Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Solaris Rising Table of Contents Released

The table of contents for Solaris Rising: The New Solaris Book of Science-Fiction is out! This anthology, edited by Ian Whates, will be featuring my story "Mooncakes" in collaboration with Mike Resnick. I recognize several names that I'm quite happy to appear in the company of.

Introduction - Ian Whates
A Smart-Mannered Uprising of the Dead - Ian McDonald
The Incredible Exploding Man - Dave Hutchinson
Sweet Spots - Paul di Filippo
Best SF of the Year Three - Ken MacLeod
The One that Got Away - Tricia Sullivan
Rock Day - Stephen Baxter
Eluna - Stephen Palmer
Shall I Tell You the Problem with Time Travel? - Adam Roberts
The Lives and Deaths of Che Guevara - Lavie Tidhar
Steel Lake - Jack Skillingstead
Mooncakes - Mike Resnick and Laurie Tom
At Play in The Fields - Steve Rasnic Tem
How We Came Back From Mars - Ian Watson
You Never Know - Pat Cadigan
Yestermorrow - Richard Salter
Dreaming Towers, Silent Mansions - Jaine Fenn
Eternity's Children - Eric Brown and Keith Brooke
For the Ages - Alastair Reynolds
Return of the Mutant Worms - Peter F. Hamilton

The book will be available in paper and ebook in November. With any luck, that means copies will be available in time for Loscon.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shopping at Borders

I stop by the physical bookstore maybe once a month. I admit, I have a certain fondness for paper (despite my affinity for computers and video games) and there's nothing quite like adding to the stacks of books on my shelves. I wish they were better organized, but that's a different issue.

This was my first time at the bookstore since reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch's observations about bookstores. My local bookstore of choice is part of the Borders chain, which unfortunately is working through a bankruptcy at the moment. It's not in danger of being immediately shut down, but I'm concerned that a couple years from now it won't be there. There isn't a single indie bookstore that sells new books in the entire city, so when this Borders goes, I'm likely to have to do all my shopping online.

I first started shopping at this Borders as a senior in high school, which was about the same time that the B. Dalton's and Waldenbooks started to disappear from malls. At the age I was though, I didn't think much of it. As long as I could get the books I wanted, which was usually fairly often, I didn't have a problem with where I shopped.

After reading Kris's article though, and planning my most recent trip to Borders, I realized that I had a rather bizarre habit.

I dislike driving to the bookstore and not finding what I want, so I've developed a habit of checking online whether or not a potential half dozen books I'd be interested in were inventory. That way I know whether or not the trip would be a waste. I do like browsing the shelves to see if I find anything interesting just by happenstance, but I don't like leaving empty-handed.

I've actually starting picking up manga as stop-gaps if the novels I want aren't available, because a popular manga series will generally have various volumes in stock, and if one volume of a series I'm reading is missing I can probably find the next volume I need of a different one. (Sadly, I'm now facing a different problem where I'm getting far enough in various series that it's less likely the volume I want is in the store.)

I didn't used to do this. I remember in high school I could go to a bookstore and find nearly all the books from Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series in stock. These days she occupies half the shelf she used to and there isn't nearly as much of the older Pern material (mostly the newer stuff with her son Todd). I imagine other authors' shelf spaces have shrunk as well. If it's not relatively new, it's not on the shelf.

I've been wanting to start reading Naomi Novik's Teremaire series, but had some trouble finding the first book in stock. How a bookseller expects to market book six without book one available I don't know, but His Majesty's Dragon had been on my "I hope to find it in stock one of these days" lists for a while.

Finally, I found it... as part of a boxed set containing the first three books. It was a score as far as I was concerned (I'd read a sample of the book already so I had a reasonable sense that I could gamble on three books and enjoy them all), but still a little annoying that the book just hadn't been there, on its own, months ago. I would have bought it months ago as well if it'd been there.

I can't really pinpoint why a bookstore's selection seems so much worse than in previous years. Borders does have a section of the store devoted to Kobo, but the science fiction and fantasy rows don't feel that much smaller. Though, I admit the tie-in portion is a lot bigger than before.

That makes me wonder, just as a wild idea, if perhaps the future of printed books will be in franchises.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Living Rooms: Now on Kindle

There's been a lot of chatter around the blogosphere and writing communities about ebooks, their relevance, and the path to success. Perhaps most telling is that at this year's Writers of the Future workshop, the judges could not agree on what the industry was going to look like in the next five years.

Some people have jumped whole-heartedly into independent publishing. Others are quite stubborn about sticking to tradition. The best way may well indeed be a mix between the New York model and the indie one. I'm not in a position with my novel manuscript to be worrying about that right now, but I figured I would begin to experiment with my previously published work, since ebooks seem to lend themselves to novelette and novella length stories, which is a hard sell in the traditional world.

"Living Rooms," my Gold Award winning story of the Writing of the Future contest, is now available for purchase on Kindle (other formats forthcoming) for just $0.99. The artwork is by my friend Denis Takara, who happens to also be the Dungeon Master for the D&D group I play with on Sundays.

That does mean we sometimes get nifty illustrations of his custom made monsters when we play. Isn't that cool?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Japanese Light Novels

Last year I started reading the Spice & Wolf series by Isuna Hasekura. It's what is called in Japan a "light novel" series. It's a short novel comes with a few illustrations up front and more or less makes for "light" reading, though I'm a little skeptical about whether that's where the name comes from.

Light novels appear to work much like comics in that they are serials marked by volume number rather than with a separate title for each installment. If Spice and Wolf is anything to judge by, each volume is a self-contained story, an episode if you will, of the larger series, with an overarching storyline running between multiple books.

It's not quite the same as a fantasy trilogy, which is why the serial analogy works.

For instance, in volume 1 of Spice and Wolf, the characters of Lawrence and Holo begin traveling together, with the goal of returning Holo to her long forgotten home in the distant north. That's the overarching story. But the climax of volume 1 has nothing to do with her homeland, so much as to what lengths do Lawrence and Holo want to remain traveling companions when they have the opportunity to part ways.

Volume 2 covers a deal gone wrong where Holo has to bail Lawrence out of a mess of his own creation, which of course is at a city that's a stopover on their travel north.

Volume 3 looks to further the relationship between Lawrence and Holo as their journey continues (since there's definitely some unresolved sexual tension between the both of them), with of course another wrench thrown in the plan.

Persumably the series, which has gone up to sixteen volumes as of this writing, continues in this way until Lawrence and Holo inevitably find Yoitsu. Or, perhaps, there will be a different reason for them to keep traveling.

Spice and Wolf is a fresh and breezy read. It's a very minimalist sort of narration with short paragraphs, lots of dialogue, and the pages turn fast.

I don't think we really have an analog to the light novel in the US, save the ones that are translated from the Japanese, and that's too bad. I feel like we're missing some sort of marketing niche.