Worthy causes: arts version

Because of all the Langston Hughes posts I made around the RNC, one of my friends sent me this information about a fundraiser to preserve Langston Hughes’s brownstone for an arts collective. Interesting stuff, and I thought some of you  might want to know too.

It reminded me that some of you don’t know we’re trying to get an arts center and various other arts events/programming here in the south suburbs of Minneapolis, through the group Art Works Eagan. They’re still working on the building plan, but in the meantime they’re holding events like stilting demonstrations at the farmer’s market and who knows what kind of installation in early September–it will be a surprise to me, but they have the artist lined up. They’re always looking for volunteers and support.

Three is a good number, right? So while you’ve probably seen it, I’ll put this here: Pamela Dean is starting a Patreon to help her keep the lights on and the cats fed and vacuumed while she writes more of the things we’ve loved from her over the years. I’ve read parts of the books she’s getting into production with this project, and I want them. So all the help we can give will be useful.

Interview with Max Gladstone: the Reinterviewenating

I interviewed Max last summer when he wrote a book for my birthday, and look! he’s been kind enough to do it again! So here’s another interview with everyone’s favorite Max Gladstone, better than all the other Max Gladstones on your block.

1. Are you going to keep writing books for my birthday? I think this is a pretty good tradition.
Let’s make it a tradition!  We can have cake and ice cream, maybe a sort of ritual where we dance around and buy books and give them to people!  Honestly, it wouldn’t be that different from my current, less formal, but none the less annual ritual of publishing books, then sprinting around and waving my hands over my head saying, “hey, everybody! I think this is really cool!”
2. Is every story about gods about families?
Every story about gods is a story about communities—we’re born into some families and we choose others.  Whatever else gods are, they’re at least things people do.  We tend to confuse faith with propositional belief, as if the important element of, say, a Roman Republican’s religious life was her belief that these specific gods had these specific histories.  For one thing, she had lots of blatantly contradictory stories to choose between!  But more important than those mythical propositions, I think, or at the very least *as* important, were the fears and desires she wanted to understand and control, which expressed themselves in myth and ritual she learned, or invented.  We all do this.  We build ourselves from rituals our parents and friends teach us.  We refine those rituals (which are stories, after all) as we pass them on.  That’s the work of a family.
3. Nightmare matrices: I think that every former physicist or physics major hears this phrase and goes OH YES. Did that spring into your head fully formed, and do you want to say more about the concept? And is there any more of my undergraduate trauma you’re planning to mine?
Hah! I’d have to engage in further research on your undergraduate trauma specifically, but I spend a lot of time mining *my* undergraduate trauma, and the undergraduate trauma of my friends, for story ideas.  That concept did spring into my mind full-formed, though it’s part of this long process of trying to work through how information technology works in the Craft Sequence.  We’re basically playing around with the computational power of shared dreams (and shared nightmares).  I’m really looking forward to getting into it much earlier.
4. So far you have not repeated any numbers. Do you have plans to do any books that are happening at roughly the same time but in different places/with different characters?
I am really interested in that!  A possibility for later in the series.  I’m torn at the moment—on the one hand I really want to expand the world, but on the other hand I’m trying to push into the future!
5. Let’s talk about your non-Craft projects. Do you have a different work process for serial and non-serial work, or are you writing your serialized things all at once and just releasing them serially?
I do have a different process for serial fiction!  Though the different process mostly traces back to the fact that, with my Serial Box work, I’m writing alongside many other writers at one time.  We write sets of episodes in parallel, and then we compare notes.  It’s a convoluted dance, but I love seeing how other writers run with the story material—even after we’ve all shared outlines, the writers’ execution differs in wild and really cool ways.
6. You’ve had a few more short pieces out recently. Are you planning to do more, or is this not a plan/lack of plan thing but something that just happens in 1-7K word chunks?
I naturally write longer pieces, but recently I’ve done more short fiction—in part because my writing schedule is tight!  If I have a burning idea that *can* be a short story, it’s much easier and more satisfying to get in and out in two or three thousand words than to spend nine months two years from now hammering it into shape.
(Thanks, Max!)

