I’ve got a lot to write about and a lot to share that I just haven’t had the chance to, including a wonderful, unexpected treat that arrived in the mail recently, a good six weeks early.
In the meantime, however, here’s a brief guest blog by Mr. Wingrove about some criticisms directed toward him, suggesting that he’s ripping off his readers by selling shorter books. Personally, I prefer the new lengths as I find them more portable, more manageable, and I anticipate the shorter texts of the “old” material to feel more focused (if that makes sense?). But whatever – can’t please everybody.
Mr. Wingrove’s full text is below. Thanks as always, David!
I’ve noticed that I’m now being criticized – by the brave “Anonymous” on the Wertzone site – for short-changing my readers by giving them much smaller books this time round. I’m kind of amused (a) because Anonymous himself doesn’t offer his readership any form of buy-it-or-leave-it deal, as he apparently doesn’t actually write books, and (b) because each and every volume that’s about to come out in the re-worked sequence will be between 300 and 400 pages long. Still good value, I’d have thought. And with lovely covers and lots of new material at the end of the sequence where it’s needed. Oh yes… and a book every two months to keep the appetite whetted. And two/three dozen short stories…
How does this compare size-wise, say with the classics of science fiction? Well, we’ve got George R Stewart’s 1949 classic, EARTH ABIDES, which weighs in at 312 pages, and there’s Joe Haldeman’s THE FOREVER WAR, which is 254 pages. Or there’s Dick’s DO ANDROID’S DREAM, a snip at 210 pages and LeGuin’s meaty THE DISPOSSESSED at 319 pages. Fred Pohl’s GATEWAY is 315 pages and Heinlein’s THE MAN WHO SOLD THE MOON is 238 pages.
Those were just a few taken down at random from the shelves. There are one or two bigger books up there too – Heinlein’s I WILL FEAR NO EVIL at 414 pages, John Brunner’s STAND ON ZANZIBAR at a walloping 650 pages, and DUNE, the original, at 507 pages, but it’s only recently – and more in the fantasy genre than in SF – that books have become a bit bigger than they were in the past.
That said, what I guess I object to is the sneering “he’s ripping you off” tone to Anonymous’s little snipe. As if working on a project like CHUNG KUO isn’t risky enough for both author and publisher. It also neglects the fact that the originals were written to divide up (each English-language volume divided into two self-contained smaller novels) for publication in Germany, Japan, Poland, Korea and elsewhere. If you don’t believe me look at the Heyne edition for the German market, or Bunjei Sunju in Japan. And as for omnibus editions, yes, I’d love to do that at the end of it all – maybe have one big Domesday-like volume – a massive coffee table edition with colour illustrations, like some futuristic Book Of Kells. But I’m day-dreaming now. Publishing is – has to be – a business as well as an artistic endeavour, and the fact that Corvus are coming along on this wonderful re-working of CHUNG KUO should be applauded, not sneered at.
What Anonymous thinks of my work is neither here nor there. People will make their own judgments in that regard. Adam certainly did in his review, as he did (rightly) last time. But to infer that we’re cheating here somehow is a bit mean. When was the last time our good friend, Mr. A, the “critic”, put twenty seven years of his life into one project? Round about never, I’d say.
David Wednesday 21st September 2011