Monday, December 11, 2017

Apocalypse Nyx by Kameron Hurley

ApocalypseNyxIf you've been checking in on this blog, even irregularly, you've observed that I haven't posted many updates, particularly as they relate to my editing work. It's not that I haven't been busy, but rather the majority of my projects recently have involved working directly with authors on their manuscripts. As these are not-as-yet sold mss., I'm not really able to write about them.

What I can write about is my latest project: Back in the day, between 2010 and 2012, I had the opportunity to work on three very unique novels -- God's War (a 2012 Nebula Award nominee for best novel), Infidel, and Rapture: the Bel Dame Apocrypha Trilogy, by new author Kameron Hurley. The three books were published by the original Night Shade Books (NSB) -- one of the best (though far from the brightest) indie publishers at the time. NSB was known, and recognized, for publishing new authors, who indeed were the best and the brightest: in addition to Ms. Hurley, other authors included Paolo Bacigalupi, Laird Barron, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Courtney Schafer, and Catherynne M. Valente, just to name five that immediately come to mind.

In 2014, Kameron Hurley sold her trilogy to British publisher DelReyUK. As part of the promotion for the release of these books, she wrote a new, original Nyx story (Nyxnissa so Dasheem, aka Nyx, is the protagonist in all three volumes), which DelReyUK published exclusively on their website. The story, "The Body Project," was my first opportunity to work with Kameron post-NSB. I wrote about the story in a blog post dated January 22, 2014. I don't know how long DelReyUK allowed the story to remain online (the link is no longer valid), but if you are a fan of Kameron's writing and haven't read this bold, new story, then you'll have another chance to snag it in the new year.

Some have called these stories "bugpunk" -- bugs are utilized in all types of machinery, and magic works through the use of bugs. Regardless of what words are used to describe these stories, Nyx is one female badass who puts mission first above all (and everyone) else.

"The Body Project" is one of five stories that will be included in Apocalypse Nyx, Kameron Hurley's story collection, forthcoming from Tachyon Publications in July 2018. The other four stories: "The Heart Is Eaten Last," "Soulbound," "Crossroads at Jannah," and "Paint It Red" were originally published online on Ms. Hurley's Patreon.

If you've read the trilogy, then you are familiar with the members of Nyx's team: Rhys the magician (sometimes of questionable skills), Taite the com tech, and Anneke (Anneke likes guns, lots of guns) -- and they're present in all of these stories as well. You'll also meet the newest member of the team: Khos, a shape shifter.

I've used a couple blah adjectives like "unique" and "bold" to describe these stories because the stories are so different that I just don't have the words to describe them! Here is Tachyon's promotional copy for Apocalypse Nyx:
Move over Mad Max—here comes Nyx.

Ex-government assassin turned bounty-hunter Nyx is good at solving other people's problems. Her favorite problem-solving solution is punching people in the face. Then maybe chopping off some heads. Hey—it's a living.

Her disreputable reputation has been well earned. To Nyx's mind, it's also justified. After all, she's trying to navigate an apocalyptic world full of giant bugs, contaminated deserts, scheming magicians, and a centuries-long war that's consuming her future. Managing her ragtag squad of misfits has required a lot of morally-gray choices.

Every new job is another day alive. Every new mission is another step toward changing a hellish future—but only if she can survive.

This collection will be the first time all five stories are available in print: nearly 75,000 words of "unique," "bold," "bugpunk," "badass" fiction.

Apocalypse Nyx will be published in July 2018 and is now available for preorder direct from Tachyon Publications, or Amazon, or your preferred bookseller.




Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Jared Leto's "A Day in the Life of America"



Thirty Seconds To Mars - "Walk On Water" Official Music Video

Virtually everything you are about to see happened on a single day in the United States of America, July 4th, 2017....


[Update 11/12/2017]: Read the complete text on how this video was made here.



