Big Five; Carter and Katsavos

Ali Almossawi, an engineer/designer, elegantly illustrates every subsidiary of the Big Five American publishing houses (Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette). Fascinating and pretty to look at (and playing “spot the sff imprint” is fun), but, as always, it’s slightly unnerving to be reminded how conglomerated just about everything we buy nowadays is.


Angela Carter remembered and interviewed by Anna Katsavos, reproduced by the Dalkey Archives; a good part of the interview dwells on Carter’s eventual dissatisfaction with the reinvention or reuse of mythology. The central question might be, “Have we got the capacity at all of singing new songs?”, as Carter says towards the end while discussing gender and representation.

Fevvers is a very literal creation. She’s very literally a winged spirit. She’s very literally the winged victory, but very, very literally so. How inconvenient to have wings, and by extension, how very, very difficult to be born so out of key with the world. Something that women know all about is how very difficult it is to enter an old game. What you have to do is to change the rules and make a new game, and that’s really what she’s about.

There are some fun things as well about speculative fiction:

One kind of novel starts off with “What if I found out that my mother has an affair with a man that I thought was my uncle?” That’s presupposing a different kind of novel from the one that starts off with “What if I found out my boyfriend had just changed sex?” If you read the New York Times Book Review a lot, you soon come to the conclusion that our culture takes more seriously the first kind of fiction, which is a shame in some ways. By the second “what if’ you would actually end up asking much more penetrating questions. If you were half way good at writing fiction, you’d end up asking yourself and asking the reader actually much more complicated questions about what we expect from human relationships and what we expect from gender.

Also, she delightfully describes The Bloody Chamber as “cholesterol-rich.”


Go to

Reviews: Angela Carter’s “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon”
Wayward Girls and Wicked Women, ed. by Angela Carter (1986) E

More essays and interviews: Chamber of Secrets: The Sorcery of Angela Carter
Astrological Angela Carter

News allsorts

Groundbreaking poet and essayist Adrienne Rich has passed away at the age of 82. Rich wrote widely of her personal experience and on feminism, war, racism, and other issues of social and political concern; she lived and worked openly as a lesbian. Read an obituary here.



WHIRR WHIRR WHIRR‘s sold-out Mythology Anthology, reviewed here, is now available for purchase as a PDF. Check it out for five original takes on world myths of catabasis and anabasis, by up-and-coming illustrators.


More reasons to look askance (at the least) at Amazon:

Workers complain of harsh conditions in Amazon warehouse:

“Working conditions at the Lehigh Valley warehouse got worse earlier this year, especially during heat waves when temperatures in the warehouse soared above 100 degrees, he said. He got lightheaded, he said, and his legs cramped. One hot day, Goris said, he saw a co-worker pass out at the water fountain. On other hot days, he saw paramedics bring people out of the warehouse in wheelchairs and on stretchers.”

“Temporary employees said few people in their working groups actually made it to a permanent Amazon position. Instead, they said they were pushed harder and harder to work faster and faster until they were terminated, quit or were injured.”

And in a replay of 2010’s highly public e-book pricing dispute with publishing giant Macmillan, Amazon removes Kindle versions of over 5000 books distributed by Independent Publishers Group. This was breaking news back in February, but so far as I can tell, is still ongoing and drastically cutting into the sales of the affected titles, and hence many of their publishers. In short, Amazon is yet again attempting to a) expand its ability to aggressively discount wares and thereby cement its hold on both the physical and digital market, and b) eliminate any middlemen (distributors, publishers, physical bookstores) between them and the consumer.


– E

“How To Buy a Book,” and authorial fisticuffs

For anyone who’s ever fussed over conscientious book-buying and the care and keeping of indigent authors, Nick Mamatas advises on How To Buy a Book (or where, really). Much of it seems to come down to whether a retailer feeds into BookScan, a book-sale data compiler that informs many publishers’ decisions. More interesting details with which to inform your future Amazon vs. indie decisions over at the post.


If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what China Miéville would look like with hair, you may well fall within the target audience for this blog: Could They Beat-Up China Miéville? In a sort of long-form, extra-nerdy variation on Chuck Norris facts, two bloggers take turns scripting deathmatches between everyone’s favorite weird-fiction pioneer/nerd sex symbol and a variety of cultural icons, e.g. Sting and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Why not?

– E

Dodgy business at Amazon, part three hundred and two

And this would be why Amazon tends to make me uncomfortable:

Amazon removes all Macmillan books from its store listings, in retaliation for pricing disputes. (via the New York Times)

Cory Doctorow provides useful perspective on the matter here, with a general consideration of the problems of market concentration and Amazon’s DRM policy.

(You may remember the awkward brouhaha dubbed “Amazonfail” last year, during which over 50,000 books having anything to do with sexuality were pulled from Amazon’s sales charts – most controversially, books, including classics, with LGBT themes, which caused much slinging about of heated claims of censorship. Amazon, after a great deal of public miscommunication and apparent internal confusion, eventually issued a statement attributing the problem to “a glitch.” I wish I could find an article with better coverage of the thing than CNN’s, but right now I’m not up to further newsdigging.)

– E

An unexpected holiday present for publishing

“Dreamy Sales of Jung Book Stir Analysis” (har)

Absolutely fascinating NYTimes article about how a hefty, pricy (list price $195), luxuriously crafted (“the book is partly hand-bound, uses two different kinds of custom-made paper and is printed in Italy”) reproduction of Carl Jung’s illustrated, hand-written The Red Book has been selling astoundingly well. It’s sold out in many locations and has garnered three more printing runs, despite understandably low initial expectations for its success. The article is a rather heartening read, even if it’s not indicative of the book industry’s success in general. Also, the book looks gorgeous, needless to say.

Alas, though, for Carl Jung, because when I think of him now, the first thing that comes to mind is his appearance as Tiny Carl Jung in the hilarious, bizarre nerdfest of a webcomic that is Dresden Codak.

I hope everyone is having a happy holiday!

– E

Filthy lucre

I’ve always been curious about the logistics of actually trying to make a living off of being an author (a sci-fi/fantasy author in particular, of course), so a couple of blog posts, both recent and older, have been particularly interesting and informative in this respect:

I hope these kind of link aggregations aren’t too overwhelming (or irritating); I like compiling them as much for my own reference as for the purposes of propagating interesting links.

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John Scalzi
Catherynne Valente