Friday, February 24, 2017

Susan Casper

.


Susan Casper passed away in her sleep this morning, after a several years' illness. Marianne and I, along with Chip Delany, visited her yesterday. She was exhausted, in pain, and terribly, terribly weak. But as acute as ever. She died with her wits intact.

Surviving her is her husband and, before that, lover for forty-seven years, Gardner Dozois and her son Christopher Casper, his wife Nicole and her grandchildren Tyler and Isabella.

Susan was a dear friend for over forty years. Marianne and I are both desolated by her death. But here's the thing: I couldn't swear to you that we're the unhappiest of her friends at this moment -- not even that we're the unhappiest of her Philadelphia friends. She had a lot of people who cared a great deal about her. Now we are all one in our grief.

I'll be writing more eventually. But right now, the loss is too fresh. So I'm giving myself a temporary pass. 

For the moment, I'll just say this: Susan had a great many friends. Her death has made us all miserable. That in itself is a tribute to her.


Above: Gardner and Susan in happier times.

*

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

This Glitterati Life -- Part 46,872

.



The institution doesn't really have a name. Sometimes it's called The Writers' Brunch, sometimes The SF Brunch, and other variants. My attempts to rename it Purdom's Raiders met with widespread lack of enthusiasm.

At any rate, after a hiatus of quite some time, the roughly-bimonthly brunch has been resurrected. We ate, we talked, we sat around. Mostly, we talked.

Above: A picture I call Men in Black. From left to right: Lawrence Schoen, Chris Urie, and Samuel R. Delany.

Below: Fran Wilde, Samuel R. Delany, and Your Humble Correspondent in a completely unposed photograph. Would I lie to you?






And as always . . .

As of tomorrow morning, I'm on the road again. This time I'm headed for Boston and Boskone, that great city's illustrious science fiction convention.

If you're going to be in attendance, why not say hello?


Above: Top photo is copyright 2017 and used by the kind permission of Fran Wilde. Bottom photo is copyright 2017 and used by the even more kind permission of the the M. C. Porter Endowment for the Arts.


*


Monday, February 13, 2017

Ed Bryant (1945-2017)

.



If you're one of the old hands of science fiction, the word of Ed Bryant's passing comes as very sad news. Many younger writers and readers, alas, will have only the vaguest notion of who he was.

Back when I was trying to break into the field, Ed was part of a generation that included Joe Haledeman, Gardner Dozois, and George R. R. Martin, plus a few others, who were shaking up the field, making things happen, writing the best and most interesting stories around. They -- Bryant most emphatically included -- were dazzling.

Everybody will mention Ed's two Nebula Awards and multiple Hugo nominations simply because that's the easiest way to establish the esteem in which he was held. The important thing to keep in mind is that he wrote stories that deserved those honors.

Ed remained an active part of the SF community to his dying day, but as time went by his fiction became rarer and tended to appear in horror venues, which made him less visible. He also had serious health issues over the years and that cut into his productivity.

The Locus Online notice of his death mentions that he was a critic. Yeah, I guess. What I remember from those days, however, is that he was one of the people who were actively encouraging new writers, critiquing manuscripts, offering advice -- performing the secret ministry of our genre, without compensation. Just to encourage the creation of the the literature he loved.

He was also one hell of a nice guy. I won't tell the story of how, at one convention, he wound up stark naked pushing a bed down a hotel corridor at three in the morning, except to say that it came about because he was an honest man with a good heart.

Also a helluva good writer.

Vaya con dios, Ed. Your friends miss you already.


Above: There we are, Ed and me, at MidAmeriCon II, plotting the overthrow of all that is good and decent in science fiction. You're welcome.


*



Friday, February 10, 2017

Four Stories in Science Fiction World!

.


I'm in print in China again!

Those who know me are aware that I take a special pleasure in my association with Science Fiction World. I like and respect the people there and, based entirely on the titles of other translated stories that have appeared there, they seem to have very good taste in science fiction.

Yesterday, a package arrived in the mail with my contributor's copies of the December 2016 issue of Science Fiction World Translations. (I think this is a spin-off magazine, but it might be a regularly-scheduled special issue. Maybe somebody who can read Chinese can set me straight?)

The issue contains not one! not two! not three! but four stories by me. They are:

"Radio Waves"
"The Edge of the World"
"The Changeling's Tale"
"Mother Grasshopper"

These are all stories that I am particularly proud of and, taken as a group, they form a very nice mini-collection of my work. So my day is made, I am happy, and I have something to brag about at the Pen & Pencil Club tonight.


And while I'm being happy . . .

There's also an author photo of me in SFW showing me pointing to the Chinese translation of Bones of the Earth. I'm particularly pleased with that because it was taken in the Science Fiction World offices in Chengdu. I've visited those offices twice, on widely separate occasions. That's another thing that makes me extremely happy.

*

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Iron Dragon's Word-Hoard (Part II)





I have fallen behind on this blog more than ever before.  Mea culpa. I have been so deeply involved writing The Iron Dragon's Mother that I simply have not had the mental energy to post here. I'll try -- honest! -- to do better.

Meanwhile, just to give you an idea of how the novel is going, here's the list I'm keeping of proper nouns, odd words, and non-standard usages in the text. There are a couple of spoilers hidden in it, but it would take a sharp eye to spot them. And it's subject to change. I doubt Samgrass will retain his name into the final version, though I may give it to somebody else.

To give you some idea of how it's going, you can view a previous version of this list which I posted last September here.


A

the Abyss
the Academy
Acting Chief Conspirator (Lady Jane Iron)
aeons (not eons)
Aerth
Aerugo
the Age of Fire
Alanna
Aleister Crowley
Alqualondë
the Amberwine
the Anonymous Everyhaint
Lieutenant Anthea
Missy Argent
Ashling
Astarte
Atil-Khazaran
Atlantean
Aurvang Hogback, Shorty (a red dwarf)
Averno
Avernus

B

the Baldwynn
banshees
rue Barguest
Barquentine, Barquentine of House Pleiades, Lord Pleiades, Barkers, Barky Bark
basilisk
bat-riders
The Battle of Zhoulu
Beltaine
Ben Morgh
Bessie Long Gone
birth-gate
the Black Stone
the Blinded Cockatrice
Blood Moon
the Bohemian coast
Bolshy Kitezh
the Book of Air
the Book of Steel
Brianna
Brocéliande, Brocéliandean (adj.)
Brocielande Station
Bugatti
bullbeggar
butterfly chips

C

Caitlin, Caitlin of House Sans Merci, Captain Caitlin, Cat, Katiboo, Katie Gallowglass,
            Ms. Gallowglass
Candlemas-daisies
Carcassonne, the free city of Carcassonne
Cathay
the Cathedral of Law
centaurs
Chanel
changeling
Château Sans Merci
Chesterfield
the Chronicles of Klepsis
Class Four artifact
Class Three artifact
Clerical and Data Entry
Clerical Services
Clever Gretchen
cluricaun
coast guardians
cockatrice
Cockaygne
cold iron
Columbine (mask)
the Conquest of Penthesilea
the Conspiracy
Cornouaille
Corpse-Eater Squadron
the Croaker
crone, crones
cyborg hounds

D

Dahut, Dahut merc’h Gradlon
the Dark Lady
Daughter of Night
Daughters of Lilith
Day of the Sow
Day of the Urchin
declaration of corruption
declaration of prophesy  
Deirdre
the Demiurge
the Department of Sanitation
Descent of the Turbine
devoir
the Division of Corruption
the Division of Persecution
the Dogger Bank
doolie
the Dowager
Downton Abbey
the Dragon Corps
Duesenberg
Dunstan
Dunvegan, the flag of
Dvārakā

E

early-onset transcendence
Echloë
Edderkopp, Counselor Edderkopp
Eidum
Elektra, daughter of Olympia, daughter of Hephaesta, of the line of Hekate
elf, elf-lady, full-elven
Employee Relations, ER
the Empyrean
Enya
Erodiade
Esme
Europa (not Europe)
Eve, Mother Eve
Evoe
the Examiner


F

Faerie
Felix Culpa
feriers
fey, feys, the fey
Fiji mermaid
Fingolfinrhod, Rod, Roddie, Fin-fin
Fiona
Wing Commander Firedrake
fire-giantess
fire spirits
fire-worms
Dame Fortuna
the French Quarter
Annable Frowst

G

Gabriel hounds
Kate Gallowglass
the Garden
Gatling gun
Gdansk
geas
gendarmerie
ghost crabs
La Ghoulerie
giant
gillyflowers
glamoured
Glass Mountain
gnomes
goblin
the Goddess
gooly-doll
goro-jumo
the Governance of Babylon
Gradlon
grand-maman, Grand-maman
the Green Man’s barn
Gretchen, Clever Gretchen (not Gretel)
Graywand
Grimalka
the Guardian of the Gate
gwisin

H

hags
haints
the Hanged God
Hans
heavenreich
Hel
Lady Hel
Helen V.
Helheim
Hello Kitty
hen-wife
Her Absent Majesty
Her Absent Majesty’s Dragon Corps
herm
hex-house
hex-word
hippocamp
hippogriffs
hobs
hob-lanterns
the holey stone
Homie
Annie Hop-the-Fence
the Horn of Holmdel
horned-god’s paintbrush
the horns of Elfland
Hot-Box Hannah
Hôtel de la Gare
Hour of the Bat
Hour of the Snake
hulder
humblebees
humminggirls
Hyperuranion

I

imps
the Industrial Revelation (not Revolution)
Information Technology
Innis Thule
Innis Thule AFB
Innocent Jenny
The Interbahn
iPad
Lady Jane Iron (Acting Chief Conspirator)
Istledown
the Italian Quarter

J

jack roller
Jeremy
Jill
Josie
jungle buzzard

K

Ana Kashalyi (Temporary Head Conspirator)
Kawasaki Fūjin
kelpie
Kernunnos
kingsfoil
Kit Kats, Kit Kat bar
kobold, kobold’s carry
korrigans
Kraken-class submersible

L

the Labrys and the Maze
Lemuria, Lemurian  
Les Miz
Letzpfenniger
ley lines
license of persecution  
lingam
Lion City
Llys Helig
Lolly Underpool
Loosh
the Lords of the Forge
the Lords of the Rails, a Lady of the Rails
love-philtres
the Lurker Within
lutin
lux aeterna

M

madhouse mirror (not funhouse mirror)
Maeve
magic, magick, magickal, magicks, magicked (depending on usage) CHECK!
Maglite
Lord Maker (the Demiurge)
Mandrake Chews
Marlboro
the marthambles
martlet
Meririm Phosphoros
Meryl
metasequoias
Minerva
Misabel
Miss Moneypenny
Missy Tibbs, Tibbsy
Mistress Nobody
Mjibilandege (City Without Birds)
monocorn
moondust (drug)
moon melons (not moonmelons)
Mother Eve
Mother of Goats
Mother Sunshine (Helen)
Mu

N

naginis
Fata Narcisse of House Syrinx
necromancers
Ned, Neddie-boy
Nettlesweet Underwood, Nettie
Niederdeutsch
nightmare (drug)
night market
Noctiluca
Nuit de Crystal
nymph 

O
Oceanus
ogre, ogres, ogress
Olous
oliphaunt
Olympia
Orlando (Raven)

P

pain perdu
paradise
Patek Tank Américaine
pattern juggler
Pavlopetri
Pepsi
Perdita
Pheia
the Plague Carnival
Lord Pleiades (Barquentine)
poppet
Port Royal
Port Salemo
Portunus (mask)
Powers

