Here’s a post from James Nicoll at tor.com: Why the Hell Are These Books Out of Print?
I’ve read two of the books on Nicoll’s list: Growing Up Weightless by Ford and Doorways in the Sand by Zelazny. I’ve read other titles, not the ones mentioned, by Donald Kingsbury and Joan Vinge and Liz Williams, and since I like and admire their writing, I wouldn’t mind picking up other books by them — apparently not the titles Nicoll picks out, though, unless they’re available used.
I noticed Growing Up Weightless in particular because I sort of liked it and sort of hated it, and this ties into a post from yesterday: The relationship between the protagonist and his father is not toxic, but it is a very difficult, tense relationship. And the ending is tragic in an important sense; not that anybody dies, but that the relationships between the protagonist and his friends are basically destroyed in a surge of extreme bitterness. Nothing in the description emphases either point, but these qualities have always prevented me from re-reading the book despite agreeing with basically every point in Jo Walton’s positive review.
Doorways in the Sand I liked, but I’m not sure I would pick it especially for a list of the books that should most urgently be brought back into print. What I would choose … hard to say. Let me think …
For such a list, I think it’s best to include only books that aren’t available as ebooks. Those are the ones that are most thoroughly out of print. If I had ages to think about it, my list might be different, but off the top of my head, I would include:
1. The Ivory trilogy by Doris Egan, plus I really wish she had been able to go on with this series.
2. The Gandalara series by Randall Garrett. I still like the giant cats in this series, even though I’m less inclined to enjoy giant cats in fantasy than I used to be. Garrett is one of the only authors I can think of who treats his giant cats as real characters with desires and needs that don’t necessarily line up with their human companions.
3. Sword of Winter by Marta Randall. An excellent novel, Randall’s best imo. I remember turning to the scavenger hunt scene to specifically look at the craft involved in writing such a fast-paced scene.
4. The Plum-Rain Scroll, The Dragon Stone, and The Peony Lantern by Ruth Manley.
I would PARTICULARLY like these to come back into print because I have the first one and the other two are unavailable. I mean, unless you are willing to pay $500 for a copy. The last book doesn’t appear to be available, period.
The three books in her series are: The Plum Rain Scroll, first published in hardcover by Hodder and Stoughton, Sydney, in 1978 was named Book of the Year by the Children’s Book Council of Australia in 1979. It was published in paperback in 1980.
The Dragon Stone, first published in hardcover by Hodder & Stoughton, Sydney in 1982 and shortlisted for the 1983 Book of the Year by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. It was published in paperback in 1983.
The Peony Lantern, first published in hardcover by Hodder & Stoughton, Sydney in 1987 and never released in paperback.
All of them are set in some mythical unspecified time which is no time, a parallel Japan almost, where figures from any age from the Age of the Gods onward may be encountered, a Japan of all times and eras. Their pages are filled with eccentric lords, dotty ladies, nutty monsters and ghosts and all manner of magical happenings in which favourite Japanese legends are incorporated into the story as part and parcel of the events befalling the heroes (one of the joys is that of recognition). All is written in a bright, descriptive down-to-earth style with some delicious turns of phrase.
Look at that. The first one was Book of the Year, then the next was shortlisted, then the third was never released in paperback and is now completely unavailable. It makes one wonder about Hodder & Stroughton, it really does. Ruth Manley died in 1986, it says here, so these books have no one to bring them back. I guess her heirs are never going to put her books out as ebooks. It’s a damned shame.
Any books on your shelves that you especially love but that are now out of print? What would you put on this list?