The Two Sides of Athena

Take your pick:

A little bit country:

A little bit rock and roll:

I kind of like them both, myself.


Out of It

I’ve been asked why I haven’t been writing exhaustively on Libya/Middle East/Wisconsin/Washington Budget Battles/Enter Topic Here over the last couple of weeks. The answer is pretty simple: I’m trying to finish a novel, so I have to decide whether I’m going to devote processing cycles to thinking deeply about the artificial world I’m creating in my own head, or the real world which is going on outside of it. An as a matter of practicality, while everyone else can comment on the real world, I’m currently the only one who can comment on the artificial world in my head. So that’s where I’m mostly putting the brain cycles at the moment.

It’s not to say I might not turn around tomorrow and go on an extended rip about what’s going on out there in the universe. I might, because I’m twitchy like that. But what I’d really like to do is finish this particular novel. I’m reasonably close. So it’s likely that’s where my brain cycles will stay until I’m done.

I know, I picked a fine time to ignore the real world. Hey, it happens. If everything goes the way it should, at the end of it, I’ll have produced something you can use to ignore the real world, too. Seems a fair trade.

That said: Jesus, 2011. It’s still only February, and you’ve already tired me out, news-wise. You are The Year Mostly Likely to Need Ritalin. Please make the next ten months entirely uneventful to make up for the first two spastic months. Thank you in advance.


Deven at 40

My friend Deven Desai turns 40 today. As he was the young’n in our little group of friends, that means we are all officially middle-aged bastards. I hope he’s proud of himself.

To celebrate his and our advancing decrepitude, I’ll play some Pink Floyd. Not “Time,” because that’s just a bit on the nose, isn’t it. Rather, enjoy “Fearless,” a lovely track from Meddle, the album before Dark Side of the Moon. I think the sentiment of the song better suits Deven and the rest of us than the Dark Side mopery in any event.

Happy birthday, Deven.


Another War Entirely In The Past

Pause a moment in your day to remember Frank Buckles, the last US veteran of World War I, who passed away yesterday at 110. As far as anyone knows, only two other WWI vets are alive in the entire world, both well over 100 years or age.


What Happens When All The Snow Melts At Once

Yesterday the temperatures went up 30 degrees in one day and we had a pretty gnarly thunderstorm, and the all the snow which covered our yard — and the rest of the landscape — melted in several hours. And now we have this: A small lake where my yard, the road, and the agricultural field across the road used to be. The water on the road is only about an inch or so deep at the moment, but it’s still not anything you want to be driving in. The water will probably recede later in the day, but for the moment it’s a bit of a mess.

Here’s a view of the side yard, and of what I like to call the Scalzi River. It’s the path of water that runs through the low part of our yard during heavy rainfall and snow melt, on its way to the that “lake” you saw above. The lake itself drains into Harris Creek, which eventually carries it away (now you know why I’m confident the waters will recede) but it takes a little bit of time. The Scalzi River is itself fed from our neighbor’s pond, a real one rather than an accidental one, which clearly is over capacity as well. Like the lake, the Scalzi River will probably be here for a bit today.

We’re fine, this happens a couple of times a year, and the house is on a hill anyway. If we have any flooding in the house then it means most of Western Ohio is underwater, and we have bigger problems than water in our basement. But it certainly makes for impressive pictures.


Quick Oscar Wrapup

Well, once again I got five out of six in the Oscar’s big categories, but where I usually fall down in the Supporting Actress category, this year I whiffed on the Director category, as The King’s Speech’s Tom Hooper bested David Fincher. I think this is somewhat outrageous, but hey, it’s not like I get a vote. And it’s not like Hooper is not deserving, just that I think Fincher is more so. Otherwise, not a bad Oscar loadout, and I was especially pleased to see Shaun Tan, Trent Reznor and Wally Pfister pick up Oscars, for Animated Short, Score and Cinematography, respectively. Everyone had a good night except poor David Fincher. Well, his day will come. Just you wait.


Travelin’ Man

Krissy and I sat down with a calendar today and blocked out the dates and places I will traveling on and to, and, well, damn. Between now and the end of the year, thanks to tours, conventions, appearances and speaking engagements, I am on the road for a non-trivial portion of every month of the year save December (this included January and February). On one hand, this is a good thing, since I will get to see folks and not default to my base state, which is “stay in my office and moulder.” On the other hand, it’s a lot of travel. On the third hand, I’m not going to have to pay for most of it, so at least that’s good. On the fourth hand, I should probably be planting trees to offset all the carbon I’ll be flagrantly spewing about. On the fifth hand, wow, I have a lot of hands all of a sudden.

