I didn't end up attending that many panels, but those I did proved interesting. Jim Kelly gave an intriguing talk on the Virtual Utopia, which gave me some ideas for my upcoming lecture on The Matrix. And the "gamechanger" panel added to my reading list, as I knew it would. Other than that, I mainly hung out in the lobby and caught up with familiar faces, including some of the ICFA brigade and mindstalk, who I had yet to meet in his new Boston habitat.
On Sunday we were kidnapped by James D. Macdonald and Debra Doyle and taken indoor skydiving, which is, btw, AWESOME, and does not come with the same terrifying quantity of space and ground found in the other kind of skydiving. I thoroughly approve.
My observations re: indoor skydiving are limited to the fact that a) it's harder than it looks and b) I'd like to do it again. Actually, I'll add that the thing that constantly surprises me about skydiving is the nothing-beneath-you part. The hindpart of my brain equates flying with swimming, but there's a significant difference between feeling yourself supported by water and the what-the-hell-is-THAT sensation of being supported by wind. Wind's much less stable, and it's also full of light and noise and NOTHING, and to someone who's a confident swimmer, it's very odd.
Now: back to work.
My favorite, because it's both good writing advice and terrible life advice:
Rule No. 6: What isn’t said is as important as what is said. In many classic short stories, the real action occurs in the silences. Try to keep all the good stuff off the page. Some “real world” practice might help. The next time your partner comes home, ignore his or her existence for 30 minutes, and then blurt out “That’s it!” and drive the car onto the neighbor’s lawn. When your children approach at bedtime, squeeze their shoulders meaningfully and, if you’re a woman, smear your lipstick across your face with the back of your wrist, or, if you’re a man, weep violently until they say, “It’s O.K., Dad.”
.... Simply let this thought guide your every word and gesture: “Something is wrong — can you guess what it is?” If you’re going for something a little more postmodern, repeat the above, but with fish.
I hadn't been to the Nebulas before, and it was an interesting mix of familiar and new faces. I managed to sit down with the fabulous Mike and Rachel Swirksy, the engaging E. Lily Yu, the somewhat suspicious Andy Duncan and the always troublesome James Patrick Kelly. I learned interesting things about radio from jfreund and Meagen Voss. I admired the thin orange tie of the ever-stylish John Kessel and the clattery shoes of death worn by the brave prom-goers sharing our hotel. And, as always, I left with a long list of Yet More Things to Read.
But in the meantime: the very deserving winners of the Nebulas have been announced. Good reads all. I'm particularly fond of Jo Walton's amazing Among Others, which seems poised to sweep many of the SF awards this year, but I'm thoroughly fond of all the nominated works I read. I have to make special mention of Genevieve Valentine's astonishing debut, Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, which I thought was just beautiful.
I know that there are many hard-working translators out there who have a project on the back burner: an award-winning novel they really want to see get wider circulation, or a series of poems that they've fallen in love with. But (they tell me when we talk at conferences) they can't find publishers for these projects.
So on that front I wanted to mention Calypso Press, a new, artist-run co-operative dedicated to "publishing quality literary books of poetry and fiction with a global perspective." You can read about their projects on their website, and, if they strike you as worthwhile, contribute to their efforts.
I finally caved and joined SFWA. Since then I've been reading a lot of excellent fiction, some of which has made the Nebula ballot. Congrats to all the nominees!
But before I start raving about some of the nominated fiction (a future post), I wanted to mention some short stories that I thought were wonderful but which didn't make the Nebula list. Vylar Kaftan's Hero-Mother (the costs of an alien culture's attempt to control reproduction), James Allen Gardner's clever nightmare Three Damanations, and Genevieve Valentine's evocative fantasy The Sandal-Bride are all terrific and worth a read.
I passed the strength test and climbed into the tall ship rigging for the first time. This is the sort of stupid thing writers do. I'm afraid of heights and climbing up some giant dangerous swinging ropey thing holds little appeal in and of itself. But damnit, I can't work on a tall ship and not know what it feels like to go into the rigging.
So up I went. And for the record, it feels like UTTER TERROR. Which I'm hoping wears off with practice and better footwear, because a climber needs to be able to do more than cling, huddle, and meep.
( climbing rigging )
Eh. That's it for now. More adventures of a cowardly climber at some future point.
I'm still trying to figure out the blogspot format. Does anyone have any tips?
I just learned that Tangent Online recommended two of my 2011 stories in the 2* category this year: "The Strange Case of Madeleine H. Marsh" (from the 4/11 issue of the late great Realms of Fantasy) and "In the Gardens of the Night" (BCS, 07/11).
It's always lovely to discover that people have read and enjoyed your stories. I have to say, too, that I really enjoy Tangent's reviews. They've directed me to a lot of fabulous work over the years.
I'm going to try and hunt down as many of their 2011 recommendations as I can, and I'll try to write up a list of my own 2011 favourites later this week.
"The Strange Case of Madeleine Marsh (Aged 14 1/4)" - Realms of Fantasy (RIP, Realms)
"Remains" - AE - The Canadian Science Fiction Review
"In the Gardens of the Night" - Beneath Ceaseless Skies
"Birthing Monsters" (poem) - Basement Stories
Academic Essays & Books
"Resurrecting Redgauntlet: the transformation of Walter Scott's nationalist revenants in Bram Stoker's Dracula." Victorian Transformations, ed. Bianca Tredennick, Ashgate 2011.
...was in San Diego this year. Palm trees, sunshine, a hot tub... True, I spent a lot of time indoors attending readings and events, but wow. What a great location for WFC!
True, the hotel was rather... strange... and had some odd policies (e.g. not issuing guests blankets and barring wheelchair access ramps). But the people more than made up for the confused dystopia of the compound. If I'm ever interred in a 1950s style bordello-turned-Prisoner-Village, let me be interred with SF fans. They make everything so much more interesting.
And what lovely people! I finally got to meet douglascohen and Neil Gaiman; I caught up with my Indiana/CW posse, and I ended the weekend in an exhausted heap.
Highlights included swapping R.C. stories and listening to the early version of DC's forthcoming Game of Thrones rap. Also: I caught some wonderful readings by NK Jemisin, Karen Lord, and the wall-thumping ninja_turbo. I didn't get to everything i wanted to see, and I didn't get to talk to everyone I wanted to talk to. That, I guess, is what WFC 2012 is for.
Short version: I had a fantastic time. Now for Toronto!
My very first CW story, In the Gardens of the Night, is now up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Thanks to a lively crit session, it is now forever known as the "I want an army of undead concubines!" story. This despite the fact that (spoiler) there are no undead concubines appearing in this story.
I'm particularly proud of the opening paragraph, which I worked on for a looooong time:
There's a very flattering review of "Strange Case" over at Fantasy Literature. I appreciate the fact that Terry Weyna also reviews Goss's "Folkroots" column and Bear's and Witcover's review columns. RoF supplies some very thoughtful non-fiction, but it's often overlooked in people's discussion of the magazine.
My anti-Twilight story(?) "Remains" just went live at AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review.
I was very glad to publish this one, given that I'd made my entire CW class suffer through the first Twilight film as part of my research. My sadism has born fruit.
For the record I've decided to start using my real name for my Serious stories and "Von Carr" as the byline for my "Woo! Fun!" stories. Hopefully, this will let readers who really hate Tales in Which Everyone Dies know which ones to avoid.
Realms of Fantasy's April "Dark Fantasy" issue just came out, and it includes stories by me and my CW classmate Randy Henderson.
The entire issue has been getting very positive reviews. Over at Locus, Rich Horton declares it "a very strong issue.... Every story is good, and the definition of ‘‘dark’’ is loose enough to include a comic story, ‘‘The Strange Case of Madeline H. Marsh (Aged 14 ¼)’’ by Von Carr" (that's mine). Horton singles out Euan Harvey’s ‘‘By Shackle and Lash’’ and Lisa Goldstein's ‘Little Vampires’’ as must-reads.
At Adventures Fiction, Keith admits that he isn't a fan of feminist fairy tales such as Henderson's "A Witch's Heart" but thinks the story is "well written" and that he'd "probably read something else by this author." He quite liked "Strange Case" and writes that "Other than the author not making the timeline clear," [oops] "this was a superior piece of fiction. Humor is hard to do well, and Carr, a writer new to me, does it well." (Hurray!) Like Horton, Keith really liked Harvey's "By Shackle and Lash," and calls it his favourite of the issue.
I haven't finished reading the issue yet, so I can't comment as to my own favourite story, but the art & fiction I've seen so far is splendid, as always. Shawna and Doug have done beautiful work in what, last year, were some pretty disruptive circumstances.
So, I'm pleased to say that "The Strange Case of Madeleine H. Marsh (Aged 14 1/4)" will soon be in bookstores as part of Realms of Fantasy's April issue. My fellow CW classmate Randy Henderson (aka quantumage) also has a story forthcoming in this issue, which RoF is devoting to Dark Fantasy.
Lois Tilton has already reviewed the issue over at Locus and declares "Strange Case" "clever and entertaining humor in the tone of teenaged angst."
I also made some sales last week: I'm happy to say that "In the Gardens of the Night" (aka the concubine story) will be appearing in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, while my anti-Twilight story "Remains" will be forthcoming in AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review. Both of these are first-time markets for me, so I'm excited to be working with them.
Finally my poem, "Birthing Monsters," is forthcoming from Basement Stories. It's been a while since I've written any poetry, and this one is dear to my heart. I'm looking forward to its release into the wild world of the web.