Not a Blog

STARPORT Is Coming

March 4, 2019 at 6:37 pm
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A million years ago when the world was young and dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I spent the best part of a decade working in Hollywood.   In television, mostly, though I did a few feature scripts as well, for films that never got made.   My television career began on the CBS revival of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, along about 1985-1986.   After that I wrote a couple of MAX HEADROOM scripts, but they never got made either.  The show was cancelled when one of them was still in pre-production.   Then I spent three years on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.   Not the recent one, of course, the first one, the good one, with Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton and Roy Dotrice and Jo Anderson and Jay Acovone.

By the time B&B wrapped up I had climbed the television ladder from freelancer to staff writer to story editor to executive story editor to co-producer to producer to co-supervising producer to supervising producer, and was in line to be showrunner.   But B&B got the axe too before that could happen.   But I’d now accumulated enough credentials and credit to take the next step, and I moved into development, pitching ideas for shows of my own and writing pilots.

In Hollywood they call it “development hell,” and for good reasons.   You work just as hard, you make even more money, you pour your sweat and blood and tears into your creations… but most of what you create never gets aired.   I stuck it out for five years, pitched more series concepts than I can count, and wrote a half-dozen pilots, everything from a medical show about the CDC (BLACK CLUSTER) to an alternate world adventure called DOORWAYS, the only one of my pilots that was actually filmed.   We did that one for ABC and they loved it, enough to order six back-up scripts in anticipation of a series order.   The scripts were written, but the series order never came, and DOORWAYS died unborn, like the rest of my pilots.

Not long after that I left television.   I had an overall deal at Columbia, I was making good money, but I’d had enough of development hell.   There were things about working in television I liked a lot, but spending a year or more developing a world and creating characters and writing and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting a pilot for four guys in a room (sometimes three guys and a gal) that the world never got to see… that was not for me.   I wanted an audience.  Needed an audience.   Writing scripts for TZ and B&B, that was one thing.   Hard, challenging, stressful, demanding work, but at the end of the road the cameras rolled and a few weeks later millions of people were watching what I’d written.  The audience might like it or hate it, but at least they got to watch it.   Writing for the screen, be it the small screen or the big one, that’s fun.  Writing for a desk drawer, not so much.    So I put Hollywood behind me and returned to an unfinished novel I’d begun in 1991 and shelved for a few years because of film and tv deadlines, a book called A GAME OF THRONES, and… well, you all know how that turned out.

Which brings me back to STARPORT.

STARPORT was one of those pilots I wrote during my years in development hell.   In some ways it was my favorite.   When pitching a television series, there is a certain shorthand where you describe your new show by comparing it to existing shows (preferably successful ones).   Gene Roddenberry sold STAR TREK as “Wagon Train to the stars.”  HBO bought GAME OF THRONES as “the Sopranos in Middle Earth.”   I knew how to play that game too, so I pitched STARPORT as “HILL STREET BLUES with aliens.”   The idea was that, in the very near future (that would have been the late 90s, since I wrote the script around 1993-94), a great interstellar civilization called the Harmony of Worlds decides that humanity has finally advanced sufficiently to be admitted to the ranks of civilized races, and reveals themselves to us.   After first contact, they build three great starports for purposes of trade and diplomacy: one in Singapore, one in Copenhagen, and one in Chicago… out in the lake, where Mayor Daley always wanted to build an airport.   But the focus of the show was smaller than that: our viewpoint characters would be the cops and detectives of the police division closest to the Starport, who suddenly had to deal with all sorts of strange aliens coming and going, and with the sorts of problems they had never previously imagined.

