Cult Magazines Flip-through

HERE IS a short flip-through of CULT MAGAZINES: A to Z by Mark Frauenfelder of boing boing.

And another one from France (I think).

The Heyday of Illustrated Science Fiction Books

(Prelim spot art sketches by Jack Gaughan for Ace paperbacks c. 1965)

THE NEW YORKER magazine recently had a post titled “Bring Back the Illustrated Book!”. The piece outlines a time when profusely illustrated books were commonplace. When authors such as Dickens, Lewis Carroll, George Bernard Shaw and Dos Passos were paired with artists such as George Cruikshank,  John Tenniel, John Farleigh and Reginald Marsh. We are told, “ … in each case the author relied on the artwork not only to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the book but to add meaningfully to the story.” It seems that by the early 20th Century this publishing custom was already on the wan. Today it is rare to find an adult fiction book with interior illustrations.

Many old time science fiction fans who collect science fiction pulp and digest magazines already known about the great illustrators that served to enhance these publications. Hannes Bok, Virgil Finlay, Ed Emshwiller, Kelly Freas and other gifted artists were a vital part of these magazines. But there was also a heyday during the latter part of the 1960s into the beginning part of the 1970s when quite a few science fiction books, mainly anthologies, also contained interior illustrations. The high point of this practice may have been Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions anthologies, the first illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon and the second by Emshwiller.

One of our favorite artists Jack Gaughan illustrated a number of genre books for Ace Books, and later DAW, including the annual World’s Best Science Fiction series edited by Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr. Growing up in New York City I would buy these collections in downtown used bookstores and remember wondering why all books weren’t similarly illustrated. I had the feeling even then that modern publishers considered the practice suitable only for juvenile books. But there was a time when it was mature enough for Dickens and George Bernard Shaw.

While we don’t see the wide-spread return of illustrated adult books, we would like to point out that every story in the Nonstop anthology  Steampunk Prime, edited by Mike Ashley, is illustrated in a manner inspired by Ace Books back in the day and Nonstop Press does have plans to do more anthologies using this format. They do work well as ebooks, serving to break up long blocks of text on e-reader screens, and of course improve the aesthetic appeal of the whole package.

Nominating Ballot for the 2013 Hugo Awards

THERE ARE a couple of our books that we truly believe should be on the Nominating Ballot of the 2013 Hugo Awards: SCIENCE FICTION: THE 101 BEST NOVELS and THE NONSTOP BOOK OF FANTASTIC TATTOO DESIGNS. Both books fall under the Best Related Work category (Any work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom appearing for the first time during 2012 or which has been substantially modified during 2012, and which is either nonfiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text, and which is not eligible in any other category). If you participated in last year’s Chicon or have a membership to this year’s Worldcon you can go here to make your nominations. As always, we always appreciate your support. You only have until March 10th to make your nominations.

Have a Happy …

OR AS NONSTOP author Gay Partington Terry put it:

I’m looking forward to the new “Era” we’re promised by the Mayans.
Happy ‘end of the old one’…& other holidays.

We concur. Have a great holiday.

Image: Art by Ed Emshwiller from Emshwiller: Infinity X 2

A Writer Grows in Brooklyn

NEW MALZBERG BOOK TEASER

WE ARE hard at work on THE VERY BEST OF BARRY N. MALZBERG and the book should ship by late Feb. 2013. Here is a teaser excerpt from the introduction by Joe Wrzos:

Ironically enough, Malzberg never intended to be a science fiction writer in the first place. True, as an urchin growing up in Brooklyn, he had discovered some pretty good storytelling in both Galaxy and Astounding. But in that period, sniffy mainstream critics still tended to ignore the genre, as did most aloof academics as well. So, older and wiser, he cannily earned his B.A. at Syracuse University, supplementing it with a year as a Shubert Foundation Playwright Fellow. After which — now apparently fiercely ambitious — he set his literary sights higher than genre level, aiming his early plays and stories at loftier markets. The plays, hopefully, at Broadway (or at least Off-Broadway); the fiction, first at the literary quarterlies, and, then at the more upscale (and better-paying) slicks like Esquire and The Atlantic. He probably also tried some of the more prestigious book publishers like Random House, but there too the results were not encouraging. Fittingly, though, in 1973, less than a decade later, after he had achieved a measure of success in the sf field, Random House itself came calling, now eager to publish Malzberg’s prescient Beyond Apollo, his risky taboo-shattering challenge to the basic premise and gung ho spirit of NASA’s military-industrial, manned space program. And this, at a time when most of us were still basking vicariously in the afterglow of those exhilarating 1969 TV transmissions showing a space-suited Neil Armstrong ever so tentatively planting his historic out-sized boot prints on the powdery surface of the Moon, the first Earthling to do so (and an American, too!).

But before Beyond Apollo stirred up all that critical dust, Malzberg had already begun to make a notable, if limited, impact on the science fiction field with “We’re Coming Through the Window” (Galaxy, August 1967). The hilarious short-short about a hapless two-bit inventor, who concocts a homemade time machine but somehow manages (it’s a question of faulty calibrators, you see) to inundate his cramped little apartment with hundreds of replicas of himself, each of whom desperately striving to rectify the situation, only makes things worse! Malzberg followed this promising debut with “Final War” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April, 1968), which he himself has capsulized as being “about an endless war in an ambiguous time fought for no reason.” Exceedingly well written, exhibiting many of the skills he’d already honed before entering the sf field, this relentless indictment of all-out absurdist conflict could well have been snapped up – had they been given first look – by any of the top literary quarterlies or slicks of that period.  But, fortunately, science fiction, as it sometimes does, got there first.

Excerpt from Lord Of Darkness

Here is the first chapter from Lord Of Darkness.


Book One:
Voyager

1

ALMIGHTY GOD, I thank Thee for my deliverance from the dark land of Africa. Yet am I grateful for all that Thou hast shown me in that land, even for the pain Thou hast inflicted upon me for my deeper instruction. And I thank Thee also for sparing me from the wrath of the Portugals who enslaved me, and from the other foes, black of skin and blacker of soul, with whom I contended. And I give thanks too that Thou let me taste the delight of strange loves in a strange place, so that in these my latter years I may look back with pleasure upon pleasures few Englishmen have known. But most of all I thank Thee for showing me the face of evil and bringing me away whole, and joyous, and unshaken in my love of Thee.

I am Andrew Battell of Leigh in Essex, which is no inconsiderable place. My father was the master mariner Thomas James Battell, who served splendidly with such as the great Drake and Hawkins, and my mother was Mary Martha Battell, whom I never knew, for she died in giving me into this world. That was in the autumn of the year 1558, the very month when Her Protestant Majesty Elizabeth ascended our throne. I was reared by my father’s second wife Cecily, of Southend, who taught me to read and write, and these other things: that I was to love God and Queen Elizabeth before all else, that I was to live honorably and treat all men as I would have myself be treated, and that we are sent into this world to suffer, as Christ Jesus Himself suffered, because it is through suffering that we learn. I think I have kept faith with my stepmother’s teachings, especially in the matter of suffering, for I have had such an education of pain, in good sooth, that I could teach on the subject to the doctors of Oxford or Cambridge. And yet I am not regretful of my wounds.

I was meant by my father to be a clerk. My brothers Thomas and Henry and John followed my father to the sea, as did my brother Edward, who was drowned off Antwerp, only fourteen years old, the week before my birth. That news, I think, broke my mother’s heart and weakened her so that the birthing of me killed her. My father, doubly grieved, resolved to send no more sons a-sailing, and so I was filled with knowledge out of books, even some Latin and some Greek, in the plan that I should go up to London and take a post in Her Majesty’s government.

But the salt air was ever in my nostrils. My earliest memory has me in my stepmother’s arms at the place where the Thames flows into the sea, and shaking my fist at a gull that swooped wildly to and fro above me. Leigh is such a town, you know, as will manufacture mariners rather than clerks. Since early days we have had a famous guild of pilots here, taking charge of the inward-bound traffic, while the men of Deptford Strond in Kent provide pilots to the outward bound. It was the Kentish guild and ours that King Henry VIII of blessed memory incorporated together as the Fraternity of the Most Glorious and Indivisible Trinity and of St. Clement, which we call the Trinity House, and it is the brethren of Trinity House that keep all England’s ships from going on the reefs. My father Thomas held a license of that guild, which took him a dozen years in the winning; and his son Thomas, now dead like all my clan, was a pilot, too. And a time came when even I found myself dealing with quadrants and astrolabes and portolans in strange waters, though such piloting as I knew was in my blood and breathed into my lungs, and not taught to me in any school. It was God who made me a pilot, and the Portugals, but not Trinity House.

Another early thing that I remember was a visitor my father had, a great-shouldered rough-skinned man with hard blue eyes and a shaggy red beard and a stark smell of codfish about him, though not an unpleasant one. He snatched me up—I was then, oh, seven or eight years old, I suppose—and threw me high and caught me, and cried, “Here’s another mariner for us, eh, Thomas?”

“Ah, I think not,” said my father to him.

And this man—he was Francis Willoughby, cousin to Sir Hugh that was lost in Lapland seeking the northeast passage to China—shook his head and said to my father, “Nay, Thomas, we must all go forth. For this is our nation’s time, we English, going out to be scattered upon the earth like seeds. Or thrown like coins, one might better say: a handful of coins flung from a giant’s hand. And O! Thomas! We are bright glittering coins, we are, of the least base of metals!” Read more

Worldcon Photos from Chicago

WE WOULD LIKE to thank all the people who came by our table at Chicon. It is always nice to meet our readers face to face. Here are a few photos from the convention.

Nonstop Press editorial assistant Ruth Van Alst with Robert Silverberg
author of the forthcoming LORD OF DARKNESS. Silverberg has a Hugo Loser ribbon
on this badge, given  to members of that select group by George R.R. Martin

Ruth entertaining the troops. Andy Porter is in the background.

Nonstop Press senior editor Luis Ortiz
across the street from the convention center.
Ortiz’s Hugo Loser ribbon is hard to see in this picture.

