Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Creepy Book!

So, I was going for a walk to Starbucks this morning for a little bit of exercise and some caffeine. I shoved "The Scar" by China Mieville in the inside pocket of my jacket for reading material.


It had been sitting on the floor next to my desk, where it couldn't possibly acquire any heat. Within moments of walking, I had to pull it out of my jacket, because it was burning me. It was cool to the touch, when I pulled it out, but when placed against my ribs in my loose, cool, denim jacket, the book was like a hot battery burning me.

I know what you're thinking, and I checked for my cellphone, which was in my other pocket and wasn't causing any heat at all. I rummaged around in the book's pocket for anything that might cause heat. No luck. There was nothing inside.

The book, all by itself, was emanating heat, as if it contained within it a presence, or power, inexplicable by normal means.

I carried it in my hand, and it slowly cooled down. I put it back in my pocket, later, after I had coffee in one hand, and had spent an hour or so reading in the cafe, and the book was fine, as if the presence had burned off.

The only way to exorcise a book, after all, is to read it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

After a long silence

After a long silence, you'd think I had something interesting to say.

And... I don't.

San Francisco was awesome. It was great running into Mr Dansky again, and I had much fun at the Writing SiG stuff.

I got to meet a *huge* influence on my writing, Chris Avellone of Obsidian Entertainment (Lead Writer on Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords... etc...). And, that was awesome. Totally, totally awesome.

I also went to a reading on Monday with Rudy Rucker, Cory Doctorow, and two others whose names escape me. That was also totally awesome. Rudy Rucker, I suspect, is a big fan of ice cream.

Anyway. It was awesome. Maybe tomorrow I'll post some pictures I took of the view from my hotel room.

Maybe, when I've had time to process, I'll know what to say, and how to say it.

Until then, all I got is "...Awesome!"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bad blogger, no adsense

I'm at the IGDA in San Fran, and, as predicted, not keeping up with the blog.

But, like, hello! I'm in San Francisco, at the IGDA, and I'd rather be living than blogging!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

San Fran

I may or may not blog this week. We'll see.

I'm off to the International Game Developer's Conference, in San Francisco.


Friday, March 20, 2009

No Ideas...

It's friday. It's been a long week. I'll be in San Francisco next week. And, like everyone in that scenario, I will now post a picture.

It's my desk, where I'm siting right now.

Obviously, I whited out my computer screen.

I must have been looking at some embarassing website. What do you think I was looking at?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Did you survive the Hoff?

Here's a link, but I'm afraid I don't remember where I got it from...? Sorry, bad internet etiquette. But, I got it from someone. Jay Lake? BoingBoing? I can't recall...

Do you know what the world needs more of right now?

The Hoff.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mentioning books...

My day job plus my desire to still be a working writer on top of it does slow my reading down just a little bit, but I wanted to mention here that I'm currently reading - at last! - Timothy and the Dragon's Gate by Adrienne Kress, and enjoying it immensely. I'm also poking my nose, tentatively into Felix Gilman's next book, Gears of the City, which will likely be what I read next week, when I'm off to San Francisco for a conference.

I may post a full review later on. I've discovered I'm not actually any good at writing reviews, though, compared to people like Charles Tan and Larry from Blog of the Fallen. Really, it is an art form, and one at which I do not show great talent.

I can barely communicate the content of my own stories, much less other people's...

Alternative Lifestyle

Look, I figured out what those words really mean. You see, the alternative lifestyle - i.e. the one that is not mainstream, is not traditional, and has a very, very limited basis in history, but not reality - is the one wherein two chaste virgins marry and never even neck until after the ceremony, is the one that must be the alternative that I keep hearing about.

Really, you're talking about gentrified, pre-arranged couples, in the upper class, among a very small part of the human population, during a limited time in the history of those nations. Frankly, even there, the only "chaste" one was the female, and it was still very, very normal for engaged couples to do what came naturally.

All in all, it's the only definition of "Alternative Lifestyle" that makes any sense whatsoever.

