Tag Archives: events

Back from Readercon

And boy are my brains tired! But I had a lovely time, with highlights including meeting Shirley Jackson’s marvelous daughter Sadie, accepting a Shirley Jackson Award on behalf of Maureen McHugh (one of next year’s Readercon GOHs!) for her collection After the Apocalypse, and winning (!) the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition. More detailed reminiscences to come.

Vacation Reading

I’m off for my July “vacation” week, in quotes because I will be catching up on freelance work and then going to Readercon, which is tremendous fun but not precisely restful. Still, I do hope to read a lot in the next week. A few things on my list:

  • Andy Duncan’s new collection, The Pottawatomie Giant. I’m a few stories in and it’s just superb.
  • Junot Díaz’s forthcoming collection This Is How You Lose Her. (Speaking of Junot, do not miss this extraordinary transcript of him being interviewed by Paula Moya. I am so bummed that he’s not coming to Readercon this year.)
  • Margo Lanagan’s collection Cracklescape.
  • The 2012 edition of Heiresses of Russ: The Year’s Best Lesbian Science Fiction.
  • Plus a novella I’m critiquing, and some articles I’m editing for the next issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.

As you can probably tell, I’m all about the short fiction when I travel. It suits my dazed vacation-brain very well. It also helps that I have digital versions of almost all of these, which lightens my suitcase.

What sorts of books do you like to take on trips? And will I see you at Readercon?

Wow, What a Week

Wow, this week! When I was describing it on Twitter, Ruth Sternglantz said it sounded like “a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie” and that about sums it up.

The June romance issue of PW came out on Monday, with great articles by Julie Naughton: a big feature on contemporary romance, and two smaller pieces on YA romance and (my favorite) men who write romance novels. I’ve been wanting to write about the men of the romance world for ages, and they gave us some really fascinating insights into what it’s like being a guy in an overwhelmingly female industry, and why romance writing calls to them.

BEA was terrific, if super busy. I had almost no time to socialize, but I did get to meet Masumi Washington of Haikasoru and Christopher Payne of Journalstone, both of whom are lovely, and hang out a bit with Charlie Stross and Walter Mosley. The radio show went very well, I think. (My mom liked it, which of course is the audience that matters most!) We talked a lot about Ray Bradbury and got in a wonderful interview with Nelson DeMille. There’s a great picture of me and Mark with our headsets on in the day 3 Show Daily. Also in that issue is my recap of the SF/mainstream panel with Walter Mosley, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, and John Scalzi. You don’t need to be a PW subscriber to read the Show Daily; it’s all up on Scribd free of charge. To cap it off, I went to the NYPL reading with N.K. Jemisin, Catherynne Valente, Kristin Cashore, and Naomi Novik, introduced by Lev Grossman and backed by Brian Slattery’s band; given that line-up, I have no idea why there were only about 30 people in the audience, but the 30 of us enjoyed a really great show.

I got back to the office and edited Q&As with Jim C. Hines and Kij Johnson for our last two June issues; keep an eye out for those. Now I’m hip-deep in the fall announcements issue, when I get to prognosticate about trends in romance and SF/F/H. As of right now, I have no idea what those trends are! But this is one reason why I still love paper ARCs: I can look over the shelves at my desk and pick out hints of zeitgeist. Hopefully I will acquire two essays’ worth of hints by Tuesday.

A Gathering of Like Minds

From Tempest Bradford comes the welcome news that the Interstitial Arts Foundation is restarting its monthly salons:

Literary and artistic salons started back in 17th century France, when inspiring hosts and hostesses gathered “stimulating people of quality” together to refine their taste and increase their knowledge through conversation. Today there may be fewer wealthy patrons willing to host an event in their townhouses, but there is always a need for artists to meet other artists, to explore other circles of creative influence, to cross borders.

Our salon aims to bring together writers, visual artists, musicians, performance artists, crafters, academics and other people of quality in New York City for a relaxed evening of conversation.

The salon will take place every month on the 4th Tuesday at Vagabond Café in Manhattan. Details at the link.

The Business Side of the Nebulas

My story about the Nebula Awards weekend went up in the Monday PW Daily and can be found here. It’s got quite a different focus from my blog posts, discussing the business chatter that went on particularly around digital publishing and self-publishing. Sample quote:

At a later round-table discussion among SFWA members about whether and how self-publishers might qualify for membership, Gordon Van Gelder, the editor and publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, proposed that rather than focusing on self-publishers qualifying as authors, they should instead be asked to qualify as markets. At present, qualifying novel markets need to pay authors at least $2000 per book or 5 cents a word, have been in business for at least one year, and have a print run or circulation of at least 1000 copies. “Someone pointed out that it’s probably going to be unwieldy if we have a hundred people trying to qualify that way,” Van Gelder said after the discussion, “but no one screamed in horror at the idea.”

Check it out.

After the flurry of posts this past weekend, which I greatly enjoyed writing, expect blogging to be light over the next couple of weeks; I’m working on a big project that I can’t talk about just yet, and then there’s BEA to cover (will you be there?) and the June romance issue to edit and the fall announcements to write about (yes, fall! I’m already getting in Christmas romances to review). I’m swamped! But I will post when I can and miss you all desperately in the meantime.

Nebula Awards Weekend, Day 1

After a morning conference call, I packed up and took a cab back to the convention hotel. There were no further hotel shenanigans, for which I am very glad; showed up, checked in, got reimbursed for my cab fare, all good. I got my badge, nabbed lunch at the hotel buffet (surprisingly tolerable), and headed up to the press room. Jaym Gates, SFWA’s press officer, is terrific. Even though she was dealing with hotel shenanigans, she still managed to get me set up with free wi-fi and line up a couple of interviews with Nebula nominees Mary Robinette Kowal and Rachel Swirsky. The audio of those will be exclusive to SFWA’s member site, but I’m hoping to at least post excerpts here.

After that I went down to the bar and ended up talking with a gaggle of folks (I’m trying not to turn this into namedropper central) about Readercon, Philcon, Lunacon, and other events of days gone by. Gardner Dozois told a hilarious story of the time he and George R.R. Martin, both young and broke, went around a convention trying to find an editor who would buy them dinner, and finally one took pity on them and got them each a hot dog from the cart outside the hotel. Be kind, editors! You never know who that pesky young writer will be someday.

I ran into James Patrick Kelly, who somehow talked me into being on a 10 a.m. panel tomorrow about e-books and self-publishing; this is what I get for snubbing the convention program. I did actually go to a panel, too: Jim Kelly, Connie Willis, John Scalzi, and James Morrow talking about how to write humor. They were all very responsible about staying on topic rather than zinging off snappy one-liners, but Scalzi managed to do both by describing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as “an extinction-level event for comedic science fiction.”

After that was the mass signing, which I endured for about an hour before fleeing to my room for a blissful hour of peace and quiet. I went back downstairs at about 7:15 to find several people discussing an email that had just been sent out by Jason Williams of Night Shade Books. (He also sent me a copy with permission to quote from it.) Night Shade’s had a couple of hard years; Williams cited the collapse of Borders and difficulties with a distributor, and also admitted that when SFWA put Night Shade on probation, they “needed the kick to get our affairs in order” and have continued to struggle to make payments on time (which may be why Cat Valente recently announced she would no longer be working with them). None of that is really news, though. The newsworthy bits are three:

  1. Night Shade has signed a distribution deal with PGW, including domestic and international e-book distribution through Constellation. “Ebook sales since we went live with Constellation in December have literally doubled.”
  2. They’ve also signed “a huge audiobook deal, that will not only include 20-30 backlist titles, but also a guaranteed audio rights deal for every non-reprint novel we have going forward.”
  3. “A wave of checks will go out at the end of this month, and another will go out in early July. After that, we’ll be paying bills in the beginning of every month…. We are making more than we are spending, and that means that we are operating with cash left over to pay off that back debt. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I’m going to be doing my best to make sure that everyone that is owed is getting money on a regular basis.”

Most of the reactions I heard were variations on the theme of “We’ll see”. I think it’s great that Night Shade is continuing to look to the future, but I suspect they’ll have image problems long after those debts are paid off (assuming they do get paid off).

