Friday, April 29, 2011

Zen Globe

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Marianne and I are working on another project.  The above is only an interim state.  However, I put it in the garden and photographed it because, glowing in the sunlight, it was so obviously a zen globe.

This must be what the globe in the Buddha's office looks like.


And because I like you guys . . .

I'm posting this link just in case you have a strong yen to spend Labor Day in Argonia, Kansas, and are looking for an excuse.  Click here.

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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 82

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A doodle, a snatch of random mercantile prose, and what appears to be a rather old calling card for Wonderland, a "head shop" as they used to be called, which opened sometime in the early 1970s and, mirabile dictu, is still going today.  From the coloration, I'd guess that it had been underneath a bookshelf or such for a few decades when I found it and pasted it in.

I used to buy underground comix at Wonderland.  I remember how depressing it was when the genre died out and one by one the congeries of small odd shops I could find 'em in, stopped carrying them.

I never bought any drug paraphernalia there, though.  That's a good way to get yourself on somebody's watch list.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 81

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"God's Own Martini"
An earthly martini is comprised of gin (never vodka!), vermouth, and a dash of bitters.  A celestial martini is compiled from raw experience, human warmth, and a dash of suffering.  Drink down the one and then the other.  Which do you prefer?  A

I have no idea why I abandoned that so abruptly.  The title was great!  And the illo of a "happy martini" was pleasantly pixilated.

Down at the bottom was a first draft for a business-related letter.  It's censored for privacy, but that's all.  Nothing scandalous, alas.  I appear to lead a disappointingly respectable life.  How on earth could that have ever happened to the young rapscallion I once was?

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Joanna Russ and the Art of Love

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The news flashed through the field almost instantly yesterday:  Joanna Russ has been hospitalized after a series of strokes.  Her friends are not optimistic.

This is terrible news.

Joanna was for the longest time one of the intellectual centers of science fiction.  Her knowledge of the genre was encyclopedia, she knew everybody, and her reviews were the most insightful in the field.  She wrote some of the most challenging and exhilarating fiction any of our kind has ever made.

There was some ferocious anger directed at her, back in the day, because her last several novels were, among other things, implicit criticisms of genre SF.  You're being soft-headed and lazy, they said.  You're not willing to do the hard work of thinking things through honestly.

But only by implication.  Only by example.

If you go back and look at her reviews and criticism, the one thing that comes through strongest is how much she loved science fiction.  How thrilled she was as a new writer to meet her heroes.  How she refrained from ad hominem attacks.  How full of praise she was for good work of all kinds.  What a force she was for the betterment of our literature.

All of Joanna's career was defined by her love of science fiction -- of what it was and of what it could be.  We should remember that always.

And we should reread her work regularly.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tom Bob and Me

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In today's episode of Fantomas, the great criminal appears in disguise as:

TOM BOB
détective américain


That's what it says on his calling card.  Pretty damn cool.  Nobody does Americans quite the way that the French do.




And continuing my efforts to make the world a more interesting place . . .


I'm adding a flourish to my readings.  I already make it a habit to sign and date the typescript I read from and then leave it behind for whoever wants it.  And now . . .


Last weekend, I was chatting with Nancy Kress and Eileen Gunn in the bar with a partial draft of "Of Finest Scarlet Was Her Gown," one of the three stories I'm currently working most intently on, open before me.  Idly, I dipped a finger into the wine and drew a candle on page 1.


When I got home and transferred all my scribbled changes onto a more current draft yesterday, I started to dump the old typescript in the trash and stopped.  It was just so very artifacty, I couldn't throw it out.  So I signed and dated it and set it aside.


My plan now is to bring it with me, the first time I do a public reading of the story and leave it behind for whoever wants it.  Presumably I'll do the same with other stories.  Those of you who like to collect manuscripts and such might want to keep this in mind.


Can't say when that will be, though.  I have to finish the story first.


Above:  There it is, the distinguished thing.


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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 80

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* * Interview Hartwell on Gotham.

Q.  It once was that every sf writer who hoped to make it had to move to NYC . . .

[I have no idea why I fixated on that particular question; perhaps it was for my "Singular Interviews" series.  Or maybe background for some future NYC novel?]


"Trust me, darling," she [something something] on the [something].  "I've got bigger fish to fry."


"Tried to stuff an [something] up her snatch."
"She did not."
. . .
"Did she?"
. . .
"Oh, dear God."

Again, no idea what those two items were for.  They sound like I was working on a story, though.  The speakers are definitely female.  Don't ask me why I should remember that but not what they were talking about.

Finally, an entry from my dream diary.  This may be fictional, but I think not.  It sounds like one of my dreams:

I dreamed that Darger and Surplus came to me and offered to tell me the plot of the novel in exchange for a perfectly reasonable cut of the advance.  I awoke with no memory of what they told me and an empty wallet.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ragnarok

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I had a discussion with Gordon Van Gelder about Paul Park's short fiction this past weekend.  I felt that Paul's short fiction was scandalously undervalued.  Gordon pointed out that he's had stories nominated for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.  That's true, I admitted.  But even so, his short work has a particular brilliance that makes him one of the very best practitioners of the short form.

If anybody doubts me, I refer you to his Wildside collection If Lions Could Speak, the title story in particular.

Paul has a new story up on Tor.com.  This one takes the form of an Icelandic saga, and it's called "Ragnarok."  Here's how it begins:


There was a man, Magnus’s son,
Ragni his name. In Reykjavik
Stands his office, six stories,
Far from the harbor in the fat past.
Birds nest there, now abandoned.
The sea washes along Vesturgata,
                        As they called it.

And once again, it's a fabulous story.  I recommend it highly.  In the "comments" section, Paul mentions that he has ideas for expanding the story, though he thinks (probably rightly) that the form would be a disadvantage at book length, adding, "I could see it as a graphic novel, though."  So if you happen to know anyone in the comix industry, let 'em know it's online to be read and enjoyed.

You can find "Ragnarok" here.

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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 79

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December 23, 2008

Waiting for my Vietnamese hoagies, with a bagful of goodies from Talluto's including a half-pound of their Mediterranean seafood salad.  Is this a great country or what?

In Talluto's, the line filled the store -- you got to the back of it as you entered and shopped as you moved forward.  One man wished the woman behind the counter "Merry Christmas."

"And a happy Hannukah," she replied.

Should I make an effort to write more clearly?  Would it improve or degrade the quality of thought?  Why didn't I ask these questions when I was young?  At what point does a question become rhetorical?

[I'm pretty sure I meant to write "simply" rather than "clearly."  But I simply wasn't clear enough.]


Followed by some notes for Dancing With Bears, which I was writing at the time . . . this would be when Darger and Surplus first hit Moscow:

D & S -- Darger goes underground.
D. understood cities
He needed to be unfindable -- and
ostentatiously so.

BB & A talking
and listening "as ever"
suddenly disappear.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Congratulations To All Nominees!

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Mike Resnick wrote me on Facebook, hoping I lose in the Hugo short fiction category and saying I have his permission to wish the same on him.

Eh? I thought.  That's not like Mike.  So I looked up the brand-new nominees list, and saw that neither of us is up this year.  Which means that, unlike most years, we don't get to share the hypocritical pleasure of each wishing the other wins.

Well . . .  I just got off the red-eye from Seattle and I'm not at my sharpest.  But I was sharp enough to notice that Mike's and Barry Malzberg's collection of colums, The Business of Science Fiction made it onto the ballot for Best Related Work.  Those columns run in the SFWA Bulletin and every month I read 'em and admire 'em and fantasize that someday I'll know half as much about this field as either Barry or Mike  So congratulations to the both of them!  And everyone else who has the honor of making it onto the ballot as well.

Which includes performer Rachel Bloom and director Paul Briganti who made it on for a music video whose name Renovation dared not print in its entirety -- Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury.  I do hope that whoever reads off the list of nominees has the good sense to sing it out loud, proud, and uncensored.

You can find the complete Hugo Awards nominations list here.

As for me, I plan to go lie down in a dark room now.

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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 78

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The easy things are the funnest and the least well paid.  "Yo, yo, yo!  How much are you willing to pay to see my friend have an orgasm?  One hundred . . .

[club story]

The eyeball of course says Make It New.  Beneath, it says, "men li eyl-n."  Which fooled me for a second there.

I apologize for using the word "funnest."  No idea what I was thinking there.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

APPEARANCES -- Sunday Update

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I am wearily coming to the end of Norwescon.  That's one down and no new appearances scheduled.  Leaving:



May 19-22      Nebula Awards
                        Washington, DC


May 27-30       Balticon
                        Baltimore, MD
                   
June 7              New York Review of Science Fiction Reading
                        NYC


July 15-17        Readercon
                        Burlington, MA

July 22             Philadelphia Fantastic (reading)
                        Moonstone Arts, Philadelphia

August 19-21   Renovation (Worldcon)
                         Reno, NV

Sept. 21            KGB Bar (reading)
                         NYC  


And in 2012 . . .

Aug. 31- Sept. 2   Chicon 7
                             Chicago

Friday, April 22, 2011

Is This Good News or Bad?

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I'm at Norwescon, working hard and having fun, so this will be brief.

The most interesting thing I've heard today came from editor Lou Anders.  On the Steampunk panel, the question of whether Steampunk is science fiction or not came up, and he said:  "If Steampunk is science fiction, then science fiction is doing all right currently.  If it's not, then science fiction is in bad shape."

Shown above:  Legendary ornithopter pilot Eileen Gunn.  Mess with Texas if you must, but don't mess with her.

