Not a Blog


August 10, 2020 at 8:47 am
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Some cool new content for Wild Cards fans on the official Wild Cards website.

On the blog, Kevin Andrew Murphy takes a detailed look at the history of the Church of Jesus Christ, Joker:

The Church of Jesus Christ, Joker

Meanwhile, our ace interviewer Ti Mikkel has had a sit-down with Daniel Abraham, creator of Jonathan Hive, Spasm, Father Henry Obst, and other fun characters.   That one is worth a look as well:

Daniel Abraham

Meanwhile, congratulations are in order to Daniel and his fellow Wild Card author Ty Franck.   Writing together as James S.A. Corey, they won this year’s Hugo Award for BEST SERIES at CoNZealand, the (virtual) worldcon put on by the fans of New Zealand (but not, alas, held there), for their series of EXPANSE novels.

Congratulations are also due to Max Gladstone, another Wild Carder (creator of Rubberband), who together with his collaborator Amal El-Mohtar took home the Hugo Award for BEST NOVELLA for “This is How You Lose the Time War.”

WILD CARDS itself did not make so much as a dent in the Hugo voting this year, not even on the long list… but it is great to see some of our authors flying high.   We have some damned talented folks contributing to Wild Cards, and we are proud of them all.

Keep Your Masks On

August 8, 2020 at 9:34 am
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The pandemic is not over.   We are deep in the midst of the predicted second wave.   And who knows how many more surges will follow this one?   Too many, unless more of us do a better job of staying in quarantine and wearing our masks.

New Mexico has done a much better job with Covid-19 than most of the surrounding states, thanks in large part to our amazing governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.  But numbers are rising here too.

I don’t know how long this will last.   We just had our first virtual worldcon, and I cannot even say for sure that DC next summer will not turn out to be our second.   All I know for sure is that I am headed back into my own quarantine… and whenever I go out, I will be wearing a mask.

Please do the same, all of you.


Current Mood: anxious anxious

Cosmic Horror Goes Virtual

August 5, 2020 at 10:05 am
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There’s a wonderful writer’s workshop held every year in New Hampshire — the Odyssey Writers’ Workshop, headed up by Jeanne Cavelos, for aspiring authors of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.   I taught one summer at Odyssey a decade or two back, and more recently, I sponsor an annual scholarship there, the MISKATONIC SCHOLARSHIP, for a promising new writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror (for more details on Odyssey and the Miskatonic Scholarship, look back through my older posts here, until you hit one titled COSMIC HORROR COMES TO NEW HAMPSHIRE).

This year the winner of the Miskatonic Scholarship was SCOTT GRAY.  Congratulations, Scott.

Unfortunately, thanks to Covid-19, Scott was not able to get together in New Hampshire to terrify his classmates with his tales.  No one was able to get together.  The pandemic forced a cancellation of this year’s gathering… but that did not stop Jeanne.  Odyssey 2020 was still held — on line.  As a virtual gathering.

Jeanne was kind enough to share these photos of her class of 2020.

Jeanne writes, “We had an absolutely wonderful Odyssey this year, despite having to hold it online.  For 6 weeks, students in their own homes attended over 4 1/2 hours of class each day; worked long hours writing, critiquing, and doing writing exercises; participated in various discussion salons, check-in hours, guided writing hours, and writing games; had private meetings with me and our guest lecturers; and through it all, supported each other. For many of them, the time zone made this even more difficult, but they lived on “Odyssey Time” for six weeks, whether in the US, Ireland, or India. I think this class actually produced more words than any previous Odyssey class. Their engagement, passion, and discipline was truly amazing, as was their thoughtfulness toward each other. ”

She also reports, “Scott Gray, the Miskatonic recipient, was a linchpin, always looking out for students who might be struggling or who might need some extra outreach.”

Given the difficult times we are living through, it is great to hear that Odyssey was able to overcome and prevail.   Looks like they had a great class as well.   I hope to be seeing their bylines on many a book and story in the future.



