Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ooh... Shiny:

Of interest to tech heads and web-savvy eBook-lovers is this lovely little announcement:

Why eBook publishing makes me extra happy? I signed the contract today, and the book is up and for sale *next week*!

Next week?!

That can't possibly be publishing!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

FINCH by Jeff VanderMeer

As I am not confident about writing non-fiction reviews at a level of quality that I see in others, I am loathe to really try to write a good and proper review.

Plenty of those will be coming soon enough.

I'm just going to tell you the core of my experience, and skip reviewing the book.

The thing about Jeff VanderMeer's "Finch" coming out in October 2009, is that it is the sort of masterpiece only VaderMeer could produce. It upends urban fantasy completely because instead of a fantastickal narrator, our narrator is quite mundane. No vampires looking for love in Dallas, and no magicians dealing with a disbelieving world around them. No.

Finch, our hero - though it's not his real name - is like Hitchcock's Everyman Detective - Vertigo's Jimmy Stewart in a dapper suit and tie in my imaginary version of events, lean and intense in his contained state of paranoia ready to burst - trapped in a world rich with atmospheric fabulism, bleak and black and more noir than noir. Liberated from the stark realism, that so dominates the aptly-named "noir" genre, by VanderMeer's signature fungus tapestry, the reader is taken to an artistic experience that only speculative fiction can give.

I live in the suburbs. I can read reports of the plight of the Saharawi, or the disaffected Palestinian youth, or all the war refugees of central Africa, or all the lost children of the drug czars' puppet regimes, but I am always alien from them, inside of my head. I can empathize. I can be outraged. However, I cannot truly place myself in their world because I live in a lovely apartment in yuppie North Atlanta, and work in an office that kindly provides coffee and snack food and 2 XBoxes on every desk.

Speculative Fiction let's a master, like Jeff VanderMeer, take someone like me and plant me in the head of a figure I can latch onto when placed against the backdrop of such an unreal world. By contrasting Finch's humanity with the world of Ambergris, I am pulled deeper into Finch's head and experiences. For a little while, fungus creeps along the walls at the edge of my eyes. A tension hangs over my heart at the horrible state of affairs of the lost, beautiful city I know so well from City of Saints and Madmen and Shriek: An Afterword.

Part of me gets it better, now, by seeing an avatar of normalcy inside that broken world. Now, when I do read about the labor camps and the tent cities and the neighborhoods lost to ruin and war and anarchy, I'll be a little better at doing more than empathizing. I'll be just a little better at comprehending what it means, and what it feels like, and why I should genuinely give a damn.

FINCH, by Jeff VanderMeer, is very brilliant.

October 2009, I strongly urge you to pre-order right now.

Here's a handy-dandy link so you can place your pre-order right now before you wander off and forget:

(When it actually comes out, I will try to write a good and proper review instead of just why I really liked it unconnected to things that are really of primary interest to me and me alone like World Peace, Ending Poverty and Oppression in the world, and the craft of literature. I may even mention more than a paragraph about what the book's actually about.)

About Google Docs

As shitty as google docs is for laying out text in any sort of format, I've become exceedingly fond of this word processing tool. It's backed up over the internet automatically. It passes from computer to computer as casually as a webpage. When I go to open a file, I move backwards in time through all versions of the file, to protect myself from vault source errors.

There are likely better programs and ways among the geeks and software aficianados, but one is hard-pressed to locate a software as totally free and tied to the respectably respectable Google servers which are far more safe and secure than my servers. (My "server" can often be found sitting by itself at a cafe next to a cup of coffee while I am in the bathroom... Even my jump drives get dribbled all over my apartment in who knows what corner.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

When will they...?

When will they make the machine that lets two minds dream together? Let young lovers wander the hills and valleys of their beloved's paranoias. Let the dark places, the hidden places, merge and meld together in sleep that you carve a life of shared neuroticism.

Let us awake and compare notes as to what the electrons firing showed us. Your teddy bear was my dancing harlequin. Your angry authority figure was my greatest sex dream with you. Your strange symbols blend with mine until we don't know if we even belong together anymore.

And anyway, it's all a scam right? Can't possibly be dreaming this oddly and still be plugged in together...

Monday, May 25, 2009

My desk has grown stuff...

Here's a picture of my desk at work, where you see an XBox 360 (bottom), an XBox DevKit (Top), massive computer-ness, and there's a phone back there, somewhere.

Also, the coffee cup that's rarely far away, and some bric-a-brac that amuses me.

I don't think we're done, yet. I mean, there's still room for two or three more major electronic devices.

The work is honestly really nifty and exciting. Notice how much cool stuff I need to do it? How could any job that requires that much cool stuff suck?

Too bad I can't really tell you folks what I'm doing until we're closer to done.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Going back over a few quarters of royalty statements...

I was digging through old reporting statements from ye ol' publisher...

