Amazon Pulls Sunborn…

…and a few thousand other books that happen to be published by Macmillan (of which Tor is an imprint). That’s right, if you click one of my many links to Sunborn’s page at, you now will see it for sale only from Amazon partners, not from Amazon itself.

According to this article from the New York Times online, Amazon has pulled Macmillan titles as the next escalation in their dispute with publishers over ebook prices and timing. (Ironically, I am more or less on Amazon’s side in that argument. But for them to do this, which they have to know is hurting authors at least as much as it hurts the publisher, seems like an act of callous arrogance.)

I’d been bugging my editor to find out when the Sunborn ebook was going to become a reality (you can still download my own ebook edition from my website), but it’s looking like the Kindle store isn’t going to be a place to buy my books anytime soon. (A side note: Amazon has been apparently unable or unwilling to process my E-reads ebooks into the Kindle store, the better part of a year after their release.)

All of which just makes me, for the moment, throw up my hands.

I do hope you’ll all encourage your friends to buy Sunborn from outlets that actually carry it on their shelves. For which I thank you.

Sunborn in Paperback

Sunborn is now available in mass market paperback, from Tor Books—everywhere fine, cosmic, headbanging, epic, sensawunda, character-driven hard-SF is sold.  (And if you don’t find it in your local emporium, please ask for it!  You’ll be helping enormously.) 

For the first time in my life, I was so preoccupied by other things that I totally failed to mark the day my new book went on sale.  How bad is that?  It’s been officially available since December 29, and it only just hit me last night that it was actually out.  I did receive my author copies a few days before the publication date—in itself a first, I think.  Then I went on with life and blanked on the whole thing.  Don’t do what I did!  It’s not too late to give it as a gift!

Now, I must hit the web to see if I can find a good image of the cover.  Ah, here we go, from the Tor-Forge store:

Wouldn’t you like to own a copy today?

Autographed Books Make Fine Gifts

I feel compelled to mention this every December, but usually I forget until it’s too late to do anyone any good. (I’d say it’s borderline, this year.) Anyway, if you’d like to buy a signed, personalized copy of one or more of my books for that special someone on your Christmas, Hanukah, Solstice, or New Year gift list…well, have I got a deal for you! The deal is, I’ll sell them to you! No extra charge for the autograph! I’m not like those Hollywood stars who sock you $20 for an autograph. Nope, I sock you $20 for a whole book. (Fine print disclaimer: most books are actually some price other than $20.)

Check it out at Just click on the Price List for the, you know, price list. I take checks, Paypal, and credit cards (via Paypal).

And…just in time not to arrive for Christmas, the paperback edition of Sunborn is due to be published December 29! But if you observe the Twelve Days of Christmas, you could still get a copy in time for that all-important 12th day. (You’ll have to buy from a bookstore, though. I doubt I’ll have copies in time to fill orders that soon.) If you like, you can look at the cover, read the blurbs, and even preorder on Amazon:

And if ebooks are more your style, check out my selection, with links to a variety of outlets, including options for multiformat, DRM-free editions.

Happy first week of December, everyone!

Tale of the Novels: Star Rigger’s Way

Picking up the thread I began a couple of months ago, I’m going to continue spinning out some of my recollections of the writing of each of my novels—how they came about, what sticks in my memory of the creation process.

I talked before about my first novel, Seas of Ernathe, which was also my first novel of the Star Rigger universe—but not the first story set in that realm. That was “Alien Persuasion,” a short story that I sold to Galaxy magazine and which appeared in 1975, prior to the novel. (Jim Baen, years before he went on to found Baen Books, bought my second published story.) That was a joyous breakthrough for me. The joy was tempered by my discovery that Galaxy‘s publisher was seriously behind in paying its writers. Nevertheless, they did publish it, and paid me for it, if somewhat late. (I was still waiting for payment for my first story, to Fiction magazine, at that time—so Galaxy was, I think, the first publisher to actually send me a check.) The story came out with lovely scratchboard illustrations by Freff, one of which I later bought from the artist. It’s hanging on my office wall right now.

What does this have to do with my second novel, Star Rigger’s Way? Well, after finishing Seas of Ernathe, I was casting about for the next thing to write. I had gotten an agent, Richard Curtis, who was waiting for me to float a proposal. I thought about “Alien Persuasion,” a story about a human star-rigger and an alien rigger who had to learn to work together to survive. It seemed to me that what I had so far was the beginning of a story, not the full story. So I outlined a storyline to follow, noting that a rewritten version of the short work would form the first several chapters of the novel, and sent it off to my agent. Time passed. I had, during the writing of the first novel, moved from Providence, Rhode Island to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was doing odd work to keep body and soul together. (Eventually, I worked for UPS as a sorter on the night shift, a job I truly loathed.)

In 1976 or ’77, I was wandering around a local SF convention, Boskone, not knowing much of anyone. I had one novel published or about to be, and felt like a fish out of water—a pro, sort of, but not really. I eventually found myself in a quiet room, chatting with a writer and an agent. The writer was Joe Haldeman, whom I had just met at a SFWA business meeting. After a while, Joe and the agent got up to go to a publisher’s party, and I meekly asked if I could tag along. Sure, they said. We went up the elevator, to a room somewhere. They went in. The host of the party, standing by the open door, stopped me and said, “I’m sorry, this isn’t an open party.” (In those days, closed publisher parties were much more the rule.) Then he looked at my name badge. “Jeffrey Carver,” he said. “The star rigger story? I have your book proposal on my desk at Dell Books. I’m planning to call your agent on Monday to make an offer. I’m Jim Frenkel. Come on in.” And that’s how I got into my first publisher party and learned at the same time that I’d sold my novel.

I don’t remember much about the writing of it. I’ve written in “Of Consoles and Dragons’ Claws” some of my recollections. Mainly I remember that I was tentatively feeling my way into a career path of writing in much the same way Gev Carlyle, the hero of Star Rigger’s Way, was making his way into his career of star rigging. Rather similar, the process of writing stories, and of steering starships in the Flux through the power of imagination—as my friend Jane Yolen later pointed out to me.

I had no idea that I would be writing a series of novels in the star rigger world. I was taking things one day at a time, one story at a time. This was a good beginning. The Science Fiction Book Club picked up the novel, and that got it in front of many more readers than the paperback alone would have. Years later, Tor reprinted it, and I had the chance to do a thorough line edit of the text. And now, just last spring, I went through it one more time, for the Ereads ebook. And rather to my surprise—I really enjoyed reading it again.

If you get the chance to read it, I hope you enjoy it, too.

Tale of the Novels: Seas of Ernathe

I’ve posted here about the new editions of my earlier novels, but I haven’t talked much about the books themselves, how they came about, and what they meant to me when I wrote them. Well, where better to do that than here on Pushing a Snake Up a Hill, which by the way is a pretty good summary of how my writing career has often felt.

Let me start with my first book, Seas of Ernathe. It’s not just my first novel, but my first novel of the Star Rigger universe, a future history that I’ve enjoyed writing in, and that seems popular with readers. It’s not the first story in the Star Rigger chronology, though. In fact, it’s the last! It’s set in a time long after the skills of starship rigging were lost to humankind. It’s about the rediscovery of the art of rigging.

How did that happen? Do I always do things bassackwards? No, not always. But in this case, I didn’t actually know much about the history at the time I was writing. I can’t say exactly why this particular story popped into my head, but here’s how it happened:

Go back to 1974 or 1975. I was living with some friends in Providence, Rhode Island, just off the edge of the Brown University campus (from which I’d graduated in 1971), working on short stories while waiting tables, teaching scuba diving, and diving for quahogs in Narragansett Bay to make ends meet (barely). I’d sold a couple of stories: the first to Boston’s Fiction Magazine, for a promise of $50 (collected years later), and the second to Galaxy. In both cases, the magazines went bust not long after publishing my stories—not my fault, I swear! In any case, the story published in Galaxy was called “Alien Persuasion,” and was my first expedition into the tricksy Flux of rigger space, where star-pilots navigated through a sensory web in a hyperdimensional realm that was objectively real, but that took a tangible form based on images projected from the rigger’s mind. (Remind me to tell you more about that when I write about Star Rigger’s Way.)

During this time, I’d been submitting short stories to some of the original anthology editors—in particular, Robert Silverberg for New Dimensions and Terry Carr for Universe. Both had responded with encouraging rejections. On one occasion, in 1974 (or possibly 1975), Terry Carr wrote back with another rejection—but with a twist. He asked if I’d like to write a novel. It seemed he had made a deal with a new SF line to sign up new writers and shepherd their books into print. If I could just send him an outline and three sample chapters…

I stood dumbfounded, his letter in my hand—then flew to my Olympia manual typewriter and began pounding out an idea for a novel—a completely new idea, one that had come into my mind just at that moment, when needed. It made use of my star rigger background, indirectly, and also my underwater experience as a scuba diver. The story was set on a watery world called Ernathe. Visitors to that world wanted to know what strange tricks of the mind enabled sea creatures of that realm, the Nale’nid, to focus on reality in ways that enabled them to travel instantaneously, and to manipulate matter in a variety of ways. Could this be connected to the secret of the lost art of star rigging? Perhaps, perhaps…

I wrote the novel in a little less than a year, if memory serves. By the time it was finished, I’d moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I was living with a different set of roommates and working the night shift sorting boxes for UPS. Seas of Ernathe was published by Laser Books in the summer of 1976.

I clearly remember the moment I first saw a copy—not, as you might think, an advance copy from the publisher. No, I was walking down Mass. Ave. in Central Square when I encountered Drew Whyte, an SF fan I had gotten to know during the previous year. Drew always had bags of books with him. On this occasion, he had a copy of my new book, which I had not yet laid eyes on. He passed it to me. There it was. My first novel. In print, at last! I had done it! It was real! Huzzah!

Cover art by Kelly Freas

I hated the cover instantly. Noted SF artist Frank Kelly Freas had been hired to do all the covers for the Laser Books series. Apparently he wasn’t given much money or much time, because to say the least, the Laser covers were not the highlight of his otherwise distinguished career. Lord, I didn’t know whether to cheer or weep. I settled on cheering.

Seas of Ernathe stayed in print for a year or so, and then it was gone. But it had set me on an important writing path, starting with making the transition from short stories to novels. The next two books were also star rigger books; more on those later. For now, I’m happy to say that Seas of Ernathe is back in print, from E-reads. You can get it as an ebook from a variety of outlets, including Baen Webscriptions and Fictionwise, both of which offer it in multiple, DRM-free formats, including for the Sony Reader, the Kindle, and the iThing. You can also get it as a trade paperback wherever fine SF trade paperbacks are sold! Here, I’ll make it easy. 🙂 and Today

It’s been fascinating to watch the parade of commentary by SF authors on today, as we communally celebrate the 40th anniversary of our arrival on the Moon. (The servers there were getting pretty maxed out for a while, so loading was slow, but they seem to have it under control now.) My own contribution appeared during the early hours and has scrolled onto the second page by now, but I’m in good company, coming between Joe Haldeman and Charlie Stross. (Here’s a permalink to the Moon Landing Day celebration. More of a directory, though. If you’re reading this on July 20, better to go to the main page.)

At first there was no cool picture to accompany my post, but they’ve now added one, and I’m happy!

Also, whether by coincidence or design, picked today to do a nice writeup on my books. They couldn’t have picked a better day for it!

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