The Mona Lisa Halo Motion Comic: Parts 4 and 5

The Halo motion comic based on the collaborative novella “The Mona Lisa,” cowritten by moi and Tessa Kum, continues to be posted on the internet—parts 4 and 5 above, with the first three available if you click through to YouTube.

…and below the cover of a new Halo-related book to be published by Cheeky Frawg…er, probably not…cover by Jeremy Zerfoss…

WUVFlood_v01_052511 copy

Steampunk Bible Tour: Philly, Library of Congress, Richmond

bible event
(NYC B&N Event, photo by novelist Myke Cole)

We had a great time at the event in NYC at B&N last night. A packed house, and great contributions from Jaymee Goh, Liz Gorinsky, Dexter Palmer, Ekaterina Sedia, Aleks Sennwald, Ay-leen the Peacemaker. S.J. Chambers, my coauthor, is now a seasoned book tour veteran and an excellent co-host for the event. The audience even did a shout-out for our poor left-behind Steampunk Bible blogger Mecha Underwood.

jeff-vandermeer-at-the-steampunk-bible-presentatio
(Photo by writer Laszlo Xalieri)

We met a lot of people and we had a great time hanging out at the Dead Poet pub nearby afterwards—highly recommend that place. BUT, the tour continues!

Philadelphia, PA – May 28, Between Books (Delaware, 25 min from downtown Philly), 6:30pm. Now S.J. Chambers is headed on to Between Books, which is just outside of Philly, for an event featuring her, live music from the Absinthe Drinkers, Ekaterina Sedia, and more. I can’t recommend Between Books highly enough—it’s just one of the best SF/F bookstores I’ve ever been privileged enough to explore. So go for the Steampunk Bible presentation, but make sure you get there early enough to browse, because you’re going to want to buy books. Greg Schauer, the owner, is an awesome guy, too, and extremely knowledgeable. If you’re anywhere in the area, you really don’t want to miss this one.

Washington, D.C. — May 31, Library of Congress, 12 pm. S.J. Chambers will be giving a lecture entitled “Edgar Allan Poe: SF’s Founding Father,” followed by Q&A and signing. This is a wonderful and prestigious lecture series, and definitely worth attending.

Richmond, VA – June 2 (Thurs), Fountain Bookstore, 6:30pm.. Signing and discussion with coauthor S.J. Chambers. Kelly Justice and her Fountain Bookstore…well, there’s a potent combination. The bookstore’s awesome and so is Kelly, along with her crew of ultra-experienced, friendly staff. Another event you don’t want to miss. It’s in downtown Richmond, so there’s plenty to do nearby after the event, too. You’ll love this bookstore if you haven’t been before, and Kelly is one of those dynamic, always-on-the-ball booksellers who are keeping people energized and enthusiastic about books.

23rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards: A Report by Lawrence Schimel

Katherine V Forrest

While Ann and I were at the Steampunk Bible B&N event last night, Lawrence Schimel was at the Lambda Award, also held here in NYC. He was kind enough to file the report below. For those unfamiliar with Schimel, he has twice won a Lammy, for his books PoMoSEXUALS: CHALLENGING ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT GENDER AND SEXUALITY (with Carol Queen; Cleis) and FIRST PERSON QUEER (with Richard Labonté; Arsenal Pulp), and has also been a finalist on 14 other occasions.

23rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards report
by Lawrence Schimel

The “Lammies” have, in the past, tended to drag on. I was quite amused when one winner, David Lennon, quipped in his acceptance speech: “The nice thing about self publishing is that you don’t have to thank a lot of people.”

But thanks to tight organization by Executive Director Tony Valenzuela and lots of coaching of the presenters beforehand, the Awards ceremony, hosted by comedienne Lea DeLaria, moved at a good clip, especially considering they had to present awards in 24 categories, plus the two pioneer awards, a special recognition award to the University of Wisconsin Press, and a slideshow remembering queer writers who’ve passed away in 2010-2011 (where, incidentally, it would’ve been nice to have seen Joanna Russ represented).

But genre work was not overlooked throughout the evening. It was nice to see a queer speculative fiction novel win in an “open” category: Amber Dawn’s SUB ROSA (Arsenal Pulp), which won the Betty Burzon Debut Fiction Award, a special prize which also comes with a $1000 check. Curiously, this title wasn’t also a finalist in the SF category, which was presented by SF grand master Samuel R. Delany.