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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 77

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*  You
    have the floor
    Comrade Mauser.
           -- Vladimir Mayakovsky

A terribly ironic poem.  Mayavkovsky was a violent true believer when he was young.  The Soviet government he supported so passionately crushed and destroyed him.

After a list of things to do, two of Kyle Cassidy's projects:


War Paint:  Tattoo Culture and the Armed Forces
Armed America:  Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes

[A is for Arkham . . .
Chthulhu's Alphabet Book     -- pass along to Darrell]

I don't think I ever got around to mentioning this idea for a chapbook to Darrell Schweitzer.  He'd be the guy to write it, though.

Five words chosen at random:  EARLIER
                                                  FRIENDS
                                                  MASTER
                                                  WENT
                                                  CORRIDOR


Earlier, my friends went with Master Terox to the far end of the Corridor of Time -- so, really, they'd done it later as well, and earlier, and are doing it now.  The impudent hussies!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Throne of Swords, Empty and Dark

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Why does no one tell me these things?  The publicity blitz for the George R. R. Martin (we old-timers sometimes call him "Grr" or "Railroad") HBO series The Game of Thrones brought a prop throne to 30th Street Station last week.  Somebody told Kyle Cassidy and he made a wild detour to sit on it on his way to catch a plane out of town.  (You can see a photo of him looking ruthless and cunning here.)  But by the time I heard about it, it was gone.  So I missed my chance.

Too bad, too.  I would have dug out the leather jacket and the shades, dressed up goth and broody, and gotten my picture taken sitting on the throne, reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

Sigh.


And as always . . .

I'm on the road again!  This time I'm going to a hotel in SeaTac, Washington for Norwescon.  Where I'll be handing out free limited edition signed-and-numbered chapbooks of American Cigarettes, a Darger & Surplus flash fiction.

So if you're there this weekend, be sure to get one.




And Marianne and I took Sean to see the Eiffelette Tower . . .

So I took the opportunity of shooting a short video of it in mid-performance.  I apologize its briefness  The actual show goes on for quite some time.

Marianne points out that if you stand directly under the tower and look straight up while the lights are flashing, you'll feel like Frankenstein's monster.  Surprisingly, almost nobody thought of doing that.  But one small boy staked out the exact center and lay on his back for almost the entire performance.


video


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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 76

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D & S

More Darger & Surplus notes!


Nichivokis -- "nihilists" (poetry school)

Sputnik -- (Karaoke)       (n.)

Poetroke Bar

Livelier / Cooler / More Extraordinary

How can Berlin be made creepier?


I don't think any of this survived into the novel.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Social Event of the Season

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Last night, Marianne and I helped celebrate Tom Purdom's 75th birthday in the Pope Room of Buca di Beppo.  Family, friends, and related celebrities gathered to celebrate the great man's benevolent influence on all our lives.

A splendid time was had by all.  Though, truth be told, when Tom started to recite "The Charge of the Light Brigade" in Lord Cardigan's accent ("Half a weague, half a weague/Half a weague onwa'd/All in the vawwey of Death/Wode the six hundwed"), my blood ran cold.

That's Tom up above, as usual surrounded by beautiful women.


And tomorrow I climb on board a mighty jet plane . . .

I'll be on the road again -- or, rather, in the sky, headed for SeaTac, Washington and Norwescon, where I'll be wandering about, handing out small, elegant, and valuable signed-and-numbered limited edition chapbooks to anybody who wants one.  This time I'll be giving away copies of American Cigarettes, second in the series of four.  My supply of Song of the Lorelei is almost depleted, so I'm thinking these things are going to wind up being pretty valuable.




Above:  The Pope Room.  Terrifying place.  There's a bust of Pope Benedict in a Plexy box on the center of the lazy Susan and periodically it swings around to glare at you.  Note Kyle Cassidy and Trillian Stars to the far right.

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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 75

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lithographer's
grease pencil    China marker

Here I was probably getting advice from somebody for how to write on glass.

The list of Mary Poppins books may have been for a panel on fantasy.  Or I may have been trying to figure out which ones I didn't have.

Lititz, Second Fridays

Artists Who Cannot Draw

This last, incidentally, does not include me.  I was contemplating making a list of serious artists who can't actually draw.  There are a lot of 'em these days.  I think what stopped me was the realization that some of them may actually be able to draw but keep it a secret from the world to protect their reputations.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The creature LIVES!!! It LIVES!!! It LIVES!!!

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Guess what just came in the mail five minutes ago.  Two entire boxes of Dancing With Bears, my very first Darger & Surplus novel.  I am in print again.

So how does it feel?  Keeping in mind that I've been doing this for decades and that this is my eighth novel?

Well . . .  You know how in Michelangelo's Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel, amid all the grand drama of the resurrection of the dead and their judgment and sorting and being raised to Heaven and thrown down to Hell, way down to the bottom left, there's a grey figure pulling himself out of the grave with his eyes closed and head lifted in quiet ecstasy as, for the first time in millennia, he feels a gentle breeze against his kin?

