Archive for November, 2007

Q&A with GRRM posted some answers to fan questions from George R. R. Martin:

Why do you find it so easy to kill off your main characters? —Brian H.

It’s really irritating when you open a book, and 10 pages into it you know that the hero you met on page one or two is gonna come through unscathed, because he’s the hero. This is completely unreal, and I don’t like it. If I was a soldier going to war, I’d be pretty scared the night before a battle. It’s a scary thing. And I want my readers to feel that fear as they turn the page. I want them to feel that no one is safe — that if my character is surrounded by three people with swords, he’s in serious trouble, because he’s only one guy against three. It’s a great way to show that you’re not writing this cartoon adventure where the hero is going to slay 20 men at once with his brilliant swordsmanship and go through unscathed while making wisecracks all the way.

Strangely enough, I discovered this link in the "related pages" sidebar of my gmail account. Hey, those things are actually good for something! Who knew?

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Naked Planet


On Friday of last week, I attended my very first burlesque show.  As you can see from the flyer to the left, it was called "Naked Planet," and as you might guess was SF-themed. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was quite a lot of fun.

The show was setup as a Star Trek parody, with the crew of the humorously named spaceship whose actual name I cannot remember, travels to the titular Naked Planet to interact and make peace with its natives. The first problem they ran into was communication: the first emissary from the planet they encountered seemed to only be able to communicate via a series of complicated body movements which required her rather shapely (and tasseled) breasts to move in a circular motion. Fortunately, one of the female crew was up to the task of trying to speak the language.

There were more humorous bits like that, as well as parodies of other SF franchises, including a Flash Gordon number to Queen’s Flash–ahhh! theme, which involved some actual flashing, and a Doctor Who skit I didn’t get since I don’t know much about the good doctor or his exploits. Oh, and there was a Darth Vader bit too. Half-naked woman wearing a Darth Vader helmet–what’s not to like about that?

But by far the most impressive performance of the night was by a woman who was fully-clothed (albeit in a skin-tight leotard): Miss Saturn. She did this amazing routine involving numerous hula-hoops. She’d get two going around the waist, have one in each hand, have them all going around in different directions. Without missing a beat, she’d kick more hoops up from the floor and work them up her legs until they’re around her torso as well. She’d stab her hands in and out of the swirling rings like a magician practicing sleight of hand. And all of this is done with the most placid look on her face–as if this were all child’s play.

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The Mill ‘n Swill

Last night, I attended the annual SFWA Authors & Editors Reception (known colloquially as the "Mill ‘n Swill"), which was held, as it has been for the last several years, at the Society of Illustrators in Manhattan. Met with a bunch of folks for dinner beforehand, at a great Indian restaurant called Agra, which is located conveniently a block or so away from the reception’s venue. At dinner were some of the usual suspects, such as Doug Cohen, Andrea Kail, Chris Cevasco, Carol Pinchefsky, as well some new folks and a guest-appearance by Tor editor David Hartwell.

One of the new folks I met was Greg Cox, who turns out to be Richard Matheson’s editor; he commented that due to the upcoming film based on Matheson’s I Am Legend, the book will finally be hitting the bestseller list, after only 50 or so years of being in print. This was a funny coincidence, as I was invited just this week to participate in a segment for NPR about I Am Legend, its film adaptations, and its relevance to post-apocalyptic fiction in general. (That’s where I come in; as an expert on post-apocalyptic fiction.) I’ll post more about that when I know more.

We showed up at the Society of Illustrators at about 8, an hour or so after the event started only to discover that there was no coat-check this year, and all of the self-serve coat racks appeared to be full. It being pretty fucking cold outside, I was well-layered, and would have liked to dispose of my trench coat, but it wasn’t all bad; carrying it around did afford me the opportunity to be chivalrous later on when I offered it to a chilly Jae Brim. (It was chilly because the top floor of the venue opens up onto a rooftop balcony, and many of us had gone there to escape the oppressive heat of the hundreds of bodies inside.)

Ran into James Cambias, one of the contributors to the The Pirate Issue (and a regular F&SF author), and chatted with him and his wife for a while. Actually, just prior to running into him, Diane Turnshek–director of the Alpha Writing Workshop for Young Writers–had just introduced me to three of her Alpha graduates and had me explaining the ever-so-fascinating tiers of the JJA rejection system. I didn’t manage to finish and ended up chatting with Jim instead. I did apologize when I found them later, but if you three are reading this, I just wanted to say again–sorry!

