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.
My recent Child of a Hidden Sea prequel, “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti,” is now available as an e-book. You can, of course, read it at Tor.com for free, but if you prefer your Kindle, Kobo or Nook, the story is up at Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, B&N, and in the iStore.
Here’s a taste:
“Had that soldier heard of you?” Parrish asked.
Few people took notice of Gale, or remembered her when they did. This was the work of a spell her parents had written when she was a child, making her forgettable, beneath notice. They’d meant for it to keep her safe. They hadn’t foreseen that it would lead to her into spying.
“I’ve fallen into a reputation here in Erinth,” Gale said. “When I moved into the mistress suite—”
“There are buildings, near the palazzo, reserved for courtiers and special pets of the Contessa. My home—”
“Castello di Putti, they call it,” Royl put in. “In Fleetspeak, Strumpet Court.”
One of the things I sheerly love about having my stories come out as Tor Originals is this spill out to the e-book world. I tend to write long stories (though I have been working on brevity, of late), and I think my usual 8,500 word length fits well with the e-book format. At a buck, they’re rather a good deal. And the folks at the Tor site showcase their authors’ work so beautifully, with superb covers. It’s heady to have an attractive shelf of my fiction readily available to anyone who wants it.
I am currently more than halfway through Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification, by Simon A. Cole. The title’s pretty self-explanatory, I think.
This is research for the trilogy set on Stormwrack, the same world where “Among the Silvering Herd” takes place, and
I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that early uses of fingerprinting tended to center around colonizing nations trying to tell their individual subjects apart (they thought all those non-white folks they were dominating looked alike!) I also learned how much of the early development of this technology was less about gathering fingerprints–either directly from individuals or in the form of latent prints on crime scenes–and more about generating a reliable filing system so that you could match the things.
I’d been craving a good non-fiction read and this has definitely delivered.
Here’s a short quote…
J. Edgar Hoover would reminisce fondly about the days when “too many law-enforcement officers were men of low intelligence, some of low morals, and, indeed, of a low opinion for anyone who sought to make science his aid and his standby in the pursuit of a criminal.”
Other books, so far this year –
1. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012, edited by Dan Ariely and Tim Folger
2. Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed
3. The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje
4. The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey (I read this partly because of the discovery of Richard the III’s bones and partly because of the Jo Walton essay “How can this be so gripping?”
“About Fairies,” Pat Murphy