Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Books, Books, Books

All the RTF files are ready at last, for a big new release of my backlist through E-reads! If all goes well, nine of my titles should be available for purchase by mid-May through Fictionwise, Amazon Kindle Store, Sony Ebook Store, and other places where fine ebooks are sold. Many of them will also be available in paper as print-on-demand titles, under the E-reads imprint. (Not all, because the rights to some are still held by Tor.)

Some are reissues, with covers and formatting corrected from versions presently on sale, and some are all new. Included in the new are The Infinity Link, The Rapture Effect, Dragon Rigger, and Seas of Ernathe. (That last holds the record as my longest-out-of-print title.)

Speaking of print on demand, my friend Victoria sent me a link to a story in the UK's Daily Mail, concerning a standalone print-on-demand book maker, called the Espresso Book Machine, installed in a Blackwell bookstore on Charing Cross Road for market testing. Victoria wondered when we would see these in the U.S. Well, it's already been demoed to the U.S. bookseller trade! Here's the scoop on the E-reads blog. And here's what the machine looks like:

Finally—good news or bad news?—Amazon has just bought Lexcycle, the creators of the Stanza book reading software for the iPhone and iTouch. Ooh. Makes me uneasy. With Fictionwise now part of Barnes & Noble, who knows what's going to happen?

Oh, my head.


Monday, April 20, 2009

J.G. Ballard (1930 – 2009)

Science fiction writer J.G. Ballard has died, at the age of 78. The news took me by surprise when I read the Boston Globe this morning. But what stunned me more was that someone could write an obituary of the man and not even mention that he wrote science fiction, much less that he was a highly influential writer in the New Wave movement of the 1960s.

I discovered Ballard as a teenager, with the short stories gathered into collections such as The Voices of Time and Vermilion Sands, and then the apocalyptic novels The Drowned World and The Crystal World. Ballard's voice, darkly psychological, was a startling departure from any science fiction I had ever read before. I still have the paperbacks:

At the time, I knew nothing about the New Wave movement, I just knew I had discovered a writer who tapped into something in my own psyche—and I wanted more. Unfortunately, his work that followed, such as Crash, left me feeling cold and alienated, rather than engaged, and I regretfully moved on. But those earlier stories left a mark on me, one that I think probably influenced my own writing in subtle ways, and perhaps more than the work of any other single writer shifted my interests toward the psychological in SF.

J.G. Ballard: best known for Empire of the Sun, maybe—but one of the science fiction greats.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Video for Lydia Fair

Another little project I picked up along the way is a small video contribution to what I believe will be a very cool and probably intense and moving arts festival, coming up on April 25 at the Vineyard Church in Cambridge. It's called Lydia Fair, and it's bringing together artists of all stripes (painters, theater people, singers, one fiction writer that I know of—me, and heaven knows who all). The theme is Rescue, and it's a benefit fundraiser for two organizations called Love146 and Rebuild Africa. I'm really looking forward to it; there's tremendous artistic talent in the Vineyard community.

As for my part...I'm working on a video adaptation of the prologue to Sunborn. I've shortened and reworked the audio so that it sounds much better than the mp3 currently up on my website, and am using a sequence of great cosmic imagery from a variety of NASA observatories including Hubble, Chandra, SOHO, and others. A fellow named Adam, who does a lot of video work for the church, is helping me shape it into a "visualization" that we hope will evoke the story of Deeaab, as he wanders the galaxy encountering sentient suns, and wondering how he might rescue them from whatever is killing them. It'll only be about three minutes long, but I've gone from thinking "Hopeless!" a week ago to thinking, "This is going to be cool."

Afterward, my goal is to put it up online so you can all see it. In the meantime, if you live anywhere near Cambridge, Mass., you might want to check out Lydia Fair.

"We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion-year-old carbon
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden."
—Joni Mitchell, "Woodstock"

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