Not a Blog

To My Detractors

February 19, 2009 at 7:00 pm
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(If you are not one of my detractors, this is not about you. Thanks for your support).

I have to admit, the rising tide of venom about the lateness of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS has gotten pretty discouraging. Emails, message boards, blogs, LJ comments, everywhere I look (and lots of places where I don’t), people seem to be attacking me, defending me, using me as a bad example of something or other, whatever.

I can and do avoid most of the online discussions, although I do regularly get emails from people eager to point out the latest URL where DANCE and I are being hashed over. I can do that, and I can screen the trollish comments here on LJ, but there’s no avoiding the emails.

Some of you are angry about the miniatures, the swords, the resin busts, the games. You don’t want me “wasting time” on those, or talking about them here.

Some of you are angry that I watch football during the fall. You don’t want me “wasting time” on the NFL, or talking about it here.

Some of you hate my other projects. You don’t want me co-editing WARRIORS or the Vance anthology or STAR-CROSSED LOVERS or any of the other projects I’m doing with my old friend Gardner Dozois, and you get angry when I post about them here. For reasons I don’t quite comprehend, the people who hate those projects seem to hate WILD CARDS even more. You really don’t want me working on that, “wasting time” on that, and posting about it here.

Some of you don’t want me attending conventions, teaching workshops, touring and doing promo, or visiting places like Spain and Portugal (last year) or Finland (this year). More wasting time, when I should be home working on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS.

After all, as some of you like to point out in your emails, I am sixty years old and fat, and you don’t want me to “pull a Robert Jordan” on you and deny you your book.

Okay, I’ve got the message. You don’t want me doing anything except A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. Ever. (Well, maybe it’s okay if I take a leak once in a while?)

Here’s my reply:

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A Dance With Dragons

February 19, 2009 at 6:11 pm
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No, it’s not done.

Yes, I am aware that more than a year has passed since my last update. A lot of you have been emailing me to point that out. Thanks, but really, I did know. Unlike many of you out there, I got my copies of the Song of Ice & Fire calendar, so I knew what date it was.

No, I’m not planning to update the update, for reasons stated in the update itself. Until such time as I can write, “It’s done,” it will remain the last update… aside from what I may say here from time to time, on my Not-A-Blog.

I made a lot of progress on the book in the first half of 2008. So much so that I was optimistic that I would be done by the end of the year. Unfortunately, I did not make much progress on the book in the second half of 2008. Indeed, I made some regress. (That Sansa chapter I talked about finishing, for instance. It’s still finished, but my editor and I decided it belongs in THE WINDS OF WINTER, not A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, so it’s been moved into the next book. Sansa will not appear in DANCE.)

Some of the reasons were literary, arising from problems in the narrative itself. I’m not going to discuss them here, because I really do not like talking about questions I am still wrestling with on a work in progress. It never helps. Art is not a democracy, and these are problems I need to solve myself. Having a few hundred readers weigh in with their thoughts and opinions — which seems to be what happens whenever I post here about DWD — does not advance the process. I’m sorry, but that’s true. I know that many of you would like to help me, but you can’t. I have editors and I have two capable assistants, and that’s sufficient. I’m the only one who can dance this dance.

Some of other reasons for the delay have nothing to do with the book itself. They’re extra-literary, arising from other things in my life. I could sketch out some of them here, sure, but what good would it do? Those who are inclined to understand would send me messages of sympathy and support. Those are not so inclined would dismiss them as “excuses,” or even “feeble excuses.” A few will even go so far as to accuse me of lying.

That’s the part that really bothers me. For the record, I have never lied about anything having to do with A DANCE WITH DRAGONS or the series as a whole. I have been wrong, yes. I have been wrong lots of time, especially when I’ve tried to predict how long it will take me to complete the book, or when it will be published. Being wrong is not the same as lying. Since the very beginning of this series, I have been guilty of being over-optimistic about how long it would take me to finish the next book, the next chapter, or the series as a whole. I cannot deny that. I have always been bad with deadlines… one reason why I did my best to avoid them for the first fifteen years of my career. That’s an option I no longer have, however. Or at least will not have until A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE is complete.

