Not a Blog

Talking ‘Bout My Generation

June 11, 2019 at 8:22 am
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I’ve written a lot of things during my career: science fiction, fantasy, horror, various hybrids of all of the above.   And once upon a time, like many writers, I wrote a novel about the times and events I’d lived through… a story about my own generation, the Boomers, about our dreams and our disillusionments.   It was centered on the music.  Of course it was.   Rock n roll was as central to my generation as the Vietnam War, the counterculture, television, and the sexual revolution.   All those things wove together.   Of course, being who I was, I added a fantasy/ horror element.   The resulting novel was called THE ARMAGEDDON RAG.   It was nominated for the World Fantasy Award (but lost, alas) and got some great reviews.   I think it sold about twelve copies, but that’s another story.   Oddly enough, it also opened the door to television and film for me, when a produce named Phil deGuere optioned it for a feature film… (that never got made, alas again)… but that’s another story too.

This post is not about the RAG, not really.  It’s about another generational novel, one that has just been published, written by Lewis Shiner.   Lew is an old friend, one of my original Wild Cards writers, the creator of Fortunato, the Astronomer, and Veronica, among other characters.   He was a mainstay in the early Wild Cards books back in the 80s and early 90s.  His first novel FRONTERA was a Hugo finalist, and he was one of the rising stars of the “mirrorshades” movement when cyberpunk came along.  After that, however, Lew’s muse led him off in other directions.   He drifted away from science fiction and wild cards, and went on to write a number of mainstream novels… about skateboarding, about tango dancing, about race relations, and yes, about rock music (the excellent GLIMPSES, a World Fantasy Award nominee — unlike ARMAGEDDON RAG, it won).

And now Lew has written his magnum opus.   It’s a huge book, maybe five times as long as my RAG… much longer than anything Shiner has written before… but not a word is wasted.   It’s called OUTSIDE THE GATES OF EDEN.

EDEN starts in the 60s and goes all the way up to the present day and the near future.  Along the way it touches on the counterculture, the Summer of Love, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and so much more… it is, in short, the story of a generation.   Honestly, I really don’t know how Gen Xers or millenials will respond to it.   Maybe they’ll see it as a historical novel, as distant from themselves as a novel of the Civil War.   I can’t imagine a Boomer not responding to what Lew has done here.   I read this in galleys, long before publication, and I find myself thinking back on it often.   Let me give this one the ultimate compliment:  I wish I had written it.   I didn’t, though.  Lew did.

You can read it for yourself by grabbing a copy from SubPress at:

https://subterraneanpress.com/outside-the-gates-of-eden

 

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

In the Hall!

June 10, 2019 at 5:20 pm
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Very pleased to announce that I am being inducted into the Hall of Fame!

No, not the one in Canton, nor the one in Cooperstown.  Not the halls in Cleveland or Seattle either.

Come October, I am being inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

The announcements just came out:

https://www.nj.com/entertainment/2019/06/new-jersey-hall-of-fame-to-induct-george-rr-martin-martha-stewart-laurie-hernandez-and-more.html

https://www.njarts.net/uncategorized/southside-johnny-the-smithereens-to-be-among-nj-hall-of-fame-inductees-2/

So… pretty cool, I think.   Southside Johnny, the great great NY Giants Bart Oates and Harry Carson, Peter Benchley, Jason Alexander, and all sorts of other great folks will be joining the Hall with me as well.   And the list of previous inductees is pretty amazing too.  I mean, hey, the Boss!

Thanks to everyone who voted for me.

The induction ceremony will be October 27 in Asbury Park.

Though I’ve lived in New Mexico since 1979, I was born and raised in Bayonne, and New Jersey will always be a part of me.   And now it would seem that I will always be a part of New Jersey as well.   Not bad for a kid from the projects.

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

All Hail Our Artists

June 2, 2019 at 8:04 am
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I am a lucky guy in a lot of ways… one of them being that I get to work with some of the greatest SF and fantasy artists in the world.

ASFA has just announced this year’s finalists for the Chesley Awards, and I’m thrilled to note that Wild Cards and A Song of Ice and Fire both have artists among this year’s finalists.

Michael Komarck has been doing spectacular Wild Cards covers for Tor for years now, with way too little recognition, so it’s great to see that his cover for LOW CHICAGO is a finalist for Best Cover Illustration, Hardcover.   Marko Kloos’s Khan is the featured character.

