Not a Blog

It’s Publication Day…

February 28, 2017 at 2:15 pm
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… for the long-awaited Tor reissue of ACE IN THE HOLE, volume six in the Wild Cards series. Look for it on the shelves of your friendly neighborhood bookstore, among the trade paperbacks, or from whichever online bookseller you prefer.

Set during a dramatic week in Atlanta during the 1988 Democratic National Convention, as a religious fanatic and a secret psychopath struggle for the nomination, ACE IN THE HOLE is one of our full mosaics, featuring the work of Melinda M. Snodgrass, Victor Milan, Walton (Bud) Simons, Stephen Leigh, and Walter Jon Williams, deftly edited and interwoven by yours truly.

The stars this time around are Dr. Tachyon, Mackie Messer, Demise, Puppetman, and Golden Boy. That’s Mackie coming through a Hartmann poster on the stunning new cover by Michael Komarck.

This is one of our best, if I do say so myself. The full mosaic form is incredibly demanding, for the writers and editor both, but I think the results are worth it.

Don’t be frightened, though, ACE IN THE HOLE is purely fiction. No way any presidential candidate so malicious and deceptive could ever be nominated by a major party in real life. Right?

Hugo Thoughts: Best Series

February 27, 2017 at 6:27 pm
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This year a new category has been added to the Hugo Awards: Best Series.

It’s not a permanent category yet. Though the idea behind the category has been discussed at various worldcon business meetings over the years, it has yet to be passed and ratified. But worldcon rules permit each concom to add one category of their own choosing each year, and the Finnish fans decided to add Best Series… rather as an experiment, I guess, to see how well the category might work.

Honestly, I have mixed thoughts about adding Best Series to the Hugos as a permanent new category. Being an old guy, I can remember a time when most science fiction novels were stand-alones. If they were popular enough, they might spawn sequels, but the series novel was the exception rather than the rule. Today the reverse is true. It has become increasingly hard to find a science fiction or fantasy novel that is NOT part of some series.

So do we need a Best Series Hugo? I don’t know. Being part of a series has not stopped the last three Best Novel winners from taking home the rocket, so it is not as if series books are being overlooked. And what is a “series,” actually? The difficulty of defining that term is one of the reasons so many worldcons have spent so long wrangling over it.

All that being said, for this year at least there will be a Hugo for Best Series. And I’d guess that almost all the leading contenders for the Best Novel rocket are ALSO contenders for Best Series (yes, there will be a few exceptions). So the only series that I am going to submit for your consideration is one that will NOT also be competing for The Big One: my own.

No, not that one. A SONG OF ICE & FIRE had no new installment published in 2016, so it’s not eligible. Besides, I don’t consider A SONG OF ICE & FIRE to be a series, not as I define the word (yes, I am aware, the rules define the term more broadly). I consider A SONG OF ICE & FIRE to be one single gigantic story published in multiple volumes. (Seven, I hope). LORD OF THE RINGS was not a series either, nor a trilogy; it was a single novel published in three volumes.

But I do have a series, a true series, one that I’ve been working on even longer than I have ICE & FIRE, one that I am very proud of: WILD CARDS.

You know. This series here:

WILD CARDS is no stranger to Hugo competition. In 1988, when the series was only three books old, the New Orleans worldcon added a new category called “Other Forms,” just as Helsinki has added Best Series, and we were one of the five nominees. We lost to Alan Moore’s landmark graphic novel WATCHMEN, which surprised no one, least of all us… but it WAS an honor just to be nominated, and we had a great time at the Hugo Losers Party afterward.

Alas, “Other Forms” did not survive as a Hugo category, and the Wild Cards books, though they continued to be popular, never fit comfortably into any of the other categories. We called them mosaic novels, and some were indeed six- or seven-way collaborative novels, but they were never going to contend for Best Novel. Other volumes were more akin to anthologies… but the Hugo Awards have never had a ‘Best Anthology’ category (though if truth be told, I’d sooner see them add that than Best Series). I would sometimes get some votes for my editing, but never enough to make the final ballot (one year I finished seventh out of five, as I recall, but that was the closest I came). Individual stories from the books were nominated for awards and one such, Walter Jon Williams “Witness,” was a Nebula finalist. That lost too. Oh, and one year S.P. Somtow presented Wild Cards with his Icarus Award.

