" In this universe the night was falling; the shadows were lengthening towards an east that would not know another dawn. But elsewhere the stars were still young and the light of morning lingered; and along the path he once had followed, Man would one day go again"

Arthur C. Clarke Against the Fall of Night

Sunday, February 2, 2020

New books and the state of science fiction publishing

  Why does this post lead off a photo of an old lamp, is this some metaphor for suddenly seeing the light? Not really, Helen bought it for the living room at a mid-mod shop we visit, Murphy's Mid-Century. The table that features in the photos below also came from Murphy's as part of a trade. It is a local shop selling used furniture and one we love to visit. Indeed Saturday was spent on our favourite pastimes, trying a new breakfast place and visiting a few shops. 

One is an independent bookstore called Second Page. There is a second store, Pages as well, but both are independent and locally owned. They sell new and used, and I have featured purchases from them before. Today I noticed they had anthology Octavia's Brood and Butler's Lilith's Brood as well. I had read the first chapter of Dawn, the first book in the trilogy online and wanted to read all three books. As I eyed both books, I remembered I had planned to order Lilith's Brood online using gift cards I received from my family for Christmas. Then I looked around and thought and then how do these people stay in business. If they close, where do we go on a day out to browse real shops that are not stocked from a central warehouse by some corporate purchasing department? 

Marc Yancus/John Jennings

We visit three independent bookstores in Calgary, that stock new books. 
It is in these stores that we find books we would never discover online and that the chains don't stock. Helen left with a book on the history of textiles. 

Dominic Harman/Tomislav Tikulin/Donato Giancola

The other day Helen sent me an article on the state of Science Fiction Publishing. It seems some publishers are doing okay, others are struggling. This year I had decided to subscribe to both Asimov's and Analog, so I could read some current science fiction. I got paper because it was easier, and no one was going to delete them from my Kindle account for me. Also, I am old, and like paper copies, I can share them with friends and generally run riot.

I had been buying Clarkesworld for years focusing on the year-end anthologies (see comments on paper copies above). I also get some individual issues because they have some of the greatest covers in the history of SF, and this site is about SF illustration as well as stories. I also got Spotify this week so that I can listen to weird British Hauntology inspired music (I blame the Unsubscriber, see my Blogs I follow section and The Fortean Times), but this also allows me to access the Clarkesworld podcasts. I have also pulled some free samples of Beneath Ceaseless Skies for my kindle to see about adding them. If you like Thomas Ligotti I would recommend you try an issue of the online journal Vastarien. Mainly I would suggest that if you can afford it you support some of the things you like so they continue to be available. 

Normally I attribute the cover artists for Clarkeworld their cover gallery is here

Boy do I have lots reading to do.


  1. Thanks for the link to Clarkesworld covers, many of them are great. Especially in contrast with the old paperback covers I’ve been exploring on "The Art of Science Fiction Covers," thanks to your link. I’d say that 95% of those old book covers are, in my opinion, really bad. While I am sure that the general caliber of artist might be better for the Clarkesworld covers, I have a feeling that it is digital art that makes the biggest difference. Digital art – which can make the fantastic look nearly real – and science fiction are made for each other. And maybe there is one other factor; the Clarkesworld editors care about their covers and the stories, which is more than can be said for a lot of those old paperbacks – or so it seems to me.

  2. Thanks I really enjoyed your comment. I agree the cover art for SF paperbacks was quite hit and miss. A lot did not seem to have had much effort expended on them. The Clarkesworld covers really reflect the tropes of SF I love, robots aliens, space-suited figures and alien landscapes. And they are also beautifully rendered images.

    Thanks for commenting