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  1. #16
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    I haven't seen any mention of Terry Pratchett - usually his books have a detective flavor mixed with a lot of magic events, so I think he qualifies for the topic. Also Martin Scott and his Traxas series - a humorous Raymond Chandler set in a magic kingdom - I think they are good books for relaxation after a mastodont series like Wheel of Time or Erikson's Malazan

  2. #17
    Anitaverse Refugee FicusFan's Avatar
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    Well all the books Rob was talking about books that were set in the real world and had some interaction with the magical. The books you mention are all set in fantasy worlds, so they would be pretty much plain fantasy, humerous or not.

  3. #18
    Just to mention, because it was too good not too, Octavia Butler started a new vampire series with the first book 'Fledgling' recently out.

    Technically the story is SF not fantasy as she identifies vampires as a distinct genetic race that has co-existed with humans throughout time.

    There isn't a vampire hunter per se, but the story centers around vampires being hunted and killed. It starts with a lone survivor of such an attack, her entire family slaughtered and her own injuries severe to the point of near death.

    The writing is excellent, the first-person narrative unflinching and anything but self-absorbed. IMO, Butler has taken the modern-day vampire story into new territory and I expect her to stand with Rice and Hamilton as ground-breakers.

  4. #19
    A servant of Lord Arioch FitzChivalry's Avatar
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    Well, i guess the thread turned into vampires books thread. So here are another two.

    Agyar by Steven Brust - This book is written a bit differently then most books, it's not clear what's going on until somewhat late in the book and to reveal it would be a spoiler, good prose, but i found it pretty boring overall.

    Those who hunt the night by Barbara Hambly Pretty interesting detective story, it's the 19th century in London and vampires are dying, a human ex spy for Her Majesty is hired to solve the mystery... it was pretty good.

  5. #20
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quick defs, so people are clear, though the major writers in this new sub-genre seem to be being brought up.

    Supernatural fantasy is contemporary fantasy, which means a post-industrial setting -- late 1700's and up to the present or future. Supernatural fantasy deals with the occult and the paranormal, and thus includes vampires, werefolk, witches, ghosts, demons, angels, succubus, shamans, and the like. Supernatural fantasy ranges from dark and horrific to suspense to comic.

    While it looks like it suddenly exploded in the market, that's deceptive. An increase in supernatural fantasy has been occurring since the late 1990's, with publishers actively promoting such authors, and now it's large enough to become an official sub-genre, with the top sellers being lead titles on publishers' lists in paperback, less often in hardcover. Mainstream interest, fueled by a surge of horror movies and paranormal fantasy series on t.v. such as "Lost," have given it a recent boost in the last two years.

    A lot of the authors are women, who perhaps have gravitated to these types of stories rather than try and write children's fantasy or large, grand epics, but a number of the more prominent authors are men. Supernatural fantasy is ideally suited for movie or television adaptation, and for appealing to mainstream, non-genre audiences and to fans of other genres such as mystery or romance. Therefore, it has the backing of not only the publishers, but the bookselling community as well.

  6. #21
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Postaurch
    Technically the story is SF not fantasy as she identifies vampires as a distinct genetic race that has co-existed with humans throughout time.
    .
    Funny you mentioning that - I'm reading now "Fevre Dream" by George R R Martin and the book is constructed on the same assumption. It also qualifies with KatG post-modernist definition, with the action placed in 1858. But the snippet I enjoyed the best from GRRM is the declaration that "Dracula wasn't one of us" from the mouth of one of his vampires. He e is one of the very few authors who cared about historical correctness.

  7. #22

    Precedents?

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    Quick defs, so people are clear, though the major writers in this new sub-genre seem to be being brought up.

    Supernatural fantasy is contemporary fantasy, which means a post-industrial setting -- late 1700's and up to the present or future. Supernatural fantasy deals with the occult and the paranormal, and thus includes vampires, werefolk, witches, ghosts, demons, angels, succubus, shamans, and the like. Supernatural fantasy ranges from dark and horrific to suspense to comic.

