When Ministers Say Goddamned Stupid Things

The Reverend Dr. Bill Lawson compared [Ken] Lay with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ, and said his name would eventually be cleared.

“He was taken out of the world right at the right time,” he said. “History has a way of vindicating people who have been wronged.”

Ken Lay’s memorial attracts power elite, Reuters (via CNN), 7/12/06

10 Ways Ken Lay is Not Like Martin Luther King Jr. and/or Jesus Christ

10. When Martin Luther King, Jr., declared that he had a dream, that dream did not include a $200,000 yacht for the missus

9. Jesus’ disciples not caught on tape snickering at the prospect of grandma baking to death during an induced power outage

8. Jesus did not blame his downfall on the national media

7. Odds that Ken Lay’s birthday will be made a national holiday: really really really low

6. Ken Lay’s letters from jail not likely to have been concerned about much aside from bitching that the warden refused to allow him his favorite French-milled soap

5. Jesus crucifed; MLK assassinated; Ken Lay dead of a heart attack in his comfy vacation home in Aspen

4. Jesus threw out the money traders; Ken Lay an inside trader

3. MLK oversaw the Montgomery Bus Boycott; Lay oversaw the California Energy Crisis

2. George Bush’s nickname for Jesus unlikely to be “Christy Boy”

1. Neither Jesus nor MLK currently rotting in Satan’s duodenum

Hope that clears things up for you, Reverend Lawson.

Wednesday Author Interview: Alan DeNiro

Over at By The Way, I’m interviewing short story writer Alan DeNiro and chatting about his debut collection, Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead. I think it’s pretty groovy. Also, if you like you can check out a “fun size” version of the book; here’s the link (that’s a pdf download).

Also, as a follow-on to the earlier entry about Twenty Epics, it’s now available at Amazon.

The Best SF Book Art Advice You’ll Probably Ever Get

First off, cool news: Irene Gallo, the magnificently awesome art director for Tor Books, has started a blog, appropriately called The Art Department. If you have a brain cell in your head, you’ll add it to your favorite links right this very second.

Second off, Irene has done every aspiring SF book cover artist an immense favor by making her very first entry an exploration of how to impress an SF art director with your portfolio. Simply and plainly put, if you ever want to get work doing SF book covers, and you don’t read this, you’ve just put yourself at a severe disadvantage. I am so not kidding. You need to read this.

Myself, I’m just basking in the glow of this observation, about painting women on SF book covers:

Yes, we constantly show sexy, big-breasted babes on our covers. But, there is a fine line between sexy and freakish. If you are using Hustler for your reference, you’re on the wrong side of that line. Along with sexy, they usually need to look like they can kick-ass. Slave girls don’t impress art directors. Book publishing does not use pin-up. And breasts are NOT perfectly spherical.

Bless you, Irene Gallo. For the rest of you, stop reading this entry and go read Irene’s. Even if you’re not an artist, you’ll benefit getting a look from her point of view.

Insipid Thinking

insipid06.jpgIn the mail today: A copy of Jonathan Letham’s new book, How We Got Insipid, from Subterranean Press; it’s a collection of two of Lethem’s short stories which have apparently been out of circulation for a while, even though one of them (“How We Got in Town and Out Again”) was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. The link above is for the standard edition; there are also signed and lettered editions available via the Subterranean Press Web site.

What’s interesting about the book is that, according to the press release accompanying the book, Subterranean is contractually obliged not to promote the work via the usual channels — it can’t send the book to newspaper or magazine reviewers or to the trade magazines like Publishers Weekly or Booklist. This is apparently an attempt to make sure Insipid doesn’t cannibalize the sales of Lethem’s big publisher work (although since Insipid has a print run of just 1500 copies it’s hard to see why that’s a real worry), or cause the newspapers and magazines in question not to review Lethem’s other work because they just reviewed this. The end result of this is that Subterranean will be relying on Web reviews and commentary (like, uh, this) and word-of-mouth to move copies of Insipid.

