Even though I'm hard at work on the sequel to Eye of the Storm, I am still human and occasionally need to take a brain break. This week, I found this post on Kameron Hurley's blog about the BBC America show called Orphan Black. This caught my attention: What makes this such great television isn’t just the exceptional job Tatiana Maslany, the woman who plays All the Clones does in acting with herself throughout the majority of the show. It’s also the exceptional writing, the dialogue, the storytelling, and the deeply sympathetic, diverse, and well-drawn characters. I couldn't race to the internets to purchase it fast enough, and thanks to the evils of Amazon Prime, I got it on Friday. Thinking I would watch an episode or two before bed, I popped it in. I finally forced myself to go to bed at 2am. Then I got up at noon to finish the 10-episode series. If this is the standard BBC America is going to hit with it's original programming, I need to Purchase All the Things. Orphan Black is practically a bespoke show for me. Fascinating female characters (most of them played by Maslany, who may be a goddess of acting and may need a shrine or two), sharp camera work, an excellent supporting cast, smart, well-written dialog, a plot that is as tightly and beautifully woven as a kimono, and the kind of 20 minutes into the future science fiction plot that doesn't diss science one bit, just the fallible humans that can use it for the most inhuman ends. The show was renewed, and I'll definitely be watching. It's the kind of thing that both intrigues me and gets my writing brain [...]
I had one of the stranger experiences in my life this week. I got to hold the hard copy of my first book. My Precious I can't even express how exciting this is, how grateful I am to all the people who helped me and supported me. Thank you all from the bottom of my happy little heart.
The novella is my favorite length of fiction. It's long enough to get in a good story with multi-layered characters and a complicated world, but it's short enough that you have to work hard to get all of that in. I love sitting down to a good doorstop of a novel just as much as anyone I know, but novellas that work thrill me to no end. First up, we have After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress. I actually purchased this in trade paperback form just after it came out after reading a review somewhere. The review was reserved, as if the reader hadn't figured out what bothered her, but the description intrigued me a lot. As implied by the moderately odd title, there are three time periods interweaved in this novella: the world just before, during, and after the apocalypse. We get to see what led up to the fall through the eyes of both its inhabitants and the eyes of people sent back in time to scrounge for goodies - and babies. We see the world of the future through those same people when they return to a prison made of plastic, humans who are too genetically damaged to breed (why they steal babies), and unseen aliens that keep them trapped in plastic but still let them go back in time to scavenge. We don't see the apocalypse until near the end of the novella, where you finally see what happened, and how almost everyone was wrong about it. I enjoyed this novella quite a bit, and I can see why it was nominated - the prose is strong, the structure innovative, and the payoff satisfying without [...]
A novelette lives in that nebulous area known as "longer than a short story and shorter than a novella". Probably somewhere between 7500 and 20,000 words, which is quite a span. I like the novelette and novella lengths quite a bit, so reading the nominees for this category was a fun experience for me. The nominees: “The Boy Who Cast No Shadow”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Postscripts: Unfit For Eden, PS Publications) “Fade To White”, Catherynne M. Valente ( Clarkesworld, August 2012) “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”, Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity, Solaris) “In Sea-Salt Tears”, Seanan McGuire (Self-published) “Rat-Catcher”, Seanan McGuire ( A Fantasy Medley 2, Subterranean) "The Boy Who Cast No Shadow" is by the first Dutch author to have a work nominated for the Hugos. I couldn't find information on whether the work had been translated from Dutch (I assume not, since the translator probably would have been credited), but I always wonder what that's like. It's got to be hard to trust someone to convey your ideas properly, especially if you don't speak the language at all. Anyway, for me, this was a quiet, detached sort of story that started out feeling like a YA novel and ended up feeling like an adult novel, which is quite an accomplishment, I think. The narrator has no shadow, literally. He can't be photographed or filmed, can't be seen in a mirror, and light falls through him to illuminate whatever he's standing on. I had to turn off my science brain to read it happily, especially since his best friend/boyfriend was made of glass. Once I did, though, it was lovely and bitter and very fulfilling. I went from disliking the narrator to [...]
Since I'm going to WorldCon this year, that makes me eligible to vote for the Hugos. I'm doing my best to take this as a responsibility, especially since it drives me crazy that influential awards like this are often decided by a really small percentage of the community. So I got my reader packet and set to, despite the fact that I'm promoting one book and working on two more. Nah, I didn't really need that social life anyway! I started with the shortest main category I could, since I figured I could just sit down and read the three nominated short stories at bedtime, chew them over, and come up with a winner in my head. Of course, it's a bit more difficult than that, as always. The first story I picked up was "Immersion" by Aliette de Bodard. I've read a few of her novels and short stories, mostly contained in the Obsidian and Blood books. Seriously, a fantasy novel about Aztecs? How could I not at least try them? The research was clearly really in-depth and the writing was very good, but for some reason they failed to become favorites. As a result, I wasn't sure what I was going to think. Especially since the story started out in second person present tense, which immediately set my teeth on edge. Summed up quickly, the story was heart-wrenchingly good. You should read it - the link takes you to a free online copy. Once I got the main conceit, that people in this universe fit in by wearing "avatars" that not only showed the world the most acceptable physical face in terms of race, social status, etc., but also changed your actual thought patterns [...]
CONvergence was a new sort of experience for me this year. I stayed with a group of people I hadn't met before, and while it was for the most part fine, I'm getting a room of my own for next year. Being an introvert, I think I need my own space closer to people I know. From a business standpoint, the con was fantastic. Tons of networking, meeting authors and fans and friends, not to mention the reading was well-attended! I can't wait to have physical copies to sell. I got several requests. The entire weekend was exceedingly supportive. I can't even remember how many people were genuinely happy to hear that my first book was coming out soon, including other authors, like Pete Haupman and guest of honor Melinda Snodgrass (what an awesome name!) and Michael Merriam. My cat Beatrice hasn't left my lap voluntarily since then. The bunnies are happy and relaxed. Back to the grind, writing the next novels. It sounds like Michelle Graber, the editor I used on Eye of the Storm, is interested in editing the second, and I'm really excited to work with her again! She has some great insights. Now back to writing and getting reading for the next convention!
With the release of my debut novel looming on the horizon, I'm hitting every local (and some not-so-local) convention I can. It's exhausting, but I'm learning a lot and meeting hordes of like-minded people. I can't wait until I can sell actual copies to interested people! At this point, I'm limited to an elevator pitch and a list of email addresses. Worldcon cannot arrive soon enough! 4th Street Fantasy is more of a writer convention than a fan-based or media convention. All of the attendees are writers or would-be writers. There's no cosplay, no movies being shown - in fact, there's only one programming track. The idea is to set one's butt in a chair with a room full of smart, learned people and soak up information for three days. We had discussions on creating religions, inter-cultural texts, cultural appropriation, the heroin's (vs the hero's) journey, and even a loopy panel at the end of Sunday on cursing. An extra bit of excitement: the con happened to fall on a weekend during which a big storm happened. The straight-line winds on Friday night knocked out power to the hotel for nearly an entire 24 hours and led to a rather hysterical dubbing of the con as "the world's premier dark fantasy convention". No one knows who started the phrase, but it was on everyone's lips by the end of breakfast on Saturday. High points included Scott Lynch's Gollum impersonation, hanging out with Michael Merriam and his lovely wife Sherri, learning a bunch of literary dissection terms, and sitting behind Emma Bull during one panel, where my sneaky eyes learned how to pick the yarn of my knitting rather than throw it. When I exulted about [...]