Today’s post is going to be a departure from my “Last Son of Earth” series in order to bring you some highlights from the ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) in St. Louis. For the uninitiated, ICRS has been the primary conference for booksellers, authors and publishers to meet and engage in business for the Christian Book Industry. Bookstore buyers meet with publishers to place orders for this next year’s products today, authors meet with the publisher’s acquisition editors to pitch new ideas, and a whole lot of networking happens in between.
In light of my being here, I thought it would be advantageous to share with you a little about some of the upcoming Speculative Fiction titles that are heading our way in the months to come. In past years, Speculative fiction has had a fairly visible role in the marketplace as it has continually been a growth category for both Christian and Secular publishers. I imagined, perhaps foolishly, that this year the trend upward in fantasy fiction and speculative fiction would only continue to grow in exposure at ICRS.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Finding speculative fiction titles on the show floor has been far from easy. End times novels aside (for there are always a few of those) finding a fantasy fiction was a hero’s quest in and of itself. At times I wandered for hours scouring the shelves of major and minor publishers in search of anything that remotely resembled a fantasy title and could not find much at all.
I was horrified.
It makes me wonder – where are all the speculative titles going? Is the Christian marketplace really over speculative adventures?
Perhaps the only oasis in the desert of this marketplace (as far as our category goes) was the newly launched “Blink” imprint from Zondervan which is purportedly will focus on YA titles within the speculative faith genre. But this soon to come imprint was certainly not in the forefront of their booth display. In fact, I only spotted it and heard about it because I had to ask the booth attendee if they had any fantasy fiction titles being released this year.
Granted, the lineup looks intriguing (some of them familiar titles newly moved into Blink line) and I feel silly that I might have missed it on first glance.
Nevertheless, the exposure of Christian fantasy & speculative fiction was significantly down and I am baffled.
What follows is the results of my “Where’s Waldo” search. As you will see, the list is not long.
NEW ENTRIES TO THE MARKET
I did not include “End Times” novels or sequels to already existing series. I did include futuristic novels, alternate history and dystopian worlds in my search.
In the year 2250, water is scarce, and those who control it control everything. Sixteen-year-old Luca has struggled with this truth, and what it means, his entire life. As the son of the Deliverer, he will one day have to descend to the underground Aquifer each year and negotiate with the reportedly ratlike miners who harvest the world’s fresh water.
Doon by Cary Corp & Lorie Langdon – Coming September 2013
A re-imagining of the “Brigadoon” story. Veronica doesn’t think she’s going crazy. But why can’t anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps calling her name? Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Scotland, she and her friend Mackenna uncover a strage set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna’s great aunt. When the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation.
This is a self-published title at Xulon press. When Princess Angela finds a mirror in a haunted castle, her alter ego awakens. Her simple life shatters. Unless she finds all the missing pieces and puts it back together in time, she’ll fade away forever – replaced by a reflection.
One of the things I found intriguing with the book (having forced myself to look past the uninspiring cover) was the humor Daniel used on his back copy which claims “Knight in shining armor not included.” and “No dragons were slain in the making of this book. (Well, ok… Maybe one…)”
SEQUELS NEW TO THE MARKET
Equally short and difficult to find are speculative novels that continue or conclude a series already in the public eye.
A Draw of Kings (The Staff & The Sword series) by Patrick Carr – Coming February 2014
Shadow Hand (Tales of Goldstone Wood) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl – Coming February 2014
Merlin’s Shadow by Robert Treskillard – Coming October 2013
Remnants: Season of Wonder by Lisa T. Bergren – Coming October 2013
Guardian (A Halflings Novel) by Heather Burch – Coming September 2013
And that, folks, is all that fits our category this upcoming year. It could be there are many more that simply were not being promoted or presented to buyers in any visible way yet. However, nearly half of the titles I’ve shown above were not even physically presented or shown in any way at the show (I had to dig through the publisher’s catalog to find them). This does not bode well for our genre. After all, if bookstore buyers can’t find them to buy them, how will the public find them and buy them.
I’ll keep looking for the rest of the day, but the trend is surprising to say the least and has left me pondering the state of the industry even more than before.