Continuing in the grand tradition of posthumous work by 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Big Pun, Big L and Pimp C, the late author and poet Maya Angelou – who died in May of this year aged 86 – is set to release a hip-hop album in November. Caged Bird Songs – named for Angelou’s first volume of memoir, 1969’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – sees thirteen recordings of Angelou reading her work laid over beats produced by Shawn Rivera and RoccStarr, and was undertaken with Angelou’s blessing, mixing previously existing audio with vocals recorded shortly before her death.
Little over a fortnight following Robin Williams’ death at the age of 63, author and journalist Dave Itzkoff has revealed plans to write a biography of the late comedian. Itzkoff – by day a culture reporter for the New York Times – is not quite the crass opportunist that such timing might suggest, haven written several features on Williams for the Times in the past, including a celebrated 2009 profile written in the months following Williams’ aortic valve replacement surgery, which itself followed a divorce and time spent in rehab for alcoholism.
As revealed earlier in the month, later this week HarperCollins launches Killer Reads – its new digital crime imprint – with a week of open submission. Any aspiring authors who need one final nudge to submit their manuscripts may be heartened by the news that this week also brings details of the result of an earlier call for submissions from the publisher: HarperCollins’ sci-fi and horror imprint Harper Voyager accepted unagented submissions for a fortnight in October 2012 – the first time it had done so in nearly a decade – and has now announced plans to publish 15 novels discovered as part of that initiative.
Earlier in the summer Barnes & Noble announced that its oft-troubled Nook division was to partner with Samsung to release a line of tablets carrying Nook software. Now, the first fruit of that partnership has seen release in the form of the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, a rebranded version of one of Samsung’s entry-level tablets, the Galaxy Tab 4. Currently only available in the USA, it’s priced at $179 with a seven inch, 1280 x 800 display, and is set apart from the previous model by the $200 worth of Nook-compatible books, magazines and TV shows with which it is pre-loaded. It is the first new Nook tablet since Barnes & Noble revealed last year that it would cease exclusive production of new tablets and instead move to a partnership model.
This year’s Hugo Awards – the annual prizes recognising achievement in science fiction and fantasy – were presented last night at Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London’s ExCel, with a majority of the categories focusing on the genres’ literary representation. The ceremony’s headline award – Best Novel – went to Ann Leckie for her debut, Ancillary Justice, the first book in a planned space opera trilogy published by Orbit.
It was a big night for Tor.com, the online sci-fi magazine and imprint of Tor Books, which laid claim to three winners: Charles Stross’ “Equoid”, Mary Robinette Kowal’s “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” and John Chu’s “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” were named respectively Best Novella, Best Novelette and Best Short Story.
Doing almost as well was Aidan Moher’s sci-fi and fantasy blog A Dribble of Ink, which took two awards: Best Fanzine and Best Related Work for Kameron Hurley’s essay “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative”. Hurley also won Best Fan Writer.
Best Graphic Story went to Randall Munro for “Time”, a particularly innovative instalment of his long-running webcomic xkcd. Ellen Datlow and Ginjer Buchanan were named Best Editor for, respectively, short-form and long-form work. Lightspeed Magazine won Best Semiprozine.
Away from literary matters, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity took Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, whilst the Short Form prize in the same category went to the Game of Thrones episode “The Rains of Castamere”. Julie Dillon was named Best Professional Artist, Sarah Webb Best Fan Artist and Best Fancast was presented to Patrick Hester’s Sf Signal Podcast.
The ceremony also saw the presentation of a non-Hugo award – the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, sponsored by Dell Magazines and given to the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013 – to Sofia Samatar, author of A Stranger in Olondria.
Of all the threats Amazon has posed to brick and mortar bookshops to date, real-world competition – that is, a branch of Amazon that book buyers can actually walk into – has been fairly low on the radar. Whilst an Amazon shop that allows customers to browse its lovingly-curated shelves physically still seems improbable, there is nevertheless bound to be a lot of nervous collar tugging in bookshops around the world at the news that the übercorporation is manifesting itself in an offline form on the campus of Indiana’s Purdue University as of next year.
Today in news so time-contingent you probably can’t even spare the couple of minutes it takes to read this: if you can get to the recently-installed James Bond BookBench in London’s Bloomsbury Square between 12pm and 2pm tomorrow (12/08), you might walk away with a free copy of one of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels courtesy of publisher Vintage. The company, in conjunction with Ian Fleming Publications and BookBench masterminds Books About Town, is marking the 50th anniversary of Fleming’s death with the promotion, with 200 copies of Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the non-fiction collection Thrilling Cities set to be distributed to passers-by over the course of two hours.
25 November this year marks 40 years since the death of singer-songwriter Nick Drake, aged 26, from an overdose of antidepressants, the intentionality of which has never been ascertained. Of the three albums of alternately lush and brittle songs he left behind – 1969’s Five Leaves Left, 1970’s Bryter Layter and 1972’s Pink Moon – the latter two each sold fewer than 5,000 copies during his lifetime. Drake’s critical and commercial cachet has risen significantly since his death, and in recognition of his 40th anniversary his estate has authorised for the first time a book on Drake’s life.
HarperCollins is extending its Killer Reads web presence – a promotional tool and online community for its crime titles since 2009 – into a digital-first crime and thriller imprint, and the publisher has revealed that it will launch the list with titles discovered via open submission. For one week only between 29 August and 4 September, the label will accept all the manuscripts the crime writers of the world can throw at it regardless of whether or not they have agents. After its launch Killer Reads hopes to put out one or two digital titles a month, so the search for new authors is presumably a method of shoring up its backlog in order to sustain that model. It follows a similar move from HarperCollins’ speculative fiction imprint, Harper Voyager, in 2012.
Crime writing festival Bloody Scotland has revealed the shortlist for its Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year, whose winner will be announced as part of this year’s festival in September. The nominees are an even split between three genre veterans – Chris Brookmyre’s Flesh Wounds (Little, Brown), Louise Welsh’s A Lovely Way to Burn (Hodder & Stoughton), Peter May’s Entry Island (Quercus) – and books by three debuting authors: Nicola White’s In the Rosary Garden (Cargo), Neil Broadfoot’s Falling Fast (Saraband) and Natalie Haynes’ The Amber Fury (Corvus). The winner will take home £1,000 and be promoted in Waterstones branches across the country.