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Timescape Books

Entry updated 28 September 2014. Tagged: Community.

US sf publishing imprint, issuing both hardcover and paperback, whose logo first appeared in March 1981 and whose last titles were published in 1984. Timescape Books was formed by Simon and Schuster and Pocket Books (owned by the former), for both of whom David G Hartwell had been director of sf, and he was set in charge of the new imprint. It was named after the resonant title of Gregory Benford's successful novel Timescape (1980), which had been published by Simon and Schuster; Benford was paid a licencing fee, and published two books – Against Infinity (1983) and Across the Sea of Suns (1984) – with the imprint. Timescape was prestigious and influential. However, despite publishing good books which won awards, it did not produce bestsellers, was hit by the economic downturn of the early 1980s, and soon folded. There is an argument over whether Hartwell chose the wrong books or if publicity and packaging were inadequate. Timescape publications included many books of somewhat literary sf and fantasy, such as Philip K Dick's The Divine Invasion (1981), John M Ford's The Dragon Waiting (1983), Lisa Goldstein's The Red Magician (1982), which won a National Book Award, Nancy Kress's The Prince of Morning Bells (1981), Frederik Pohl's The Years of the City (1984), Hilbert Schenck's A Rose for Armageddon (1982) and Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun (1980-1983 4vols). Timescape Nebula winners were The Claw of the Conciliator (1981) by Wolfe and No Enemy But Time (1982) by Michael Bishop; as Benford's Timescape had won in 1981, Timescape effectively scooped the Nebula pool three years running. With hindsight, the story of Timescape can be seen as a moral fable of central importance in the history of US sf publishing, which has certainly been – in the main – a more cynical business since Timescape's demise. [PN]

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