China Buys SF Publisher

This acquisition of an old science fiction publishing house by what appears to be SJWs funded by Chinese money should provide some amusement going forward:

New York, May 19, 2020 – The formation of Astra Publishing House was announced today by COO and Publisher Ben Schrank. “The time is right for a new publishing house that’s deeply committed to progressive values and that champions authors from all corners of the world. Astra Publishing House’s foremost aim is to build bridges between readers and writers in all nations, and I’m so excited to be part of a venture that speaks to an increasing necessity for a shared global consciousness.”

Astra Publishing House is comprised of Astra House, an entirely new adult trade publisher of American and international literary fiction and poetry, and mission-driven nonfiction.

These guys make Castalia House, which has been around since 2014, look decidedly old school.

In big news for science fiction and fantasy publishing, DAW Books is no longer an independently owned publisher. This morning, Astra Publishing House announced its acquisition of the storied SFF imprint.

In a press release, DAW co-publishers (and, until today, owners) Betsy Wollheim and Sheila Gilbert said, “We are extremely pleased by Astra’s enthusiasm, and thrilled that we will be the sole SFF imprint of their company (a first for DAW). We think this is the perfect fit for us, and it’s exciting and refreshing to be an integral part of a new and growing company. It speaks volumes about Astra’s respect for our company that they have included our entire staff. We’re very happy.”

Previously, DAW was partnered with Penguin Random House, which distributed DAW’s titles. (PRH also distributes Astra Publishing House’s books.)

DAW Books was founded in 1971 by Donald A. Wollheim and his wife, Elsie B. Wollheim. It was the first imprint exclusively devoted to science fiction and fantasy, and over the years has published more than 2000 books from a long list of well-regarded authors, including Patrick Rothfuss, Tad Williams, Melanie Rawn, Tanith Lee, Nnedi Okorafor, and Seanan McGuire.

Something isn’t adding up here. As a general rule, China doesn’t tolerate SJWs very well. For example, Disney can’t release its Marvel movies in China anymore. So, it will be fascinating to see where this goes, especially given the specific mention of that “mission-driven” motivation.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Astra makes a bid for Tor soon as well.