Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Hologram of A Hovercraft


In response to my last post, Mark Pontin requested that I expand upon a comment I made on a Worldcon panel. With both respect and regret, Mark, I have to say Homey don't play that. Mostly because I'd have to research up a lot of examples and citations, which is a lot of work. And a lot of work is something I try never to do for free.

But I can offer something not far unrelated, off the top of my head: the concept of fossil science fiction.

Fossil science fiction is not my own invention. I heard of it maybe a decade ago at a Worldcon room party. A writer I know and admire (only I'm not sure which one -- the person I thought it was denies everything) told me that he'd run a story past a younger writer friend who called him on having a 3-D picture hanging on a character' s wall.

"Why is this here?" The younger writer said. "Holograms have come and gone. They're not a likely part of the future anymore. The only reason you've included it is because they were in stories written when holograms were futuristic. Now it's fossil science fiction."

We got into a discussion of future things that once were. I suggested hovercrafts. Like holograms, they're still around. But, like holograms, they're a niche product rather than the commonplace we once thought they would be.

"And a hologram of a hovercraft would be DOUBLY fossil!" my friend exclaimed.

Examples of fossil science fiction are legion. Perhaps you'd care to post one below? In any case, the next-to-last thing a writer should do with a story, immediately before reading it aloud, is to go through it with a sceptical eye, looking for the fossil remains of other people's ideas.

Above: It may not be the Future, but you still want one. You can find the manufacturer's page here.


Monday, August 29, 2016

A Strange Person To Encounter In Somebody Else's Story


It is a strange thing to encounter one's own name in a story written by somebody else. But that's exactly what happened to me on the plane home from Kansas City. I was reading Jeffrey Ford's new collection A Natural History of Hell. Which is, so far, brilliant. I've always loved this guy's short fiction but it seems that over the years he's gotten better and better at it. My chances o getting a Locus Award for best collection next year may have just gone down.

Anyway, I had just started reading "Rocket Ship to Hell" which I had somehow missed on its first publication, when I came across the line, "Somewhere along the line Michael Swanwick told me I should check out Fritz Leiber's Our Lady of Darkness."

Wow! I remember that, too. It happened in 2001 at the Millennial Philcon, as that year's Worldcon was called. Jeff and I were talking literature (we're funny in that way; most writers don't) and when I discovered he hadn't read that book, I felt an extraordinary rush of pleasure at knowing that I was about to recommend a work to a writer who was the perfect reader for that astonishing book.

I remember also that on the way out of the convention, I stopped in the dealer's room and bought that exact same Ace Double he mentions in the story for, I think, a buck-fifty. If I'd known it was such a rarity, I'd have read it immediately. But as it is, it's languishing unread somewhere among my books, possibly in the cartons I boxed up when the shelves began to overflow. I should go looking for it one of these days.

And speaking of MidAmeriCon...

Over at PositronChicago. com, there's a recap of one of the panels I was on. This one was "Does SF Still Affect the Way We Think about the Future?" I'm always grateful for evidence that I managed to say something intelligent on a panel -- and I was far from being the only one.

You can read the recap here.

Above: There it is, the distinguished book, Jeff's collection, floating in the airliner window of the American night.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ruled By Mummers!

Tom Purdom, the dean of Philadelphia science fiction writers and a friend of long standing, likes to mix up his reviews with the occasional astonishing choice. I am thinking, obviously, of the time he reviewed War and Peace as he would have were it a new release.

Well, Tom has done it again. This time, he's reviewed my first novel, In the Drift, first published over thirty years ago. He is kinder to it than I would have been (writers are hard on their firstborn), and careful to mention that I did get better later on.

The man's a mensch.

You can read his review here.

And, as Tom says, the ebook is available from Open Road Media.

And as long as I'm bragging...

Rave reviews keep pouring in for my new collection, Not So Much, Said the Cat. Perhaps most touching is the Locus review wherein the always-generous (a status I suspect he maintains by the simple expedient of not reviewing books he dislikes) Paul Di Filippo reviews every single one of the book's seventeen stories.

You can read it here. Or just go to and wander around. Always a worthwhile thing to do.

Meanwhile, over at the Open Book Society site, my collection got a five star review and so much effusive praise that I would blush to repeat a fraction of it. If this goes on -- but the reviewing season is almost over, so it won't -- I will begin to put on airs.

You can read the review here.

And as always...