Just for fun, here are the cities I know I’ll be visiting this year (also counting the ones I have already been to):

Los Angeles
New Orleans
Salt Lake City
San Diego
San Francisco
Washington DC

I’ll also be visiting Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati, but those are all day trips for me. There are also a couple of cities that I’m not putting in there because my travel to them is not yet confirmed, but they’re likely.

As I said: It’s a lot. And it’ll be fun. But it’s a lot.


Look Who’s Back

That’s it. I’m done trying for the day.


Same Problem, Different Cat

Still cat-blocked. They’re insidious!


Can’t Update; Cat Blocking Keyboard Access

As you can see.

Be back when/if cat moves.


Oscar Prediction Addendum

When this year’s Oscar nominations were announced I did my usual batch of predictions, and promised to check in if I wanted to tweak my opinions. Well, here are the tweaks:

1. I think at this point it’s more likely that Melissa Leo will win the Supporting Actress Oscar than Amy Adams, who I had given my pick to on a coin toss between the two actresses. There’s also a great possibility that if The King’s Speech just steamrolls everything, Helena Bonham Carter will sneak up from behind and grab this. Which I would be fine with; I like me some Helena Bonham Carter.

2. I still think David Fincher is going to win Best Director, but I think the vote will be closer than I thought it would be a few weeks ago, and I think there’s a possibility that Tom Hooper might slip past based on a King’s Speech groundswell.

3. Likewise, I still think Chris Nolan has a chance with the Inception screenplay, but I think it’s less likely now, and again to the advantage of King’s Speech. If I had to pick between the two I would play it safe and pick King.

Basically I think there’s a real good chance that The King’s Speech is going to make it a long Oscar night for everyone else.

And there you have it.

Big Idea

The Big Idea: Anton Strout

Super heroes have their appeal to authors — after all, what’s not to like about characters who have special powers and strengths? But there’s something to be said for the workaday hero, too: The schmoe who finds himself in a strange spot without superpowers and still has to get the job done. Author Anton Strout has himself one of those heroes in his series of urban fantasy novels, of which Dead Waters is the latest, and now he’ll explain why it’s good to have one of these heroes in your corner.


Let’s pretend we’re playing the Family Feud here for a moment, shall we?  Hundred people surveyed, top five answers on the board!

Name for me the questions an author gets asked most often.

In my case, they’d be:

5. Aren’t you Alton Brown?

4. Are you sure you aren’t Alton Brown?

3. Do you know Alton Brown?

2. Can I have a free book?

1. Why do you write what you write?

All questions but # 1 earn the asker a boot to the head.  For that one, however, I usually have three responses.  First, I really miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Second, I really love Ghostbusters.  Third, and most important to me, was that I found no one was writing the exact type of stories I wanted to be reading, Not wanting to let that void go unfilled, I thought it was time that I took it upon myself to write those kinds of stories, hoping that my words would fill the need for other readers out there.  So I started writing what would become the four books of the Simon Canderous series, and, not too strangely, my books have turned out as a combination of ghostbusting with a Buffy sensibility—urban fantasy where combating the things that go bump in the night is done with a little bit of tongue in cheek.

Urban fantasy was already filled with its fair share of kick-ass heroes and heroines, but those weren’t the type of people I was interested in writing about.  First of all, the idea of fighting bad guys while wearing tight leather pants… I mean, come on now.  People can barely reach down to tie their shoes in them, let alone roundhouse kick a zombie in the head.

Yes, it’s fantasy, but some of those details are so contrary to common sense that I wanted to write something that felt more…  grounded in reality, something that kept a sense of humor through it all.  I mean, what else are you supposed to do when chasing chupacabras or vampires across Central Park, other than nervously laugh your way through it?  If there really was a secret government organization around to fight that type of evil in New York City, how would that work exactly?

My answer came from examining my own experiences in coming to the city.  When I first moved to Manhattan in the 90’s, I temped for a lot of city organizations and corporations.  I saw how hard it was just trying to requisition three ring binders or .001 Micron pens… how difficult then would it be trying to requisition paranormal equipment like vials of officially sanctioned Holy Water… or a Ghostbusters Proton Pack, for that matter?  Thus was born Manhattan’s Department of Extraordinary Affairs, whose motto is: “Fighting Evil, Under Budget.”

