Archive for the 'hm' Category

Jul 09 2013

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At ReaderCon This Weekend

I will be at ReaderCon– one of my favorite cons!– in north Boston, again this year.

Saturday at 11:30 AM, I have a solo Reading from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, where I will read from some stories from the magazine. Audience’s choice! Older stories, current ones, and even forthcoming ones from later this summer or our Fifth Anniversary Double-Issue this Oct.

Saturday at 2 PM, I am on the panel The Relationship of Reality and Fantasy. It’s about fantasy secondary worlds borrowing elements from real history, in particular the social consciousness facet of societies, and readers’ interpretations of them; for example the irony of fans who accept magic and dragons but balk at the idea of female pirates or a black Lancelot because they’re “unrealistic.” It asks, whose reality does fantasy need to reflect in order to be believable?

I deal with fantasy secondary worlds all the time with BCS, so I have plenty of thoughts on this. Whose reality do I think that fantasy needs to reflect in order to be believable? Come to the panel and find out. :)

I will have shiny BCS flyers and postcards. I hope to also have the shiny tiny rocket-ship badge pin that I get for BCS being a Hugo Award finalist this year. :)

Feel free to drop by the Saturday reading or panel or to stop me in the halls and say hello!

If you’re looking for me in the bar, note that this year, the bar is closed for renovations! The horror! But the fancy restaurant’s bar apparently will be open late, so you might find me in there. :)

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Jul 02 2013

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Readercon Jitters

Filed under hm,News

Behold, my schedule for this year’s Readercon, which is next week.

Friday July 12

12:00 PM    G    Writing Others I: Theory. Michael J. DeLuca, Andrea Hairston, Rose Lemberg, Maureen F. McHugh, Daniel José Older, Joan Slonczewski (leader), Sabrina Vourvoulias. Authors who want to write outside their own experiences of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, and sexuality face a multitude of challenges. How do we present each character’s unique perspective while celebrating their distinctive identity and avoiding stereotypes and appropriation? How is the research and writing process affected by differences between the author’s and the character’s levels of societal privilege? Is it possible to write about future diversity without oppression, or does today’s reality require us to write in today’s frame? Which authors have handled this well, and what form does “handling this well” take?

Proposed by Joan Slonczewski and Michael J. DeLuca.

1:00 PM    G    Writing Others II: Practice. Michael J. DeLuca, Rose Lemberg, Daniel José Older, Joan Slonczewski, Sarah Smith. This practical discussion, led by Joan Slonczewski and Michael J. DeLuca, is for writers who have read Writing the Other, or otherwise carefully studied the pitfalls of cultural appropriation, and decided to take the plunge of writing about people whose experiences differ significantly from the author’s. How does one go about acquiring sufficient understanding of another culture, gender, or sexuality to write about it respectfully, productively, and effectively? We’ll discuss research techniques and writing methods used by successful writers of the other, as well as problems and solutions we’ve encountered in our own work. Attending “Writing Others I: Theory” is recommended.

Saturday July 13

10:00 AM    VT    Reading Michael J. DeLuca reads “Remorse and the Pariah,” a mini-epic poem published in Abyss & Apex.

Sunday July 14

10:00 AM    G    Digital Marginalia: A Conversation with Your Future Self. Neil Clarke, Michael J. DeLuca, David G. Shaw (moderator), Ruth Sternglantz, Gayle Surrette. Electronic reading devices allow us to carry huge libraries wherever we go. They also provide us with the ability to highlight, annotate, and share what we read. In a 2012 blog post, Clive Thompson described this enhanced reading experience as “a conversation with the author, with yourself, and in a weird way, if you take it along as a lifelong project… a conversation with your future self.” According to Craig Mod, “The book of the past reveals its individual experience uniquely. The book of the future reveals our collective experience uniquely.” What tools will we embed within digital texts to signal this shifting relationship with literature, and how will readers use them?

I’m the token white guy on those Writing Others panels. This comes as no surprise—it was partly my idea—but that doesn’t make me any less nervous. I have only the shallowest command of the theory, have not read nearly as widely as I should (though struggling to correct that as we speak) and have participated not at all in the great debate. Believe me, I will be showing up prepared, with copious notes and humility. Not that it will do any good. You know what might do some good? A friendly face or two in the crowd. So please come. Because it’s an important topic, getting more important pretty much in real time. Because it’s something we all need to know. And because I have put myself in the unenviable position of really, really needing it in order to keep writing what I want to write.

Nerves aside, I’m sure it’s going to be a great weekend with people I love dearly and don’t get to see enough.

Come to my reading too!

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May 23 2013

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Balticon, Ho!

I will be at Balticon, the annual Baltimore F/SF con, this Sunday for the day, including on several panels about editing and podcasting:

From Slush to Sale (Sun, 1:00 PM)

This panel will be a reprise of the ‘From Slush to Sale’ roundtable that I was on in February hosted by the Baltimore SF Society. Other editors on this panel include Hildy Silverman, editor of Space & Time, who has bought several of my stories.

We’ll be discussing various aspects of the submission, acceptance, and editing process, including the ever-popular ‘what do editors want’ and its converse, ‘what do editors see all to often’. :)

Jake Bible We Hardly Knew Ye: The Current State of Podcast Fiction (Sun, 2:00 PM)

This panel features a number of prominent podcasters, such as Mur Lafferty. I will be representing the trends in ‘hybrid’ online magazines–those, like BCS, that publish short fiction in text / ebooks and in audio podcasts.

Editors’ Q&A Session (Sun, 4:00 PM)

This panel includes several editors of theme anthologies and will answer audience questions about submissions, acceptances, and the publishing process, for anthologies and magazines. I’m moderating, and I’ve got a stack of my own questions to ask, including some that I bet you’ve never heard before. :)

I will also have the requisite stack of shiny BCS flyers and postcards. If you see me in the halls, feel free to say hello!

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Mar 14 2013

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Stuff (Fiction) I Have Coming Out in 2013 (in Theory)

Filed under hm,News

To remind myself when I forget. Also, once in awhile one must break down and do a little self-promo. Alphabetical by title.

  • “Construction-Paper Moon”, a father-daughter SF story, in Space & Time #118, reprinted from The Homeless Moon 1.
  • “Deer Feet”, a YA urban fantasy story set in my old neighborhood in Jamaica Plain, Boston, in Urban Green Man.
  • “Other Palimpsests”, a Borgesian horror story, in Bibliotheca Fantastica.
  • “Remorse and the Pariah”, a mini-epic poem about the cyclops from Homer, in Abyss & Apex.
  • “The Unicyclist’s Fate”, an electropunk love story set in the ’30s, in Airships and Automatons, reprinted from The Homeless Moon 3.
  • “The Urchin’s Dark Kite”, a fairytale, in White Cat, reprinted from the now-defunct A Fly in Amber.

I think that’s everything so far. Three new stories, three reprints.

I need to write more.

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Mar 10 2013

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Lois the Witch and Other Stories

gaskell

My review of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Lois the Witch and Other Stories is now live at Innsmouth Free Press as part of their Women in Horror Week. Like most Victorian writers Gaskell wrote her share of ghost stories and those in the collection are a nice grim assortment. Not only that but I suggest that Gaskell’s ghost stories serve as proto-noir and precursors to the  works of Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson, and Dorothy Hughes.

I also make a joke about bonnets and four-in-hand neckties.

Go check it out.

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Feb 13 2013

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Rainy Saturday

Filed under genre aphorisms,hm

There will never be a rainy Saturday afternoon long enough for all the movies that require a rainy Saturday afternoon to be fully appreciated.

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Jan 17 2013

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Immortal ConFusion

Filed under hm,News

has nothing to do with either navel-gazing vampires or an opiated Duncan MacLeod. Not much, anyway. It’s the name of a Detroit-area speculative fiction convention I’ll be at this weekend along with suspects such as Saladin Ahmed, Justin Howe, Scott H. Andrews et al. Maybe we’ll see you there.