Saw a bunch of other people, of course, chatted, ate pretzels, etc. Fun, but nothing to write home about (then again, I just blogged about it, so maybe it’s worth writing home about after all). It’s probably more of a cool and/or important function if you don’t know a lot of people in the field and don’t live in the New York area or don’t go to conventions, but for a con-regular, tri-stater like me, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

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Audiobooks Received 11/20/07

0739357123Selections from Dreamsongs 1
Author: George R.R. Martin, Narrator: Various

Book Description: Gathered in Volume I are the very best of George R. R. Martin’s early works, including never-before-published fan pieces, his Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards—winning stories–plus the original novella The Ice Dragon, from which Martin’s New York Times bestselling children’s book of the same title originated. A dazzling array that features extensive author commentary, Dreamsongs, Volume I, is the perfect collection for both Martin devotees and a new generation of fans.

Contents: Introduction; A Four-Color Fanboy; Only Kids Are Afraid Of The Dark; The Fortress; And Death His Legacy; The Filthy Pro; The Hero; The Exit To San Breta; The Second Kind Of Loneliness; With Morning Comes Mistfall; The Light Of Distant Stars; A Song For Lya; This Tower Of Ashes; And Seven Times Never Kill A Man; The Stone City; Bitterblooms; The Way Of Cross And Dragon.


073935714XSelections from Dreamsongs 2
Author: George R.R. Martin, Narrator: Various

Book Description: Included in Volume II are acclaimed stories such as "Sandkings," which won both the Nebula and Hugo awards, and the Bram Stoker Award-winning  "The Pear-Shaped Man."

Contents: The Heirs Of Turtle Castle; The Lonely Songs Of Laren Dorr; In The Lost Lands; Hybrids & Horrors; Meathouse Man; Remembering Melody; Sandkings; Nightflyers; The Monkey Treatment; The Pear-Shaped Man; A Taste Of Tuf; A Beast For Norn; Guardians


0739357166Selections from Dreamsongs 3
Author: George R.R. Martin, Narrator: Various

Book Description: Included in Volume III are acclaimed stories such as the World Fantasy Award winner “The Skin Trade” as well as the first novella in the Ice and Fire universe, “The Hedge Knight,” plus two never-before-published screenplays.

Contents: The Siren Song Of Hollywood; Doing The Wild Card Shuffle; Shell Games; From The Journal Of Xavier Desmond; The Heart in Conflict; Under Siege; The Skin Trade; Unsound Variations; The Glass Flower; The Hedge Knight; Portraits Of His Children


0739342754Blade Runner
Author: Philip K. Dick, Narrator: Scott Brick

Book Description: It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill. Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there, lurked several rogue androids. Deckard’s assignmet–find them and then…"retire" them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn’t want to be found!

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Books Received 11/20/07

0316018929Debatable Space
Author: Philip Palmer

Book Description: Flanagan (who, for want of a better word, is a pirate) has a plan. The plan, at first, seems simple. Kidnap the Cheo’s daughter, demand a vast ransom for her safe return, sit back and wait. The Cheo is the ruler of the universe known to mankind. Only, Lena isn’t Cheo’s daughter and the plan is far from simple. Fortunately, Flanagan has had a lifetime to work it out. Unfortunately, he has far less time to execute it. DEBATABLE SPACE is a space opera of extraordinary imagination, and a brilliantly plotted novel of revenge.


1591025966The Metatemporal Detective
Author: Michael Moorcock

Book Description: Seaton Begg and his constant companion, pathologist Dr "Taffy" Sinclair, both head the secret British Home Office section of the Metatemporal Investigation Department–an organization whose function is understood only by the most high-ranking government people around the world–and a number of powerful criminals.

Begg’s cases cover a multitude of crimes in dozens of alternate worlds, generally where transport is run by electricity, where the internal combustion engine is unknown, and where giant airships are the chief form of international carrier. He investigates the murder of English Prime Minister "Lady Ratchet," the kidnaping of the king of a country taken over by a totalitarian regime, and the death of Geli Raubel, Adolf Hitler’s mistress. Other adventures take him to a wild west where "the Masked Buckaroo" is tracking down a mysterious red-eyed Apache known as the White Wolf; to 1960s’ Chicago where a girl has been killed in a sordid disco; and to an independent state of Texas controlled by neocon Christians with oily (and bloody) hands. He visits Paris, where he links up with his French colleagues of the Sûreté du Temps Perdu. In several cases the fanatical Adolf Hitler is his opponent, but his arch-enemy is the mysterious black sword wielding aristocrat known as Zenith the Albino, a drug-dependent, charismatic exile from a distant realm he once ruled.

In each story the Metatemporal Detectives’ cases take them to worlds at once like and unlike our own, sometimes at odds with and sometimes in league with the beautiful adventuresses Mrs. Una Persson or Lady Rosie von Bek. At last Begg and Sinclair come face to face with their nemesis on the moonbeam roads which cross between the universes, where the great Eternal Balance itself is threatened with destruction and from which only the luckiest and most daring of metatemporal adventurers will return.

