Not a Blog

Spring Time :D

July 4, 2020 at 10:00 am
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Life within the heart of a dragon!

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

Rocket Time!

June 30, 2020 at 9:10 am
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Worldcon is coming up in a month’s time, down in Wellington, New Zealand…

Or at least it would be, if not for the pandemic.   Which New Zealand has handled splendidly, for what it’s worth.   If only America had done half so well..

In any case, there will still be a CoNZealand, but it is going to be a virtual worldcon.  (Which is a damned shame for all those who will miss the chance to visit New Zealand, truly one of the most beautiful countries in the world).   And as CoNZealand’s toastmaster, I am going to be there… virtually… taking part from my fortress of solitude in the mountains and my theatre (now shuttered) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The toastmaster wears many hats at worldcon, but probably the single biggest part of the gig is hosting the Hugo Awards ceremony.   I am going to be doing that with a combination of live streaming and pre-recorded videos, which we will (I hope I pray) edit seamlessly together.   This week I have started recording some of those videos.   It has been fun, if a little surreal, to be reading off the names of this year’s Hugo finalists when voting has not actually started yet.   And trying to be amusing (one hopes) while talking into a camera without the feedback of laughter (or moans, boos, or soul-chilling silence) from an actual audience is challenging as well.   But so it goes.

SFWA did a great job with the virtual Nebulas.   (Hats off to Mary Robinette Kowal and her team).   We want to make the virtual Hugos just as much fun.   An evening of joy and celebration in these dark days of plague, riot, and police brutality.   We all need a little laughter.   I know I do.

The Kiwis are doing all they can to make Virtual CoNZealand a success.   I applaud them for their efforts, and hope it all comes out splendidly.  That being said, I also hope we never have to do it again.   Over the last half-century, worldcon has become an enormously important part of my life, I have come to realize.  I see people online — younger writers, most often — describing worldcon as a “professional conference,” and yeah, maybe, a little bit, for them… but not for me.   There are professional aspects to conventions, sure, networking and promotion and all that, but for me worldcon has always been a celebration, a party, a holiday, Christmas and Thanksgiving and Halloween all rolled up in one.   Most of all it is a family reunion, a place where I get to laugh and drink and share meals with old friends, meet new friends, and catch up with so many of the people I love, people I do not get to see anywhere else.   So let’s work hard on that vaccine, all you docs out there; I will be at CoNZealand in spirit, but I want to be at DC in the flesh.

((And before anyone starts to panic, “oh my god he is making videos in place of writing,” OF COURSE I am still working on WINDS OF WINTER as well.   That really should go without saying, yet somehow I need to say it, or someone might make stupid assumptions.   I am also doing some editorial work on three new Wild Cards books, reading scripts and making notes on a couple of exciting Hollywood projects, texting with agents, editors, and friends about this and that, eating several meals a day, watching television, reading books, and from time to time using the toilet.   Just because I do not mention it in every Not A Blog does not mean it is not happening)).

 

 

 

Current Mood: busy busy

No One Asked Me, But…

June 25, 2020 at 9:34 am
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Joe Biden is looking for a running mate right now, and he has said he means to nominate a woman.   Great, I say.

The Democratic Party is full of terrific, highly qualified women serving in the Senate, House, and various State Houses, many of whom would make terrific candidates, I think.   But if Joe were to ask me — which he hasn’t, and won’t — I would urge him to choose the governor of New Mexico, the amazing MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM.

Michelle was a congressman before being elected governor, and New Mexico could not have asked for a better representative.   She has been a terrific governor as well, a night and day contrast to her predecessor.   And this past year, with Covid-19, she was really put to the test, along with every other governor in the United States.  Her handling of the crisis has been exemplary.   If only that clown in the White House had done as well…

Michelle is small, but she packs more brains, courage, and determination into that tiny package than half the members of Congress put together.

There are many factors that go into choosing a vice presidential candidate.   Balancing the ticket, winning this swing state or that one, appeasing various factions of the party, mobilizing the party workers, swaying one ethnic group or another… all valid, I suppose, and to politicos maybe all important.   I am not a politico, however, just a citizen and a voter, and for me there is one factor that outweighs all the others:  would the candidate make a good president if something should happen (Seven save us) to the president.

Based on what I’ve seen of her as congresswoman and governor, I think Michelle Lujan Grisham would make a fantastic president.

Current Mood: determined determined

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Writing, Reading, Writing

June 23, 2020 at 9:38 am
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I have to confess, after half a year of pandemic, quarantine, and social distancing, I am showing signs of cabin fever… half of which is quite literal in my case.  Yes, I am in an actual cabin in the mountains.   No, I have no fever.   Yay!   For the present at least, I am healthy… for an out-of-shape guy of 71, at least … and doing all I can to stay that way.

If nothing else, the enforced isolation has helped me write.   I am spending long hours every day on THE WINDS OF WINTER, and making steady progress.   I finished a new chapter yesterday, another one three days ago, another one the previous week.   But no, this does not mean that the book will be finished tomorrow or published next week.   It’s going to be a huge book, and I still have a long way to go.   Please do not give any credence to any of the click-bait websites that like to parse every word of my posts as if they were papal encyclicals to divine hidden meanings.