Thursday, October 12, 2017

[ENDED] Alien Contact Ebook $1.99

Alien Contact ebookThe ebook edition of my Alien Contact anthology is currently on sale for $1.99. I've verified the price on both Barnes and Noble and Amazon, and iBooks should also have the price set at $1.99. (I'm not an Apple kind of guy so I can't verify.) I'm also hoping that if you purchase your ebooks from other than these sources, the price will be the same as well.

How long this price will last, I have no idea. I'm just the book's editor. In fact, I didn't even know the price had dropped to $1.99 until I received a web mention on the book's title, via email, earlier today.

So, if you read ebooks and you've been on the fence about this anthology, now is the time to buy, as this is probably the cheapest ebook price you'll find (that's not a pirated copy!) for these 25 stories and nearly 170,000 words of hand-picked fiction.

Here's the complete table of contents:
Marty Halpern -- "Introduction: Beginnings..."
Paul McAuley -- "The Thought War"
Neil Gaiman -- "How to Talk to Girls at Parties"
Karen Joy Fowler -- "Face Value"
Harry Turtledove -- "The Road Not Taken"
George Alec Effinger -- "The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything"
Pat Murphy -- "Recycling Strategies for the Inner City"
Mike Resnick -- "The 43 Antarean Dynasties"
Orson Scott Card -- "The Gold Bug"
Bruce McAllister -- "Kin"
Ernest Hogan -- "Guerrilla Mural of a Siren’s Song"
Pat Cadigan -- "Angel"
Ursula K. Le Guin -- "The First Contact with the Gorgonids"
Adam-Troy Castro -- "Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl’s"
Michael Swanwick -- "A Midwinter’s Tale"
Mark W. Tiedemann -- "Texture of Other Ways"
Cory Doctorow -- "To Go Boldly"
Elizabeth Moon -- "If Nudity Offends You"
Nancy Kress -- "Laws of Survival"
Jack Skillingstead -- "What You Are About to See"
Robert Silverberg -- "Amanda and the Alien"
Jeffrey Ford -- "Exo-Skeleton Town"
Molly Gloss -- "Lambing Season"
Bruce Sterling -- "Swarm"
Charles Stross -- "MAXO Signals"
Stephen Baxter -- "Last Contact"

Twenty-six weeks before the book was published, back in April 2011, I began a blogging project that entailed writing about each of the stories, at the rate of one story per week, until the book was published. I made my target, too. During those weekly blog posts, I talked about the original publication of the story, my relationship (if any) with the author, how I came to choose the story, and I typically included some excerpts from the story itself. Except, that is, for those stories that I published in their entirety.

Now, nearly six years later, you can still follow -- and read -- those weekly blog posts on Alien Contact by beginning at the "Beginnings..."

Or, you could simply click on any of the links above in the table of contents.

Enjoy, while the price lasts!


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Wisdom of Dave Grohl

"So I just feel like there's a bit more of a relaxed confidence that comes with age. I mean, I never thought that I'd be doing this past 30 years old. And that was a long fucking time ago! But when I walk backstage now and see the fresh faces of all the new bands, and I'm the guy with fucking grey hair in my beard, I feel kinda proud. Proud that we're [Foo Fighters] still here. And I also don’t think that we could have made an album like Concrete and Gold without a little bit of grey hair thrown in there, you know what I mean? Because each album is like a rung on a ladder. And you just keep climbing."

~ Dave Grohl, Guitar World, 09/29/2017

Read the full interview with the Foo Fighters in Guitar World online.


Monday, September 25, 2017

On Protesting....


"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible
will make violent revolution inevitable."

~ John F. Kennedy

Monday, August 21, 2017

My Precioussss....



[Courtesy of the "In Vinyl We Trust" Facebook group.]


Sunday, August 20, 2017

We Could Be Heroes, Just For One Day....




The Bridge School Benefit Concert, October 1996.
Video courtesy of Shakey Pictures on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Book Received: The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross

Just the other day I received in the mail a complimentary copy of Charles Stross's The Delirium Brief from UK publisher Orbit. That's the Orbit cover pictured to the left.

