October is a natural month for genre fiction—everything is spookier, thanks to the month-long celebration of all things autumnal, and the ever-looming specter of Halloween encourages readers to try books that may be more otherworldly than their normal tastes. For regular genre fans, however, there is something about the cooling weather and glowing jack o’ lanterns that makes it so fun to curl up with an epic read and get lost in outer space or a mythical land of fantasy. Thus, I couldn’t be happier about the timing of today’s announcement of 47North, the new science fiction, fantasy, and horror imprint from Amazon Publishing.
Much like the plots these genres feature, the possibilities for our new imprint are limitless. We had to start somewhere, though, and when we thought of boundary-pushing fiction, we immediately turned to Neal Stephenson, the New York Times best-selling author whose works stretch the imaginations of legions of readers while continually testing the conventions of what is considered "genre." Little did we know that he was busy crafting an ambitious new series with another respected writer: the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Greg Bear. Along with fantasy and science fiction author Mark Teppo and several newcomers, they have created a multi-book project called The Foreworld Series, and 47North will publish the first book, The Mongoliad: Book One, in April 2012 with subsequent installments to follow. The authors describe the series as “Historical Fantasy,” and it chronicles the birth of Western martial arts. The Mongoliad: Book One begins in 1241, where “King and Pope and peasant alike face a bleak future--until a small band of warriors, inheritors of a millennium-old secret tradition, conceive of a desperate plan to kill the Khan of Khans.”
And we’re only getting started! The launch includes 14 other titles set to publish in 2011 and 2012, and that list features plenty more fantasy and science fiction. We wanted to ensure a balance between the two genres—and then between their respective subgenres. But first we had to define them: science fiction has its roots in reality, no matter how improbable, while fantasy is based in, well, fantasy—the impossible. Both have deep wells of subgenres, from epic fantasy (sweeping swords and sorcery) to urban fantasy (contemporary settings tinged with magic and supernatural), and from space operas (high adventure amongst the stars) to military SF (the art of war…in space!). We sought titles that fed a variety of fan appetites and authors whose works were both familiar and refreshingly new.
Then we ran into the issue of exceptionally written works that contained elements of one or both of the above genres but also trended a little darker. We quickly realized that battling the supernatural is best left to the professionals, so we thought it wise to include horror in 47North as well. It’s a difficult genre to classify, as it often contains elements of fantasy, science fiction (see any debate on how to classify Ridley Scott’s Alien, for example), and thriller writing. As a result, the 47North list includes supernatural, demonic, and revenge stories, all full of that creeping dread that must permeate any great horror tale.
As 47North’s catalogue grows, so too will our ideas about what makes up each respective genre, and we hope you’ll be there to help guide us. We encourage all science fiction, fantasy, and horror fans to tell us what you love to read and how we should continue to craft an eclectic catalogue of great genre fiction via our 47North page, which includes links and more information for our initial titles. Sharpen those swords, ready the teleportation chamber, and keep your silver bullets close—oh, and stay tuned!
P.S. As for the story behind the name “47North”—it’s the latitude for Seattle.