I am writing this sitting in the half-submerged lobby of a rotting, half-finished condominium complex surrounded by cavorting fresh water seals, two pearl-handled revolvers in my lap, a bottle of vodka in my right hand, a human body in the freezer in the kitchens behind me, and a rather large displaced rock hopper penguin staring me in the face. Upstairs, on the second floor, is the room I’ve made my headquarters. It has a bidet but no bath. The toilet seat refuses to stay up. The wallpaper has succumbed in places to a grainy black fungus, despite the moderate climate. I smell mold everywhere, and fish. (Because, you know, fish have appeared in the lobby on occasion.) Sometimes the electricity works, but mostly I hope it doesn’t because I’m convinced what with all the water everywhere I’m likely to be electrocuted, perhaps even while I sleep.

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Happiness Is…

…knowing I’m going to be able to visit the Black Dog Cafe by Lake Ella every morning this week and just write longhand in my notebook with my fish pen (form-fitting to my hand and thus not an affectation) for as many hours I want, before coming home to spend the afternoon editing the New Weird anthology.

Happiness is writing about people trying to cope with huge levitating bear creatures and intelligent sea anemones and rotting cities and swimming pools full of mushrooms and a giant grub and alcohol minnows and info beetles and love and death and everything inbetween.

Almost nothing is better than just writing for me. And getting to that place where something clicks on and you’re just a hand, writing, while the brain just watches.


Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga by Spoon (or is it Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga?), pictured above, is an echo of a ghost from an alternate universe (perhaps where they’re called Fork and the album is Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee). In that universe, Spoon’s coiled intensity, without release, relaxes a little, into a place that’s both less interesting than Gimme Fiction but also more satisfying, in some ways.

Every song on Ga x 5 has its parallel on some other album by Spoon. There’s nothing we haven’t heard before. Not really. And yet, I still like it. I don’t know that it will reward repeated (and repeated) listenings the way Gimme Fiction did, but I don’t know if I mind that, either.

There’s a depth of sound and a signature sound to Spoon that no one else is really exploring right now. (The closest to that is probably Robbers on the High Street, but the comparison is very unfair to both bands, in a sense.)

Spoon’s treading water, or branching out in a very subtle way, but I’m still more than willing to tread water with them.


Clarion Postscript

If you see this guy, Andrew Emmott, walking the streets…

Know that in addition to being the creator of danger frog, he picks up 220 lb men (namely, me) like they’re toothpicks and gives them pile-driver goodbye hugs…

All photographic evidence by January Mortimer…


San Diego–Clarion and Beyond

Here’s a slideshow of our San Diego trip, with a few highlights below. (To access the captions, just click in the lower third of the screen.)

After hiking in the mountains, we looked like this:

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Washington Post SF/F Round Up–and What’ve You Been Reading?

The Washington Post has published my SF/F round up reviews, with the paper version appearing tomorrow.

I’d say that Brasyl by McDonald, Shelter by Palwick, and Bright of the Sky by Kenyon are all books you should buy and read. All of them will appeal to both brain and heart.

I agree with Cory Doctorow, who thinks Brasyl is McDonald’s best yet. It is simply amazing, in my view.

Shelter is an ambitious, sprawling novel of the near future by Palwick that does a great job of extrapolation. Amazing characterization, too.

Bright of the Sky by Kenyon is the start of a series that, despite a frame I didn’t like as much, could well become a classic in the field.

And, even though I’m drowning in books right now, I’d like your suggestions. What’ve you been reading recently you really liked…or hated?


Talkin’ to the Lizard-Skink

It’s been a fuzzy day, with my head full of nails and cotton candy. You try to get the cotton candy out, and the nails just rattle around. You get rid of the nails, and the cotton candy fluffs up and makes you diaphanous but sickly sweet.

So I went out into the yard for awhile to talk to the Lizard-Skink, my new oracle. It’s a hot day today, with no wind and lots of humidity. The air is like eating a heat sandwich.

I think of Lizard-Skink as the reincarnation of our uber-cat Pretty Ugly, who passed away a couple of years ago. I first saw Lizard-Skink in the same place in the yard where we first saw Pretty Ugly the cat. And Pretty Ugly always loved a dust bath, and Lizard-Skink loves dust baths, too.

I put out a pan of water for him today and we had a nice conversation.

“What’s shaking in the lizard-skink world?” I asked him. Not a damn thing, Lizard-Skink told me. The dustier and hotter it is, the more I like it. Bring the drought, baby. Bring the drought.

“Are you really the reincarnation of our cat, Pretty Ugly?” I asked him. Hell if I know, Lizard-Skink said. Why do you assume I’d have that kind of self-awareness.

“Do you like beer?” No, he told me, but I can tell you do.

“What’s the best thing in the world to you?” I asked him. The moist crunch of a cricket between my jaws, he told me. “Fair enough,” I said.

That’s when he began dancing on his hind legs. And I decided it was time to go lie down for awhile.

But, he’s out there, right now, our Pretty Ugly lizard. Racing across the dusty front yard. Flicking his tongue out, sensing for food and water. Evading predators. Having a great time.

“Classic” Post: July 2003–Book Panel

Well, I’m suffering a rather vicious cold, so no posting tomorrow. Here’s another post from the past to hold you until Sat-Sun.


At the World Fantasy Convention last year, I moderated a panel on books as artifacts–the personal nature of books. I recently found the materials I prepared for that panel and thought I’d post them here. I like all of the answers from various writers, collected before the panel, but Michael Cisco’s responses are particularly stunning to me, as are Zoran Zivkovic’s rather cheeky replies.


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For Your Reading Consideration…

John Kessel in Prague, from my Amazon blog entry

For your Thursday browsing pleasure, a round-up of my recent reviews, columns, and sundries.

My Bookslut column for July focuses on catching up with a few comics titles that had slipped through the cracks, along with a new title by Eddie Campbell from First Second, one of my favorite graphic novel publishers.

I’m taking July off at SF Site, but my June column focused on the heat in Smaragdine–and George Mann of Solaris Books.

I’ve had several posts on the Amazon blog over the past two weeks. Here’s a selection of material of potential interest.

Austin Grossman on the road

John Kessel in Prague, along with his upcoming projects

An interview with David Yurkovich, creator of Death by Chocolate, the only graphic novel I know featuring a superhero made out of chocolate. Fun stuff.

Kay Kenyon on the road

Clarion group shot and water gun fight

Susan Straub’s Read to Me program

Mock Printz, from ALA

Check out the Amazon blog daily–they’re always posting new content.

Guest of Honor, Utopiales, Nantes, France

In late October, early November, Ann and I will be in Nantes as guests of the Utopiales festival. I don’t have a full schedule yet, but will post it when I do. Other guests include John Scalzi.

More info in this recent post.