Q

Queen Mab’s lace
Queenie
Quicksilver of House Carcassonne
quintroon

R

Rabbit of House Oneiros, Rabbit
Raguel
rattler
Raven, Orlando
reptilarium
Le Républicain Salemo
revenants
Ritz Crackers
Rodolphe
Rosaleen
Royal Harlindon (regimental tie)
runagate
rune sticks
Rungholt
rusalka

S

Saeftinghe
Samsāra
rue Saint-Jean
Samgrass
Sans Merci (Lord San Merci, Lady Sans Merci, Chateau Sans Merci, Charlotte of House Sans Merci, Captain Senile, etc.)
Saoirse
Sasha, the Frost Queen
Satie’s Gnossiennes
satyrs
Scrabble
Scythian lamb
sea-elves
sea-nymphs
the Second Kentauroi War
seely (holy)
selkies
the seven hells
Shipping and Receiving
Shorty, Aurvang Hogback
Shylock
Sibyl
the Siege of Mount Othrys
Singer
sirens
Peggy Slugabed
smoke spirits
Snake
soul surgeons
snow sprites
sphinx cubs
old Spite
spirit candle
steroma
surgeon-archimage
swamp gaunt
sweetling (endearment applied by Finn to Caitlin)
sylvans
House Syrinx

T

Tartessos
Temporary Head Conspirator (Ana Kashalyi)
Themis, Feller, Garuda, and Bran
Thonis Heracleion
thumblings
tian
titans
toadflax
toadflesh
trow
twiglady
Tylwyth Teg, Teggish (adj.)
Tyrannosaurus


U

Ultima Thule
unicorn
the Unseely Court
the Upstairs Crew
urym lens and thummyn stone

V

Velcro
Veneta
Via Regina di Mago

W

the Wall of Martyrs
the Wędrowiec Zmroku [Dusk Treader]
wharf pixies
white ladies (a flower)
the White Ladies
Whitemarsh
Will
the Winged God
Wonder Wand
woods-fey
woodwoses
Word of Power
World’s End
Worm (dragon)
wraiths
writ of anathema
writ of dowagerhood  
wyvern

X

Xerox

Y

the Year Eater
Ys
Ysault

Z

Zmeya-Gorynchna, of the line of Zmeya-Goryschena, of the line of Gorgon, Zmeya-Gorynchna, 1108, the Worm 


Above: There's my desk with the typescript of a much earlier chapter and, atop it, the cloth-covered second dedicated notebook for the novel and my current carrying-around notebook, open to a significant page.

*

Monday, January 23, 2017

Gehenna Part 4 (Part A)

.



We have been, you and I, writing a story online. As you will recall, so far it has almost 250 words and a tentative title -- which will likely change when we figure out what the story's about. But right now, we're set on making a good beginning.

Here's the story so far:

Gehenna

The city had been frozen in time. The moon hung, a thin disk of ice, as unchanging as the afternoon sun. Birds were motionless specks in the sky. You could climb the smoke billowing from its chimneys halfway up to heaven and there, perhaps, discover an unimaginable nation living on the clouds just an hour's effort above the mundane world.

Gehenna Immaculata stared at the city from the vantage of the topmost branches of the tallest oak in the adjacent forest. She had no history or philosophy or even peasant morality to help her put what she saw in context. She was illiterate.

She only knew what she wanted.

So far, we have a tableau. Now let's move this into the realm of fiction. Last week, I asked what Immaculata wanted and as of when I sat down to write, got no suggestions. So I made her desire as basic as I could:

Which was food.

Hunger drove Gehenna down the tree almost as fast as a squirrel, despite her many aches and bruises. Luckily, no bones were broken. So the only disability she suffered was pain -- and pain was hunger's handmaiden.

From the ground, the city was invisible. But Gehenna had noted that if she lined up a nearby beech with a distant stob, she could follow that line straight to its heart. Not half an hour later she burst free of the forest.

I've been so busy of late that I've even missed a couple of my regularly-scheduled posts. So I haven't rewritten the above. But the sharp-eyed will note that I changed "staub" to "stob," which is the correct spelling for the thing. (It means stump or stake or post. Though in this context, it's deead, almost branchless tree, which was what the State Historical Archaeologist of Delaware was pointing to the first time I heard the word; presumably, the usage is regional.)

For those of you following this series hoping I'll let drop some casual writing advice, here's a tidbit: At some point before you declare a story done, you should look up all the odd words you use in it. Don't trust your memory. Odds are, you picked up the word in your voluminous reading and never thought to run it past a dictionary.

There's a good chance I'll write the word out of the final draft. But for now, we'll let it stand. This is a fantasy and fantasies can withstand odd and archaic words better than most fiction.


And possibly tomorrow... 

I'll post new material soon. Possibly tomorrow, Wednesday at the worst. Right now I'm working on the Novel and getting so much done that my shoulders ache and my brain hurts. So, although I know what I want to add, I simply don' have the time and energy to add it.

Out of politeness, I apologize. But, really, the novel has priority. My agent could explain this to you.


Above: Illustration by me. Now you know why I'm not in the visual arts.


*

Friday, January 20, 2017

Boskone! Boskone! Boskone!

.



Yes, once again, I'm going to be going to the sunny tropical paradise that is Boston in February to attend Boskone (February 17-19). Believe it or not, I always have fun at Boskone. The snow is irrelevant. Usually.

If you're going too, be sure to say hi.  Here's my schedule:

Nonlinear Narratives
Friday 17:00 - 18:00, Burroughs (Westin)

Beginning ... middle ... end. That’s a narrative, right? What about those stories that loop around, flash back, and wander off into other perspectives? Our panelists explore the delights and pitfalls of the nonlinear narrative: discussing reasons for writing them, challenges along the way, and their own favorite examples.

KT Bryski, Max Gladstone, Charles Stross (M), Michael Swanwick, Sarah Smith

Achilles Needs a Heel: The Problem With Power
Friday 19:00 - 20:00, Harbor III (Westin)

Would Achilles be as valiant if he were truly invulnerable? (Or, instead of dying a tragic hero, would he still be acting like a psychopathic adolescent 30 years after Troy?) Can power without vulnerability keep your interest? Do some stories turn into mere puzzle pieces about searching for the chink in the protagonist's armor? What sorts of weakness make the most engaging heroes or heroines?

Michael Swanwick, Greer Gilman, Paul Di Filippo, Vincent O'Neil (M), Brendan DuBois

50 Minutes of Bad Advice
Saturday 12:00 - 13:00, Harbor II (Westin)

Everyone has advice to give ... especially to aspiring creative types. However, that doesn't make it good advice. In the realm of "She said what? LOL!" — without naming names, our panelists share some of the best bad advice they received when first venturing into writing, editing, or art. Did they listen? Did it help?


Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Michael Swanwick, Fran Wilde (M), Ellen Asher, Ginjer Buchanan

My Gateway Book
Saturday 16:00 - 17:00, Harbor III (Westin)

We each discuss the work — often but not always a children’s or young adult book — that first fired us up about science fiction, fantasy, or horror. For our Guest of Honor Brandon Sanderson, it’s Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly. How about you, audience member? What do you remember about that first genre work? What if anything made it special? What did you do next? Have you ever reread it? Did it keep the magic?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Daniel Hatch, Elizabeth Bear, Michael Swanwick (M), Ellen Asher

How Stories End
Sunday 14:00 - 15:00, Marina 2 (Westin)

Heinlein often rushed his finales. Planet of the Apes ends with a truly monumental twist. Rowling took seven books to set up the boss fight with Mr. Slitsnout. What’s your favorite finish? How do writers finesse the final strokes of their stories? How do readers respond? (Warning: by definition, this panel is Spoiler Central.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Michael Swanwick (M) , Greer Gilman, J. M. McDermott



Above: This genuine image of Boston in February two years ago was swiped from CBS News. You can read more here.

*