First, a question, about your favorite movie set in present-day London. What is it?
My incredible reward for virtue Sunday morning–virtue being that I hauled my ass out the door at nine to go have what turned out to be an exceptionally, yea unfairly robust and demanding hot yoga session–was that when I opened my locker and tried to put my glasses back on, they snapped in my hand.
(Actually, my true reward for virtue is that the incomparable Andrew at 312 Optical assured me that they were still under warranty, and that he would urge the folks who make them to send out the part post-haste so he could fix them. And he had checked all this before I got there, because he follows me on social media.)
I do have back-up glasses, but the lenses are very different. I’m looking at a week or more of underperforming and feeling eyestrainy. And, possibly, being offline a lot. Which is the whole reason I’m telling you this.)
Other nice things that happened this weekend included this fantastic review of A Daughter of No Nation in The Toronto Star, by Marissa Stapely:
The appeal of this series lies in Dellamonica’s thoughtful, penetrating writing … and the effortless way Dellamonica weaves sexually diverse characters into the narrative without making it feel like they’re fulfilling a quota. The overarching sense of social responsibility is refreshing, too. Sophie questions her new world as all young people should: she does not simply let life happen to her, but instead seeks to understand and improve her surroundings.
And Kelly’s posting the TOC for the Gardner Dozois anthology The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection, which will include her debut story, “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill.”
Blessings, so many blessings. There were fish tacos, and hugs from our favorite baker, some funny posts from an artist friend who’s trying to clean out one of her piles of multimedia supplies, the first few chapters of The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher, chocolate olive-oil cake from Forno Cultura, roasted parsnips and a rewatch of Thor: The Dark World.
Most of all, there was talk of London, London, OMG, London, where Kelly and I will be going, for the first time, in a mere 95 days. Part of the reason for rewatching The Dark World (not that one needs a reason) is that it’s one of the few movies we own that’s set in London now. As opposed to London in the 1900s, 1800s, 1700s, Doctorwhohundreds, etc. The only other one may be Love Actually. Hence my initial question. Because I’m not entirely sure I’m up to rewatching Luther.
Conspiracy Keanu is into peace and love.
The weekend past was full of lovely tweets and lots of people appreciating each other back and forth on social media, and I’d like to think it lifted a few spirits. I found it interesting to learn so many new things about why my various peers and acquaintances and colleagues and friends are, quite simply, great human beings. A lot of awesome got lauded.
Author Rebecca Simkin has written a marvelous round-up of things and people she loves within the SFF community, including Julie Czerneda and ChiZine Pubications. And now ChiZine is getting in on the joy by offering a free ebook to anyone who spreads the love. Here’s what they say:
ChiZine will send a free ebook of your choice to anyone else who spreads the love and talks about stuff in the SF, F & H worlds that they think rocks. Post on your blog and post on our FB page. ‘Cause our slogan is “EMBRACE the odd.” We’re all about love & hugs, yo. And sometimes Aztec sacrifice and ripping hearts out of chests and monsters under the bed and giant spider gods and messed up religious cops and robot god battles and epic space opera with mutants and fish-kitten mutants in boxes…but mostly love and hugs.
(I know not everyone’s on Facebook. Do take it up with ChiZine. They’re lovely folks and I’m betting something can be worked out.)
In the meantime, look at what they’re saying: write a blog post about something fantastic in the SF community, something that warms your heart, steels your spirit, lifts your soul… and there’s a free book in it for you! Money can’t buy you love, but for the moment, love can buy you fiction. How cool is that?
I am excited to announce that I am one of a number of local SF authors who will be appearing this weekend in the Hydra’s Hearth Reading Series, at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, 300 Jarvis Street. I’m closing out the series on Sunday, at 1:00 p.m.
These readings are long–an hour long, in fact. This means that for the first time in ages, you can hear me read a whole story instead of just a tantalizing beginning. The piece I’ve chosen is called “The Boy Who Would Not Be Enchanted.” It’s set on Stormwrack, the same world as Child of a Hidden Sea and “Among the Silvering Herd”; like the latter, it features Gale Feliachild, Garland Parrish of the sailing vessel Nightjar, along with the ship’s starry-eyed first mate, Tonio from Erinth. (Tonio’s first appearance is in “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti”“)
Though this reading series is tied into SFContario 5 and happening under its umbrella, by the grace of the Toronto Arts Council all readings are free and open to the public. So come, hear us! Here’s the whole schedule.
Fri 7 PM David Nickle
Fri 8 PM Douglas Smith
Fri 9 PM Derwin Mak
Sat 11 AM Madeline Ashby
Sat 12 PM Karl Schroeder
Sat 2 PM Hugh Spencer
Sat 3 PM Eric Choi
Sat 4 PM Robert J. Sawyer
Sat 5 PM Peter Watts
Sun 11 AM Michelle Sagara West
Sun 12 PM Lesley Livingstone
Sun 1 PM Me!
And if you’re wondering about my convention schedule and my Toronto Book Fair events, I’ll be posting those soon too.
Over on Facebook, several people tagged me in the “list ten books that have stayed with you” meme. It has taken me awhile to get to it, in part because the moment I started, I realized I needed a list for childhood faves and a second one for books that had an impact since I’ve been an adult. Here’s the latter list, in no especial order:
Lincoln’s Dreams, by Connie Willis. When we were first married, Kelly and I took turns reading each other novels that were important to us. She got to the crisis in this book one evening, shortly before I had to head off to work at an all-night answering service. I phoned her as soon as things got slow and begged her to finish it over the phone. It took her until 1:00 in the morning. I started rereading it the next day.
How Few Remain, by Harry Turtledove. This was my first real introduction to long-form alternate history, and the first scene whereby a not-assassinated Abraham Lincoln is talking to trade unionists about their rights blew my brain right out of its skull. (I keep tchotchkes and TTC tokens there now.)
Mystery, by Peter Straub. This could just about go on the childhood list. It’s a book I’ve returned to, every couple years, since I was in my teen.
I have a love-hate relationship with Straub’s work, and with the Blue Rose novels particularly. This is the one I love beyond reason: it’s perfect, in terms of its writing and the story it tells, and the fact that he ret-conned the story later causes me actual physical pain.
Zodiac, by Neal Stephenson. Early Stephenson often makes me happier than later Stephenson, though I have mad love for Snow Crash, too. This one, with its poisoned lobsters and anti-pollution activists, goes straight to my enviro-geek heart.
The Shape of Snakes, by Minette Walters, absolutely fascinates me. I reread it just about yearly. The ending gets me every time.
In the Woods, by Tana French. I’ve gone on at length about this one, and its gorgeous prose and unreliable narrator, before.
The Blue Place, by Nicola Griffith. And its sequels. Lesbian noir, with a point of view so convincing it makes you feel as though someone’s reached inside your brain and rewired you.
The Rift, by Walter Jon Williams, a man who has written so many brilliant novels. And yet this is the one I love: a retelling of Huck Finn as a modern U.S. disaster novel. Heart, heart, heart.
The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde. An alternate world where people care about literature the way people here care about football. With time travel to boot. Oh Emm Effin’ Gee!
The Closer, by Donn Cortez. Another book whose final line just kills. This was written prior to Darkly Dreaming Dexter, but the concept is similar. Is it darker? Less dark? You decide.
I will not tag others–I’m coming late to this meme and figure everyone who wants to play has done so–but I will note for anyone who’s interested that I plan to post the childhood books list in the not too distant, so even if you did the above exercise, you can jump on that wagon too.
Here’s Moxy Fruvous to play us out:
Tor.com has released the cover for a story I sold Ellen Datlow not long ago, “The Color of Paradox.” The image is by Jeffrey Alan Love and it’s very creepy and appropriate. I feel as though I could fall into it, staring for endless hours… or possibly just until the kittens do something irresistible. (Attention spans are lamentably short at Dua Central right now.)
The elongation of the figure and its placement in the upper left corner draw the eye first, delaying the moment when you track down to the city and see that Bad Things are happening. The brushwork is delightfully scratchy, and naturally I headed right off to Love’s blog to see what the rest of his work looked like. He’s got an image for Tolkien’s Beowulf that is sheerly amazing, and I liked his take on Excalibur, “The Sword in the City” very much.
“The Color of Paradox” is a first attempt to write something I have been trying to wrap my head around for years: a series or novel or some damned thing set in a universe where there’s time travel, but it only moves backward. All of the missions are one-way missions. You can receive instructions and resources from the future, but your only option for responding is to essentially leave time capsules where nobody else will find them.
It is also one of those stories that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I dropped everything and wrote it in a bit of a mad haze. It’s very different from Stormwrack and the impulse was probably driven by a desire to write in a different key.
Another thing about the story that delights me is having gotten to work with Ellen Datlow again, because she is a brilliant and generous editor and it had been too long since I had anything to send her.
It will be live on the Tor site and readable, for free, on June 25th, the same day Child of a Hidden Sea hits bookstores.