It was a fun show to write.  Fox wanted a 90-minute pilot, which was all the rage back then.   My first draft came out closer to two hours, so of course I had to go back in and cut a lot of stuff, but that was pretty much par for the course for me.   My first drafts were always too long and too expensive.   The development process was pretty much the old Hollywood cliche: they loved it, they loved it, they loved it, they decided to pass.   We shipped it around to other networks, but there were only four back then, so finding a second buyer was a long shot.   No dice.   STARPORT went in the drawer.   Years later, I included one version of the script in QUARTET, a small press collection from NESFA Press to mark my being GOH at a Boskone.   But aside from that, the story remained untold.

Until now.

Enter RAYA GOLDEN.   My friend, my minion, the art director for my Fevre River Packet Company, and a very talented comic artist in her own right.   A few years ago she adapted “Meathouse Man,” one of my darker and more twisted short stories, as a comic.  It earned a Hugo nomination in the Best Graphic Novel category (did not win, alas).   But she was only warming up with that.   Afterward I gave her a much bigger challenge: STARPORT, both drafts.   And she’s been hard at work at it for the past two years, adapting the teleplay to comics format, fixing all my dated 90s references (the jokes about VHS tapes did not work so well any more), and penciling and inking it.

 

It’s huge fun.   And now, at long last, it’s almost here.

Random House and Harper Collins will be releasing the graphic novel of STARPORT next week, on MARCH 12. 

You can order a copy by Clicking HERE

(I am amused to note that “Hill Street Blues with aliens” is now too dated, and has been replaced by “Law & Order meets Men in Black.”   The more things change, the more they stay the same).

Eventually, we will also have signed copies available for sale from the bookshop at my Jean Cocteau Cinema.

I hope you all enjoy it.   For my part, I am thrilled that one of my orphan children has finally escaped the desk drawer to wander out into the wide world.   If the book does well enough, I can see the possibility of further issues of STARPORT down the road.

And who knows?  Maybe someone will even want to turn it into a television series.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Sharing A World

February 6, 2019 at 5:18 pm
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Back in the 80s, when Wild Cards was born, shared worlds ruled the racks.   THIEVES WORLD, ITHKAR, WAR WORLD, LIAVEK, HEROES IN HELL, GREYSTONE BAY, and on and on.  New series were popping up every month.  Today, only Wild Cards remains, still going strong after thirty-one years and twenty-seven volumes.

Writing for a shared world has some unique challenges, however.   In August 2017, a large group of Wild Carders assembled at my Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe for a mass signing, and we interviewed them about the up and downs of writing other people’s characters, and having other people write yours.

Enjoy.

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

Hall of Fame?

December 13, 2018 at 8:03 pm
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It appears I have been nominated for the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

(So has Peter Dinklage.   And many other fine folks).

2018 Nominee Voting

No idea whether or not you need to live in New Jersey… or at least be from New Jersey, as I am… in order to vote.

 

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Two Weeks To Remember

December 10, 2018 at 11:08 am
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It’s been a couple of very exciting weeks for me and Archmaester Gyldayn.

My trip back east was a lot of fun, and hugely productive.   I got to have Thanksgiving with my family in Jersey for the first time in more than a decade, I checked in with my editors, publishers, and agents, I had a blast on LATE NIGHT WITH STEPHEN COLBERT… and I signed 1600 copies of FIRE & BLOOD for the big launch at Loew’s Jersey.   Being on the stage of that magnificent old movie palace with my friend John Hodgman, seeing my name on the marquee of a theatre where I saw BEN-HUR and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA as a kid in days gone by… there are no words for that.

And the fans were great as well.   Their excitement and enthusiasm was palpable.   My thanks to everyone who came out… and to all of you who were not able to get tickets as well.   Sorry about that.  (The Friends of the Loew’s hope to have their balcony restored for the next time I return, which will mean a thousand more seats).

FIRE & BLOOD was released the day after the Loew’s event, November 20… in the US, in the United Kingdom, and in various other countries around the world, where my translators had to work around the clock to get the translation done in time to allow simultaneous publication with the English editions.   A number of them did just that, and my hat is off to them.  Great work, folks.

