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Wild Cards Take Chicago

December 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm
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New York City has been the center of the Wild Cards universe since 1946, when Dr. Tod met Jetboy in the skies over Broadway, and the Takisian xerovirus was unleashed upon the world. It’s past time the Second City got its due. So I am thrilled to report that I’ve just turned in the latest Wild Cards mosaic novel: LOW CHICAGO, set entirely in the city on the lake.

This is the second book in what we’re calling our ‘American Triad’ (MISSISSIPPI ROLL was delivered in October, and we’re still hard at work on TEXAS HOLD’EM), and the twenty-fifth volume of the overall series… but no, it’s not necessary to have read the first twenty-four to enjoy this one.

And it’s a helluva ride, I think. The cast includes old fan favorites like Mr. Nobody, Double Helix, Abigail the Understudy, Golden Boy, Natya, John Fortune, John Nighthawk, Hardhat, and the Sleeper, but some exciting new characters will be on hand as well. Wait till you meet Meathooks, Birdbrain, and Khan.

The table of contents:
John Jos. Miller “A Long Night at the Palmer House”
Kevin Andrew Murphy “Down the Rabbit Hole”
Christopher Rowe “The Motherfucking Apotheosis of Todd Motherfucking Taszycki”
Paul Cornell “A Bit of a Dinosaur”
Marko Kloos “Stripes”
Melinda M. Snodgrass “The Sister in the Streets”
Mary Anne Mohanraj “A Beautiful Facade”
Saladin Ahmed “Meathooks on Ice”

I had a great time editing this one. Hope you’ll all like it as much as I do.

And if you’ve yet to try Wild Cards, the world’s longest-running shared world anthology series (thirty years and counting!)… hey, what are you waiting for!

No publication date for LOW CHICAGO yet, but you’ll know as soon as Tor tells me.

The Evening Star Rises

July 26, 2016 at 10:43 pm
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The results of this year’s Locus Awards voting were announced this weekend in Seattle, and I am delighted to announce that OLD VENUS took home the honors as last year’s Best Anthology. Alas, I was not able to be there in person to accept. Nor was my co-editor, Gardner Dozois, who is still in hospital in Philadelphia recovering from a broken ankle. But we were both thrilled.

I did send LOCUS a few words to be read in the event of our victory:

“Gardner and I are both sorry that we could not be with you tonight, but we’re surprised and delighted to accept this award for OLD VENUS. As with all of our anthologies, the real credit belongs to our writers, who gave us such amazing stories. Nonetheless, we plan on keeping the plaque for ourselves. Two years ago the readers of Locus honored OLD MARS as best anthology. This year OLD VENUS. It’s very gratifying to know that the readers still appreciate new anthologies of old stuff… that is, new old stuff… well, you know what I mean… put together by old grey editors who were new young turks just yesterday. Keep your eyes out for OLD URANUS, coming to a bookstore near you soon….”

All kidding aside, I am very proud of OLD VENUS, and I know Gardner is as well. There are some terrific stories in there, and one that in any normal year would have been a surefire Hugo finalist. This is the third year in a row that one of the original anthologies that I’ve done with Gardner has won the Locus Award, and I can’t tell you how gratifying that is. Gardner and I both began our careers (a long time ago) with short fiction, and it pleases me no end to be able to provide a showcase for some of the extraordinary short stories, novelettes, and novellas still being written in this age of the series and the meganovel. If you don’t read anthologies, friends, you are missing out on some great stuff.

Oh, and before the crazy internet rumors start flying, I had better say that I was only kidding about OLD URANUS. I do want to do some more books with Gardner, but not until I have subdued the Son of Kong. Meanwhile, Gargy is flying solo on a couple of great new original anthologies of his own, and I know those will be full of awards contenders as well.

Anyway, thanks to all the good folks at LOCUS, and everyone who voted for OLD VENUS… or for the other nominated anthologies, which were pretty special as well.

You can find the full list of nominees and winners here: http://www.locusmag.com/News/2016/06/2016-locus-awards-winners/

And if any of who would like to check out OLD VENUS… or OLD MARS, or ROGUES, or DANGEROUS WOMEN, or any of my other anthologies…. signed copies remain available from the Jean Cocteau Cinema Bookstore at http://www.jeancocteaubooks.com/

Happy reading.