These fast-paced mysteries pay homage to Moorcock’s many literary enthusiasms for authors as diverse as Clarence E. Mulford, Dashiell Hammett, Georges Simenon, and his boyhood hero, Sexton Blake.


Author: Steven Brust

Book Description: In which Vlad Taltos confronts the Left Hand of the Jhereg…and discovers the game has more players than he thought

Vlad Taltos, short-statured, short-lived human in an Empire of tall, long-lived Dragaerans, has always had to keep his wits about him. Long ago, he made a place for himself as a captain of the Jhereg, the noble house that runs the rackets in the great imperial city of Adrilankha. But love, revolution, betrayal, and revenge ensued, and for years now Vlad has been a man on the run, struggling to stay a step ahead of the Jhereg who would kill him without hesitation.
Now Vlad’s back in Adrilankha. The rackets he used to run are now under the control of the mysterious “Left Hand of the Jhereg”—a secretive cabal of women who report to no man. His ex-wife needs his help. His old enemies aren’t sure whether they want to kill him, or talk to him and then kill him. A goddess may be playing tricks with his memory. And the Great Weapon he’s carrying seems to have plans of its own…
Picking up directly where Issola left off, Dzur gives us Vlad Taltos at his best—swashbuckling storytelling with a wry and gritty edge.


0809572680The Surgeon’s Tale
Author: Cat Rambo, Jeff VanderMeer

Book Description: In a world where magic is fading and science begun to ascend, a young surgeon in medical school experiences an obsession so forbidden that its realization will change him forever. "She looked as if she were asleep, still with that slight smile, floating on the thick sargassum, glowing from the emerald tincture that would keep the small crabs and other scavengers from her. She looked otherworldly and beautiful." Sometimes life is not enough. Also including five more stories of dark wonder from Rambo and VanderMeer, from "The Dead Girl’s Wedding March" to "The Farmer’s Cat." Enter a world of rat suitors, severed arms, and Fungi Et Fruits de Mer, served up with prose both appetizing and uncanny. Dark fantasy has never been quite so decadent . . .


0316003395Evil for Evil
Author: K. J. Parker

Book Description: Civitas Vadanis is in trouble. The Mezentines have declared war; and the Mezentines are very focused on their goals when it comes to killing. Duke Valens, of Civitas Vadanis, has a dilemma. He knows that his city cannot withstand the invading army; yet its walls are his only defence against the Mezentines. Perhaps the only way to save his people is to flee, but that will not be easy either. Ziani Vaatzes, an engineer exiled by the Mezentines for his abominable creations, has already proven that he can defend a city. But Ziani Vaatzes has his own concerns, and the fate of Civitas Vadanis may not be one of them.


1416915273The Time Thief
Author: Linda Buckley-Archer

Book Description: What happens when a seventeenth-century bad guy has twenty-first-century technology?

An accident with an antigravity machine catapulted Peter Schock and Kate Dyer back to 1763. A bungled rescue attempt leaves Peter stranded in the eighteenth century while a terrifying villain, the Tar Man, takes his place and explodes onto twenty-first-century London. Concerned about the potentially catastrophic effects of time travel, the NASA scientists responsible for the situation question whether it is right to rescue Peter. Kate decides to take matters into her own hands, but things don’t go as planned. Soon the physical effects of time travel begin to have a disturbing effect on her. Meanwhile, in our century, the Tar Man wreaks havoc in a city whose police force is powerless to stop him.Set against a backdrop of contemporary London and revolutionary France, The Time Thief is the sequel to the acclaimed The Time Travelers.

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Photographic Proof of Pirates

Justine Graykin, author of “The Perfect Hook” from the Shimmer blood-thirsty pirate issue, took some photos at the pirate party at World Fantasy earlier this month.

Here’s me and the pirate wench Shimmer kindly provided for me:


Take note of the hook. Here’s me again with the hook:


Here’s Justine herself, reading “The Perfect Hook” at the WFC pirate reading:


And last but not least, here are everyday Shimmer pirates Beth Wodzinski (Captain/Publisher) and Mary Robinette Kowal (First Mate/Art Director):


If you weren’t there, you missed out! But you can still enjoy much of the fun by BUYING A COPY OF THE PIRATE ISSUE. You know you want to.

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Second Life

Any Second Life aficionados out there who can help out a n00b?

I read that there’s a post-apocalyptic-themed community in Second Life called The Wastelands, and I’ve heard about authors doing in-game appearances to promote books, etc., so I thought I should look into setting up something like that for Wastelands. Problem is, I’ve never played Second Life, and I don’t really have time to figure it all out from scratch.

A little help?

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