No one really knew how well the book would do, least of all me.   It’s a Westeros book, yes… but not a traditional novel, and not part of the SONG OF ICE AND FIRE/ GAME OF THRONES  sequence.   How would my readers react to a book of imaginary history?

I’m thrilled to say that they have reacted very well.

FIRE & BLOOD debuted at #1 on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list, for hardcover fiction.

FIRE & BLOOD also debuted at #1 for the TIMES list in the United Kingdom.

I’m informed that we were also #1 in Brazil, #2 in Spain, #5 in Germany, and #8 in France.

(Other countries will need to wait on the translations).

Needless to say, I am thrilled.   My thanks go out to Anne Groell, Scott Shannon, and David Moench, my team at Bantam Spectra, to Jane Johnson at Harper Collins Voyager in the UK, to my amazing agents Kay McCauley and Chris Lotts, and to all my editors and publishers and translators around the world.    And thanks as well to the booksellers, without whose support those bestseller lists would not have been possible.

And most of all, my thanks go out to my fans and readers.   I know you want WINDS, and I am going to give it to you… but I am delighted that you stayed with me for this one as well.  Your patience and unflagging support means the world to me.

Enjoy the read.   Me, I am back in my fortress of solitude, and back in Westeros.   It won’t be tomorrow, and it won’t be next week, but you will get the end of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.  Meanwhile, you have the final season of GAME OF THRONES coming, and the new show that is not yet officially called THE LONG NIGHT being cast, and a couple more shows still being scripted… and a few other cool things in the works as well.

Winter is not the only thing that is coming.

Current Mood: excited excited

Another Sadness

June 30, 2018 at 12:57 am
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Harlan Ellison died in his sleep the day before last.  He was 84.

It was a gentle ending for a turbulent soul.  Not entirely unexpected.  Harlan had been in very bad health since a stroke laid him low a couple of years ago.  For the world of science fiction and fantasy — he always preferred being called a fantasist to being called a science fiction writer, and he hated being called a “sci-fi writer” — this is another brutal loss in a year that has been full of them.   The same is true for the larger world of literature.   Harlan was not just a great fantasist and/or science fiction writer; he was a great writer, period.   When he was at the top of his form, from the late 60s through the 70s and well into the 80s, there was no finer short story writer in all of English literature.

Harlan was fifteen years older than me.  He was part of a generation of writers who emerged in the late 50s and early 60s, a generation that included such giants as Robert Silverberg, Roger Zelazny, Algis Budrys, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Samuel R. Delany.   They were the New Wave generation, and they remade the genre in their own image, none more so than Harlan, whose anthology Dangerous Visions and its sequel Again, Dangerous Visions not only outraged and delighted tens of thousands of readers, but had an enormous influence on the writers of the generation that followed, my own generation.  Those books blew the doors off the hinges in ways that might seem incomprehensible to those who did not live through those times; they opened doors to worlds and worlds of possibilities, to lands of the imagination that John W. Campbell and H.L Gold never dreamt of, and I rushed on through, together with most of my contemporaries.   Writers of the Golden Age wanted to impress JWC; writers of my youth wanted to impress Harlan.   He was a hero to us.

The first time I met Harlan in person was at 1972 Lunacon at the old Commodore Hotel above Grand Central Station.   He read “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs,” a powerful story made even more powerful by his reading (no one read better than Harlan, ever),  and gutted the entire audience.   A few hours later, he moderated the New Writers Panel.   The new writers in question included Gardner Dozois, Jack Dann, a couple of Haldemans (I think), and Geo. Alec Effinger.   Harlan did the panel as if it were the old tv show Queen for a Day, and had the whole ballroom howling with laughter.  I’ve seen half a dozen panels as funny as that one in the half century since, but never one that was funnier.   Laughter and tears; he could evoke them both.

