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June 8, 2003

Sorry, I’ve been busy. Books I’ve been reading or re-reading in the last few days: Sethra Lavode by Steven Brust. Shelter by Susan Palwick. Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow. Currently reading: Newton’s Wake by Ken MacLeod.

Oh, that’s right, none of these have actually been published yet. Hey, you know, some days, this job doesn’t actually suck. [11:01 PM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Sorry,:

Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2003, 11:33 PM:

Not only does it not suck, but you become the envy of friends and acquaintances.

So when is _Newton's Wake_ coming out?

Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2003, 11:33 PM:

But how cruel to publicize it so...

Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2003, 11:40 PM:

Does this mean EST is close enough to publication that we should start writing reviews?

Eliani Torres ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 12:26 AM:

How many pages can you turn a day? Just curious.

Cory Doctorow ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 12:53 AM:

Ooooh, a new Taltos novel!

Back to work, you. Stop blogging! You owe me an editorial letter! Posterity awaits!

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 01:02 AM:

This is what I get for mentioning work at all. My most work-productive weekend in months, and yet--

(FWIW: Sethra Lavode isn't a "Vlad Taltos" novel; it's book 3 of The Viscount of Adrilankha, the three-decker sequel to The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After. Same world, though.)

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 01:03 AM:

Don't tempt us to mug you for your manuscripts.

Cory Doctorow ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 01:37 AM:

Just yankin' yer chain, dude. You're doing good stuff.

(Another Phoenix Guards book is good news, too.)

N.Z. Bear ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 02:44 AM:

Yeah, that's just plain mean... I suppose posting them for download would be out of the question, eh? (I'll pay for 2 of the 4 for sure, and I'm willing to be convinced for the other two...!)

-NZB

tavella ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 04:29 AM:

Augh! That was mean. I read the second line and went "ooh! a new brust, must run to Amazon'. Damn you.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 07:39 AM:

Answers to questions. (It seems only fair.)

"When is [Ken MacLeod's] Newton's Wake coming out?"

Next summer sometime.

"Does this mean [Cory Doctorow's Eastern Standard Tribe] is close enough to publication that we should start writing reviews?"

It's scheduled for February 2004.

"How many pages can you turn a day? I'm just curious."

Not enough. My fiction-reading speed has slowed alarmingly in the last few years; it's a problem. Talking to other longtime book editors, I've found this experience isn't unique. I do seem to be having a productive several days, though.

"I read the second line and went 'ooh! a new brust, must run to Amazon'. Damn you."

Actually, the "new Brust" you'll be wanting first is The Lord of Castle Black, book two of The Viscount of Adrilankha, which will be appearing in August, at the same time as the paperback of book one, The Paths of the Dead. The book I was reading this weekend, Sethra Lavode, is book 3; it'll be published next spring.

Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 07:57 AM:

Let me just add (because Patrick is too polite to taunt the peanut gallery) that "Newton's Wake" rocks. I'm just over halfway through it and I think it could be Ken's best novel to date. (Modulo a little editing. Which is Patrick's sometimes-enviable job.)

Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 09:34 AM:

Patrick, if you insist on rubbing it in, please hop on a plane to Arizona and wax my minivan.

Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 10:06 AM:

Bruce,
Only if your minivan is named "Eloquent."

Rachel Brown ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 12:30 PM:

When is _Shelter_ coming out? What's it about? And are you going to reprint Susan Palwick's wonderful first novel, _Flying in Place_?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 02:19 PM:

Charlie Stross writes:

"Let me just add (because Patrick is too polite to taunt the peanut gallery)"

I most certainly am not!

However, the actual point of my post was that, although events sometimes make it hard to remember, in fact my job does have its good points.

Ken MacLeod's Newton's Wake: A Space Opera is indeed primo stuff, as Charlie says. Favorite scene so far: the one in which our heroine, semi-stranded on a planet being terraformed by Korean Juche-ists preparatory to selling it to the farmers of "America Offline," curries favor with her hosts by playing them a recording of the play The Tragedy of Leonid Brezhnev, Prince of Muscovy. Some excerpts of which are given, in iambic pentameter. Exeunt, pursued by a bear.

Jordin, go to your room.

Rachel, Shelter isn't scheduled yet, and will be preceded, in mid-to-late 2004, by a quite marvelous short fantasy novel called The Necessary Beggar.

aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 02:41 PM:

*laugh* I had already fired up amazon.co.uk to order the new Ken MacLeod book which I hadn't heard of, and then I realized "oh, that's right, Patrick is probably editing it ..." and I slumped at my computer in disappointment at having to wait another 8 months before I can get my fingers on it.

Greg Morrow ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 03:00 PM:

Tavella:

Brust's "The Lord of Castle Black", part two of that which "Sethra Lavode" is part three of, is scheduled to hit stores in August.

Jane Yolen ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 03:14 PM:

Note: I refrain from asking about manuscripts close to my heart. I want brownie points.

Jane

Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 03:19 PM:

I'd make hmmphing noises at you for teasing us with unpublished Brust, except that it caused me to look at the calendar and say, "Hey! It's nearly August already--cool!"

I figure I'll start haunting my local bookstores in hopes of seeing _The Lord of Castle Black_ around July 15, just because.

Kris Hasson-Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 03:44 PM:

Hey, I'll be in NYC for the day on June 18--I could read that Brust just to be sure it's okay. You know, I only want to help.

Emma ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 03:49 PM:

Patrick, I find it highly unfair that you get to read new Brusts before I do...pout, whine...

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 03:49 PM:

Beast! Monster! Editor. :-)

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 04:10 PM:

Early reading is but a small compensation, truly, for the awkward fact remains that at some point, some author whom Patrick genuinely likes and admires -- there is, after all, no shortage of same -- will respond to a request to change that particular sentence with "change it how?"

That is a hard fate, and one not to be envied whatsoever.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 05:40 PM:

Graydon, we answer questions like that all the time.

My biggest excitement last week was dealing with a normally calm, reasonable author who'd gotten one of those memorably bad copyedits. Would you believe the copyeditor corrected the author's use of a language the author invented for this book?

John Scalzi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 06:40 PM:

TNH writes:

"My biggest excitement last week was dealing with a normally calm, reasonable author who'd gotten one of those memorably bad copyedits. Would you believe the copyeditor corrected the author's use of a language the author invented for this book?"

This is a comment I would have chosen not to read, he said, wondering about his own imminent copyediting.

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 06:40 PM:

A copywriter who could do that well would be a rare gem and very much worth keeping.

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 06:41 PM:

Sorry, not copywriter, copyeditor. (See why I want one?)

Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 07:02 PM:

...at some point, some author whom Patrick genuinely likes and admires ... will respond to a request to change that particular sentence with "change it how?"

When I was editing legal scholarship, I made sure never to suggest that something should be changed, without offering a proposed revision or a possible angle (or at least having one in mind). For sentence-level things, I would be very surprised that a thoughtful editor would do otherwise.

(For bigger things, I suppose it's possible to know that something's wrong without knowing what to do to fix it; I don't write or edit fiction, so I couldn't say.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 08:03 PM:

Actually, one of the ways I sometimes screw myself up, as an editor, is by falling into the belief that I have to be able to offer an alternative to something that doesn't work. This has more than once caused me to take way too long to give newly-written books the feedback that they deserve.

It is of course gratifying to have a better idea, and even more fun when the author agrees. But authors generally want to know when something doesn't work; and moreover most of the time they're the ones who are going to think up the fix. Thinking I have to do so is a species of vanity; keeping the author waiting because of it simply compounds the offense.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 08:04 PM:

T -
I'd believe that in a picosecond. (I expect to be thoroughly loathed by copyeditors, come the day.)

I didn't say editorially-collective-you couldn't or didn't do it, I said it was a hard fate, and indeed I regard it so. (As seems waiting months for your friends to read the book so you can talk about it, or not having people to talk to when you're in the happy burbly cool book! cool book! stage of things, which seems both possible and likely of occurence.)

Kate -
My experience, which is quite possibly not representative, is that it's quite possible to know that something isn't quite right without having the least clue how to fix it, nor indeed quite precisely what the problem is.

Neil Gaiman ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2003, 11:10 PM:

I've not read Sethra Lavode. but I've read the afterword to it, which is one of the funniest things that the hand of man has committed...

Teresa -- was this the same copyeditor who missed "couchant" as a heraldic term and decided I couldn't write proper French?

Danny Yee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2003, 03:19 AM:

Hey, Patrick, who at Tor do I email to ask for review copies of these books?

I've never understood why I'm deluged with review copies of computer books (Addison-Wesley, O'Reilly, etc.) and Cambridge University Press will happily send me $200 hardcover volumes to review, but I can never get review copies of $5 sf paperbacks!

Quite apart from my #1 or #2 ranking on
http://www.google.com/search?q=book+reviews
Slashdot will run sf reviews just as happily as computer book reviews.

Danny.

David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2003, 05:04 AM:

So, Patrick, have you gotten to see any of _Lifelode_ yet? Jo Walton has sent me some of it and what I've gotten to read so far, rocks.

Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2003, 06:55 AM:

Re: offering suggestions: I'll have to bow to people's greater experiences with editing fiction. Sometime when people aren't busy, I'd love to hear about *sentence-level* things that were wrong without being able to articulate why, since I'm having a hard time imagining them, and I find the topic fascinating.

I just finished reading a book where I *think* it was the pacing that was wrong, but I'm having a hard time putting my finger on it. Which happens to me all the time, really, so it's just one example of why it was very silly of me to say, yesterday, "For bigger things, I suppose it's possible to know that something's wrong without knowing what to do to fix it"--I think I was ascribing lots of insight to people who do this for a living and very little insight to reader-me. Which is probably silly in a different way.

One thing that appears constant between the editing I used to do and this, at least, is the problem of keeping the author waiting (and probably the reverse, too...).

terry.karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2003, 10:13 AM:


And I a poor soul stuck here in the heath of northern Iraq (not being so far North as to compare it to any parts of Utah) with the first of the Adrilankha novels, knowing there were very slim odds of getting the second, have read you commenting on the third. TANJ!

You have my deepest, and most cordial envy. Right now I would I were in your shoes.

T. Karney

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2003, 04:24 PM:

TNH: My biggest excitement last week was dealing with a normally calm, reasonable author who'd gotten one of those memorably bad copyedits. Would you believe the copyeditor corrected the author's use of a language the author invented for this book?

Teresa, I'm sure it was done badly, and incorrectly, in this case. But I can well imagine cases where the author could screw up in this way, and a careful copyeditor could catch it. For example, if s/he establishes early on that 'sforcha' means 'love without sexuality' and 'smuules' means 'sexual love', then uses the worng (typo, but left unfixed on purpose) one, in a non-ironic context, with no hidden meaning (e.g. the speaker was NOT accusing the mother of an incestuous relationship with her son), wouldn't you at least want the copyeditor to query that?

Now, I'm no copyeditor - my handicaps render that impossible, as it's a superb example of a Farmer task - but as a linguist, I often notice that made-up languages are used inconsistently by their own authors. (There's an egregious example at the end of Watership Down, IIRC.)

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2003, 07:57 PM:

"Klaatu's death will be a complete action by the time the message gets to Gort. Shouldn't therefore the message be given in the perfective mood, e.g. Gort, Klaatu pobarada nikto!?

Michael Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2003, 03:34 AM:

Alan, if that quotation is an invention of yours, my hat is off in complete and utter admiration. If not, can I have a citation?

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2003, 01:05 PM:

I just pulled it out of the air. You hang out with Mike Ford for long enough, something is going to rub off.

Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2003, 01:50 PM:

Does Newton's Wake have much to do with Blake or Joyce? (or boating?)

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2003, 11:08 PM:

Alan, no, it should be "Klaatu nikto pobaradanno." But that would be a rare construction in that language; normally it would be phrased "Klaatu niktobar." Which in turn isn't something you'd say to a giant robot anyway.