The moment Hasbro shut down the Discoveries imprint, my book sales tanked. I could pretty much point to my own efforts to sell the book as the only things that seemed to be selling the book, which is miniscule.

This leads me to believe that a dedicated sales force committed to an imprint is really the only promotional tool that actually makes a difference, and the only way to achieve the sort of exponential growth that means you are actually getting anywhere as an author.

I'm not sure if I really want to do any bookstore signings again, or other promotional things, for a while. I'm not convinced they're as effective as spending my Saturdays working on new books to hand off to a dedicated sales force.

If you want me to come to your town to sign stuff, you'll have to bribe me. I accept payment in form of whiskey, pizza, and even - in a pinch - groovy 80s action figures.

(There's nothing like those old school GI Joes with their rubbar-band legs! Yoga *is* for burly testosterone-soaked plasticine male totem objects. Barbie can't do yoga like Sergeant Slaughter, let me tell you.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pleased to Announce...

Firstly, Austin, Texas' favorit squid-based producer of science fictions, SPACE SQUID, has picked up my short story "Dragon Came To Galveston to Die", pending some edits to shorten it.

Secondly, respected indie press out of Lexington, Kentucky, APEX BOOK PUBLISHING, has picked up the electronic rights to LAST DRAGON, so you can have some awesome, mind-bending fantasy fiction on your Kindle from the Kindle Store, or any other sort of reader you want from FictionWise, courtesy of Jason Sizemore and me.

I am pleased.



A mad combination of cutting edge accounting techniques with the hippest, coolest SF in the company break room!

Classic short stories include such hits as "No Angels Dance On The Head of This Pin", and "Red Space Money, Blue Space Money", "How To Steal From the Fed and Escape on a Rocket Ship", "If You Thought Ulysses Was Labyrinthine, Wait 'Til You See My TPS Reports"

Fans note that this is the only genre where books are told almost entirely in numerical symbols and power point flow charts. Notorious AccountsPunk pranksters encode subtext in binary hidden in the equations. The goal of each artist is to tear down corporations from the inside by hypnotizing their superiors with inscrutable performance art projects during meetings.

Followers of the movement can be deduced by the pencils and paperclips used as body piercings, and the copy of the AccountPunk classic, "Add, Subtract, and DIE!" by the movement's founder Chuck Palahniuk's brother, Norman Palahniuk, the novelization of what happened after Monty Python's skit about the corporate pirates, told in the actual numbers that reflect the reality of their actions. At this time, Norman Palahniuk is the only person to have written a complete novel in the movement, though it is rumored that secret novels exist, being passed around from one accounting firm to another - passed in secret like porn or anarchy. Rumors persist of "World War A", when the whole planet is infected with deadly Accountancy that must be stopped, and "House of Expense Reports" where a corporation is larger on the inside than on the outside, once you run the numbers.

After all, say the mad geniuses of AccountPunk, written words are a reflection of spoken words that are a reflection of reality. Numbers are the pure expression of reality.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

About my Amazon Blog

I would love to update my Amazon blog, but I have no idea the arcane method - or the e-mail account - used to log in to the bugging thing.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Where Have All the Novellas Gone?

There used to be this thing that wasn't quite a novel, but wasn't quite a short story.

It was this marvelous thing, you could read in one sitting without feeling like you read only a tiny bit. You could get the depth of the world and the characters without being overwhelmed by the deep commitment of time involved in the story.

Where have all the novellas gone?

I look back on my love life, and most of the ones I remember fondly, though it ended, were like novellas. There was some commitment of time, a few months perhaps. We enjoyed what we had. We parted - for good or ill - on whatever terms came on the last page of our story.

I wandered Barnes and Noble this evening, searching for the novellas, finding none.

Must we marry every book? Must we have one night's dancing with the stories in magazines?

Where have all the novellas gone?

Wouldn't it be great...

Wouldn't it be great if we had a poetry collection a la Spoon River Collection set in Jeff VanderMeer's imagined city, Ambergris?

That would be fucking awesome.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oh. look an article written by someone who's never been poor...

I really should stop reading news...

So, at CNN, a news source I find maddening for the low quality of fundamental reporting on such a consistent basis whilst still being a ubiquitious entity in the field, I notice an article talking about the health care crisis and steps we ought to take to, among other things, improve the quality and reach of care into inner cities and rural areas.

I read this:

[quote]Instead, we should embrace eHealth initiatives that enable virtual clinic visits and online house calls, similar to services provided by TelaDoc, American Well, and HelloHealth. Offering such convenient and affordable channels to primary and preventive care is vital to relieving our overburdened emergency departments and public health system.[/quote]

I laugh. Clearly this is someone who has never in his life been impoverished, or genuinely gotten to know any poor people.

