Not a Blog

Happy Holidays

December 26, 2017 at 5:52 pm
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Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all my friends and readers out there.

I had a lovely Christmas Day with friends and family, and Santa was very good to me. I hope the same is true for all of you.

Even so, I look forward to the new year. I thought 2016 was a bad year, but 2017 was even worse… if not so much for me personally, then certainly for a lot of my friends and loved ones, and for the nation and the world as a whole.

I hope better times are ahead for all of us.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Dare I Eat A Peach?

September 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm
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Yesterday another birthday came and went.

(And thanks to all those who sent me cards and emails. You’re very kind. Love you all).

I had a good day with family and friends, but…

69

Really.

Urk.

How did that happen?

Seems like only yesterday I was one of the Young Turks of Science Fiction.

What a long strange trip it’s been…

And I still have a ways to go, I hope. Lots of stories still to tell.

(And yes, Mr. Prufrock, I still eat peaches).

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Another Sadness

September 14, 2017 at 6:40 pm
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I’ve been trying for several days to write something about the death of Len Wein.

It’s been hard. The words stick in my throat. Len was not just a professional colleague, as Jerry Pournelle was. Len was a friend. An old, dear friend. He lived in LA and I lived in Santa Fe, so we never saw each other more than a few times a year, but I cherished all the time I spent with him and his wife, Chris Valada. I don’t have a bad memory of Len, and I doubt that anyone does. He was a sweet, kind, funny man, and a joy to be around, to share a meal with (even though he always refused to “eat anything that looked like itself”).

Len and I went way way back. We were both there when comics fandom was being born, and we met for the first time in a place called the Workingman’s Circle, at the 1964 New York Comicon. The first comicon… and Len Wein was one of the kids who made it happen, one of the organizers, while I was the first fan to send in $1.50 for a membership. We were both in high school at the time. Many years later, at a San Diego Comicon with its 150,000 members, I turned to Len and sad, “See what you did?” He just laughed and replied, “Who knew?”

You don’t need me to tell you about his career, his professional accomplishments, his creations. If you don’t know who Len Wein is, you’ve never read a comic book. He created Wolverine, the New X-Men, Swamp Thing, the Human Target, Lucius Fox, and, oh, about five hundred other characters. Maybe a thousand. Most of those were created under the old work-made-for-hire contracts so common in the comics industry when Len stared out, so he had no ownership of any of them, and made very little, if anything, from all the movies and TV shows that featured them. (Lucius Fox was the exception to that, since he was created later, under a contract that gave the creator more rights, In one of the little ironies of life in the comics biz, Len made more money from Lucius Fox than he ever saw from Wolverine). If it had been me, it would have made me incredibly bitter to see my creations making billions while I got some loose change, but Len never bitched about it. He knew the rules when he signed the contracts, he would always say. And he loved seeing his creations on the big and little screens. There was no bitterness in the man, and no anger that I ever saw.

He loved comics, and he loved life, and I’m just one of the many who loved him.

((Comments allowed, but only about Len)).

Current Mood: melancholy melancholy

Talking Over Thai

July 21, 2017 at 6:09 pm
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So a couple of months ago, while I was out at Stokercon in Long Beach, on the mighty Queen Mary, I went out with Scott Edelman for Thai food (yum), and he recorded our conversation for his EATING THE FANTASTIC podcast.

The food was great, and the talk was fun. You can check it out at:

http://www.scottedelman.com/2017/07/21/down-drunken-noodles-with-george-r-r-martin-in-episode-43-of-eating-the-fantastic/

Scott and I both emerged from comics fandom of the 60s, so be forewarned, there’s a lot of talk about the Good Old Days.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Saying Farewell

June 7, 2017 at 8:01 pm
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Last weekend Parris and I drove up to Denver to attend the memorial service for our friend Ed Bryant, who died in February.

It was a long drive and a sad occasion, but I’m glad we went. It’s still hard to believe that Ed is gone. The last time I saw him was in November, in Tucson, when he was toastmaster and I was guest of honor at Tuscon. The first time… that must have been ’73 or ’74, as best as I can recall, at Harlan Ellison’s house in Sherman Oaks. A lot of years, a lot of cons.

