Adventures in Scifi Publishing

Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman

Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman

Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman, so far as I am aware, is still the agorist novel par excellence. More than three decades have passed since its publication — not that you would know it without looking at the copyright date — yet in that time no other novel has so successfully mixed the principles of agorism with such a keen perspective on the future. There are not many novels that can top it for entertainment value either.

The story takes place in what was then the future, but which now seems a very prescient present. Not only is the story filled with theretofore unrealized gadgets and technology that differ from what we actually possess sometimes by no more than an appellation, or occasionally a small feature or manner of use, but the economic conditions described in the tale read like a seer’s forecast.

Schulman’s knowledge of economics allowed him to make a forecast every bit as accurate as the one for which Ayn Rand, in her novel Atlas Shrugged, has been lauded of late. In fact, this very knowledge of economics is probably what helped the author predict all those gadgets, for it is well established that science-fiction authors, a group not known for their economic acumen, tend to think on a grand scale when most of the advances, in a consumer-driven society, are modest devices of everyday convenience and entertainment.

It is a dystopian world we are plunged into in Alongside Night, where central control of the economy and erosion of civil liberties proceed, as they must, hand in hand. When the government abducts the protagonist’s father, a noted free-market libertarian economist somewhere between Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises in his radicalness, the high school student Elliot Vreeland embarks on a quest to free him. This quest takes him into the world of the agorists, free-market rebels and masters of counter-economics.

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I listen to a number of podcasts on books and writing in the science fiction and fantasy genre. I find them interesting and valuable as a fan, as the editor of Prometheus Unbound, and as an aspiring author myself. I think you will as well, so I’ve created a curated list of my favorites and what I’m listening to now. Do you listen to any of these? Are there any I haven’t listed that you would recommend? Let us know in the comments.

General SF&F Book Podcasts

These are mostly general science fiction and fantasy podcasts about books, although movies and tv shows do come up on some of them as well. If you’re interested in the craft and business of writing, it would be worthwhile to subscribe to these not only to keep up with the state of the field but also because they often feature authors, editors, publishers, and agents as interviewees or guests.

The SF Signal Podcast — The Hugo-nominated podcast of the indispensable Hugo-winning SF Signal website. Hosted by Patrick Hester. The schedule is one interview episode and one discussion episode per week. The podcast features a wide range of interviewees, guests, and panelists, including a core group of regulars, from the science fiction, fantasy, and horror community. I haven’t listened to the new, separate Crossing the Gulf podcast hosted by Karen Burnham (a NASA engineer) and Karen Lord yet.

Adventures in Scifi Publishing — Hosted by Shaun Farrell, Moses Siregar (The Black God’s War), and Brent Bowen. A long-running podcast featuring discussion and interviews with the biggest and hottest names in the genre community as well as newer authors. The experienced hosts are self-published or aspiring authors themselves. Update: Founder Shaun Farrell has had to step down from hosting AISFP, but he relinquished the reins to new host Tim Ward so the show will go on.

The Coode Street Podcast — A rather informal and, as they say, rambly conversation between editor Jonathan Strahan (Life on Mars) and academic and reviewer Gary K. Wolfe (Evaporating Genres). There is the occasional guest, but mostly it’s just the two hosts. You can learn a lot about the current state of the genre, and especially its rich history, from these widely read veterans.

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In my last news roundup, I briefly discussed the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction being put online for free by Gollancz. At the time, I speculated: “Why [put it online for free]? Oh, I don’t know, maybe reading through the encyclopedia will tempt people into buying more books and ebooks of and about the stories and authors described within it.” This was before I had heard about Gollancz’s new SF Gateway imprint.

SF Gateway will be publishing online in ebook form a catalog numbering in the thousands of out-of-print backlist books from its authors. Including “the classic SF pulp writers of the Golden Age right through to modern award-winning authors,” SF Gateway purports to be “the largest library of digital Science Fiction and Fantasy ever assembled.” All of these titles will naturally be directly interlinked with author and title entries in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, so the encyclopedia will serve as a handy way to spur sales. The SF Gateway site will also serve in part as a social network, which is another clever idea — build up an online community around the encyclopedia and that large library of sf&f ebooks. You can read more about it in the pdf press release.

Also in the last news roundup, I mentioned some innovations in publishing. Here is some more info on a couple of them:

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