So much going on everywhere, it is hard to keep up. Some random thoughts —
A week ago, Parris and I went down to Bernalillo for a memorial gathering for our friend John Miller. It was good to see so many old friends, and to share our memories of John… but profoundly sad at the same time, to realize once again that we would never see John again, that there would be no more memories. John was one of the mainstays of Wild Cards, part of the series since the very beginning, the creator of Chrysalis, Yeoman, Carnifax, the Midnight Angel, Father Squid, and so many more. He probably wrote more Wild Cards stories than any other author, with the possible exception of Melinda Snodgrass… I have not counted, but the two were neck and neck. He was also a Mets fan, a baseball buff, a RPG player and gamemaster, and a fan of bad movies. I wish he had written more. He had been working on a novel called BLACK TRAIN COMING even longer than I have been working on THE WINDS OF WINTER. It would be great if one of his writer friends finishes it for him. Beyond all of this, however, John was a really good guy, very bright, always fun to spend time with. And he and his wife Gail really loved animals. More than I can ever tell you. All of us at the memorial are missing him. We will miss him for years to come, I do not doubt, until the day comes when we all go to join him.
These past few years have been rough. I miss them all. Ed Bryant, Michael Engelberg, Ben Bova, Phyllis Eisenstein, Victor Milan, Steve Perrin, Kay McCauley, Gardner Dozois… ah, Gargy… I know I am forgetting people. They made the world a richer place, and we are poorer for their absence.
And the larger world is so ugly that I can hardly bear to watch the news. What can I say about Russia’s attack on Ukraine that others have not already said? I was GOH at a con in St. Petersburg a few years ago. The con was fun, the city was gorgeous, and the Russian fans and writers — even the border security guards — were so warm and welcoming. Putin is a malign thug. That seems to be the story of the world, though. Good people with hideous leaders. Listening to reports of the fighting makes me feel so angry, so helpless…
And things are pretty ugly over here as well. The latest school shooting, for instance, and the usual response of the GOP, a refusal to do anything to fix it. Is baseball still the great American pastime, or is that school shooting now? No other country seems to have much of an issue with it, only us. And what answer do the Republicans propose? Arm the teachers? Lock the doors? Toughen the security?
We are becoming more and more a police state. I am, I am aware, very old and getting older. Young people may not believe this, but… I remember a time when security was not omnipresent. When I could get on an airplane without being x-rayed and searched and probed and made to give up my pocket knife. When I could visit any publisher in New York by walking into their building, looking at the directory to see what floor they were on, taking the elevator up, and announcing my name to the receptionist. When kids could go to schools that were not fortresses… we did learn to duck and cover under our desks in case the Russians dropped an A-bomb on us, but we did not need to fear being shot by our classmates.
It makes me want to scream. What the hell happened to this country? To this world?
I am depressing myself, and probably all of you as well. Let me talk about some happier things.
DARK WINDS debuts on AMC on June 12, and we’re getting a lot of nice press about it.
First season will run six episodes, based largely on Tony Hillerman’s novel LISTENING WOMAN. Watch the show, read the book. Then read the other books, they are great. I am very proud of my association with this one, and glad that I could help make it happen… though, truth be told, I did little enough. The real credit should go to Robert Redford, Chris Eyre, Zahn McClarnon, and all the other folks mentioned in the articles… and one who was not. Let me give a shout out here to TINA ELMO, Bob Redford’s right hand and an inexhaustible champion of Tony Hillerman and his work, who was present every day on the shoot and did so much to make our series one to be proud of.
Other good stuff. NIGHT OF THE COOTERS, the short film we made based on the classic story by Howard Waldrop (the one and only) is complete. Directed by and starring Vincent d’Onofrio, and a cast of dozens. H’ard himself has seen it and pronounced it Good. The film was shot entirely on greenscreen; the actors and horses are live, everything else was supplied by the wizards at Trioscope. It clocks in at about thirty minutes. At the moment we are entering it into film festivals all around the nation and the world. We’ll let you know when and where it gets accepted. Maybe you will be able to catch it at a filmfest near you. If so, give it a look. It’s a lot of fun.
Oh, and right now, this very moment, we have a second film crew down in White Sands National Monument, shooting another short film based on another Howard Waldrop masterwork. I could tell you which, but then I might have to kill you. So far, so great, but there’s still lots of work ahead. Howard may have a new collection coming out this year as well. Who knows, 2022 could be the Year of Waldrop.
HOUSE OF THE DRAGON? Glad you asked. I’ve now watched rough cuts of nine of the ten episodes, and I continue to be impressed. I cannot speak to the SFX, many of which are not in yet, but the look of it is great, and the acting, the directing, and writing are first rate. And yes, for all you book fans, it IS my story. Sure, there are some changes from FIRE & BLOOD — we could not present three alternative versions of every major event, not and keep our sanity — but I think Ryan Condal and his writers made good choices. Even some improvements. (Heresy, I know, but being the author, I am allowed to say so). For years, as some of you may recall, I have been saying the TV version of Shae, as portrayed by Sibel Kekilli, was a deeper, richer, and more nuanced characters than the Shae in my novels. In a similar vein, I am vastly impressed by the show’s version of King Viserys, played by Paddy Considine, who gives the character a tragic majesty that my book Viserys never quite achieved. Kudos to Paddy, Ryan and his writers, and Miguel and the other directors. (There are a lot of great performances in HOUSE OF THE DRAGON — or HOT D, as I hear some are calling it. You may never have heard of some of our actors, but I think you will learn to love them, just as you did with the cast of GAME OF THRONES).
Back home in Santa Fe, Sky Railway is doing really well. Many of our trains are selling out. If you are visiting the Land of Enchantment, be sure to book your ride early. Oh, and last weekend we re-opened the bar and cafe at the historic Santa Fe Southern Depot in Lamy. Right now only open weekends, but we will be expanding the hours.
I should say a word about my appearances. I have decided not to attend this year’s worldcon in Chicago, for a variety of reasons. Chicago remains one of my favorite cities, though, and it looks as though I may be travelling there once or twice during the year to come… for reasons quite different, and much more exciting, than a con. Instead of worldcon, it looks as though I will be attending this year’s San Diego Comicon… assuming they do not move to December or go virtual, as they did last year thanks to the pandemic. I would rather not attend any more virtual conventions. Guess I’m a boomer, not a zoomer.
(It will feel odd to travel again. I have only left home once since January 2020).
WINDS, you say? Yes, still working. Finally finished a clutch of Cersei chapters that were giving me fits. Now I am wrestling with Jaime and Brienne. The work proceeds, though not as fast as many of you would like.
That’s all for now.