Inside Straight is a homecoming for me
by George R. R. Martin
Wild Cards has been a part of my life for more than twenty years. The first volume of the series, appropriately entitled Wild Cards, came out way back in 1987, when the world was young and my hair was brown. Many other books followed that one. I wrote for some, and edited them all. For most of a decade—my Hollywood years, sometimes known as “the Babylonian Captivity”—the Wild Cards series was my main link to the world of prose SF and fantasy. I can’t tell you how much I treasured that, and how much I enjoying working with Melinda Snodgrass, Lewis Shiner, John Jos. Miller, Walter Jon Williams, Stephen Leigh, Victor Milan, Edward Bryant, Pat Cadigan, Howard Waldrop, Walter Simons, and all the other fine writers who were part of the Wild Cards consortium, whose imaginations and talent made the series what it was.
I treasured the Wild Cards universe and the astonishing cast of characters who inhabited it as well. My own creations included private eye Jay Ackroyd and restaurateur Hiram Worchester, Jube the alien newsboy, Xavier Desmond, the “mayor of Jokertown,” and of course Tom Tudbury, the Great and Powerful Turtle, the most autobiographical of all the myriad characters I have created during my career (I don’t actually have telekinesis and I never lived in a junkyard, but other than that...). And then there were the characters that I didn’t create, but sometimes wrote about, and learned to love or hate or love to hate—Jetboy, Dr. Tachyon, Puppetman, Carnifex and Yeoman, Demise and Mackie Messer, Water Lily, Fortunato, Lazy Dragon, Peregrine, Chrysalis, Sewerjack and Bagabond, and so many more. The Sleeper holds a special place in my heart, and always will. Croyd Crenson was the creation of the late great Roger Zelazny. Perhaps more than any other character, Croyd was Wild Cards, and I counted it a rare honor to be able to work with Roger, one of the most brilliant writers ever to turn his hand to science fiction and fantasy.
The series grew out of a game (for the grisly details, check out Tor’s official Wild Cards website at http://www.wildcardsbooks.com and read my reminiscence, “The First Wild Cards Day, or, the Game That Ate My Life”), but soon outgrew those humble origins to become the longest-running of all the shared worlds of its era. Seventeen volumes is a good long run by anyone’s count... but even so, when the series finally began to wind down, many of us grieved. Wild Cards was never just a series of books. It was a world full of old friends, and it was sad to think we might not be able to visit there any longer.
Sometimes you can go home again, however. Thanks to Tor Books, Wild Cards is back. Inside Straight is the first volume of a brand new triad, and a new beginning for the old series. After twenty years, many of our old friends were getting a little grey around the temples, so we’re introducing a whole new cast of aces and jokers. The established characters are still around and will be seen from time to time in these new books, but the torch is passing to a new generation, to Jonathan Hive and Lohengrin and Double Helix, to Curveball and Earth Witch and John Fortune, to Drummer Boy, Hoodoo Mama, the Amazing Bubbles, and a whole bunch more. Wait till you meet them.
Inside Straight is a homecoming, yes... but it’s the start of a whole new journey too. I hope you’ll join me for the trip.
We can’t die yet. We haven’t seen The Jolson Story.
George R. R. Martin’s Inside Straight (0-7653-1781-8, $24.95 / $27.95 CAN) was released from Tor in January. Be sure to check out the new Wild Cards site at: www.wildcardsbooks.com.
On Watching Jumper Become A Movie
by Steven Gould
As the movie version of my book, Jumper, approaches, more and more people become aware of it. For the last month there hasn’t been a day when I don’t get an email or phone call saying something like, “Dude! I saw the trailer for Jumper in front of American Gangster,” or “Ohmighod, your movie had a commercial during the Sugar Bowl!” And, as a result, fans of the book have also started emailing me. And while some are excited there are others who are quite unhappy. Before I go any further, let me say, I am incredibly grateful to anyone who likes my writing. Even before money, this is the thing writers crave and work for. So, regardless of your feelings about the movie, if you like any of my books--thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. But. (You knew it was coming, didn’t you?) Some of you have some misconceptions about this whole movie thing. I’m not making any of these statements up. They’ve either arrived as emails or been posted in public blogs or forums.
They are ruining the book!
Late in his career, James M. Cain, author of Mildred Pierce, Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, was asked by an interviewer, “How do you feel about what Hollywood has done to your books?” “Hollywood has done nothing to my books,” Cain replied. “They’re right over there on the shelf, exactly as I wrote them.” And I’ll add: because of the movie and the movie publicity, tens of thousands (maybe more!) of people will read the books who would never have otherwise read them. This is a good thing.
The movie is diverging from the book!
Well, yes, it is. A quick scan of the official movie website will show you that they’ve changed things and added things. Books are not movies. Books tend to be a bit too long to adapt easily. I can only think of a few faithful yet successful book-to-movie adaptations. Mostly, I can think of adaptations where trying to be too faithful to the book made for a mediocre or bad movie. And Jumper is a first person, mostly interior, novel. I’m not sure how you would adapt it exactly without some sort of moronic voice-over or a guy who talks to himself.
You should have exercised more creative control!
Excuse me? What control? Movie studios do not tend to give creative control over there hundred-million dollar projects to persons with no track record in making successful movies. Doug Liman has that track record. I don’t.
You sold out--you should never have sold the rights without control!
While I live for my readers’ approval, I also have a mortgage, children who will need to go to college, and a desire to have some form of retirement. Oh, yeah, and to have some time to write more books. Before the movie deal I held down a full time job and wasn’t getting much writing done. Do you know how few writers get this opportunity? It’s very much like winning the lottery--you have to publish something to buy a ticket but how many lottery tickets hit? Long before the movie deal I was in the habit of saying, “I want somebody to make a commercially successful, bad movie from one of my books. That way I’ll get some money and people will say, ‘But the book was so much better!’” I’ve come to a different place, now. Millions of dollars and hundreds of people are involved in creating a work whose genesis is my writing. This is incredibly cool. Yes, they’re going other places with it, but even in the trailers I see lines and scenes right out of the original. Yes, the movie won’t be the book, but there is a good chance that at the end of it people will be saying, “The book is different but the movie was really good, too.”
For my on-going posts about the whole movie thing, see my blog, An Unconvincing Narrative
Steven Gould’s Jumper (0-7653-5769-0, $7.99 / $9.99 CAN) and Jumper: Griffin’s Story (0-7653-5785-2, $7.99 / $9.99 CAN) will be released from Tor on February 5.
The Automatic Detective describes man’s future . . . Sort of
by A. Lee Martinez
I like science. I’m just not sure how much science I want in my science fiction.
To me, fantasy and sci-fi are about breaking the rules of reality, not being bound by them. It’s why I’ve never been a big fan of hard science fiction. In the same way I’m not that interested in learning the long and storied history of a fictional world, I’m just not excited by a theory that would allow a spaceship to plausibly fly faster than light. I just don’t care about how the spaceship breaks the laws of physics. It’s a spaceship. It flies fast. That’s all I need to know.
I have nothing against hard science fiction or its fans. It’s a valid genre with some great stories. But I have neither the background nor the interest to get away with writing it. Every high school science student with a B average would probably laugh themselves silly if I tried to invent a believable explanation for a working robot or xenomorphic biology. Notice though that I can use the word “xenomorphic” because as a writer, that’s what I do. I fake it.
My weakness in hard science contributed to my reluctance to write a science fiction story for many years. When I write about dragons and elves, trolls and ogres, I can do what I want. It isn’t supposed to be practical. Most fantasy worlds are completely unbelievable. They aren’t realistic, nor are they meant to be. That’s where the “fantasy” comes in.
But I’m a writer who likes to stretch myself if I can, and I’ve always wanted to write a robot story. So when I decided to give it a shot I had to wonder how could I, the science impaired, pull it off? The answer was obvious.
As is often the case, I went to the pulps for inspiration and found my saving grace in the principles of . . . Weird Science! (Insert spooky background music and/or maniacal laughter here.)
I love the old pulp novels of mad scientists, death rays, and unstoppable robots. Those are wonderful worlds, full of bizarre, often impractical, inventions and bright and shiny futures where every rocket ship is operated by punch card, where jetpacks are a dime a dozen, and evil geniuses tamper in things Man Was Not Meant To Know! Weird science isn’t logical. It’s not realistic. It’s just cool!
And so was born Tomorrow’s Town. Not the tomorrow we know, but the tomorrow that should’ve been. A place where robots and mutants walk the streets, cars fly, and supercomputers take up a whole room and are loaded with buttons and switches and lots and lots of blinky lights.
My other great pulp love is the hard-boiled mystery. I love tough guys and cagey dames almost as much as I love robots and doomsday machines. Almost. And that’s when it hit me. Why not mash the two together and see what happens?
Empire City is what happened.
If you were to mix a Flash Gordon serial and a Raymond Chandler novel, Empire City is the place you’d end up. It’s a sprawling metropolis where every weird science flight of fancy ever to grace the cover of a science fiction pulp exists and where dangerous men (and other things) lurk in the shadowed alleyways. It’s a place where even an indestructible robot has to watch his back and one wrong step can get you disintegrated.
Welcome to Empire.
I love this town.
A. Lee Martinez’s The Automatic Detective (0-7653-1834-2, $14.95 / $16.95 CAN) will be released from Tor on February 5. The author’s website is www.aleemartinez.com.
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Tor’s Salvatore Sweepstakes
R. A. Salvatore is one of fantasy’s most prolific and acclaimed authors. Now you can enter Tor’s Salvatore Sweepstakes for a chance to win a call-in from the writer himself, autographed copies of The Ancient, and/or a signed extended author interview on DVD for your book club.
To celebrate the release of The Ancient, a grand-prize winner and three runner-ups will be chosen once a week for six weeks, starting March 4th, 2008. By April 7th, 2008, a total of six book clubs may be eligible for an author call-in and 18 runner-ups may receive an autographed DVD.*
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* NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open to book clubs comprised of legal US residents who are 15 or older. Starts 12:00 PM (ET) on January 31, 2008 and ends on 11:59 PM (ET) on April 7, 2008. Sponsored by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010. Complete Official Rules are available at http://www.sagaofthefirstking.com/sweepstakes.asp
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