Back in the summer of 2005 Sue and I took a trip to Glasgow in order to take part in the Interaction Worldcon and one of the many sessions we planned to attend was a reading by Jude Fisher – author of the Fool’s Gold fantasy trilogy.
We were well aware of Jude Fisher’s real name – Jane Johnson – who was then (and at the time of writing, still is) an editor on Harper Collins’ Voyager imprint and responsible for the UK editions of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire and Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy, amongst many others.
But for Jude/Jane, the programme schedule was not kind, for concurrent with her session was one featuring GRRM and when we arrived at the appointed time and place, the only occupants of the room were Jane and her colleague Emma Coode. It was clear that there was no point in having a formal session, so instead we had a chat about various bookish things, including my questioning as to why Jim Burns had been dropped as ASoIaF cover artist after A Storm of Swords, cost being one reason given and a desire to “modernise” fantasy cover art being another. As I recall, Jane didn’t do a reading, but she did have a copy of the TPB edition of Rose of the World (the final book in her trilogy) with places marked with her compliments slips inserted and this she gifted to us at the end of the shorter-than-scheduled session.
I couldn’t help but notice that Emma had brought along an uncorrected proof copy of the debut fantasy novel Temeraire (known as His Majesty’s Dragon in the US) written by Naomi Novik. There had been advance publicity in the UK, there was old map-ish cover art by Dominic Harman (who also attended the 2005 Worldcon) and the enticing, genre-merging tagline ‘A Cross between Susanna Clarke and Patrick O’Brian’ from Stephen King (apparently genuinely) gracing the wrapper. I can’t remember whether I blagged it or she offered it, but I walked away with the proof. Sad alert: I still haven’t read that copy; I waited until the following January when the first UK hardcover edition was published so as not to spoil the book.
Moving on, once I had read Temeraire and having read both Susanna Clarke and Patrick O’Brian, I partially agreed with Mr. King, but would have substituted Pat O’Brian with Julian Stockwin (of the Kydd series of historical naval fiction) – a move which would never have happened at that time as Stockwin was still relatively unknown in the US. I won’t review the story in detail right now; suffice it to say that to me, the concept of a dragon air force working alongside the Royal Navy had an attractive, almost Disney-esque feel to it which I mentally ported into the hands of Peter Jackson – then riding high on the success of the Weta Workshop’s Wonderful Work in Wellington for LOTR. It seemed a natural fit and it soon became apparent that Peter Jackson had the same view because in the year of publication he took out an option for the film rights to the story. However, according to a recent post by the author, those rights have now expired and are back under her control. Surely the time is right for a either a film, or better still a TV series, so here’s hoping that someone with the necessary expertise and resources agrees. I wonder what David and Dan are doing next…
Latest news: Naomi Novik’s new fantasy novel Uprooted wins the Nebula 2016 Best Novel award and is shortlisted for the Hugo 2016 Best Novel award, the movie rights having been taken by Warner Bros with Ellen DeGeneres producing. Hopefully, this could be the doorway that leads to some certainty regarding the dramatisation of the Temeraire series. Thinking about it, this could be ideal because whilst there is only one Uprooted (at the time of writing), there are eight Temeraire novels ((with the ninth and final one soon to be published) and so maybe this is a toe in the water from Warner Bros. The key, of course, is the casting, but if they can emulate the GoT crew, they won’t go far wrong. It would be good challenge for the CGI guys – storms at sea and aerial combat with both dragons and humans in the mix – go for it!
25th June 2016 Update: Uprooted wins the 2016 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel
22nd August 2016 Update: Uprooted comes second in the Hugo 2016 Best Novel Awards at MidAmeriCon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, held in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. The winner was The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.
4th October 2016 Update: Uprooted wins the 2016 British Fantasy Award for Best Fantasy Novel