Cover Stories: Arthur C Clarke's last novel; LBF; Gordon Brown's children's book

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The Independent Culture

* Gollancz will publish the last novel by SF legend Arthur C Clarke, who died last month, aged 90. The Last Theorem, co-written with Frederick Pohl, a youngster at just 88, was delivered the week before Clarke's death and is described as "the last great adventure by one of the world's greatest ever adventure writers". Gollancz also plans to repackage and republish key titles in the Clarke backlist.

* At this week's London Book Fair, digitisation was high on the agenda. Faber announced its digital strategy and Random House finally launched its much-discussed widget, which allows consumers to browse and search books online, and which online retailers can incorporate into their sites. Microsoft launched its Live Search program which, if publishers sign up, will allow consumers to browse and buy; the feeling is that it is less threatening than similar plans set out by Google and Amazon.



* There was the usual flurry of deals signed around the fair: Alec Russell is writing a post-apartheid history of South Africa, drawing on numerous interviews with Mandela. Quercus bought a 19-volume future-history epic by David Wingrove. Random House bought Dan Cruickshank's history of Georgian London's sex industry, and Weidenfeld Edna O'Brien's study, Byron in Love. With China much in the news, Macmillan paid £100,000 for a Chinese bestseller that reinterprets Confucius for the modern age. The author is a glamorous young professor, Yu Dan, and her book is being pitched as "a Chinese Chicken Soup for the Soul".



* Gordon Brown, also present at the Fair, is contributing a 366-word story to Wow! 366: a collection of "mini writes from massive writers" for children. Other authors include Nina Bawden and Roddy Doyle. Publication is in the summer, and proceeds will go to a children's charity.

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