Current Mood: pleased pleased

Rest in Peace, Susan

August 4, 2020 at 1:11 pm
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These are sad sad times, and it seems as if every day they get a little sadder.

I was shocked and horrified to hear of the sudden death of Susan Ellison out in Sherman Oaks.   She died in the house she had shared with Harlan for so many years, sometimes known as Ellison Wonderland or the Lost Aztec Temple of Mars.  At this writing, no one seems quite certain of the cause of death.

No one saw this coming, not even her closest friends… and certainly not me.   Susan was only 60.   Which I suppose is old in the eyes of some of those reading this, but still seems young to me.   I would have guessed that she was even younger, but perhaps that is only because she was so much younger than Harlan.   The last time I saw her was back when I flew out to LA for the premiere of the TOLKIEN movie, at which she was one of my invited guests.   But I was on stage for that one and she was in the audience, and after the panel was done they hustled me right out of there, so we only had time for a brief hello and a hug.  I wish it had been longer.   The last time I saw Susan for any significant length of time was at Harlan’s memorial at the Writers Guild Theatre.  That was a heartbreaking occasion… made less heartbreaking by Susan’s own courage and strength, and her insistence that we make the evening a celebration of Harlan’s life and work, not a dirge for his passing.

No one who was there that day — and there were a lot of us,  for Harlan was greatly loved — could ever have dreamt that Susan herself would follow Harlan so soon.

There will be obituaries and tributes all over the internet, I am sure, so I am not going to try to write a summary of Susan’s life here.   Others knew her much much better than I did and are better equipped for that task.   All I can say, from my own perspective, is that she was a sweet, gentle woman, unfailingly kind to everyone… and especially to Harlan.   As fierce and combative as HE seemed at times, he needed kindness too.  All of us do.   And Susan seemed to make him happy.   She was his fifth wife, and their marriage lasted longer than all of his first four marriages put together.   She was feisty and funny, too.   I remember a few times, when dining at their place, that Harlan would be going on about something, getting angrier and more worked up, and Susan would put in a quiet word, and suddenly Harlan would be laughing.

She was a profoundly decent person, and our field, our country, and our world are all the poorer for her passing.

Current Mood: sad sad

It’s Not Easy Being Green

July 31, 2020 at 8:38 am
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Life is hard when you’re a Jets fan.

Kermit knows the truth.

The New York Jets, having not won a SuperBowl since 1969 or been in the playoffs since 2010, often have very high draft picks.

Sometimes they select a bust.  In those cases, the players are cut.

Sometimes, however, they get a really terrific premium talent, the kind of generational player you can build a contender around.  In those cases, the Jets get a few years out of the player… and THEN trade him away.

For more draft picks.

Which they then use to select more players, who will either be busts, or terrific players.

Who will then be traded away.

For more draft picks.

Darrell Revis.   Chad Pennington.   And now Jamal Adams.

If Sam Darnold turns out to be a franchise quarterback, an All Pro player, a future Hall of Famer… one wonders where they will send him, and what draft picks we’ll get.

If he turns out to be a bust, of course, we’ll keep him… just until we draft the next franchise quarterback.

The New York Jets.   Building For The Future Since 1969.


Current Mood: discontent discontent


Worldcon… Virtually

July 28, 2020 at 8:03 am
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CoNZealand is almost upon us.

As everyone knows (except perhaps the fellow who has been quarantining is his bomb shelter all these months, cut off from human contract), we are not actually gathering in Wellington, New Zealand this year, thanks to the pandemic.  Instead we are having the very first virtual worldcon.

The virtual Nebula Awards went pretty well, so I am hoping that Virtual Worldcon will as well.   But worldcon is a much bigger undertaking, so no one knows.  Least of all me.  Yes, I am the Toastmaster this year, but I am also one of the least tech savvy science fiction writers on the planet.   Aside from Howard Waldrop, anyway.   If the panels could somehow be conducted on the old GEnie platform, I would be fine.  I was very comfortable and quite active on GEnie.   But I gather we are using something called Zoom, and my every attempt to use Zoom hitherfore have been disasters.  This time I will have tech help from the con, however, so maybe it will go better…

I will be a small part of Opening Ceremonies, and I have a couple of panels as well… but my main contribution to the Virtual Worldcon will be as the host of the Hugo Awards.   Something I was looking forward to eagerly since the day the Kiwis asked me to be their Toastmaster.  Of course, that was when I thought I’d be performing on stage, with an audience.   Doing it up in my cabin in front of a video camera was… ah… not quite the same.  Sic transit gloria.


Anyway, here is how the Hugos are going to work…  I have already pre-recorded all of my opening remarks, introductions of the guest presenters (we will have several), amusing (one hopes) anecdotes and bits of history, discussions of each category, and readings of the names of the finalists (in the cases where I am presenting myself, rather than throwing the ball to a guest presenter).  ConNZealand has all those videos.  The rest of it will be live streamed from my theatre in Santa Fe, the Jean Cocteau, where a member of worldcon’s tech team will be helping me Zoom.   I will have the envelopes with the names of the winners sealed therein.  I may actually have a Hugo to wave about.

So the drill will go like this: for each category, you will get a pre-recorded video of me as a lead-in.  Then I will either read the finalists, so throw it to another presenter who will do the same.  Most of their remarks are pre-recorded as well.  Then back to me, this time live at the JCC, where I will rip open the envelope and announce the winner.  Then we cut to the happy winner, somewhere in the world…  assuming they are in front of their computers and know how to Zoom and all.  (No, unlike the other major awards shows, we have no plans to show the fake smiles on the faces of the sad losers).  The happy winner will make an acceptance speech, long or short as may be, that is entirely up to them.  Then back to me… either live me at the JCC, or pre-recorded me for the next category.

And on and on, starting with the Lodestar and ending with Best Novel.

That’s the plan.   Nothing could possibly go wrong, he said fearlessly.

I do not envy the director and tech team who will be doing all the cutting.  They deserve a Hugo themselves.   Maybe I will nominate them next year, in Best Related Work.   Assuming everything works…

I do hope some of you log on and watch, come Hugo time.   For good or ill, it will be one for the ages.

(There will be no Hugo Losers Party.  Sorry).

Current Mood: anxious anxious

Words For Our Times

July 23, 2020 at 5:35 pm
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Current Mood: quixotic quixotic


July 19, 2020 at 10:20 am
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This writing stuff is hard.

Even so, it has been going well of late.   Three more chapters completed this past week.   And good progress on several more.

Still a long long way to go, though.   Do not get too excited.

In my copious spare time, have been doing some editorial groundwork on three new Wild Cards books as well:  PAIRING UP and SLEEPER STRADDLES and the mosaic HOUSE RULES, where Agatha Christie, H.P. Lovecraft, and P.G. Wodehouse have a wild weekend.   They should be fun… but we are in early early days, so you won’t be reading any of them until 2022, I would guess.

(But there is lots of other Wild Cards stuff already in the pipeline for 2020 and 2021, have no fear).

Anyway… be good, kids.   Me and the Frog are headed back to Westeros.

Current Mood: busy busy


The Knaves Are Back

July 14, 2020 at 7:20 am
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Hey, Wild Carders!   Did you miss KNAVES OVER QUEENS, the first book in our British triad, and the twenty-sixth in the overall series (or possibly the twenty-seventh, depending on whether you go by the British or American release dates)?

Have no fear.  The knaves are coming back.   TODAY is the official release date for Tor’s trade paperback edition.

Come meet the Seamstress, Enigma, the Green Man, Charlie Soper, Badh, Stonemaiden, Archimedes, the Visitor, Allen Crippen, Jenny Three Arms, Pygmalion, Banger & Mash, and Jiniri.   Renew your acquaintance with Double Helix, Captain Flint, and Winston Churchill.

Available TODAY from your local bookshop (if they are open), or your favorite online bookseller.


Current Mood: satisfied satisfied

Words For Our Times

July 11, 2020 at 10:02 am
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Current Mood: contemplative contemplative