Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hell Yes It's Cool: FF1 on AICN

Ain't It Cool News has recently launched a book review section, where reviewer Adam Balm plans to "take fandom back to its root" by acting as a pointer to good SF. In his second review, he tackles Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge, which I'm most happy to say he likes. Adam proclaims that "Pyr's going to be an interesting bird to watch, coming out of nowhere in the last year to fast becoming one of the big names in the industry, no small feat in a field made up of big publishers getting even bigger, as the market is getting smaller," and goes on to say of FF1 that "probably half the stories here would be fitting entries in a 'Year's Best' anthology." He calls out stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, Stephen Baxter, Ken MacLeod, Justina Robson, John Meaney, with a special place for Paul Di Filippo's "Wikiworld" (online here), of which he says, "Without a doubt, THE stand-out story (as has been mentioned at Boing Boing and other reviews) is Paul Di Filippo's 'Wikiworld'.... Honestly I haven't had this kind of vertigo after reading a short since Charle's Stross's 'Lobsters' in 2001, the first entry of what would become his Accelerando magnum opus. I really want to see Di Filippo explore this world he's created some more. This is too good for just one short."

In addition to FF1, Adam reviews The Antagonist by Gordon R. Dickson and David W. Wixon, and presents an introductory essay on his reasons for taking up the reviewer's role along with his opinions on the current state of science fiction. (He sees SF as being at a bit of a crossroads, a fractured field competing with fantasy and slipstream.) Something I said is falsely attributed to Damon Knight - I hate it when we're mixed up! (JK) - and he finds parallels between my introduction and one John W. Campbell's wrote for his own 1952 Astounding Science Fiction Anthology which I now need to hunt up.

All in all, I was impressed with the review and hope that AICN keeps Adam Balm long employed, as shortening the gap between media SF and literary SF is a personal crusade of mine. Meanwhile, I love that he describes FF1 as "a kind of time capsule of where hard science fiction is, in the first decade of the second millennium," though the line that really made me laugh was his description of Justina Robson as "she reminds me of a hard SF Neil Gaiman if Neil Gaiman was even more of a woman. " Add this to Cheryl Morgan's comment some time ago that Robson was "William Gibson with chocolate" and you can see just how special Robson is. Finally, on the question of SF's relevance in 2007, I agree with Adam that "while the world might change, that tool for making sense of that change does not change."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Paying it Forward in Blogland

Paolo Bacigalupi, author, and Brian W. Dow, artist, are both reluctant bloggers who have been making an effort to post with more regularity in recent days. They are also both very talented individuals whose opinions and respective offerings I respect highly. Paolo's blog is WindUp Stories and Brian's is We Grow Great By Dreams... Everybody go give them some comment-action love.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Hey John, I Finished the Ghost Brigades

Hey John, I finished The Ghost Brigades, and I really loved it. I mean really. Loved it. A Lot. What did I like about it, you ask? Well:

1. The deeper look at the underpinnings of your universe. I liked Old Man's War very much, but it left me with a lot of questions about how that world operated (as any first book in a series should). Maybe I'm only happy when it rains, but I grokked this look at the darker underpinnings of the universe of the Colonial Defense Force, through the eyes of one of its descriminated against, non-"realborn" soldiers. There's some good old PKD paranoia running through your Heinlein now, and that makes me happy.

2. I really dig what you do with questions of personal identity, both in the questions that Jared faces (your character and not the Subway guy) and also who Jared is. Since you wrote the book, I don't need to give you a spoiler warning, but I was into the fact that identity wasn't an either/or question with the way Jared was a composit of two consciousnesses, one evolving out of the other. I don't think I bear much resemblance to the shy, intolerant, born again Christian good ol' boy I started life out as four decades ago, despite having inhereted his body, so questions of evolving consciousness and what constitutes the self fascinate me. That you layered discussions of consciousness throughout, from the "normal" way a regular Ghost Brigade soldier was reared to the exceptions in Jared's case was just great.

