Friday, February 24, 2017
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
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
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
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:
"The Edge of the World"
"The Changeling's Tale"
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
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.
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
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:
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
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:
Above: This genuine image of Boston in February two years ago was swiped from CBS News. You can read more here.