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Polyphony 7 is happening, just barely, thus making some sort of statement about crowd-sourcing and the power of the small press. I'm not sure what that statement is exactly, but I think it has something to do with scraping and fingernails.

Please pre-order a copy if you haven't yet.

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A brief announcement: as mentioned in my entry on Avilion, I read it in part to review for Strange Horizons; that review is now live.
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(NOTE: My story "Bear In Contradicting Landscape" is scheduled to appear in Polyphony 7, but due to economic constraints detailed below the anthology has yet to appear. I'm posting the following at Deborah's request and with my full endorsement)

In 2002, the Polyphony anthology series debuted. Conceived as a short fiction venue for stories that would skate gracefully across the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, magic realism, and literary fiction, it was quickly recognized as the standard bearer for cross genre work. Since then, the series' six volumes have become a vital, unique collection of voices in literature of the fantastic.

Polyphony has been twice nominated for a World Fantasy Award and the stories therein have been featured in several "Year's Best" anthologies, along with garnering accolades from several award judges and committees. Polyphony authors range from multiple-award-winning seasoned writers to the previously unpublished. The series is truly a melodic interweaving of many voices: old and new, speculative and literary, heralded and unknown. Polyphony has not merely crossed literary boundaries, it has reformed and redefined them.

The harsh economic climate threatens to kill this vital series. Wheatland Press is asking for your help.

The authors have graciously made concessions to make Polyphony 7 a reality. They've agreed to a reduced pay rate to see the volume published. Now we need readers.

In order to publish Polyphony 7, Wheatland Press must receive 225 paid pre-orders via the website by March 1, 2010. If the pre-order quantities cannot be met, Polyphony will cease publication. It's that simple. The preorder link is here.

If the preorder number is met, then Polyphony 7 will be published on or about July 1, 2010.*

We have heard from many in the SF/F literary community that Polyphony is a vital part of landscape. We agree, but we cannot continue without your support. We hope that you will support our fine authors and their art by becoming part of the Polyphony community and pre-ordering a copy of Polyphony 7.

*The fine print: If we do not receive enough orders by March 1, then all preorders will be refunded immediately. Do feel free to buy another Wheatland Press title while you are stopping by the website! Those will, as always, ship immediately.
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Yesterday I received my lovely contributor's copies of the Interfictions 2 anthology. That would be the one that made Amazon's List of the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2009. Reviews are popping up: Charles A. Tan says nice things about my story "The 121," while Strange Horizons reviewer T.S. Miller can't help wondering if the whole story isn't just a misguided joke. Ah, the schizophrenia of criticism.

The Interstitial Arts Foundation is pulling out all the stops on this one: go to their Annex and you can read free fiction by talented folks like Mark Rich, Kelly Barnhill, F. Brett Cox and Genevieve Valentine. There are auctions running this very minute for art objects based on some of the stories. Interviews with contributors like Jeff Ford and Cecil Castellucci are being posted at the site. And there are (or already have been) group readings by the contributors: you'll have to wait a short while for our local one (January 29th at Magers & Quinn), which will include myself, Alan Deniro, Will Alexander, and the aforementioned Kelly Barnhill. (Details to come as the date approaches.)

What's more, each contributor has been authorized to offer three copies of the anthology FREE to folks who pledge to review it on their blog or webpage. They suggested we come up with a nifty contest, but I'm no good at that kind of thing. If you're interested, leave a comment, and the first three who'd like a copy will get it. Remember that you are entering a contract which requires you to review the book! Interfictional lawyers will chase you down if you don't, and they can slide right through gaps in doors and windows and such.
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Don't take my word for it. Interfictions 2 just came out today, and has already picked it as one of the ten best science fiction and fantasy books of 2009.

It's not that I believe I have the golden touch or anything. I mean, yeah, Paper Cities just won the World Fantasy Award, but that doesn't mean that every anthology I have a story in from now on is going to be the best of the year.

Not necessarily, anyway.
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Congratulations to everyone who was nominated. But in particular congratulations to Kathy Sedia, Matt Kressel, and my fellow contributors to the Paper Cities anthology (containing my story "The Somnambulist"), which is nominated for Best Anthology. W00t!
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Just an FYI: as previously reported in this space, my story "The 121" will be appearing in the Interfictions 2 anthology. The anthology is published by the Interstitial Arts Foundation, a non-profit entity, and one of their fund-raising efforts is going to be an art auction with pieces based on the stories. They are looking for "Artists, Crafters, Jewelers, Musicians and anyone who loves to create"; details here. And, you know, you wouldn't HAVE to create something based on my story*; there are many others to choose from.

*It would be really, really cool if someone did, though.
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My novella "Escape to Bird Island" is live over at The King's English. It's sort of a road story about superhero sidekicks, bird calls, dimensional stacking, lions and spiders and agoraphobia. Oh, and they've got a .PDF option over there for easy downloading or printing. Check it out.


Feb. 11th, 2009 06:03 pm
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Apparently it is now OK to talk about the fact that I sold "The 121" to the Interfictions 2 anthology. Check out that TOC! This should be great stuff.

In other writing news, my story (really, my novella) "Escape to Bird Island" will be showing up at The King's English, soonish. I will toss y'all a link when it goes live.

Did y'all see The Ultimate Guide to Modern Writers of Science Fiction and Fantasy? Avi Abrams over at Dark Roasted Blend put it together, and he's welcoming input on it. I was surprised to find my name included, and when I emailed Abrams to mention a small error he was quick to respond and fix it. Looks like a good resource; check it out.

Have another book report to do, but no time to-day; might be a couple of days.
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How good is my "Proof of Zero" from Spicy Slipstream Stories? So good that this reviewer recommends that in order to make sense of it you "sort of scrunch up your mind and mentally squint, letting the story flow through you while turning off that critical portion of your brain that's screaming 'this doesn't make sense.'" Mission accomplished?


Today is the official launch of Tumbarumba: A Frolic of Intrusions, which is something you have never seen before: an anthology of works hidden in your Firefox browser, edited by Ben Rosenbaum and Ethan Ham. (An Internet Explorer version is about a month off.) It's a Firefox attachment that will occasionally slip fragments of stories into your daily news; if you click on the text a couple of times the story will take over. (Don't worry, you can disable it if you're actually trying to work or something.) When I first understood how this was going to work (which was long after Ben asked for stories), I wasn't sure I'd ever find anything, because I skim a lot of what I read online, but I've already read some kick-ass stories by David Moles and Greg Van Eekhout, and I'm looking forward to finding more from folks like Tim Pratt, Heather Shaw, Haddayr-Copley Woods, Jim Kelly, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and more. Also, it's the only place you can read my story "MonstroCities." So go install it, and then give it a nice review!


Here is a thing which is all about me, which as a Midwesterner I find rather embarrassing: a profile at Minnesota Artists dot org, by Britt Amodt.


Joe the Plumber's book comes out today. Please buy someone else's book instead.
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The Farrago's Wainscot editors have posted the contents for Crawlspace: Selections from the 2007 Farrago’s Wainscot Exhibition, which includes my story "Oma Dortchen and the Pillar of Story." Very psyched about that. Look for the anthology in the fall!
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So here's some good news I've been sitting on for a while: my novella "The Sun Inside" is going to be the first release from the Electrum Novella Series, done by the good people of Rabid Transit Press (formerly Velocity Press). I can tell you this now because pre-ordering is live (via PayPal). That's right, for the low, low, price of $9 you can have a slick, perfect-bound book with roughly 18,000 words all guaranteed written by me. It comes out in late May, and if you're going to be at WisCon, you can reserve a copy to be picked up there. Perfect for people who like words!

Seriously, I'm very excited about this, for a couple of reasons. First, because I'm very proud of this novella. I'm not going to say too much about what it's about, because there are some surprises in it that we want to let the readers discover. (You can find out a little bit at the ordering link, above.) I can tell you that it contains (among other things): Internet dating, psychic powers, hidden worlds, zeppelins, hyenadaons, and the Iraq war. One thing I'm always trying to do with my stuff is to marry the holy-gosh-wow feel of pulp genre stuff to real-world concerns, and I think "The Sun Inside" may be one of my best efforts in that regard.

