Not a Blog

Dragon Award Winners

September 3, 2017 at 4:15 pm
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Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Dragon Awards, presented at Dragoncon in Atlanta. You can find the list here: http://awards.dragoncon.org/2017_winners/

I understand that 8,000 votes were received this year, twice last year’s turnout. If that trend continues, the Dragons may have a long and successful future ahead of them as the People’s Choice Award of science fiction and fantasy, a broadbased popular anyone-can-vote award that will complement the Hugo Awards (the Oscars of science fiction and fantasy) and the Nebulas (the guild awards, like the DGA/ WGA/ SAG awards in film and TV).

I was especially pleased to see BABYLON’S ASHES take the Dragon for the Best SF Novel of the year. A terrific piece of work, as all the EXPANSE books have been. James S.A. Corey, that two-headed monster, is doing something remarkable there, and if they stick the landing with the final books I think they will have created a classic.

Congratulations also to STRANGER THINGS, which won the Dragon as the best SF/ fantasy TV show. I don’t know the people who do the show, but I’ve certainly enjoyed and admired their work.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

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

Off to Angel Fire

June 21, 2017 at 12:02 pm
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Been a while since I posted here, I see. That doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Quite the contrary; it means lots of things are happening, and I’ve been way too busy to worry about my Not A Blog.

I seem to have an insane amount of things on my plate. Would that there were more of me. Would that there were more hours in the day. The work is actually going well, I think… but there’s so MUCH of it, on so many different fronts…

Anyway…

Today will be a pleasant interlude. I’m taking the Tesla up north to talk to the students at Walter Jon Williams’ Taos Toolbox workshop… which no longer seems to be in Taos, but further north in Angel Fire. But it’s a beautiful day and it should be a beautiful drive, and I always relish the opportunity to corrupt some young minds.

A Horrifying Announcement

April 26, 2017 at 12:53 pm
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A long long time ago, in the projects of Bayonne, New Jersey, I fell in love.

I fell in love with comic books and superheroes, thanks to Stan Lee and Julie Schwartz. I fell in love with science fiction, thanks to Robert A. Heinlein, Andre Norton, and Eric Frank Russell. I fell in love with fantasy, thanks to Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, and J.R.R. Tolkien. And I fell in love with monsters and scary stories (later in life, I’d learn to call them ‘horror’ or weird fiction, but as a kid, they were just monster stories to me)… thanks to a gentleman out of Providence who had died before I was born.

I first encountered the work of H.P. Lovecraft in a paperback anthology entitled BORIS KARLOFF’S FAVORITE HORROR STORIES. I knew Boris from his Frankenstein movies and from TV’s THRILLER, the scariest show on television at the time, but I had never heard of HPL until I read “The Haunter of the Dark” in that volume. I had never read a story that scared me more… so of course I sought out more Lovecraft wherever I could find it (not an easy task in those days). No werewolf, no vampire, no thing going bump in the night could give me chills to equal those provided by the cosmic horrors that Lovecraft evoked in tales like “The Whisperer in Darkness,” “The Colour Out of Space,” “The Shadow Out of Time,” “The Rats In the Walls,” “The Strange High House in the Mist,” and so many more. I have read a lot of horror since, some good, some bad, some indifferent… but only the best work of Stephen King has ever equalled Lovecraft, and that in a very different way.

Our world of imaginative fiction is fortunate in having several terrific writer’s workshops specializing in science fiction and fantasy, where aspiring authors can hone their talents and learn from established professionals… but New Hampshire’s Odyssey workshop is one of the few that gives equal emphasis to horror, to the monsters and scary stories.

I’m excited to announce that I will be funding a new horror-writing scholarship for the Odyssey workshop. Founded 22 years ago, Odyssey’s six-week program is held each summer on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Combining intensive, advanced lectures with in-depth feedback on students’ manuscripts, Odyssey has become legendary for the challenges it sets for students and the enthusiasm with which they meet those challenges. And all that writing, learning, critiquing, and sweat yields great results. Among Odyssey’s alumni are New York Times bestsellers, Amazon bestsellers, and award winners.

It’s my hope that this new scholarship will offer an opportunity to a worthy applicant who might not otherwise have been able to afford the Odyssey experience.

The Miskatonic Scholarship will be awarded to a promising new writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. Let us be clear: we are not looking for Lovecraft pastiches, nor even Cthulhu Mythos stories. References to Arkham, Azathoth, shoggoths, the Necronomicon, and the fungi from Yuggoth are by no means obligatory… though if some candidates choose to include them, that’s fine as well. What we want is the sort of originality that HPL displayed in his day, something that goes beyond the tired tropes of werewolves, vampires and zombies, into places strange and terrifying and never seen before. What we want are nightmares new and resonant and profound, cosmic terrors that will haunt our dreams for years to come.

The Miskatonic will be a full scholarship, given annually, and covering tuition, fees, and lodging for a single student each year. The award will not be limited by age, race, sex, religion, skin color, place of origin, or field of study. The only criteria will be literary. A panel of three judges will select the winner from among the applicants who have demonstrated financial need, solely on the basis of their story samples. Since this year’s class of students has already been selected from among the pool of applicants, the Miskatonic Scholarship will be awarded for the first time next year, to a student from the class of 2018.

H.P. Lovecraft himself during his lifetime gave generously of his time and talent to many a younger writer, including Frank Belknap Long, Robert Bloch, Donald Wandrei, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, and many more. It is our hope that the ongoing annual Miskatonic Scholarship will provide the same sort of encouragement and inspiration to a new generation of writers, for all the long dark nights ahead.

George R.R. Martin

A Sense of Wonder

April 10, 2017 at 12:00 pm
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I’ve made my life in the worlds of science fiction and fantasy, and an awful lot of people helped me along the way. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. But if I may echo something that Robert A. Heinlein once said, you can never pay back the people who helped you when you were starting out… but you can pay forward, and give a hand to those coming after.

With that in mind, I’m pleased to announce that I will be funding a new scholarship for the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Workshop. Held every summer at the University of California San Diego under the auspices of the Clarion Foundation, the workshop’s roots go back the 1960s and Clarion College in Pennsylvania, where it was founded by Robin Scott Wilson, Damon Knight, and Kate Wilhelm. Its alumni include more professional sf and fantasy writers than I can possibly hope to name, and the list of Clarion instructors over the years is a veritable Who’s Who of our genre.

Many of the students at Clarion already receive financial aid through a variety of existing scholarships and grants that cover all or part of their expenses, but there’s always need and there’s never enough money, and it’s my hope that this new scholarship will offer an opportunity to one more worthy applicant who might not otherwise have been able to afford the experience. It will be a full scholarship, given annually, and covering tuition, fees, and lodging for a single student for the full six weeks of intensive writing and criticism that is Clarion.

We’ll be calling it the Sense of Wonder scholarship.

The award will not be limited by age, race, sex, religion, skin color, place of origin, or field of study. The only criteria will be literary.

The first science fiction novel I ever read was Heinlein’s HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL, a book that begins with a boy named Kip in a used spacesuit standing in his back yard, and goes on to take him (and us) to the moon, and Pluto, and the Lesser Magellanic Cloud, along the way encountering aliens both horrifying (the Wormfaces) and benevolent (the Mother Thing), as well as a girl named Peewee. In the end it’s up to Kip and Peewee to defend the entire human race when Earth is put on trial. I had never read anything like it, and from the moment I finished I wanted more; more Heinlein, more science fiction, more aliens and spacesuits and starships… more of the vast interstellar vistas that had opened before me.

Since then I have read thousands of other science fiction novels, and written a few myself. Modern imaginative fiction is a house with many rooms, and I’ve visited most of them. Cyberpunk, New Wave, magic realism, slipstream, military SF, dystopias, utopias, urban fantasy, high fantasy, splatterpunk, the new weird, the new space opera, you name it. I’ve sampled all of it, and I’m glad it’s all there, but when it comes right down it, the SF I love best is still the SF that gives me that sense of wonder I found in that Heinlein book almost sixty years ago, and afterwards in the works of Roger Zelazny, Jack Vance, Alfred Bester, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jack Vance, Andre Norton, the early Chip Delany, Jack Vance, Frank Herbert, Robert Silverberg, Jack Vance, Eric Frank Russell, Cordwainer Smith, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, Arthur C. Clarke, Poul Anderson, and so many more. (Did I mention Jack Vance?) I love the aliens, be they threatening or benevolent, the more alien the better. I dream of starships, strange worlds beneath the light of distant suns. I want the sights and sounds and smells of times and places and cultures colorful and exotic. That was the sort of science fiction that I tried to write myself with the Thousand Worlds stories that made my name in the 70s, when I was just breaking in as a writer.

