From the moment I arrived at the recent StokerCon in Las Vegas, I proudly wore a 5-Time Stoker Award Loser button which I’d made up proclaiming my 5-0 finalist status, as can be seen in this photo with Jennifer Brozek.
Balticon’s coming up next weekend, and it’s not just any Balticon—it’s the 50th Balticon. And this year the committee has gathered together as many former Guests of Honor as possible from previous incarnations of the convention.
Who else will be there?
If you’ll be there, too, here’s where to find me.
Gimungous Autograph Session
Saturday 2:00-3:15 p.m. (Kent)
The Fine Art of Rejection
Saturday 5:00-15:50 p.m. (Parlor 9059)
Editors answer the hard questions. What are your deal-breakers? How do you winnow that mountain down into the select few choices? What makes your task harder? How do you decide when a story deserves more than a form rejection?
Readings: Christiana Ellis, Scott Edelman, Christopher Rose, Don Sakers
Saturday 16:00-16:50 (Parlor 9059)
How to Give and Get Critiques
Monday 11:00-11:50 a.m. (Parlor)
What goes into being a good critiquer. How to listen to others’ critiques of your work. Where to find critique partners, online and in person.
What’s Hot in Short Fiction?
Monday 12:00-12:50 p.m. (Parlor 8029)
See you there!
Remember when I told you I’d been honored with a sixth Stoker Award nomination, and that whatever ended up happening, win or lose, I’d win?
Well, I did win Saturday.
No, not that way. The other way.
The trophy for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction was taken home by co-finalist Mercedes Yardley, with whom I got into a brawl when I’d spotted her inside a candy store earlier that afternoon.( Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )
I got together with Lynne Hansen and Jeff Strand for lunch earlier today at the Carnegie Deli inside The Mirage for the first of what I hope will be five episodes of Eating the Fantastic recorded during the inaugural StokerCon in Las Vegas.
Lynne is a horror novelist turned filmmaker whose recent short, Chomp, received 21 nominations at a variety of film festivals, winning 7 times, including the Fright Meter Awards Best Short Horror Film of 2015, and Jeff Strand is not only the author of the wonderfully titled horror novels I Have a Bad Feeling About This and The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever (and many others)—he’ll also be the emcee Saturday for the Stoker Awards banquet.
Over sandwiches which were —unexpectedly for a deli like the Carnegie—not quite as big as a baby, we chatted about how the horror supercouple came together after the 1995 World Horror Convention, why she’s moved on from novels to movies while he’s gone in exactly the opposite direction, what writers must keep in mind when creating YA horror, how she’s turning one of his novellas into a full-length movie titled Cold Dead Hands, and much more.
Three years ago, I started using a Fitbit Flex, and on my first and second anniversaries I let you know how I was doing. Now that another anniversary is here—on Star Wars day, as usual—how’d I do during that third year?
Not as well as I’d hoped.
Thanks to a fall I took midway through the year that banged up my left leg plus a bout of severe toothaches late in the year that made it hurt to walk (both of which I’ve recovered from by the way), I only took 3,900,704 steps over the past 12 months, versus 4,078,838 steps the first year and 4,107,515 steps the second.
Still, 12,087,057 steps —which works out to 6,017.93 miles—over 36 months is far better than anything I was doing prior to buying the device.
But I still broke a record thanks to my greatest single day ever—October 17, 2015, on which I took 35,294 steps, walking 17.57 miles through Brooklyn and Manhattan, breaking the first and second-year records of 28,398 steps (14.15 miles) and 35,283 steps (17.56 miles) respectively.
Whenever I get to feeling maybe I shouldn’t bother continuing to share my dreams over on Twitter, that no one could possible care about them, someone surprises me by … well … caring. I’m always amazed when someone asks, “Is anything wrong? You haven’t posted many dreams lately!”
So for them, if not for you, I’ve gathered my dreams tweets from April below, which feature guest appearances by Nichelle Nichols, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rick Moranis, David Letterman and more.
And so … I dream on.
