Not a Blog

Love. Death. Sex. Heartbreak.

March 31, 2010 at 2:34 pm
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What more could you want?

Coming in November, the latest original anthology from me and my sometime-partner, Gardner Dozois (former editor of ASIMOV’s and winner of umpty-ump Hugo Awards as our field’s best editor): SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH.

The good folks at Pocket Books have just sent us the cover. Have a look.

The lineup:
-Jim Butcher, “Love Hurts” (a Harry Dresden story)
-Jo Beverly, “The Marrying Maid”
-Carrie Vaughn, “Rooftops”
-M.L.N. Hanover, “Hurt Me”
-Cecelia Holland, “Demon Lover”
-Melinda M. Snodgrass, “The Wayfarer’s Advice” (an Imperials story)
-Robin Hobb, “Blue Boots”
-Neil Gaiman, “The Thing About Cassandra”
-Marjorie M. Liu, “After the Blood”
-Jacqueline Carey, “You and You Alone” (a Kushiel story)
-Lisa Tuttle, “His Wolf”
-Linnea Sinclair, “Courting Trouble”
-Mary Jo Putney, “The Demon Dancer”
-Tanith Lee, “Under/Above the Water”
-Peter S. Beagle, “Kashkia”
-Yasmine Galenorn, “Man in the Mirror”
-Diana Gabaldon, “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” (an OUTLANDER spinoff)

The anthology will be released as a hardcover under the Gallery imprint.

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Ice & Fire Calendar Announced for Comicon

March 27, 2010 at 12:42 am
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The official Song of Ice and Fire calendar for 2011 has just moved into production, and will be available this summer, publisher Bantam Spectra has informed me. This year’s calendar is illustrated by the acclaimed fantasy artist Ted Nasmith, featuring a dozen gorgeous paintings of the great castles of Westeros. A thirteenth castle (not shown here) will be included as a double-page centerfold.

Here’s a sneak peak at what the calendar will look like. Feast your eyes. The cover features the Eyrie. (Ted consulted closely with me on every painting, and these are the most definitive versions to date of what the castles of Westeros actually look like, in my eyes at least).

Plans are for the calendar to make its debut at this year’s San Diego Comicon, so attendees should be sure to visit the Bantam Spectra booth in San Diego. By Labor Day, you should be able to find the calendar at your favorite local bookstore.

For all those who still nurse bitter memories about the 2009 calendar (beautiful, but cursed), please be assured that we have changed publishers. Bantam Spectra is a division of Random House, the same great folks who publish my fantasies in the United States, and they solemnly swear that this year’s calendar will be released on schedule, without any of the delays and other problems that plagued the last attempt. Their hope (and mine) is to make the Ice & Fire calendar a regular annual treat for my fans, and award-winning artist John Picacio is already feverishly at work on the artwork for the 2012 calendar. And boy, I can’t wait to show you guys some of the great stuff John is doing…

Oh, and speaking of calendars… after the debacle with the 2009 calendar, we were not able to arrange to publish a 2010 calendar in time, but several months ago some of my readers emailed me a calendar of fan art, a wonderful labor of love. (I really do have the best fans in the world). Unfortunately, I had one of my periodic email catastrophes shortly thereafter, and lost the email. If any of them are out there reading this, could you please resend? I’d love to post it here, and share your work with my other readers.


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For You Wild Cards Fans…

March 26, 2010 at 6:20 pm
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… hey, the aliens are amongst us.

Every bag infused with xenovirus Takis-A. Will YOU be an ace? Crunch a few and find out.

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C2E2 schedule

March 26, 2010 at 12:53 am
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I’ve received my schedule for the Chicago Comics Expo next month (see my Appearances page for a link with further details as to date, place, etc.)

I’m coming in to promote the release of the first issue of the FEVRE DREAM comic, scripted by Daniel Abraham (of Albuquerque) and illustrated by Rafa Lopez (of Spain).

Here are the scheduled public functions:


12 noon – 2pm signing at Avatar booth

4 pm – 6 pm signing at Avatar booth

8pm – 10pm Avatar Friday Night Event – reading from A DANCE WITH DRAGONS
(this item requires a separate admission, available from Avatar)


11 am – 1pm signing at Avatar booth

3 pm – 6 pm signing at Avatar booth


11:15 am – 12:15 noon Q&A panel, room E353

1 pm – 4 pm signing at Avatar booth

As you can see, I will be spending a lot of time hanging at the Avatar booth. I expect there will be some “down times” when I’ll be glad to chat… but that depends on the crowds. I have never done this con before, so I don’t know what to expect.

Avatar will have copies of the first issue of FEVRE DREAM for sale at their booth, and I am told they also plan to stock many of my books.

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Scary Stuff

March 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm
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I know that there are a lot of people out there who opposed health care reform, for a variety of reasons (witness the 400 + responses to my health care post)… but the stuff that’s going on right now across the country is scary. Congressmen who voted for the bill are receiving anyonymous death threats to them and their families, bricks are being thrown through their offices, right wing blogs are publishing their home addresses and urging people to “visit” them. And more… it’s all over the news, I won’t go into details here.

However you feel about the new health care reforms, I hope that all of you reading this — be you Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, liberals, conservatives, socialists, anarchists, Greens, Reds, Blues, tea baggers, latte drinkers, or what you — will join with me in totally condemning this behavior and all those who engage in it.

And shame, shame, shame on the “respectable” leaders who are encouraging and excusing this sort of stuff, or trying to shrug it off with feeble half-hearted condemnations.

I hope the people throwing bricks and making death threats will all be found, arrested, tried, and punished. This kind of crap has no place in our political process.

People who express their political opinions by throwing bricks through windows are no better than nazis. Google “Kristallnacht” for a scary sense of deja vu.

Surely THIS is something that all decent people, be they right or left, can agree on.

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The Hard Call

March 24, 2010 at 1:42 pm
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The long-delayed Wild Cards comic book miniseries, Daniel Abraham’s THE HARD CALL, is finally back on track, thanks to Dynamite Comics and their new partnership with DBPro.

There’s an interview about the project just up on the comic website Newsarama:

Check it out for the latest news about this project.

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Odds and Ends

March 23, 2010 at 3:10 pm
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Still not 100%, but I’m up to at least 98%, as the last of the crud fades away.

However, my assistant Ty is now sick. He went home early today. A pity, since he has a lot to celebrate right now — the sale of his first novel (well, half-novel, it was a collaboration. And no, not with me, don’t get all wiggy out there).

Please STOP posting comments to the Health Care topic. I let that one run a good long while, more than four hundred messages and lots of impassionated debate, but I don’t want it to drag on forever. Everything worth saying has been said.

(Though I wonder if anyone was convinced. Sometimes I question whether these discussions do the least bit of good. Everyone seems so entrenched in their positions, so unwilling to listen to the other side. Just once I’d love to read a comment that said, ‘I used to think X, but you’ve convinced me.’ Slim chance, I know).

Being under the weather for a couple weeks there has put me seriously behind on everything, I’m afraid. I’m now struggling to get back into it. In addition to the on-going work on DANCE, I am also trying to wrap up FORT FREAK, volume twenty-one in the Wild Cards series, and will soon need to gear up to write my season one script for HBO. I’m been over a decade since I last did a teleplay, I realized suddenly. I hope I still remember how.

Yes, the part of Catelyn on HBO’s GAME OF THRONES has been recast. The new actress is Michelle Fairley, a talented and acclaimed veteran of the British and Irish stage and television. That’s being discussed in several places on the web, most notably Westeros and Winter Is Coming, so take your comments, questions, and thoughts there, if you’d be so good.

There’s more news, both bad and good, on several different fronts, none of which I am at liberty to talk about just now. Soon, maybe.

On Suvudu, Jaime is about to face a dragon. Hoo boy.

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A Few Last Words

March 23, 2010 at 2:04 am
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Okay, we’ve had a huge politcal debate about the health care bill, close to 400 comments on my post. I think all the points have been made. We’re starting to go around in circles.

Since this IS my Not A Blog last time I looked, I get the last words here. (You may have the last words on your own Live Journals and blogs, if you wish).

I am pleased that most of the debate remained civil, if sometimes vigorous. Ty and I only had to delete a relative handful of abusive posts.

I find it telling that virtually ALL the posters from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and other countries that have a single payer national health care service LIKE their national health plan, and would NOT trade it for the American model. Meanwhile, here in the US, we are clearly split right down the middle. (Probably along the usual Blue State/ Red State lines, I suspect). Speaking for myself, I would gladly trade our present health care system — even with the Obama fixes — for a Canadian or Australian model. I’d do it tomorrow, without hesitation. So would millions of other Americans.

Now I ask you: if there are two restaurants, one where 99% of the customers are satisfied and happy, and one where half the customers are happy and the other half profoundly unhappy with the food and service, which would you rather eat at?

I also found it striking that so many of the objections to the health bill (NOT all, please note, some of the arguments against the bill were polite, cogent, and well reasoned, so please note that I am saying SO MANY and not ALL) seemed rootly firmly in misunderstanding as to the actual provisions of the bill. They were based on Republican talking points and the biased accounts of Fox news and hysterical right wing talk radio. Guys, really. These people have lied to you. Change the channel. I won’t ask you to watch MSNBC, which has its own slant, but go at least to one of the centrist channels like CNN or the old line networks, or better still, read a good newspaper.

As Parris’s Uncle Pat — known to most of the rest of you as the late, great Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan — once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Next post, on to other topics.

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Health Care at Last

March 22, 2010 at 12:30 am
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I watched the House pass the health care bill earlier tonight. The talking heads all claimed it had the votes to pass, but I still found myself a case of nerves as the numbers piled up oh-so-slowly. The feeling of relief when the count hit 216 was palpable.

A great night for Obama, for the Democrats, for America.

Is it a perfect piece of legislation? By no means. It’s deeply flawed. What we really need in this country is a single payer system, like Canada and Australia. Failing that, a viable public option. But the political realities being what they are, we could not get either of them. This small, hesitant, deeply flawed bill is nonetheless an important first step on the road that will, one hopes, eventually take this country to where the rest of the western democracies arrived several generations ago.

Pelosi and Obama both spoke about politics being personal. So true, especially where health care is concerned. Let me tell you a few of my own experiences.

I’ve been a full-time freelance writer since 1979, and I’ve been fortunate enough to do very well at it, thank you. As a result, I have health insurance. But even for me, it hasn’t been easy. I remember, when I first moved to Santa Fe and went full time as a writer, I was coming off three years teaching college, when my health insurance had been covered by my job. Now I had to find my own. I was young and healthy back then… even slim and fit, believe it or not… but I didn’t have a lot of money, and when I went looking for an individual policy, everything I found cost way more than I could afford and covered way less than my group insurance with the college had. To get affordable insurance, I had to join a group: the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce. As a “small business,” I joined the CofC and signed up for their group coverage. It was not great insurance, by any means, but it gave me some protection for a few years. But that was in 1980 or so. In a more recent decade, when the Writer’s Guild policy that had covered me during my Hollywood years expired, I tried the same dodge… only to discover that while I could still join the Chamber of Commerce as a sole proprietorship, I could no longer get their health insurance. That was now available only to members who had two full-time employees. The insurance company had… you guessed it… changed the rules.

From 1997-1998 I served as vice-president of SFWA, the Science Fiction Writers of America, in the administration of Michael Capobianco, one of SFWA’s most outstanding leaders. A LOT of freelance writers had no health insurance, and Capo did what no other president before him had been able to do: find a decent, affordable group policy for SFWA members. It was through Aetna, and while it wasn’t as good as some other policies — the WGA policy was much better –it was good enough, and certainly both cheaper and better than anything any writer could find as an individual. I signed up, as did a couple hundred other SFWAns, and for a couple of years we had the peace of mind that having such insurance brings.

And then Aetna dropped us. No particular reason was ever given. Guess we weren’t profitable enough for them. They just cancelled the entire group. That wasn’t allowed in New York State, where state laws required them to continue insuring policy holders resident in that state. But those of us in the other forty-nine states were out of luck. Nor were SFWA’s officers (Capo and I were out of office by that time) able to find ANY other insurance company willing to step in and take Aetna’s place. We were a group with fourteen hundred members, a couple hundred of whom had showed themselves willing and able to purchase group insurance (the rest, presumably, had policies from day jobs or through spouses, or were unable to afford any insurance whatsover)… and yet no one would insure us.

Like I said, I am one of the lucky ones. I was able to go back to the WGA for a few years, and from them to COBRA, and thanks to our state laws in New Mexico, I could purchase insurance through the New Mexico Health Insurance Alliance coming off COBRA without fear of being refused for pre-existing conditions. So I’m covered.

But I have a lot of friends who are not nearly so fortunate.

Many of you reading this blog today are presumably science fiction and fantasy fans. It would probably shock you to know how many of your favorite writers have no health insurance whatsover. Most midlist writers struggle to get by even at the best of times; lean times can be lean indeed. For a self-employed individual, even one who can afford the premiums, insurance can be very hard to find and obscenely expensive when you do find it… and god help you if you have a pre-existing condition, because the insurance companies sure won’t.

This has all been brought home to me forcefully these past few years. A couple years back, one of my dearest friends, a great writer and a great guy, almost died of a heart attack. He had to have a quintuple bypass, and had a very difficult time recovering from it. No insurance. No money, either. Only the fact that he was a veteran saved him. He was able to get help from the VA. More recently, another old friend of mine got sick. Another fine writer, natch. No insurance, natch. No money, natch. Like the first friend, like a LOT of writers, he was just getting by. So when he started feeling sick he did not go to see a doc, no. Couldn’t afford it. Took over the counter stuff, rested at home, drank liquids, got sicker and sicker. Finally went to the hospital, where he almost died. Two surgeries and three weeks later, he’s finally been discharged. He’s not a veteran, so the VA won’t he coming to the rescue here. His surgeries, his ICU stay, those three weeks in the hospital, they will doubtless add up to about ten years of his annual earnings. Maybe more. He’s going to face bankruptcy. “Well, he should have had insurance,” I can hear some right wing asshole out there saying. Yeah, he shoulda. Except, even if he’d had the money to buy a policy, no insurance company would ever have issued one for him. He’s had a pre-existing condition since childhood.

It is worth pointing out that if either of my friends had lived in Canada, or Australia, or France, or England, or any country with that old vile “socialized medicine” the right wing likes to denounce, they would never have gotten so sick. They would have seen a doctor much earlier, early enough so that their medical problems could have been diagnosed, treated, and perhaps cured or ameliorated before they required major surgery. But no, they couldn’t afford doctors, and they didn’t feel THAT bad… not at first… so they did what millions of Americans have done, and ignored their symptoms until it was almost too late.

So, yes, I was thrilled by what I witnessed tonight. This is something this country desperately needs. Health care is a basic human right, something every other major western democracy recognized decades ago.

Now I just hope the Senate does not screw it up.

One last thing. I think the extreme polarization of contemporary politics is both unfortunate and frightening (read some history of the Third Republic if you want to learn where such extremism can lead). Obama’s efforts to reach across the aisle and make these reforms bi-partisan may have been fruitless, even misguided, but they were also heroic. And the utter rejection of those efforts by the GOP is both depressing and infuriating. I have been a Democrat more often than I have been a Republican in my life, sure, but the Republican Party that I grew up with, the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt (the first president to propose a national health program), of Clifford Case and Nelson Rockefeller, of Everett Dirksen and John Lindsay and Chuck Percy and Dwight D. Eisenhower… that party is now dead, it has become clear. The nasty campaign of fear and misinformation and outright lies that the right has waged against “Obamacare,” complete with odious comparisons to Hitler (!) certainly drove that point home… though perhaps one might cling to some hope that those people were just the lunatic fringe.

But no. The fact that NOT ONE SINGLE REPUBLICAN voted against the party line is damning (more than thirty Democrats crossed the other way, by comparison). Today’s GOP has abandoned all pretense of serving the people or attempting to redress the country’s problems. Today’s GOP belongs to the religious fundamentalists, the loonies and the haters, the lobbyists for the banks and corporations, and the very military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned against in his farewell speech. They proved that tonight.

Shame on them.

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Hear Him Roar

March 21, 2010 at 11:08 pm
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Jaime Lannister has defeated Cthulhu! He’s 2-0.

How’s that for an upset!

Next round he has to face a dragon, though. Naomi Novik’s Temeraire. Oh, well. Should be good training for when Dany invades Westeros.

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