Wild Cards to be a TV series

News from GRRM’s blog (http://grrm.livejournal.com/496792.html) that the comic-book style series Wild Cards is to be adapted for television by Universal Cable Productions. Original Wild Cards contributor Melinda M. Snodgrass will be an executive producer on the project.

George and many other authors have been contributing to the series since 1986 (with first publication in 1987), making it the longest running shared world series to date. For those who are concerned that this will be yet another distraction from the Song of Ice and Fire series, George makes the following statement: “I won’t be working on the series myself… my own development deal is exclusive to HBO, and I am writing THE WINDS OF WINTER, as I believe most of you will recall…”

I’m pretty sure that this TV series will not have the global impact registered by Game of Thrones as it is a bit too American for some tastes, mine included. I never did warm to comic-book superheroes of the DC and Marvel type. Ironically, the first Wild Cards publication was a hardcover edition rather than comic-book format, but in 1990 EPIC Comics issued a series in comic-book format. Here is a sample cover:


Wild Cards: Diamonds in the Rough Vol 1 No 2

It is also interesting to note that between 1993 and 1995 George and Melinda M. Snodgrass created a screenplay based upon Wild Cards for the now defunct Hollywood Pictures division of Walt Disney Studios – but it remained unproduced.



Zelazny’s Amber to be adapted for TV

From the people who brought you The Walking Dead comes a TV adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s wonderful Chronicles of Amber. More info here: www.skybound.com/tv-film/were-developing-chronicles-of-amber-for-tv/

Think I’ll hang on to my copies of Nine Princes in Amber for now. Here is the US true 1st edition published in 1970 by Doubleday:


Nine Princes in Amber US First Edition

Allegedly the publishers ordered their warehouse to pulp all copies of Zelazny’s existing books the same day this came in from the printer, so only review copies, pre-orders, and library copies escaped into the wild, thus making non-Ex-Lib copies such as this one a rarity. At the time of writing there are around a dozen such copies to be found for sale via the www.bookfinder.com website.

This copy was acquired from a bookstore in The Hague during the time I was working at the European Patent Office in nearby Rijswijk.

Books at Auction on 21st July

We have several interesting lots for auction in the Modern Firsts section of the 21st July 2016 sale being held by Dominic Winter Auctioneers at South Cerney near Cirencester in Gloucestershire. The lots are as follows:

709 – Douglas Adams. Various titles (7 in total) including the UK firsts of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

710 – Douglas Adams. A signed copy of the UK first of The Illustrated Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

716 – Pierre Boullé. The UK first and first English edition of Monkey Planet (the basis for the film The Planet of the Apes).

725 – Philip K. Dick. The UK first editions of The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick. 5 volumes.

754 – Stephen King. The UK first of Salem’s Lot.

759 – David Lindsay. The Savoy Books 2002 limited edition of A Voyage to Arcturus.

782 – William T. Vollmann. Rising Up and Rising Down. 7 volumes of the US 1st edition in a slipcase, each signed by the author.

More details and a catalogue for download are available here: —> Dominic Winter Modern Firsts 21st July 2016

21st July 2016 Update:

A good sale. Six lots sold, the Vollmann set being the non-seller. Results can be downloaded in PDF format via the link given above.

A Game of Jackets

It was almost 20 years ago on 5th August 1996 that Harper Collins UK published A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin under their Voyager science fiction and fantasy imprint. Whether this was the world first edition is a matter of contention. Copies of the US Bantam first edition which had been printed well in advance of the official publication date (also in August 1996) were given away at the annual American Booksellers Association convention held in Chicago in June 1996 and on this basis GRRM claims the US edition to be the world first. However, given that this was not the official publication date, I for one would argue that the UK edition is the true first. If give-away copies are to be classed as true firsts then proofs or advanced reading copies which are also given away should be classed as true firsts and that would be a major change across the whole world of book collecting (which I wouldn’t mind, given my tendency to purchase them).

