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French Palimpsest cover

I have a new book. At least, I have a new book en français. My Hugo-winning novella Palimpsest is published in French translation on Wednesday by Nouveaux Millen, and I just thought I ought to share the wonderful cover they've commissioned for it with you. Early review here.

Meanwhile, if you're Anglophone and feeling left out, don't worry: you can find Palimpsest in my collection Wireless, and if you're feeling a big dose of cover envy, Subterranean Press are publishing a standalone signed, limited edition in August (available from Amazon, or direct from the publisher).

And here's the J. K. Potter cover illo:

US Palimpsest cover



That reviewer seems to say that the only thing wrong with it is that it is too short to fully realise the setting.

Caveat: my French is the useless stuff taught in British schools, allowed to go rusty, with added whatever it takes to order beer in bars in (parts of) Belgium and Montreal, get around airports and make simple requests of Air France cabin crew.


I've loved all your books so far (especially the Accelerando series and Toast).

Where could I buy a copy of Palimpsest (english) in an epub format, without DRM, at a competitive price (competition being the used book)?


Short answer: you can't.

It's only published in English in ebook form by Ace and Orbit, as part of the collection "Wireless". Like all the big six publishers, Ace (which is part of Penguin) and Orbit (which is part of Hachette) are required by their parent corporate groups to put DRM on everything they sell online.

Your best bet -- if DRM annoys you -- is to google for "drm tools v3.2" and proceed from there. Hint: while Calibre can't convert DRM'd files, the results of that google search should include a Calibre plugin that gives it certain additional capabilities.


Both have great covers. Palimpsest is one of my favorite things you've written so I might just have to go out and buy the standalone version...


That first one is a pretty cool cover. Although the nerd in me can't help but think a picture of an actual palimpsest might have been better. Like this one.


I thought I read it online at some point


You not only have a 'new ' book but you also have one that has rather an Elegant and attractive cover ... contrast this with the US of A vian ACE cover of the Hard Back that I have had on order from The Book Depository Ltd since February when you first mentioned it .

Oh, well's not that Bad ..sayes he enthusiastically.

I take it that I'm not going to have strange International Publication difficulties with this one?

A little while ago I had a peculiar correspondence with the lessor daemons of The Book Depository regarding my order for Kate Griffins " The Neon Court " which is the latest in a really good urban magic series set in London, here is Kate's web log in which she recounts not only her career as a writer but also her career in Theatrical Lighting ...

Anyway I had this mildly stroppy conversation with the minions of the otherwise pretty good book-dealer " The Book Depository " after which I was forced to buy Kate's latest hardback from ..ritual SPIT .


Is this meant to be some sort of leg pull? If not ,and your inquiry is based upon your own inability to read a note of complaint, then I suggest that you scroll down your own e-mail to my original complaint that clearly you haven't read and there you will see ....

" Book title The Neon Court Author Kate Griffin Isbn13 9780316093644 Publisher Orbit Description "

Please READ my original e mail before you next write to me! " ...

" Dear A ,

I am terribly sorry about my last e-mail.

I am sorry to report that it appears that this title has been market restricted by the publisher and despite having the title in stock we cannot make it available to customers in the UK at present.

Our apologies for the inconvenience that this matter may cause you. Kind Regards Alex "

I'm not going to be 'Market Restricted ' on my hardcover of " Rule 34 " am I Charlie?


What's going on is this:

NorAm rights to a book is sold to a US publisher. Some time later, a UK publisher buys UK/Commonwealth rights.

You are in the UK. You order the NorAm edition from in the USA: first sale doctrine applies (you bought the book in the US) so there's no problem with you buying it.

You are in the UK. You order the NorAm edition from a British bookseller who has presumably obtained grey market import stocks from a wholesaler. Now, if you do this before a UK publisher has acquired the rights, nobody's going to have a problem with you doing this. But if the UK publisher has obtained exclusive UK/commonwealth rights to the book, then the UK reseller isn't actually allowed to sell US copies of the book in the UK, and the publisher may well send them a legal nastygram.

This doesn't mean you can't get the book -- but it means you either need to buy it from an offshore retailer, or wait until the local edition is published.

In answer to your question about "Rule 34" ... you might have trouble picking up a US hardcover copy in the UK, or a UK trade paperback in the USA, but the publication dates are within 48 hours on either side of the Atlantic so unless you specifically want a foreign edition you shouldn't have a problem.


I see. I do understand that publishing is tricky, I was hoping I'd missed something.

DRM annoys me because I can't always choose the device I want (right now, I prefer my Sony PRS 350), and also for archival purposes. I wish never to lose a book that was good company.

Anyway, thanks for your response, and your books :)


Hmm...I have a problem in that I think Palimpsest was maybe the best work I've read of blew the Time Patrol, Dinosaur Beach and The End of Eternity out of the water - long term favourites of mine and many others.

This really deserves a novel/series treatment...

-- Andrew

This really deserves a novel/series treatment...

Several people have commented to that effect here, and I wrote an enthusiastic review of "Palimpsest" on my blog in which I mentioned some of the things I thought should be expanded in a longer form. Now we just have to hope that sometime in the next few years that project gets Charlie's interest more than some other project he might want to do, and he's moved to do it.


