Present Writers: Pamela Dean

This is the latest in a recurring series! For more about the series, please read the original post on Marta Randall, or subsequent posts on Dorothy Heydt, Barbara Hambly, Jane Yolen, Suzy McKee Charnas, Sherwood Smith, and Nisi Shawl. This particular post should also bear the caveat that Pamela Dean is a dear personal friend of mine–although my love of her books predates that friendship by a decade or so. (And we’ve been friends for…gosh, I need to go lie down now, that is a long time.)

I do love her books. Unusually, I can say that I love every single one of her books. My favorite has shifted over the years, with each book taking a turn. Right now I think it’s The Dubious Hills: the contained domestic nature of it, the acutely observed human relationships–including small children as full humans but not the same full humans as teenagers and adults–the way that the worldbuilding is folded into every line of the language. The first time doubt enters into the casual conversation, every single time I reread it, I get shivers at how deftly this is done. Pamela’s work is not often praised for its structure, but The Dubious Hills is structured marvelously start to finish.

It is also quietly inventive. The things Pamela thinks of are not full of bells and whistles. They are in some ways the opposite of good elevator pitch material–because they are incredibly easy to make sound less ingenious and imaginative than they are. I don’t know of another book that is more deep and more thoughtful about the powers and limitations of the protections offered by someone’s love than Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary. The coming of age story I know that is truest to my own personal coming of age is Tam Lin. And I end up pressing them into people’s hands: just try it, I whisper. Just give it a try. Because “it’s a ballad retelling” and “it’s about the devil’s science experiment with a teenage girl” don’t really cover it, not in the slightest.

The long wait for a new Pamela book is almost over, and I am so very excited, because I know some things about Going North, and I know it’s going to be amazing. And we are so very lucky that she is present and doing these things, and I can’t wait to see what next.

ConFusion schedule

Hurrah, the schedule is available! Here’s your closer look at where you can find me:

An Author’s Guide to Newsletters. Friday, 2:00, Erie. Angus Watson (M), Lawrence M. Schoen, Marissa Lingen, Patrick S. Tomlinson, Natalie Luhrs. Keeping up with the shifting landscape of social media can be a tall order for busy writers. E-mail newsletters are a simple, effective way to let your most engaged fans know where to find you and your work. Our panelists have tips on how to set up and maintain an effective newsletter.

The Trouble With Susan (and Donna and…). Saturday, 10:00, Ontario. Marissa Lingen (M), Navah Wolfe, Karen Osborne, K. Lynne O’Connor, Cat Rambo. Many beloved genre stories don’t treat their female characters well. Our genre is full of stories that punish female heroes with debasement and tragedy and unhappy endings, either implying or stating outright that the heroines with whom we identify were too ambitious for their own good. How do we reconcile our love for these stories and characters with the poison pills that come with them? Can we keep loving stories that don’t love us back?

Reading. Saturday, 11:00, Rotunda. A. Merc Rustad, Marissa Lingen, Annalee Flower Horne. I will probably be reading from the story that will have just come out in BCS that week, but who knows. There is no way to find out but to be there. (Or to ask me nicely. That…is often a way actually.)

New Trends in Post-Collapse Fiction. Saturday, 5:00, Dearborn. Marissa Lingen (M), Andrea Johnson, Michael J. DeLuca, Petra Kuppers, Anaea Lay. The prospect of a world where the march of social and technological progress has drastically reversed course seems a lot closer than it used to be. What has changed in the way we imagine post-collapse futures? How do post-collapse futures of the past and present exist in conversation with the social and political worlds in which they were written?

Writing Humor in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Saturday, 4:00, Southfield. Steve Buchheit (M), Tim Boerger, Marissa Lingen, Clif Flynt, Joe R. Lansdale. The Princess Bride is a classic of fantasy humor. What makes humor in speculative fiction work? What “funny books” really aren’t? Let’s look at American vs. British humor, which topics have aged well (or not so well!), short form vs. novels, and all the other things that make speculative humor more than pies in the face for elves.

Murder, Meanness, and Other Solutions from Deep in the Edit Mines: How to Help Fix Each Other’s Work Without Taking Over. Saturday, 8:00, Allen Park. Marissa Lingen (M), Jennifer Mace, K.A. Doore. How can we best use creative teamwork in solo projects? When your writing friends are stuck, where’s the line between helpful and pushy? Is murder really the answer to every problem–and is it sometimes helpful to have a friend come through the door of your manuscript with a gun in hand when you don’t know what to do next? (Spoiler: yes.) (Spoiler: that friend is Kai.) (This is an Armada extravaganza and by my fifth programming item of the day I expect to be at least a little goofy. Which of course Macey and Kai and I would never be otherwise….)

This has been edited since I first posted it because of times changing. I have no idea whether they will change again. If there’s something you want to see particularly, please check the schedule when you get there to make sure it’s all where and when you thought.

