Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Five Reasons Why You Want to Meet Gregory Frost This Saturday


Actually, there are hundreds of reasons why you should admire Gregory Frost and buy and read all his books. But he's going to be appearing at the Rittenhouse Square Barnes & Noble this Saturday, March 28, at 1 p.m. (along with Tom Purdom, Fran Wilde, editor Sheila Williams and -- cough -- me) for an event marking the current "Philadelphia Issue" of Asimov's Science Fiction and a list of five is kind of traditional for this sort of thing, so...

5.  Because he's a tireless promoter and encourager of other people's work

In addition to his work as an educator (he's currently directing a fiction writing workshop at Swarthmore College), Greg has organized numerous symposia and writing events, and is a founding member of The Liars Club, a gathering of professionals whose name pretty much speaks for itself.

Greg knows more about how to teach writing than anyone I know.  On those rare occasions when I teach, I always go to him for advice first.  His advice is always great, and I'm always glad I took it.

4.  Because he gave up the visual arts for writing.

True story.  Greg has serious chops as a visual artist. While in college, he came to a point where he had to choose between the visual and written arts.  While he was contemplating the question, a fire broke out in his apartment destroying everything, including all his artwork -- but left the manuscript for the novel he was working on untouched.  He took that for a sign and has never looked back.
You think a writer's reputation relies entirely on merit?  Nope.  Blind bad luck is involved as well.  Greg's brilliant novel Tain, a retelling of the Irish epic the Tain Bo Cualigne, was so grotesquely mispackaged as to look like a Western -- at a time when Celtic fantasy was hot and Westerns were not.  You should look it up.  And Remscela as well.
God, I love this story.  Even if some of the lines I love most were written not by me but by that bastard Frost.  Consider only the following monologue, delivered by one of the Dustbowl con-men of the title, after the local sheriff threatens to telegraph the state capital to see if there are any warrants out for him or H'ard:
Wow.  How can you not want to meet a man capable of writing that?
And the particulars, again, are...
Gregory Frost, Tom Purdom, Fran Wilde, Michael Swanwick and editor Sheila Williams will talk about and autograph copies of the April/May Philadelphia Issue of Asimov's Science Fiction.  This is our only scheduled appearance together, so if you want to get five autographs for the price ofa single magazine, this is your best chance.
You can read Tom Purdom's write-up of the event at the Broad Street Review here.
And you can peruse Greg's website here.

3.  Because he's the best Celtic fantasist you've never heard of.

2. Because everything he's written is terrific.

But most especially Shadowbridge and Lord Tophat: A Shadowbridge Novel.  Many years ago, Greg described the Shadowbridge world to me: one of shallow oceans with small, scattered islands, connected by bridges on which people lived. Each span of bridge had its own culture, so you could travel from 15th century London to 20th century Tokyo, just by walking far enough. More, randomly placed along the spans were spiral jetties, at the center of which was a platform. Sometimes things would appear on these platforms, imported from our own world. The knowledge of how to use such things only occasionally came with them, however. So you might be able to copy the Pachinko machine and make a fortune selling it.  But the lawnmower would remain a mystery and all you could do was to place it in an art museum.

How much did I love this idea? So much so that I told Greg, "If you don't write this, I'm going to steal it from you."

I have never said such a thing to another human being in my life. But I really, really wanted him to write it.  And he did.  So I stand vindicated.

1. Because he and I co-wrote "Lock Up Your Chickens and Daughters -- H'ard and Andy Are Come to Town!" which appears in the Philadelphia Issue being celebrated on Saturday.

“Well, I don’t mean to be negative, sir, but I’ve got to tell you:  I just simply do not believe in the telegraph, and that’s a fact.  New-fangled nonsense device like that is prone to breaking down exactly when you need it most.  Why, wires get broke and then all the electricity goes astray and flies helter-skelter all over the place, frightening horses and inconveniencing honest citizens.  Fella writes down a two-dollar message and a puff of wind blows the paper right out the window.  In all the confusion nobody even remembers who sent the darn thing or what it said.  No, sir, put not your trust in machines.  One man, one mule, and a leather sack of paper envelopes with a magenta two-cent George Washington stamp and a hand-cancelation on the front does the job best, is what I say.  Takes a little longer but a dozen times more sure.”

Barnes & Noble
Rittenhouse Square

1 p. m.
March 28, 2015


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