Monday, August 25, 2008

Another Awards FIRST!

The picture above is me holding the two Locus Awards I received for "A Small Room in Koboldtown."  One is for best short story.  The other is for best novelette.

How is this even possible?  Well, for once the most boring possible answer is correct.  There was a mix-up when the plaque was made and my story was credited to the wrong category.   This fact was noted at the awards ceremony, and they hastily ordered a corrected plaque to be mailed to me.  But Leslie Howle, who accepted the award for me, kept the incorrect plaque, figuring correctly that I'd get a kick out of it.  Now they hang on the wall together.

Thanks, Leslie!

My schedule for Denvention was so full that the only time I could be sure to meet Leslie to get the plaque from her was immediately after I arrived at the con.  So I got to the convention center, picked up my badge, and hurried off to accept the award.  All conventions should begin that way.

As always . . .

I've updated the Poem du Jour.   Saturday's posting was by the Great White Lady of poetry.  Can you guess who she is?  No, no, not Emily Dickinson.  She may have been great, but she was only wan and pallid.

And Pastor Marcia's Journal has come to a close!  Pastor Marcia's returned home.  I had lunch with her Sunday, and reminisced about the production of Cabaret, starring Glen Close, that we both worked on, back in college.  She ran most of the stuff.  I was a lowly stagehand.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Mike Resnick's Banana

Originally, I was going to explain how I became the first person ever to have a story win the Locus Poll in two separate lengths today.  But I'm having trouble transferring the photo from the camera, so that will have to be put off until Monday.

In the meantime, here's a picture of Mike Resnick's banana, snapped at his Tachyon Publications signing.  You'll note that it's autographed by no less a personage than  Connie Willis -- "the female person from Colorado!" -- herself.  Which is not only emblematic of the silliness that goes on at a Worldcon, but an incredibly valuable, one-of-a-kind collectable in its own right.

A bit of a challenge to conserve, though.

And as always . . .

I've updated the sister blogs.  In Pastor Marcia's Journal, Marcia inadvertently goes to see the elephant.  And in Poem du Jour, a poem from the Great White Whale of Twentieth Century American literature himself.  I bet you didn't even know he versified!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Call For Photos

I'm working on my column on the World Science Fiction Convention in Denver for Science Fiction World, China's premier science fiction magazine, and they've asked me to include some photos.

The trouble is that I took very few photos at Denvention.  I was working!  So . . . if any of you guys have posted Worldcon photos that you'd be willing to let be used in a Chinese SF zine, could you let me know the URL?

There's no money in this, I'm afraid, but I can arrange a photo credit for any pictures used.  If you're an amateur photographer, that qualifies as bragging rights.  (If you're a pro, you've already moved on.)  I'm particularly interested in pix from the Hugos and the costume event.

So . . . somebody?  Anybody?

And from my own small stock of Denvention photos . . .

Up above is a truly terrifying photo I took of David Hartwell  in all his full-tilt-boogie sartorial splendor, shortly before he won the Hugo for Best Editor -- Long Form.  Oh, the humanity!  Even the presence of Pat Cadigan cannot meliorate the horror.

And as always . . .

I've updated Pastor Marcia's Journal.  In the latest episode, Marcia has a motorcycle accident and reveals that "Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in the Emergency Room."  Meanwhile, in Poem du Jour,  I praise the bawdy, fleshy, X-rated poetry of . . . Shel Silverstein?


Monday, August 18, 2008

2 Writers, 1.05 Musicians, and 3 Things to Say

Saturday, Marianne and I went to the Philadelphia Folk Festival, where we briefly ran across our friend Janis Ian twice, got her to sign her autobiography, Society's Child (halfway through, and so far terrific), promised to get together with her after her autographing session, and the way these things work out, never saw her again.  So all the wonderful, wise things she might have said are not available for me to blog.  Leaving me only three things to say:

1.  I assume that everybody reading this knows that Janis Ian is also a science fiction writer.  But did you know that back in my youth I was a singer-songwriter?  Swear to God.  The three-by-five card with the list of songs taped to the side of the guitar, the unpaid gigs in church basement coffee houses, the sullen attitude, the whole nine yards.  It was kind of mandatory back then.

