Categories
Uncategorized

On Charles Brown

People have been asking if I have any particular memories of Locus editor/publisher Charles Brown, whose death on the way home from ReaderCon has prompted a flood of reminisces and tributes in the science fiction quarters of the Internet. My own memories of him are relatively few; I’m closer to the younger members of the Locus staff, among whom I count several friends, and the time I had with Charles was relatively limited.

Nevertheless, a couple of years ago I was at a book fair in Oakland and while I was there I was invited up to the Locus office, which is also Charles’ house, to be interviewed. The house is absolutely lovely, filled both with art and with Hugos (one had to be careful not to stumble, lest one be impaled by a rocket) and Charles was a gracious host, giving me a tour of the place and in particular letting me visit his legendary archives, which to any science fiction writer with a sense of history is like being a kid allowed into the candy store.

As someone who has himself interviewed hundreds of creative people, I found his interview style interesting, since it largely consisted of the two of us having a conversation, me on a couch and him at his desk, and him seemingly being a bit grumpy about it. At the time I wondered if it was something about me, but I’ve come to understand this is was his usual mode, and in any event the interview, when it appeared in Locus, made me look good. So as an interviewee I certainly couldn’t fault his technique.

One of the things that always puzzled me about Locus interviews was that the printed articles are always the responses to questions, but never the questions themselves. I can’t speak definitively as to why Charles chose that method, but over time I guessed it was because he preferred the focus be solely on the author rather than shared with the interviewer. I think this says quite about about Charles, his respect and understanding of authors and his love of the genre of science fiction and fantasy.

Aside from the visit to the Locus offices, his path and mine crossed a number of times, generally at the year’s Worldcon but at a couple other conventions as well. He was always interested in what was going on with my career, and was never shy in his opinions, which as you might imagine I valued in someone like him, whose opinions of the state of the genre were vastly informed both by his sense of history and his understanding of what was going on in the genre now.

Although Charles was near-synonymous with the magazine he founded and published, I am genuinely delighted to hear that he made provision to have Locus continue in his absence. It would have been a shame to lose that voice and resource in science fiction. As I’ve mentioned before, I know several members of the staff as friends and think the world of them, and it’s grand that they’ll be keeping the magazine going. I’m doing my small part for Locus by finally purchasing a subscription, which I have been meaning to do for some time, but which I’m now motivated to do as much as a vote of confidence in the staff as anything else. Good luck to them going forward. I know they’ll do their founder proud.

Categories
Uncategorized

RIP, Charles Brown

The Locus Web site has just posted that Charles Brown, the magazine’s publisher, editor and co-founder, died yesterday on his way back from Readercon.

More later; I’m busy handling some other stuff right at the moment. But certainly my thoughts are with my friends at Locus, and with Charles’ loved ones.

Categories
Uncategorized

Here’s Tonight’s Sunset

Because I figured you’d want to see it.

Categories
Uncategorized

Fiction and Non

Marissa Lingen writes up her experience of writing fiction and writing non-fiction, and how the two are different (and, also and importantly, how the two are alike). It’s an interesting read and you should check it out.

For me, the major difference between my writing fiction and writing non-fiction is that with non-fiction I generally write from structural outlines (i.e., I know what every chapter is supposed to be about, and within each chapter, what I’m writing and what needs to be addressed), whereas with fiction I tend to wing it and make it up as I go along. Which is to say the fiction writing process is inherently more creative than they non-fiction writing process. But this is not to say my process for fiction is better than my process for non-fiction; both are excellently suited (for me, anyway) to the goals of the writing.

There’s also something Mris says in the entry that I agree with even though it’s not technically correct for my own writing path. She writes: “If you haven’t written a lot of fiction, you probably can’t write good fiction right off the bat.” I think this is generally true because generally speaking no one is good at anything without putting in a considerable amount of time at it.

That said, when I wrote Agent to the Stars in ’97, I had written almost no fiction at all once I got out of high school, the exception being a three stories in college (one actually started back in high school), and a couple of three-page aborted attempts at novels in the early 90s. So Agent was my first completed work of fiction begun since 1987. The reason I think I managed it was a) I had a job as a film critic, so I spent several years evaluating other people’s story structures (and dialog, and everything else), b) I was writing every day for a living, c) I had worked as an editor, talking people through the potholes in their own work. All that compensated for not actually writing much fiction first.

On balance, however, I think it’s easier for most people just to write a bunch of fiction and get up to speed that way. Which goes to Mris’ point.

Categories
Uncategorized

Helping Someone Helping Someone Else

A note from agent Colleen Lindsay:

A good pal of mine, writer Aaron Allston, is bouncing back after having had a massive heart attack while on book tour; he had to have an emergency quadruple bypass and now he’s face with staggering medical bills. The Fandom Society of Texas has started a non-profit to collect donations and help Aaron out but we need to get the word out. I’ve written a blog post with all the details and links here.

Go ahead and link through, and if you have the ability, consider helping out.

Categories
Uncategorized

Oh, Dick

What? Dick Cheney allegedly ordered the CIA to lie to Congress about some stuff it was doing? Who could have imagined? I mean, Dick Cheney always struck me as the open and communicative type, personally.

I have a general theory regarding Cheney, which is that a fundamental psychological trait of his is that he’s a coward, and as a coward he exhibits pathologies towards secrecy, the fetishization of violent power, self-justification in the face of facts and the overestimation of danger. This is not exactly an original theory, nor is it exclusive to me; nevertheless every time I look at Cheney I’m reminded that the politics of war and security should never be decided by men who are such bowel-shaken chickenshits. I don’t care if they’re Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, just don’t have them be the sort of terrified coward Cheney turned out to be. Terrified cowards choose poorly. It’s not too much to ask for better than that.

Categories
Uncategorized

Your Sunday Musical Obscurity

From 1990 or so, the Scottish band Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, with their not-precisely-a-hit “Blacker Than Black”:

I always enjoyed this tune, mostly because any song that starts “Death is a pony that’s waiting for me/His name is Luigi, he’s tied to a black tree” has got to be performed by the truly commited.

Incidentally, some of the more visually astute among you might register the presence of Shirley Manson, better known as the singer of Garbage. She was so young in those days, as were we all. Younger, anyway.

Categories
Uncategorized

TLC (or DLK) a Deutscher Phantastik Preis Nominee

This is nice: The German version of The Last Colony has been nominated for the 2009 Deutscher Phantastik Preis, in the category of Best International Novel. The entire slate of nominees in the category:

  • Brian Keene: Der lange Weg nach Hause (Otherworld Verlag)
  • Cassandra Clare: Chroniken der Unterwelt – City of Bones (Arena)
  • John Scalzi: Die letzte Kolonie (Heyne)
  • Neal Stephenson: Principia (Manhattan)
  • Patrick Rothfuss: Der Name des Windes (Klett-Cotta)

That’s not bad company to be in. Here’s more information about the award itself.

It’s fun to be nominated for stuff. It’s fun to occasionally win, too. But being nominated is fun enough. Danke, German readers!

Categories
Uncategorized

I Teared Up When I Saw This

Because, yes. I know how he suffers.

(Hat tip to the fabulous Karen Meisner)

Categories
Uncategorized

Topping Today’s List of Things That Probably Shouldn’t Make Me As Happy As They Do

A Coke Zero tallboy.

Now all I need to see is a Coke Zero 40 ounce and I can die happy.

Categories
Uncategorized

In the Absence of Me Having Anything in Particular To Say Today

Have a video of a song I liked, oh, 20 years ago:

The band: An Emotional Fish, thus proving that bands with terrible names can make reasonably good music. This is actually the first time that I’ve seen video in all that time, however. Interesting. And not a speck of blue in it.

Categories
Uncategorized

Russian Before and After

Eksmo, my Russian publisher, recently re-upped its license for Old Man’s War, which I was happy about, but what I’m even happier about is that the new version of the book no longer has the “completely unrelated angry soldiers taken from Warhammer 40,000” artwork of the original print run (on the left, above); instead they’ve gone and either created new artwork specific to the series, or at the very least licensed art work that looks like it could be related to what’s going on in the book (and made the guy on the cover green). Whichever it is, I like it. I will note that my name is no longer above the title in the second edition. I think I’ll live.

Categories
Uncategorized

A Handy Tip for Publicists

When you are sending out a press release to promote a book, do try to make sure that the second half of your press release doesn’t devolve into Martian gibberish, even if the author you are promoting is science fiction’s own Robert Silverberg. Most of us don’t read Martian, and those of us who do, don’t want to advertise the fact.

That said, the book being promoted here, Silverberg’s autobiography Other Spaces, Other Times, is in fact a lovely book which I can recommend to Silverberg fans and those who’d like a first hand view of the genre’s history, from one of its Grand Masters (who is also, I can personally attest, just an absolutely wonderful human being). And at no point does the book itself devolve into Martian gibberish. That’s a guarantee. Give it a look.

Categories
Uncategorized

Various & Sundry, 7/10/09

Let’s see, what am I thinking today:

* Having finished The Project I Can’t Tell You About Yet, the question now becomes what I do next. And the short answer to that is: No idea. The PICTYAY was one on a list of possible things to do; now that it’s done, I suppose I’ll go back to the list and see what on it interests me the most. I still have time to think about it, though, since whatever major thing I do next, I’m not going to start until after Worldcon. That’s because between now and then I have another busy travel schedule, and I’ve learned that me + travel = a whole lot of nothing getting done. Fortunately after Worldcon, I’ve got no substantial travel until October, when I head to Martha’s Vineyard for Viable Paradise. That’s a nice chunk of time in which to get something done.

* Which is not to say I’ll be spending the time in the interim, like, eating chocolates. I’ll be catching up on a couple of non-writing projects, including losing at least some percentage of the Buddha Belly I’ve been sort of passively been working on (when you meet the Buddha Belly on your abdomen, KILL IT), working on SG:U and the AMC column, and, oh, who knows, maybe writing a short fiction piece or two, because why not. And totally killing zombies. Because what are you doing with your life if you’re not totally killing zombies?

* Things purchased at the store this morning: Three yogurts, two cans of chicken soup, a bottle of Gatorade, and a package of Immodium AD. To which the checkout lady said, “oh, no, you have a little one home sick today.” Which indeed is entirely true. On the other hand, the little one is a bit feeling better and is spending the day lying on the couch watching cartoons, so I don’t think it’s entirely a bad day for her. Still, today was the day her day camp was going off to the local water park, so she’s not necessarily of the same opinion. I know, I’ll take her out into the yard and put the hose to her. That’ll be just the same.

* Going back to the subject of Worldcon, I received my schedule, which includes two reading slots (one for non-fiction, the other for fiction), a signing and a kaffeklatch. So, stalkers, you’re in luck! I’ll post the full schedule as we get a bit closer to the actual event.

Categories
Uncategorized

They’re Talking About Me — In SPACE

A quick video featurette about me over on the official Stargate Web site, in which Stargate:Universe producer Brad Wright discusses my participation and whether I’ll get around to writing a script for the show. I’ve mentioned before that working on the series has been a total blast, and I’ll reiterate it again; it’s been really exciting both to get a close-up view of the TV production process, and to see my own input being translated into something that will go up on the screen.

I was joking during an interview recently that one of the nice things about being the “creative consultant” on SG:U is that it means when the show does something that people like, they’ll say “wow, it’s good they listened to John Scalzi!” and when the show does something they didn’t like, they’ll say “wow, they should have listened to John Scalzi!” so I win either way. Having said that, I have to say I’ve been enjoying what’s been coming my way, in no small part because it’s been making my job easy. My job so far hasn’t been to “save” anything; my job has been to (hopefully) make it even better. There’s a difference between these two conditions.

Categories
Uncategorized

Here, Have a Mailbag

One nice thing about being done with the writing project ASIDE FROM BEING DONE W00T! is that I can remind you that I have an AMC column up today, in which I explain why we’re not actually in danger of seeing a Transformers flick become the most successful Sf movie ever, why Moon was never going to make $100 million, what’s up with your favorite recent SF novels in the world of film and so on and etc. Go! Now!

Categories
Uncategorized

Done!

The project I was working on is now complete! I’m very pleased.

What is it, you ask? Well, let me tell you —

No, wait, I can’t tell you yet. Sorry. Soon, though.

But, hey! It’s done! And I’m happy with it. Go me.

On a more technical note, this means my blogging hiatus is officially over and I’ll be resuming normal blatheration soon.

Also, for those of you in the betting pool for when I would crack and start posting Photoshop grotesqueries: HA! Take THAT! I win, send the money my way, please. Thank you.

Categories
Uncategorized

Out ’til 7/13

The project I’m working on has gotten to the “damn it I just want this thing done” phase, which in this case is nicely and thankfully coinciding with the “hey, now I know where I’m going with all this and I just need to type it up” phase. So I’m leaving you all, the better to finish it this week. I’m scheduling this week to be away, although I’ll be back early if it takes less time (which is possible), or back late if it takes more (which is also possible).

If you absolutely can’t live without me for a week, first, seek therapy, but second, I’ll mostly likely continue to update my Twitter feed during this time, because (no offense, Twitter) it doesn’t really involve actual thought. So now’s a fine time to get on the Twitter thing if you’ve not done so already. I’ll also be updating the Whateverettes over there in the sidebar.

While I’m gone you can of course continue to blather on in the comment threads; you don’t really need me here for that. Also, feel free to consider this an “open thread” post — go ahead and chat amongst yourselves, I don’t mind. Just be nice to each other and don’t break anything (I’m probably not going to be posting comments but I will moderate — I’m busy, not dead).

If you need to reach me for some reason, go ahead and do it by e-mail, but be aware I’m likely to respond only to urgent mail (urgent defined by me, as opposed to by others) until the project is finished.

See you all in a week (more or less).

Categories
Uncategorized

Americans Are Crazy

Case in point:

Story about it here.

Categories
Uncategorized

Various and Sundry, 7/4/09

First off: Happy Independence Day! Here in the US we’re celebrating the day we kicked Britain to the curb, what, 233 years ago? Sigh. We were all so different then, weren’t we. And look at us now: The US and UK, totally all “friends with benefits.” Oh, UK. We love your accents.

Now, then:

* If you were planning to vote for this year’s Hugos today, HA! You’re too late, the voting closed at midnight. And as is now apparently traditional, when I woke up the morning after the Hugo voting closed there was an e-mail waiting for me asking me if I thought I was gonna win anything. My response this year, again: Oh, probably not, and almost certainly not in the Best Novel category, where the competition is, shall we say, awesome scary. And I’m very okay with this, since as noted before when fandom says to you, “Hey, you belong in the same category as Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson and Charlie Stross,” well, honestly. How much more win do you need?

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to win all three of the Hugos I’m up for, because then I could retire from Hugo competition, couldn’t I. But I sort of doubt that will happen, and if it did I would be the first to accuse me of ballot stuffing and to demand a full investigation. In the meantime, I’m not going to worry about it. It’s cool to be nominated, and it’s nice to win, and it’s also nice to see friends win, too.

* That said, I totally want to have us METAtropolis folks win Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Dark Knight and Wall-E have already got Oscars, you know? They’re taken care of. And you know you’d rather see me, Toby, Jay, Karl and eBear (and Steve Feldberg, our producer) jumping up and down like happy monkeys on that Hugo stage than to watch some stand-in accept for someone who was never planning to show up. Mind you, the sight of the lot of us hopping up and down is not a reason to vote for METAtropolis — it needed to be judged on its own merits like the rest of the nominees. But it would still be more fun. Just saying.

* In e-mail and comments, I’ve had people asking me if I wasn’t just a bit too severe with Gordon Van Gelder and Gardner Dozois regarding the proposed F&SF workshop, and asking whether I really believe either man would try to take work from workshoppers for the magazine without paying pro rates. So to be clear: No, I didn’t and don’t believe that, and I’ve said a number of times, in both the entries and the comments that I don’t think it was ever their intent. I do think it was unfortunate they were not perfectly clear about the payment angle, however, and regardless of what I thought their intentions were, it’s perfectly legitimate to note out loud that this information wasn’t out there and that its absence was not a good thing.

In the comments, Gardner Dozois notes that one could have just sent an e-mail and asked. Well, sure. On the other hand, as a writer I’m wondering why a detail that fundamental was skipped in the first place; I guessed an oversight (which it was) but it was a puzzling enough oversight to call out. Also, Gordon Van Gelder had information on the workshop posted publicly, so I’m not sure why comment about publicly available material needs to be addressed privately.

Dozois was likewise offended that his 40-year-track record was not taken into consideration when noting the issue of lack of payment information, to which I say: Well, it’s not you, Gardner. It wouldn’t have mattered who it was involved in the workshop, I would have noted the absence of information. Trust me on this. As a professional writer, payment is my hobby horse, and like Rikki Tikki Tavi, I prefer to run and find out rather than be in doubt. I was surprised the payment issue wasn’t addressed, but I also cede the point writers have slightly different priorities than editors and publishers. So I brought it up.

Be that as it may, I do regret if Gardner Dozois feels that I have impugned his integrity. His integrity wasn’t really in question from my point of view, nor it is now (nor is Gordon Van Gelder’s, while I’m at it). I don’t regret pointing out the issue of workshop story payment was not addressed, nor do I regret discussing it publicly. It has been publicly addressed now by Van Gelder (F&SF will pay for the stories), so that’s that. Glad it’s resolved.

Exit mobile version