I can hardly be objective about WILD CARDS, but I do think we’re worthy of consideration. This year we are celebrating our thirtieth anniversary, a considerable achievement all by itself. All the other shared world series of the 80s are gone, but Wild Cards continues… and I think that most of those who have stuck with us over the years will agree, we’re better than ever. We have entertained millions of readers over those three decades, the books have been published in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Brazil (with more countries coming up). WILD CARDS has given birth to two role-playing games, two comic book series (three more graphic novels in the works), and soon, I hope, a television series. We’ve had twenty-three books published to date, three more finished and delivered and in the pipeline for publication in 2017 and 2018, more to come.

But it’s not just longevity. Together with WATCHMEN, WILD CARDS helped redefine the treatment of superpowers and superheroes in popular culture, taking a grittier, more realistic, more adult approach to the subject, with an emphasis on characterization. And with the full mosaics we only dared attempt every third book, we went way beyond any other shared world to create a whole new (and very demanding, I may add) template. And there’s been some cool world-building too, as my team played the alternate world concept central to the series.

We have had ups and downs, of course — hey, with twenty-three books and a couple hundred stories, how not? — but overall, I don’t know many other series that have maintained a similar consistencey of quality over half as many book, and I like to think that when we’ve been good, we’ve been very very good. Especially in those full mosaics: JOKERS WILD, ACE IN THE HOLE/ DEAD MAN’S HAND, DEALER’S CHOICE, BLACK TRUMP, SUICIDE KINGS, HIGH STAKES.

I’ve only been a small part of that, of course. I may the conductor, but I’ve had a hell of a band. Over the decades, I’ve had the honor of working with some truly gifted and innovative writers. Howard Waldrop, Roger Zelazny, Daniel Abraham, Edward Bryant, Stephen Leigh, Victor Milan, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Carrie Vaughn, Laura J. Mixon, Sage Walker, William F. Wu, John Jos. Miller, Lewis Shiner, Cherie Priest, Walton Simons, Caroline Spector, Walter Jon Williams, Michael Cassutt, Paul Cornell, Ian Tregillis, David Anthony Durham, David D. Levine… the list goes on and on… and of course, Melinda M. Snodgrass, who has been my right hand since the start.

And wait till you see the new writers we have in store for you in the books to come, and the characters they’ve created for us. The best, truly, is yet to come.

WILD CARDS. Best Series? That’s up to fandom. If you’ve liked the books, nominate them. But once again let me say that whatever you choose to nominate, you should NOMINATE.

((If you haven’t read any Wild Cards and would like to try a small sample before shelling out for a book, check out the FREE stories on

Clear skies and tail winds.

Hugo Thoughts: Best Novel

February 27, 2017 at 12:54 pm
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The Big One.

I read a lot of novels. I became a voracious reader as a kid, and very little has changed since… well, no, one thing has changed. I no longer feel an obsessive need to finish every book I start. Some just don’t hold my interest, and I find myself putting them aside and picking up something else. Sometimes I return to the books I’ve put aside and sometimes I don’t.

One of life’s greatest pleasures, for me, is finding a book that’s so bloody damn good that it won’t LET me put it aside. The kind of book that grabs me by the throat and will not let me go. Those sorts of books are not easy to find, but I treasure the authors who deliver them regularly.

Jack Vance had that effect on me, for decades. Bernard Cornwell still does. Stephen King too. Once I start a book by any of these worthies, I am hooked. I will keep reading till the end.

Recently I have had to add James S.A. Corey to that list. Which is annoying, because I know both halves of James S.A. Corey. One of them was a student of mine. The other was my proto-minion. How the hell did they get so damned good?

However they did it, it’s done. Now, I am sure there were lots of great SF and fantasy novels published during 2016 that I have not read yet (I read lots of books, like I said, but not all are SF or fantasy, I read lots of history and mystery and historical fiction and biographies and non-fiction as well, and I read older books too, not just stuff from the current awards year, so I’m always trying to catch up). Of all the SF novels from 2016 that I have read, however, this was the best:

For me, it wasn’t even close. I expect I will fill in all six slots on my Hugo nomination form with the titles of worthy contenders, but this will be the first one I write down.

I commend it to your attention. Jimmy Corey deserves his shot at The Big One.

((Which frosts my ass. Because if Jimmy actually WINS the Hugo, Ty will be unbearable.))

P.S. The EXPANSE tv series is amazing too. Have you guys been watching season two? I’m also going to be nominating “Leviathan Wakes,” the final episode of season one, for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

Hugo Thoughts: Best Professional Editor, Long Form

February 26, 2017 at 5:03 pm
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We are creeping closer and closer to the close of Hugo nominations for That Finnish Worldcon. I hope that all of you reading this who are eligible to nominate will do so. Even if you only nominated one or two of your favorite things in one or two categories, that’s better than not nominating at all.

Last year I put up several long long posts about the two editorial categories, their history, their controversies, some candidates. I don’t have the time or the energy to rehash all that again, but there’s no need… almost all I what I said last time around is still true, and you can find it (if you’re interested) just by searching for the Hugo Award tag in my Not A Blog, downstream.

Today I will limit myself to recommending three outstanding book editors for your consideration. All three are more than worthy of a nomination for Best Professional Editor, Long Form.

Let’s start with my own editor — well, actually, I have a whole bunch of editors, but she’s my main American editor — ANNE LESLEY GROELL.

Anne is the SF and fantasy editor for what used to be Bantam Spectra, and is now Random Penguin or something like that. You know what I mean. She’s edited all my ICE & FIRE books, for starts, plus several of the anthologies I’ve done with Gardner Dozois, and lots of other stuff besides. If you read any SF books from Bantam Spectra or Random Penguin last year, you’ve read work that she’s edited. Anne was nominated for the Hugo once before, but she lost, so she’s a Hugo Loser in good standing. It’s past time she was nominated again.

Next up, let me point you at JOE MONTI.

Joe is the editor at Saga, the SF fantasy imprint of Simon & Schuster. He’s had a long career in the genre, starting as a YA buyer for Barnes & Noble, then working as an agent for several years, before joining the editorial ranks with S&S, where he was giving the assignment of building a new SF line from scratch for a publisher who had been absent from the genre since the end of Timescape. He’s done that, and in fine style. Look at the books Saga published last year and you’ll see his work. Joe has never been nominated for a Hugo. Time he was.

Last, but CERTAINLY not least, I present to you JANE JOHNSON.

Jane is the editor and publisher of HarperCollins Voyager, one of the leading publishers of SF and fantasy in the United Kingdom. British editors are eligible for the Hugo, just like their American counterparts, but they are NEVER nominated, no matter how great their accomplishments… and that’s bollocks, as the Brits might say. Jane is one of the towering figures in our field across the pond, yet she’s never been recognized, and it is bloody well time that she was.

Yes, there are plenty of other talented long form editors in the field who did good work last year. Some of them have won Hugo awards in the past, however… some are nominated year after year. Let’s go beyond the usual suspects this year in Helsinki. I am nominating Anne Lesley Groell, Joe Monti, and Jane Johnson for the rocket this year, and I hope you will consider doing the same.

Whoever you nominate, though… NOMINATE.

Tor Launches Wild Cards Reread

February 22, 2017 at 11:19 pm
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All you Wild Cards fans old and new… and you future fans as well, who have yet to give the series a try… should head on over to, where they will be launching a Wild Cards Reread program on March 1.

Tor has done a number of these rereads of popular series. You can find them all there in their archives. The way it works, a fan of the works in question rereads them, book by book and story by story, and posts their observations, and everyone else chimes in.

It’s always fun, and often illuminating as well.

Katy Rask will be leading the reread for Wild Cards, and who better?

So get to reading! The first of March is almost here.

Hugo Thoughts: Best Related Work

February 21, 2017 at 6:30 pm
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The last few weeks have been pretty busy, so it’s been awhile since I last made one of my Hugo posts. Right now we are smack in the middle of the nomination period for this year’s awards, with about another month to go. To nominate, you need to be a member (attending or supporting) of this year’s worldcon in Helsinki (where the awards will be given), last year’s worldcon in Kansas City, or next year’s worldcon in SanJose. Any one of the three will do… for nominating, at least.

