Posts Tagged ‘SF/F’

The “New” Fantasy?

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

The Agony Column at recently podcasted an interview with Lou Anders, editor at Pyr Books, about the “New Fantasy” — recent epic fantasy that’s grittier and darker than the 80s/early 90s epic fantasy of authors like Raymond E. Feist and Robert Jordan. He mentions British authors Joe Abercrombie and Mark Chadbourne, who I’ve heard about but haven’t read yet.

I’ve seen bloggers musing if this “New” Fantasy is a reaction to the darker emotional tone of the post-9/11 era, but I’ve read too many examples of grittier epic fantasy predating that period (and predating the label “New Fantasy”) for that theory to hold water. George R. R. Martin’s Ice and Fire novels, beginning in the mid-90s, featured a whole new level of grit and brutality. I think their commercial success, more than anything else, is what has spawned this wave of grittier epic fantasy. Steven Erikson’s Malazan saga, first published in Europe also in the mid-90s, also featured more grit than most everything else at that time. And going back to that 80s era of “cleaner” 80s epic fantasy, Glen Cook’s Black Company novels, which Erikson cites as a major influence on his Malazan books, were the unheralded pioneers of grit and brutality in this subgenre.

I do like the trend toward realism and vividness in epic fantasy, and I agree that it’s the same grit that classic-style swords & sorcery had, now creeping into the epic novels. And it does perfectly fit the darker emotional mood of the current era. But I don’t think this New Fantasy is quite that new.

The Number Makes It Real

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Yesterday I received my ISSN number from the government for my magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  Of course I’ve been operating for six months already and publishing for three. I’ve gotten reviews in The Internet Review of Science Fiction and Locus, and last week I learned all about nominating for the Hugo Awards. But somehow getting that official label from the FCC made it all seem a bit more real.  Pretty cool.

2008 Submissions Stats

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

My fiction submission stats for 2008:

46 submissions (all short fiction; two more than 2007)
47 rejections (seven more more than 2007)
1 story under extended consideration
2 contracts offered
1 contract accepted
1 story published

It was another interesting yet trying year. I continued to get passed up to head editors at pro mags, about half the time, and I continued to get a lot of “almost” rejections from editors at semi-pro mags. Which is good, but I’d rather at least be getting those “almost” rejections from the head editors at the pro mags, if not of course actually selling some stories. I’m still not consistently able to lure editors into my dense stories of round characters and lush settings.

In my stats post last year, I mentioned two stories in unresolved submissions situations and my hope that at least one of those would result in a sale. Neither did, which was very disappointing. This year, a different near-miss situation resulted in another story remaining under extended consideration. I should hear back on that in a month or so, and I’m hopeful on that one too.

Like last year, I had a contract offered that was soon rescinded, but in this case I was the one who passed. It was from an award-nominated semi-pro venue, but the editor had just that week made offensive public comments, including some directly to or about two excellent young writers who I know and admire. I wanted to sell that story worse than I can put into words, but after what the editor had done to those two people I greatly respect, I just couldn’t accept the contract. The story is still on the submission carousel and I hope it will eventually sell.

I did make one sale this year, after a seventeen-month dry spell. That was a great relief, and I’m delighted to find a great home for a very good story that had been misunderstood by editors at several top markets. And an exciting, up-and-coming home it is–Space and Time magazine. I’m very much looking forward to seeing that one published.

My story in Weird Tales last January didn’t seem to catch much attention from bloggers or SF/F review sites, so unfortunately there hasn’t been any coattail effect from it. Perhaps I can improve on that when my story in Space and Time comes out.

Overall, this year was similar to last year, which suggests I didn’t make a significant leap in the quality of my fiction. Or that my particular brand of character-driven secondary-world short fantasy isn’t a priority right now for the major markets. Or most likely, a combination of both. In last year’s post I mentioned I was working on specific strategies to improve a major element in my fiction. That effort is ongoing, and I am making progress. The coming year will show whether it improves my submissions results.

Empires Fall but Enclaves Rise

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

The Washington Post Book World had two interesting articles last Sunday, both of which taken together show two different data points on the ever-changing landscape of modern commerical publishing.

An essay about the recent funeral of legendary publisher Robert Giroux, of Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, used the retrospective of his long literary career buying such seminal 20th-century works as The Catcher in the Rye to comment on the very different and currently shifting nature of commercial publishing. The essay was more geared toward mainstream literary fiction rather than any specific genre, but its overall mood seems quite reflective of the current times.

And a column by Michael Dirda, noted reviewer of SF/F and a Guest of Honor at Capclave 2008, listed many of the best and brightest among the small presses that have emerged in the last decade. Most of those on his list are SF/F presses like Wildside and Night Shade–I don’t know if that’s because Dirda, with his SF/F reading experience, is more familiar with SF/F small presses or if it’s because there are more small presses in SF/F than in other genres.

The small press movement is very important to me because they publish far more short fiction than the larger publishers–not only anthologies and collections but many magazines–and also because this year I joined their ranks in my own small way by starting a magazine.

It will be fascinating to see where things go from here, especially in the world of short fiction. If Clarkesworld Magazine and its clever publisher Neil Clarke are any indication, audio short fiction may be one of the new frontiers.