Interview with Ada Palmer

Today I am hosting an interview with Ada Palmer, the latest stop on her blog tour for her new book Too Like the Lightning. I’ve attempted to avoid spoilers in both interview questions and review, although both refer to the contents; you can read my thoughts on the book here.

1) Are you in some sense a dual-vocateur, or is only one of writing and history your vocation? or are they the same vocation? or is something else “how you introduce yourself at parties” (cooking, singing, art appreciation)?

I introduce myself as both.  I’ve been delighted to have a lot of readers respond enthusiastically to voker/vocateur, and I do think it’s something we see every day but don’t have a good name for, the difference between someone who works and then stops versus someone for whom work is an all-hours passion.  We have “day job” but that implies that it’s somehow not important, not the real you, whereas I have friends who love their jobs and are great at them but are still happy that the job ends when they clock out.  I like how voker/vocateur make clear that both kinds of relationship to one’s work are good and worthy of respect.  For myself, history and writing are very much intertwined sets of one vocation, born mostly out of reading figures from the past.  I talk in my author’s note at the end about what I call the Great Conversation, how authors in past eras responded to each other.  It’s a conversation across time, years and decades of human labor poured into writing works for later generations to receive, in the pure faith that there will be yet more scholars in the future to read, and to respond.  They worked so hard to pass things forward, copying them by hand as centuries made the papyrus crumble, and commenting and responding, continuing the conversation life by life.  Petrarch did it most overtly.  He wrote letters to Seneca and Cicero in response to reading their letters even though they had been dead a thousand years.  And he also wrote a letter to Posterity, just the same way, addressed to the later scholars for whom he salvaged Cicero and Seneca, expecting us to pass it forward too.  I want to read that, to discuss it, study it, share it with others, that’s the heart my scholarship, what I do as a historian and as a history professor.  But I also want to do more.  Petrarch didn’t want us to just measure and discuss him and his peers like so many specimens in a cabinet.  He wanted us to reply.  I don’t know how anyone can read Petrarch’s letters to us, and Voltaire’s, and Cicero’s, and not want to reply.  To pass it forward.  To pay it forward, all those years they gave us, trusting us, to give some years back, to them and to Posterity.  So I replied.  That’s the fiction.  And, like them, I trust there will be more replies to come.

2) You spend much of your time teaching people who are “blessed with newness,” though less blessed than Bridger. How do you think your experience as a professor has changed how you write sensayers, caregivers, and others who interact with the young?

Interesting question.  I think that transitioning from being taught to teaching has made me think a lot about what it was like being the student, doing a lot of analysis of points when I had good experiences with teachers, or bad ones, and trying to think from the other end what the big differences are.  I think a lot of it has to do with whether the person in the teacher position thinks of the students as peers/people equivalent to the teacher, or whether the teacher categorizes students as other/separate.  My worst student experiences tended to be situations where the teacher wouldn’t talk to us about why we were learning, what the bigger purpose was, and didn’t want to follow up probing questions.  Situations where we were clearly units to be given information/instruction like so many potted plans to be given water.  The best experiences were ones where teachers were eager to discuss the deeper purposes behind what we were learning, would step up at the outset to explain the why and what for, and the origins of things.  I felt that a lot of the difference came from empathy, whether teachers thought of students as coequal human beings with a natural right to understand why, and to ask questions, like anyone in a normal conversation.  When I write caregiver or teacher characters I think a lot about whether the caregiver/teacher thinks of interlocutors/students as equals, or as subjects to be protected/educated/guided by someone who knows better.  Carlyle very much empathizes and everyone else as coequal participants in exploring something Carlyle just happens to have explored more than most.  Other caregivers that we see have that to a lesser degree, or no degree.  Set-sets bring out this tension a lot, since their seeming inhumanity makes it extra easy for people to see them as other/not self.  The tension between good and bad teachers/caregivers, and the consequence of that difference for the world, will continue to grow over the four books.