That’s the main reason why I no longer want to give any completion dates. I am sick and tired of people jumping down my throat when I miss them.

This latest flood of emails has worn down my resolve, however. So in hopes of quieting it, once more I will step into the breach —

I am trying to finish the book by June. I think I can do that. If I do, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS will likely be published in September or October.

(Yes, I am aware that I have previously said that I hoped to finish by the end of 2008. And before that, I said that I hoped to finish by June 2008, before I went to Spain and Portugal. And before that, I said I hoped to finish by the end of 2007. I know, I know, I know. No, I was not lying. I was wrong. And wrong again. And wrong before that. This time I hope that I am right. But you know, I can’t swear that in blood. I write one chapter at a time. One page at a time. One word at a time. And then the next.)

That’s all I have. But it’s more than Amazon has, or anyone else.

The INSTANT that I finish the novel and put it in the mail to Bantam, I will post that fact here, just as I did for SUICIDE KINGS a few days ago. Until and unless you read that announcement here, believe nothing you hear from any other source.

Thanks for your continued support… and for your patience.

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Wild Cards Discussion

February 19, 2009 at 5:18 pm
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I got an email from a reader who wanted to know if there was a site out there where the Wild Cards books were being discussed and debated the way the Ice & Fire books are on the Westeros board. The short answer, alas, is “no.” There is no ‘Wild Card Westeros.’

There are a half-dozen different sites where the books have been discussed. The liveliest of them is Captain Comics, at

There is also Tor’s official Wild Cards site at . No message boards there, but plenty of bios, author interviews, special “outtatkes” and exclusive content, even some links to old Wild Cards panels at worldcons past.

And last but not least, there’s the wonderful UK fan site Wild Cards OnLine, with a wealth of detail about the books and characters. That one can be found at

All of them are well worth checking out.

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But Enough About the Hugos

February 19, 2009 at 4:34 pm
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Moving right along, I wanted to mention that all my copies of the Guardians of Order RPG book are now gone, including the remaining copies that were water-damaged in the floor.

It’s possible that I may have a box or two of additional copies in my storage locker, but I won’t know that until work is complete on my Library Tower, and I can empty out the locker and start unpacking long-lost books.

Thanks for the interest, everyone. I hope those of you who got the books enjoy ’em.

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For Your Hugo Consideration: Me

February 19, 2009 at 4:13 pm
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And before I close out the Hugo discussion (at least from my end), I would be remiss if I did not mention that I am eligible myself in a couple of categories this year.

Both of new Wild Cards books were published last year, INSIDE STRAIGHT in January and BUSTED FLUSH in December. They’re mosaic novels, but of course that’s not a Hugo category. And there is no “anthology” category. But, as editor, I would be eligible in

Best Editor: Short Form

The editorial Hugo was split in two a couple of years ago, and Short Form has become the magazine category, where all of the magazine editors contend, with sometimes an anthology editor sneaking in to round out the shortlist.

I also published a story in INSIDE STRAIGHT — my Lohengrin story, “Crusader.” If you liked it, that one would be eligible in

Best Novelette

And that’s all I have to say about this year’s Hugos.

For now.

But whether or not you choose to nominate me, or any of my recommendations below, please do remember to nominate. The Hugo is your award, the reader’s award, but it’s meaningless without your participation.

Remember, you only have until February 28.

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For Your Hugo Consideration: Best Fanzine

February 19, 2009 at 3:49 pm
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A fanzine is an amateur magazine devoted the science fiction or fantasy or the fannish subculture. SF fandom was born in fanzines, way back in the 20s and 30s. In the old days most of them were mimeographed, and some — the comic fanzines that I cut my teeth on back in high school — were produced by even more arcane and primitive methods of duplication called “ditto” and “hekto” and “spirit duplication,” which wasn’t nearly as cool as it sounds.

Mimeographed fanzines are fewer these days, and ditto is gone entirely (thank ghu). And now we have a new sort of fanzine rising up… the webzine.