A Response to John C. Wright

April 30, 2016 at 8:32 pm
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The GUARDIAN interviewed me a couple of weeks ago about Puppygate and the Hugo Awards (before the ballot was announced, fwiw), and quoted me in the article that resulted. Here’s what they said about what I said (of course, I said a lot more, but only a few bits were quoted):

“The prestige of the Hugos derives from its history. Robert A Heinlein won four times, Ursula K Le Guin won, Harlan Ellison won. That’s a club any aspiring writer wants to be a member of,” George RR Martin says. “When the Hugo ballot came out last year it was not just a right-wing ballot, it was a bad ballot. It was the weakest we’d seen for years.”

Now it appears that John C. Wright has taken umbrage at my opinion. He writes on his journal:

“Evidence enough that Mr. Martin had not read the works on the ballot. I say no more, lest I be accused of self-aggrandizement, for the works he thus criticizes are mine. He did not have so poor an opinion of my work when he bought it for his SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH anthology, however: a fact he conveniently forgot when he began leveling absurd and absurdly false accusations against me.”

In the comments section of the same journal entry, someone named “Paul B” says:

“Sir, is it possible that Mr Martin never actually read (at least majority of) submissions for that Dying Earth tribute anthology? I know not how these things tend to work, or if you had any personal exchanges with him during that time (of the sort that included his personal thoughts on your story), but I know of many a case where a name of widely known author on the cover of various anthologies was used to bait potential buyers while said author had little or no involvement with said anthologies (think of those ghost and horror story anthologies of yore, where stories were advertised as “hand picked” by Alfred Hitchcock and the like).”

To which, John C. Wright replies:

” Certainly it is possible. It is possible that he did not do the jobs for which he was paid. That is one of the two possibilities, neither of which redound to his glory. Either he is lying now, when he uses the prestige of his name to belittle my worthy work as unworthy, or he was lying then, by putting his name on a book to lure the unwary reader into purchase, ergo using the prestige of his name to inflate my unworthy work as worthy. Either way, it is a lie.”

I am not going to get down into the cesspool with Wright here, though, believe me, the temptation is strong. I will not let his comments go unanswered, however.

So let me just restrict my reply to the facts.

For the elucidation of Paul B, who admits that he does not know how these things work but feels the need to hold forth anyway, I have read every word of every story in all my anthologies, both the ones I co-edit with Gardner Dozois and the ones I edit solo, like WILD CARDS. In the collaborations, Gardner handles the bulk of the paperwork; the contracts, pro rata calculations, paying royalties, etc. But all the creative work is shared equally between us, and no story is purchased unless both of us agree that it is acceptable.

And yes, Gardner and I did purchase and publish a story from John C. Wright for SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH, our Jack Vance tribute anthology. The story is “Guyal the Curator.” I thought then, and I think now, that it’s a good story. Read it and judge for yourself. If you’re a Jack Vance fan, I think you will enjoy it. Wright himself is a huge Vance fan. I don’t recall how I knew that, but I did, and that fact was certainly foremost in my mind when I suggested to Gardner that we invite him into the book. He replied enthusiastically, and gave us a good story. If it had not been a good story, we would not have published it. Gardner and I did have to reject one of the other stories we had solicited for SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH, by another writer; we paid him a kill fee. And there were three or four additional stories that required extensive work; we bought them, but only after giving notes and asking for revisions. “Guyal the Curator” required none of that. It was a solid, professional piece of work, a nice Vance tribute, an entertaining read.

All that being said, I do not know why Wright seems to believe that by purchasing and publishing one of his stories seven years ago, I am therefore somehow required to like everything that he writes subsequently, to the extent that I would feel it Hugo worthy.

