Monday News: Rare book heist, African American SF, digital v(?) print, and Fifty Shades Darker adaptation
Mission: Impossible-style raiders ‘cut through skylights and abseiled into warehouse to steal antique books worth £2m’ – Dropping into a Heathrow warehouse, thieves stole books so rare that they are “impossible to fence” and therefore likely targeted by at least one collector. A theft of this scope and style is apparently unprecedented in the world of antiquarian and rare books, but with this weekend’s California International Antiquarian Book Fair, books belonging to numerous dealers were sitting together in a centralized location, waiting for transport to the Book Fair.
The gang targeted the warehouse in Heathrow, London, and used “commando-style” techniques to evade motion sensors, it has been claimed.
They ignored other stock, including electrical items and cheaper books, and instead made off in an escape van with more than 160 of the world’s most valuable publications, the Mail on Sunday reported.
One dealer lost £680,000 of books in the heist, which happened in the early hours of Jan 30, while experts said the “jewel” in the haul was a 1566 copy of Nicolaus Copernicus‘s De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestiumworth around £215,000. – Telegraph
A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction – Nisi Shawl’s 2016 post is making the rounds again, in case you missed it last year. From Martin Delany and Charles Chestnutt to Pauline Hopkins, Lorraine Hansberry, and Octavia Butler (and more!), there’s a lot on this list to sample, although be warned that not all the links work and some of the earlier works can be found free online, because they are in the public domain.
In 1909 Harvard’s president, Charles W. Eliot, issued a 51-volume anthology he claimed could provide its owners with a complete liberal arts education. In the same vein, I’ve pulled together an annotated list of 42 black science fiction works that are important to your understanding of its history. You’ve got the rest of 2016 to read them. That’s doable, isn’t it? Tackle them one per week…. Sure, some of the older titles are going to be full of archaic and unfamiliar turns of phrase; some of the anthologies are thick, and a couple of the novels I recommend are fairly long. But a few of my suggestions are short stories, a few are children’s books, and all of them are things I’ve enjoyed. And if you start now, you should have at least one week you can use to catch up if you fall behind, or to explore any titles find yourself distracted by as you make your way through this crash course. Plus, you may well have read some items on my list beforehand.
Just one caveat before you start ordering and downloading and diving into things: some of these works could be construed as fantasy rather than science fiction. The distinction between these two imaginative genres is often blurred, and it’s especially hard to make out their boundaries when exploring the writing of African-descended authors. Why? Because access to the scientific knowledge from which SF often derives has been denied to people of the African diaspora for much of history. And the classification of what is and is not scientific knowledge hasn’t been under our control — it’s frequently a matter of dispute. Also, it’s sometimes difficult to understand the history of black science fiction without reference to the history of black fantasy. – Fantastic Stories of the Imagination
Agency pricing didn’t restrain Amazon; it strengthened them – So as I was scanning for any additional news on the imminent Samhain closure (is it just me, or is it eerily quiet around such a significant event?), I ran across a mention of this Mike Shatzkin post at The Digital Reader. Relying as it does on Hugh Howey’s “The Data Guy,” the post is not of much interest to me, although it might be to you. I really decided to link to it because of the comments, especially those from Kensington CEO Steve Zacharius, who discusses the digital v print situation, including the interesting phenomenon of indie authors like Marie Force signing traditional print contracts. He also addresses the issue of higher-priced ebooks:
[H]igher ebook pricing is not a function of publishers just wanting to keep the price high; it’s a function of the ebook market being a big percentage of the overall revenue of any given title and the publisher having to earn back advances as well. If print sales are considerably less than they were five years ago, and advances haven’t decreased substantially; then you have to make back that advance from the ebook sales as well. If you lower the price of the ebook it doesn’t necessarily equate to selling more units to compensate for the drop in revenue. . . .
Fiction is not mostly digital by any means. Even romance fiction is still heavily geared towards print. But certainly thrillers are still in print quite heavily. It’s just that mass market is less of a category for Amazon. – The Shatzkin Files
Fifty Shades Darker: 28 Big Differences Between the Book and the Film – If you thought the first Fifty Shades film was a clunker, at least its director actually brought some artistic independence to the project. It sounds like the new film is all E.L. James, all the time. Which I guess would include the “big differences” between the book and the movie listed in this post. I actually enjoyed the first movie (especially the cinematography and Dakota Johnson’s performance), but I’m scared to see this one. Has anyone taken the plunge, and what did you think?
Fortunately for fans, the film sticks closely to the plot of the book, featuring a luxurious lifestyle and elaborate gifts, witty banter and demanding behavior (on Christian’s end anyway), and, of course, lots and lots of sex. However, it does stray from the books in a few ways. Some small differences include less domineering and possessive behavior from Christian (yes, that’s actually possible), the absence of email and text exchanges (which were frequent in the first film, Fifty Shades of Grey), and fewer sex scenes — they have to keep the movie under six hours somehow! To learn of some of the bigger changes, including the absence of major new characters, as well as key plot points, read our list below. WARNING: Major spoilers ahead! – POPSUGAR