Yes, that would be nice. And, we'd all have internet connections. We'd all have web cameras, and working computers. And, the library wouldn't become the next ER waiting room while people wait for a free computer with their screaming child...

I do like the idea of expanding nurse clinics. Nurse Practitioners can do lots of things doctors can do, with only a Master's Degree. Even "Physician Assistants" could really be expanded into the role of gatekeepers of specialized care.

The first step, of course, is to remove the word "Assistant" and "Nurse" from the titles, because for some godawful reason high-achievers are turned off by any career that doesn't come with a powerful, masculine title.

Monday, May 11, 2009


You've heard of Cyberpunk, Steampunk, Clockpunk, Squidpunk, Manneristpunk... etc.

Well, let me let you in on this little secret:

The next big SF lit scene is going to be fluffy, cute, and full of awkward, mispelled dialog.


"It waz dark stormy night. Plz to have lazer eyez? *Dramatic Hamster Look* I iz hamstor, destroyer of worldz!..."

Cutest apocalypse, ever.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

An Excellent Interview with Michio Kaku...

Michio Kaku is a very smart man, with some prescient notions. My favorite is this one, because it is pretty much the motto of every artist and intellectual I know.

5. What is the first thing you would make if you had your own matter-fabricator?
A. Some people may ask for diamonds, gold bullions or truckloads of cash. However, I have never desired to be wealthy. Money does not interest me. I've always wanted something that a replicator can never create: ideas. Wealth is something that corrupts and dies with you. But ideas can live forever and change the world.[/quote]

(Thanks for pointing out the link SFSignal)

Friday, May 8, 2009

And... That's all.

I'll be dropping the books in the post in the AM.

I hope your friends like them as much as I like you!

(Because I love you all.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Let's say you've got a friend...

Let's assume for a minute that my readers have friends. Let's assume those friends read fantasy books.

Let's assume that I have about 15 books in the trunk of my car with which to do promotional stuff.

Let's say you wanted to give my book to one of your friends, without risking your precious copy.

Let's say you are active in a charity organization, and want something nice to donate to that charity, that they may auction for charity.

Let's just say I've got 15 books in my trunk, and the first 15 people who e-mail me with their address, their friend's name or their charitable cause in need of a donation... Let's just say I've got 15 copies.

(On average, I get about 18 page hits a day, so this should be a close race to the finish...)

ETA: Got some responses already. Thought I should mention: e-mail = sankgreall (q)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Old Maps

Today, I want the kind of crazy old uncle that had a country estate, with a huge, dusty attic. Up there, is a box full of maps from my crazy, old uncle's travels through India, Africa, and South America.

Weather-stained maps. Scribbled in ink about landmarks missing, dangerous tribes, man-eating tigers, and the sort of mysteries that can only exist in the big, empty spaces of a map, where the rivers are missing and the ground, still, has no known name.

Tomorrow, I suspect I will want a puppy.

The day after that? Likely I'll desire an electric guitar.

After that, I will long for my own Hobbes.

Every day is a new irrational desire.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thinking about GLBT stuff

So, there's this scene in my first novel, early on, when Zhan is living in an alley, and her "roommates" so to speak basically ignore her because they're drunk all the time, and gay. Which isn't to say this is the best example from my writing of GLBT characters.

(Wait until the very gay short stories "Death Mask and Eulogy" or "Samantha's Story" find homes... Soon.... Fingers crossed...)

I did that on purpose, late in the book, because the gay characters I wanted were edited out for purposes of structure/story. Prince Tsui's uncle was supposed to be gay. It was the best place for it, in that narrative.

When the story demanded the gay characters at the end had to be edited out, I frowned ferociously, because, as an author, I couldn't imagine creating a universe that was rich and detailed and true to humanity without at least some mention of the lifestyles supposedly "alternative". I found a place for them.

There will be main characters, side characters. There will be a place in my imaginary worlds for everyone. It may not always be a big place, but sometimes it will be.

So, yeah...

I'm going to go write some stuff about gay street performers in space.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

"Speaking of Butterflies" up in Brain Harvest

Flash story "Speaking of Butterflies" has been posted to Brain Harvest.


Flash Fiction is Fun and Hard.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Having Great Time!

It is frikkin' awesome to have an SF/F Con ten minutes away from your home.

OutlantaCon's gaming room has been packed with awesome games and awesome gamers.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Outlantacon Starts Today! (I'll be there tomorrow...)

See you folks in the morning. I have to do exciting things this evening like get my car inspection sticker, and try to catch up on some sleep. I'm frikkin' exhausted, 'kay?

Tomorrow, folks, tomorrow...

I'll be part of a two-pronged journalistic team, apparently, covering the event for Fantasy Magazine. Eugie Foster is the other prong.

One thing I'm mos' def' lookin' forward to is *finally* picking up a copy of Eugie's book in the dealer's room. It's been hovering around my book shopping list for a bit...