The redoubtable John Picacio has no fewer than three nominations on this year’s Chesley ballot… all great, but of course my favorite is the illustration he did for “EverNight,” a Wild Cards story by Victor Milan on Tor.com.   It’s been nominated for Best Interior Illustration.

John tells me he was especially pleased by this nomination.   “I want to celebrate Vic, and I want people to remember him and his story.”

I speak for the whole Wild Cards Consortium when I say how lucky we are to have amazing talents like John Picacio and Michael Komarck bringing our characters to life.

Meanwhile, that other series of mine is also well represented on the Chesley ballot, with a nomination for John Jude Palencar’s 2019 Ice & Fire calendar as Best Product Illustration.   You can see the cover here, but there’s a lot more stunning Ice & Fire art inside.  JJP is one of the premiere artists in the field, and a joy to work with.

 

The entire list of this year’s Chesley nominees can he found here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/17afhGHSQ1c22ogC_LNr2wdx0qxD3SefO_90Sl94keqs/edit#

Congratulations to all the nominees.   I love fantasy art, and it’s nice to see some great work being recognized.

(Signed copies of LOW CHICAGO and the 2019 Palencar calendar are both available from the bookstore at the Jean Cocteau Cinema.  Vic Milan’s “EverNight” can be found and read on Tor.com, along with lots of other great Wild Cards stories).

Current Mood: happy happy

More Stuff, More Nonsense

May 19, 2019 at 8:01 am
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Aside from the idiocy on the internet, what else has been going on of late?

Well, I went to LA to moderate the Q&A at the premiere of the new TOLKIEN biopic in Westwood.  The picture is lovely, by the way, and I had a great time.   Got to meet Nicholas Hoult and the lovely Lily Collins, the stars of the film, as well as director Dome Karukoski.   Afterwards I flew home to Santa Fe, and we did the New Mexico premiere at the Jean Cocteau.

The JCC followed that up with two nights of magic, comedy, and juggling featuring Ben Seidman and Marcus Monroe.  Wonderful shows.   The audience had a great time, howling and laughing.   Ben is a great magician and very funny, Marcus the juggler is hilarious, and the two of them together make for a helluva evening.

While I was at the JCC, of course, my staff forced me to descend into the basement and sign books for a couple of hours.   So if you are looking for autographed copies of FIRE & BLOOD, A GAME OF THRONES, or any of my other titles, check out the JCC website, they have plenty of stock once again… while it lasts.  And lots of signed books by the other writers who have appeared at the theatre as well.

Oh, speaking of FIRE & BLOOD… very pleased to learn that it has been nominated for a Locus Award by the readers of LOCUS magazine, the Publisher’s Weekly of SF and fantasy.  It’s a finalist in the “Best Collection” category:

2019 Locus Awards Finalists

Oh, I should mention that while I was in LA, I spent a few hours at the Petersen Automobile Museum and had a great time.  They have just opened a special new exhibit of cars from television and film, so I got to gawk at a couple of cars from MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, the DeLorean from BACK TO THE FUTURE, various Transformers, the VW from DEATH RACE 2000, Kit from KNIGHT RIDER, and all sorts of other cool stuff, along with the usual displays of classic automobiles through the ages.

 

If you love cars, check it out.

I also met with the writing staff for the WILD CARDS tv shows being developed by UCP for Hulu.   Had a great dinner, and was blown away by their talent and enthusiasm.   I think we could have something very special coming your way.

And I visited another writer’s room as well, for another show.   But if I talk about that one, they will kill me.

I am back home again now, and back once more in Westeros, working on WINDS… which, let me add once more, has NOT been finished and hidden away for years.  (sigh)

 

Current Mood: busy busy

Hugo Recommendations – Editing (Redux)

February 21, 2019 at 9:42 pm
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For Best Editor, Short Form:

GARDNER DOZOIS

Of course.

 

We lost Gardner last May.   A lot of love and laughter went out of the world when he died, and a tremendous amount of talent as well.   He was a gifted writer who did not write nearly enough… and an amazing editor, the single most important and influential editor in our field since John W. Campbell Jr.   It was my privilege  to co-edit half a dozen anthologies with him.   That was a joy and a pleasure, and I will always regret that we can’t do any more.

