Hello, and welcome. You've reached my irregularly updated Livejournal. A sampling of reasons why it is irregular:
1) I write fiction: you can find some of it online at Strange Horizons and Drabblecast--and on this journal, where I reprinted a story from Analog for Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day. My most recent stories, The Litany of Earth and Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land and The Deepest Rift, are available at Tor.com. Winter Tide, a novel following Aphra Marsh's story after "Litany of Earth," will be out from Macmillan's Tor.com imprint on April 4, 2017.
2) I write non-fiction: you can find some of it at Green Minds, my old blog on the psychology of sustainability. With Anne M. Pillsworth, I co-write a Tor.com series on rereading Lovecraft.
3) I have a large, complicated family. They're hard to count because they move so quickly, but I'm fairly certain there are at least 3 children, at least some of the time. I definitely have a wife, who is wonderful and the main reason I ever have time for all this other stuff.
I'm at the Fort Totten train station, on the liminal boundary between DC and Maryland, colony and state, travel beneath the earth and above it. On either side, a grassy slope cuts down to the platform. It's late afternoon, and leaves drift down like snow, and the light shines through like an oil painting. Two deer stand in the light, dipping their heads to taste the green. Their tails flick lazily even as the trains rumble past.
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I'm at our neighborhood rally--"Not On Our Watch"--listening to a Hawiian Sovereignty activist. She tells us how she wore dark glasses to vote. The people around her were so excited about the likely Clinton win, and she didn't want them to see her crying. Clinton's policies would do terrible harm to her people and her cause--and she mourned that this was the best option on offer.
My daughter smiles when I lift her from her crib, and babbles, new words every day. She's the only morning person in the household, so we're the first downstairs. Even the dog is asleep; this is as quiet as our house gets. Outside, a squirrel is eating the pumpkin we left out on the stump, bushy tail waving. M demands "mana" for breakfast. When I give her the banana, I ask, as I always do, "Can you say thank you?" For the first time, she responds: "Dak oo!"
I'm watching Zootopia and crying. It seems so painfully and wonderfully optimistic. This week I have also cried at Belinda Carlisle's "Summer Rain" and the mere thought of putting on Hamilton.
My landlord is eating stir-fry in my dining room. We're listening to a pitch for solar panels--we've been talking for a couple of years about getting them on the house eventually, but we've agreed that it's time now. It turns out that the solar sales guy is from the same small Colorado town as one of our housemates; they're joking about snow. The sales guy seems relieved to be pitching to people who understand both architecture and math.
I'm in a Day Job meeting about innovation and crowdsourcing when I make the mistake of checking Twitter. This is how I discover that, over the weekend, the building where I used to work rented space to a bunch of nazis. I run into the bathroom and manage to avoid throwing up; a friend on Twitter talks me down so I can finish up the meeting.
I'm playing the old FASA Star Trek RPG with my household--my household is in fact a college role-playing group that decided to raise kids together; now we all chip in for sitters so we can game. We're trying to track a federation vessel that shot at a neutral ship, before it starts a war. We're convinced that it's a breakaway group of Andorian terrorists. Instead it turns out to be a bunch of refugees who got away from a fight through time travel, and think their own war's still going on.
"Are you okay," we ask everyone we meet. "How are you holding up?" Some people have already experienced the open bigotry, had to make new medical plans, realized the loss of possibilities that depended on particular laws. Some are still stuck on finding arguments for their own reassurance. I think about how the incipient dystopia permeates everything, and yet the moments of beauty and joy keep happening. I try to imagine how those moments will feel when the dystopia is no longer incipient. I try to fold myself around them, to store them, and to remind myself that they will keep occuring, in some form, regardless of what happens around them.
Anger and fear are settling down into what I hope is a sustainable banked fire, something to keep me moving and acting and loving for the duration. I keep encountering new indications that this will not be normal. Yesterday it was Japanese internment suddenly being invoked as a perfectly reasonable policy precedent. Today it's the threat of FADA, which both houses of Congress have said they will pass and T**** has said he will sign. Then there are the ongoing additions to the Cabinet of Deplorables...
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I've made the first Congressional Office calls of my life, something I always left to the extroverts before. Yesterday my hands were shaking for an hour afterwards; today I just felt a little queasy. We've gotten a quote on solar panels. Going to a neighborhood Not On Our Watch meeting this weekend, hoping to solidify the looking-out-for-each-other energies that we've found talking with neighbors individually.
Before this, I had let the day-to-day business of job and kids and household come before actively working to repair the world. In the abstract, I felt that making a better world was a vital part of parenting, of householding, of a full adult life--but in practice there was so much I didn't get to. I'm not hubristic enough to think that me, alone, speaking up more would have changed the election. But me and thousands of other busy people, overwhelmed by the minuata of daily life... I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way now. I'm heartened by the number of people I see being galvanized around the country. Even hopeful, some moments.
I think my writing must be part of this repair. My "yay, 1st book coming out" excitement feels like an artifact of that brighter alternate universe. I'm trying to focus now on sharing strength and empathy, and speaking truth in the best way I know how. For a week before the election I was too distracted to write, and for a few days afterward too much in mourning. Now the words are coming again, the second book going in a slightly different direction than I thought it would, truths clarified by current events. I'm trying to weave solace and hope and truth: strange bedfellows. Aphra's stories have always been about understanding across barriers, fighting for survival with allies who are themselves eldritch to you. We have always described groups of people in monstrous terms when we wanted an excuse to treat them badly; therefore any description of a whole group as monstrous must be questioned deeply and forcefully. And yet we also need to know how to recognize and fight the real monsters...
A little of everything that needs doing, every day.
We just lost tamnonlinear. To depression and MS and fucking Donald J. Trump.
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She is not the first or only loss these past two days, just the first loss of someone I knew. I know there will be others. May their names be blessings, and curses against their enemies, and protective scars on the foreheads of those who still live to fight.
If you are ideating, know that you are loved and needed, and that when you aren't feeling strong enough to march by our sides we'll carry you. We'll all be carrying each other, sometimes, these next few years.
I am feeling very shaky on words right now. Maybe I'll have better ones tomorrow, when I've slept more than I did last night.
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It is okay to mourn, to cry, to feel numb and stare blindly into space, to be angry, to throw yourself immediately into organization. Now is not the time to apologize or feel ashamed of your reactions; now is not the time to expect others to react as you do. Only remember that we dare not despair for long.
I always knew that the good times don't last and hatred waxes again, that we build and lose and build a little higher next time, that the good times are worth making but the loss comes eventually to some generation. And yet somehow, until about 1AM last night, I held onto the hope, even the expectation, that the burden would not fall on my generation. And I'm ready to fight even harder for a civilization that values everybody--where it's one of the good times for everyone. Something we hadn't yet made, but were working towards, were getting closer... maybe I'll live to see the rights and protections regained that we still have in this moment. Maybe my daughters will live to see us do better.
When I write stories, I write about people working together across differences, overcoming fear, facing darkness with courage--because that's the humanity I know and understand. That feels important tonight, and maybe tomorrow when I've slept I'll find the strength to write that truth again.
I wrote Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land, in part, to say that true homelands, civilizations, countries, are carried in the hearts and actions of those who count themselves as citizens. Not in Aslan, but in Puddleglum's realization that it's better to act like a citizen of Narnia even if Narnia only exists in your imagination. That feels important too.
And still my tongue is dry with fear, and my stomach too twisted to eat more than a few bites. Maybe tomorrow, trying to find words won't hurt so much.
"Try to go to a lot of cons," my editor says. "Twist my arm," I say. In 2017, you can probably find me at:
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Arisia (1/13-1/16, Boston) - In college, this was the one we saved up for all year. Now they have child care. The general rule is that I will go to any con that has child care and is compatible with my schedule/budget, even if co-parents are actually watching the kids. Because that is a thing that should be encouraged. In this case, the kids are in fact coming along, because the entire household is coming along, because this is the one we used to save up for all year in college.
Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference (2/8-2/11, DC) - Because I got invited to pinch-hit on "The Infinite in the Finite: One Hundred Years of H.P. Lovecraft's Legacy." The programming looks awesome. Among other things, this is the one where Daniel Jose Older is doing the "Writing White Characters" panel.
Fogcon (3/10-3/12, San Francisco) - Tentative, because budget. But I've been hearing awesome things about this con for years, and they have child care.
April book launch mysteries - Tentative because we're still trying to make all the puzzle pieces fit together. There will almost certainly be a launch party in DC. There may be something at Lunacon (4/7-4/9, Westchester NY). If Lunacon happens, there may be an appending event in New York. The universe is inherently chaotic and unpredictable.
Wiscon (5/26-5/29, Madison) - I haven't been back to my home con in three years--way too long! They have child care! A Lovecraftian Girl Cooties party, featuring me and best co-blogger Anne M. Pillsworth, and
anyone else we can dragoon all our wonderful co-conspirators, is in the works.
Readercon (7/13-7/16, Boston) - I've been hearing so many good things about this one, too.
Necronomicon (8/17-8/20, Providence) - Because of course.
Nothing planned past August, so far. The universe is inherently chaotic and unpredictable.
I'm now a little under halfway through Deep Roots, the sequel to Winter Tide. I'm learning things. For example, that writing around a toddler is harder than writing around a pregnant wife who sleeps a lot. Who knew? And that I need to write something new every day, even when prior-book edits intervene, because the ease of getting started the day after a 50-word day is noticeably better than the ease of getting started the day after a 0-word day.
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Publication changes my writing process, both because of the practicalities of the editing cycle, and because I've learned things from writing and editing the first book. Winter Tide isn't my first completed novel--it's my 3rd--but it's the first where I've had to go beyond making a few cosmetic changes based on beta reader feedback. Structural edits have always scared the hell out of me. I couldn't see how to fix a lopsided plot or a lack of foreshadowing, or how to stitch in and rip out entire threads of plot or theme. I could get away with that--right up until a book was accepted for publication. I owe Carl and Cameron endless gratitude for demanding those changes, and then holding my hand through several rounds of them.
The structural changes that Winter Tide needed weren't even major, relative to some I've heard about. The overall plot is still essentially what it was at the beginning. I added a few scenes and changed a few lines, but didn't have to cut any characters or subplots. The climax is the one I wrote originally. But the things I did have to do were scary for me. And having done them, I now know that I can. The end result is that I'm now much more willing to follow the way of the Crappy First Draft. I can take risks I wouldn't have before, when I assumed I'd be stuck with any roads that veered off cliffs. This is probably annoying for my alpha reading wife, who's dealing with in-line notes like <add a better transition here> and <people have faces, describe them> and <have Charlie do something or cut him from this scene entirely> in lieu of semi-polished prose.
Meanwhile, in the galleys, I'm learning that I really like to repeat words. One of the major things we did during line edits was to fix places where I'd enjoyed a piece of vocabulary so much that I used it three times in a paragraph. (Lovecraft never had an editor to catch these, thus the ever-amusing "cyclopean" count.) We must have fixed a couple hundred instances of this problem. Now, going over the galleys... I'm finding even more of these. My only theory is that the Great Old Ones really like repetitive words, and demand them of their scribes as tribute.
Structural edits = Foreshadow this ending; make this threat scarier, turn up the volume on on your themes
Line edits = Make this paragraph comprehensible, cut half your cyclopeans, did you mean this dialogue to sound like flirting
Copyedits = Did you mean discrete or discreet, argue about hyphens, I don't care whether or not you capitalize Archpriest but be consistent
Galleys = Oh Great Cthulhu how did I miss that
...with a sprinkling of "fix this anachronism" throughout, because historical fantasy is hard and 1949 is a strange country.
@linsilveira on Twitter wins the ARC. Some of these monster questions are inspiring; there may be drabbles in the offing if I can find five drabbly minutes between editing and drafting on Deep Root. So basically next time I'm blocked because my aliens won't talk politics to my point of view character.
