Welcome to Smugglivus 2014! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2014, looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2015, and more.
Who: Jared Shurin, of Pornokitsch, a blog focused on geek culture – books, movies, games, comics, television, and everything in between. Jared founded The Kitschies, the annual award for intelligent, progressive and entertaining fiction containing speculative or fantastic elements. In addition (phew) he is the main editor (and publisher) at Jurassic London.
Please give Jared a warm welcome!
Happy Smugglivus! This is the time of year where we get to relax by the Smugglivus Shrub, sip our smulled wine and nosh on smickerdoodles. Smugglivus is also a season for gratitude, a time for us to recall all the wonderful books and art and authors and movies and television and animated gifs that made this year so special.
And 2014 was pretty awesome, as many of the other Smugglivus participants have attested – a year packed with greatness in all its shapes and sizes. So why not take a moment to thank just a few of the people that have worked behind the scenes to make our hobbies and passions possible.
Sarah quietly makes the designs that we all take for granted. Chances are that geeky t-shirt you’re wearing that combines Joss Whedon + a pop culture reference passed under her pen at some point. As the web and art guru for Forbidden Planet, Sarah not only makes sure that their website and the stores’ (many) events look pretty, but she has a hand in the in-house stuff they make. She’s the SF trend-maker.
Sarah moonlights as an informal creative director for half of Britain’s small publishers as well, so if you’ve ever looked at a small press title and thought, “damn – how did a publisher that small get a cover that good?”… now you know why.
By the time I finish typing this sentence, Adele’s Fox Spirit Books will have printed six more titles and signed a dozen new authors. The UK small press scene has always been feisty, but Adele’s efforts are simply heroic: since the press’ origins in July 2012, it has published over two dozen books. Fox Spirit have focused – by fortunate accident or intent – on progressive fantastic literature, and have given dozens of authors from all around the world a platform for their work.
Perhaps more importantly, Adele’s shared in her success – and spread her vision of a collaborative small press community that works together to support authors and publishers alike. She’s founded the British League of Independent Publishers (a group for sharing ideas and best practice), encouraged publishers to share tables, worked with conventions and retailers to create events and is always there to help and support others.
The Post-Apocalyptic Book Club. Now celebrating their fifth anniversary, and with almost a thousand members. The PABC hosts spectacular, sell-out events throughout the year, and supports and promotes dozens more. Leila and the PABC are a legion of genre enthusiasts, with (despite the gloomy name) reading interests that cover all aspects of science fiction, fantasy and horror. The members discuss the classics, debate the newest releases and, best of all, read a lot of books.
Leila is creative and ambitious in finding partners, and the PABC have worked with Sci-Fi London Film Festival, Waterstones and even the Natural History Museum, sharing a love of SF/F literature with a bigger and bigger crowd each time…
Del Lakin-Smith (@spacewitchbooks)
Del is the backbone of British science fiction – he’s quietly built their digital infrastructure, including websites for authors, publishers, awards and organisations. Generally without pay, and invariably without the credit he deserves.
Perhaps his most impressive creation is SpaceWitch.com – an online retail platform that was built expressly to showcase independent work. For authors and publishers, it doesn’t matter how good the work is if you can’t distribute it, and SpaceWitch provides a stable, professional, cost-effective platform for selling physical and digital books.
SpaceWitch is always experimenting with ebooks, audio books, subscription models, bundles, coupons and whatever else might come to mind – always in a quest to get books to readers. In a world of massive retail platforms and clunky distribution processes, it is fantastic to have a mad scientist on ‘our’ side – ensuring that the smaller voices get the best chance possible to be heard.
Let’s take a moment and raise a glass for the moderators, shall we? If there’s a more thankless, miserable role, I’m not sure what it is. All three of these people do more than hammer spam as well – their hard work goes above and beyond the line of duty, and they’ve made three of the top fantasy communities on the internet. Jenni’s the power behind the throne at Fantasy-Faction, juggling dozens of content providers, guiding the other moderators and even editing an anthology or two.
Stephen’s seemingly single-handedly kept the British Fantasy Society afloat over the past few years, not just prodding its moribund forums into life, but also modernising the British Fantasy Awards, encouraging community participation, creating ebooks of reviews and even picking up editorial duties as/when required.
And Steve founded and still moderates r/fantasy. Although it is easy to make fun of the subreddit’s unrivalled predilection for Brandon Sanderson, r/fantasy has grown to 70,000 users, all united by a love of fantasy literature. It has hosted (literally) hundreds of AMAs to promote authors large and small, created crowd-sourced recommendation lists for diverse interests, and become a (very) chatty hub of discussion and debate.
There are so many more people that could fit on this list – editors, publishers, bloggers, community managers, IT wizards, artists, marketers, and on and on and on. This includes the Smugglers themselves, who seem to have dedicated themselves to making wonderful things happen.
On behalf of all of us that enjoy geeky things, a big thank you to those that make them possible.