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CRIMES OF THE HUB is now in print!

January 23, 2020 5 comments

Once again, it took a few months longer than I expected, but I’m pleased to announce that the second collected volume of the Hub series, Crimes of the Hub, is now out in print-on-demand trade paperback as well as e-books. So far, the TPB is only available through Amazon:

Crimes of the Hub (paperback)

Crimes of the Hub cover

The hapless heroes of Hub Space return with new jobs, new allies, and new adventures at the heart of the galaxy, in a novel expanded and revised from stories originally appearing in Analog.

Just when cynical space pilot Nashira Wing has finally started to enjoy helping David LaMacchia with his clueless quest to crack the secrets of the Hub Network, he’s hijacked by a crew of kittenish thieves and trapped in the treasure vault of a far older civilization. What he finds there gives Nashira a shot at the score of a lifetime—but changes David’s life in ways that threaten their friendship. To keep the devious masters of the Hub from getting their tentacles on Nashira’s prize, she and David must mend frayed relationships and navigate new ones, all while facing adventures in larceny, sex, bureaucracy, hyperspatial geometry, and radical body modification. Can they come through it all with their hearts, their identities, and their dignity intact?

At the moment it’s got a separate entry from the e-book edition, and it isn’t yet on my Amazon author page, but I’ve requested that it be added, and once it has, I’ll try to remember how to request that they merge the listings.

And yes, it just struck me yesterday that I have two consecutive original book releases this year titled Crimes of the Hub and Arachne’s Crime. That’s pure coincidence and I didn’t even notice it before, I guess because they’re in two different universes and subgenres. Looking over my past bibliography, though, a lot of my original SF seems to involve crime, crimefighting, detective work, criminal justice, and the like. Maybe that’s not surprising — given that I don’t have any inclination to write war stories or military fiction, that would tend to leave crime and crimefighting as one of the primary ways of generating adventure, danger, and conflict. It’s interesting that it worked out that both of the consecutive Crime-titled books focus mainly on human “outlaw” characters at odds with alien legal and social systems — though the circumstances are otherwise very different.

And I just now realized another coincidence. Both books’ lead character pairs have similar names — Hub has Nashira Wing and David LaMacchia, Arachne has Stephen Jacobs-Wong and Cecilia LoCarno. And both David and Cecilia are blond, which is unusual for Italians, except in the north, e.g. around Venice where Cecilia comes from (and David’s only half-Italian — just as Stephen is only half Chinese-American). Of course, the original story featuring the Arachne characters was written a dozen years before the first Hub story, and I’ve done a bunch of stuff in between them, so it really is coincidental that they’re ending up getting published so close together. (Also, both pairs include a kind, gentle male lead and a tough, prickly female lead, but that’s a pattern I tend to use deliberately as a contrast to conventional gender norms, so it’s not a coincidence.)

Anyway, it’s still probably a few months before Arachne’s Crime comes out, so do me a favor and buy Crimes of the Hub right away, so there’s more time between them and the similarities don’t stick out as much. Okay? Good.

CRIMES OF THE HUB is out!

Well, it took several months longer than I’d hoped, and I’m a couple of weeks late reporting it, but Crimes of the Hub has finally gone on sale. The sequel to Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy collects the stories “Hubpoint of No Return,” “…And He Built a Crooked Hub,” and “Hubstitute Creatures,” revised, expanded, and blended into a single short novel.

Crimes of the Hub cover

The stock photo site we used for the Hub Space cover has gone out of business in the interim, so we had to “recast” Nashira and David for this cover using images sourced from Shutterstock. But I think the new Nashira model is an improvement, a closer fit to the Lucy Liu-ish appearance I’ve always imagined for the character. It would’ve made more sense for Julio to be the shirtless one (or for all three to be shirtless), but we had to work with the shots that were available.

Here’s the promotional blurb (which will be the back cover blurb once there’s a print edition):

The hapless heroes of Hub Space return with new jobs, new allies, and new adventures at the heart of the galaxy, in a novel expanded and revised from stories originally appearing in Analog.

Just when cynical space pilot Nashira Wing has finally started to enjoy helping David LaMacchia with his clueless quest to crack the secrets of the Hub Network, he’s hijacked by a crew of kittenish thieves and trapped in the treasure vault of a far older civilization. What he finds there gives Nashira a shot at the score of a lifetime—but changes David’s life in ways that threaten their friendship. To keep the devious masters of the Hub from getting their tentacles on Nashira’s prize, she and David must mend frayed relationships and navigate new ones, all while facing adventures in larceny, sex, bureaucracy, hyperspatial geometry, and radical body modification. Can they come through it all with their hearts, their identities, and their dignity intact?