    While it looks like it suddenly exploded in the market, that's deceptive. An increase in supernatural fantasy has been occurring since the late 1990's, with publishers actively promoting such authors, and now it's large enough to become an official sub-genre, with the top sellers being lead titles on publishers' lists in paperback, less often in hardcover. Mainstream interest, fueled by a surge of horror movies and paranormal fantasy series on t.v. such as "Lost," have given it a recent boost in the last two years.
    Can you think of precedents? I mean, by this definition we're deep into the publisher's designation of horror -- probably should explain that phrasing: there's horror, an emotion that can fit into most any kind of fiction, then there's horror a catagory of fiction created by publishers in response to Stephen King's popularity and which deals with a bunch of tropes, some of which you list above -- and we can call _Dracula_ or _The Werewolf of Paris_ supernatural fantasy.

    I'm thinking the difference, if there is one, is the emphasis or lack of same on creating the big, "BOO!"

    That said, I'm wondering if there are precedents. I suppose Thorne Smith's novels, in particular the Topper novels, might fit; also Robert Nathan's _Portrait of Jenny_, George R. R. Martin's _Fevre Dream_, maybe Cornell Woolrich's _Night Has a Thousand Eyes_, though that's comes closer to noir mystery/horror cross-over; more likely Fritz Leiber's _Conjure Wise_ and his much later _Our Lady of Darkness_.

    Others?

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    A lot of the authors are women, who perhaps have gravitated to these types of stories rather than try and write children's fantasy or large, grand epics, but a number of the more prominent authors are men. Supernatural fantasy is ideally suited for movie or television adaptation, and for appealing to mainstream, non-genre audiences and to fans of other genres such as mystery or romance. Therefore, it has the backing of not only the publishers, but the bookselling community as well.
    Seems like the tropes of horror without the occasional nastiness: horror-lite, as bequeathed to us from _The X-Files_ to and extent, but more certainly _Buffy..._ and _Angel_.

    Just some thoughts.

    Randy M.

  8. #23
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Good points Randy, there is a blurred line here, and quite honestly (and KatG may refute this) I wouldn't be surprised if the publishers like having the line blurred. This would make it perhaps easier to market these types of books to both horror fans and fantasy fans. There is a definite overlap there and many of us enjoy both genres (myself included).

  9. #24
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Algernoninc -- it's not a post-modernist definition, it's a market definition. Supernatural fantasy is a new sub-genre label genre publishers, fans and booksellers are using to describe a category of fantasy fiction that has gotten large enough to function as a sub-genre market. Books that you could call supernatural fantasy have been around a long time. Such stories were quite popular in the 1980's. In the 1990's, they continued to be popular but there were fewer authors doing them. Barbara Hambly's Victoriana vampire novels are among her most successful, for instance. But older writers are unlikely to be called supernatural fantasy at this point -- they'll save it for the newer stuff.

    Laurell K. Hamilton slowly built up her fan base over the late nineties and it reached combustion levels. That brought more attention to other authors doing similar types of books and publishers were actively promoting authors of that type of fiction. Mainstream interest in this type of fantasy has also fueled rapid growth. Supernatural fantasy is close enough to horror (a mainstream sub-genre,) and mystery (the most established and respected of genres,) to appeal to mainstream readers who may be uncomfortable with fairy tales for adults (epic,) but are willing to read more modern works with ghosts and vampires as an alternative, just as many women who feel romance fiction is beneath them are okay reading chick lit. And genre fans are paying more attention to different types of contemporary fantasy in the last five years or so. Hence, new sub-genres for contemporary fantasy, the most successful being supernatural fantasy.

    Interestingly enough, I had a conversation with Ouroboros about two years ago about this issue. He complained that epic fantasy dominated everything and that other types of fantasy couldn't get a break. I argued that contemporary fantasy was becoming quite big and that Neil Gaiman and Laurell K. Hamilton's positions on the mainstream and genre bestseller lists indicated this shift. He felt that they were exceptions and too few. I'm sure a lot of people, looking out at a sea of epic fantasy covers, were given to the same view. But really, what it was, was the raising of the flag as the contemporary fantasy ship started to edge past epic to lead the genre armada. (Yeah, I know I keep using that analogy, but it works.)

    "Fevre Dream" is science fiction -- steampunk sf actually. Martin writes both. But SOIF has gotten so huge, and fantasy fans can't seem to stand to share authors with other genres. If a writer writes fantasy and they like it -- or even something close to fantasy but not really, then everything he writes has to be called fantasy, fantasy, fantasy, even if it isn't. Hence everything Martin writes they declare fantasy, Gene Wolfe, Stephen King, Tad Williams, etc. Drives me crazy, but what you gonna do.

    Randy M. -- Horror was not invented for Stephen King. Horror existed as a sub-genre market of mainstream general fiction since at least the 1950's. It links with sff, but operates independently. It is usually not sold for the most part in the sff sections, but in general fiction. In the 1980's, horror became extremely popular, and King was one of the main reasons. His record on the bestseller lists then is unprecedented. He was the fiction phenom of his day and he's still a pretty big force.

    Horror certainly shares "tropes" with various types of fantasy stories, but tropes do not make market categories. Anne Rice writes, or did write, what could be considered dark supernatural fantasy, but was classified as horror and horror is what it will remain. Horror is fiction that is meant to scare and horrify (that BOO factor you brought up.) A horror story may be fantasy, science fiction or straight suspense. Some supernatural fantasy titles will have horror elements, but mostly they're focused on suspense. Supernatural fantasy is simply a new designation for marketing this type of fantasy -- modern settings with supernatural fantasy elements as opposed to mythic or straight magical elements. So, if you know of a fantasy book with a modern setting that's about occult, paranormal, supernatural stuff, toss it into this thread. If it's horror, rather than supernatural fantasy, no big whoop, it's a porous border. The new sub-genres are still forming, but supernatural fantasy has quickly become prominent, in part because other mediums like film, t.v., animation, are also doing such stories.

    Classic works like Dracula won't be put in the new sub-genre, because they were never considered to be genre to begin with (genre, as in the market genre, started in the 1970's,) but can be brought up too. But I would take out Terry Pratchett. He writes comic fantasy and his fantasy elements are not occult or paranormal, but pretty straight magic stuff, plus Discworld is largely pre-industrial in nature. He's being marketed purely as a comic writer. I think Rob is trying to focus on the more recent titles, in the last ten years or so.

    I'm still trying to organize my lists and Ficus and others have covered the major names at the moment, I think. But if I come across someone not mentioned, I'll put it up. One book that is coming out as supernatural fantasy, but is a little unusual, is "Ghosts of Albion: Accursed" by Amber Benson & Christopher Golden. It's a tie-in novelization of a successful BBC Web animation series. Del Rey is bringing it out in the States. Don't know if it's any good or not, but it sounds interesting. Here's the authors' description: Demons. Sex. Magic. British Imperialism. Victorian Politics. Flirtation. Lovecraftian monsters. Strange idols. Weird underground lairs. Deceit. Mysticism. Dark gods. Trust me. It's a hell of a ride.

  10. #25
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    , Tad Williams, etc. Drives me crazy, but what you gonna do.
    Right, because as I've proved, Otherland really is Epic Fantasy. j/k

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    "Ghosts of Albion: Accursed" by Amber Benson & Christopher Golden. It's a tie-in novelization of a successful BBC Web animation series. Del Rey is bringing it out in the States. Don't know if it's any good or not, but it sounds interesting. Here's the authors' description: Demons. Sex. Magic. British Imperialism. Victorian Politics. Flirtation. Lovecraftian monsters. Strange idols. Weird underground lairs. Deceit. Mysticism. Dark gods. Trust me. It's a hell of a ride.
    Yeah, this one looks pretty interesting. Golden has a pretty good reputation, his Hellboy novelizations are VERY well recieved by fans of th character. I really ejoyed Golden's Wildwood Road from earlier this year.

