Press release #2: Angry Robot hires Lee “Hub” Harris as Assistant Editor

(December 1st, 2008, Nottingham UK) Angry Robot, the upcoming contemporary SF and fantasy imprint from HarperCollins, has announced a new recruit. Lee Harris joins the Nottingham-based team as Assistant Editor from January.

lee harrisLee made his name in SF circles as founder of Hub, the weekly newsletter that has delivered a short story and reviews to its ten thousand subscribers every Friday for several years. He is also the editor of Prism, the newsletter of the British Fantasy Society.

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Robots at large

Today we give thanks to our robot overlords

albert & some loserOn this most special day of all days (apologies to web users outside of the US, but this celebration is not available in your territory), we give thanks to all those pioneering research that may bring the day when we literally embrace our shiny metal masters one bunny hop closer.

What we’ve always wanted — the Shakeutron robot urinal

Creepy, creepy real life robots.

Blah blah blah robot sex blah blah now wash your hands.

Roll your own, with the Society of Robots.

Note to self: stop this robot-related linkage by press releasing some books or a new assistant editor or something, soon as.

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Kill Em All!

The real three laws of robotics

We love that cheeky scamp Warren Ellis, not least because now and again he does stuff like this — the three real laws of robotics:

1. Robots couldn’t really give a fuck if you live or die …
2. Robots do not want to have sex with you. Are you listening, Japan? …
3. What, you can’t count higher than three? … You can go now.

Read the whole thing chez Ellis, meat bag.

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Books, Future formats

The “C” word

mash it up!At World Fantasy Con this year I heard a great deal about Crossover. (What did you think I meant? For shame…) It’s not that new a term, but more and more people are using it. For a while we at Angry Robot, along with others from other imprints, have been debating our thoughts on just what to call what might even turn out to be a whole new genre of fiction.

It’s that stuff that sits, well, somewhere in the hazy middle of the traditional genres such as science fiction and fantasy, as well as crime, historical, comicbooks and more, and takes massive influences from all. It’s the stuff which, while ostensibly from one obvious genre, doesn’t just add a pinch of flavouring from another, but mashes them all together wholesale. They do it in computer games, they do it in movies, ethnically you even get presidents like this, and by god they’re doing it in books now as well.

“Crossover” has started to stick, and it seems to solve problems that other names – “modern fantasy”, “dark fantasy”, “cult”, “pop culture” among them – have simply not addressed. And it isn’t “slipstream”… that stuff was everything around the edge of SF/F, rather than at its new core. Perhaps “crossover” will stick around a little longer, but I ain’t so sure, mostly because it doesn’t actually describe anything. Suggestions on a Comment form please if you have a better idea. Whatever this new mixed-up genre ends up being called, however, there is right where Angry Robot is aiming.

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Follow the Robot on Twitter

The Robot Tweets
The Robot Tweets
Where this is going to go I can’t exactly tell, but in our all-round embrace of the social media age (ie, er, this blog), I thought the Robot gang should be able to tweet to the world whenever and however we want to.

So we have a Twitter account, and may even use it over the months and years ahead. Follow us, if you do such a thing, and we promise to follow you back…

Even if we don’t, I got a computer-generated thank you from Barack Obama yesterday for all my help getting him elected … really, he shouldn’t have!

I’ve also discovered (a year after the rest of the world), that Stephen Fry is the most fanatic twitterer in the universe. Seriously, he should write books, make TV series, write newspaper columns, appear on the radio and write/direct films or something.


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What the Boss said…

After posting last week on our C.E.O’s upcoming speech at Kings College London, it’s with a sense of renewed excitement I can report back on what she said:

She described the linear model of a publisher producing books to be ultimately consumed by a retailer as “becoming circular”. Readers are now playing a greater part in the publishing process, interacting with one another, the authors and producing content themselves. “We need to have two models to deal with that therefore – what we do now, adding value by selecting, nuturing, marketing and finally selling content to the consumer – in whatever form they demand,” she said. “And a second model whereby we create value in the experiences around that content and facilitate the dialogue between writers and readers.”

Vicky’s argument is about how we reach consumers as a publisher, and how we change our operational model as a business underneath it to meet those needs – as a corporate guy, that gets my juices flowing…

Despite this, she said that digitisation offered new openings for publishers. “The new opportunities this throws up are an end to piles of unwanted inventory, no more returns (book publishing remains one of the few remaining sale or return businesses), no more out of print titles and more value attached to the “long tail” of obscure or niche titles,” she said.

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Books, Other people's business

Jeff Vandermeer is a crazy Predator

Jeff VanderMeer's Predator tie-in novel - what a combo!
Jeff VanderMeer's Predator tie-in novel - what a combo!
Jeff VanderMeer, over on the rather excellent blog at, talked recently about his writing of a Predator tie-in novel for Dark Horse, Predator: South China Sea.