It’s available as an e-book from:

And here’s the book’s Goodreads page if you want to keep track of it there. If you read the book (or any of my other books), please post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads — it helps raise a book’s profile if it gets enough reviews.

I’ll be reworking the individual story annotations for the new format and added material. I’m still figuring out what approach to take there.

In other original fiction news, I’ve been informed that the new Green Blaze story “Conventional Powers” will be in the September/October 2019 issue of Analog. Won’t be long now! So far, this year has seen the release of Star Trek Adventures: The Gravity of the Crime, ST:TOS: The Captain’s Oath, “The Melody Lingers,” Crimes of the Hub, and “The Stuff that Dreams Are Made Of,” and still to come we have three more STA campaigns, “Conventional Powers,” and Arachne’s Crime. That’s ten distinct publications in one year, breaking my previous record in 2010!

Announcing CRIMES OF THE HUB, my second Hub book!

It’s time for my first new project announcement for 2019, for certain values of “new.” Fans who’ve followed my posts and notes about last year’s trilogy of Hub stories in Analog are aware that I wrote the three novelettes with an overall story arc, with an eye toward subsequently collecting them in a second e-book/print volume to follow up Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy. It took a couple of years to find a publisher for the first collection and get it put together, but since that relationship with Crossroad Press was already established, I’m able to get the second collection out much sooner after publication.

Crimes of the Hub will collect “Hubpoint of No Return,” “…And He Built a Crooked Hub,” and “Hubstitute Creatures” into one volume. As with the Hub Space collection, Crimes of the Hub adds new material within and between the stories to flesh things out and tie the stories together a bit more, and to offer something new for those who’ve read the original stories in Analog. In Hub Space, I inserted in-universe articles as interludes so that the stories would stand apart more, but this time, since the stories were written as a single arc, I decided to add bridging scenes to make them flow straight into one another, essentially merging them into a fix-up novel. And it is long enough (about 45,000 words, more than a third longer than Hub Space) to qualify as a novel, albeit a short one. Although the original stories are longer than the first three as well, so the percentage of new material is about the same for both books, roughly 13%. It comes out to a whole new chapter bridging the first two stories but only one scene bridging the latter pair (since there’s less of a time jump there), as well as some added or expanded passages within the stories. I also trimmed or rephrased some bits of redundant exposition and moved a few lines around here and there to make it work better as a continuous narrative. But it still tells the same stories with the same dialogue and events, just with more detail and interstitial material added, and with some overlooked typos corrected.

My decision to turn this into more of a short novel than a pure collection is why I decided to call it just Crimes of the Hub instead of Hub Space 2: Crimes of the Hub as I originally planned. Or Crimes of the Hub: More Tales from the Greater Galaxy. Or something like that. I admit I seriously considered calling it Hub Space 2: Galactic Boogaloo.

Since small-press publishing moves fast, it probably won’t be very long before CotH goes on sale. I’ll post ordering info and the cover art as soon as they become available. It will initially be an e-book exclusive, but a print-on-demand edition should be available in time. It takes the publisher a little more time to get the print editions done, but this time the two editions should come out much closer together than the 3-year gap for Hub Space (since print editions weren’t yet available when the book first came out and I was slow to discover they were an option).

So anyway, this will bring my count of original books to four: Only Superhuman, Among the Wild Cybers, and the two Hub volumes. That’s twice what it was nine months ago. I hope it won’t be long before I have even more to announce.

As for the Hub universe, I haven’t yet made any firm plans for a third set of stories, since I’ve been focusing on other stuff. But the better Crimes of the Hub sells, the more motivated I’ll be to work on a continuation, nudge-nudge.

“And He Built a Crooked Hub” in the Sept/Oct ANALOG!

Analog‘s July/August issue has recently come out, and the Next Issue page on their site confirms that the second story in my new Hub trilogy, “…And He Built a Crooked Hub,” will appear in the September/October 2018 issue, which goes on sale August 21. The page describes it as “a comedy of tesseract errors.” Fans of Robert A. Heinlein should get a sense of what one of my main inspirations was, although there’s a certain Marx Brothers film that was a major influence as well.

I’ve updated my homepage with the release date for “Crooked Hub,” as well as updating the ordering information for the May/June Analog containing “Hubpoint of No Return,” since only Magzter and Google Play seem to allow ordering specific back issues rather than defaulting to the current issue. I also found a couple more review quotes for “Hubpoint” and added them, a bit belatedly.