It should be pointed out that “Guyal the Curator” was not itself nominated for a Hugo (there being no Puppies around in 2009 to push it). None of the stories from SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH were Hugo finalists, truth be told. Do I think some were worthy of that honor? Sure I do. I cannot pretend to be objective, I’m proud of the anthologies I edit and the stories I publish. Do I think that all the stories in SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH (or ROGUES, or OLD MARS, or OLD VENUS, or LOWBALL, or any of my anthologies) are Hugo-worthy? Of course not. In a normal year, the Hugo finalists are supposed to represent the five best stories of the year in that word length. Was “Guyal the Curator” one of the five best short stories (actually, it might have been a novelette, after so long I do not recall the word length) of 2009? No. It was a good story, not a great story. The Hugo Awards demand greatness. It was an entertaining Vance tribute, but it was not a patch on real Vance, on “The Last Castle” or “The Dragon Masters” or “Guyal of Sfere.” And truth be told, it was not even one of the five best stories in SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH. A good story, yes, I’ll say that again. But there were better in the book. (And how not? We had an amazing lineup of contributors).

Which brings us back to Puppygate, and last year’s Hugo ballot.

I read every word in every story in the anthologies I edit, as I’ve said. I did not read every word in every story on last year’s Hugo ballot, no (or on any Hugo ballot, for that matter). I start every story and give them a few pages. If they grab me, I keep reading. If they bore me or offend me, or fail to interest me for whatever reason, I put them aside. Mr. Wright seems convinced that I did not read his stories on last year’s ballot. He’s half-right: I did not read all of them. But I started all of them (there were five), finished some, set others aside. The same as I do with any story I read; no special treatment.

I did not find any of them Hugo-worthy. Not one of them was as good as “Guyal the Curator,” in my opinion. No doubt others liked them better.

It should be pointed out that the comments quoted by the GUARDIAN, to which Mr. Wright takes such umbrage, make no mention whatsoever of him or his work. I merely said that it was a bad ballot, the weakest seen in years. I stand by those comments; your mileage may differ. And yes, with his five finalists, John C. Wright was part of that, but hardly the whole of it. Truth be told, while I did not and do not feel his stories were Hugo-worthy, there was MUCH worse to be found on last year’s ballot in other categories. But that horse has been beaten to death, so I see no need to give it any more whacks.

The bottom line here is that liking some of a writer’s work does not oblige you to like all of his work. I yield to no one in my admiration for Robert A. Heinlein, but my love for HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL and THE PUPPET MASTERS and “All You Zombies” and “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” does not make me like I WILL FEAR NO EVIL or TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE any better.

In closing, let me suggest to John C. Wright that you do yourself no favors by boasting constantly about the worth and brilliance and “literary” qualities of your own work. You might do better to take a lesson from a writer that we both love: Jack Vance. I had several conversations with Jack when Gardner and I were putting together SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH, and never once did he tell me how amazing and eloquent and literary he was. Quite the opposite. He never called his stories anything but “my junk” when speaking to me, and seemed bemused and flattered that so many other writers had found such inspiration in them. Vance was amazing and eloquent and literary, of course, one of the greatest wordsmiths our genre has ever produced, but he left it to others to sing his praises.

Congrats…

April 20, 2016 at 3:29 pm
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[… to Garth Nix, who took home an Aurealis Award for his story in OLD VENUS, “By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers.” The Aurealis was established in 1995 to recognize the achievements of Australian writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

For a full list of all of thus year’s award winners, go here: https://aurealisawards.org/

If you’d like to read Garth’s award-winning story, copies of OLD VENUS and its companion volume OLD MARS are still available from the Jean Cocteau bookshop, signed by both authors. http://www.jeancocteaubooks.com/

Good work, Garth… Gardner and I are pleased and proud to have published your story.

Behold, The Mighty Editor

March 25, 2016 at 11:07 am
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I have my editor’s hat on today. (It looks just like my writer’s hat, only in a different color). ((No, not really, I am being facetitious. Damn, you guys, don’t take everything I say so literally)).

For the past three weeks, the forty-odd (some very odd) members of the Wild Cards consortium have been submitting story proposals and pitches for the three new WC books from Tor, LOW CHICAGO and MISSISSIPPI ROLL and TEXAS HOLD ‘EM. Last night at midnight was the deadline for pitches.

As usual, we have more proposals than we need. Only eight writers per book. So today is Decision Day, wherein I decide who gets to be in which book, who is out, who gets to double-dip. It is never easy. So many talented writers, so many great characters, so many fun ideas.