This excites me, for two simple reasons.

1. Jeff rocks – Cities of Saints and Madmen is one of the most surprising books I’ve read out of genre for years. A twisting, Calvino-ish mass of fragments and vignettes that comes alive taken altogether.

2. Predator rocks – Arnie’s greatest moment by a country-mile (way beyond Terminator), a vicious, punchy barrage of Jungle ultraviolence.

So put ’em together and something good has GOT to happen right? I hope so – it’s not always easy to get worked up about tie-ins, even when someone as good as Jeff is writing them. But Predator, that’s enough to get me hoping for something dark, hard and nasty to come crawling out of the Jungle. Jeff – don’t let me down!

Check the original movie trailer for some good memories:


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Events, world fantasy

Calgary calling

Calgary in Canada – which is where I am right now – is a looong way from the UK, so many hours behind that it feels like the con’s only just started while it’s actually day three already. So why come all this way? Because World Fantasy is possibly the best con around, at least for us publishing types. It’s fairly compact – maybe 1200 folks, and well over half of these are writers, artists and editors. It’s the sort of con where you can spy the near-godlike George RR Martin in a huddle with new guy Peter Brett, or artists of the calibre of Todd Lockwood and John Picacio swapping war stories over a drink, and barely bat an eye. The sheer approachability of such talented men and women is often a feature of SF cons, but at World Fantasy it’s unparalleled. Check out some photos from the con, already up on Flickr, courtesy of the tireless Kathryn Cramer… and yes, your humble scribe is lurking in at least three of these.

This con is also a place where publishers can get some proper face-to-face time with writers old and new, go deep into the detail, and ultimately, well, buy some books. Well, I’ve certainly done some of that… But if it’s all the same with you, you’ll have to wait till the ink’s dry on some contracts before I can tell you what they are. But we’re getting there, that’s for sure. It’s been gratifying to find, too, that so many people here know about Angry Robot, and indeed our mission too. 

Calgary itself is an odd place – a massively developed downtown with towering skyscrapers and streets in almost perpetual shade, and a few blocks either side some neighborhoods so shabby you’d swear they were stuck in a Kojak episode from 1975. If you find the Calgary Tower on the photo and go down its column, the con’s in the brown building just below it. Oh yeah, and that clinking sound is enticing me away from my laptop. Cheers!

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Here comes Halloween

As Marc’s been looking towards our first batch of acquisitions (news coming soon!), it’s been very clear there’s a brewing trend for a next wave of horror writers out there. It’s something that mills around in publishing circles, where we keep on waiting for the great resurgence of commercially successful horror writing after the halcyon days of the 80s. And we keep on talking about it, but still it doesn’t come back!

And here we are, of course on the one day per year when everyone’s thinking horrific thoughts in the glorious pagan-capitalist tradition that is Halloween.

So where are the books?

Well, if anyone out there hasn’t read Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box yet, then get busy – Stephen King’s son is the real deal: contemporary, accessible, thrilling and psychologically astute. He could really go on to be something special.

But why not go back to his dad for some ghoulish kicks?
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Events, Future formats

Go and listen to the Boss

Great album, but not the subject of this post!
Great album, but not the subject of this post!
Not that Boss – though I love a listen to Born to Run pretty much anytime.

OUR boss: Victoria Barnsley, HarperCollins UK and International CEO and Publisher.

She’s at the London School of Economics next Tuesday talking about exactly the business context that led Angry Robot to come into existence: the change coming from traditional thinking about what a publishing company does (acquires and publishes books for other people to sell for them) to what future publishing companies must do (acquire and distribute content for them and their consumers to decide what they want to do with).

Vicky’s talking about that in the context of the transition from “analogue” thinking to “digital” thinking – and that’s exactly right. Digital’s not just a way of marketing, it’s a way of thinking – to say we fully know what the hell it means yet would be stretching it, but we want to find out!

Anyway, if you’re in London, go along for a glimpse of the bigger picture.

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The times they are a changin…

There’s lots of scope for change in the world of SF&F publishing – lots of new things to do, lots of new ways of operating.

But when it comes to the big decisions, basically there’s only two things you can do in business (and publishing is a business, for better or worse) – diversify or rationalise. Angry Robot is a product of a decision to diversify – creating a parallel space to HarperCollins‘ Voyager imprint, and the individual publishing of Tolkien, in which to work with different publishing and business models.

And if we think diversification is the way forward, that doesn’t mean rationalising isn’t the right way either. So it was no surprise really to see that Hachette in the US have pulled Orbit and the graphic novel/manga imprint Yen Press into one operation under the overall Orbit brand.

It makes sense – Orbit goes from strength to strength, they do fantastic things for readers and the business as a whole.

Rationalising another imprint under their brand that does different media gives them a platform to go in another direction: diversification under a single brand umbrella, if you like.

So basically, good luck guys!

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