The bull-o-meter nudges the top end of the scale in some of the opening publisher quotes in The Library Journal‘s new cover article on the fantasy/SF renaissance. But otherwise it’s an interesting survey of the ‘big publisher’ trends in the mad scramble from Sept to Xmas. The highlights…

* Gritty ‘dark fantasy’ infiltrates the sort of over-padded fantasy epics that you can stop a door with. But who wants to slog through a 3,000 page trilogy full of ‘grim’, in the current climate?

* A new trend for historical/fantasy desert settings, Arabian Nights style. Interesting. I could imagine a lot of Lovecraftian elements could creep in there, if done well. There’s certainly a lot of public domain material to mine for authentic descriptions and background.

* Growth “in the male urban fantasy market”. That sub-genre must have completely passed me by. Sounds like it’s a 20-something target market, for guys afraid their manhood will shrivel up and fall off if they read about faeries and elves?

* Authors who write about zombies are moving them into political satire and comedy. Best place for them. They’re such dull monsters, the only thing left to do is poke fun at them.

* Steampunk continues to flounder about looking for fresh settings and twists, judging from the article.

* New galactic-spanning space adventures have become very rare, as 50-something SF authors churn in a mire of near-future gloom and angst. Publishers will be republishing their old “upbeat” space epics, to compensate.

* There’s a gap in the market for smart optimistic young-adult hard SF, which will increase as the economic recovery starts.

The biggest news is probably that Neal Stephenson is back with a new novel, Reamde, in September. It’s another 1000-page doorstopper. I don’t mind the size and I really enjoyed Anathem — but it seems that Reamde is more like Cryptonomicon which while gripping was forgettable. No news of any new book from Stephen Baxter, sadly.