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A Very Special Award

September 15, 2019 at 9:17 am
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The Hugo Awards are the most famous prizes handed out annually at the World Science Fiction Convention… but they are by no means the only ones.   The Hugo ceremonies also include the presentation of two “Not A Hugo” awards, the Lodestar for YA novels and the best new writer award (the John W. Campbell Award from 1973 until last month, subsequently renamed).  In years past the Big Heart Award (which has undergone quite a bit of renaming itself) and the First Fandom Awards were also presented on Hugo night.   In days now long forgotten there was also the Gandalf… and more recently there have been the Retr0-Hugos, though those traditionally have a separate ceremony of their own.

But the rules also allow each year’s concom to give a special committee award, if they choose to.   This year, the Dublin concom chose to… and to my surprise and delight, they gave the award to my wife Parris and myself.

James Bacon presented the award to us at Dublin’s closing ceremonies.   We were deeply touched.

In the spirit of the Alfies, the trophy is made from an old automobile hood ornament.   Though I am damned if I know what model car it came from… it is certainly very different from the sleek 50s rockets and jets that we cannibalize for the Alfies.   Makes no matter.   It’s cool looking, and we love what it represents.

Parris has often told the story of walking into her first con, the 1974 worldcon in Washington DC, and thinking, “At last, I’ve found my people.”   I started a few years before her, attending my first cons in 1971, but I had the same feeling.

We’ve both found a family in fandom, a warm and welcoming community that has become a huge part of our lives.  And we both believe in giving back, in paying it forward as RAH once urged us all to do.   Also, we’re both descended from Irish immigrants (the Bradys for me, the Moynihans for Parris), so getting this award at an Irish worldcon was especially meaningful.

Thanks, James.  Thanks, Dublin.   Thanks, fandom.

Fandom IS a way of life.

Current Mood: happy happy

What’s It All About, Alfie?

September 14, 2019 at 8:28 am
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It’s about achievement…

One of my great pleasures since reclaiming the Hugo Losers Party (originated in 1976 at Big Mac, by Gardner Dozois and I) has been presenting the Alfie Awards, named after the late great Alfred Bester, who won the first Best Novel Hugo in 1953 for his novel THE DEMOLISHED MAN.

With the worldcon across the pond this year, it seemed only appropriate to award the Alfies to two titans of British publishing, Jane Johnson of Harper Collins Voyager and Malcolm Edwards of Gollancz/ Orion.  My wife Parris helped me present the trophies at midnight (the traditional hour for presenting the Alfies) during this year’s Hugo Losers Party at Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.   (That’s her in the neck brace.   Yes, she recently had surgery, and thank you for your concern.   She’s recovering well). 

Like some of the original Hugo Awards, the Alfies are made from hood ornaments off 1950s automobiles… smoothed, polished, and restored to a fine silver sheen by Tyler Eugene Smith, who also provided the bases.

I’ve had the honor of working with both Jane and Malcolm.   Amazing editors, both of them, and stalwart champions for their writers and for our field.   It was long past time they got some recognition from the community that they have given so much to over the decades.

I received a number of awards and honors last month during my trip to England and Ireland (posted about the Burke Medal below and will be talking about the others in posts to come).  But giving is as big a thrill as receiving, and Parris and I loved being able to make this presentation to Malcolm and Jane.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Hugo Night 2019

September 8, 2019 at 10:00 am
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The annual presentation of the Hugo Awards is always one of the high points of worldcon.   I have been attending the Hugo ceremony since my very first worldcon in 1971.   The awards were presented at a dinner back then, and I could not afford a ticket (they were priced outrageously, at something like seven bucks), so I watched the proceedings from a balcony, standing.   Robert Silverberg presided, and it was all incredibly exciting.

Fast forward to this year’s Hugo Awards in Dublin.   They had their own excitements, perhaps more than any year since 2015 in Spokane, the Year of the Puppies (and, more happily, the Alfies).   Let’s just say they were… fraught, with some amazing high points and a few low ones.   Of course, your view of which points were high and which were low may vary from mine.

There were many worthy winners, to be sure… and as ever, many losers that were also rocket-worthy.   Since I feel more like Thumper than Alice Roosevelt Longworth today, let me focus on my favorite parts.

