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I recently read (I think it was in a blog by our revered leader Tim Holman) that the urban fantasy genre is now well and truly kicking the arse of traditional epic fantasy, in terms of sales and indeed media attention.  And fantasy books, as all SF writers keep being told, regularly outsell science fiction novels by a factor of, well, several.

(For American readers of this blog, I should point out that the word ‘arse’ is our quaint British spelling of the body part which you Yanks affectionately know as the toches.)

All this is very galling for those of us who write science fiction and not sword and sorcery, or vampire books, or werewolf stories.  We have intergalactic spaceships; these guys have freelance exorcists.  We have plasma guns; they have great big double-headed axes.  We have stories written with impeccable scientific rigour (okay, okay, sometimes I just make it all up); they have magic, and prophecies, and oracles.

In short, Science Fiction is the Cinderella genre.

(But actually, is that such a bad thing? I mean, when you think about it – who would want to be the Ugly Sister genre?) Read the rest of this entry »

Nicole Peeler here. I’m the author of TEMPEST RISING, a book that will introduce you to a whole slew of mythological creatures above and beyond your standard werewolf/vampire/zombie triad. Indeed, I’ve been getting a lot of attention for writing about selkies, which are seal-human shapeshifters. Overall, there’s been lots of positive interest, but every once and a while a skeptic comes along, who asks, “What the hell do selkies DO, anyway? And how can they be hotter than vampires?”

So to fire up the debate, and get all you landlubbers thinking, I’ve outlined the Top Five Reasons that Selkies are Hotter than Vampires:

1. Emo is so ’96 – Join the swim team! Marilyn Manson or Michael Phelps . . . You decide.

2. Never pay market price for seafood again! We catch ’em, you grill ’em.

3. Salt water is easier to get out of sheets than blood! Who pays the laundry bills? Let’s be practical, people.

4. Not everyone is into double penetration! Two big fangs. Such little veins. Owwie Zowwie.

5. Seals give good clap! There’s nothing like a round of applause for a job well done.

Any other reasons you can think of why selkies are hotter than vampires?

Author post

The things in the window

When I came home today I found an old stove and a few pieces of electronic equipment I didn’t recognize sitting in front of the side gate to Dan’s back yard. I got out of the car and looked over the fence and saw him working away beside the shed. He seemed to be pulling up power cables. I called to him and asked if he’d made those adjustments he’d been meaning to, and he stopped and looked at me and called, “No, no.”

I asked if maybe the equipment he’d found would help. He said he didn’t think so. I asked why, and he stopped, thought, and then waved me over and started to open the shed. As I walked over, he said he thought this had all gone well beyond simple hardware or software adjustments. I asked what he meant by that. He didn’t answer and we entered. Read the rest of this entry »


Lowachee_Gaslight Dogs (MM)One of the best parts—and hardest parts— of my job is getting to match up artists with a new book or series. You have a big responsibility to get the image “right” — there’s nothing worse to me as a fan than reading a book and picturing it in your mind and loving it, then having an image on the cover that just doesn’t capture the depth or feel of the book. This can be true of a cover whether it’s designed or illustrated, but there’s something about an illustration that locks the image of the character or world in your mind, and it’s unshakeable. So you want it to be RIGHT.

The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee was definitely one of those books that begged to be illustrated. And the editor and I both thought Sam Weber had the perfect style for the book—both for his beautiful but haunting figures, and for his stark backgrounds. We thought he could perfectly evoke that arctic wasteland feeling, while giving us a compelling but accurate picture of the main character and her spirit form. That’s the tricky thing about hiring an illustrator also—you don’t just want them to paint a scene straight from the book—you want them to add something to it. Another layer, a feeling, it’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. It’s a very elusive quality, and one of those things that makes Creative Directors tear their hair out in their sleep. Read the rest of this entry »


Two weeks ago, I suggested that fantasy / science fiction is silly.  Last week I admitted that I like toys.  So what else can I do to damage my credibility as a serious artist?

How about monsters? Read the rest of this entry »

This Week’s Forecast, Last Week’s Trajectory

This week, look forward to Philip Palmer wondering if this is the golden age of science fiction; to the next installment of Robert Jackson Bennett’s neighborly narrative; to the latest book and cover news from Orbit; and, to Nicole Peeler telling you why selkies are not simply cooler than vampires –they’re hotter. They are selkies, after all.

All in a week’s work! And in case you were away, last week on the Orbit blog:

* We debuted the forthcoming cover for Nicole Peeler’s TRACKING THE TEMPEST;

* Likewise, for Gail Carriger’s CHANGELESS;

* We were pleased to announce the publication of Philip Palmer’s newest novel RED CLAW;

* A.Lee Martinez discussed some of his favorite games;

* We took note of some of Jeff Somer’s video escapades;

*And, Robert Jackson Bennett continued to tell the story of that very strange neighbor of his.

More Video Hijinks from Jeff Somers

Jeff Somers continues his examination of the writer’s life on YouTube with a new video about his experiences reading his works in public. See also: Jeff on drinking and writing, Jeff on the futility of writing, Jeff on why everything sucks, and Jeff on self promotion.

Author post

The new doors

Things keep getting stranger here. In fact, they are now positively surreal.

If you’ll remember from my last post, Dan’s packaging device was having some unintended consequences.

Those consequences have broadened out a great deal in the past few days.
Read the rest of this entry »

Cover Launch: CHANGELESS

changelessI know you’re all abuzz about the first Alexia Tarabotti novel, Soulless, but I thought I’d fan the flames a bit and introduce the cover for the next book, Changeless by Gail Carriger.

I know I’m not supposed to have favorites here at Orbit, but there are a few series I get very excited about continuing to work on as the new books come in. Nicole Peeler’s Jane True is definitely one, and Gail Carriger’s Alexia Tarabotti is absolutely another. What can I say? I have a soft spot for quirky and well-crafted heroines. And well-imagined settings with a lot of detail. It certainly makes the covers easier to picture in my head.

Also, this kind of illustrates how strangely ahead of present Art has to be. In “real-time” Soulless has just launched and is flying off the shelves and gaining great reviews from industry and fans alike. However, in “Art-time” the cover for Changeless is already done and I am already getting ready to work on Book #3 as soon as the first draft of the manuscript comes in. A little bizarre, I know, but heaven for the fan inside this Creative Director. Read the rest of this entry »

Launch Post: RED CLAW by Philip Palmer*

*warning: contains Monsters! Aliens! and Robots!

Now October is here, a reading essential is the fabulous Red Claw by the talented Philip Palmer, out this month (UK I US). We’d already had a heap of interest in this title, not least from the Guardian, who said ‘Red Claw is that rare treat, an intelligent action adventure replete with intellectual rigour, human insight and superb storytelling’.

While such praise is always hugely welcome, we can’t say we’re entirely surprised as we expected great things after Debatable Space (UK I US)! Red Claw is another fast-paced package that somehow manages to contain within its straining covers a rollercoaster of a plot with some big explosions, a plethora of strange new aliens grown in the vat of the author’s imagination and some entertaining philosophizing. It’s also dark and gritty with flashes of strangeness to counterbalance Philip’s great sense of fun. All in all, a unique mix of elements woven together to make something pretty special. Read the rest of this entry »

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