I guess I’m a little confused as to what these restrictions are supposed to achieve. Speaking from experience, I can say that Web-only publicity can easily sell a small run of books; Agent to the Stars had only two trade publication reviews (PW and Booklist) and no print reviews otherwise, and we sold out the entire 1500-copy run of the hardcover in about nine months, based entirely on Web promotion through Web site reviews and commentary. And I’m just me; Lethem has got a number of major book awards and a MacArthur Genius Grant to his name. One also wonders what will happen if — as is entirely possible, given who Lethem is — a magazine or newspaper reviewer actually buys the book and then reviews it. You couldn’t really stop a reviewer from doing that, if they wanted to. All that contractual effort, gone to waste.

Bear in mind I’m not a disinterested party here: I publish books with Subterranean Press, I’ve edited its magazine, and I’m pretty good friends with its publisher, Bill Schafer. Having plopped all that down, I think in general it’s pretty silly for a major publisher to get its underwear in a wad over what one of its authors is doing with a small press. What small presses do, in my experience, is generally complementary to what larger presses do — and if you’ll excuse the lapse into corporate speak, all of it feeds into building the brand of the author. When Subterranean published Agent, it didn’t detract from the novels I’m doing at Tor; indeed, I suspect it helped me capitalize on new readers looking for something from me in the wake of Old Man’s War and helped set the stage for The Ghost Brigades.

Speaking personally, I also find a relationship with a small press (in my case Subterranean) allows me to try some things I wouldn’t get to do with a major publisher. Later this year, Subterranean will be releasing Coffee Shop, my book about on the writing life. The audience for this book is somewhat specialized, but that’s fine because “specialized” is part of Subterranean’s business model. Next year Subterranean is going to print a fantasy novella I’m writing (although — he hastened to add because he knows his next book’s editor reads the site — not at this very moment); again, this project isn’t right for a bigger publisher but is right in line with what Subterranean does, and I get to play in the fantasy genre without the pressure of a full-blown novel pressing down on my brain. Everyone wins.

Now, it does matter that, in my experience, Subterranean is sensitive to what I’m doing with my career overall; it doesn’t want its Scalzi books to compete directly with my books from Tor or other larger publishers, and not just because it knows it would lose (by, among other things, annoying me) but because it knows that success of its books of mine relies to a great extent on my success with larger publishers. This is what I think makes Subterranean one of the smarter small presses out there: its understanding that it’s part of a writer’s overall career, and its understanding of how it needs to fit in that equation, for its benefit and the benefit of the writer. Subterranean does other things right too, as far as I know its business, but this aspect is the part that is the most imporant for me. I’d be surprised if other small presses don’t do it this way too (and if they don’t, I feel sorry for them).

All of which may explain why I’m confused as to why Insipid has to follow a silent treatment. Its success — should it be a success — almost certainly won’t impinge on any success that comes from Lethem’s more mainstream work; indeed, its success would be a net benefit, since in keeping 1500 Lethem fans happy, it’ll also keep them looking for Lethem’s next thing. It’s a little strange to see that as a threat.

Two Points About Gitmo

Two things about today’s White House decision to, what the heck, give Gitmo detainees protections under the Geneva Conventions:

1. Real shame that it only took a Supreme Court ruling to get to this point.

2. The decision should give comfort to everyone convinced that Bush was going to go completely off the farm and tell the Supreme Court to take a hike because he was going to do it his own way. I’ve noted before that the Bush administration’s thing was to be seen as legitimate, and ignoring the Supreme Court does not exactly scream “legitimate power.” So two cheers for the rule of law! No third cheer, of course, because we needed the Supreme Court to get to this point. But what are you going to do.

Speculative Literature Foundation’s Mentorship Program

So, I’m going to be part of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s mentorship program for this fall (it actually runs from August 1 to October 31). What this means is that I’ll be talking shop about writing and the publishing industry directly (via e-mail) with a small group of novice writers. I will be joined in this task by fellow writers Leah Cutter, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, Jenn Reese and Ben Rosenbaum, all of whom will be mentoring their own small group of writers.

