Prometheus Books, the Amherst, N.Y., publisher specializing in science publishing and academic nonfiction, is branching out in an unusual direction with a new imprint devoted to science fiction and fantasy titles. The imprint, to be called Pyr Books, will publish six to eight books annually, starting next spring.

A spokesperson for the publisher, Jill Maxick, noted that although the house rarely does novels, it had been toying with the idea of fiction for some time and found popular science to be one its most popular niches. So it simply combined the two. It also has published several well-received science fiction titles by Tom Flynn, she noted.

To head the imprint, Prometheus has hired Lou Anders, a former executive at the defunct e-publishing site and an SF editor and writer. Anders, who will work from his home in Birmingham, Ala., said he sees the mission as reaching beyond just this house. "Science fiction in its heyday was praised for its sense of wonder, and we would love to recapture that," he said. Anders said that Pyr's fantasy titles will not be "the run-of-the-mill elves and dragons."