It was also nice to see comics accepted in different categories, competing with other prose books–and even winning, as is the case of TELENY AND CAMILLE by Jon Macy (Northwest Press), which won for Gay Erotica.

This year was the first in which there were enough titles submitted to create separate Transgender Fiction and Nonfiction categories.

Playwright Edward Albee and mystery/thriller writer Val McDermid were both honored with Pioneer Awards.

Susan Stinson and Alex Sanchez were awarded the Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists Award. Each received $5000, supported by a gift from Jim Duggins.

Susan Stinson

The presenters of the awards (a mix of authors, actresses, and even Miss New York 2010) included: Emma Donoghue, Jack Halberstam, Katherine V. Forrest, Kevin Sessums, and Stefanie Powers, among others.

The winners of the 23rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards:

Lesbian Fiction: INFERNO (A POET’S NOVEL) by Eileen Myles (OR Books)

Gay Fiction: UNION ATLANTIC by Adam Haslett (Doubleday)

Lesbian Debut Fiction: SUB ROSA by Amber Dawn (Arsenal Pulp)

Gay Debut Fiction: BOB THE BOOK by David Pratt (Chelsea Station Editions)

Lesbian Poetry: THE NIGHTS ALSO by Anna Swanson (Tightrope)

Gay Poetry: PLEASURE by Brian Teare (Ahsahta Press)

Lesbian Mystery: FEVER OF THE BONE by Val McDermid (HarperCollins)

Gay Mystery: ECHOES by David Lennon (Blue Spike Publishing)

LGBT SF: DIANA COMET by Sandra McDonald (Lethe)

Lesbian Romance: RIVER WALKER by Cate Culpepper (Bold Strokes)

Gay Romance: NORMAL MIGUEL by Erik Orrantia (Cheyenne Publishing)

LGBT Children’s/Young Adult: WILDTHORN by Jane Eagland (Houghton Mifflin)

LGBT Drama: OEDIPUS AT PALM SPRINGS: A FIVE LESBIAN BROTHERS PLAY by Maureen Angelos, Dominique Dibbell, Pega Healey, and Lisa Kron (Samuel French)

LGBT Anthologies: GENDER OUTLAWS: THE NEXT GENERATION by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman (Seal)

LGBT Nonfiction: KING KONG THEORY by Virginie Despentes (The Feminist Press)

LGBT Studies: (tie) ANOTHER COUNTRY: QUEER ANTI-URBANISM by Scott Herring (NYU Press) and ASSUMING A BODY: TRANSGENDER AND RHETORICS OF MATERIALITY by Gayle Salamon (Columbia University Press)

Bisexual Nonfiction: BORDER SEXUALITIES, BORDER FAMILIES IN SCHOOLS by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli (Rowan &Littlefield)

Bisexual Fiction: THE LUNATIC, THE LOVER, AND THE POET by Myrlin A. Hermes (HarperPerennial)

Lesbian Erotica: SOMETIMES SHE LETS ME: BEST BUTCH/FEMME EROTICA, edited by Tristan Taormino (Cleis)

Gay Erotica: TELENY AND CAMILLY by Jon Macy (Northwest Press)
Lesbian Memoir/Biography: (tie) HAMMER! MAKING MOVIES OUT OF SEX AND LIFE by Barbara Hammer (The Feminist Press) and WISHBONE: A MEMOIR IN FRACURES by Julie Marie Wade (Colgate University Press)

Gay Memoir/Biography: SECRET HISTORIAN: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SAMUEL STEWARD, PROFESSOR, TATTOO ARTIST AND SEXUAL RENEGADE by Justin Spring (FSG)

***

Schimel lives in Spain, where he writes in both Spanish and English. His most recent book, ¡VAMOS A VER A PAPÁ! (Ekaré) has been translated by Elisa Amado and is forthcoming this fall from Groundwood, as LET’S GO SEE PAPÁ! He can be found on facebook or or on twitter as @lawrenceschimel

Steampunk Bible Spectacular: B&N Event in NYC Thursday with Contributors and Eels!


