Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Armadillo lumbers into view

The preliminary schedule for ArmadilloCon 30 has been posted on its website. Below are the links.

Schedule Grid: http://www.armadillocon.org/programming/grid.htm
Detailed Listing: http://www.armadillocon.org/programming/sched.htm

I attended the con in 2004 but otherwise have not been able to make it. This will be my first as a panelist.

I am pleased with my panels, which are as follows:

Stump the Panel Sat 11:00 AM-Noon deZavala
Antonelli, Eudaly, B. Foster, Graham*, Kitanidis, Swann
Watch our panelists make up sf/f uses for common objects supplied by the audience.

How to Sell a Story to Asimov's Sat 8:00 PM-9:00 PM deWitt
Antonelli*, McHugh, Webb, S. Williams
What is the editor really looking for? What do others -- from a variety of viewpoints -- see in her choices, and how is the magazine evolving?

No More Excuses: Making Writing a Part of Your Life Sun 11:00 AM-Noon deZavala
Antonelli, Broderick, J. Haldeman, Richerson, Sarath*, M. Wells
Having trouble fitting writing into your life? We'll have tips, tactics, and boot camp-style exhortations to get you to stop making excuses and spend more time writing.

As the asterisk indicates, I will be moderating the panel on how to sell a story to Asimov's.

My reading will be Sun 10:00 AM-10:30 AM Robertson

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wizards to Refocus Publishing Efforts

Here's a news release I picked thanks to a lead from SF Signal:

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Wizards of the Coast has announced the decision to refocus publishing efforts on the company's two core brands -- Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. As part of this strategy, the Discoveries imprint will be discontinued after the end of the 2008 catalog year.

"There is still so much more to discover in the rich fantasy worlds of Magic and D&D," said Casey Reeter, VP of Marketing for Wizards of the Coast. "Refocusing our publishing resources allows us to tell those untold stories and expand the reach of our core brands."

Beginning in 2009, any novel or series that does not support these core brands will be removed from the publishing schedule. The 2008 publishing schedule will remain unchanged.

The Mirrorstone imprint will continue to produce books for Dungeons & Dragons such as the Practical Guide and Dragon Codex series as well as the Stone of Tymora trilogy—a new Forgotten Realms series for young adult readers that kicks off this fall. Other series under the imprint that do not directly support Magic or D&D will not continue in 2009.

"We feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with such a talented group of new authors," said Liz Schuh, Director of Publishing at Wizards of the Coast. "We wish them success in their future endeavors."

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Back in February I was on a panel at ConDFW with J.M. McDermott, whose first novel, "Last Dragon", was the first trade paperback of the Discoveries imprint. He was also plumping the book at the con. He seemed really eager and pumped, I hope this isn't a severe setback for him.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Prometheus Awards Winners

The Libertarian Futurist Society has released winners of this year's Prometheus Awards in advance of the planned awards ceremony at the World Science Fiction Convention in Denver next month.

For the first time in the history of the award, there is a tie this year for Best Novel. Winners and finalists are as follows:

NOVEL (tie)
The Gladiator, Harry Turtledove (Tor)
Ha'Penny, Jo Walton (Tor)
The Execution Channel, Ken MacLeod (Tor)
Fleet of Worlds, Larry Niven & Edward M. Lerner (Tor)
Ragamuffin, Tobias S. Buckell (Tor)

HALL OF FAME
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
As Easy as A.B.C., Rudyard Kipling
The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Once and Future King, T.H. White
That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis

The Hall of Fame category includes works sometimes nominated year after year until they win; Burgess' novel was a finalist in the category in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007.

The Prometheus Awards were established in 1979. Winners receive a plaque and a one-ounce gold coin.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Strange coincidence

You know, last Saturday (July 20th) Turner Classic Movies showed "Soylent Green", which struck me as interesting since the announcement that Harry Harrison was being named SFWA grandmaster was made two days earlier.

Here is a vido of the original movie trailer from 1973:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Encounters with Harry

Harry Harrison was a guest at the first con I ever attended outside Texas, Philcon in 2003. That whole con was quite an experience for me - my learning curve then was very steep. I enjoyed his panels and learned a lot - although, after having lived in Texas 18 years, I found his clipped speech and fast pace, especially when he got excited, to be daunting to follow.

The following summer the wife and I drove up to Lawrence, Kansas, to attend the Campbell Conference. That year, 2004, was the last where the members of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame were inducted at the same time (the event has since moved to the sf museum in Seattle).

