Saturday, August 30, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Podcast: Yours Truly in Agony (Again)

The incredibly-well read and well-spoken Rick Kleffel and I discuss space opera today on the Agony Column podcast. Rick was enthused by reading Brian Greene's Icarus at the Edge of Timeand Peter F. Hamilton's Pandora's Star,neither of which I've read, but both of which sound right up my alley. So we talked about these works, about John Meaney's Nulapeiron Sequence, about Kay Kenyon's The Entire and the Rose series, about the general qualities of space opera, and about the differences between Star Wars and Star Trek, and whether Trek is space opera or military SF. Here's the direct link to the mp3, and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

Which you should. Rick is an amazing interviewer, asking really insightful questions, and his podcast covers a wide range of book-related topics. He covers enough works of a science fiction nature that I can justify my time as keeping me informed about the rest of the field, and enough works outside it that I don't get myopic. For example: My favorite in recent weeks, his interview with Charles Bamforth, 30 year head of research for Bass and the author of Grape vs. Grain: A Historical, Technological, and Social Comparison of Wine and Beer.And here's the direct link for that.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

David Louis Edelman & the Underlying Purpose of the Human Race

David Louis Edelman is interviewed on Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. Here's a sample:
What was the spark which generated the idea that drove you to write the Jump 225 trilogy?

Working in the dot-coms, definitely. I started out writing a much more humorous novel -- a single novel, actually, that was to be called Jump 225.7. It was more lighthearted and satirical in tone, which is why I came up with all the funny acronyms like L-PRACGs and OCHREs, and silly names like SeeNaRee and the Defense and Wellness Council. I literally finished the first draft of that book on September 10, 2001. Then a few days later I put the whole thing aside and started over. I had darker things on my mind then: the future of Western society, the longevity of capitalism and democracy, the underlying purpose of the human race. So the trilogy has turned out to be a somewhat unique mixture of those two moods.
Also, there's a great review of MultiRealon Bookgasm today. I especially like Ryun Patterson's final thoughts: "People get accustomed to new ideas by leveraging the notion of things we’ve seen before, like saying this work is a cross between Wall Street and Neuromancer/Snow Crash/Blade Runner. That’s nice, I guess, but it doesn’t do justice to Edelman’s creation. With Infoquakeand MultiReal, he’s got new archetypes aplenty, and he doesn’t need old tropes to slow him down."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Science Fiction Belongs to the World

Singapore-based Chuang Shyue Chou, in his blog, The Garden of Forking Paths (great title!), gives an enthusiastic thumbs up to Theodore Judson's The Martian General's Daughter.Now, I'm not taking issue with Chuang's review, and I'm thrilled he enjoyed the book, but one comment struck me as food for further thought: "A final note on The Martian General's Daughter, strangely enough, the novel is marred by a few lines of unnecessary Christian propaganda near the end. I wonder why."

It struck me as similar to the way that some readers and critics felt that China Miéville's Iron Council(my personal favorite of the Bas Lag books) was "marred" by the inclusion of overt Marxism.

Now, I am neither a Marxist nor a Christian, and I'm no fan of propaganda in fiction whether I'm a fan of it's object or not, but there's a difference between propaganda and an author writing from out of his/her own perspective. I don't have to share an author's belief system to enjoy their craft, any more than I have to endorse human sacrifice to admire the construction of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán (and that would be an extreme example.)

So, not taking issue with Chuang, and very glad he's reading Pyr books all the way in Singapore (awesome! keep it up!), but do people feel they have to agree with an author to enjoy them? I've always loved science fiction for its extreme wealth of ideas of every size and stripe, and don't feel the genre - which is ultimately a set of tools, not a school of thought - should be limited only to a liberal/socialist world view, even if I happened to share that world view. I love that Heinlein can write a book in 1959 that gets him accused of fascism and two years later in 1961, write a manifesto of the free love movement. That's the kind of, oh, let's call it infinite diversity in infinite combination, that I've always loved about our genre.

