The July 2012 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction is out on a real or virtual newsstand near you! My novelette “Long Night on Redrock” is the cover story, with art by Tomislav Tikulin!
Note: The table of contents mistakenly lists “Long Night on Redrock” as a short story — it’s a novelette, I promise. A very long one, at that!
“Long Night on Redrock” is different from my previously published science fiction in many respects: it’s by far my longest published work, and it’s set on a different planet in the far future, just for starters. It was an enjoyable challenge to write, and I’m really excited for readers to see it. Please, get out there and read it! Especially if you love space marines. (What am I talking about, everyone loves space marines!) You can read a short teaser in this earlier blog post! Or if I had you at “space marines”, go get a copy!
Getting a paper copy: Traditional newsstands often carry Asimov’s. Many Barnes & Noble locations carry it, but it’s best to call ahead if you’ve never seen it at that particular store before. You can’t miss it, it’s the one with the awesome lion roaring, and my name on it!
Getting a paper copy in Portland: If you’re local, you can shop local at Rich’s Cigar Store, which carries Asimov’s in their extensive magazine collection. The main store on SW Alder has the most copies. Also, the main store will ship magazines to out-of-town customers — just give them a call if you’re in a fix.
Getting a digital version: Asimov’s is available in kindle edition and several other formats — in case you, like my characters, live in the future.
Remember my novelette, “Long Night on Redrock”, which will be appearing in the July 2012 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction? It is the cover story for that issue!
I discovered last week that science fiction and fantasy illustrator Tomislav Tikulin had done a painting titled “Long Night on Redrock” which was clearly an illustration of my story, and yesterday I received confirmation in the form of contributor copies in my mailbox.
If you’d like to see the full painting, take a look on Mr. Tikulin’s website here — it’s pretty gorgeous.
I’ve never had my name on the cover of a magazine before, let alone had my story named and illustrated on the cover. I’m over the moon! If not over the titular desert planet of Redrock. Which is in that painting. Along with my main characters. And certain other story elements. On the cover of Asimov’s. Sorry, still getting used to this!
The issue should be arriving in subscribers’ mailboxes or on their Kindles soon, and it’ll be on newsstands May 8. I’m really excited about this story, which is again a little different from most I’ve had published. Read the teaser in my original post and look for it in the July issue! On the cover!
I was asked to do an email interview about “Small Towns”, my novelette currently available in the January/February Fantasy and Science Fiction. Assistant Editor Stephen Mazur has posted the interview over at the F&SF blog.
I was really glad to have the opportunity — writing this one was interesting and unusual, and I hope readers are interested in the extra information.
Go and see!
My first published novelette, first published fantasy, and first published historical fiction are all out on newsstands today and they are all the same thing: “Small Towns,” published in the January/February 2012 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction!
I hope all my stories have their own flavor, but this one is particularly idiosyncratic and I’m quite proud of it.
Here’s the beginning, to whet your appetite:
When Jacques Jaillet was a small boy, he brought home a pocketful of sand from the seaside and dribbled it slowly onto the floorboards of his little room. He made long avenues and cottage roofs, rows of shops, garden walls, a church with a fragment of shell for the tower. Then, for no reason he could later recall, he took a deep breath and blew it all away, the shapes and the order, the grains themselves skittering under the baseboard, gone forever.
When Jacques returned to his market town in 1918, past his middle years, it looked as if here, too, a monstrous child had finished playing and had blown the town, the streets, the houses and shops from the face of the Earth.
I hope you’ll go out and buy the magazine at your local newsstand or Barnes & Nobles. Portlanders, Rich’s Cigar Store has copies!
Edited 1/13/12: F&SF is available for Kindle, as well!
So Ryan and I have been watching Frozen Planet, and I realize I may be a little obsessed.
For example, when describing to a hapless class of high school sophomores the other day how language and the exchange of stories allows us to create continuous culture, I said otherwise we would have to learn everything from scratch, “like baby polar bears emerging from a snow den for the first time.” Because, you know, that was the obvious metaphor?
Or how I drive along thinking about narwhal traffic jams. Or I look at my friends’ dogs and think about how odd it was someone looked at those terrible wolves slavering along after caribou or bison and thought, “I want one of those in my house!”
I think it’s the focused nature of this special that makes it stick so much in my mind: not what it’s about so much as that it’s about one thing. The Planet Earth series was a collection of dazzling and fascinating sights, but so different they didn’t leave an overall impression save that of majesty and variety. This is a symphony with overarching themes. It leaves you looking about you for the cycles in your own life, in humans: the frozen winter that gives way, all of a sudden, to a brief, frenetic period of creation and growth. I think how important it is to seize those moments of sunwarmed opportunity and beauty; but also to know that they will, like the summer sun, always come again.
Yesterday I found myself rubbing my cat’s tummy and telling her out loud a list of diagnostic anatomical features that convince me she can be classified as a felid.
