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James Frenkel

Working With Vernor Vinge: Thirty Years On

About a month ago I realized that today’s publication of The Children of the Sky will not only mark the eighth book of Vernor Vinge’s that I’ve edited, it will also mark thirty years that I’ve been working with this talented writer. If we’re going to be picky, I have actually been working with him for slightly longer, but the first book of his that I worked on was a Binary Star double-novel book that included his short novel “True Names,” which was published in February of 1981.

We lived in a different world in 1981. I hadn’t yet started using a computer for word processing, no less for communicating on the internet. And the science fiction publishing world was a very different place as well. I—as is true of many colleagues both at Tor Books and elsewhere, could go on and on about how publishing has changed over the past thirty years or so. But I will refrain. In this blog post I will limit myself to talking about what the title suggests.

When I first read Vernor Vinge’s work, it was in the pages of Galaxy and Analog magazines. I particularly remember reading Grimm’s World, first the novella, then the novel. I was struck by the . . . I believe I would have said “nifty” world he had created. Like many SF readers, the notion of a world that had an SF magazine publishing company on a boat was nothing less than cool. It’s a tribute to his ability to evoke a sense of wonder in his readers.

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SDCC: Training Day at Comic Con

I didn’t expect my first post on the website to be about Comic Con, but I didn’t get a chance to post sooner, and Comic Con in San Diego is something I can’t not write about.

I’ve been going to science fiction and fantasy conventions–as well as other cons–for, I shudder to admit it–forty years. Of course, I was a small child (okay, I was in college) when I attended my first Lunacon in New York, in 1968. I’ve been to bigger events  than Comic Con, notably the Frankfurt (Germany) International Book Fair, which attracts more than 350,000 people.

But Comic Con is different. I’d been warned; I’d heard talk; I’d seen figures, pictures, the faces of Comic Con veterans. Huge, packed, the evidence all said; unlike anything else. And yesterday I discovered that it’s all true. In Frankfurt, the 350,000 people are spread over ten buildings, big buildings. If you go to the German building (or “Halle”), where the German attendees of the  book fair, the “Buch Messe” can see new German popular fiction and non-fiction, it’s crowded, and that’s probably as close as I’ve ever seen to what I experienced last night at Comic Con in San Diego’s convention center. But in Frankfurt, the German Hall (actually, one of two huge buildings with German publishers’ booths; the other is occupied by booths of German scientific publishers, a whole other universe) is open to the teeming throngs for only three of the five main days of the Fair. The other days, only professionals are allowed in the hall. At Comic Con, there are hours when the public doesn’t come in, but from what I saw last night, just three hours, from 6 PM to 9 PM, Comic Con is much more intense than Frankfurt.

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