But that’s why I get the Big Bucks as editor (that was another joke, yessir, for sure, this is a labor of looooooove).

John Sebastian said it best:

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Nomination Time

March 7, 2016 at 3:58 pm
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Hugo nominations are now open… but they will close at the end of the month. I finally received my PIN number from MidAmericon II, so I am busy filling out my ballot. If you’re eligible to nominate, you should do the same. No good reason to put it off till the last day, even if you have not finished your reading. Fill in the things you know you want to nominate now, today, this minute. You can come back and add more, or delete, or replace, or change later on. As many times as you want. The nominations won’t count until the ballot is closed.

As to what to nominate… your call entirely, of course.

I have been sharing my own thoughts and recommendations here in a series of blog posts, all of which you can find downstream by going back to “older posts.” Been doing that category by category, wherever I had something to say. (Which does not include every category).

Today I wanted to say a few words about the three short fiction categories. Short Story, Novelette. Novella. Three of the oldest and most storied categories, with a distinguished lineage dating back to the days when the magazines were the heart of the field, and short fiction was still the place where the rising stars of SF and fantasy broke in and made their names, competing with the giants of previous generations for these prizes. That’s less true now than it used to be… but there’s still some validity to it, and the three short fiction categories remain, to my mind, among the most important and prestigious Hugos. (I should say right here that I cannot pretend to be objective about these categories, since I am a past winner of rockets in all three of them. It is only the Big One, the novel, that has eluded me).

Last year, however, these three categories were among those most impacted by Puppygate. The slates dominated all three, sweeping the board and shutting out all other work. In the novelette category, a disqualification allowed one non-Puppy nominee to squeeze onto the ballot, and that story ultimately won. In novella and short story, fans unhappy with the choices presented them voted No Award. Understandably, IMNSHO… still, it was not a happy ending. There was some wonderful and powerful work published in these categories in 2014, and it was a shame that none of it could be recognized. (I was proud and pleased to present Alfie Awards to Ursula Vernon for “Jackalope Wives” in short story, and to Patrick Rothfuss for “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” in novella… but we all know that an Alfie is not a Hugo, and in an ordinary year both Vernon and Rothfuss would surely have been contending for a rocket).

That’s last year, however. No amount of rehashing can change what happened. The important thing is to see that it does not happen again. And to that end, it behooves all of us to nominate the short stories, novelettes, and novellas that we enjoyed most last year… to share our thoughts with our friends… to shout our recommendations from the rooftops. Let’s make sure this year’s shortlists truly represent the best of what was published in 2015.

As to my own recommendations…

Ah, there I hit a problem. I am not making any recommendations in these categories. Problem is, I have a conflict of interest. As a writer I did not publish any original short fiction in 2015, true. As an editor, however… well, Gardner Dozois and I co-edited an anthology called OLD VENUS that came out last year, and in my (admittedly less than objective) view, that book contained several stories that are worthy of Hugo nominations, and one that is so bloody brilliant that I think it stands right up there with any story that ever won the Hugo.

I really can’t tell you which one it is, however. Or the names of the other stories in the book that I think worthy of consideration. Look, Gardner and I liked all the stories we included in OLD VENUS. If we hadn’t, we would not have purchased them (and we do reject stories for every one of our anthologies). But we’d be lying if we said we liked all of them equally. There are stories Gardner liked more than I did; there are stories I liked more than Gardner did; there are stories both of us loved, loved, loved. As editors, however, it would be unethical for us to say which were which in public. Just as parents need to maintain devoutly that they love all their children equally and have no favorites, it behooves the ethical editor to take a similar stance toward the stories they purchase and publish.

So in the end all I can really say is that Gardner and I are both very proud of OLD VENUS, that we think there’s some stuff in it worthy of your consideration, and that we hope you will agree.

