A book publisher in Russia stands accused of deleting a gay storyline from a popular series of sci-fi novels.
V. E. Schwab’s best-selling Shades of Magic books have been translated into nearly a dozen languages. But the author was shocked to discover that the Russian edition had been censored—specifically, a passage detailing a same-sex romance was removed.
“The Russian edition of Shades of Magic has been my favorite,” she tweeted. “This week I learned that they redacted the entire queer plot w/out permission. I was absolutely horrified,” she continued. “Wouldn’t have known if not for a Russian reader who read both editions. Publisher in total breach of contract.”
The Russian edition of Shades of Magic has been my favorite. This week I learned that they redacted the entire queer plot w/out permission.
— Victoria/V.E. Schwab (@veschwab) August 9, 2017
Published by Tor Books in the U.S., Shades of Magic follows a magician, Kell, who travels between four parallel versions of London. Rhy Maresh, the bisexual Prince of Red London, is a recurring character—and in a flirty scene in 2016’s A Gathering of Shadows he’s reunited with his love, pirate captain Alucard Emery.
Shades of Magic’s Russian publisher, Rosman, claims it had to excise the love scene to comply with the country’s ban on gay propaganda.
“We only did this so that we wouldn’t violate the ban,” Rosman spokesperson Natalya Brovchuk told Vedomosti. “But we kept the romantic plotline as a whole.”
Brovchuk insisted that Schwab’s literary agent was informed of this decision, but Schwab says she never would have agreed to any redacting.
“It would have been better not to publish the book at all,” the author tweeted, adding that she plans to end her deal with Rosman, which was slated to publish the third installment, A Conjuring of Light, this fall.
“It’s important to me that the books be available to Russian readers, but with all their content.”
Shades of Magic was also the subject of a fierce bidding war for rights to a film adaptation.
Gerard Butler won out with his production company, G-Base.