If this sounds like something you might want to be a part of, I’ve included the SLF’s full press release for the mentorship program behind the cut, where you can find the complete information on the author participants and also how to apply. Be aware that if you are accepted, there is a fee for participating, but the fee is awfully modest ($30 at most) and I suspect you’ll get rather more than $30 worth of advice and information from any of the mentors, including me. Hey, I don’t skimp. The deadline for applications is July 25, however. So snap to it.

Also, feel free to pass this info around; I’m sure the SLF won’t mind.

Read More »

20 Epics

20e2006.jpg

I’ve been meaning to write about Twenty Epics for a while now, but I wasn’t sure when it would be out. Well, now it’s out (it’s available on Lulu at the moment, and I understand will be out on Amazon and other books sites reasonably soon), so now I can talk to you about it. I was given a copy by its co-editor David Moles at Wiscon (the fabulous Susan Marie Groppi is the other editor), and I have to say that the book saved me from going absolutely bugnut insane while my plane was parked on the airport tarmac for three hours, awaiting its clearance for the 28-minute flight to Chicago.

The conceit of the book is that each of the stories is supposed to be epic in sweep: armies of the dead going off to battle, incredible travels through time, quasi-demonic creatures in a hard-fought battle for the fate of the universe, and so on and so forth. As promised, there are twenty such stories, and they run the full range of fantasy and SF tropes. Some of the stories take themselves seriously, some not so much (there’s even a “choose your own adventure”-like story for those who like to build their own epics).

By and large I came away from the anthology quite satisfied; with a book of twenty stories there are bound to be a couple of them that don’t work me, and indeed there were three that didn’t. But that left 17 which I thought worked to varying levels of success, which is a good ratio. The one that worked best for me was Sandra McDonald’s “Life Sentence,” which put a particularly poignant spin on the karmic wheel; structurally it’s like a snowball, starting off slow and accreting emotional weight until it bowls you over. I thought it was excellent. I also particularly liked Chris Barzak’s “The Creation of Birds” and Tim Pratt’s “Cup and Table,” the former of which I found delicately designed and the latter of which was all X-Men-ny, but in a good way. Of course, with an anthology which ones work for you and which ones don’t will depend on you, but as the editors, David and Susan have intelligently laid out a smorgasbord of stories; I expect there’s something here for everyone.

On Lulu it’s available both in a print version and as a pdf (the book is $20; the pdf $7.61); I think it’s worth checking out, and if you’re unsure the pdf is a good option, not just because it’s cheaper but because most of the stories are short enough to be read comfortably onscreen. In any event, check it out and let me know what you think.

Jiggity Jig

I’m back home, and catching up on some work with which I am now behind (curse you, United Airlines!). I’ll be back a little later. Until then amuse yourself. Here’s a topic to start you off:

Italy: Great soccer team, or the greatest soccer team?

Readercon Wrapup

It’s entirely possible there is an industry that is run more incompetently than the airline industry, but if there is I don’t have to deal with it on a regular basis. At the moment I’m at in Dulles International Airport, waiting to if and when I might get on another flight. I suspect I’ll be here for a while; if nothing else, I’ll be on a 8:30 flight tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I’m watching what looks to be an eight-year-old boy bang his head against one of the airport waiting area couches out of what I suspect is pure hyperactive boredom. I do sympathize with his plight, although I wish he would stop, because it’s deeply aggravating.

My current travails cause me to propose a new law of airline travel, called Scalzi’s Law of Airline Delays: Any airline delay will expand to precisely fill the amount of time between your connecting flights, plus fifteen minutes. I was actually on the ground at Dulles when my flight to Dayton left, but I was trapped on the plane because apparently the ground crew forgot how to extend a walkway. Clearly, the work of insidious beasts. In any event, when the revolution comes, I nominate airline schedulers to be the first up against the wall. If they are, I will take to ground travel henceforth with a song in my heart.

