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Tor/Forge December 2007 Newsletter

In This Issue

A War of Gifts

A gift from Orson Scott Card to all his fans – a special story set during Ender’s time at Battle School

by Beth Meacham, Executive Editor, Tor/Forge Books

“Wouldn’t it be fun,” we said, “to do a holiday gift book by Orson Scott Card?”

You know, those little books you see at the check-outs of book and card stores, around this time of year? Kind of a cross between a book and a card? We call them “precious size” books…and I don’t even know why. Could it be irony?

The conversation went on: What should it be? What about an Alvin story, Christmas at Horace Guester’s Inn? What about one of the other series?

“Wouldn’t it,” I asked, “be a good idea to ask Scott about this? Before we, you know, schedule the non-existent book or something? Not that we haven’t done that before.

But Scott Card had a better idea.  That’s why he’s the writer -- the creator -- and we’re the editors and publicists and sales people who get it from him to you.

“What about an Ender story?” he said.

Ender? What? Christmas at the Battle School? You don’t normally think of Ender’s Game and heart-warming precious books together, you know? Well, at least I didn’t.

“Yes,” said Orson Scott Card. “Christmas at the Battle School. I have an idea. It won’t be warm and fuzzy, though. Is that ok?”

“Don’t tell Tom that,” I said.

So time passed. We plan these things really early, like years early. Months went by. Other books were delivered and edited and published.

Then one morning, I opened my email and found The Christmas Story waiting. It was like Christmas morning, all unexpected. I started reading it.

My coffee got cold.

I went to get a Kleenex.

It’s not warm and fuzzy – it’s deeply touching and emotional. There I was, crying over a sock. Really. No, I won’t say any more than that, you go read it. It’s not long, it won’t take you more than one wasted cup of coffee.

We called the story A War of Gifts. It’s out now. It’s an Ender story, set in his first year at the Battle School…and it’s so much more than that.

Orson Scott Card’s, A War of Gifts (0-7653-1282-4; $12.95 / $14.95 CAN) was released from Tor in October.

I Am Legend

A Conversation with Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend

“Maybe now that I’m in my eighties, people will discover me…”

How did you get the idea for I Am Legend?
As a teen, I saw Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. It occurred to me that if one vampire was scary, then if the whole world was filled with vampires and there was only one normal person left, than that would be even scarier.

Do you like Will Smith playing Richard Neville?
I like him very much. I’ve always enjoyed his performances. They sent me a book of art from the movie and I’ve seen photographs of [Will Smith] as Neville and he looks like he really immersed himself into the part.  

How do you feel about the previous film versions of I Am Legend: The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price and The Omega Man with Charlton Heston?
The Vincent Price [movie] came closer to the book but I didn’t care for it too much. I wrote quite a few pictures for Vincent and he was marvelous in all of them but I think he was miscast in I Am Legend. And it was done in Italy…it’s not as bad as I thought, I saw it recently again. But it certainly didn’t capture the book all that well. I didn’t care for the Heston movie [The Omega Man]. It was so far removed from the book, though, it didn’t bother me.

Why do you think I Am Legend  has remained so popular after more than fifty years?
Apparently, it’s the most popular book I ever wrote. I wrote it over fifty years ago and it’s still selling. I thought I only had a small legion of fans…I guess I have quite a few.

Indeed – Stephen King has said you were one of his main influences in writing…
Yes, Stephen King has said that I Am Legend was one of his main influences – it got him thinking the way he does: for instance, my idea of the vampires using freezer boxes in supermarkets instead of down at the graveyard – it could happen in your own neighborhood.

Do you see yourself as a horror writer?
I hate that word [horror].  I prefer to think of myself as an off-beat writer. I’ve written 5-6 western novels, a war novel, and a love story (Somewhere In Time).  I guess you could call me an off-beat fantasy writer. I do write scary stories, but I think of terror, not horror. I’m a neighborhood terrorizer.  I’m incapable – or don’t want to even try – to write a Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter or something set in a complete other world. I just can’t get interested if it’s not someplace that seems real.

How did you research the science in the book?  Was that in your background?
No, I have no background in science. [I did] research, and then I had a doctor check it and it all adds up scientifically—from a biological standpoint. It is a vampire novel, it’s just my “scientific explanation of vampires”. To me, I Am Legend is the only science fiction I ever wrote.

Have you seen the movie?
No, I haven’t seen it yet – but I think they’re going to do a great job. The writer-producer and director are all very talented, and Will Smith is very talented.  From what I have seen, they have done an outstanding job.

Will you attend the premiere? Are you doing any events?
I may attend the premiere in California. I’m also hopefully going to be signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank [scheduled for Dec 2 at 2:30pm]. People often come in with a truckload of my books to sign, but I’ll be signing the movie edition of I Am Legend, and then one other book for each person. If they want more, they have to go to the end of the line and start all over again.

Many of your books and stories have been made into movies. Which are some of your favorites?
Somewhere in Time -- I think that’s the best written of all my books. What Dreams May Come is not bad either.

Do you have any new projects in the works?
There’s a new movie version of my story Button, Button coming out. That should be exciting. Somewhere in Time is about to be a musical on Broadway. Ken Davenport is producing it – he had written telling me that he was thinking of using some of my major ideas for the show. I wrote him a song for it. I took [music] courses in college, but though I never really understood harmony, I can work out an arrangement on the piano by ear. I wrote many songs (years ago). I don’t know if it’s always true, but it seems like the author gets more power/influence over their stories on the stage than with movies/cinema—though the motion picture people have been very nice to me and I’m happy to be identified with I Am Legend.

The new version of Matheson’s classic I Am Legend is out this month in both trade paperback (0-7653-1874-1, $14.95 / $17.25 CAN) and mass market (0-7653-5715-1, $7.99 / $9.99 CAN) from Tor. Check it out before you see the Warner Bros. film starring Will Smith, in theaters everywhere December 14, 2007.

Borne in Blood

Evolution of a Series

by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Evolution implies the passage of time, so with this in mind – back in the winter of 1970/71, I had an idea for a series of five novels. The purpose of the series was to push the literary image of the vampire into non-traditional settings and as far into the positive as it could go and still have a recognizable vampire. This was a major undertaking for me, because at that early time in my career, I had sold only one novel (it didn’t come out until some years later from a different publisher, but that’s another story) and fifteen short stories. It took me the greater part of a year to put together my bible for the five books I contemplated.

During that time I continued to write science fiction and mystery short stories, and I approached the vampire story as if it were science fiction, substituting folklore for scientific fact. Of course, I used Dracula as the model of the literary vampire, but with accumulated folkloric supports. I did a vast amount of research on the folklore of vampires throughout the world, and on the literary traditions beyond Stoker. Then I looked about for a non-Victorian, non-Dracular setting for my first Saint-Germain novel.

The period of Louis XV’s France was very appealing, and not just because I had already studied it at college – although that helped – but because it was so unlike the Victorian era. In order to make the setting more real, I researched some of the curious figures of the day with the intention of using them as secondary characters to shore up the verisimilitude of the story, and came bang up to le Comte de Saint-Germain. I had studied him during my earlier researches on the Louis XV period, but the more I reviewed all that was known about him, the more he seemed like the very vampire I was searching for. Taking everything the historical man said as true for the sake of the stories (even though I think he was . . . um . . . fibbing), I began to map out the novels, with a chronological chart, basing much of it on what the historical Saint-Germain claimed to have done. Good thing, too, as it turned out, for although the original chronology was a single page, over the years it has expanded and is now almost twenty pages long. It keeps the stories consistent.

Over the next couple years I worked on the first book, fitting it into the slow bits of my schedule. The book was Hotel Transylvania, and I identified it as an historical horror novel, meaning that the history was the horrifying part, not the vampire. When I had it sixty percent finished and had a twelve-page outline for the rest, I sent to my agent, who was delighted with it. I turned it in to Signet/New American Library in early 1976. By then I had sold two more novels and resold the first one, and so novels were no longer as daunting to write as they had been. I started work on the proposal for the second vampire novel, The Palace. In the meantime, Signet sold hardcover rights Hotel Transylvania to St. Martin’s Press (a rare development in those days) and St. Martin’s sold the book club rights. That delayed the initial publication of Hotel Transylvania until 1978, by which time, The Palace was finished and the proposal for Blood Games almost done.

Over the next two years, I fell into a pleasant rhythm of one science fiction, one mystery, and one historical horror novel per year. This lasted until I was nearly finished with Tempting Fate, the fifth and longest novel in the series, when my Signet editor left and the series went to an editor who didn’t know the series and didn’t like vampires. Since I had planned five books in the series – and a sixth as a collection of the Saint-Germain short fiction I had written I figured that was the end to it. I put my research away and went on to other books.

But, of course, he came back – vampires always do.

Tor reprinted the first four books in mass market paperback and then moved on to new books – the three Olivia books – and that sent me back to my notes and chronologies, which not only included Saint-Germain’s actions in and between various books, but the “theme” of each millennium of his evolution from monster to compassionate being. At the end of those three books, Saint-Germain was once again an active character in my mind; the Madelaine de Montalia novel, Out of the House of Life, explored some of Saint-Germain’s early history. We were up and running again. Tor went on with a book a year for almost a decade. The books have covered almost three thousand five hundred years and a good portion of the globe. Along the way I set novels and stories in times and places the historical Saint-Germain had discussed; but I also began to fill in the blanks in his biography – when you work with a character for almost three decades, you trust him to keep you on track.

As of Midnight Harvest, in 2003, the Saint-Germain Cycle became the longest single-author vampire series in the English language. In December 2007, the twentieth book in the series, Borne in Blood, will be out from Tor. My editor has in hand the completed twenty-second book in the series, A Dangerous Climate, scheduled for December of 2008. Number twenty-one, Saint-Germain: Memoirs, is another short story collection, due out from Elder Signs Press at about the same time as Borne in Blood appears. I am presently completing my research on number twenty-three, Burning Shadows.

Amazingly durable, these vampires.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s novel, Borne in Blood (0-7653-1713-3, $27.95 / $32.50 CAN) will be released from Tor on December 10, 2007.

Voices From the Street

My Life with Philip K. Dick

by David G. Hartwell, Senior Editor, Tor/Forge Books

I read Phil Dick’s paperbacks as they came out in the 1950s, and became a serious fan of his SF in the 60s. In 1971, when I got my first job as an SF editor, I called up Phil’s agent and asked if I could buy a book. The answer was that I would have to wait in line while Phil finished his outstanding contracts with four other publishers.

I actually met Phil at the World SF convention in Los Angeles in 1972. He introduced me to his new wife, Tessa, and declared that I would become his editor and he would sell me everything he wrote. After that convention, Phil sent Paul Williams and me the manuscript for Confessions of a Crap Artist. He was proud of the book and his agent had been unable to sell it. So we published it ourselves in 1975, producing a 500-copy edition that sold out in six months. It was the first of Phil’s mainstream novels to appear.

Meanwhile, in 1973, I took an editorial job with Berkley, and found to my dismay that Phil was not going to write his novel under contract there, Joe Protagoras is Alive and Well, any time soon. After a while Mark Hurst came to work in the production department, and he had been in touch with Phil at Bantam, and had seen the original manuscript called Valisystem A. Mark and I were on the same wavelength. We cooked up a deal with Phil’s new agent, Russell Galen, to let Phil satisfy his Berkley contract by doing a story collection, The Golden Man, that Mark would edit, so Phil could finish the novel now called Valis for Bantam.

In 1978, I took a job at Pocket Books and finally became, for his last couple of novels, Phil’s editor. I talked to him a lot on the phone, saw him at some conventions, and spent a day in his apartment listening to him tell me the plot of what became The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.

After Phil died in 1982, three months before the release of the movie Blade Runner, Paul Williams was named his literary executor.  Paul and I had a meeting at the 1983 ABA convention in Dallas in a hotel room I was sharing with him and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who listened with fascination as Paul and I strategized about how to preserve Phil’s works and enhance his reputation. We decided that a PKD Society should be founded and that the mainstream novels should be published over the next few years by small presses, since the trade publishers showed no interest. Underwood-Miller did a five volume Collected Stories. Mark Ziesing did The Man Whose Teeth Were all Exactly Alike, and a collection of essays, The Dark-haired Girl; I did In Milton Lumky Territory (as Dragon Press). Malcolm Edwards, at Gollancz in the UK, did Humpty Dumpty in Oakland. The Society lasted many years, and at one point young Jonathan Lethem came to California and did volunteer work for it. We all were working for a common cause. It was fun. Later in the 1980s, Vintage began its program of putting Dick’s SF work into uniform trade paperback editions.  Ultimately we all decided to leave the field open to Vintage, because it was the ideal venue for PKD.

Over the next two decades, the posthumous film career of Philip K. Dick really took off and is still flying. And Vintage published everything, in the end, but the mainstream novels. So I have been able to fulfill one of my last personal goals by publishing trade editions of some of the mainstream novels at Tor, and indeed bringing the last unpublished one, Voices from the Street, out for the first time ever.

I feel pretty good about my life with Phil Dick.

Philip K. Dick's Voices From the Street (0-7653-1821-0, $14.95 / $17.25 CAN), was released by Tor in November.


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Larry Bond’s First Team: Fires of War
by Larry Bond and Jim DeFelice

A War of Gifts
by Orson Scott Card

by Orson Scott Card

Voices From the Street
by Philip K. Dick

The Assassin King
by Elizabeth Haydon

Variable Star
by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson

The Tourmaline
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Pirate Freedom
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  Dinner and a Show with Brian Francis Slattery, Part 1

  Dinner and a Show with Brian Francis Slattery, Part 2

  Blogging in SF, Part 1

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Wolfe wins World Fantasy Award

Gene Wolfe’s Soldier of Sidon wins the 2007 World Fantasy Award for Novel! Click here for more information.

A War of Gifts

Halo: Contact Harvest

I Am Legend

The Highwayman

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