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Cool New Wild Cards Stuff

February 28, 2018 at 1:48 pm
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Katie Rask has done a lovely tribute to Vic Milan and two of his iconic Wild Cards characters over at Tor.com:

https://www.tor.com/2018/02/28/a-wild-cards-tribute-to-victor-milan/

Do check it out, and feel free to jump in with your own thoughts about Vic’s contributions to Wild Cards, which were numerous and important.

Meanwhile, over on our official Wild Cards website, we’ve added some new blog posts from Max Gladstone, Melinda Snodgrass, and David Anthony Durham. You’ll find them at:

http://www.wildcardsworld.com/blog/

In other Wild Cards news, the reissues continue apace, and I’ve just delivered a new and expanded version of volume nine, JOKERTOWN SHUFFLE, to Tor. We’ve added two brand new stories to the original text from the 1991 Bantam edition: a Ramshead tale by Cherie Priest, and a Lady Black story from Carrie Vaughn. JOKERTOWN SHUFFLE has been out of print in English for more twenty years, so we’re pleased to make it available to a new generation of readers… but be careful, if there was ever a Wild Cards book that required trigger warnings, it’s this one.

((Comments permitted, on Wild Cards only. Stay on topic)).

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Hugo Nominations Open

February 7, 2018 at 2:53 pm
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Nominations for the 2018 Hugo Awards have now opened, I am informed. If you are a member of last year’s worldcon in Helsinki, this year’s worldcon in San Jose, or next year’s worldcon in Dublin, you are eligible to nominate. You should be receiving an email with a link to the ballot. (I have not actually received mine yet, but I’m told that others have, so I expect mine Real Soon Now).

I have a few things eligible for nomination myself this year… more for editing than writing, however.

GAME OF THRONES is eligible in the Dramatic Presentation category, of course. The whole of Season 7 can be nominated in Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, and any or all of the individual episodes can be nominated in Short Form. GOT has won in both categories in the past. Last year in Helsinki, three episodes actually had enough votes to make the ballot, but the new rule limits any series to no more than two places on the ballot, so we had to withdraw one. But you can nominate as many episodes as you like.

Wild Cards had a big year last year. We celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the series, and our twenty-fourth mosaic novel, MISSISSIPPI ROLL, was published in the fall. A couple of the older books were reissued, and we had two original Wild Cards story on Tor.com — “When the Devil Drives” by Melinda M. Snodgrass, and “The Atonement Tango” by Stephen Leigh. The two Tor.com stories are both novelettes and are eligible in that category. MISSISSIPPI ROLL is a more complex case. Like most Wild Cards books, it is a mosaic novel, with individual stories by half a dozen writers woven together to make a whole that is, we hope, more than the sum of its parts. One could argue that our mosaics are anthologies, I suppose… but they feel more like collaborative novels to me. If the former view prevails, the individual components of MISSISSIPPI ROLL are eligible in the short fiction categories, Steve Leigh’s “In the Shadow of Tall Stacks” in novella, the other stories as novelettes. If the latter, the volume as a whole could be nominated in novel.

In either case, I’m eligible for nomination in the editing categories. Short Form, most likely, for the stories in Tor.com as well as the book. (If you consider MISSISSIPPI ROLL a novel, then it counts for me as a Long Form editor, but I don’t think one book is enough to make me eligible in that category). My Wild Cards work was the only editing I did in 2017. The big cross-genre anthologies I co-edited with Gardner Dozois all came out in previous years.

Wild Cards as a whole is definitely eligible for nomination as Best Series. That’s a new category that first appeared on the ballot last year, as an experiment, but now it has been made permanent.

The only writing I had published in 2017 was “The Sons of the Dragon,” which was published in THE BOOK OF SWORDS, Gardner Dozois’s massive anthology of original sword & sorcery stories. Like “The Rogue Prince” and “The Princess and the Queen” before it, “Sons” is more of my (fake) history of the Targaryen kings of Westeros. By length, it is a novella… but it’s not a traditional narrative. By design, it reads like history, not fiction; but since the history is entirely imaginative, it’s still fiction, even if dressed up as (fake) non-fiction.

It has been pointed out to me that the publication of “The Sons of the Dragon” makes the entirety of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE eligible to be nominated as Best Series. I suppose that’s so. All I can say to that is : please don’t. If you like fake history and enjoyed “The Sons of the Dragon,” by all means nominate the story as a novella… but it’s really not part of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, and sneaking in the entire series by means of a technicality seems wrong to me.