It’s past time the Hugo Awards gave some recognition to this new breed. The age of the stencil is gone, the age of the blog has arrived, and the liveliest discourse about SF and fantasy is now taking place on the internet. So when I fill out my Best Fanzine ballot, I will be nominating


There are lots of great webzines and book blogs out there, but none as lively, informative, and regular as Pat’s, with its mix of reviews, interviews, commentary, and contests. If you haven’t seen it, check it out at and see for yourself.

Proprietor Patrick St. Denis is a Dallas Cowboys fan, it’s true, but try not to hold that against him. Rooting for the Cowboys is enough punishment in itself. Pat’s also from Montreal, so what could be more appopriate than giving him a nod at Anticipation, the first Montreal worldcon?

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For Your Hugo Consideration: Best Novella

February 19, 2009 at 3:32 pm
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There are four Hugo Awards given for prose fiction.

Best Novel is pretty self-explanatory. Novels are defined as works over 40,000 words. Short Story is for works under 7,500 words. Novelette covers stories from 7,500 to 17,500 words. And Novella is for stories longer than 17,500 words, but shorter than 40,000.

Novellas are so long they tend to fill up most of an average issue of a magazine, but too short to be published alone as a book, so typically only a few make it into print each year, compared to hundreds of short stories and novelettes.

Last year I had the honor of editing three extraordinary novellas in the Wild Cards books. Unlike the magazines, however, Wild Cards doesn’t include a contents page where the stories are broken down and labelled as novellas, novelettes, and short stories, so even our Wild Cards fans may not be aware that these WERE novellas… especially since two of them were published as interstitial narratives, and the third was broken into four parts.

They were:
“Jonathan Hive,” by Daniel Abraham, from INSIDE STRAIGHT,
“Political Science,” by Walton (Bud) Simons & Ian Tregillis, from BUSTED FLUSH,
“Double Helix,” by Melinda M. Snodgrass, from BUSTED FLUSH.

INSIDE STRAIGHT was published in January of last year and BUSTED FLUSH in December, so all these stories are eligible for this year’s Hugos. All three of them were terrific, in very different ways. I urge you to remember them when filling out your nominating ballot:

Thanks for your consideration.

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For Your Campbell Consideration: Best New Writer

February 19, 2009 at 2:03 pm
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The John W. Campbell Award for best new writer (never to be confused with the John W. Campbell Memorial Award) is not a Hugo, but it’s given out during the Hugo ceremonies at worldcon every year, and decided by precisely the same mechanisms as the Hugos, so it’s certainly the next best thing.

I’ve always taken a special interest in this award. It was the first award that I was ever nominated for, way back in 1973, the first year it was given (I lost to Jerry Pournelle and Geo. Alec Effinger). I know how much the nomination meant to me then, and I suspect it means just as much to the young writers who are nominated for it now, three decades later. (And never mind about that asinine tiara).

My editing career grew out of the Campbell Award as well. The first book I ever edited was NEW VOICES IN SCIENCE FICTION, a collection of original stories by the finalists for that first Campbell Award. I went on to edit six volumes of NEW VOICES, and I’d probably be editing it still if it had sold a little better.

These days I edit the WILD CARDS series, and one of the joys of that job is the opportunity it allows me to work with talented new writers like Carrie Vaughn, Daniel Abraham, and the guy I’m nominating this year for the Campbell Award…


I had the honor of publishing Ian’s first story in INSIDE STRAIGHT, the wonderful Rustbelt tale called “The Tin Man’s Lament.” In BUSTED FLUSH, he returned in collaboration with Walton (Bud) Simons to give us “Political Science,” which many critics are calling one of the highlights of the book. And wait until you read the Rustbelt sections he wrote for SUICIDE KINGS, which I’ve just turned in to Tor.

And Ian’s talents are by no means limited to Wild Cards. He’s also sold Tor a wonderful new alternate world fantasy series called The Milkweed Triptych, the first volume of which is scheduled to be published in 2010. I’ve seen parts of it at our local writer’s group, and can’t wait to see more.

In real life, Ian’s a rocket scientist at Los Alamos. I could tell you some of the scary shit he’s working on, but then we’d have to kill you. But the scariest thing of all is how talented he is. I’m delighted to have him working for Wild Cards. This is a major talent, and I hope you’ll keep him in mind when filling out your Campbell Award nominations.

(If only so we can all laugh at him in that asinine tiara).

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For Your Hugo Consideration: Best Artist

February 19, 2009 at 1:34 pm
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I love SF and fantasy art. I have a lot of it hanging on my walls. There’s nothing as nice as a well illustrated book, which is why I’ve had so many of my own works done as limited editions by publishers like Subterranean, Nemo, and Dark Harvest. I take a great interest in the cover art on my books.

Which is why the Hugo for Best Artist always drives me buggy. Not that the past nominees and winners aren’t worthy. They are. Some fabulous artists have won that Hugo. And won it, and won it, and won it. And same guys get nominated year after year, regardless of what they have actually done during the year in question. They’re very talented guys, those nominees, no doubt of it. But other artists, equally talented, have NEVER been nominated. And that’s a disgrace. I mean, Alan Lee has never been nominated for the Best Artist Hugo. That’s absurd. John Howe has never been nominated for the Best Artist Hugo. That’s ridiculous. Ted Nasmith has never been nominated… well, hell, you get the idea.

So, my two cents, let’s look beyond the usual suspects this year. Lee and Howe and Nasmith are all worthy of consideration, yes. And here’s the guy I’m nominating first and foremost this year:


He’s a newer artist. An up and comer. I first became aware of him when he did the cover for the Meisha Merlin TUF VOYAGING a few years ago. Komarck did a great job with that, and he’s only gotten better since. A lot better.

He does the covers for the new Wild Cards books from Tor. Take a look:

He also did the artwork for the Ice & Fire calendar from the Dabel Brothers. Delivery problems aside, that’s a gorgeous piece of work. Here, take a look:

And less you think that Komarck only illustrates my own books, here’s a cover he did for the Subterranean Press edition of Steven Erikson’s GARDENS OF THE MOON:

So, if a picture’s worth a thousand words, there’s five thousand reasons right there to nominate Michael Komarck for Best Artist.

There’s tons more, which you can explore to your heart’s content on Komarck’s own website at

I think this guy is fabulous, and it’s long past time he got some recognition. So please keep Michael Komarck in mind when filling out your Hugo nominations.

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Hugo Nominations Due

February 19, 2009 at 1:05 pm
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It’s that time again, boys and girls.

Less than two weeks remain until the close of nominations for this year’s Hugo Awards.

Every year I try to encourage more people to nominate and vote for the Hugos. This is the most important award in science fiction and fantasy, and it’s YOUR award. A jury selects the winners of the World Fantasy Award. The Nebula Award and the Bram Stoker Award are voted by the writers, members respectively of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the Horror Writers of America. But you, the readers, nominate and vote for the Hugos. Yes, you have to be a member of the World Science Fiction Convention, whose award this is, but anyone can join the worldcon. This isn’t the Academy, or even SFWA.

This year’s Hugos will be given at Anticipation in Montreal, and the winners will be voted by the membership of that con… but NOMINATIONS are open to those who were members of last year’s worldcon in Denver as well. So even if you can’t be at Montreal and don’t care to buy a supporting membership (another way to vote), if you attended or supported Denvention III, you are still eligible to nominate.

And I hope you will. I have said it before, and I will say it again — getting nominated is in many ways more important than whether you win or lose, especially for a new writer. That first nomination can be all important in a writer’s career.

And so few people bother to nominate. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that thousands of people attend worldcon, hundreds vote for the Hugo Awards, and dozens nominate for those same awards. Yes, some of the “bigger” categories like Best Novel and Best Dramatic Presentation may get hundreds of nominations… but in other, less popular categories, twenty or thirty nominations will sometimes be enough to earn a spot on the ballot. And once that happens, well… It’s a lot like the NFL playoffs. Once you get into the tournament, anything can happen. Just look at this year. The Arizona Cardinals were in the Super Bowl.

So, please, help make our field’s oldest and most important awards more meaningful. The nominating ballot is here:

Every vote counts. You have until February 28.

(I will suggest a few worthy nominees above, in separate posts. Those are just MY choices, however. You may well have your own. It doesn’t matter what you nominate, just NOMINATE).

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