RIP J.G. Ballard

Crap crap crap crap. J.G. Ballard is dead. What a great writer. I especially loved the short stories, especially the ones that totally rewired your brain, made you see space and time differently. Crap.

UPDATE: My Omnivoracious appreciation.

Dave Larsen’s Knives: Form and Function



Everything has a form and a function, and everything has a story of some kind. A knife is no different. It tells a story in the precision of its crafting, or the imprecision. The choice of materials, each of which came from somewhere specific, hints at setting and context: “Black lip pearl overlay,” “Madagascar Rosewood.” The function of a particular knife contributes to the plot. People suggest narrative, yes, but the things people make also suggest narrative. And a secret history. And, often, conflict.

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Random: Robyn Hitchcock, StarShipSofa, and (H)Amsterdam

Just got back from Vinyl Fever, where they were having special in-store performances and sales. I just got my advance for the nonfiction collection, and am a big believer in celebrating each book by indulging in something cool, for myself or someone who helped with the project. In this case, I was really selfish and got this cool Robyn Hitchcock boxed set called Luminous Groove, which contains three CDs with extra tracks–Fegmania!, Gotta Let This Hen Out, and Element of Light–as well as A Bad Case of History, a two-disc set, one studio one live, of rare and uncollected tracks. Good, good stuff.

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Bblurrry Mmornin Ddlights

A little rough this morning, but happy to be sitting down with this and to have gotten that. Yeah! Leena Krohn makes me smile.



Gawd, I gotta get Bookfinch off my desk so I can get back into some fiction writing…meanwhile, this site, pointed out to me by Matt Staggs, makes me laugh really hard. Sample below.

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“Fixing Hanover”/Extraordinary Engines Student Discussion at Furman

As I’ve mentioned here before, my story “Fixing Hanover” from Extraordinary Engines, edited by Nick Gevers, was picked up by three year’s bests: Rich Horton’s Science Fiction: Best of the Year (now being bundled with the fantasy volume), Jonathan Strahan’s The Year’s Best Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Infinivox’s The Year’s Top 10 Stories of SF (audiobook). Awhile back, I also posted about changes in the story from first to second drafts, as well as some first draft material.

Recently, Rima Abunasser, who teaches at Furman University, let me know that her first-year college students were studying the anthology, and in particular “Fixing Hanover.” None of the students had read any SF before their semester in her class (“Science Fiction and Reality”).

Rima and the students were kind enough to allow me reproduce their discussion points below–thanks very much to them for that. If you haven’t read the story, you’ll discover lots of spoilers and, er, it might be incomprehensible in places. I found it interesting in the larger context of readers’ first contact with SF. I also found it personally interesting, of course–you don’t usually get this much feedback in one go on a short story, let alone, in reviews, anything approaching analysis.

Student (10) touches on something I worked hard on in the story, re Rebecca. Some of the others mention the isolated vision of the village, an issue that would preclude the story being turned into a novel–i.e., the relationship of the village to the hill people, and both to the empire would have to be mapped out. Debatable whether you have room to do more than paint in some details in a short story. There’s actually significant room for further discussion here re the relative importance of characters, how you modulate a story to bring some things into the foreground and leave others in the background, as well as issues of compression through nonlinear techniques, and how when you do so there has to be simplicity in other areas to offset the stress of that. The engine that makes the story work is the central relationship between three characters, but this is not actually what the story is about, if that makes sense, which would probably be a useful starting point for discussion in the context of a writing workshop. In fact, the material below has made me think about using “Fixing Hanover” in that context. Besides, it would be in keeping with the DIY/maker part of Steampunk subculture: let’s take the pieces of this story apart, see how it works, and put it back together again. I could even call it “Breaking Hanover.”

This is a good time to buy the anthology if you haven’t already, of course.

Everyone have a great weekend. I’m bogged down in final Finch/Booklife edits until Monday.

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Cultpop TV on Predator, Shriek, Weird Tales, Pirates, Steampunk, Evil Monkey

Cult Pop has just put up the video of their interview with me and Ann. Click on episode #28. Recorded very early this year, I think. The alien baby, a Romanian spaceship, and other props make an appearance. Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely, the interviewer never asked us what that crazy stuff was, even after he saw our half of the video…er, and must remember to look at camera more.


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Shared Worlds 2009–Teens Can Apply Now

(Me, nattering on…)

Shared Worlds 2 has been finalized, and you can find the information about the camp below. I’ll be there for two weeks and Ann for one week. The plan is for Tobias Buckell to helm a creative writing track in week two, but the final distribution of tasks/teaching responsibilities depends at least in part on the final head count. Holly Black will be coming in for a couple of days. Will Hindmarch will also be there for the second week, workin’ his magic.

This is a pretty unique camp, I think, and one that the teenagers last year had a lot of fun at, while they also learned a lot. And it’s only going to get better and better.

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Dear Drunk Girl on Germ of a New Insanity

I’m so stupid I either didn’t realize or had temp-forgotten one of my friends in NYC has a blog, and right now it’s featuring something called Germ of a New Insanity.

Random: My Ride Is Here?


Um, this just pulled up across the street. Maybe they’re here for Irmalinda Pitkaginkel, the crazy shut-in or maybe they know something I don’t and they’re here for me. In any event, probably a good idea to hurry up and post this pretty random post…

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“The Situation” and Fast Ships Finalists for the Shirley Jackson Award


I’m thrilled that “The Situation” is a finalist for a Shirley Jackson Award. You can read the novelette on GeekDad/Wired and you can still buy the PS Publishing book of it in the 500-copy version, I believe.

Congrats to Ann for Fast Ships, Black Sails being up in the anthology category–she did most of the reading on that one! Congrats to Conrad Williams for his story from the pirate antho also being up. Congrats, in fact, to all of the nominees. Some really cool stuff on there.

(Full cover art by Scott Eagle, without titles, for the PS Publishing edition of “The Situation”.)