Phoenix Tour Appearance and ComicCon Schedule

Attention Citizens of Phoenix and Arizona! As of tomorrow I will be among you in your fair (and I assume at this point rather warm) environs, both to do a tour appearance and to be a guest at Phoenix Comicon. The tour appearance is open to the public, while Comicon memberships at the door will be $40. Come to one, come to both — either way I’ll be happy to see you.

Here’s information on both:


The final tour stop on the Fuzzy Nation book tour will be Saturday, May 28 at 5pm at The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ. I will be there, as will Sam Sykes, who will also be reading and signing. Then he and I will fight to the death. It will be fun.

(Technical note: In this instance “fight to the death,” means “make a few snarky comments and grin stupidly,” more or less. You still don’t want to miss it.)

(Seriously, come on down — this tour has been great so far and I just know you guys can help end it on a high note.)

(No pressure or anything.)


Author Round Up – Come meet several of our author guests in an informal chat session to find out what they’ll be doing during the weekend.
When: Thu, 8:00-9:00PM (Room 122 Sci Fi)

Sci-Fi Authors & Social Media – Authors today spend a lot of time online conversing with fans about their work and everything under the sun. How do they keep social media from taking over their lives, while making their online presence a good experience for them and their fans? Panelists: Cherie Priest, Jack Mangan, John Scalzi, Paul Cornell, Sam Sykes
When: Fri, 10:30-11:30AM (Room 122 Sci Fi)

Sci-Fi and Fantasy on TV – With such shows as FlashForward, Stargate Universe, The Dresden Files, and Star Trek: TNG under their belts, panelists look at their series’ work and discuss how their efforts worked (or didn’t) with the realities of TV production. Panelists: John Scalzi, Morgan Gendel, Robert J Sawyer
When: Fri, 12:00-1:00PM (Room 122 Sci Fi)

Just a Minute With Paul Cornell and Friends – Join Paul Cornell and special guests for a fun round of the British radio game show Just a Minute. Panelists: Paul Cornell
When: Fri, 6:00-7:00PM (Room 121)

The Big Idea – The Big Idea, a regular feature on “Whatever” (John Scalzi’s website), gives authors the chance to talk about the “big idea” that went into their novels. Join John and several of those authors for a look at their big ideas. Panelists: Cherie Priest, James A Owen, John Scalzi, Jordan Summers, Kevin Hearne, Sam Sykes, Janni Lee Simner
When: Sat, 10:30-11:30AM (Room 122 Sci Fi)

John Scalzi Spotlight – Phoenix ComiCon welcomes back Hugo award-winning author John Scalzi! He’ll be reading from something new and answering questions about his work, life, pets and his plans to take over the world. Panelists: John Scalzi
When: Sat, 12:00-1:00PM (Room 122 Sci Fi)

Beyond this I will have an author table I will be at when I am not causing mischief elsewhere.

So come to either or both and I hope to see you soon.


Traveling the Stars

I’ve been traveling a lot in the last couple of weeks, so perhaps it’s only natural that this week’s column is about space travel — and which classic science fiction films make it seem easy, and which ones don’t. The one thing we learn: Don’t fall asleep. The column explains why. Check it out and then leave your comments there.

Big Idea

The Big Idea: Ellen Kushner

For longtime fans of the urban fantasy genre, the Bordertown series of anthologies hardly needs an introduction — it was literally one of the foundations of the genre when it emerged on the publishing scene in 1986. Now Welcome to Bordertown, introduces a new generation of readers to that gritty, magical place — and in doing so will open the door for them to a larger gathering of writers and readers who have been there before them. As Welcome to Bordertown’s co-editor Ellen Kushner explains in her Big Idea, this is not at all coincidental.


They didn’t make me write an introduction to Welcome to Bordertown.  My co-editor, Holly Black wrote one, and Terri Windling, who invented Bordertown and edited 7 books about it, wrote the other (after we’d told her, “Terri, we’ll take care of everything, don’t worry! Well, maybe you can just write a short introduction . . . And by the way, could you check all the stories to make sure the street names are right? And what are the rules about getting to Bordertown, again? And we know you’re busy but . . . . ”).  The idea was that Original Series Creator would talk about how it all started, and Next Generation Hot Young Writer would explain how Original Series had changed her life.  Which left me happily sitting back and writing jacket copy.