The second reason I'm excited about this is that I love what Rabid Transit Press is doing here; novella-friendly markets are few and far between, and I love the idea of a long-running series of them, published individually. I believe their plan is to do two a year, for now, and I'm already picturing them lined up on my shelf in a few years. Little packages of awesome. (If I do say so myself.) I'm excited to see where they'll take this, and I'm so very pleased to be in on the ground floor.
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Some coolness: Senses Five Press, the cool folks behind the zine Sybil's Garage, will be publishing Kathy Sedia's anthology of urban fantasy, Paper Cities (formerly Moonlit Domes). That includes original fiction from Forrest Aguirre, Barth Anderson, Steve Berman, Darin Bradley, Stephanie Campisi, Hal Duncan, Mike Jasper, Vylar Kaftan, Jay Lake, Paul Meloy, Richard Parks, Ben Peek, Cat Rambo, Jenn Reese, Cat Sparks, Anna Tambour, Mark Teppo, Catherynne M. Valente, Greg van Eekhout, and Kaaren Warren. My story "The Somnambulist," one of the weirder things I've written, will be appearing in this august company. This one will be coming out around the time of WFC, so save your bucks.

Not much to report, otherwise. Gearing up for the move, which I expect to be as painful as such things always are. Such is life. My bro is coming down to help out, but he can't get here until Sunday night, and I need to have a lot done before then. Books. Always with the books, and the boxes, and the loading. Someday I will move into a library, and never leave.
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Firstly, it must be noted that Justin Morneau is now the AL MVP. WOO-HOO! In your face, every person at ESPN! There is justice in the world. Sorry, Jeter, maybe next year. OR MAYBE NOT.

Secondly, my long-ish short story "Oma Dortchen and the Pillar of Story," a fairy-tale about ethnographers, swans, ash-lads, trolls, men in top hats, a crone with a leak* and, um, fairy-tales, will be part of the 2007 exhibition over at Farrago's Wainscot. I'm very proud of this story, and I'm glad to see it at a good home; Farrago's has a classy look, and they've got a helluva lineup shaping up over there. So far they've collected pieces from, well, too many people to list. Here's the list. They've also got a livejournal for keeping track of what they're up to. Details as they develop.

*Not like that.
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Warren Ellis sums up voting. It does kind of feel like that sometimes, doesn't it? Even so. Go do it. And keep an eye out. If the electronic polling thingy laughs maniacally after you exit the booth, tell someone.

This weekend was WFC, and I am not yet recovered. A few years back I spent a couple of summer weeks in Bergen, Norway, when the sun only went down for a few hours a night. I was chock full of solar energy and I didn't see much need to sleep. Cons are like that, down to the coming home and falling into an OMG-I-can't-believe-I-haven't-SLEPT coma. What that means, see, is that y'all are the sun.

I met new people, got to know others better, and got some quality time with "old" friends. (It's bizarre to me that I've known most of these people for three years or less.) If you were there, I miss you already; if you weren't, I miss you still.

There are many names I could mention, and if I were a better person I would, but one individual had, without any doubt, the largest impact on my weekend. I'm speaking, of course, of the angry goose who chased me around the pond behind the hotel on Thursday morning. Well played, Sir. Until we meet again!

I have pictures, but I haven't uploaded them yet. I got my hands on a whole mess o' books (I brought the big suitcase this time), including Polyphony 6 (which contains my slacker-who-talks-to-dead-presidents story "Manifest Destiny") and Flytrap 6 (which contains my rock-star-terrified-of-success-gets-some-homemade-rehab story "Grandma Charlie and the Wolves"). Check them out.

Now I am back at the office. Lame!
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I received Feeling Very Strange, the Slipstream Anthology edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly, in the mail the other day; the spoils of a mad foray into a debate about literary classification a little over a year ago. (Other recent treasures in the mail: my contributor's copy of Twenty Epics (Yay!), and a copy of this book from someone who thinks, with some justification, that I owe Hemingway another look.) In other words, John and Jim enjoyed the debate, and pulled out a mess o' quotes from it. Witness me talk myself into completely reversing my original position! See me get pwned by Ben Rosenbaum! Shed tears at the birth of Infernokrusher, which was left to die of exposure only weeks later!

Far better, though, are the stories. I say that not yet having read this volume, but having read most of these stories previously in various places. If you're at all interested in the weird intersection of genre and not-genre that is rather inadequately labeled "slipstream," you will want this book, because in addition to the wonderful stories there is a great introductory essay by Messieurs Kelly and Kessel.

There's a point in that essay which particularly struck me, since it's something that I've been encountering a bit lately. Jim and John write that "slipstream's cavalier boundaries towards boundaries can lead to a lack of rigor. A failed slipstream story can seem like idle noodling, a grab bag of uncommited allusions to genres without any investment in characters or the ideas behind them, or acknowledgment that genre tropes are anything more than pawns on a chess board."