3. Your combat skills have improved since Old Man's War. Have you been in many fights since then? Maybe I'm misremembering - OMW was like a bizillion manuscripts ago for me - but I thought the action sequences here much more compelling and a little more believable. Again, I LOVE OMW. This is NOT a criticism. The trajectory a writer wants is for each book to be better. Stagnation or moving in the other direction = bad. But I felt the combat was more intense. I don't know, maybe it's just me. Certainly, I've been in more fights since OMW.

4. For a book that is supposed to be part of the New Comprehensible, you don't skimp on ideas. Both these books are really "readable" and everyone is talking about how you write "entry level" SF, but the fact that they are entry-level on one level by no means means that a jaded editor who reads a manuscript or more a week like me can't find enough stimulating concepts and sense-a-wunder to feel like a kid again. I saw your post on how entry-level SF is actually harder to write than writing for the initiated, and I agree. But as far as I'm concerned, the golden age of science fiction is anytime I'm lost in one of your books.

5. Finally, and not least in importance, I could read it without taking a week away from the reading I am paid to do. It's very hard for me to justify reading outside my own submission pile. I'm a slow reader - not a good thing for an editor to be but I've found I share that trait with a fair number of us - and so it's very, very, VERY hard for me to read non-Pyr and Pyr-potential books. But I allow myself to read for pleasure on airplanes - so 130 pages on the flight to Boskone and 120 pages on the flight back. (We were stuck on the runway for 30 minutes on the way too, hence the extra pages. I was pretty tired at that time from getting up at 4:30am or I'd have done better than 10 pages in 30 minutes though.) Anyway, that's not the whole book, but close enough I could justify taking an hour or two to finish when I was home before returning to my prodigious submissions pile. I love that The Ghost Brigades did what it needed to do and was done. I, for one, get tired of 700 page tomes. Likewise, I dug that this took place in the world of OMW rather than being part two of a story that picked up right where the other ended. Gives me a nice sense of accomplishment and makes me feel okay about having to wait for the next airplane trip to read you again.

This isn't really a point but I'm psyched to have completed one of the books on my list of the Top Ten Books I'd Be Reading Now If I Weren't Reading Other Books. So now that I've read this, I can go ahead and pick up The Android's Dream. Hopefully, I'll be able to read that before The Last Colony comes out. But if it takes me until a year after the book is out, as it did this time, well, then you can expect another belated blog post sometime in 2008. Because however long it takes me, I am so there.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The New Lou Review # 3

Something New: My wife decided we should try this when it popped up as a recommendation on our NetFlix account. It's about Kenya McQueen, a corporate lawyer who is afraid she fits the demographic of the 42.6% of African American women who are college educated, professionally employed, upwardly mobile and never ever marry. Encouraged by her friends to relax her criteria for the "ideal black man," she consents to a blind date, but ditches when the man in question turns out to be white. Later, predictably but forgiveably (else no movie), she meets said white guy at a party. Turns out he is a rather talented landscape architect and she hires him to tame the weed patch that is her backyard. You can take it from there, I'm sure, although this wasn't a "ha ha" comedy like Bernie Mac's Guess Who (although I enjoyed that film as well), but a more realistic, lower profile romance. We liked it quite a bit, and have decided to trust the all-knowing, automated Net Flix personalization software more.

Inside Man: I'm woefully under-watched in Spike Lee's recent films - I don't think I've seen one since the excellent Malcolm X - but aside from that annoying signature shot of rolling people forward on a dolly cart, if this is where his career has been lately, then damn he's good. To say too much about this film is to ruin it, but suffice to say it's a lot more than just the bank heist movie that I thought I could wait for DVD or HBO to see. Clive Owen, Denzel Washington, and Jodie Foster are as amazing as you expect them to be when they are on and in the right roll. And kudos to Foster for realizing that her part, though small (she only filmed for three weeks), was vital. Really tight script, the kind of "clever" film that harkens all the way back to classics like The Sting.

The Squid and the Whale: A very realistic, somewhat depressing portrait of two children who become increasingly disfunctional as their separated parents grow increasingly hostile towards each other, this film certainly provides incentive for those who are married with children to work through their problems. But there's a lesser reading that I was amused to apply to the text, that of an indightment of literary fiction. Both parents have PhDs in English, both published authors. The father teaches creative writing and, indeed, at least some of the tension in their relationship is due to the fact that his career wanes as his wife's waxes. He's overbearing, filling his elder son's head with his opinions, to the point where, when the boy is assigned to read A Tale of Two Cities, the father dismisses it as "minor Dickens" and the kid refrains from completing his assignment. His mother encourages him to read it for himself and make up his own mind, but he says he doesn't want to "waste his time." I can't say I "enjoyed" the film, though it did hold my interest and I am glad I saw it. But it was indicative of what I disliked about the genre of realism when I was a actoring student in London then playwright and director in Chicago. Which is that realism, as a form, tends to be about a group of individuals, often a family, who air their disatisfactions with their lives in increasingly virulent outbursts until some ephemerally determined level of verbal cacophony has been achieved, at which point an act of violence is intrudeced to bring things to a crescendo - sometimes a fight but in this case a heart attack scare - after which things settle, without a proper resolution, but into a new appreciate of misery. What I found curious in this tale though, was this: Throughout the novel, the father crushes everyone else's opinions, dismissing movies, books, and other pursuits as being "minor," "not serious," or "lowbrow." When invited along on a date with his son, he alters their choice of cinema from Short Circuit to Blue Velvet. But after the heart attack, the son finds his father reading a paperback in the hospital. The father explains that he's just reading fluff - "You can't do serious reading in a hospital" but that "Leonard is the fillet of the mystery genre." In other words, the professor, who dismisses everyone else's tastes throughout the film, is caught reading genre in his last appearance - in this case Elmore Leonard. I found this choice amusing food for thought, even as the film epitomized my reasons for working on the side of the fence I do.

Thank You for Smoking: I've not read the novel by Christopher Buckley (though twenty plus years ago I did read the first three Blackford Oakes novels by his dad), but this film was tremendous. This level of naked cynicism and tongue in cheek can't really be found - at least not this smoothly delivered - anywhere else but the Colbert Report. Aaron Eckhart was masterful in this - yes, I'm thrilled that he'll be playing Harvey Dent - and, incidentally, the sympathy he manages to engender left me wondering why we seem to be harder on unlikeable protagonists and unvirtuous heroes in science fiction than we are in the mainstream and other genres. The film is just uproariously funny in the way that all truth that hurts is. Highly, highly recommended.

Meet Barry Baldwin: Man of Mystery

Meet Barry Baldwin. I've been meaning to blog Barry for a while now (and for "a while" read "since about last October"). Barry is Professor Emeritus of Classics at the University of Calgary, an author of 12 books and some 600 articles in the area of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, 18th-Century, and Albania history, and lastly and most recently - and here editors of short fiction take note - the author of a slew of mystery tales that are both charming and charmingly perverse. Barry's been a finalist in both the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Awards (1999) and Bouchercon Anthony Awards (2000), and he's contributed to both Alfred Hitchcock's and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, as well as to Chris Roberson's retro-pulp anthology, Adventure, Vol. 1.

A few years ago, when circumstances allowed me to publish mysteries and thrillers, it was my great pleasure to publish a short story of Barry's called "VE Knights," but since then he's been scribbling with a vengeance (as indeed he was before then too), and a great many of his works are available online. Here's "The Last Act" from Hardluck Stories, "The Best-Laid Plans" and "Boys and Girls Come Out to Play" on Sliptongue, "Telling Them Apart" on Shattercolors, "Double Top" on Mouth Full of Bullets, and "Party Poopers" on Flash Fantastic. I aggregate them here as much for your reading pleasure as because they should be aggregated somewhere so more people can discover his work. Barry - if ever anyone needed a website! The rest of you, happy reading.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Back from Boskone

So, I'm back from three days at Boskone 44, my first time at a Boskone and a good time it was. The Westin Waterfront is a new hotel - right next to a huge convention center and only open now for about 8 months. It was very nice, clean, big, modern, expansive, and had a Starbucks in the lobby (this should be a con criteria), but only had one restaurant which was just upscale bar food and charged $12 a glass for wine, with the result that the bar wasn't the place to be in the evening like it is at a really good con. One glass of wine is about all I drink these days anyway, but that's not the norm for convention attendees (and certainly not for writers), and I can't help but think that lowering the price point on their drinks just a very little bit would have made them a heap more cash. As it was, people were either partying in rooms or "off campus" and the convention didn't have the late night everyone in the bar scene of my favorite con experiences. This was partially mitigated by the sushi bar that was set up in the lobby on Friday night.

And largely mitigated by such good company. I spent the weekend mostly with artists - the amazing Irene Gallo, art director of Tor (who has beat me to posting already), and artists Dave Seeley, Rick Berry, Brian W. Dow and Bob Eggleton. This made for a subtly different con experience than hanging predominantly with writers, and I think that I learned a great deal as a result.

But on the writers' side of the fence, had a great lunch with John Scalzi (bastard!), and Brian Dow and I enjoyed hanging in the lobby with Tobias Buckell until nearly 3 am on Saturday night, discussing James Bond books and the atmospheric conditions on Venus. I didn't get to talk to Karl Schroeder as much as I would have liked to, though I did talk to him more than I ever have previous and hopefully this is the first of many conversations. We also sat on a panel together (along with Alexander Jablokow and Wen Spencer) called "How to Make This Made-Up Stuff Believable: The Plausible vs. the Possible," which, despite being confined to the role of moderating, I found pretty interesting (and hope the audience did too). Also enjoyed the panel with Michael Swanwick, David Hartwell and F. Brett Cox on "The Literary Tradition: How SF Fits (and Doesn't Fit) with American and European Literature." And thanks to the amazing Gary A. Lippincott for being such a good sport about allowing me to drag so many more artist into Sunday's panel on "Oil vs. Digital" - where, I think, we all agreed it isn't an either/or issue. Gary was a really cool guy too, and standing next to this towering, bearded gentle giant, it's easy to see why he draws so many wizards.

Post con may have been the highlight of the trip for me. First, Dave Seeley took Brian Dow and I out to his mothers house (!) to see a number of paintings stored in her basement. Mrs. Seeley was charming, the wine good, and the collection of model cars her late husband has left her of great personal interest to yours truly. Then the three of us went to Redbones BBQ in Davis Square (Somerville) for some great ribs. Afterwards, we went out to Rick Berry's studio, where we met up with Rick, his very cool wife Sheila, Robert K. Wiener, Irene Gallo, and a very nice guy who didn't speak much and who I never got introduced to. Finally, Irene and I closed the bar down at 1am Sunday night. We were literally the last attendees in the room. Irene looked at me in shock and said, "We are the dead dog." And that was it for Boskone.

Though not for Boston - as a wonderful lunch with Brian Dow's wife Karen and daughter Gracie - a precocious five year old given to belting out amusing statements like "Let's go adventuring, boys!" - made a perfect end to what felt like a really good relaxicon. Thank you, Gracie, for letting me play with your remote controlled race car. Another five minutes, and I would have gotten the hang of steering.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Two Telling Articles

Two articles worth checking out.

This one, "Filmgoers debate future of space travel," sent to me from Paul Wargelin, is a piece in the Houston Chronicle discussing a range of audience reactions to the new film The Astronaut Farmer. A lot of older viewers are exciting by the private sector's move into space exploration and space tourism, but that excitement isn't shared by 14 year old Summer Thompson:

"NASA has lost touch with today's kids. In school they teach us about the planets, and I've heard about a couple of space missions, but other than that, they don't say a lot. I don't know that I've ever heard a kid say, 'I want to be an astronaut.' I hear kids say all the time, 'I want to cure AIDS' or 'I want to cure cancer.' They don't know a lot about space. No one cares about going to Mars. If they want to keep NASA going, it's going to take an army of kids who want to do it. But this generation has just lost touch with the space program. I don't want to go into space. I want to be the one who cures cancer, just like everyone else."

Meanwhile, via Pamela Sargent, Gary Kamiya writes "History that hurts," an analysis of why the HBO series Rome works so well that appears on Gary talks about how so much historical drama tries to map contemporary values onto figures in other times and places, taking the stance that mankind is virtually unchanged beneath the hairstyles and fashion statements of different eras. Rome, by contrast, "dares to depict an alien worldview, one untouched by Christianity and the moral ethos introduced by that strange little sect... The biggest difference between Rome and Gladiator, or Ben-Hur, or the vast run of Hollywood costume dramas, is that it resists making its characters familiar. This is a bigger achievement than it might appear. A work of art set in the distant past must walk a tricky line between portraying its characters as essentially the same as us or as utterly alien. Most history-themed films and TV shows have always fallen decidedly on the 'human beings are always the same' end of the spectrum. There are many reasons for this. It requires both historical scholarship and a certain imaginative audacity to create characters who don't share some of our most basic assumptions and beliefs. It's also a lot easier to hook viewers with characters whose emotions and beliefs they share. Moreover, there's a self-contradiction at the heart of the enterprise: to create a three-dimensional character, one must fully enter into his or her mind -- not easy to do if that mind is radically different."


I was also gladdened to see Gary praising Rome for the detail of its world-building, in a comparison with The Lord of the Rings, and talking about how this, combined with the show's willingness to deal with brutality, is what makes it so effective in portraying what he calls the "outer space of history."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bright of the Sky: Breakdown

I've just completed a hell of a long post on how we put together the cover for Kay Kenyon's upcoming Bright of the Sky over on the Pyr blog. Starting from the selection of illustrator Stephan Martineire, going through the design of the front cover for our catalog, all the way to the final jacket as just finished yesterday (and pictured here). This took some doing, so please go check it out.

Dreamhaven Needs Your Love

Greg Ketter's Dreamhaven Books is one of the best genre bookstores in America, and Greg is a hell of a good guy. I've only been in Minneapolis once, so I've only been to Dreamhaven once, though I was very impressed, and walked out with a gorgeous set of the Phoenix House editions of The Cornelius Quartet and A Cornelius Calendar. But I see Greg at conventions all the time.

Via Neil Gaiman's blog, I've just learned that Dreamhaven had a break-in, which not only took some cash but did some real property damage. They are really hurting right now, so buying a book or two off them could really help. They could use the love.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Battlestar Galactica: Episode 14 "The Woman King"

Only this. That that was the absolutely worst episode they've ever done, and it was positively painful to get through. And a completely peripheral, wheel-spinning one too. My wife and I simultaneously expressed the thought afterwards that if Dualla had actually died, at least something that mattered would have occurred in that wasted hour of our lives.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Feed Your Web Head

Just got my contributor's copy of Webslinger: Unauthorized Essays on Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, the latest book in BenBella's Smart Pop series. This was a fun one, in that I got to talk to Doctor Paula Hammond of MIT's Institute of Soldiering Technology about the real world attempts to synthesize spider silk. We're not there yet, but some of the developments are fascinating. The book is edited by Gerry Conway, and has essays by the likes of Keith R. A. Decandido, Michael A. Burstein, Joseph McCabe and others.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Judging Books by their Covers, Part IV

There's an interesting discussion of cover art over on Nethermore. Isaac Stewart talks pretty candidly, albeit pretty humorously, about what works and what doesn't for him, using a batch of recent covers as an example. Obviously, these are his subjective views - how could they not be - but you all know I'm very glad to see interest in/discussion of book cover art in general.

I'm still cracking up over his alignment wheel of "goodness" and "badness". God, we all owe so much of how we see the world to Gary Gygax, don't we? (I try to be Chaotic Good, but sometimes I slide into Chaotic Neutral, it's true).

And, obviously, I'm pleased to hear this: "Watch Tor books and Pyr books. These two are the best in the industry for good design and good art. Pyr is still a little hit and miss, but when they nail a cover, they hammer the goodness spot on." Isaac also points out the grand service that Tor art director Irene Gallo is doing for the entire industry, for artists, publishers and readers alike, just by running her blog, The Art Department. Her blog is one of the few blogs to make the Lou List of "required daily reading." (Aside: the others are Whatever, Roberson's Interminable Ramble, and Locus Online.)

Meanwhile, I just picked up my own copy of, and can't recommend highly enough, the new
Quantumscapes: The Art of Stephan Martiniere. While Martiniere's first book, Quantum Dreams,seemed to highlight mostly the cover illustration work for which he is primarily known in our industry, this book devotes a sizeable chunk of its pages to the creature designs he's done in the gaming and movie industry, aptly demonstrating the range of his talent. The two books fit together nicely to highlight the career of one of my personal favorite artists in the field.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Heroes Takes the Lead

Well, NBC's Heroes is now firmly in the lead with my three favorite televisions shows, overtaking my other two favorites Battlestar Galactica and Rome due to its deft plotting and the clear evidence that they have worked their backstory out in much better detail than BG. Mind you - I love BG and maintain that it's cumulative effect on SF television and the wider perception of SF in the mainstream is overwhelmingly positive, but I'm losing paitence with the way they use the religious beliefs of both sides as a catch all for moving the plot without bothering to work out just what those beliefs are in any convincing detail. It's not good tv when the characters are working from information that is rote to them but vague to the audience and as much time as the crew of the Galactica has spent with "good Sharon", we ought to know a damn site more about the Cylon's core beliefs than we do. I mean, how can the Cylon's not know who the "final five" are? Were they built at the same time? Were they built first? Were they not build yet? For that matter, the Cylons treat the "bullet heads" like morons, but didn't the bullet heads build them? So, wouldn't the bullet heads know who the final five are? How do they even know there are a final five if they've never seen them, don't interact with them, don't receive orders from them, and didn't apparently hang with them back on whatever Cylon homeworld they were on for the last 50 years? It's all a big mess, and I'd like to see it untangled, but I still don't think the writers have an effing clue.

This doesn't mean BG's character work isn't amazing - it's what keeps me glued to the screen week after week, and god, I love Baltar under pressure - and this season's Rome is tremendous even if the 3 months forward jump didn't jar a little bit and undercut a little of the episode's potentia. But these three shows aren't just my favorite shows on TV now - they could easily be my favorite shows TO DATE when the dust settles. Now...

Back on Heroes - anyone not watching Christopher Eccelston's performance is really missing out. His delivery isn't far from what he did on my fourth favorite current show, Doctor Who, but I could watch him spew patronizing vitriol all night. But - and here's a minor spoiler warning for anyone who didn't see last night's episode - I was expecting that shove he gave Peter off the building. When Eccleston came on last week, his character - that of the vagabond mentor wandering the streets - really reminded me of something else - the homeless wizard Tom O'Bedlam of Grant Morrison's brilliant comic book series, The Invisibles, who mentors the young boy Jack Frost, troubled youth who doesn't realize his true potential and all that. After wandering the streets as poor mad Tom's pupil for a while, their lessons culminate with a death defying leap off a London skyscraper. Coincidence? Not with comic scribe Jeff Loeb as co-executive producer. But need more proof that it isn't just synchronicity. Well, come on, just what is Eccelston's particular power anyway?

Update: While I'm thinking of it, it occurs to me that it's instructive to look at the way all four of the above mentioned shows - Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, Rome and Doctor Who - deal with Providence. I've blogged before about the fact that the world of Battlestar Galactica is clearly one in which the divine forces have some reality / influence on events, as we've seen multiple charactes experience prophecy that has come to fruition. And while the majority of Heroes' synchronicities can be explained simply by what happens when one character sees the future and shares that knowledge with another who can travel in time, they are racking up enough meaningful coincidence to suggest that other forces may be at work beyond their own self-generated domino effects. Doctor Who second season is interesting for the way it sets up the Doctor as a "lonely god," and remember the episode "New Earth" where he tells a Nun that there is "no higher authority" in the universe than himself. The running theme of that season is that the previous Godlike powers, the Time Lords, are now gone, and thus the Doctor is forced to step in and play God to a hitherto unattained (or at least unacknowledged) degree. So in this series, he is Providence, hence his really interesting decision to forgo sharing the details of his meeting with the devil in "The Satan Pit." I mean, keeping the fact from humanity that a, there was actually a devil and b, he's dead now is a pretty major card to hang onto. Now, what's really interesting to me are the recent developments in the fourth show, Rome. Up unto this point, and despite the widespread belief in the supernatural shared by its cast of characters, we haven't seen the presence of the supernatural at all in its story. But now, with episode 15, "These Being the Words of Marcus Tullius Cicero," we have Pullo, who left Rome several months ago and has only just returned, convinced he has been sent back by the gods to set things right with Vorenus, stumbling synchronistically upon Lyde, who tells him Vorenus' children are still alive. Can it be that the supernatural has finally reared its ugly head in ancient Italy too?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Boskone 44

This month, February 16-18, I'll be attending Boskone. This is my ver first time going to this convention, and I am very much looking forward to it. My schedule for the con:

Fri 7:00pm
To Boldly Go: Ethical Issues in Star Trek through the Years
Lou Anders
David Gerrold
(M) Suford Lewis
Susan Shwartz

Sat 10:00am

Lou Anders
Beth Bernobich
S. C. Butler

Sat 12:00 noon
How to Make This Made-up Stuff Believable: The Plausible vs. the Possible

Do SF/F/H readers cut you more slack than mainstream audiences? What kind of coincidences will we swallow? How rigorously must you be true to observed and remembered experience? Are small cues more convincing than elaborate explanations? What writers fool us most successfully, and how?

(M) Lou Anders
Alexander Jablokow
Karl Schroeder
Wen Spencer

Sat 3:00pm
The Literary Tradition: How SF Fits (and Doesn't Fit) with American and European Literature
How does science fiction fit into the rich literary tradition of Western literature? What are the key influences? We can look at works by writers including Lucian, the Beowulf poet, Shakespeare, Swift, Rabelais, Poe, Twain, Melville, James, Kafka, Orwell, Updike, and Vonnegut and see connections. But where are we alike, and where are we different?

Lou Anders
(M) F. Brett Cox
David G. Hartwell
Michael Swanwick

Sat 5:00pm
Publishing: Myths vs. Reality

Lou Anders
Ellen Asher
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
(M) Eleanor Wood

Sun 11:00am
Does Oil Have a Future? The trend toward digital art.
Talking about the movement away from painting with brushes to digital for SF art. Why do they do it (economic, artistic) and is this a trend that will only end when al professional illustration is digital?

(M) Lou Anders
Brian Dow
Bob Eggleton
Gary A. Lippincott

Sun 12:00 noon

Lou Anders
Robert I. Katz
Paul Levinson

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Two Upcoming Pyr Covers

Full Jackets to two Pyr novels, coming in March:

Keeping It Real (Quantum Gravity, Book 1) by Justina Robson
Art by Larry Rostant
Design by Grace M. Conti-ZilsbergerGradisil, Adam Roberts
Art by Stephan Martiniere
Design by Jacqueline Cooke
Sweet, huh?

The Dow of Spanton

Really excited this morning to see the latest in SFRevu's new series of interviews with illustrators and editors. This time out, Senior Editor Ernest Lilley, interviews two friends of mine, illustrator Brian W. Dow and Simon Spanton, co-editorial director of Gollancz. Brian has done a number of covers for Pyr and Simon, well, I can't say enough good things about his taste.

Of his art and its inspiration, Brian says: "I always admired how Michael Whelan would put little symbolic touches into his paintings that meant something to him. They might not be immediately accessible to everyone, but they were there anyway. In Genetopia for instance, during my research I found a site that diagrammatically showed DNA code on a bar. I thought it would be kind of cool to have that pattern on Flint's staff. Again, not visible to anyone else but me. The novel, for me, had a very mystical quality to it. There was a calmness about it although there is much strife and turmoil. Ultimately, the mystical calmness won out. "

Of his editorial vision, Simon says: "I publish books that tell stories that excite me for some reason. Sometimes I'm wearing my literary hat and I fall in love with the ability of an author to make individual words fresh in your head, sometimes I'm wearing my commercial hat and the prose never occurs to me as the pages flip by on your way to the next cliff to hang from. Occasionally I get to wear both hats at once and those are the really special ones."
Again, I am just always really gratified by any and all efforts to call attention to the artists in our field, and thrilled to see editor's getting some exposure too. I love this new series from SFRevu and hope that long may it continue.