Not a Blog

Cooters Invade Montreal?

November 5, 2021 at 7:20 am
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Maybe.   Probably.   (We hope, we hope).

We made a little short film of Howard Waldrop’s classic short story NIGHT OF THE COOTERS back in August, right here in Santa Fe.   From a script by Joe R. Lansdale, directed by and starring Vincent d’Onofrio.   Shot the whole thing green screen, then turned it over to the wizards at Trioscope Productions (https://www.trioscopestudios.com ) who are adding… well, pretty much everything except the actors and the horses.

The film probably won’t be finished until next March.   Maybe February, if we are lucky.

But Howard Waldrop is going to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in Montreal, the first weekend of November.   He will not be able to attend to accept in person, alas… but we wanted to mark the occasion somehow, so we’re working as fast as we can to finish a short teaser / trailer for NIGHT OF THE COOTERS that can be shown at the con.   A little treat for all the Waldrop fans.

I hope we finish it in time.  I hope those of you attending the con will see it.   I hope you will love it.

Did I mention that this honor for H’ard is well deserved?   And long long overdue?

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

Lords of Fantasy

July 30, 2021 at 8:55 am
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The upcoming World Fantasy Convention has just announced the winners of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Awards:

MEGAN LINDHOLM and HOWARD WALDROP.

I could not possibly think of two more worthy winners.

Megan Lindholm, writing under the name Robin Hobb, is one of the premiere fantastists of the last thirty years.   Her Farseer novels, featuring Fitz and the Fool, are classics of high fantasy.   If you have not read them, you don’t know what you are missing.   She has also done some great work under the Megan Lindholm byline, stories that fall more in the realm of urban fantasy and magic realism, just as engrossing and memorable as her epics.    She was long overdue for some major recognition.

And Howard Waldrop… what can I say about Howard Waldrop?  (That I have not already said in my introduction to his collection HOWARD WHO?)  What can anyone say about Howard Waldrop?   H’ard (as Gardner Dozois liked to call him) is one of a kind.   There has never been another writer like him, in fantasy, in science fiction, in literature.   Over the course of a career just as long as my own, he has only produced two novels… and one of those a collaboration… but he has turned out reams of short stories.

And WHAT short stories!   “The Ugly Chickens” won the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award (a long time ago, when it was still the Howie) and lost the Hugo.   A great story, but Howard has produced many other tales just as good.  “Heirs of the Perisphere.”  “Night of the Cooters.”  “Custer’s Last Jump.”  “Black as the Pit, From Pole to Pole.”  “A Dozen Tough Jobs.”   “Fin de Cycle.”  “God’s Hooks.”  “Save a Place in the Lifeboat for Me.”   “Do Ya, Do Ya Wanna Dance?”   “Flying Saucer Rock ‘n Roll.”  “Mary-Margaret Road-Grader.”  “Heart of Whitenesse.”  “Ike at the Mike.”  “Man-Mountain Gentian.”  “Thirty Minutes Over Broadway.”   Oh, and more, and more… I could go on and on.

Waldrop never writes the same story twice.   He writes stories that no one else could possibly write.   Funny, and sad, and whimsical, and erudite, and… words fail me, but they never fail H’ard.   In a just world, he would have a dozen Nebulas and as many Hugos by now.  SFWA would have named him a Grand Master ten years ago, and some worldcon would have made him its Guest of Honor.   But such accolades seldom come to short story writers, no matter how singular and amazing they may be.   This year’s World Fantasy Award panel of judges deserve kudos for recognizing this genius in our midst.

This year’s World Fantasy Convention will be in Montreal in early November.   I hope that both Howard and Megan will be able to make it, to accept their Trees in person.  I doubt that I will be able to make it myself… though I am tempted, I am so tempted… but that sound you hear will be me, applauding madly from afar.

(Oh, and watch this space.  I hope to have some more exciting Howard Waldrop news soon).

Current Mood: happy happy

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

Rocket Time!

June 30, 2020 at 9:10 am
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Worldcon is coming up in a month’s time, down in Wellington, New Zealand…

Or at least it would be, if not for the pandemic.   Which New Zealand has handled splendidly, for what it’s worth.   If only America had done half so well..