  11. #26

    Hmmmm ... reply to KatG

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    Algernoninc -- it's not a post-modernist definition, it's a market definition. Supernatural fantasy is a new sub-genre label genre publishers, fans and booksellers are using to describe a category of fantasy fiction that has gotten large enough to function as a sub-genre market. Books that you could call supernatural fantasy have been around a long time. Such stories were quite popular in the 1980's. In the 1990's, they continued to be popular but there were fewer authors doing them. Barbara Hambly's Victoriana vampire novels are among her most successful, for instance. But older writers are unlikely to be called supernatural fantasy at this point -- they'll save it for the newer stuff.
    Yup. Recall those, though I didn't read them. I did read Kim Newman's Anno Dracula which may have been at the forefront of the wave. Good book, especially if you're familiar with the pre-pulp literature of the time. But that's digressing ...

    I follow your outline and my disagreements are in detail rather than overall. For instance,

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    Laurell K. Hamilton slowly built up her fan base over the late nineties and it reached combustion levels. That brought more attention to other authors doing similar types of books and publishers were actively promoting authors of that type of fiction. Mainstream interest in this type of fantasy has also fueled rapid growth. Supernatural fantasy is close enough to horror (a mainstream sub-genre,)
    Horror was never a mainstream sub-genre. Early forms were usually called chillers (supernatural intrudes) or thrillers (non-supernatural, usually psychological), the former were usually shelved with mysteries, the latter ... danged if I know. Maybe with general fiction, in a not seperate but also not equal kind of way.

    Horror probably derives from Gothic, the literary catagory, which was mainstream. Later horror was aligned with sf/f at least since Weird Tales magazine, and certainly one of the major venues for it since has been The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    and mystery (the most established and respected of genres,) to appeal to mainstream readers who may be uncomfortable with fairy tales for adults (epic,) but are willing to read more modern works with ghosts and vampires as an alternative, just as many women who feel romance fiction is beneath them are okay reading chick lit. And genre fans are paying more attention to different types of contemporary fantasy in the last five years or so. Hence, new sub-genres for contemporary fantasy, the most successful being supernatural fantasy.
    This makes a lot of sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    [...]
    "Fevre Dream" is science fiction -- steampunk sf actually. Martin writes both.
    I'm not sure why, but I have less trouble with calling Matheson's I Am Legend s.f. than I do Martin's book, yet they are both produced from much the same impulse. Eh ... that's probably my idiosyncracy. I withdraw the suggestion.

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    [...]
    Randy M. -- Horror was not invented for Stephen King.
    I don't think I said that, though the marketing catagory certainly was created as a reaction to his popularity, among others.

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    Horror existed as a sub-genre market of mainstream general fiction since at least the 1950's.
    There were horror writers then, but few were being published in novel form -- notable exception was Shirley Jackson, whose The Haunting of Hill House was decidedly taken in by mainstream, but then it was as much a story of a woman's psychology as it was a ghost story. Horror prior to Rosemary's Baby, The Other, The Exorcist and King was not published as horror, I don't believe, though I be interested to be corrected in that perception.

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    It links with sff, but operates independently. It is usually not sold for the most part in the sff sections, but in general fiction.
    Ummmmm ... Nope. Don't see that. I agree some of it operates independantly; since the '60s writers have taken to specializing (or being forced by their fans to do so) in one genre or the other, but until well into the '70s the majority of the writers producing fantasy were also producing s.f., were also producing horror.

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    Horror certainly shares "tropes" with various types of fantasy stories, but tropes do not make market categories. Anne Rice writes, or did write, what could be considered dark supernatural fantasy, but was classified as horror and horror is what it will remain. Horror is fiction that is meant to scare and horrify (that BOO factor you brought up.) A horror story may be fantasy, science fiction or straight suspense. Some supernatural fantasy titles will have horror elements, but mostly they're focused on suspense.
    Okay. That's what I was getting at.

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    Supernatural fantasy is simply a new designation for marketing this type of fantasy -- modern settings with supernatural fantasy elements as opposed to mythic or straight magical elements. So, if you know of a fantasy book with a modern setting that's about occult, paranormal, supernatural stuff, toss it into this thread. If it's horror, rather than supernatural fantasy, no big whoop, it's a porous border. The new sub-genres are still forming, but supernatural fantasy has quickly become prominent, in part because other mediums like film, t.v., animation, are also doing such stories.

    Classic works like Dracula won't be put in the new sub-genre, because they were never considered to be genre to begin with (genre, as in the market genre, started in the 1970's,) but can be brought up too.
    Merely as precedents. Even marketing catagories would seem to have precedents.

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    But I would take out Terry Pratchett. He writes comic fantasy and his fantasy elements are not occult or paranormal, but pretty straight magic stuff, plus Discworld is largely pre-industrial in nature. He's being marketed purely as a comic writer. I think Rob is trying to focus on the more recent titles, in the last ten years or so.

    I'm still trying to organize my lists and Ficus and others have covered the major names at the moment, I think. But if I come across someone not mentioned, I'll put it up. One book that is coming out as supernatural fantasy, but is a little unusual, is "Ghosts of Albion: Accursed" by Amber Benson & Christopher Golden. It's a tie-in novelization of a successful BBC Web animation series. Del Rey is bringing it out in the States. Don't know if it's any good or not, but it sounds interesting. Here's the authors' description: Demons. Sex. Magic. British Imperialism. Victorian Politics. Flirtation. Lovecraftian monsters. Strange idols. Weird underground lairs. Deceit. Mysticism. Dark gods. Trust me. It's a hell of a ride.
    Sounds like a hoot, and I'm interested if only for Benson's involvement. Should note: this one has stirred interest in the horror community, as well, if the Shocklines message board is any indication.

    Also looking forward to your list. I have a feeling you'll mention a few works I haven't even heard of.


    Randy M.

  12. #27
    boss of several cats... Severn's Avatar
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    Jan Siegel has written a nameless trilogy: Prospero's Children, The Dragon Charmer & Witch's Honour which I found quite interesting - primarily set in England, the protagonist is a rather reluctant witch; it has been described as 'classic English fantasy' and is at times both whimsical and chilling - an interesting combination.

    Given that the lines of her world shift into other worlds (including a discovery of the lost Atlantis) the events don't take place entirely in our world, but sufficient enough that I think it makes the 'category.' I liked the series, and the author's lyrical prose.

    'Tis my only contribution as I am not a fan of vampirism (couldn't get past the first few pages of a Hamilton novel thrust at me by a friend), or occultish literature in general.

    K

  13. #28
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Otherlandís sf, you rat!

    The problem with horror is that it has amoeba properties. Because the horror can come from different sources, horror writing has popped up in multiple genres. Horror has a long tradition of short fiction in sff magazines (Weird Tales being a prominent example.) It has shown up sometimes in suspense/mysteries as psychological suspense (often called women-in-jeopardy fiction,) and occasional supernatural suspense titles (the chillers you mention.) It has made in-roads in the comic/graphic novels fields.

    But horror is also a definite market sub-genre in fiction and has been for quite awhile. The problem has been that the fan audience for horror was never large and reliable enough to set horror up as a full genre, with its own publishing imprints, section in the bookstores, etc. Sometimes bookstores will have a horror section, sometimes publishers will have a horror line on their lists, but unlike sff, horror has never been able to get steady numbers. It has some of the biggest fiction authors around, like King, Rice, Clive Barker, but most fans of these authors donít then buy other horror writers on a regular basis, like what happens in sff. Itís just been easier for publishers to keep it as a sub-category of general fiction, just as they do with glitz novels, historical fiction, etc., rather than set it up as a separate market.

    King, when he broke in, was breaking into general fiction through horror, not sff, though he did forays into sff Ė ďThe Gunslinger,Ē which isnít horror, was written originally as novellas for the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy. There was plenty of other horror being put out in paperback, but Kingís popularity definitely helped increase the amount of horror on publishersí lists and got a number of horror writers into hardcover. But, as above, horror canít get enough regular fans buying regular amounts of horror, so it tends to go through boom and bust cycles. It went bust in the late 1980ís, and the mid-1990ís, and right now is back in sort of a boom upswing, thanks to film and t.v. interest.

    When the fantasy genre market was officially launched in the 1970ís, one of the sub-genres was dark fantasy, where the object is to spook more than scare. Dark fantasy was always prominent, but never got too big as a sub-genre, in part maybe because the sff publishers werenít trying to compete with the horror writers (and occasionally were put in charge of them.) But there was lots of potential for crossover and horror writers will often write dark fantasy too. Horror continued to be printed in the sff magazines, but that market finally collapsed in the 1990ís. Now, thereís quite a few horror and dark fantasy magazines out there, along with the remaining sff ones. Horror and horror writers were also always welcome at sff conventions, which were so important to marketing sff in the 1970ís and 1980ís. So horror and sff are hopelessly intertwined Ė cousins if you will Ė but publishers tend to operate horror separately from sff. I am seeing more horror writers getting put in the sff section lately, probably because fantasy has become so popular and dark fantasy too, so things may shift. On the other hand, theyíre doing so much mainstreaming of fantasy, that fantasy or parts of the field, may end up more like horror Ė as a sub-genre of mainstream general fiction rather than its own genre market.

    All of which is way more than you want to know. Supernatural fantasy stories are not always horror or dark fantasy. Some of them are comic/satirical. But they all seem to have a suspense base. Of course, most sff does use suspense plots, but itís very direct, mystery/thriller-like in supernatural fantasy, at least for now. The key descriptive elements are, again, contemporary post-industrial setting, and fantasy elements that are supernatural and paranormal, at least some of them.

    My lists are not going to be terribly exotic, but rather just what major publishers are putting out. I just havenít had a chance to go through all the newsletters yet. Besides Hamilton, the biggies right now seem to be Tanya Huff, Charlaine Harris,
    Kim Harrison, Kelly Armstrong, and David Sesnowski. Christopher Golden does look to be a playa, and won the Stoker award. Lisa Tuttle has of course been around for a good bit.

    Mr. Butcher may get drafted, especially as he has a movie coming up, but thereís also this other term thatís been kicking around for a long time apparently Ė fantasy of manners, which is fantasy set in the 1700, 1800ís in the style of writers of that era such as Trollope, Austen, Dickens. Barbara Hamblyís vampire books would qualify as part of this category. With Susannah Clarkeís non-genre but marketed to the genre Victorian fantasy, and ďThe HistorianĒ non-genre fantasy following right after, we may end up with another contemporary sub-genre that handles those books, leaving supernatural fantasy to the more modern eras. The question is what it would be called, fantasy of manners being a bit awkward. It might end up getting called Victorian fantasy.

    But, we donít have to worry about that. For now, anything with fantastical elements, be it horror, dark fantasy or other, where the stuff is supernatural and the setting is reasonably contemporary, why donít we bring it up. Thereís a lot, and itís been largely ignored in all the web snarling over epic fantasy. But fans have not been ignoring it in terms of sales, and itís the hot sub-genre right at the moment.

  14. #29
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG
    Thereís a lot, and itís been largely ignored in all the web snarling over epic fantasy. But fans have not been ignoring it in terms of sales, and itís the hot sub-genre right at the moment.
    No they haven't.

    We've mentioned a number of the authors. How about the publishers? Is there any one publisher you think when this genre is brought to mind (as Tor is brought to mind for Epic Fantasy and Baen for Military SF)? From my perception, they are all dipping into it, Roc seems to have a number of authors, as does Ace. Aside from that, it seems all publishers are trying to cash in on it.

  15. #30
    Anitaverse Refugee FicusFan's Avatar
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    Actually found about another new one. A friend who is an author had a new book by one of her friends. It just came out.

    Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

    Haven't read it yet, but the main charactrer Kitty is a closet werewolf and does a radio talk show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. It has action, suspense, gore and humor. No sex though, so the cover is misleading. Sounds like it is trying to be early Hamilton.

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