The living honorees were Brian Aldiss and Harry, We arrived in Lawrence just in time for the dinner, and as I rushed into the student center - worried that we were running late - I saw a pair of old timers in tuxes heading for the door from the opposite direction.

As I ran up, I realied they were Aldiss and Harrison, which floored me. In a clumsy attempt to be a gentleman, I grabbed the door to hold it open for Aldiss, who was first. But as I walked around him, I stepped on the back of his shoe and gave him a "flat tire". (My wife tried to make me feel better later by pointing out that Aldiss was wearing house shoes).

I don't think Aldiss was terribly happy, and I was so embarrassed I ducked both of them for the rest of the weekend.

I've been a panelist at at least two conventions over the past few years where Harrison he has also been a guest, and I've steered clear. I hope he doesn't remember me!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Harry Harrison named Grand Master by SFWA


Here's new out of the SFWA from last Thursday, July 17:

Harry Harrison, creator of The Stainless Steel Rat and author of the novel that inspired the movie Soylent Green, will be honored as the next Damon Knight Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America during the 2009 Nebula Award Weekend® in Los Angeles, Calif.

Harrison’s selection was announced by SFWA President Russell Davis after consulting with the Board of Directors and participating past presidents. The Nebula Awards Weekend will be held April 24-26 in Los Angeles, Calif., with the awards presentation banquet to be held on the UCLA campus to tie in with the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Past SFWA President and Grand Master (2004) Robert Silverberg will be presenting.

“There are few moments in life that can be taken out and savored in memory. One happened today,” Harrison said. “A phone call from our President Russell Davis with the startling news that I was to be the 2009 Grand Master nearly led to the collapse of a stout writer!

“It’s still soaking in,” he said. “But may I express my fervent thanks to all involved for this signal honor.”
Already an established illustrator and freelance non-fiction writer, Harrison published his first science fiction story, "Rock Diver," in the August 1951 issue of Worlds Beyond. From that point he went on to produce more than 62 novels, eight short fiction collections, six non-fiction books and countless short stories. He also found the time to edit 35 anthologies over the span of his career.

His active involvement in the science fiction community throughout the 1950s led to his becoming a charter member of SFWA.
“Why, I can recall with a tear in one rheumy eye, when SFWA was a just a wild idea put forward by Damon Knight,” Harrison said. “A few of us nodded and agreed with him and thus, with great hope and no money, this organization was born. I won’t dwell on the fact that this was over 50 years ago…

“Enough! Let’s look to the future not the past as we go from strength to strength and march—banners flapping—into the SF future,” he said.

Harrison was born in 1925 and served in the U.S. Army during World War II, an experience that made a strong negative impression on him and inspired his satirical Bill, the Galactic Hero novel series. A regular contributor to the legendary John W. Campbell's Astounding, Harrison’s work often reflected his interest in environmental issues and non-violent resolutions to conflict. His best-known creations are The Stainless Steel Rat and Make Room! Make Room! on which the film Soylent Green was based. His more recent works include best-selling alternate world trilogies West of Eden and Stars and Stripes Forever!
Harrison is the 26th writer recognized by SFWA as a Grand Master. He joins Robert A. Heinlein (1974), Jack Williamson (1975), Clifford D. Simak (1976), L. Sprague de Camp (1978), Fritz Leiber (1981), Andre Norton (1983), Arthur C. Clarke (1985), Isaac Asimov (1986), Alfred Bester (1987), Ray Bradbury (1988), Lester del Rey (1990), Frederik Pohl (1992), Damon Knight (1994), A. E. van Vogt (1995), Jack Vance (1996), Poul Anderson (1997), Hal Clement (1998), Brian Aldiss (1999), Philip Jose Farmer (2000), Ursula K. Le Guin (2003), Robert Silverberg (2004), Anne McCaffrey (2005), Harlan Ellison (2006), James Gunn (2007) and Michael Moorcock (2008).

Until 2002 the title was simply "Grand Master." In 2002 it was renamed in honor of SFWA's founder, Damon Knight, who died that year.

More details about the Nebula Awards Weekend are available at http://www.nebulaawards.com/

Monday, July 14, 2008

Excellent effort

There are many people much more fanatical about Star Trek than me, but I gotta admit, this little video is a gem, and an excellent mix-up. Grazie to the folks at SF Signal for steering me to it. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"New Frontier"

I've always kinda liked this video from the '80s,and I thought of it again in light of the fact I just finshed my first book, which ends in 1962 in the wake of the Cuban Rocket Crisis (it's alternate history, obviously). Enjoy the vibe:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Davis names new committee

SFWA President Russell Davis made the following announcement on his livejournal page July 11:

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As part of our ongoing effort to streamline member services and make SFWA a more functional and flexible organization, I'm pleased to announce the creation of the new Ombudsman Committee, to be chaired by Lee Martindale.

