Tag Archives: WorldCon

Your Regularly Scheduled Program

7 Sep

It’s been over five weeks since I’ve posted anything new here at Bundoran Press’ blog — so I guess it’s time to return to a more regular schedule. I’m not sure if I can maintain a weekly post here while still doing my daily posts at 10 Minutes of Words and striving to blog monthly over on Hayden’s Hubris but we’ll start today and see where that takes us.

August was a busy month personally but I did manage to complete some publishing work while roaming across Canada and parts of Europe.

I’ve been working on the final edits to M. Darusha Wehm’s novel, Children of Arkadia. They should have been done today but I still have a few more chapters to go. The book is slated for release in the spring — probably launched at Ad Astra in early April — but I hope to have it pretty well ready to go by late October so I can spend a good five months pre-marketing it. There’s not a ton of cash in the advertising budget but sometimes effort over time can be just as effective. No spoilers yet but it’s in the vein of a dystopic utopia with space stations, artificial intelligences and love.

I’ve also completed the first editorial suggestions for our other spring release, the second volume of Alison Sinclair’s Plague Confederacy series. Contagion: Eyre looks to be even more exciting than the first book. It’s already in pretty good shape and, if I put my nose to the grindstone, I’m sure I can have it ready to go by the end of November, giving me four months to push for reviews and pre-release publicity. Everything in the publishing business is about building buzz.

I also managed to sit down with Edward Willett while we were both at When Words Collide (WWC) in Calgary and had a good conversation about where we need to go with the first draft of his new space opera, Falcon’s Egg — a follow-up to Right to Know, which SFRevu called ‘wildly entertaining.’ We have a longer lead time for this book, as it is slated for release in August of 2015. I’m hoping to get it near completion by the end of March.

Also at WWC, the launch of Al Onia’s Javenny was a great success. We sold so many books that I had to get Al to give back his author’s copies when we ran out. (Don’t worry; I mailed him some more on my return to Ottawa).

I had a presence as both author and publisher at LonCon III, where I sat on several panels and met many old and new friends in the field. On Sunday, we had a small book reception where we were able to introduce a couple of dozen people to our product line. We certainly had fun if nothing else comes of it.

In eight more days (September 15), submissions open for our new anthology, Second Contacts, which I will be editing with Michael Rimar. You can see the listing on Ralan.com and Duotrope and read the full guidelines on our web-site. We will be receiving stories until January 15th with a view to releasing the book in October of next year. In the meantime, I’m reading a few solicited submissions for novels for release in 2016. More to follow.

Publishing continues to be challenging for everyone. I had a number of conversations with publishers, editors and writers that brought that home this summer. Being visible, delivering the product to readers, finding the optimal price point to maximize incomes for creators and meet the needs of the bottom line are challenges that all publishers — large, small and self-publishers alike — face. Not everyone succeeds in overcoming them and I’ve heard rumours of some further consolidations in the field. However, I’ve also heard some interesting ideas for innovative solutions to our problems, too, so I remain optimistic. More on that later.

Still, it was no fun to come home to the news that Quebec-based Lebonfon Printing is closing their doors at the end of October. They’ve been a major force in Canadian printing for a number of years and were our printer for most of the books published in the last two years. Marquis, also in Quebec, is acquiring some of their assets. I’ve dealt with Marquis before so I’m not worried about any loss of quality. But with one fewer company in an already narrow field, I suspect prices may rise — not something that makes me happy.

On that note, I’d like to direct your attention to our new fund raising campaign on Patreon. For as little as a dollar a month (or, better yet, the cost of a latte a month), you can help make sure that Bundoran will continue to publish quality science fiction into the future. We’re passing out a few nifty benefits, too. So please take a look and consider contributing. And don’t worry: you’ll hear more about this in the coming months.

Publishing News and Notes

Resolve by Neil Godbout is a finalist for Best YA Novel in the Canadian SF Aurora Awards. Bundoran partner, Mike Rimar, was nominated in the short story category. Voting has now ended and the winners will be announced at VCon in Vancouver the first weekend of October.

Angry Robot books closes two of its imprints.

You think it took a long time for your novel to be published? Margaret Atwood has to wait 100 years.

 

I’m Not Dead Yet

8 Sep

WorldCon is over for another year. Some people are happy – Hugo winners for example ; some are not. Madelaine Ashby questions whether WorldCon and the people who go there have missed the demographic boat, noting quite accurately that WorldCon seems older and more white and male than other fan-based events, such as DragonCon. We’ll skip over for a minute that DragonCon and FanExpo and ComicCon are not fan-based but commercial operations directed towards corporate profits. It is true that WorldCon is not as diverse as, say, the average downtown neighbourhood. Some people say that WorldCon – and cons in general – are bastions of misogyny, homo- and transphobia, racism. Others, such as Cherryl Morgan, who would know better than me, (an aging white straight male), disagree.

I might be more appalled if I hadn’t heard this before. I went to my first WorldCon in 1983. One of the best attended panels was one called “The Graying of Fandom.” At the time my hair was still dark but I knew grey hair was on the horizon. I listened as people bemoaned the fact that ‘young people’ were no longer interested and engaged in science fiction. The solutions: more diverse programming such as movie previews and discussions, expanded costuming (cosplay anyone?) and music. Comic books weren’t high on the list but “graphic novels” were making an impact. Anime and Manga were nothing but rumours and really only began to impinge on North American audiences in the last 15 years (yes, I know there are always early adopters but that’s not my point).  There was no question that non-white writers (and fans) were few and far between. Samuel Delaney and Octavia Butler were the exceptions that made the rule.

There were, even then, worries about the lack of female fans – though less so about the lack of female writers (5 of the previous Best Novel Hugos had gone to women writers). There wasn’t a lot of talk about ‘sexual harassment’ or worse though everyone knew there were certain well-known male writers young women should be careful not to be alone with. You have to remember that these were the days when universities had just stopped turning a blind eye to professors sleeping with their students. The Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings were nearly a decade in the future.

Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then – both as a society and as fans of science fiction. Despite that, there are still reports of ‘people behaving badly.’ People take offence – even when it’s not offered.  That happens and will continue to happen, because people aren’t perfect. Put them in a crowd with a drink in their hands and their imperfections come to the fore. This is no excuse. If you behave like an idiot in certain situations – like when you drink – then it is incumbent on you to avoid those situations. If you just generally behave like an idiot – or, in fact, a criminal (unwanted sexual touching is a crime folks) – then expect to be treated like one. Conventions can’t stop bad behavior – but they can put in place mechanisms to limit it and deal with it appropriately – in a fair and transparent manner – when it happens. No cover-ups; no kangaroo courts.

Anyway, that’s not what I started out talking about.

Is WorldCon a thing of the past? Will it, must it change? Should it do more to attract a younger, more diverse crowd? Should it go away? Who cares what you (or I) think anyway?

WorldCon exists (has existed for more than 70 years) because people are devoted to organizing it and people are keen to go to it. As long as that is true, nothing anyone says will stop it from happening. It may be that the demographic is narrower (or just different) than that which goes to ComicCon but so what? The demographic of people that go to live theatre is different (and narrower) than those who go to movies. Should we close the theatres? WorldCon focuses on books and writers; it therefore appeals to different people than those interested in movies and movie stars or comics and cosplay, for that matter. There is cross-over – people who like it all – but maybe not as much as we might think or hope. But the lines are not drawn on gender, race, sexual orientation, cultural background, or nationality but INTEREST.

Maybe we should have a YA Hugo to show we care more what young people read. In Canada, we have a Best YA novel award in the Auroras (our national version of the Hugo). I’m not sure it has increased youth interest in SF. In fact, I voted against creating the category – though now that it’s here, I’m happy to point out that Dissolve by Neil Godbout, published by Bundoran Press is a nominee this year. In 2001, a Harry Potter novel won the Hugo; in 2009, Cory Doctorow’s YA book, Little Brother, was a finalist. Somehow I think that shows more respect for YA writers than putting them in their own category – like a children’s table at an adult dinner party.

And what about all those old writers? Why aren’t younger ones getting more (or all of the attention)? I recall what my friend, two time Governor General Award winner for drama, Sharon Pollock, growled when the Canada Council announced special grants for young writers: “What are old ones supposed to do? Die?” By the way, the Canada Council defined young writers as those under 40. Not surprising since the average for selling a first novel seems likely to be somewhere around 36. So for those novelists in their twenties who are complaining about all those old guys – maybe you’re just old before your time. In any case, in 20 or 30 years, I’m sure you’ll have an answer for the next generation of geniuses clamouring for you to get out of the way.

As for seeking a broader audience for SF, it’s a great idea but it’s not as simple as one might think. The collective creative wisdom of writers and readers (and, I trust, editors and publishers) will solve the problem. The arrival on the scene of such fabulous writers as N.K Jemisin and Saladin Ahmed – along with many other ‘not old white guys’ writing short stories – will expand the base. It won’t attract all those kids who go to Fan Expo to catch a glimpse of an aging film star – but it will attract people who like books who never considered that SFF had anything to say to them. After all, how many black teenagers considered golf as a sport before Tiger Woods burst on the scene? Their successes – like his – will make a whole new range of readers see science fiction, and science fiction conventions, as a place they want to be.