What would happen if the earth was taken over by a race of subterranean mole people? How would the human race cope if we discovered individuals with superhuman abilities? While these ideas may seem absurd, they are very real possibilities for Hades Publications publisher Brian Hades.
His search to answer such questions led to the founding of Hades Publications in 2000, but before his quest, he started off his career as a magician at the age of 7.
"When you perform magic, you're always trying to figure out if the audience believes . . . and in what way you can keep the audience believing," he says. "There are lots of parallels between [the worlds of] magic, science fiction and fantasy. You have to have that flashy beginning, develop characters and stories and wrap it up really nicely in the end."
The Calgary-based publishing house has branched into two imprint companies -- Edge and Tesseract Publishing -- and become the largest publisher of sci-fi and fantasy across Canada. Before the astounding popularity of the child and young adult sci-fi and fantasy genre, a multi-billion dollar industry, Canadian authors like Marie Jakober had little success finding a decent publisher.
"We had no trouble finding authors --there are an amazing number of authors in Alberta," says Hades. "The economy was really good at the time and my partner and I decided that we could start with a relatively small amount of money because there were only large publishing companies merging with larger companies and these authors weren't being picked up."
After a 20-year boom in the science fiction and fantasy industry, sales reports point towards a steady decline in demand for printed literature. According to the Book Industry Trends Report for 2009, book publishers sold, in total, 3.08 billion copies in 2008, 1.5 per cent less than the 3.13 billion copies sold the previous year. Meanwhile, Hades Publications continues to support local authors, with more books published each year, says Hades.
"We're a dedicated company. There are two and a half of us here and we live, eat and breath science fiction and fantasy," he explains. "It's from seven in the morning to 11 o'clock at night. We are constantly looking for unique concepts from authors who have something thought provoking to say about the world."
Aside from an admirable vision for Canadian literature, Hades Publications and its imprints donate 10 per cent of their annual net income to a green initiative helping to reduce the companies' carbon footprint by replanting trees.
Not surprisingly, they continue to grow, supported by their unwavering standard for superior publications. This growth has allowed them to expand into the world of young adult and horror fiction. In the next year, Hades Publications will be welcoming a dozen new titles, including several young adult and horror pieces.
Hades Publications will celebrate its success and venture into new ground this Saturday with a special multi-book launch gala at the Venturion Art Gallery. The evening will involve readings by various writers and a presentation defining what it means to be an author.
Hades, despite these accomplishments, remains humble about the company's success.
"It's friendly competition, but really when you think about it, there's no one trying to publish science fiction and fantasy novels all across Canada," he says. "Everybody shares the same vision and that is to get stories told. Wherever possible we share ideas."