Thursday, March 4, 2021

Every Day is a Small Adventure

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On Monday, the governor of Pennsylvania eased travel restrictions, making it possible to leave the state without having to quarantine oneself for fourteen days upon re-entry. (There's not actually any mechanism for enforcing this; but once you start cutting corners on safety...) So I decided to play hooky from work. Marianne and I went down to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware. This is as safe an activity as can be had in pandemic times. Mostly, we were inside a car and, when we weren't, we were outside and (with one exception) never within six feet of another human being. 

Then, maybe two hours into the refuge, we stopped to look at a great blue heron (that's it above) and when we tried to start up the car again... nothing.

As adventures go, this was a small one, within the hour, a cheerful auto mechanic was telling us that Bombay Hook was his favorite place on earth and that he was grateful to have the call because not only was it a beautiful day but, being on call, he didn't have to pay admission. So he got us going, we curtailed our day and we made it back to Philadelphia on an almost-empty tank of gas.

But it reminded me of how, before Covid-19, almost every day was like that one. Full of unexpected events and strange occurrences. I'm looking forward to being in that situation again.

Also, the great blue was a sport about the whole thing. It stayed in the pond the entire time, stalking its prey and filling up on small fish and creepy-crawlies. So we had something to watch while we waited.


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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Vacuum Flowers E-Book Sale ALL MARCH!!!

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 There are a lot of one-day pop-up e-book sales happening these days, but this one is different from the others in that it lasts all month! I think this is a first for me.

At any rate Vacuum Flowers whose protagonist has the undeniably charming name of Rebel Elizabeth Mudlark will be on sale for $1.99 through the month of March. 

Here's the boilerplate, as it was emailed to me:

 
We are pleased to let you know that the following ebook(s) will be featured in price promotions soon.

ISBN13 Title Author Promo Type Country Start Date End Date Promo Price
9781504036504 Vacuum Flowers Swanwick, Michael Amazon - KMD US 2021-03-01 2021-03-31 $1.99


Open Road will promote the feature via social media. We hope you can share the deal with your network as well. You can subscribe to the newsletters at the links below so that you will get the direct link to the deal on the day that it appears.

Newsletter Link
  Early Bird Books     Subscribe Now  
The Lineup Subscribe Now
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Murder & Mayhem Subscribe Now
A Love So True Subscribe Now
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The Reader Subscribe Now

 

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Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Book of Blarney

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Dragonstairs Press, Marianne Porter's one-woman  nanopress, has just announced its latest chapbook, with flash fictions written by yours truly.

 Here's her press release:

The Book of Blarney is being published in a small limited edition this Friday afternoon and is pretty much guaranteed to go out of print within the hour. 

Dragonstairs celebrates St. Patrick's Day! 

Four whimsical, cynical vignettes on the theme of Ireland's religious and literary history.

5 ½ by 4 ¼ inches.  Wrapper of Nepalese lokta paper, in two different states. Decorated with an applied harp label and green ribbon.   Numbered and signed by the author.  Issued in an edition of 50, 11 of which were distributed to participants of Michael Swanwick's virtual kaffeklatch at 2021 Boskone.  36 will be available for sale on Friday, 3 PM EST, at dragonstairs.com.


 Since the run is small, this is pretty much guaranteed to sell out within the hour. Marianne hates it when I point that out. But I mention it just to give you some advance warning.


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Monday, February 22, 2021

Dream Atlas

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I'm in print again! That always makes me feel good. And in good company too. 

Here's how ""Dream Atlas" begins: 

This is new, she thought. Remember it.

 

In her dream, a red-and-white bird with sharp little teeth was fussing over its eggs, turning them with its beak. They were ivory, speckled with brown, and nestled atop a bed of ferns inside a shallow dirt cave. Eleanor heard ocean waves crashing and the sharp cries of other toothbirds as they flashed by. She smelled the salt air, the ferns, the dirt, the sweet tang of droppings—and that was unusual. All within a bright circle of light in the gloom. It was like peering down a long, dim tunnel.

 

Eleanor knew it was a dream because she was a lucid dreamer and…


To read more, of course, you'll need a copy of the March/April 2021 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction. 

But you already have a subscription, don't you?


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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Bones of the Earth E-Book Sale! One Day Only!

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I spent a year researching Bones of the Earth--interviewing paleontologists, viewing fossils, and of course reading intensely. As I wrote, I called paleontologist Dr. Tom Holtz at least once a week with a long list of questions. Then, as I finished each chapter, I ran it pas dinosaur reconstruction artistt Robert Walters, who would return it to me with an insultingly long list of corrections to be made. After which I ran it past paleontologist Ralph Chapman, who returned it to me with an insultingly long list of yet more corrections to be made. When I turned in the manuscript to my publisher, it was the most accurate dinosaur novel in existence.

When the book was published, some months later, it was less accurate. Because new discoveries had overturned some of the novel's presumptions. I don't think I'd date run a rigorous fact-check on it today.

Nevertheless, it's a lot of fun and, I dare to say, a pretty accurate look at what paleontology would be like if only its practitioners had access to time travel. 