But enough about that. At least Readercon was a lot of fun, and not even the massive incompetence of the airlines can flout me out of my humor. As stated here earlier, one of the reasons I went to this particular convention was because shameless China Mieville fan boy, and I’m delighted to say that in addition to being a marvelous writer and a top-notch intellect, Mieville is also a hell of a nice guy and a lot of fun to chat with. It’s always a nice thing when someone whose talents you admire is also a person you like.

But although China was one of the deciding factors in my attending, he was far from the only person I was thrilled to spend a little time with. Some notable moments for me:

* Meeting Infoquake author David Louis Edelman before my connecting flight with Boston and sharing much of the weekend with him;

* Having a cell phone war with Allen Steele and Peter Watts (no, I’m not sure what having a cell phone war actually entailed; nevertheless, we had one);

* Celebrating the birthday of Deanna Hoak, unquestionably the hottest copy editor, like, ever;

* Sharing secret code with Tempest Bradford;

* Discussing pirates and ninjas with Mary Robinette Kowal;

* Bribing Geoff Landis (twenty-six cents!);

* Delving into informational metaphors with Charles Brown, Gary K. Wolfe and John Clute;

* Exploring consciousness with R. Scott Bakker, his friend Roger (whose last name I didn’t catch), and Gordon Van Gelder ;

* Discussing the intruiging/disturbing possiblity of Scalzi/Bear slash with Elizabeth Bear;

And generally meeting and/or catching up and/or having a meal with a whole bunch of delightful people including Karl Schroeder and family, John Joseph Adams, Nick Mamatas, Chad Orzel, Kate Nepveu, Lauren McLaughlin, Kelly Link, Gavin Grant, Amanda Beamer, Eliani Torres, Helen Pilinovsky, Scott Edelman, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Beth Meacham, Liz Gorinsky, Sandra Macdonald, Alan DeNiro, Kristin Livdahl, James Cambias, Ellen Kushner and tons and tons and tons of other people, pros, fans and con staff alike, whose names escape me because it’s late on a very long travel day (forgive me), and also, it’s not like I’ve not already name dropped enough. Anyway, this isn’t even discussing my own progamming, which I think went reasonably well, especially my reading, at which people laughed in all the places where I hoped they would laugh.

Long story short: I had a great time at Readercon and I’m glad I went, even if I’m currently trapped in airport hell. It was worth it.

The Feminism of Old Man’s War

LiveJournaler Mosca has nice things to say about Old Man’s War, and also makes an argument for it being a feminist novel:

This is one of the few military SF novels I’ve read that has women in it — not just love interests or characters established as female, but women who act like women. It doesn’t feel like Scalzi is trying for politically correct inclusiveness, because the women are too numerous and too diverse for that. There’s also a major gay character, and he’s treated with the same multidimensionality. But it’s a feminist novel in a broader and more lit-crit sense, in the ways that Russ and Le Guin call for.

I have friends with a deeper knowledge of Russ’ and LeGuin’s positions than I do, who could vet this argument better than I could, though I don’t see anything wrong about it in a general sense. I will say that Mosca is correct that I didn’t go out of my way to be politically correct or inclusive. There was never a point in the writing of OMW where I said “hey, I need to put some women in there.” They were always in there, because why wouldn’t they be. Other than that I just tried to write all the characters as something more than cardboard.

One other comment is that I think the most interesting character in the whole Old Man’s universe (for me, anyway) is Jane Sagan. I think of all the characters, she has the most complete character arc; you see a lot of that arc in The Ghost Brigades and it’s coming to be a major part of The Last Colony as well. I don’t think any of this qualifies me for a Tiptree Award, mind you. I’m just glad she’s been such an interesting person to write about.

The Top 50 Personal Blogs in SF/F, v. 1.0

Because my daughter is home today, precluding me from doing any real writing on the book because she’s all daddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddy, I thought I’d waste my time and last remaining dregs of youth on the pointless exercise of ranking the the top 50 personal blogs in SFdom, as determined from their rankings in Technorati. Because you know you want to know.

