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Tor/Forge September 2007 Newsletter

In This Issue


Sandworms of Dune

The Story Behind Sandworms of Dune—the grand climax to Frank Herbert’s Dune Chronicles

by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

It’s not often an author can honestly say that readers have been waiting decades for a particular novel. However, in the case of Sandworms of Dune, that statement is absolutely true.

Frank Herbert began his magnificent science fiction epic, the Dune Chronicles, with the book publication of Dune in 1965. Though he originally had difficulty getting such a massive novel published, Dune won both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards for best science fiction novel of the year and ultimately became a cult favorite. Today, Dune stands as the best-selling science fiction novel of all time. By the time Dune was made into a film by David Lynch in 1984, the novel was more popular than ever and hit #1 on The New York Times bestseller list. Since then, it has been remade as a six-hour TV miniseries for the Sci-Fi Channel, where it was the most-watched show in the history of the network.

The original novel was followed by five sequels, the second of which, Children of Dune, was the first genre science fiction novel ever to hit The New York Times bestseller list. But the Dune Chronicles transcend science fiction, drawing in a broad mainstream audience interested in ecology, politics, philosophy, religion, fanaticism, and economics.

Herbert’s last Dune novel, Chapterhouse: Dune (published in 1985, shortly before his untimely death) ends on a cliffhanger. A group of beloved characters is trapped aboard a ship fleeing across uncharted space to escape from an unnamed Enemy which seeks to destroy the human race.

More than a decade after Frank Herbert’s death, we decided to carry on the saga of the Dune universe. As dedicated Dune fans ourselves, we very much wanted to know how the story ended, just like Herbert’s millions of readers. In searching through Frank Herbert’s papers, we discovered thousands of pages of notes on interplanetary history and characters’ backgrounds, unpublished chapters and early drafts—and the outline for “Dune 7,” Herbert’s intended grand climax to the chronicles.

Armed with the knowledge of how the breathtaking saga would end, we developed, wrote, and published much of the necessary backstory (in two internationally bestselling and award-winning trilogies, “Prelude to Dune” and “Legends of Dune”). Finally, with all the necessary seeds planted and with worldwide interest in Dune reawakened, we could turn to the story that fans had wanted to read since 1985.

Frank Herbert’s outline laid out a vast story that we realized could not be contained in a single novel. We broke the grand climax into two volumes, last year’s bestseller Hunters of Dune and now Sandworms of Dune. Here, the answers to many long-standing questions are revealed, and the plot threads spanning fourteen novels and more than 15,000 years of imaginary history are drawn together.

While Sandworms of Dunewill be the chronological grand finale to the chronicles, Frank Herbert’s epic spans so many millennia that there is plenty of room to tell more stories set in the Dune universe. After completing nine ambitious and complex books in collaboration, we still greatly enjoy writing with each other. We are already hard at work on Paul of Dune, the first in a new trilogy.

Sandworms of Dune (0-7653-1293-X; $27.95) is also the SciFi Essentials pick for August 2007. Click here to see all the books in the SciFi Essentials line. To see a video interview with the authors as they discuss Sandworms of Dune, click here.

Jumper: Griffin's Story

From Manuscript to the Big Screen—One of the odder parts of an editorís life

by Beth Meacham, Executive Editor, Tor/Forge Books

Back in 1991, I had the pleasure of acquiring and editing Steven Gould’s first novel, the remarkable Jumper. Steve was a lot of fun to work with, on Jumper and subsequent novels. So I was very pleased when Steve’s agent told me that not only had the film rights to Jumper been sold, but there was a script and a director attached. People buy film options all the time, but the books are rarely turned into movies. This time was different. This time, it might happen.

Jumper is a great choice for a movie. It’s the story of a young man who discovers that he can teleport. Everything else in the book is pretty close to our real world. Davy is a smart kid who is pretty quick to figure out all the things he can do with this power. But as far as he knows, he’s alone—and he’d really like to find other Jumpers. The book got fantastic reviews, and has become a solid backlist title, a favorite of many people.

And the movie did happen. In early 2006 the deal was done, and casting began. Big names started being attached to the film—Doug Limon was directing, Hayden Christensen was cast as Davy Rice, the lead character. I knew it would be a box-office success when they cast Samuel L. Jackson as the FBI agent. No, I don’t think “the line” is in the movie.

What has all that got to do with me, though, you might ask? Well, a book “belongs” to an editor throughout its life. From acquisition to reversion of rights, anything to do with that title goes through the book’s editor. With a movie comes a movie tie-in edition!  We’d be crazy not to publish a new edition, with a movie package. Suddenly Jumper became an active title, with a whole lot of project-managing and dealing with the film studio—in this case New Regency Enterprises and 20th Century Fox – for a movie tie-in package. 

But a movie is rarely a straight-forward translation from book to screen. And in this case, the screenwriter had introduced a whole new character.  Another Jumper, a character to challenge Davy (now David in the movie, because the film is set later in his life).  So after consultation with New Regency and Fox, Tor bought a new tie-in novel from Steve Gould, a book that would fill in Griffin O’Connor’s back-story and integrate him into the Jumper universe. This was turning into a big project.

Steve is a great writer, and the folks at New Regency were really wonderful to deal with.  We got the manuscript done and approved and into production at about the same time as Jumper-the-movie was finishing primary shooting. Jumper: Griffin’s Story will be released in hardcover in August – it’s a great read as a novel and as an addition to the Jumper universe. Griffin’s story starts when he’s five years old and makes his first “jump” in front of a huge crowd of people. It turns out that Davy was astonishingly lucky when he started jumping…there are people out there who want to kill Jumpers.

Griffin’s Story in hardcover will give you a bit of a preview of the film Jumper, which will be released in February 2008. At least, that’s the current release date. We’re already preparing the sales materials for the February paperback tie-in editions of both Jumper and Griffin’s Story. And you can see what the film will look like, at least a little, at www.jumperthemovie.com.

Steven Gould's novel, Jumper: Griffin’s Story (0-7653-1827-X, $24.95 / $28.95 CAN) was released in August from Tor.

Spaceman Blues: A Love Song

An Editor’s Love Song: Liz Gorinsky on Spaceman Blues: A Love Song

Liz Gorinsky, Editor of Spaceman Blues: A Love Song, isn’t singing the blues for this loud and lovely debut!

Interviewed by Tor Publicist Leslie Ann Henkel

Leslie: I’ve heard that there’s a pretty unique story about how you discovered Brian Slattery’s manuscript. Would you mind sharing it?

Liz: Not at all. Back in 2003, before I started officially working at Tor, I did a stint as an editorial intern. The internship called for me to read an awful lot of unsolicited submissions and the vast majority of them were, well, awful. But at some point I opened this unassuming little package that had the entirety of Spaceman Blues in it.

Leslie: Wow, that’s crazy that you found this in the slush pile!

Liz: No kidding. The irony is that it took me about four months to get through Spaceman the first time because I found it so hard to believe that a book that had come out of nowhere could be that great. So I’d read a few pages, put it down in confusion, and then wait to read more until I made sure my taste was still intact. Eventually, I managed to convince myself that the experience wasn't a fluke, and set about trying to publish it in earnest.

Leslie: Definitely not a fluke—judging by the rave reviews it’s gotten so far—but what in particular made it shine for you?

Liz: I’ve always had a hard time finding an adequate answer to this question, because people don’t always believe you when you start talking about a pulp sci-fi book that reads like Vonnegut, Pynchon, and the beat poets all rolled up in one. It’s usually easier to make them open the book and read the first page. More often than not, a small dose of the prose is all it takes to get them hooked.

Leslie: I'm always curious about other people’s interpretations of things in the book. Do you think the aliens are meant to be literal, or that they perhaps represent some other, nefarious force out to plague New York City?

Liz: Well, I’m a science fiction editor, so of course I’m ready to believe that the aliens exist within the world of the book. But I’d like to think that enjoying the book is not contingent on all the weird stuff that happens, that the musicality of the prose and the concreteness of the characters would be equally interesting if they were facing some real-world ecological crisis.

Leslie: What do you hope will happen after it goes on sale?

Liz: I guess one always secretly hopes that each first-time novel will be a bestseller right out of the gate, but realistically Spaceman will more likely be one of those slow-burn, cult-favorite type books. Most of the friends I gave copies to during the publication process were more than eager to turn around and give copies to their friends. If that trend continues with critics, booksellers, and the like, which is what seems to be happening, I suspect we’ll be in fine shape.

Leslie: You are incredibly invested in what other editors might consider “weirdo promotional ideas.” A book release potluck party in an odd Red Hook bar, featuring the author’s raucous string bands? A multi-city, guerilla marketing campaign? Why are you driven to do so much for your books?

Liz: By necessity, most people I know have trained themselves to tell the difference between people’s honest opinions and choreographed marketing messages, and are increasingly wary of the latter. Personally, I'd be vastly more interested in a book release party that seems to be about the author and his friends having a good time than in one of those self-congratulatory “buy my book now” hard sell events. And, hopefully, the sorts of people who are likely to share my opinion about Spaceman will feel the same way.

Leslie: Can you tell us anything about Brian Francis Slattery’s next book?

Liz: Liberation is a seriocomic romp about a group of adventurers in a near-future America that has suffered total economic collapse and whose citizens have consequently been forced to resort to unsavory old-time economic models like the human slave trade. It's pretty awesome. Look for it right around our next election.

Leslie: Rad. First dibs on the manuscript! Thanks Liz!

Brian Francis Slattery’s novel, Spaceman Blues: A Love Song (0-7653-1610-2, $22.95 / $28.95 CAN) was released in August from Tor.

Necroscope: The Touch

Musical Necroscopes—how to keep your hero alive beyond death without making him a bloodsucking vampire

by Melissa Ann Singer, Senior Editor, Tor/Forge Books

When Tom Doherty handed me the first Necroscope novel, he said, “I think this might be a bit strong for you.” (I was young and innocent-looking in those days.)

What a challenge! Who could resist?

I dived right in and had a terrific time meeting Brian Lumley . . . and Harry Keogh, the Necroscope, and the men and women of E-Branch, and Brian’s wonderful, nasty, shape-shifting, alien, evil vampires. They were so bad, they’d kill you before they looked at you.

Even as he was reshaping the vampire story for the 20th and 21st centuries, Brian took the tropes of ESP and stood them on their heads. In the world of the Necroscope, reliable telepaths and precogs and finders of lost items (or people) and holders of other talents often function as secret spy bureaus.

England’s E-Branch is one of the best. These men and women have been through the fires of hell and back, fighting vampires and other supernatural menaces on Earth and other worlds.

Standing with E-Branch, yet always a bit apart, was Harry Keogh, the Necroscope. Long before The Sixth Sense, Harry Keogh was conversing with the dead (and mastering the Mobius continuum so that he could travel instantaneously to any place and time). Poor Harry—Brian really put him through the wringer. Mother murdered. Abusive, insane, murderous stepfather. Wife and first-born son missing for eight years. Another son turned vampire. Harry himself possessed by a vampire.

Despite all that, Harry Keogh remained a hero and the core of the Necroscope series. With his death, humanity seemed to have lost its greatest protector.

But the power that was the Necroscope has lived on. Golden fragments of Harry Keogh’s soul have been flung through space and time. Where they strike, a new Necroscope rises.

Right now, Earth badly needs a new Necroscope. In Necroscope: The Touch, three aliens are conducting an interesting philosophical experiment in an attempt to prove the existence of God. If there is a God, they reason, then he/she/it will want to protect his/her/its creations. The Mordri Three decide that if they destroy enough planets, God will have to reveal himself in order to stop them. And besides, destroying planets is fun. Especially if you get to play with the sentients who live there first.

The Mordri Three have been playing with a lot of human beings. With a touch, they can trigger cancers and other diseases. They can rearrange flesh and bone and turn people into monsters—or turn them outside in, a favorite trick. They’ve already blown up their own world (and a few more). Now, on Earth, their doomsday weapon is almost ready.

In the E-Branch trilogy, the Necroscope was Jake Cutter, a rough-and-tumble guy who had some personal revenge to get out of the way before he could save the planet. With a vampire riding in his mind, Jake almost turned to the dark side before proving himself a true Necroscope. 

But Jake Cutter’s not around in The Touch. And so far, E-Branch’s search for the Necroscope has been fruitless.

Where is the Necroscope? Who is the Necroscope?

The answers lie in Necroscope: The Touch by Brian Lumley (0-7653-5521-3, $7.99 / $10.99 CAN). To learn more about the worlds of Brian Lumley, visit www.brianlumley.com

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Preview Chapters

Sons of the Oak
by David Farland

The Book of Joby
by Mark J. Ferrari

Jumper: Griffin’s Story
by Steven Gould

Spellbinder
by Melanie Rawn

The Well of Ascension
by Brandon Sanderson

Spaceman Blues
by Brian Francis Slattery

Farthing
by Jo Walton

Harbingers
by F. Paul Wilson

Sandworms of Dune

Modesitt's Blog

Cast your vote for the 2007 Quill Awards!

The Testament

Category 7

The Thief Queen's Daughter

Blood Lies

Shelter

The Grays

The Lost Constitution

People of the Nightland

Ten Things

Ten Hugo Award Winners from Tor

  The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
by Robert A. Heinlein (Best Novel, 1967)

  Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
by Kate Wilhelm (Best Novel, 1977)

  Ender’s Game
by Orson Scott Card (Best Novel, 1986)

  Speaker for the Dead
by Orson Scott Card (Best Novel, 1987)

  A Fire Upon the Deep
by Vernor Vinge (Best Novel, 1993)

  A Deepness In the Sky
by Vernor Vinge (Best Novel, 2000)

  Hominids
by Robert J. Sawyer (Best Novel, 2003)

  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
by Susanna Clarke (Best Novel, 2005)

  Spin
by Robert Charles Wilson (Best Novel, 2006)

  David G. Hartwell (Best Professional Editor, 2006)

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