Incidently, the July 1996 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine included a novella entitled Blood of the Dragon which was based upon the Daenerys chapters from AGoT and went on to win the 1997 Hugo Award for Best Novella. But back to the UK first edition…

Prior to publication, Harper Collins produced a Collectors’ Preview Edition (ISBN 0006482759) – a small 124 page perfect bound booklet which contained the first nine chapters of AGoT. It cost 99 pence to buy and offered the purchaser a special price on the full hardcover edition once it became available at the originating bookstore.


A Game of Thrones UK Preview Edition

Needless to say, an example of this small piece of ephemera in fine condition now costs considerably more than 99p! But what interested me about it was the rather imposing bright yellow section to the bottom right of the front panel. Clearly something must be covered up by this frankly inappropriate modification to the excellent jacket artwork  created by the Jim Burns, but what and why?

As can be seen below, the jacket for the UK first edition shows a vignette of a male character dressed for cold weather and therefore from the North of Westeros and presumably one of the Stark family, probably Ned, but could equally be Rob or even Jon Snow.


A Game of Thrones UK First Edition Jacket

Clearly it is necessary to see an image of the original artwork in order for this mystery to be solved, but where is it now? For a time, the original was in the posession of Jim Burns’ agent Alison Eldred, but it was sold to a collector (in Canada, I believe) along with the three other pieces that Jim created for the Voyager editions, i.e. one for A Clash of Kings and two for A Storm of Swords, the mass market paperback of the latter having been split into two volumes due to it’s size.

As it happens, there are two options available for us to view. The first can be found at the website of Jim’s agent (AGoT Fine Art Print @ Alison Eldred) where one can find details of how to purchase a signed, limited edition fine art print of this and the other three artworks from the series. As you can see, it is the wraparound artwork in the raw state, free from all text:

Jim Burns AGoT artwork

Jim Burns’ original artwork for the jacket of the UK first edition of A Game of Thrones

It is immediately evident that the character at the bottom right is quite different from the final version – definitely more oriental in appearance, almost Ghengis Khan-like and presumably intended to represent Khal Drogo. Like myself, Jim usually attends the annual one day convention held in Bristol (the cunningly named BristolCon) and I asked him last year why the change had been made, but he said he could not remember the reason. My guess is that someone at the publisher (presumably the editor) considered it a bit too oriental and suggested it be changed.

What I love about this and the other pieces in the group is that the wood you see is not digitised, it is marquetry – real wood veneer inlaid with the painted artwork.

I said earlier that there was a second option available and this jacket from the Dutch first edition is it:


A Game of Thrones Dutch First Edition Jacket


Somehow this got out into the wild without the edit and is, as far as I am aware, unique amongst all editions published worldwide. The only other edition to feature Jim’s artwork is the Hebrew language edition and that has the edited version, albeit with a reversed image. Just for comparison, here is the wrapper from the Dutch edition (and I know which one I prefer):


A Game of Thrones Dutch First Edition Wrapper

During my time hunting around the bookshops in the Netherlands I only ever found one copy of the jacketed Dutch first edition and this makes me wonder whether it was a proof version of the jacket which was never used. Any other owners of such a copy out there?

25th October 2016 update: Recently received this link from Jonty Clark regarding a Canadian guy named Pat Robinson who has a huge collection of GoT artwork, including the Jim Burns originals: http://www.avenuecalgary.com/City-Life/A-Calgary-Couple-Has-One-of-the-Largest-Collections-of-Game-of-Thrones-Art/

Last year at BristolCon, Jim mentioned that Pat wanted to commission him to do artwork in the same style for A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. As Jim will be attending this year’s BristolCon on Saturday 29th October, I shall ask if has accepted the commission.

George R.R. Martin Article – 2004

Whilst recently searching for a document in my digital archive, I noticed the draft of an article about GRRM written back in 2004 and I am minded to share it here.

My target for this article was the monthly Book and Magazine Collector to which I was a subscriber at the time. I was being rather hopeful because American authors of science fiction, fantasy and horror stories rarely got a mention in B&MC. In fact, fantasy and horror authors tended to be overlooked unless they were deemed to be creators of “literary works” such as LOTR. Publication of B&MC ceased in 2010 after issue 328 which was not surprising as was becoming increasingly irrelevant in the internet era.

