Category Archives: eric brown

Ebook pricing, again; or “Fifteen quid for an ebook?”

So here’s the situation…

I’m partway through Eric Brown’s crime novel Murder by the Book, and loving it. I’ve been encouraging Eric to write crime for years and now he has and it’s a great read, full of fantastic characters and lovely 1950s London period detail.

And then, yesterday, when I was about to return to it… where in hell was that book? We turned the house upside down, but couldn’t find it. It literally is a mystery. I have every confidence that it will turn up again at some point: accidentally picked up with someone else’s books, knocked under the sofa, whatever.

But I want to know what happens next!

Simple, I thought: I popped over to Amazon to get a copy for my Kindle, happy to spend a few quid just so I could keep reading without break.

Two problems with that, though:

  1. Although the hardback came out in March, the ebook won’t be out until July. What reason is there for this? There can’t be a logistical explanation: the ebook hardly needs physically shipping to distributors, and it’s not exactly labour-intensive to produce; I’m sure the file is just sitting there, gathering virtual dust while it awaits publication. I can’t see any way they would gain sales by the delay; if anything they’d lose them, as people like me go looking for the book, find it’s unavailable, and then move on to other things.
  2. It’s priced at £14.90. Come again? Fifteen quid for an ebook? This is where I’m completely baffled by the publishers’ policy. Who do they think is going to buy an ebook at that price? Is there some kind of logic that says “While it looks good to have an ebook version available, we don’t want people to actually buy this format”…?

I get the reasoning for pricing the hardback at £19.99. Presumably the vast majority of sales at this price are to the library market, and the higher price makes sense given that each copy of the book will get multiple readers. But £15 for an ebook at Amazon? I’d love to know which part of the market publishers Severn House are targeting with this strategy.

The only possible explanation I can think of is that they think potential buyers will be horrified at the price and opt to buy the slightly more expensive hardback instead. But that makes no sense: the profit margin on the hardback is so much lower, because of production and distribution costs. They could price the ebook for a fiver and make just about as much as they make from the hardback, and they’d actually, erm, sell copies.

An Eric Brown crime ebook at £5 would sell. If anyone could explain to me how even a novel as good as this is will sell ebooks at £15 I’d love to be enlightened.


Coming soon: 3 for June from Eric Brown, Garry Kilworth and James Everington

June will be a big month for us at infinity plus, with three big titles to be published in paperback and a variety of electronic formats.

 

Salvage by Eric Brown

Salvage by Eric Brown

When Salvageman Ed saves Ella Rodriguez from spider-drones on the pleasure planet of Sinclair’s Landfall, he has no idea what he’s letting himself in for. Ella is not at all what she seems, as he’s soon about to find out.

Salvage by Eric BrownWhat follows, as the spider-drones and the Hayakawa Organisation chase Ed, Ella and engineer Karrie light-years across space, is a fast-paced adventure with Ed learning more about Ella – and about himself – than he ever expected.

The Salvageman Ed series of linked stories – four of which appear here for the first time – combine action, humour and pathos, from the master of character-based adventure science fiction.

“Eric Brown’s modest, slightly retro, extremely charming and very human voice has been a distinctive, indeed unique, presence in British SF for many years. Here he offers another interlinked selection of stories which, as is typical of Eric Brown, manage to be small scale, close-up, and completely free of heroic posturing, in spite of the galactic scale of their setting. There is something restful about them, something comforting. Yet while they gently entertain, they also, very quietly, deal with big questions about identity, love, and the relationship between body and soul.” Chris Beckett

 

The Fabulous Beast by Garry Kilworth

The Fabulous Beast by Garry Kilworth

The Fabulous Beast by Garry KilworthA set of beautifully crafted tales of the imagination by a writer who was smitten by the magic of the speculative short story at the age of twelve and has remained under its spell ever since.

These few stories cover three closely related sub-genres: science fiction, fantasy and horror. In the White Garden murders are taking place nightly, but who is leaving the deep foot-prints in the flower beds? Twelve men are locked in the jury room, but thirteen emerge after their deliberations are over. In a call centre serving several worlds, the staff are less than helpful when things go wrong with a body-change holiday.

