Monday, August 29, 2016

A Strange Person To Encounter In Somebody Else's Story


It is a strange thing to encounter one's own name in a story written by somebody else. But that's exactly what happened to me on the plane home from Kansas City. I was reading Jeffrey Ford's new collection A Natural History of Hell. Which is, so far, brilliant. I've always loved this guy's short fiction but it seems that over the years he's gotten better and better at it. My chances o getting a Locus Award for best collection next year may have just gone down.

Anyway, I had just started reading "Rocket Ship to Hell" which I had somehow missed on its first publication, when I came across the line, "Somewhere along the line Michael Swanwick told me I should check out Fritz Leiber's Our Lady of Darkness."

Wow! I remember that, too. It happened in 2001 at the Millennial Philcon, as that year's Worldcon was called. Jeff and I were talking literature (we're funny in that way; most writers don't) and when I discovered he hadn't read that book, I felt an extraordinary rush of pleasure at knowing that I was about to recommend a work to a writer who was the perfect reader for that astonishing book.

I remember also that on the way out of the convention, I stopped in the dealer's room and bought that exact same Ace Double he mentions in the story for, I think, a buck-fifty. If I'd known it was such a rarity, I'd have read it immediately. But as it is, it's languishing unread somewhere among my books, possibly in the cartons I boxed up when the shelves began to overflow. I should go looking for it one of these days.

And speaking of MidAmeriCon...

Over at PositronChicago. com, there's a recap of one of the panels I was on. This one was "Does SF Still Affect the Way We Think about the Future?" I'm always grateful for evidence that I managed to say something intelligent on a panel -- and I was far from being the only one.

You can read the recap here.

Above: There it is, the distinguished book, Jeff's collection, floating in the airliner window of the American night.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ruled By Mummers!

Tom Purdom, the dean of Philadelphia science fiction writers and a friend of long standing, likes to mix up his reviews with the occasional astonishing choice. I am thinking, obviously, of the time he reviewed War and Peace as he would have were it a new release.

Well, Tom has done it again. This time, he's reviewed my first novel, In the Drift, first published over thirty years ago. He is kinder to it than I would have been (writers are hard on their firstborn), and careful to mention that I did get better later on.

The man's a mensch.

You can read his review here.

And, as Tom says, the ebook is available from Open Road Media.

And as long as I'm bragging...

Rave reviews keep pouring in for my new collection, Not So Much, Said the Cat. Perhaps most touching is the Locus review wherein the always-generous (a status I suspect he maintains by the simple expedient of not reviewing books he dislikes) Paul Di Filippo reviews every single one of the book's seventeen stories.

You can read it here. Or just go to and wander around. Always a worthwhile thing to do.

Meanwhile, over at the Open Book Society site, my collection got a five star review and so much effusive praise that I would blush to repeat a fraction of it. If this goes on -- but the reviewing season is almost over, so it won't -- I will begin to put on airs.

You can read the review here.

And as always...

I'm still on the road again. Which is why, what with misplaced adaptors and long car rides and the like, Wednesday's post is a day late. I apologize for that. Tomorrow's may be late too, since I'm flying home then. But I'll do my best to get something up.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

In the Land of the Great Spiders


I missed yesterday's post. Mea culpa. As always, I was on the road again, this time from Kansas City, MO to Eureka Springs, AK. So while I should have been blogging, I was gawking at the art in the Crystal Springs Museum, often informally called the Walmart Museum because that's where the money comes from.

As you can see, it has one enormous Louise Bourgeois spider. I love those things. Especially since she's said that they're representations of her mother.

The museum specializes in the best American art that money can buy. (With the occasional foreign exception, such as Maman, above.) It has the original Norman Rockwell painting of Rosie the Riveter which, while you could quibble about this or that aspect, stands up well surrounded by august competition.

I could bore you forever about the artworks I particularly love. But I won't. Instead, I'll simply observe that, having started only recently, the museum's curators have made a conscious effort to include women and non-white artists in numbers more closely representing their accomplishments in the visual arts.

Strongly recommended, next time you're in this part of Arkansas.

But enough about not-me...

The good folks at Tachyon Publications have put together more excerpts from the many rave reviews of my brilliant new collection Not So Much, Said the Cat. You can read them here.

I have no idea why you'd want to, mind. But how nice for me that they exist!


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hanging With The Losers


Today is the final day of MidAmeriCon II. Tomorrow I dwindle to the stature of ex-guest of honor. Sic semper egoboo.

But last night I was at George Martin's Hugo Losers Party in the glorious Midland Theater. My God, what a beautiful building!The photo above, showing two of the drink stations, doesn't begin to do it justice.  Kyle Cassidy was there, photographing guests. (Joe and Gay Haldeman looked particularly distinguished -- or would have, if Joe weren't wearing a lobster hat.) The Black Crack Revue laid down some serious music. The drinks were free (or, as one sign read, "on the house, courtesy of Random House!"). The company was really, really good.