The Delirium Brief is volume 8 in the Laundry Files -- and I have had the extreme pleasure (actually, an honor) of working on all eight volumes. The book will be published this month in both the U.K. and in the U.S. (Tor.com; cover pictured below). I sometimes find it difficult to believe that I began work on the first Laundry Files book in late 2001, and now, eight volumes later, I'm halfway through the year 2017....

If you are unfamiliar with the Laundry Files series -- or you haven't read all seven previous volumes -- and you'd like to jump right in on this new volume, then you'll need to do a bit of catch-up reading first. Begin by reading my blog post of January 9, 2017, in which I write about my work on The Delirium Brief, and provide some background on the volume, a few mini (very mini) spoilers (necessary), and let you know what you will need to read specifically to catch up.

But back to the book at hand. What was even more special than just receiving a copy of the book was the included note (following) from Joanna Kramer, Managing Editor at Orbit. I know I do a damn good job on all the books I work on, but I'll always -- always -- appreciate receiving kudos from those responsible for hiring me in the first place. So, once again, thank you, Ms. Kramer, for your kind words.


Figuring that possibly my own writing isn't sufficient to whet your appetite for a new reading experience, I try to include an appropriate book review in some of my blog posts. So, here is the May 2, 2017, Kirkus review:

The Delirium Brief
THE DELIRIUM BRIEF
From the "Laundry Files" series, volume 8
by Charles Stross

Stross' Laundry Files series, of which this is No. 8 (The Nightmare Stacks, 2016, etc.), is a weird but effective mashup of Lovecraft-ian horror, espionage thriller, science fiction, and satire, centering around a top-secret British government agency devoted to fighting "the sort of thing you expect to meet in an episode of The X-Files."

In resolving the previous book's crisis, unfortunately, the Laundry's existence becomes public knowledge, so this time out combat sorcerer Bob Howard, the Eater of Souls, must appear on TV to offer the usual blandishments. Poor Bob and his equally scary wife, the newly minted auditor, Mo O'Brien, can't live together—her demonic White Violin tried to eat him, while Bob worries that he might absentmindedly eat Mo's soul while sleepwalking. As a senior member of staff, though, Bob no longer has to worry about his expense sheets. But an evil god from another dimension is moving to take over the American government, whose about-to-be-unemployed good guys warn the Laundry that the Rev. Raymond Schiller, whose followers are deliberately parasitized and enslaved by a godlike extradimensional horror known as the Sleeper in the Pyramid, is plotting a takeover of the U.K. government. Abruptly, the Laundry's staffers learn that their agency has been privatized and they're all out of a job. To combat Schiller, Bob will need his most powerful allies, freelance witch Persephone "Seph" Hazard, otherworld elf-queen Cassie Brewer, and Senior Auditor Armstrong. Series regulars will find the usual humor here much reduced, with a narrative cluttered with infodumps on civil service bureaucracy, while the tone has turned bleaker and far darker. There's little need to point out the obvious political aspects to all this. Some readers may not relish the new direction the series is taking, while others will ponder the underlying currents and conclude that it all makes perfect sense.

Stross still spins a heck of a yarn.

The Delirium Brief will be published next week, and is available from Amazon or your bookseller of choice.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

"Today we celebrate our independence day!"

Tonight my wife and I will partake in our annual July 4 guilty pleasure: watching the 1996 movie Independence Day (ID4), while the neighborhood's illegal fireworks provide the incessant background explosions. The movie stars Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore, Will Smith as Marine Captain Steven Hiller, and Jeff Goldblum as MIT-educated computer hacker David Levinson.

Here is the speech the president gives prior to the attack on the alien ship in ID4:
Good morning. Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world, and you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind.

Mankind, that word should have new meaning for all of us today.

We can't be consumed by our petty differences any more.

We will be united in our common interest.

Perhaps it's fate that today is the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but from annihilation. We're fighting for our right to live, to exist. And should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice:
"We will not go quietly into the night!
We will not vanish without a fight!
We're going to live on, we're going to survive."
Today we celebrate our independence day!

—President Thomas J. Whitmore
    July 4th, 1996




Thursday, June 29, 2017

Bruce Sterling's Pirate Utopia: Sidewise Award Finalist

Pirate UtopiaFrom the Awards' website: "The Sidewise Awards have been presented annually since 1995 to recognize excellence in alternate historical fiction." This year, Bruce Sterling's Pirate Utopia is among the six finalists in the Best Short-Form Alternate History category.[1] The award winners will be announced on August 20, 2017.

Fortunately, Pirate Utopia is still available in hardcover, which is a must-see format for the period-specific (and quite marvelous) illustrations by John Coulthart. I've posted some of these illos in my blog posts of June 14, 2016, and July 14, 2016. Keep in mind these few illustrations are only a sampling, but hopefully enough to give you a taste of what's included in the book. (And let's not forget that the book also includes an enlightening 1,000-plus-word essay entitled "Reconstructing the Future: A Note on Design" from the illustrator himself.)

But getting back to the story itself, imagine that Harry Houdini, Howard Lovecraft, and Robert “Bob” Ervin Howard are members of a United States Secret Service delegation to the Republic of Carno in September 1920. Remember, this is an alternate history story! You can read more about Pirate Utopia's "Cast of Characters" in my June 10, 2016, blog post, in which I wrote about my initial work on this novella.

And in addition to the *starred* Publishers Weekly review I posted on October 6, 2016, here's the *starred* Kirkus review:

PIRATE UTOPIA
by Bruce Sterling; illustrated by John Coulthart
Noted sci-fi maven and futurologist Sterling (Love Is Strange, 2012, etc.) takes a side turn in the slipstream in this offbeat, sometimes-puzzling work of dieselpunk-y alternative history.

Resident in Turin, hometown of Calvino, for a dozen years, Sterling has long been experimenting with what the Italians call fantascienza, a mashup of history and speculation that's not quite science fiction but is kin to it. Take, for example, the fact that Harry Houdini once worked for the Secret Service, add to it the fact that H. P. Lovecraft once worked for Houdini, and ecco: why not posit Lovecraft as a particularly American kind of spook, "not that old-fashioned, cloak-and-dagger, European style of spy," who trundles out to Fiume to see what's what in the birthplace of Italian futurism-turned-fascism? Lovecraft is just one of the historical figures who flits across Sterling's pages, which bear suitably futuristic artwork, quite wonderful, by British illustrator John Coulthart. Among the others are Woodrow Wilson and Adolf Hitler, to say nothing of Gabriele D'Annunzio and Benito Mussolini. "Seen from upstream, most previous times seem mad," notes graphic novelist Warren Ellis in a brief introduction, but the Futurist project seems particularly nutty from this distance; personified by Lorenzo Secondari, a veteran of World War I who leads the outlaw coalition called the Strike of the Hand Committee in the "pirate utopia" of the soi disant Republic of Carnaro, its first task is to build some torpedoes and then turn them into "radio-controlled, airborne Futurist torpedoes," not the easiest thing considering the technological limitations of the time. A leader of the "Desperates," who "came from anywhere where life was hard, but honor was still bright," Secondari and The Prophet—D'Annunzio, that is—recognize no such limitations and discard anything that doesn't push toward the future. So why not a flying pontoon boat with which to sail off to Chicago, and why not a partnership with Houdini to combat world communism?

A kind of Ragtime for our time: provocative, exotic, and very entertaining.

Pirate Utopia is available direct from the publisher, Tachyon Publications, as well as Amazon.com, or your bookseller of choice.


---------------
Footnotes

[1] The Sidewise Awards website has a complete list of the 2017 award finalists.

Abraham Lincoln Quote

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Lavie Tidhar's Central Station Wins the John W. Campbell Award

New Central StationIn a May 3 blog post, I announced that Lavie Tidhar's novel Central Station was a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award (the winner to be announced in the U.K. on July 27).

And today I'm pleased to announce that Central Station has won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel of the year.[1]  The award was presented during the Campbell Conference, on June 16-18, at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The Campbell Conference is an annual weekend event focusing on "discussions about the writing, illustration, publishing, teaching, and criticism of science fiction."