But maybe I do owe some sort of introduction to the new volume.  I was, after all, in every one of Terri’s Bordertown anthologies from 1986 – 1998.  And I was the one who cornered Holly in a bar at the ALA in 2007 and said, “Wanna start the series up again, if I can get Terri to agree?”

So here it is:

My introduction to Welcome to Bordertown.

In the 1980s, prominent young fantasy editor Terri Windling and I were sharing an apartment with a rotating cast of characters on New York City’s then-still-seedy Upper West Side. My first novel, Swordspoint, was still looking for a publisher, without much success. We were both nursing broken hearts, and the doleful strains of Brian Ferry’s “More than This” were heard more often than either of us really likes to admit (with Prince and the Eurythmics to cheer things up).

As she explains in her Introduction, a publisher had asked Terri to come up with a new Shared World anthology.  So she was inviting some of the authors she had been nurturing to write something that combined traditional, folkloric elf stuff with the kinds of cities most of us were actually living in:  a fantasia of black leather jackets, clubs where you sweatily danced all night, and maybe some motorcycles for the kick.

I had only just bought my first leather jacket.

And there I was in the kitchen, hearing all this Bordertown stuff going down, and feeling all uncool and left out.  And I got up my nerve and said, “Um, Terri, would you want me to write something for this?”

She looked at me wide-eyed, and said, “Would you want to?”

As if I was too busy or too important or too literary or something.  Which was quite a joke, considering I’d only ever sold two short stories.  So I said, “Well, yeah!” And she gave me a deadline.  I was in.

But it turned out that the stories were supposed to be about teen runaways meeting on the mean streets, kids who trusted only each other because adults were dangerous.  And I wailed, “But my family was nice!  Other kids were mean to me!”

“Write about a kid coming from that background, then,” Terri said.

So I did.

After the tightly controlled language and emotions of Swordspoint, writing in the voice of the angsty romantic teen Charis was a fabulous slalom down the slope of story.  For the next volume, Terri and I wrote a novella together – and into Linny of “Mockery,” I poured all the shit I’d taken for being a girl who wanted attention for being clever and different, and was told (by other kids) to be cute and nice, instead.  At Terri’s side – in communion with the other writers helping to create this outsiders’ paradise of possibility and art – like my character, I found a way to work things out.

And it kept on happening.  At a time in my life when I lacked both confidence and discipline, I managed to write a story for every single one of the four volumes of the original anthology series.

I could do this because Terri was with me every step of the way.  When I was out of ideas, she brainstormed with me.  When I was out of confidence, she praised me (as in:  I’d leave newly-typed pages on the kitchen table at 2 a.m., with Does this suck? scrawled at the top, and crawl out for my orange juice at 11 to find No! Keep going! written beneath it).  And when I was out of energy, she gave me a deadline.

Three drafts ago, I thought this piece was going to be about how I talked Holly into reviving the series; she has, after all, gone on record in several interviews claiming she said she’d chew off her right arm to join the Bordertown writers – whereas I distinctly remember that when I shyly asked her, “Um, would you want to write one?” her exact words were:  “I would walk over broken glass to write a Bordertown story!”  I thought this was going to be about how Holly and I then went about rounding up what was left of the old gang for one more ride to the Border, and how we cunningly uncovered (and recruited) the next generation of “Bordertown kids” without letting them know what was up  (yeah, very Seven Samurai) . . . .

But I now see that it’s really about community.  Terri has always known you don’t just stumble across it; you have to create it.  She wanted there to be a place for all of us to meet, a liminal space between the elfin lands and the life we actually lived.

In creating Bordertown she created a community not just of writers (as Holly’s introduction movingly explains) but of readers. Ever since the new anthology was announced, I’m stunned at how many people have posted about how reading Bordertown changed – or even saved – their lives.  Terri gave us all a place to dream of,  a vision of a town where, when you find something good, you pass it on to others.  Which is just what Holly and I are hoping to do with the new volume.


Welcome to Bordertown: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Visit the Bordertown series Web site. Read Kushner’s LiveJournal. Follow her on Twitter.

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