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Countdown to Liftoff

March 21, 2016 at 7:45 pm
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Only ten more days remain until the close of nominations for the 2016 Hugo Awards, to be presented in Kansas City at MidAmericon II.

Are you a member of MidAmericon? Were you a member of Sasquan, last year’s worldcon in Spokane? Are you a member of the 2017 worldcon, to be held in Helsinki, Finland? If so, you’re eligible to nominate the books and stories and artists you loved best in 2015.

So, please… NOMINATE!

You can do it here: http://midamericon2.org/the-hugo-awards/hugo-nominations/

No fan of good will, no one who truly loves SF and fantasy and worldcon and fandom, wants a repeat of what happened to the Hugo Awards last year. I am not going to rehash that sorry mess; there’s no point to it, everything that needed to be said has been said, and a lot more besides. I would rather look to the future. Let’s restore the silver rocket to its former glory (and, by doing so, make a second round of Alfie Awards unnecessary) as a true measure of the year’s best work in imaginative literature.

I made my objections to the Puppy slates clear last year. This time around, the Sad Puppies at least changed from a slate to a recommendation list, to which I have no objections. I’ve looked at their list. There’s some great work on it. There’s some bad work on it, writers and books that I don’t think belong anywhere near a Hugo. And there’s a lot of books and stories that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet. The same could be said for most any list, however. There’s stuff on the Nebula shortlist I don’t like as well, and a lot of books on the LOCUS list that I have not read yet. (I will get to some of them. Too many books, too little time). Sad Puppies 4 played fair, in my estimation, and for that I commend them.

((The Rabid Puppies produced another slate. They have entirely different aims. And no, we will not discuss them here)).

And how about my own recommendations?

I’ve made a few. I did not issue them all at once, in a single list, but rather category by category over the past five months. I did not get to every category, and even with those I did, my recommendations are by no means exhaustive.

My intent, whenever I make a recommendation, is NOT to say, “Vote for this,” but rather, “Here’s something I really liked, take a look it it, you may find it deserving as well.”

Some of the other recommended reading lists are just lists of titles and names. Fine and good, I suppose, but I prefer to do a little more: to talk about the categories, the books, the authors, the artists and editors, and where I can to discuss WHY I think they deserve a nomination.

My posts are still up. For those who want to read them, here are links:

Short Fiction:
http://grrm.livejournal.com/476905.html

Professional Editor, Long Form:
http://grrm.livejournal.com/474144.html
http://grrm.livejournal.com/472316.html
http://grrm.livejournal.com/471834.html
http://grrm.livejournal.com/470764.html

Professional Editor, Short Form:
http://grrm.livejournal.com/471135.html

Professional Artist:
http://grrm.livejournal.com/462350.html

Graphic Story:
http://grrm.livejournal.com/460106.html

Related Work:
http://grrm.livejournal.com/458605.html

Dramatic Presentation, Short Form:
http://grrm.livejournal.com/453648.html

Dramatic Presentation, Long Form:
http://grrm.livejournal.com/452587.html

Novel:
http://grrm.livejournal.com/457140.html

If any of you go back and read those — and I hope you will — read the comments too. There are plenty of other recommendations to be found there, recommendations from my readers and friends. I am only one (overworked) guy, I can’t get to everything, it’s great to hear from other precincts. Especially when they tell you why they liked whatever it is they liked…

I did mean to get to some of the other categories. Alas, I failed. I am just not knowledgeable enough to make recommendations in some areas.

I did overlook some good choices even in the categories I covered. Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED is her best work to date, a very strong fantasy (though I had problems with the ending) and probably worth a nomination in Novel. I forgot about EX MACHINA when talking about Long Form Drama, but it’s a gripping and well done film, worthy of consideration. I recommended OUTLANDER for Short Form Drama, but it should be noted that the first season was telecast in two eight-episode arcs, and only the second eight are eligible, as the first eight were broadcast in 2014. I think JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL should be nominated in Long Form as a whole, rather than in Short Form, by episode, but others disagree.

Anyway… quibbles and additions aside… read, watch, consider… and please…

NOMINATE!

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.

COLONY Is Coming

February 12, 2016 at 4:05 pm
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The small screen comes to the big screen again this week at the Jean Cocteau Cinema, when we present a special one-night-only presentation of the USA Network’s cool new SF series, COLONY.

