Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Mysteries of the Faceless King

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Look what came in the mail! The collected Best Short Fiction of Darrell Schweitzer in two volumes from PS Publishing. With cover, end papers, and signature page illustrated by (of course) World Fantasy Award winning artist Jason Van Hollander. Which I received because I wrote the introduction to Volume 1: The Mysteries of the Faceless King.

 

I am not going to make a sales pitch here, because that's not the way it works. PS Publishing carefully chooses authors they know have a loyal following, and create beautifully-made and well-edited volumes in limited editions. Which then routinely proceed to sell out. That's just the way it is.

 

But I have to say something. So I'll just give you the very beginning of my intro: 


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.

 

 My introduction goes on from there, touching upon various aspect of Darrell's career. To know what I said, you'll have to buy the book. But I can share the single virtue that most contributed to his having a two-volume "Best Of" collection of his fiction: Steadfastness.

 

When Darrell was first starting out as a writer, there was very little market for weird fiction, which was what he most wanted to write. He wrote it anyway and sold it to magazines most people have never heard of, often for laughably little recompense. Over the decades, he worked as a reviewer, book dealer, interviewer, writing instructor, literary agent, editor, and God knows what else. During which time he surely learned what an uncommercial genre it was he had given his heart to. He wrote it anyway. He never gave up. He never stopped writing what he loved best.

 

So you wanna know how to get to Carnegie Hall? Stay the course.

 

Monday, May 3, 2021

An Unexpected Pleasure

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I was browsing Locus Magazine's top ten finalists list for the Locus Awards, pausing occasionally to reminiscently admire a work I'd already read when, unexpectedly down in the Best Collection list I came upon my name. 

The Postutopian Adventures of Darger and Surplus is up against some pretty impressive competition To begin, The Best of Elizabeth Bear and The Best of Jeffrey Ford, both from Subterranean and both (I can say this even without having seen either) pretty damn splendid. There's If It Bleeds by Stephen King who, setting aside how amazingly successful his career has been, is a terrific writer at short length. And The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by the astonishing Ken Liu and Nine Bar Blues by the equally astonishing Sheree Renée Thomas. Meg Elison, who is having a moment, is up for Big Girl. And Jane Yolen's latest, The Midnight Circus is in the running too, as I assume Jane Yolen's collections inevitably are whenever they appear.

I know nothing, I confess, about Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel (great title!) by Julian K. Jarboe or Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future by Lavanya Lakshminarayan. But, judging by the company they keep, I obviously should.

Short of winning one, this is the greatest pleasure of the whole awards process: going over the lists, reflecting on the works you've read and making mental notes to look up those you have not. If you haven't gone over the short list yet, you can find it on Locus Online here.

And, oh yes: Best of luck to all us nominees! 


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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Gratuitous Sex

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For reasons of plot, I just now did a web search and discovered that my single most aphoristic moment has not been preserved online.

 Allow me to correct that. 

Back in the Eighties, when the transgressions of the New Wave were still fresh in everybody's minds, as was the indignation with which the Old Wave greeted them, I was on a panel about sex where somebody from the audience asked me what I felt about gratuitous sex. Conventional wisdom was that sex was okay in a story if it was necessary to the central idea but otherwise not.

"I'm in favor of gratuitous sex," I said. Then, after the briefest of pauses, "And I believe it has its place in fiction as well."

Roars of laughter and applause.

NOT, I assure you, because my bon mot was all that bon. But because in that more innocent age, most of the people in the audience had had sex with one or more new partners within the past day and were hoping to repeat the experience soon.

Anyway... feel free to quote me. I don't expect to be saying anything half so clever anytime soon.

 

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Remembrance of Leaves Past

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Look what Marianne found in the back yard! It's a relict of last year's Halloween story, an oak leaf with the word "Cemetery" written on it. 

You'd think this would put me in a down mood, but it does not. This is a great week for me. Tomorrow, after more than a year of being very, very responsible, I will be officially immune and can resume my usual joyful, irresponsible life. Plus, a very dear friend told us she's become a grandmother! She's somebody who deserves joy and it gladdens me to see her so happy.

Plus, the leaf itself reminds me how much fun Marianne and I had wandering through cemeteries, writing on leaves and then documenting them so they could be posted, two or three at a time, on my blog. I'm looking forward to resuming what has become an annual tradition this autumn.

All winter, like some evil doppelganger of George R. R. Martin, I have been reminding people that "Spring Is Coming!"  Now it has arrived, and with it, joy.

Wishing the same for you, I remain,

yr. obt. spt.

Michael Swanwick

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Love, Death + Robots Season 2

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The last time I was in China, for a science fiction conference in Chengdu, I brought along a Love, Death + Robots t-shirt, which I'd earned the honst way--by writing a story that one of the first-season episodes was based on. Boy, did that make me popular! LD+R wsa clearly a global phenomenon.

Now, the trailer for season 2 has been released, along with a list of  new episodes. Do I have a story in it? With all modesty, I can safely say... no.

 But there's a third season coming, later this year. Will I have something in that one? All I can say is that I'm being a little vague on that front.

The seasons drops on Netflix on May 14. I'll be watching.

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Love Death + Robots: The Official Anthology: Vol. 1!

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Okay, this is a cool project. You may remember that my story "Ice Age" was made into an episode of Love Death + Robots, the terrific series of animated short science fiction created by Tim Miller  and David Fincher. In fact, Tim Miller himself directed my episode. I was pretty chuffed about that.

Now there's an e-book collecting the stories and screenplays the cartoons were based on.  Publication date is May 14 but it's available for pre-order now. I look forward to getting my copy so I can see what changes were made in the adaptation. (The line "Too soon" in my episode? Tim Miller's addition--and a good one, too.)


Here are the links they gave me:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0923HJQ5G

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0923HJQ5G

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0923HJQ5G

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0923HJQ5G

 

 

And yes . . .

 

I regret that there's not a hardcover too. But given that Cohesion Press, the publisher, is in Australia and that the mails are what they are today, you could go made waiting for the book to arrive.

 


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Annie Without Crow!

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I'm in virtual print again!

"Annie Without Crow" is up on Tor.com.  The lovely portrait of Annie above, by Wylie Beckert, illustrates the story. The talented Jonathan Strahan edited.

And what, you ask, is the plot? Well, Annie, who is the avatar of Romantic Love, has a falling-out with her one true love, Crow, who is Trickster. And when something like that happens, what's a girl to do but retreat to her all-female estate in the sixteenth century and plot revenge upon all males everywhere and everywhen?

Romance doesn't always play nice.

You can read the story here. Or, you know, just go to Tor.com and poke around. There are a lot of good stories and articles to be found there. 


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