(A preview of the means of my electrocution by the League of S.T.E.A.M. I will never, ever be the same…)

My coauthor S.J. Chambers and I will be in New York City Thursday night for a Steampunk Bible Extravaganza at the west side Barnes & Noble (at 82nd & Broadway; 2289 Broadway), we’ll hopefully be debuting the Greg Bossert-produced video of my terrible and hurtful electrocution by the electric baby eels raised from birth to be vicious killers by The League of S.T.E.A.M. We’ll also be shooting some DIY video footage for the Steampunk Bible website, so extra points for Steampunk fashion. Not only that, we have it on good authority that some Very Important People may be filming as well.

The audience is going to be chockful of authors, too, like Jonathan Wood and Myke Cole, to name just the tip of the iceberg, and we’ll be rewarding everyone’s attendance by suggesting they join us at the Dead Poet bar afterwards, and possibly the Amsterdam Ale House to follow the Dead Poet.

And look at this wealth of special guests, all of them contributors to the Steampunk Bible! All of them showing off sneak previews of current and future projects.

—Ay-leen the Peacemaker, Beyond Victoriana founder
—G.D. Falksen, writer and vid-game developer
—Liz Gorinsky, editor at Tor
—Ekaterina Sedia, author of The Alchemy of Stone (tentative)
—Evelyn Kriete (editor, writer, music label founder, provocateur)
—Dexter Palmer, author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion
—Jaymee Goh, writer and founder of Silver Goggles
—Aleks Sennwald, artist

Wow. What a line-up! And yes, folks, that’s right, we’ll be bringing the pretty-pretty of a powerpoint. In addition to the video and guest previews, we’ll showcase The Steampunk Bible and give an exclusive (and somewhat hilarious) look at the forthcoming The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities.

How can you pass that up? I have no idea. There are some events that function like magnets and can be dangerous to resist—so don’t deny the heavy metals in your steampunk bods and come out Thursday at 7pm for the wondrous, the bling-y, the multi-media-ish. Should be lots and lots of fun.

Here’s the facebook events page.

Here’s a great review of the Steampunk Bible in the Financial Times.

To buy now while there’s still money, just click on the image…

SF/Fantasy Translation Award Finalists

Go check out the finalist list for the first annual SF/Fantasy Translation Awards. It’s a great list, and I’m rather thrilled that the finalists include so many Finnish writers, as well as Michal Ajvaz’s The Golden Age, my favorite novel, period, from 2010, on the list. As might be expected, The Golden Age got absolutely no traction for the Hugos, Nebulas, or anything else in genre, but I hold out hope for the World Fantasy Award. it’s truly extraordinary.

Bringing the Odd: Danny Fontaine and the Horns of Fury

Danny Fontaine has signed on to do the theme song for our ODD? anthology, which will feature fiction by Amos Tutuola, Jeffrey Ford, Nalo Hopkinson, Hiromi Goto, Leena Krohn, Karin Tidbeck, and more. We’re behind on publication—projected now for August–but here’s the TOC, which now also features the Krohn (an original story, translated by Juha Tupasela and Anna Volmari).

Oddly enough, Danny asked if I’d write the lyrics, which I’ve posted under the cut–subject to massive change at Danny’s discretion. I thought it’d be fun to have a song structure that kind of dissolves and reforms, with a variation on call-and-response built-in.

plunder

Danny last contributed to our projects with “Plunder,” the theme song for our pirate anthology Fast Ships, Black Sails. It’s an awesome song, and it’s now the title song of a new EP from Fontaine and the Horns of Fury. “Plunder” isn’t online, except in sample form, but you can watch the trailer for the pirate antho, which features part of it.

ODD_01_v06_e03072011

[Read more…]

I Wish Iain (M.) Banks Would Stop Dabbling in Mainstream Realism

Besides The Wasp Factory, I’ve never been a fan of Iain Banks’s non-SF novels. They often strike me as dull and unoriginal—they don’t really ring true, or have the same verve and energy as his Culture SF novels. I really wish he’d stop trying to show the literary crowd how it’s done. The howls of derisive laughter from that quarter might be politely private, and even motivated by a bit of tribalism, but still…

Have I got your attention yet?

Mostly, I’m just reversing some of the hypotheticals set out in Banks’ recent article in The Guardian about how “literary” writers are slumming it in SF without having done the proper reading of science fiction (so as to avoid hackneyed ideas). Not only are they slumming it, they’re apparently cynically writing novels just to cash in a paycheck—ride that popular SF/F wave.

