Forbes on the World’s Top-Earning Authors

Sunday, September 14th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Veronica Roth joins Forbes list of highest-earning authors for the first time

Veronica Roth joins Forbes list of highest-earning authors for the first time

Forbes Magazine reported on the World’s Top-Earning Authors this week and as always the list includes several genre writers — and a few new names.

Twenty-six year old Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series, joins the list for the first time at #7 — ahead of John Grisham, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling. Once again, James Patterson tops the list, as he has for the last several years, earning $90 million in 2013. He produced an amazing 14 books last year (same as the previous year), most written with an assortment of co-authors; his novels account for one out of every 17 hardcover novels purchased in the United States. His successful series include the Alex Cross and Michael Bennett titles; in addition to adult fiction, he’s also the bestselling living author of young adult and middle grade books.

Next on the list is Dan Brown at $28 million, mostly on the successof  Inferno, the fourth in his Robert Langdon series (The Da Vinci Code and others), which sold more than 1.4 million copies in the U.S. Third and fourth are Nora Roberts and Danielle Steel.

I was pleased to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney on the list at #6; Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins ranks #10, and George R.R. Martin clocks in at #12. The top authors on the list are as follows.

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Alan Moore Completes 1 Million+ Word Historical Fantasy Novel, Jerusalem

Saturday, September 13th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Alan-Moore-smallAlan Moore’s daughter Leah has posted a report on Facebook that her father has completed the first draft of his second novel, Jerusalem, and that the draft clocks in at more than one million words.

To give you a sense of perspective, that’s more than five times the length of Dune (186,000 words), and twice the length of all three novels of The Lord of the Rings (473,000 words). As The A.V. Club puts it, “Alan Moore wrote a novel so heavy even he can’t lift it.”

Jerusalem reportedly examines history of a small section of Moore’s native Northhampton, with chapters written in dramatically different styles. Here’s Moore’s description:

I’ve done a chapter that’s like a mid-sixties New Wave, New Worlds Michael Moorcock-era science fiction story. There’s one that’s like a piece of noir fiction. It’s all these different styles…

In some ways, the book sounds similar to his first novel, The Voice of the Fire, which portrayed 6,000 years of English history by following twelve different characters in the same region of central England. As Comics Beat points out, it’s also similar in some respects to his unfinished comic opus Big Numbers.

Alan Moore is the writer of some of the most famous comics of the 20th Century, including Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, From Hell, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Moore does not yet have a publisher for the mammoth tome.


Graham Joyce, October 22, 1954 – September 9, 2014

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Graham Joyce-smallGraham Joyce, the World Fantasy Award winning writer of The Facts of Life, The Tooth Fairy, and Some Kind of Fairy Tale, died yesterday of lymphoma. His first novel, Dreamside, was published in 1991. He followed it a year later with Dark Sister, the first of his many fantasy novels to be nominated for (and win) the British Fantasy Award. All told, he won the British Fantasy Award for best novel a total of six times, for Requiem (1995), The Tooth Fairy (1996), The Stormwatcher (1998), How To Make Friends With Demons (2009), and Some Kind of Fairy Tale (2012). His 2002 novel The Facts of Life won the World Fantasy Award; his final novel, The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit (published in the UK as The Year of the Ladybird in 2013) was released in 2014.

I met Joyce only a handful of times, most recently at the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego in 2011, where he entertained the Black Gate team — including Katie Redding, Scott Taylor, and I — with his stories and his relentless energy. A month ago Graham wrote of his diagnosis in a powerful post in his blog:

This is what I mean by the shocking clarity that cancer brings… if a dragonfly buzzes my ear like an aeroplane I’ll still be going, ‘What did it say?‘ Because the screw that has for so long been loose in me hasn’t been tightened by cancer. Actually I know what the dragonfly said. It whispered: I have inhabited this earth for three hundred million years old and I can’t answer these mysteries; just cherish it all.

And in turn the Heron asks, with shocking clarity as it flies from right to left and left to right: why can’t our job here on earth be simply to inspire each other?

Graham Joyce died on September 9th, at the age of 59. He is survived by his wife Suzanne and their two children. He will be missed.


The 2014 British Fantasy Award Winners Announced

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

A Stranger in Olondria-smallThe 2014 British Fantasy Award winners have been announced, and once again I’m reminded that there’s a lot of fantastic fantasy out there I’m not reading.

Every year, while I’m struggling to catch up on Henry Kuttner short stories I haven’t read or something, another must-read fantasy escapes me. This year it appears to be Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria, which so far has been nominated for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. On Sunday, it also won the British Fantasy Award for Best Fantasy novel (also know as the Robert Holdstock award.)

We haven’t reported consistently on the British Fantasy Awards in the past and, looking back, that was an obvious error in judgment. They’ve selected some terrific winners over the years and it’s time we paid more attention. Besides, they have an award named after Karl Edward Wagner — that alone should make them noteworthy.

The complete award list follows.

Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award):

A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer Press)

Best Horror novel (the August Derleth Award):

 The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes (HarperCollins)

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Take Zombies Seriously: The Pentagon, Mayo Clinic Researchers, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control All Do

Monday, September 8th, 2014 | Posted by Nick Ozment

are-you-ready-for-a-zombie-attack_1First there was the much-ballyhooed U.S. Strategic Command document discovered earlier this year outlining a plan of action in case of a zombie apocalypse (read the CNN report HERE). Then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention capitalized on the zombie zeitgeist with their campaign for zombie outbreak preparedness (HERE). Even researchers from the Mayo Clinic, the top-ranked hospital in the United States, have participated in “Bounce Day,” which describes itself as “an integrated disaster response experience” that simulates a zombie plague (HERE).

Such stories are noteworthy and amusing, especially to a horror maven such as myself, but perhaps they aren’t as surprising as some folks may first think. Really, they make perfect sense.

Protocols for dealing with a zombie outbreak are pretty similar to those for virtually any pandemic (minus gunshots to the head). As the Bounce Day blog notes, using “actors simulating illness (zombies) and those affected by the crumbling of society” in such training scenarios helps “participants [learn] both medical and nonmedical response protocols ranging from vaccination and treatment to refugee camp management and security.” In other words, even though zombies don’t exist, the skills we would need to utilize in order to contain them are highly practical for many real-world threats (avian flu, Ebola — take your pick of scary viruses that keep World Health Organization officials up at night).

Zombies provide a fill-in-the-blank marker for such quarantine situations — a growling, rot-faced placeholder for any number of nightmare scenarios. Ironically, by giving such hypothetical scenarios the zombie veneer, you make them less scary. Practicing for a bird-flu pandemic is kind of depressing, and really kind of terrifying. Zombies are fun because they don’t exist. Hence we have an illustration of how monsters are often used to sublimate real fears under the guise of stand-in bogeymen. We can deal with our real fears at one level removed, without having to cogitate on them directly.

And as an added bonus: in the unlikely event the dead do start rising again with a hunger for human flesh — hey, we’ll be prepared for that too.


Kirby McCauley, September 11, 1941 — August 30, 2014

Thursday, September 4th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Kirby McCauleyIn late fall 2000, Dave Truesdale convinced me to reprint Edmond Hamilton’s first published story, the creepy pulp tale “The Monster-God of Mamurth,” from the August 1926 issue of Weird Tales. Harlan Ellison told us “it’s an awful story,” but what does he know? It has ancient lost cities, valiant explorers, horrible curses, and seriously spooky giant spiders. I loved it.

So I dutifully tracked down the rights, and discovered they were controlled by the Pimlico Agency in New York. In short order, I found myself on the phone with a guy named Kirby McCauley, negotiating the right to reprint the story in the second issue of Black Gate for $200.

Now, I’d certainly heard of Kirby McCauley. He was Stephen King’s first agent, and King had famously related some of the guidance McCauley gave him early in his career. More interesting to me, McCauley was also an accomplished editor. His Dark Forces was easily the most acclaimed horror anthology of the 1980s (it included Stephen King’s The Mist, among many other notable stories.) So in between our business dealings, I mentioned to Kirby that I was a fan. He was very gracious and surprisingly easy to deal with.

For a good many years, Kirby McCauley was one of the most successful agents in the industry, with a client list that made his peers green with envy. George R.R. Martin said “Kirby revolutionized agenting in SF and fantasy and horror,” and that was no exaggeration. However, McCauley’s career suffered a significant downturn in the late 90s, and he lost most — but not all — of his biggest clients.

Kirby McCauley passed away last weekend, and his death has largely been ignored by the industry. But today, I found a lengthy appreciation written by his client and friend George R.R. Martin. It’s definitely worth the read, both as a remembrance of a man who made a big difference in the industry and as a wonderful snapshot of what publishing was like in the 70s and 80s.