I’ve been tackling a different category with every post. Today’s it is Best Related Work, a sort of grab bag of a category that includes books of criticism, biographies and memoirs, art books, and pretty much everything else that does not fit conveniently in any of the other categories.

Sad to say, Best Related Work is also the category that has been abused most by the slates these past two years. It’s the only Hugo category where No Award has come out on top (I won’t say ‘won,’ when No Award comes first, nobody is winning) twice in a row, where the slates swept all before them and forced all the legitimate contenders off the ballot.

Last year was especially sad, I thought, since there were at least three very different books all of which should have been nominees… and would have been, in a normal year. There was the eventual Alfie winner, LETTERS TO TIPTREE. There was the mammoth WHEEL OF TIME COMPANION, edited by Robert Jordan’s widow and two of his fans. And there was Felicia Day’s delightful YOU’RE NEVER WEIRD ON THE INTERNET, a memoir of her life as a geek girl, fan, and budding actress/ writer/ gamer. It would have been interesting to see the three of them slug it out, but alas, the slates made sure not one of them made the final ballot.

But a new year means a new ballot. Wouldn’t it be nice to have something — at least ONE something and preferably more — in the Best Related Work category that was worthy of the Hugo award?

I have a couple of Related Works to offer for your consideration.

First one is Kameron Hurley’s THE GEEK FEMINIST REVOLUTION, a collection of her essays, thoughts, and personal reflections.

Hurley won two rockets just a couple of years ago, one for Fan Writer and one for her essay “We Have Always Fought,” which won for… hey… Best Related Work. That essay is included here, but the book is not all reprint, there’s enough original material to make it eligible, if I am reading the rules right. Hurley is a provocative, opinionated, fearless writer, one who says what she thinks and lays it all out there on the page. You may not always agree with all of her opinions (I certainly don’t), but she will always make you think. Whether her book leaves you nodding in agreement or muttering in annoyance, it will not leave you unmoved. By rights, this one’s got to be a contender.

The other Related Work I really enjoyed last year is a book of interviews — TRAVELER OF WORLDS: CONVERSATIONS WITH ROBERT SILVERBERG, by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro.

Robert Silverberg is the only man to have attended EVERY Hugo Awards ceremony, from 1953 to the present. Think of that: all those years, all those rockets, and there’s never been one given out without Silverbob in the audience. He’s one of our field’s great writers, a SFWA Grand Master, a worldcon Guest of Honor. He’s won Nebula Awards and Hugo Awards aplenty, but he’s also lost more Hugos in the fiction categories than any other writer.

At my very first worldcon — Noreascon I in Boston, 1971 — Silverberg was the Toastmaster, and presented the awards with his trademark dry wit while I watched from the balcony (I could not afford the price of a banquet ticket). I remember thinking two things: (1) someday I want to win one of those rockets, and (2) Silverberg is who I want to be when I grow up. I did manage to achieve (1) a few years later. In fact, at the next Noreascon in 1980, Silverberg was once again the Toastmaster and presented me with two, on a night that will live in infamy. I am still working on (2).

In those days, Silverberg was a distant godlike figure to me, but in more recent years, to my delight, we’ve become friends. This past decade, we get together every year at worldcon for dinner. Bob is just as witty over a steak as he is at a podium, and he knows everything about the history of SF and fandom and all the writers and every book you’ve ever read and a whole lot you keep meaning to read but haven’t gotten to yet.

TRAVELER OF WORLDS is like one of our worldcon dinners turned up to the max. Alvaro Zinos-Amaro must have moved in with Silverberg for a month, and I envy him that. These conversations range far and wide, and every one of them is fascinating. If you have any interest at all in writing, the history of the genre, Silverberg’s own life, the classics of literature, the greats of our field both living and dead, there’s something for you here. I only wish the book was twice as long. Like my worldcon dinners with Silverberg, it ended far too soon.

One reason that the slates have been able to dominate Best Related Work the past two years, to the exclusion of all else, is that many voters skip over this category. It never gets nearly as many nominations as Best Novel or the drama categories. But we can change that, if we want. I urge you all to take a look at TRAVELER OF WORLDS and THE GEEK FEMINIST REVOLUTION, and — if you enjoy them as much as I did — nominate them.

If enough of us do, maybe this year we can actually give a Hugo Award to a Related Work.

