Friday, September 28, 2012

Olly Moondust vs the Conchords

As an enormous David Bowie fan, everyone is always asking me if I've heard "Bowie's in Space" by Flight of the Conchords, and yes, I have, but I didn't think it was all that clever. I actually have the same objection to it that I had to Being John Malkovich,which is that you could just dump any celebrity in and repeat their name over and over and over. Being John Malkovich could just have easily been Being Kevin Bacon, or Being Bobbie De Niro, because there's nothing of who Malkovich is as a person in the role as written.

"What you doing out there, man? That's pretty freaky, Bowie. Isn't it cold out in space, Bowie?" just doesn't have any real cleverness to it. A passable Bowie impression with stupid lyrics. By contrast, Sifl and Olly's Olly Moondust skit is just spot on perfect parody. "I dreamt of a wizard with a hot quitar. The lovliest magic man, now he's a star. I got three-D stereophonic laser love. You're on my TV. I've been stuck in space for such a long time. Sorry man, I'm five years late for tea time. Hydroplaning towards infinity. Just some drag queens and me. You dirty little thing..." This could almost have been written by Bowie himself, circa 1972. But don't take my word for it. Compare them for yourself:

No contest.

Update: Jimmy Fallon's TeBowie is pretty good too:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Eternal Champion

Today's SF Signal Mind Meld asks what "Science Fiction Biographies We Would Like to See Published" There are great answers from John Joseph Adams, Gardner Dozois, Gary Farber, Gordon Van Gelder, and Farah Mendlesohn. I'm also in there, somewhere in the middle, giving my usual spiel about why Michael Moorcock is the single most important figure in 20th Century Literature and how the entire multiverse would come unraveled if you went back in time and prevented his birth. There are two great books that deal with Moorcock already, both written by Colin Greenland. The first is Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British 'New Wave' in Science Fiction, written in 1983 and being the first critical assessment of the New Wave movement, and the second is Michael Moorcock: Death Is No Obstacle, a book length interview with Moorcock. Both are long out of print, and I'd like to see them both reissued, at least in ebook format. But neither is quite a biography of the great man.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Good Old Girl

Marian Call says she didn't have the TARDIS specifically in mind when she wrote "Good Old Girl," but there was obviously some timey-wimey stuff going on when she wrote this:

"Good Old Girl" appears on the album Got to Fly.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Why Did No One Tell me Joe Lansdale is Batman?

Author Joe Lansdale demonstrates his martial arts system, Shen Chuan, on the Funky Werepig show.

Painting Process: The Making of "Omens"

Cynthia Sheppard is a wonderful artist, who, incidentally, did our covers for Mirror Mazeand Hunter and Fox.

In this YouTube video, she shows us the process for creating one of her paintings. It's a fascinating and beautiful 10 minutes well worth your time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

XKCD: Click and Drag

This recent edition of XKCD is astounding. It may also be that really, truly rare thing called "something new." I cannot imagine the work that went into this. I'm stunned. (Also, make sure you go underground).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Hobbit Trailer

I don't understand the people grousing about The Hobbit being stretched from two to three films. Usually, when a book gets adapted to the screen, you hear complaints about how much was left out. With work as rich as Tolkien's, I want as much of what is on the page to appear on the screen as possible. Also, is this a shot of Sylvester McCoy? Awesome!

Friday, September 14, 2012

RPGs, Fantasy Fiction, and Monte Cook's Numenera

I played a lot of RPGs as a kid: AD&D, Gamma World, Top Secret, Star Frontiers, Gangbusters, Boot Hill, Call of Cthulhu, and the James Bond Role Playing Game. I haven't gamed in years (pen & paper that is. I'm 97 hours into
Skyrim on the PS3). But for some time the relationship between RPGs and fantasy fiction, especially sword & sorcery fiction, has been fascinating me. Moreover, I'm very interested in the number of fantasy authors who are gamers and the effect that has on their world (hint: I think it's a positive one).
Lately I've been collecting and perusing RPG manuals again, even if I don't have time to play them. Here's a shot of the bookshelf next to my bed:

I'm also in pretty deep to Monte Cook's Kickstarter project Numenera. For those who haven't heard, this is a new role playing game being done by one of the shining lights of the RPG world. I am a sucker for world-building and campaign settings anyway, and his "dying earth" style sci-fantasy really pushed my buttons. Monte has said he's drawing on the works of Jack Vance, Mike Moorcock, and others for inspiration, and I was curious enough to pitch in. But this campaign has gone crazy big--it's currently over $375,000 with three days to go ($75,000 of that was raised since Monday), and Monte keeps throwing in stretch goals. The amount of Cool Stuff you get as a backer has just gotten unbelievable. Here's what $60 gets you:
App (Android, iOS, or PC)
Name in the back of the corebook
Player's Guide PDF
Numenera corebook PDF
The Devil's Spine 32-page adventure PDF
The Mechanized Tomb 32-page adventure PDF
The Other Side of the Maelstrom 32-page adventure PDF
The Ninth World Bestiary 160-page PDF
Sir Arthur's Compendium 160-page PDF
Numenera 3D Paper Fold-Up Terrain PDF
GM's Screen PDF
Cypher, Creature, and XP Deck PDFs
Numenera corebook in print
Ninth World Guidebook PDF
That's 16 pieces of content -- 14 in PDF form, one 400 page full-color hardcover, and an app! And there are all kinds of optional add-ons, like mats, cards, GM screens, and (the one I picked) custom dice!
If you are a gamer, you probably already know about this. But if you don't, you've got three days left to get in. Monte's kickstarted a whole product line now--so you'll be able to get all this stuff commercially later--but not for anything like $60!

Age of the Dragons

When I was in Hollywood, "Moby Dick in Space" was constantly being bandied about as an idea. Sometimes seriously, sometimes as a joke. Now it seems that I've missed Danny Glover, as Captain Ahab, in a retelling of Herman Melville's Moby Dick, in which the White Whale is a White Dragon, going direct to DVD. Has anybody seen this? Is it any good?

Thursday, September 13, 2012


We're in the last twenty-five hours for Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore's Leaving Megapolis. For those who don't know, this the celebrated writer and artist team on DC's Secret Six(and many other separate projects), coming together for their first Kickstarter project. I was in early, because hey it sounds amazing, but this whole campaign has been blowing me away.

They were asking for $34,000 to make produce a graphic novel, and they are currently at $106,965.  The graphic novel was going to be 80 pages, but due to the level of support it's now over 112. And the digital version was going to be a PDF but now will include a download code on ComiXology! I love Kickstarter and find the pledge drive as exciting as the product. But for this one, where the minimum pledge level for both comic and digital comic is just $15 (or $9 for just the digital), how can you not?. Here's the pitch. I'd get in now if you haven't already.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Easy as Pie Promo - The Return of Sifl & Olly!

Mother Bleeping Pie - oh how this makes me happy. Sifl & Olly was absolutely the last bit of Mtv programming that I could stomach. It was brilliant, hysterical, completely over the top, mad genius insane -  and must have slipped under the radar of the executives interested in axing anything worthwhile. I'm so in for this.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Dragon*Con 2012

Lisa and Meghan erect the booth scaffolding.
This past Labor Day weekend, August 30th to September 3rd, was Dragon*Con, an event that has become the highlight of my convention year, and a show that's becoming like a giant family reunion where even the weird uncles are really cool. For the third year in a row, Pyr has exhibited at the show. We were back in the same spot in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom, in booth 709/711 (yes, we have a huge double booth).

The booth complete.
I got up early on Thursday and made the drive to Atlanta, where I was joined by two of parent-company Prometheus Books' employees, Meghan Quinn and Lisa Kay Michalski. Both Meghan and Lisa were embarking on -- not only their first Dragon*Con appearance -- but their first genre convention of any kind! We met in the morning and headed over to the Exhibit Hall to assemble the Pyr booth. We broke for lunch at the Metro Cafe Diner,  where we were joined by authors Sam Sykes, Clay Griffith, and Susan Griffith. Then all six of us went back and assembled the booth. That night saw us eating at (my personal favorite local restaurant, because it's a brewery) Max Lager's, and then out to the Marriott Marquis' High Velocity bar for a very late night. John Picacio, who was in town for just Thursday night to Saturday morning, joined us for the evening. We ended the night around 3am, plenty of time to rest up and still make my 11:30 am panel.
Meghan encounters Flying Spaghetti Monster

The panel in question was "Gimme a Break--Breaking in and Breaking Out." Like all Dragon*Con panels, it was well attended. The room had 120 chairs and there were at least another 20 folks standing along the back wall. More I couldn't see to count accurately were sitting in the aisles. Afterwards, I raced to the Exhibit Hall for the first day of sales.

Improvised Name Signage
2:30 pm was the Pyr Rising panel. I was up on stage with Philippa Ballantine, Andrew P. Mayer, Sam Sykes, K.D. McEntire, E.C. Myers, and (arriving directly from the airport without even checking into his hotel first) Jon Sprunk. The room had a live feed to the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, where we were able to see and interact with James Enge and Brenda Cooper. Thanks to the tech crew that made that link happen. It was wonderful to be able to speak to the World Con audience too and to get to see and talk with James and Brenda.

Nom nom nom.
Then it was back in the Exhibit Hall working the booth until 7pm. Followed by another dinner at Max Lager's and another night, this one out until 3:30 am, at High Velocity.  Somewhere in there was a heated and enjoyable discussion of why The Dark Knight Rises sucks (my position) or was brilliant (the opposing side) with comics artist and creator, Ted Naifeh. We found more common ground with discussions of the animated Batman incarnations, but the whole discussion was fun. It was also good to see Hugo-nominated Dan Dos Santos briefly that evening.

Todd Lockwood and Lisa Kay Michalski
Saturday I didn't have any panels, so it was a marathon all-day selling session. We had printed about a thousand Pyr Sampler books as freebies (Update: we printed 2,186!!!). They were GONE GONE GONE by noon. So too was John Picacio, who was in for the morning, then took off to (!) fly to World Con for the Hugo Awards, but at any time we had four or more authors in the booth with us. A special shout out to KD McEntire's husband Jake, who came to the rescue with a portable hotspot when ours went out! Jake saved our bacon. He also proved to be quite a salesman, which really was above and beyond the call. Meanwhile, the crowds at Dragon*Con have to be seen to be believed, and it's incredibly rewarding to see how many people love our books and look for us each year now. The fan interaction the con affords our staff and our authors is just incredible.

For dinner, I went with Sam Sykes, Lisa Kay Michalski, Meghan Quinn, and famous illustrator Todd Lockwood for pizza at Azio Downtown, then back to High Velocity again, where we met up with several of Lockwood's friends, for an evening that we cut short at 2:45 am. Or maybe it was 3am.
Saturday Night.

And what of our con newbies Lisa and Meghan? They were old pros by the second day, and both fell in immediately with the vibe of the show. I'm so glad they took to it so well, had such fun working hard, and "got" what Dragon*Con was all about for us. You two are incredible! I hope you can come back next year! 

Steam Ensemble
Meanwhile, Sunday was another incredible day in the booth, followed by an 8:30 pm panel called "Editors and Agents Tell All," which was scheduled around the time the Hugo Ceremony in Chicago was starting up. (Apologies for all those nervous glances at my Twitter feed). The panel was just as packed as the previous and a lot of fun to do.

Then it was back to High Velocity, where I had no cell access, no bandwidth, no ability to IM or check Twitter. It was nerve racking, but finally my agent was able to get word to me that "You didn't win. Picacio did." And I was thrilled for my friend John Picacio, long one of the top artists of our field, but now officially a Hugo-award winning illustrator!

Our Last Night
Sunday night was also the last time the gang was out together. It was a wonderful evening, and a somewhat emotional one as well. Dragon*Con is a marvelous show for us because we have a base of operations in the Pyr booth. We get to interact directly with our readers, by the hundreds, every day and see the effect of what we do has on people. It's a great show because of its attendees, who are all ages and ethnicities and genders, and who are all passionate about science fiction and fantasy in all its permutations. It's such a high energy show, where you work hard and play hard for five straight days. No one ever believes me until they come out--even if they believe me they don't believe me--and they come away enthralled. But what really makes this show is the Pyr family. Jon (and now wife Jenny), Sam, Andrew, Clay, Susan, Eugene, Katie, David, Cooper, Will, Lisa Meghan, Pip, Gabrielle--you are all wonderful.

A Dragon's Eye from Hunter and Fox
Monday Lisa, Meghan, Eugene, Clay, Susan, copyeditor Gabrielle Harbowy, and I worked the booth. We managed to sell out Eugene (EC Myer's) last copy of Fair Coinwithin a minute of his departure time for the airport. We also sold out books by Sam Sykes, Andrew P. Mayer, Justina Robson, Jon Sprunk, Dave Freer, KD McEntire, and others. What a show. Lisa and Meghan stayed right up until the Exhibit Hall closed, then took off to the airport.

When it ended, Lisa, Meghan, Clay, Susan, Gabrielle, and friends David Alaister Hayden, Cooper Chun, and Will Cockrell and I disassembled the booth and packaged all remaining stock in under an hour - a record! - and went out (sadly sans Gabrielle, who had other plans) to the Landmark Diner, which, since we ate there after take-down last year too, is I suppose a new tradition. And then it was time to say goodbye.

Stuffed Animal Gown
Deep thanks to Regina Kirby, Nancy Knight, Susan Phillips for great programming, and to all the con runners! It was an amazing con. I loved seeing everyone - old friends and new. Cons are made up of people and these people made the con! Emotional things were said, a lot of them late Sunday night, that are simply not for this blog, but I love these people and always will. Thank you all for making this weekend, this magical Brigadoon that calls us all together once a year, one of the best convention experiences ever.