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Female Hard SF Online; ebooks; estories; eself-publishing

Tuesday 20th March. Frost on the grass at dawn yesterday. Today, a grey morning, after days of powder-blue skies. We have live, healthy frogspawn. Not a lot, but enough to get by. I've flushed out the small pool, it now awaits live pond water from the Heart of Reeds. But we might have to give it up, there just isn't enough rain to sustain such a tiny puddle in good health.

This entry is in response to Kathryn Cramer's facebook query. (I'm sorry Kathyrn, but you must have noticed I don't have thoughts on Facebook, I mainly have Avaaz petitions & the like: my advertising, in response to their idea of the products I would love...) You'll see that there are no ads at all here, unless you count the links to my Kindle ebooks. I'm not a fanatical puritan (here I am blogging), but you can call me an idiot: I don't like the idea of being eaten alive by these very large evil parasites & I won't co-operate.

Anyway, your query was about the relative viability of an online anthology of "female authored hard sf".

I think the online anthology is far more likely to see the light of day: simply because I can't see any mainstream sf publisher touching the idea. Even the most dedicated small presses (eq Aqueduct) would have to think carefully. Sf readers, online readers very much included, simply don't believe in hard sf written by women, and this is so widely true of fandom, non-fandom keen readers and the general public, your proposed anthology risks being almost totally ignored. On the other hand there are idealists of the genre to whom "hard sf" means something different, and rather special. So for ambitious young female writers your project could be an opportunity. When you're starting out, getting noticed by just one or two significant people can be very heart-warming.

If anyone invited me to write for such an anthology, I'd probably say no, for the reasons above, but I'd offer a reprint to show my goodwill (I fancy The Fulcrum, for you).

But what is hard sf? The idealists would say "exciting fiction about real science" You have to be a man to write it; women can be praised for trying. The popular vote, empirically, seems to be for mechanical engineering, weapons, and go-faster-striped starfighters. I suspect it's one of those things readers judge by a feeling.

There was a discussion about the value to writers of the various new forms of publishing, at Beneluxcon last weekend. My feeling (we didn't get to our final comments, we ran out of time and the space was needed for an award ceremony) is that e-publishing, like printing on demand, through some agent like Smashwords, Amazon or the American Book Centre can't yet replace getting published professionally, and maybe never will. Publishers are many-talented people, or teams, who do work few writers can absorb into their own schedules. But maybe the e-venues have replaced the vanished, unpretentious, bookstall and subscription printed magazines etc, where a writer could get a first taste of publication, and even an encouraging little bit of money. So that's a good thing.

Meanwhile, I'm e-publishing my backlist, in principle if not in any hurry, for completely different reasons. Not to do with piracy, either. It's the new laws roaming around the horizon about orphan works. I may not even be affected, but I don't like the sound of them, and you know how it is these days. Any time you find yourself saying "it'll never happen, it's too awful, corrupt, illegal and unjust..." You will be wrong.

Just when we'd agreed not to spend any money this year, having "done" Brighton Festival so thoroughly last year, along comes The Musician's Body. What a fantastic programme. Unmissable items!


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