Episode 158: Live with Malcolm Edwards and David G. Hartwell

Recorded live in San Antonio, Texas at  LoneStarCon 3, this week’s episode sees our intrepid podcasters once again depending on the vagaries of hotel internet connections and Skype calls to bring you the very best in science fiction podcasting.

This week Gary and Jonathan are joined by Malcolm Edwards, Managing Director of Orion Books, and David G. Hartwell, senior editor at Tor.  In a freewheeling discussion, these two enormously experienced and respected giants of the science fiction publishing industry discuss contemporary publishing, editing, and their deep and abiding love for science fiction.

We would like to thank David and Malcom for joining us, and hope you enjoy the podcast. We would also like to thank everyone who nominated The Coode Street Podcast for the Hugo Award this year (it’s greatly appreciated) and send out our sincere congratulations to all the 2013 Hugo Awards winners.

Why do people write science fiction?

Last weekend I sat in on a discussion with Malcolm Edwards and David G. Hartwell about science fiction, publishing and editing. It’ll form the basis of an upcoming episode of the Coode Street Podcast, and I strongly recommend it. We can give too much attention to the aging white male demographic in SF, but these two men really have achieved remarkable things and lived through fascinating times. The editors of The Shadow of the Torturer, Mythago Wood, Empire of the Sun, Neuromancer, and many, many more: iconic books that evoke worlds when you hear their titles mentioned.

During the discussion, Malcolm and David touch on how difficult it can be for a writer to make their living from writing SF in 2013. David mentions that for a long period of time there were possibly five people in the field making a full-time living from writing SF, and that we may be returning to those days. Publishing is sufficiently complex that I don’t know if that will prove to be true or not, but I was struck by David’s comment that at one time writing SF was a holy mission, a passion that drove writers, almost regardless of economic benefits (or the lack thereof). And I wondered, is that still true for writers today? I think it is, I suspect it is, and I bet I could point to a number of writers for whom I believe it is true, but I think I want to find out. I’m considering doing a new limited series of short interviews/podcasts to ask that very question: why do you write SF and do you feel a burning passion to do so? I think the answers would be fascinating…