Monday, December 29, 2008

Fast Forward 2: Best Book of 2008!!!

Ryun Patterson, at Bookgasm, publishes his 5 Best Sci-Fi Books of 2008, and Fast Forward 2is the pick for the # 1 book of the year!
"Up until last year, I would never have believed that an anthology of new science fiction could be the best sci-fi book put out in a given year. First of all, is there even a demand for such a beast? It seems that a budding anthologist could make a far more successful book by picking a theme, say 'green aliens with tentacles who are really children in search of their parents but are thought of as evil because of a cultural misunderstanding,' and find awesome tales from the genre’s creaky grandmasters that would guarantee an endcap placement at Borders. (This is by no means a knock against some of the great anthologists out there, like John Joseph Adams, whose Wastelands collection had a big impact on me this year.)

But Anders, who has paid his dues many times over in the science-fiction trenches, doesn’t seem to do the predictable thing, and his risk-taking has paid off. Fast Forward 2 is even more electric than last year’s first: Anders has assembled some of the best and brightest current stars of the genre, and they turned in stories that, as a whole, really do represent the cutting edge of fiction. From a fashion designer who grows living gowns to a raid on the doomsday seed bank to a young man getting Cyrano-with-a-twist dating advice in the India of the future, Fast Forward 2 is the book to read this year. It’s the surest of sure things, and a bargain, to boot."
Deeply honored.

I Won't Argue With this

From Pat's Fantasy Hotlist's The Hotties: 2008 Year-End Awards:
"The market is no level playing field, and yet year in and year out Pyr titles manage to stand out from the competition. Kudos to Lou Anders and his team. The guy deserves a Hugo Award and a raise!;-)"
You'll get no argument from me, Pat.

In other, non-Lou news, Pat gives Pyr his "Publisher of the Year Award," and he gives shout outs to what seems like an impressively statistically-high number of Pyr books & authors in the rest of his list:

From his SFF TOP 10 OF 2008:

4- MultiRealby David Louis Edelman
5- Last Argument of Kingsby Joe Abercrombie

And, coming in just below the fold in the runner-up category:
11- A World Too Nearby Kay Kenyon

From his MOST IMPROVED AUTHOR AWARD

David Louis Edelman

Pat writes, "Infoquakewas a smashing scifi debut, but Edelman came up with a tighter novel with its sequel, MultiReal. Can't wait to read the final volume of this trilogy!"

His MOST ACCESSIBLE AUTHOR AWARD

- Joe Abercrombie

His MOST UNDERRATED NOVEL AWARD

- A World Too Near by Kay Kenyon

His MVP AWARD: SFF AUTHOR OF THE YEAR

- Joe Abercrombie

Pat writes "For demonstrating that in this age of doorstopper fantasy series that seem endless, you can still tell a compelling story without a back story which goes back 300,000 years into the past, without hundreds of characters, without dozens of convoluted storylines. Abercrombie showed that, if you play your cards right, you can still do it with an honest-to-god trilogy. "

Thanks, Pat, for really making my Monday morning!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Best of 2008

With the year drawing to a close, the usual Best of 2008 lists are starting to appear, and it's nice to see some Pyr titles on them (some for their UK editions):

SFX: Joe Abercrombie's Last Argument of Kingsat # 8

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist: David Louis Edelman's MultiReal at # 4, Last Argument of Kings at # 5

The Wertzone: Last Argument of Kings at # 2

RIP - Eartha Kitt

You were absolutely prrrr-fect. You'll be missed.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Quote of the Day

From Tom Purdom, on the “Women in Science” panel at the recent Philadelphia Science Fiction Conference:
"Nobody ever became a wizard because they read fantasy. But plenty of people have become physicists and biologists because they read science fiction."