I pulled myself away from the conversation for a wonderful dinner with Geoff Ryman and James Morrow at a nearby Ethiopian restaurant (thanks to Eileen Gunn for the kind recommendation), and came back fashionably late for the nominees’ reception. In a bit of accidental comedy, Scalzi left E. Lily Yu off the list of short story nominees (an error he quickly corrected) and then sent them through the wrong door for their group photograph. I caught up with Lily a bit later and she said happily, “That was actually the best thing that could have happened. I was so nervous before, but after walking into a supply closet with Adam-Troy Castro and Sheila Williams, now I’m not nervous at all!” So if you have pre-award jitters, supply closets are apparently the way to go.

I circulated and chatted for a while, and eventually the party shut down; most people decamped to the bar, but I wanted to spare my voice for the panel (seriously, why did I agree to do that), so Danielle and I got tea from the consuite and then headed for our room. I ironed all my shirts, hung up my suit, realized with some vexation that I had left my captoes at home and would be stuck wearing less formal shoes, and sat down to write this post. Now, to sleep. Tomorrow, the awards!

Nebula Awards Weekend, Day 0

I’m in D.C. for the Nebula Awards weekend. The hotel got overbooked–apparently an enormous tour group decided to stay an extra day, and once people have rooms you can’t kick them out–so a bunch of us were shunted off to a very posh hotel several miles away for Thursday night. This is a bit puzzling, as the original hotel is surrounded by other hotels and presumably they could have just sent us across the street, but whatever. Alas, the very posh hotel put all its money into building an enormous atrium with house-sized shops and restaurants inside of it, leaving none for soft beds.

This entire place–not just the apocalyptically empty and echoing hotel but the surrounding extruded-plastic “walkable downtown” with meticulously kept-up lawns and a complete sucking absence of soul–feels grotesquely fake. I could believe that it was once a movie set built from a demented megalomaniac’s dim, warped recollections of childhood vacation fantasies. Now the (undoubtedly dystopian) movie is done and the set has been abandoned, to be intermittently occupied by confused, wealthy squatters. The bars outside the hotel, where we went in a futile search for non–room service food, were packed full of the most desperately intoxicated people I have ever seen in my life. There is no dirt anywhere. There is no sense that anyone who had a hand in designing this place put the slightest thought into human comfort and enjoyment; it all exists simply to make an impression. It’s the architectural equivalent of someone who has undergone so much plastic surgery that none of their original face is left. It’s the suburbia that Information Society wrote “On the Outside 2.1″ about, the sort that recalls the man with red eyes and the regimented children from A Wrinkle in Time. It is profoundly discomfiting and I will be glad to leave.

The one redeeming feature is that I ended up with the magnificent D.T. Friedman as my last-minute roommate, which is lovely. If I were in a room all by myself I’d be missing my partners a whole lot. I’m still missing them, of course, but it’s tempered by slumber party fun.

There’s hardly anything on the program that interests me (no slight to the organizers; I have this problem at all non-Readercon conventions, and this one is mostly geared toward fiction writers, a group I don’t really belong in), so once I get back to the conference hotel, I plan to spend the next three days alternating between hot tub and bar*, using my phone to record interviews, with a break to put on my pinstripe suit and liveblog the Nebulas. I love my job, even when it sends me to strange, disturbing, non-real places.

* Because it’s where people congregate, not because I’ll be drinking. I don’t drink when I’m working.

And We’re Off

I’m heading down to D.C. tonight for my first-ever Nebula Awards weekend. I’ll be liveblogging the Nebula ceremony, so load up Genreville around 8 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday (or follow @genreville on Twitter) for pictures of people in fancy clothes and the first announcements of the award winners.

If you come to the event and spot me–look for the buzzcut, black backpack, and fancy ear jewelry–please do say hello. I’m always glad to meet Genreville’s readers.

Speaking of which, I just got the news that Genreville’s traffic has nearly doubled in the past year. Thank you all so much for coming by to read and comment! I really appreciate that you take a few minutes out of your day to hang out here.

What Not to Do, Toastmaster Edition

At the introductory remarks for the BSFA Awards at Eastercon on Sunday, John Meaney dismissed gender parity panels as “babes in SF”, went on at length about Lauren Beukes’s looks, and joked about violent Israelis and African games with funny names.  Apparently there was also a part involving Irish people and leprechauns that wasn’t caught on video. There were numerous complaints on Twitter and several people walked out, missing the closing in which Meaney claimed Charles Stross was actually Osama bin Laden. (Not to be confused with the earlier part where he put up a picture of Lavie Tidhar labeled “Not Philip K. bin Laden”. Why make a terrible joke once when you could make it twice?)

Martin McGrath, a BSFA committee member, responded with a blog post where he said that a) the speech was in poor taste because it insults individual people, b) it was absurd to think of it as insulting groups to which those individual people belong (because had Lauren Beukes been a gorgeous man, Meaney would totally have talked about standing in the golden radiance of her aura! her being a woman is irrelevant!), and c) Meaney (whom McGrath barely knows) surely meant well and his heart is pure, so any responses to him should be made in an appropriate tone. McGrath fights for equality all the time, so when he says that being offended by sexist and racist comments is “hysterical”, you know it’s not worth worrying your pretty little head over. He also not only emphasized that he doesn’t represent BSFA but claimed that in fact it is impossible for any individual to do so, explained that it is BSFA policy not to have policies (er…), invited people to come chat with him at the BSFA booth at Eastercon, and wondered what the point was of continuing to volunteer with BSFA. Reactions to this screed were predictably negative.

This awfulness unfortunately rather overshadowed the BSFA Awards themselves, which went to Paul Cornell for short fiction, Christopher Priest for long fiction (he redeemed both himself and the ceremony by making two genuinely funny jokes in under 60 seconds), Dominic Harman for cover art, and The Science Fiction Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition for nonfiction. Prior to Meaney’s turn at the mike, the James White Award was also presented to Colum “CJ” Paget, who very generously donated his prize back to the award fund, and a special commendation was given to Tori Truslow. Congratulations to the winners, and sympathies to them and the other nominees, who had little choice but to sit through that excruciating half-hour and the subsequent rehashing.

A Palate Cleanser

On a lighter note, some great links have been coming my way:

  • Stone Telling‘s long-awaited QUILTBAG speculative poetry issue is live!
  • Tales of the Emerald Serpent, a mosaic anthology with some great authors lined up, is almost halfway to its Kickstarter goal.
  • Laura Anne Gilman is Kickstarting a pair of novellas that tie in to her popular Cosa Nostradamus/PSI series.
  • Helen Keller describes the view from the top of the Empire State Building. Do not miss this. Just gorgeous!
  • There’s going to be a steampunk festival in Waltham, MA in May, with a bunch of free events. I happen to know most of the people in the banner on the top of the page, and I can vouch that they know how to have a good time. Also, the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation sounds like approximately the best museum ever and I can’t believe I’ve never even heard of it before. Must go the next time I’m in Boston.
  • Jennifer Pelland defends unhappy endings.
  • After reading the Scientology/Writers of the Future piece in the Village Voice, WotF winner Carl Frederick has backed out of association with the contest.
  • Brian Keene starts an interesting discussion by talking about why there weren’t any women on his list of his 25 favorite authors, and how such lists can be strongly influenced by what’s available to read when one is growing up. There’s some gender essentialism in the post that had me rolling my eyes a bit, but the conclusion is strong, and the ensuing conversation is pretty good.
  • I just found out about this and I’m sorry I couldn’t link to it sooner! In honor of Women’s History Month, Cambridge University Press is offering free access for the month of March to Orlando, their electronic database that relates to British women’s writing from the earliest times to the present. It is searchable and is a valuable resource for scholars, writers and anyone interested in literary and cultural history. To access it, go to http://orlando.cambridge.org/ . In the upper right click Login. For username, enter womenshistory; for password, orlando.
  • The 2012 Million Writers Award nominations are now open.
  • Finalists have been announced for the RITA (romance) and Clarke (U.K. SF) awards.

