Notes From A Small Con

  • The reviewing panel (which was me, Penny Hill, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, John Jarrold, and Paul doing a fine job of moderating), went well, I think. Lots of contribution from the audience, representing a wide range of opinions and preferences — short reviews, long reviews, spoiler-averse, spoiler-tolerant — and lots of interesting ground covered. I couldn’t summarise it, especially at 1am, but one useful concept that came up was the operation of filters at various stages of the reviews process: what gets reviewed, what the reviews editor publishes, capsule reviews serving as, essentially, notification of publication, then more detailed reviews for those who want more information. Which is to say, what makes a good review depends on who the review is written for.
  • Paul Cornell will be writing for Primeval next year.
  • Last year Gollancz did round-cornered masterworks; this year they’ll be doing eight “future masterworks”, and the innovation will be no titles on the cover. (Don’t know about the corners.) The included books: Evolution, Stephen Baxter; Blood Music, Greg Bear; Schild’s Ladder, Greg Egan; Fairyland, Paul McAuley; Altered Carbon, Richard Morgan; The Separation, Christopher Priest; Revelation Space, Alastair Reynolds; and Hyperion, Dan Simmons. Commence arguing now. (Personally I think it’s a good selection — particularly Evolution — except I’d have gone for Distress over Schild’s Ladder.)

12 thoughts on “Notes From A Small Con

  1. capsule reviews serving as, essentially, notification of publication,

    I mentioned it in the other thread and got no response but I think this is a great opportunity for the reviews editor to do a books received column, seperate to the actual reviews.

    That does seem like understandable masterworks list since they are Gollacz’s big name authors (OMG the patriarchy) but they just as with the previous lists it is a ratherdubious use of the word “masterwork”. As you say, it is the wrong Egan and if that is Hyperion and not Hyperion Cantos it seems a bit of a missed trick.

  2. Maybe they felt they reprinted The Child Garden too recently? (Blood Music was also an original masterwork, but fairly early on in the run IIRC.)

    As for women writers — the one I would have expected to see was Bold as Love, I think. But beyond that, *given that Gollancz are constrained by what they have the rights to*, I’m not sure what other options they had. It would have been great to see, say, Maul or The Sparrow, but they were never Gollancz titles. Hmm, maybe Mary Gentle?

  3. Well, The Child Garden masterwork was published in 2005 but both The Seperation and Hyperion have been reprinted around the same time. Not to mention that Altered Carbon, Schild’s Ladder and The Seperation were all only originally published in 2002, so presumably didn’t have paperback editions till 2003.

    By the by, have you seen the new Gollancz Philip K Dick editions? Great idea but somewhat spoiled by the fact they seem to have been printed on newspaper and stored in a sauna.

  4. Martin wrote, “but I think this is a great opportunity for the reviews editor to do a books received column, seperate to the actual reviews.”
    To some extent, this is served by Vector Particles, although that is still something of a selection rather than a complete listing.
    Some years, and many editors back, Matrix used to run a New Books column, both of books received and catalogue notifications for forthcoming titles. This was separate from the main, feature and Particles reviews in Vector.
    I suspect the split between the two magazines was predicated partly on the constraints of space (which although very, very big, according to THHGTTG, is still finite when sandwiched between covers), but partly that new and forthcoming books were regarded more as a news item.
    I notice Ian Covell does this for Locus for British Books.

    Steve J

  5. The Separation was a paperback original – the Gollancz hardback wasn’t the first edition. I haven’t been following if they then did a paperback.

    If would be interesting to look at the various series – the NEL Masterworks in the mid-1970s, the VGSF Masterworks of the mid-1990s, the Orion then Gollancz Masterworks (and didn’t Voyage do a uniform series of classic paperbacks in blue covers) and see how many of them were Mistressworks. I’d bet there was a McCaffery in the Voyager and a Le Guin in Orion and I recall a Mitchison in the NELs, but what about, say, Russ, Piercy, insert names here…. ?

    I seem to recall some book programme (I think it was around the time of Amis junior’s The Information) where they talked about bright sparks in PR decided a title-less book cover sell (like Communion). The implication was that there was indeed a reason why books had titles on them. (And Waterstone’s kept trying to give me a cheap or free copy of The Information, which I think just had an i on it in one of the editions.

  6. I forgot to mention those Gollancz yellowbacks – I think there was a Butler in there. Journeymanworks, I presume.

  7. Back in the 70s NEL did a classics series in blue covers (not all reprints, the first paperback of Billion Year Spree was in that series), and they included McCaffrey. I’m pretty sure Russ’s The Female Man has been on at least one such classics list, as have a couple of Le Guins. But that is probably it. Other than the VGSF list, which was so long it had to include a number of women, I don’t recall a single woman who began writing after, say, 1975 who has appeared in any of those lists. And certainly no list has included women in the same proportion as women actually write sf

  8. Paul – can only see Russ’s Female Man as a Women’s Press Classic in 2002 (and thus not listed as sf), before that various Women’s Press editions back to ’85, and before that the lovely brass brassiere Star edition. I don’t think it’s been on any mixed sex classics list in the UK.

    I suspect the NEL classics of the 1970s – I’m sure these were Masterworks – had a better sex balance than any series since. But not by far.

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