Now, the reason this tickles me is the plug for SF, not the (very funny) dig at F (which I also love). But, as I already have very clear ideas on the purpose of SF, and I happen to love F too, I've been contemplating recently what it is that fantasy does - beyond the entertainment/intellectual value that all literature bequeaths - that is unique to its form. Opinions welcome!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Batman: Mark Hamill's Joker

As brilliant and lauded as Heath Ledger's performance is, I'm glad to see this on YouTube, reminding us that Mark Hamill is likewise a genius when it comes to portraying the Clown Prince of Crime:



Around the time that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm came out, HBO did a "First Look" featurette on it that actually showed Hamill in the sound booth recording the voice, and it was amazing to see. Sadly, it wasn't on the DVD. I'd love to find that on YouTube!

Update 12/22: Thanks to John D, HBO First Look - Mask Of The Phantasm: Part 1 and Part 2.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Overdue Roundup

Because yes, I've been away, and while we're on it - they friggin' ruined the Enchanted Tiki House. Ruined. I am really, sincerely devastated.

Now...

The incomparable Shaun Farrel, of the indispensable Adventures in SciFi Publishing podcast, has an interview with Yours Truly up now, which you can listen to directly here, or via iTunes. We talk about my latest anthology, Fast Forward 2, sort of, as I found it hard to stay on topic. (Or, admittedly, to let him get a word in.)

Then, Fantasy Book Critic runs my picks in their 2008 Review/2009 Preview.

And here's an interesting review of Fast Forward 2, by blogger Steven Mollman, who admittedly never buys non-media tie-in science fiction, and what an interesting animal that is! Like a being from a parallel universe to my own! But it seems Mollman picked up FF2 for Paul Cornell (and hence the Doctor Who connection). His verdict? He seems lukewarm on a lot of it, but calls it a "fine anthology" and says he will seek out more stories by at least one of the contributors (Ian McDonald), which is the desired effect of an anthology, isn't it? So I am pleased. Interestingly, he notes, "for an ostensibly unthemed anthology, there sure were a lot of stories about a future Earth with its ecology either on the verge of collapse or already collapsed. Maybe that happened because it's what's actually going to happen, but it got a little tiring after a while."

I didn't think there were a lot. But hopefully we won't have to get tired of actually living that future, rather than just reading about it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Love This Batmobile!

When I custom-build my own, this - from the Cartoon Network's new Brave and the Bold series - is the one:


This is one of the coolest Batmobiles ever. I love the way it combines elements of the 1960s TV series with both modern and classic comic book interpretations. Awesome. The show itself... well, I'm not sure how much longer it's gonna hold my attention.

Update 12/12/08: I do give the series a fairly positive review here.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Way to Go Paul! "Catherine Drewe" in Best of the Year!

Via SF Signal, I see that Rich Horton has posted the (almost-final) contents of Science Fiction: The Best of the Year, 2009 Edition, and that Paul Cornell's brilliant short story, "Catherine Drewe," from my own recently-released Fast Forward 2is among them!

Congrats Paul! I told you so.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Lou the Economist

SFSignal's latest Mind Meld is up, this one asking, "What can the SF industry do to weather a prolonged economic downturn? Will new authors have an even harder time breaking into the field?" I'm not sure what the very small pool of respondents indicates - are the rest of us too glum to comment? But some very good answers from Diana Gill, Mark Newton, and Justina Robson. I'm in there too, pontificating away...
Mark Newton: "...this is SFF fandom - this is people's passion, and fans will invest as much time and energy into it as always. I'm confident that this is nothing to worry about."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pyr on Facebook

Pyr has a Facebook page now. For those of you who are on the social networking site/time sink, please become a "fan" and help us spread the love.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Podcast: Tom Lloyd on Adventures in SciFi Publishing

Episode 69 of Adventures in SciFi Publishing is out, and it's an interview with The Stormcallerauthor Tom Lloyd. They discuss fantasy influences, the virtues of ramping things up quick, being 18 and in charge of the fate of nations, Steve Erikson, Scott Lynch, and the wonderful art of Todd Lockwood. (They don't talk about me enough, though, of course.) You can listen to the podcast at the link above, download it, or subscribe via iTunes.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Rainbow

Your rainbow is shaded black.


What is says about you: You are a powerful person. You appreciate mystery. You may meet people who are afraid of you.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.

Thanks to James Enge and his Red Rainbow for this.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Batmobile: Actual Custom Built Life Sized Cars

When I was a kid, I loved Corvettes. For one reason and one reason only. They were the closest thing to a Batmobile I'd ever seen. It was a dream of mine to one day own one and put fins on it. But as I got older, that dream was reluctantly recognized for the pipe dream that it was. Or was it? Recently, I've been finding out that there are a great many homemade - or at least custom-made - Batmobiles out there in the world already. Here are just a handful of them.

This lifesized model of the Batmobile from Batman: The Animated Series is amazing. More pics here, although this isn't the website of the builder.



This Batmobile, dubbed Batmobile 2000, from actor, writer, screenwriter, photographer, illustrator and designer Christopher C. Canole, is so impressive that I believe it was mistakenly (?) rumoured to be for one of the films in the Burton-Schumacher era. The link has four pics with front, side and (very impressive) rear views, but since they don't easily download I don't want to step on Mr. Canole's copyright and will just show the pic on the front page. Follow the link above and see all the amazing shots, though, and you won't be disappointed. And Christopher, if you ever stumble across my site - wow!

This 22 foot long Batmobile was built by Oscar Pumpin, who was inspired by Batman Forever, and cost a reported $325,000. Again, plenty more photos at the link.


I've blogged before about Willie J. Perry, the Batman of Birmingham, a man who spent all his time dressed up in a costume that resembled Evel Knievel more than the Caped Crusader, driving around in his suped-up 1971 Ford Thunderbird, dubbed the Rescue Ship, helping stranded motorists and being a good samaritan. Willie died when I was just a kid, asphixiated while working under his car in his garage, but he was a real life superhero (and a personal hero of mine). Here is his car:
Don't know anything about this homemade Batmobile. I think the concept of it is perhaps a little cooler than the execution, at least around the windshield, but if it were a little less lumpy there it would be cool, and I love the hood/grill.

This one not so much:

But you've got to love this homemade 1940s Golden Age style Batmobile:

Don't know anything about this one and wish I had a better picture:

And what's not to love about BMW's latest, cloth-covered, shape-shifting "Batmobile-style" concept car, the Gina, which can change its shape at the touch of a button. Reportedly, "the headlights open like eyes from behind the stretchable fabric, which shifts at speed to make the car more aerodynamic." Wow:


Still, my favorite is hands-down this 1989 Keaton Batmobile Replica, owned by Mark Shields, and built in 1991 by a design team out of none other than a classic 1978 Corvette!!! Yes, a Vette, and the result is somehow more sublte and better looking than the Keaton original. It's apparently for sale for just $50,000, in case any of you are wondering what to get me for Christmas. (Update 1/21/09: Apparently this amazing machine was built by Randy Hecht of Huntington Beach, CA, and purchased by Shields on Sept 2001.)

Sweet, huh? And Santa will vouche that I've been very nice this year.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Tor.com and the Mountain Goats

This time it's just a short love letter to The Mountain Goats, my new favorite band.

I've blogged about this band - and the hook of giving out free mp3s in generating sales - before here on Bowing to the Future.

Meanwhile, a new track, off the vinyl-only Black Pear Tree, is entitled “Thank You Mario But Our Princess is in Another Castle,” and you can download it here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A "Forceful" Take on Sean Williams

My third Tor.com post is up, Meet Sean Williams: A Force to Be Reckoned With (bad pun intended). Basically, it's a run down of a lot of his recent work, from Ace, Monkeybrain, and Pyr. Sean mentioned that next year marks his 20 year anniversary since he started writing seriously, his 10th year since he was able to support himself full time. And what's he got to show for it? Only 26 novels, 1 stand-alone novella, 5 short story collections, a few New York Times best sellers, and a buttload of awards.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wearing My Other Hat Today

Illustrator E.M.Gist interviews Yours Truly on his blog, Day of the Dead, today. This is Lou-the-de facto-art director he's talking to, not Lou-the-editorial-director. So there's some pretty covers to look at, including one making its debut, and I say erudite things like:
The best piece of advice I can give is the best advice ever given me. The very wise Jacob Weisman of Tachyon Publications said, You should never judge an artist by the best piece in his/her portfolio. You should judge them by their worst, because if that’s what they hand in, you’re going to have to live with it. I think this is tremendous advice for art directors. For illustrators, I suppose it means you should identify the worst piece of art in your portfolio and get rid of it! In all seriousness, I see too many portfolios that include everything going back to college, too many roughs and early works. A portfolio should reflect where you are now, not where you were five or ten years ago. Best foot forward, and only that foot!
Incidentally, that's one of my favorite examples of Gist's work you see pictured above. It's from the soon-to-be-released, highly anticipated Escape From Hell!,from Hal Duncan and published by Monkeybrain Books.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kirill Uncovered

What do you all make of this?



It's the first installment of online sci-fi drama, Kirill Uncovered.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Whereas Iron Man Was Right on the Money

I should put a ***spoiler warning*** at the start of this post, but really, I'm like the last person on earth to see Iron Man, so come on. But unlike Spider-Man 3, where I felt the that the movie was unfairly maligned, Iron Man was every bit as fantastically awesome as I had been told. Saw it last night, and I'm still buzzing.

Unlike The Dark Knight, which I thought was a film that transcended its genre (whatever that means) to invite comparisons to works like The French Connection, Silence of the Lambs and Heat, this is very much a "comic book movie" - and one of the best in the history of superhero films to date. Tony Stark shares some similarities with Bruce Wayne (both millionaire playboys with toys, both have snide butlers Alfred and the AI Jarvis, and both butlers even make quips about their employers' "subtle" taste in sports cars), but the films really have nothing in common beyond these superficials.

What Iron Man does have a lot in common with, oddly, is The Incredible Hulk. Now, I've only seen Hulk without sound - the woman in the seat in the aisle in front of me coming back from Calgary was watching it, while her husband/partner/boyfriend was watching Hancock - but I saw the whole film that way, and my screenwriting mentor Dan Deckeralways maintained that a good movie script could be understood sans sound anyway. So, Hulk without sound goes something like this: Bruce Banner on the run, captured by military. Experiments. Hulk gets loose. Bad guy gets formula. Bad guy becomes bigger, meaner Bad-Hulk. Military must rely on Hulk to stop Bad Hulk. And Iron Man (with or without sound), goes like this: Tony Stark captured, builds prototype suit, escapes, bad guy gets old suit and makes bigger, meaner Iron Man suit. Military/government agency must rely on Iron Man to stop Bad Iron Man.

Both films are pretty plot light. Both only have one fight between the good and bad guys. Both films have the protagonist mostly cleaning up their own mess (prompting me to wonder how the press knew so much about this Iron Man "superhero" at the end). In The Incredible Hulk's case, I was astounded at how long it took Hulk to appear, how little he did, and how Hulk and Bad Hulk only mixed it up once. I expected, at the least, for Hulk to get his ass kicked the first time, then have to go away and nurse his wounds, before coming back, Rocky-style, to tear Bad Hulk a new one.

But in the case of Iron Man, this simple, mostly "set up" plot is layered with incredible characters, fantastic (and snappy/fast!) dialog, and absolutely inspired casting. This film moves! I came out of it wanting to break the sound barrier myself, and told my wife it was the Best. Marvel. Film. Ever. After the andrenalin wore off, I'd have to say its nowhere near as narratively complex as either Spider-Man 2 or X-Men 2, and they are both probably superior stories. But this is about as much fun as you can have with a superhero movie that IS a superhero movie (see how I excepted Dark Knight?), and I just totally loved it. Can't wait for the sequel! Can't wait for the Avengers. Loved it.

(And that after the credit sequence? Awesome!)

Pyr's Submission Guidelines

They are online here, and say:
Pyr® publishes only science fiction and fantasy novels. We are not currently looking for short story collections, anthologies, novellas or nonfiction. We do not consider material under 80,000 words in length. We strongly prefer that you query first. The required method for having manuscripts considered for publication is through an established literary agent. Agents can be found in such literary guides as Literary Marketplace and The Writer's Market.
I repost them here because it keeps coming up. We don't consider anthology proposals, ever, no exceptions. I love anthologies, but I don't have a big enough list to publish more than the ones I do myself! And you gots to have an agent.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Podcast: SciFiDimensions and Me

John C. Snider interviews me for the SciFiDimensions Podcast. You can hear in streaming from his website, or you can search iTunes for "SciFiDimensions." I've not listened to it yet, so no idea how I come off, but it felt like a very thorough interview at the time. We talk about Fast Forward 2,Pyr, the art of John Picacio, and many more topics besides. He's a good interviewer, (and hit me with a curve ball out of the gate. Not that I'm saying that's a criteria for a good interview!) He also interviews Tim Lasuita, licensing director for Jack Lake Productions, a Canadian company involved in reprinting Classics Illustrated. Cool!

John also reviews Fast Forward 2 on his blog.
There’s no theme to the Fast Forward series, other than excellence in storytelling. The stories in FF2 cover the spectrum of sub-genres, from near-future parables to far-future space opera, from post-cyberpunk to hard SF; from cautionary tales a la The Twilight Zone to uplifting vignettes that affirm the best in human nature. With such a wide selection of styles and themes, it should come as no surprise that not every entry will appeal to every reader. At the very least, FF2 is like a Whitman Sampler; a little something for everyone, and if you find a story you like, it’ll be from a writer with plenty of other work you can chase down later.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Big Foot and Me

I'm back, sooner even than I expected to be, with another post at Tor.com.

This one is about my friend Eric Spitznagel, his Vanity Fair piece on Bigfoot, and the reaction it caused among cryptozoology enthusiasts.

Raise Shields!

Via Paul McAuley, a piece on Universe Today stating:
UK scientists working at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford and the universities of York and Strathclyde have tested a "mini-magnetosphere" enveloping a model spacecraft in the lab. It turns out that their prototype offers almost total protection against high energy solar particles.
Deflector shields are a reality. Awesome.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My First Tor.com Post is Up


Yup, today I begin blogging for Tor.com. My first post just went up a few minutes ago. Though I've been encouraged to promote Pyr authors and books as part of their very laudable aim to be "publisher neutral," with this first one I think I've found a niche area that is sufficiently conflict-of-interest free to suffice even if I weren't. And something I can really get into doing regularly.

No points to my regular readers for guessing what I'm on about.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My New Favorite Genre Show: House

So, is it just me, or does House have more technobabble than any scifi show ever did?

And the way they always debate their personal lives/loves behind the observation window of the MRI room reminds me of nothing so much as the character interaction talk in the transporter room on Next Gen.

Seriously, though, I see everything through a genre-lens these days, whether it's watching Mad Men's overt sexism, workplace alcoholics, and chain smoking as some bizarre alternative history or other planet (the past is another planet after all), or Burn Notice as good James Bond. Seems like the geek impulse is universal.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I Was Grossly Misinformed About Spider-Man 3...

So much so that I avoided seeing it until now. I'd heard initial reports that Spider-Man 3sucked, and I was so devastated by the disappointment that was X-Men 3, that I just couldn't bear to be let down the same way by my favorite Marvel character. Even when it came up in the Netflix que, it sat unopened for a month until my wife started urging me to just return it unwatched so we could move on to Juno.So I broke down and watched it this week, steeling myself for a heartache.

And I got to say I loved it. I can see how some people complained that it's a Peter Parker movie not a Spider-Man movie, and understand that a movie whose theme is "a husband needs to put his wife before himself" might not be popular with teenagers, and yes, you can see that the studio interference, forcing in three villains at once, did so at the detriment of story. But all the character bits that I loved in Spider-Man 2 are here again. I loved the dance sequences, the relationships, the angst, the triangle between Peter, Harry and Mary Jane. Mind you, the bold exhuberance of the "Rain Drops Keep Fallin' On My Head" sequence was my favorite part of the second film, so take my endorsement with a grain of salt. And, of course, the film is no Dark Knight,but it shouldn't be. This is a movie about a guy who got his superpowers by being bitten by a radioactive/genetically engineered arachnid. I've read the comic, and this was the comic. It was everything I love about Spider-Man and always have. It was a great companion to the previous two.

Number 2 is probably still better structurally, script-wise, if I let myself think about it. But I enjoyed this just as much, and I'd say it's actually better than 1. So we get a nice parabola with 2 in the middle, without much of a drop off, and a very nice three movie arc for the Harry/Green Goblin storyline. Most of all, I'm really relieved that when my son is old enough, I can show him all 3 Spider-Man films across a weekend without having to stop after the second one and brace him for disappointment, the way I'll have to do with X-Men and The Matrix and just about every trilogy ever made except Lord of the Rings. And that's a rare thing indeed.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

World Fantasy Convention 2008

Back from World Fantasy 2008 in Calgary, AB, Canada. The con felt smaller than most, but the hotel, the Hyatt Regency, was wonderful, the bar quite nice, the wait staff really friendly and helpful, and there were enough good restaurants in walking vicinity to provide options, but nothing so wonderful nearby as to pull people away for too long.

So, all the makings of a good con.

Todd Lockwood was the Artist Guest of Honor. Todd and I have only known each other a year, but in that time, I've really come to dig him as a person (having already digged him as an artist). He brought prints of his work to hang in the show, and the largest by far was the print of the illustration he did for our just-released novel, The Stormcallerby Tom Lloyd. Seeing as how these were prints (he works digitally) that could be printed at any size, his choice of size for The Stormcaller was especially cool. And seeing it at this size was just magnificent, but getting to spend as much time with Todd as I did was even better.

Having the time to spend was a real plus of this convention for me, as I was able to get actual quality facetime with Rani Graff (publisher and chief editor of Israel's Graff Publishing), Alan Beatts (owner of Borderlands Books), Mark Newton and Christian Dunn (of Solaris books), David Anthony Durham (author of Acacia), new author Tim Akers, and a host of people who usually only see me running from one meeting to the next. "Not running" was pretty much the order of my day here, as I went with a determination to have conversations that lasted longer than 5 minutes. The result was that I really enjoyed this convention.

Also good to see Graham Joyce back after skipping a year, and Bill Willingham (of Fables fame), who attended World Con as well and who I hope will keep coming to these. Loved being with Liza Trombi, Diana Gill, Marc Gascoigne, Jeremy Lassen, Jetse De Vries, Kay Kenyon, Louise Marley, Jim Minz, Lee Modesitt, Jude Feldman, Farah Mendlesohn, Jacob Weisman. And meet new friends like Asaf Ashery (who can put a cigarette out on his hand) and the incomparable Daryl Gregory (who writes a mean short story).

Hats were a weekend long theme. Lots of them being passed around from head to head (including mine, with very mixed results.) The only ones who really pulled it off were Marjorie M. Liu, pictured here above with Bill Willingham and wearing a cowboy hat, Graham Joyce, with John Picacio and the same cowboy hat, and Mark Newton, with this Canadian Mountie hat.

Now, I'm not surprised that Marjorie can make the hat work - I suspect she can make anything work - and Graham really threw himself into the part, desperately trying to sound "western" with lines like "m heya t' fug yu up," - but that anyone can make a Mountie hat work is really an accomplishment! Mark, I am in awe.

Borderlands Scotch tasting was hands down the best party, even if I stick to beer and wine. Saturday's dinner at the Gypsy Bistro hands down the best meal. And lunch with Marc Gascoigne was great even if the fish and chips weren't. Talking to him at length has me excited to see what he does with Angry Robot. He's pictured here with John Berlyne, associate editor for SFRevu, whose got his own interesting venture upcoming.

As to the World Fantasy Awards, I'm very, very happy for Rob Shearman, he of the new Doctor Who episode "Dalek" fame, who was attending his very first con and won a World Fantasy Award for Best Collection for Tiny Deaths.Rob was a nice guy, who seemed a bit overwhelmed by the whole con scene, but I hope he'll become a regular at these things.

And that's it. Or at least that's enough.