I'm still on the road again. Which is why, what with misplaced adaptors and long car rides and the like, Wednesday's post is a day late. I apologize for that. Tomorrow's may be late too, since I'm flying home then. But I'll do my best to get something up.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

In the Land of the Great Spiders


I missed yesterday's post. Mea culpa. As always, I was on the road again, this time from Kansas City, MO to Eureka Springs, AK. So while I should have been blogging, I was gawking at the art in the Crystal Springs Museum, often informally called the Walmart Museum because that's where the money comes from.

As you can see, it has one enormous Louise Bourgeois spider. I love those things. Especially since she's said that they're representations of her mother.

The museum specializes in the best American art that money can buy. (With the occasional foreign exception, such as Maman, above.) It has the original Norman Rockwell painting of Rosie the Riveter which, while you could quibble about this or that aspect, stands up well surrounded by august competition.

I could bore you forever about the artworks I particularly love. But I won't. Instead, I'll simply observe that, having started only recently, the museum's curators have made a conscious effort to include women and non-white artists in numbers more closely representing their accomplishments in the visual arts.

Strongly recommended, next time you're in this part of Arkansas.

But enough about not-me...

The good folks at Tachyon Publications have put together more excerpts from the many rave reviews of my brilliant new collection Not So Much, Said the Cat. You can read them here.

I have no idea why you'd want to, mind. But how nice for me that they exist!


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hanging With The Losers


Today is the final day of MidAmeriCon II. Tomorrow I dwindle to the stature of ex-guest of honor. Sic semper egoboo.

But last night I was at George Martin's Hugo Losers Party in the glorious Midland Theater. My God, what a beautiful building!The photo above, showing two of the drink stations, doesn't begin to do it justice.  Kyle Cassidy was there, photographing guests. (Joe and Gay Haldeman looked particularly distinguished -- or would have, if Joe weren't wearing a lobster hat.) The Black Crack Revue laid down some serious music. The drinks were free (or, as one sign read, "on the house, courtesy of Random House!"). The company was really, really good.

Do I have to mention Robert Silverberg to convince you of that last part? Marianne and I also got the chance to spend some time with Sebastien and Christine de Castell and caught a fleeting glimpse of the elusive Fran Wilde. Among many, many other friends. So we were content.

Today's final two items (drum roll, please!) are:

2:00 p.m.
MidAmeriCon I: A Conversation
Pat Cadigan, George Martin, and I talk about our very different experiences at the original Kansas City Worldcon.
Tucker Stage (3501A)

4:00 p.m.
Closing Ceremonies
My temporary godhood is removed from me and I dwindle into the West.

People keep asking me, so for the record: Yes, I had a great time. Yes, the con committee treated me well. And I'm grateful on both counts.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Moment of Glory Nears Its Appointed End


Tomorrow is the last day of MidAmeriCon II and on Monday I will dwindle to the stature of former guest of honor.

But in the meantime, life is a hoot. Up above is a photo of me with Sheila Gilbert (left) and Betsy Wollheim, both of DAW Books. Meeting them was a much bigger deal for me than, I'm sure, it was for them. But I have no problem with that.

And now for today's schedule:

11:000 a.m.
Room 2202

2:00 0 2:30 p.m.
Tachyon Booth, Huckster Room

3:00 p.m.
The Secret History of Science Fiction
Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Gordon Van Gelder, Eileen Gunn, and I share the kind of scandal and gossip that doesn't get written down about the founding greats of science fiction

4:00 p.m.
In Memoriam, David Hartwell
David's untimely death left a big hole in the field Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Tom Doherty and I (and probably one or two others to sub for Gardner Dozois and Kathryn Cramer, who, alas, couldn't attend) reminisce fondly about the virtues and eccentricities of one of the most significant editors in the field.

And I'll be the Hugo ceremony, but not giving out any of the awards. Presumably that will all be taken care of by everybody's favorite firecracker, the on-beyond-irrepressible Pat Cadigan, who is this year''s Toastmaster.

And there's still more to come!


Friday, August 19, 2016

The Van and I


In 1976, I painted a dragon on the side of a panel truck and ten or so friends and I piled in and drove to MidAmeriCon.  We had a blast. Now I'm at MidAmeriCon II and for my guest of honor display the committee found a period van to stand in for it. There I am, up above, beside it.

I refuse to say, "What a long, strange trip it's been."

Meanwhile, I've already done the morning Stroll With the Stars event. Here's the rest of today's schedule:

11:00 a.m.
Kansas City Convention Center Autographing Space

2:00 p.m.
Room 2210
Short Fiction of the 1980s
With Gordon Van Gelder, John Kessel, Ellen Datlow, Jo Walton. And if that lineup doesn't sell it for you, nothing will.

5:00 p.m.
Room 2207
Coode Street Podcast
Jonathan Strahan & Gary Wolfe moderators. Kij Johnson & I discuss the craft behind James Tiptree Jr.'s "The Women Men Don't See."

7:00 p.m.
Hard Fantasy -- Does It Exist?
Preston Grassmann, Seastien de Castell, Laurel Anne Hill, Courtney Schafer & I settle the question once and for all.

And there's more to come tomorrow! Sometime after I get home, I'll do an annotation of the items on display in the van.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

If You're Going Out Tonight, You Could Do It In Worse Places Than Kansas City.


So Tuesday night I was in a speakeasy in Kansas City. You entered through an alleyway reeking of stale cooking oil and rancid dumpsters, the ambiance was murky, the waitstaff had stern words to say if you used your cell phone to try to read the menu, and the drinks were good. Last night, I went to a steakhouse (the barbecue joints were all booked solid) with dear friends and caught up with years of missing event. And so, I hope, my evenings will go for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, at the Worldcon, I did a bookstore reading, was on an SRO panel on the contemporary influence of science fiction, and was a small part of the opening ceremonies for MidAmeriCon. (Briefly, I reminisced on sitting in the back row 40 years ago, with the bad kids who smoked and used naughty words... and if you want to know what conclusions I drew, you'll just have to have been there.)

Tomorrow, my official schedule is:

1:00 p.m.
What's New in the World of Dinosaurs
My fellow panelists are all knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I may not get a word in edgewise. Oughta be great.

4:00 p.m.
Being Michael Swanwick
My guest of honor interview. By Fran Wilde. With luck, I'll say something interesting.

8:00 p.m.
Literary Beer
People who have signed up for this get to share a beer with me and ask whatever they'd like to know. This is always fun and often surprising.

Stay tuned for more!

Above: There it is, the well-made martini, glowing in the light of its own perfection. Notice that it has but one olive. No more are needed.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Let the Worldcon BEGIN!!!


Yesterday, I was wandering about Kansas City having fun. (That's me up above, being menaced by one of Louise Bourgeois' spiders at the Kemper Museum.)

I also had a reading/interview at Rainy Day Books. And then went to a speakeasy. So it was an easygoing day.

Today the work begins.

Here's my Wednesday schedule:

2:00 p.m.
Does "Today's" Science Fiction Still Inspire the Future?
Spoiler Alert! The answer is: Yes and No.

5:00 p.m.
Opening Ceremony - Meet the Guests of Honor
With not only but Ruth Lichtwardt, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Tamara Pierce, and Kinuko Y. Craft. But let's be honest, the goh everybody wants to see is the fabulous Pat Cadigan.

As you can see, it's not a heavy schedule. So it's nice work if you can get it.

Daily updates and hijinks as the con progresses.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Things To Do In Kansas City On a Tuesday


MidAmeriCon II starts tomorrow. Why not get a jump start on it by going to Rainy Day Books tonight? I'll be doing a reading and chat there tonight at 7:00.

And while you're there, you might as well buy a piping hot and fresh from the presses copy of Not So Much, Said the Cat, my brilliant new collection of short fiction. You know that the bookstore people are secretly hoping you will.

Autograph at no additional cost.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Beelzebub Bids Farewell to Philadelphia


I got back home Saturday, which of course means that, as always, I'm on the road again. This time I'm off to MidAmeriCon II, the Kansas City Worldcon, where I'm a guest of honor.

Going with me is Beelzebub, who haas been doing a Cat Tour to support my fresh-off-the--presses collection, Not So Much, Said the Cat. To celebrate his stay in Philadelphia, above is a photo of him, taken at the Rocky statue at the foot of the Art Museum steps.

Beelzebub is going to Kansas City with me, but he won't be returning in my company. Instead, Tachyon Publications will be giving him away to some fortunate cat-fancyer.

You can discover the details at the Tachyon table in the huckster room.


Friday, August 12, 2016

My Worldcon Schedule


As always, I'm on the road again! And when I get back, I'll be flying off to Kansas City where I'm slated to be a guest of honor at MidAmeriCon II.

