Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Devil's Bestiary

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Marianne Porter's nanopress imprint, Dragonstiars Press,  has just announced its latest chapbook!

The Devil's Bestiary, a dark, brooding, and occasionally scabrous piece of fun composed by your truly, will be made available for purchase tomorrow, Thursday April 9, at noon Philadelphia Time (that's 4 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time) at the Dragonstairs Press website, www.dragonstairs.com.

But not a minute before then.

Here's the official announcement:

The Devil's Bestiary is Michael Swanwick's cynical,whimsical take on twenty nine creatures of myth and fables.  It is 5 ½ inch square format, with an outer wrapper of hand-dyed kozo paper, hand-stitched, numbered, and signed by the author.  It is published in a limited edition of 45, of which 40 are available for sale.   

The signed and very limited edition chapbook will go for $12 in the USA and $14 elsewhere, postage included. (When I tell Marianne she's not charging enough, she just glares at me.)  Which means that it will sell out pretty much immediately.

It's a lovely thing and I'm proud, as the content provider, to own a copy.


And rather than buy a pig in a poke with a blind horse . . .

Here are a couple of typical entries from The Devil's Bestiary:


A thousand years ago, a demon grew tired of his existence and came down to Earth to surrender himself to the first saint he encountered. He’s still looking.


A ghoul was caught in the act of anthropophagy by a camera crew from the local Action News, who needed something sensational for sweeps week. He was tried by an ambitious D. A. and defended by a lawyer from the ACLU. The jury was hung, asnd he got off. But afterward? Afterward, it was lean times for him indeed. He was not allowed near graveyards and he could not stomach non-human flesh. Vegetarianism was out of the question. He almost starved to death before an innovative mortician offered him honest work.

Today he’s the picture of affluence. Respectable people pay extremely well for his services, for he returns the remains of their loved ones to the earth in the most environmentally responsible way imaginable.


Those, at the low-rez pic above, should tell you right away whether you need a copy or not.



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Monday, April 6, 2020

Defamiliarizing Faerie

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The Iron Dragon's Mother received a long, thoughtful, and positive review from Matt Hilliard in the March 30 issue of Strange Horizons. Rather than give you the usual pull-quote carefully excised from the corpus of the text, I thought I'd share with you one of Hilliard's observations:


That raises the question: what is Swanwick up to with this setting? If he wants to write fun faerie stories, why not just write about faeries the normal way? Or, since a valid way to describe this book is to say it’s “about a faerie fighter pilot, but it’s really about living in a corrupt world and dealing with death,” why not just write about corruption and death in the real world where both can be found in abundance? To answer the second question, a common defense of genre fiction is that both fantasy and science fiction give us a different perspective on things that don’t change. They defamiliarize the world around us by situating us in the future or a past that never existed, and in doing so they can teach us things about humanity that we wouldn’t otherwise have known.

It’s been sixty-five years since J. R. R. Tolkien published The Fellowship of the Ring and spawned a host of imitators, and for most of Swanwick’s readers, fantasy has become deeply familiar. If it’s too familiar, it no longer defamiliarizes. What to do? Some authors, such as those of the New Weird, responded by moving away from Tolkien’s folklore influences, pushing into stranger territory. Swanwick has done the opposite, hewing closely to the peoples and monsters of folklore traditions from around the world (albeit with the occasional references to Tolkien himself, as with Caitlin’s brother, named Fingolfinrhod). But by mixing together elves and Gucci handbags, dwarves and cigarettes, or dragons and jet fighters, Swanwick continually shifts the context his reader must use. Whenever you find yourself getting comfortable, the novel suddenly sounds like this: “With the easy, racist phrasing of his class, her brother said, ‘Well, the kobold is in the henhouse now, to be sure’” (p. 289).
Overall, the review is positive, the sort of thing that warms a writer's heart. Hilliard has some negative things to say along the way, but since they're based on a careful reading of the book I actually wrote, I don't see that I have any right to complain.

You can read the whole review here.  Or go to Strange Horizons here and wander around, maybe read a story or two while you're there.

Above: Cleaning office, I came across the above photo of myself at age 23, when I was new to Philadelphia and determined to be a science fiction writer. It captures my mood then pretty well.



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Friday, April 3, 2020

A Message From Chengdu

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My friend Renne, who works for Science Fiction World in Chengdu, China, gave me permission to share the above video. It was made by the science fiction community in Chengdu.  Here's what he says about it:

My friends and I made a little something for those we know around the world, and who are forced to stay home for the most part of day. Now that it’s clear that virus knows no borders, we feel like we should do something to counter its move. Of course, this is far from enough, we can never do what doctors and nurses did round the clock. Just maybe this little video would make things a tiny bit cheerful in these strange days.

I hope you have fun with this! 


And as long as I'm talking about China . . .

Like pretty much everyone else who has ever gone to China, I fell in love with the country and its people. The people are admirable (the science fiction community particularly so) and the country has sites of stunning beauty. Few who have stood on the Great Wall will ever forget the experience.

But my favorite spot in all of China is the Thatched Hut of Du Fu. Fifteen hundred years ago, the great poet, wrote a poem about it and as a result, tourists have been visiting the site for over a millennium. The grounds are as beautifully landscaped as the Chinese can manage, which is saying a lot, and the hut itself has been reconstructed, rebuilt, torn down, and raised back up repeatedly over the years. At one point it was as large as a palace. Now it's a simple hut again. I've visited it several times.

Du Fu knew more than his share of sorrow. He lived in a time of war. But he also wrote a poem that contains some of my favorite lines ever:

Since water still flows, though we cut it with swords,
And sorrow returns, though we drown it with wine,
Since the world can in no way conform to our desires,
Tomorrow I will let down my hair and go fishing.
    

Which is, I think, profound.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Mysteries of the Faceless King

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Coming soon from PS Publishing is The Mysteries of the Faceless King, the first of two volumes collecting the best of Darrell Schweitzer's short fiction. Beautifully made, with a cover by the estimable Jason Van Hollander.

Also, an introduction by (cough) me. Here's how that begins:

Once upon a time . . .None of the stories collected herein begin with those words, though some come close. But they might as well. For Darrell Schweitzer writes a very traditional sort of story. His fiction is almost always fantasy, which is a mode nested deep in the roots of Story; usually horror, a mode as old as nightmares; and very often weird fantasy, a much more recent mode but one that is dear to his heart. Most could have been written a hundred years ago—or, with equal ease, a hundred years in the future. This is not a criticism. Timelessness is precisely what he is after.

PS Publishing has posted the entirety of the introduction online, preparatory to publication of the book sometime this month. So if you're curious as to what I said, you have only two options. You can buy the book. Or you can read the intro online for free.

But if you don't buy the book, you won't get the stories. You're in a quandary.

You can find the entire introductory essay here. Or you can just go to the PS Publishing website and wander about, marveling at how many of their books you want by clicking here.


And I should remind you . . .

The ebook of The Iron Dragon's Daughter, the first of three stand-alone fantasies in the Iron Dragons Trilogy, goes on sale tomorrow (Wednesday, April 1, 2020) for the one day only for only $1.99. That's a good deal. But only tomorrow and only in Canada and the US.


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Monday, March 30, 2020

Didn't We Just Do This?

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And the answer is: Yes, we did. Last week. But Open Road Media is putting The Iron Dragon's Daughter on e-sale again. $1.99 on this Wednesday, April 1, only. I don't have to tell you what holiday that is. But apparently they really mean it.

I expect most people who read this blog and wanted an e-copy of that book got one during last week's sale. But I publicize the event for two reasons:

1) Writers should always be as cooperative to their publishers as they can stand being.

2) Maybe the reason for this promotion is that they're putting a lot of books on sale at once.

If you're an ebook reader, you might want to look into the second possibility. Or maybe subscribe to one of the newsletters below.

Here's the e-letter they sent me, with all the boilerplate:
                         
Dear Michael Swanwick,

We are pleased to let you know that the following ebook(s) will be featured in price promotions soon.


