British Fiction Focus

The Silver Age of Science Fiction

Welcome back to the British Genre Fiction Focus,’s regular round-up of book news from the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry.

Leading this week, the launch of HodderSilver: a digital only list dedicated to bringing classic science fiction for kids back into print.

Later on in the column, Ann Leckie talks about winning awards, updates from a couple of authors in Odds and Sods—including Clifford Beal, Luke Scull and Joe Abercrombie—and in Cover Art Corner, news of a light-hearted new novella by N. K. Jemisin.

The Silver Age of Science Fiction

May Day saw the launch of a new platform for old stories. Old science fiction stories, specifically:

Hodder Children’s Books is delighted to announce the launch of HodderSilver, their first digital-only list, on 1st May 2014. HodderSilver will republish critically-acclaimed gems of fantasy, sci-fi and speculative fiction from the 70s through to the early 00s for readers to enjoy digitally for the first time. The ebooks, which will be available for purchase from all online retailers, will contain such classics as Catweazle by Richard Carpenter—a cult success in the 1970s which was accompanied by a popular TV show—and Plague 99 by bestselling author Jean Ure.

Also in the ether as we speak: the first volume of the Starstormers series by Nicholas Fisk, The Ennead by Jan Mark and Journey Through Llandor by Louise Lawrence. The competitively-priced list continues into the distance, too, as HodderSilver has plans to republish out-of-print science fiction by authors such as Robert Swindell, L. J. Adlington, Adele Geras and Judy Allen, for a total of more than twenty ebooks bearing the brand new brand name… and all before September!

Beyond that, they’re apparently “open to suggestions about what to publish next.” As in: hey, readers—got any ideas? For serious. Fire them at the head honchos of HodderSilver on Twitter or Tumblr.

So why sci-fi?

Fiction editorial director Jon Appleton said Hodder opted for sci-fi because it was the genre most talked about online. “These were the books that people were talking about and sci-fi was the genre that bloggers were discussing,” he said [to The Bookseller]. “We’re really excited to try and reach a new audience. We think the market is out there so we’re reaching out to them.”

Here’s hoping HodderSilver finds a receptive readership.


Awards Watch: The Clarkes Love Leckie

On the back of bringing home Best Novel by way of the BSFA Awards, a Golden Tentacle for Best Debut courtesy The Kitschies, on top of nominations for a Nebula, and a Hugo too, last week, Ann Leckie went and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award as well.

Ann Leckie has been kind of beside herself since:

So, just the other day I was thinking to myself about what an amazing year this has been, and that no matter what happened over the next months, I had essentially already won—and won BIG.

How many people finish writing an entire novel? Fewer than don’t. That’s an accomplishment in itself. Of those, how many go on to hook an agent with that novel? Far, far fewer. If I never got any farther than that, well, I’d still gotten pretty far.

How many people then actually sell that novel? The numbers are dropping, and yet again if I got that far, and no farther, I’d be doing pretty darn awesomely, thank you very much.

Ann Leckie

As it happened, however:

Turns out, Ancillary Justice won the Clarke. Jenni Hill, my UK editor, accepted for me, and then called me to congratulate me but I’m afraid I was more or less incapable of speech.

I still mostly am. I mean, I can talk easily about what I did yesterday morning, or what I had for dinner last night. But when I get to the part about winning the Clarke, I mostly just say Oh, my God a lot, with an occasional Holy fuck.

I guess I’ll get it processed eventually, but oh, my God. I won the freaking Clarke.

A well-deserved win it was as well. In the words of Award Director Tom Hunter:

There’s always something extra special when a new or first time writer wins a prize like the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and Ancillary Justice is very special indeed.

I have personally been recommended this book more times than any other last year, always by people whose opinions I trusted, and what has been really interesting to me is that the people making those recommendations were people I would usually think of as having all kinds of different kinds of tastes in their science fiction reading. Clearly this explains all of the attention Ancillary Justice has been getting across the field of SF awards, and I couldn’t be more delighted to see Ann join the ranks of Arthur C. Clarke winners.

Well, while it might have been nice to see some love at long last for James Smythe, there’s always next time, right? In the interim, I could hardly be happier for the newly minted Arthur C. Clarke Award-winner.


Cover Art Corner: The Meek Shall Inherit an Omnibus

The Inheritance Trilogy NK Jemisin

Last Wednesday, N. K. Jemisin announced that Orbit plan to publish an omnibus edition of The Inheritance Trilogy this winter. The 1000+ page paperback will bring together The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, and The Kingdom of Gods alongside a brand new novella set in the same milieu as Jemisin’s debut: a short sequel about a godling growing up in the shadow of her parents.

As the first new godling born in thousands of years—and the heir presumptive to Sieh the Trickster—Shill’s got big shoes to fill. She’s well on her way when she defies her parents and sneaks off to the mortal realm, which is no place for an impressionable young god. In short order she steals a demon’s grandchild, gets herself embroiled in a secret underground magical dance competition, and offends her oldest and most powerful sibling.

But for Eino, the young Darren man whom Shill has befriended, the god-child’s silly games are serious business. Trapped in an arranged marriage and prohibited from pursuing his dreams, he has had enough. He will choose his own fate, even if he must betray a friend in the process—and Shill might just have to grow up faster than she thinks.

Written as a palette cleanser after finishing The Fifth Season, The Awakened Kingdom is apparently a rather more light-hearted narrative than the sex- and death-drenched original trilogy. “A few old faves will appear,” I hear, “but for the most part this is a new story with new characters.”

Now the collected edition of The Inheritance Trilogy does look lovely—that cover art sure is something—but those of you who, like me, already own the individual volumes will be doubly pleased to hear that The Awakened Kingdom will also be published as an ebook independent from the omnibus.

December 9th is the date to mark in your book-buying calendars.


Odds and Sods

  • According to Clifford Beal’s blog, Richard Treadwell, the hero of Gideon’s Angel, returns as a soldier of fortune in The Raven’s Banquet in just a few short days, with digital editions of this till recently secret prequel being made available by way of various retailers in mid-May.
  • Luke Scull reports that The Sword of the North, the sequel to The Grim Company, is finally finished. That is, the first draft is. He’s hoping that a late 2014 publication date is a possibility still, but methinks next spring is the thing.
  • Last but not least, in his April progress report, Joe Abercrombie notes that there will be new editions of the First Law novels later in 2014, and that each one will come complete with a brand new short story. “The Blade Itself one, ‘A Beautiful Bastard,’ is an episode from Glokta’s past, the Last Argument of Kings one, ‘Made a Monster,’ is an episode from Logen’s, the Before They are Hanged one, ‘Hell,’ gives a little insight into what happened when Dagoska fell to the Gurkish from the point of view of a young acolyte called Temple. More details on when and how these will be available later, but they’ll definitely be in a comprehensive collection of all my First Law short stories which should be appearing some time in 2016.”

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and He’s been known to tweet, twoo.


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