Monday, September 26, 2016

My Geek's Guide to the Galaxy Interview

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For everything there is a season and as we move gratefully into autumn, the promotional season for Not So Much, Said the Cat is drawing to a close. And what better way to close out the season than with a good long interview at Geek's Guide to the Galaxy?

The interview focuses on the collection, but it covers a lot of ground along the way. Here's an excerpt:

“I have one story which I began in 1973 and I still haven’t finished it. … I wrote a story with William Gibson back in the early ’80s, called ‘Dogfight.’ We did the ‘hot typewriter method,’ which is where you hold onto the story for a month, and during that month you can make any changes whatsoever—you can change the main character’s gender, you can change the plot, you can change anything. And then at the end of the month you send it to the other person. … So there were things that I put into the story that Bill Gibson just took out. He’d send it back to me, and I’d put that thing back in and send it to him, and he would take it out again. … And when the story was done, I had a number of things that he had taken out, and I came up with a different idea for a story and I started writing it. … And I have not found the central plot of it yet. It’s a story called ‘Robot.’ So that’s about 33 years old, that story.”

You can hear it here or read parts of it here.


And speaking of closing out the season...

My final public appearance promoting the book was also my first such in the Philadelphia area. It was held yesterday at Main Point Books in Wayne. It was a very pleasant event and I ran into some old friends there.

Main Point Books moved recently, and their new store is beautiful. If you're in the area, I encourage you to stop by and read a book. I bought Death's End by Cixin Liu. Because I wouldn't tell you to do something I wouldn't do myself.


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Friday, September 23, 2016

Art-in-a-Box

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The world, as Robert Lewis Stevenson famously said, is full of a number of things...

Today, I am happy as kings because Marianne gave me a reproduction of Marcel Duchamp's "Boîte-en-valise."

The original "box-in-a-valise" was a museum in a box, containing miniatures or reproductions of all of Duchamp's most famous works. It was created in the 1940s and Duchamp eventually made (with the help pf Joseph Cornell) and sold some 300 of them.

Duchamp is best known, perhaps, for signing a urinal and submitting it to a major art exhibition under the title "Fountain," an act widely taken as establishing that art was anything an artist said it was. (To my mind, it would have been a far more subversive act had he signed the urinal with his own name rather than a scrawled "R. Mutt," but that chapter of the art history books has already been written.) But "Boîte-en-valise" was a shrewder response to the artistic winds of his times.

An artist I know likes to say that the history of art in the 20th Century is all a hysterical reaction to the inventions of photography and mass-produced images. Who needs a Courbet when an Instamatic and a willing subject will get you the same results at a fraction of the cost? Why spend a fortune on an original Paul Émile Chabas when a mail-order poster looks just as good? 

This explains a lot of things, including landscape art, performance art, and the flight from representation. 

Duchamp, more canny than most, embraced the mass-production of art -- to a degree. It was a shrewd move.

And there's no getting around the fact that the box is a fun little toy to play with.



Above: There it is, the distinguished thing. Not the miniature "Fountain" at the lower left.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

SUNDAY! At Main Point Books!!!

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The promotional season for my newest and most highly-praised collection, Not So Much, Said the Cat, is drawing to an end. So what better time for my Philadelphia area book launch?

Authors of my generation are notoriously bad at self-promotion. So here's how the good people at Tachyon Publications put it:

Join five-time Hugo Award-winner Michael Swanwick in celebration of his new collection NOT SO MUCH, SAID THE CAT at Main Point Books (Wayne, PA) on Sunday, September 25 at 4:00 PM.

Main Point Books is a terrific bookstore and they've just moved into their new digs in Wayne. So this is your chance to scope 'em out, hear something from my collection, and decide if if's something you need to buy or not.

Told ya I'm lousy at self-promotion.


And since you're in the mood for an interview...

In just two days, you'll be able to hear me on Geek's Guide to the Galaxy. I was interviewed at length about the new collection. 

You can find the link here. Or just go to the webpage here and poke around. It's a very cool site.


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Friday, September 16, 2016

Lexicon Under Construction

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I am busily beavering away at The Iron Dragon's Mother these days. So I don't have a lot of news to report, except things like:

I moved my fingers on the keyboard a lot today.

More keyboard action.

Yep. Still writing.

But if you want to get a sense of what I'm up to, maybe the following partial lexicon will help. As I write, I keep a list of neologisms, proper names, and odd words as an aid to the eventual proofreader. Also to make sure I remain consistent.

Here's where the word-hoard stands at present:

A

the Abyss
the Academy
Aerth
Aerugo
Aleister Crowley
Alqualondë
the Amberwine
Lieutenant Anthea
Ashling
Astarte
Atil-Khazaran
Atlantean
Aurvang Hogback, Shorty (a red dwarf)
Averno


B

banshees
basilisk
bat-riders
the Battle of Zhoulu
Beltaine
Ben Morgh
Bessie Long Gone
birth-gate
the Black Stone
the Bohemian coast
Bolshy Kitezh
the Book of Air
the Book of Steel
Brianna
Brocielande, Brocielandean (adj.)
bullbeggar


C

Caitlin of House Sans Merci, Caitlin, Katiboo
Candlemas-daisies
centaurs
Château Sans Merci
Clever Gretchen, Gretchen
Cockaygne
the Conquest of Penthesilea
Corpse-Eater Squadron
crone, crones
cyborg hounds