3) Bash’es [deliberately formed quasi-family-type living groups] are of primary importance in this book, in this culture, but all the bash’es we see in serious detail are comparatively stable–that is, already formed. How tempted were you to do a side plot in bash’ formation? Can we hope for one in future books?

Yes, in fact I’m working at this very moment on a chapter which treats that quite a bit. The first part of this story focuses on the mature stages of large political plans and manipulations, and on the consequences of hereditary bash’es as opposed to new-formed bash’es.  So it didn’t make sense for a young college-age new bash’ to be central to that action.  I was also interested in focusing primarily on more mature characters, since there is already so much great genre fiction about young adults and coming-of-age, so it felt to me like I had more new things to contribute to a world of adults.  But in the later books, as we see the consequences of these “days of transformation” Mycroft is describing, then there will be some attention to new bash’es, and in particular to how challenging and frightening it is to be in the midst of trying to form a new bash’ when all this occurs.

4) The Hives carefully all have strengths and appeal and weaknesses/downsides. Do you try to guess which Hive your friends would choose? Do you mostly guess right? Or do they let you pick for them?

The question is usually “What Hive would you be if you weren’t a Utopian?”  Most of my friends are just as deep into science fiction & fantasy as I am, so Utopia is almost everyone’s first choice.  But it’s fun asking people which other Hive they would pick. Sometimes people have an instant answer that feels exactly right, and you think “Yes, of course he’d be a Brillist,” but sometimes people are torn and we have a great discussion, and talk about the merits and appeals of each.  It’s often especially interesting for noticing differences between friends, for example conversations where one friend finds the European and Mitsubishi Hives appealing because ancestry and nation of origin are important to that friend, and ethnicity/nationalism are important parts of those two Hives, but another friend in the same conversation may be baffled and find those two Hives totally unappealing.  In the course of the conversation we discover how unimportant ancestry/nation is to that friend in contrast with the other.  I think that many fictional stories sort people into groups by personality, or by the kinds of jobs people want to do, but fewer do it by political philosophy as Hives do, since they relate to fundamental ideas of how justice should work, or what the source of power is.  I’ve never thought of trying to guess or assign Hives to others, though, I think of it as such a personal thing, it would be an invasion of privacy to impose it on someone.  Some of my friends want to make an online quiz, which I think could be a lot of fun.  And I’ve found it interesting that, while almost all my friends say “Utopia first!” I’ve had several friends be deeply torn between Utopia and Cousins, and feel they would have to reluctantly pick Cousins over Utopians.  I think that the Cousins pull very differently from most of the Hives, based more on personality than philosophy in some senses, and it’s interesting to see the Cousins be the one that makes even SF fans torn.  I look forward to seeing how those who identify with Cousins will respond to the later books, especially the fourth.

5) The Terra Ignota series is substantial–several volumes coming from Tor. Do you have plans to do any shorter work, either in other universes or in other times/places in this universe? Or is Terra Ignota taking up all your fictional time and energy for the moment?

I find short fiction extremely challenging, it’s never flowed well for me, even though I love reading short fiction, especially short mysteries and ghost stories. I read a lot more short fiction than novels, but writing is very difficult (for which reason I’m a huge admirer of how you pour out so much incredible short fiction! [hey, thanks!–ed.]) I have one standalone short story that I’ve been trying to finish for… an embarrassing number of years, and do hope to finish someday.  I have one idea for a short story in the world of Terra Ignota, and I have the scene all picked out, but the structure of how to make it stand alone has never come.  So it’s just the novels for now, unless I ever finally conquer that short story.  But Terra Ignota isn’t taking up all my fictional energy right now, a lot of my energy is going into planning for the next couple of novel series I intend to start writing when Terra Ignota is finished.  I spent five years world building Terra Ignota before I sat down to outline and then write it, so I have several other series that are in that long preparatory stage, including two complete worlds that are just about ready to be outlined and written, and a couple other worlds that need a few more years of work to fill in all the gaps.

Ada Palmer is a professor in the history department of the University of Chicago, specializing in Renaissance history and the history of ideas. Her first nonfiction book, Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance, was published in 2014 by Harvard University Press. She is also a composer of folk and Renaissance-tinged a capella music, most of which she performs with the group Sassafrass. Her personal site is at adapalmer.com, and she writes about history for a popular audience at exurbe.com and about SF and fantasy-related matters at Tor.com.

9780765378002_FC Ada Palmer

 

 

art talks to each other about rocs and tea

Something delightful has happened.

This won’t make any sense unless you have read the story I posted as a Christmas present for you all–you still can read it, How to Wrap a Roc’s Egg, go ahead. But. My friend Mary has gone and written a poem to answer part of it. And she said I could post it for you to enjoy, so when you’ve finished the story, here is the poem.

Bosko the Bold’s Last Exploit

by Mary Alexandra Agner

I do miss tea, you know.
Iced especially, would be lovely
but the dreams of chill and clink
melt quickly under equator sun,
and canon fire lacks, as accompaniment.
I write with some regret, Anna—
not for the rocs themselves,
or breaking our agreement,
nor thirty years of high sea hijinks
helping myself to gold and spice,
yardarms and yeomen,
what books the babies let me read
between their dives of great destruction.
Nor all the stars that you will never see in Sweden.
I regret I took away your dream
even while you gave me one
I didn’t know held all my happiness.
I hope you got your tea, acres of plants
turning that northern light to tart
and complex on the taster’s tongue.
I hope this letter finds its way to you.
My notoriety is built on flame and claw
and once my last breath slips away
so will the rocs.
What fame I leave may be insufficient postage.

(Isn’t that lovely? I couldn’t be more pleased, both with the thing itself and with the meta-thing of it.)

Back from Starry Coast

So last week I spent a week in a beach house in Charleston doing the Starry Coast writers’ workshop with ten strangers. No longer strangers after a week together! I had very little idea what to expect, other than the immediate practicalities, but I went in with a great deal of hope, a bunch of chocolate to share, and a theory that I could deal with almost anything for a limited time.

It. Was. Great.

I am used to coming out of critiquing sessions and having to think a long time about what I want to do with the ideas I got there. While the ideas here were diverse and sometimes contradictory (as they should be!), I got so much clarity of path that I’ve been doing the revisions right away before my local writers’ group meeting, rather than waiting to triangulate from it. I really loved how much variety in project there was, and how the structure of the workshop let us line up with the manuscripts we had the most to say to in the in-depth critiques. I came out of it so energized and ready to do this project and also the next, completely unrelated one. I am also prepared to boost the other projects when they’re done and ready for some cheerleading, because there is some serious stuff going on there. You’ve seen the post-workshop smugs of, “I got to read that first!” before, and I’m sure you’ll see them again from me. (Because I did.)

When I’ve read other people talking about this sort of workshop setting in the past, they have burbled about sitting out on the porch looking at the ocean to critique their novels, and I have gone, yeah, okay, ocean, porch, whatever. But! We sat out on the porch looking at the ocean to critique our novels and it was so great! I think it was Desirina who pointed out that a certain amount of relaxation helps, and that was definitely the case here. For one of the crits it was raining gently. There were dolphins in the sea going by.

And the sea. Oh my dears.

So…the vertigo, as I told you before I left, continued terrible. But I wanted, oh, how I wanted, to go in the Atlantic anyway. In addition to having no sense of balance whatsoever, I have gas permeable contacts–you know, the little tiny ones that wash easily out of one’s eyes–and no sport goggles or even sport band for my glasses. So: no sense of balance, no ability to navigate the beach with my cane or get into the water safely, no ability to tell up from down once in the water, very limited vision.

I packed my swimsuit anyway. I knew I couldn’t do it by myself. I thought, well, if there isn’t a time when the weather is good, if there isn’t a way the beach is situated so I can do it with help…most importantly, if I don’t decide that I can trust anybody to help me…we’ll just see what happens. No assumptions.