Gardner loved science fiction with all his heart and soul, and the field loved him as well.   He won more Hugos for editing than any other editor, past or present.   But that does not mean we cannot give him one more.   THE BOOK OF MAGIC, his last original anthology, was published in 2018, along with the final volume of his annual BEST.   Great works, both.

I’ll be putting Gardner’s name on my ballot for Best Editor, Short Form.   I hope you will as well.

 

Current Mood: melancholy melancholy

Hugo Eligibility – Best Series

February 21, 2019 at 9:41 pm
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I have seen here and there that some people are suggesting A SONG OF ICE & FIRE (by that name, or as GAME OF THRONES) as a possible nominee for the new(ish) Best Series category of the Hugo Awards.   It fits worldcon’s very broad definition of a series, I agree… but as I said below in my post about FIRE & BLOOD, I don’t consider A SONG OF ICE & FIRE a series, and even it was, FIRE & BLOOD is not really part of it.   More a Related Work, the category where it fits best.

WILD CARDS, however, IS a series by anyone’s definition, and is definitely eligible for nomination.

And for what it is worth, WILD CARDS had a hell of a year in 2018.

We published not one, not two, but three new original mosaic novels in the series:  LOW CHICAGO came out in June and TEXAS HOLD ‘EM in November, both in the US, while KNAVES OVER QUEENS was a June release in the UK.   I don’t know any other contending series that put out three new books last year.  And while I am admittedly far from objective, those three books rank among the strongest volumes in the history of the series.   I am very proud of them, and the fans seemed to love them too.

That’s not all, however.   We re-released one of the old books too: ONE-EYED JACKS, volume eight from the original series, was released in August, after decades of being out of print.   But it was not a straight reprint.   We also added two brand new stories to the original text, a Magpie story by Kevin Andrew Murphy and a tale of Lady Black from Carrie Vaughn.

In addition, we had three brand-new stand-alone Wild Cards stories published over on Tor.com:

— “EverNight,” by Victor Milan, published in February,
—  “The Flight of Morpho Girl,” by Caroline Spector and Bradley Denton, published in April,
—  “Fitting In,” by Max Gladstone, published in November.

That’s a huge amount of original Wild Cards content.   If you haven’t tried any of it, you should.   There’s some great stuff there.   I am a lucky editor, and I’ve assembled an amazing team of writers in Wild Cards.

And 2018 was our thirty-first year.   We now have twenty-seven volumes in print, with three more in the pipeline… and probably a lot more to come, especially if the TV shows take off on Hulu.   No other series comes close.

I hope the Hugo nominators will agree.

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

Hugo Recommendations – Best Professional Artist

February 18, 2019 at 1:19 pm
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Nominating for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist is always especially difficult.   There are so many terrific talents working in science fiction and fantasy just now, it is next to impossible to settle on just four or five as being worthy of a nod.   Nonetheless, that’s the way it works, so…

Once again, I’ve had the honor of working with some astounding artists during the past year.   Let me bring a few of them to your attention.

MICHAEL KOMARCK, who has been the cover artist for most of the Wild Cards books since Tor revived the series, once again excelled this year, with knockout covers for both LOW CHICAGO and TEXAS HOLD ‘EM.   Take a look:

Komarck is a meticulous craftsman who always takes great care to get the characters right.  I can’t imagine anyone capturing Bubbles or Khan any better than he did on these covers.   It is truly past time that Komarck got another Hugo nod.

We had so many Wild Cards titles released last year that Tor brought in other artists to spell Komarck.   One of them was DAVID PALUMBO, who did the art for the reissue of ONE-EYED JACKS, featuring the Oddity.   Palumbo was also the artist for Bantam Spectra’s illustrated edition of NIGHTFLYERS: the cover and the gorgeous interior plates were all his.

Of course, no discussion of Wild Cards artists would be complete without a mention of JOHN PICACIO, who illustrates all of the stand-alone Wild Cards stories that appear on Tor.com.   Here are a couple of the pieces he produced last year, to illustrate Victor Milan’s “EverNight” and Max Gladstone’s “Fitting In.”

 

The biggest book I published during 2018 was not a Wild Cards mosaic, however: it was FIRE & BLOOD, the first volume of my imaginary history of the Targaryen kings of Westeros…. published on November 20 by Bantam in the US and HarperCollins Voyager in the UK in a stunning hardcover edition (still in the top ten on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list, some two months after publication, I am pleased to report).  The edition was extensively and lavishly illustrated by DOUG WHEATLEY.

 

Last… but certainly not least… let me draw your attention to JOHN JUDE PALENCAR, whose powerful (and disturbing) paintings for the 2019 SONG OF ICE AND FIRE calendar make it one of the strongest and most unforgettable in what I like to think has been a very distinguished series.  (Though the calendar covers 2019, it was first released at Comicon in July 2018, so the artwork therein is eligible for this year’s awards).   JJP’s take on Westeros and its denizens is like none other, and I have already arranged to buy several of his originals for my own walls.

(If you are one of the many who no longer uses wall calendars, but loves great art, you can get signed copies (signed by me, not the artist, alas) of the JJP calendar from the bookshop at my Jean Cocteau Cinema).

So there you are: Michael Komarck, David Palumbo, John Picacio, Doug Wheatley, John Jude Palencar.   Keep them in mind when making your Hugo nominations.   I know I will.

 

Current Mood: artistic artistic

Hugo Recommendations – Fan Writer

February 8, 2019 at 8:19 am
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Best Fan Writer.   That’s a clear cut category.

My recommendation is ADAM WHITEHEAD, for his work on his blog THE WERTZONE.

He’s come close a couple times, but has yet to make the ballot.   Maybe this is the year.

Take a read, and judge for yourselves:

http://thewertzone.blogspot.com/

I’d also love to suggest KATY RASK, who writes the marvelous Wild Cards Reread posts for Tor.com.   However, my understanding is that Tor.com pays her for those columns, which makes her ineligible.   Which is a pity, since she does a great job.   Take a look at one of her posts for a taste:

SFF Archaeology: Excavating the Superhero World of the Wild Card Series

Good stuff, I think, and there’s lot’s more where that came from.   Read the whole series, and you’ll be as impressed as I am.

Current Mood: geeky geeky

Hugo Eligibility – Fire & Blood

February 2, 2019 at 8:09 pm
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I had a big new Westeros book published last year (official publication date November 20, 2018) — FIRE & BLOOD, covering the history of the Targaryen kings from Aegon’s Conquest to the regency of Aegon III.   It’s been doing rather well, thank you.   Debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and is still in the top ten two months later.  And just last week, we got a great review in KIRKUS, a notoriously tough journal.

The question of its Hugo eligibility is… well, trickier than usual.

FIRE & BLOOD is eligible, certainly.  But what category does it belong in?

There’s Best Novel, the “Big One”  A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, A FEAST FOR CROWS, and A STORM OF SWORDS were all nominated for the Best Novel Hugo in years past (they all lost, to be sure, but never mind).   In all of the promotional interviews I did leading up to the book’s release, however, I took pains to stress that FIRE & BLOOD was not a novel  but rather a work of imaginary history (I used to say “fake history,” but some of my readers objected).    I did not want anyone buying the book under the misapprehension that it was the latest volume in A SONG OF ICE & FIRE.   After saying over and over again “this is not a novel,” it would be rather disingenuous of me to accept a Hugo (should it win, which I must admit is rather unlikely) or even a nomination in the Best Novel category.

Alas, there is no Hugo category for “Best Imaginary History.”

It has been pointed out to me that the publication of FIRE & BLOOD makes me eligible for nomination in the new (relatively) Best Series category.   Well, yes, I suppose.  It depends on one’s definition of what constitutes a series.   Worldcon’s definition is considerably broader than my own, for what it’s worth.   Many SF writers have set their stories against a common background or “future history,” a term originated by Heinlein and popularized by Campbell.  My own Thousand Worlds stories fit that template, but I don’t consider them a series.   They share a background, but that’s all; except for the Tuf stories, there are no recurring characters, and the tales are set hundreds of years and hundreds of light years apart.   (The Haviland Tuf stories, a subset of my Thousand Worlds, ARE a series, as I define the term).  At the other extreme, you have what I’ll call “mega-novels,” stories spread across many books because of length.   Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS was not a series, as I see it, but one long novel published in three volumes.

Those are my definitions, however.   Not worldcon’s.   The Hugo rules are much looser, and would seem to include future histories, mega-novels, and true series all in the same Best Series category.

For what it’s worth, I do not consider A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE to be a series.   It’s one story.   A huge complicated story, admittedly, one that will take seven volumes to tell (once I finish the last two).  And in any case, FIRE & BLOOD is not strictly speaking a part of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.   It’s imaginary history set hundreds of years before any of the characters in SONG were born.   Yes, I suppose if you bundle FIRE & BLOOD, the five ASOI&F novels, and the three Dunk & Eggs novellas (collected as A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS) together, you have a series of sorts.   I wouldn’t even know what to call it.   The Westeros series?  The Seven Kingdoms series?  Not GAME OF THRONES or ICE & FIRE, certainly.   So…

I don’t know.

So… if not Best Novel, and not Best Series, where would FIRE & BLOOD fit on the Hugo ballot?  If anywhere?

My suggestion: Best Related Work.

That seems to be the best description of what the book actually is.   It’s an imaginary history, related to five published ICE & FIRE novels, but not a novel and not a part of that story.   A WORLD OF ICE & FIRE, the concordance we published several years ago, was its closest precursor.   That volume got some nominations in Best Related Work, though it did not come close to making the final five.  But there’s a precedent of sorts, so…

If you read and enjoyed FIRE & BLOOD and would like to nominate it for a Hugo, I would urge you to consider Related Work rather than Novel or Series.   (If you haven’t read it yet, hey, you can still get autographed copies from the bookshop at the Jean Cocteau Cinema).

And while I am the subject of the Best Related Work Hugo, let me make a recommendation that has nothing whatsoever to do with my own work (though my name is mentioned once, fwiw): ASTOUNDING, by Alec Nevala-Lee, an amazing and engrossing history of John W. Campbell Jr and his authors, Isaac Asimov, L. Ron Hubbard, and Robert A. Heinlein.   Insightful, entertaining, and compulsively readable, it brings Campbell and his era back to life.   I thought I knew a lot about Astounding, Campbell, and his authors, but Nevala-Lee goes way way deeper than any previous history I’ve read, and his book is full of stuff I never knew.  Of course, I’d love to have my own book nominated (I value the Hugo more than any other award), but I suspect that ASTOUNDING will win the rocket in the end.   It certainly deserves to.

 

Current Mood: confused confused

Hugo Recommendations – Editor

January 18, 2019 at 9:16 am
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As I was saying… nominations are now open for the 2019 Hugo Awards, to be presented this August in Dublin.   You need to be a member of either the Dublin worldcon, or last year’s gathering in San Jose, to nominate.

There are two rockets given for editing.   As with drama, the editorial awards are split into Long Form and Short Form.  In simple terms, the Long Form award is for those who edit books (novels, mostly), and the Short Form for magazine and anthology editors.   (Before they split the award, the magazine editors won everything, and the book editors got nothing).

Lots and lots of good editors out there.

In Long Form, I recommend you strongly consider two of my own editors:  ANNE LESLEY GROELL of Bantam Spectra/ Random Penguin in the US, and JANE JOHNSON of Harper Collins Voyager in the UK.   Anne and Jane have both been doing amazing work for decades, and have been criminally unrecognized.   Anne has only been nominated for a Hugo once, and Jane has never been a finalist at all… though she has been one of the major players in the British SF scene for as long as I can remember, and has built Voyager into one of the top UK genre publishers.   Last year, both of them did some incredible work… especially for me.   They were the editors on FIRE & BLOOD, my book of imaginary Westerosi history.   Let’s look beyond the usual suspects this year, and nominate these two amazing women.

In Short Form… well, we have the usual suspects here as well, in a category usually dominated by the editors of the major magazines, both print and electronic.   Anthology editors are eligible as well, however, so let me blush modestly and suggest that perhaps you might consider… well… me.

I have been editing the Wild Cards series since 1987, thirty one years and counting, and we’ve published some amazing stories over the years.  I’ve edited my share of reprint anthologies and theme anthologies (many with Gardner Dozois), demanding gigs both, but neither one is as tenth as hard as editing a shared world anthology and pulling it all together.   I did come in seventh on the long list once for my editorial work on Wild Cards (back when five works made the ballot), a decade or so back, but that’s the closest I’ve ever come.  (No matter, it’s a labor of love, I sure don’t do it for the money). Wild Cards had an especially strong year in 2018, I believe.  Though I’ve lost lots of Hugos as a writer, I’ve never lost one as a editor.   Maybe this is the year.

 

 

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful