George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons is really almost done!S

Good news from New York Comic Con's Del Rey / Spectra panel: George R.R. Martin is just 5 chapters away from the end of A Dance with Dragons! Plus, we'll soon see old school Del Rey titles in ebook form.

Several members of the Del Rey/Spectra team gathered to preview their upcoming books. Panelists included Betsy Mitchell, the editor-in-chief of Del Rey; Spectra senior editor Anne Groell; Del Rey senior editor Chris Schluep; and Lucas Books Publishing Director Keith Clayton. Despite booming bass from a raucous event next door, they updated us on George R.R. Martin's progress, give a bit of info about upcoming digital releases, and get us excited about next year's books.

One of the first questions was, of course, "What's the deal with Dance with Dragons?" Here's what Anne had to say:

We're hoping to have a finished manuscript by Christmas. He's told me he has five chapters left and bits of each chapter are done. He really wants it done by the end of the year. We really—I mean really—want to announce the pub date in January.

The panel also talked a bit about their digital initiatives. It also sounds like we'll be seeing some long out-of-print Del Rey titles in digital form. Editor-in-chief Betsy Mitchell says:

We're working on taking a lot of the early Del Rey and Spectra titles and converting them into ebooks. And some of it has been out of print for a long time, because they weren't selling fast enough in print. But we'll be able to offer them in e-book form.

In general, the panel sounded excited about the prospects for ebooks. Anne told us:

I'm glad to see people are still reading. So even though the format of books is changing, people are still interested in reading and interested in storytelling. And that's what we really want to make sure we maintain, that we continue to provide really good stories for people to hook into by whatever mediums they can.

Schluep added: "We work on science fiction books, and if we didn't embrace the digital age, there'd be a problem with that."

So which of the highlighted titles sound the most promising? Here are five we liked the sound of:

Bloodshot, Cherie Priest: The Boneshaker author tries her hand a vampire story, set in Atlanta and featuring X-Files-style government creepiness.

The Star Wars Craft Book, Bonnie Burton:
How could you not get excited about Star Wars finger puppets?

The Native Star, M.K. Hobson: This Native American steampunk adventure apparently features giant raccoons.

Midnight Star, Ben Aaronovitch: A young copper manifests manifests magical powers and gets reassigned to train with the last wizard in England. Plus, writer Aaronovitch is an old-school Doctor Who writer.

Star Wars: Red Harvest, Joe Schreiber: The pitch for this book is simple: zombie Jedi. It's the prequel to last year's Death Troopers.