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I haven't posted for a while, have I? *Looks around, dusts off surfaces, surreptitiously wipes hands*
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But look what came in the mail today!
I'll come up with clever plans for the rest later, but for now I just want to share my delight at finally having actual books, made of actual matter, with my name on John Jude Palencar's spiffy cover. So here's the deal. Between now and a deadline of Whenever the Baby Goes to Bed tomorrow night, tell me your favorite monster, and something you wish you knew about them. I'll pick an entry at random to receive an ARC.
Fine print: I'm posting to Twitter as well; it's the same ARC and the same contest on both platforms. I'm willing to ship anywhere, but if you're overseas it may arrive on the very slow boat. Or quickly, but very wet and delivered by someone with gills.
The first year of one's child's life is expected to be both exciting and stressful (it was). One isn't expected to get much done other than take care of the child, and go to one's day job if one has one (I didn't). In our case, the major reason for not getting much done was that M--while quite good at everything else--totally failed to learn to go to sleep on her own or sleep through the night. So for the past year we've had an unpredictable 1-4-hour intensive process involved in putting the baby to bed, and most nights gotten woken up by her crying 1-3 times. S, bless her, did most of the getting up and getting her back to bed, but it was still no fun for anyone. At one point we tried the standard ferberization technique that's "supposed to" work for everyone, leaving her alone in her crib and coming in at slightly increasing intervals to check on her, which resulted in her not sleeping and being phobic of her crib for a week.
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Also this year, I sold a book. This was awesome, and among other things eventually resulted in the arrival of a book advance. Part of which we spent on a sleep coach. This is possibly the best decision I've ever made short of getting married to my wife. For the last couple of days M has fallen asleep downstairs in her own space, needing one of us in the room for less than half an hour, and slept for 11-12 hours. And taken a 2-3-hour nap in the afternoon. (Did I mention that she rarely napped, previously?) And we're less than halfway through the process that is supposed to result in a nice, easy bedtime routine and a child who can fall asleep without adult supervision. All of a sudden, I have back 3-4 hours every evening. I can talk with my wife and read and catch up on chores and correspondence and write or edit, without feeling like every second spent on one of those is stolen from the others.
Probably someone wants to know what a sleep coach does. About half of it is taking textbook behaviorist stuff that I could lecture on in my sleep, and explaining how to turn it into an on-the-ground intervention that I would not have been able to intuit correctly even without the sleep deprivation. Basically we're doing a variation on habit deconditioning or phobia fading--sitting a little farther away from the crib each night and providing a little less scaffolding for her falling asleep. The other half is family-specific--she talked to us about everything from when M gets fussy during the day to the fact that she may have a predisposition to anxiety, and helped us adapt techniques and figure out when in the day to apply them based on that input. If we'd known the technique, we probably could have figured everything out eventually, but it made the whole process smoother and less stressful for everyone involved.
The other other half is coaching--reassurance and on-cheering and a heads-up on what pitfalls and patterns to expect. After the fubar with the ferberization, it helped tremendously to know that we had expert back-up if something went drastically wrong again.
All of which is to say--if I've barely spoken to you for the past year, or always been rushing off somewhere when we have a moment to talk, or neglected e-mails or posts, I hope and expect that my time and energy will be much less constrained in 2016. Ditto if I, um, owe you novel edits. Just as a hypothetical example.
But for now, I'm going to go to bed, and very likely stay there for a few hours. Best Christmas present ever!
Things I've done over the past two days:
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- Bounced a lot
- Gotten congratulated a lot, and been pleased by the number of people who seem to think this is good news for them rather than for me
- Been pleased and a little worried by the various prayers to Nyarlathotep, Cthulhu, and Mother Hydra for the book's success. I'm pretty sure that's not the scale these guys work on...
- Been terribly distracted by Miriam learning to wave
- Jotted down ideas, way too far in advance, for publicity swag (Esoteric Order of Dagon Temple Fund cookbook outtakes; flyers for events at Miskatonic...)