I was heartbroken when CoNZealand was forced to go virtual due to the pandemic and I had to cancel my plans (exciting plans) for a long trip down to Wellington with Parris and my minions… but there is definitely a silver lining in that cloud.   The last thing I need right now is a long interruption that might cost me all the momentum I have built up.   I can always visit Wellington next year, when I hope that both Covid-19 and THE WINDS OF WINTER will be done.

I still plan to host the Hugo Awards and fulfill all the rest of my toastmasterly duties for worldcon, and have started pre-recording some bits for the ceremony (a wise precaution, since I am hopeless with Zoom and Skype and like things), but that is a lot less time-consuming and distracting than flying to the other end of the world.   In between tapings, I return to Westeros.   Of late I have been visiting with Cersei, Asha, Tyrion, Ser Barristan, and Areo Hotah.   I will be dropping back into Braavos next week.    I have bad days, which get me down, and good days, which lift me up, but all in all I am pleased with the way things are doing.

I do wish they would go faster, of course.   Way way back in 1999, when I was deep in the writing of A STORM OF SWORDS, I was averaging about 150 pages of manuscript a month.   I fear I shall never recapture that pace again.   Looking back, I am not sure how I did it then.    A fever indeed.

Anyway… when I am not writing, or thinking about writing, I am watching television and reading.    Publishers send me huge piles of books, so my “to be read” pile is always growing, no many how many books I consume.   Of course, I also buy books as well.   Cannot help it, I am a book junkie.   The new Stephen King collection IF IT BLEEDS was one recent favorite.  I love these novella collections that King comes out with from time to time between his novels.   This one features a new Holly Gibney story, and it is always great to see that character again… but there’s also a story called “Rat” about a writer trying to finish a novel in an isolated cabin which… ah… resonated with me rather strongly for some reason.   One bit, where the writer gets derailed trying to figure out how many rocking chairs a sheriff could fit on his porch, was a dead-on depiction of the kind of stuff I go through all the time.   Steve’s protagonist gets some help when a dead rat turns up to be his muse.  So far, no rats at my cabin.    Sid did catch a couple of mice last year, but she made pets of them.  And Timmy and TomTom were no help whatsoever with WINDS.   (Please don’t send me long emails about the dangers of mice, we know all that stuff).

Another recent book that really knocked me out was THE GLASS HOTEL, the latest by Emily St. John Mandel.    A few years back, she wrote a (ahem) post-pandemic SF novel called STATION ELEVEN which I loved at the time and now devoutly hope is not going to prove prophetic.  It was my favorite novel of that year, and I thought it deserved to win the Hugo and the Nebula.   Which it didn’t, alas.   But I had Emily at my theatre for an author event, which was great, and snapped up her three earlier novels.  I really liked those too.   Now comes her latest, THE GLASS HOTEL.  No, this one is not science fiction or fantasy.  In fact, I would be hard pressed to say what it is except a damn fine novel.   It is about a hotel in a remote location, the people who work there, the people who stay there, it is about a Ponzi scheme, and art, and music, and a dysfunctional family, and… oh, well, I don’t know what it is about, but I do know that once I started reading, I could not stop.   When people describe a book as a “page turner,” usually they are talking about novels that have a lot of plot, which Mandel definitely does not, yet somehow she keeps me turning pages regardless.   And she writes just beautifully.   Her prose is not overblown or excessively ornate, as is the case with too many writers who are known as “stylists,” but… it is just lovely, haunting and evocative and immersive…   I guess you can say I am a big Emily St. John Mandel fanboy.   I look forward to whatever she writes next.

There are other things going on in my life as well.   I bought a railroad… well, I bought a third of a railroad.   See the post below.   Hollywood has slowed to a crawl thanks to the pandemic, but THE HOUSE OF THE DRAGON is still flying along wonderfully, thanks to Ryan Condal and his writers, and the tireless Ti Mikkel.   With my producer hat on, I am still involved in trying to bring Nnedi Okorafor’s brilliant WHO FEARS DEATH to the small screen, and relaunch the WILD CARDS tv project.   We have feature films in development adapted from my stories “Sandkings” and “The Ice Dragon” and “The Lost Lands,” television shows in development based on works by Roger Zelazny and Tony Hillerman, there are the secret shorts we’re doing that… well, no, if I spilled that, it wouldn’t be secret.

But up here on the mountain, all of that that seems very distant, and much of it has stuttered to a halt in any case, until Covid goes away.

Mostly, it’s just me in Westeros, with occasional side trips to other places in the pages of a great book.

Now you will have to excuse me.   Arya is calling.   I think she means to kill someone.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

The Amazing John Picacio

June 19, 2020 at 8:37 am
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SFWA held its Nebula Awards ceremonies last week, and John Picacio, artist extraordinaire, was one of the winners of this year’s Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award… not for his art, but for his contributions to the science fiction and fantasy community.

I had the honor of presenting the award to John.   Well, that is to say, I had the virtual honor of presenting a virtual award to the virtual Picacio.

For all of you who could not be there — which is everyone, thanks to our friend Covid-19 — here is what I had to say:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YV6qoTdD_3MZEQe3ulSNNiJrgT1RfSuM/view?usp=drivesdk

Congratulations once again, John.    Very well deserved.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Haeems Wins Terran Prize

June 17, 2020 at 9:07 am
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When astronauts look down on Earth from orbit, they don’t see borders, national boundaries, or linguistic groups; they see one world, a gorgeous blue globe spinning in space, streaked with clouds. I don’t know if humanity will ever reach the stars (though I hope we will), but if we do, it won’t be Americans who get there. It won’t be the Chinese or the Russians or the British or the French or the Brazilians or the Kiwis or the South Africans or Indians or the folk of any other nation either. It will be humanity; in the language of the SF of my youth, it will be Terrans or Earthlings or Earthmen. The future belongs to all the peoples of the world.

With that in mind, back in 2018 I established THE TERRAN PRIZE,  to bring an aspiring SF writer from abroad to the Taos Toolbox, the graduate level writing workshop that Walter Jon Williams runs every summer in the mountains of northern New Mexico.  The Prize is given annually and covers all tuition and fees to the Toolbox (but not travel).

Here’s the official announcement of this year’s winner:

The Terran Prize for 2020, consisting of a scholarship for the Taos Toolbox writing workshop, has been won by Maurice Haeems of Mumbai, India.

Taos Toolbox was forced by the Covid pandemic to move from its original June dates to September 6-19, in Angel Fire, New Mexico. The workshop will be taught by Nancy Kress and Walter Jon Williams, along with special lecturers George R.R. Martin and E.M. Tippetts.

Maurice was born in Mumbai and has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University of Mumbai and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Over the last 30 years, he has lived in Mumbai, London, Hong Kong, Taipei, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Dubai while pursuing professional careers in mechanical engineering, investment banking, and software entrepreneurship.

 

Recently, Maurice turned to his fourth career and first love – Writing, Storytelling, and Filmmaking. His first project, the multi-award-winning sci-fi feature film Chimera, which Maurice wrote and directed, was released in April 2019 and is now available on VOD and DVD. Maurice is delighted and honored to be a part of the 2020 class of the Taos Toolbox.

Maurice says, “My goal in reading and writing speculative fiction is simply to explore the hypothetical though, as a bonus, I am often rewarded with an improved comprehension of my reality. It is a privilege, as a writer, to gaze into crystal balls and magical devices, to contemplate their revelations, and to translate the resulting visions into words.”

 

Current Mood: creative creative

Picacio Speaks

June 15, 2020 at 4:35 pm
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Every two weeks or so, we upload new posts on our official Wild Cards blog at https://www.wildcardsworld.com/blog/

Our latest blog post is from the one and only JOHN PICACIO, the latest winner of SFWA’s Solstice Award (which I had the honor to present to him — virtually, of course), and one of the leading artists and illustrators in our genre… and any other genre, for that matter.   John talks about the artwork he has done for the Wild Cards stories on Tor.com, the Ice & Fire calendar he did for me way back when, and much much more.

If you love his art, or SF and fantasy art in general, his piece is a must read.   And while you are there, check out some of the other stuff we have to offer on our Wild Cards website, and sign up for our newsletter.   There’s always something new in the wonderful world of Wild Cards.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Locus Award Nomination for STARPORT

June 12, 2020 at 11:14 am
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The Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the top ten finalists for this year and we’re pleased as punch to report that STARPORT has been nominated in the Illustrated and Art Book category.  Illustrated by our very own in house Art Director Raya Golden and published by Random House this Sci Fi comedy adaptation of a Television pilot is a fun ride into a lighter alternate universe where aliens have discovered Earth.

Memberships to the Locus Awards can be found by following the link below:

2020 Locus Awards Weekend

And if you want to check out STARPORT in person you can order signed copies from Beastly Books:

Starport

 

THIS MESSAGE HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MINIONS OF FEVRE RIVER

Beastly Books Reopens

June 10, 2020 at 8:34 am
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New Mexico has begun to reopen — cautiously, step by step — from its lockdown, and that includes at least one of my own enterprises.

Beastly Books, my bookshop on Montezuma Street, opened its doors again on June 2, for coffee, hot chocolate, and — of course — signed books.   We are not doing any author events at present, except the virtual kind, and we are taking every precaution, with masks, sanitizers, limits on the numbers of people allowed in the shop at one time, and so forth.   We shall see how it goes.   All of us hope the worst is over.

Of course, our mail order department remains open as well, as it has throughout the pandemic.   Check out our offerings at https://jeancocteaucinema.com/beastlybooks/     ALL our books are autographed, and we have some great titles on offer.

The Jean Cocteau Cinema, next door to Beastly Books, remains closed for the moment, but is showing new films every week via streaming video.  You can sign up for that via the JCC newsletter.   I am not sure when the theatre will reopen.  That depends in large part of the progress of the fight against coronavirus… but we are also looking at doing some major renovations to the old gal, down the line.

 

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

Words For Our Times

June 9, 2020 at 11:35 am
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Current Mood: angry angry