Newsletter #9 mailed out 13 January 2002
I've started the actual writing of the fifth book in the Isles series (AKA Big Fat Fantasy Five). My working title is Caverns of the Ice Queen, but a part of me is leaning toward Empress of the Ice Realm. I'll listen to any opinions y'all want to offer.
Thick novels are a lot of work. I've told Tor that I hope to hand this one in on August 1, 2002. I'd like it to be sooner, and I'm sure they'd like it to be sooner; but it takes a while to get things right.
I've talked to writers who're furious because their editor didn't catch a logic lapse that a fan or reviewer mentioned, or because the copyeditor didn't correct their typos and misspellings. So far as I'm concerned, those things are part of my job. The book doesn't go in until I'm satisfied with it, and so long as the publisher prints what I sent he won't hear complaints from me. My Tor editor, Dave Hartwell, didn't read all of Queen of Demons and only read the first two chapters of Servant of the Dragon. I take that as a compliment.
Mind, when the publisher doesn't print what I send in, I get very bent out of shape. Read the FAQ on my website regarding Servant of the Dragon for an example.
Apart from that, Paying the Piper, a Hammer novel, is scheduled for July hardcover release by Baen Books. The excellent Larry Elmore cover and the final section of the novel (a short novel in itself, Neck or Nothing) are live on my website now. I think Jim will release the whole book in pieces in the Baen Webscriptions (for which see Baen.com).
The Tyrant, Eric Flint's development of my outline for the book to follow The Reformer (which Steve Stirling wrote), is complete and will be a Baen March hardcover. This is what I call the General Follow-On series (okay, I said it was what I called it, not that it was a good name) in which Raj Whitehall and the supercomputer Center are implanted in the minds of people on other planets to reverse the effects of the collapse of galactic civilization.
The first of the series was The Chosen (by Steve, who wrote the original General series as well); The Reformer followed; and now that The Tyrant is out of the way, Eric will at some future date do the fourth book (which has an Egyptian background). My title was The Rebel, but I don't swear that'll be on the book. (The working title of The Tyrant was The Redeemer). It's possible that Eric will decide to develop the novel outside the series framework.
(Look, if you think this is complicated, you should talk to Marla at Baen about keeping my various contracts straight. Me, I just write books.)
Dogs of War, the reprint anthology of military SF which I edited for Warners, is out now in paperback. The stories are very good, but I do want to emphasize that they're all reprints. The only new material is my introduction and my end notes to each story. Those of you reading my newsletters will understand what I mean when I say that the new material has a personal touch, but I don't know that this is a sufficient reason to spend your money if you're already familiar with the stories.
I've had a number of questions about why there's no audiobook version of Mistress of the Catacombs. The short answer is that Tor screwed up and didn't offer the book to Brilliance (which did excellent jobs on the first three volumes of the Isles series). The woman handling subrights for Tor was incompetent (as I know from some personal dealings I'd had with her a couple years ago). They finally fired her, but she didn't leave any records. The new person didn't pick up the ball which the old one had dropped.
I find this very depressing, the more so because my personal agent made the initial sale to Brilliance (on Lord of the Isles), but Tor in the negotiations on further books in the series absolutely insisted on taking over audiobook rights. Which they then pissed away. Welcome to the romantic world of publishing....
Tor didn't send Servant of the Dragon to Peanut Press (the e-book publisher), either. When a reader brought that to my attention, I dug out the files (which wasn't quite as simple as it sounds, because they were in DOS and I don't have a machine that'll handle DOS any more) and asked my wonderful webmaster to check them over before forwarding them to Peanut Press. For those of you who care about incunabula, the electronic version is as I wrote it--not as reset by Tor and published in hardcover without proofing.
In terms of weirder news, the Hammer series turns out to be a cult favorite in British miniature wargaming circles. (This is a much bigger business in the UK than it is here; the excellent Osprey series of historical battle and uniform handbooks is written for miniature wargamers.)
There's even a Hammer's Slammers website: http://www.salute.co.uk/slammers3/index.htm
The site's unauthorized in the sense that they put it together without my knowledge, but it's an incredible piece of work. (If you look at the site, remember that the figures are 25-mm--one inch--high. I can't imagine painting at that degree of detail.) The folks involved got in touch with me and we're working on an official miniature book and regimental history. (That is, they do all the work and I say, "No, the turret ought to be bigger in relation to the hull," and the like.) I find this puzzling but kinda neat. We'll see what transpires.
There've been a few minor changes to the website. The bibliography page has been updated and reorganized a bit. The news page is updated whenever there's a new item to add, so you can check it frequently between newsletters.
For relaxation I've continued translating chunks of Ovid and putting them up on the website when they're polished. I started to say, "This has nothing to do with my work," but in fact I find that it has a fair amount of direct influence on my fiction as well as keeping me sane. (All right, my friends have just chuckled. Keeping me between the ditches, let's say.) The latest additions are Amores I:1-3 and Amores 11b linked from http://david-drake.com/ovid.html.
Ovid was a remarkably skilled craftsman who has taught and continues to teach me technique. Besides that, the stories he tells in such an evocative fashion frequently tweak something in my mind. I've just done a rough translation of the last couple hundred lines of Metamorphoses, Book IV--the portion dealing with Perseus. I picked it for the description of the sea monster coming for Andromeda, but the appended sequences dealing with Perseus and Atlas, then with Perseus and Medusa, also made me think, "You know, I could use that...."
And so I shall, God willing and the creeks don't rise. Let's hope 2002 has all the good stuff of last year and not the rest, shall we?
Best to all of you. Now, back to the sea monster which is about to attack Prince Garric....
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