To me all-powerful heroes with unlimited resources weren’t interesting.  Wanting to be heroic is one thing, but making rent and getting by in the fight to do Good in New York City is another.  I think it’s what makes Simon Canderous the type of hero people like reading about, because they can identify with his struggles in the DEA.  A lot of readers know what drudgery and red tape are like in their own jobs, and I thought maybe through my adventures they could live vicariously and let off a little steam through Simon as he takes his handy retractable bat to the zombies and ghouls.  And to get by, Simon had to have a sense of humor through it all.

That was key to me. He needed a positive attitude to deal with the fight against evil, which has been something I’ve loved since I was young. I mean, what else could a modern day person do in the face of mind-numbing eldritch horrors but laugh to keep from going mad?  I’ve felt that way since I showed up for Show & Tell in third grade dressed as Spider-man, the king of the quip in dangerous situations.  My own need for light hearted relief continued on through my gaming days in college, when I found myself fighting the mind shattering horrors of Call of Cthulhu with my cousin and I playing Henry Jones (Jr. and Sr.) to keep from wetting our pants in fear.

Writing a hero like Simon Canderous, is what I find interesting, because he’s not all-powerful.  He can read the psychometric past of items, but he’s not superfueled any other way. The retractable steel bat is helpful, but he’s not Superman.  He’s vulnerable.  Like severe head trauma vulnerable… so the fight to keep him alive is what makes penning his adventures fun.  Thankfully, the Department of Extraordinary Affairs has excellent medical coverage, including mental health benefits… although it’s just as likely the paperwork will drive him mad before the creepy horrors shambling down St. Mark’s Place do.


Dead Waters: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound

Visit the author’s LiveJournal. Follow him on Twitter.


OMW Movie News Addendum

Some quick followups and thoughts concerning yesterday’s movie news:

1. First, thank you to everyone who sent along congratulations and happy notes. They really did make my day. I’m glad you are all as excited out there as I am about this thing. It’s neat.

2. But if you ask me what my primary emotion was yesterday, I would have told you that it was relief. This has been in process for a while now, so it’s nice to be able to tell people about it, finally. The not telling was necessary, to be sure. I’m glad it’s done now.

3. I would again remind folks we’re in early days yet. We’re in a very good position of having a great producer, director and screenwriter working on the thing, and things so far are coming along nicely. But speaking as someone who has been following films professionally for two decades now, until filming actually starts (and sometimes even then), anything could happen. Anything.

This is the nature of creative stuff anyway. I mean, think about Old Man’s War the book: I wrote it in 2001, let it sit in a computer file for more than a year because I was doing other stuff, put it up on the site in December 2002, sold it when Patrick Nielsen Hayden of Tor read it off the site and made an offer, and then had to wait until January 2005 for it be professionally published, because of scheduling and strategy (which, you know, paid off). And a book is a simple thing, relative to a film.

This is to say that the easiest part of the film making process — the part where they want to use my book as the basis for a film, and I agree with them — is done, and now we get to all the hard parts, which are considerable. So: Early days. Lots could happen, including nothing. Be patient. Cultivate your zen.

4. That said, for those of you who just can’t wait, has a thread for people who want to talk about who they should cast in the movie. Go and knock yourselves out.

5. Some of you have been quietly asking if having a movie deal now means I’m stinkin’ rich. Well, I have very smart agents and I’m also not bad on the financial stuff myself, so I’ve done fine on the option front, and if the movie goes into production I’ll do even better. But because among other things I live under the philosophy that money isn’t real until the check clears, I’ve got a novel under construction now and some more in the pipeline and I’m still doing all the other stuff that I do. In other words, I still gotta work, folks.

6. I know that some of you are worried about how the movie folks will change the book, which is why I snuck in that note yesterday reminding all and sundry that the movie is going to be an adaptation, not the book itself. To expand on that a bit, I’ll note that in fact the movie will do nothing to change the actual book — the book is done, and is out there, and I own the rights to it, and I’m not inclined to fiddle with it. So that’s settled.

The movie will not be the book; it can’t be and shouldn’t be, because the act of reading and the act of watching a film are two separate experiences. What works in words doesn’t always translate into sound and vision. Beyond this, if indeed Paramount is eyeing OMW as a tentpole film, then they’re going to build it with the intent of bringing in as many popcorn-munching people as possible, which has its own dynamic. I think as a book OMW is probably better adaptable to this than many — all those years of watching movies professionally and critically has sunk into my storytelling, and you may have noticed OMW has the classic three-act structure that movies love so well — but in the end it’s still going to be fiddled with.

As I noted before, I knew this going in, which why when people started asking about the book, we waited for people we felt would treat OMW seriously — and part of that seriously is “to adapt the book to its best advantage onscreen.” And once you do that, you let them do the work, because that’s their job.

This is the long way of saying that don’t worry that they’ll mess up the book. The book is untouchable. You might worry that they’ll mess up the movie, based on the book. But I have some fairly high confidence in these folks — studio, producer, director and screenwriter — and I’m very interested to see what the OMW port into film form will look like. It’s exciting stuff.



Hey, Ever Wondered If There Would Ever Be an Old Man’s War Movie?

Well, then, you might want to read this.

Also, yes, I’ll talk about it more in just a minute. Give me a second to update.

Update: And here we go:

1. Yes, and obviously, I knew this was coming. For those of you who wonder whether or not I always blog about everything that happens to me the second it happens, the answer to this is I’ve been sitting on this for quite a while now, since quite obviously I can’t burble about this stuff before the studio puts it out there. Yes, I keep secrets from you! And I still am, although not about this. Bwa ha ha ha hah ha!

2. Yes, I’m very happy with the team putting it together. I’ve been an admirer of Wolfgang Petersen’s for a long time now, both as a director and as someone whose films do great business here and abroad, and I think he’s a very good fit for Old Man’s War. Scott Stuber is likewise a very smart and savvy producer, and someone who knows how to shepherd a film through the process right to the big screen. Screenwriter David Self has done some great work adapting material (see: The Road to Perdition), so I was very happy to hear he was operating on my work. I’m also very pleased to be at Paramount, who knows their way around making, marketing and distributing very large science fiction and adventure films. Basically, a good fit all the way around.

3. Beyond this there’s nothing I can share with you at the moment about the status of the production, except to say it’s moving along. As with any potential film project, there’s a lot that can happen between an announcement of a project and the first time it ever gets shown to an audience. We’re in very early days, and my philosophy is: let’s see what happens next. I’m optimistic and realistic.

4. One thing I do want all y’all to be aware of, though, so we have it out front from the beginning: The movie that is eventually made of Old Man’s War will be an adaptation of the book — not the book itself. The filmmakers are going to have to make changes and alterations and cuts and additions and so on and so forth, because that’s what they do when they make movies. I know this, and this is part of the reason why I chose to be picky about who I optioned the work to: Because I wanted filmmakers I felt could best adapt what I wrote so that it would work on the big screen. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do.

Other questions? Put them in the thread, but be aware that at this point, the answer to many of your questions will be “I don’t know.”

Big Idea

The Big Idea: Sophie Littlefield

It is a renaissance time for zombie-related literature, which has its good and bad points. The good points include the fact that it make it easier for an author to sell a book with zombies in it. The bad news is that it makes is harder to make your book featuring the shambling undead stand out among all the shuffling others. This was the challenge author Sophie Littlefield faced creating her novel Aftertime. How did she do? The starred review the book received in Publishers Weekly (“Littlefield turns what could be just another zombie apocalypse into a thoughtful and entertaining exploration of many themes, including genetic engineering, social collapse, and motherhood”) suggests she may have pulled it off. Here she is to explain how it all went down.


I wanted to write a zombie book. I’d been messing around with horror short stories, enough to develop an adequate sense of what a horror story arc should feel like, and I was ready to try something longer. I’m drawn to campy, rather than cerebral, devices—and what gets you to “eek” faster than, you know, flesh-eating?

But I’m not a zombie aficionado. And that worried me—I wasn’t sure I had anything unique to say. In the planning stages, I knew only that zombies would serve as a means to an end. Genre fiction is about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The story hook (be it zombies, werecreatures, a serial killer, a cure for cancer or a seduction) is merely the vehicle that brings you to a sufficiently interesting character juncture that you can squeeze a human drama out of it.

Still, a bland or been-there hook is no good. I figured I faced two challenges. First, make my zombies unique. We’ve already seen Austen-esque zombies, zombies who can have sex, talking zombies, Bill Murray making a cameo as a pretend zombie, even zombie strippers who attempt to kill one another by shooting Ping-Pong balls out of their privates. (That last was rather demoralizing, especially since I stumbled on that particular story line by finding my daughter and her high school friends watching Zombie Strippers on late-night TV.)

Second, I needed to create a compelling heroine. I wasn’t sure readers were ready for a dystopic heroine, but luckily, that’s not my job. Someone else would have to worry about wooing the readers from the urban fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi camps while I focused on making her good enough, complex enough, sympathetic enough to carry the series.

I thought the first problem would be harder. I was wrong.

From the moment I started imagining the progression of the disease that turns people into zombies in Aftertime, it practically wrote itself. It starts with fever and winds through sexual mania and dementia and trichotillomania before ending up, inevitably, in flesh-hunger, and I can imagine exactly what each stage looks and sounds and even smells like. I’ll leave it for someone else to speculate on why that might be, why I have an entire epidemiology for a fictional disease stored in the recesses of my mind.

But getting my heroine, Cass Dollar, right was a true challenge. How could I make her hard enough to survive, but also interesting enough that I could keep myself entertained?

Motivation is pretty important to me. Without it, writing is dull as dirt. If you can’t make yourself believe that that character would pick up the gun or seduce the priest or whatever, where are you going to get the juice to keep putting words down—much less expect a reader to buy in?

So when I was imagining a gone-to-hell world, I had to come up with a compelling reason for my heroine to care enough to keep going when indifference, despair, madness, suicide were all more likely responses.

I found the answer in an unexpected place, a conversation with a friend who, like me, writes noir short fiction. We were talking about an upcoming panel discussion titled “Can women write noir?” A couple of beers in, we concluded that male noir is where the heroine is so hot that even though the hero knows she’s going to screw him over in the end, he keeps digging himself in deeper because he can’t resist her…and female noir is when someone threatens your kid. Bam and done. Sure, this grossly oversimplifies a number of fine authors and fine stories, as well as selling out some of our sisters-in-the-craft who can write a mean sexual double cross, not to mention implying that motherhood is the only complex female motivation (trust me; it’s not), but isn’t there a thread—I mean, come on, give me that, just a thread—of truth in there?

You’ll do things for a child that you won’t do for anyone or anything else. (Here, at last, is my main qualification to write this book: I have two kids, and I’ve been at this for a while—eighteen years, in fact, which I like to think makes me something of an expert.)

In my book, Cass—the heroine—had already done the near impossible: she got sober. An addict has already experienced the end of the world—the loss of everything good, lovely, hopeful, redemptive. Most addicts fail. Sobriety is a miracle on par with surviving an apocalypse—so went my thinking—so what would happen to someone who had already faced the impossible, if they had to do it a second time? They’d need an incredibly compelling reason to keep going…so I gave Cass a daughter.

I’m not an addict, but there have definitely been times in my life where I felt like I’d failed at just about everything except for the two kids I brought into this world. I tried to use that energy, that frame of mind, every time I came to a plot juncture. What would Cass do, as things got worse and worse and worse? Well, she’d sabotage and even hurt herself, she’d hurt others, she’d rail and burn and cry, but she would keep going. In the face of hunger, confusion, fear, zombies, marauders and rapists…she would keep going—for her daughter, Ruthie.

That, finally, felt like strong enough motivation to me.

As I write the second and third books in the trilogy, it has been surprising and gratifying to discover that addiction has become entwined thematically. It serves as an allegory over and over again both in Cass’s internal life and in the larger society. But it has to be balanced by Ruthie—the embodiment of hope, of possibility—or it wouldn’t have worked. Just as all genre fiction shares a general arc—the ordinary people/extraordinary circumstances model I refer to above—much of it resolves in redemption. Aftertime is no exception.


Aftertime: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt of the novel. Read the author’s blog. Follow her on Twitter.


I Am Number Four Falls Down

I Am Number Four was the general consensus pick to win the box office during its opening holiday weekend — and it ended up in third place. How did that happen and what does it mean? I break it down for you in this week’s column. Check it out and as always if you feel moved to comment, do it over there.


Just Arrived, 2/22/11

People send me books! I tell you about them. It’s a pretty good deal for me. Here’s some of what’s come by recently:

* The King of the Elves, Philip K. Dick (Subterranean Press): You’ve heard of this guy, right? (The answer is “yes” even if you think you haven’t, by the way.) This collection of his work includes 22 stories and novellas including Dick’s first published story, “Beyond Lies the Wub.” For PKD collectors and those who wonder what the fuss is for this guy. Out now.

* Leviathans of Jupiter, Ben Bova (Tor Books): This sequel to Bova’s Jupiter has our heroes looking for the giant, mysterious creatures in the planet’s oceans — but there are those who are hoping for their failure. Why can’t everyone just get along? Oh, right — because conflict is fun! This is also out now.

* The Cloud Roads, Martha Wells (Night Shade Books): A lonely shape-shifter who can fly finally meets more of his kind, and discovers that joining their community has repercussions he did not expect. Amazon says this is out now, and Wells be along in a couple of weeks to talk about her book here at The Big Idea.

* Revolution World, Katy Stauber (Night Shade Books): It’s a tale of the love between a computer programmer and a genetic engineer, where one thing leads to another and the next thing you know, Texas has declared independence. Well, that was only a matter of time, was it? This is out March 1.

* Thirteen Years Later, Jasper Kent (Pyr): The sequel to Kent’s Twelve, which took place in the Russia of 1812, takes place — anyone? anyone? — thirteen years later. That would be in 1825, for those of you flummoxed by numbers. Hey, I know how it is, they get the best of me to. Also, for those of you who are wondering, yes, it’s a historical novel… with vampires. Who do not sparkle. Russia really does seem congenial territory for vampires. Who do not sparkle. Out now.

* Graveminder, Melissa Marr (William Morrow): YA author Marr tries out the adult market with this gothic tale of families, ghosts and, of course, evil. But if you’re a Marr fan you have a bit to wait — it’s not out until May 17.

* The Boy at the End of the World, Greg van Eekhout (Bloomsbury): This is also a book I got long before its pub date — this is for June — but I think it’s worth noting that when it showed up in my mail, it was one of those books I went “Ooooooh, coooool” about. And, you know. When that happens, you gotta talk about it.

* Above/Below, Stephanie Campisi and Ben Peek (Twelfth Planet Press): Twelfth Planet continues to press the nerd pleasure centers of my brain with their packaging of two tales in a single volume in classic “Ace Double” style. These two stories, about the cities of Loft and Dirt, also interrelate with each other in interesting ways, so there’s that as well. Fun concepts. This is out now.


It Is a Good Day To Flog: A Promotion Thread

So, I have some things I want to draw attention to at the moment, promotion-wise, and as long as I’m doing that I’m going to go ahead and open up a promotion thread for everyone else, too, in which you can talk about cool things you or others are doing. But me first. Here’s what I’ve got:

1. Some of you might remember that about a year ago I was profiled for a Geek a Week card, by artist Len Peralta. Some of you wondered if the cards would ever be available in real life. The answer is yes! Think Geek has compiled the first eight cards into an actual, real world trading card pack, with cards you can touch, smell, fling across the room like ninja stars and even put into the spokes of your Huffy, if you want.

In addition for this cool thing for yourself, Len and Think Geek have also put together a very cool set of eBay charity auctions featuring stuff from folks profiled in Geek a Week cards. The proceeds from these auctions will be split between the Child’s Play, which gives toys and games to children in hospitals, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The auctions are here, and include the first Geek a Week packs with each card signed by its subject, including me.

2. Speaking of charitable auctions, my friend Kate Nepveu reminds me that the Con or Bust auctions are now up and running, with cool auctions by science fiction and fantasy authors and fans to support Con or Bust, which helps folks of color get to science fiction and fantasy conventions and build diversity in our little community. Check out the auctions and make a bid if there’s something you like in there. Also, here’s more information if there’s something you would like to offer for auction.

3. My friend and former editor Joe Rybicki has an alternate identity as Johnny High Ground, who is a purveyor of fine musical products. And he’s got another fine musical product for you, specifically a 3-track EP named lorem ipsum (you can tell he was an editor now, can’t you), each track featuring acoustic guitar and some very fine lyrics. Check him out on Bandcamp and iTunes, and if you like what you hear, make that download for under $3.

There, I’m done for now. Now it’s your turn — in the comment thread below, tell folks about something you want to promote. It can be something you’re doing, something someone you know is doing, or even just something you know about that you think is cool. Note that if you do more than a couple of links in a comment, you might get the message punted into the moderation queue. I’ll be checking that queue from time to time today to release those messages, so don’t panic if it doesn’t immediately post. I recommend one link per comment, and making more than one comment if you have more than one thing to promote.

So: What cool thing do you want to share with the rest of the class?


The 2010 Nebula Awards Nominees

Here’s our official press release. Feel free to post it and otherwise share it.

SFWA Announces 2010 Nebula Awards Nominees

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
P.O. Box 877
Chestertown, MD 21620-0877


February 22, 2011

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America is proud to announce the nominees for the 2010 Nebula Awards.

The Nebula Awards are voted on, and presented by, active members of SFWA. The awards will be announced at the Nebula Awards Banquet ( on Saturday evening, May 21, 2011 in the Washington Hilton, in Washington, D.C. Other awards to be presented are the Andre Norton Award for Excellence in Science Fiction or Fantasy for Young Adults, the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation and the Solstice Award for outstanding contribution to the field.
Short Story

  • ‘‘Arvies’’, Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed Magazine 8/10)
  • ‘‘How Interesting: A Tiny Man’’, Harlan Ellison® (Realms of Fantasy 2/10)
  • ‘‘Ponies’’, Kij Johnson ( 1/17/10)
  • ‘‘I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno’’, Vylar Kaftan (Lightspeed Magazine 6/10)
  • ‘‘The Green Book’’, Amal El-Mohtar (Apex Magazine 11/1/10)
  • ‘‘Ghosts of New York’’, Jennifer Pelland (Dark Faith)
  • ‘‘Conditional Love’’, Felicity Shoulders (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine 1/10)


  • ‘‘Map of Seventeen’’, Christopher Barzak (The Beastly Bride)
  • ‘‘The Jaguar House, in Shadow’’, Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine 7/10)
  • ‘‘The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard van Oost and Oludara’’, Christopher Kastensmidt (Realms of Fantasy 4/10)
  • “Plus or Minus’’, James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine12/10)
  • ‘‘Pishaach’’, Shweta Narayan (The Beastly Bride)
  • ‘‘That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made’’, Eric James Stone (Analog Science Fiction and Fact 9/10)
  • ‘‘Stone Wall Truth’’, Caroline M. Yoachim (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine 2/10)


  • The Alchemist, Paolo Bacigalupi (AudibleSubterranean)
  • ‘‘Iron Shoes’’, J. Kathleen Cheney (Alembical 2)
  • The Lifecycle of Software Objects, Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
  • ‘‘The Sultan of the Clouds’’, Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine 9/10)
  • ‘‘Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance’’, Paul Park (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 1-2/10)
  • ‘‘The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window’’, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine Summer ’10)


  • The Native Star, M.K. Hobson (Spectra)
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit UK; Orbit US)
  • Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
  • Echo, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
  • Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
  • Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis (Spectra)

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

  • Despicable Me, Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud (directors), Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul (screenplay), Sergio Pablos (story) (Illumination Entertainment)
  • Doctor Who: ‘‘Vincent and the Doctor’’, Richard Curtis (writer), Jonny Campbell (director)
  • How to Train Your Dragon, Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders (directors), William Davies, Dean DeBlois, & Chris Sanders (screenplay) (DreamWorks Animation)
  • Inception, Christopher Nolan (director), Christopher Nolan (screenplay) (Warner)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Edgar Wright (director), Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright (screenplay) (Universal)
  • Toy Story 3, Lee Unkrich (director), Michael Arndt (screenplay), John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, & Lee Unkrich (story) (Pixar/Disney)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

  • Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
  • White Cat, Holly Black (McElderry)
  • Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press; Scholastic UK)
  • Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, Barry Deutsch (Amulet)
  • The Boy from Ilysies, Pearl North (Tor Teen)
  • I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett (Gollancz; Harper)
  • A Conspiracy of Kings, Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow)
  • Behemoth, Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK)

For more information, visit
Postal queries to: P.O. Box 877, Chestertown, MD 21620-0877

About SFWA

Founded in 1965 by the late Damon Knight, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America brings together the most successful and daring writers of speculative fiction throughout the world.

Since its inception, SFWA® has grown in numbers and influence until it is now widely recognized as one of the most effective non-profit writers’ organizations in existence, boasting a membership of approximately 1,800 science fiction and fantasy writers as well as artists, editors and allied professionals.  Each year the organization presents the prestigious Nebula Awards® for the year’s best literary and dramatic works of speculative fiction.


Gaaah, Monday

Working since 7:30 am and I still have things to do.

Being a grown-up sucks.

I blame you.


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