ISBN13 Title Author Promo Type Country Start Date End Date Promo Price
9781504025669 The Iron Dragon's Daughter Swanwick, Michael ORM - Portalist NL US 2020-04-01 2020-04-01 $1.99
9781504025669 The Iron Dragon's Daughter Swanwick, Michael ORM - Portalist NL CA 2020-04-01 2020-04-01 $1.99


Open Road will promote the feature via social media. We hope you can share the deal with your network as well. You can subscribe to the newsletters at the links below so that you will get the direct link to the deal on the day that it appears.


Newsletter Link
  Early Bird Books     Subscribe Now  
The Lineup Subscribe Now
The Portalist Subscribe Now
Murder & Mayhem Subscribe Now
A Love So True Subscribe Now
The Archive Subscribe Now
The Reader Subscribe Now


Please let us know if you have any questions. We are thrilled to be part of this promotion; hope you are too!

Best,
The Open Road Editorial Team

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Monday, March 23, 2020

The Iron Dragon's Daughter #-Book Sale TODAY ONLY!

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Just a reminder that people in Canada and the US can buy an e-book of The Iron Dragon's Mother, the first book of my stand-alone fantasy trilogy for only $1.99 today. Tomorrow will be too late:

Here's the boilerplate:




ISBN13 Title Author Promo Type Country Start Date End Date Promo Price
9781504025669 The Iron Dragon's Daughter Swanwick, Michael ORM - Early Bird Books NL US 2020-03-23 2020-03-23 $1.99
9781504025669 The Iron Dragon's Daughter Swanwick, Michael ORM - Early Bird Books NL CA 2020-03-23 2020-03-23 $1.99


Open Road will promote the feature via social media. We hope you can share the deal with your network as well. You can subscribe to the newsletters at the links below so that you will get the direct link to the deal on the day that it appears.



Newsletter Link
  Early Bird Books     Subscribe Now  
The Lineup Subscribe Now
The Portalist Subscribe Now
Murder & Mayhem Subscribe Now
A Love So True Subscribe Now
The Archive Subscribe Now
The Reader Subscribe Now

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Friday, March 20, 2020

The Iron Dragon's Daughter E-Book Only $1.99--MONDAY ONLY!

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More than a quarter-century ago, I was driving to Pittsburgh, with my wife, Marianne Porter, and we were talking about fantasy and about steam locomotives. I made a joke about the Baldwin Steam Dragon Works and Marianne laughed. Then, another mile or so down the road, I said, "Write that down, please."

Thus was born the Iron Dragons Trilogy, a trio of stand-alone books, the third of which, The Iron Dragon's Mother, was published just last year.

Far more recently, just an hour or so ago, I got an email from my associates at Open Road Media, telling me that The Iron Dragon's Mother, first of the three, will be on sale for $1.99 this coming Monday, March 23.

That's one day only BUT this time the sale includes Canada. Which I am very grateful for because the Canadian science fiction community has always been very warm and kind to  me.

Anyway, here's the boilerplate below, cut-and-pasted from the corporate email:


We are pleased to let you know that the following ebook(s) will be featured in price promotions soon.


ISBN13 Title Author Promo Type Country Start Date End Date Promo Price
9781504025669 The Iron Dragon's Daughter Swanwick, Michael ORM - Early Bird Books NL US 2020-03-23 2020-03-23 $1.99
9781504025669 The Iron Dragon's Daughter Swanwick, Michael ORM - Early Bird Books NL CA 2020-03-23 2020-03-23 $1.99


Open Road will promote the feature via social media. We hope you can share the deal with your network as well. You can subscribe to the newsletters at the links below so that you will get the direct link to the deal on the day that it appears.


Newsletter Link
  Early Bird Books     Subscribe Now  
The Lineup Subscribe Now
The Portalist Subscribe Now
Murder & Mayhem Subscribe Now
A Love So True Subscribe Now
The Archive Subscribe Now
The Reader Subscribe Now


So if you (1) read e-books, (2) don't own a copy of The Iron Dragon's Daughter, and (3) would like to... well, here's your opportunity to do it on the cheap.