You can see what’s coming. Everyone there, everyone, everyone was beyond wonderful about my vertigo. Seriously. All week long. I’m choking up writing this, because I literally cannot imagine that they could have been better if it had been planned around me, which of course it wasn’t. Nobody was sitting around fussing, that would have been far worse. People went off and did things without me that I couldn’t do all the time, and that was great, that was how it should be, because if they were hovering going, “Now…no one can do anything if Marissa can’t do it too!” that would have been awful. But. I cannot think of one single person who did not very casually help me out, offer assistance when it was needed, take a moment to seamlessly take their turn being the one to see that something was bothering me and lend a hand. Every. Last. Person.

If you haven’t dealt with a balance disorder, you might be thinking, oh, well, good, you got nice people. Or even “good people.” And I did. But nice people, good people, even people who know me well, screw this stuff up all the time. I’m pretty sure that at least one of the four people who kicked my cane out from under me coming home in the Atlanta airport was probably a very nice person–they just weren’t paying attention. For the workshop I got nice, good people who happened to be observant in the right ways to make dealing with my very nasty health problem as easy as it could possibly be under the circumstances. I am so grateful to every single one of them for that.

So on Friday when we didn’t have anything else going on, Molly and Michael helped me into the ocean. They each took an arm and held me steady, and they helped me out as deep as I wanted to go and let me experience it, vertigo and all. It was amazing. It was a three-dimensionally utterly disorienting experience, because the sand does what wet sand does under your feet, and so the only solid points of reference I had in the universe were their arms. But I felt utterly safe. They were not going to let anything happen to me. And Molly is a natural at guiding people with a balance disorder, saying what the terrain is going to do and what’s going to happen with the waves. In the middle of it all, the sun came out from clouds and was even more dazzling to my vision, and my inner ear started doing very slow backflips (that is, axis of reference doing complete spins so that up was at some points literally down), so if there was some kind of space station salt water sand and pool system, it would probably be very much like that, terrain leaving under your feet as you stepped, water coming up at intervals utterly unpredictable to you, light feeling more or less omnidirectional, only sensation and the safety of trust in other humans doing what they said they would.

I referred to going in afterwards as “sobering up,” because it very much was. The aftershocks stayed with my system significantly for hours and hours afterwards, the sensation in my feet and my balance system of who-knew-what. Unnerving. Fascinating. Worth it.

The thing about a balance disorder is that you get very accustomed to what you can and cannot do safely, and having something that feels new, that is new, but that is also completely safe–that’s rare and precious. I haven’t captured a tenth of it here. It was a great gift.

There were other lovely things that were much more mundane and easy to describe–cooking and eating other people’s cooking/baking, going out for meals, going to the Hunley museum, playing games, hanging out talking until all hours, companionable reading in the common living area–so great, so great.

I’m paying for it now. I did basically the second half of the workshop entirely on adrenaline. Food is not at all my friend right now (I failed at gelato, just for reference–I made a try at a bowl of homemade gelato and failed), and I am so disoriented that when I woke up in the middle of the night the other night, I had zero physical cues for where I might be. Like, up, down, sideways, who even knows. It was the level of disorientation where you hold very still because the bed might or might not decide to abandon you, and without any sense of gravity, you have no idea which direction will be the wrong one that will make it do that. So I’m trying to get a little better rested, hoping that the meds will kick in (ANY MINUTE NOW DAMMIT)…and still revising this novel as many hours a day as I can manage, because the next one is breathing down its neck.

Everyone needs to spend time on how to get better. No matter what stage you’re at, no matter what kind of thing you’re doing, you need to spend the time with other people examining it, turning it over, thinking about what makes it work and what could make it work better. And this was a week dedicated to that in some very concrete ways. I wish that for all of you, whatever it is that you’re doing, at whatever level.

So: workshop. Yeah. Hell yeah.

I didn’t catch up on things like posting the link to the interview F&SF did about my story, and then tonight I saw a best stories of the year so far link on IO9 mentioning that very same story. I am pleased and abashed and feeling like I am not doing my share to promote the issue of F&SF it’s in. But honestly, at the moment the thing about “I would forget my head if it wasn’t attached” is particularly apropos because it doesn’t feel as though it is. So if there’s something I should be doing for you in the next little bit and you’re afraid I’ve forgotten, please remind me! I don’t mean to have forgotten.