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Mark it down. Thursday night, February 18. We will be screening two new episodes of COLONY, to be followed by a question-and-answer with series creator and executive producer RYAN CONDAL. Oh, and I’m told a few lucky members of the audience will be inducted into Homeland Protection and go home with red berets from the show.

And of course we’ll have our famous popcorn and no doubt a special Colony cocktail as well.

Good Stuff to Read

February 1, 2016 at 1:46 pm
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With Hugo nominations now open, the question arises… what to nominate?

There was a lot of good work done last year.

A great place to start is with the LOCUS Recommended Reading List, which just came out:

http://www.locusmag.com/News/2016/02/2015-locus-recommended-reading-list/

I am sure there are some terrific stories and books that did not make the list (there usually are), but still, you can’t do better when it comes to a starting place.

And please note, in light of last year’s controversies, that this is what a recommended reading list SHOULD look like. Not a slate of five, with the message (spoken or unspoken) “vote for these,” but rather a long long list of quality work with the message, “here’s some good stuff, things we like, take a look.”

(I am, of course, gratified that so many stories from OLD VENUS made the list. LOCUS has always been kind to me. I point this out lest I be accused of bias. So I cannot pretend to be a completely disinterested party, but I do want to be honest and upfront. It should be said as well that, while I often share the enthusiasms of the LOCUS editorial staff and reviewers, and have found them to be on the whole a reliable guide, I do also disagree with their assessments from time to time. We all have our own tastes).

Just for the record, before the issue is raised, let me state loudly and definitively that I do not want any of my work to be part of anyone’s slate, this year or any year. But I do feel, as I have said before, that a recommended reading list and a slate are two entirely different animals.

Meanwhile, I will continue making my own recommendations here from time to time, when I have the time and the energy. Both of which I find are in short supply these days.

Giant Robots!

December 20, 2015 at 6:09 pm
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Those kaiju better watch out before they come bothering our world. It appears that both the United States and Japan are ready with the first generation of jaegers.

The US has issued a challenge.

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The Japanese have accepted.

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I think it would be cool if they staged this at halftime at the next SuperBowl. They did have two giant robots fighting at the first SuperBowl, after all, so bringing them back for the fiftieth would be only appropriate. (And they did have a giant golden robot tiger last year).

Cmon, NFL, get on it.

Remembering Roger

April 23, 2015 at 1:11 am
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Roger’s son Trent, a fine writer in his own right, is organizing the event for us, and other members of Roger’s family are also expected to attend, along with lots of us from the New Mexico science fiction community and Albuquerque fandom. I will be there, as will Jane Lindskold, Melinda Snodgrass, Walter Jon Williams, John Jos. Miller, and many many more. We have lots of folks coming in from out of town as well. Neil Gaiman is trying to make it, if his schedule allows. Joe Haldeman is flying in. So is Michael Cassutt. And many folks who cannot come to New Mexico in person will be Skyping in to join us, or sending video greetings and readings. Joe Lansdale, Steven Brust, Howard Waldrop, and others will be heard from.

We won’t be showing DAMNATION ALLEY, no… but we may screen the trailer, just for hoots and giggles. We will have other films and videos, though. A slide show, maybe… so if you have some good pictures of Roger, send jpegs to me or Trent. Artwork too. Most of the evening will be taken up with readings from Roger’s work: his poems, his stories, favorite passages from his books. We expect there will be tears; we hope there will be laughter too. And Roger’s own voice will be heard: he recorded the Amber audiobooks himself, and we hope to play some of that.

The evening’s final offering will be a play. If you’re read my memorial, above, you’ll know that one of the last things Roger ever completed was a short musical play called GODSON. He read it aloud in my living room a few weeks before he died, but to my knowledge it has never been staged or performed. Until now.

GODSON will have its long LONG awaited premiere on the stage of the Jean Cocteau on May 31. Its the story of what happens when Death adopts a child, and it’s pure Roger. We are in rehearsal now. Advance tickets for the evening will be on sale shortly; watch this space for announcements. All box office proceeds will be split with the Zelazny family and the actors and director who are bringing us GODSON. The Cocteau has only 130 seats, so if you want to be part of this, do not hesitate when tickets are made available. This is a one-time only event. (Though we would consider further performances of GODSON if the play is well received and there seems to be sufficient demand. Roger would like that, I am sure).

If you knew Roger, or even if you only knew his work, and you would like to help or be a part of this, please get in touch with Trent Z at trentzelazny@juno.com

We want to make this an evening worthy of one of greatest science fiction writers who ever lived.

Return to Venusport

March 3, 2015 at 11:48 am
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Remember Venus? No, no, not the hellhole that NASA found, with its acid rains and searing temperatures, but Old Venus, the Venus of our childhoods, the Venus of Burroughs and Moore and Bradbury and Brackett and Heinlein and Zelazny… the Venus that Astro hailed from… shrouded in clouds, mysterious, teeming with dinosaurs and endless swamps anmd furtive web-footed Venerians?

Who says you can’t go home again? Old Venus awaits you. OLD VENUS, the latest original anthology from me and my co-conspirator Gardner R. Dozois, goes on sale today at a bookstore near you, or from your favorite on-line bookseller.

Old Venus final jkt

Here’s the table of contents:

The final lineup:

INTRODUCTION, by Gardner Dozois
FROGHEADS, by Allen M. Steele
THE DROWNED CELESTRIAL, by Lavie Tidhar
PLANET OF FEAR, by Paul McAuley
GREEVES AND THE EVENING STAR, by Matthew Hughes
A PLANET CALLED DESIRE, by Gwyneth Jones
LIVING HELL, by Joe Haldeman
BONES OF AIR, BONES OF STONE, by Stephen Leigh
RUINS, by Eleanor Arnason
THE TUMBLEDOWNS OF CLEOPATRA ABYSS, by David Brin
BY FROGSLED AND LIZARDBACK TO OUTCAST VENUSIAN LEPERS, by Garth Nix
THE SUNSET OF TIME, by Michael Cassutt
PALE BLUE MEMORIES, by Tobias S. Buckell
THE HEART’S FILTHY LESSON, by Elizabeth Bear
THE WIZARD OF THE TREES, by Joe R. Lansdale
THE GODSTONE OF VENUS, by Mike Resnick
BOTANICA VENERIS: THIRTEEN PAPERCUTS BY IDA COUNTESS RATHANGAN, by Ian McDonald

OLD MARS was a great hit with fans of old-fashioned space opera and planetary romance, and we think OLD VENUS is even better… and there’s one story in there that’s so bloody good that if it doesn’t win the Hugo and Nebula both, I’ll count it as a major injustice. Which one? Ah, I will leave you guys to figure that out. But first you’ll need to read the book.

Venus In March

June 19, 2014 at 1:06 pm
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Venus is lovely in the spring.

The Old Venus, that is.  You know, the steamy, swampy Venus of the SF pulps, with its web-footed Venusians (Venerians), teeming jungles, dinosaurs, and those infamous dens of inquity in Venusburg.   The Venus of Leigh Brackett, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Roger Zelazny, C.L. Moore, and Isaac Asimov.

Those who miss the place (like me) will be able to return there next spring.  OLD VENUS, an original anthology of retro-SF stories set upon the lost Venus of old, will be released by Bantam Spectra in hardcover on March 3, 2015.  We just got our first look at the cover:

Old Venus final jkt

The final lineup:

INTRODUCTION, by Gardner Dozois
FROGHEADS, by Allen M. Steele
THE DROWNED CELESTRIAL, by Lavie Tidhar
PLANET OF FEAR, by Paul McAuley
GREEVES AND THE EVENING STAR, by Matthew Hughes
A PLANET CALLED DESIRE, by Gwyneth Jones
LIVING HELL, by Joe Haldeman
BONES OF AIR, BONES OF STONE, by Stephen Leigh
RUINS, by Eleanor Arnason
THE TUMBLEDOWNS OF CLEOPATRA ABYSS, by David Brin
BY FROGSLED AND LIZARDBACK TO OUTCAST VENUSIAN LEPERS, by Garth Nix
THE SUNSET OF TIME, by Michael Cassutt
PALE BLUE MEMORIES, by Tobias S. Buckell
THE HEART'S FILTHY LESSON, by Elizabeth Bear
THE WIZARD OF THE TREES, by Joe R. Lansdale
THE GODSTONE OF VENUS, by Mike Resnick
BOTANICA VENERIS: THIRTEEN PAPERCUTS BY IDA COUNTESS RATHANGAN, by Ian McDonald

If you enjoyed OLD MARS (our Locus Award nominee from last year), you'll like this one even better,  I think… and there's one story in there that's so bloody good that if it doesn't win the Hugo and Nebula both, I'll count it as a major injustice.  Which one?  Ah, I will leave you guys to figure that out.  But first you'll need to read the book.

March 3.  Mark the day on the calendars.

I'll meet you on Venus.

For New Mexicans

August 3, 2013 at 11:24 am
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((… and fans from Arizona, Colorado, Texas, and other surrounding states who have reliable cars and enough free time to drive to Santa Fe… or maybe just a bunch of frequent flyer miles they need to use up.))

  Tickets are now available for the first week's offerings at the revived Jean Cocteau Cinema.

  Here's our schedule for our first week:

 FRIDAY AUGUST 9
630pm Forbidden Planet – SOLD OUT
845pm Orpheus
11pm  Dark Star

  SATURDAY AUGUST 10
2pm Forbidden Planet
415pm Orpheus
630pm Forbidden Planet
845pm Orpheus
11pm Dark Star

SUNDAY AUGUST 11
2pm Orpheus
415pm Forbidden Planet
7pm Orpheus
9pm Forbidden Planet

MONDAY AUGUST 12
7pm Forbidden Planet
9pm Orpheus

TUESDAY AUGUST 13
7pm Orpheus
9pm Forbidden Planet

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 14
7pm Forbidden Planet
9pm Orpheus

THURSDAY AUGUST 15
2pm Orpheus
415pm Forbidden Planet
7pm Orpheus
9pm Forbidden Planet

Tickets to all showings are absolutely FREE.  So come by the theatre — we're at 418 Montezuma, just off Guadalupe, near the Railrunner depot and Sanbusco — and pick up one, or two, or five.

And I'll see you at the movies.

MEATHOUSE MAN Is Coming

May 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm
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Nowadays they call ’em graphic novels. Which is a fancy way of saying “big thick trade paperback or hardcover comic books sold in bookstores instead of comic shops,” really. When I was a kid we called them “funny books,” but I don’t think anyone but me and Howard Waldrop still remembers that. Never mind. I ramble.

The point is, I have all sorts of cool news on the funny book/ comic book/ graphic novel front. Which I am not going to spill here all at once, because, well, it’s more fun to torment you guys with one announcement at the time.

Here’s the first: MEATHOUSE MAN, the graphic novel.

Those of you who know me only from A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE may be wondering, what the hell is MEATHOUSE MAN?? The short answer is, “one of my old SF short stories.” (Actually, a novelette).

The long answer is, “the darkest, bleakest, sickest, most twisted thing I ever wrote.”

I wrote it back in the late 1970s, in response to an invitation from Harlan Ellison, who wanted something of mine for THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS. Most of my own visions, back then, were more romantic and melancholy than dangerous, but I wanted in that book, so I took up the challenge, opened a vein, and with my very own blood (no, not really) wrote this disturbing tale of zombie necrophilia, and… well, it was a painful story to write, and painful to read as well. When I sent it to Harlan, he rejected it… but Damon Knight bought it, and it was published in ORBIT 18. I’ve reprinted it a few times since. I really cannot say I “like” the story (it is not the sort of story that lends itself to liking), but it is a powerful piece.

And now it is going to be a funny book… er… graphic novel.

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For that, blame must go to Raya Golden, my talented (and somewhat twisted) Second Minion, a terrific young artist. Raya wanted to adapt something of mine as a comic, so when I offered her the choice of all the stuff in DREAMSONGS not already under option, she surprised the seven hells out of me by choosing “Meathouse Man.” (And she seems so sane and happy). Then she took the ball and ran with it.

Raya broke down the story, adapted it to comic form, wrote the script, did the pencils, the inks, the coloring, the covers. This is her MEATHOUSE MAN as much as it is mine.

Amazon’s publishing arm 47 North will be bringing it out in October… as an e-book for Kindle for sure. Raya and the gang at Amazon have done some interesting and innovative stuff to marry the medium to the format; this whole e-comic thing is a brave new world. (E-funny books? Who woulda thunk it?) A print edition is also possible, but not definite, waiting on final word on that.

So that’s the first of my funny books making its way toward you. Raya’s done an an amazing job on it, I think… I hope you’ll check it out, and… well, “enjoy” may not be the word, the story is kind of a punch in the gut, but…

That’s MEATHOUSE MAN. Coming this October to a Kindle near you.