“Hubpoint of No Return” annotations now available

Analog May/June 2018 coverSorry I’ve been late putting up the annotations for “Hubpoint of No Return.” I had them written some time ago (I try to make a habit of doing annotations at the same time I proofread the galley pages, since I sometimes notice things that need fixing in the process), but I couldn’t post them until I saw the finished issue and could get the right page numbers. Unfortunately, my author copies apparently got lost in the mail, and I didn’t get replacements until this afternoon.

Anyway, the annotations page (with full spoilers) is here:

“Hubpoint of No Return” Annotations

Looking through the contents page of the May/June Analog, I see I’ve got the only novelette-length story in the issue — the rest is a serial conclusion, a novella, and a bunch of short stories. That’s unusual. Anyway, looks like I’ve got a bunch of stories to read now.

WILD CYBERS — First stretch goal unlocked!

The Epic Science Fiction Adventures Kickstarter for Among the Wild Cybers (and Bud Sparhawk’s Shattered Dreams) has achieved its first stretch goal of $1200. This means that everyone who pledges $5 or above from this point on will get, in addition to the basic rewards for their pledge, a DRM-free digital copy of Robert Waters’s short story “Los Gatos.”

The next stretch goal reward is a DRM-free digital copy of my short story “Abductive Reasoning” from the Sept/Oct 2017 Analog. Once we reach $1500 in pledges, that story will be unlocked for everyone who pledges $5 and up. This is a nice bonus because it’s my one remaining uncollected story to date, other than the new “Hubpoint of No Return” in the current Analog (and the plan is to collect that along with its two sequels once all three have come out). So if and when we reach that goal, Kickstarter backers will have a more comprehensive and up-to-date collection of my short fiction than Among the Wild Cybers alone had room to provide.

Every additional $500 in pledges beyond that will unlock another short story by one of several authors, including “Forest of a Thousand Lost Souls” by my editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail (at the $2000 level) and “Stone-Cold Whodunit” from my pal Keith R.A. DeCandido’s Super City Police Department series (at the $4500 level). There are still a few bonuses left to reveal beyond that, possibly including something more from me.

So let’s get those pledges up there, folks! Tell your friends! Share and tweet and other social media things! The more pledges we get, the more everyone (well, $5-up) gets in return. Only 23 days left!

“Hubpoint of No Return” is out!

It slipped my mind that yesterday was the on-sale date for the May/June 2018 Analog Science Fiction and Fact, containing my new story “Hubpoint of No Return,” the first new Hub comedy-adventure in Analog since 2013, and the first new Hub material to see print since the Hub Space collection in 2015. I’m quite honored to see that the story is featured by name on the cover:

Analog May/June 2018 cover

It’s rather mind-boggling to see my name given more prominence than luminaries like Wil McCarthy and the legendary Gregory Benford. I can only dream of being on their level.

The Analog site has a substantial excerpt up from “Hubpoint” available to read, along with a glimpse at the accompanying illustration by Josh Meehan:

http://www.analogsf.com/current-issue/story-excerpt2/

(Note to future readers: The above “current issue” link will probably lead to some other story after the end of June 2018.)

It’s a pretty cool illustration. I never imagined David wearing glasses, and Tsshar isn’t supposed to have a tail (assuming my single erroneous mention of one in the manuscript was successfully corrected in proofreading), but otherwise it looks like it captures the scene and characters quite well.

I learned of the issue’s release this morning in a rather nice way, when I checked Facebook and found a very flattering (though spoilery) review of the story at Rocket Stack Rank:

http://www.rocketstackrank.com/2018/04/Hubpoint-Of-No-Return-Christopher-L-Bennett.html

Money quote: “The best part of the story is the characters, who keep managing to be predictable in unexpected ways.”

I’m pleased that reviewer Greg Hullender plugged (and bought) the Hub Space collection of the first three stories. I’ve been hoping that the release of the new Hub stories would prompt new sales of the collection. But I’m also pleased that the reviewer felt the new story could be followed without prior knowledge of the series, so it could work as a new introduction and interest people in going back to the beginning afterward.

I’ve now updated my Hub page on my site, retitling it “The Hub Series” to account for the new stories (though the link address is the same) and adding non-spoiler background discussion on the story. Spoiler annotations will follow soon, but first I have to get my copies of the magazine so I can get the page numbers right.

HUB SPACE is now in trade paperback!