And what did I sound like?  Friends, you will never know.

2.  Just in case Janis Ian has a Google Alert thing going:  Janis, the story I promised to tell you when we had time can be found on my blog here.  You now have a Kevin Bacon Number of three.

3.  I have one good old story to tell.  Some time ago, Greg Frost and I were having dinner with Janis Ian when something one of us said caused to exclaim in astonishment, "Writers have even bigger egos than musicians do!"

We both nodded complacently.  "Of course," Greg said.

And I explained, "Musicians have to be able to play well with others."

And As Always . . .

I've updated my other blogs.  In Pastor Marcia's Journal, Marcia relates her last day in camp.  And in Poem du Jour, I use Sir Thomas Wyatt to demonstrate the primary purpose of poetry.  It has nothing to do with self-expression.



Friday, August 15, 2008

Flogging The Best of Michael Swanwick

It's not even published yet, but the Subterranean Press collection, The Best of Michael Swanwick has just received its first rave review. From Publishers Weekly. And it's a starred review, too -- that means everything to publishers.

Here's the review:

The Best of Michael Swanwick Michael Swanwick. Subterranean (, $38 (464p) ISBN 978-1-59606-178-1

More than a quarter century’s worth of short fiction is gathered in this comprehensive collection of stories from Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award–winner Swanwick. The tales run the gamut from strict space adventures like “The Very Pulse of the Machine” to deceptively complex ghost stories like “Radio Waves.” In “The Feast of Saint Janis,” Janis Joplin is worshiped as an ancient goddess made flesh, with all the power and pitfalls that accompany the role. The more surreal pieces — such as “Mother Grasshopper,” wherein wizards chase one another across an insect the size of a planet —nonetheless have a method to their madness, and though it would be easy for alien monster shorts like “A Midwinter’s Tale” to dissolve into self-conscious silliness, even the weaker setups conclude with a bang. Swanwick’s blend of savvy science fiction, Freudian fantasy and top-notch storytelling both chills and charms. (Oct.)

Here's the Table of Contents:

The Feast of St. Janis
Trojan Horse
A Midwinter's Tale
The Edge of the World
Griffin's Egg
The Changeling's Tale
North of Diddy-Wah-Diddy
Radio Waves
The Dead
Mother Grasshopper
Radiant Doors
The Very Pulse of the Machine
Wild Minds
Scherzo with Tyrannosaur
The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O
The Dog Said Bow-Wow
Slow Life
Legions in Time
Triceratops Summer
From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled...

Plus it's got a terrific cover by Lee Moyer. But you already knew that.

And as always . . .

I've updated the Poem du Jour. This one's a smutty Auden poem. But since it speaks for itself and I won't knowingly violate copyright, you're best off just googling "As the Poets Have Mournfully Sung." Then you can memorize it -- it's brief! And, as I said, smutty.

And in Pastor Marcia's Journal, Marcia attends a Karen wedding. At 7 a.m. Enjoy!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Klapa Grdelin

This is still a Fridays-and-Mondays blog, but in the wake of Denvention, I've got so many things to talk about that I thought I might make an extra posting or two.

I ran into my good friends Mihaela and Petra, whom Marianne and I met in Croatia when I was guest of honor at Sveracon in Zagreb (I've got the proper spelling of their full names around here somewhere, but to my great embarrassment, I can't figure out where), and got to spend some time with them. Not only was this one of the high points of the convention for me, but they gave me a CD of Klapa music!

Klapa (the word means "a group of people") is a traditional form of a capella music, which seems to be practiced exclusively by men. Marianne and I discovered it when we were wandering through Zagreb and passed by a bar just as a group inside began singing.

We stopped, transfixed with wonder.