(And wouldn’t it be a hoot if it was Silverbob. Even though Alvaro Zinos-Amaro would likely get the actual rocket, I would still have to make Bob wear a conehead at the Hugo Losers’ Party).

Ed Bryant Talks Wild Cards

February 20, 2017 at 3:33 pm
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Last August the hardcover of HIGH STAKES, the most recent Wild Cards mosaic novel, was released by Tor. We launched the book at MidAmericon II in Kansas City with a huge mass signing sponsored by Rainy Day Books. Most (though not all) of the contributors to HIGH STAKES were on hand, but so were a dozen other Wild Cards writers, even those not in that particular volume. WC fans had a field day, collecting signatures from all the writers present.

Tor also had a video crew on hand, to tape the signing and to interview the writers about their involvement in Wild Cards, and any other projects they might be working on. They got hours of tape, and have been busily splicing and dicing and interweaving snippets of those interviews into a series of short promotional videos. Three of those videos have been released to date, and can be found on our Wild Cards website Many more will be coming.

One of the writers interviewed was Edward Bryant.

After we heard about Ed’s death, I contacted Tor to ask them if Ed had been one of the writers they had talked with in Kansas City. I am pleased to say he was, and we can now present his interview to you complete and uninterrupted.

All those who knew and loved him will, I hope, appreciate the opportunity to see and hear from Ed one last time… but I should warn you, there is a bittersweet quality to this tape, in light of what was coming. Sad to say, Ed never did finish that last Wild Cards story he was working on, nor any of the other tales that he hoped to write.

Sooner or later, all of us have to see The Jolson Story. Be that as it may, for one last time, I am honored to present my friend Edward Bryant:

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((My thanks to Patty Garcia, Sheila, and all the good folks at Tor for making this possible)).

Salsa No More

February 14, 2017 at 6:58 pm
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The Giants released Victor Cruz today.

It was not unexpected. Cruz missed the last two seasons with injuries, and this season, when he finally came back, he had a subpar year. Only 35 catches, way down for him. He had a very high salary number for next year, too high for a third receiver, and by cutting him the Giants saved $7.5 million against the salary cap, money they can now use to improve elsewhere. And they really need to improve elsewhere — on the offensive line and at tight end, especially — if they hope to advance further in the playoffs than they did this season.

All the same, the release made me sad. Victor Cruz was my favorite player, and I was hoping he would retire as a Giant. I think Victor was hoping the same. He seemed not only to be a terrific player, but a terrific guy, an undrafted free agent who walked on and made it big.

If it had been up to me, I would have stayed the course and kept Cruz. Ask him to take a salary cut, sure. I think he would have done that. Next year, I would have moved him back to the slot, his best position. He was just not as effective last season playing outside the numbers. And while the rookie Sterling Shepard was a good slot receiver last season, Cruz in his prime was a GREAT slot receiver, one of the best in the league. If the Giants had kept Victor in the slot, and played Shepard outside, both of them might have had better years.

One mediocre year and two years on injured reserve can make us forget — especially since Odell Beckham Junior has been dazzling Giants fans with spectacular catches during those same three seasons — just how good Victor Cruz was before his injury. When he was good, he was very very good, as the saying goes. Here, take a look, remember:

We’ll miss the salsas…

Good luck, Victor. You earned it.


Croyd Crenson Rules

February 14, 2017 at 3:23 pm
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Walter Jon Williams salutes the late great Roger Zelazny and his iconic Wild Cards character, Croyd Crenson, the Sleeper, in the latest blog post on the new WC website:

Check it out!

A Visit From Jimmy…

February 14, 2017 at 1:49 pm
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… or, Leviathan Shows Up. Eventually.

We had a fun afternoon at the JCC with Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. You shoulda been there. They talked, they answered questions, they signed books, they swilled down the Protomolecule.

For those who could not make it, we have hardcover copies of BABYLON’S ASHES signed by both halves of James S.A. Corey available through the Jean Cocteau website. Along with the earlier books in the Expanse series, plus Daniel’s solo fantasies THE DAGGER AND THE COIN, and various cool Wild Cards titles autographed by one or t’other of them, along with yours truly and various and sundry other Wild Cards writers.

These titles and many others available from the JCC.

Happy reading.