Steampunk contraption being built next to the dealer’s room.

A view from our hotel room of the convention center on the left.

Snidley Whiplash as Victorian villain.

This vintage ice cream truck was parked in front of our hotel every night
and provided the perfect nightcap: ice cream sandwiches.

Interview: Damien Broderick & Paul Di Filippo

WE DID a joint interview with Damien Broderick and Paul Di Filippo, authors of SCIENCE FICTION: THE 101 BEST NOVELS–1985-2010, drawing on the Q&A format used in The New York Times Book Review’s “By The Book” column, which employs the same set of questions with all interviewees. We’re taking this liberty since it is not likely that the NYTBR will be talking to a fulltime science fiction writer any time soon (going by the Old Gray Lady’s general haughty attitude towards the genre). —Luis

What book is on your nightstand now?


BRODERICK: A curiously 20th century question. Barbara, my wife, has a Kindle, which contains many books. I don’t, but I read a lot on my computer screen—which is too large to take to bed—and I always chew through several books at the same time, propped up by turns on a lectern and pinned open so I don’t have to hold the damned things in my arthritic fingers. Literally, the book beside my bed is whichever one I happen to have with me. Last night it was Phil Dick’s FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID, which I haven’t read for decades.  The night before it was Salinger’s RAISE HIGH THE ROOFBEAM, CARPENTERS, ditto. Tonight it might be J. Storrs Hall’s BEYOND AI, or Russell Blackford’s FREEDOM OF RELIGION & THE SECULAR STATE, but probably not Samuel Delany’s THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE NEST OF SPIDERS, which is sitting menacingly on the kitchen table.

DI FILIPPO: My night table is covered with comics. Giant stacks of graphic novels (STEVE CANYON, DYLAN DOG) and “floppy” issues from Marvel and DC. I’m also reading the new Otto Soglow collection from IDW. But why only comics? Because at the end of a long day usually devoted to reading “real” books for review purposes, comics are my decompression addiction. The blend of visuals and (minimal) text is soothing after concentrated prose in large doses. That said, in my workspace is a stack of five new fantasy novels I need to review for B&N. I shan’t reveal the titles except to hint that all five are by women authors. Maybe I’m subconsciously working toward FANTASY: THE BEST 101.

What was the last truly great book you read?

BRODERICK: If you’d said “truly great novel” I might give a different answer, but I’m a hard audience these days, I’d probably say Bellow’s HERZOG, which I haven’t read since I was 21. Let’s see… Perhaps GÖDEL, ESCHER, BACH, and it’s more than 30 years since I read that one.

DI FILIPPO: Pynchon’s AGAINST THE DAY was mighty impressive. But I almost think his INHERENT VICE was “greater” due to its organic unity and conciseness. In either case, he’s the one author I automatically think of when questions of this nature are posed.

Are you a fiction or a nonfiction person?

BRODERICK: Totally both. I can go on binges—as with the Salinger stories, just reread, and a number of the Lord Peter Whimsy social mysteries by Dorothy Sayers, and Peter Carey’s later novels, such as THEFT and MY LIFE AS A FAKE, and a number of the stout novels by Kim Stanley Robinson. But I also dote on informed books about science (which I reviewed in a previous life) and used to be obsessed with literary theory, the more bizarre the better (and the more bizarre the more fun to whack them about the head and shoulders until they yelped, except that they never did because they weren’t paying attention to anyone but their claque).

DI FILIPPO: Like Damien, I’ll have to opt for a balanced diet approach—ideally. Though I suspect I read more fiction on the whole.  Fiction—the writing and reading thereof—will always be my first love, over the “true” stuff. I can imagine a livable world containing no non-fiction prose, but not one containing no works of the imagination.

What was the best book you read as a student? Read more

Radio’s HOUR OF THE WOLF Features Gay Terry June 28th

“ATTENTION INSOMNIACS with a radio: I’m going to be on Hour of the Wolf, WBAI (99.5, New York City) at 1:30am on June 28th. (It may be Wednesday night for some, but it’s officially early Thursday morning.) I’ll be chatting with Jim Freund, reading a story (or two) from MEETING THE DOG GIRLS, and maybe he’ll play some tunes I wrote words for. If you’re awake, you can call in and harass me; if not, it will be on the website: hourwolf.com for a week after.” —Gay Partington Terry

NS Kindle ebooks back on sale at Amazon

OUR DISTRIBUTOR IPG has come to an agreement with Amazon to sell Kindle editions of all the publishers they represent. This means that Nonstop Press books that are available in Kindle format will be again sold at Amazon.com. Over at MobyLives there is an interview with IPG president Mark Suchomel about their publishers surviving the Amazon boycott.

One thing to keep in mind here is that Amazon is now also a publisher and in direct competition with other publishers. In the scheme of things this situation is neither here nor there. Except that Amazon also have access to detailed sales data from all publishers that sell their books through Amazon.com. This aggregate statistical databank gives Amazon an outsized advantage in selling its own books and that a big advantage, with everything else, that the rest of us don’t have.