I was a new writer myself in ’72, with maybe four or five sales under my belt, but nowhere near the stature to be invited to be on any panels.   (I would have to wait another three years for that.  I actually won my first Hugo before being asked to be on my first panel.  In those days, you were expected to pay your dues before they put you on stage).  Nonetheless, I screwed up my courage enough to approach Harlan in the hall and introduce myself.  To my surprise, he knew who I was; he’d seen the handful of stories I had published by that point.   But when I asked him if I could submit a story to him for The Last Dangerous Visions, he shot me down quickly and firmly.  The book was done, he said, and would be out that Christmas.   (Years later, Harlan did write me and ask me to send him something.  I sent him an early draft of my story “Meathouse Man,” the darkest and most dangerous story I had in me at the time.  He rejected it almost by return mail, with a scathing letter that ripped it to shreds.   He was completely right about everything he said.   So I gnashed my teeth, muttered curses under my breath, and rewrote the story from beginning to end, making it four times as long and a hundred times as good.   When I sent it back to him… he rejected it again.   He was not easy to please.   Eventually I sold the story to Orbit… but though Damon Knight published it, it was Harlan who edited it, and helped me make it what it is, for good or ill).

GRRM & HE at WFC 1983

Of course, I ran into Harlan many times in the decades that followed, at cons and awards banquets, and even at his fabled house in Sherman Oaks, which I visited for the first time when Lisa Tuttle was living there.   Lisa was only one of a succession of young writers that Harlan welcomed into Ellison Wonderland; Edward Bryant, James Sutherland, and Arthur Byron Cover preceded and followed her, and no doubt others I’ve forgotten.  They paid no rent.  All that Harlan demanded of them was that they write.   These days they’d call it mentoring, I suppose.  Things were less formal in those days, but the bottom line was, very few people ever went as far as Harlan when it came to encouraging and supporting young writers.   He taught at Clarion almost every year in those years, and when he found a talented newcomer, he went above and beyond the call of duty in promoting him or her.

Harlan Ellison was also deeply entwined in my own beginnings in television, as it happens.  It was Phil DeGuere, the executive producer and showrunner of the Twilight Zone revival of 1985-86, who first took a chance on me and gave me my first script assignment, but it was Harlan who suggested that I be given the rewrite of “The Once and Future King,” the Elvis episode that landed me a place on staff.   As irony would have it, Harlan himself took over the short story I’d originally brought to Phil, a Donald Westlake story called “Nackles,” which proved to be his undoing when the CBS censors tried to rip the heart of his script, the first he’d been slated to direct.   Harlan quit rather than let that happen.   Lots of people talk the talk, especially in these sad sick days of the internet, but Harlan always walked the walk as well.   Censorship was anathema to him.

Let there be no question; Harlan Ellison could be a difficult man.   He did not brook fools gladly, and he was quick to take offense at any slight, real or perceived.  Most people, as they go through life, make an enemy or two along the way… especially people who never learned to keep their voices down and their heads bowed, which was never Harlan.  Harlan was the only one I’ve ever known who had so many enemies that they actually formed a club, called… of course… the Enemies of Ellison.   But he had far more friends than enemies, as can be seen from all the heartfelt eulogies going up all over the internet.   He was a fighter, and fighters always make enemies.   He fought against censorship with the Dangerous Visions anthologies.  He fought for racial equality, marching with King at Selma.  He fought for women’s rights and the ERA.   He fought publishers, defending the rights of writers to control their own material and be fairly compensated for it.   He served on the Board of Directors of the WGA.   He gave of himself to Clarion, year after year.

Did he make mistakes?  Sure he did.   Was he wrong from time to time?  Definitely.   Who isn’t?   Was he loud, opinionated, sometimes obnoxious?  Oh, all of that… but he was also kind and caring and generous, and a relentless champion of excellence, free speech, and equal rights.  No one goes through this life without a stumble.  The question is not, “was he perfect in every way?” but rather “did he do more harm or good?”   Harlan Ellison was no perfect paladin, but he left the world… and our genre… a better, richer, fairer place than he found it, in half a hundred ways… and that’s why you are seeing such an outpouring of affection for this temperamental, exhausting, relentless, raging, loving, roaring giant who lived among us for a time.

He was a complicated guy, a genius in his own way, and his muse was an angry harpy… but oh, he could write.

And that’s the thing that matters, in the end.   Long after the enemies of Ellison and the friends of Ellison have all followed him to the grave, long after the criticisms and the paeans of praise have faded away and been forgotten, the stories will remain.

Current Mood: sad sad

From Terra to Taos

April 3, 2018 at 11:20 pm
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(Actually, the Toolbox is now in Angel Fire, but Taos works better with Terran).

Walter Jon Williams has picked the recipient of the first Terran Prize, the scholarship I am offering to bring writers from overseas to our Land of Enchantment.

Here’s his official press release:

The 2018 Terran Prize, founded by George R.R. Martin and consisting of a full tuition scholarship to the Taos Toolbox master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy, has been awarded to Joey Yu.

Joey Yu was born in Taipei, educated in Vancouver, and now works in Shanghai as a freelance creator. He is the author of several novels published in China, including The Sunlight Trilogy of futuristic fantasy novels, The Mirrored Truth, and The Locus, which won the Excellence Award of the Taiwan Fantasy Foundation.

Joey has also written indie comics, mobile games and is the co-author, with Dr. Weiru Chen, of the nonfiction bestseller Platform Strategy, about the internet era and the evolution of business models.

Joey says, “I believe storytelling— the science and art of developing immersive metaphors and symbolism— is an important way (maybe the only way)— to bridge cultures and inspire empathy. In all met works I talk about the importance of unlocking an individual’s potential through challenging and reshaping the system.”

Taos Toolbox will take place over two weeks this June in Angel Fire, New Mexico, and will be taught by award-winning writer Nancy Kress and Walter Jon Williams, along with guests speakers Carrie Vaughn, George RR Martin, and E.M. Tippetts.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

See Ya Later, Kids

March 5, 2018 at 12:25 pm
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All’s good, boys and girls… lots of exciting things going on.

LOTS of exciting things.

Maybe too many. I am buried in work, so much that it is starting to overwhelm me. Even with my army of loyal minions.

So I am going to step back from blogging — okay, from NOT-a-blogging — for a while, till I get a few of these monkeys off my back.

In the near future, you’ll likely see fewer posts here. And some of those will be by my minions.

I’ll return eventually. Just don’t know when.

See ya later, alligators.

Current Mood: stressed stressed

Hugo Nominations Open

February 7, 2018 at 2:53 pm
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Nominations for the 2018 Hugo Awards have now opened, I am informed. If you are a member of last year’s worldcon in Helsinki, this year’s worldcon in San Jose, or next year’s worldcon in Dublin, you are eligible to nominate. You should be receiving an email with a link to the ballot. (I have not actually received mine yet, but I’m told that others have, so I expect mine Real Soon Now).

I have a few things eligible for nomination myself this year… more for editing than writing, however.

GAME OF THRONES is eligible in the Dramatic Presentation category, of course. The whole of Season 7 can be nominated in Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, and any or all of the individual episodes can be nominated in Short Form. GOT has won in both categories in the past. Last year in Helsinki, three episodes actually had enough votes to make the ballot, but the new rule limits any series to no more than two places on the ballot, so we had to withdraw one. But you can nominate as many episodes as you like.

Wild Cards had a big year last year. We celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the series, and our twenty-fourth mosaic novel, MISSISSIPPI ROLL, was published in the fall. A couple of the older books were reissued, and we had two original Wild Cards story on Tor.com — “When the Devil Drives” by Melinda M. Snodgrass, and “The Atonement Tango” by Stephen Leigh. The two Tor.com stories are both novelettes and are eligible in that category. MISSISSIPPI ROLL is a more complex case. Like most Wild Cards books, it is a mosaic novel, with individual stories by half a dozen writers woven together to make a whole that is, we hope, more than the sum of its parts. One could argue that our mosaics are anthologies, I suppose… but they feel more like collaborative novels to me. If the former view prevails, the individual components of MISSISSIPPI ROLL are eligible in the short fiction categories, Steve Leigh’s “In the Shadow of Tall Stacks” in novella, the other stories as novelettes. If the latter, the volume as a whole could be nominated in novel.