It feels like that.  It feels like I'm wholly alive again.

Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 74

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A one-picture collage and a . . .

One Sentence Story
I am a dwarfish thing, perhaps, all eyes and silence -- and they say a man with no nose cannot experience flowers, so perhaps I [have] no taste either -- but here I am, nevertheless, as strong as an ox, as smart as the next man, and waiting for you, who said such terrible things about me, in your closet.

It needs a touch of syntactical polish . . . but not bad for a sentence that started out having no idea where it would end.

"Aw, fuckin' cute, innee?"

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 73

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Shepherd Moons

Obviously, I was just realizing what a great title that would make.

And a great quote from an astonishing book of non-fiction:
Not until the party was over was the mystery solved.  Halim had put the head on a bench in one of the anterooms where the light was somewhat dim.  Prince Tarkanof's guests, coming in from the balcony, had tossed their cloaks on the bench without noticing the head, which was soon covered with a pile of silks and velvets.  When the last guest had retrieved his cloak and departed, there was the head, to Halim's great delight.
-- Dumas, Adventures in the Caucasus

* *  Has anyone ever focused Galileo's telescopes on the planets and taken photographs of them as he saw them?

Because they really should.

What those two letters at the bottom of the page are or might be is totally beyond me.

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Playing "Where's Michael?" at Norwescon

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I'M GOING TO BE AT NORWESCON THIS WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm putting that in caps because I'm not officially there.  I tried to get on the program, but no luck.

Neverthless, I will be there.  And I'll be giving out limited edition signed-and-numbered chapbooks to promote my forthcoming Darger & Surplus novel Dancing With Bears.  As I explained earlier:


I am married to self-styled nano publisher Marianne Porter, sole proprietor of Dragonstairs Press, one of the newer and unquestionably smaller publishing houses that are actually worth your attention.  Together we cooked up a series of four small chapbooks extracted from "Smoke and Mirrors:  Four Scenes from the Postutopian Future," (originally published in Live Without a Net,  Lou Anders, ed.) which was a single story made up of four stand-alone (but sequential) short-shorts featuring those dashing rogues, Darger & Surplus.   
Each booklet is lovingly crafted, hand-sewn, and very nicely designed.  I changed a few words in each of the flash fictions so that this version of the stories will be unique.  And they are issued in a limited edition of one hundred.  They were all numbered sequentially, and then autographed in a color ink coordinated with the cover.


So these are promotional items worth having.  At Lunacon, I handed out copies of the first, Song of the Lorelei.  This weekend I'll be handing out the second, American Cigarettes.   If you're there, all you need do is come up to me and ask.  Of course, since I'm not on the program, you'll have to find me.  But think of it as a game of Where's Waldo? for folks who like literary collectables.  I'll be the guy with all the hair, and to make me easier for you to find, I'll wear a white jacket.

Plus, as a special one-time-good-deal-only, I'll be handing out fifteen copies of the first chapbook at a special event my friends are hoping to concoct during the con.  So keep your eyes open for that.  There aren't many of them left.



Oh, and if you happen to know any book dealers who are going to be at Norwescon . . .

Tell them that I'll be there and that I'll make the rounds of the huckster room and autograph anything of mine they've got.  I don't get to the West Coast very often, so they might as well take advantage of this trip.


Above:  Rather a murky snapshot of the American Cigarettes chapbook.  After this weekend, they'll be pretty much gone.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

APPEARANCES -- Sunday Update

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Winter is coming!  And for those of you on the West Coast, so am I.  I'll be at NORWESCON this coming weekend.  More on that tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here's my current schedule:


April 22-24      Norwescon
                         Sea-Tac, WA


May 19-22      Nebula Awards
                        Washington, DC


May 27-30       Balticon
                        Baltimore, MD
                   
June 7              New York Review of Science Fiction Reading
                        NYC


July 15-17        Readercon
                        Burlington, MA

July 22             Philadelphia Fantastic (reading)
                        Moonstone Arts, Philadelphia

August 19-21   Renovation (Worldcon)
                         Reno, NV

Sept. 21            KGB Bar (reading)
                         NYC  


And in 2012 . . .

Aug. 31- Sept. 2   Chicon 7
                             Chicago

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Two Thank-Yous to Rudy Rucker

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I've never actually spoken to Rudy Rucker, though I once had dinner with him.  He was seated at the far end of the table in a noisy restaurant, so there was no chance for a Major Literary Encounter that might someday be enshrined in the Oxford Book of Literary Anecdote.  But I do owe him him thanks for two separate favors he did me in the past.

The first was back some twenty years ago when I acquired my first computer with a genuine hard drive.  So long as I had this huge chunk of futuristic metal, I figured I might as well get so programs to run on it.  So I bought Word Perfect, a game of some sort, an astronomy program, and the software package that Rudy put together to go with James Gleick's then-best-seller Chaos.  Following the instructions carefully, I installed Word Perfect from the floppies.  Then, following the instructions, I typed WP: and return, and then run.

