Angry Robot Books, which is owned by Osprey Publishing Group, has just announced that their YA imprint, Strange Chemistry is closing. Here's why that's terrible news.
The closure of Strange Chemistry is effective immediately and all books on contract have been cancelled. Angry Robot will continue to publish books and will even increase their schedule from 2 to 3 books per month.
This is blow to sci-fi and fantasy YA publishing. Strange Chemistry's books have always had intriguing premises and interesting characters. When I look at YA books to possibly review, the list tends to be very heavy on Strange Chemistry (right now there are four of their books on my e-reader for possible review — only powerhouse publishers like TOR have as many). And it's not on purpose! I don't look at Strange Chemistry's list specifically, just at descriptions. I don't always get to the books or even always enjoy them, but when you're looking at dozens (hundreds over the year) of descriptions of books to find something that might be worth sharing with others and one small publisher rises to the top over and over, you begin to notice.
We've enjoyed some of Strange Chemistry's books in the past. Gwenda Bond's fantasy vision of the Roanoke mystery Blackwood is a fascinating twist on being the "chosen one."
And I'm heartbroken that we may not get the conclusion to Jonathan L. Howard's Russalka Chronicles. The first book, Katya's World was an adventure in the Das Boot-meets Soviet colony world-meets Heinlein mode.
While we haven't reviewed all their novels, plenty of other Strange Chemistry books have been critical successes. Laura Lam's Pantomime was just nominated for the British Fantasy Awards Best Newcomer for its beautiful treatment of one the few YA intersex main characters. The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clark is another popular Strange Chemistry title that appeared on a ton of 2012's Best Of lists. Both Pantomime and Assassin's Curse are series that may not finish now that Strange Chemistry is closing.
There may be some hope though. According to Publisher's Lunch, Osprey is hoping to sell Strange Chemistry and their mystery book imprint, Exhibit A. If another publisher purchases their list, we may the final books of these series. We may also get more books where magic is controlled by music or about teen xenobiologists from Mars or sarcastic geeks who fight ghosts. Either way, I'll be picking up a stack of books before they vanish.