I dreamt I tried to show @mojaveb a jacket I’d bought—it was Michael Jackson’s from Thriller—but it kept turning into the wrong one! Apr 30
I dreamt I was at David Letterman’s house, ignoring all of his no-so-subtle hints I should leave. Instead, I kept trying to make him laugh. Apr 30
I dreamt I worked with Don Draper, who wanted me to head out to a party. But I insisted I’d rather be home with my wife. (He was not happy.) Apr 30
I dreamt I wandered a romance convention trying to find my wife … and instead found Nichelle Nichols! Never found my wife, though. Apr 29
I dreamt I was President Obama, in a theater introducing a special performance of Hamilton to an appreciative kids-only audience. Apr 28
I dreamt I visited Marie Severin’s mausoleum with my parents—which is doubly strange, because IRL she’s still around while they’re not! Apr 28
Lost a dream because all I can read of my night note is “ME & [TWO ILLEGIBLE WORDS] ALIEN INVASION.” So my memory catalyst has failed me! Apr 24
I dreamt I wandered with a toddler through an obstacle-filled city, and as I went over and around them, he went under and through. A lesson? Apr 24
There is no dream so sad as the one in which you buy a pie, begin to eat that pie, and from which you wake to discover—THERE IS NO PIE. Apr 21
Last night, I attended a screening of experimental films at The Arts Centre in Martinsburg, hosted by Don Diego Ramirez, director of the award-winning documentary Trailer Trash. He showed us the works of Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, Stan VanDerBeek and others, plus one of his own student films. Equally interesting was the display of camera equipment, as well as books and magazines related to independent filmmaking.
A certain copy of Super 8 Filmaker caught my eye. Take a look and I’m sure you’ll understand why.
Seeing Spider-Man on the cover of an October 1974 magazine—which based on magazine cover dates and publishing schedules could have gone on sale just a few weeks after I started working at Marvel Comics—stirred some memories. And flipping to the Table of Contents to see who wrote that cover story stirred a few more …( Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )
The latest episode of Eating the Fantastic was recorded 15 years before Eating the Fantastic began.
How is that possible?
Well, when it comes to Chip Delany, all things are possible.
On June 18, 2001, while Chip was in the middle of a book tour supporting the 25th anniversary republication of Dhalgren, I interviewed him at Bistro Bis in the Hotel George. The recording I made that day wasn’t created to be heard, but was merely a tool so it could be transcribed and run as text in Science Fiction Weekly, a site I edited during my 13 years at the Syfy Channel.
It had been awhile since I’d thought of that interview, but once I got the first half dozen episodes of Eating the Fantastic live—all of which you can download from iTunes—I dug deep into the vault and found the tapes of that meal. And when I asked Chip if he’d mind me sharing that audio with you, he was gracious enough to say—go for it!
We took no photos that day— of either the food or each other—so this pic of us together during the 2014 Nebula Awards weekend will have to suffice. Knock off a decade or so of age and you’ll get the idea.
And now it’s time to time travel back to 2001 for lunch with Chip as we discuss the 25th anniversary edition of his magnum opus Dhalgren, the “sheer madness” of trying to write such a book in the first place, the state of the science fiction field during the mid-‘70s, the joys he receives from teaching, and much more.
As some of you may know, I wrote a biography of Joanie Laurer a.k.a. Chyna that was published in 2000. Because it was unauthorized, I never interviewed her, and so assembled the book based on the facts I already knew from editing a pro wrestling magazine plus what I could pick up through research, which I combined to tell the arc of her life up until then.
On hearing of her death, I went back and skimmed what I’d written, which led me to the following paragraphs near the end of the book—
When Joanie Laurer transformed herself from an uncertain teenager into Chyna, the Ninth Wonder of the World, she became many things, not all of them expected. If life went as she had planned and hoped from the beginning, she knew that she would have money and fame without limit. But it is doubtful she could have foreseen that she would not only become a celebrity, but she would also be taken up as a role model and a feminist icon. We expect wrestling to be entertaining, not inspirational. How refreshing that Joanie Laurer was able to surprise us all by doing both.
The corporate world has its infamous glass ceiling, and though this woman warrior went in for the Federation instead of the corporation, Joanie Laurer has burst all expectations in her own way, by ripping through wrestling’s canvas ceiling.
Hyperbolic much? Yes. But hey, why shouldn’t writing about pro wrestling be hyperbolic?
In any case, however purple the prose, I stand by those feelings, which remain sincere.