In any case, there will still be a CoNZealand, but it is going to be a virtual worldcon.  (Which is a damned shame for all those who will miss the chance to visit New Zealand, truly one of the most beautiful countries in the world).   And as CoNZealand’s toastmaster, I am going to be there… virtually… taking part from my fortress of solitude in the mountains and my theatre (now shuttered) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The toastmaster wears many hats at worldcon, but probably the single biggest part of the gig is hosting the Hugo Awards ceremony.   I am going to be doing that with a combination of live streaming and pre-recorded videos, which we will (I hope I pray) edit seamlessly together.   This week I have started recording some of those videos.   It has been fun, if a little surreal, to be reading off the names of this year’s Hugo finalists when voting has not actually started yet.   And trying to be amusing (one hopes) while talking into a camera without the feedback of laughter (or moans, boos, or soul-chilling silence) from an actual audience is challenging as well.   But so it goes.

SFWA did a great job with the virtual Nebulas.   (Hats off to Mary Robinette Kowal and her team).   We want to make the virtual Hugos just as much fun.   An evening of joy and celebration in these dark days of plague, riot, and police brutality.   We all need a little laughter.   I know I do.

The Kiwis are doing all they can to make Virtual CoNZealand a success.   I applaud them for their efforts, and hope it all comes out splendidly.  That being said, I also hope we never have to do it again.   Over the last half-century, worldcon has become an enormously important part of my life, I have come to realize.  I see people online — younger writers, most often — describing worldcon as a “professional conference,” and yeah, maybe, a little bit, for them… but not for me.   There are professional aspects to conventions, sure, networking and promotion and all that, but for me worldcon has always been a celebration, a party, a holiday, Christmas and Thanksgiving and Halloween all rolled up in one.   Most of all it is a family reunion, a place where I get to laugh and drink and share meals with old friends, meet new friends, and catch up with so many of the people I love, people I do not get to see anywhere else.   So let’s work hard on that vaccine, all you docs out there; I will be at CoNZealand in spirit, but I want to be at DC in the flesh.

((And before anyone starts to panic, “oh my god he is making videos in place of writing,” OF COURSE I am still working on WINDS OF WINTER as well.   That really should go without saying, yet somehow I need to say it, or someone might make stupid assumptions.   I am also doing some editorial work on three new Wild Cards books, reading scripts and making notes on a couple of exciting Hollywood projects, texting with agents, editors, and friends about this and that, eating several meals a day, watching television, reading books, and from time to time using the toilet.   Just because I do not mention it in every Not A Blog does not mean it is not happening)).

 

 

 

Current Mood: busy busy

The Amazing John Picacio

June 19, 2020 at 8:37 am
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SFWA held its Nebula Awards ceremonies last week, and John Picacio, artist extraordinaire, was one of the winners of this year’s Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award… not for his art, but for his contributions to the science fiction and fantasy community.

I had the honor of presenting the award to John.   Well, that is to say, I had the virtual honor of presenting a virtual award to the virtual Picacio.

For all of you who could not be there — which is everyone, thanks to our friend Covid-19 — here is what I had to say:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YV6qoTdD_3MZEQe3ulSNNiJrgT1RfSuM/view?usp=drivesdk

Congratulations once again, John.    Very well deserved.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Hugo Finalists Announced!!!

April 7, 2020 at 5:11 pm
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The final ballot for this year’s Hugo Awards was announced today, via Facebook and YouTube, by my friends at CoNZealand.

Congratulations to all the finalists… and condolences to all those who did not make the ballot.   Take some consolation in the knowledge that much fine work gets overlooked every year.

The Hugo Award is the oldest and most prestigious award in science fiction and fantasy… not only for writers, but also for artists, editors, and fans.  First given in 1953, it was the original award.  Many worthy honors have joined it in the half century since: the Nebulas, the Bram Stokers, the World Fantasy Awards, the Dragons, the Tiptrees, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Prometheus, the British Fantasy Award, the Ditmars, the Auroras, the Saturns… even the Alfies.   (Yes, I have forgotten some, beyond a doubt).  All wonderful honors.   But the Hugo Awards remain the greatest accolade that our field has to offer.

One of the reasons is that it is an award chosen by the members of worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention, the granddaddy of them all.   By fans, in other words.  By YOU, if you like.   You need not even attend the convention: supporting memberships, considerably cheaper, also allow you to cast a Hugo ballot.  So if you would like your voice to be heard, head over to the CoNZealand website and sign up.

Sad to say, no one will actually be attending this year’s worldcon in Wellington, thanks to coronavirus.   The concom, prudently, has decided to make this year’s convention entirely virtual.   A necessity in this time of pandemic, I think, but a sad necessity.

I am the Toastmaster for CoNZealand, the host at the awards ceremony,so originally I was going to get to be the guy handing out the rockets come Hugo night, a once-in-a-lifetime honor that I was looking forward to immensely.  I am still the Toastmaster, as it happens, but I guess that now I am going to be a Virtual Toastmaster.   I suppose I qualify.   I did once write two scripts for MAX HEADROOM, after all (though neither one was produced, which could be an omen).  Alternatively, I could just tie the rockets to the legs of ravens… really big ravens…

Current Mood: excited excited

Hugo Nominations Open

January 6, 2020 at 2:57 pm
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CoNZealand, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, has announced that nominations are now open for the 2020 Hugo Awards.   To nominate, you need to be a member of either this year’s worldcon, or last year’s Dublin convention.  You can nominate either electronically, or with a paper ballot (though very few chose the latter method these days).

Details can be found at https://conzealand.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/2020-Hugo-Nominations-Ballot-Printable-US-Letter.pdf

Members can nominate for the Hugos themselves, the two “Not A Hugo” categories, and for the Retro-Hugos that honor outstanding works published during the years when no Hugos were awarded.

First given in 1953, the Hugo is not only the oldest SF and fantasy award, but by far the most prestigious.   The list of past winners reads like a Who’s Who of our genre (and, honestly, the list of past losers is equally amazing).   No, you don’t need to read everything that was published last year to nominate.  You don’t need to nominate in every category either.  Just nominate the works you read and loved, and you’ll be fine.   Other fans will take care of the rest.

Even if you only nominate a single work in a single category, I urge you to NOMINATE.  Let your voice be heard.  The Hugo is fandom’s award, worldcon’s award, one of the greatest honors our community can bestow.  Winning a Hugo is an amazing experience… but earning a nomination is almost as exciting.   Far fewer people take part in the nomination round than vote on the final ballot, so this is the stage of the process where you can have the greatest impact.   There have been instances in the recent past when a single nomination was the difference between making the cut and being left off the ballot.   Just last year, my own imaginary history FIRE & BLOOD came six votes short of being nominated in Best Related Work (though, as it happens, I was later informed that it would have been disqualified in any case, for having too much fictional contest).   Almost only counts in horseshoes and grenades, as we all know… you wouldn’t want your favorite story off the year to be left off the ballot because you forget to send in a ballot.   So NOMINATE.

Speaking of which… for the last decade or so, I have been making recommendations of my own favorites (in certain categories, at least) on my Not A Blog.  There’s so much good work being published each year it is easy to get overlooked, so I wanted to do what I could to draw attention to worthy books, movies, and individuals.   I will not be making any recommendations this year, however.   I am going to be the Toastmaster this summer at CoNZealand, the guy on stage emceeing the event and handing out all those nice shiny rocket ships.  It would not be appropriate for me to go on record as favoring certain nominees (and, by implication, dis-approving of others… though that would be a shaky assumption, since I don’t always get around to reading everything in every case).   It behooves the Toastmaster to be neutral, I believe.  Which is not to say that I won’t be cheering on some winners and being aghast at others… but not in public.

I expect that I will go back to recommending work next year, when worldcon moves to Washington and it is someone else’s turn in the barrel as Toastmaster.

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

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

At the Irish Film Institute with Robby the Robot

September 12, 2019 at 10:59 am
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One of the highlights of my time in Dublin was my visit to Altair IV, courtesy of the kind folks at the Irish Film Institute.  The IFI has an impressive facility there in Temple Bar, and as part of the celebrations of worldcon, they invited me to present one of my favorite films, and speak about why I loved it.   I was delighted to do so.

No one who knows me or has read this blog for long will be even remotely surprised by the movie I chose: the MGM science fiction film, FORBIDDEN PLANET, from 1956, a classic whose influence on all the SF films and television shows that followed was profound.   Starring Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Robby the Robot.

((I couldn’t bring Robby with me to Dublin, alas, but I did bring Commander J.J. Adams and Altaira)). 

Maura McHugh joined me afterwards for a discussion of the film, and some Q&A with the audience.  Listen in, if you’d like (sorry, it’s audio only).   And then go out and watch the movie again.   It’s still great… and I hope to hell that they NEVER remake it.   They’d only mess it up.

Current Mood: geeky geeky

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