Nothing happened.

After a half-hour scouring the tech manual to figure out what went wrong, going from the index to internal chapters and then to the appendices and back again, I gave up and installed the next program, hoping for better results.  Same thing, followed by another long and fruitless crawl through the manual.  Then the next.  No change.  Finally, I went to the Rudy Rucker program.  And in the tech manual, which he wrote himself (I could tell, because it was written in clear and straightforward English), immediately after the installation instructions, he included the instruction line which everybody else had left out:

Change from the soft drive to the hard drive by typing c:

Immediately, I dropped his manual and booted up all the installed programs, one by one.  They ran perfectly.  Because Rudy Rucker was the only person writing manuals at that time who understood that there were things that were self-evident to any computer programmer which would not be known by a first-time user.

So, thank you, Rudy.

Sometime either before or after that, I finished a novel that I was having enormous trouble naming.   Eventually, I decided to call it Vacuum Flowers, but for a while there my agent (the late and dearly beloved Virginia Kidd) fixated on Wetware as a possible title.  Which was a good title.  But wrong, wrong, wrong for my book.

All my pleas and arguments were going nowhere when I read something in Locus indicating that Rudy Rucker was working on a thematic sequel to his novel Software which he planned to call . . .  you guessed it.  

I immediately called up Virginia and said, "We can't do this to good ol' Rudy!  The man and I are like brothers.  He'd never forgive me."  And, reluctantly, she agreed.

So, thank you again, Rudy.  Thank you twice.


And, speaking of Gesualdo . . .

You'll remember I went to the Shadows of Gesualdo concert last week.  Tom Purdom was there as well, and he reviewed it for the Broad Street Review.    His big observation?  That the concert was proof that you should be very, very careful about what you post on the Internet.

You can find his review here.

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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 72

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The old man with the big white beard [or possibly bear]
. . . cargo . . . galaxies and nebulae
His shadow says:  [something]
Santa/Nick/Claus

A Christmas story, obviously.  As is:

2) Shepherd Moons
subtle engines
story    cold 
heat sinks
a day
Earth is still hunting them
They are still fugitives

The sketch is of the rings of Saturn and two shepherd moons.  I'll write that story someday.  It's a good one.  Morally crunchy.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tawny Petticoats

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I'm playing hooky this afternoon!  For the past couple of weeks I've been a good kid -- did the taxes, wrote profiles for program books, arranged flights to distant conventions, signed contracts, etc., etc., etc.  Today I've made some time for myself, and I'm going to write for a change.

Currently I'm working on story called "Tawny Petticoats," in which Darger & Surplus take on a female partner.  Will she, as Darger predicts, sleep with both of them, turn them against each other, and in the end abscond with the swag, leaving the two rascals with nothing but regret and rue for all their efforts?

I don't know yet.  I'll simply have to write the thing and see.


Pictured above:  Notes for the story.  Marianne and I were visiting Aunt Evangeline and, seeing me scribbling on a paper napkin, she got out the phone pad.  A very gracious lady.  I like her a lot.

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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 71

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December 15, 2008

Kyle & Michael just left, after taking pictures of me mugging in my office.

[For Kyle Cassidy's Where I Write series]

More notes for possible Christmas stories:

Mouse Ghost (Silver)
"The Moose was dead, to begin with."
A Clockwork Christmas

And then a list of things to do that day.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Emshwiller, Fantomas, Gertrude, Heroically I Jump

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Last night, Marianne and I helped celebrate Carol Emshwiller's 90th birthday.  Alas, she can no longer write because her eyesight has taken a sudden turn for the worse.  She thinks, however, there may be a technological fix for this.  My fingers were crossed.

And she's still one of the loveliest people you could ever hope to meet.

This afternoon, we went to a screening of the first episode of Fantomas.  Fantomas was the anti-hero of a series of French black and white silent movies -- a ruthless criminal, a master of disguise, and always a step ahead of the police.  In the first movie Fantomas in the Shadow of the Guillotine, the criminal is caught and almost killed, but manages to substitute an actor -- drugged and made up in his exact likeness -- to take his place.  These pulp nightmares were a big hit among the surrealists and other avant-garde artists of the day, and it's easy to see why.


And this is a brief posting because . . .

I'm off to see an opera based on Gertrude Stein's writings.  More tomorrow!

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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 70

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Doodles.

"The Mouth Factory"


I kind of like the clothed and composed young lady with spherical breasts floating in front of her.  A very science-fictional image.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This Urban Life

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Recently, Marianne and I went to a concert at an august Philadelphia musical institution which probably wouldn't relish being mentioned in this context.  The venue is in a converted nineteenth-century mansion, extremely tasteful in its day, and of course the doors are just wide enough for one at a time to pass through.

