Thursday, March 25, 2021

Life Hacks for Readers



Life Hack for Readers No. 1:

In a pinch, a book can be used as a bookmark for another book.


Thursday, March 18, 2021

Was There EVER a Cyberpunk?



I was just now reading Paul Di Filippo's glowing review of Bruce Sterling's new Tachyon Publications collection Robot Artists & Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories, in which Paul reflects on  how much cyberpunk (by which he means, chiefly, Bruce) has changed in the past 35 or so years.

Cyberpunk, the movement, which was created by Sterling, served him well in the early years, though he never much cared for the name and I doubt he's entirely pleased with how it's still stuck on him, however much his fiction has changed. But thinking about the Old Days brought up a memory of a genial argument that Ellen Datlow and I had back then.

I posited, for various reasons that no longer matter, that there was no such thing as cyberpunk, but that if there were, William Gibson wasn't a part of it. Ellen smiled and said that she was absolutely certain that there was such a thing as cyberpunk and that Bill was its only practitioner.

All these years later, there's been an ironic reversal. The world has decided that cyberpunk exists but that Bill Gibson is no longer a part of it. Meanwhile, I've decided that Ellen was right on both counts.

 I can't say I'm surprised. Ellen is a very insightful woman.

You can read Paul's review here.  


And as long as I'm here . . .

I haven't been promoting my own books with all the egotistical vigor I should have. Mea culpa. So this is just a reminder that the ebook of Vacuum Flowers is still on sale and will remain so for the rest of the month of March.

You can find the details here. 


Thursday, March 4, 2021

Annie Without Crow




I have a new story coming on Tor.Com, this April 7! That's the title and the cover illustration up above. The artist was Wylie Beckert. Who did, I think you'll agree, a great job of it.

Yes, "Annie Without Crow" makes "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O" the first story of a series. No, I don't expect there to be any more . It's a two-story series. 

Here's how it came about:

Years ago, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman came to the Main Line for a reading. Marianne and I of course went to listen. Afterward, Ellen hit me up for a story for an anthology she was hoping to sell of fantasies based on border ballads. She suggested a few possible titles.

"None of these really sing to me," I said dubiously. "But if you can come up with two vivid images that don't fit together, I'll give it a try." This is the way I write.

Alas, Ellen couldn't get into the game. It's not the way she writes. But on the way home, I said to Marianne, "One element is a trailor truck full of Deinonychus. What's the other?"

Quick as a flash, Marianne said, "A basket full of dead puppies."

"I can write this bastard!" I crowed.

And so I did. "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O"was the story of how Trickster fell in love with another man's wife and the price he paid to win her. I like the story a lot. It has some rough moments, but it's romantic.

But it bothered me that, though Annie is, in the story, obviously worth everything that Crow goes through for her, she never really got to show how ruthless she could be in her own right. Hence, "Annie Without Crow."

At the end of the first story, after all, Annie became an Avatar and a particularly dangerous one at that. She's nobody you'd want to cross.

But odds are you already have. When you read the story, you'll see what I mean.


Every Day is a Small Adventure



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.


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Vacuum Flowers E-Book Sale ALL MARCH!!!


 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.

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