And, for one day only, the e-book is coming up on sale! Here's the details as they were given me:

We are pleased to let you know that the following ebook(s) will be featured in price promotions soon.

ISBN13 Title Author Promo Type Country Start Date End Date Promo Price
9781504036467 Bones of the Earth Swanwick, Michael ORM - Portalist NL US 2021-02-10 2021-02-10 $1.99
9781504036467 Bones of the Earth Swanwick, Michael ORM - Portalist NL CA 2021-02-10 2021-02-10 $1.99


Open Road will promote the feature via social media. We hope you can share the deal with your network as well. You can subscribe to the newsletters at the links below so that you will get the direct link to the deal on the day that it appears.

Newsletter Link
  Early Bird Books     Subscribe Now  
The Lineup Subscribe Now
The Portalist Subscribe Now
Murder & Mayhem Subscribe Now
A Love So True Subscribe Now
The Archive Subscribe Now
The ReaderSubscribe Now

 

And it's back to work with me . . .

 In the past several days, I've gone over proofed copies of three stories, "Hugin and Munin--and What Came Next," "Dreadnought," and "Annie Without Crow."  Coming out from three different zines. I'll be letting you know which ones, as they are announced.


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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Artificial People in China

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Once again, I'm in print in China!  That always gives me a particular pleasure because I've visited the country several times and I have friends in the science fiction community there. 

The magazine in question is Science Fiction World and the story is "Artificial People," which was published not that long ago in Clarkesworld. The story is about an artificially created being coming of age in a difficult era and trying to come to terms with life. So that's pretty much universal.

The late and very brilliant writer Thomas Disch eventually came to the conclusion that science fiction was a children's literature--or, to put it a little close to the bone, a literature for adolescents. Many science fiction writers took umbrage at this. But I gave it serious thought and decided that, whatever Disch's intentions, the claim is not the insult he meant it to be.

For most readers, the most intense period of their reading lives is in their teen years and shortly thereafter. They're still trying to figure out life, to understand what's going on, and as they re ad they're looking for clues. So if you have something to say about the cruelties and wonder, the glory and despair of existence... well, often enough an adolescent will be your ideal reader.

I found myself thinking about this today in part because of the nature of the story. But also because of the nature of Chinese science fiction fandom. For the longest time, SF was seen as a YA literary form. Readership peaked senior year of high school, declined in college, and went to zero on graduation. Cixin Liu was the first writer there to become an adult best-seller. But he's certainly not going to be the last.

Right now, Chinese science fiction is where American science fiction was not so long ago. But they're catching up fast and I applaud them for that. This is an exciting time for SF in China and, as I've often said before, I'm happy to be an extremely part of that.

 

Oh, and . . .

You can read "Artificial People" in the original English here. Or, you know, just go to Clarkesworld and poke around. It's a good magazine. It will reward your time.

 

Above: The Dragonstairs Press rug dragon is delighted with my newest foray into print.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Ending February 4!!! The Iron Dragon's Mother e-Book for $2.99

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This is a first! The Iron Dragon's Mother ebook is on sale! It's available for $2.99 sale today and tomorrow--Febrruary 3 and 4--on BookBub

So if a) you read ebooks, b) you'd like to read The Iron Dragon's Mother, and c) you can afford to spend three bucks, well... this is your chance.

People tell me I don't push my books aggressively enough. But that's why I'm in Creative and not Sales--so I won't have to. 

I have people who do that for me.

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Friday, January 15, 2021

Another Day, Another Life Bird


 

All the birding community has been atwitter (sorry) about a tundra bean goose (Anser serrirostris) which, though it properly belongs in Siberia, has been wandering about Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. It's an opportunity to add a bird to one's North American life list that will probably never recur in this lifetime.

The goose had earlier been seen on the Schuylkill River, off of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, so Marianne and I hopped in the car Wednesday... Only to discover that the road was closed, for repairs I think. We tried spotting it from the far side of the river but no luck.

This morning we tried again and achieved success by the time-honored method of looking for a group of birders with their binoculars pointed in the same direction. And achieved almost immediate success. Those are some of the birders up above, carefully examining every bird in a flock of Canada geese. Among them, center front, was the tundra bean goose.

If I had the enormous telephoto lenses that some of the birders had, I'd have a great picture to share with you. The tundra bean goose is a handsome bird, with striking features. But I haven't. So I'll just share the pic that Marianne took with her cell phone:




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Thursday, January 14, 2021

A Page From the Scribblehobbledehoydenii

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"Michael? Michael! This is yourself from the future..."

"Excuse me, what?"

"I'm you. From the far reaches of January 2021.Okay, I realize that's only twelve months from where you are, but..."

"Wow. What's with the hair? Have I joined some kind of anti-grooming cult?"

"That's the first thing I want to talk to you about. Go out and get a haircut, as short as you can bear it to be. Do it today. But first buy six months' worth of toilet paper. Never mind why."

"Um... Okay."