I'm not sure how much blogging I'll have the time to do, but I'll try to keep in touch. In the meantime, for those of you who are going to be in attendance, here's my preliminary schedule:


2:00 p.m.
Does "Today's" Science Fiction Still Inspire the Future? (Participant)
Heinlein, Asimov, and Bradbury inspired a generation of young minds to become today's scientists and engineers. Where have those "inspired" kids brought us today? What connections can we tie back to the works of these SF icons? Are today's SF authors still inspiring younger generations to pursue technology and science? If so, which authors are inspiring the next generation and in what ways?
2207 (Kansas City Convention Center)
with Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Cynthia Ward, Adam-Troy Castro

5:00 p.m.
Opening Ceremony - Meet the Guests of Honor (Participant)
Heinlein Stadium (Kansas City Convention Center)
with Ms Pat Cadigan, Ruth Lichtwardt, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Tamora Pierce, Ms. Kinuko Y. Craft


1:00 p.m.
What's New in the World of Dinosaurs! (Participant)
Dinosaurs are cool! New discoveries are being made every day as we unearth bones from the past. In a recent discovery, scientists believe that a pregnant T-Rex found in Montana may have fragments of DNA preserved in her medullary bone. What else is out there? What other news from the past is there to share?
2205 - A/V (Kansas City Convention Center)
with Bennett Coles, Mel. White, Frank Wu, Ms Rosemary Claire Smith

4:00 p.m.
Being Michael Swanwick (Participant)
Tucker Stage (Kansas City Convention Center)
with Fran Wilde

8:00 p.m.
Literary Beer : GoH Michael Swanwick
Literary Beer space (Kansas City Convention Center)


8:30 a.m.
Stroll with the Stars
The Worlds Most Famous Parking Garage: A tour of the Power and Light District.
2.15 km

11:00 a.m.
Autographing: Michael Swanwick (tentative) (Reserved)
Autographing Space (Kansas City Convention Center)

2:00 p.m.
Short Fiction of the 1980s (Participant)
2210 (Kansas City Convention Center)
with Gordon Van Gelder, John Kessel, Ellen Datlow, Jo Walton

4:00 or 5:00 p.m.
Placeholder for Coode St (Participant)
2207 (Kansas City Convention Center)
with Jonathan Strahan, Gary Wolfe, Kij Johnson

7:00 p.m.
Hard Fantasy - Does it Exist? (Participant)
2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)
with Mr. Preston Grassmann, Sebastien de Castell, Mrs. Laurel Anne Hill, Courtney Schafer


11:00 a.m.
Reading: Michael Swanwick (tentative) (Reserved)
2202 Readings (Kansas City Convention Center)

2: 00 – 2:30 p.m.
Autographing at Tachyon Booth

3:00 p.m.
The Secret History of Science Fiction (Participant)
“The first thing I did when I became an editor was to learn all the dirt, who hated who and why,” David Hartwell said. “Because if I was going to do business in this field, I needed to know where the landmines were buried.” Then he told Michael Swanwick a scandalous story. With David’s permission, Michael began transcribing his stories of the early years of the genre. (Stories about living writers were never shared.) "The Secret History of Science Fiction,” would have been a juicy addition to our literary history. Unfortunately, David died and with him the project. There are a few entries that remain and this panel is a forum to share such stories and honor David's humor and intelligence.
2504B (Kansas City Convention Center)
with Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Gordon Van Gelder, Eileen Gunn

4:00 p.m.
In Memoriam; David G. Hartwell (Participant)
3501F - A/V (Kansas City Convention Center)
with Kathryn Cramer, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Tom Doherty

6:00 p.m.
Hugo Awards Reception (Invisible)
Saturday, August 20 2016, 6:00 pm
2501D (Kansas City Convention Center)


2:00 p.m.
MidAmeriCon I: A Conversation (Participant)
A discussion about the first MidAmeriCon from three authors who were there: Michael Swanwick who was a fan and fledgling writer; George R R Martin who was there as an author and co-founded the Hugo Losers Party, and Pat Cadigan as a committee member (and Heinlein's Guest Liaison).
Tucker Stage (Kansas City Convention Center)
with George R. R. Martin, Ms Pat Cadigan

4:00 p.m.
Closing Ceremony (Participant)
Tucker Stage (Kansas City Convention Center)
with Ruth Lichtwardt, Ms Pat Cadigan, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Ms. Kinuko Y. Craft, Tamora Pierce

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hope-in-the-Mist & What Can Be Saved from the Wreckage? E-Books!