A Month of Exploring Earthsea

I did a whirlwind tour of book launch parties tonight, starting with Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star event. I ran into Ellen Kushner there and she immediately thrust a booklet into my hands. “Take a look!” she hissed (Maureen was speechifying and we didn’t want to be disruptive). As I turned the pages, she added, “I need to promote the fuck outta this!” I may be misremembering her exact words, but that was the gist.

“This” turned out to be a series of events at the Center for Fiction, celebrating Ursula Le Guin and A Wizard of Earthsea. I saw some familiar names: Kathleen Ann Goonan, Charles Yu, Naomi Novik, Kelly Link, Lev Grossman. Huh, I thought, pretty cool. Then on the next page there were Holly Black and Chris Moriarty and Justine Larbalestier and Margaret Atwood, and on the next page were N.K. Jemisin and Michael Swanwick, and the page after that had Liz Hand and John Crowley and Chip Delany and Andrea Hairston, and I’m going to stop dropping names now but the short version is that just about every cool person ever is going to be doing these events, which take place over the entire month of October. All the details are here. And other than Atwood’s talk, I believe the events are all free of charge.

I promised Ellen I would blog about it. In gratitude she wrote a note expressing her adoration… and asked me to pass it on to Kate Beaton, whose Hark! A Vagrant book launch party I was going to after Maureen’s thing. Messenger to the stars, that’s me.

Monday Miscellany

  • I’m on the air, digitally speaking! Starting, uh, last week (I meant to blog about this on Friday but it’s been a bit hectic around here), and continuing ad infinitum, I’ll be giving sneak previews of PW‘s reviews section every Friday on special episodes of the Copyright Clearance Center’s Beyond the Book podcast (not to be confused with Barbara Vey’s Beyond Her Book blog). Other PW editors and staff will be talking about book news; in the first episode, features editor Andrew Albanese talks about the Amazon/Overdrive partnership, the upcoming Frankfurt book fair, and more. Listen to that episode here and then subscribe to the podcast through this iTunes link.
  • So you want to write a romance novel? Watch these videos first. “Was it good?” “It was amazing.” “Will we live happily ever after now?” “No.” If you want to write a non-romance novel, this video may also prove instructive. (Hat tip to Maureen Johnson.) I have yet to find equivalent videos for SF, fantasy, or horror, but if you encounter them, do send them my way.
  • It’s Strange Horizons fund drive time again, and they’re only about 20% of the way to their goal. Don’t forget that donating any amount enters you into a drawing for a wide array of nifty prizes.
  • Andrew Porter sends links to videos of Roger Zelazny and Jane Yolen doing readings at Fourth Street in 1986. Each video is an hour long, so give it some time to load before you start watching. They start with some introductory material about conventions; if you decide to skip that, on the broadly correct assumption that nothing much has changed in that regard over the past 25 years, the readings begin around 02:45.
  • Speaking of readings, Andy Duncan knocked it out of the park at KGB on Wednesday! Wow! If you ever have a chance to hear him read, do not miss it. Michael Swanwick, the least self-effacing writer I have ever met, went up to the podium after the break and said, “Andy is a hard act to follow. But I can do it.” Alas, his tale of doomed love between an ugly, brilliant theoretical physicist and her gorgeous, brilliant technician did not quite outshine Andy’s remarkable novelette “Close Encounters”, in which a mountain hermit reflects on his long-ago abduction by aliens.
  • Michael also mentioned a story idea and said I should blog about it and encourage someone to turn it into an actual story. Alas, I can’t remember what it was.
  • Also speaking of readings, I’m going to take a very brief moment to toot my own horn and note that I and other contributors to Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry will be reading at Bluestockings Books on October 10th at 7 p.m., and at CCNY’s Shepard Hall on October 11th at 6:30 p.m. If you’re in New York, come join us! The book is gorgeous and amazing (as is everything published by A Midsummer Night’s Press) and I’m kind of stunned that editor Julie R. Enszer liked my little poem enough to include it.
  • Oh all right, a bit more horn-tooting. That’s what blogs are for, isn’t it? I’ll be onstage at the 21st First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony this Thursday, September 29, up in Cambridge MA. Tickets are sold out, but you can watch for free on our webcast. I believe my role is listed in the program book as “Human Aerodrome and Onstage Lurking Presence”.

A bit of trivia for you: Many years ago, my father took a road trip with Tom Disch and Marilyn Hacker. The men took turns driving, and whoever wasn’t driving would write sonnets with Marilyn to pass the time. My father assembled these sonnets into a tiny chapbook called Highway Sandwiches. As it happens, Marilyn Hacker is also a contributor to Milk and Honey, so I believe she’s the first person to ever share TOCs with both my father and me. I could not have predicted that!

California and Nevada, Here I Come

Josh and I are heading to San Francisco tomorrow for a week of vacation before we go to Worldcon. I would like to pretend that Worldcon is a vacation, but at this point it’s as much of a professional event for me as it is a way to see friends and steal panel ideas for Readercon attend interesting program items.

If you’d like to meet me in person and tell me how awesome Genreville is, here’s where I’ll be before Worldcon:

Aug. 13, 7 p.m.: SF in SF

Aug. 16, 6:30 p.m.: The mp3 Experiment San Francisco (Josh and I will be among the blue shirts)

And at Worldcon:

Aug. 18, 2 p.m.: Kaffeeklatsch, room KK1

Come hang out, drink tea, and chat with me about books and reviewing and anything else you like!

Aug. 18, 8 p.m.: Fannish Origami Workshop, room KK1

Have some experience with origami? Come learn advanced origami patterns for aliens, spaceships, mythological creatures and more! Paper will be provided.

If you know a mountain from a valley and a squash from a sink, origamically speaking, please do come to this so I can feel justified in having spent Worldcon’s money on lots of pretty paper.

Aug. 19, 11 a.m.: Social Media for Writers (with Tee Morris, Tom Negrino, Cory Doctorow, and Brenda Cooper), room A03

Writers know the Internet, but not all writers take advantage of its full potential. With the evolution of Social Media, potential readers are only a click away. But what exactly is Social Media? At this panel, you will pick up the vocabulary and background of exactly what Social Media is, what it can do, and what it cannot do.

Every time Cory says “DRM” or “free”, take a drink. Every time I say “Don’t argue with reviews”, chug. If you know Tee, Tom, or Brenda, feel free to suggest more drinking game rules in the comments.

Aug. 20, 3 p.m.: The Paranormal as Metaphor (with Naamen Tilahun, Lucienne Diver, Carrie Vaughn, and Patricia Briggs), room A16

Paranormal fantasy, including urban fantasy and paranormal romance, is among the most popular genres within speculative fiction. One intriguing aspect of this type of fantasy is its role as a stealth route toward social commentary and change. What are the issues being examined and how effectively are the experiences of various groups presented?

Remember that post from a few months ago on why white men should refuse to be on panels of all white men? This panel as originally convened–a panel on paranormal metaphors for social issues!–was all white women. I emailed the Renovation program staff and said I wouldn’t be on it unless they made it more diverse. Somewhat to my surprise, this was actually effective, and I’m delighted that Naamen will be joining us. (I’m equally delighted that I didn’t have to make good on my threat, as I think I’m the token queer on the panel and diversity in that direction is important too.) The program item description has also been much improved. Kudos to the Renovation program staff for taking positive steps quickly and without defensiveness. And if you find yourself on a similarly un-diverse panel, I hope my positive experiences here will encourage you to speak up.

In addition to my official schedule, I expect to be at the Regency Tea Dance, at which PW reviewer and dance historian Susan de Guardiola will be teaching, and possibly at the Regency ball as well. (Incidentally, if you write anything set anywhere near the Victorian era, you should hire Susan to fact-check your work, because she is brilliant and eagle-eyed and ruthless.) I will also probably spend a lot of time in the bar because that’s where all the good convention stuff happens. Look for the white chick with fuzzy hair drinking her own weight in ginger ale and knitting baby clothes (all my friends are having babies all at once!).

Speaking of Worldcon, I just got a press release saying that the Hugo voter turnout set a record this year: “A record total of 2100 valid final ballots were cast, a 46.1% turnout, from voters in 33 countries. (The previous record set in 1980 was 1788 ballots cast.) Renovation also broke a record earlier this year when it received 1006 valid nominating ballots.” Well done, everyone who nominated and voted! Even those of you who voted for things I didn’t like.

With that, I’m signing off until August 24th, with two exceptions: next Monday I’ll be posting the extended version of our Q&A with the magnificent Maureen McHugh, and the following Saturday I’ll be liveblogging the Hugos (assuming I can get internet access from the convention center ballroom). I hope the coming weeks treat you kindly. See you on the flip side.

Literary Rock Stars

This was on the back page of today’s Metro New York (a free daily paper):

There’s been a lot of talk about writers making more money off of in-person appearances as revenue from the actual sale of books declines, but this is the first time I’ve seen such an emphatic portrayal of writers as professional performers. There is absolutely nothing to distinguish this from any number of ads for concerts, solo shows, etc.

Oh wait, yes there is: tickets are $5, or about 10% of what they would be for any other comparable performance at Lincoln Center.

So much for performance as a source of revenue!

New York Genre Fans Get a Treat

John Scalzi’s Whatever blog mentions that Scalzi, Scott Westerfeld, Cat Valente, and Lev Grossman will be appearing at the NY Public Library, Mid-Manhattan branch (across the street from the famous lions), on Tuesday, May 24, 2011,  at 5:30 p.m.  Musical accompaniment with be provided by author and musician Brian Slattery.

Rose and I both hope to be there, and see as many of you as can fit into the room.

Expanding My Horizons

This weekend I went up to Boston for StrowlerCon, a wonderful festival of music and circus arts that included a writing workshop hosted by Catherynne M. Valente. Cat and her students were kind enough to let me sit in on the second day of the workshop and provide some off-the-cuff critiques. I had a great time and the students seemed to get a lot out of it, so I started thinking about running writing workshops at other conventions.

Then I came home to find that a good friend of mine is thinking about starting a podcast and wants me to join him. I also received an email from a teacher at my elementary school asking me to come in (at 8:30 a.m.!) and speak with a class of 7-year-old writers who want to learn about editing. And I’ve been asked to be part of a panel proposal for RWA, for which I’m willing to break my unofficial moratorium on appearing on convention panels; unlike most conventions I attend, I don’t put in dozens of hours of volunteer time for RWA, so I will actually have the energy to put on the professional face and answer questions and so on.

Josh helpfully pointed out that I could speak at other schools, not just the ones I went to, so now I’m pondering broadcasting and lecturing. I’ve always loved teaching and public speaking (though the idea of doing either for a crowd of young kids kind of terrifies me, as I have no idea what they might want to know or find interesting!), and people tell me I’m good at it. So why not do more of it?

Well, because I don’t exactly have a lot of free time. It’s nice to dream, anyway.

Knight of the Fallen Star?

Sir Terry Pratchett has reportedly dug up his own iron, added in meteoric iron, smelted it (with the help of a metallurgist friend) and brought it to a swordsmith, in order to have a proper knightly blade fashioned.  He has also hidden the sword to avoid trouble with Britain’s “knife crime” laws.

One wonders if this will convince Jerry Pournelle to get his own orbital death ray.

Congratulations to the Hugo Award Winners and John W. Campbell Award Winner

  • Best Novel: TIE: The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK); The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
  • Best Novella: “Palimpsest”, Charles Stross (Wireless; Ace, Orbit)
  • Best Novelette: “The Island”, Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2; Eos)
  • Best Short Story: “Bridesicle”, Will McIntosh (Asimov’s 1/09)
  • Best Related Book: This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is “I”), Jack Vance (Subterranean)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm Written by Kaja and Phil Foglio; Art by Phil Foglio; Colours by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Moon Screenplay by Nathan Parker; Story by Duncan Jones; Directed by Duncan Jones (Liberty Films)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who: “The Waters of Mars” Written by Russell T Davies & Phil Ford; Directed by Graeme Harper (BBC Wales)
  • Best Editor Long Form: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Best Editor Short Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Best Professional Artist: Shaun Tan
  • Best Semiprozine: Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, & Cheryl Morgan
  • Best Fan Writer: Frederik Pohl
  • Best Fanzine: StarShipSofa edited by Tony C. Smith
  • Best Fan Artist: Brad W. Foster

And the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (presented by Dell Magazines): Seanan McGuire

Here is the list of nominees

My First Podcast!