(In case you don't know why I bring it up, look back a few days. I encountered a magazine that surprised me with its guidelines. I'm still trying to reconcile the person I know with the guidelines... But, I won't tell you which one, and I'll delete any comment that names it specifically. We are not here to bash magazines. We are here to wonder, amazed at an aspect of the market that seems representative of a prejudice in our larger culture. It is her magazine, after all, and her guidelines can demand stories about one-legged monkeys on spaceships, if she so chooses.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thinking about the end of the world

I was thinking about the end of the world, again. (I do that sometimes. You know, I'm an SF Author?) And, I was thinking about semis.

So much of our infrastructure is built around the notion that we can move goods in a large truck from point A to point B. But, that's not going to be true much longer.

Unless we can come up with some decent, non-polluting alternative fuels, our whole lifestyle is f-ed. Because food, clothing, and shelter all start far away and move towards us on trucks. It's why every suburb in this country is a clone of the other, with the same large houses, retail shopping complexes, and grocery stores that all carry the same foods.

What's going to happen when the trucks are no longer economically viable?

Don't think it can't happen. It almost did happen last summer.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Aliens Aren't Real

I think "Alien" is a misleading and archaic term, and ultimately meaningless.

When we have the technology to alter our physical form in any way we desire, there will be no distinction between one form of sentient life and another. There will only be self-aware entities, in whatever shape they choose, building and destroying culture as quickly as their imaginations tire of the fad.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Note to Literary Magazines and Folks Wanting to Start Literary Magazines...

I'm made really, really, really uncomfortable when I see something in the guidelines stating that you don't want to see alternative lifestyles in your stories.

Wow. (I won't name names, here, but knowing the person(s) involved, it really surprised me when I saw that in their guidelines.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

i have a new cellphone

if you want my new number call my old number.

Rhysling Long Form

I just found out that 3 Poems Called Cosmic from August '08 Abyss&Apex just got nominated for a Rhysling in the long form category.


This means that I get a free contributor copy of all the nominated poems.


I almost have a home

Right, Comcast came by and *finally* got my internet working right.

I have a couch on the way.

I even have a houseplant!

More things to do, and no time to do them. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kansas, and the being of not there

At the grocery store last night, I was trying to find Italian Seasoning. You know, the staple of my herb diet, wherein various and diverse "Italian" seasonings from Rosemary to Sage to Oregano are packed together into one spice jar?

I went to the store, here in Georgia, and looked around. And looked around. And...

Huh. I'm not seeing it.

I asked a nearby attendant where such a thing might be. He looked at me like I was crazy.

"You mean... Old Bay Seasoning? We got that."


"They don't make Italian. They got a Caribbean. It's okay if you like that sort of thing."

No. No no no no no. Italian... Seasoning... Not Old Bay.

Again, pointed to the large, two full shelves of various and diverse Old Bay Seasonings and knock-offs.

We both walk away from each other, then, believing the other to be crazy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sign you might be a real writer

(versus a wannabe)

Multiple rejection notices all arrive within about an hour of each other.

And, it takes you until after dinner and a pause in the slaughter of the innocents in the super-fun game "Overlord" to realize that you are supposed to be, like, bothered by that. And, you're not.

I mean, if these stories were rejected, I know enough about art and these stories to know that it has nothing to do with the quality of what I produce. Is my confidence unfounded? Maybe, maybe not. But, it's there. And rejections honestly don't bother me.

At ConDFW, a big group of folks from the NTSFW, Sam, Michelle, and Kurt from Armadillocon all went to get "Sekrit Sooshi" (quoting Michelle's google chat status...) During the meal, it was revealed that one of the members really and truly hated my book. This person was cheerfully in depth about it, and neither one of us was really bothered by it. The way he explained his reading habits he was seriously not my audience, and it's a testament to my ability that fellow got as far as he did. Walking out, one of the really nice North Texas Speculative Fiction Workshop ladies (don't remember which one... Maria?) got close and wanted to make sure I was okay, because she couldn't believe how brutal that was.

And I was like, "What are you talking about? Oh, that. Why would that bother me? Did you hear him talk about how he reads? THAT'S not my audience. That's just some random guy. And, he bought the book, so I still get royalties. And, he probably passed that book on to a friend, an enemy, a library or a used book store, which helps me. So... Why would that bother me?"

Anyway, I was just thinking about that, because it took me most of a day to realize that a few years ago, my day would have been ruined by so many rejections coming right on top of each other, and these days I have to remind myself to remember that this is supposed to suck.

Which it doesn't. Open spreadsheet. Look down list. Mail out in morning.

Why does that bother so many people? I don't get it. I don't remember that way of being a writer anymore.


Courtesy of Jay Lake:

Giant sandstorm dominates Riyadh.

Somebody at Work Showed me this, and I died a little, inside.

Someone at work showed me the trailer to this game, and something inside of me died a little bit.

I hope the Martians win.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why I need to get a digital camera

This morning, a Coke Zero froze out and exploded all over my fridge.

I mean, it was annoying to clean it up, but it looked really cool, the way ice looks when it explodes through aluminum and it is all chemistry and no water.

Last night I heard a loud, unrecognizable "BANG" and got up to see if something was going on in my apartment. I found nothing, then, and assumed I was just hallucinating or maybe the neighbors had fallen to their death.

Then, this morning, I discover that my invader had raided the fridge, cranked up the cold, and gleefully escaped into the darkness.

I will search for evidence of goblin infestation tonight. I will lay traps with cheese and mushroom. I will catch the filthy bugbear.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Advice for the kids:

Always talk to strangers.

Strangers are often very nice people, with good intentions, who might have interesting stories.

Why are we so afraid of talking to strangers?

Ah, but it is the stranger who tries to talk to you that we fear. It is not the interesting person in the bowler hat with the monocle, perusing apples, not expecting a conversation with a child, today, that we should fear.

Talking to strangers is fun. It's when strangers talk to you: that's when it's not fun.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What I love about banks...

I love how they can still be condescending to you on the phone when, even when it's been plastered all over the news how they have no f-ing clue what they've been doing for the last fifteen years.

My experience so far with CharlesSchwab's web-based stock buying has been bad, so far. And, it hasn't been the machines. Machines are machines. It's been the humans.

Which makes me want, even more, to set it up so it is just a machine that I deal with.

Why can't the Stock Exchanges of the world set it up so all you have to do is go to *their* web-location, with whatever browsing portal you like, and do whatever you want with what's yours?

Someone explain to me why I have to go through a third party to buy stocks when this could all be set up on-line, at the Exchange.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bad News/Good News

Bad News:

Good news:

But seriously, I'm miffed about Coyote Wild. They had been putting out good stuff, and I had a story coming from them soon, like.

I don't know what I'll do with "Lights, Bugs" now. Maybe I'll think of something in the morning.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Because you're all watching the watchmen

*knock knock*

Nope, nobody's home. Everybody's out watching Watchmen.

Look, I'm going to a Magic:The Gathering tourney tomorrow afternoon, and writing like a fanatic all weekend otherwise.

So, have fun at the movies everybody.

For those of you not watching Watchmen, here's a sneak preview to part of what inspired my current little side project:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This link is better than anything I could post today.

Here it is:


Have a great weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

hidden place

I'm off to a hidden place. Seeya tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Anybody want to buy Solaris Books?

Solaris books is for sale.

I hope someone buys it. They've been putting out some quality product.

थे नेवेर्स

There's a place I know called "The Nevers". When you order a beer, you say "Hey, I don't want any goddamn beer." Then, the bartender says, "Yeah? You'll never get any goddamn beer. All we got is water."

Then, he gives you a goddamn beer.

It's a realm of opposites. Everytime a song plays on the jukebox, it spits out a token. Every time a woman says no, you're going to be at her place later on, and she'll be whispering it in your ear.

Everytime you walk in happy, you pretend to be sad.

Everytime you walk in sad, you pretend to be happy.

The Nevers is where you go when you want to be someone else.