Honest to God, it sounded like angels come down to Earth. Unless you're Croatian, or have been to Croatia, you have no idea how beautiful it was.

The album Petra and Mihaela gave us was Parvi by a group called Klapa Grdelin. They're apparently thought to be the best Klapa group singing today. Here's a bit of their publicity I found on the Web:

Klapa Grdelin was founded in Zagreb in February 2000. Throughout the years Grdelin has been exploring and expanding its repertoire that was performed at many concerts and festivals. The repertoire includes original Dalmatian songs arranged by famous composers and ethnomusicologists (Jakov Gotovac, Ljubo Stipišić, Dinko Fio, Duško Tambača and others), popular tunes adapted for klapa singing, traditional folk tunes of Lent and Christmas. Grdelin has found a valuable source of songs in the rich musical heritage of the city of Split and its surrounding area.

From the year 2000 onwards Grdelin has regularly performed at Dalmatian Klapa Festival in Omiš, where they performed in the final in 2002, 2005, 2006, and 2007. In 2006 they shared the first place in Večer izvornih napjeva, and won the second place from the expert jury, and Srebrni leut grada Omiša in the final of the male klapa competition. Grdelin performed at various concerts at home (in a series of concerts held by various klape from Zagreb, Christmas concerts in Zagreb, Lent concerts of klape from Zagreb in 2003 and 2004, two highly acclaimed performances at Summer Festival in Varaždin, and so on), charity events, various events in Europe (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Vojvodina, Greece, Poland, Ireland, Germany), klapa festivals in Croatia (Crikvenica, Cavtat, Skradin, Trogir), and as backup for the Croatian ethno-group Kries. Klapa Grdelin won two awards, for the best performance of an original folk tune and for the best bass, in Skradin Klapa Festival in 2007.

I just thought you should know that the world contained such marvels.

And as always . . .

. . . I've updated the Poem du Jour and Pastor Marcia's Journal. Check 'em out!


Monday, August 11, 2008

Lightning Strikes to Either Side of Me!

Everybody reading these words probably knows the Hugo results already, so I don't need to tell you that "A Small Room in Koboldtown" didn't win.  But Stephan Martiniere did!

Martiniere is the artist who did the moody and evocative and altogether wonderful cover (above) for The Dragons of Babel.  You can check out his work here to see how he managed to come in first on a ballot that included several other really splendid artists.  Mine isn't even the best cover he's done -- simply the one I'm personally happiest with.

But wait!  There's more!  My editor, David Hartwell, won for Best Editor (Long Form).  You can check out his work by buying and reading lots and lots of Tor books.  But if you just want something to click on, here's the link for Kathryn Cramer's blog.  (Kathryn is, among many other things, David's wife.)  Scroll down to see the Hartwell Hugo wearing the Hartwell Tie.

So I think there's only one possible conclusion:  Being professionally associated with me results in winning awards!  What other explanation could there be?  Editors should keep this in mind the next time a novel by me comes available.

But Seriously, for a Moment . . .

Congratulations to all all the winners, particularly to Elizabeth Bear who beat me hands down for the Short Story Hugo.  Best two out of three?

And As Always . . . 

I've updated the Poem du Jour and Pastor Marcia's Journal.   Poetry is a hoot.  Pastor Marcia is too.  If you're interested, take a peek.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Oh, Happy Day . . .

I'm away from my computer -- at Denvention, where (I'm here to tell you this never grows old) I'm up for the Hugo -- so I thought I'd leave you guys with a small reminiscence about that moment in Zagreb when I felt my pride in American technology crumble. My son, Sean, can post it for me on Friday.

Marianne and I were sitting at a table in a sidewalk cafe with our friends, Petra, Mihaela, and Vlatko. Coffee, wine, or an extravagant dish of ice cream may have been involved. In Zagreb, you're not so much buying something to eat or drink as renting the table for the afternoon. We'd been talking for hours and were prepared to continue for hours more when Vlatko suddenly turned pale. "How long have we been here?" he asked. "I only put enough money in the parking meter for two hours!"