Do I have to mention Robert Silverberg to convince you of that last part? Marianne and I also got the chance to spend some time with Sebastien and Christine de Castell and caught a fleeting glimpse of the elusive Fran Wilde. Among many, many other friends. So we were content.

Today's final two items (drum roll, please!) are:

2:00 p.m.
MidAmeriCon I: A Conversation
Pat Cadigan, George Martin, and I talk about our very different experiences at the original Kansas City Worldcon.
Tucker Stage (3501A)

4:00 p.m.
Closing Ceremonies
My temporary godhood is removed from me and I dwindle into the West.

People keep asking me, so for the record: Yes, I had a great time. Yes, the con committee treated me well. And I'm grateful on both counts.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Moment of Glory Nears Its Appointed End


Tomorrow is the last day of MidAmeriCon II and on Monday I will dwindle to the stature of former guest of honor.

But in the meantime, life is a hoot. Up above is a photo of me with Sheila Gilbert (left) and Betsy Wollheim, both of DAW Books. Meeting them was a much bigger deal for me than, I'm sure, it was for them. But I have no problem with that.

And now for today's schedule:

11:000 a.m.
Room 2202

2:00 0 2:30 p.m.
Tachyon Booth, Huckster Room

3:00 p.m.
The Secret History of Science Fiction
Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Gordon Van Gelder, Eileen Gunn, and I share the kind of scandal and gossip that doesn't get written down about the founding greats of science fiction

4:00 p.m.
In Memoriam, David Hartwell
David's untimely death left a big hole in the field Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Tom Doherty and I (and probably one or two others to sub for Gardner Dozois and Kathryn Cramer, who, alas, couldn't attend) reminisce fondly about the virtues and eccentricities of one of the most significant editors in the field.

And I'll be the Hugo ceremony, but not giving out any of the awards. Presumably that will all be taken care of by everybody's favorite firecracker, the on-beyond-irrepressible Pat Cadigan, who is this year''s Toastmaster.

And there's still more to come!


Friday, August 19, 2016

The Van and I


In 1976, I painted a dragon on the side of a panel truck and ten or so friends and I piled in and drove to MidAmeriCon.  We had a blast. Now I'm at MidAmeriCon II and for my guest of honor display the committee found a period van to stand in for it. There I am, up above, beside it.

I refuse to say, "What a long, strange trip it's been."

Meanwhile, I've already done the morning Stroll With the Stars event. Here's the rest of today's schedule:

11:00 a.m.
Kansas City Convention Center Autographing Space

2:00 p.m.
Room 2210
Short Fiction of the 1980s
With Gordon Van Gelder, John Kessel, Ellen Datlow, Jo Walton. And if that lineup doesn't sell it for you, nothing will.

5:00 p.m.
Room 2207
Coode Street Podcast
Jonathan Strahan & Gary Wolfe moderators. Kij Johnson & I discuss the craft behind James Tiptree Jr.'s "The Women Men Don't See."

7:00 p.m.
Hard Fantasy -- Does It Exist?
Preston Grassmann, Seastien de Castell, Laurel Anne Hill, Courtney Schafer & I settle the question once and for all.

And there's more to come tomorrow! Sometime after I get home, I'll do an annotation of the items on display in the van.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

If You're Going Out Tonight, You Could Do It In Worse Places Than Kansas City.


So Tuesday night I was in a speakeasy in Kansas City. You entered through an alleyway reeking of stale cooking oil and rancid dumpsters, the ambiance was murky, the waitstaff had stern words to say if you used your cell phone to try to read the menu, and the drinks were good. Last night, I went to a steakhouse (the barbecue joints were all booked solid) with dear friends and caught up with years of missing event. And so, I hope, my evenings will go for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, at the Worldcon, I did a bookstore reading, was on an SRO panel on the contemporary influence of science fiction, and was a small part of the opening ceremonies for MidAmeriCon. (Briefly, I reminisced on sitting in the back row 40 years ago, with the bad kids who smoked and used naughty words... and if you want to know what conclusions I drew, you'll just have to have been there.)

Tomorrow, my official schedule is:

1:00 p.m.
What's New in the World of Dinosaurs
My fellow panelists are all knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I may not get a word in edgewise. Oughta be great.

4:00 p.m.
Being Michael Swanwick
My guest of honor interview. By Fran Wilde. With luck, I'll say something interesting.

8:00 p.m.
Literary Beer
People who have signed up for this get to share a beer with me and ask whatever they'd like to know. This is always fun and often surprising.

Stay tuned for more!

Above: There it is, the well-made martini, glowing in the light of its own perfection. Notice that it has but one olive. No more are needed.