On Fate and Dreamsnake

untitledBack in the day, when I was part of the Grand Plan for Gollancz to put every great SF and fantasy novel into ebook, I did my part in scooping up rights for wonderful books long out of print . . . but time moves on, Beloved Reader, and I was lured away to Quercus to set up Jo Fletcher Books. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to build much of an ebook library because of my previous activities, I didn’t even bother to look around to see what else might be out there[1] . . .
Luckily for me, Fate took a hand. Lisa Tuttle was visiting the Palace of Versailles outside Paris at exactly the right time to bump into Vonda N. McIntyre[2], who was there to watch some of the filming of her wonderful historical novel The Moon and the Sun. While they were chatting, Vonda let slip that there was no UK publisher for the novel, about Marie-Josèphe, the sister of a Jesuit priest who’s captured some sea monsters (the consumption of which is believed to confer eternal life) and her fight to free them by persuading his most illustrious Majesty King Louis XIV that they are more than unthinking beasts, and by eating their flesh he will endanger his own immortal soul . . .
My decision to put this on the JFB list didn’t need to be influenced by the thought of seeing Pierce Brosnan as the Sun King; I was just thrilled to be able to add so illustrious a writer to the list[3] . . .
Whilst negotiating the contract I asked, just in passing, just by the way (and obviously expecting a firm negative), about the UK rights for Dreamsnake.
Well, sometimes the sun does shine on the righteous!
As a result, I am delighted to be bringing back into print a favourite SF novel of my youth[4], giving you a chance to see why Dreamsnake won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for 1978, and topped that up by taking the Locus crown for best novel as well. It’s a beautifully written adventure story for the thinking reader, stuffed chock-full of ideas and with great characters.
There was no shortage of quotes from fellow SF writers on first publication: Frank Herbert, author of Dune, called it, ‘An exciting future-dream with real characters, a believable mythos and what’s more important, an excellent, readable story’, while Ursula K Le Guin (go and read everything she’s ever written) called it ‘exciting, beautiful’. The amazing Robert Silverberg (author of far too many brilliant novels of SFF to list here, although I will mention Dying Inside. Oh, and The Book of Skulls. And Lord Valentine’s Castle . . . [stopping now]), said, ‘Haunting, rich and tender’.
Of course, that was then . . . but we know better than most that a good book endures: Ursula wrote to me recently to say, ‘I am totally delighted to know you got your paws on Dreamsnake! That is wonderful!  I love that book.’
So all I am going to do is to echo Ursula’s words and suggest you rush out and get your own paws on a copy. You won’t regret it.
Jo x

[1] No, don’t say it . . .
[2] Thanks, Lisa! (And the Moirae.)
[3] If you haven’t already picked up the JFB paperback of The Moon and the Sun, well, now’s your chance to rectify that mistake
[4] I still have my 1979 Pan paperback with its highly distinctive cover

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