THEY’RE PLAYING THAT ARMAGEDDON RAG*
November 22, 2006
Better late than never, they say.
It was back in June of 2004 that Bantam Spectra picked up the rights to three of my older novels, and we announced plans to reprint them all in new trade paperback editions. Dying of the Light and Fevre Dream were released as scheduled in the fall of 2004, but when the publication date of The Armageddon Rag rolled around in February of 2005, the book did not appear. Nor has it appeared subsequently.
As those who read the novel (both of you) at the time of its original publication will recall, The Armageddon Rag is set in the world of rock ‘n roll, and chronicles the reunion of a legendary ’60s rock band called the Nazgul whose lead singer was killed on stage during a Woodstock-like concert on Albuquerque’s West Mesa. While the Nazgul and their songs were fictional, I did make use of real rock music in the book. Every chapter began with a two-line quotation from an appropriate lyrics, and other songs were referenced (and quoted) in the text. Brief as they were, every one of those quotes required a permission… and securing those involved a negotiation and (usually) a hefty fee. It was a time-consuming and expensive process, but I felt that the lyrics were important to the theme and flavor of the novel, so back in 1983 I put in the time and spent the money and got the requisite permissions.
Problem was, as Bantam Spectra was gearing up to reissue the novel in 2005, it turned out that many of those old permissions had expired, so once again we were faced with a choice — secure the permissions all over again (and pay another set of fees), or strip out the chapter headings and the other lyrics. This time, thankfully, I had Bantam to help me negotiate with all the rights holders (who are very seldom the original artists or composers, as it happens). My thanks to Anne Groell and Josh Pasternak for all their help.
Even with Josh and Anne on the case, however, the process of securing the permissions was once again time-consuming and laborious. That’s why the book was delayed, and delayed, and delayed again.
We are finally done, however, so the reissue of The Armageddon Rag is back on track. The trade paperback is now set for release in February, 2007, a full two years after its original publication date. The Rag has always been the least commercially successful of my novels, but it is a deeply personal book for me, and will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s a hybid of sorts, blending elements of horror, murder mystery, and dark fantasy into a mainstream novel of character, a look back at the tumult of the 60s and the music that provided the sound track for my generation. And though it did not sell very well (an understatement), it did get some great reviews, and was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award in 1984.
Look for it in February. After all the trouble we went through to bring it to you, the least you can do is give it a try.
And keep on rockin’.