Three of the stories form a set piece under the sub-sub-genre title of ‘Anglo-Saxon Tales’. This trilogy takes the reader back to a time when strange gods ruled the lives of men and elves were invisible creatures who caused mayhem among mortals.

Garry Kilworth has created a set of stories that lift readers out of their ordinary lives and place them in situations of nightmare and wonder, or out among far distant suns. Come inside and meet vampires, dragons, ghosts, aliens, weremen, people who walk on water, clones, ghouls and marvellous wolves with the secret of life written beneath their eyelids.

‘Kilworth’s stories are delightfully nuanced and carefully wrought.’ Publishers Weekly

‘A bony-handed clutch of short stories, addictive and hallucinatory.’ The Times

‘Here is a writer determined and well equipped to contribute to the shudder-count.’ The Guardian

 

Falling Over by James Everington

Falling Over by James Everington

Falling Over by James EveringtonSometimes when you fall over you don’t get up again. And sometimes, you get up to find everything has changed:

An ordinary man who sees his face in a tabloid newspaper. A soldier haunted by the images of those he has killed from afar. Two petty criminals on the run from a punishment more implacable than either of them can imagine. Doppelgängers both real and imaginary. A tranquil English village where those who don’t fit in really aren’t welcome, and a strange hotel where second chances are allowed… at a price.

Ten stories of unease, fear and the weird from James Everington.
“Good writing gives off fumes, the sort that induce dark visions, and Everington’s elegant, sophisticated prose is a potent brew. Imbibe at your own risk.” – Robert Dunbar, author of The Pines and Martyrs & Monsters

“The horror angle in the stories is almost always a metaphor for other things – loneliness, fear, isolation, regret. The word “haunting” really does double duty here… Beautifully written, evocative, masterful…what shines through these stories is the author’s love of language.” Red Adept Reviews, 2011 Indie Awards Short Story category

“Everington is excellent at evoking a mounting sense of unease, turning to dread, that close, oppressive feeling when everything is still and ordinary, but the whole world is filled with the sense that something huge and terrible is just about to happen.” Iain Rowan, author of One Of Us and Nowhere To Go


Grumpy Old Writers, or The Grampa/Grandma List: promising speculative fiction authors over the age of 40

It started with a tweet in response to the publication of Granta’s Best Young Novelists list for 2013

It is the most shattering experience of a writer’s life when he wakes one day and says quite reasonably, I will never make the Granta list.
@davidmbarnett

For, alas, if a writer is past the age of 40 he or she is deemed too old to be promising.

Some of us would set that benchmark differently. Far too many years ago, for example, I had to ask the editors of Interzone to stop referring to me as a ‘promising young writer’ as I had turned the grand old age of 30.

But then seven years later I was suddenly young and promising again: back in 2003, in my YA guise as Nick Gifford, I was on Waterstones’ list of bright young things, aka Faces of the Future (sneakily published a few weeks ahead of Granta‘s list for that year).

So, to narrow down the criteria… For an alternative list we’re looking for promising writers over the age of 40. Or 30. Or something in between. Let’s say 40 – that’s Granta‘s glass ceiling, so let’s re-use it.

Genre? Well much as I’d like to set no such limitations, let’s face it: I know far more about genre authors than I do about the lit’ry mainstream, speculative fiction authors in particular. Even then, there are lots I’d be likely to miss out, purely through my own oversight.

Nationality? I’d rather not, but it’s convenient, so as I’m UK-based let’s keep it local by sticking to authors who are based here, published here or have some other strong claim to being promising in the UK.

But then, as the Twitter exchange developed, we started referring to Grumpy Old Writers.

Woah, there!

Stamping down on the danger that we would branch into two rival lists almost as soon as we’d got started, let’s merge the two, and here are our criteria:

Promising speculative fiction authors with a UK presence, 40 or older, who I’m aware of and haven’t momentarily forgotten to include, and able to be grumpy about all these young upstarts invading our turf.

So who gets onto this list of significant oldcomers?

The Grampa List (first draft)
[also, please be reassured that I could be completely wrong here, both about the levels of grumpiness and the age…]

  • David Barnett (has published some interesting stuff already, but destined to make a big splash with his forthcoming steampunkery from Tor)
  • Chris Beckett (shortlisted for this year’s Arthur C Clarke and BSFA awards, perhaps he’s getting too much attention already)
  • Eric Brown (the perennial professional, like bindweed he keeps on putting out superb stories, occasionally getting lots of attention and then just keeping on plugging away)
  • Jaine Fenn (first novel only appeared five years ago, so definitely in the youngish upstart category)
  • Jon Courtenay Grimwood (ooh… controversial: surely Jon’s profile lifts him above the promising category? Well yes, I’d hope that would be most people’s response, but has he really achieved the acclaim he deserves?)
  • Dave Hutchinson (SF stalwart, capable of brilliance, and I wish he’d write more; and he’s promised to keep the grumpiness quotient up if others fall short)
  • Liz Jensen (dark, creepy, slipstream, always interesting)
  • Juliet McKenna (the kind of author this list could have been made for: a top-notch fantasy author who deserves a lot more success than a bunch of other fantasy authors I’m not going to name until you buy me another drink)
  • Jeff Noon (bright young star who went quiet, but now is bursting back onto the scene with an anniversary edition of his classic Vurt, lots of reissues, online experimentation and pushing of limits, and new books, too)
  • Ian Sales (such a fixture on the UK SF scene that most people probably think he’s published more than he has; winning this year’s BSFA short fiction award is surely the start of greater things)
  • Anna Tambour (okay, the link is tenuous: she’s based in Australia but has had much of her work published in the UK; I’ve no idea how old she is; and anyway, I love her writing so she’s on my list – in fact, I like her work so much that I talked my way into writing a foreword for her first book and have subsequently produced ebook editions of two of her books)
  • Jo Walton (too successful already? Perhaps, but much of her success has come in the US – over here she’s one of those who deserves more…)
  • Liz Williams (…as is Liz Williams, a fabulous author who shrugs off genre limitations, and has also published the non-fiction Diary of a Witchcraft Shop)
  • Neil Williamson (like David Barnett, Neil is a genuine old upstart, with some impressive short fiction publications behind him and a much-anticipated first novel due out in 2014)

Because of the rather unscientific approach taken here, I know this list is not comprehensive, hence my labelling it ‘draft’. Who else should be on it? Who shouldn’t? And what would an equivalent list be without the UK-ish restriction, or with some other arbitrary geographical limits?


New: Aethernet – the magazine of serial fiction

Aethernet Magazine

Serialised fiction from Tony Ballantyne, Chris Beckett, Eric Brown, Juliet E McKenna, Philip Palmer, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Ian Whates and more. Aethernet, the magazine of serial fiction, launches over the Easter weekend. And yes, I’ll be contributing a four-parter later this year.

Here’s what it says on the Aethernet website:

Aethernet MagazineNowadays, fiction is instantly available. There are many short fiction magazines available for download, you can download a story collection in ebook form and be reading it in under a minute.

Aethernet Magazine aims to satisfy a different need. Aethernet Magazine is aiming to reintroduce the pleasures of delayed gratification. Aethernet Magazine stands for the slow burn, the building excitement of waiting to see how a story plays out. We want to reintroduce the pleasure of the cliffhanger ending; the gradual reveal on lives building up to a bigger picture; the leisurely float down the river leading to some mysterious destination.

Our stories are presented over time. Aethernet Magazine is here to help you rediscover the pleasure of anticipation…

Aethernet Magazine will run for 12 issues. The first issue will go on sale on 30th March 2013, subsequent issues will be on sale on the first of the month from May 2013 onwards. Aethernet Magazine will be published as an ebook in mobi, epub and pdf formats.

Find out more:


New titles by Garry Kilworth, Eric Brown and James Everington due from infinity plus

I’m delighted to announce three new titles due soon in paperback and ebook format from infinity plus.

First up is The Fabulous Beast, a new collection from Garry Kilworth. This includes 18 stories, from Anglo-Saxon tales to fantasy, science fiction and horror, by an author described by Punch as “a master of his trade” and by New Scientist as “arguably the finest writer of short fiction today, in any genre.” Some of the stories in this book also featured in Garry’s ebook-only collection Phoenix Man (no longer available). Already available from infinity plus is Garry’s book of memoirs, On my Way To Samarkand, crammed with anecdotes about his farm worker antecedents and his rovings around the globe, as well as his experiences in the mid-list of many publishing houses.

James Everington‘s Falling Over is a wonderfully gritty and compelling collection of stories that tread the fine line between crime, horror and just downright strange. “Beautifully written, evocative, masterful…what shines through these stories is the author’s love of language” (Red Adept on James’s The Other Room).

And infinity plus stalwart Eric Brown returns with a book of the Salvageman Ed stories, rewritten as a single novel. Previously, we’ve brought out eight of Eric’s books, including early novels such as Meridian Days and Penumbra, his landmark collection The Time-Lapsed Man and other stories, the horror and ghost story collection Ghostwriting (which I think contains some of his best writing), and more.

These titles are due to appear from May to July, 2013.


In Transit – an extract from the novella by Keith Brooke and Eric Brown

Parallax View by Keith Brooke and Eric BrownThe White Swan left the war zone and burst through the Jehovah wormhole with an actinic explosion of supercharged particles.

Abbott clutched the arms of his seat and closed his eyes as the swirling fire of the membrane swallowed the shuttle and spat it out the other side, five hundred light years along the galactic rim. The transition seemed to twist him inside out and wring his soul dry. It left him light-headed and nauseous, his head fizzing with static.

When he opened his eyes, he was amazed to see the crew going about their business as if nothing had happened. They hung in their slings, slaved to the shuttle’s smartware nexus, hands drifting across touchpads and parallel sensors with the dreamy grace of narcoleptic ballerinas. The pilot was setting course from the Jehovah wormhole to its twin, a thousand parsecs across the star system, while an engineer and a smartware specialist communed with the shuttle as if in comas.

Abbott’s head still reeled.

Through the forward viewscreen, a delta strip above the command slings, he made out the main sequence primary, its lone planet in transit across the sun’s fiery disc. Ahead, a mirror image of the wormhole they had just left, its twin was a coruscating oval interface through which they would pass in six hours en route to Earth.

At least, he thought with relief, they were out of Kryte-controlled territory now. This intermediate system was technically in no-man’s land, strategically important and sporadically fought over.

“… though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” a woman’s voice intoned to his left.

He turned. Some neurological side-effect of the transition had blitzed his short-term memory.

“…I will fear no evil.”

He fingered his crucifix, where it rested on an inflamed area on his chest. Memory started to kick in… The smartware implant, fed in through his chest wall, from where it had infiltrated his entire body. The slave device.

He’d been in conversation with Major Travers, he recalled. Just before the jump. Something about a briefing…

“…For thou art with me.”

It came back to him now. Travers, a blocky grunt who did nothing to disguise her disdain of civilians in general and xeno-psychologists in particular, had been filling him in about the captured Kryte in the shuttle’s hold.

“You okay, Abbott?” Travers looked across at him now, her superior expression putting him in his place. She was an uncompromising-looking woman, with the look of a street-fighter, only accentuated by the reconstructive surgery that left half her face composed of n-gel – so nearly natural-looking, but not quite. Responses on that half of her face lagged a split second behind so that an expression would start on one side of her face and migrate to the left, a peristalsis of the self. “You look rough.”

“I’m fine. Where were we?” He sat up, attempting to look competent.

Travers smiled, her time-lagged smile that Abbott tried hard not to find disturbing. “I was telling you about the Devil,” she told him. “I was telling you about your Devil…”

Abbott held up a hand. “Please. I know they’re the enemy, but demonising them like that does nothing to foster understanding.”

Travers sneered. “I don’t want to understand the bastards, Abbott. I want to eradicate them.” As she said this, she ran a finger across the crucifix tattooed on her left forearm.

“The best way to win the war, or even to contain it, will be to come to some understanding of how the enemy works, how it thinks. Reducing a dangerous foe to stereotypes is self-defeating and foolhardy.”

Something flared in Travers’ eyes, a fighter’s response, an unthinking, uncomprehending reflex. “Listen, Abbott. I lost an entire platoon capturing that fucker back there. Twenty-five fine men and women, blitzed in an instant. If you think I give a damn about what I call the…”

Something in Abbott’s expression halted her tirade.

He reached out and laid a hand over hers. The touch froze her. He wondered at the last time she’d felt the contact of human flesh.