As an anglophone Canadian (going through both BC and Ontario school systems), I'm curious what you feel your school system has done for you to understand French? My question is heavily influenced by the French-English relationship in Canada, which I assume also exists in UK-France Western-Europe. (Caveat: I'm 22, I've been outside of Canada 3 times: each was to the USA.) I'll accept your answer as being the same as Feorag's, which would be in line with most of my friends. (I'm a fan of francais, pursuing a Minor in French to complement my Major in CS, so it wouldn't be a problem for me to read Palimpsest, had I not already done so in Wireless. And yes, pluralingualism is hard, as you admitted in a previous blog post.)


Love the French cover :)


If the UK publisher is so perverse as to not publish in hardback, and the US one does do HB, then what do they expect anyone who wants a decent edition to do?

I like to keep my books and I find that most paperbacks barely survive one reading.


I'm guessing Charlie doesn't sell enough hardbacks in the UK to make it worthwhile.


Palimpsest may indeed surface as a novel on of these years. Indeed, when I first showed it to my agent her comment was "this is great, but it's the first third of a novel! Why don't you finish it and I'll cancel that nasty Laundry thing in the contract and we can hand this in instead?"

However, there are problems.

For starters, it's published in "Wireless". Which means some readers will suspect a bait-and-switch if I roll out a novel-length upgrade too soon. It also means Ace and Orbit are licensed to publish that chunk of it until the rights revert at the end of time when the stars are burning out. This is not a good position to start out from when negotiating a contract for a book-length expansion (and no, putting "Hugo Award Winner" on the cover doesn't offset that). And for thirds, it's difficult to sell such a book while the novella itself is coming out in stand-alone form from Subterranean and other folks (licensed -- at least in English -- from Ace and/or Orbit depending on territory; they act as my agent and take a cut for re-selling the rights). I suspect the novella publishers would be very annoyed if a novel came out and ate their lunch.

I'm on rolling three book contracts and we decided not to write "Palimpsest" into the new one -- it consists of "The Apocalypse Codex" (2012), "Neptune's Brood" (2013) and "The Lambda Functionary" (2014). If I get some spare time I will probably work on "Palimpsest" in parallel with NB or TLF, but it's unlikely to show up in Ace's publication queue before 2015.


The UK hardback market is intensely competitive and it's a rare SF novel that can sell more than 3000 hardcovers. I think "Rule 34" is showing up in trade paperback because "Halting State" did -- it's possible that "Neptune's Brood" will go hardback because "Saturn's Children" did so, but I'm not sure.

In any event, US hardcovers use good quality acid-free paper -- the British publishers all stopped doing that some years ago. (This is a hint.) Mind you, you haven't seen bad paper until you've seen a Russian hardback ...


French was taught at my school and I was subjected to it for 4-5 years before they gave up on me. There have been other attempts at hammering non-English languages through my skull. I am really bad at picking up languages.

Palimpsest may indeed surface as a novel on of these years. ... However, there are problems.

Surely the obvious solution would be to travel back in time and make a palimpsest of Palimpsest?


The Time Patrol will get you for that!


Or already has.


Actually, Wireless has one of the prettier covers in recent SF. In fact, I'm tempted to replace the beat-up MMPB I got at Powell's with the hardcover copy they now have at Powell's. But that would be silly.


Language teaching in English schools was notoriously bad. I can't comment on whether it has improved.

I have a suspicion that there was a big problem, English and modern foreign languages both, coming from an assumption that everyone was taught Latin. My recollections of what was taught lead me to infer that the grammatical jargon was assumed to be taught as part of Latin.

But my brother, who now works in educational statistics, thinks we went to a school that didn't do that good a job.


The Scottish comprehensive where I studied French for 5 years in the mid '80s had a fully functional language lab which was NEVER used, presumaby for financial reasons. I ended up with a B which pissed me off as was a swot & got A's for the rest. I think the only person who got an A in my year spent most of her holidays in France.

Either the exams were too hard or the teaching was cr*p. It was probably a bit of both.


I was at an excellent English comp in the early 80s, I got A in both French and German and I still don't feel competent to hold a simple conversation in either language (and didn't at the time, more to the point). I don't think it's the quality of the teaching, as I said this was a good school.


15 days ! I've been to my local sf bookstore in Lyon (France) and they won't have it before 15 days ... (I should have read it in English)


Thanks, Charlie, I bought two copies of Wireless back in December: One as a Newtonmas gift for a friend who loves flat earth stories, and one for me so that I would have "Palimpsest" on my shelves. It's one of the coolest pieces of fiction I've read in years—sort of a weird hybrid of Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker and Isaac Asimov's The End of Eternity, but without the despair of either. If you ever write a novel set in that universe I'll buy it.


The Scottish comprehensive where I studied French for 5 years in the mid '80s had a fully functional language lab which was NEVER used, presumaby for financial reasons. As did the one I studied at 10 years earlier (for values of "fully functional" that allow the kit to exist and be electrically safe etc, but has insufficient fully operation kit available to supply a class of 30 pupils and one teacher with a workstation each for about 35 weeks out of 40 in a school year).


He Not Do the Time Police in Different Languages



I just ordered your Palimpsest and Catherynne Valente's. Two books will enter. Only one will leave...

Actually, I expect to thoroughly enjoy both of them.



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