Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Writers and the Mail


Writers have a passionate relationship with the mail. I recall visiting a friend who was a writer and who lived in an apartment where he could hear when the mailman delivered the mail. We'd be talking, there'd be the sound of mail, and up he'd leap. If his wife was there, she'd snap, "Sit down! The mail will be there later. Why do you always have to make such a fuss over the mail?"

Then my friend's wife made her first sale. And my friend was never again the first person to reach the mailbox.

All of which is prelude to my saying... Look what came in the mail!  It's the Subterranean Press limited, oversized edition of Rogues, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Slipcased, with a stellar lineup of fiction, and a cover and interior illustrations, all pretty nifty, by Ken Laager.  Autographed by both editors and all the authors. Issued in a limited edition and a lettered edition, both rather pricey and both already sold out. Pretty much immediately, apparently.

Luckily for me, I had "Tawny Petticoats," a Darger & Surplus story in the volume, so now I own a copy.

I also get money in the mail. But it's little perks like this that make the whole process so much fun.


Monday, November 23, 2015

A Question

Is it the function of science fiction to Tell The Truth? Or to Provoke Thought?

I ask because I have not the least idea what the answer is.

Do you?


Friday, November 20, 2015

The Phantom in the Maze


"The Phantom in the Maze," the seventh and newest story in my Mongolian Wizard series is coming soon from Of it, I shall only say that it marks a significant turn in the wizard war enveloping Europa. With this story, the essential parameters of the series have all been established. The as-yet-unwritten stories will chronicle the consequences of decisions that have already been made.

One of the great pleasures of this series for me is that the good people at Tor have paid Gregory Manchess to illustrate them, and he's done fantastic job with the assignments. Over at the Muddy Colors blog, he's posted the illo for my story (that's it above), along with notes of the process by which he found the images he wanted and how they ultimately came together.

One of many things I like about this illustration is how many plot elements of the story it contains without giving a single one of them away. When the story comes out, I advise that you look at it carefully and then, after reading the story, look at it again. It really is a very different image when you know what's going on.

You can read Manchess's blog post here.

And as usual, this time of year...

I'll be at Philcon in Cherry Hill pretty much all weekend. If you're there, be sue to say hi.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Philcon Schedule


Philcon is this weekend and, as usual, I'll be there. Here's my schedule. But if you want to say hi, you can just walk up to me pretty much anytime. I'm a pretty easy-going guy.

Fri 7:00 PM in Plaza II (Two) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Michael Swanwick (mod), Ken Altabef, Anastasia
Klimchynskaya, Christie Meierz, Alexis Gilliland]

Discussing the scientific rationales in fantasy worlds. Who created
the most coherent and believable premises for how their worlds

Sat 2:00 PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Dina Leacock (mod), Michael Swanwick, Michael F. Flynn,
Marilyn Brahen, Gordon Linzner, Robert Kauffmann]

You need a beginning, middle and end...but not necessarily in that
order. How do you avoid losing a reader's interest when you're
telling a story in a non-linear manner

Sat 7:00 PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Michael Swanwick (mod), A.T. Greenblatt, April Grey, Ken

Is the way writers of fantastic fiction use their life experiences
in their work inherently different from the way mainstream writers
apply it

Sat 9:00 PM in Plaza IV (Four) (1 hour)

[Panelists: David M. Axler (mod), Michael Swanwick, Neil Clarke]

They're intended to reward quality and ensure that outstanding
writers of an overlooked genre received proper recognition, but are
they still serving that purpose? Or have our awards become nothing
more than a popularity contest


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Christopher Morley in the Twenty-first Century

I have on hand a copy of Christopher Morley's collection of essays,  Plum Pudding. There is a particular pleasure to reading the the urbane Mr. Morley with an iPad in hand. When he writes (the book was published in 1921, remenber) that as a lunch-place the American Hotel was worth adding to the private list of those in which the Three Hours for Lunch Club was serenely happy -- "Consider corned beef hash, with fried egg, excellent, for 25 cents" -- one immediately googles the hotel's name and city... Only to discover that it was destroyed in a three-alarm fire in 1981. Many of the guests and tenants, the article states, took refuge in the Clam Broth House.

Which turns out to have been a cultural landmark of Hoboken since the dawn of the Twentieth Century, when it was a bar and restaurant for dock workers. The floor was covered with sawdust and discarded clam shells, and there was an enormous coffee urn at the bar dispensing free clam broth. The beer was served ice cold.

All of the above was nostalgically recalled in the comments section under an article about how the Clam Broth House had been rehabbed, sold, and reopened as a Biggie's Clam Bar. The writer also reminisced that through the 1970s, a holdover of Victorian standards, women were allowed in the restaurant but not in the bar.

Some people can get nostalgic about ANYthing.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Guess What Made the Kirkus Best Fiction List!


I received some pleasant news today.  Chasing the Phoenix is one of eleven books on the Kirkus Reviews list of the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2015. Which apparently automatically also put it onto their list of the 100 Best Fiction Books of 2015. Because there it is as well.

So I am happy for me and hope you are too.

You can see the long list starting here. You can read the genre list here. And you can read Kirkus's original review here.

Somewhere in the back of my head, however, I can hear Darger and Surplus muttering to one another, trying to work up a scheme to turn this to their advantage.

Oh, and...

Congratulations are due to the others on the science fiction and fantasy list: Carolyn Ives Gilman, Scott Hawkins, C. A. Higgins, Ann Leckie, Cixin Liu (and translator Joel Martinsen), China MiƩville, Natasha Pulley, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, and Robert Charles Wilson.

Doesn't that list of names make you want to take the afternoon off and do nothing but read? I honestly think you should. Tell your boss that I said it was okay.


Friday, November 13, 2015

This Rich Life

I put in a long day finishing up various small projects and then went into town to see my tailor this afternoon. Traffic was with us, so Marianne had time to drop into Blick's, the only art supply store in the world located on the site of Thomas Eakins's studio, to pick up some book binding supplies. Later, on the way to the Pen & Pencil Club, to confab with Gardner Dozois and other cronies, we saw the First City Troop, in full regalia waiting outside the Union League for some event, while a very elegant man, who was surely a high functionary of the League stood on the steps regarding their horses with dismay. Up and down Broad Street colored lights were playing on the building facades.

It's a rich life we lead and a strange world we live it in. Let's keep it that way.