I know we've all read (and I know that I, for one, have written) stories like this. Stories that read as playful and clever but never actually coalesce into something meaningful. I fully consider the greater part of the burden in these cases to fall on the author. And yet I sometimes feel that it's my failure as a reader when these stories fall flat for me. I like to be challenged, and sometimes it feels like I'm not quite up to that challenge. Maybe I'm not picking up on some symbolism or other subtle cues the author is giving me. Some stories are like that; they ask more of the reader, and while this may limit their audience, it can also mean a greater payoff for the right person. Some may argue that this is elitist or snobby, but I don't think so (at least, not most of the time). Sometimes the elitism is in other readers, who may treat a certain text as though it contains secrets meant for a privileged few. Here on genre (or perhaps, as Lois Tilton argues in an insightful essay over at Deep Genre, generic) street we're particularly sensitive to this kind of nose-in-the-air bullshit, so we tend not to invite those people to our parties anyway. (Savor the irony!) (Ignore the possible connection between this impulse and my distaste for Hemingway!)

What I'm rambling about is that there is a fine line between the writer's failure to portray his or her vision with clarity and the reader's--well, failure isn't the right word--let's say, reluctance to engage with a work with the amount of effort which might lead to a rewarding exchange.

As Ms. Tilton says in a follow-up to the above essay:

More serious readers, that's what I think genre fiction needs: readers who don’t mind doing some work, readers who can appreciate the stuff that a writer puts into her work below the surface story, the stuff like symbol and metaphor and allusions, complex sentence structure, or techniques like [the] unreliable narrator.

Based on that snippet you might be forgiven for thinking that Lois's essay sounds like the sort of thing that self-considered literary geniuses like to do: blame the reader. It's not so simple as that, of course. Lois's point, in the end, is that even readers who are willing to work hard at other types of literature don't want none of that crap in their fantasy. She's arguing, in fact, that too many fantasy readers don't respect the genre. And I think she's got a point. I think many people are quick to dismiss something as just "too weird" to be meaningful. It seems as though many fantasy readers want their fantasy to be rigorous in a very non-fantastic way.

I'm under no illusions that I'm saying something new here. But while I'm not going to get specific (every time I start talking around it I sound like a whiny bastard), this has been a matter of much frustration for me recently.

In conclusion: buy Feeling Very Strange and Twenty Epics. And watch some Raspberry Beret while you're taking orders. ("Wendy?" "Yes, Lisa.") Oh, and some Elastica too. (Yeah, I know they stole that riff from Wire and that's not cool. But Justine Frischman's sneer is still teh sexay.)
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Back from the north country. It was a tough weekend, but more on that later. But I have good news to report. Firstly, it appears that "The Water Poet and the Four Seasons" has made Rich Horton's list of recommended fiction in the latest Locus! This is a first for me. I haven't seen the issue yet, but Celia gave me the heads-up. Yay!

Secondly, Mr. Tim Pratt tells me that he's taking my story "Grandma Charlie and the Wolves" for the next issue (#6) of Flytrap, the 'zine which he and Heather Shaw co-/tag-team edit. It should be mentioned that the current issue (#5) contains stories by my homies Haddayr, Meghan, Barth, Chris. Yay!

Incidentally, Heather Shaw has a lovely story called "Mountain, Man" in the new Rabid Transit volume, Long Voyages, Great Lies, in which my story "Shackles" also appears; the issue debuted at WisCon. There are great (seriously, I read them all and they're great) stories by the Ignitrix herself, destruction-hungry Alice Kim, genteel F. Brett Cox and batmaster Geoffrey Goodwin. Watch these spaces for ordering information. Yay!

Another publication that appeared at WisCon is Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #18, which contains my story "Play" as well as many other fine fictions, poemtions, and reviewtions, as well as a handy mileage guide. I haven't read the entire issue yet, but so far I'm very much enjoying it, especially the piece by Stephanie Parent. LCRW is 18! Yay!

Last but not least, the gorgeous anthology Twenty Epics is eager to spring into your appreciative hands; an advance copy accompanied me around the convention over Memorial Day. I managed to plow through several of the stories before I had to give it back, and I have to tell you that none of them were good. They were all fantastic. I'm so very happy to be in this anthology, and mad props to Mr. Moles and Ms. Groppi for pulling it all together. Yay!

More later, on the roller-coaster that has been the past two weeks . . .


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