"Oh, and all that dystopian science fiction you're writing? Scrap it! From now on, it's fuzzy space bunnies and cuddly unicorns only. Your editors will thank you for it."

"I really don't think..."

"Don't think at all. Get your eyeglass prescription checked now. Visit the dentist. Go to a rock concert--I don't care if you like the group or not, just go. Eat out. Hug your friends. You're not going to be doing that again for a long, long time. Hell, hug your enemies. You're never going to be doing that again ever. Oh, and buy a good webcam while they're still cheap. Get a Zoom account. Your son will explain what that is. Are you writing this all down?"

"I think I've got it all. Anything else?"

"Just one more thing. A couple of months from now you're going to be tempted to make remarks about how much better than 2020 the year 2021 is going to be. You'll feel better about yourself afterward if you refrain from doing so."

"But..."

"Don't ask. You'll learn soon enough."


Above: The Scribbledehobbledehoydenii (singular Scribbledehobbledehoyden) is the proper title of my notebooks.


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Monday, January 11, 2021

The Godless Atheist Christmas Card of the Year 2020

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"I'm with your father. I didn't think I thought nothing this year was going to rise to the level of winner. But it turns out there's serious competiton here." (A BRNAANPOF member) 

The planet has spun about the Sun again and the time has come for the annual Godless Atheist Christmas Card of the Year competition. Going into the judging the Blue Ribbon Not At All Nepotistic Panel of Family was greatly dispirited by the preponderance of spiritual and even overtly religious cards received in the wake of an admittedly hard year. But when the nitty got down to the gritty, our friends had come through. The will to avoid any reference to the reason to be sending out Christmas cards in the first place was strong in them.

Here are some of the comments that were made about the eight finalists (above):

 Top, Second from Right: "A cheerless, empty bench and slush on the George Washington Bridge. I think that says it all." (countered by:) "This is a traditional nature's beauty shot of a stream in winter and a lone deer but for people who are never more than a quarter-mile from a Jewish deli. It's Christmassy."

 Top Right: "Three polar bears contemplating the onset of global warming with despair. I've rarely been so depressed by a Christmas card." (countered by:) "However, I would argue that the card bespeaks a love of nature with a desire to see the world become better. I'm not saying it's not despairing. But it's not the Godless Atheist Christmas Card of the Year."

 Bottom, Second from Left: "Santa on a Segway is mere alliteration. The steampunk goggles don't help" (another BRNAANPOF member amplified:) "He's an old man. He's wearing the trendy fashion accessories of a decade ago. This is a card that throws away all yesterday's traditions. That's Boomer Santa!"

 Top, Second from Left: "A mouse in a Santa Worm costume atop a cat that is clearly contemplating eating it. I think we're all disturbed by this one." (countered by:) "Yes, but it's not enough for a card to be Atheist. It must flaunt its Atheism."

 Bottom Left: "Christmas Love: A squirrel stealing a candy cane from a bloated pluto-cat." (and:) "Nothing says Christmas like theft."

Bottom Right: "This is Zsa Zsa Gabor Decorates a Window on Fifth Avenue for the Season. It has nothing to do with the season. It's bright and cheerful and pleasant to look at. But with no spiritual content.

 Bottom, Second from Left: "A series of hand-shadow instructions--two pages of them! This has nothing to do with Christmas, God, spirituality, or even winter. It would be appropriate for the April issue of Boys Life."

  Top Left: "The simple natural beauty of snowflakes rendered sterile and meaningless by abstraction and the addition of expensive but morally empty blood diamonds. Ivanka Trump could have sent this card."

As you can tell, this was a spirited debate. But in the end, there can only be one. And it was that last, irrefutable sentence that settled matters. So here, with all appropriate fanfare is the... Godless Atheist Christmas Card of the Year for 2020:

 


 And may the coming year be an improvement over the last one, with this past week thrown in for good measure.


 

 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Saturday, January 2, 2021

In the Drift e-Book Sale! This Sunday Only!!!

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For some reason Open Road Media has been putting a lot of my e-books on one-day sales recently. Here's the latest:

 

Dear Michael Swanwick,

We are pleased to let you know that the following ebook(s) will be featured in price promotions soon.

ISBN13 Title Author Promo Type Country Start Date End Date Promo Price
9781504036474 In the Drift Swanwick, Michael ORM - Portalist NL US 2021-01-03 2021-01-03 $1.99
9781504036474 In the Drift Swanwick, Michael ORM - Portalist NL CA 2021-01-03 2021-01-03 $1.99


Open Road will promote the feature via social media. We hope you can share the deal with your network as well. You can subscribe to the newsletters at the links below so that you will get the direct link to the deal on the day that it appears.

Newsletter Link
  Early Bird Books     Subscribe Now  
The Lineup Subscribe Now
The Portalist Subscribe Now
Murder & Mayhem Subscribe Now
A Love So True Subscribe Now
The Archive Subscribe Now
The Reader Subscribe Now

 And so . . .

I've shared the info, as requested. If you''re an e-book reader and you've been curious about my first novel... well, there's your chance.