Stories I’ve liked in 2018

The Glow-in-the-Dark Girls, by Senaa Ahmad (Strange Horizons)

The House on the Moon, by William Alexander (Uncanny)

The Oracle and the Sea, by Megan Arkenberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Psychopomps of Central London, by Julia August (The Dark)

The Velvet Castles of the Night, by Claire Eliza Bartlett (Daily Science Fiction)

She Still Loves the Dragon, by Elizabeth Bear (Uncanny)

Mountaineering, by Leah Bobet (Strange Horizons)

The Feather Wall, by Octavia Cade (Reckoning)

To This You Cling, With Jagged Fingernails, by Beth Cato (Fireside)

The Mansion of Endless Rooms, by L. Chan (Syntax and Salt)

By the Hand That Casts It, by Stephanie Charette (Shimmer)

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again, by Zen Cho (B&N SF&F)

Odontogenesis, by Nino Cipri (Fireside)

Octopus, by Martha Darr (Fiyah)

Court of Birth, Court of Strength, by Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Forest Spirits, by Michael J. DeLuca (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Bondye Bon, by Monique Desir (Fiyah)

Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse, by S. B. Divya (Uncanny)

Rapture, by Meg Elison (Shimmer)

Thunderstorm in Glasgow, July 25, 2013, by Amal El-Mohtar (Fireside)

Time, Like Water, by Amal El-Mohtar (The Rubin)

The Word of Flesh and Soul, by Ruthanna Emrys (Tor.com)

Carboundum > /Dev/Null, by Annalee Flower Horne (Fireside)

The Things That We Will Never Say, by Vanessa Fogg (Daily Science Fiction)

Stet, by Sarah Gailey (Fireside)

Furious Girls, by Juliana Goodman (Fiyah)

A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies, by Alix E. Harrow (Apex)

The Guitar Hero, by Maria Haskins (Kaleidotrope)

Ten Things I Didn’t Do, by Maria Haskins (Pseudopod)

Periling Hand, by Justin Howe (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

More Sea Than Tar, by Osahon Ize-Iyamu (Reckoning)

Five Functions of Your Bionosaur, by Rachael K. Jones (Robot Dinosaur Fiction)

Midnight Burritos With Zozrozir, by Rachael K. Jones (Daily Science Fiction)

When I Was Made, by Kathryn Kania (Robot Dinosaur Fiction)

Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying, by Alice Sola Kim (Tin House)

The Thing About Ghost Stories, by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny)

A House by the Sea, by P.H. Lee (Uncanny)

The Coin of Heart’s Desire, by Yoon Ha Lee (Lightspeed)

Robo-Liopleurodon!, by Darcie Little Badger (Robot Dinosaur Fiction)

A Complex Filament of Light, by S. Qiouyi Lu (Anathema)

The Foodie Federation’s Dinosaur Farm, by Luo Longxiang (translated by Andy Dudak) (Clarkesworld)

A Cradle of Vines, by Jennifer Mace (Cast of Wonders)

Object-Oriented, by Arkady Martine (Fireside)

Ava Paints the Horses, by Ville Meriläinen (Cast of Wonders)

More Tomorrow, by Premee Mohamed (Automata Review)

The Thing in the Walls Wants Your Small Change, by Virginia Mohlere (Luna Station Quarterly)

The Chariots, the Horsemen, by Stephanie Malia Morris (Apex)

Cerise Sky Memories, by Wendy Nikel (Nature)

Birch Daughter, by Sara Norja (Fireside)

Blessings, by Naomi Novik (Uncanny)

drop some amens, by Brandon O’Brien (Uncanny)

Don’t Pack Hope, by Emma Osborne (Nightmare)

Even to the Teeth, by Karen Osborne (Robot Dinosaur Fiction)

The Bodice, the Hem, the Woman, Death, by Karen Osborne (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

50 Ways to Leave Your Fairy Lover, by Aimee Picchi (Fireside)

I Frequently Hear Music in the Very Heart of Noise, by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny)

The Court Magician, by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)

Canada Girl Vs. The Thing Inside Pluto, by Lina Rather (Flash Fiction Online)

it me, ur smol, by A. Merc Rustad

The Sweetness of Honey and Rot, by A. Merc Rustad (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Tamales in Space, and Other Phrases for the Beginning Speaker, by Gabriela Santiago (Strange Horizons)

An Aria for the Bloodlords, by Hannah Strom-Martin (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Sonya Taaffe’s די ירושה (Uncanny)

Four-Point Affective Calibration, by Bogi Takács (Lightspeed)

Spatiotemporal Discontinuity, by Bogi Takács (Uncanny)

Yard Dog, by Tade Thompson (Fiyah)