I worked on Central Station back in 2015, and wrote about it in my November 30 blog post. And in my book received post on May 6, 2016, I included some thoughts from the author himself when he announced the sale of Central Station to Tachyon Publications. Between these three blog posts of mine, you can read commentary from the author Lavie Tidhar, excerpts from the book itself, and starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal.

Central Station is currently available direct from the publisher, Tachyon Publications, as well as Amazon.com, or your bookseller of choice.

---------------
Footnotes

[1] The John W. Campbell Memorial Award website has a complete list of the 2017 award finalists.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Demon Spawn: The Painters From Hell

On May 16, I posted a couple pics of our dining room "under construction," as it were. The painting was to have taken a week to ten days; unfortunately, the project took a full two weeks -- maybe because the painters had to redo so much of their work, which is surprising since they were only working in two rooms, a very small entrance way, and a hallway. Of course, some things got five coats of paint! Why five coats, you may ask? Because after the bookcases were primered (one coat), they painted them two coats the wrong color, and had to repaint them an additional two coats the correct color once my wife and I discovered the error.

I was going to do an entire blog post -- with photos -- as a way of flushing all this crap out of my system, but the wife said let it go, it's not worth it. (She, who told the company she never wants one of their painters to ever set foot in our house again -- so all the repair and touch up work we had -- and still have -- to do is on us, along with the help of our handyman, at a cost, of course.)

The dust generated from spray painting the ceiling was so intense that it set off our smoke alarms. We had dust and white spray paint everywhere! Even in rooms in which the painters never set foot! After these yahoos left, we had to scrape every window in the living room, dining room, kitchen, and entrance way with razor blades to remove the spray. My wife, bless her heart, spent three hours scrubbing the white spray off the fireplace bricks with a bloody toothbrush to get in amongst all the nooks and crannies in the brick. And let's not forget the three hours cleaning the two sets of full-window blinds from the dining room, slat by bloody slat, because the brainless painters left them lying on the floor to inherit all the dust they generated during the spray painting. I could go on, and on (and on), but the wife said, "Let it go." But, oh, it's so hard....

Here's a typical photo of the quality of the work: this is one of the pieces of hardware for the living room curtain rods. Note the care with which they masked the hardware; the care with which they removed the surrounding wallpaper; the care with which they "prepped" the wall for the paint. This, by the way, is the finished work. My wife and I had to take a box cutter and cut around the hardware, scrape away all the wallpaper and crap they didn't remove, prep the wall correctly, and then paint it. The hardware in the dining room was so completely covered with paint that we simply purchased new hardware and replaced it all.

This is one of the painted doors left in their wake: when they removed the blue tape, the tape took off much of the paint, clear down to the old color. But, hey, it's on the inside, nobody will see it -- until they open the bloody door! We fixed it as part of the cleanup and repair. Oh, and note the color of the floor in the background: this is (or was) bare concrete because the carpeting had been removed prior to the the arrival of the painters. I guess since nothing was on the floor, and it would eventually get covered with new carpeting, who cared that the concrete was now splashed with white paint!

Ah, but life is short, and tomorrow, hopefully, we'll finish up the last of the painting fixes and touch ups.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

First Ever TED Talk on the Culture of Record Digging






This TED Talk video on record digging (aka crate digging) was brought to my attention via The Vinyl Factory's news blog. The video lasts just under 16 minutes. If you have any interest in music/music appreciation (and vinyl in particular), or music preservation, or cultural anthropology, or a combination there of, you'll want to set aside some time for this TED Talk.

There's No Place Like Home

If you're wondering why I have been fairly quiet blogwise, the pics below should help to explain... This is the living room in my house, just one of the rooms undergoing what I would call a demolition derby. (Through the large window, you can see my wife hanging out in the backyard.)

Carpeting has already been removed (which has allowed the painters to drop voluminous amounts of paint on the bare concrete out of carelessness -- but fortunately it won't matter as it will be covered up eventually with new carpeting).

The two brown shelf units, leaning against each respective wall, were originally mounted in each corner of the room, to the left and right of the window. Those brown bookcases now have a white primer, and will eventually be painted "bone" to match -- and blend in with -- the walls.





The painting should be completed by the end of this week. And then the real fun begins... Clean up, clean up, everybody (my wife and I!) clean up!

We'll need to have the air ducts cleaned first: long story, but the dust from spraying the ceiling got so thick that it set off our smoke alarm and I had to have a nice chat with our alarm monitoring service. Then a complete dusting of all the furniture including having the living room drapes cleaned (you can't see them, but that's one of the lumps underneath the plastic that is covering our couches). After the ducts are cleaned and the furniture dusted, I'll rent a shop vac to clean the floors of said dust and bits of wallpaper and blue tape and other unknown debris....

Then, finally, the new carpeting and flooring can be installed -- hopefully before the onset of winter and the rainy season!

Then, we get to move all the smaller furniture and books and stuff (lots of "stuff") back into the rooms that have been stored these past two weeks (so far) in the bedrooms. After which, I plan to collapse....


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lavie Tidhar's Central Station: Arthur C. Clarke Award Finalist

New Central StationThe Arthur C. Clarke Award has announced the nominees for 2017, and I was pleased to see that Central Station by Lavie Tidhar had made the shortlist.[1]

The Clarke Award lists the publisher as PS Publishing: since the award is a British award, the book must be published in the UK -- which it was, by PS Publishing, in a 100-copy signed and numbered limited edition with a sticker price of nearly $100.00. Of course, the trade paperback edition was originally published in the US by Tachyon Publications, and is available for a mere $15.95 (and much less when on sale, like right now!) from Amazon and elsewhere.

I worked on Central Station back in 2015, and wrote about it in my November 30 blog post. At that time the cover art had yet to be finalized. The final cover art, by Sarah Anne Langton, was showcased in my Book Received blog post on May 6, 2016. And just a couple weeks ago, on April 16, the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards were presented at Innominate, the 68th Eastercon, and Ms. Langton won for Best Artwork for the Central Station cover art.

As I wrote on November 30, 2015: "Central Station delivers a complex, idiosyncratic story, with multiple story lines and multiple points of view: robo-priests, strigoi (data-vampires), robotniks (cyborg ex-Israeli soldiers), enhanced humans, revolutionaries, space colonies -- and weaving through it all, flows the Conversation, the stream of consciousness that connects everyone and everything."

Here are a couple starred reviews to pique your interest (if it's still necessary at this point):
World Fantasy Award–winner Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming) magnificently blends literary and speculative elements in this streetwise mosaic novel set under the towering titular spaceport. In a future border town formed between Israeli Tel Aviv and Arab Jaffa, cyborg ex-soldiers deliver illicit drugs for psychic vampires, and robot priests give sermons and conduct circumcisions. The Chong family struggles to save patriarch Vlad, lost in the inescapable memory stream they all share, thanks to his father's hack of the Conversation, the collective unconscious. New children, born from back-alley genetic engineering, begin to experience actual and virtual reality simultaneously. Family and faith bring them all back and sustain them. Tidhar gleefully mixes classic SF concepts with prose styles and concepts that recall the best of world literature. The byways of Central Station ring with dusty life, like the bruising, bustling Cairo streets depicted by Naguib Mahfouz. Characters wrestle with problems of identity forged under systems of oppression, much as displaced Easterners and Westerners do in the novels of Orhan Pamuk. And yet this is unmistakably SF. Readers of all persuasions will be entranced.
Publishers Weekly, starred review
. . . a fascinating future glimpsed through the lens of a tight-knit community. Verdict: Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming; The Violent Century) changes genres with every outing, but his astounding talents guarantee something new and compelling no matter the story he tells.
Library Journal, starred review

The winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award will be announced at a public award ceremony held in partnership with Foyles Bookshop, Charing Cross Road, on Thursday, July 27, 2017. Central Station is currently available direct from the publisher, Tachyon Publications, as well as Amazon.com, or your bookseller of choice.

---------------
Footnotes

[1] The Arthur C. Clarke Award website has a complete list of the 2017 award nominees.