Friday, September 17, 2010

What do YOU think?

I keep an eye on Angry Robot (as you can see from the banner), and I got an email from them that made me think a little bit.

It starts out straight-forward enough:

New Australian author Jo Anderton has signed with genre masterminds Angry Robot for at least two novels in her Veiled Worlds series. The worldwide deal, covering physical books and eBooks, was done by agent Anni Haig-Smith and Angry Robot’s publishing director, Marc Gascoigne. Debris will be published in the autumn of 2011, with direct sequel Suited to follow in 2012.

Congratulations to Jo Anderton, and good on you! I wish I could say the same.

Then there's this:
Angry Robot’s man with the cheque book Marc Gascoigne said, “With the ever-increasing popularity of Japanese and Korean anime, manga and computer games, it’s been surprising that there hasn’t been more SF and fantasy showing its influence. Debris’s mix of SF and fantasy themes, exotic future-medieval settings, Dune-esque warring factions, and a fabulous kick-ass heroine is exactly the sort of on-trend science fiction Angry Robot was set up to publish. We’re damned pleased to have Jo on board.”

Japanese and Korean Anime and Manga? I guess he doesn't know that Korean uses a different language from Japan, and thus different words for their comics and animation (Manhwa is apparently the word for both.) But ok, a little linguistic confusion happens.

Really, it's the jump in the middle there that seems odd to me. OK, so mixing SF and Fantasy themes and a future-medieval setting can be pretty Manga-ish (but the real source in these books will be seen later), but "Dune-esque warring factions and a fabulous kick-ass heroine" are not a particularly defining feature of the form, are they? I mean, I'm sure there are a few manga/anime that feature them, but the vast majority seem far more personal/individual, with male heroes. (One might almost say that Dune would be an influence for the former...)


Jo added, “I’ve been reading Angry Robot books since their first giant, metallic steps and absolutely loving them. Debris started out as an idea about a magical version of the industrial revolution and a scarred garbage collector who saves the world, but still has to pay her rent. Add a few motley companions, a pinch of probably-misinterpreted quantum physics, and far too much time spent in front of various Final Fantasy video games. I’m thrilled my books have found a home at Angry Robot."

So the books actually don't have any Manga influence, at all. I mean, there are FF manga, sure, but...she said games.

Anyway, yeah, I'm nitpicking, I know. My real confusion comes from this attitude expressed in the press release that some nebulous influence manga/anime/"computer games" might have had on the books is part of the marketing strategy. Is that important? Is the fact that Jo played a lot of FF before/while writing the books a selling point? I'm honestly asking here. Sure, I don't think it is, but maybe someone does. Do you?

The thing is, I could see marketing books based directly on manga/anime because of the appeal to the fanbase. But saying "This author likes video games! And those video games are Japanese!" seems like a bit of a stretch. Is a fan supposed to read that and say "Oh! Hey, I played a lot of FF, so these books must be EXACTLY RIGHT FOR ME!"

I seriously don't want anyone to think I'm criticizing the author, or even Marc Gascoigne. I'm simply a little confused by this marketing. Wouldn't it be better to let the books stand on their own merits, rather than going out of your way to make a (fairly flimsy) connection to another (increasingly less) popular artform? From what details they gave, the books do sound interesting, but really, there's not much there...I wish they'd said more about the books themselves.

For what it's worth, I've been piqued. I'll see if I can't review this one, see what's what.

No comments: