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Item one: the difference in spelling between the front cover and spine.

Item two: "Female SF writers are a rarity; good ones even scarcer!"

If anyone wants to play guess-the-publisher before clicking through to the photos, feel free. That said, I'm still looking forward to reading it.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item one: which one do they mean? Or is it a cunning pun, and they really do mean both?

Item two: Well, as discussed with regards to the BSFA Awards, they do have a point.
which one do they mean?

The internal cover has Principles, so I'm assuming that. But who can say?

Well, as discussed with regards to the BSFA Awards, they do have a point.

Some might argue that there's a difference between there not being many good female sf writers published in Britain and there not being many good female sf writers ...
Some might argue that there's a difference between there not being many good female sf writers published in Britain and there not being many good female sf writers ...

Fair point, but we can't easily talk about numbers we don't have. I would be interested to see the gender balance of all SF books submitted to publishers in all countries (because we really can't fairly talk about anyone who writes something for themself and never tells anyone), but I suspect that it would still show an imbalance.

How many female SF authors are published in the US cf men?
How many female SF authors are published in the US cf men?

I don't know. I'm willing to believe it's pretty imbalanced, but look at it this way: Locus records the publication of about 1500 English-language original sf and fantasy novels each year, at the moment. Assume that about two-thirds of those are fantasy, and that women only write, say, 30% of published sf novels. That still leaves 130-odd original science fiction novels by women published each year. Even if it's proportionally a minority, it's still more books than most people can read in a year -- it's about 30% more than I read last year -- and I think it rules out the use of words like "rare" and "scarce".
The other thing is, it's hard to get data on what's been submitted: even if you know that publisher A received X books, and accepted Y percent, and similar numbers for B, that doesn't tell you how many of those rejected novels went to both publishers. Nor does it tell you how many writers those books represent: someone could have several novels out there looking for publishers.

I know of a book by a woman that has been rejected by ten different British publishers. How, if at all, does that affect the calculations?

Would knowing whether the book has been published in the United States affect your answer?
> The internal cover has Principles, so I'm assuming that. But who can say?

Principals sounds intriguing. We've had superheroes at boarding school, witches and wizards at boarding school; teen angels at boarding school could be quite fun :-)
Don't foget supervillians at boarding school and greek gods at boarding school! (I can hardly wait for people to forget about boarding schools.)
Well, Prinicpalities are a kind of angel. Maybe it has something to do with that.
"Some might argue that there's a difference between there not being many good female sf writers published in Britain and there not being many good female sf writers ..."


Precisely. There are a goodly number of excellent female sf writers (some of them British) who are published in the US but have never found a UK home. (Elizabeth Bear, Jo Walton, Karen Traviss, Lisa Goldstein, Julie Czerneda, Nina Kirikki Hoffman -- and I could go on.) There really does seem to be a problem in the UK with buying new women sf authors. I have a theory as to why which I am not going to put in writing on line, but will happily propound in person.
Sadly, I saw this post immediately below the flickr photos on my friends page, so guessing was a moot point. But yes, that's, um, isn't it?
We just got galleys of the latest book by "Laura Anne Gillman". Wasn't Gillman a Marvel superhero about fifty years ago?
"Female SF writers are a rarity; good ones even scarcer!"

Wow! I would be so pleased if my publisher put that on my book!

Regarding other bits of the copy: is she really well known? I think we previously had the discussion that she's had a couple of short stories in minor publication and no one has really heard of her.
I think if you surveyed Eastercon-goers you would find that she was fairly recognised. I think if you surveyed Interzone-readers they'd say "who?"
I think if you surveyed Eastercon-goers you would find that she was fairly recognised.

Although even then I'd guess the name recognition wouldn't be that great. She's been a regular convention goer for years, yes, but mostly under a different surname.
---Mark
I was pleased, though also a bit scared: it's a lot to live up to.

I've not had a story in Interzone (though not for lack of trying), and most of my short stuff's been published in the US (in, amongst other places, Alfred Hitchcock's, On Spec, and most recently GUD and Escape Velocity).

As Mark points out below, I have been around fandom for a while, but not as a writer, and not under this name; if I'd seen the cover copy before the proofs went out I'd have pointed this out to my editor (along with the amusing spelling on the spine, and the incorrect spelling of the City name on the back). Not that I'm complaining - it's got you all talking about the book.
.
Here's an interesting thing: one of the other proofs that came in the same package is The Ninth Circle by Alex Bell. The book is apparently "Neil Gaiman meets The Bourne Identity in one of 2008's most feted Gollancz debuts", and Bell is "a frighteningly young, talented debut author ... Massively promotable, Alex is sure to gain extensive publicity coverage". Nowhere does it mention that Alex Bell is a woman. Now, is this because (1) Bell didn't want to be so identified, (2) they think men aren't going to buy The Bourne Identity by a woman, (3) female fantasy authors just aren't as comment-worthy as female sf authors, or (4) something else?
I'm additionally perturbed by the 'frighteningly young' in that description, in between beating my head on the desk over the 'let's not mention it's a gurrrl'. It sounds like a Midwich Cuckoo.

I realise that if I ever get back into writing fiction I shall have to save it all up until I can be marketed as Splendid Ancient Crone (whacking people with my cane, waving my ear-trumpet at them, and bringing antimaccassars into the conversation somehow. But NOT wearing a red hat with purple). There is no hype to be got out of being middle-aged.
Oh, frighteningly young gets banded about far too often. As a mid-20s bod in the book industry I don't find it frightening that I sell authors younger than me, I find it heartening.

Of course, the vocabulary available for putting on proofs has almost all be used at least twice already though, so sometimes it's just a game to see just how many clichés you can get onto a jacket.
Frighteningly middle-aged!
Of a certain, absolutely terrifying, age.
[via james_nicoll]"Frighteningly young" to me brings Eragon to mind and thus maps to "frighteningly badly written." Probably this is just me.

The posts keep moving for youth. F/SF has yet to meet its Daisy Ashford, but surely she is out there.
Now jonesing for Daisy Ashford does sf. (Spaceforce Commander Salteena?)
Alex (who does get annoyed when people assume she's a man, by the way), is actually young enough to be my daughter. So, if my blurb says (inaccurately) that I'm 'young', then logic presumably dictates she must be *frighteningly* young. Hey-ho.

Jaine
I realise that it's highly unlikely, given the gender wars that still seem to dominate the SF world, but could it be that the author's gender just isn't relevant?

Interesting that you don't seem to think they'd need to indicate if the author was a man :-p
I know the author's gender isn't relevant to me, but I have a friend who, in his youth, wouldn't touch a book written by a woman, because he had read one book by Anne Macaffrey and "didn't like it". I always thought that was a weird way of making a book choice myself, but I read statistics in Mslexia about the reading habits of boys and I think his case is probably typical.

I think the lack of indication of Alex Bell's gender may be a case of 'don't tell, don't ask'.

... That said, my friend and I were talking about what he'd been reading lately a couple of weeks ago, and I asked him if he had read anything by China Mieville. He said he'd seen her name bandied about a lot but wasn't sure if she wrote his sort of thing.
inamac thought the same, and I made no judgements at all about China's gender until I heard him on Radio 3. The fact is that I had heard of a couple of females called China but no males until Mr Mieville. Thinking that he was a she is not in the least surprising.
we live in a world where the shoulda coulda wouldas sadly do not dominate the sphere. It SHOULDN'T matter whether she's a woman or a man, but it totally does. And unfortunately the way to get to a time where author gender won't matter in some way isn't to merely declare gender unimportant and go blindly forward. (Not that you suggested such, I am just sayin')
My point wasn't that Alex Bell's gender is relevant -- I don't really think it is -- but that these are both debut novels from the same publisher, and one is marketed on the author's gender and the other is not. The point is not that Alex Bell's gender is relevant, but to ask why Gollancz thought Jaine Fenn's gender is relevant.

That said, having looked at all the Gollancz proofs I have sitting around, it is the only one not to mention the author's gender. Admittedly most of the others have non-gender-ambiguous names on them, but still.
Linguistic point...

I think the word you should be using here is sex not gender.

Sex is biological. Gender is a societal construct. I think you're discussing the sex of these authors not their gender.
Well, Jaine is good -- but that tag line is shameful and what I've come to expect from said publisher. I feel a revolution coming on.
May I link to this?
Yes, of course.
I guessed Baen. My bad.
This honestly isn't meant remotely cattily...

...but exactly how old does an author have to be before publishers stop describing them as 'young'? I mean, I've known Jaine for well over 20 years.
No offence taken m'dear. I've been reading my own PR with increasing incredulity, but the comment about being 'young' did make me fall off my chair.

If you aren't rich you should always look useful.
-- Louis-Ferdinand Celine


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