Saturday, 7 May 2011

bite me: the week in bite-sized chunks

Voyager: one major part of my dissertation on stigma and genre fiction is that SFF books, in general, don’t get the press they deserve. They’re seldom seen in Guardian reviews, or in train stations (on posters, not waiting to catch the next one out), they’re often not ‘worth’ the advertising space for bigger publishers, who have fiction lists to take care of with their marketing spend. So no wonder Voyager is celebrating their ‘Read a Brett yet?’ campaign, for Peter V Brett’s sequel to his frankly awesome The Painted Man, The Desert Spear. With tube posters and Shortlist spreads, this is a huge deal for an SFF title that isn’t True Blood, or had its own HBO series. Although apparently there is rumour of a film in the works, which you can check out on Peter V Brett’s own site.

The David Gemmell Legend Award: speaking of Brett, he is one of the finalists who have just been announced for this year’s Fantasy award, alongside:

BRETT, Peter V - The Desert Spear (Voyager)
HEITZ, Markus - War the Dwarves (Orbit UK/US)
JORDAN, Robert and SANDERSON, Brandon - Wheel of Time: Towers of Midnight (Orbit UK/Tor US)
PEVEL, Pierre - The Alchemist in the Shadows (Gollancz)
SANDERSON, Brandon - The Way of Kings (Gollancz/Tor US)
WEEKS, Brent - The Black Prism (Orbit UK/US)

The ceremony will be held on 17 June and fan tickets are £20 each. The price includes exclusive mingling, champagne and canapés. Request your tickets by emailing

Tor UK: China Miéville, the only author to win three Arthur C Clarke Awards, saw the official UK publication date of his latest behemoth, Embassytown, yesterday. Tor very much appears to be whipping Miéville’s backlist into shape with the recent re-jacketing, almost as if it’s gearing up for something awesome. Great reviews are coming in thick and fast for his eighth novel (not including shorts Looking for Jake and Other Stories). SFX magazine’s 4.5 out of 5 star review sums up this Science Fiction offering perfectly: ‘no other novel this year will offer up both a zombie apocalypse keyed off by a new kind of Ambassador and a crucial plot twist involving semiotics.’ Sounds amazing. It’s definitely time I dusted off the old Perdido Street Station and gave it another go.

Orbit: author Kate Griffin (of the Matthew Swift series) has written a blog post about the role of women in Fantasy fiction. The portrayal of women in genre fiction is a topic I’m fired-up about (despite being entirely ignorant of feminism), because, as Griffin writes, there were traditionally two types of female heroines: the Damsel in Distress and She-Ra (I may be paraphrasing here). Recently, particularly with the invention of the Kick Ass Female Lead (I’m looking at you, Urban Fantasy), the role of the woman in genre fiction tends to swing between the femme fatale and the damsel, sassily smiting whilst secretly harbouring the need to be rescued from the metaphorical tower of her sad past. So this, Griffin writes, is why she doesn’t write heroines (as well as a number of other reasons, but you should really read it yourself, she’s a great writer). Writers shouldn’t be afraid of just writing characters, rather than chromosomes, and Griffin shouldn’t be worried either – if her next hero happened to have a pair of boobs, I’m pretty sure her readers wouldn’t be too put off. Clearly Griffin will read this and immediately be moved to write her heroine-centric next novel. Loyal reader (readers, if this is a good day), repeat after me: characters not chromosomes!

Gollancz: interesting fact. Charlaine Harris’ Dead Reckoning, her latest True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse novel and the 11th in the series, has been the most pre-ordered book on Amazon UK this year. What’s more, two other SFF titles have already held the lead this year for being the most pre-ordered title, George RR Martin’s A Dance with Dragons and L J Smith’s The Return: Midnight (The Vampire Diaries). OK, so all three are linked with TV equivalents, but still – SFF’s fan base is rapidly expanding. *Crosses out dissertation topic and starts from scratch.*

RPG: something happened to me this week. After many months of faithful service, my car died. At a loss as I was unable to travel (public transport be damned) on the day I was due to go into university, I decided to do some research for my SFF and stigma-topiced dissertation. This somehow (although I’m still not entirely sure how) lead to me deciding that in order to fully understand the stigma that affects readers of SFF, I needed to fully understand the world of LARP (Live action role-playing) and RPGs (role-playing games). So, I am now booked in for a beginner’s session by the lovely people at Fanboy3, who will be setting up a character for me. Completely inept on a daily basis anyway, when asked what the ‘slightly gothy version’ of me would be like, I replied with ‘A cross between Tyrion from A Song of Ice and Fire, and Buffy.’ What could go wrong?

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