If I may broaden the discussion a bit, while I think it is good that the Hugo Awards now have a category to recognize series books, I would quibble somewhat with how a “series” is defined. The rules were written very broadly, to include not only true series, like last year’s winner, the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, but also any grouping of stories set against a common background, what we used to call “future histories,” as well as what I’d term “mega-novels,” those massive epics too long to be contained in a single volume. Three-quarters of the SF I wrote back in the 70s was set against a common background, but I never considered that I was writing a series when I visited the Thousand Worlds; it was a future history, made up of stories set hundreds of years apart, on planets separated by thousands of light years (though within the future history there was a series, the Haviland Tuf stories). On the other extreme, I don’t consider A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE a series either; it’s one single story, being published in (we hope) seven volumes. FWIW, Tolkien wasn’t writing a series when he wrote LORD OF THE RINGS either. He wrote a big novel and his publisher divided it into three parts, none of which stands on its own.

Anyway, that’s my own perspective on the matter. Obviously, the good folks who drafted the Best Series rules disagree. Ultimately I think the fans will decide the matter by what they choose to nominate. Worldcon committees have traditionally been reluctant to overrule the fans, even in cases where a nominated work would seem to be ineligible for one reason or other.

FWIW, Wild Cards is a series, plainly, so if you want to consider any of my work for Best Series, that’s the one I’d ask you to look at. Thirty-one years and twenty=four books is something to be proud of, and I am.

Regardless of whether or not you nominate any of my own work, I do urge all the worldcon members reading this to be sure to nominate. There are a lot of awards being given in SF, fantasy, and horror these days, but the Hugo was the first, and it’s still the one that means the most. It is, of course, important to vote on the final ballot too… but you can’t vote for works that have not been nominated, and it is crucial to have widespread participation in the nominating stage.

((Comments and debate allowed, but ONLY on these subjects. Stay on topic)).

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Wild Cards Goodness

July 19, 2017 at 10:12 pm
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Some cool new stuff out there for Wild Cards fans.

Over at Tor.com, the Wild Cards Reread continues with Katie Rask’s insightful look at the fourth volume of the original series, ACES ABROAD. Check it out and join the discussion at:

https://www.tor.com/2017/07/18/religion-revolution-and-80s-politics-wild-cards-iv-aces-abroad/

And there’s some new content on the Wild Cards website as well. A new blog post by Mary Anne Mohanraj about writing an intertwined story

http://www.wildcardsworld.com/how-do-you-tell-an-interlinked-story/

and some great art uploads of work by some of our favorite artists: John Picacio, Marc Simonetti, and Michael Komarck.

((Meanwhile, development continues on the Wild Cards television series. I could tell you all about that as well, but then I’d have to kill you. Oh, yes, and the latest Wild Cards mosaic novel is nearing completion as well. Seven of ten stories in, and the last three expected soon)).

Current Mood: pleased pleased

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.

A Bit More (Fake) History

January 31, 2017 at 5:06 pm
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I had intended to write this post a few days ago, when Bantam gave me the green light, but I got busy, and we had Carrie Vaughn coming to town, and a worldcon/ Hugo deadline approaching, and all that seemed more time-sensitive, so I wrote those instead. Unfortunately, that meant the news below broke from other sources, and inevitably, all sorts of weird distortions crept in, and now the internet is rife with rumors and false reports and misinformation. Pfui. I need to set the record straight.

My friend Gardner Dozois, long-time anthologist and winner (many many times) of the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor, has a big new fantasy anthology coming out this fall. It’s called THE BOOK OF SWORDS, and it’s about… well… swords. Y’know. “Stick ’em with the pointy end.”

I have a story in the book. “The Sons of the Dragon” is the title. Those of you who enjoyed “The Princess and the Queen” in DANGEROUS WOMEN and “The Rogue Prince” in ROGUES will probably like this one too. It’s water from the same well. A history rather than a traditional narrative. A lot of telling, only a little showing. (The opposite of what I do in my novels). But if you’re fascinated by the politics of Westeros, as many of my readers seem to be, you should enjoy it. As the title suggests, “The Sons of the Dragon” chronicles the reigns of the second and third Targaryen kings, Aenys I and Maegor the Cruel, along with their mothers, wives, sisters, children, friends, enemies, and rivals. If you’re read something to that effect on the web, good, that much is right.

However, there is a lot that’s wrong out there as well. THE BOOK OF SWORDS is not my book. I didn’t write but a small part of it, and I didn’t edit it, nor even co-edit it. Gardner is one of my oldest friends and he and I have co-edited a number of anthologies together. We did OLD MARS and OLD VENUS together. We did SONGS OF LOVE & DEATH and DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS together. We did the huge award-winning cross-genre anthologies WARRIORS, DANGEROUS WOMEN, and ROGUES together. But we did not do THE BOOK OF SWORDS together.

SWORDS is all the Great Gargoo. I mean, it’s not as if he hasn’t edited a hundred other anthologies all by himself, before he did a few with me. We’re friends, but we are not attached at the hip. I edit Wild Cards without any help from Gardner, and he edits lots of great stuff without any help from me… including THE BOOK OF SWORDS and next year’s THE BOOK OF MAGIC (which will also have a story from me, a reprint).

Truth be told, I loved editing those anthologies with Gardner, and we want to do more together. We’re talked about MORE ROGUES and EVEN MORE DANGEROUS WOMEN, since those two books were hugely successful, and we have definite plans for OLD LUNA and, who knows, maybe eventually OLD MERCURY and OLD PLUTO and OLD URANUS. But we’re not doing any of that NOW. The anthologies, much as I loved them, were taking too much of my time, so I stepped back from them… until I finish THE WINDS OF WINTER, at least. Once that’s done, maybe I can sneak another one in…

The point is, just because I had to step back did not mean Gardner had to. And he hasn’t. Hence THE BOOK OF SWORDS, which I expect to be just as good as ROGUES or DANGEROUS WOMEN.

The lineup of THE BOOK OF SWORDS is an impressive one:

Introduction by Gardner Dozois
THE BEST MAN WINS, by K.J. Parker
HIS FATHER’S SWORD, by Robin Hobb
THE HIDDEN GIRL, by Ken Liu
THE SWORD OF DESTINY, by Matthew Hughes
“I AM A HANDSOME MAN,” SAID APOLLO CROW, by Kate Elliott
THE TRIUMPH OF VIRTUE, by Walter Jon Williams
THE MOCKING TOWER, by Daniel Abraham
HRUNTING, by C.J. Cherryh
A LONG, COLD TRAIL, by Garth Nix
WHEN I WAS A HIGHWAYMAN, by Ellen Kushner
THE SMOKE OF GOLD IS GLORY by Scott Lynch
THE COLGRID CONUNDRUM, by Rich Larson
THE KING’S EVIL, by Elizabeth Bear
WATERFALLING, by Lavie Tidhar
THE SWORD TYRASTE, by Cecelia Holland
THE SONS OF THE DRAGON, by George R.R. Martin

There’s some amazing writers there. Some of the stories, I expect, will contend for the Hugo and the World Fantasy Award. But I wouldn’t know which, since I haven’t read any of them yet, since I am not the editor. Unlike, say, ROGUES and OLD MARS and the like, where I read every word, because I was the co-editor.

THE BOOK OF SWORDS is scheduled for release on October 10 in hardcover and ebook. (I don’t have the cover art yet, but when I do I will post it here).

As for my own story…

Long-time lurkers on this site will recall that several years ago, when we were working on the gorgeous illustrated worldbook/ concordance that was eventually published as THE WORLD OF ICE & FIRE, I wrote a number of ‘sidebar’s about Westerosi history. Actually, I got rather carried away, until I found I had written 350,000 words of sidebars for a book that was supposed to have only 50,000 words of text (it ended up having a lot more that that, actually). Since I had only reached the regency of Aegon III the Dragonbane, and had largely skipped over Jaehaerys I the Conciliator, however, it became apparent that my sidebars were going to burst the book.

So we pulled them all out, including only severely abridged versions of the main events in THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE. The full versions, much longer and unabridged, will eventually be published in a fake history tome to be called FIRE & BLOOD (and sometimes just the GRRMarillion), but since that one is years away, I included excerpts (again abridged, though not as severely) in DANGEROUS WOMEN and ROGUES. That’s where “The Princess and the Queen” and “The Rogue Prince” came from.

“The Sons of the Dragon” came from the same place. Gardner asked me for a story. I told him I did not have the time to write a story. He asked if perhaps I had more like “The Princess and the Queen” lying about… as it happened, I did. So I sent him “The Sons of the Dragon,” he liked it, and there we are. (Fwiw, though “Sons” has never been published before, some of you may have heard me read it at one convention or another. I think I’ve read it twice, though offhand I do not recall when).

Anyway… that’s the story of the story. Don’t believe any other weird crap you may encounter on the web. It’s Gardner’s book, and it should be a fine one. You can’t go wrong with Robin Hobb, Scott Lynch, Lavie Tidhar, Daniel Abraham, Matthew Hughes, and the rest of the contributors that Gargy has assembled. You’ll love their stuff, I know. Maybe you’ll like my contribution as well… if you’re partial to fake history.

GENIUS

January 29, 2017 at 10:20 pm
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A few posts down you’ll find my Hugo Award ruminations for the Dramatic Presentation categories, where I opine at some length about the best films and television shows I saw last year.

Much as I love SF and fantasy, however, not everything I read or view falls into those categories. I wanted to say a few words about another movie I saw recently, and loved.

It’s a film called GENIUS, a period piece set in the 1930s about the relationship between Maxwell Perkins, the legendary Scribners editor, and his most troubled (and troubling) writer, Thomas Wolfe. (No, not Tom Wolfe, the 60s journalist of THE RIGHT STUFF fame, Thomas Wolfe, the doomed 30s novelist of YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN). Stars Colin Firth and Jude Law, both of whom gave brilliant performances. Scripted by John Logan, directed by Michael Grandage.

GENIUS came and went last year almost unnoticed. It was certainly unnoticed by me, else I would have tried to book it for the Jean Cocteau. But it’s running on HBO right now, so all those who missed it (virtually everyone) now has another chance to see it.

I hope you do. Especially if you’re a writer, or an editor, or have any interest in 20th Century American literature, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Maxwell Perkins.

The movie got very little notice from the world at large, but I loved loved loved it. Maybe because it’s a writer’s movie. The period is wonderfully evoked, the acting is fine, and there’s one ten minute scene in the middle of the movie… from when Wolfe delivers OF TIME AND THE RIVER till when Perkins gets on that train… that I thought was just hilarious, heart-breaking, poetic, painful, and just all-around… blue. A blue that was deeper than blue, a blue such as never before…

Well, let’s just say it was a great scene in a fine movie.

Lots of fine movies came out last year, in our genre and out of it. Many of them have been nominated for various Oscars. GENIUS was not, but if I were in the Academy I would certainly have nominated it. Much I loved ARRIVAL and MOANA and some of the other big movies of 2016, I think GENIUS was my favorite film from last year.

Wild Cards Take Texas

January 27, 2017 at 3:52 pm
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We’re calling the latest Wild Cards volumes the America Triad. First one up was MISSISSIPPI ROLL, which we completed and turned in back in October. Then came LOW CHICAGO, delivered in December. And now comes the third and final book in our cross country tour: TEXAS HOLD ‘EM.

Another one done. The manuscript went off to our editors at Tor yesterday. Hot damn!

The table of contents for this one:
Caroline Spector “Bubbles and the Band Trip”
Max Gladstone “The Secret Life of Rubberband”
William F. Wu “Jade Blossom’s Brew”
Diana Rowland “Beats, Bugs, and Boys”
Walton Simons “Is Nobody Going to San Antone?”
Victor Milan “Dust and the Darkness”
David Anthony Durham “Drop City”

TEXAS HOLD ‘EM is the final book in the America Triad, and the twenty-sixth volume of the overall series… but no, it’s not necessary to have read the first twenty-five to enjoy this one. In fact, it’s not even necessary to have read MISSISSIPPI ROLL and LOW CHICAGO (though we hope you will). The America books are not a triad in the traditional sense, like the ones we have done before; they are more in the nature of three stand-alones, linked thematically rather than by plot. Aside from a couple of double-dippers, each book of the three has a different roster of writers.

The cast in TEXAS HOLD ‘EM includes long time fan favorites like the Amazing Bubbles, Mr. Nobody, and Rustbelt, and brings back a couple of minor players from past books in much bigger roles (Jade Blossom from INSIDE STRAIGHT, the Darkness from SUICIDE KINGS), but you’ll meet a bunch of fun new characters as well. Diana Rowland and Max Gladstone are here making their Wild Cards debuts (Abandon hope, all ye who enter here). I think you’ll love their work as much as I do.

TEXAS HOLD ‘EM is a departure for us in other ways as well. Like the Marvel and DC universes, the Wild Cards universe is huge, and allows for all sorts of different stories. Last summer’s HIGH STAKES was our horror outing, and one of the darkest we have ever done. TEXAS HOLD ‘EM is the other side of the coin; a romp, light-hearted and frenetic, with touchs of screwball comedy.

Which doesn’t mean it was easy. “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard,” someone once said (just who is a matter of dispute).

Look for TEXAS HOLD ‘EM sometime next year. At last word, Tor is slating MISSISSIPPI ROLL for publication in hardcover in the fall of this year, with Chicago and Texas to follow, but we don’t have hard dates for those two yet, but you’ll know when we do.

Meanwhile, we have further Wild Cards books in mind… and that TV series in the works…

Remember, we can’t die yet. We haven’t seen the Jolson Story.

Wild Cards Take Chicago

December 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm
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New York City has been the center of the Wild Cards universe since 1946, when Dr. Tod met Jetboy in the skies over Broadway, and the Takisian xerovirus was unleashed upon the world. It’s past time the Second City got its due. So I am thrilled to report that I’ve just turned in the latest Wild Cards mosaic novel: LOW CHICAGO, set entirely in the city on the lake.

This is the second book in what we’re calling our ‘American Triad’ (MISSISSIPPI ROLL was delivered in October, and we’re still hard at work on TEXAS HOLD’EM), and the twenty-fifth volume of the overall series… but no, it’s not necessary to have read the first twenty-four to enjoy this one.

And it’s a helluva ride, I think. The cast includes old fan favorites like Mr. Nobody, Double Helix, Abigail the Understudy, Golden Boy, Natya, John Fortune, John Nighthawk, Hardhat, and the Sleeper, but some exciting new characters will be on hand as well. Wait till you meet Meathooks, Birdbrain, and Khan.

The table of contents:
John Jos. Miller “A Long Night at the Palmer House”
Kevin Andrew Murphy “Down the Rabbit Hole”
Christopher Rowe “The Motherfucking Apotheosis of Todd Motherfucking Taszycki”
Paul Cornell “A Bit of a Dinosaur”
Marko Kloos “Stripes”
Melinda M. Snodgrass “The Sister in the Streets”
Mary Anne Mohanraj “A Beautiful Facade”
Saladin Ahmed “Meathooks on Ice”

I had a great time editing this one. Hope you’ll all like it as much as I do.

And if you’ve yet to try Wild Cards, the world’s longest-running shared world anthology series (thirty years and counting!)… hey, what are you waiting for!

No publication date for LOW CHICAGO yet, but you’ll know as soon as Tor tells me.

Rolling on the River

October 1, 2016 at 4:07 pm
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The old MAVERICK tv series (one of my childhood favorites) had a great theme song with a line about Maverick “living on jacks and queens.” In the Wild Cards series, we prefer aces and jokers.

And you’ll find plenty of both in MISSISSIPPI ROLL, the latest Wild Cards mosaic novel, which we’ve just completed and delivered to our editors at Tor. This is the first book in what we’re calling our ‘American Triad’ (to be followed, in good time, by LOW CHICAGO and TEXAS HOLD’EM), and the twenty-fourth volume of the overall series… but no, it’s not necessary to have read the first twenty-three to enjoy this one.

The lineup this time out:
Stephen Leigh “In the Shadow of Tall Stacks”
John Jos. Miller “Wingless Angel”
Carrie Vaughn “A Big Break in the Small Time”
Cherie Priest “Death on the Water”
Kevin Andrew Murphy “Find the Lady”
David D. Levine “Under the Arch”

No publication date yet, but you’ll be the first to know as soon as we get the word from Tor.

HIGH STAKES was one of our darkest books, an excursion into Lovecraftian horror. MISSISSIPPI ROLL will have a much lighter tone, but plenty of fun and excitement.

I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did editing it.

Behold, The Mighty Editor

March 25, 2016 at 11:07 am
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I have my editor’s hat on today. (It looks just like my writer’s hat, only in a different color). ((No, not really, I am being facetitious. Damn, you guys, don’t take everything I say so literally)).

For the past three weeks, the forty-odd (some very odd) members of the Wild Cards consortium have been submitting story proposals and pitches for the three new WC books from Tor, LOW CHICAGO and MISSISSIPPI ROLL and TEXAS HOLD ‘EM. Last night at midnight was the deadline for pitches.

As usual, we have more proposals than we need. Only eight writers per book. So today is Decision Day, wherein I decide who gets to be in which book, who is out, who gets to double-dip. It is never easy. So many talented writers, so many great characters, so many fun ideas.

But that’s why I get the Big Bucks as editor (that was another joke, yessir, for sure, this is a labor of looooooove).

John Sebastian said it best:

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