Saturday, August 25, 2018

California Cray

Well, Conjure Man is off to beta-read, and I'm playing with the sequel, Thin City, which is set in my old stomping ground of Southern California.
California has always had a reputation for the cray: fads in philosophy, religion, politics, lifestyle. I love that stuff. Try something different. Even if you fail, it will be amusing...maybe not to you, but definitely to me. And if you succeed, you've introduced or invented something worthwhile for the entire country. Yoga, drinkable American wines, American cuisine based on fresh food (not burned steak and canned peas), the personal computer - they started out there. (Granted, California also gave us biker gangs, cults, and branded water, so...)
Once leaving the East was no longer a guarantee of personal freedom and the 20th Century monoculture took hold from Maryland to the Great American Desert, California was a bastion of the weird. It's where folks who felt repressed in Hannibal and Toledo came to remake themselves with cheap land and endless sunshine - as far into the sunset as you could go without getting wet. If your notion of freedom was crouching on a piece of real estate behind a shotgun, you became a desert rat in the Mojave. If you were more entrepreneurial, you made it out to Southern California and the Bay Area.
Consider all the F/SF writers born in the Midwest who grew up in or moved to California - Bradbury, Heinlein, Dick, Ellison, Niven, Vance, Kuttner, Moore, Matheson...And the state is littered with the relics of the folks who didn't just write spec-fic: They lived it.

Some of my favorite "relics":

The Winchester Mansion
The Madonna Inn
Hearst Castle
The Integratron
The Self-Realization Fellowship Gardens
The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
The Magic Castle
The Solvang Windmills
The Museum of Jurassic Technology
The Henry Miller Library

If you're ever out there...

Friday, August 24, 2018

This Is Just To Say

I have rejected 
The story
That came from 
your mailserve 

and which 
you had probably 
hoped
would validate you 

Forgive me 
It was atrocious
so trite 
and so old

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Hey, Kids! What Time Is It?

It's time for an author interview!

My interview for Fantasy & Science Fiction is up on their blog, and I am my usual urbane and pithy self. Check it out! (It won't take long.)

And while we're on the subject-
A while back, when I was describing A Dog of Wu to a friend, before I'd written it, she said the worst thing you can say to a fiction writer: "It sounds like..."

In her case, she finished the sentence with "...Brave New World." But my brain heard "...someone else has written your story."

Of course, they hadn't said that. And if you actually read A Dog of Wu (go on, I dare you) you'll see it's nothing like Brave New World. But when you start writing, you're often obsessed with the originality of our ideas: Have that one great idea, your story will be successful, and you'll be off on a career of champagne, caviar, and celebrity pet treats for your dog.

Of course, none of that is true. Hamlet wasn't an original idea; neither was Romeo and Juliet. And wasn't there that musical, West Side...something?

Ideas are ideas. Everybody has them. Originality emerges in execution.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Most Important Thing

"A Dog of Wu" is in here!
#shamelessplug
It seems that my story, A Dog of Wu (appearing in the March/April issue of F&SF) got a mention at Tangent Online: "The author successfully creates a complex future society," they say. I'll take it - especially since, if you think about it, creating a world in 8,000 words is damned hard.
Which is why you shouldn't think about it, if you're a writer. DON'T BUILD A WORLD.
Oh my God. What is he saying? Is he saying that everything should be set in the present, or some easily extrapolated near future? Is he-
Nope-nope-nope. Of course not.
But let's face it: You and I have both read a lot of stories - short, long, and medium - with meticulously worked-out worlds possessed of their own languages, religions, sorceries, technologies, geographies, and ecologies, that somehow just don't work. What makes some thorough, logical universes as dry as dust? What makes an insane, inconsistent universe (e.g. Roger Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness) brilliant and utterly convincing?
No, really, I'm asking. I have no idea.
Okay, maybe I have one or two-