This is splendid! A loyalty cardholder’s email has landed in my inbox, centered on SF & Fantasy. It flags up Robin Hobb’s forthcoming appearance at Loncon3 and offers a chance to win a drink with Joe Abercrombie, as well as highlighting the upcoming Gollancz Festival at Waterstones, Piccadilly.
It also promotes a good range of books – and each selection of new, recent, reviewed and established favourites features two male and two female authors.
Specifically – Terry Brooks, Erika Johansen, Deborah Harkness and Brent Weeks. Then Tom Holt, Scott Lynch, Sherrilyn Kenyon and Elizabeth May. Followed by Octavia Butler, Robin Hobb, Max Barry and Mitch Benn. Favourites are Terry Pratchett, Trudi Canavan, Neil Gaiman and Liani Taylor.
(If you discount Tolkien who is the the fifth ‘favourite’ and honestly, I’m not going to get bent out of shape about that because, well, Tolkien. Similarly, the top ten best-sellers are all male-authored but when that list includes five individual titles by GRRM and two by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, that’s hardly a surprise).
No, I’m not patting myself on the back and taking any sort of credit. Various voices besides mine have been making the case for equality of visibility, both publicly and more privately.
No, I’m not leaning back and thinking phew, our work here is done. If we do another bookshop survey in six months time or so, and see marked improvement there, then it’ll be time to raise a celebratory glass.
For the time being though, this is most assuredly a positive development.