Thursday, May 21, 2015
An occasional round-up of interesting things.
The Avengers (MCU) are on par with the 1970s Avengers (comics) in terms of gender. Great graph of the team's size - and balance - over time. There is also a Marvel API now. Because.
But lest we sound too Marvel-focused, here's Batman vs Superman... in porn appearances.
One last vaguely comics-related note - Warren Ellis on storytelling:
Narrative forms need to keep moving at the pace of the world to some extent, need to keep looking for new sounds. Also, going back to earlier scenes and digging through their rubble for something that can be mutated and gene-edited in a lab and bolted on to something else in order to make something modern. It's not looking backward when you're constructing something new out of the parts. Frankenstein wasn't an archaeologist.
The above applies to many, many things, not least of which would be genre's tendency to look backwards and recycle tropes. Which, as per the statement above, is no bad thing, as long we're still doing so as a way to look for new sounds, and not just reproduce old ones.
The 100 Bestselling Used Books since 2000 (via Abebooks). Harry Potter isn't just the top SF/F presence, it is essentially the only SF/F presence. This a nature of Abebooks? The relatively-diminutive size of the genre? Or geeks' thorough adoption of digital for backlist titles?
Another list - r/fantasy's 'Best of Stand-alones' results.
On geeks & digital adoption - a nice piece from Tor.com's Niall Alexander on the 'new' rage for serialisation, featuring both K.J. Parker and Stark Holborn.
eBook bundling has also been in the spotlight recently, thanks to Tor's adoption of BitLit. This is a good piece from 2013 highlighting the rise of bundling (you'll note the reference to BitLit there as well), and some nice case studies from Canongate and Angry Robot.
I love the Facebook Insights tool. Fun facts: 10x as many people are interested in the Hugo Award in the US than the UK. A Game of Thrones' UK audience is 79% male. And Americans interested in Heinlein are twice as likely to have post-graduate degrees than the average.
We forget that self-publishing is awesome
Sahar El Mougy on the future of the novel, from 2013:
The internet has also democratized writing and self-publishing. Since the year 2000, millions of people around the world have enjoyed the free space for self expression offered in blogs and on the pages of social media. Some of those bloggers happened to be/ turned out to be writers. They were young writers with hardly any access to the publishing world. But through the virtual space, they could write and with a tap on the keyboard their writings were out there, readers reading and responding. Online self-publishing would not bring the writers money, yet their works would be read, they would be given feedback and offered a chance to pool with other writers/ bloggers.
I think we often make the error of only seeing self-publishing as a business. There's a certain sense of self-entitlement behind this, the smug belief that "I've got a novel worth millions, if only it could get to readers". This is the get-rich-quick story fed to us by the .01% of self-published successes and their Howeysian data - one that's easily disproved by the existence of the remaining 99.99% of the market.
I suspect the 'business view' is also one that's reinforced by the existence of quantifiable metrics. We can point at a novel and say 'success!' or (more likely) 'failure!' by the volume of sales, the profits and the Amazon ranking. Viewing self-publishing as a business allows us to judge it with some degree of objectivity: "Am I winning at writing? Let's check the numbers and find out!"
But El Mougy's keynote is a brilliant, and much needed, reminder of the greater stakes. When we value self-publishing as a means to a financial end, we forget that the very capacity to self-publish is an amazing end in and of itself. This, as El Mougy reinforces through the rest of her speech, is particularly key when expression itself is under attack. Financial success is a scorecard created from a position of privilege; for many, the objective is simply getting to play the game in the first place.
A bit worthy, I'm afraid, but always worth taking a moment to remember that the stuff going on right now is also really, really cool. We've got a lot of debates going on about traditional vs self-published, digital vs print, the death of everything, how you judge and compare and how the system is broken and and and... but underpinning everything is the incredible, inarguable awesomeness that is technology allowing many, many more people the ability to create and share their writing. We'll figure the rest out in time. #optimism
Pornokitsch People Elsewhere
Mahvesh reviews The Peripheral for Dawn and interviews Emily St John Mandel for Midnight in Karachi. The Dragonlance reread continues over at Tor.com, and now features actual dragons.
Bex, Jon and Jared are mostly impressed by Secret Wars #1 (and classic Spider-man costumes) at the One Comic Podcast
Molly goes con-hopping from WHC to DCC. Plus, the audiobook for Vermilion has been announced - released this August.
Anne will be chairing the Science Fiction Night (including Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Lotz, Paul McAuley, and Tom Harper) Friday night at the Greenwich Book Festival.
Bex is in conversation with Ben Aaronovitch on Saturday at the Festival, discussing 'Life, But Not As We Know It'.
(There's further Greenwich Festival geekiness on Sunday with Sarah Pinborough, James Smythe, Scott Andrews and Frencesca Haig.)
An interview with Chuck Tingle, the best-selling master of Dinosaur Erotica.
I'm screwing around with PK/Mailchimp automation - not for every post (that'd be nuts), but with these irregular round-ups of links and such. You can sign up here, but there are no guarantees as to formatting, quality, regularity or even the continued existence of this list. But it'd be nice to have your opinion... I won't, however, use your data for anything else, and if the list does go defunct, I'll delete everything properly.