That second bit of good news about my Hub series has materialized sooner than expected! Crossroad Press is now offering Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy in trade paperback form as well as e-book form. At last, my first Hub collection, containing the corrected and expanded editions of “The Hub of the Matter,” “Home is Where the Hub Is,” and “Make Hub, Not War” plus supplemental material, is available in a print edition!

Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy

The new trade paperback edition of Hub Space can be purchased directly from Crossroad Press here:

https://crossroadpress.com/product/hub-space/

Or from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946025496

The cover price is $9.99, though Crossroad’s site is offering it for $8.00 for a limited time. I haven’t seen a physical copy yet myself, but I’ve seen the PDF, and it looks good. It comes out to about 126 pages in print form, comparable to the length of a lot of older science fiction novels and collections from the ’50s or ’60s, though larger in page size.

This paperback release is quite timely, since readers of the new story “Hubpoint of No Return” in next month’s Analog now have an additional buying option if they want to refresh their memories about the previous stories. It’s also just a few months before the release of my second story collection, Among the Wild Cybers. Before long, then, I’ll have three original books all available in print. With at least one more to follow next year, since there’s sure to be a second Hub collection once Analog has published all three of the new stories. I’m so glad that my original fiction is finally starting to take up more shelf space! Although I’ve still got a long way to go if I want my original output to catch up with my tie-in output.

At long last, Hub!

I’m happy to report that I can finally announce another upcoming fiction project. Analog Science Fiction and Fact has bought, not just one, but three new stories in my “Hub” series of comedy SF tales! That’s right, after five years, Nashira Wing, David LaMacchia, and Rynyan Zynara ad Surynyyyyyy’a are returning to the pages of Analog for a whole trilogy of new adventures. Since the original three stories formed a loose story arc that I collected in the e-book Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy, I decided to write and submit the next three novelettes back-to-back, with an eye toward a second collection. Each story stands on its own, but there are character arcs that evolve through them, as with the first trilogy — though perhaps they’re somewhat more integrated this time.

Nashira, Rynyan, and David – art by Vladimir Bondar

The first story, “Hubpoint of No Return,” is thus a “season premiere” of sorts, introducing new characters and a new status quo for the returning cast. It’s scheduled to appear as the lead story in the May/June 2018 issue of Analog, going on sale at newsstands on April 24 and probably reaching subscribers even sooner. I would’ve announced it earlier, but I wanted to wait until I knew the fate of the other two stories, which took longer than expected.

The second story, “…And He Built a Crooked Hub,” is a four-dimensional bedroom farce involving the Hubcomplex’s tesseract hotel rooms, and by far my zaniest story yet. (Yes, that is a Heinlein nod.) And finally, “Hubstitute Creatures” will wrap things up with an adventure that takes our heroes to the heart of Hub civilization and puts them through some major changes, in more ways than one. These two have yet to be scheduled, as far as I know. Once I find out, I’ll let you know.

In retrospect, it might have made things easier for Analog‘s editor Trevor Quachri if I’d sent the stories one at a time — I thought that submitting them as a set would speed up the process, but if anything, it probably slowed things down by making the decision more complicated. Still, all three stories are finally sold, and it was an immense relief to get the contracts, just when I was really getting worried about my financial situation and desperately needed some good news. I immediately printed out and signed the contracts and hastened to the post office to mail them back ASAP, barely even noticing the below-freezing temperatures. (I walked because it takes my car a long time to warm up and start moving in cold weather, and I was too impatient to wait.)

Money matters aside, I really got invested in these stories, so it’s very satisfying to make the sales. In these new tales, I got to flesh out the Hub universe and delve deeper into the main characters’ personalities and relationships; I got to expand the cast with some fun new characters; I got to amp up both the comedy and the drama to new levels; and I finally got to realize a couple of story ideas I’ve had in mind since the early development of the Hub premise. (Ironically, the first story of the three has the newest concept behind it, though it incorporates a character I created more than a decade ago for a different project.) There’s something really satisfying about getting to develop a cast and a world over the course of an ongoing series, and this is only the second time I’ve been able to do that, the other being Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation. So I’m really glad Analog‘s readers will get to see these stories — and that I’ll be able to release them in collected form once they’ve all seen print in the magazine, though I don’t yet know how long that will take.

Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy

 

I’ve also got a couple of other Hub-related things on the horizon — one that’s already in the works but not quite finalized yet, and another that’s more tentative but should be really cool if it happens. I’ll announce them when and if they finally come together. So stay tuned. After years of being just a lonely little e-book collection, the Hub lives again!

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