I have a particular fondness for my two Temporary Culture books, Hope-in-the-Mist and What Can Be Saved from the Wreckage? Firstly, because they were both labors of love, critical monographs on two fantasists of great importance to the genre. Secondly because Henry Wessells made such lovely books out of them.

The only drawback to those publications was that because a) there is a limited market for such studies, and b) Henry didn't want to have boxes of unsold books cluttering up his living room, they were issued in editions of 200 copies each, plus a very limited number of hand-bound hardcovers.

Both books went out of print very quickly.

This was a particular problem for Lud-in-the-Mist because it is the only book dedicated solely to Hope Mirrlees and thus any scholar who wants to write about her must somehow track down a copy.

So I am particularly happy to report that Temporary Culture is making both volumes available as e-books through Weightless Books.

Hope-in-the-Mist: The Extraordinary Career and Mysterious Life of Hope Mirrlees is a slim study of the life and works of a woman known in genre for her magisterial fantasy novel Lud-in-the-Mist and in Academia for her magisterial (and long lost) poem Paris, a Poem. The poem was published by Virginia and Leonard Woolf on the tabletop press and is suspected of being a serious influence on Mirrlees's friend T. S. Eliot. The novel is considered one of the founding works of fantasy by all hte usual suspects, including not only myself but Neil Gaiman. Who, not coincidentally, provided an introduction to my book.

You can find ordering information here.

What Can Be Saved from the Wreckage? James Branch Cabell in the Twenty-First Century is my attempt to make James Branch Cabell accessible again. I read everything that Cabell ever published (roughly fifty books, all told) and then passed judgment on them, holding the praiseworthy up for admiration and explaining why the lesser works are of interest only to the completist.(*) In the course of which, I give a quick sketch of the man's life and career, detailing how he took the most successful career of any fantasist of his times and drove it straight and unerringly into oblivion.

But fondly, I hope. There was a lot to like about JBC.

The introduction, believe it or not, was written by Barry Humphries, he of Dame Edna Everage fame. You can find the ordering information for it here.

(*) Neil Gaiman (and I'm sure he's not alone) believes that I've undervalued some of Cabell's works, the short fiction in particular. This is quite possible. Please feel free to decide for yourself. And if you end up feeling I gave the man short shrift, feel free to say so publicly. Fantasists can use all the publicity they can get. Above: The cover for Hope-in-the-Mist.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Me, Interviewed


I've been interviewed! Specifically, I was interviewed about my just-out collection Not So Much, Said the Cat. Over at mylifemybooksmyescape, DJ asks questions and I answer them.

Here's the first one:

DJ: Hey Michael! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview! For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Michael Swanwick: In 1973, I came to Philadelphia with fifty dollars, a pack-a-day cigarette habit, and the mad conviction I could become a writer. Seven years later, my first two published stories placed on the Nebula Award ballot. Since then, I’ve published nine novels, roughly 150 stories, and countless works of flash fiction. Along the way, I’ve won several awards. I live for literature.

And there is, of course, more. You can read the entire interview here.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

My "Five Things" Thing


This is the second week in a row I've done a Tuesday blog post. It turns out that when you have a new collection out and are about to be a guest of honor at the Worldon, news tends to accumulate. He said, perhaps just a little full of himself.

Today's tid-bit is that I wrote a post for It's one of those "Five Things" things. And it's called "Five Fantasy Books You Won't Find in the Fantasy Section." I recommend 'em all.

You can find it here.

Oh, and also...

Over on YouTube, a young woman named Kalanadi gave a generous review to Not So Much, Said the Cat. This is the first YouTube review I've ever received. You'd think the genre readers/reviewers would be all over the New Media things, but it turns out not. Ricki, over at Bookhaven (2202 Fairmount Avenue here in Philadelphia; one of my favorite used book stores) told me once that e-books had seriously cut into the sale of used mystery books -- but not of science fiction. SF/fantasy fans, it turns out, are not early adaptors.

If you'd like to see the review, you can find it here.

Above: Tilda Swinton in the movie version of Orlando. I haven't seen it, but I really must. That's Orlando to a pippin.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Here It Is, the Distinguished Thing!


