BFS Recommended

Well, this is cool, and unexpected: The British Fantasy Society has placed Whatever on its recommendation list for one of its annual awards, in the “Best Non-Fiction” category. Neat! It’s nice to be appreciated. I have absolutely no idea whether I’ll win, but I’m happy enough to have Whatever recommended. Between this and the fan writer Hugo nomination this year, it’s an indication that what I write here is part of the larger fan conversation about the genre, and that’s a good feeling. So thanks.


How to Save Your State Economy

Bring on the same-sex marriages!

A study issued this week by UCLA’s Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation and the Law projected that gay men and lesbians will spend $684 million on cakes, photographers and other services over the next three years unless voters reverse the high court’s ruling in the fall.

The researchers found that about half of the state’s more than 100,000 same-sex couples will get married during the next three years, and an additional 68,000 out-of-state couples will travel to California to exchange vows. The study estimated that over that period, gay weddings will generate $64 million in tax revenue for the state, $9 million in marriage-license fees for counties, and some 2,200 jobs.

You know, if I were in California and a proponent of same-sex marriages, these are figures that I would be putting into the ads against the anti-same-sex marriage proposition that’s going to be on the ballot this fall. And I would ask: why do those against same-sex marriage want to interfere with the livelihoods of thousands of decent, hard-working Californians and deprive them of millions of dollars of potential income? Why do they want to take the food out of the mouths of California families? Why do they make it harder for these folks to keep a roof over their heads, or pay their medical bills, or put their kids through college? Why do they want to deprive thousands of Californians jobs they could use, and that the state needs? $684 million’s not exactly chump change, particularly in a weak economy.

So, it’s not just a social issue involving gays and lesbians, it’s an economic issue involving the entire state — and those against same-sex marriage are essentially saying their discomfort with two people of the same sex exercising a right the California Supreme Court says they have is a good enough excuse to deprive other Californians not only of their rights, but of their money, too. And depriving hard-working citizens of their money, well. That’s un-American. What are these guys, commies? Probably. Probably, indeed.

In short: Same-sex marriage: Good for business, good for the economy, good for California. That’s how I would sell it.


The Book Haul, 6/10/08

At the doorstep today, a lot of stuff from Ace, and a couple of things from Del Rey:

First, I’m happy to say that this is the first week in a long time in which all the book covers which feature women actually bother to show the whole woman — i.e., that thing where they chop off half the woman’s head in order to draw your attention to the model’s chest and/or midriff seems to be trailing off somewhat. I think this is a positive thing in a general sense; while I don’t have a real problem with the half-faced woman thing as a graphic element, if you see too many of them in sequence (as I have recently) you begin to get a little creeped out by it. Mind you, and as you can see, it is not as if taut women’s bodies are getting a short shrift this week (the winner of this week’s “this cover model has writhed up from my teenage heavy metal video dreams” award, incidentally, goes to the one on the cover of Yasmine Galenorn’s Dragon Wytch), but it’s nice to have a face to go with the other body parts. So thank you, art directors.

Quick notes on some of what’s come in:

* Saturn’s Children, which is Charles Stross’ latest, and his tribute to late-era Heinlein, with everything that implies. I can’t be relied upon to be an objective observer of the book, not in the least because Charlie very amusingly name-checks me in the book (which I didn’t know about, so it made have a goofy grin after I read it). But as a fan of both Charlie and Heinlein, you can imagine I really enjoyed this romp through the solar system, following a former pleasurebot (see cover) now at loose ends because humans have died off, leaving her without a purpose (not a good thing for a pleasurebot). We’re still three weeks out from release on this book, but it’s already generating lots of discussion, and I have a suspicion it’ll be one of Charlie’s most talked-about books. Which says a lot, considering how much he’s already talked about in SF circles.

* I met Marjorie M. Liu in Glasgow at the 2005 Worldcon, just before her first book came out, but she was already famous as being the woman who got a seven-book deal while still at the Clarion writing workshop. I suspect the fact that she’s a really nice person persuaded her classmates from strangling her. She’s since hit the New York Times bestseller list, which just seems like piling on, really. The Iron Hunt is her first book for Ace, and I’m going to let Marjorie say more about it when she does a Big Idea piece here in a couple of weeks, right around the release date of the book.

* People keep asking me if I know about the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell. Yes, I say, I know about the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell. Good, they say, because it’s really good space opera stuff, and that’s what you write. Yes, I say, I’ve heard rumors to the effect. And then they say, so do you know when the next Lost Fleet book will be out. To which I say, why yes, The Lost Fleet: Valiant comes out on June 24th. At which point they go off, apparently to save up their loose change for two weeks from today.

* The Bearskin Rug is the third Jennifer Stevenson erotic paranormal novel I’ve gotten in the last month, which makes a bit of sense, since the books (the other two being The Brass Bed and The Velvet Chair, both out) are coming out a month apart, on the presumed thinking that when readers finish one, they’ll want the next, like, instantly. I can’t help but think that qualifies as a vote of confidence on the part of the publisher. This is also out on the 24th.

Your thoughts and comments about the books in these stacks?


A Book A Year

There’s some grumbling out there in the writerverse about this article, in which some bestselling novelists bitch and moan about their publisher’s hope that they’ll bang out a book year. Publishers want a book year because it works really well with the publishing cycle: An author’s new hardcover book will come out just as his or her previous book goes into mass market paperback, thus pumping up the sales of both and getting readers into the virtuous cycle of hoping for (and expecting) another book at the same time in the next year. The problem is that writing a book a year is kind of a drag; heck, it seems like work. This attitude is naturally annoying to those writers who would strangle fluffy kittens if it meant they could publish a book a year, or alternately to those who are publishing more than a novel a year, many of whom are wondering if these authors would like a pillow for their widdle heads.

My thought about it: Well, if it works for them, why not? There is a stratum of writers whose readers will be happy to read them whenever they do get around to publishing, rather than needing to be prompted by an annual cycle. Whether these novelists are the same novelists who are currently complaining about the imposition of an annual schedule is another matter entirely. But they certainly do exist. Many of them exist because in earlier portions of their publishing careers they did publish on an annual schedule, i.e., they gave their readers something to rely on. So there’s a little irony there. But the irony doesn’t mean these authors are wrong about no longer needing to publish annually if they choose not to.

Personally I sort of go in the opposite direction at the moment. In 2009 I have only one new novel slated: The High Castle, which is looking to come out in the May – June timeframe. Having only one new book out for the whole calendar year makes me twitchy. Now if I think about it logically, this is silly: the trade paperback of Agent is out in November, and for most readers it qualifies as a new book, and then I’ll have another novel out in early 2010; i.e., seven months or so later. Be that as it may: a whole calendar year with just one novel in it. If I didn’t also currently have a novella slated for the year, I’d be even more twitchy. I like having work out there on a frequent basis. Also there’s the matter that while my sales are pretty good, if I published less than a novel a year I’d definitely feel it in the pocketbook.

So I don’t expect you’ll see less than a novel a year from me for some time now — presuming, that is, that someone out there keeps wanting to publish me that frequently. Right now they do. Lucky me. And, hopefully, lucky you.

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