First, selection details and trivia:

* Who was eligible for the list? SF/F writers, editors, agents, publishers, artists and fans.

* I made the decision to not to include “news” blogs or blogs whose material is not primarily personal and/or SF-related. This disqualified high-ranking sites like Boing Boing, Locus Online, SFSite, Futurismic, SF Signal, Emerald City and Meme Therapy, which are ranked by Technorati and would have otherwise been on the list. This also, incidentally, disqualified my own AOL Journal, “By the Way,” which I booted because I write it for money.

* This list is likely less accurate as one goes down the list for the following reasons: Lack of Technorati stats for various sites, Technorati’s “interesting” way of handling LiveJournal (i.e., some journals are ranked, some are not), the compiler being an idiot and missing a personal journal which should, like, so totally be in there, and so on. Consider this a “1.0” product, full of quirks and holes.

* Technorati’s ranking criteria is based primarily on linking, not visitation; so some sites ranked higher than others may receive fewer visitors than lower-ranked sites. Also, of course, a high Technorati ranking (or a high ranking on this list) may not correlate to a quality reading experience. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

* These rankings are accurate — to the extent they are accurate — only for the day they’re posted; Technorati rankings change over time. Indeed, the simple act of linking to the sites, as I will, is likely to change their rankings. That’s the nature of the game.

* For entertainment purposes only. Don’t hate me if I didn’t rank your site, particularly if your Technorati ranking is below 149,618, which was the cutoff here. Alternately, put your site and its Technorati ranking in the comment thread; I’ll keep track of it for the next time I put out this ranking list.

* The listings read: Name of blog — name of author (Technorati ranking as of 7/6/06)

And here we go.

The Top 50 Personal Blogs in SF/F, v. 1.0

1. Neil Gaiman’s Journal — Neil Gaiman (318)
2. Making Light — Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden (588)
3. Whatever — John Scalzi (1,176)
4. Beyond the Beyond — Bruce Sterling (4,798)
5. The Sideshow — Avedon Carol (4,907)

6. Paperback Writer — S.L. Viehl (5,288)
7. Kathryn Cramer — Kathryn Cramer (10,930)
8. Contrary Brin — David Brin (11,470)
9. Charlie’s Diary — Charles Stross (11,540)
10. The Mumpsimus — Matthew Cheney (11,795)

11. Vanderworld — Jeff VanderMeer (11,968)
12. Nick Mamatas’ Journal — Nick Mamatas (16,156)
13. The Early Days of a Better Nation — Ken MacLeod (17,664)
14. They Must Need Bears — Elizabeth Bear (19,322)
15. Tobias S. Buckell Online — Tobias Buckell (22,306)

16. Shaken and Stirred — Gwenda Bond (22,306)
17. Westerblog — Scott Westerfeld (23,731)
18. Nalo Hopkinson — Nalo Hopkinson (26,106)
19. Justine Larbalestier — Justine Larbalestier (26,106)
20. The Slush God Speaketh — John Joseph Adams (28,632)

21. The Prodigal Blog — Charles Coleman Finlay (34,061)
22. Notes From the Labyrinth — Sarah Monette (37,752)
23. Respectful of Otters — Dr. Rivka (39,834)
24. It’s all one thing — Will Shetterly (40,594)
25. Lorem Ipsum — Jed Hartman (42,184)

26. Lakeshore — Jay Lake (43,932)
27. Et in Arcaedia, Ego — Jennifer Jackson (46,797)
28. Robert J. Sawyer — Robert J. Sawyer (48,950)
29. Goblin Mercantile Exchange — Alan DeNiro (50,012)
30. Notes from the Geek Show — Hal Duncan (51,129)

31. Arthur D. Hlavaty — Arthur D. Hlavaty (55,145)
32. The Pagan Prattle Online — Feorag NicBhride (56,584)
33. Holly Black — Holly Black (58,064)
34. Anna Louise’s Journal — Anna Louise Genoese (58,064)
35. From the Heart of Europe — Nicholas Whyte (59,661)

36. Notes From Coode Street — Jonathan Strahan (63,319)
37. The Antic Musings of GBH Hornswoggler, Gent. — Andrew Wheeler (66,874)
38. Avram’s Journal — Avram Grumer (68,950)
39. Kool Aid Underground — Jeremy Lassen (73,417)
40. Guano Happens — Maureen McHugh (75,763)

41. Deep Genre — Group Blog (80,928)
42. 14theDitch — Jeffrey Ford (80,928)
43. Chrononautic Log — David Moles (86,593)
44. Cherie Priest — Cherie Priest (92,930)
45. Bluejo’s Journal — Jo Walton (104,231)

46. Roberson’s Interminable Ramble — Chris Roberson (117,901)
47. Web Petals — Marjorie M. Liu (129,028)
48. The Inter-Galactic Playground — Farah Mendlesohn (129,028)
49. Out of Ambit — Diane Duane (142,135)
50 (tie). David Louis Edelman — David Louis Edelman (149,618)
50 (tie). Nick Sagan Online — Nick Sagan (149,618)

There you have it. Discuss amongst yourselves.

A Sample Chapter of The Ghost Brigades

cfb0705.gif

This is another one of those “no one tells the author anything” moments: Apparently Holtzbrinck, the publishing multinational which owns Tor Books, has a blog thingie called Chapter Feeds, on which, as you might surmise from the name, are posted sample chapters from various books that are published within the warm and friendly confines of the Holtzbrinck empire, with the hope that you’ll be so taken with the chapter that you’ll rush out and buy the book.

And today, the chapter they put up was mine: The first chapter of The Ghost Brigades, right there for you to peruse. You know, if you want. Not that I was told this was going to happen, of course. Not like I might want to direct people there. Harumph, harumph.

Anyway, the Chapter Feed site is actually quite nice and friendly, and the chapters posted have a nice range of subjects to them (for SF fans, in addition to my chapter, there’s a chapter of Toby Buckell’s Crystal Rain up as well). My only complaint as an author is that the site doesn’t provide a book seller link with the sample chapters, which seems to me a lost opportunity. I mean, if you’re going to try to give the reader an itch, you might as well make it as easy as possible for her to scratch. But otherwise, nifty.

So you haven’t already picked up TGB (or, for that matter, Crystal Rain), now’s your chance to get a free taste. Entirely legally! Enjoy.

Book Report

Crunch time writing on The Last Colony is going well, I think; I’ve been setting some lofty output goals for myself and have been keeping them, which makes me happier, and the majority of what I’m writing is not crap, which makes me happier still. As I noted earlier, TLC was slippy at the start; it kept trying to get away from me. Well, now I’ve pinned the little bastard, right through the spleen, so he can’t get away. The goal for me right now is to get as much as possible done in the next couple of weeks, so I have a little time at the end to buff and polish and argue with God before I send the manuscript off to the true highest authority, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor at Tor, hallowed be his name.

I think I’ve mentioned before that my method to writing novels is to have a few big events I know I have to hit, but have no clue how I’m going to get from one point to the next, and then I make things up as I go along. I do this because it’s more fun for me than knowing exactly what’s going to happen at every turn (and indeed, the TLC story has developed some twists and turns that I didn’t expect, but which I think are advantageous) but because it allows me to be rapaciously opportunistic. If I make something up that works, I get to keep working with it without worrying too much about the consequences to my outline (so long as I hit those big events I’m supposed to). It’s interesting to see what happens.

I’m not going to give you any real indication of what’s going on in the book (except to say an adjudication concerning goats occurs early on), but I will say this: twisty, twisty. You can take that to mean whatever you like.

Back to it. I have a lot more writing to get to today and tomorrow before I can feel comfortable not doing a lot of writing over the weekend (because I’ll be at Readercon). Off I go.

Music to Slaughter Aliens By

gbband.jpg

John Joseph Adams calls my attention to a Finnish metal band called Ghost Brigade, which plays the sort of music just right for shredding your face right off. Here, try some. Maybe if The Ghost Brigades ever gets made into a movie, these guys can be on the soundtrack.