D

Daughter of Night
Daughters of Lilith
Declaration of Corruption
the Dogger Bank
the Dowager
Dunvegan, the flag of
Dvārakā


E

Eidum
Elektra, daughter of Olympia, daughter of Hephaesta, of the line of Hekate
elf, elf-lady, full-elven
the Empyrean
Esme
Eve, Mother Eve
Evoe
the Examiner


F

feriers
Fingolfinrhod, Rod, Roddie, Fin-fin
Fiona
Wing Commander Firedrake
fire-giantess
fire spirits
fire-worms
Dame Fortuna


G

the Garden
Gatling gun
Gdansk
geas
gendarmerie
gillyflowers
Louise Glück
the Governance of Babylon
Gretchen, Clever Gretchen [not Gretel!]
Graywand
Grimalka
the Guardian of the Gate
gwisin


H

haints
the Hanged God
Hans
heavenreich
Lady Hel
Helen V.
Helheim
hex-house
hex-word
hippocamp
Her Absent Majesty’s Dragon Corps
hobs
hob-lanterns
horned-god’s paintbrush
the horns of Elfland
Hot-Box Hannah
hulder
humble-bees


I

the Industrial Revolution
Innis Thule
Innis Thule AFB

J

jack roller
jungle buzzard


K

Kawasaki Fūjin
Kernunnos
kobold, kobold’s carry

L

Lemurian
Lion City
Llys Helig
Loosh
the Lords of the Forge
the Lords of the Rails, a Lady of the Rails
Lucius Shepard
the Lurker Within
lux aeterna

M

Maeve
magic, magick, magickal, magicks (depending on usage)
Meririm Phosphoros
Meryl
Monocorn
moondust  
Mother Eve
Mother Sunshine  

N

naginis
Fata Narcisse of House Syrinx
Nettlesweet Underwood, Nettie
nightmare  
Nuit de Crystal


O

ogres
Olous
Olympia


P

Patek Tank Américaine
Pavlopetri
Perdita
Pheia
poppet
Port Royal
Power


Q

Queen Mab’s lace
Quicksilver of House Carcassonne


R

Rabbit of House Oneiros
rattler
Raven
Rungholt
rusalka


S

Saeftinghe
Samsāra
Sans Merci (Lord San Merci, Lady Sans Merci, Chateau Sans Merci, Charlotte of House Sans Merci, etc.)
Saoirse
Satie’s Gnossiennes
satyrs
Scythian lamb
the Second Kentauroi War
Shorty, Aurvang Hogback
the Siege of Mount Othrys
sirens
Snake
snow sprites
old Spite
spirit candle
surgeon-archimage
sweetling  


T

Tartessos
Thonis Heracleion
thumblings
tian
titans
toadflax
Tylwyth Teg, Teggish (adj.)


U

Ultima Thule
Unicorns
urym lens and thummyn stone


V

Velcro
Veneta


W

the Wędrowiec Zmroku  
white ladies (a flower)
the White Ladies
woods-fey
Word of Power
Worm (dragon)
wyvern


Y

Ys
Ysault


Z

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


The final list, I'm sure, will be much longer.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Reasons To Be A Writer

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Actually, the list is extremely short. There are only two reasons anybody would want to be a writer.

Here they are:

1. There is no alternative. You absolutely have to be a writer -- and if you can't be a writer, you'll be a failed writer, one of those people who write every day of their lives and never get published.

2. You get to set your own schedule. If it's a hot, sunny day in September, you can just take off for the beach.

Speaking of which...

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Thinking Outside the Universe Box

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I was present, years ago, when Michael Dirda first visited Gardner Dozois' and Susan Casper's house. Michael examined the bookshelves and exclaimed, "Gardner, I don't think I've ever seen a collection of books looking so delightfully read!"

"I buys 'em to read 'em," Gardner replied.

Not all that long ago, Dragonstairs Press published Universe Boxes, a series of art assemblages containing a beautifully made stab-bound book of my novelette, "Universe Box." Each cigar box's contents were unique to that box (though some were common to all), they were quite reasonably priced as these things go, and only thirteen were made, of which ten were offered for sale.

Tres collectable.

But much in the spirit of Gardner Dozois, I writes 'em so people can read 'em. Particularly when a story is as much fun (it contains cosmic powers and giraffe wranglers) as this one turned out to be. So I resolved to sell it to one of the genre magazines just as soon as the collectable version sold out.

The Universe Boxes sold out in three and a half minutes.

So, long story short, I've sold "Universe Box" to Asimov's. Keep watching the skies! It'll show up one of these months.


Above: There it is, the distinguished thing. Credit for the boxes is equally split between Marianne and me; I wrote the story and she did everything else. That was a fun project.

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Portrait of a Leaf

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It's rushing the season, I know. But autumn is coming. And so...


Portrait of a Leaf

I planned to die young and leave a beautiful corpse. But when summer turned scorching, I did my small best to shade my comrades from the sun. This is the result.

But I do not complain. Others gave, and suffered, more. I did what I could. That's enough.


Above: Leaf, both text and image, copyright 2016 by Michael Swanwick. Today's post is a day late simply because I had no notion what to post. This happens, unfortunately.

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