Why Robin Sloan is the future of publishing (and science fiction)

By Eric Rosenfield at io9
Science fiction writer Robin Sloan tried to raise $3,500 from people wanting to read his novelette, but instead he wound up raising $13,500. It’s just one of the ways he’s successfully breaking all the rules of publishing.

[Annabel Scheme is ] just under 28,000 words long or a hundred pages or so (depending on the font). Conventionally, there’s just no market for a work of that length. Generally, it’s too long for magazines and fiction websites (which usually top out at 10,000-15,000 words) and too short for books (which start at 50,000 words). It’s not that someone might not want to read a 100-page work of fiction-why not?-but the infrastructure just doesn’t exist to get it into people’s hands. So Robin turned to the Internet, specifically Kickstarter, a website full of people trying to raise money for art projects, independent film, theatre, magazines and so on. He created PBS-style pledge levels, offering, for different levels of “membership”, PDF copies, print copies, surprise gifts, your name in the acknowledgements even behind-the-scenes peaks at his work on the novella (as he wrote it!). He said if he raised his goal of $3,500 for the work, he would release a PDF of the book free for everyone. Shockingly, he raised $13,942 dollars by almost 600 donors, more than most novelists get as an advance on a first novel. Not bad for a self-published, unpublishable novella.

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by Terry DeHart for Orbit
What is it about early postwar sci-fi that makes its worlds seem so dark and realistically shabby? Proximity to nuclear annihilation? The poorly forgotten horrors of World War Two? The rote mediocrity of peace after the time of global death and flame ended, the famished beginning of the age of mass consumption? Or is it only that we’ve been conditioned by the black-and-white movies of that time?

Whatever it is, Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND is shot through with it. This book is wonderfully dark. Neville drinks. He sweats and laughs and cooks and eats and cries and, in between bouts of near-insanity, he kills people. It seems as if killing is the most rational thing left to do. And Matheson puts the reader right there with him.

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The Chronicles of Amber: Nine Princes in Amber

By Rajan Khanna at Tor
Welcome to a look at the first book in Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber. Be aware that beyond the jump there are spoilers, lots of them. If you’re interested in reading the book, please do so first. This will be here when you’re done.

I’ve always admired Zelazny for the way he opens Nine Princes in Amber. We start off with an unnamed protagonist waking up in a hospital, with no memory of who he is and how he got there. We are carried along by the sheer charisma of the narrator’s voice and because of his lack of memory, we’re starting out on similar footing. As he figures things out, so do we, and this carries us through the majority of the novel.

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I love seeing the way the internet is changing the way we read books. It’s nice to have the option of getting books instantly, and allowing authors to gain readership who never would have seen the light of day before.

Have you read I Am Legend? Do you like post-apocalyptic books? What do you think the internet will do to reading in the future?