My Name Is Cybernetic Model XR389F, and I Am Beautiful, by Monica Valentinelli (Uncanny)

Dear David, by Yael van der Wouden (Long Leaf Review)

Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie Sing the Stumps Down Good, by LaShawn M. Wanak (Fiyah)

Unplaces: An Atlas of Non-existence, by Izzy Wasserstein (Clarkesworld)

Small Things Pieced Together, by Ginger Weil (Robot Dinosaur Fiction)

Abigail Dreams of Weather, by Stu West (Uncanny)

Disconnect, by Fran Wilde (Uncanny)

Ruby, Singing, by Fran Wilde (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

The Sea Never Says It Loves You, by Fran Wilde (Uncanny)

In the End, It Always Turns Out the Same, by A.C. Wise (The Dark)

Fascism and Facsimiles, by John Wiswell (Fireside)

Last batch of short fiction enjoyed from 2018

I’m going to do a comprehensive post of all my short fiction recs from 2018 later this week, but meanwhile here’s the year-end stuff.

The Glow-in-the-Dark Girls, by Senaa Ahmad (Strange Horizons)

The Feather Wall, by Octavia Cade (Reckoning 3)

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again, by Zen Cho (B&N SF)

Forest Spirits, by Michael J. Deluca (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

The Word of Flesh and Soul, by Ruthanna Emrys (Tor.com)

Ten Things I Didn’t Do, by Maria Haskins (Pseudopod)

More Sea Than Tar, by Osahon Ize-Iyamu (Reckoning 3)

Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying, by Alice Sola Kim (Tin House)

The Thing About Ghost Stories, by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny)

Ava Paints the Horses, by Ville Meriläinen (Cast of Wonders

Birch Daughter, by Sara Norja (Fireside)

Don’t Pack Hope, by Emma Osborne (Nightmare)

An Aria for the Bloodlords, by Hannah Strom-Martin (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

My Name Is Cybernetic Model XR389F, and I Am Beautiful, by Monica Valentinelli (Uncanny)

2018 year in review (the writing version)

Years are too big a thing for me to fit in one post, so expect the post about other people’s work later this week. This is just the stuff I published and how I feel about it.

Because the reprint of one of the print stories went live today, you have an internet copy available for you to read, hurrah! That’s Left to Take the Lead, originally in Analog and now appearing in Clarkesworld. Other Analog stories in 2018 included “The Jagged Bones of Sea-Saw Town,” “Finding Their Footing,” and “Two Point Three Children.” Of those, “Left to Take the Lead” and “Finding Their Footing” take place in the same universe, which they also share with several previous stories.

“The Jagged Bones of Sea-Saw Town” was one of the stories inspired by my 2016 trip to Sweden. Another was Objects in the Nobel Museum, 2075, which appeared in Daily Science Fiction. The stories inspired by this summer’s travel are just starting to come clear in my head, so it’ll be interesting to see where those go in the next few years.

The next cluster of stories was in Nature. They published Say It With Mastodons, Seven Point Two, and My Favorite Sentience. Usually Nature-length stories are my way of working out science fictional ideas without letting myself get sidetracked, and that was true here, but “Say It With Mastodons” was also an example of my recent musings about collaborative partnership/collaborative romance, and I’m very proud of it.

Uncanny Magazine was also a good home for my writing this year. I did more essays this year than I have in ages, and I liked doing it. Developing that nonfiction voice is definitely on my radar for next year. Work in Uncanny included the essays Hard Enough, The Seduction of Numbers, the Measure of Progress, and Malfunctioning Space Stations. They also published two of my short stories, Lines of Growth, Lines of Passage and This Will Not Happen to You.

“This Will Not Happen to You” was in their special Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction issue, and it was the second of my stories in 2018 that dealt with disability more directly and more personally than I’ve ever done before. The first was Flow, which found its home in Fireside Magazine. I am so grateful to them for every detail of that, for understanding that story and wanting to give it an outlet and for its beautiful commissioned illustration and all of it. “Flow” was personal. It was terrifying. And it was so very much worth doing.

What else has been going on with my writing in 2018? Well, I finished a novel whose provisional title is The Broken Compass, although I have a whole page of alternate titles in my notebook. (I’m pretty sure that’s a good title, but it remains to be seen whether it’s a good title for this book.) My astute and energetic beta readers and agent will help me continue to revise this thing, and meanwhile I’ve made a start on a new novel project as well.

I finished nine short stories–this is why I don’t write year-end posts in November, because two of those were in the last week of the year. I’ve also got several stories waiting in the wings to come out in the early months of 2019, and I’m writing more essays, as I said I would.

To tell the truth, I’m not that great at looking back on things I’ve done with pride. I’m working on that. This year has helped. But I’m much, much better at looking forward to things I’m going to learn to do better, and this year has helped with that even more. Excelsior.