Vlatko whipped out his cell phone, dialed up his parking meter, punched in the numbers for his credit car, and bought two more hours. Then he leaned back in his chair and reached for his coffee.

Okay, I understand how this happened. Back when Croatia was a part of Yugoslavia, there were far fewer cars and no parking meters. So when the meters went in, they were state-of-the-art. It makes perfect sense.

Still. Every now and then, when I'm in a restaurant, keeping an eye on the time, or forced to pay for a parking garage because a movie's going to run for more than two hours, I can't help but yearn for that happy day when Croatian technology finally reaches the United States.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Sunday Mornings With the Microbiologist

So I was sitting on the front porch, Sunday morning, reading the Times, when Marianne said, "It looks like the FBI's theory is that the anthrax murderer posted those letters in order to bring funding and attention to a neglected corner of science."

"Did it work?"

"Oh, yeah!  The Bureau gets a million bucks a year for preparedness now."

Marianne is the Director for the Division of Laboratory Improvement in the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories.  She has a fund of great stories about bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases.

According to the article, there's a Congressman who's convinced that all the anti-bioterrorism facilities the government's been funding have only provided terrorists with potential sources of dangerous materials.

Marianne begs to differ.

"Most of these diseases exist in the wild anyway. Even the rare ones were being kept by microbiologists long before the bioterrorism money came around."

"Yes, I remember the closet you had when I first met you, filled with petri dishes of virulent organisms."

"No biologist can resist. You streak a plate, and you come back to see what the colony looks like after a day. Then after two days. Then after a week. If I'd ever gotten my hands on some Yersinia pestis, the very first thing I would have tucked away a subculture.

"Every microbiologist is a zookeeper at heart."

As Always . . .

. . . I've added a new post to the Poem du Jour.  Also a couple more to Pastor Marcia's Journal.   Pastor Marcia manages to have fun while doing good.  Is there a more subversive concept anywhere?


Friday, August 1, 2008

My Worldcon Schedule

Today's post is all about me, I'm afraid. I'm going to Denvention next week, and thought I'd jot down my schedule, for those who might care to drop by and say hello.

Here it is:


Kaffeeklatch 10:00 a.m.

Tachyon Table (Signing) 11:00 a.m.

Asimov’s Table (Signing) 12:00 noon

Dark Destinies: The Worst Future You Can Imagine 2:30 p.m.

No swords, no horses: Fantasy without the Usual Tropes 5:30 p.m.


Digging up SF: Paleontology in SF 10:00 a.m.

Reading: Michael Swanwick 11:30 a.m.

Signing at Tachyon Table 4:00-4:45 p.m.

Hugo Reception and Ceremony (I'm up for short story!) 17:30

And I'm also scheduled to accompany a walking tour sometime -- I'd better find out when quickly!

You'll note that I'm doing lots and lots of signings. I do rather hope this won't be a rerun of the time I did a signing at Forbidden Planet in London, opposite Anne McCaffrey. Ms McM. outdrew me by orders of magnitude. She had, it seemed, taken the elementary precaution of writing dozens of books that people loved. I've made a mental note to do this myself, just as soon as I can find the time.

Meanwhile, back at the Clarion Write-a-Thon . . .

Today's the final Thonning day! You can check out the forums here. And if you go to the one labeled Trouble Ensues and scroll down to the posting labeled Complete untitled story with German fixed and minor edits (it's not very far), you can read the round-robin story that a batch of us created in a fit of joie de creativity during the Thon. Despite what you'd think from the first few pages, it actually turns into a coherent story by the end.

And as always . . .

I've updated the Poem du Jour. This one's by by Adam Zagajewski, the single best poet whose name you're likely to have trouble spelling.

And there are new entries in Pastor Marcia's Journal! What an upbeat, positive person she is! When the two of us are together, people keep waiting for us to cancel each other out.