Posts Tagged: Night Shade Books

Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below by Martha Wells

Publisher: Night Shade Books - Pages: 232 - Buy: Book/eBook

When the first book in Martha Wells’s Raksura series, The Cloud Roads, was released in 2011, I was wary of it despite the many positive reviews I saw from people I trusted. This wariness had nothing to do with disliking the premise, wherein a dragonesque shapeshifter, Moon, raised without any knowledge of his species in a world abounding with sentient peoples, suddenly discovers his heritage and must struggle to make a place for himself, but rather stemmed from the opposite concern. The Cloud Roads sounded like everything I’d ever wanted in a fantasy novel but had never seen done properly, and I was nervous about getting my hopes up.

To provide some personal context, I spent a not inconsiderable portion of my early internetting years on a still-extant SFF site called Elfwood, which serves as a repository for fantasy-themed artwork and stories, both original and fan-made. On this site, there were multiple stories by the same author about sentient dragons that focussed purely on the romance and politics of their lives, and at a point in time where dragons were basically my favourite thing in the world, they made an indelible impression. There were other stories I loved in a similar vein, often about girls who could shapeshift from human to dragon – I suspect, at the time, a lot of young writers were equally inspired by Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books – or sentient wolves, or other non-human creatures, and it says something about their collective impact that, almost twenty years later, I still think about them fondly. Read More »

No Return by Zachary Jernigan

Publisher: Night Shade Books - Pages: 320 - Buy: Book/eBook
No Return by Zachary Jernigan

Books like Zachary Jernigan’s No Return are the primary reason why the Night Shade Books collapse was a crying shame. It is bold, edgy, daring, and uneven in spots, making it both exactly the kind of book that demands to be published and one that is likely to be passed over by larger houses. In all, No Return is a quirky mash-up of speculative genres drawn into a thoroughly compelling package before petering out in the last twenty pages. While that might sound damning with faint praise, I insist that it’s a book that should be read.

Despite exceptional writing and a mind blowingly original concept, the novel ends abruptly with little resolution.

The reality is Jernigan had no shortage of capable hands guiding him as he wrote No Return. Written mostly, if not in full, during his time in the Stonecoast MFA program, his advisers were Elizabeth Hand and David Anthony Durham. But, despite exceptional writing and a mind-blowingly original concept, the novel ends abruptly with little resolution (if any) of the two disparate plot lines. I say disparate because there’s a clear intent that the story lines connect, but they never do. Even as the novel winds to a close and the plot seems ready to stitch together, Jernigan abruptly snips the chain and carries the plot into the uncertain future of a second novel.
No Return by Zachary Jernigan

On the planet Jeroun, God (or Adrash if you prefer) is a vindictive son of a bitch watching from the heavens and occasionally hurtling metal meteors to the earth to punish his flock. Among the human population two ‘churches’ have emerged, the white and black suits, who oppose one another on the basis of whether God exists. One half of the plot leads up to a fighting tournament between these two factions, who have become accustomed to justifying the strength of their argument through strength of arms. This portion of No Return features Vedas, one of the black suits’ best bets to win the tournament. He travels across the countryside, joined by a female pit fighter, Churls, and an artificial man, Berun, who are heading to a secular companion tournament. Read More »

When We Were Executioners by J. M. Mcdermott
If, if, if.

Money problems that are public are like a social media alert button, like Google alerts, a magic wand that summons author attention to even the most obscure rumor mills of the internet.

There’s a kind of creeping horror that strikes the heart of an author when they discover the company with whom they have two novels out is slowly collapsing into a shambling mound, devourer of careers and eater of all working energy. Let’s be clear: Jason and Jeremy are not the subject of what I am discussing. There comes a point where people just sort of don’t make a difference much, because what matters is that the company is collapsing and it wouldn’t matter who was running the broken space ship into the wormhole. It’s sort of like working at any company that’s failing. It’s easy to play armchair quarterback and wonder at the decisions made. But, deep in the muck of collapse, what is it like?

Publishing isn’t the sort of gig that you go to work and go home and vent with your spouse about your day. It’s not like that at all. I work out of my house, and will have fewer than a dozen emails about a project in a year, unless there’s some serious marketing and promotion campaign happening, and then maybe two phone calls total. It’s not like there’s much water cooler chatter, most of the time. Most discussion channels are public. I can’t tweet about that rising uneasy feeling. I can only watch as news comes over the transom. Money problems, which are private, are sort of a low hum in the background of your mind. Money problems that are public are like a social media alert button, like Google alerts, a magic wand that summons author attention to even the most obscure rumor mills of the internet. Read More »


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. Read More »

God's War by Kameron Hurley

There has long raged a debate about the quality of UK vs. US cover art and the different ideals behind design aesthetics in the two regions. In general, fans seem to consider the UK to be the stronger market, and for a long time they were, but it’s my feeling that in the past couple of years, thanks to publishers like Tor, Night Shade Books, Pyr Books and Orbit Books, that the US has eclipsed the UK and is generating much more interesting cover art in general. Hurley herself said, “I am told the UK market is way more stuck-up about their covers. I adore my Conan covers, but $1 says the more mainstreamy-cover sells more books.”

If this is a ‘mainstreamy’ cover, I’m not sure I like where Del Rey UK is taking the series. Still, It’s nice to see Hurley seeing a release from a major publisher. What some people might not know is that Del Rey was originally meant to publish Hurley in the US, first picking up her novel, God’s War, before, for a variety of reasons that I’m not clear on, deciding to let Hurley and the series go. It, and its edits, were then picked up by Night Shade Books. Read More »