Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Invocation and Happenings

I have a moment lingering between drafts, and I'm about to push through to the end of what I hope should be the final on something. It's something. Maybe it will be something good. It's a boost to the body and mind to know that early reviews of WHEN WE WERE EXECUTIONERS are turning up, and it looks to be a well-received book. I particularly want to point out the SFSignal article, because it is not everyday my work is described in the same breath as Ann McCaffery. I was sad to hear she had passed on. As a young reader, I became hooked on Lloyd Alexander novels in the third or fourth grade, tearing through them and re-reading them all, because my path in life was changed forever when I encountered "The First Two Lives of Lukas Kasha" in about the 3rd grade. After Lloyd Alexander, in junior high school and high school, I was swallowed up by the dragons of Pern and Ann McCaffery. Many of the sci-fi/fantasy fans around me were devouring Heinlein and Philip K. Dick, which is cool, I liked them, too. But, I didn't like them as much as I did Ann McCaffery who seemed concerned less about dystopias as she was about people living their lives in impossible circumstances, colonizing worlds, and working together towards making humanity a better, grander, more beautiful species in conjunction with the forces of their worlds. I preferred Ann McCaffery. After I finished reading all I could find by Ann McCaffery, I moved on to Stephen King, and from there, I grew up beyond the need to obsess so much in just one imagination, when I could obsess about dozens of imaginations, all at once. I wish she was still around to know that, that she was a part of this career I seem to have, and an important part, and that her worked fundamentally mattered, because it inspired people.

Anyway, I'm procrastinating when I need to get back to work work work work work.

The Erudite Ogre writes about my work in the same breath as Ann McCaffery:

The more improbable this is, the more intensely we must imagine, the more creatively we must invoke, the more audaciously we must believe the lie. All fiction is a lie at the start, and what makes it true is what we can produce from it. This occurred to me while reading J. M. McDermott's forthcoming book When We Were Executioners, with its fantastical secondary-world that is made alive by the finely-grained details and the palpably convincing characters. It is, on one level, a simple world, of kings and criminals, of sadness and malice. The worldbuilding is neither complex nor epic, and it is certainly not a place to which one might wish to escape. But the world comes viscerally alive in the reading, and its bleakness and desperation are strongly mirrored in the shabby edges and sticky innards of the world's workings. Despite the darkness and desperation that suffuse the novel, it comes alive because what enters the reader's mind are not baroque details of social structure or the coolness of a complex magic system, but people trying to survive, to do their duty, in the hustle and muck of everyday life.

Publisher's Weekly Reviews WHEN WE WERE EXECUTIONERS:

The second Dogsland novel picks up where Never Knew Another left off, with a wolfskin-wearing priest and priestess of Erin reconstructing the last days of Jona, Lord Joni, a half-demon corporal of the King’s Men, from residual dreams that imbue his found skull. Hoping to track down and terminate two similarly demon-tainted Dogslanders of Jona’s acquaintance—Rachel Nolander, his lover, and Salvatore Fidelio, his detested enemy—the priestly pair follow Jona’s memories through adventures that include his clashes with drug smugglers and his assassination of suitors to the daughter of a powerful lord, whereby Jona hopes to manipulate the succession. McDermott make Jona a compelling antihero, by turns ruthless and compassionate. The author’s real achievement, though, is his vivid evocation of Dogsland, a quasi-medieval realm whose squalor, depravity, and brutality give credible context for the best and worst behaviors, as well as the novel’s subtly fantastic goings-on. Agent: Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Feb.)

Now, in other news entirely, it is Monday, and another story from Women and Monsters is going live to the dedicated website: This one is about Cerynitis:
The 12 Labors of Hercules include numerous instances of impossible animals. For instance, the Cerynean Hind was sacred to Artemis, and could outrun arrows and the spring of traps. Hercules had to present it, still alive, to his taskmaster.

Animals like me do not speak, but if we could, we would tell you about my brother, the legendary boar and how he plagued the king of the mountains. My brother the boar ravaged ground, tearing up crops and eating it, and spears bounced from his back and men died at his tusks and walls tumbled before his fury. A man was sent after him in the skin of a lion. The two, brother and man, wrestled until winter came, and snow fell and all the mountains of the world were red with both of their blood and struggling.

To him, the man in the skin of a lion, he was in a battle with a terrible monster, determined to drag it back to a menagerie of wild beasts and mysterious things from the deep places of the world.

To read the rest of this story, head on over to the Nook, Kindle, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. and pick up a copy of the full collection for just 6.99!

Or, go to the website, and wait for every Monday, as the stories slowly seep out into the internet.

I am writing a book, at the moment, that could be described as steampunk, though I don't feel the term has much meaning beyond mere art direction and costume design. But, there it is. And I am writing it. And I am going back to it, now. Be at peace, intertubes.

Oh, one more thing. INVOCATION is the name of a craft beer local to me, here in Decatur, GA, from WILD HEAVEN brewery. It is delicious, roasty
and toasty, Belgian-style ale and a perfect beverage for a dreary December evening. If you have a chance, check out their stuff. It's very nice after a long day of pulling words out of my head.

Update to Add: Hey, THE FATHOMLESS ABYSS got it's first review at!
I'm the type of reader who typically goes for the safe bet... ie top sellers printed by major publishing houses, with reems of reviews to peruse before making a purchase. As a reader of Athan's blog however, I knew the guy had the know how to take on something like this and not disappoint.

Tales From The Fathomless Abyss does not disappoint.

This is a professional, polished collection of very original and very different short stories. I've read other fantasy and sci-fi short story collections, and TFTFA is every bit as good as any of them. There's a very seasoned editor at the helm here, and it shows.

With any collection, there are bound to be some stories that one likes better than others. Of the six here, three I thought were quite good, and three were decent-but-not-great. The setting (the Fathomless Abyss) is interesting for various shorts, although I wonder how it'll do in a full-length novel (there are several novels based on this setting on the way, so I hear). I guess time will tell.

Overall, 4 stars. It's an entertaining read, and well worth the $5 it costs.

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