Thursday, July 29, 2010

Masked: Suvudu Interview

"Superheroes are all about power and responsibility"
Matt Stagg's interviewed me yesterday for Suvudu, where we talked about the just-released Masked anthology of superhero fiction.
Here's a taste:

Tell me a little bit about Masked. This is superhero fiction, but most people associate superheroes with comic books. Why take them in a literary direction?

Superheroes have a long history of being portrayed in other media. I grew up on the Batman television show, the Spider-Man cartoon, the Superman films. George RR Martin’s Wildcards anthology series debuted in 1987. Superheroes in other media is nothing new. What is new is the mainstream recognition that superhero storytelling can be as sophisticated as any other genre.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

San Diego Comic Con 2010

See? Na'Vi!
Last week was the San Diego Comic Con. I was there Thursday to Sunday morning, and had what was probably my best Comic Con experience ever. The con seemed more relaxed than previous, and less crowded (which might have been more to do with better crowd management than in previous years.) There did seem to be less costumes on the floor, and what there was seemed to emphasize classic characters over the latest films (Iron Man excepted, but a surprising lack of Na'vi). Generally, I just had an impression of less chaos. Which is interesting given that my schedule was packed.

I got in Thursday morning, and raced from the airport to hotel to registration to be on the io9 panel, "Sci-Fi that will change your life." (Discover reviews the panel here.) Reading very little outside my own slush pile, I mostly plugged Ian McDonald, then sat back and listened to the wealth of information from the other panelists. 

Really impressive Captain.
Then it was off to lunch with old friend John Picacio and new friend Jamil Moledina (of Electronic Arts). Really great conversation with them both, and Jamil is someone I hope to talk to a lot more in future. (Ironically, I hadn't recognized him when he stood up to ask a question at the io9 panel, but had marked the savvy guy in the audience as someone to speak to later. When I approached him, he informed me were were having lunch shortly. Doh!)

Then John and I were off to the Eos party, at the Se San Diego Hotel, to see my editor Diana Gill (for my co-edited anthology, Swords & Dark Magic). This was my one and only time to talk with Ann Vandermeer, there as a guest of the convention no less, and it was great to sit with her while drinking dark beer and eating chocolate truffles. Guillermo del Toro apparently made an appearance, but brief enough I missed it.

Three Bald Guys
That evening was an "artists' dinner" with Dave Seeley (and family), Lucas Graciano, EM Gist, John Picacio, Jeremy Cranford (art director for Blizzard) and others. After which I met up with China Mieville and Lev Grossman for a late night conversation (livened in the middle when Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders of io9 joined us for a bit). 

Then it was off to the Bayfront to hook up with Chris Roberson and his friends at DC Comics. Where I ran into Sean Williams, there to promote his next Star Wars hardcover.

Obligatory Slave Leia
Friday morning was a quick breakfast with longtime friend Paul Cornell and his wife Caroline Symcox. I was actually rooming with Paul, Caroline, and Picacio, but as Paul is a Doctor Who script writer and new writer on DC's Action Comics, his schedule was jam packed, and the only time I saw either of them was very late at night or early mornings.

Next was the panel "With Great Powers Come Great Stories," a panel about comic books in prose with contributors from my just-released Masked anthology, as well as Wildcards and other books. The panelists were myself, Chris Roberson, Matt Sturges, Jackie Kessler, Caitlin Kitteredge, Gini Koch, Caroline Spector, Kevin Andrew Murphy. Also from Masked, Paul Cornell, Daryl Gregory, and Bill Willingham all came, sat on the front row, and took turns joining in on the panel (much appreciated, guys). There is a brief summation of the panel here on Superhero Novels.

Obligatory Bat Pic
This was followed by a signing, a snack with Paizo's Pierce Waters, and then a lunch with John Picacio and Matt Gagnon, editor-in-chief of Boom! Studios. Lunch was mostly spent with Matt and I realizing we do the exact same job in sister industries, with some of the exact same people even. Loved meeting him and we could easily have talked all day if our schedules permitted.

But it was off to drinks and Bat-conversation with Jim Killen, and then another trip to the Bayfront, where I met more folks from Boom! and DC and hung out with old friends Michael Cobert and JF Lewis.

Masked signing at Mysterious Galaxy
Up early Saturday morning for an interview with Shaun Farrell of Adventures in SciFi Publishing fame, then a lunch with friend Morgan Burns, then a signing with Bill Willingham in support of both Swords & Dark Magic and Masked at the Mysterious Galaxy booth.  Touched that Alan Dean Foster came by to say hi, and that Patrick Rothfuss bought three copies of Masked (one for himself, two for charity). Great guys both.

Damn good people.
Then drinks with Matt Wilson (of Privateer Press) and videogame designer Miles Holmes (of Ubisoft). Fantastic conversation, punctuated by watching the restaurant host's reaction to two people at the bar who really should have gotten a room. 

Then it was dinner with Stephan Martiniere, his daughter, John Picacio, Dave Seeley, Jim Minz (Baen Books), David Weber, Jeremy Lassen (Night Shade) and Amelia Beamer. And back to the Bayfront.

An early morning breakfast with John Picacio and Annalee Newitz, and that was my con. I could easily have stayed another day and still not see everyone I wanted to, but I had a tremendous time with the people I did. You all rock.

You can't beat the classics.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Marjorie M Liu on MASKED in the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy

New York Times bestselling author, and MASKED contributor, Marjorie M. Liu, is interviewed in the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog today on all things superhero.

Here's a taste, where she talks about the genesis of her story, "Call Her Savage": “I found myself lodged between a semi and a jeep—without even the promise of inching forward—and three words popped into my head: CALL HER SAVAGE. Which, as you can guess, pretty much summed up my emotions at the time,” Liu said. “I knew then that it was the title to a story.”

SF Signal's MIND MELD: What 'Sword and Sorcery' Means to Me

Art by Benjamin Carre
The latest SF Signal Mind Meld is up, and this one asks the question, "How do you define the sub-genre of 'Swords and Sorcery'?" For answers, they turn to the contributors (and co-editors) of my recent anthology, Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery. Answers come from such luminaries as Michael Morcock, Joe Abercrombie, Garth Nix (whose answer takes the form of a poem!), CJ Cherryh, Glen Cook, Bill Willingham, JK Parker, Tanith Lee, Tim Lebbon, James Enge, Scott Lynch, Jonathan Strahan, and Yours Truly.

The entire post is well worth reading, though I think I'm going to find myself quoting Moorcock's "Captain Blood meets Cthulhu" quite a bit in the coming days.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

MASKED on largehearted boy

Today is Masked official publication day, and to celebrate we've worked up a special post made available through the kindness and generosity of music, literature and pop culture blog, largehearted boy. In what I'm sure you will admit is a rather unique way to talk about an anthology, largehearted boy invited yours truly and each of the anthology's contributors to write a short piece selecting a song and explaining that song's relationship to their own story (or in my case, the anthology as a whole). Every single contributor chimes in, and the result is a very interesting "soundtrack" to the book. Check it out. Meanwhile, here's the table of contents once again:

Introduction: The Golden Age by Lou Anders
"Cleansed and Set in Gold" by Matthew Sturges
"Where their Worm Dieth Not" by James Maxey
"Secret Identity" by Paul Cornell
"The Non-Event" by Mike Carey
"Avatar" by Mike Baron
"Message from the Bubblegum Factory" by Daryl Gregory
"Thug" by Gail Simone
"Vacuum Lad" by Stephen Baxter
"A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows" by Chris Roberson
"Head Cases" by Peter David & Kathleen David
"Downfall" by Joseph Mallozzi
"By My Works You Shall Know Me" by Mark Chadbourn
"Call Her Savage" by Marjorie M. Liu
"Tonight we fly" by Ian McDonald
"A to Z in the Ultimate Big Company Superhero Universe (Villains Too)" by Bill Willingham

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction

I just got my contributor's copy of Philip Athans' The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction: 6 Steps to Writing and Publishing Your Bestseller!. The book has an introduction and original story by R.A. Salvatore, and features quotes from a number of SF&F luminaries, including Kevin J. Anderson, Terry Brooks, Paul Park, Mike Resnick, Yours Truly and others. I hope to get a chance to read it myself!

MASKED is here!

Masked is here!!!

The book is available for order on Amazon, B&N, BooksAMillion, IndieBound, and  (though still listed as a preorder) on Borders. It will be available in ebook edition as well, presumably on its official release date of July 20th. (The Kindle version keeps  unlinking itself from the physical book, but here it is).

io9's Charlie Jane Anders said of Masked, "The good thing about Masked, then, is that Anders gets stories from people who have a lot of experience with superheroes, or who obviously had a superhero story they wanted to write. The contributors include Secret Six writer Gail Simone, Incredible Hulk mastermind Peter David, X-Men: Dark Mirror author Marjorie Liu and comics veterans Bill Willingham and Mike Carey - as well as Paul Cornell, a regular Doctor Who writer and the new writer of Action Comics."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Enge is Freaking Terrific!

Blood of AmbroseSwords & Dark Magic: 
The New Sword and SorcerySteve at Elitist Book Reviews has just posted a review of my Eos anthology, Swords & Dark Magic (co-edited with Jonathan Strahan). The Pyr editor in me is particularly pleased with his assessment of James Enge's "The Singing Spear":
One of the best stories in the collection. Enge is so absurdly underrated. His character Morlock Ambrosius is a man of legend. A sorcerer of unparalleled power. And, uh, a complete drunk. "The Singing Spear" is a tale about what Morlock does when his bartender is killed. Enge is freaking terrific. This story will make you want to read more of his stuff. We suggest starting with BLOOD OF AMBROSE.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Robert Silverberg on “Are the days of the full-time novelist numbered?”

Son of ManScience Fiction Grandmaster Robert Silverberg (whose Star of Gypsies and Son of Man we reprinted), at the Black Gate blog:

"Now we are back to the same situation that obtained in the golden era of the Fifties — s-f is mainly a field for hobbyist writers, with just a few able to earn a living writing just the real stuff and nothing but. (It is different, of course, for those who write pseudo-Tolkien trilogies, vampire novels, zombie books, and other sorts of highly commercial fantasy.) For a while, in the late 70s and early 80s, the money flowed freely and all sorts of people set up in business as s-f writers full time. I remember Greg Bear, president of SFWA somewhere back in the mid-80s, warning the writers at the SFWA business session not to quit their day jobs, because the good times were just about over; and was he ever right!"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Babel Clash: The Babel is Blowing My Mind, Man!

The current discussion on Borders Books' Babel Clash blog between The Silver Skull author Mark Chadbourn and the Quantum Gravity series author Justina Robson has been just amazing. Some highlights:

"But there is a feeling that some writers lose sight of the ones they’re writing for. Fandom is hugely developed nowadays, a way of life with everyone linked by the net and navel-gazing, dissection and comment taken to the ultimate degree. It’s easy to get enveloped by the bubble and write books for all those people rather than the readers who exist beyond that glaring scrutiny. Fans are few and readers many and their tastes and instincts don’t always intersect. It can become a habit to feed increasingly rarified and jaded tastes and drag the stories out of the reference frame of many people’s lives." - Mark Chadbourn

"For the record I see realism as the poorer little country cousin of Fantasy. In my view realism is a particular subset of fantasy and not the other way around. Fantasy on the other hand is, as you say Mark, not to be analysed or atomised away. It is a mode of thought that operates intuitively and with great psychological richness and reward. This is true of all creative narratives though, not just fantasy novels. These features of it however, do make it unpalatable to people who prefer their universe served up as realism (ie under the illusion that no narrative creation is going on). We would all get along much better if this was acknowledged and everyone was left to get on with their own things in peace. There is no point in poking each other and whining. It can’t go anywhere because the conflict is at the personal level, where people feel threatened and insulted by one another. It doesn’t exist in the books or their genres. They’re just modes of narrative and ways of seeing. They can complement or they can clash." - Justina Robson

Monday, July 12, 2010

io9 says "This book could teach Hollywood to do superheroes right"

May the dark gods of media bless io9. Charlie Jane Anders (no relation I'm aware of, but very nice) has written a review of Masked, my forthcoming anthology of superhero prose fiction, entitled "This book could teach Hollywood to do superheroes right."

"Masked, edited by Lou Anders, is a really strong collection of stories that play with the idea of superheroes in clever, often fascinating ways. There's a fair bit of metafictional commentary on the tropes of superhero stories, like costumes and secret identities and sidekicks — but it doesn't ever become too self-referential or navel-gazey about it. The stories get dark, especially the first few outings in the book, but they're dark in a thought-provoking way, not just angsty or 'grim and gritty,' as dark superhero stories are prone to be.  ...The good thing about Masked, then, is that Anders gets stories from people who have a lot of experience with superheroes, or who obviously had a superhero story they wanted to write. The contributors include Secret Six writer Gail Simone, Incredible Hulk mastermind Peter David, X-Men: Dark Mirror author Marjorie Liu and comics veterans Bill Willingham and Mike Carey - as well as Paul Cornell, a regular Doctor Who writer and the new writer of Action Comics."

Charlie Jane talks about several stories individually, and goes on to say, "So anybody who is interested in superheroes will find enough new ideas in this book to make the already over-exposed spandex centurions seem like they could have a new lease on life, all over again. I especially want to mail a copy of this book to everyone in Hollywood who's working on the next generation of superhero blockbusters, because in the end, this book makes me think that superheroes aren't just rigidly attached to the Origin Story, the Misunderstood Hero Story, the Hero Almost Quits Story and the handful of others we keep seeing. You can use superheroes to tell any kind of story you want. And superheroes naturally tend to flourish in an environment with lots of worldbuilding, where they're surrounded by lots of other superheroes and tons of villains.   Most of all, superheroes don't just allow us to ask the tough questions about whether just having power means we have to use it, and whether the identity we present to the world is who we really are — they demand it. So yeah, not bad for one wee anthology. You should check it out. Masked comes out July 20 (just in time for Comic Con) from Gallery Books."

The Dervish House: Too Bloody Good

Richard Morgan (The Steel Remains, Altered Carbon) has posted his thoughts on Ian McDonald's The Dervish House to his blog, in a piece entitled "If you only read one SF book this year….".

"….make sure it’s Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House...Ian McDonald is one of a very small and select number of writers whose work actually makes me jealous – I read him and catch myself thinking over and over goddamnit, I wish I’d written this!!! Well – turns out The Dervish House is no exception to this tendency. It’s too bloody good for comfort. ...The Dervish House takes the expansive cultural mosaic of River of Gods, multiplies it by the driving Latin beat and teetering sense of jeopardy in Brasyl, and gives you a novel that is his best yet by a whole new order of imaginative and sensuous magnitude. Look – I lived and worked in Istanbul for a year and a bit, I’ve written it, both overtly and covertly, into my fiction myself, and I’m telling you, Ian has captured the city in a way I’ve never seen so convincingly done in genre or – more importantly – by any non-Turkish author in the mainstream either. ...More than ever before, Ian McDonald has written a book about Now – and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Just glad I’m not competing against it for awards this time around! Nice one, Ian – you talented fuck"