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Action Comics #1 Sells For $3,207,852 on eBay

Monday, August 25th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Action Comics Issue 1-smallIf you’ve been on eBay at all in the last ten days, you’ve probably seen banner ads for an unusual auction: a copy of Action Comics #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman. Written and drawn by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Action #1 was published on April 18, 1938 (cover-dated June) by National Allied Publications, the company that eventually became DC Comics. Although it had a print run of over 200,000, only some 50-100 copies of Action #1 are still known to exist.

The seller, Darren Adams of Pristine Comics in Washington, had the comic professionally graded by CGC at a 9.0. Only one other copy has ever achieved a 9.0, and it sold for $2.16 million in 2011. Until yesterday, that was the highest price ever paid for a comic book. Adams didn’t restrain his enthusiasm in the auction description:

For sale here is the single most valuable comic book to ever be offered for sale, and is likely to be the only time ever offered for sale during many of our lifetimes… This is THE comic book that started it all. This comic features not only the first appearance of Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, but this comic began the entire superhero genre that has followed during the 76 years since. It is referred to as the Holy Grail of comics and this is the finest graded copy to exist with perfect white pages. This is…. the Mona Lisa of comics and stands alone as the most valuable comic book ever printed.

This particular copy is the nicest that has ever been graded, with an ASTONISHING grade of CGC 9.0! To date, no copies have been graded higher and only one other copy has received the same grade. It is fair to say though that this copy blows the other 9.0 out of the water. Compared to the other 9.0 that sold for $2.1million several years ago it has significant superior eye appeal, extremely vibrant colors and PERFECT WHITE PAGES.

The auction ended at 6:00 pm Pacific time on Sunday. Bidders had to be pre-qualified and there were a total of 48 bids. The winning bid, placed 32 seconds before the end of the 10-day auction, was made by an unidentified eBay veteran with feedback from over 2,500 sellers. See the eBay auction listing here.


LonCon 3 Report: Attending the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

LONCON3_logo_270wLast weekend in London was LonCon 3, this year’s Worldcon. The convention, which has been held in various cities around the world since 1939, is where the Hugo Awards are given out and where fans from all over the globe meet up.

It was my first Worldcon, and while I’ve been to large conventions before such as World Fantasy and Eastercon, not to mention several local conventions such as Tuscon, I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I got was five fun days of events, conversation, and camaraderie.

The Loncon staff did a fine job making everything run smoothly. A handy pocket guide steered me around the huge convention center without a hitch, and twice-daily newssheets kept me up-to-date on any changes.

There were only a couple of small minuses. First off, the dining options at the ExCel Centre were overpriced and generally substandard. Not that this is unusual for a convention center, so I don’t blame LonCon for this!

Also, the ExCel is huge and has all the ambiance of a shopping mall. But as Robert Silverberg pointed out, “Cons aren’t about venues, they’re about people.”

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The 2014 Hugo Award Winners

Monday, August 18th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Ancillary Justice Ann Leckie-smallThe 2013 Hugos were awarded at LonCon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London, England.

There’s a lengthy list of winners, so let’s get to it. The complete list follows.

Best Novel

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit)

Best Novella

“Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)

Best Novelette

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor.com, 09-2013)

Best Short Story

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

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The 1939 Retro Hugo Award Winners Announced

Saturday, August 16th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Sword in the Stone T. H. White-smallBack in April, we told you about the nominees for the 1939 Retro Hugo Awards, for the best science fiction and fantasy first published 75 years ago.

The Hugos were first awarded at the 11th World Science Fiction Convention in 1953. The 1939 Retro Hugo Awards celebrate the finest work published in 1938, which fans would have voted on at the very first Worldcon in New York in 1939 (if the Hugos had existed in 1939).

The Retro Hugos were awarded at Luncon 3, the The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, held from Thursday, August 14th through Sunday, August 17th, in London, England. The 2014 (non-Retro) Hugos will be awarded tomorrow in a ceremony just before the close of the convention.

The Retro Hugo awards were presented by Mary Robinette Kowal and Rob Shearman.

Without further ado, here are the winners:

Best Novel:

The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White (Collins)

Best Novella:

“Who Goes There?” by Don A Stuart [John W. Campbell] (Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1938)

Read More »


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