Connie Willis emceed the event, eliciting both laughter and tears from the large crowd that had gathered to say farewell, most of them in Hawaiian shirts and baseball caps.

Many others rose to speak as well, including me. Ed left a lot of friends.

Ed was a talented writer and a great workshopper, who mentored and encouraged many writers younger than himself and helped them on their way. He was one of my Wild Cards authors, creator of Sewer Jack and Wyungare. But most of all he was a sweet, kind man, with a warm smile and a gentle wit. Science fiction and fantasy will be poorer without him.

Memorials like this are not for the deceased so much as they are for those left behind, I believe. It was good to get together with so many others who cared about Ed, and to share our memories of him, with laughter and love.

Current Mood: sad sad

A Poem, on Memorial Day

May 29, 2017 at 5:29 pm
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I have posted this before, but it comes to mind every year on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.

Kipling said it better than I ever could.

Words to keep in mind.

Current Mood: sad sad

One of Our Aces Has Fallen

February 10, 2017 at 3:29 pm
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Very sad news out of Denver for all readers of science fiction and fantasy, and for Wild Cards fans in particular. We’ve just received word that Ed Bryant has died.

Ed did reviews for LOCUS for years, and they’ve posted an excellent obituary for him… more complete than what I could have cobbled together. Find it here: http://www.locusmag.com/News/2017/02/edward-bryant-1945-2017/

In addition to all his other considerable accomplishments, however, Ed was also one of my Wild Cards writers. He’s been part of the series since the very beginning, contributing a story (a collaboration with his dear friend Leanne C. Harper) to the very first anthology, and appearing off and on in other volumes over the years. He created or co-created numerous Wild Cards characters, but the one he used most was Sewer Jack, the gay Cajun subway worker who turned into a twelve-foot long alligator in times of crisis.

Always a fan favorite, Sewer Jack was last seen in volume twelve, DEALER’S CHOICE… but, perhaps fittingly, he will be back for one last hurrah in the forthcoming volume MISSISSIPPI ROLL, in a story penned by David D. Levine. Ed read and approved David’s handling of his character, and was pleased to see him back on stage.

Here’s Ed at happier times, from the 1988 worldcon in New Orleans, when WILD CARDS was a finalist for a Hugo Award. We all dressed to the nines that night, and had a hell of a celebration afterwards, even though we lost to Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN.

I first met Ed in 1971 or 1972, either at a worldcon or perhaps at Harlan Ellison’s house. After so many decades, the details fade. But he’s been a friend for decades. We partied together at more cons than I can recall, competed for Hugos and Nebulas and occasionally for women, attended Milfords together and critiqued each other’s work. He visited Santa Fe and stayed at my house, I visited Denver and stayed at his.

Out here in the west, Ed was often asked to preside at cons as a toastmaster and master of ceremonies, a task at which he excelled. He had a wry, dry wit, always funny, never cruel. No one who attended the 1981 worldcon in Denver will ever forget Ed in his maroon tails presenting the Hugo Awards on roller skates. So far as I’m concerned, he’s right up there with Connie Willis and Robert Silverberg as the Best Hugo Hosts Ever.

Ed’s health had been failing for some years, sadly, and he was not able to attend as many cons as he had in the past. But I was fortunate enough to see him in November at Tuscon in Tucson, Arizona, where he was once again the toastmaster, and at MidAmericon II in Kansas City a few months before that. He was frailer than he used to be, but still the same old Ed, sharp and funny as ever

Fandom and the world of science fiction will miss his gentle wit, his easy laugh, his talent. For for those of us who were his brothers and sisters in Wild Cards, our universe will never be the same. One of our aces has fallen.

A Bad Year Gets Worse

December 27, 2016 at 5:21 pm
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Death, death, and more death… this year just keeps getting worse and worse.