More of that please.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

User Generated Book Tours

Sarah Lacy, for Business Week, in an article entitled, "Book Publishers: Learn From Digg, Yelp—Even Gawker:"

"The conventional wisdom in publishing is that book tours no longer work. I agree, insofar as tours are confined to bookstores. The sad truth is that bookstores are declining in relevance. There are exceptions, of course, but even stores that draw big crowds for an author will struggle to reach the wide community of people interested in a particular author.

I'm learning this firsthand through what I'm calling my User Generated Book Tour, announced on my blog on a whim. My only rule: I'd go to 10 cities (not including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York) based on response and enthusiasm. With few exceptions, I've held no bookstore events."

I think that "bookstores are declining in relevance" is a little harsh. And a little premature, especially in light of the way the independents are being linked to both the shop local and the green movements. But I'm intrigued by the idea of taking the tour beyond the traditional venues, and using the internet to dictate where that is.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Podcast: Lou on Writing Excuses

At the recent World Science Fiction Convention, I was honored to be a guest on Writing Excuses, the podcast of writing advice hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, and Dan Wells. The episode is available on iTunes and elsewhere, and here is the direct link. Their description (not mine!):

So what exactly does an editor, do, anyway? We’ve already talked about the process of submitting to an editor; today we talk about the millions of vital things that happen after an editor says “I want to buy your book.” Not only that, but we get to hear it all straight from the mouth of Lou Anders, the Hugo-nominated editor from Pyr Books, who this year alone helped create a Hugo-nominated book and two Campbell-nominated authors. In other words: when this man talks about editing, you listen.

WorldCon 2008 / Paul Cornell's Denvention3 Report

Paul Cornell's belated WorldCon Report is probably my favorite convention report ever and well worth reading. He begins, "Worldcon is always too big to blog about. It’s a culture, a civilisation. It lasts just long enough that you start to think of it as a career, and then it goes away. It always leaves me inspired, wanting to write, wanting to be one of these people always."

That he talks about me a lot didn't sway me in my opinion in the slightest, really. Okay. Maybe. But read it anyway.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My New Favorite Quote

Sims and Spore creator Will Wright, in the September 2008 issue of Fast Company, from an interview with Clayton Neuman:

"I'm getting to the point where it's almost disappointing if people don't push back, because if it sounds like a great idea, that means either it's obvious or other people have tried it. Typically, if you tell somebody, 'I have this idea,' and they start telling you how horrible it is, at least you know it's unexplored territory."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Science Fiction Awards Watch!

One year ago today, Cheryl Morgan and Kevin Standlee launched the Science Fiction Awards Watch website, a site to aggregate, track, report on and discuss the multitude of genre-related awards in our industry. The site (as well as the related SFEditors Wiki) is absolutely invaluable. Contrary to what you may have heard, fandom isn't dying - it's booming online, and this website is an example of the way that fandom can marshal the capabilities of the internet to better inform itself. I'm grateful someone takes the (considerable) time to provide this essential resource. Happy Birthday, Science Fiction Awards Watch! Many happy returns!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

World's First Wearable Motorcycle

Via Geeks are Sexy, Yamaha's prototype Deus Ex Machina, the world's first wearable motorcycle:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Batman & Iron Man

Thanks to Sean Williams for pointing this out. Probably already made the rounds, but still funny:

3 Reviews Worth Noting...

And they are:

Tammy Moore of SFSite on Mike Resnick's Stalking the Unicorn:

"...a deeply enjoyable read. ...there's a freshness and earnestness to the prose, a genuine sense that the author is enjoying the journey as much as the reader, that is hard to resist."

Sandy Amazeen review of Mike's second John Justin Mallory novel, Stalking the Vampireon Monsters & Critics:

"Resnick’s alternative Manhattan is a hoot with such well known landmarks as the Madison Round Garden and Vampire State Building along with less popular destination points like Hills of Home Mortuary, Cemetery & Deli. This sequel to Stalking the Unicorn features offbeat humor, amusing dialog and a zany cast of characters that is sure to entertain the most jaded sci-fi fan and spark plenty of interest in an emerging series."

John of Grasping for the Wind on the just-released Last Argument of Kings, by Joe Abercrombie:

"I recommend reading this novel. It is unique in the epic fantasy subgenre, and has only a few comparisons within the broader realm of Speculative Fiction, and most of those are short stories. This alone makes it worth reading, though don't expect to come away from Last Argument of Kings on an emotional high. Joe Abercrombie deserves the accolades he has [been] given, and in recognition of a singular achievement in epic fantasy, I think he deserves the all elusive ten out of ten stars."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Remembering the Batusi

Via SF Signal, because I had to:

Podcast: Yours Truly in Agony

The wonderful Rick Kleffel, whose Agony Column podcast is required listening on this editor's iPod, has interviewed me today. We take about Denvention, the Hugos, and what's forthcoming from Pyr. Here's the direct link to the mp3.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Trio of Reviews: Last Argument of Kings, MultiReal, Stalking the Unicorn

Tomas L. Martin, for SFCrowsnest, on Joe Abercrombie's Last Argument of Kings:

"The sheer audacity of many of the plot twists and conclusions to character arcs are dazzling. The realism and grittiness of Abercrombie's world continues to the end, with no character emerging unscathed with a fairy-tale ending. These are flawed characters, he seems to say, so why should they finish any less flawed? ...without re-treading the old formulae and by populating his complex world with dynamic, immensely imperfect characters Abercrombie has produced a reinvigoration of the genre.

Patrick of Pat's Fantasy Hotlist on David Louis Edelman's MultiReal:

"...this is one sequel that delivers! No middle book syndrome for David Louis Edelman. ...a superior read. Moreover, if the final installment lives up to the expectations generated by its predecessors, this series could well be the best thing ever published by Pyr. That's saying something!"

John DeNardo of SF Signal on Mike Resnick's Stalking the Unicorn:

"Mallory is a strong character; the book doesn't take itself seriously; humorous dialogue and prose. ...What's interesting about this book, besides the lighthearted tone and wry humor, is how it overcomes my usual reservations about fantasy by blatantly flying in the face of everything that normally makes me want to roll my eyes. ...a fun story when all is said and done, and I give credit to the author for making a palatable fantasy novel that even this hard-case fantasy reader could enjoy."

WorldCon 2008: A Few More Pics...

...worth sharing.

From the first night, Chris Roberson (The Dragon's Nine Sons, End of the Century) and Bill Willingham (Fables):

From the dinner at Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta's house, Jeff Carlson (Plague Year, Plague War) looking like he might eat you:

From the Pyr Party, John Scalzi (The Android's Dream, The Last Colony) and Yanni Kuznia:

From the pre-Hugo reception, David Louis Edelman (Infoquake, MultiReal) and Liza Trombi (Locus magazine):

Ian McDonald (River of Gods, Brasyl) and partner Enid Crowe:

George Mann (Solaris Books) and Sean Williams (The Crooked Letter, Cenotaxis):

AND Irene Gallo (Tor art director), John Picacio (artist) and Traci Picacio:

Good seeing you all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

WorldCon 2008 / Denvention3 Report

Back from the 66th World Science Fiction Convention, appropriately exhausted and inspired, as always. This con was both bigger and smaller than previous. Bigger in that the convention center is HUGE, so that even staying next door in the Hyatt Regency necessitated a 10 minute walk from lobby to panels. And smaller in that attendance is estimated at around 3,500. (Possible explanations floating around include the economy and the fact that as a smaller city, Denver has a smaller pool of locals to draw from while the high gas prices may be discouraging out-of-town-ers.)

This was a different con for me for several reasons - one, I actually managed to get talked into leaving it for a whole day. It's almost impossible to get me "off-campus" for more than the span of a good meal, but this time I was afforded an opportunity I simply couldn't refuse (details below). And second, in honor of Ian McDonald's Hugo nomination in specific, and our four nominations in the combined Hugo/Campbell ballot altogether in general, we (we being Pyr) threw our first party! Which, in itself, necessitated a lot of running around off-campus and setting up, adding to the sense of being away.

That being said, I had my usual blast. Highlights include (but are not limited to):

Wed night: A "Dressy Dinner" at Luca D'Italia with "Mike Resnick's bellydancers" - Linda Donahue and Julia Mandala - plus Baen head honcho Toni Weisskopf, SF&F author John Moore and new JABberwocky agent Eddie Schneider. Wonderful food, wonderful wine, wonderful company. In fact, the wine was so good I'm going to put it's name here so I can find it later. I heartily recommend a bottle of Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserva "Ducale Oro."

Thursday: A private tour of NORAD, the underground complex 2,000 ft below Cheyenne Mountain better known as the North American Aerospace Defense Command. This was the offer that was too good to refuse mentioned above. The tour was arranged by Lt. Colonel (retired)Brain "Bear" Lihani and conducted by Lt. Ryan Lally, and came about like this. Jeff Carlson wrote a wonderful novel called Plague Year. Christina Lihani read it and loved it. The Lihani's then arranged to bring Jeff and a score of other science fiction writers (plus this lucky editor) out to the secret underground installation that has featured in science fiction literature and movies for decades (Wargames jokes weren't as plentiful as you'd think, Stargate references abounded). So, who got the golden tickets?

* Kevin J. Anderson, bestselling author of Metal Swarm and a Colorado Springs local
* Robert Charles Wilson, Hugo and Aurora Award-winning author of Spin
* His wife, Sharry Wilson
* Yours Truly, Lou Anders, Editorial Director of Pyr Books
* John Joseph Adams, editor of anthologies Wastelands and Seeds of Change
* Robert J. Sawyer, bestselling author of Rollback
* His wife, Carolyn Clink, award-winning poet
* Jeff Carlson, author of the internationally acclaimed thriller Plague Year
* His wife, Diana Carlson
* Walter Jon Williams, bestselling author of Implied Spaces and a member of the Homeland Security anti-terrorism SIGMA think tank
* His wife Kathy Hedges
* David J. Williams, author of The Mirrored Heavens
* Jeremy F. Lewis, author of Staked
* Sean Williams, bestselling author of Earth Ascendant
* Blake Charlton, author of The Spellwright
* Paolo Bacigalupi, award-winning author of Pump Six and Other Stories
* Erin Cashier, a first-place winner of the Writers of the Future contest
* David Marusek, author of Counting Heads
* Annalee Newitz, senior editor with
* USAF Lt. Colonel "Bear" Lihani
* His wife, Christina Lihani, avid SF reader
* and their friends Ed and Darcy (last names unknown at this time)

I was in the SUV with Jeff and Diane Carlson, Sean Williams, Paolo Bacigalupi, David Marusek, and Annalee Newitz (whose report for is up here). I must confess I enjoyed the ride there as much as the tour itself, given the company. As to NORAD, it's smaller than I thought and less self-sustaining. They say they can only go 30 days without outside supplies,and while I see on Annalee's report this has already been contested - whatever the classified number of days is it isn't the years that Doctor Strangelove had in mind spending there in the company of old generals and beautiful women. And while the whole complex is amazing - 2,000 ft below Cheyenne Mountain - it's not so much a cave as it is a giant multi-story box, on hundreds of one thousand pound metal springs, in a cave. With the actual command center under a giant concrete dome to protect it from shifts in the ceiling. We didn't get in there, unfortunately, as something top secret, or at least middlingly secret, occurred to keep us out. In a way, that was kind of cool in itself, as I'd been wondering how "top secret" a top secret base could be that had a gift shop. And by way of consolation, Lt. Lally got us into the life support command center, where we were shown how the airconditioning and water for the base worked (and where the civilian contractor on duty was reading Chuck Palahniuk's Rant. (The editor in me couldn't resist asking him how he was enjoying it. The answer is "very much although it's pretty extreme stuff.")

Dinner afterwards at Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta's house was equally wonderful. As was the house, which is castle-shaped and fantasy-themed, and ranks as the coolest SF author's pad I've been in since Harlan Ellison's. Anyway, the base was amazing and the Lihani's, the Carlsons, and the Anderson/Moesta's are all much to be praised. Thank you all for a day I'll remember the rest of my life.

Friday - Walk with the Stars: Paul Cornell, John Picacio, Steven H. Segal and Yours Truly. Organized by Steven's father Stu as an attempt to get SF fans to take some moderate excersize (a leisurely early morning stroll before the convention doors opened), I didn't now what to expect. We were astounded as spread out as things were that anyone felt they needed to volunteer for more walking, and grateful to have such a HUGE GROUP join us, plan on doing this every year if the wonderful Stu Segal will continue the tradition. Enjoyed talking to Alvaro Zinos-Amaro and others. I wish we could have walked longer and met you all, but only Paul Cornell actually managed to shake hands with every single person in the crowd. I don't even know what he's running for, but he has my vote. Anyway, I loved the Stroll with the Stars and if it continues (officially or unofficially), it will join the Kaffeeklatsch as my favorite type of programming.

Now we interrupt this blog to offer a huge thanks to Alexis Glynn Latner, Paolo Bacigalupi and Jetse de Vries for help in acquiring booze and other supplies for the Pyr party, without whom there wouldn't have been a Pyr party. And thanks to Prometheans Jill Maxick, Amy Greenan, and Lynn Pasquale as well, for purchasing such cool decorations, crafting such wonderful posters and invitations, and mailing all of the above to the hotel. The chocolate footballs (what we Americans call soccer balls) were Jill's inspiration, as was the whole Brazilian theme.

Brazilian theme, you say? Why yes. We hired an actual bartender, to serve the capirinas, the official drink of Brazil, and decorated with a Brazilian flag, , jungle-themed streamers, pictures of jungle animals. And scores of plastic frogs all over the tables. With Brazilian music supplied by Mr McDonald himself.

I cover the party quite extensively over on the Pyr blog, with pictures!, so I won't say more here, except that it was wonderfully well-attended and the folks in attendance made it worth every bit of the effort.

Saturday - Hugo reception. Not as swank as in Japan, and I was amused by the co-ed restroom in the green room. Also too nervous for my guys to really eat or drink. But always very nice to be in the room at all.

Hugos themselves. Enormously happy for Stephan Martiniere on his win for Best Artist. Enormously proud of David Louis Edelman for coming in second in the nomination round, third on the final ballot for the John W. Campbell Best New Writer award. As to my own nomination, it's wonderful just to be in such company. A heartfelt congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

Sunday - The panel "Trends in Science Fiction". Was supposed to be me, Daniel Abraham and Charles Stross. Was just me, walking into a room of about a hundred people all there to see Charlie. Enormous gratitude to Walter Jon Williams, who allowed himself to be dragged onstage, for what I hope proved to be a fun panel after all.

Other highlights included a long conversation with Kristine Kathryn Rusch, dinner with Paul Cornell and Caroline Symcox, and lots of time in the company of George Mann, Mark Newton, and Christian Dunn of Solaris Books. And Ginjer Buchanan is just good people. Also really enjoyed meeting Mario Acevedo, really sorry I missed the Eos party. Even more sorry I had to pass on the lunch with Jack Skillingstead and Nancy Kress. And Rani, I promise we'll talk more next time. Promise!

All in all, I had a marvelous convention, but found being gone one day and having to spend most of the next day on the party incredibly stressful - as I had about 18 meetings, panels, interviews etc... to cram into the remaining 3 days, and I wouldn't recommend that to anyone. But the con, yeah, I'd recommend it. Thanks everyone for making this roving Brigadoon as wonderful as always.