Tuesday, January 04, 2005

FSF Publishers

SciFi Wire starts of the year on a good foot with a great review of the seminal Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons masterpiece Watchmen. Most of the people who read my blog have read Watchmen, so this review will probably not be something new, but its good to see the Graphic Novel reviewed again in a prominent FSF Webzine.

Over the past few months and the coming months, US publisher BantamSpectra is doing some very cool things. They are publishing acclaimed novels previously unavailable to the larger US readership. Last summer, they released M. John Harrison’s Hard SF Space Opera Light, published in 2002 in the UK. This past November, they published The Etched City by K.J. Bishop, published in 2003 by Prime Books, a small press publisher. Early this year two novels previously only available overseas, Natural History by Justina Robson and Pashazade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood will be published and in April they are publishing the acclaimed collection, The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases edited by Jeff VanDerMeer and Mark Roberts. The Lambshead book features contributions by Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, K.J. Bishop, Kage Baker, Michael Moorcock, and China Miéville.

What does all this mean? It seems as BantamSpectra has a good editor running the FSF line and is responding by producing a diverse group of books people want to see. They probably have one of the better web presences considering they actually update their site every month with a newsletter. Daw and Ace haven’t updated since May, Roc hasn’t updated since October....of2003! Tor, probably the largest publisher in the genre, updates their Web site about every 16 months. In this day and age (to be clichéd) it is pretty sad that these publishers don’t pay better attention to their Web presences and how effective a tool this could be for them. It’s not like the Internet is new.

This is not to say each of these big publishers aren't publishing a good to great diverse set of books, because they certainly are. Tor publishes Gene Wolfe, Walter Hunt, Jacqueline Carey, Juliet Marillier, and Steven Brust, just to name a few. Daw's got Tad Williams, John Marco, and CJ Cherryh. Ace has Charles Stross, Alastair Reynolds, Patricia McKillip, and Brian Jacques. Roc has E.E. Knight, Carol Berg, and Jim Burns' Harry Dresden series.

The only two other big name publihsers with as good a web presence as BantamSpectra is their sister imprint Del Rey and Eos books (an imprint of HarperCollins). These other two publishers update every month and have a similar level of Web presence.

I can't speak too well about the smaller presses, like Prime Books, Night Shade, and Golden Grypon, but what I've seen these publishers put out is pretty impressive. But that's a different topic.

I suppose that's enough soapboxing about the publishing industry for now.

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