Like Charles Vess.   The artist category had some amazing talents nominated this year, and I was seated right next to one, the incredible John Picacio.  But John was applauding just as loudly as me when Vess won for Best Professional Artist.  A very well deserved win for an artist not previously honored.   And then, just moments later, Charles returned to the stage to collect the Hugo for Best Art Book as well, for his illustrated edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea stories.   A double win!!!   Lots of people win Hugos every year, but winning two in a single night is a rare accomplishment (I did it myself in 1980, the second person to do so, and it remains one of the high points of my career).  And with Charles Vess, it really could not have happened to a nicer guy.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with Vess in the past… he illustrated the limited edition of A STORM OF SWORDS… and he really is as sweet, genial, and pleasant as he appears, in addition to being enormously gifted.    Nice guys DON’T always finish last, kids.  I am hoping to be able to work with Charles Vess again, soon… I have just the project in mind.   But we shall see.

I will never be able to work with Gardner Dozois again, sadly… but Gardner’s victory as Best Professional Editor (Short Form) was the other highlight of the evening for me… and for many, many, many others who loved Gardner, had the privilege of being edited by him, or the simple joy of knowing him.   I have edited a lot of anthologies of my own over the decades, but I’ve never enjoyed doing any of them so much as I enjoyed the ones I did with Gargy: SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH, WARRIORS, DANGEROUS WOMEN, ROGUES, SONGS OF LOVE & DEATH, DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS, OLD MARS, OLD VENUS.   We wanted to do more, but alas, it was not to be.   Gardner left us all too soon, and a lot of laughter and love left the world when he did.

But on Hugo night, when his name was read out one last time, a bit of it returned, just for a moment.  His son Christopher Casper was on hand to accept the award for him… and just as Gargy would have, he said the award really belonged to the writers.   Gardner said pretty much the same thing every time he won a Hugo, and he won a lot of them… deservedly.

I am not a believer in any afterlife, and I don’t think that Gardner was either… so as nice as it would be to think that he was looking down on us from the Secret Pro Party in the Sky, I can’t.   But the award certainly meant the world to Christopher, to me, to all of Gardner’s other friends, and to the myriads of writers, the generations of writers, who filled the pages of ASIMOV’S during Gardner’s tenure there, who learned from him at Clarion and other workshops, who were fished out of one slush pile or another by the pre-eminent editor of his times (I was one of those).   No one knew our genre better, no one discovered more new talent, and no one had a better eye for a good story… or a better sense of how to make a flawed story work… than Gardner Dozois.  And no award that was handed out in Dublin last month was more well deserved than Gardner’s last Hugo.

I also want to say a word or two in praise of Michael Scott and Afua Richardson, the hosts and presenters on Hugo night, who kept the ceremony moving at a nice pace under sometimes trying circumstances.   Scott was eloquent and informative, and Richardson provided one of the most moving moments of the night when she spoke of the influence that Nichelle Nichols had upon her life and career.  Afua also sang beautifully and played the flute.

All of which was tremendously intimidating.   Next year worldcon is in New Zealand and I’m the Toastmaster, so it will be be my task to present the Hugos.   Afua is a helluva hard act to follow.   You really don’t want to hear me sing.  Maybe I should start taking flute lessons….

 

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

A Rare Honor

September 5, 2019 at 9:55 am
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I received a number of awards and honors during last month’s trip to London, Dublin, and Belfast.   I want to say a few words about all of them… but not all at once and not all today.  I will address them all individually, and in no particular order.

Starting with the last, then… on the day before we left Ireland to return home to the Land of Enchantment, I was awarded the Burke Medal for “Outstanding Contribution to Discourse Through the Arts” by the College Historical Society at Trinity College, Dublin, the oldest surviving undergraduate society in the world.

The society’s auditor told me, “The College Historical Society, more commonly known as the Hist, is dedicated to the promotion of discussion and thought. Founded by Edmund Burke in 1770, the Society retains a deep interest and affinity to the field of social activism and continues its tradition of elevating civic discourse in the College. For 250 years the Society has recognised the efforts of great women and men who promote discussion and discourse. Pattie Smith, Sinéad O’Connor, W.B. Yeats, Natalie Dormer, Dame Hillary Mantel, Bob Geldof, and Ralph Fiennes have received the Burke Medal.”

That’s pretty heady company.   I am very pleased and proud to be numbered among them.   And for a noble reason — promoting discussion and discourse.   In times like ours, when the toxic mobs on the internet seem to set the tone for debate, that is needed more than ever.

The medal itself was struck from the same molds that the Hist has been using for centuries.   The president mentioned to me that he’d noted I had once won the Bram Stoker Award (as indeed I have), and that the medal they were giving me had once been awarded to Bram Stoker himself.   I think that is so cool.   Here’s a look:

In awarding the medal, the Hist said, “As a celebrated author, your exploration of difficult themes has inspired countless people worldwide to examine, more-closely, the fabric of our society. Through you, the reader has encountered new concepts, ideas, and emotions. From the magical children’s tale The Ice Dragon and the dark yet playful “A Night at the Tarn House” to the unprecedently popular A Song of Ice and Fire your work has made you a global phenomenon. And with your rise to greater prominence has come an increase in public dialogue around the major themes of your work. Your sublime writings have engendered intense debate on duty and honour, faith and cowardice, parricide and governance in readers world-wide. Our former member Oscar Wilde wrote that “It is through art, and through art only, that we can realise our perfection”. Through your art the general public have explored new themes, new ideas, and bettered themselves. This is precisely the contribution to public discourse that the Burke Medal aims to recognise.”

Since the Hist is devoted to discourse and discussion, those so honored are expected to say a few words.   I was glad to do so.  The good folks at Trinity recorded my speech and the Q&A that followed.   YouTube has it up for those who are interested and could not be in Dublin to attend… but be warned, I got into some pretty heavy current issues in this one, not just my own life and writing and the world and SF and fantasy (though of course I touched on those as well).

 

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Back Home Again

September 1, 2019 at 5:40 pm
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August went by in  a blur, and most of it was spent on the road.   London, Dublin, Belfast.   Great cities, great times, but it is good to be home in Santa Fe.  By the end of any long trip, my green chile addiction kicks in and I need a fix.

I do not travel with a computer, so I returned to the usual one thousand unanswered emails.   Thankfully, a lot of them were spam or junk mail, so I was able to get through them quickly.

Dublin is a lovely city, and worldcon was fun as always.  James Bacon and his team did a smashing job, although the convention facilities were not equal to the size of the crowds, which caused some problems and a lot of lines.   I did a couple of signings there, but not a lot of programming.   But the two panels I did do, both with Parris, were very special, and I think the audience felt that as well.   I do miss some of the pleasures that I used to take for granted at worldcons, like being able to walk the dealer’s room and browse new books, or sit in the bar for hours with friends coming and going and everyone buying rounds… but sadly, none of that seems possible for me any longer.   Too many people wanting signatures or selfies.   All very nice, most very polite, but I hate refusing anyone, and after a while it just wears me out.

I was able to enjoy more of that at Eurocon/ Titancon the following weekend, in Belfast.   A much smaller con in a smaller city, maybe that’s the answer.   Peadar and Pat made a great toastmaster team.  I had not been to Belfast since we were shooting the GAME OF THRONES pilot, and it was fascinating the extent to which the show has permeated the city.   Castle Ward has its own Night’s Watch, the GOT Exhibit down by the Titanic Museum is just stunning… and everywhere I went, strangers came up to thank me for their jobs and tell me how the show has changed the city and their lives.   That was very gratifying.

I just hope Brexit does not screw it all up… but I fear it might.   Belfast deserves better.

Loved our time in London too.

Oh, and everywhere I went they gave me awards.   That was also very nice.

I will have more to say about that, and many other things, in subsequent posts.   Right now, I am still trying to bounce back from jetlag.   Later, friends.

Current Mood: tired tired

HBO, GOT Smash Records

July 16, 2019 at 2:55 pm
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The nominations for the Primetime Emmy Awards were announced this morning in Hollywood, and HBO and GAME OF THRONES both set new records.  GOT collected 32 nominations, a new record for the number of nominations for one show in a single year.. and by doing so, extended its previous record for the most nominations ever earned by one series, drama or comedy.  And HBO racked up a total of 137 nominations, 20 more than second-place finisher Netflix who came in with 117.

GOT is a finalist in the Best Drama category, and also earned nominations for directing (three finalists out of five), writing, and acting, among many many others.   Of special note is the Best Supporting Actress Drama category, where four of the six finalists are from GAME OF THRONES:  Lena Headey, Gwendoline Christie, Maisie Williams, and Sophie Turner.   A pretty spectacular showing for our amazing cast.

You can read the full list of nominations here:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/16/entertainment/game-of-thrones-emmy-nominations/index.html

https://www.vox.com/2019/7/16/20696364/emmy-nominations-2019-full-list-nominees

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/2019-emmy-nominations-list-see-all-the-nominations-1221226

My congratulations to David Benioff, Dan Weiss, our producers, directors, and all the rest of our amazing cast and crew… those who were nominated and those who were overlooked alike, they all have reason to be proud.   They came together to create the most popular television show in the world, and the most acclaimed, nominated, and awarded series in the entire history of television.   And they did with a fantasy, a genre that previously had gotten very little respect.   GAME OF THRONES changed television, and let us hope that all the fantasy shows that follow — some GOT prequels, many not — will take the torch we lit and carry it proudly.

This year’s winner will be announced in LA on September 22.

 

 

 

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

Talking ‘Bout My Generation

June 11, 2019 at 8:22 am
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I’ve written a lot of things during my career: science fiction, fantasy, horror, various hybrids of all of the above.   And once upon a time, like many writers, I wrote a novel about the times and events I’d lived through… a story about my own generation, the Boomers, about our dreams and our disillusionments.   It was centered on the music.  Of course it was.   Rock n roll was as central to my generation as the Vietnam War, the counterculture, television, and the sexual revolution.   All those things wove together.   Of course, being who I was, I added a fantasy/ horror element.   The resulting novel was called THE ARMAGEDDON RAG.   It was nominated for the World Fantasy Award (but lost, alas) and got some great reviews.   I think it sold about twelve copies, but that’s another story.   Oddly enough, it also opened the door to television and film for me, when a produce named Phil deGuere optioned it for a feature film… (that never got made, alas again)… but that’s another story too.

This post is not about the RAG, not really.  It’s about another generational novel, one that has just been published, written by Lewis Shiner.   Lew is an old friend, one of my original Wild Cards writers, the creator of Fortunato, the Astronomer, and Veronica, among other characters.   He was a mainstay in the early Wild Cards books back in the 80s and early 90s.  His first novel FRONTERA was a Hugo finalist, and he was one of the rising stars of the “mirrorshades” movement when cyberpunk came along.  After that, however, Lew’s muse led him off in other directions.   He drifted away from science fiction and wild cards, and went on to write a number of mainstream novels… about skateboarding, about tango dancing, about race relations, and yes, about rock music (the excellent GLIMPSES, a World Fantasy Award nominee — unlike ARMAGEDDON RAG, it won).

And now Lew has written his magnum opus.   It’s a huge book, maybe five times as long as my RAG… much longer than anything Shiner has written before… but not a word is wasted.   It’s called OUTSIDE THE GATES OF EDEN.

EDEN starts in the 60s and goes all the way up to the present day and the near future.  Along the way it touches on the counterculture, the Summer of Love, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and so much more… it is, in short, the story of a generation.   Honestly, I really don’t know how Gen Xers or millenials will respond to it.   Maybe they’ll see it as a historical novel, as distant from themselves as a novel of the Civil War.   I can’t imagine a Boomer not responding to what Lew has done here.   I read this in galleys, long before publication, and I find myself thinking back on it often.   Let me give this one the ultimate compliment:  I wish I had written it.   I didn’t, though.  Lew did.

You can read it for yourself by grabbing a copy from SubPress at:

https://subterraneanpress.com/outside-the-gates-of-eden

 

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

In the Hall!

June 10, 2019 at 5:20 pm
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Very pleased to announce that I am being inducted into the Hall of Fame!

No, not the one in Canton, nor the one in Cooperstown.  Not the halls in Cleveland or Seattle either.

Come October, I am being inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

The announcements just came out:

https://www.nj.com/entertainment/2019/06/new-jersey-hall-of-fame-to-induct-george-rr-martin-martha-stewart-laurie-hernandez-and-more.html

https://www.njarts.net/uncategorized/southside-johnny-the-smithereens-to-be-among-nj-hall-of-fame-inductees-2/

So… pretty cool, I think.   Southside Johnny, the great great NY Giants Bart Oates and Harry Carson, Peter Benchley, Jason Alexander, and all sorts of other great folks will be joining the Hall with me as well.   And the list of previous inductees is pretty amazing too.  I mean, hey, the Boss!

Thanks to everyone who voted for me.

The induction ceremony will be October 27 in Asbury Park.

Though I’ve lived in New Mexico since 1979, I was born and raised in Bayonne, and New Jersey will always be a part of me.   And now it would seem that I will always be a part of New Jersey as well.   Not bad for a kid from the projects.

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

All Hail Our Artists

June 2, 2019 at 8:04 am
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I am a lucky guy in a lot of ways… one of them being that I get to work with some of the greatest SF and fantasy artists in the world.

ASFA has just announced this year’s finalists for the Chesley Awards, and I’m thrilled to note that Wild Cards and A Song of Ice and Fire both have artists among this year’s finalists.

Michael Komarck has been doing spectacular Wild Cards covers for Tor for years now, with way too little recognition, so it’s great to see that his cover for LOW CHICAGO is a finalist for Best Cover Illustration, Hardcover.   Marko Kloos’s Khan is the featured character.

The redoubtable John Picacio has no fewer than three nominations on this year’s Chesley ballot… all great, but of course my favorite is the illustration he did for “EverNight,” a Wild Cards story by Victor Milan on Tor.com.   It’s been nominated for Best Interior Illustration.

John tells me he was especially pleased by this nomination.   “I want to celebrate Vic, and I want people to remember him and his story.”

I speak for the whole Wild Cards Consortium when I say how lucky we are to have amazing talents like John Picacio and Michael Komarck bringing our characters to life.

Meanwhile, that other series of mine is also well represented on the Chesley ballot, with a nomination for John Jude Palencar’s 2019 Ice & Fire calendar as Best Product Illustration.   You can see the cover here, but there’s a lot more stunning Ice & Fire art inside.  JJP is one of the premiere artists in the field, and a joy to work with.

 

The entire list of this year’s Chesley nominees can he found here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/17afhGHSQ1c22ogC_LNr2wdx0qxD3SefO_90Sl94keqs/edit#

Congratulations to all the nominees.   I love fantasy art, and it’s nice to see some great work being recognized.

(Signed copies of LOW CHICAGO and the 2019 Palencar calendar are both available from the bookstore at the Jean Cocteau Cinema.  Vic Milan’s “EverNight” can be found and read on Tor.com, along with lots of other great Wild Cards stories).

Current Mood: happy happy

More Stuff, More Nonsense

May 19, 2019 at 8:01 am
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Aside from the idiocy on the internet, what else has been going on of late?

Well, I went to LA to moderate the Q&A at the premiere of the new TOLKIEN biopic in Westwood.  The picture is lovely, by the way, and I had a great time.   Got to meet Nicholas Hoult and the lovely Lily Collins, the stars of the film, as well as director Dome Karukoski.   Afterwards I flew home to Santa Fe, and we did the New Mexico premiere at the Jean Cocteau.

The JCC followed that up with two nights of magic, comedy, and juggling featuring Ben Seidman and Marcus Monroe.  Wonderful shows.   The audience had a great time, howling and laughing.   Ben is a great magician and very funny, Marcus the juggler is hilarious, and the two of them together make for a helluva evening.

While I was at the JCC, of course, my staff forced me to descend into the basement and sign books for a couple of hours.   So if you are looking for autographed copies of FIRE & BLOOD, A GAME OF THRONES, or any of my other titles, check out the JCC website, they have plenty of stock once again… while it lasts.  And lots of signed books by the other writers who have appeared at the theatre as well.

Oh, speaking of FIRE & BLOOD… very pleased to learn that it has been nominated for a Locus Award by the readers of LOCUS magazine, the Publisher’s Weekly of SF and fantasy.  It’s a finalist in the “Best Collection” category:

2019 Locus Awards Finalists

Oh, I should mention that while I was in LA, I spent a few hours at the Petersen Automobile Museum and had a great time.  They have just opened a special new exhibit of cars from television and film, so I got to gawk at a couple of cars from MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, the DeLorean from BACK TO THE FUTURE, various Transformers, the VW from DEATH RACE 2000, Kit from KNIGHT RIDER, and all sorts of other cool stuff, along with the usual displays of classic automobiles through the ages.

 

If you love cars, check it out.

I also met with the writing staff for the WILD CARDS tv shows being developed by UCP for Hulu.   Had a great dinner, and was blown away by their talent and enthusiasm.   I think we could have something very special coming your way.

And I visited another writer’s room as well, for another show.   But if I talk about that one, they will kill me.

I am back home again now, and back once more in Westeros, working on WINDS… which, let me add once more, has NOT been finished and hidden away for years.  (sigh)

 

Current Mood: busy busy