Friday, January 18, 2019

A conversation with the future

So. Been a while, huh? Next time I feel bad that it takes me five years to write a book I can say "Yeah, but considering it takes me three and a half years to write a blog entry that's pretty good!"

Anyway, I do have news: Fall From Earth has been included in the Bundoran Buddies Sci-Fi Bundle, a Storybundle curated by Bundoran editor Hayden Trenholm and including, as well as other Bundoran books such as Ed Willett's Right to Know and Jennifer Rahn's The Cyanide Process, works by writers including Tanya Huff, Robert J. Sawyer, Matthew Hughes, Ramez Naam, and Madeline Ashby, as well as a brand-new collection of short stories by James Alan Gardner.

When Hayden (whose own books were among Bundoran's very first publications) took over from founding editor Virginia O'Dine, one of the things he changed was to narrow the line's focus to just science fiction, which the press's tagline calls "our conversation with the future." It's a good description for most of the books Bundoran's published since then, but I've sometimes wondered how well it really fit Fall From Earth. I've said before that I think there are two basic premises in SF/F -- "What if?" and "If this goes on..." -- and I've always leaned more towards the first. It's hard to draw a line between today and the generally undefined future-time in which a space opera like Fall From Earth is set, making it not so much a conversation with the future as a game of telephone.

Looking at the other books in the bundle, though, I wonder if maybe that's the point. Sure, we may not be about to make contact with an enigmatic alien civilization (though their space junk may be drifting through our solar system) but we face just as many problems communicating with each other, down here on Earth: a few hours spent on Twitter, for example, could easily convince you that people on different sides of the political spectrum are as mutually incomprehensible to each other as the aliens in Fall From Earth are to us. A lot of the questions in the book -- where we draw the outer limit of our definition of "humanity," how we deal with the centripetal effects of technology, how and when speech is action -- are ones we're facing right now, even if they're happening on our screens and in our living rooms rather than on alien planets.

So I guess Hayden was right and I was wrong (as usual). Calling something a conversation, after all, doesn't mean that everyone will agree on what was said, and maybe that's the point: every book, as John M. Ford said, "is three books... the one the writer intended, the one the reader expected, and the one that casts its shadow when the first two meet by moonlight."

The Bundoran Buddies Sci-Fi Bundle is available until January 30, 2019.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Spoiler Space: "The Face of the Waters"

This story is why I listen to my editors. It originally came from a dream I had in which someone put a baby in the water, and the baby swam away like a fish. When I woke up I went back and tried to rationalize the image, trying to figure out why someone would make a baby able to breathe water. I wanted to keep the story on Earth – there are plenty of live-on-a-watery-planet stories already – so I thought about who, throughout history, has had to leave their homes most often, and the story unrolled fairly easily.
Except that when I sent the story to Pete Butler, for the Triangulation: Taking Flight anthology, he said that he liked the story but it was missing something, an added dimension or complication to give it more depth. I thought about that for a while and came up with the idea of the “ghost” of Yonah’s son confronting him as the story went on. Suddenly there was conflict in the story – between tradition and necessity, purity and survival – and Pete bought it, saying I'd managed to make the story read faster by adding word count. (There were two more quick rounds of edits to make the opening punchier, as well, but that change is basically what made the story work.)
So that’s why I listen to my editors: they make my stories better.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Next week in Spokane

Yikes! Less than a week 'til Sasquan -- guess I'd better post my schedule:

Thursday: SFWA Board meeting all morning, but I'll be wandering around in the late afternoon and evening.


11:00 - 11:45: Kaffee Klatsche in CC - 202A-KK1. You can sign up here or just show up.

1:30 - 2:00: Reading in CC - 301.

2:00 - 2:45: Managing Your Online Brand in CC - 401C with Jim Wright Frank Catalano  and Marah Searle-KovacevicOn social media, are you a person or a brand?  Do you handle interactions differently depending on what type of social media you're on?  And what happens when you're involved in a brou-ha-ha?  How is it different for a group and for an individual?

5:00 - 5:45: Autographing with Scott Lynch Susan Palwick Phyllis Irene Radford Susan Forest Tina Connolly Ellen Datlow (whew!) in CC - Hall B.


10:00 - 10:45: From Middle Earth to Westeros: Fantasy Worldbuilding in CC - Integra Telecom Ballroom 100B with Pat Cadigan Martha WellsMichael Swanwick Mary Soon Lee Building a believable world, with believable geography, culture, and rules, is at least as important in fantasy as it is in SF.  The panel looks at how to create fantasy worlds, citing examples of the good (and maybe the not so good). 

1:00 - 3:00: SFWA Business Meeting in CC - 300B.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Speculation and Imagination

Two bits of news for now: first, Derek Newman-Stille has posted an episode of his Speculating Canada podcast in which he discusses my collection Irregular Verbs and Other Stories. Derek's got lots of interesting things to say as he examines "cultural interactions, language, aging, and other ideas of change" in the stories.

Second, one of those stories -- "What You Couldn't Leave Behind" -- will be included in Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. We were actually discussing which of this year's stories would go in right up to the announcement, eventually picking that one in part because it's the shortest -- it's going to be a massive book:

  • Introduction
    Margaret Atwood 
  • Bamboozled
    Kelley Armstrong 
  • Witch I
    Courtney Bates-Hardy 
  • Witch II
    Courney Bates-Hardy 
  • The Smut Story
    Greg Bechtel 
  • Kafka’s Notebooks
    Jocko Benoit 
  • The Full Lazenby
    Jeremy Butler 
  • Wendigo Nights
    Siobhan Carroll 
  • A Spell for Rebuilding Your Lover Out of Snow
    Peter Chiykowski 
  • Túshūguăn
    Eric Choi 
  • Jelly and the D-Machine
    Suzanne Church 
  • The Perfect Library
    David Clink 
  • The Colour of Paradox
    A.M. Dellamonica 
  • The Man Who Sold the Moon
    Cory Doctorow 
  • Brains, Brains, Brains
    Puneet Dutt 
  • The Lonely Sea in the Sky
    Amal El-Mohtar 
  • A Wish from a Bone
    Gemma Files 
  • We Be Naked
    Zsuzsi Gartner 
  • The God of Lost Things
    Neile Graham 
  • The Lark, The Peat The Star, and Our Time
    Neile Graham 
  • Chant for Summer Darkness in Northwest Climes
    Neile Graham 
  • The Beat that Billie Bore
    Lisa L. Hannett 
  • The Trial of the Beekeeper
    Shivaun Hoad 
  • Self-Portrait as Bilbo Baggins
    Ada Hoffmann 
  • The Parable of the Supervillain
    Ada Hoffmann 
  • The Mermaid at Seaworld
    Ada Hoffmann 
  • Left Foot, Right
    Nalo Hopkinson 
  • Return to Bear Creek
    Louisa Howerow 
  • The Inn of the Seven Blessings
    Matthew Hughes 
  • What You Couldn’t Leave Behind
    Matthew Johnson 
  • Hollywood North
    Michael Libling 
  • Sideshow
    Catherine MacLeod 
  • Aversions
    Helen Marshall 
  • Death and the Girl from Pi Delta Zeta
    Helen Marshall 
  • You’re a Winner
    Matt Moore 
  • Man in Blue Overcoat
    Silvia Moreno-Garcia 
  • The Exorcist: A Love Story
    David Nickle 
  • Hereditary Delusions
    Rhonda Parrish 
  • Marotte
    Tony Pi 
  • Charlemagne and Florent
    Ranylt Richildis 
  • Standard Deviant
    Holly Schofield 
  • The Tun
    Trevor Shikaze 
  • Demoted
    Kate Story 
  • The Snows of Yesteryear
    Jean-Louis Trudel 
  • Giants
    Peter Watts 
  • From Stone and Bone, From Earth and Sky
    A.C. Wise 
  • Outside Heavenly
    Rio Youers

  • I haven't done a "Spoiler Space" in a while, but here -- from almost exactly a year ago -- is the piece I did on "What You Couldn't Leave Behind."


    Friday, June 12, 2015

    Podcasts, mind melds and bowling balls

    Two more little items up in the last couple of days: first, I've done another Mind Meld at SFSignal, this time talking about my favourite SF/F novel that's less than 350 pages. Those who have been around here a while will get no points for guessing what I picked.

    Second, I did a very fun podcast to promote The Year's Best Military SF and Space Opera, in which I got to discuss my story along with editor David Afsharirad and fellow contributors Linda Nagata, Michael Z. Williamson, David D. Levine and friend and fellow Ottawan Derek Kunsken. I actually recorded my part during a visit to a bowling alley, which accounts for some of the odd noises in the background.


    Tuesday, June 02, 2015

    Suns bursting in air

    Very cool: Irregular Verbs and Other Stories made the Sunburst Award longlist. Even cooler: the names of the other books on the list, including Pastoral by Andre Alexis, Consumed by David Cronenberg (!), Gifts for the One Who Comes After by friend-and-intro-writer Helen Marshall, Head Full of Mountains Brent Hayward, Knife Fight by David Nickle, The Back of the Turtle  by Thomas King, Lockstep by Karl Schroeder, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, All My Real Children by Jo Walton, Echopraxia by Peter Watts... well, it is a long list!

    Of course the quality of those other books mean mine is a lot less likely to be on the short list, never mind win the prize, but all things considered I'd rather be an also-ran on a slate of really great books than, well...


    Friday, May 29, 2015

    Nebulae aborning

    And lo, there came a programming schedule for the Nebulas!

    The whole program is here and you should take a look, because it's pretty darn cool. Here's what I'm doing:


    2:00 - 3:00

    What SFWA Can Do For You— Panelists discuss various programs SFWA has for authors and how you can get the most out of your membership. With Kate Baker, Lee Martindale, Sarah Pinsker, and Bud Sparhawk

    Salon 9


    Mass Autographing 
    Exhibit Hall, (Fourth Floor)


    3:00 - 4:00

    Disability and Narrative: Disabled characters are often omitted from science fiction and fantasy. Many of those that do appear are characterized through the use of stereotypes and tropes Panelists will discuss existing representations of disability, both positive and negative, and talk about ways to accurately research and engage with disabled characters. With Walt Boyes, Annalee Flower Horne, Lynne Thomas and Lee Martindale

    Salon 8


    2:00 - 3:00

    Colonialism, Cultural Appropriation and Fairy Tales–Before writing begins, a writer can find themselves already in trouble when the idea at the core of their story is problematic. This panel will discuss how to spot trouble before you even begin writing by looking at historical examples of colonialism, cultural appropriation, and fairy tales and the narrative challenges associated with them. With Mary Anne Mohanraj and Rachel Swirsky

    Salon 8