Head of Zeus is launching a new imprint, Ad Astra, publishing "at the cutting edge of high-concept science fiction and fantasy".
Tasked with nurturing and publishing "the best high-concept SFF our world can offer", the imprint is releasing its first six titles on 1st October and has up to 30 new titles planned for 2021.
HoZ chairman Anthony Cheetham commented: "I’ve been a fan since the age of 11 when I traded my stamp album for a copy of H G Wells’ collected short stories, and I’ve never looked back.
"But if we look forward we see the making of a new age of science fiction writing, a group of talented novelists and storytellers who use the genre to explore the big big questions in philosophy and politics, genetics and astrophysics, society and the environment. This is what we mean by high concept."
HoZ said the "talisman" of the Ad Astra imprint is its author Cixin Liu (pictured), the Chinese science fiction writer who has published his Three Body Problem trilogy in 25 languages and is a nine-time winner of the Galaxy Award, winner of the 2015 Hugo Award and the 2017 Locus Award. He also won the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2018 for Imagination in Service to Society.
The first six Ad Astra titles publishing on 1st October are: Hold Up the Sky, a new story collection by Cixin Liu; Sooner of Later Everything Falls into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker, winner of this year’s Nebula and Philip K Dick Awards; Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler, fusing themes of magic and technology in a narrative set in "the fires of a fallen civilisation"; Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott, pitched as "Alexander the Great, re-imagined as Empress of an interstellar empire"; Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow, set five minutes into the future "where everything is connected and everyone is vulnerable; and The Lost Colony by A G Riddle, concluding the US self-published Long Winter trilogy.
In November Ad Astra will also release new paperback editions of Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Trilogy with cover art from his Chinese editions. According to HoZ, earlier editions have recorded sales of more than 500,000 copies.
In December Ad Astra then plans to publish Simon Ing’s 1,032-page compendium of science fiction’s best 100 stories about Artificial Intelligence, We Robots.
In 2021 Ad Astra is undertaking to "widen the net" in its publication of SF talent to include more writers in the space from other cultures. This will begin in Lavie Tidhar’s The Best of World SF, which features new stories by 26 authors from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East. Further 2021 highlights include new novels from award winners C S Friedman, Ada Palmer, Ken Liu, Adrian Tchaikovsky, John Birmingham and Terry Goodkind.
HoZ chief executive Nicolas Cheetham, the founding publisher of Ad Astra, said: "I’ve always found big, challenging, take-no-prisoners SFF irresistible. With Ad Astra, HoZ’s stealthy but extremely successful SF list breaks cover to better publish the best high-concept SFF our world can offer."