There is not much I can say about the death of Carrie Fisher that a thousand other people have not said already. She was way too young. A bright, beautiful, talented actress, and a strong, witty, outspoken woman. Princess Leia will live as long as STAR WARS does… probably forever…

And the world lost one of its great fantasists today as well: Richard Adams, the author of WATERSHIP DOWN. Gardner Dozois ranks WATERSHIP DOWN as one of the three great fantasy novels of the twentienth century, right up there with LORD OF THE RINGS and THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING, and I agree. A truly amazing book… and one that somehow always seems to get forgotten when fans discuss the great fantasies. Maybe because of the talking rabbits? No idea…

Adams was a wonderful writer. Yes, WATERSHIP DOWN was his masterpiece, but it was by no means his only great book. He wrote two terrific epic fantasies with human characters, SHARDIK and MAIA, both of which are criminally underrated, as well as an erotic ghost story, THE GIRL ON A SWING. His other “animal book,” THE PLAGUE DOGS, also has some wonderful sections… though it is such a dark, depressing, angry, gut-punch of a novel that I can’t say I ‘enjoyed’ it.

Adams was not ‘one of us,’ in the sense that he was never a convention-goer or part of our genre fantasy community, which may be why he was never honored with a life achievement award by the World Fantasy Convention. Nonetheless, he deserved one. I’ve been suggesting him for that honor for at least twenty years… in part because I wanted to meet him. Now I never will. That’s sad (though not as sad as PLAGUE DOGS).

A wonderful actress, a great writer. The world is poorer tonight.

Please, let this wretched year come to an end.

Three Thoughts

December 12, 2016 at 5:36 pm
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Just a grab bag of thoughts and opinions I’ve been meaning to share…

I never had the honor of meeting John Glenn, but his death saddened me. The last of the Mercury Seven. I am old enough to remember when NASA first introduced them to the world… and incidentally coined the term “astronaut” (before that, we called them “spacemen”). The dawn of the space age! An age, sadly, that now seems to be passing, at least insofar as manned exploration is concerned. If you had asked me in 1961, I would have said by 2017 we would certainly have a base on the moon, and maybe one on Mars. Hard to believe all seven are gone. They were all heroes to me.

Now that WESTWORLD has finished its first season, I see that HBO is going to be rerunning its crime and courtroom drama, THE NIGHT OF. If you missed it last time, don’t make that mistake again. Yes, it’s very dark, but damn, this is brilliant television, with a bravura performance by John Turturro at its heart that ought to win him a whole shelf full of awards, if there is any justice.

Emily St. John Mandel appeared at the Jean Cocteau Cinema last month (you can find my post about her downstream), and I had the honor of interviewing her. I had long been an admirer of her SF novel, STATION ELEVEN, which I thought deserving of a Hugo nod… but at the time of her appearance, I had not read any of her three earlier novels. She was such a charming and fascinating guest, however, that I made up for that lack afterward, and now I am even more impressed with her talent than I was before. LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL, THE SINGER’S GUN, and THE LOLA QUARTET are not science fiction or fantasy — don’t know how to characterize them, “literary noir” is about the best I can do — but damned, they are good. Fascinating characters, original stories, and such gorgeous prose. Rich, evocative, beautiful writing, but never intrusive. She makes her people and her places come alive in a way that draws you in and will not let you go. I can’t wait to read what she does next.

R.I.P. Leonard

November 10, 2016 at 10:31 pm
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Leonard Cohen is gone, and the world is a little poorer.

I’d say “a little sadder,” but Cohen was the bard of sadness. He spoke to all the broken hearts out there, sang of shattered dreams and lost hopes. There was no one better to listen to when you were melancholy, depressed, lonely, despondent, or suicidal.

There was a certain time in my life when I listened to Cohen’s SONGS OF LOVE AND HATE album obsessively, drowning in his voice and his words. That was in the Age of Vinyl, and I believe I wore out several needles on that one.

I’ve loved so many of his songs… “Hallelujah,” of course, and “Famous Blue Raincoat.” But I will leave you with my favorite:

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Back in the day, when I was young and music was good, a number of my short stories were inspired by lyrics in my favorite songs. “Suzanne” was the inspiration for my short story “Bitterblooms,” which remains one of my favorites to this very day.

Goodbye, Leonard.