Not a Blog

Random Bits of This and That

April 29, 2022 at 11:13 am
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Lots of things going on.  Good things, bad things, big things, small things.   No time for a long blog post just now, but here are a few random comments about all and sundry, some of which may interest some of you.

Looks like the Jets and Giants both did very well in the first round of the NFL Draft.   But you never know.   Both teams desperately need help, so I hope they picked the right people.  My Sundays in the fall have been a weekly kick in the gut the past few years.

DARK WINDS debuts on June 12 on AMC and AMC+.  The trailer is everywhere, so check it out if you have not seen it yet.   I was one of the executive producers on this show, a six episode adaptation of the Navajo detective novels by the late great Tony Hillerman.   Graham Roland wrote the pilot, and Chris Eyre directed.   Zahn McClarnon stars as Joe Leaphorn and Kiowa Gordon as Jim Chee.   They all did great work.   Chris, together with Robert Redford, were the ones who brought me into this project a few years back, and I am glad that I was able to help get this made… but if you love the show, and I hope you will, credit belongs to Bob and Chris and Tina Elmore and their team, to our amazing actors, and of course to Tony.

Parris and I really enjoyed the new HBO Max series MINX, a sexy sitcom about a feminist porn magazine in the 70s.   The clothes, though… I swear, I owned some of those clothes.   Might be I still do, I never throw anything away.   Watching MINX did give me flashbacks to the 70s, though.   Which is good and bad.   The 1970s were my own Dickens Decade: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Or is that now?   Yeah, maybe now.   A lot of good things have happened for me, undeniably, but so many of my friends have died over the past two/three years… we have a war in the Ukraine which could turn into a nuclear holocaust… public discourse has turned poisonous and toxic, along with much of social media, free speech is under attack, our democracy is under attack… the news is profoundly depressing.

There was an article in THE ATLANTIC recently about how social media is making us all stupid.   An impressive piece, though it was also profoundly depressing, since the author does not see a lot of hope.   You can check it out at  https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/05/social-media-democracy-trust-babel/629369/ There’s a lot to think about there.

My people tell me that the renovations have been going well on the Jean Cocteau Cinema, Santa Fe’s original art house.   We hope to reopen soon, with a renovated auditorium and brand new seats.   Big comfortable seats.   Fewer of them, mind you — our capacity will shrink from 130 down to 78 — but hey, we only filled the place up a few times a year, usually when Neil Gaiman or Janis Ian was in town.   We will let you know when we reopen.

We are getting some great reviews for Sky Railway, and selling out a lot of trains.   We still have some more coaches to restore, so we can run more trains and longer consists, but that will come.

THE WINDS OF WINTER is going to be a big book.   The way it is going, it could be bigger than A STORM OF SWORDS or A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, the longest books in the series to date.   I do usually cut and trim once I finish, but I need to finish first.

I saw rough cuts of a couple more episodes of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, and was just as pleased as I was with the earlier episodes.   Ryan and Miguel and their cast and crew are doing great work.    Those of you who like complex, conflicted, grey characters (as I do) will like this series, I think.   There will be plenty of dragons and battles, to be sure, but the spine of the story is the human conflicts, the love and the hate, character drama rather than action/ adventure.

And I did I mention?   NIGHT OF THE COOTERS is done!   Trioscope delivered the final cut last week.   It’s a short film, about thirty minutes long, based on one of Howard Waldrop’s wonderful short stories.   Joe R. Lansdale wrote the screenplay.   Vincent d’Onofrio directed and starred, with a terrific cast of supporting players.   We shot it in Santa Fe, entirely on greenscreen.   The wizards at Trioscope did the rest, providing the sets, the aliens, the special effects, pretty much everything except the actors and the horses.   We will be rolling it out at a series of film festivals through the rest of the year.   My staff is working out that schedule now.   Once we have some confirmed dates and places, we will share the details here.

Meanwhile, we hope to start shooting a second Howard Waldrop film in about two weeks.   Completely unrelated.   H’ard (as Gargy used to call him) never wrote the same story twice.    This may be the Year of Waldrop.

There’s more, there’s more, there’s always more.   But that will need to do for now.

 

 

Current Mood: busy busy

This, That, and t’Other Things

March 21, 2022 at 10:13 am
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Too much to do, too much to do.

Things are hopping, as my frogs told you down below.   I could be writing long posts here about a dozen things, but I am sure most of you would sooner I were writing fiction, producing films and television shows, editing anthologies.   Y’know.

But let me say a few quick words about matters various and sundry.

We have a new book coming out from Ten Speed in October: THE RISE OF THE DRAGON, an illustrated history of the Targaryen dynasty from Aegon the Conquerer to the regency of the boy king Aegon III.   I could show you the covers (British and American) but my mighty minions have already done that in the post below.   Just scroll down and enjoy.   The official announcement lays out the basic facts about the book as well, so I won’t repeat that here.   I just want to clear up a possible areas of confusion.   In my blog post of 3/9 (scroll further down), I made mention of “a lavish coffee table book coming later this year, an illustrated, condensed version of FIRE & BLOOD done with Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson (my partners on THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE).”   Yes, I was speaking of THE RISE OF THE DRAGON.   The same book.    There has been some mention of RISE being an “encyclopedia,” but I do not think that is accurate… not unless the definition of “encyclopedia” has broadened considerably.   It’s a history… covering the same years and events as FIRE & BLOOD… but not written “in world” by Archmaester Gyldayn, and much condensed  from Gyldayn’s original text.   My friends Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson of WORLD OF ICE & FIRE fame handled the abridgement.

We needed a shorter book to make room for all the art.   That’s the big thing about THE RISE OF THE DRAGON:  it’s not an encyclopedia, it’s an art book.   And a gorgeous one, I think.   RISE will include 180 brand new illustrations from some of the finest fantasy artists in the world.   Some of them will be full page.   Many will be in gorgeous living (and dying) colors.   Dragons, knights, battles, lords and ladies, castles… all the good stuff.    So if you’re a fan of fantasy art, you may want to pre-order your copy now.

The other book  mentioned in that post of 3/9, the Who’s Who of Westeros, is coming as well, but not this fall.   That one is a way off.   Might be a year or two.   Lot of work to be done.   (As my editors complain, it is hard to do a who’s who when I keep inventing characters).

There will be a second book coming out this year, to tie in with the debut of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.   But it won’t be a new book, just an old one with a new cover.   That’s FIRE & BLOOD, of course, the original (unabridged) version by Archmaester Gyldayn, with new cover art from the HBO series.   When I have seen the new cover, I will be sure to post it here.

Oh, and as long as I am setting stuff straight, there’s a weird story all over the internet about how I “hid” my initials in ELDEN RING because… ah.. some of the characters have names beginning with R, or G, or M.   To which I say, “Eh?  What?  Really?”   This was news to me.    I have been writing and publishing stories since 1971, and I suspect that I have been giving characters names beginning with R and G and M since the start.   Along with the other twenty-three letters of the alphabet as well    Coming up with names is hard, especially since A SONG OF ICE & FIRE uses so many of them, and I am fond of giving family members and close kin names that have something in common… but really, why would I have to hide my name inside the game?   My name is right there ON the game, as one of the creators.    Hey, ELDEN RING is exciting enough, no need to make up stuff.

Let me see, what else?   Oh, I should mention that Sky Railway has reopened for its spring season, Santa Fe to Lamy, with all sorts of fun new adventures.   Check out the website at https://skyrailway.com/ and book your adventure now, if you’re coming to Santa Fe.    We are selling out.

Many of you reading this are fantasy fans, I know.   Waiting for WINDS OF WINTER, I know, I know… but looking forward to the new TV shows as well.  RINGS OF POWER on September 2, and HOUSE OF THE DRAGON on… well, you will know soon.   It’s only March, though.   What should you watch in the meanwhile?  I recommend THE LAST KINGDOM, based on Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon tales of Uhtred son of Uhtred.   The new season just went up, and Parris and I gulped it down in two days.   No, it is not fantasy, there is a notable lack of dragons and magic… but there are lots of battles and betrayals and swordplay, all that stuff.   And Uhtred is a warrior who could give the best of Westeros and Middle Earth a fight.   A good show, and we will miss it… but we have a feature film to look forward too, at least… and Cornwell has a new Sharpe book out too

There’s more, but I have other stuff to do, so I will sign off for now.   The horns are blowing, the frogs are hopping.

Current Mood: busy busy

Merry Minions

December 31, 2021 at 9:26 am
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Here’s hoping that all my friends and readers out there had a wonderful holiday.   I hope that Santa Claus was kind to you, and that neither Krampus nor Nackles turned up at your door with a big black bag.

We had a good Christmas here in Santa Fe.

One of the highlights was our annual Fevre River Packet Company holiday dinner.

The merry minions are, L to R, Lenore, Elias, Sid, Raya, and Andrea.   (Amy and Sarah were unable to make it).

I’m Gru, of course.

Current Mood: happy happy

Gobble Gobble

November 25, 2021 at 7:53 am
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Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving for all my friends, fans, and readers.

It has been another wretched year, but most of us still have  a lot to be thankful for.   I certainly do.

Enjoy your meat and mead.

 

Current Mood: loved loved

Words For Our Times

May 5, 2021 at 6:49 pm
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Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Not A Blogging

April 13, 2021 at 4:39 pm
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Way back when on LiveJournal, when I started this column or journal or whatever it is, I called it my “Not A Blog,” because I could see that regular blogging was a lot of work, and I didn’t think I had the time to devote to it.   I was late on a book even then, though I do not recall which one.  I figured I would just make posts from time to time, when I had an important announcement, when the mood struck me, whatever.

Somehow, though, over the decades, the Not A Blog became a blog, and what I had intended as a occasional pleasure and a way to stay in touch with my readers has become a Blog (ironically, at the same time as everyone else was abandoning their blogs for Facebook and Twitter), complete with a sense of obligation.   And when a lot of stuff happens very fast, I fall further and further behind.

I am hugely behind right now, and the prospect of trying to catch up is feeling increasingly oppressive.

My life has become one of extremes these past few months.   Some days I do not know whether to laugh or cry, to shoot off fireworks and dance in the streets or crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.   The good stuff that has been happening to me has been very very very good, the kind of thing that will make a year, or a career.  But the bad stuff that is happening has been very very very bad, and it is hard to cherish the good and feel the joy when the shadows are all around.

If any of you read the stories about me on the internet, you will know my good news.   I have a new five-year deal with HBO, to create new GOT successor shows (and some non-related series, like ROADMARKS) for both HBO and HBO Max.  It’s an incredible deal, an amazing deal, very exciting, and I want to tell you all about it… although it seems the press has already done it.   There are stories in all the trades.   You can read about it there.    (These days I almost never get to break any news about myself, the Hollywood press is always ahead of me.   Some of their stories are even accurate).   I will blog about it, I expect, but not today.

On the other side of the coin… well, I am now fully vaccinated, hurrah hurray, that’s good.   However, I have now lost six friends since November.  (Only a couple to Covid.   Alas, I am old, and so are many of my friends.   Valar morghulis, I guess).   And a seventh friend, a very old and dear friend who has been a huge part of my life for a long time, is in the hospital, very sick, recovering from surgery… at least we hope he is recovering.

Honestly, it is hard to dance in the streets even for the deal of a lifetime when another loved one dies every two/ three weeks, and that has been going on for me since November, when my longtime editor Kay McCauley passed away.

There’s lots more going on as well.   Meow Wolf stuff.   Railroad stuff.   Beastly Books has reopened, but the JCC is still shuttered.   The Jets traded Sam Darnold away.   I am going to be leaving my cabin in a couple of months.    I am close to delivering  PAIRING UP, a brand new Wild Cards book.

I will tell you about some of this, I guess.   But not today.

Current Mood: tired tired

Golden Glory

October 18, 2020 at 8:50 am
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New Mexico truly is the Land of Enchantment.   And fall is my favorite time of year here.

(No, not because Winter Is Coming).

Our autumns are gloriously golden.   We don’t get the reds and oranges they have up in New England, but the aspens and cottonwoods all turn gold.  It does not last long, but then again, all beauty is fleeting.   Seeing entire forests and mountainsides glowing in gold always lifts my heart.

(And these days, with the world the way it is, my heart is often in need of lifting).

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Another Nameday

September 24, 2020 at 8:43 am
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I had a pretty nice birthday.   And thanks to all my fans and friends who sent me greetings by email, text, or (in one case) card.

Parris came up to the mountains to visit me in my fortress of solitude, the first time she has checked out the cabin, and I was thrilled and delighted to be able to spend some time with her.   She brought me a wondrous present, a  wolf from the same Santa Fe artist who made my ravens.   I will need to take a picture and post it here.  He’s marvelous.   My thanks to Dahlia, her right hand and assistant, for helping her make the trip.

My assistant Sid, who is an incredible baker (she owned her own coffee and pastry shop when she was only eighteen, before coming to work for me) baked us a birthday cake from scratch, a gorgeous… and delicious… red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.

I got several other nice gifts as well, among them some amazing old vinyl albums, including old Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers radio dramas, and an album of JFK’s speeches.   Which is uplifting and depressing at the same time, when one contemplates how far we have fallen.   My thanks to my friend Ti Mikkel for the thoughtful present.

Come evening, we watched the Emmy Awards.   A very strange Emmy night.   Jimmy Kimmel did a nice job hosting, playing to an empty auditorium, and I got a hoot out of the big robo-boxes that John Oliver and a few others received, with a big hand that burst out clutching an Emmy when the winner was announced.   Congratulations to all of this year’s winners…. and to the losers.    I have lost quite a few myself, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the bridesmaids… whether Emmy losers or Hugo losers.   It IS an honor just to be nominated.

In addition to the pandemic-inspired weirdness, it also felt odd for me personally.   For ten of the past eleven years, I have attended the Emmy Awards in LA… including last year, when GAME OF THRONES won its fourth for Best Drama.   But I have to say, it was much more relaxing to be watching from home.   The big Hollywood awards ceremonies are exciting, beyond a doubt, but they are also very stressful… and exhausting, especially for an old codger like me.

And there is no doubt, I am an old codger.   As of the 20th, I turned 72.   Damn.   When did THAT happen?   The years have gone by so quickly, it seems.  Inside I certainly do not feel 72.  Hell, scratch me and that kid who wrote those letters to Stan & Jack and stories for dittoed comics fanzines is right below the surface.   Truth be told, birthdays tend to depress me these days.   And this year… ancient as I may be, there is no doubt that 2020 is the worst year I have ever lived through (I never thought any year could be as bad as 1968, till now)… I think the occasion might really have gotten to me, if not for that fact I was surrounded by friends and loved ones.   Thanks to them, I did have a happy birthday.

Current Mood: happy happy

Words For Our Times

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

Writing, Reading, Writing

June 23, 2020 at 9:38 am
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I have to confess, after half a year of pandemic, quarantine, and social distancing, I am showing signs of cabin fever… half of which is quite literal in my case.  Yes, I am in an actual cabin in the mountains.   No, I have no fever.   Yay!   For the present at least, I am healthy… for an out-of-shape guy of 71, at least … and doing all I can to stay that way.

If nothing else, the enforced isolation has helped me write.   I am spending long hours every day on THE WINDS OF WINTER, and making steady progress.   I finished a new chapter yesterday, another one three days ago, another one the previous week.   But no, this does not mean that the book will be finished tomorrow or published next week.   It’s going to be a huge book, and I still have a long way to go.   Please do not give any credence to any of the click-bait websites that like to parse every word of my posts as if they were papal encyclicals to divine hidden meanings.

I was heartbroken when CoNZealand was forced to go virtual due to the pandemic and I had to cancel my plans (exciting plans) for a long trip down to Wellington with Parris and my minions… but there is definitely a silver lining in that cloud.   The last thing I need right now is a long interruption that might cost me all the momentum I have built up.   I can always visit Wellington next year, when I hope that both Covid-19 and THE WINDS OF WINTER will be done.

I still plan to host the Hugo Awards and fulfill all the rest of my toastmasterly duties for worldcon, and have started pre-recording some bits for the ceremony (a wise precaution, since I am hopeless with Zoom and Skype and like things), but that is a lot less time-consuming and distracting than flying to the other end of the world.   In between tapings, I return to Westeros.   Of late I have been visiting with Cersei, Asha, Tyrion, Ser Barristan, and Areo Hotah.   I will be dropping back into Braavos next week.    I have bad days, which get me down, and good days, which lift me up, but all in all I am pleased with the way things are doing.

I do wish they would go faster, of course.   Way way back in 1999, when I was deep in the writing of A STORM OF SWORDS, I was averaging about 150 pages of manuscript a month.   I fear I shall never recapture that pace again.   Looking back, I am not sure how I did it then.    A fever indeed.

Anyway… when I am not writing, or thinking about writing, I am watching television and reading.    Publishers send me huge piles of books, so my “to be read” pile is always growing, no many how many books I consume.   Of course, I also buy books as well.   Cannot help it, I am a book junkie.   The new Stephen King collection IF IT BLEEDS was one recent favorite.  I love these novella collections that King comes out with from time to time between his novels.   This one features a new Holly Gibney story, and it is always great to see that character again… but there’s also a story called “Rat” about a writer trying to finish a novel in an isolated cabin which… ah… resonated with me rather strongly for some reason.   One bit, where the writer gets derailed trying to figure out how many rocking chairs a sheriff could fit on his porch, was a dead-on depiction of the kind of stuff I go through all the time.   Steve’s protagonist gets some help when a dead rat turns up to be his muse.  So far, no rats at my cabin.    Sid did catch a couple of mice last year, but she made pets of them.  And Timmy and TomTom were no help whatsoever with WINDS.   (Please don’t send me long emails about the dangers of mice, we know all that stuff).

Another recent book that really knocked me out was THE GLASS HOTEL, the latest by Emily St. John Mandel.    A few years back, she wrote a (ahem) post-pandemic SF novel called STATION ELEVEN which I loved at the time and now devoutly hope is not going to prove prophetic.  It was my favorite novel of that year, and I thought it deserved to win the Hugo and the Nebula.   Which it didn’t, alas.   But I had Emily at my theatre for an author event, which was great, and snapped up her three earlier novels.  I really liked those too.   Now comes her latest, THE GLASS HOTEL.  No, this one is not science fiction or fantasy.  In fact, I would be hard pressed to say what it is except a damn fine novel.   It is about a hotel in a remote location, the people who work there, the people who stay there, it is about a Ponzi scheme, and art, and music, and a dysfunctional family, and… oh, well, I don’t know what it is about, but I do know that once I started reading, I could not stop.   When people describe a book as a “page turner,” usually they are talking about novels that have a lot of plot, which Mandel definitely does not, yet somehow she keeps me turning pages regardless.   And she writes just beautifully.   Her prose is not overblown or excessively ornate, as is the case with too many writers who are known as “stylists,” but… it is just lovely, haunting and evocative and immersive…   I guess you can say I am a big Emily St. John Mandel fanboy.   I look forward to whatever she writes next.

There are other things going on in my life as well.   I bought a railroad… well, I bought a third of a railroad.   See the post below.   Hollywood has slowed to a crawl thanks to the pandemic, but THE HOUSE OF THE DRAGON is still flying along wonderfully, thanks to Ryan Condal and his writers, and the tireless Ti Mikkel.   With my producer hat on, I am still involved in trying to bring Nnedi Okorafor’s brilliant WHO FEARS DEATH to the small screen, and relaunch the WILD CARDS tv project.   We have feature films in development adapted from my stories “Sandkings” and “The Ice Dragon” and “The Lost Lands,” television shows in development based on works by Roger Zelazny and Tony Hillerman, there are the secret shorts we’re doing that… well, no, if I spilled that, it wouldn’t be secret.

But up here on the mountain, all of that that seems very distant, and much of it has stuttered to a halt in any case, until Covid goes away.

Mostly, it’s just me in Westeros, with occasional side trips to other places in the pages of a great book.

Now you will have to excuse me.   Arya is calling.   I think she means to kill someone.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative