Gaming miniature giant Games Workshop is pressuring an author to stop using the term "space marine," and Amazon has taken her e-book off sale in response to a request from the company. The author, MCA Hogarth (who also writes a business column/Webcomic for artists), revealed the dispute over her book, Spots the Space Marine on her blog. Hogarth says that GW, which has a trademark on “space marine” for games, figures, and miniatures, is now asserting that because it’s publishing e-books, it has trademark ownership of "space marine" in all formats. Hogarth said in her post that she didn’t have enough money for an attorney to fight the claim.
The problem is that "space marine" has been used in science fiction since 1932, when E.E. (Doc) Smith first used it. Robert Heinlein also used it. So the assertions by Games Workshop, which came much later, are getting a big reaction, including a post by Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing on Wednesday, a tweet by Neil Gaiman, and a lot of other attention. Hogarth also says she has been contacted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The kerfuffle with Games Workshop comes on the heel of a recently published interview with comic artist and Bronx Heroes Con organizer Ray Felix in which he details his experience with attorneys for Marvel and DC over his comic title Cup O Java studio Comix A World Without Superheroes. Marvel and DC, who jointly own the term "superhero," are fighting Felix’s trademark on the title.
While there are differences in the two cases, both are situations in which relatively large companies assert ownership over words in common usage and protect their rights against use by relatively powerless individuals. Whatever their legal rights, the optics aren’t good.
One space opera book series has been at the top of the Smashwords section of Media Bistro’s self-published bestseller list for the past several weeks: Randolph Lalonde’s Spinward Fringe books, which include eight volumes thus far.
The series follows Captain Jacob Valance, a hired gun with amnesia who searches for clues about his past while fighting for freedom. As is often the case with self-published e-books, the first hit is free.
We just saw a vending machine for 3D printing, and now, at The Monkey’s Paw book store in Toronto, designer Craig Small built the Bibliomat. Besides being the coolest thing I’ve seen today, the Bibliomat is a $2 vending machine that spits out used books.
The Bibliomat is a dramatic affair. As you can hear in the video below, it huffs and puffs until a bell rings and the book is dispensed at the bottom. It’s not much more than a few ropes, pulleys and bells, but it has attracted some whistles. After all the fanfare, you get a book, but not just any book — literature is dispensed randomly, so you never know what you’ll get.
It’s a clever substitute for a bargain bin, a bookstore trope that is as ignored as it is common. This mix of nostalgia, art, and ingenuity probably moves a lot more books than a classic basket.
With all of the focus on digital books these days, it’s easy to forget that so much of the world’s collective knowledge is still only available from good old fashioned paper books. This public library aims to spice up the image of the dusty old archives by making it into a place you’ll want to visit.
I must confess that I don’t get into my local library too often these days, but if it looked like this beauty, I’m sure I’d become a regular.
"Book Mountain" is in the center of the Dutch town of Spijkenisse, and houses the town’s 70,000-volume collection. There’s space for an additional 80,000 books as needed, and they’re all laid out to impress in a sun-filled space that encourages reading the old fashioned way. The two miles of shelving can be accessed using staircases hidden in the center of the structure, while a reading area tops it all off.
When I saw the design I thought that all of that sunlight wouldn’t be too good for the books, but the library points out that its books have to be replaced on average every four years anyway due to regular wear and tear, so any potential sun damage isn’t going to shorten their lifespan.
Check out the gallery to see Book Mountain’s gorgeous architecture from every angle.
It wasn’t so long ago that we were eagerly awaiting J.K. Rowling’s first (non-magical) novel for adults. Now that novel’s out, and though it’s doing well, Rowling’s already answering questions about what she’ll do next.
During a rare appearance at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in England, Rowling was once again asked the question she’s been hounded with ever since she finished the Harry Potter series in 2007: What are you working on next?
As usual, Rowling was vague, but she did say she’s leaning in the direction of more books for young readers.
"I think probably the next thing I write, or the next thing I publish, will be for children," she said.
Rowling’s latest novel, The Casual Vacancy, was released late last month to lukewarm reviews but high sales, though not Harry Potter high. Despite the mixed reception, Rowling said she’s also still got ideas for more adult books, just not as many.
"I know what my next book for adults will be," she said. "I have a number for children I’m working on."
As for what exactly that next book for children will be about, Rowling was once again reliably vague, but said she has a "number of ideas on my laptop."
What do you think? Will Rowling return to magic the next time she hits bookstores?
Breaking in to the book world can feel like an impossible quest — but now, there may be a major shortcut. Harper Voyager, one of the top science fiction and fantasy publishers on three continents, is open to unagented submissions for the first two weeks of October. They’ve put up a portal at HarperVoyagerSubmissions.com, which will go live Oct. 1 but already has submissions guidelines and other key info.
These submissions are for Harper Voyager’s new e-book-only imprint, although the FAQ says "[t]here is the possibility that submissions will be published in print as well." They’re looking to release one Harper digital original per month, so they need 12 titles for the next year. Books would be simultaneously published in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.
Diana Gill, executive editor with Harper Voyager in the U.S., tells io9:
Singularity & Co aims to rescue near-extinct 20th century sci-fi titles to ensure they still exist in the next one.
Established from a Kickstarter campaign, the small team has already digitized and published A Plunge Into Space and The Torch, both with new cover art, while its third title required a thousand-mile journey to scan its contents from a university archive. While Mr. Stranger’s Sealed Packet is out of copyright, many education establishments weren’t willing to let anyone scan its edition of such rare books.
Talking to Ars Technica, Ash Kalb added: "If you’re part of that university or that consortium then you have access to that book. If you don’t then you don’t."
The republishing group, which ensures it doesn’t tread on any existing copyright toes, also offers up a better deal to authors and author estates, in addition to reviving interest in long-gone books. Singularity and Co’s now opened its bricks-and-mortar doors in Brooklyn, or you grab more details and updates on their progress at the source below.
Many of us feel like we know our favorite authors through their novels and from the various details of their lives they choose to share. In 1987, a 15-year-old boy named Andy felt that he knew science fiction and fantasy author Piers Anthony so well that he wanted to live with him. So, he packed up his bag, hopped a plane, and tried to figure out where his favorite author lived.
This past week’s episode of NPR’s This American Life includes an act "Just South of the Unicorns." Reporter Logan Hill explains that he was a huge fan of Piers Anthony growing up, especially devouring his fantasy novels set in Xanth. In the days before blogging, Anthony communicated to his readers not just through his fiction, but in lengthy author’s notes placed inside his books. These notes contained, among other things, many of the mundane details of Anthony’s life. One detail that particularly stuck in young Hill’s brain was a passing mention of a teenaged boy who had run away from home and shown up on Anthony’s doorstep. So Hill was especially excited when he randomly ran into that teenager, now an adult.
Just a quick reminder that the new novel, BioShock: Rapture, is now available from your bookseller of choice (well, maybe not all of them). Penned by sci-fi and fantasy author John Shirley, the book tells the story of Andrew Ryan and the beginnings of his underwater metropolis. If you would (kindly) like to add it to your collection, BioShock: Rapture is available in both paperback and hardcover.
In addition, Shirley will host a panel at Comic-Con this Friday. Entitled "Writing in Videogames," the panel begins at 10am in room 32AB. Shirley will also be on hand to sign copies of BioShock: Rapture at the Tor Books booth (#2707) from 12pm to 1pm.
With "Game of Thrones" off the air until next year’s second season, now is as good a time as any to start reading "A Song of Ice and Fire," the novel series that provides the foundation for the HBO fantasy epic. It’s an especially good time to come on board considering that "A Dance with Dragons," the fifth book in the series, is finally in stores after six years of delays. Needless to say, it’s straight to the local book shop after work.
Though we’re still years away from seeing "A Dance with Dragons" on the small screen (assuming, and hoping, that "Game of Thrones" lasts long enough to make it that far), it’s never too early to get excited for more "Thrones" mania. After the jump, find five reasons why we’re looking forward to dancing with "Dragons" in George R.R. Martin’s latest adventure.
A fair warning — if you haven’t read up to "A Feast for Crows," there be spoilers beyond the jump. Another fair warning — this is NOT a place for "Dragons" spoilers. If you’re already deep into the book, keep the plot reveals to yourself!
Winter’s Here, Finally!
Did we mention that it took "Dragons" six years to get here? Yes, we did. What we didn’t mention is that it’s been eleven years since we saw POV chapters from Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow or Tyrion Lannister. That’s right: to borrow a quote from "Almost Famous," ELEVEN! That’s way too long to be apart from our favorite "Ice and Fire" heroes. Now, we’re reunited, and all is well.
A Stark Contrast
Riffing on the previous point, "Dragons" is bound to give us a much healthier dose of the Stark family than we were treated to in the most recent "Ice and Fire" novel, "A Feast for Crows." In "Crows," George R.R. Martin focused much of his energy on the Lannister clan and the goings-on at King’s Landing. With "Dragons," we’ll once again spend time with Jon Snow on the wall and Bran Stark beyond it. Hopefully we’ll see some more of Arya in Braavos and Sansa — err, Alayne — in the Eyrie, too, though their screen time is likely small compared to other members of Team Stark.
There Be Dragons
The title kind of gives this one away, doesn’t it? We know that dragons are back in the world of "Ice and Fire," courtesy of the trio of fire-breathers tagging along with Dany and her crew. We met them as infants. Now, they are growing. What can we expect from Viserion, Drogon and Rhaegal in "Dance"? And are there other dragons to behold, either in Westeros or the lands beyond?
Hail To The Queen
Dany ranks as one of our all-time favorite characters in the "Ice and Fire" saga, which is an impressive feat considering how far removed she’s been from the main cast all this time. But in "Dance," she’ll have the opportunity to engage at least a few of our most loved heroes and hated villains, including the delightfully ambiguous Tyrion Lannister; the wicked dwarf has fled Westeros and is undoubtedly on a collision course with the last scion of House Targaryen. We can’t wait to see what happens if and when they meet.
Spring Comes Closer
While we’re trying to stay focused on "Dragons," it’s hard to not look past this latest book and towards the future of "Ice and Fire" as a whole. We officially have five out of seven books in our possession, and with the HBO series picking up so much steam, it’s suddenly not out of the realm of reality that GRRM’s epic tale will reach its conclusion within the next decade. Perhaps we’re being too optimistic — especially given the bleak nature of this story — but we’re feeling pretty darn good about the "Song of Ice and Fire."
Have you picked up your copy of "Dragons" yet? Let us know in the comments section and on Twitter, but keep it SPOILER-FREE please!