- Jotted down ideas, way too far in advance, for a post-launch party at Wiscon 2017 (salted chocolate and caramel, tome exchange, probably can't afford to feed everyone sushi...)
- Been terribly distracted by the possibility of alien megastructures 1500 light years away. Tried to convince myself that weird comets and dust-free planetary collisions would also be awesome. Tried to figure out whether 1500 years is long enough to finish building a Dyson cloud.
- Been very grateful that I ended up with a publisher who works ridiculously quickly. Twenty-seventeen is a long way away, and to imagine my state of mind with the usual time frame of novel sales and publication is not to be borne. I know a lot of people who've managed it; I remain deeply grateful that Carl is as impatient and deadline-driven as I am.
- Found out which characters my editor ships.
- Repeated to myself: "Before novel acquisition, carry water, chop wood; after novel acquisition, carry water, chop wood" as I wash dishes, feed the baby, and clean wildly in preparation for this weekend's visit from my in-laws.
Winter Tide, the first Aphra Marsh novel, will come out from the Tor.com imprint in early 2017. The sequel, which has a working title of Deep Roots, will follow a year later.
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I'm beyond excited and amazed to finally be able to make this announcement. And I'm very grateful to my agent, Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Agency, and to my editor Carl Engle-Laird, for making this happen. We all look forward to sharing the next part of Aphra's story.
David Steffen, of Diabolical Plots, is kickstarting an anthology of the 2014 Hugo long list. It's already funded at the basic level, covering the short stories, and is a couple hundred away from including the novelettes--including "Litany of Earth" as well as awesome things like Alaya Dawn Johnson's "A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i."
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In the service of creating a proper Hugo Reading Packet for 2014, I'm offering 3 custom sonnets or sestinas for $50 backers, each coming with both paper and e-versions of the anthology. At the same level, you could instead get one of Sam Miller's sketches of an animal of your choice working at the occupation of your choice, or you could pay a little more and get story critiques, custom audio books, and spiffy art prints.
David asked me for a reward description.
Not Exactly Shakespeare
It isn’t Shakespeare: I’ll admit as much;
They’re what I write when I’m not up for prose.
The forms of old are comfort food that shows
The tired writer hasn’t lost her touch.
But though these poems are nothing like the sun,
They might give hazy thoughts a form and shape,
Or make you laugh: give sharpness to a jape;
All poems have purpose, else they lie unspun.
I could compare your love to summer nights,
Abstract your dissertation so it scans,
Or villainous, declaim your cunning plans:
I’ll write an ode to whatever delights.
Still, I reserve the right to add my spin,
So trolls beware: the bard will always win.
M woke up crying at 6 AM Sunday morning. After I finally got her back to sleep, I checked my phone and discovered rather more Twitter mentions than usually appear in the midnight to 6 AM window, or indeed in a single day. I had some trouble getting back to sleep!
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Many thanks to everyone who nominated "Litany of Earth" for a Hugo, and everyone else who said they would have voted for it given the opportunity. It would have been part of a pretty sweet ballot, and I would have thoroughly enjoyed losing to Seanan McGuire's "Each to Each" or Kay Ashante Wilson's "The Devil in America." (I still need to read Crosshill's story, and shall.)
New plan: Support E Pluribus Hugo, and write even more kick-ass, rocket-worthy stuff in the future.
...was a very strange, very good day. We're legal. Oh my god, we're legal.
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We can visit relatives in Michigan, friends in Louisiana, and not worry about what happens if one of us gets sick. We can confidently drive our daughter through any state in the union. And people are getting married who've been waiting for decades in Texas, in Georgia, in Arkansas... and that 82-year-old couple in Atlanta can finish growing old together and know that they'll be able to take care of each other with the state's help rather than obstruction.
What's weirder is that ten years ago we were a boogyman that the bad guys could reliably use to scare out their voters, and the 'good guys' didn't dare speak well of aloud. And yesterday people were literally dancing in the streets around the country, lighting up the Empire State Building--the president gave a speech about how awesome our marriage is--newspapers around the country printed updated maps of where same-sex marriage is now legal and the New York Times covered the page above the fold with same-sex couples kissing.
There's still so much left to do. There's always more work to do--but it's so rare to win a battle that we should celebrate when we have the chance. And it's not unpleasant, but extremely startling, to have most of the country celebrating with us.
"The Deepest Rift," my science fiction story about exploring alien worlds, translation error, and the perils of academia, went up this afternoon at Tor.com.
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This story comes with a story, and a giveaway. Way back in 2010, it was Saturday and I was at Wiscon. If you go to the Journeyman Writer's meeting, you miss the lunch break, and I hadn't yet learned the "send your spouse for sandwiches" trick. So I snuck in late to "The Story in the Object, The Object in the Story," and hid out in the back of the room trying not to make my crumbs obvious while elisem, Catherine Crowe, and Kat Byer talked about similarities between art forms, the way we use art to create relationships as well as make (or fail to make) a living, and the importance of sometimes giving things away. Elise passed around an amazing tektite, and Catherine showed off beautiful copper bowls.
Towards the end, Elise was talking to Ellen Klages (in the audience) and told her that she knew what to do with that project they'd been working on. She asked for six volunteers. I'm not an idiot: I raised my hand. She then told us that a couple of years previously, they'd done a collaboration: Ellen found stones, Elise made pendants of them, and Ellen named them. We'd each get a random pendant, to be picked up later in the con, and make something else with it or based on it--and then pass it on again.
For those of you who don't know Elise's work, she's a professional muse. Go click through onto her LJ--her sticky post shows everything she's currently got available. Every item has a title. Many have stories hidden in them, or poems, or major life changes.
When I went down to the dealer's room later, she asked me for a number between eggplant and lettuce. I told her "zucchini," and she gave me this:
I could see right away the sides of the unimaginably deep canyon, the forests down in the dark, the wind that swept up over it carrying strangeness from the mist below. But it was not only story, but also oracle: at the time I was just starting to feel my way towards leaving academia, and routes and detours and the question of whether it was even possible to get to Point Q from where I stood were very much on my mind.
I started writing almost immediately, but stalled out for a couple of years when I solved my real-life dilemma before finishing the story that I was using to map it. (This was a good problem to have.) Last year I finally figured out what was missing, sent the story out to Carl at Tor.com, and here we are. And so now I'm finally done with the pendant, and I will miss it but it needs to find a new home where it can keep doing its job.
If you feel you could make use of a map with detours, please leave the following in the comments before 6 PM EST on Monday, June 29th:
- A brief, true explanation of what you'll make with it. The explanation doesn't need to be complete--"My story needs plot bunnies" or "trying to make a path through a crisis" are as good as "I'm on a quest to find the holy grail, the latest clues lead me to believe it's in the grand canyon, and this looks like something that will help me find my way."
- A promise that you'll pass it on when you're done with it, to someone who will keep the same terms. This doesn't need to be quick; I've had it for five years, after all.
- A way to contact you if you aren't posting with an LJ handle.
On Monday, I'll pick a name via random number generator, because I am not myself an oracle, and will contact the winner for mailing information.
Disclaimers: Mailing times dependent on the vagaries of baby and DC snail mail system. Not responsible for lost, misdirected, or temporally displaced merchandise. Device may not operate as intended. Effects may not be synchronous.
I'm delighted to announce that I'll have an original story in The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu: New Lovecraftian Fiction, which will be coming out in June 2016 in the US and April 2016 in the UK.
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No Deep Ones in this story, but it does consider carefully the proper Library of Congress heading for forbidden tomes.
I'll be in excellent company:
THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF CTHULHU: NEW LOVECRAFTIAN FICTION
Paula Guran, Editor
• Laird Barron - “A Clutch”
• Nadia Bulkin - “I Believe That We Will Win”
• Amanda Downum - “The Sea Inside”
• Ruthanna Emrys - “Those Who Watch”
• Richard Gavin - “Deep Eden”
• Lois H. Gresh - “In the Sacred Cave”
• Lisa L. Hannett - “In Syllables of Elder Seas”
• Brian Hodge - “It’s All the Same Road In the End”
• Caitlín R. Kiernan - “The Peddler’s Tale, or, Isobel’s Revenge”
• John Langan – “Outside the House, Watching for the Crows
• Yoon Ha Lee - “Falcon-and-Sparrows”
• Usman T. Malik - “In the Ruins of Mohenjo-Daro”
• Sandra McDonald - “The Cthulhu Navy Wife”
• Helen Marshall - “Caro in Carno”
• Silvia Moreno - Garcia - “Legacy of Salt”
• Norman Partridge - “Backbite”
• W. H. Pugmire - “A Shadow of Thine Own Design”
• Veronica Schanoes - “Variations on Lovecraftian Themes”
• Michael Shea - “An Open Letter to Mr. Edgar Allan Poe, from a Fervent Admirer”
• John Shirley - “Just Beyond the Trailer Park”
• Simon Strantzas - “Alexandra Lost”
• Damien Angelica Walters - “Umbilicus”
• Don Webb - “The Future Eats Everything”
• Michael Wehunt - “I Do Not Count the Hours”
• A.C. Wise - “I Dress My Lover in Yellow”
New Cthulhu 2, which reprints "The Litany of Earth" and many other fine stories, is out. B read the cover upside down across the table, and asked me, "Why does it say 'more percent weird'?" And I had to admit that while it did not, in fact, say that, it would have been an appropriate and delightful description. (He got the rest of it right--pretty good for a 6-year-old reading upside down.)
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What Bear said.
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And while it's a bit less impressive coming from me, I'll make the same pledge: I have not in the past and I will not in the future participate in any popular award voting slate, public or private. I will not vote for any story or person or institution that is nominated for a popular award after agreeing to be on such a slate. Actually, I won't vote for any story or person or institution that is nominated from a slate, whether or not they wanted to be there--I believe that slates are more toxic than one person failing to get an award they deserve, even though the latter sucks quite a bit.
I believe without reservation that fandom is better off without any party system other than the one that results in late-night snacks and drinks and good conversation. There's no law that can prevent one from developing if people are determined to game the system; there are, however, customs that can make them useless.
Also, to repeat what I said earlier on Twitter:
You don't need to read anything that likely includes abuse towards you in order ot have the "right" to vote. You don't need to read anything that insults you or hits your triggers--you get to dislike that stuff without "giving it a chance." Hell, if you've never liked urban fantasy and one's on the ballot, you don't have to read it to vote. You're allowed to know your own tastes.
What I didn't say on Twitter: I've got a friend who's just getting out of an abusive relationship. Insignificant Other keeps whining about how if my friend were being fair, they'd let him prove himself without taking his earlier actions into consideration. Because trust. Because rules. Because if they aren't "fair" according to his exact definition, he knows he can't win.
People who don't play fair don't get to define fairness, and don't get to demand anyone's time or headspace. If you want to take the time to give VD a full read, feel free, but don't let anyone tell you it's your duty.
Personally, I'm currently filling my must-read pile than I can actually read it. My entire "reading bigots" quota is given over to Lovecraft blogging. Lovecraft has many advantages in this domain: 1) his work is entertaining more often than it's upsetting, 2) he's dead, 3) for all his unchained adjectives, he writes better or at least more amusingly than most modern bigots, 4) by all accounts he was actually pretty polite to the people he was prejudiced against when actually talking to them, 5) he never tried to game any damn awards, 6) he never claimed that he had a right to reader's time and attention, 7) he's in the public domain and I can get awesome story ideas out of reading him.
In a hundred years, I hope the puppies are a nearly-forgotten footnote, the Hugos are strong and healthy, and whoever's doing the Hugo Reread braincast gets some really entertaining snark out of this whole business.
I'm delighted to announce that I, and Winter Tide, and any other books I manage to turn out, are now represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.
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