…but…it takes a lot of time and effort to write a novel. The paychecks aren’t always necessarily that big. I kind of hope most writers are writing out of affection toward what they’re writing about, even as, of course, everyone wants to make a decent wage while doing so.

I might also point out that (1) the originality of ideas rarely seems to be the reason for most SF novels to exist—prudent recycling can yield good results; (2) non-SF audiences may not particularly care about the originality of the idea as opposed to the execution (including characterization), and (3) a lot of “SF” writers I’ve read recently don’t seem to have read much science fiction, either.

On the other hand, in some ways Banks’ fiction might prove his point. I don’t really hate his various incursions into “mainstream literary” subjects, but I do prefer the author’s science fiction more, and I know I like the SF because Banks does have a great knowledge of the field. I’m fairly sure his space opera is much wiser and richer because of that knowledge.

But that’s a different thing to say. For me to say this about a particular writer working in a particular specialized subgenre doesn’t mean I’m engaging in the same kinds of gross generalities as Banks in his article—at least I hope not. Mea culpa, if so.

(These generalizations remind me in a way of some reactions to Mary Doria Russell’s science fiction novel, The Sparrow. “She isn’t one of us, she hasn’t been properly consecrated,” and then those people had to eat crow because it turned out Analog’s Stanley Schmidt had helped her edit it and she had a very good working knowledge of the field.)

While space opera might be a leap if you’re known for frothy, funny relationship stories set in Manhattan, I’d also argue that there are scenarios in SF that really don’t require that much novel reading research. For me, at least, I can count the interesting post-apocalyptic novels I’ve read on one hand, so me trying to determine McCarthy’s reading habits seems somewhat irrelevant to whether The Road was going to be any good or not. Just for example. Just for me.

Anyway, I absolutely love many of Banks’ novels, I’ve learned a lot from his fiction, and admire him greatly for his book on whisky, so I contemplated not even writing this post. As it is, there’s no heat in these words—mostly just bemusement that it seems like over the past 20 years (the period of my involvement in the field) nothing has really changed in how we talk about genres, define our fellow writers, or, apparently, construct scenarios about other people’s motivations and intent in our heads.

Reviews and Features: Mieville’s Embassytown, Stacey Levine, John Scalzi, and More

A few links to features, interviews, and reviews of mine posted recently.

—A short review of Pascal Girard’s study in high school reunion embarrassment, Reunion. This is a graphic novel in the cringe-inducing mode of Ricky Gervais.

—A fun interview with John Scalzi about his new novel Fuzzy Nation that allows me to ask the immortal question “Why Fuzzy, why now?”

—An interview with one of my favorite short story writers Stacey Levine about her new collection The Girl With Brown Fur. Including Moonbounce.

—A review of China Mieville’s Embassytown is now up on the B&N Review site and also, oddly enough, the Christian Science Monitor. I thought a lot of it was brilliant, but a third of it was just moving people around the board in a not-well-thought-out way. I don’t like to talk in reviews about how an alternate version of a novel might have played out, but (1) keeping the past-present structure throughout, (2) not killing off a main human and a main alien character and replacing them with pale substitutes we don’t care about, and (3) making the viewpoint narrator’s function more central to the action of the last third would have fixed it all. That said, it’s got more cool ideas on one page than most SF novels have in 300, it’s incredibly imaginative, and the writing is top-notch. I’d rather have read this novel despite the flaws than any number of others.

The Steampunk Bible Comes to Cambridge, MA, with Jake von Slatt, Jess Nevins, Aleks Sennwald, and Mike Libby

This coming Monday anyone in the Boston area should really check out this exciting event at Porter Square Books:

Cambridge, MA – May 23 (Mon), Porter Square Books, 7pm – Coauthor S.J. Chambers with contributors Jake von Slatt, Mike Libby, Jess Nevins, and Aleks Sennwald for book discussion, demonstration of mechanical beetles, and more.

These are all fabulous creators and it should be a really wonderful evening, led by ring-leader S.J. Chambers.

Hal Duncan’s “A to Z of the Fantastical City”

This is a project I was lucky enough to see in rough form when visiting my friend Eric Schaller, who is doing the artwork for it: Hal Duncan’s A to Z of the Fantastical City. I’m proud to say Ambergris is in the book, and it’s being published by none other than the near-iconic Small Beer Press. Take a look at the table of contents. Here’s the frontispiece:

I think this qualifies as an immediate BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY.