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October and November 1998
Letters on this page:
In the current online news I read the mini-story about the French Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire and Prix Tour Eiffel, both won, in the Foreign Novel and Novel category, by Valerio Evangelisti. Quite obviously, Valerio is not a French author, but an Italian, born and living in Bologna, who published his six novels to-date in the popular paperback series, "Urania". He started by winning the 1993-94 edition of the Urania prize with Nicholas Eymerich, inquisitore (N.E., the Inquisitor) and after that published the very successful Le catene di Eymerich (The Chains of Eymerich), Il corpo e il sangue di Eymerich (The Body and Blood of E.), Il mistero dell'inquisitore Eymerich (The Mystery of the Inquisitor), Cherudek (id.) and Picatrix, la scala dell'inferno (P., the Stairs to Hell).
All these novels were published in "Urania" or by Mondadori Publishing. They represent a sophisticated but highly readable series about a Middle Age inquisitor - based on the historical character Nicolau Eymerich, a Catalan friar living in the 14th century - who fights with extreme cruelty and determination the forces of evil. The author, however, has his stories developing on different time planes, so that from what happens in our times (and even in the near future) we know that the so-called powers of darkness have a scientific, although extremely weird, explanation. At the end of each novel Evangelisti has usually revealed a menacing plot involving science gone mad, political corruption and thrilling conspiracies both in the Middle Age and today. His books are a sort of modern and, if you want, intellectual weird tales, with extremely accurate historical settings and fast-paced adventures of an uncanny nature. The character himself, a sadistic priest and torturer, is absolutely convincing and a highly original conception.
The Eymerich novels, which gained cult status in Italy, were then translated into Spanish and French, and won the aforementioned prizes. They're also undergoing cinematic treatment for movie adaptation and, possibly, for a TV miniseries in Europe.
For completeness of information, this is the Valerio Evangelisti email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, while his agents for U.K and America are: Piergiorgio Nicolazzini, email@example.com. You can visit the Nicholas Eymerich web page at http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/3980/eymerich.htm.
First, I thank you and Locus for your coverage of the B & N/Ingram controversy.
Second, in light of those developments, I was particularly worried by a recent television commercial for barnesandnoble.com . The commercial showed a metaphorical sequence of a young girl going through the website to find a bedtime story. She finally ends up at what appears to be Stephen King's home office. Mr. King hands the girl a copy of Bag of Bones, and she leaves happy.
I am under the impression that Mr. King is a ardent supporter of independent booksellers, with his limited "independents only" signing tour a few years ago and other public comments he has made. Why is he now giving "aid and comfort" to the biggest enemy independent booksellers have? Is he desperate for money? Are sales of Bag of Bones so short of expectations?
As an aspiring genre writer, and a former employee of an independent which was driven out-of-business by Barnes & Noble, I find Mr. King's commercial far more disturbing than any of his fiction.
[The following open letter was originally posted on sff.net and Dueling Modems.]
It's amazing to me how much Chilson [Commentary] comes off sounding like one of those professors of Literature whose interests he is so hot on snubbing in his article. This essay should get him an honorary degree at The University of Lagado. I thought the diagram was an especially nice bit of whim-whammery -- meaningless yet grandiose in the old de-constructionalist style. Science Fiction equals intellect. Fantasy equals emotion. O.K., I think I've got it. If One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia-Marquez or The Baron in the Trees by Calvino are pseudo-literature, I'll take more of them. These are great novels of intellect, emotion, reality and fantasy. I'm not surprised that they do not have a place on Chilson's diagram. There's too much nuance to them to be easily classified. His need for classification and description bely a conservative mind set unwilling to see the genre mutate and grow. I know it's frightening but things might be changing. The works he fails to include are hybridizations and mutations. Check your Science books -- that's where evolution is at work. Why the desire to retain the purity of a species?
After reading the review by Gary K. Wolfe about the new Spectrum 5 book, I feel caused to write this letter to you.
Fantasy Productions is Germany's leading publisher for adventure- and roleplaying games and books, holding the official FASA license for their game-related products and publishing the most important roleplaying universe in Germany, Das Schwarze Auge. As we are working with artists from Germany as well as from all over the world (eg. Angus McBride, Chris Baker aka. Fangorn), we would like for some years now to participate in the Spectrum competition.
It was the third year now to try to get the entry form for the Spectrum competition as announced on the last page of the books, but (as usual) without any reaction from the Spectrum organizers at all. I wrote letter after letter to the address mentioned in the books, but did not get even a reply.
What are we doing wrong? Is that what Fenner describes as an open competition? Open, but not for german publishers? I wouldn't have any problems with our artists not making it into the books, but to not even get the chance to compete is not what I understand to be fair.
Perhaps you can offer some advice for us what to do, I would not like to repeat writing letters for getting the entry form year after year without any success at all.
There have been several mentions in recent issues about the sale of various works of short fiction to the Sci Fi Channel show ''Welcome To Paradox''. However, there's been relatively little publicity for the show, and I want to bring it to the attention of the field. I'm hoping that science fiction writers in particular will show some support for the program and encourage the Sci Fi Channel to support and nurture it.
''Welcome to Paradox'' is an anthology show in the tradition of Twilight Zone, with a twist--all the episodes are adaptations of published short sf. To date, episodes have been based on work by James Tiptree Jr., John Varley, Greg Egan, Alan Dean Foster, A.E. Van Vogt, Donald Westlake, and others (including me). All the original writers are credited on the episodes and on the website. This is the only market that I know of that is dedicated to bringing short fiction to the small screen. I did an online chat for Sci Fi in support of my episode, and the response was very interesting: most everyone wanted to talk about writing, not television. It's an amazing opportunity for all of us to reach a new audience.
I realize that many in the field may not have seen the show, or may not agree with the way that certain stories were adapted. But what seems important to me is that this kind of outlet continue to exist and grow for short sf. And because of new management at Sci Fi, there are rumblings that the show will not be renewed (which would be very disappointing to those writers who have sold work to the producers for the second season). Let's not let this happen. It's not too late for a show like this, even in the event of non-remnewal--the anthology format allows production on new episodes to resume any time without fear of losing a key actor, or the momentum of a story arc. I hope that Locus readers will watch the show on its repeat schedule (Mondays at 10pm ET/7 pm PT, Saturdays at 2pm ET/11am PT) and will agree with me that this is a great chance for writers to showcase our work in a new medium.
I hope that people who agree with me will take a few minutes to write to the decision-makers at USA Networks and the Sci Fi Channel, or to email the Sci Fi Channel Programming Department. If you want more information about the show, you can visit the web site at www.scifi.com/paradox. Or I'd be happy to talk with anyone about it through email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[In the October 1998 Locus, Gary K. Wolfe observed that at this year's World Science Fiction Convention in Baltimore there were 68 panels or other sessions about SF/F/H literature and writing, 42 sessions on science and technology, 30 on art, 45 on games and gaming, 24 on TV and movies, and a astounding 80 about ''fandom, or being a fan, or running a con, or filking, or making a costume'' -- ''enough to program oneself nonstop for five days without ever encountering clues that there might be a world outside fandom''.]
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