Who am I…

alice-shelden1From the recent meme going around to determine “which science fiction writer are you?”

James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice B. Sheldon)

“In the 1970s she was perhaps the most memorable, and one of the most popular, short story writers.  Her real life was as fantastic as her fiction.”

I have to say I am neither surprised nor displeased with this result. Tiptree is as awesome as they come, and I’m so much happier being her than one of the boys…

Had a fun low-key birthday today.  Happy birthday to Peter Ball, who shares the same day of birth, which I assume means at some point  we will have to go on a cosmic quest together.  Or maybe we’ll just write a were-rave story together, who knows.

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Sci Fi is dead. Long live Syfy!

syfy_logo1So the Sci Fi channel is apparently changing its name to SyFy.  When I first saw the story here, I have to admit I thought, “Is it April Fool’s already?”

But then, after I read the article, it actually started to make sense to me.  Of course, it broadens their scope without losing those who already have loyalty to their brand!  Clearly, I’ve sat through far too many branding discussion meetings for this to make sense to me.

I especially like the part about how, sadly, they can’t own “Sci Fi” since it is after all an entire genre (but they can own Syfy!).  It reminds me of a story I heard once that a certain gay American institution hoped to lay proprietary claim to the word “out.”  No, actually,  you cannot own “out.”  Even gay people as a community don’t have exclusive ownership of “coming out” anymore.  You can’t turn on the TV or radio without hearing someone talking about “coming out as a Jesuit” or confessing that they’re a “closet Stephenie Meyer fan,” etc.  Gay people should be getting royalties for giving the world this apparently incredibly useful metaphor.

Okay, this has officially been your rambling blog post for the day.

Realms is Back!

It looks like Realms of Fantasy is not closing after all.  I’m thrilled not only because it means we get to see more stories from one of our strongest Fantasy publications (especially for magic realism), but also because it means my story “Tio Gilberto and the Twenty-Seven Ghosts” will be able to be published in Realms after all.  (I had sold the story to them before it closed.)  

Warren Lapine is my new hero for buying the mag and bringing it back to life.  And many thanks to Doug Cohen, ROF’s assistant editor for being helpful and patient with all us antsy writers during the month or so when our stories were in an odd state of limbo.

To make sure you get all the good stuff to come from Realms, you can subscribe at the new web site, here.

Vampire Pulp Fiction Fun

opposite-of-lifeWhen I was in Brisbane, Chris Lynch took me to Pulp Fiction, a cool bookstore specializing in genre fiction.  Apparently, they also have a small press, Pulp Fiction Press.  The publisher, Ron, seems like a great guy, and shared with me one of their recent books – The Opposite of Life by Narrelle M. Harris.

It was a great read, and made the 24-hour-plus flight home almost bearable.  The novel follows the misadventures of Lissa, a young librarian who’s seen her share of pain and loss.  In the wake of  getting dumped by her boyfriend, she keeps discovering dead bodies whenever she goes out to try to get her minds off her troubles.  Not a good week for Lissa. Of course, the killer is a vampire, and Lissa finds herself partnering with Gary, a socially awkward vampire with a disastrous sense of fashion, to solve a case that’s way over her head and brings to the surface all the deaths and losses she’s had to face in her life.

The book is great vampire pulp fiction fun.  It gives you all the guilty pleasure of a Laurell K Hamilton novel, only with no guilt because it’s actually well-written.  The voice is what makes it so excellent – Lissa is a lovely blend of young hipster with nerdy librarian. And there’s a nice character arc for both her and Gary.

For the moment, it may be hard to get a hold of a copy if you’re not in Australia, but it’s worth the effort!

UPDATE:  You can order The Opposite of Life online here.

Is it wrong if…

… I find most hard sci fi really boring?  I’ve been working my way through Mission of Gravity for the past couple of weeks and it is soooo slow. I know it’s a classic and all, and the whole world-with-700-times-our gravity thing is interesting, but the book is basically one long as-you-know-Bob.  And the total lack of characterization doesn’t help either.  Am I going to get my geek privileges revoked for this?  Is this like the equivalent of being a gay man who lacks the ability to properly coordinate colors?

Still badly jet-lagged.  My body seems to be having an argument with itself about what time it ought to be.

Best American Short Stories

Sorry for the semi-longer-than-usual radio silence here. Been travelling, first for work and then for fun. I’m in Melbourne with Hassan now, finishing up our little vacay. It’s been great catching up with some of my old Clarion-mates in Brisbane and Melbourne. If only I could see everyone, though doing the Sydney-Wollongong-Perth-Adelaide-etc. circuit is probably a bit beyond my means at the moment. Hopefully we’ll get to have a full-on class reunion at Worldcon in Melbourne in 2010! I am publicly committing to a return-trip then….

best-american-short-stories-2008Finished up Best American Short Stories 2008, edited by Salman Rushdie. A good read, as always with this series. About a third of the stories had some sort of speculative element, which seems about in line with the recent trend. These are the ones that seem to be lasting in my memory:

“The Year of Silence,” Kevin Brokmeier.  You know those moments at a party, when everything so happens to go quiet all at once? One of those moments happens to an entire city, and then the city decides that silence is where it’s at.  An interesting surrealist (can you tell?) story that breaks a lot of rules in unusual ways, e.g., by narrating from the POV of a city.

“Virgins,” Danielle Evans.  Two teenage girls dealing withing their sexuality.  A nicely complex story, and one of the few in the book about the lives of people of color.

 “The King of Sentences,” Jonathan Lethem.  Two unknown writers go in search of a pulp fiction writer so brilliant they’ve dubbed him the king of sentences.  An entertaining read about hero worship and the odd layers of fame.

“Child’s Play,” Alice Munro. Typical Alice Munro brilliance, this story will haunt you afterward.  

“Vampires in the Lemon Grove,” Karen Russell.  Karen Russell can even make vampires new, interesting, and literary.  What if vampires didn’t need blood at all to survive?  What if, say, lemon juice did just as well?  What does it mean when you’ve learned you’re a monster, but you don’t have to be? 

“Puppy,” George Saunders. Another haunting tale, with a brilliant voice.  Saunders really takes you into his characters heads – and often it’s quite a creepy place to be… 

Any time you have a series like this, it’s nearly impossible for it to live up to its name, but this series comes pretty close, especially in recent years with editors like Rushdie, King, and Chabon, who have been bringing in a wider range of voices.