While I was at Readercon, Jon Armstrong dragged me and Graham Sleight off to his room for… no, no, this isn’t that sort of convention story. He just wanted to record us talking about books for his podcast, If You’re Just Joining Us.

Readercon signup is unusual in that they specifically ask whether there’s anyone you do or do not want to be on panels with. I gave the names of several people I would rather not ever sit in the same room with, much less share a stage. I also named Graham and John Clute, of whom I think very highly, because I would far rather heckle them from the audience listen to them talk than attempt to keep up with their brilliance. In addition, Graham and I are close friends and we talk quite frequently about books and writing. I was concerned that the two of us on a panel about books would end up dominating the conversation with our usual rapid-fire back-and-forth.

Naturally, we both wound up on the Year in Novels panel. Fortunately our co-panelists were Gary K. Wolfe and Shira Lipkin, who have no trouble speaking up and have many greatly interesting things to say, so I permitted myself to believe that at least from the audience’s perspective it actually looked like a panel discussion rather than the Graham and Rose Show with a couple of special guests. This belief lasted precisely until Jon came up to me and Graham and asked us to recap the panel for his podcast, since we had an obvious rapport. Ah well.

So we set up a time and sat down in Jon’s room with a microphone dangling between us—Jon has quite the sophisticated set-up—and chatted for a while in our usual fashion, mentioning some books we’d discussed on the panel as well as others we’d immediately kicked ourselves for missing. Jon eventually got bored and made us stop talking, though he softened the blow by saying we were “very articulate.” (I was in a snarky mood and replied, “For white people?”) I can’t bring myself to listen to the recording, so I just hope I didn’t say anything too embarrassing. If I did, um, sorry about that. I’m not used to communicating in a medium that I can’t edit later!

In all seriousness, many thanks to Jon for the invitation, and to Graham for joining us. Between this and participating in the Sturgeon read-a-thon, I’m finding myself thinking more about voice acting than I have in quite some time. If there were a Genreville podcast, would you listen to it?

It’s a Magazine AND an Anthology Series!

When I arrived at the KGB Fantastic Fiction reading on Wednesday, Matt Kressel, who co-hosts the reading series and also runs Senses Five Press, handed me a copy of Sybil’s Garage #7. I started to protest that I don’t like reading fiction in magazine format. Then I realized he had given me a POD trade paperback. Suddenly I was a lot more interested.

At a young and formative age, I acquired a couple of Terry Carr YBs from the 1980s and became a devotee of SF and fantasy anthologies. It’s still my dream to edit one. (Someday, someday…) As I began collecting anthologies–which now occupy an entire bookcase, floor to ceiling, in my library–I found a special love for unthemed series, like Damon Knight’s Orbit and Carr’s Universe. Sybil’s Garage, a quietly upstart zine for its first six issues, seems to have turned into just such a series with its switch to trade paperback format. Matt confirms that he plans to put out one “issue” a year.

When I asked why he made the switch, he cited distribution concerns. Low-budget small-press zines get shoved to the very top or very bottom of magazine racks when they make it onto magazine racks at all. Low-budget small-press books, on the other hand, are just about as easy to produce and vastly easier to get into stores and in front of readers. Given that, I wonder whether other zines will follow suit. There have certainly been zine/book crossovers, like the Best of Strange Horizons Year One and Year Two anthologies and The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Still, seeing a zine wholly transform itself into an anthology series without any real change in content is fascinating, and perhaps a harbinger of things to come.

The reading was deeply awesome, by the way. The world is about to be very impressed by Cat Valente’s Deathless and M.K. Hobson’s The Native Star. Deathless is still in production and won’t be out for a while, but The Native Star is due out in September; keep an eye out for the review in PW‘s online review annex.