Summer Issue Continues

The Subterranean special YA summer issue continues with Karen Joy Fowler's "Younger Women." Just thinking about this story makes me happy. Given that it's from the point-of-view of a teenage girl's mother, rather than a teenager, I'm sure someone could make an argument it's not YA at all. But, in typical and wonderful KJF style, it is undeniably about YA… or at least about a very common dating situation in YA and so I declare that it counts.

Plus, it's just a really great story. Check it out. (And read Malinda Lo's "The Fox" if you haven't yet.) And, as they say, much more to come.

p.s. I know, I know, I haven't been around these parts much lately. I'm about two days from having some breathing room back, and look forward to burbling about various things.

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Summer Is Here–Well, the Summer Issue!


Yes, yay! The issue content is beginning to roll out, starting with an introduction from me and the first story, Malinda Lo's "The Fox," which features characters from her just-released new novel Huntress. Can you beat it?

Malinda's was the very first story I got in, and I did a little dance of joy after I read it. It's beautiful and seductive and haunting; there's so much packed into this brief story.

Go forth and read it. New stories (full TOC here) will be posted weekly until the issue's complete, and I'll be posting here as they go live.


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A Good Lottery

The Shirley Jackson Awards finalists for this year have just been announced, and it's a great ballot all the way round.

Excuse me while I am particularly delighted for Karen Joy Fowler, up for story and collection, and Richard Butner, up for novelette. You guys already know how much I love Karen's work, and I hope this means Richard's "Holderhaven" gets posted somewhere online soon. It was originally published in a recent issue of Crimewave and it is FABULOUS. In the meantime, if you're not familiar with his work, you can read his excellent story "Ash City Stomp" at Small Beer Press (or download an mp3 of him reading it–this comes up randomly on my ipod from time to time and I never skip it; it's that good)–or order his chapbook.

But, seriously, wonderful ballot (Peter Straub! Kate Bernheimer! Ellen Datlow! Jeff VanderMeer! Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire)! A bunch of other stuff I really need to read!). Congratulations to everyone.

Full list nicked from the awards site behind the cut:

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I know, I pretended there would be no posts here and then parade! of! posts! But I'd feel terrible if I didn't point to The Carol Emshwiller Project, coordinated by the wonderful Matt Cheney, who invited many people to celebrate the 90th birthday of one of SF's–and literature's, natch–true doyennes.

Watching Carol navigate Wiscon as a VIP, hearing her do amazing readings there, and being lucky enough to serve with her on the Fountain Award jury have all been great, but I'd be happy with just her books and stories. If you haven't read her, well, do. You're in for a treat. A writer as daring and fabulous now as she's ever been. (Which is to say: A great deal daring and fabulous.)

(Also: The fact Carol Emswhiller turns out to share a birthday with Beverly Cleary is too perfect.)

Anyway, head over and wish her a happy birthday yourselves.

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Dark Futures Elsewhere

The nice people at kindly asked me to write them something about YA dystopian for Dystopia Week. My post is up now–a snippet:

So I suspect the core reason these books connect so well with teens—many of them even with the potential to be that holy grail of YA, appealing to girls and to boys—is that most of them are, at heart, about pulling apart the oppressive assumption and the unexplained authority, and then rebelling against it. Tearing it apart. In a world where choosing what to rebel against seems impossible for every generation (“What do you got?”), stories set in worlds where the decision is easy and justified will never lose their appeal.

I even managed to work in some references to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Which means I win nerd bingo for today.

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Reading List

Just read a trio of excellent stories, and wanted to recommend y'all do the same:

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The Fantastics


The alligator at the Orlando Airport Marriott's own private Swamplandia is not quite as impressive as the one on the cover of Karen Russell's book. Still, much time was spent looking for the tell-tale shiny black head drifting along the edge of the waterhole, though mostly what got spotted were various long-legged birds striding around the shoreline and–my personal favorite–birds with necks like periscopes, miniature Nessies, or tiny dragons extending out of the water. Said birds could later be seen sunning themselves to dry their wings. Said alligator never bothered to exit the water. How rude.

I'd post pictures of these things, but, as usual, I forgot-slash-decided-not-to-bring our camera. I never end up using it, though I always think longingly of having photos later. Anyway, yes, we had a grand time at our first International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (aka ICFA) in ages, and give a big thumbs up to the new hotel. As you can probably tell from the paragraph above, I spent a good deal of the weekend hanging out in the gazebo that overlooked the water. This was an excellent place to set up shop, since lots of people wandered out periodically to do their own alligator/snapping turtle/carp check. Among the wildlife present but not frequently spotted were mosquitoes; my ankles and the sole of my right foot are the proof.

I'm a bit terrified to do the list thing, because there were entirely too many fabulous old friends and fast new ones and people I got to say hi to but not spend nearly as much time talking with as I wanted… in the usual conference way.* It was a pure delight to watch Terry Bisson get feted, and to see/meet/chatter with–for various snippets of time–Richard Butner and Barb Gilly, Ted Chiang, Jeff Ford, John Kessel, Andy and Sydney Duncan, Brett Cox and Jeanne Beckwith, Paul Park, Veronica Schanoes, Peter Straub (aka the best-dressed man in SFF), Brian Evenson, Jim Kelly, Ellen Klages, Liza Groen Trombi, Dora Goss, Karen Lord (met by happy accident in the magic gazebo), Deanna Hoak, and Nalo Hopkinson. Oh, and the extra gift of seeing local pals Jackie Dolamore and Larissa Hardesty again. I already know I've forgotten people. Please to forgive and forget.

That's the main reasons I go to these things. To have fascinating discussions with wonderful types (many of whom are like members of an enormous second family). And try to spot alligators.

Unusually, I also went to a number of programming items (and sat on a panel with people far wiser than me–Nisi Shawl, Graham Sleight, Liza, and Gary Wolfe) including: a panel on the fantastic in Shakespeare; one on taxonomies and genre (good stuff, though it got the fun sort of weird); a fab reading by Jeff, Richard and Connie Willis (!); and the world premiere of Andy's harmonica-playing raccoon as part of a panel on the ridiculous. I was sad to have missed the romantic comedy panel that started the conference, but then managed to bend a gracious Connie Willis's ear on the topic before the banquet.** Can you beat that? I sure can't.

*I felt like I had to do at least a cursory con report, because Jeff Ford cheerfully guilted me about all those long stretches where I just post teensy entries about being busy.

**I was both gratified and relieved to discover we are in total agreement about the true nature of good romantic comedy.

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Travel Day

We are off to the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts* (ICFA, aka science fiction spring break), where the sun shines brighter. I'm on a panel tomorrow, I believe, but don't have the schedule handy to nab the title and other participants at the moment. It's at 10:30 tomorrow morning; this happens to be opposite Christopher's reading–with Mike Allen and co-guest of honor Terry Bisson. If I were you, and not me, I'd go to the reading. But I'm sure the panel will be fun too.

Other than that, I will be by the pool or pool bar, as it were.

Airplane reading: Finishing up a book for review and then The Tiger's Wife.

p.s. I participated in the latest Mind Meld, posted today, about ideal SF television shows. I clearly decided to interpret SF as spec fic instead of science fiction, in this context, but only so I could give out some fantasy show love too.

*Where C and I were introduced by Kelly Link, lo ten years or so ago.

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The Big Idea

Today, Christopher's over at Scalzi's posting about The Big Idea behind Sandstorm*. Check it out:

Well, not to sound too flip, but it’s about characters. Or as I call them—as I think about them—people. Pretty strange people some of them; there’s a bibliophile assassin with the head of a crow and a pair of mute twins, sisters less than four feet high, who act as circus acrobats when they’re not acting as agents for that assassin. There are genies and minotaurs and evil priests, not to mention a jackal-headed woman who is a terrible bartender but (it’s hinted, anyway) a creditable poet in the epic vein. There’s a creature called a wyvern that looks like a two-legged dragon and acts like my dog Emma. There are powerful wizards, and clowns with crossbows. There’s an extraordinarily mean old woman who might have been a natural philosopher if she wasn’t a gladiator, and speaking of gladiators, there’s the hero of the book, a young man who’s been terribly used by the world named Cephas.

And if you're in the Lexington or greater Bluegrass area, come out to tomorrow night's launch party at the Morris Book Shop at 6 p.m.** I promise you cake! (And a fun time, and a good reading.)

See also: Dave Schwartz's fabulous reaction, which was very much the same as my own, minus the gaming impulse due to our different backgrounds. But, boy, do I love these characters.

*The Sandstorm promo is just about wrapped up, I promise. But I really do want you all to read this book so we can talk about it, gamers or not. ::g::

**It'll be the best event in town. Local first! *wink*

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Happy Sandstorm Release Day: D&D Salon

Sandstorm Today my partner-in-life-and-crime Christopher Rowe's first novel, Sandstorm (Amazon | Indiebound), releases into the wild, as they say. Said novel also happens to be part of the Forgotten Realms universe, a Dungeons & Dragons-related property of gaming publisher Wizards of the Coast. I'm sure a few years ago, I'd have thought I knew what that meant and I might even have been guilty (guilty is definitely the word) of dismissing many media tie-ins without a second thought. But that's because a) lots of people do so unfairly all the time and b) I didn't know anything about how such novels come into being. Suffice to say, it's pretty much like writing any other novel. Blood, sweat, tears. (In Mr. Rowe's case, also a typewriter.) With these, just about everything except the broader world is the creation of the author.

I also didn't realize just how many of my favorite writers have been strongly influenced by these books and gaming more generally. You might be thinking DUH, which I can certainly understand. It's been a great deal of fun to realize that D&D proves the lesson of modern pop culture:  Everything geeky is secretly (or not-so-secretly) cool. I decided it would be fun to ask a few of these writer friends (including Christopher) to share some thoughts about this non-guilty pleasure on Sandstorm's release day. They gamely (ha) and immediately signed on to this wacky plan. So, without further ado, behind the cut you'll find geektastic comments from my esteemed panel:

NYPL Young Lions Finalist and Crawford Award winner Jedediah Berry

Crawford Award winner and Nebula finalist Christopher Barzak

Hugo, Nebula and Printz winner Paolo Bacigalupi

Fabulous new writer Shveta Thakrar (who you'll be hearing a lot more about), and

Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award finalist Mr. Rowe.

I hope you'll share stories about your own fantastic geekdom in the comments.

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