It’s my hope that this new Clarion scholarship will help find and encourage young aspiring writers who dream the same sort of dreams, that it will give a small boost up to the next Roger Zelazny, the next Ursula Le Guin, the next Jack Vance.

One student will be selected every year. The recipient of the first award is LUCY SMITH, an English writer and recent student of archaeology who has been making stories for most of her life. She has just begun tweeting at @subterranape, and can usually be found in London. I have yet to meet her, but I hope that she enjoys her six weeks at Clarion, and that the lessons she learns there will help her develop her talent and master her craft. And in the years and books to come, I hope that Lucy Smith will take us to the stars, and show us wonders.

The Clock Is Ticking

March 15, 2017 at 3:39 pm
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Hugo nominations need to be in before March 18.

Only a few days left to let your voice be heard.

This is fandom’s own award, the oldest and most prestigious of my myriad awards for science fiction and fantasy… but it is only as important as we make it.

You don’t have to nominate in every category, or fill every slot… but if you’re read any books or stories that you liked last year, or watched any television and film, you should be part of this.

Go ye forth and NOMINATE.

A Bit More (Fake) History

January 31, 2017 at 5:06 pm
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I had intended to write this post a few days ago, when Bantam gave me the green light, but I got busy, and we had Carrie Vaughn coming to town, and a worldcon/ Hugo deadline approaching, and all that seemed more time-sensitive, so I wrote those instead. Unfortunately, that meant the news below broke from other sources, and inevitably, all sorts of weird distortions crept in, and now the internet is rife with rumors and false reports and misinformation. Pfui. I need to set the record straight.

My friend Gardner Dozois, long-time anthologist and winner (many many times) of the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor, has a big new fantasy anthology coming out this fall. It’s called THE BOOK OF SWORDS, and it’s about… well… swords. Y’know. “Stick ’em with the pointy end.”

I have a story in the book. “The Sons of the Dragon” is the title. Those of you who enjoyed “The Princess and the Queen” in DANGEROUS WOMEN and “The Rogue Prince” in ROGUES will probably like this one too. It’s water from the same well. A history rather than a traditional narrative. A lot of telling, only a little showing. (The opposite of what I do in my novels). But if you’re fascinated by the politics of Westeros, as many of my readers seem to be, you should enjoy it. As the title suggests, “The Sons of the Dragon” chronicles the reigns of the second and third Targaryen kings, Aenys I and Maegor the Cruel, along with their mothers, wives, sisters, children, friends, enemies, and rivals. If you’re read something to that effect on the web, good, that much is right.

However, there is a lot that’s wrong out there as well. THE BOOK OF SWORDS is not my book. I didn’t write but a small part of it, and I didn’t edit it, nor even co-edit it. Gardner is one of my oldest friends and he and I have co-edited a number of anthologies together. We did OLD MARS and OLD VENUS together. We did SONGS OF LOVE & DEATH and DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS together. We did the huge award-winning cross-genre anthologies WARRIORS, DANGEROUS WOMEN, and ROGUES together. But we did not do THE BOOK OF SWORDS together.

SWORDS is all the Great Gargoo. I mean, it’s not as if he hasn’t edited a hundred other anthologies all by himself, before he did a few with me. We’re friends, but we are not attached at the hip. I edit Wild Cards without any help from Gardner, and he edits lots of great stuff without any help from me… including THE BOOK OF SWORDS and next year’s THE BOOK OF MAGIC (which will also have a story from me, a reprint).

Truth be told, I loved editing those anthologies with Gardner, and we want to do more together. We’re talked about MORE ROGUES and EVEN MORE DANGEROUS WOMEN, since those two books were hugely successful, and we have definite plans for OLD LUNA and, who knows, maybe eventually OLD MERCURY and OLD PLUTO and OLD URANUS. But we’re not doing any of that NOW. The anthologies, much as I loved them, were taking too much of my time, so I stepped back from them… until I finish THE WINDS OF WINTER, at least. Once that’s done, maybe I can sneak another one in…

The point is, just because I had to step back did not mean Gardner had to. And he hasn’t. Hence THE BOOK OF SWORDS, which I expect to be just as good as ROGUES or DANGEROUS WOMEN.

The lineup of THE BOOK OF SWORDS is an impressive one:

Introduction by Gardner Dozois
THE BEST MAN WINS, by K.J. Parker
HIS FATHER’S SWORD, by Robin Hobb
THE HIDDEN GIRL, by Ken Liu
THE SWORD OF DESTINY, by Matthew Hughes
“I AM A HANDSOME MAN,” SAID APOLLO CROW, by Kate Elliott
THE TRIUMPH OF VIRTUE, by Walter Jon Williams
THE MOCKING TOWER, by Daniel Abraham
HRUNTING, by C.J. Cherryh
A LONG, COLD TRAIL, by Garth Nix
WHEN I WAS A HIGHWAYMAN, by Ellen Kushner
THE SMOKE OF GOLD IS GLORY by Scott Lynch
THE COLGRID CONUNDRUM, by Rich Larson
THE KING’S EVIL, by Elizabeth Bear
WATERFALLING, by Lavie Tidhar
THE SWORD TYRASTE, by Cecelia Holland
THE SONS OF THE DRAGON, by George R.R. Martin

There’s some amazing writers there. Some of the stories, I expect, will contend for the Hugo and the World Fantasy Award. But I wouldn’t know which, since I haven’t read any of them yet, since I am not the editor. Unlike, say, ROGUES and OLD MARS and the like, where I read every word, because I was the co-editor.

THE BOOK OF SWORDS is scheduled for release on October 10 in hardcover and ebook. (I don’t have the cover art yet, but when I do I will post it here).

As for my own story…

Long-time lurkers on this site will recall that several years ago, when we were working on the gorgeous illustrated worldbook/ concordance that was eventually published as THE WORLD OF ICE & FIRE, I wrote a number of ‘sidebar’s about Westerosi history. Actually, I got rather carried away, until I found I had written 350,000 words of sidebars for a book that was supposed to have only 50,000 words of text (it ended up having a lot more that that, actually). Since I had only reached the regency of Aegon III the Dragonbane, and had largely skipped over Jaehaerys I the Conciliator, however, it became apparent that my sidebars were going to burst the book.

So we pulled them all out, including only severely abridged versions of the main events in THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE. The full versions, much longer and unabridged, will eventually be published in a fake history tome to be called FIRE & BLOOD (and sometimes just the GRRMarillion), but since that one is years away, I included excerpts (again abridged, though not as severely) in DANGEROUS WOMEN and ROGUES. That’s where “The Princess and the Queen” and “The Rogue Prince” came from.

“The Sons of the Dragon” came from the same place. Gardner asked me for a story. I told him I did not have the time to write a story. He asked if perhaps I had more like “The Princess and the Queen” lying about… as it happened, I did. So I sent him “The Sons of the Dragon,” he liked it, and there we are. (Fwiw, though “Sons” has never been published before, some of you may have heard me read it at one convention or another. I think I’ve read it twice, though offhand I do not recall when).

Anyway… that’s the story of the story. Don’t believe any other weird crap you may encounter on the web. It’s Gardner’s book, and it should be a fine one. You can’t go wrong with Robin Hobb, Scott Lynch, Lavie Tidhar, Daniel Abraham, Matthew Hughes, and the rest of the contributors that Gargy has assembled. You’ll love their stuff, I know. Maybe you’ll like my contribution as well… if you’re partial to fake history.

GENIUS

January 29, 2017 at 10:20 pm
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A few posts down you’ll find my Hugo Award ruminations for the Dramatic Presentation categories, where I opine at some length about the best films and television shows I saw last year.

Much as I love SF and fantasy, however, not everything I read or view falls into those categories. I wanted to say a few words about another movie I saw recently, and loved.

It’s a film called GENIUS, a period piece set in the 1930s about the relationship between Maxwell Perkins, the legendary Scribners editor, and his most troubled (and troubling) writer, Thomas Wolfe. (No, not Tom Wolfe, the 60s journalist of THE RIGHT STUFF fame, Thomas Wolfe, the doomed 30s novelist of YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN). Stars Colin Firth and Jude Law, both of whom gave brilliant performances. Scripted by John Logan, directed by Michael Grandage.

GENIUS came and went last year almost unnoticed. It was certainly unnoticed by me, else I would have tried to book it for the Jean Cocteau. But it’s running on HBO right now, so all those who missed it (virtually everyone) now has another chance to see it.

I hope you do. Especially if you’re a writer, or an editor, or have any interest in 20th Century American literature, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Maxwell Perkins.

The movie got very little notice from the world at large, but I loved loved loved it. Maybe because it’s a writer’s movie. The period is wonderfully evoked, the acting is fine, and there’s one ten minute scene in the middle of the movie… from when Wolfe delivers OF TIME AND THE RIVER till when Perkins gets on that train… that I thought was just hilarious, heart-breaking, poetic, painful, and just all-around… blue. A blue that was deeper than blue, a blue such as never before…

Well, let’s just say it was a great scene in a fine movie.

Lots of fine movies came out last year, in our genre and out of it. Many of them have been nominated for various Oscars. GENIUS was not, but if I were in the Academy I would certainly have nominated it. Much I loved ARRIVAL and MOANA and some of the other big movies of 2016, I think GENIUS was my favorite film from last year.

Walter’s Toolbox Opens Again

December 14, 2016 at 5:54 pm
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New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment, and the little mountain city of Taos is one of its most enchanting spots… and a great spot for aspiring authors to sharpen their literary skills.

Taos is where my friend Walter Jon Williams hold his annual “graduate level” writing workshop, the Taos Toolbox. There are a number of great workshops for writers just starting out — Clarion, Clarion West, and Odyssey, to name three — but the Toolbox is a little different, intended for writers who have already gone to one or more of those and maybe made a few sales. The next step in building a career in our genre.

This year’s faculty includes Walter Jon himself — author of DAYS OF ATONEMENT, HARDWIRED, The Praxis series, and many many more, and creator of Golden Boy, Modular Man, Black Shadow, and Gordon the Ghoul for the Wild Cards series — and Nancy Kress. Guest lecturers and scheduled visitors will include E.M. Tippetts, Steven Gould, and myself (Walter has promised to buy me dinner).

Further information at http://www.taostoolbox.com

Taos Toolbox will make you a huge bestselling author. Or not. But what the hell, Taos is lovely, and the food is really really good.

Next Sunday at the Jean Cocteau

July 16, 2016 at 7:36 pm
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If you’re going to be in Santa Fe a week from tomorrow — or anywhere in the Land of Enchantment, really — do swing by the Jean Cocteau Cinema.

We’ve got not one but two very special events planned for Sunday, July 24.

First up, at 2:00 in the afternoon, will be a Wild Cards Author Event, followed by a signing. Yes, most of the Usual Suspects will be on hand, the motley crew of New Mexico writers who started the series some thirty years ago, but they’ll be joined by some Wild Carders, new and old, who are coming in from afar to join us. Right now we have some nineteen (yes, I said 19!) writers scheduled to take part… from Chicago, from Denver, from New Hampshire, from Texas, from California, from Kentucky. Come by and meet them all! And get your books signed… not only your Wild Cards books (though we expect to have all the volumes presently in print on offer), but also some of the other great novels by the participating writers.

The format of this one should be fun. Melinda Snodgrass will be hosting, interviewing each of our guests in turn. But we’ll be doing this “in universe,” so she won’t be interviewing the writers, she’ll be interviewing their characters. And Weeds knows where all the bodies are buried, so I expect this to be a hoot and a half.

And that’s just the afternoon event.

Come evening, we’ll be putting Melinda to work again, with a very special screening of CHAOS ON THE BRIDGE, William Shatner’s tell-all documentary about the rocky beginnings of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. <lj-embed id=”748″/>

Melinda knows where the bodies are buried on the Enterprise as well; she was there, and she was one of the insiders that Shatner interviewed for the documentary. She will be hosting the screening, and answering questions afterwards… and if that was not enough, she’s arranged for DAVID GERROLD to join us as well, via the wonders of Skype.

It should be quite a Sunday. Be there. I will.