The purpose of the Ombudsman Committee is to ensure, promote and facilitate communication of the will of the membership of SFWA to its Board of Directors. Because SFWA is a membership organization, it is incumbent upon the Board of Directors to be informed and responsive to the opinions, needs and concerns of the members.

As the membership has grown and available technology has increased the number of channels by which members directly address the Board, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain that responsibility. Unfocused discussion in multiple venues, low "signal-to-noise" ratio in the content, and the volume of input by a few members overshadowing the input of most has proven detrimental to effective communication of members' opinions and concerns. The Ombudsman Committee is tasked with simplifying and focusing the process as a dedicated channel for member to Board communications.

To this end, the committee will serve as point of contact for individual members having questions, opinions, concerns, and issues they wish brought to the Board’s attention, especially on matters of corporate governance, policies and procedures, and membership services. Further, the committee will facilitate Board awareness of the “sense of the membership” through the use of focused discussions and solicitation of member opinion, the results of which will be summarized and reported to the Board.

A newsgroup has been established at sff.private.sfwa.ombudsman-committee to facilitate this process.

Lee Martindale has been a member of SFWA for ten years and for most of them has been involved with organizational structure and operation. She served three years on the Election Committee, six years as Chair of the Bylaws Committee, and is currently in her fourth year sitting the Mediation Desk of the Grievance Committee. Her pre-fiction-writing professional background includes project and technical management in corporate settings, contract negotiation and mediation, human rights activism, and magazine publishing and editing. Her fiction writing and editing credits can be found on her website, http://www.HarpHaven.net.

I'm looking forward to working with Lee and excited about having this committee in place for the entire membership.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

New position


SFWA President Russell Davis made the following announcement on his blog this past Saturday:

As part of our ongoing effort to streamline member services and make SFWA a more functional and flexible organization, I'm pleased to announce that Steven H. Silver (shown) has been appointed as the SFWA Events Coordinator.

Steven H. Silver has several years of con-running experience, including working as programming chair for Chicon 2000 (WorldCon), and has chaired two Windycons and the first Midwest Construction, a con devoted to con-running. In 2004, Steven served as the liaison from Noreascon IV to SFWA and the following year he helped run the 2005 Nebula Award Weekend in Chicago.

Steven has served on the Nebula Award jury four times, twice on the short fiction jury and twice on the novel jury, including a current stint as the chair of the novel jury.

Steven founded the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and has been nominated for the Hugo Award nine times, eight times as Best Fan Writer and once for Best Fanzine. He has sold two short stories, and runs ISFiC Press.

In addition to ensuring that SFWA Events such as the Nebula Award Weekend and the SFWA Suite at WorldCon operate in a successful manner, Steven will also be helping to establish a SFWA-presence at other conventions and ensuring that future administrations have all the records necessary to continue building these events successfully. I'm really thrilled to have him on board and am looking forward to working with him in the coming months.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Disch dies

From the SFWA:

SF author, critic, and poet Thomas M. Disch, born 1940, died July 4, 2008, of suicide in his New York City apartment. Ellen Datlow reports that Disch had been depressed for several years, especially by the death of long-time partner Charles Naylor, and worries of eviction from his rent-controlled apartment.

Disch was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and published first story "The Double-Timer" in 1962. Notable early stories included "Descending" (1964), "Come to Venus Melancholy" (1965), "The Roaches" (1965), "Casablanca" (1967), and "The Asian Shore" (1970). First novel The Genocides (1965) was followed by two others before publication of classic Camp Concentration (1968), about an inmate in a US concentration camp who's treated with experimental drugs. 334 (1974, a Nebula finalist) was a set of linked stories set in a New York city apartment complex, while On Wings of Song (1980, a Hugo and Nebula finalist and John W. Campbell Memorial Award winner), was a near-future satire about a device enabling talented singers to transcend their bodies. Disch also wrote TV series adaptation The Prisoner (1967). Story collections included Fun with Your New Head (1970), Getting Into Death (1975), Fundamental Disch (1980), and The Man Who Had No Idea (1982), which included notable stories "Getting Into Death" (1974), "The Man Who Had No Idea" (1978, Hugo nominee), and "Understanding Human Behavior" (1982, Nebula nominee).

Novella The Brave Little Toaster, first published in F&SF in 1980 and later issued in book form, won the Locus, Seiun, and British SF Association awards, and was adapted into a 1987 animated film. Disch published sequel The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars in 1988. Disch wrote two plays, Ben Hur (1989) and The Cardinal Detoxes (1990), as well as 1986 interactive software adventure Amnesia.

After 1980 collaboration Neighboring Lives with Charles Naylor, he wrote a quartet of contemporary horror novels: The Businessman: A Tale of Terror (1984), The M.D.: A Horror Story (1991, a Bram Stoker Award finalist), The Priest: A Gothic Romance (1994), and The Sub: A Study in Witchcraft (1999).

Disch was an acerbic, demanding SF critic, famous for defining science fiction as a branch of children's literature (in "The Embarrassments of Science Fiction", Science Fiction at Large, Peter Nicholls, ed., 1976) . His The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of, subtitled "How Science Fiction Conquered the World", won Hugo and Locus awards as nonfiction book of the year. Essay collection On SF was published 2005.

He wrote poetry, bylined "Tom Disch" -- his long poem "On Science Fiction" won the Rhysling Award in 1981 -- with several collections included Yes, Let's: New and Selected Poems (1989) and A Child's Garden of Grammar (1997), and edited several notable anthologies, from The Ruins of Earth (1971), Bad Moon Rising (1973), The New Improved Sun (1975), and two with Charles Naylor, New Constellations (1976) and Strangeness (1977).

Disch had recently been writing more actively, with three books scheduled for publication within a year: novella The Voyage of the Proteus, published last December; short novel The Word of God, published this month by Tachyon Publications; and collection The Wall of America due from Tachyon in October.

The 1993 Encyclopedia of Science Fiction wrote "Because of his intellectual audacity, the chillingly distanced mannerism of his narrative art, the austerity of the pleasures he affords, and the fine cruelty of his wit, [Disch] has been perhaps the most respected, least trusted, most envied and least read of all modern first-rank sf writers."

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Promoted

SFWA President Russell Davis has announced that Texas' own Jayme Blaschke has a new post:

"As part of our efforts to streamline member services and make SFWA a more functional and flexible organization, I'm pleased to announce that Jayme Lynn Blaschke has been appointed as the Communications & Marketing Director.

"Jayme has been a member of SFWA since 1997, and his work has appeared in a variety of anthologies and other publications. He has a B.A. in Journalism with a minor in Speech Communication from Texas A&M, and has held a range of reporting and editorial positions with newspapers and magazines, and has extensive public and media relations experience.

"As many of you know, Jayme has been the chair of the Publicity Committee and also volunteered as the SFWA WebRing master. A major portion of his new responsibilities will be ensuring that SFWA gets better and more marketing and publicity opportunities, as well as helping us develop ways to communicate and share information with and from the members (about their projects) more effectively than we have in the past.

I'm really excited to be working with him, and think he has some excellent plans to put SFWA on a faster, more reliable communications, marketing and public relations footing."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

"The Ones to Watch" redux

The second annual installment of "The Ones to Watch" has been posted in the July issue of the Internet Review of Science Fiction. It's been mixed year for the original quintet. Pat Rothfuss hit pay dirt as his debut novel went gangbusters. On the other hand, Shawn Scarber dropped out of sight, and so the original group has been trimmed down to four.

Here is the intro:

"The Ones to Watch, Part II - And Then There Were Only Four
by Dotar Sojat

"In April 2007 IROSF started a bold experiment—to conduct an ongoing cycle of interviews with a group of tenacious, Janey-on-the-Brink writers. These five have had various levels of success and have various definitions of success.

"Time is relentless and while we started with five, we're down to only four now. Shawn Scarber's whereabouts remain unknown as of the publication of this second round of interviews. Emails are bounced back. Livejournal account—gone! Personal web page—Page Not Found! With any luck he didn't end up dead in a ditch somewhere in the pitiless state of Texas.

"It's time to check in with our four remaining writers and see where they are 12 months later. Time to see if they are crowing about success, or eating crow, and with Shawn's leaving the game, to reflect on the difficulties of the long-haul of trying to "make it" as a writer:"

Read the hole shebang at www.irosf.com

Latest reviews

In a spare, swift, convincing narrative style, conveying in a deadpan voice a wide array of sometimes Paranoid suppositions about the world, Antonelli juxtaposes realities with very considerable skill, creating a variety of Alternate Worlds, some of them somewhat resembling the constructions of Howard Waldrop, and making some sharp points about American history, race relations, dreams, and occasional nightmares in which the twentieth century goes wrong. [JC]

---From the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be.

Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act.

This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read.

Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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