NEW AND UPCOMING BOOKS

Angry Robot, Submissions

What is “genre-enough”?

spacesquidsI stated in my previous post (“So, Uhhhh…  Hi”, below) that we had recently rejected some manuscripts that were not “genre enough”, and received a question back “what does the angry robot think is ‘genre enough’?”.

A thoroughly deserving question.

There are many criteria we use when deciding whether a book is suitable for Angry Robot (a major one being, of course: did we enjoy reading it? – it’s often such a subjective game). The question of whether a book is “genre enough” is an important one.

I can’t go into details about the rejected books themselves, as the authors will still be seeking suitable publishers, so I’ll talk in general terms.

Let’s look at the Bond movies. They’re usually reviewed in SF magazines and forums as they tend to contain gadgets that don’t exist, yet – an invisible car, a jet-pack that actually works, etc. There is an argument to say that these are science fiction films. I’d argue against that, and say that while they contain future-technology, the films are straighforward spy thrillers/action movies. The SF elements don’t actually matter to the plot – they’re just there to make the viewer think they’re watching something cool. Remove the invisible car or remote-control helicopter, and the film is still intact.

If you can remove the genre element without harming the flow of the narrative, it’s probably not genre enough.

For a book to be considered suitable it must not only wear its genre credentials on its sleeve, but probably on its underwear, too. It may even be tattooed on its buttock.

If your main character happens to live in a haunted house, and enjoys regular conversations with the ghost that’s based there, that’s a supernatual element. However, if the ghostly conversations add nothing to the plot (eg. if the ghost could be switched with a mundane, human flatmate, or simply removed completely without disrupting the plot), then the story is not genre enough. The fantastical elements of the story must not simply be a painted canvas against which the rest of the story takes place, they must be integral and vital to the tale being told.

Similarly, if your book is about the break-up of a long-term relationship, and your protagonist just happens to be a werewolf, that’s probably not enough to make it “genre enough”. Why is it important that he’s a werewolf (it’s important to him, obviously)? Is is lupine nature critical to the story being told, or is it merely a detail added to make the character more interesting?

The other answer, of course, is similar to the classic response to the question “what is science fiction?”

What is genre enough? We can’t give you a 100% complete answer, but we know it when we see it.

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Books, Writers

Learning from the greats

sfsignal-biglogo001Every so often I have the massive honour of being asked to contribute to one of SF Signal’s Mind Melds, wherein the august genre news site gathers the great and the good, and some lowly publisher types too, to offer opinions on a particular topic. Being far more of a backroom boy these days, it was a major shock to find myself amongst some of my idols in this week’s Mind Meld, on the topic of the best writing advice one ever received. Robert Silverberg, Gene Wolfe, Walter Jon Williams… oh wow, I am definitely not worthy!

Check out their sage words if you have any intention of becoming, or any experience of being, a writer.

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Uncategorized

So, uhhhh… Hi.

Well, I’ve been an angry robot for 3 weeks, now, and this is my first post (expect a lot more in future). I meant to post a “Hi, I’m Lee” message a couple of weeks ago, but things have been extraordinarily busy over the last few weeks.

It already feels like I’ve been here for months, but in a good way. Setting up a new publishing division was always going to be hard work. Luckily, Marco has been beavering away behind the scenes for the last few months, so I was able to walk into a role that straight away had plenty of work for me. Also, of course, as part of Harper Collins we have many back-end systems in place so we don’t need to invent everything from scratch.

I’ve been diligently working my way through the substantial submissions pile, and I’ve been struck by how high the overall quality of the writing is. There are very few novels rejected because the quality of writing isn’t good enough (though, inevitably there are some). Many of our rejections are due to the fact that the manuscripts (or proposals) just aren’t quite what we’re looking for. Indeed, two of the novels that we had to reject (for not being genre-enough) are of such high quality that I’ll be actively looking out for them when they do find a publisher, and buying a copy for myself.

It’s a sobering thought to think that sometimes, being excellent just isn’t enough.

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Angry Robot Media

THE best stuff of 2008, and no arguing now

robot-new-yearWell, another year over, and a new one just begun. (Hmm, sounds familiar…) So I poked our Lee and our Chris to get me a Top Cool Things of 2008 list or three, and rattled one off of my own. Then I flung them together with some pictures off the interweb. As you’ll see, we all took somewhat different approaches to this one. Anyway here they all are. Sorry. Read More

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Angry Robot

Xmas opening hours

Our remote snowbound outpost will be unmanned between Weds Dec 24th and Monday Jan 5th. However, we’ll be picking up and replying to email sporadically, so feel free to drop us a line if you need us.

When we return, we will have details of our first season for you. Oh yes.

Happy holidays, flesh-covered lifeforms.

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News

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.

Read More

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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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Uncategorized

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.

Oh.

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Uncategorized

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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