Daily Archives: January 5, 2006

One Other Thing –

While I’m talking about other people’s stories that I’ve bought, allow me to note an upcoming experiment I’ll be doing here on the Whatever. While I was going through the submissions to Subterranean for the cliche issue, I came across the story “Who Put the Bomp?” by Nick Mamatas and Eliani Torres. It made it past the first couple of cuts for the magazine but when it came time to make final cuts, I cut it because it didn’t quite mesh with the other pieces I was planning to buy. The problem was that I really liked the piece — I kept coming back to it, and to be entirely honest, it was just so unclassifiably weird that it grew on me each time I read it.

So I bought it. Not for Subterranean Magazine, but for myself — paid the going rate I was offering the writers for Subterranean but paid for it out of my own pocket. And in return I get the right to post it here on the Whatever, which I plan to do in a couple of weeks: January 20, in fact.

I’m doing this because aside from liking the story enough to pay for it myself, I’m curious to see how something like this is received, and how effective the Whatever is in getting exposure for fiction (which is to say, someone else’s fiction — I’m pretty confident it’s been good for my own). This site’s daily readership is larger than the circulation of every science fiction magazine out there, save the big three of Asimov’s, Analog and F&SF, so potentially there’s a good chance of Nick and Eliani’s piece getting seen widely inside the usual SF circles — and being seen outside them to, since not everyone who visits the site is a hardcore SF reader.

Running someone else’s professional-grade fiction on a personal site isn’t the usual thing, but who’s to say it can’t be an effective way to show off the work, particularly when the site has a healthy and diverse readership? It’s an interesting enough question that it was worth me investing some of my own cash to check it out and see what happens, and I’m grateful that Nick and Eliani gave me permission to personally buy the piece and use it for this experiment.

As for all of you, I hope you’ll swing by on the 20th and check out the piece — I’ll post it in the morning and then keep it as the top post over the weekend (that’s the weekend I’ll be at the Synthetic Confusion convention) so there will be lots of time to read the piece and let me (and the authors) know what you think.

And thus we come to the end of a day of writing announcements and schedules. Thank you all for your indulgence.

Subterranean Magazine Cliche Issue Lineup

So, have you been staying up nights wondering what the story line-up for the Subterranean Magazine Cliche Issue will be? I don’t blame you. But wonder no more. Now that I have everything in a minimally edited format (except one piece, but that’ll be in this weekend, or my “boys” will pay someone a call), here are the stories, non-fiction pieces and authors you’ll be seeing when the magazine hits the stands this spring. The list is alphabetical by title, although some titles may change:

“Cliche Haiku” by Scott Westerfeld
“A Finite Number of Typewriters” by Stuart MacBride
“Hesperia and Glory” by Ann Leckie
“Horrible Historians” by Gillian Polack
“The Inevitable Heat Death of the Universe” by Elizabeth Bear
“It Came From the Slush Pile” by John Joseph Adams
“Labyrinth’s Heart” by Bruce Arthurs
“Last” by Chris Roberson
“The Last Science Fiction Writer” by Allen M. Steele
“Movie Cliches and the Sci-Fi Films That Love Them” by Ron Hogan
“The NOMAD Gambit” by Dean Cochrane
“Refuge” by David Klecha
“Remarks on Some Cliches I Have (by Definition) Known Too Well” by Teresa Nielsen Hayden
“Scene From a Dystopia” by Rachel Swirsky
“Shoah Sry” by Tobias S. Buckell and Ilsa J. Bick
“Tees and Sympathy” by Nick Sagan
“The Third Brain” by Charles Coleman Finlay and James Allison
“What a Piece of Work” by Jo Walton

All this plus book reviews, Bill Schafer’s regular column (he’s the publisher and usual editor, don’t you know) and probably something non-fictiony by me as well. All told, you’re getting a hell of a lot of excellent writing in one compact package. Indeed, I daresay that if we tried to cram in any more material, the entire package would reach critical mass, implode dramatically and crack the the earth’s very mantle. See, this is my job as the editor: To save the planet through perfectly-calibrated science fiction entertainment.

I am, as you may imagine, almost unspeakably happy with these selections, not only for their writing, but also for their overall range. When you pick up this collection, you’ll see stories featuring dramatically different tones and techniques, and you’ll see them handle their cliches in all sorts of ways, from unapologetic stylistic homages to wildly orthogonal textual approaches. What’s going to be fun for me is to sequence these stories and articles so that each one sets the stage for the next, so you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. I’m looking at this like it’s a playlist and I’m the DJ.

I’m also very happy with the breadth of contributors, who range from major award winners to writers who are being professionally published for the first time. A quarter of the fiction here — four pieces — is from first-timers, and I’m looking forward to being able to tell people, “Sure, they’re bigshots now, but I gave them their big break.” Followed, I presume, by me asking these same people if they want fries with that. But let’s not talk about my inevitable decline and fall right now. Let me instead bask in the thrill of being able to introduce these writers to you.

I will undoubtedly talk about this issue of Subterranean Magazine more as we get closer to publication, and it becomes available for sale, so don’t fear you won’t hear about it again and it will slip by you. Trust me, I’ll let you know when and where and how to get it. Although if you want to avoid the rush and make sure you get a copy, you can subscribe to the magazine right now and get four full issues of unstoppable entertainment (a year’s subscription for this quarterly-released magazine) for just $22. Issue 3, which is the one just before this one comes out, features new fiction from David J. Schow, Lewis Shiner, Poppy Z. Brite and David Prill, and I think my pal Cherie Priest may be in there too. I suspect that will keep you occupied while you wait for this issue.

In any event, there will be more information as we go along. So stay tuned.

Coming to Philadelphia

Tremble, Philadelphia! For I am coming to you!

On January 26th, in fact, I will be doing an in-store event at Germ Books + Gallery (308 E. Girard, 215-423-5002) with Ron Hogan, whose rockin’ movie book The Stewardess is Flying the Plane! got a coveted starred review from Publishers Weekly (“In a few words or phrases about the plot or star, Hogan reveals quirky details on the making of the films… As coffee-table books go, this is one of the year’s most fun”). Ron’s written a book on films, I’ve written a book on films… what do you think we’ll be talking about at our appearance? If you said “Most likely, film in some fashion,” you’d be entirely correct. Good on ya.

Furthermore, most likely we will be specifically chatting about science fiction films in the 1970s — which as it happens was a particularly interesting time in science fiction film. The plan at the moment is to have the two of us blab at each other for a while and then open up the floor to questions, comments, and spontaneous dance routines from the audience. But you never do know. Hey, it’s a live appearance! Anything could happen. And both Ron and I are smartass know-it-alls, so I expect this to be fun. At the very least we’ll amuse ourselves.

Not counting being trapped at the airport for 12 hours, this will be my first visit to the City of Brotherly Love, so naturally, if you happen to be in the area, it’d be swell if you could drop by and say howdy. I do believe the event will occur around 7 or so; I’ll doublecheck with the Germ folks and give more specific time details the week of the event. But pencil in the date right now. Come on, what else are you doing on the 26th of January? Exactly. So you might as well come on down.

Something Nice; Synthetic Confusion Schedule

As a warning to all and sundry: Today is likely to be a day of schedules and announcements of a lit’ry sort, so if you don’t give a crap about any of that, you’ll want to run away until tomorrow, when I’m sure I’ll find something unrelated to rant about.

First, as promised, something nice — well, nice for me, anyway: the trade paperback of Old Man’s War is on the top of the bestseller list for Clarkesworld Books, a specialty SF/F/H bookstore. This is heartening news not only because it is on the top of the list, but because the OMW hardcover was something of a creature of Amazon (i.e., we sold rather more than the usual percentage of books through that avenue), and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s good to get an indication that the trade paperback is making inroads with other retailers. And I’m happy when my book helps a specialty store make money; that’s good for the genre I write in. Specialty stores and their staffs have been good to me (I’m particularly looking in the direction of Borderlands Books when I say that), so it would be nice to return the favor.

Second, I will be attending the Synthetic Confusion convention in Troy, Michigan later this month (January 20 – 22), and for those of you who plan to attend and wish to stalk me, here is my panel schedule:

January 20, 9pm: Political Correctness
Are we PC, should we PC, can we have fun having a non-PC discussion about it? Where is the line? When do we as writers ‘cross the line’? What happens when we do cross it?
Panelists: Sarah Zettel, Willian Aksel, Steve Climer, Marcy Italiano, Steven Brust and John Scalzi

Me and Steven Brust, together on a panel about political correctness? Holy crap! We’ll all be lucky to get out of that one alive.

January 21, 12pm: Is SF Too Narrow?
Has science fiction become something just for middle aged Anglo Saxons and Jews?
Panelists: Tobias Buckell, John Scalzi, Sarah Zettel, M Keaton and Steven Brust

As I am not middle-aged, Anglo-Saxon or a Jew, I imagine I’ll have some thoughts on this.

January 21, 2pm: Reading

For this I’ll be in the con suite, watching people snack. I do believe I will read from the first chapter of The Android’s Dream — in which, you may recall mentioning at some earlier, one diplomat tries to fart another one into an irrational rage. It’ll be fun. And then I might answer questions or whatever. Or perhaps an interpretive dance.

As a bonus for people who attend my reading, I’ll be giving away lovely signed postcards for The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies. First come, first served!

January 21, 3pm: If This Goes On….
Intelligent design being taught in schools and evolution is not, pharmacists refusing patients prescribed drugs because of religious convictions… what is going on here, a Heinlein novel?
Panelists: John Scalzi, Vernor Vinge, Steven Leigh, M Keaton, Eric Raymond

Sadly, I don’t have much to say on this topic.

(beat)

Okay, maybe a little. But who cares what I think? Look, Vernor Vinge!

January 21, 4pm: From Star Wars to Serenity
The last year saw some interesting science fiction movies. What was good and what just did not work and what stunk, could any be considered a classic or even notable? What does the future hold?
Panelists: John Scalzi, Alex von Thorn, Sandee Rager, Dierdre McDaniel

Yeah, I will definitely have some opinions here. Hopefully I won’t get shot by the browncoats still angry with me for noting that Serenity was a flop in the theatres after its first weekend.

I don’t have a damn thing to do on Sunday, and that’s a good thing, I thnk.

As for when I’m not on a panel, I will usually be doing one of two things: watching someone else’s panel, or hanging about the bar bantering with folk. If you see me there, do feel free to say hello.

Remember I will also be attending Boskone, Penguicon (at which I will be a “Nifty Guest”) and Wiscon in the first half of 2006, so if you can’t stalk me at Synthetic Confusion, you will have other opportunities to do so before summer arrives. Mmmm… stalking.

Bainbridge Reads TGB

Stephen Bainbridge, bless his heart, says some nice things about The Ghost Brigades:

A pre-release review copy of John Scalzi’s new novel The Ghost Brigades arrived yesterday. I started it late last night and barely managed to tear myself away at midnight to go to bed. I polished it off today over a long lunch. Regular readers will recall that I was a huge fan of Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, which would be my pick for the best science fiction novel of 2005. But The Ghost Brigades is even better.

What really makes me happy is he notes the “stand alone” quality of TGB, which is to say you can read it without having read Old Man’s War, its prequel. A number of folks who have read the book so far have picked up on this, which means that my plan to have TGB function as its own book seems to have worked. I’m pleased that’s the case, although I suppose the acid test there would be to have someone who hasn’t read OMW pick up TGB and work through it. It’ll happen sooner or later, I reckon. In any event, follow the link above to get Professor Bainbridge’s full thoughts on the book.