Ad Lib Column: Tobias S. Buckell

Upon my return from Eastern Europe I let you guys know that I was toying with a number of ideas concerning new features on the Hotlist. Well, since so many of you have been asking for guest bloggers for months, I finally decided to test those waters.

I had this idea for an ad lib sort of thing, where people from the publishing industry (authors, editors, agents, publicity and marketing people) would get the opportunity to write or rant about anything SFF-related. I sent out some invites, and we now wait to see what's going to happen.

Those of you on mailing list who didn't receive the invitation should check out their spam folder. Or get in touch with me via your publicist or the giveaway email address if you don't have my contact details. Anyone interested in submitting an idea for this new feature can do so.

The very first person to respond was author Tobias S. Buckell, author of Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and the just released Sly Mongoose (Canada, USA, Europe). Since he will be writing the forthcoming Halo: The Cole Protocol, we thought it would be a good idea to have him offer his two cents regarding the debate on the quality of tie-in fiction vs "regular" SFF novels. To get a better idea of what this dispute is all about, peruse this thread on Westeros.

As for future columns, Patrick Rothfuss and a number of other people have accepted to contribute. So it's safe to say that you'll be seeing this new feature appearing from time to time. We'll have to wait and see how this thing evolves. . .

The Quality of Tie-In Fiction vs that of "True" SFF Novels

There is something of a debate about the quality of tie-in fiction vs 'regular' SFF novels. Frankly I find the debate to be as useful as debating the merits of hardcovers versus paperback novels. It's just paper, a package, what matters is what lies beneath.

In high school I read a book a day, if not more. I was completely indiscriminate in my taste. I'd try anything, and as long as it held my interest I considered it a success. I cut my teeth on original SFF novels, but I went through period where I made my way through all the Star Trek: TNG novels that were out. At the time my family was watching the series on videotape: it was recorded by relatives who sent them down to us because we lived on a boat and had no cable. The novels were a nice way of continuing to experience the show until the next batch of tapes came in.

Over all I preferred original SFF just because the authors could really just head out and do whatever the heck they wanted in this universe they were building, but unless you were picking up a book by a favorite writer who had a similar 'feel' from book to book, you never knew for sure what you were going to get. And most of the time that was just fine. But somedays, after a hard day at school, or when I was beat down tired after a day windsurfing, I just wanted to immerse myself in a familiar world for a couple hours. Tie-in books, continuing series detective novels, and the like, all let me do that.

Between a brief stint doing some reviewing, being on some publisher's lists to send books due to the popularity of my blog, and due to being a judge for an award this year, before July 1st I had a mountain of books on my spare desk. It was interesting, because I realized how much stuff that was original didn't really do much for me, let alone tie-in stuff.

We're seeing Chris Roberson, Karen Traviss, Jeff VanderMeer and many other talented writers play with other universes for fun and profit. I think there is plenty of fun stuff to be found in tie-in fiction. I also think its a funny argument, because many of the arguments made about tie-in fiction are the same arguments pointed at SF/F by mainstream/literary writers.

Tobias S. Buckell

The author can be found at, where you'll find his blog as well as a ton of information on the man and his work.

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