Oh, one last somewhat relevant thing in that regard: I had already read Robert’s gorgeous first novel The Glittering World before the workshop, and now I know him, and he is doing an audiobook Kickstarter! Audiobooks are important for access! Audiobooks are fun for the whole family!…um…the whole parts of the family you will allow to listen to really dark fantasy, anyway. Maybe just the more grown-up parts of the family in this case. Anyway, go check it out.

Critique sentimentalist

There is a curious hollow feeling that comes from sending a draft of novel off to be critiqued.

It has been eating focus, attention, concentration, energy–it has been monopolizing as much brain as is available and then some–and now it is done. Gone. Off to other garner other people’s thoughts. Not productive to fiddle with it any more for awhile, and yet not done either.

I’m doing something new this time. I’m going off for a week at the end of September to participate in a peer workshop–other people who have had either novels or a bunch of short stories published will converge on an undisclosed location, and we will all critique each other’s openings, and then we will do smaller-group in-depth critiques later in the week. (Seriously I’m not sure how undisclosed it’s supposed to be, I just haven’t seen anyone else talking about the details, so I’m staying vague.) I sent them a draft of Itasca Peterson, Wendigo Hunter. And we’ll see how this goes. I don’t know any of these people very well, but their work is cool, so that feels, if anything, even more interesting than if it was a retreat with people who were already close friends. And then I will come home and do critiques of the same work with people I know much better, so parallax is our friend, people, parallax is definitely our friend.

And…this is a thing I honestly love about writing. I really, really love this. If you catch me in the wrong mood, I will wax sentimental and get a little choked up. Because in writing, in speculative fiction in particular, we take it for granted–it is a totally normal thing to do–that we will get to look at other people’s awesome things and help make them a little more awesome. Think about that for a moment. There are some other jobs for which it works that way, sure–for which a project is primarily someone else’s and it is assumed that you will get to take your time and help make it better. But mostly not. Mostly you are either working together on something or you’re not helping.

I like helping.

I like cooperation.

Last weekend we had a marathon crit session for someone in my regular group. We hadn’t met for several months, but there we were, back at it again, here’s what I think the heart of this book is, here’s what I think didn’t quite do what you wanted it to, have a homemade cookie and enhance the emotional core of your creative work.

Isn’t that an awesome thing?

Well, I think it is.

So I am behind on all sorts of things. Like, I have not posted about my story “Ten Stamps Viewed Under Water,” which is in F&SF for Sept/Oct, and I have not posted about Alec’s story either, and I have generally had my head in fierce 11-year-olds who hunt monsters. But honestly that is a great place to have my head, and I like it. And also in crits, and I will continue to have my head there for awhile.

And also I get to write short stories now, and you can’t imagine how excited I am. Maybe you can. But honestly I am one of those people who likes to write rather than liking to have written, so it was less “Yay book done” and more “Yay get to write stories now whew.”

Except for having to take days off sometimes. That’s still a thing.

But yeah. A curious hollow feeling. And a love of cooperation. That’s where we are right now. Hi.

Fourth Street Schedule

The schedule for 4th St. Fantasy is up, and it starts today! We’ll be heading up there to settle into the hotel and do evening events tonight. I’m leading the seminar starting at 9:00 tomorrow morning, but all the spots in that are full. You can still get a convention membership, though! And here are the panels you can hear me on if you do:

Saturday 9:30 AM: The Romance of the Breakdown. Elizabeth Bear, Emma Bull,
Marissa Lingen, Max Gladstone, Sarah Olsen

What’s up with our perpetual fascination with breaking society and dramatizing the apocalypse as well as the post-apocalypse… how do our cultural myths and societal images intersect with this phenomenon and fuel it (the manor house cozy catastrophe of British fiction, the American narrative of rugged survivalists gunning their way across the ungoverned wastes, etc.)? We’ve seen that national powers can remain in control and national identities remain concrete even when bombs are literally falling from the sky. So why do we seem so convinced that if our society hits the rocks we’ll never get it off again?