I liked her before I was contracted to write Warrior Queen, and in the writing of it, came to like her even more. I’d hoped she’d live into her 90s, like Mae Young, but alas, she only made it half as far.
R.I.P. to the Ninth Wonder of the World.
Back in February, I revealed the title of a story of mine which was to appear in the next issue of Postscripts. It’s my second-longest title ever, falling one word short of my longest—”How Amraphel, the Assistant to Dream, Became a Thief, Lost His Job, and Found His Way.”
Well, the issue containing “The Man Without the Blue Balloon and the Woman Who Had Smiles Only for Him” is now available from PS Publishing, and here’s the cover, which eerily captures the volume’s subtitle, “The Dragons of the Night.”
For the full Table of Contents, check out my earlier post, or take a look at this full cover spread, which includes the authors and story titles on the inside front cover flap.
The marks my fifth short story publication in Postscripts. Pete Crowther and Nick Gevers have been good to me. I hope that when you read “The Man Without the Blue Balloon and the Woman Who Had Smiles Only for Him,” you’ll feel that confidence has been justified.
Andy Duncan and I got together Wednesday at the Princess Cafe—where Harry and Bess Truman had lunch one Father’s Day more than 60 years ago—and recorded the sixth episode of Eating the Fantastic while seated in the same booth they’d once occupied.
Andy’s an award-winning writer many times over, having won a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, a Nebula Award, and three World Fantasy Awards. Plus he’s also been nominated for the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Awards. His collections include Beluthahatchie and Other Stories (which came out in 2000) and The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories (published in 2011).
We discussed the profound influence of Richard Pryor on his writing, why he loves playing with real-world historical characters and events in his stories, what it was like to collaborate with Ellen Klages on their award-winning novella “Wakulla Springs,” what, if anything, writing teachers can teach, and more.
I love opening nights, and not just when it comes to the theater. When a restaurant opens its doors for the first time, there’s a mood created which no longer exists later on once the unfamiliar rhythms settle into a perfected routine. Both staff and customers are filled with excitement and wonder, and as they’re both experiencing the venue for the first time, maybe even a tickle of uncertainty as well.
Will it all come together? Will confidence be rewarded? At the outset, you can never be sure. But one always begins filled with hope.
Which is why, when Aaron Silverman announced that Pineapple and Pearls—his spinoff from Rose’s Luxury—was going to open in April, I knew Irene and I had to be there. After all, Bon Appétit had judged Rose’s Luxury to be 2014’s best new restaurant in America, so Pineapple and Pearls promised to be something quite special.
And it was.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Pineapple and Pearls opened its first phase—a coffee shop serving amazing sandwiches and sweet rolls—on February 12. Though I wasn’t able to get there for its opening day, I was able to pop in exactly one week later, when I was in D.C. to record an episode of my Eating the Fantastic podcast, and I checked out the entire menu.
To experience the coffee shop, all I needed to do was show up. But to get a table for the fine dining component, I had to work my Internet magic the moment reservations opened. Luckily, I was able to grab a table for the first seating on the first night.
And so, at 5:01 p.m. on Thursday, April 7, we arrived at Pineapple and Pearls—me wearing a pineapple, Irene wearing the pearls—and were immediately handed mint juleps. (Sans alcohol, of course, for we had chosen the non-alcoholic pairings, as we always do.)
Once we were led to our table, I peered over to the kitchen and spotted what felt like a historic moment which cried out to be captured—head chef Scott Muns and chef/owner Aaron Silverman conferring as service began.( Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )
March was another month which brought fewer dreams than usual. What it all means, why the drop-off, I don’t know. I’ve been gathering the dreams I’ve tweeted and sharing them here since December 2009, attempting to keep them a little less ephemeral. But now that I think about it, perhaps all this dream tweeting has made them more ephemeral.
After all, the first dream I shared, back on November 30, 2007, took up nearly 300 words, not a mere 140 characters. So perhaps by tweeting, I’ve lost more than I’ve gained. Something for me to think about. But while I do …
In December, I dreamt of Jon Stewart, Jamie Lee Curtis, Fred Astaire, Daryl Dixon, David Hartwell, and many other surprise guest stars. And here they are …
I dreamt I flew to North Korea on a secret mission for the government. Now that I’m awake, though — I don’t remember what the mission was! Mar 31
I dream I was collaborating with Harlan Ellison on a short story … about which I remember nothing other than Ponce de León was involved. Mar 30
I dreamt I explained to a friend the reason I was fearless as a teen was not arrogance, but naïveté. It seemed important she understood. Mar 30
I dreamt I was packing up statues Jack Kirby had made of all the characters he’d created (to send to a museum) and was afraid I’d chip them. Mar 30
I dreamt I got into a conversation with Jon Stewart about kids, ending up reciting the whole of “This Be the Verse.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rjRYSfC
Last night, I dreamt I explained a story idea at a convention. It was an intriguing idea. But awake, it’s not one I’d ever choose to write. Mar 26
I dreamt @Nalo_Hopkinson and I were hosting a fundraising marathon and had to talk and entertain for DAYS while urging people to donate. Mar 26
I dreamt I was in a Shakespeare play with Eddie Izzard and Maggie Smith, which was put on hold when he got into fight with the set designer. Mar 25
I dreamt Harlan Ellison was about to climb into the ring for a boxing match, then decided he’d rather live, so we went for deli instead. Mar 24
A new Eating the Fantastic is now live! Episode 5 was recorded with Carolyn Ives Gilman at Range in Friendship Heights, Maryland.
Carolyn is a Nebula, Hugo, and Tiptree-award nominated author whose first novel, Halfway Human, was called “one of the most compelling explorations of gender and power in recent SF.”
We discussed what’s kept her coming back to her Twenty Planets universe for a quarter of a century, how her first science fiction convention was “total sensory overload,” what it was like working with David Hartwell as an editor, why she’s not visible on social media, and more.
Someone who’s been in podcasting far longer than I have—after all, I only launched the first episode of Eating the Fantastic on February 10—has taken note of the file size for each of the first four episodes and suggested I begin uploading them in mono rather than stereo to save listeners from straining their bandwidth. The episodes so far, all stereo, have have ranged from 72-77 megabytes, and if they’d been mono, the file size would have been cut approximately in half.
I’ve been advised that those with capped data plans might be unwilling to download these files to their mobile devices for fear of maxing out on their monthly usage allowances, and I’d hate to lose out on potential listeners due to that. But my gut feeling is this file size won’t discourage downloads, as I assume everyone these days has access to wifi, which makes those monthly data plans not as much of a barrier as they once might have been.
As for the storage issue, I assume that others, like me, have podcast episodes deleted automatically once they’ve been listened to, so they won’t stack up and clog anyone’s phone.
The reason I don’t simply go ahead and shrink the files is because, having listened to both mono and stereo versions of the upcoming Episode 5—which will go live on April 1 and feature Carolyn Ives Gilman—I find the stereo version preferable to my ears, more filled with life, with a greater sense YOU ARE THERE to it. And yet—if potential listeners are put off by the file size, what good does that do?
Of course, there might be also be people who find the amount of ambient restaurant noise of the whole Eating the Fantastic concept distracting, and would be unwilling to put up with it regardless, but that I can’t help. That’s what this podcast is.
So what do you think about the state of podcasting today as it relates to optimal file size and the mono vs. stereo sound issue? I don’t want to be shooting myself in the foot by retaining stereo sound out of my own personal preference if the larger resulting file size keeps people away.
Now that the book’s about to be released—over on Facebook last night, editor Michael Bailey announced a March 29 release date—here’s the final front and back cover, with the name EDELMAN sandwiched between CHIZMAR and GOLDSMITH.
A spooky cover for what will surely be a spooky (and awesome) book!
If you’d like a small taste of “That Perilous Stuff,” here’s my reading at last year’s World Fantasy Convention of the first third or so.
I hope it will leave you wanting more.
Writer Tom Doyle and I recorded Episode 4 of Eating the Fantastic at Ethiopic Ethiopian restaurant nearby the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and Union Station in Washington D.C.—which unless I’m mistaken has the largest Ethiopian population outside of Ethiopia after so many resettled here during the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Tom’s the author of a contemporary fantasy series from Tor which began in 2014 with American Craftsmen, returned in 2015 with The Left Hand Way, and continues in the third installment War and Craft—the manuscript of which he handed in to his editor mere days before we met.
We talked about how what was was originally pitched as a standalone novel turned into a surprise trilogy, his fascination with apocalyptic fiction, what effect the Clarion workshop had on his growth as a writer, and much more.
I find it hard to believe I haven’t shared this Al Jaffee drawing before—but perhaps I was saving it for a milestone moment like this, when I could wish the man a happy 95th birthday!
Jaffee sketched out this self-portrait for me at a National Cartoonist Society Ruben Awards banquet held at the Waldorf Astoria in 1973, to which I was invited by Bill Kresse, a cartoonist I’d met during a class trip to the Daily News. I was an annoying teen fanboy in those days (now I’m only annoying), yet he was willing to put up with me when I interrupted his chowing down on rubber chicken and presented him with my pad and marker.
So thank you for that, Al Jaffee—and for ensuring I own no copies of MAD in mint condition due to my inability to resist folding and creasing those famous inside back cover fold-ins of yours.
The Paris Review—to which I’ve had a lifetime subscription since the late ’70s—has provided me with yet another comics-related mystery. Over the years, they’ve published many collages which have used comics imagery, such as this one, by poet John Ashbery, which incorporated one of the most famous faces of all and so was immediately identifiable by me, and this, by an artist known as Jess, for which I needed help tracking down the original source.
In the current Spring 2016 issue, to accompany an interview with Luc Sante, the magazine published a flyer the writer had created in 1980 promoting a gig by the band the Del-Byzanteens. As you can see below, the promo repurposed panels from comics which seem to me to have the feel of comic strips rather than comics books, though I might be wrong about that, and I could instead be perceiving the style difference between UK and U.S. comics.
Of course, I could easily be wrong about it all.
Take a look and tell me what you think.
I have no idea who the original artist might be here. Do you?
UPDATE: Well, that was fast!
Sean Howe, author of the wonderful Marvel Comics: The Untold Story as well as the upcoming Agents of Chaos (about the founder of High Times) reached out directly to Sante—because Sean knows everyone—and was told:
They’re from a stack of promotional offprints I found when I was working at the Strand, aimed at newspapers and syndicates, for a strip called “Drift Marlo,” by Tom Cooke. Never having seen the strip anywhere else, I’d always assumed it had gone nowhere, but I was wrong …
Sante also provided a link to an entry on Ger Apeldoorn’s blog which included some of the strips from which Sante created his flyer. Including this one, the center panel of which provided the central panel above.
Mystery solved! Thanks, guys!
My dreams have been sparse the past few months—not the having of them, but the remembering of them—which meant that January and February were light compared to what I usually can save from my subconscious. But I still like gathering together what I’d previously shared on Twitter to see whether any theme arises.
So far this year, I’ve dreamt of Josh Holloway, David Letterman, David Hyde Pierce, Ian McKellen and more …
I dreamt that while I was on a panel at @Readercon, in came my wife with a Colt .45, which she said she’d just used to kill a mouse. Feb 29
I dreamt I visited @dreamoforgonon, and when we laughed until we cried, he pulled out a box of tiny kittens with which we dabbed our tears. Feb 29
I dreamt I leapt up with two friends (don’t remember who) and spontaneously danced that famous Bande à part scene. https://youtu.be/u1MKUJN7vUk Feb 28
I dreamt I was in the Old West, chatting with a bad guy, and realized I forgotten to wear my pistol. And wondered how I’d get out of this. vFeb 26
I dreamt I drove to @StokerCon2016, and once I got there, I found I’d forgotten my luggage, and had only the clothes on my back. Oh, well! Feb 21
I dreamt I looked outside to see ducks nesting with their baby ducks. In a lake. Which we don’t have IRL. A fact which didn’t disturb me. Feb 8
I dreamt I was teaching a fiction writing course, leading an exercise which involved imagining the lives of characters in classic paintings. Feb 7
I dreamt that I visited DC Comics and found Bill Gaines (long dead IRL) holding court. I tried to take a pic, but my tech failed, of course. Feb 4
I dreamt I was at David Hartwell’s house editing a manuscript while he worked outside in his garden. But he eventually came in and chatted. Feb 2