We entered into the building and in the hallway ahead of us an old man came to a stop before the ticket-taker, leaned his cane against the wall, positioned his legs astraddle, completely blocking the hall, and farted.  "Wait a second . . . Just let me . . ."  He zipped up his pants.

"Sir," the woman tacking tickets said.  People were beginning to line up behind the two, waiting patiently.

"No, I've got to . . ."  The old man pulled up his voluminous pants several times.  Each time, they slid back down, because they were far too large for him.  "Let me first . . ."  He reached around behind himself and tried pulling up his trousers from behind.  (He was wearing black leather gloves, which on a spring day was not a reassuring sign.)  They kept falling back down.

More people came in behind us.  "There's a line!" somebody said in astonishment.

"There's a bit of a hold-up," one of the earlier people said.

The newcomer said, "Oh, I know him!" and slipped back outside to wait it out.

Meanwhile, the old man was still trying to pull up his recalcitrant trousers.  First front, then back.  Only the fact that his plaid flannel shirt had long tails protected his decency.

"Sir, you're holding everybody up," the ticket taker scolded.

After several more tugs, the man stopped and mumbled something.

"No, I'm not pulling up your pants.  You'll have to do that for yourself," the ticket tacker said.  But finally she managed to maneuver the man to one side, and we were able to slip past him.

It was like a three-minute play by Beckett:  Too sad to contemplate, too funny not to feel guilty for wanting to laugh at it.  This is, I suspect, How God in His surlier moments sees the entire human race.


And as always . . .

I'm on the road again.  This time, Marianne and I are jaunting up to the Big Apple for a celebration of Carol Emshwiller's 90th Birthday Celebration.  Carol is a fine writer and a lovely lady and I'm proud to know her and delighted to have the opportunity to help celebrate her life.  Huzzah for her!  May she live forever and write each day of it.



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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 69

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Two doodles (the skull's eyes have been augmented by two drops of wine) and possible titles/subjects for the Christmas story I tell my family every year on Christmas Eve.

Fascist Santa

A Moosemas Carol
Mouse Ghost Silver
Christmas Goats
Young Santa

I forget what the 2008 story was.  The very first one, told when Sean was a toddler, was about a mouse ghost, so obviously I was toying with doing a revision of that.  This past year I finally got around to telling A Chrismoose Carol and it was a big success.

And some light verse.  It was a heckuva year for light verse, apparently:

Christmas comes but once a year
Which is why I need a beer

The scrap of paper pasted at the bottom says TWILIGHT IN PHILADELPHIA.  I have no idea why.  

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Monday, April 11, 2011

At the Foot of the Eiffaux Tower

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Wow.  These are busy days.  En route to the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia's Shadows of Gesualdo concert, Friday, Marianne and I stopped by the Kimmel Center to see Philadelphia's newest attraction . . . an eighty-foot high indoor model of the Eiffel Tower!  That's it above.  Not completely obvious are the biplanes and dirigibles and steam trains that crawl slowly across the sky on wires above it.

Spectacular, if nonsensical, stuff.   They've got a light show every evening at 7 and 10 in which the lights flash off an on to the tune of classical music.  It's the kind of stuff that gives kitsch a good name.

The concert was stunning.  The Choral Arts Society alternated nine of Gesualdo's Tenebrae with some of Benjamin Britten's religious pieces so that the whole had the feel of a religious ceremony rather than a concert.  It got a standing ovation.

And then it was off to the Pen & Pencil Club for martinis and conversation.

Saturday, the big event was a party celebrating Gardner Dozois and Susan Casper's fortieth anniversary together.  More good friends and good conversation.

And today spring finally arrived.  Marianne and I went to the Morris Arboretum to walk among the blooming leaves and marvel.  Another winter survived!   I snap my fingers at the very idea of starving, man-eating wolves howling in the wastes outside the palisades.



And did I bust Gardner's chops?  And did it phase him . . .  ?

Yes, and no.  I walked into the great man's apartment for the first time since hearing that he's going to be inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and said, "I hear you're going to be HUNG, Gardner."

Leering, he replied, "Whah, Ah'm ALREADY hung, bwah!"

Later, he asked me if I'd ever seen the SF H of F, and then explained that when you're entered into it, a picture of your face is placed on a brick on the ceremonial wall.  "So I really AM just another brick in the wall."

Above:  Notice my use of words in ALL CAPS.  Whenever I teach at one of the Clarions, I always tell my students to NEVER do that.

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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 68

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Wind-Flakes




Or else.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

APPEARANCES -- Sunday Update

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Nothing new, I'm afraid.  But the purpose of this feature is so you'll always know of my scheduled public appearances.  So here it is, once again:

April 22-24      Norwescon
                         Sea-Tac, WA


May 19-22      Nebula Awards
                        Washington, DC


May 27-30       Balticon
                        Baltimore, MD
                   
June 7              New York Review of Science Fiction Reading
                        NYC


July 15-17        Readercon
                        Burlington, MA

July 22             Philadelphia Fantastic (reading)
                        Moonstone Arts, Philadelphia

August 19-21   Renovation (Worldcon)
                         Reno, NV

Sept. 21            KGB Bar (reading)
                         NYC  


And in 2012 . . .

Aug. 31- Sept. 2   Chicon 7
                             Chicago

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 67

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More sketches toward plates!  As it turned out, I wasn't inspired to brilliance at that particular time.  Still, if I'm every commissioned to write stories for tableware, I've got a head start.

Button          Smile        Moon/Mars/Venus/Sun

"Moondogs"
They lead lives that were brief but intense.

Commemorative Plate                          With Your Shield Or On It


We are the servants who humbly wait

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The Ascension into Heaven of Saint Dozois

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Have you heard?  Gardner Dozois is being inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.  He is now as one with  (I presume; I haven't actually checked the lineup) Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, John W. Campbell and Eando Binder.

How Gargar's friends will bust his chops over this one!

In honor of the occasion, allow me to post an excerpt from an interview I did with Gardner for Capclave on September 29, 2001.

 What can you tell us about the time when your mother took you to watch the world come to an end?

Gardner Dozois: Well, she did.  My mother was a sweet lady, but she had a very tenuous grasp on reality.  She never had much, in fact never had any formal education.  So she tended to get things wrong.  There was a major hurricane that went through Massachusetts when I was, oh I don’t know, maybe four, somewhere in that range.  And something which she heard on the radio gave her the mistaken impression that  the moon was about to fall out of orbit down on top of the Earth and destroy the Earth, and that this indeed was the end of the world.  So her reaction to this being the end of the world –
And I never quite understood this – was to bundle me up and rush out into the hurricane, and this was a major-league hurricane with trees falling like matchsticks all around us and electric wires falling down and spitting in the street, we’re talking a heavy-duty disaster here.

So we rushed out into the storm and she rushed down to the ocean side, and we waited there for the moon to crash into the Earth and the Earth to come to an end.  And of course I had just been told by my mother that the world was coming to an end, so I believed it.  We huddled there on the shore and watched huge waves crash into the rocks and waited for the moon to get up and eventually we got tired of doing this and went home.

My mother was prone to this type of thing.  She also had a story which was famous in the family that her brother had once walked on the water.  This had been in the paper, but then the bishop hushed it up.  So they didn’t talk about it any more after that.  She also blew away once.  She told me distinctly that when she was a girl she was so skinny that she had been playing outside one day and she had  blown away, and she had blown for miles.  People were running after her and leaping up, trying to grab herfeet and haul her down.

Then there was the one about her having a conversation with a leprechaun on the golf course.  But this was pretty standard stuff.


And getting back to the topic of me . . .

My friend Mario Rups has kindly pointed me toward the website Omnivoracious, where Jeff VanderMeer has posted an interview with me about Dancing With Bears which, my publisher is eager for me to mention, will be published by Night Shade Books on May 1st.

In the intro, Jeff called my novel "flat-out brilliant, edgy, kick-ass work, featuring two of the narstiest most entertaining rogues in recent memory."  There's got to be a way to use that as a pull-quote.

You can find the interview here.  Or you can just to to Omnivoracious and poke around.


Above:  That photo was taken in my library.  I own that mask.  So who gets to look extraordinarily cool?  Gardner, that's who.  Is that fair?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 66

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More of the Mondrian story!  What a pleasant surprise.

3.  It is recorded that in his old age Mondrian entertained a visitor who wished to commission a portrait.  "Why should I bother?" the artist said.
Very clearly, I knew exactly how this story would go.  I wonder why I never went back and filled in th blanks?  Here's another bit of it:

. . . two lines and three colors.  The lines are crisp and black.  The colors are bright and flat.
"But that isn't how I look!" wailed the client.
"You will," Mondrian replied calmly.  "Just as soon as . . ."
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

George Martin's Shadow Fandom

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In the current New Yorker is an article by Laura Miller titled "Just Write It!" about George R. R. Martin and his fans.  It begins by establishing what a talented and engaging writer George is -- and no argument there.  Then it gets to the meat of the matter:

An entire community of apostates -- a shadow fandom -- is now devoted to taunting Martin, his associates, and readers who insist that he has been hard at work on the series and has the right to take as much time as he needs.
Following which, Ms Miller analyzes:

. . . the online attacks on Martin suggest that some readers have a new idea about what an author owes them.  They see themselves as customers, not devotees, and they expect prompt, consistent service.
There's a great deal that could be said about this.  But I shall restrict myself to throwing out a single word which does not appear in the article:  Artist.

George Martin is an artist.  That's why so many people like his Ice and Fire books so much.  It's also why it took him over five years to write the forthcoming volume of his series.  Because to be an artist is to work right at the edge of what it's possible for you to do.  And sometimes it's so difficult as to be almost impossible.