For that, of course, you need to read the book. I can make that a little easier, at least. As it happens we have about forty (40) hardcover copies of OLD VENUS, autographed by both Gardner and myself, in stock at the Jean Cocteau Cinema bookstore. We also have some copies of the companion volume OLD MARS, though that was published a year earlier, so nothing in it is eligible for a Hugo. From now until the end of the month, we will offer a 30% discount off cover price on both OLD VENUS and OLD MARS. http://www.jeancocteaucinema.com/film/jean-cocteau-cinema-bookstore/

(And as long as I’m discounting, we’ll also offer discounts on the hardcover WHEEL OF TIME COMPANION, signed by all its editors, and the trade paperback of THE MARTIAN, signed by Andy Weir. Weir is a leading candidate for the Campbell Award this year and THE MARTIAN is almost sure to be a nominee in Dramatic Presentation/ Long Form, while the WHEEL OF TIME book deserves a nomination in Best Related Work).

Returning once more to the Hugo Awards and the three short fiction categories… yes, of course, there was plenty of great stuff published last year outside of OLD VENUS. And there are plenty of recommendation lists available on the web where you can find lists of what other fans, pros, and critics thought outstanding.

The biggest and best of those is the LOCUS recommended reading list, which you can find here:
http://www.locusmag.com/News/2016/02/2015-locus-recommended-reading-list/

The Nebula Awards are often a precursor to the Hugos, as the Golden Globes are to the Oscars. You can find the Nebula nominees listed here:
https://www.sfwa.org/2016/02/2015-nebula-awards-nominees-announced/

The Sad Puppies do appear to be doing a recommended reading list rather than a slate this year. You can see what stories they most liked here:
http://sadpuppies4.org/sp4-recommendations-pages-and-faq/

There’s also a site called Rocket Stack Rank that has been collecting and collating recommendations from other sources, here:
http://www.rocketstackrank.com/p/2016-hugo.html

And those are just a few places that the awards are being discussed on the web. As far as I am concerned, the more discussion, the better. So please feel free to talk about your own favorite short stories, novelettes, and novellas in the comments section here… whether those are from OLD VENUS, from other anthologies, from magazines, wherever…

Read. Discuss. And nominate, nominate, nominate.

Keep Listening

February 26, 2016 at 5:59 am
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Chrysalis SELMA BLAIR
Ti Malice NICHOLAS GUY SMITH
Xbalanque NOEL BEARHEART
Hunapu OZZIE RODRIGUEZ
Troll RICHARD MOLL
Peregrine KATHLEEN TURNER
G.C. Jayewardene SANJIT DE SILVA
Cordelia Chaisson KASEY LANSDALE
Fortunato PRENTICE ONAYEMI
Lady Black DONNABELLA MORTEL
Mackie Messer P.J. OCHLAN
Molniya ADRIAN PAUL
Sara Morgenstern EMILY CARD RANKIN
Dr. Tachyon RAPHAEL SBARGE
Polyakov STEFAN RUDNICKI

It was quite a jigsaw puzzle, with recording taking place over the world, but we think the result will be worth it.

And we’re moving right on to DOWN & DIRTY, where a number of the cast members will be reprising their roles.

Wild Cards Pubdates

February 2, 2016 at 12:30 pm
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HIGH STAKES — the third and concluding volume in the current Wild Cards triad, and the twenty-third volume in the overall series — will be released by Tor in hardcover on AUGUST 23.

This one is another full-on mosaic novel, its storylines completely interwoven to make for a six-way collaborative novel. The participating writers, and their featured characters, are:

David Anthony Durham — Marcus (Infamous Black Tongue) Morgan
Stephen Leigh — Barbara (Babel) Baden
John Jos. Miller — The Midnight Angel
Melinda M. Snodgrass — Francis Xavier Black, NYPD
Caroline Spector — Michelle (the Amazing Bubbles) Pond
Ian Tregillis — Mollie (Tesseract) Steunenberg

Other favorites, old and new, will also appear: Hoodoo Mama, Carnifex, Lohengrin, the Recycler, Earth Witch, Jonathan Hive, Tinker, and many many more.

Be warned: this one is not for the faint of heart. This is our horror book, and things get pretty horrible. Mayhem and madness and murder, oh my. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Oh, and on other Wild Cards fronts — on March 30, a new original WC story will be available on Tor.com. “Discards,” by David D. Levine, is the origin story of his Brazilian ace, the Recycler… who will be appearing again in HIGH STAKES. But meet him first on Tor.com.

Last Year (Writing, Editing, Producing)

January 1, 2016 at 7:13 pm
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I do other things besides A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.

Nothing new about that. Since the very start of my career, in the early 1970s, I’ve always tried to keep several balls in the air. Sometimes one will plunk you in the head, to be sure, but it keeps life from getting dull.

My editing wound down a little in 2015. As much as I would like to do some more anthologies like ROGUES and OLD VENUS with Gardner Dozois, they were taking more of my time than I was comfortable with, given my other commitments. So Gardner is going on ahead solo with several exciting new anthology projects, but our team titles will need to wait. Apologies to all of you who were waiting for OLD URANUS.

Wild Cards is another matter. Wild Cards is in my blood, and I plan to continue with those books as long as someone will keep buying them. (And I desperately want to write more Wild Cards stories of my own, instead of just editing, but I don’t have time for that either). We delivered HIGH STAKES last year — the copyedited manuscript is on my desk as I type, waiting to be reviewed — and have signed with Tor for three more originals. Meanwhile, the reissues continue, and foreign publishers are picking up the series all over the world. We also have three Wild Cards graphic novels in the pipeline. Originals, not adaptations. The scripts are in — one from Carrie Vaughn, one from Melinda M. Snodgrass, one from the team of Kevin Andrew Murphy and John Jos. Miller — and the artists are hard at work on the pencils. They should be something.

Meanwhile, on the Hollywood front, I have three shows in various stages of development under the aegis of my overall deal with HBO. There’s CAPTAIN COSMOS for HBO (scripted by Michael Cassutt), there’s SKIN TRADE for Cinemax (to be scripted by Kalinda Vasquez), and there’s a third project in the very early stages that I am not allowed to talk about yet. There’s also WILD CARDS, but that’s at a different studio and I am not involved with it, except to license rights, sign the check, and distribute funds to my writers. Oh, and on the movie side, we seem to be moving toward production on IN THE LOST LANDS, an adaptation of three of my old stories.

Last year I also formed Kill Van Kull Productions, to develop and produce a series of low budget short films (twenty to thirty minutes long) of some classic SF short stories. Can’t say any more than that just now, but I will keep you posted as plans proceed.

I also turned down several interesting and potentially lucrative projects, on both the publishing and television/ film sides. Some of it was stuff I would love to do, but there’s just not enough time. I like to juggle, but you do need to keep the number of balls down.

So… plenty on my plate. Keep your fingers crossed, though, especially for the television and film projects. In Hollywood, nothing is ever real till shooting starts, and sometimes not even then. Remember William Goldman’s wisdom: nobody knows anything.

Last Year (Jean Cocteau)

January 1, 2016 at 4:47 pm
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I had a whole page about the Jean Cocteau on my Lost Post. A look back at an amazing year. All the author events, the magic shows, the concerts and comedy acts, the burlesque shows, the special events, the film festivals, the retrospectives, the television premieres, the marathons… and of course the movies.

With picture. Lots and lots of pictures.

Sorry, but I don’t have the patience to re-create it all again.

Suffice it to say that we had a great time at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in 2015, and we’re hoping that 2016 will be even more exciting under our new general manager, David Sidebottom.

We are certainly off to a good start. HATEFUL 8 opened with a sellout. Yay!

Oh, though I won’t rehash the entire year, I do want to mention some things we’re especially proud of. The Jean Cocteau dared to show THE INTERVIEW when all five of the country’s major chains caved in to threats from North Korea. Not only did we pack the house for weeks, we received a special unanimous commendation from the New Mexico state legislature for defending free speech.

Oh, and several weeks later, we defied the local prudes by showing Lina Esco’s film FREE THE NIPPLE, though we had to fight to get our ads published. (We also freed some nipples in the theatre on opening night). Plus we were the only theatre in New Mexico to show INTERSTELLAR the way director Christopher Nolan wanted it shown, on 35mm film.

So I am proud of all that. And of the Cocteau in general. Come visit us if you’re ever in Santa Fe. Our popcorn is great too.