The unedited text of the original article can be found on this blog page: GRRM Article 2004. Obviously, any values quoted were current at the time of writing and are therefore not to be taken seriously. Also, the bibliography has been omitted. And no, they didn’t publish it; in fact they didn’t even respond. No wonder they went out of fashion 😉

In or out?

Since everyone else is at it, I will give my views on the issue of the UK remaining or leaving the EU.

I have two viewpoints, that of the bookseller and that of the citizen. First, the bookseller:

Around 15 – 20% of our income originates from customers based in the EU with Germany being the biggest share, followed by the Netherlands and Belgium. Almost all of our sales are genre fiction – fantasy, sci-fi and horror. Many of the books we sell have been bought directly from the publisher and are in new condition.

In conversations online with buyers, it is clear that one of the reasons that we are picking up these sales is due to import duty. For example, in Germany, if you buy a new book from an American publisher, the price of the book plus the shipping costs will be subjected to VAT at 7% and the buyer has to travel to a customs office in order to pay and collect the item, whereas if bought from the UK there is no such expense and inconvenience and it will, of course, have been cheaper for us to purchase from the US because the UK and US mutually allow book sales to be duty-free.

Also, there is less administration work involved in EU sales because we do not have to complete a CN22 or CN23 customs declaration (although this is not particularly time-consuming).

Finally, there is free movement. Having in the past worked within the EU whilst also collecting books, I know my way around the bookshops and markets and have purchased many collectable volumes during my travels. Since taking up bookselling on a full-time basis, I still make occasional book-buying trips and the convenience of free movement and the lack of customs hassle are a boon which I would not want to lose.

Those are the justifications to remain. There are no obvious benefits in leaving.

Now the view of citizen Phil:

In my previous life as an IT systems specialist working for multi-national businesses and organisations I have lived and worked in EU countries on multiple occasions. The benefits of the ease of travel between the EU countries cannot be understated. Commuting to Amsterdam or Brussels is not much different from commuting to Manchester or Birmingham (although the train services are typically better). Often the contracts come up on short notice – “we now have budget authorisation, can you start next Monday?” Yes I can, because there is no waiting for paperwork to be approved by some bureaucratic governmental department – I have my EHIC and my passport and I can immediately book my travel and accommodation.

The money that I earned, minus living expenses, was spent back here in the UK and thus contributed in a positive way to the UK economy. Mutual taxation arrangements meant that I would pay any difference between the amount that would be due in the UK and that of the host country. I paid UK NI contributions, again thanks to mutual agreements. A win-win situation, in my not-so-humble opinion.

From a life-experience perspective, I can say that without doubt I have gained greatly from my time spent living and working abroad. Being exposed to different cultures and ways of living has made me a more balanced individual and I would recommend anyone and everyone who can do so to seize the opportunity should it come their way.

Of course the EU has it’s faults – I would be amazed if it did not, given the scale of its operations and like any system it would benefit from some improvements. Is the UK perfect? Certainly not, and we could do worse than learn from our neighbours about the benefits of real democracy in respect of our voting system. It is no coincidence that the recent World Happiness Report (http://www.worldhappiness.report/) places nine of our EU neighbours, all of whom have a PR system, in the top 20 (the UK being 23rd).

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for me, is peace. Who can deny that free trade and free movement between countries makes war less likely? I cannot help but observe during the debates that in general those who would choose to leave the EU appear to have a more confrontational nature and that is worrying. Like the Swiss, I believe that we should have a strong defensive capability, but be neutral when it comes to international conflicts and I feel that the EU approach matches mine in this respect. The oft-quoted statement by Churchill that “to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war” rings true to me.

The quality of the campaigning on both sides has been poor and is unlikely to change my experience-based opinion that the UK should remain and work from within to improve the institution for the benefit of our children.

Update 24th June 2016:

Bad luck, kids. You have been trumped.

This article by Philip Jones, Editor of The Bookseller is as good a summary as I have seen thus far: http://www.thebookseller.com/blogs/keep-calm-and-expect-change-338121

The Android’s Dream

Following on from steamporn, here is a droidporn reference from a bookstore price label:

Sci-Fi meets Porn

With apologies to John Scalzi and thanks to Dave Langford’s Ansible News.