(Oh, I have thoughts, kids. I have thoughts.)

Sunday 10:00 AM: Crossing the Genre Streams. Marissa Lingen (moderator), Max Gladstone, Doug Hulick, Kelly McCullough, Patricia C. Wrede
The challenges, structural concerns, and tricks of crossing two or more established genres in one book. How the beats fall differently, how to manage different sets of expectations, etc.

Note: the schedule has all of Sunday’s panels listed as PM. This is wrong. I know because I am never, never, never on a panel starting at 10:00 p.m. You think I flap my hands and call things “thingy” and “whatsit” ordinarily…you should see me in the 2200 hour.

Anyway! If you are noticing that I seem to be starting the convention every morning, you are correct! I am the Designated Fourth Street Morning Person. Rise and shine and geek out with meeeee!

I like a Gershwin tune; how about you?

So it turns out there’s a lot of stuff I like. I like our new dishwasher and how it sings a happy song when it’s done–oh, I am unreasonably gleeful about that dishwasher. I like the fact that strawberries are in season. But that’s not why I’m doing these round-up posts–I’m doing an every-so-often post of short stories I’ve read and liked, that you might like too. Or you can link things you’ve liked in the comments! Up to you.

Two of these are not short stories. One is a project–my friend Hanne is doing a crowdfunded food and domestic thought project that should be interesting. I subscribed to the last round of A Girl’s Gotta Eat, and it was full of recipe and food essay goodness. The other is a poem: a May poem my friend Peg wrote.

Okay, but on with the short stories:

Monkey King, Faerie Queen, by Zen Cho (in Kaleidotrope)

The Snake-Oil Salesman and the Prophet’s Head, by Shannon Peavey (in BCS)

Remembery Day, by Sarah Pinsker (in Apex)

Sun’s East, Moon’s West, by Merrie Haskell (in Lightspeed)

Random cool future

This weekend I sold a story, “Draft Letter on Research Potential Suggested by Recent Findings in Gnome Genomics,” to EGM Shorts. It started with an offhand tweet about how I have to read carefully because both gnome and genome are words my friends could reasonably be writing to me, and then it snowballed from there into a short-short. I love all the writing I get to do, but honestly when it’s something full-out gleefully weird like this, I just feel like I’m getting away with something. The rule that I should never, ever say, “But who would want something that peripheral/oddball?” is being reinforced by this sort of sale. I should just write things, and we live in a future where there’s some chance that people can be united with their chosen weirdnesses.

Which reminds me of my friend Mary’s Patreon project. Mary proposes to write science news poetry: poems about scientific advances and concepts that have been in the news each month. She is already an accomplished poet and nerd, so this project would give support to focusing those talents. And honestly, $1/month is not very much for a bunch of cool science poems. Certainly not much to help bring them into existence. Because honestly, this is the kind of future I want to live in: the kind where the stuff about which I would have said, “Can you do that?” when I was a teenager is out there being done, with joy and verve and–what was that last bit, Bull Durham?–oh yes: poetry.

And the title’s a quite good one, too.

You know what short story writers like?

Magazines. We really, really like magazines that publish short stories. (Y’know. Like the ones we write.) Which is why I commend to your attention the Kickstarter for Uncanny magazine. It’s the new project from the twisty, uncanny brains of the Thomases, who used to work with Apex and who were some of the editors I worked with on the Apex story some of you may have enjoyed earlier this summer. If I listened carefully (I’m pretty tired, so you should go listen carefully yourself), it looks like their business model is to have subscribers get an early e-book version of the magazine and then provide the stories online for the general reader, so if you help fund, there’s more stories for you early and then more stories for everyone eventually. I think pretty much everyone who reads this can get behind that idea.

So: Thomases! Weird speculative fiction projects! Track record good, outlook positive, go think about their new thing and whether you have two dimes to rub together and throw into making it go.