In either case, I’m eligible for nomination in the editing categories. Short Form, most likely, for the stories in Tor.com as well as the book. (If you consider MISSISSIPPI ROLL a novel, then it counts for me as a Long Form editor, but I don’t think one book is enough to make me eligible in that category). My Wild Cards work was the only editing I did in 2017. The big cross-genre anthologies I co-edited with Gardner Dozois all came out in previous years.

Wild Cards as a whole is definitely eligible for nomination as Best Series. That’s a new category that first appeared on the ballot last year, as an experiment, but now it has been made permanent.

The only writing I had published in 2017 was “The Sons of the Dragon,” which was published in THE BOOK OF SWORDS, Gardner Dozois’s massive anthology of original sword & sorcery stories. Like “The Rogue Prince” and “The Princess and the Queen” before it, “Sons” is more of my (fake) history of the Targaryen kings of Westeros. By length, it is a novella… but it’s not a traditional narrative. By design, it reads like history, not fiction; but since the history is entirely imaginative, it’s still fiction, even if dressed up as (fake) non-fiction.

It has been pointed out to me that the publication of “The Sons of the Dragon” makes the entirety of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE eligible to be nominated as Best Series. I suppose that’s so. All I can say to that is : please don’t. If you like fake history and enjoyed “The Sons of the Dragon,” by all means nominate the story as a novella… but it’s really not part of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, and sneaking in the entire series by means of a technicality seems wrong to me.

If I may broaden the discussion a bit, while I think it is good that the Hugo Awards now have a category to recognize series books, I would quibble somewhat with how a “series” is defined. The rules were written very broadly, to include not only true series, like last year’s winner, the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, but also any grouping of stories set against a common background, what we used to call “future histories,” as well as what I’d term “mega-novels,” those massive epics too long to be contained in a single volume. Three-quarters of the SF I wrote back in the 70s was set against a common background, but I never considered that I was writing a series when I visited the Thousand Worlds; it was a future history, made up of stories set hundreds of years apart, on planets separated by thousands of light years (though within the future history there was a series, the Haviland Tuf stories). On the other extreme, I don’t consider A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE a series either; it’s one single story, being published in (we hope) seven volumes. FWIW, Tolkien wasn’t writing a series when he wrote LORD OF THE RINGS either. He wrote a big novel and his publisher divided it into three parts, none of which stands on its own.

Anyway, that’s my own perspective on the matter. Obviously, the good folks who drafted the Best Series rules disagree. Ultimately I think the fans will decide the matter by what they choose to nominate. Worldcon committees have traditionally been reluctant to overrule the fans, even in cases where a nominated work would seem to be ineligible for one reason or other.

FWIW, Wild Cards is a series, plainly, so if you want to consider any of my work for Best Series, that’s the one I’d ask you to look at. Thirty-one years and twenty=four books is something to be proud of, and I am.

Regardless of whether or not you nominate any of my own work, I do urge all the worldcon members reading this to be sure to nominate. There are a lot of awards being given in SF, fantasy, and horror these days, but the Hugo was the first, and it’s still the one that means the most. It is, of course, important to vote on the final ballot too… but you can’t vote for works that have not been nominated, and it is crucial to have widespread participation in the nominating stage.

((Comments and debate allowed, but ONLY on these subjects. Stay on topic)).

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Worldbuilding in Seattle

January 27, 2018 at 2:48 pm
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Every great story requires interesting characters, an engrossing plot, evocative prose, an important theme… but epic fantasy also requires a memorable setting. A “secondary universe,” as J.R.R. Tolkien termed it, a world both like and unlike our own, with its own rich history and geography and customs, its own beauties and terrors. Tolkien himself was a worldbuilder without peer. It was not happenstance that when Lord of the Rings first achieved national popularity on the college campuses of America in the 1960s, the poster that appeared on tens of thousands of dorm rooms across the country featured neither a character portrait nor an action scene, but rather a map of Middle Earth.

The best fantasy carries us far from the fields we know, to worlds beyond the hill, worlds that, once visited, live on in our imaginations for the rest of our lives. They assume their own reality, these imaginary worlds. Millions of people have never visited Rome or Paris, yet they know the Colosseum and the Eiffel Tower by sight. Rivendell, the Shire, and the Mines of Moria are instantly recognizable in much the same way to countless readers around the world. The history of fantasy is rich with such imagined landscapes. Robert E. Howard gave us the Hyborian Age, Roger Zelazny showed us the way to Amber, Stephen R. Donaldson the Land, Terry Pratchett the Discworld. Jack Vance took us to the Dying Earth, Fritz Leiber to Lankhmar, Ursula K. Le Guin to Earthsea, Andre Norton to Witchworld. Oz, Neverland, Narnia, Wonderland, Zothique, Gormenghast, the list goes on and on and on…

These days, the world is more need of wonder than ever before. To that end, I am pleased to announce that I am sponsoring a new annual scholarship at the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle. https://www.clarionwest.org/ An intensive six-week course for aspiring authors of science fiction and fantasy, Clarion West is one of the longest-running and most successful workshops in the world. Its instructors and graduates make up an honor roll of the best and the brightest in science fiction and fantasy. This summer the instructors will be Daniel Abraham, Ken MacLeod, Karen Lord, Yoon Ha Lee, Karen Joy Fowler, and Ellen Datlow. The deadline for applying is March 1.

Our new WORLDBUILDER SCHOLARSHIP will cover tuition, fees, and lodging for one student each year. The award will not be limited by age, race, sex, religion, skin color, place of origin, or field of study. The winner will be selected each year in a blind judging to an applicant who demonstrates both financial need and a talent for worldbuilding and the creation of secondary universes. For further details, query Clarion West at info@clarionwest.org

Clarion West offers a wide range of other scholarships and financial aid packages, but you can never have too many. I remember very well what it was like to be a writer starting out, struggling for sales, and counting every dime. It is my hope that the Worldbuilder Scholarship will help the next great fantasist on the long journey ahead. As Tolkien himself wrote, every journey begins with a single step.

Current Mood: creative creative

Ursula K. Le Guin, RIP

January 24, 2018 at 2:43 pm
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I was very saddened to hear of the death of Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the great SF and fantasy writers of the past half century.

Over the years, I had the honor of meeting Le Guin a few times, but I cannot claim to really have known her as a person. Our encounters, such as they were, were all at conventions or Nebula banquets or writer’s workshops, and they were all brief and forgettable.

But I certainly knew her work… as anyone who calls themselves an SF fan surely must. She was one of the giants. A gifted storyteller, dedicated to her art, she influenced a whole generation of writers who came after her, including me. THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS ranks as one of the best science fiction novels ever written, in my estimation, and THE DISPOSSESSED and THE LATHE OF HEAVEN were splendid works as well. The original Earthsea trilogy occupies a similar lofty position in the fantasy pantheon (though it was badly served by its television adaptation).

The Golden Age of Science Fiction is usually reckoned to have been the Campbell Era at ASTOUNDING, and its Big Three were Heinlein, Asimov, and Van Vogt. Yet as important as that era was, for me the true Golden Age will always be the late 60s and early 70s, when the Big Three were Roger Zelazny, Samuel R. Delany, and Ursula K. Le Guin. We shall never see their like again.

The world is poorer today.

Current Mood: sad sad