Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I did it! 50,000 words in 30 days. This was my second NaNoWriMo experience. I completed it in 2009 as well. I finished today, hammering out the last 2,272 words for a total of 50,367. That's not the whole book. 2009's 50,000 words eventually ended up as a 103,000 word novel, and was rewritten six times across 2010 and 2011. It's now with my agent, I'm pleased to say. I've no doubt that this one, which I'm estimating will come in at around 75,000 words, has a lot of rewriting ahead of it too.

But the value in NaNoWriMo is in getting you to write a lot, in a compressed time. Having done this twice now I must say that I find NaNoWriMo an incredibly valuable experience. So many people start novels and never finish them, endlessly rewriting openings or crafting new openings. We all have draws full of great initial chapters. 50,000 words is a sizable enough chunk that it forces you to turn off the self editor and the procrastinator both and break past those 1-3 chapter abandoned drafts. If you can write half a novel, you can write the second half. Also, writing is a muscle and muscles improve by being exercised. Even if nothing worth saving comes out of your 50,000 words, you are 50,000 words deeper into honing your craft. Also, it makes the solitary pursuit of writing something communal. And finally it gets your butt in the chair.

Yay to all us participants. Also, I could not have done it without the patience of my long-suffering wife.

The World According to Lou

Sandra Wickham interviewed me yesterday for the Inkpunks blog. She titled the interview "The World According to Lou," which really tickles me. I don't think she knows that it was The World According to Garp by John Irving that first made me want to choose this writing/publishing life. Anyway, I'm grateful for the interview, but please ignore her when she suggests that nonsense about my giving away my beer. Check out the whole interview, but here's a sample:
What must-have qualities would you say an author needs to become published and keep being published in the industry?
Talent plus perseverance. I recently asked a group of authors how many times they rewrote their novels before they saw publication. Seven was the average response. And I heard N.K. Jemisin say recently that she had worked on The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms for around ten years before it saw publication. Do you remember that old board game where you pulled levers out until all the marbles but one dropped away? I have probably just dated myself horribly, but that’s how I see a career in the entertainment arts. Banging your head against the wall until the wall collapses, because you sure as hell aren’t going to. Artist John Picacio describes this as, “There’s Plan A. And if that doesn’t work, there’s Plan A. And if that doesn’t work, there’s Plan A.” (Note: He’s not talking about being unrealistically inflexible. He’s talking about never giving up the goal of being a working professional.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Inner Sea World Guide

I am such a great test case for marketers. You see, it never fails that when someone gives me something cool for free, that I then turn around and buy more product. I was geeking out here last week over the Pathfinder Beginner Box, and this week I'm back to geek over my just-purchased Pathfinder Campaign Settin: The Inner Sea World Guide. This is a 320 page, full-color, drop dead gorgeous hardcover detailing the 40+ nations that comprise the world of Golarion's Inner Sea region, along with details on their history, religion, culture, key races, locations, etc... etc... I love maps, I love world-building, I love art, I love big hardcover books full of all of the above.

Here's the official list of the contents:
  • Detailed summaries of the player character races native to Golarion, including more than a dozen distinct human ethnicities
  • Elaborate gazetteers of more than 40 crumbling empires, expansionist kingdoms, independent city-states, and monster-haunted wildlands of Golarion’s adventure-filled Inner Sea region, with locations perfect for nearly any type of fantasy campaign
  • Cultural information and Pathfinder RPG rules covering the 20 core deities of the Inner Sea, plus entries on other gods, demigods, forgotten deities, weird cults, strange philosophies, and more!
  • An overview of the Inner Sea’s history, a look at time and space, a discussion of magical artifacts and technological wonders, discussions of important factions and organizations, and hundreds of locations ripe for adventure!
  • Tons of new options for player characters, including Inner Sea-themed prestige classes, feats, spells, adventuring gear, and magic items!
  • Nine new monsters, including exotic humanoids of the skies and seas, undead and dragons, and an angry demon lord in exile!
  • A giant 21.75"x33" poster map that reveals the sweeping landscape of the Inner Sea in all its treacherous glory!
 Pretty cool, no?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Oh, I love getting surprises in the mail, particularly when they are as cool as the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box. My friends at Paizo Publishing sent one over, and boy is it gorgeous.

For those who don't know Pathfinder, it's a Role Playing Game spawned out of the Open Game License (OGL) a few years back. Short history: a certain very popular RPG made their rules open license, many companies grew up providing supporting materials for those rules, Paizo in particular created a very, very complicated campaign setting - the world of Golarion and hundreds, or maybe thousands of adventure modules and supporting materials, and then a certain very popular RPG ditched support for their rules and made a (some would say much needed, long overdue) revamping of its rules. But this left a lot of companies without a core rule system. Paizo came out with the Pathfinder RPG, and voila! their bazillion ancillary products now had a fantastic spine. What's more, they subsequently captured a huge share of the RPG market (3.5 yay!) and have become an even more major player in the RPG industry.

I've got the Core Rulebook and Bestiary, and I bought a PDF of the Campaign Guide and several adventure modules. They are coming out with an Asian-themed campaign setting later this month, and I'll be picking that up as well. Confession: I haven't gamed in a long while, but I love reading rule books and campaign setting books, and I'm thinking that when my son gets just a little older, classic Pen & Paper style RPGs might be a nice imagination-fueling counterbalance to the comparably more passive experience of video-gaming. I'm also very interested in the way that RPGs have been an outlet for the swords & sorcery brand of fantasy in those decades in which the epic dominated literary fantasy, and the way in which RPG and literary fiction exchange energies now that epic fantasy is "grittying up."And I just love their setting. So the Beginner Box is a great way for this overworked, freetime-less editor to jump in quick and run his son through his first RPG.
    ThePathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box includes:
  • 64-page Hero’s Handbook, detailing character creation, spells, equipment, and general rules for playing the game
  • 96-page Game Master’s Guide packed with adventures, monsters, magical treasures, and advice on how to narrate the game and control the challenges faced by the heroes
  • A complete set of 7 high-impact polyhedral dice
  • More than 80 full-color pawns depicting tons of heroes, monsters, and even a fearsome black dragon
  • Four pregenerated character sheets to throw you right into the action
  • Four blank character sheets to record the statistics and deeds of your custom-made hero
  • A durable, reusable, double-sided Flip-Mat play surface that works with any kind of marker
Cool, no?

Update:  Getting free stuff always makes me buy stuff. I just ordered this: Pathfinder Campaign Setting World Guide: The Inner Sea (Revised Edition)


Via SF Signal: China MiƩville, at a a September 2009 talk at The University of Kansas:

[via AboutSF, the educational outreach arm of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction]

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Planesrunner: You Want This Book, You Need This Book

Illustration (c) John Picacio
“Smashing adventure fiction that spans the multiverse without ever losing its cool or its sense of style. Ian McDonald is one of the greats of science fiction, and his young adult debut is everything you could hope for: romantic, action packed, wildly imaginative, and full of heart.”
 —Cory Doctorow
"Planesrunner is chock-full of awesome. Ian McDonald's steampunk London blazes on a vast scale with eye-popping towers, gritty streets, and larger-than-life characters who aren't afraid to fight for each other. The kind of airship-dueling, guns-blazing fantasy that makes me wish I could pop through to the next reality over, join the Airish, and take to the skies"
—Paolo Bacigalupi, Michael J. Printz Award–winning author of Ship Breaker
"Athletic, brilliant, and always ahead of the game, Everett is too perfect, but it doesn't detract from the book's fun. McDonald writes with scientific and literary sophistication, as well as a wicked sense of humor. Add nonstop action, eccentric characters, and expert universe building, and this first volume of the Everness series is a winner."
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
"What joy to find science fiction based on real scientific concepts... In his debut for teens, established science-fiction writer McDonald builds a world just different enough to charm readers into believing... Shining imagination, pulsing suspense and sparkling writing make this one stand out."
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review!

"[Planesrunner's] world is as sharply imagined and inventive as we've come to expect from [Ian] McDonald. And it also may be the first steam-free steampunk novel… first-rate adventure writing… by the cliffhanger ending we're ready to follow [Everett] into whatever new universes McDonald can concoct, and the next one already looks interesting. Planesrunner is not only excellent YA SF in terms of its likeable characters and well-executed setpieces, but is simply good SF in a way which almost reinvents, and possibly makes addictive, the old parallel universe trope. It's fun."
—Locus, November 2011

"Planesrunner is a first class teen science fiction novel, which I believe will appeal to the fans of such boy-oriented books as Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker and Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan… There is hardly anything about Planesrunner to complain about. Quite the opposite, a lot to complement this novel on: First of all, the science. The whole idea of parallel universes is endlessly exciting and Ian McDonald did a fantastic job coming up with alternate versions of Earth's future… Second, the main character with ethnic background… Third, the teen romance has a great dynamic. Both participants are strong and resourceful young people. Planesrunner is a fantastic beginning to a new teen adventure series that will leave you yearning for more. Score: 4.50 / 5 "
—Night Owl Reviews, Reviewer Top Pick

‎"Ian McDonald's Planesrunner is the first in what I hope is a very long series of young adult science fiction novels.... I can't wait for the next book in this series. Planesrunner, scheduled for release in December 2011, is an appealing alternative to the dystopian YA titles lining bookstore shelves these days."
—Portland Book Review

‎"This is science fiction adventure at its best, and at its core is Everett, the heroic little geekling that we all wanted to be as kids... With "Ten Known Worlds" as part of this book's lore…I want an interdimensional passport ASAP… The adventure simply never stops… Snappy dialogue…and fascinating details round out this marvelous series debut."
—The Examiner

Convinced? Now go check out the Infundibulum Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Writing Excuses: Endings

I'm back on episode 6:20 of Writing Excuses to talk about "Endings." They describe the episode thusly:

Lou Anders joins Dan, Howard, and Mary for a discussion of endings. We begin by talking about how important it is to “stick your landing” at the end of the book, and then recap the Hollywood Formula to point out how endings work there. We get examples from Mary’s upcoming novel Glamour in Glass, Dan’s upcoming novel Partials, Howard’s work-in-progress short story, and Lou Anders’ award-worthy, dot-matrix printer.

Female Armor Sucks

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dragon Age: Redemption

The first episode of The Guild creator Felicia Day's Dragon Age: Redemption is up. I've been very curious about this series in particular and non-TV "television" in general for a while.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

R.I.P. Steve Jobs

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs

Monday, October 03, 2011

Writing Excuses: The Screenwriting Formula

I'm a guest on episode 6:18 of the marvelous Writing Excuses podcast, talking about "the Hollywood Formula." They write of this episode:

Lou Anders, Hugo-winning editorial director from Pyr books, joins Mary, Dan, and Howard at Dragon*Con for a discussion of the Hollywood Formula. Lou shared this with Mary originally, and she used it to tighten up some of her work. It’s useful enough that we decided to invite Lou onto the ‘cast to share it with everybody else, too.
The formula centers around three characters – the protagonist, the antagonist, and the relationship character. Lou explains how these terms have, in this formula, different meanings than we might be accustomed to.

Among the things that we learn: The Dark Knight has an antagonist none of us could guess, Die Hard and Stargate are third-act movies, and Howard is criminally ignorant of classic cinema.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Should Be Writing... or Reading... or Editing... or or or...

Episode 218 of Mur Lafferty's wonderful podcast, I Should Be Writing, is live. Mur starts with a discussion of "writing the other", and then she moves on to an interview she conducted at the recent World Science Fiction Convention with "a very tired, loopy, Lou Anders." We talk about Kermit the Frog, writing, how the Matrix sequels failed to follow in the direction laid down by Neo's final words in part I, V for Vendetta, and K.V. Johansen's Blackdog. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

FenCon 2011

Last weekend was FenCon VIII/DeepSouthCon 49, a magnificent convention held in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in North Dallas/Addison, Texas from September 23-25. I was privileged to be a special guest of the convention, as I was teaching my very first Writers' Workshop.

The Writers' Workshop kicked off Thursday the 22nd, and included three 3-hour sessions of critics and two presentations, across four days. The focus I had chosen was on "creating novel openings," essentially talking about whether, as an editor viewing a submission, a student's first chapter would have me reading on to chapter two. I had 19 students, and the workshop was organized expertly by Debbie Waller. I found it exhausting but very, very fulfilling, a wonderful time, and I thank you all for having me. (And thank you Heidi Berthiaume for the Dark Truth Stout!)

As for the rest of the con - I was delighted that my good friends Stephan Martiniere, Madelynn Martiniere, Vincent Villafranca, and Michelle Villafranca were there, as well as new friends (and in the latter case new Pyr author) Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine. And though I see them more here than I did there, it was also great to hang with Julie and Steve from my local book club!

Friday after the workshop was the guest of honor lunch at El Fenix, where I got to meet Gail Carriger, who was wonderful. Later that evening Bradley Denton did a magnificent job with Opening Ceremonies, running it Late Night With David Letterman style, right down to having a band and a couch. And musical guest Joe Bethancourt has made me a serious banjo fan!

Vincent is a tremendous sculpture and the pieces he had in the art show were amazing. I'm in love with the Ghoul Gun, but one of the most amazing things I saw was the working "Monkey Canon" that he brought in the trunk of his car to show me. We dragged Baen books publisher (and weapons aficionado) Toni Weisskopf out to see it to, and she asked many intelligent questions I wouldn't begin to know how to ask while I practiced shooting imaginary armies of intelligent gorillas.

Saturday night, Stephan & Madelynn Martiniere, Vincent and Michelle Villafranca, workshop participant Lucien Rene Nanton, and I headed out to the Queen of Sheba for Ethiopian food. It's a fun experience, if not my favorite cuisine (the spongy bread is very tasty but tends to expand in the stomach), but the company was delightful. This was followed by a private tasting of Dark Truth Stout in my very large suite, and then the DeepSouthCon 50 party, equally great.

Sunday I concluded the Writers' Workshop with a screenwriting presentation (the same one I gave in Austin at ArmdilloCon when I sat in on that workshop, now refined). I've been interested for a while now on how "the Hollywood screenplay formula" that I learned from my great guru Dan Decker can be applied to novel writing. Then it was time for my only actual panel, "The Economics of Fantasy," and closing ceremonies. I had a final meal with two of my workshop students (you were all great), said my goodbyes, and headed home.

A huge thanks to Julie Barrett, Russ Miller, Tim Miller, Tim Morgan, Jimmy Simpson, Rhonda Eudaly (my wonderful Guest Liaison), Bobb Waller, Debbie Waller, and everyone who worked so hard to make this such an amazing weekend! You are a great bunch of people and FenCon is a great con!

Now, here's the Ghoul Gun! This thing SHOOTS GHOULS! I mean, the ghouls are the projectiles. You shoot them AT ghosts. Because--Doh!--what else do you shoot ghosts with?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Got You Babe

Thanks to John DeNardo for this link, David Bowie and Marianne Faithfull performing Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Podcast: Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing

At the recent World Science Fiction Convention in Reno, NV, I got to catch up with Shaun Farrell of the wonderful Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing podcast. An interview we conducted Saturday morning is now up, episode 137.

Shaun writes "We discuss Lou’s passion for great stories, his theater background, how to pitch to an editor, how NOT to pitch to an editor, BLACKDOG, by K. V. Johansen, the thrill of discovering new writers, the true purpose of form rejection letters, the tumultuous publishing industry, including changes at Barnes and Noble, and major publishers being lazy with their ebooks!"

Friday, September 09, 2011

Dragon*Con 2011

Last weekend was Dragon*Con, one of the largest SF&F fantasy conventions going, if not the largest, with around 40,000 fans that gather in a host of hotels in downtown Atlanta every Labor Day weekend. I've attended the past three years in a row, and Dragon*Con has become a highlight of my year. What makes it such a rewarding show for me is a) the incredible access to readers and fans of all ages and b) the large numbers of Pyr authors and personnel on hand. This year we were joined by our authors James Enge, Clay & Susan Griffith, Erin Hoffman, Andrew P. Mayer, Ari Marmell, Mike Resnick, Jon Sprunk, and Sam Sykes, as well as my editorial assistant Rene Sears, VP of Marketing/Director of Publicity Jill Maxick, e-Initiative Coordinator Lynn Pasquale, and freelance copyeditor Gabrielle Harbowy.

I drove down with Rene on Thursday, and the two of us, together with Clay and Susan Griffith, began unpacking the 60 something boxes and assembling the Pyr booth. Putting up the wireframe booth and then assembling it is like a giant jigsaw puzzle and after having done this twice before, it's actually becoming fun. Lynn and Jill arrived a few hours later to help, and set about building the huge display of sampler books. Right after they finished, a director arrived to inform us that we'd built the stack outside the lines marked by white tape that delineated the confines of our space.

Fortunately, Andrew P. Mayer was on hand to suggest a method that allowed us to move the stack instead of having to start over. After that herculean effort, Sam Sykes arrived in time to join us for beers (hmmm) at my favorite Dragon*Con hangout, Max Lager's. What makes this show for me is friends. I love the work hard/play hard vibe, so after getting everything set up for Friday's opening, we had a *very* late night at Max's as our reward. Followed by the bar High Velocity in the Marriott.

And then the show started. Friday the Exhibit Hall opens at 1pm and goes until 7pm, and I had three panels afterwards, making it a racing start. We brought a huge number of the aforementioned free samplers to give out, double what we brought last year, but that didn't stop them being pretty much gone in under two days, same as last time. What was truly gratifying was the number of readers who remembered us from last year and were glad we were back. Equally gratifying was the way we all worked together to promote each others books, with truly above and beyond the call efforts on the part of Sam Sykes and Jon Sprunk.

Saturday was 10am to 7pm and no panels, though I did sneak off to record two back to back shows of the wonderful podcast Writing Excuses with Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Howard Taylor. I also gave an interview to George Holochwost of Mtv Geek!. The result is his very generous article "A Visit with Pyr Books." Then it was back to Max's Larger and (subsequently) High Velocity.

Sunday was another 10 to 7, punctuated by the Pyr Presents Panel, an almost-two-hour panel event where yours truly and all nine of our authors take the stage to talk about forthcoming books along with a PowerPoint presentation of fantastic cover art.  Then later that evening, Clay & Susan had a private event courtesy of James Marsters (of Buffy fame) who was reading selections from their novel, The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire, Book 1). James is reading for the forthcoming audiobook, a fact that has created quite a bit of buzz.

I had a 10pm sword & sorcery themed panel "Blood & Iron" that evening, which was seriously fun despite cutting into serious reward time. 

Monday was 10am to 5pm, but since some of my wonderful publishing family had left, those that remained felt their loss. Rene, Gabrielle, Andrew, and Clay & Susan remained. At 5pm, we were joined by my friends David Alastair Hayden, Cooper Chun, and Will Cockrell, and this crack team, armed with last year's experience, had the booth broken and packed in 59 minutes flat. 

But a tropical storm (!) kept us from driving home, so David, Cooper, Will, Clay & I headed out for a final night of dinner and drinks, and then Clay & Susan kindly volunteered their floor. Early Tuesday morning I woke and drove home, and one of the most incredible weekends of my year came to a close.

Dragon*Con marked the third of three straight weeks of conventions for me, after WorldCon (Reno) and ArmadilloCon (Austin). It's been incredible to spend almost a month in the company of writers and artists and fans, fantastic to have had two extra weeks of post-Hugo glow to spend in the company of people who actually care about such things, and tremendous to have such a sustained period in this science fiction and fantasy Brigadoon. 

Thank you all for an amazing time, an amazing job, an amazing life.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

AramdilloCon 33

This past weekend was ArmadilloCon 33, held August 26-28, 2011 Renaissance Hotel Austin, where it was my privilege to be the Editor Guest of Honor. I've been to ArmadilloCon once before in 2003 and to this hotel in 2006, and I love the con, the hotel, and the town and was eager to return to all three.

I came in early on Thursday, so that I'd be there for the fabulous dinner at Fonda San Miguel (opened in 1975, recognized as one of the finest Mexican restaurants in US, great food, fantastic atmosphere/decor), then it was up early for the Friday workshop workshop, run admirably by Stina Leicht.

I've taken dozens of play and script writing workshops, but never taken nor taught a prose writing workshop before. Thus, I had an educational blast. There was a great writing game run by Scott Lynch, after which I gave a presentation on Screenwriting. Then I sat in with Paolo Bacigalupi and Mark Finn's writing group. It was a day long (8:45am to 4:30ish) stretch, but very, very worth it.

Then it was off to opening ceremonies, where Toast Master Mark Finn truly rocked. And he justified the title "toast master" in a way I've never seen before. I'll say no more. But if you can watch his toast master speech below, you should:

Mark Finn's Opening Ceremonies, Part I:

Mark Finn's Opening Ceremonies, Part II:

Then Friday night, SF Signal's John DeNardo, Author Guest of Honor Paolo Bacigalupi, Artist Guest Vincent Villafranca and I headed to Z'Tejas for dinner. I spent a lot of time with those guys, as well as with Sara Felix, and their friendship really made this an incredible convention for me. On Saturday morning, my wife joined us, and Vincent's wife came in on Saturday night, and thus our group was complete.

On Saturday morning, Rick Klaw and Mark Finn conducted the "Editor Guest Interview," where they surprised me by SERVING MIMOSAS!! At 11 am. After I had gone for an hour swim and SKIPPED BREAKFAST. I had three or four. Which ended up making for a few slurred words at the Pyr Presentation two hours later, but nothing too bad. That evenings "Fannish Feud' was fantastic, despite Paolo's inability to realize that my drawing a giant X on his back was an attempt to cheat and give him the answer to "best comic book films of all time" not a vote of no confidence in his ability to get it right (as it apparently should have been).

Then that evening, Paolo, John, Vince, my wife and Sara Felix went first to dinner at Z'Tejas again and then to my suite so that they could sample the amazing Dark Truth Stout that Sara wondrously procured for me. Dark Truth has become my All Time Favorite Beer, so I am deeply, deeply in her debt. And even DeNardo, who isn't a Stout type of guy, had seconds.

Then it was off to the parties. Though not a very late night.

Sunday was a panel on Book Covers (always a favorite topic of mine) and the final panel of the day, "The Return of Sword & Sorcery" (a topic close to my heart). Afterwards my wife and I headed out to Austin's South Congress district, where we stopped by the Big Top Candy Store and had the incredible Tamago Yoko at the Snack Bar (leek, bacon & shrimp in a hashcake, topped with over-medium eggs with wasabi aioli & sriracha drizzle). And I dug on the chia cow.

Cab fares are apparently ridiculous in Austin, so we called Sara for a rescue and she took us to the County Line for the final meal with the guests and con runners. I'd been to the County Line years ago. It was a good meal with good people (and turtles in the river). Then home for a final Dark Truth Stout with Vincent and Sara, a short stop at the Dead Dog Party, and to bed.

Monday's flight home was the best ever thanks to the Austin airport, where we had BBQ at the Salt Lick and ice cream at Amy's Ice Creams. My wife had Mexican Vanilla and I had Guinness Ice Cream. Yes, Guinness Ice Cream.  The airport even has steampunk art. Why can't all airports be like this?

Thank you A. T. Campbell III, Stina Leicht, Sara Felix, Jennifer Juday, Karen Meschke, Willlie Siros, and everyone at ArmadilloCon for an incredible time. I hope I gave as good as I got, but that's a tall order. This was a wonderful four days with friends new and old. Great food, great drink. And Guinness Ice Cream. How is that not an awesome trip?

Staffer's Musings: Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Ed...

Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting EdgeThere's a nice review of my anthology Fast Forward 1 up on  Staffer's Musings,where they write:
"Haunting stories like Bacigalupi's Small Offerings and George Zebrowski's Settlements confront our ability to sustain humanity.  A Smaller Government by Pamela Sargent parodies the U.S. government, while Jesus Christ, Reanimator by Ken MacLeod takes on faith.  Vanity is a popular subject reflected in p dolce by Louise Marley and The Hour of the Sheep by Gene Wolfe.  There are very few failures in the anthology....Perhaps the most thought provoking work in the book is Anders' introduction which I have quoted from liberally.  He provides a thought provoking discussion about where the genre has been, is going, and will find itself in the years ahead.  It's well worth a read all on its own and can be read on-line in its entirety (here).  Anders was recently awarded a Hugo for his editing prowess and as far as I can tell from Fast Forward 1 and the dozens of other Pyr titles I've read, it is well deserved. ...In the mood for a science fiction anthology? Definitely pick this one up"

Monday, August 29, 2011

This is enormously flattering.

Also Anealio's best song ever, right?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

This is a very cool book trailer...

Via SF Signal:

For Your Viewing Pleasure: Blackdog

Blackdog by K.V. Johansen
Cover Illustration: © Raymond Swanland
Design by Grace Continue M. Zilsberger

Long ago, in the days of the first kings in the north, there were seven devils...

And long ago, in the days of the first kings in the north, the seven devils, who had deceived and possessed seven of the greatest wizards of the world, were defeated and bound with the help of the Old Great Gods...

And perhaps some of the devils are free in the world, and perhaps some are working to free themselves still…

In a land where gods walk on the hills and goddesses rise from river, lake, and spring, the caravan-guard Holla-Sayan, escaping the bloody conquest of a lakeside town, stops to help an abandoned child and a dying dog. The girl, though, is the incarnation of Attalissa, goddess of Lissavakail, and the dog a shape-changing guardian spirit whose origins have been forgotten. Possessed and nearly driven mad by the Blackdog, Holla-Sayan flees to the desert road, taking the powerless avatar with him.

Necromancy, treachery, massacres, rebellions, and gods dead or lost or mad follow hard on the their heels. But it is Attalissa herself who may be the Blackdog’s—and Holla-Sayan’s—doom.


"Johansen’s characters project believability, and her world is full of rich and vivid detail. High fantasy for lovers of mythology and of powerful beings in human form, this adult fantasy debut should appeal to fans of Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time’ series.”

—Library Journal
“I’m hooked. The mix of magic, Tibetan-style religion, and Harold Lamb–style adventure is pretty addicting”

—James Enge
World Fantasy Award–nominated
Author of Blood of Ambrose
and The Wolf Age
“Interesting and absorbing; Blackdog takes as its heart, and its strength, a subject that most fantasy writers shy away from—the Gods themselves.”

—Tom Lloyd
Author of The Twilight Reign series

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention

Last weekend I attended Renovation, the 2011 World Science Fiction Convention. I had a good time.

Renovation, was held in Reno, Nevada, August 17-21, 2011, at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center (RSCC). The Atlantis Casino Resort served as the headquarters/party hotel, though I stayed .6 miles away at the Peppermill Hotel Casino.

I was very impressed with the con organizers - particularly with their efforts to ramp up the Art Show and Art programming over recent years. For the first time, WorldCon took advantage of it's artist guest of honor (in this case the magnificent Boris Vallejo) and utilized the art in signage all over the convention center. Thursday was a designated "Art Night" and the overall quality of the art program - which included life drawing sessions and portfolio reviews - was tremendous. It was a personal honor to sit and review portfolios alongside Boris, incidentally. Something up there with swinging Moorcock's Stormbringer prototype around in a Texas parking lot a few years ago. And I was thrilled to see my friend Jon Schindehette take home the Chesley Award for Best Art Director. Especially since this was his first WorldCon (or possibly first in a very long while).

The hotel layout, or rather the hotel's nature, made for a difficult after hours. While all the staff were helpful and friendly, casinos don't make for the best con experiences. I told each of my ten meetings we'd get together "in the bar", assuming that, as always, there would be one bar that emerged as "the" bar where everyone hung. My first meeting emailed me day of the con to say "Lou, there's not one bar. There's ten." And we discovered that most of them closed early! Given the perfusion of small bars, and the distance between the two hotels, what resulted was a convention of small groups spread out between two locations, and I was sad not to even run into some folks, like my good friend TC McCarthy, who was there to promote his book Germline, but who I never saw. Others, like Heaven's Shadow co-author Michael Cassutt,  I saw briefly once and then not again. Or Howard Taylor (pictures above right at the autographing) who I talked to, but not nearly as much as I'd like to have.

But for everyone I missed, there were a dozen wonderful people I did get to see. This WorldCon really stood out for me overall as being about the quality of the conversations I had, whether it was a meeting with Tim Holman (Orbit), late night drinks with Irene Gallo, Gregory Manchess, and David Palumbo, or even later drinks with Saladin Ahmed, Pablo Defendini, Rajan Khanna,  and Charlie Jane Anders, or the conversations that occurred on panels. The whole event was one long, fun, stimulating conversation with friends. And such great panels this year too!

Though I really enjoyed my own panels, especially "Cover Art in the Age of e-Books," " The Comeback Genre: Sword & Sorcery," and "Book Cover Design: Using Cover Elements to their Best Advantage," by far the best programming I attended myself was The Unincorporated Man's Eytan Kollin's presentation on weaponry. I've seen weapon demonstration's before, but Eytan's program was specifically designed to improve the quality of combat writing in fantasy novelists by abusing them of certain common misconceptions and cluing them into a few relevant but little known facts. Eytan was a good teacher, mixing humor and live demonstrations into his discussions of hacking and slashing. I had to leave at the halfway mark to be interviewed by my good friend Shaun Farrell of Adventures in SciFi Publishing, so I hope I get to hear the full presentation some day.

Meeting Melinda Snodgrass for breakfast was another highlight of my trip. She and I were jurors for the Science Fiction Museum's Science Fiction Hall of Fame recently and felt we'd found kindred spirits there, so it was great to meet in the flesh. Friday's KaffeeKlatsch was also top knotch - those kind of intimate conversations with fans/readers/hopeful writers are becoming my favorite things to do at cons. Dinner with John & Traci Picacio, Paul Cornell, Bill Willingham, Lauren Beukes, and Lev Grossman was another highlight. Any any chance to see Ian McDonald is worth it, natch. And Ian in a kilt?

Of course, the biggest highlight was, um, WINNING THE BEST EDITOR - LONG FORM HUGO AWARD!!! Aiiiiiiyyeeeeeeeeee!!!!

This pretty much means that, despite problems with the venue, or missing seeing some friends, or whatever, Renovation has to go down in my book as the BEST. WORLDCON. EVAH.

Thank you all, every one of you, I had a marvelous time.