Eat your heart out, Joffrey Lannister! Beelzebub now sits on a throne superior to anything your royal butt has ever known.

I've received my author's copies of Not So Much, Said the Cat, which means that copies have shipped to the bookstores and my latest collection is now available for sale.

(Gonnabe writers take note: Author copies get shipped last, after all the important people have been taken care of. It's maddening when it's your first book, but it's done to maximize profits so, really, in the long run it's all to the good.)

Not So Much, Said the Cat can be found wherever, as they say, fine books are sold.

And since I've mentioned his name by implication...

I should drop in here the fact that George R. R. Martin is not just the author of pretty successful novels. He's also won Hugo Awards for short story, novelette, and novella (two). To say nothing of his two Nebula Awards for novelette. I've got all his short fiction collections, and they're well worth reading.

Not that I'm lending you mine. That's a good way to lose 'em forever.


Friday, August 5, 2016

A User's Guide to the Mongolian Wizard Stories


I'm about a third of the way through the Mongolian Wizard stories, all of which to date have been published at

Recently, I provided some notes on the first seven stories for a friend who had a related project going. They have, in the mysterious way these things have of happening, been published on File 770. And if you'd like an overview of what's going on the series, you'll find them of interest.

I should caution, however, that the synopses of the stories give away the twists and endings. So if you haven't read them but think you might like to, you should click the links and go straight to the stories themselves.

You can find the material here.


And if you're a serious collector...

The Dragonstairs Press extremely limited edition of Universe Boxes -- altered cigar boxes, found objects, very small art object, and a handmade book with "Universe Box," an original story by your truly -- goes on sale tomorrow, August 6, at 12:00 noon Eastern Coast Time.

Since there are only ten available for sale, they'll probably go fast.

You can visit the Dragonstairs site and see a video of me unpacking one of the boxes here.

Above: The illustration for "The Mongolian Wizard" is, of course, by Gregory Manchess, who has illustrated all the stories so far. You have no idea how fortunate that makes me feel.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Universe Boxes are Almost Available!!!


Breaking News!

I just now received the following email from Marianne Porter, the unquestioned ultimate power at Dragonstairs Press. This is so highly-anticipated an event that I'm breaking precedent by blogging twice in a single day. Those who are interested in today's one-day sale of Vacuum Flowers in e-book format should scroll down to the earlier post.

Universe Boxes is issued in an edition of 13, of which 10 are available for purchase.  Price is $215 for shipping in the United States, $225 for shipping elsewhere.  Universe Boxes will be available for sale beginning Saturday, August 6, 2016, at noon, Eastern time.  Please check at

Universe Boxes is a collaborative project by Michael Swanwick and Marianne Porter. The boxes were assembled over several years by me, and the novelette was written by Swanwick.  It is a significant departure for Dragonstairs, and I hope you will be as intrigued by it as I have been.
The project has four distinct elements:
The Box
Each box is an actual cigar box, lined with astronomical charts and photomoechanicals of paleontological art. (Please note: the boxes have been carefully cleaned, bicarbonate of soda-ed, aired out, and Febreezed, but they originally held real tobacco.)
The exterior of each box has a Dragonstairs Press return address sticker and appropriate rubber-stamp-canceled postage for the item to go through the mail. (Out of concern for the contents, the Universe Boxes will be padded and shipped in larger boxes.) When each is sold, an address sticker with its purchaser’s name and address will be added. The whole will then be tied up with string.
The Contents
A variety of objects have been included in each. Every box has a hand-bound signed copy of Universe Box by Michael Swanwick and a vaccine created by Marianne Porter (more on these below).
Contents of one box, identified as Coma Bernices/Pleistocene include:
            glass beads
            vacuum tube
            red gem coral Corallium sp.
            sectioned geode
            postal reply coupon
            vintage German glass taxidermy eyes
            winged pin
            calling cards
Plus, of course, the vaccine and book. Some of the above items are common to all boxes but most are not. The contents of each box are unique to it.
Packing material consists of early drafts of the included story, run through a shredder.
The Story
Universe Box is a previously-unpublished 10,500 word fantasy dealing with cosmic powers, giraffe wranglers, the purpose of existence, and the most boring young man in all the universe. Physically, it is a stab-bound book with decorative paper covers, roughly six inches by four inches, issued in an edition of thirteen plus one printer’s proof. The books are all autographed by Michael Swanwick and a contents list is autographed by both the author and the publisher.
The Vaccine
One vaccine is included per box. These are individual works of art by Marianne Porter, consisting of a glass serum bottle (2 cm x 4.5 cm) filled with specifics “against what ails you.” The bottle is sealed with a rubber stopper and topped with a crimped aluminum cap. It can be opened, but once opened cannot be resealed. The contents of each vaccine are unique to it. The one included in Coma Bernices/Pleistocene, for example, contains human hair, an agate bead, and wire.
The vaccines are part of a larger series, none of which have previously been made available for purchase.
Thank you for your support.


  Marianne Porter



Vacuum Flowers e-Book Sale TODAY ONLY!


At the risk of making this blog look like yet another Advertisement-for-Me, I feel obliged to share the following commercial news:

Open Road Media, which has published e-books of five of my novels and one collection (listed below*) has arranged a one-day sale of Vacuum Flowers for $1.99 -- today only!

Vacuum Flowers is my half-cyberpunk, half-humanist exploration of the Solar System at a time when human personalities can be bought, sold, chopped and customized. Its protagonist is named Rebel Elizabeth Mudlark and if that doesn't pique your curiosity, then this probably isn't the book for you.

But if you're an e-book reader and have always been curious about this particular title, this is your opportunity to buy it cheap.

You can find this one-time-good-deal-only here.

There are also a few other books briefly on sale. The Sherman Alexei looks like it would be a wise buy

And, yes, I know...

... that the cover is inaccurate since everyone in the novel wears a cache-sexe and nothing else. At the time, I reasoned that when every human habitat is climate-controlled people would either wear next to nothing or else clothes of Victorian complexity. Then I flipped a coin. I didn't take into account the troubles this would cause cover-artists in years to come.

The contradiction, then, falls on me. I apologize for that. Why not buy the book anyway?

The Iron Dragon's Daughter, Bones of the Earth,  Vacuum Flowers, In the Drift, Jack Faust, and Tales of Old Earth

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Beelzebub in Yellow


How cool is this? Artist Manuel Preitano, inspired by the title of my new collection, Not So Much, Said the Cat, took it on himself to draw Beelzebub as a long-time rival to the arch-grifter and dog of action, Sir Blackthorpe Ravenscairn de Plus Precieux (known to his friends as Surplus).

Admit it. You want to see those two tangle.

Manuel Preitano also did the quite charming cover for the Italian edition of Dancing With Bears, His portfolio page, with that illustration, can be found here.


Monday, August 1, 2016

"One of the Master Short Fiction Writers..."


I'm home!

And in the mail to greet me is this month's Locus, with Gary K. Wolfe's review of my just-published new collection Not So Much, Said the Cat. Here's some of what he had to say:

 Michael Swanwick has been one of the master short fiction writers in the field for decades, and one of the most eclectic. He seems to know so many traditions of fantastic literature that you can sense his glee at being able to juggle them, often in the same story, in a way that is somehow both deeply original and playfully allusive.

And also:

Even when a story begins with a sequence that seems familiar from a hundred SF or horror stories, Swanwick opens it out in unexpected ways, and demonstrates as consistently as anyone now working that the craft oft he literary short story and the materials of SF and fantasy can not only be compatible, but impressively synergetic.

I never express gratitude for a review because that seems to me an insult to the reviewer. Thanking one for a positive review would imply that the review had been slanted as a favor to the writer under question. But there's no denying that I found this review very satisfying.

And for those who crave food for literary thought...

Also in the August Locus is an interview with David D. Levine, in which drops this intriguing theory by our old friend Anonymous (but maybe the interview will prompt the theory's creator to step forward and take a bow.):

I read an essay in a fanzine years ago... predicated on the idea that science fiction grew out of a tradition of sea stories that started in the 1700s...The idea that you can travel from one planet to another in a matter of weeks or months rather than days or decades. The fact that the captain of the starship is the one who is in charge, that there is no effective communications between captains and their bosses back home, the relationships of people within the ship, the relationships of people on the ship to the places they arrive, the idea that each island has a single culture -- a single climate, a single religion, a single language -- all of these science-fiction tropes come directly from the sailing mechanics and realities of 1700.

Which, true or not, you have to admit is pretty nifty. I could argue it both ways.

This is, incidentally, one of many reasons I subscribe to Locus -- to be surprised by intelligent discourse.

Above: Beelzebub, minor prince of darkness, checking out his reviews.