And look: An album entitled The Android’s Dream. Although I suppose that’s not too surprising.

The Prodigal Kitty

ghlaghghee060704.jpg

I don’t want to out myself as one of those crazy cat people. But Ghlaghghee disappeared the other night and spent close to two days away from the house, and when she came back this morning, I gave her a good talking to. Where have you been? I asked her. You think you can just leave when you want and come back when you want and not let us know where you are? Not while you live under my roof.

To which she looked up at me with her cute little eyes and said, I suspect, Dude, I’m a cat. I haven’t the first clue what you’re saying to me. Now enough with the blah blah blah. Feed me. I’ve got a nap to get to.

Note to self: No more arguments with the cat. The cat doesn’t care.

Stupid cat.

I’m glad she’s back.

What I’ll Be Doing at Readercon

I’m doing well enough with my book writing that I’ll drop in here a day early from my self-imposed exile to give all y’all my Readercon schedule for this weekend. It’s a relatively light schedule, just three things, but they’re all fairly interesting:

Friday, 7pm
SF and Continuing Human Evolution
Charles Oberndorf , Jeff Hecht, Ernest Lilley, Beth Meacham, John Scalzi, Karl Schroeder

Most of the sf that deals with potential changes to human nature is about genetic engineering, but there is much scientific evidence that Darwinian selection pressures have been operating over the last few thousand years. The rise in Asperger’s diagnoses among the children of geeks in Silicon Valley even suggests that such pressures may be growing as the environment changes rapidly, rather than rendered moot by the ease of survival. Whether we’re still evolving (and if so, how) has to be one of the biggest questions we can ask about human nature. How is it being addressed by contemporary sf?

Notes: A good group of people on the panel (I’ve paneled with Karl before and can attest to his being fascinating) and an interesting subject, so this could be a lot of fun.

Saturday 10:30 AM
Reading (30 min)

John Scalzi reads “How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story,” a just-sold story. Note: some profanity and adult content.

Notes: “Wife” is my own version of a big honkin’ SF cliche story, in this case (obviously) sex with aliens. It’s not in the actual Subterranean magazine cliche issue, however; it’s a bonus chapbook for the people who buy the special signed, hardcover limited version of the magazine (only $80!). So, at this point, the only way you’re ever going to know about this short story is to buy the limited edition of the magazine, or show up at Readercon to hear me read an edited-for-a-half-hour-reading-slot version of it.

Personally, I think it’s a fun little story, with lines like “I lubricated my undercarapace just in case,” and “The worst part is that for the next two days, I smelled like gravy.” Now, come on. You know you want context for those lines. So swing by, it’ll be fun.

Sunday 12:00 Noon
Talk (30 min.)

How I Wrote The Ghost Brigades

Notes: I wrote it with a computer. There, I’m done. Somehow I’ve got to make that stretch over a half hour.

Actually, I’m very much looking forward to this talk, because there are quite a few things that were interesting in the process of writing TGB, both in the philosophical approach behind writing the book in the way I wrote it, in the actual writing process itself, and in working establishing the personalities of the book’s main characters. I expect this to be a very wide-ranging talk, and I do think it’ll be a glimpse into what the hell goes on in my head when I sit down to write. One caveat: This discussion is going to be super-mega-ultra-spoilery about events in TGB, so be prepared for that coming in.

Aside from that my plans are the usual: Hang about in the bar and lobby and harangue people as they wander by. Please do feel free to swing by and say hello.

I do have one question, for those of you with Readercon experience: Is there no hotel shuttle from the airport? The travel directions on the Readercon site seem to imply that the way you get to the hotel from the airport is to throw yourself at the mercy of the Boston public transportation system, and possibly sacrifice a waterfowl to Chango for good luck. Is there no better way, save for a $60 taxi ride? I’m not opposed to either burning cash on a taxi ride like a swell, or using the bus like a common troll, but both seem inconvenient in their way. I’m open to suggestions.