Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Let's get this clear -- is terrorism a suitable subject for a thriller or not?

Several bloggers have picked up on an article in the Seattle something-or-other which features an interview with Greg Bear.

Greg Bear is a pretty well-established writer in the thriller/science fiction category, so he was no doubt surprised when his latest techno-thriller Quantico -- set in the near future -- was rejected by his US editor, though the Brits bought it readily enough (published by HarperCollins last November).

Quantico has a plot which 'depicts an increasingly grim world, with people being able to manufacture deadly biological agents in their basements. "For years [says Bear], even before 9/11, I've been trying to warn that the threat from amateur biolabs will ultimately turn out to be far more troublesome than leakage from military labs -- perhaps even more costly and deadly than nuclear terrorism.'

So, on the face of it, this rejection of Greg Bear's latest would seem to echo the experience of Val Landi and others, who are finding US editors to be decidedly resistant to terrorism-based novels these days. Too close to home, it is claimed. Nasty stuff. Readers want novels about cute little puppies and romance, and all like that.

On the other hand, Greg is able to report that his book has been picked by the (US) Book of the Month Club, the Mystery Guild, and others. So, no real unanimity of opinion there then. (Nothing new in that, either.)

Not surprisingly, this is a matter of some interest to Steve Clackson, who has a book of this kind of his own to sell.

1 comment:

James Aach said...

Slightly off the topic, but I wondered if you'd seen the recent commentary in NATURE magazine on the publishing industry's reluctance in general to print fiction featuring realistic portrayals of today's science. Mr. Bear is mentioned in this, and he also comes up as an exception to the rule at an expanced version posted at LabLit.com.

The NATURE commentary is at

The expanded discussion is at http://www.lablit.com/article/76