I wear mime make-up. Some people think it's a gay bar, but it's not. It's an everything you're not bar. It's where you go to say yes to gay men, only to know you don't mean it, and you won't really be going anywhere.

It's where you go to break up with a woman, because she'll be smiling the whole time.

There's a fellow in the corner, and he never leaves. He plays the lute to himself all night long. You can't hear it over the juke box unless you're sitting right next to him. He says his name isn't James. He says he's going to go home right after this drink.

I think he owns the place.

He wears a ring, so I know he isn't married. It fits, so I know he used to be.

And I think it all makes sense when you think about that.

Monday, March 2, 2009

In the mood for Adventures in Marxist Philosophy?

I know I am!


Tiresius, when he was turned into a woman, could not live among his people. He learned the truth about men and women. Men were drunk and laughing. Women endured.

She could not walk the streets without the risk of rape. She could not stand in a doorway and say hello to the men that used to be her friends. They looked at her different now. They had a smile in their eyes that should not have been there. They had a lingering touch that promised of unwanted advances, and soon.

To the hills, then, in the night, Tiresius dressed as a man and fled. To the ocean, then, in the morning, so many years spent as a man, Tiresius could pass as a sailor well enough.

Well enough to pass, but the storms came, blew the ship to rocks.

He fell ashore, among stones. Thousands upon thousands of stones. The forest of stones had faces, and arms - or, at least, they did until the erosion took such things away.

He knew where he was. He knew how to survive, here. He put out his own eyes with a stone finger. This is how he became the blind seer: after he put out his eyes, he wandered from rock to rock, searching for the statue's lips. He let the stones whisper into his ear all the stories of their lives. He was looking for a way off the island for a blind woman, and it took seven years.

All the while, he heard the hissing of the gorgons all around him. They watched him, curiously, the woman who ate leaves off the vines that grew up around the stones, and tried merely to listen to all the stories of the stones.

The gorgons, not truly monstrous, not truly cruel, to women, pitied the blind Tiresius. They brought him sides of roasted goat to eat, sometimes, and fresh fruit from their gardens.

When all the stones had been listened to, and all the thousands of lives had poured into the blind woman's ear, the gorgons made a raft for Tiresius. They touched the woman for the first time in seven years, and pushed him out to sea.

They called to their former lover, Poseidon, to heal the pathetic woman in the raft.

They had never spoken to Tiresius. They never harmed him.

And when Poseidon saw the woman in the raft, he assumed the woman had blinded herself and did not want to be healed from that. He assumed the woman wanted to return to its former life, as a man.

And that is how Tiresius returned to his manhood after years spent as a woman. That is how Tiresius became blind. That is how Tiresius became wise.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Abandoned Prose

The octopus folk live in the desert. They had to. The instinct to water from their octopus half was too great to ignore. The sight of an ocean rippling endlessly into the horizon was enough to drive them mad enough to dive in. The briney water quickly dissolved their skin like slugs in salt. Even fresh water irritated their skin after only brief immersion. They lived in the desert..
When the squirrel apocalypse came, they were uniquely prepared to survive. Not a tree in sight. Not even a gnarled bush. They beat back siroccos with plastic girders and treated the straggling refugees like madmen that had lost their minds in the heat, as if the refugee, like an octopus, had seen the rippling mirage of the ocean in the distance and chased after it.
I came to them over the dunes carrying great gifts. I slept during the day below the solar panel. At nightfall, I cleared the clumps of sand from the buggy to keep the moving parts as clear as I could. I drank some of the precious water I dragged behind me on a sledge. When I started out from the jungle, I could barely outrun a squirrel. Now, I moved alone at a brisk pace. I'd arrive tonight. I'd have just enough water to make peace with the gate guards.
I had another gift as well, and I knew they would appreciate it. They were a spiritual people, in their way. They would look upon my relic with reverence.
I drove over the dunes in the night. I approached their fortress in the night. I pulled to a halt before the gate. I left my headlights on. I stepped in front of the headlights, so the gate guard could see me.