By Annalee Newitz at io9: Proof That Science Fiction Writers Get Better With Age
Number-loving blogger John Redford had a simple question: Do SF writers get better as they age? To find out, he studied the average age that authors won prestigious Hugo Awards, and created this chart.

He also looked at the typical amount of time between when an author started publishing, versus when she or he won a Hugo. Redford writes:

The youngest winner was Roger Zelazny at age 29 for “This Immortal”, the oldest were Vinge, Clarke, and Asimov at 63, and the average age is 45. The shortest interval from first-published-work to award was again Zelazny at 4 years, while the longest was Asimov at 44 for “Foundation’s Edge”. No surprise there – Zelazny burst on the scene like a nova, and Asimov was a star for generations. The average time from start to award was 17 years. Quite a few people had late starts – having first published in their mid-30s – and still won. I would say that the author who changed the most from his early work to his winning novel was Frederick Pohl, whose 1978 “Gateway”, written when he was 61, is quite different from his famous 50s satires like “The Space Merchants”.

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By Hillel Italie at the Associated Press: Vampire author Anne Rice set to release video book
The author of “Interview With a Vampire,” “The Vampire Lestat” and many other favorites has agreed to terms with the video book company Vook on a multimedia edition of “The Master of Rampling Gate,” a vampire story published in Redbook magazine in 1984 and set in an England mansion in the 19th century.

“Vook represents a very exciting combination of new technological elements, that I think is long overdo in publishing,” Rice said in a statement released Wednesday by Vook. “I’m excited that `The Master of Rampling Gate’ is going to have new life in this form, and cannot wait to see the finished product. I’m not sure that my mind can conceive of all the possibilities of this new form. I’m learning. And it feels good.”

Opinions are still mixed among publishers and authors about video books, or vooks, with some calling them a gimmick and others saying new formats are needed for the Internet age. The product integrates text, video and social networking.

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By Justin Howe at TOR: Vampire City by Paul Féval
“There is a little-known place which is undoubtedly the strangest in the world. The people who inhabit the barbarous lands around Belgrade sometimes call it Selene, sometimes Vampire City, but the vampires refer to it among themselves by the names of the Sepulcher and the College.”

Paul Féval’s Vampire City is one of those terrible books that unfolds like a train wreck, but you can’t put it down because it’s extremely entertaining and more than a little bit insane. When Féval pulls the lid off his id he concocts some of the most wild and vividly imagined pieces of “weird” pulp fiction you’re likely to encounter.

The plot has Ann Radcliffe (yes, that one) trying to save her friend Cornelia from the attentions of the vampire Otto Goetzi. Assisted by her manservant Grey Jack, her friend Ned (Cornelia’s fiance), his manservant Merry Bones (an Irish “nailhead”), and a captured transgender vampire named Polly (who is chained to an iron coffin she carries on her shoulder), Ann sets off for Selene, the Vampire City, like a proto-Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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Devi Pillai at Orbit: A Romantic Comedy…. with BRAAAAINS!
I have the distinct pleasure of introducing a brand new author to the list, Jesse Petersen.  Orbit US has bought three books — the first of which, MARRIED WITH ZOMBIES, we will be publishing in mass market in September 2010.

The book is about two unlikely heroes — a couple on the verge of divorce.  On their way to marriage counseling, they notice a few odd things: a missing guard, a lack of cars on the freeway, and their counselor ripping out the throat of her previous client.

Now it’s up to David and Sarah to work together, save their marriage — and survive in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.

The book is chock-full of valuable post-apocalyptic marriage advice, including:

  • Balance the workload in your relationship. No one person should be responsible for killing all the zombies.
  • Put the small stuff into perspective. It’s better to be wrong and alive than right but eating brains.

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By Charlie Jane Anders at io9: An Alternate History Of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine
When H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine first appeared in the U.S., it had a drastically different text than the British edition. Was this a hatchet job, or did the U.S. publisher get an earlier Wells draft? We may soon know.

The library at University of California, Riverside, just scored a rare U.S. 1895 first edition of The Time Machine, allowing scholars to study the text — and maybe unravel, once and for all, the mystery of the two text versions. It took a $10,000 grant for the University to score a copy and become one of only 25 places known to hold a copy. The British first edition, which was the source of all subsequent printings, is much easier to come by.

The American edition, published by Holt, misspells Wells’ name as H.S. Wells, Americanizes the book’s language, and omits or adds some passages.

See the changes here

It’s really interesting to see the changes made to The Time Machine. They’re almost different books. And I’m not sure how I feel about video books; you might get more out of the book, but I prefer to hold my books.

What do you think of Video books? Did any of the other books catch your eye? Did you notice if any of your favorite authors books got better as they aged?