I’m not sure what the implications may be for the famous xkcd Cat Proximity graph.
I am overjoyed to announce my second novelette sale! This one is far-future science fiction, and it will appear in Asimov’s Science Fiction.
Many thanks to my lovely readers! It wasn’t hard to find them for this piece, because it turns out everyone loves space marines. Even retired ones.
Here is a teaser of my novelette! You’ll know more about where to find the rest of it as soon as I do:
Long Night on Redrock
“If you’re exploring the town, you should stop walking,” Peder Finn called down from his porch. The stranger, a fair-haired man bent under a backpack, paused at the gate. Peder pegged him for an offworlder. A dozen telltales said as much; from his low-topped shoes, likely to let in sand, to his unshaded eyes, without tanned-in squint or sunglass marks. It was almost aynid harvest, a suspicious time for an offworlder to come visiting.
The man took in the dusty yard, where Peder’s children had lined and stacked rocks into an imaginary city and set a carved toy horse on an overturned bucket to reign. Finally his gaze settled on Peder, who had paused in carving another toy, a long strip of synthwood still hanging from his knife.
Peder produced a noncommittal smile. “Nothing that way you want to visit.”
Deuxième Edition Française!
In rewatching Amélie recently, one of my two favorite films of all time, I was struck afresh by the word ‘accabler’. It’s one, like our old friend bouleverser, that I reach for in English conversation and whose lack stymies me utterly.
It means ‘weighed down’ or ‘borne down’, but it’s often used figuratively: in Amélie, the heroine imagines Paris “accablé de chagrin” (crushed by woe) at her funeral. The same Greek root, taken as spoils of war by the Romans, gives rise to the French word ‘câble’ (for once, exactly what you think it is, English speaker). I always imagine the burdens not just weighing someone down, but as impossible to escape — connected to them with chains, like the tail of Marley’s ghost. The closest I’ve come in English is ‘encumbered’. Not just crushed but hampered and bound. How many things are figuratively fixed to us in just such a way!
Awesome zoology discovery* of the day: the cuckoo bumblebee!
They are a specialized lineage which has lost social behavior, and lost the ability to collect pollen, and are instead cleptoparasitic in the colonies of other bumblebees. Before finding and invading a host colony, a Psithyrus female (there is no caste system in these species) will feed directly from flowers. Once she has infiltrated a host colony, the Psithyrus female will kill or subdue the queen of that colony and forcibly (using pheromones and/or physical attacks) “enslave” the workers of that colony to feed her and her developing young.
Okay, it’s also sort of sad, because bumblebees are adorable. (Just say it to yourself and try not to smile: ‘bumble’.) But it’s also weird and wonderful and unexpected. I love this stuff.
*For the limited sense of ‘discovery’ that means ‘I didn’t know this until I read it on the internet, but the scientific community has known it for more or less ever.’
I’m listening to a cozy mystery on audiobook. You know the sort of thing I mean: no gore, no guns. Just a puzzle and a well-behaved British sleuth working it out. I wasn’t too many chapters in before I thought, “this may just be too cozy for me.” At first, I thought it was a certain tendency of the author to include too many non-telling details: she turned right on Such Street and walked north to Another Street before proceeding west on Yet Another…she folded her newspaper under her right arm. But as I closed in on the three-quarter mark in this book, I realized that I had yet to meet an unpleasant character.
There’s conflict: World War I and its aftermath, the struggles of a character transcending her social class…I’m not a huge conflict addict myself, I can make do. But when I realize that I’m reading a book with the breakdown of social class as a theme where no character shows any attachment to the old ways, and the high-class characters show no evidence of reluctance to change, vested interest in a system that privileges them, or snootiness toward a ‘social climber’…I stop believing.
I harp a lot on the Vivid Fictive Dream described by John Gardner in Art of Fiction, so maybe you’re sick of it. But this sort of thing — a world with no jerks, no snobs, no self-absorbed idiots making trouble for characters — breaks the reader’s suspension of disbelief. We’re used to accepting, even if we feel a few steps removed from them, flawless protagonists (perhaps especially in mysteries) but flawless supporting cast? Flawless extras? An entire Europe, hell, an entire World War with no human flaws? It’s cloying, and it’s unbelievable. As Agent Smith says, “The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from.”
I love escapist literature. I have comfort books where the hero saves the day and all evil is defeated. These are not particularly realistic things, but a good author can make me believe in them — and one of the ways you convince me to believe in your happily ever after, in spite of everything I know about human nature and the capacity things have to fall apart, is not to lie to me unnecessarily on the way. Gardner tells us that the novel “imitates the world in all its complexity”. That means jerks and petty tyrants, even if you’re not telling a story that needs epic tyrants or sociopaths. The thing about readers is we want you to lie to us, but we want you to tell us a lie we can believe.