The view from the Galley
There’s a great deal of GOOD Galley Begggar Press news to pass on soon – but lots of it we can’t yet reveal. In the meantime though, we’ve got another entry in our irregular series of guest posts from independent publishers. This time, Jonathan Wright tells us about his new release, the frankly wonderful Adventure Rocketship!
Why would anyone sane person want to launch a new science fiction imprint? It’s a question I’ve asked myself on a number of occasions over the past few months, usually when, having helped my wife Chloe persuade Sam (6) and Isabelle (2) that sleep needs to happen occasionally, I’ve gone back to work commissioning, editing or writing copy for the launch issue of Adventure Rocketship!
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and I have to be realistic and concede there’s really no reason why you should, Adventure Rocketship! is a new anthology series mixing up fiction, essay and interviews. Each issue is themed with the first, Let’s All Go To The Science Fiction Disco, focusing on the intersection between music, SF and the counterculture.
Like, I’d guess, many of these kinds of projects, it’s an idea that has its roots in a number of places. In my editor’s introduction, I remember a press release from a pre-Britpop fame Pulp bemoaning the way our present doesn’t match 1970s visions of the future, but I might just as easily have mentioned getting laid up with Guillain-Barré syndrome in 2008 (sudden ascending paralysis, hospitalisation, about as much fun as it sounds but a good reality check in terms of making you do things you’ve always meant to do) or my continued admiration for Tom Hodgkinson’s Idler.
What underlies all this, though, is an idea that was crystallised by attending a Guardian Masterclass on producing independent magazines: at some level, said one of the tutors, from the indie film mag Little White Lies, you have to be completely unable to imagine a world where your project doesn’t exist.
It’s actually a wholly unreasonable thing to imagine, but that’s rather the point. Having wanted to create a left-of-centre science fiction magazine – and Adventure Rocketship! is really a magazine in book form as much as an anthology, and may even be a magazine in magazine form in future if I can ever work out how to pay for pictures as well as words – I couldn’t let the idea alone.
Which, to return to where I came in, is how I came to be working late into the night on Adventure Rocketship! (Another thing about indie publishing, it’s unreasonable to finance it by cancelling the kids’ swimming lessons, you often have to work late after the day job has finished, deal with it.) Even as someone who long ago left behind a conventional career path to work as a freelance journalist, it was a steep learning curve.
That’s not a grumble. Once I’d accepted I was learning as I went along, editing the book was tremendously freeing because I just didn’t know what was going to be thrown at me. Take the article on Janelle Monáe by American fantasy author NK Jemisin. I didn’t know much about her work before she was recommended to me and had no real idea what she might write, but she aced a piece on why The Jetsons is infinitely spookier than any of Monáe’s dystopian-tinged visions of the future.
As for editing fiction, something I’d never done before, this was simply terrifying. Just how do you suggest an edit to Tim Maughan, whose nouveau cyberpunk (for want of a better description) work has been namechecked by the likes of William Gibson and Cory Doctorow? Turns out you set out your argument for cuts, and he thinks about what you said and eventually agrees. I have no idea what would have happened if he’d argued… Then there was commissioning a cover from Stanley Donwood, who designs Radiohead’s album sleeves. The book jacket he came up with isn’t anything like I’d imagined it would be, it’s far, far better in a re-imagined 1970s-style Penguin paperback style.
I could go on, but to return to my original question, the real reason anyone would want to launch a science fiction imprint, or even just edit a book, is because it’s so much damn fun to do. To a man and woman, everyone involved was courteous, helpful and enthusiastic.
I hope you find it as much fun to read. For the record, in Adventure Rocketship! Let’s All Go To The Science Fiction Disco you’ll find stories by Lavie Tidhar, Liz Williams, Martin Millar (plus Jon Courtenay Grimwood interviews Millar) and more; essays by everyone from David Quantick to Minister Faust (check out his mind-blowing piece on George Clinton) and comics writer Rob Williams; and interviews with Michael Moorcock, The Orb and China Miéville. And those are just some of the highlights – really.
There’s also an interview with Mick Farren, Deviants frontman, SF writer, journalist and prankster, conducted by one Sam Jordison, co-founder of the Galley Beggar Press. He aced his assignment too, by the way.
If you get a chance, please let me know what you think of the book. Best way to get in touch until we launch the Adventure Rocketship! website (the to-do list never ends…) is via Twitter: @Jonathanw101
Should you so wish, you can purchase a copy of Adventure Rocketship! by clicking this link.
There will be launches this week in London and Bristol.
(Image courtesy of www.seanmalyon.co.uk)