The genre has always had its core fans, but it seems to me that more and more people are embracing their inner geek these days. Readers who previously would not have been seen dead in the Sci-Fi section of their local bookshop are picking up novels like RIVERS OF LONDON, NEVER LET ME GO and A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.
There are various theories as to why this is happening: during the downturn, we’re all looking for a bit of healthy escapism; films and TV programmes like The Lord of the Rings, Inception, True Blood and Game of Thrones have brought the genre back into the mainstream; the Harry Potter and Twilight series have converted an entire generation; genre publishers are moving away from the kind of covers that were, frankly, a bit embarrassing to be seen with on the Tube. In truth, it’s probably a combination of all of these. But whatever the reason, I’m happy.
If you’re someone who still thinks that the genre is all one-dimensional characters, goblins, unicorns and Star Trek rip-offs, I urge you to reconsider. After all, fiction is always speculative, so why not go beyond reading about invented characters and start reading about invented worlds?
It is the limitless scope that is what I’ve always loved about sci-fi, fantasy and horror. It asks questions and pushes boundaries. Instead of a straight coming-of-age story, for example, what if a son discovered that he was a clone of his ‘father’? What if a severely disabled child could plug in and become the brain of a vast and complex machine? What if there were dragons during the Napoleonic Wars? What if we were the ‘freaks’ and the undead feared us? What if a virus wiped out 99% of the world’s population? What if?
I’m happy to say that we’ve just acquired the first two trilogies for our list. It will, I’m afraid, be some time before the books are available, but I think you’ll find they are well worth waiting for.
The SHADOW OPS trilogy is a modern military fantasy: X-Men meets Black Hawk Down… I mean, come on, what’s not to like about that? Bestselling Lost Fleet author Jack Campbell has described the first book, CONTROL POINT, as a ‘mile-a-minute story of someone trying to find purpose in a war he never asked for’. The author, Myke Cole, has served three tours in Iraq and that experience really shows in his writing.
The first book in the other series is provisionally titled STEELHAVEN, and is by the British author Richard Ford. It’s set in a vast metropolis teetering on the brink of destruction, and it’s about as bloody, honest and edgy as any fantasy as I’ve ever read. I can hardly wait to help unleash this monster. Remember the name!
Intrigued, but don’t know where to begin? There are plenty of excellent ‘Top 100’ lists on various blogs. From the Headline list, I can heartily recommend A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness; PURE by Julianna Baggott , which is out in February; and, of course, Neil Gaiman’s mind-blowingly brilliant road trip, AMERICAN GODS.
John Wordsworth: @theworrierpoet
Myke Cole: @mykecole
Richard Ford: @rich4ord