“Major, ten years ago an advanced strike of the Kryte’s rim division killed five thousand colonists on New Hampton. My wife and two year-old son were among the fatalities. Please don’t doubt my enmity towards the Kryte.”

She had the good grace to looked away, cowed.

Abbott went on, “So… where did you say we’d got to?”

“I was describing the… the Kryte. We’re of the opinion that it wasn’t a combat soldier.”

“I thought all Krytes in the forward sector were militia?”

She shook her head. “Not this one. It didn’t have battle armour, and wasn’t equipped with phase array nucleonics. It was in a sub-light shuttle, grounded behind the front line. It was attempting to get away when we broke through and disabled the ship.”

“So what do you think it was doing there?”

“Beats me,” Travers said. “Anyway, it didn’t have time to kill itself. We took it by surprise. It put up a hell of a fight, but we quelled the bastard. We contacted the sector base unit immediately. The rest you know.”

“This is our big chance, Major,” Abbott told her. “Our big chance to understand.”

He saw in her eyes that she knew that this time his use of the word understand had a more specific meaning. The Kryte were known to be extremely long-lived, under normal circumstances – perhaps even immortal. Humankind had never even come close to understanding the secret of this longevity until now. Only three Kryte had ever been captured alive before, so badly wounded that they’d died a few hours later without yielding their secret.

Travers was looking at him, her lop-sided expression unfathomable. “Do we really want to understand?” she asked, her tone even, controlled.

(…continues)

In Transit: in a future war-torn universe in which human expansion has come up against implacable alien enemies, Xeno-psychologist Abbott finds himself the guardian of a deadly Kryte, so that it can be taken to Earth to be studied. When they crash-land on the fortress planet of St Jerome, the alien prisoner turns the tables and takes Abbott into terrible custody. What follows is a terrifying journey across a hellish landscape towards a finale that might change the destiny of the Kryte and humanity, forever…

In Transit: included with six other collaborations in Parallax View by Keith Brooke and Eric Brown, both of whom have novels shortlisted for the 2012 Philip K Dick Award.

In Transit: “The stories in this collection are among the best science fiction. These are stories imbued with a rich intelligence and a deep sense of humanity. These are mature stories, tales of love and loss, of pleasure and pain. Cherish them.” —from the foreword by Stephen Baxter

Parallax View is available as an ebook from:
Barnes and Noble
Apple
Kobo
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
…and as a paperback from:

Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Createspace

Cover by Dominic Harman.


New: Parallax View by Keith Brooke & Eric Brown

“The stories in this collection are among the best science fiction. These are stories imbued with a rich intelligence and a deep sense of humanity. These are mature stories, tales of love and loss, of pleasure and pain. Cherish them.”
– from the foreword by Stephen Baxter

Both authors shortlisted for this year’s Philip K Dick Award. Cover by Dominic Harman.Parallax View by Keith Brooke and Eric Brown

Parallax View showcases ‘In Transit’, written specially for this collection, a novella set in a future war-torn universe in which human expansion has come up against the implacable Kryte. Xeno-psychologist Abbott finds himself the guardian of a deadly Kryte on a mission to study it on his return to Earth. When they crash-land on the fortress planet of St Jerome, the Kryte prisoner turns the tables and takes Abbott into terrible custody. What follows is a terrifying journey across a hellish landscape towards a finale that might change the destiny of the Kryte and humanity, forever…

Plus six other stories that examine the interface between human and alien – a parallax view from two of Britain’s top science fiction writers, both shortlisted for the 2012 Philip K Dick Award.

“Individually, Keith Brooke and Eric Brown purvey SF of the highest order: their stories have epic scope and a huge heart. The fusion of their talents is a sublime alchemy, a seamless pageant of humanity and wonder, eloquently expressed.”
James Lovegrove

“A stunning cluster of sf parables … Brooke and Brown possess the world-building ability of Frank Herbert, the same capacity for extrapolation and black humour that marked Philip K Dick’s work and a social conscience to rival that of Orwell’s …to view this book is to view science fiction at its very best.”
Paul Kane, Terror Tales

Parallax View is available as an ebook from:
Barnes and Noble
Apple
Kobo
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
…and as a paperback from:

Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Createspace


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