I had assumed it would be coming out in April of 2013, as the first two books had been released that same month. Everything else—the initial editing, copy edits, and artwork—were all in works already, so things seemed good for an April release, even if it would be a bit rushed. Continue reading
The conversation in the genre blogosphere lately has been leaning heavily to grittiness, grimdark, and whether they serve a purpose—and whether there’s any difference between the two. A lot of bloggers and commenters seem to be settling on the idea that “grimdark” is the pejorative, so perhaps that is how I will use it here.
Now, I love a good tragedy as much as the next guy. If the next guy is William Shakespeare.
I believe in fiction where actions have consequences, and sometimes terrible prices are paid, and sometimes good people meet fates you wouldn’t wish on Count Rugen. I would argue that darkness and uncertainty are a needful thing; that without them, there are no stakes, no emotional engagement. Continue reading
After the Apocalypse
Release Date: 20111108
Publisher: Small Beer Press
I get e-mails from time to time offering me electronic copies of self-published or small press titles for review. I usually say yes, with the caveat that I may never actually read it or get past the first chapter. Most of them are not very good. This was my mindset when I received a copy of a short story collection by Maureen McHugh, called After the Apocalypse. At the time, I wasn’t aware of Small Beer Press and what they’re about. I went in to After the Apocalypse functionally blind. After reading it, I feel like I can see.
I’d never heard of McHugh prior to this book. It turns out she’s published four novels and over twenty short stories. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang, was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Award. In 1996 she won a Hugo Award for her short story The Lincoln Train. After reading this collection, none of that surprises me. Many of the stories in this collection are “award worthy” – especially the three new ones that are published here for the first time. Continue reading
The great old stories break and bend rules modern audiences take for granted. For example: Journey to the West, which I talked about last month, is a story of high-flying magic, transformation, kung fu, divine war, and so on—that, for all its epic scope, reads more like Sword and Sorcery.
That is, to borrow Liz Bourke’s definition of S&S: Journey to the West is a story of encounter, in which central characters going about their daily business keep running into strange, fascinating, terrifying things—and befriending them, or beating them about the head and shoulders, or both.
By contrast, let’s talk about one of the best war-and-intrigue novels of all time, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. At first glance, Three Kingdoms seems an epic fantasy, in that it describes the fall of a massive empire through the lens of central characters with dynastic ambition. But, though set in a time of miracles, Three Kingdoms relies on the traditional Sword & Sorcery mix of cleverness, combat, and betrayal rather than prophecy or magic. Continue reading
The Fires of Heaven
Release Date: 19941015
Publisher: Tor Books
Five volumes into the Wheel of Time series, I find myself struggling more and more to pay close attention to all the details. The earlier novels were easier in that the number of subplots were very few and generally no more than a few chapters separated any bunching of each subplot. The narrative was relatively straight-forward and although the prose never was anything to write home about, enough interest was generated in the characters to make the first few novels at least bearable to read and on quite a few occasions, enjoyable.
However, by the fourth volume, The Shadow Rising, my interest began to waver. I noted in my previous commentary that I believed Jordan tried to cover too much, to explain more than what was vitally essential to the main plot of the series, that of the Dragon Reborn being readied for the upcoming Last Battle. Here in The Fires of Heaven, my complaints about the previous volume probably can be multiplied by at least a factor of ten. Although I recall enjoying this volume almost the same as the previous one when I first read it in 1997, a decade away from reading it has reminded me that time might have the ability to remove bad memories and to enhance the few positive ones that remained. The Fires of Heaven was at times a terrible mess of a novel to wade through. Continue reading