Wednesday, 20 July 2011

News: Mega-exciting Announcement From Gollancz For Science Fiction Fans

There has been a growing buzz on Twitter today as Jon Weir, Senior Publicity Manager at Gollancz, took great pleasure in building up a frenzy amongst Gollancz's fans as the day progressed. Gollancz is the Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint of the Orion Publishing Group and readers of The Book Zone will know that these are genres that I occasionally read, but I am not necessarily fanatical about. However, and this is the important part, I know a good number of boys at school who love Science Fiction and Fantasy, and when I told my sixth form group that there was a big announcement coming from Gollancz this afternoon a number of the boys in the group (self-proclaimed geeks and proud of it) were demanding more information. The announcement finally came through on Twitter just after their lesson finished, and several of them actually cheered, and one announced that he was now definitely going to get a Kindle! I don;t think I have ever seen them so animated about reading (except possibly when I told them about the DC Reboot).

For Gollancz has today announced the SF Gateway, a project that will bring many out of print classics of the genre into the hands of these boys in digital format. This on a day when a fellow reviewer was asking on Twitter whether there is any good YA science fiction around at the moment, and specifically more space orientated than near future/dystopian. Sadly I wasn't able to recommend many titles, and this is something I have lamented before on The Book Zone, so although we are now talking adult titles, this announcement by Gollancz can only be a good thing for teenage fans of the SFF genres, and they should be applauded for this.

This is the official press release:

Gollancz, the SF and Fantasy imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, announces the launch of the world’s largest digital SFF library, the SF Gateway, which will make thousands of out-of-print titles by classic genre authors available as eBooks. Building on the remarkable success of Gollancz’s Masterworks series, the SF Gateway will launch this Autumn with more than a thousand titles by close to a hundred authors.

It will build to 3,000 titles by the end of 2012, and 5,000 or more by 2014. Gollancz’s Digital Publisher Darren Nash, who joined the company in September 2010 to spearhead the project said, “The Masterworks series has been extraordinarily successful in republishing one or two key titles by a wide range of authors, but most of those authors had long careers in which they wrote dozens of novels which had fallen out of print. It seemed to us that eBooks would offer the ideal way to make them available again. This realization was the starting point for the SF Gateway.” Wherever possible, the SF Gateway will offer the complete backlist of the authors included.

The SF Gateway will be closely integrated with the recently announced new online edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, which provides an independent and definitive reference source of information on the authors and books included. Direct links between the Encyclopedia and the Gateway will provide easy access to eBook editions, for sale through all major online retailers.

The Gateway site will also act as a major community hub and social network for SF readers across the world, allowing them to interact with each other and recommend titles and authors. The site is planned to include forums, blogs, regular promotions, and is envisaged to become the natural home on the net for anyone with an interest in classic SFF.

Authors featured in the launch include such names as Marion Zimmer Bradley, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert, Alice B. Sheldon (James Tiptree, Jr), Robert Silverberg, Kate Wilhelm and Connie Willis.

The SF Gateway was conceived by Orion Deputy CEO and Publisher Malcolm Edwards, who commented: “It’s clear that publishers need to show that they can respond to the challenges and opportunities of the digital revolution imaginatively, particularly when it comes to backlist. The SF Gateway is just such a response, creating what we hope will become a destination website which will promote the books and authors it features in an active way. We hope it will not only be a success in its own right, but that it will provide a model for future developments in backlist publishing.”

Built to the latest standards of HTML5 and CSS3, the SF Gateway site will use responsive web design to ensure a rewarding user experience across a range of mobile and desktop platforms and operating systems. Both the SF Gateway and the previously announced Encyclopedia of Science Fiction are being developed by STEEL, a Londonbased full service digital agency with over 15 years experience, whose clients include AOL, BBC Worldwide, Debenhams,, Greggs and TalkTalk.

The project has been praised by authors for connecting new generations of readers with classic stories they may not, until now, have been able to enjoy.

British Science Fiction Award-winner Alastair Reynolds said: “When I first started reading SF seriously, as a teenager growing up in Wales, one of the first walls I hit was the realisation that many classic and influential works of the field were either out of print or so hard to obtain that they may as well have been. SF is a forward-looking genre but its past has always been as fascinating as its future, and for that reason the SF Gateway is an exciting and groundbreaking venture, which should prove an enormous asset to the field.”

Double Arthur C. Clarke Award-winner Pat Cadigan added: “This is exactly what I've been hoping for now that the digital book is becoming more widespread. I have always said that the eBook will not be the death of the physical book – the eBook will save so many wonderful books from being lost. We have to remember that what we read is the book – what we read it on, whether ink and paper or pixels on a screen, is just the interface. I'm honestly thrilled about this new project and delighted to be on the list.”

The SF Gateway will be officially launched by Gollancz in September as part of the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of its SF list.

For more information, please go to, where updates on the project will also appear.

SF Gateway is on Twitter at and on Facebook at

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