The imagination is a horse, and it can carry you far and fast.  An artist is somebody who can ride that horse.  But just because you can ride it doesn't mean you can tell it where to go.

Nobody wants his series to be finished as much as George does.  He's been working very hard to complete it.  But sometimes the horse refuses to run as fast as you'd like it to.

Um ... and that's all, really.

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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 65

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The plate project continued!  I may yet get around to these someday.

"Tout Finis"
"One last bite," God said.  "A world war, an atrocity, the death of your children . . . Just a little more."

I can see why I gave up on that one so quickly!  Any story that's blasphemous by the second sentence probably doesn't need to be finished.

Two more titles:  "Human Clay"'/"Lick the Platter Clean"

Another story:

The Life of Mondrian (In Three Parts)
1.  Mondrian was born in a cave in the Alps and raised by wolves.//This wolf [somehting] all his [something] work.
He could not speak recognizable words.  He could not draw a stick-figure man.  His teachers despaired that he ever would.
[2.  Equally Fantastic]
[3.  Rarefiedly genteel realism.]
A hunter killed his parents with an ax.


The Life of Mondrian sounds pretty good, actually.  I should write that someday.

Rough out with paper plates.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Toads Go Viral!

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Yesterday, Marianne was interviewed at the Toad Watch by a local television station.  Exactly one sentence made it into the item, which was aired late last night.  She's been fielding congratulations ever since.

There's just something glamorous about toads, I guess.  The Toad Watch is getting covered by everything from the Roxborough Review to the Seattle Post Intelligencer.   You can read the SPI piece here.


Lois Lane is dead . . .

The latest Ansible notes that Joanne Segal died on February 12 at age 93.  Ms. Segal posed for Lois Lane in the original Superman comic and married its co-creator Jerry Siegel.

So any new Superman comic book featuring Lois Lane will be necessarily a work of fiction.


And as always . . .

I'll be on the road tomorrow, so my next update will probably be sometime in the evening.  That's assuming that something strange and bloggable happens to me between now and then.

But when has it not?



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Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 64

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(the story continued)

"Why are you surrendering when a tenth of what I've seen today would destroy humanity forever?"
"My good sir!" the Ski head said.  "It wouldn't be fair."
"Since when are wars fought fair?"
. . .  giggled.  "It wouldn't be fair."


The ending of the story was written telegraphically because as I tied it up, I realized it had been done before.  By Larry Niven perhaps?  Anyway, it had been done, and well, and so I couldn't revamp and improve the story toward eventual publication.

Plagiarism just wouldn't be sporting.

And another attempt:

2.  At age 17, he fell in love with a princess.  That he was a commoner was not the barrier it would have been in prior centuries.  All that was required was money.  He had no money.  Besotted with love, he set out to get it.  He was already working three jobs and making art from moments snatched from the day.  So he thought of Thoreau's advice -- "Simplify, simplify, simplify!"  He sold his furniture.  He sold his shoes.  He sold his books and rugs and alarm clock and pencils.  He sold all the clothes but those he was wearing.
And it wasn't enough.  His love, his life, was married to a condom manufacturer.
Still he simplified, still he [something].  "Let nothing remain but the essential!" he cried.  "Let nothing show but my love."

Okay, this one is going pretty good.  We'll see if it wraps up well.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

R. A. Lafferty, Saved from Drowning

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Because I once wrote the introduction to the R. A. Lafferty collection Iron Tears, a fan of the great man contacted me to see if I had any idea where he could get ahold of a copy.  So I did a little research and discovered that every single book Lafferty ever published is out of print.  Let me repeat that.  Everything ever written by one of American literature's greatest short fiction writers is out of print.  Which means, as a book dealer friend told me, that a copy of Iron Tears would probably go for a couple hundred bucks.  The cheapest anybody is offering the Ace paperback of Nine Hundred Grandmothers for is fifty dollars!  Eek.

It appears that the Lafferty estate was systematically withdrawing his works from print preparatory to offering the collective copyright for sale.  I poked around and found the following statement by Elizabeth Kennington, the executor for the estate:

On May 1 the Lafferty Estate tentatively plans to sell the rights to the entire literary output of the science fiction writer, R.A. Lafferty, to the Locus Science Fiction Foundation for $70,000 plus 50% of any future profit from the Lafferty rights in excess of $30,000 in any single year. The sale will proceed unless someone makes a more favorable offer.

The Locus Foundation is the legal entity which owns Locus Magazine, and has a mandate to perform good works in the service of science fiction.  So this is welcome news.  I have no idea what they plan to do with the dozens of novels and hundreds of stories they've just acquired -- presumably they'll tell us when the deal is finalized in May.  But I can't think of anybody I'd trust more with the rights.

Incidentally, if you've got any duplicate Lafferty books, this is probably a good time to place them on eBay.


Above:  Me standing before one of the worst portraits of Yuri Gagarin ever committed to canvas.

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