My schedule is as follows:

Saturday 11:00 AM Reading: Michael J. Deluca & Scott H. Andrews Windsor
Join Michael J. Deluca & Scott H. Andrews as they read from forthcoming work. Michael J. DeLuca, Scott H. Andrews

Saturday 2:00 PM So Your Protagonist Is An Orphan… Southfield
Batman. Luke Skywalker. Cinderella. Frodo Baggins. Dorothy in Wizard of Oz. Harry Potter. James Bond. Superman. One of the few things that heroic characters have in common is that they often have dead parents. While this does sever their ties to past and family, and while this often kick-starts the hero’s journey…can we lay off for a while? What is it about the orphan angle that we can’t seem to leave alone, and what kind of alternatives could provide an equally compelling Batman? Carrie Harris (M), Diana Rowland, Doug Hulick, Mary G. Thompson, Michael J. DeLuca

Sunday 10:00 AM Religion In SF/F Erie
Is there a place for religion in Fantasy and Science Fiction beyond a tool for the villainous? How do we produce fantastical faiths, or imagine a future society that does not lampoon people who believe? Aspects of religious demagoguery are often the go-to model in speculative fiction, for good reason, but what else should authors be looking for from theology? Alastair Reynolds, Brian McClellan, Howard Andrew Jones, Michael J. DeLuca (M), Saladin Ahmed

Sunday 11:00 AM What The Heck Is Literary Fiction? Erie
Literary fiction has cachet. Publishers love it – but what exactly do they mean? When “Literary” works can include post-apocalyptic scenarios, science-bending technology, generation-spanning storylines that run from sword swinging to future technologies, how does one define “Literary”? Should we, as authors or audience, even try,? Is this definition a cover for “serious” writers dipping their toes into our favorite subjects? Kat Howard, Michael J. DeLuca, Myke Cole, Ron Collins (M)

Hoo I signed up for too many of these. If nobody strenuously objects, I shall likely not post panel notes this time. They’re not that interesting, and anyway I’d rather be posting more Guatemala pictures instead.

If you come to just one thing, make it the reading. Saturday at 11 AM. Scott and I will make an effort to have something cool and homemade for (some of) you to taste. First come, first served.

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Dec 02 2012

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Favorite Reads 2012

Filed under #2012,books,hm

It’s December. Here’s my list of ten favorite reads for the year.

1. The Vagabond – Colette

Rene Neree is a divorced woman in the first decade of the 20th century who has “fallen” from society and become a vaudeville performer. The crux of the book concerns the question of whether she should give up the stage and remarry or reject a comfortable marriage in order to pursue her career. What sweeps you along is less the plot and more just Rene’s character and perceptions as she lives and travels around Europe. You have to love Colette. She’s sharp, perceptive, and funny without being genteel. In the book’s first chapter she calls a man a whore. You have to appreciate that.

2. The Tartar Steppe – Dino Buzzati

Drogo is a newly appointed captain whose first assignment is a remote fort on the border. At first he hates the place but as time goes on he finds himself incapable of living elsewhere. It’s a bit funny and a bit sad. I wrote about this one in a One Book, Four Covers post.

3. Embassytown – China Mieville

Tons have been written about this book. It’s SF set on an alien world where the aliens speak a peculiar language that requires the development of genetically engineered human ambassadors. The main character is not an ambassador but a woman who is a colonist and has entered the alien language as a metaphor.

4. The Strangers in the House – Georges Simenon

 I like books about grubby curmudgeons with substance abuse problems who despite these traits or maybe because of them can face certain challenges and succeed over them. Simenon wrote a ton of books. When he’s good he’s very good indeed. Here’s a quote.

5. Riddley Walker – Russell Hoban

Post-apocalyptic wandering around radioactive England written in a crude degraded form of English – what’s not to love? Seriously. This is one of those books that can possibly make you drunk by reading it. The One Book, Four Covers treatment is here.

6. Dark Companion – Jim Nisbet

This book was just loopy. It’s a violently absurd noir novel about the relationship between a deadbeat drug dealer and his level headed Indian-American neighbor. Mayhem ensues. Sort of hard to say more about it than that.

7. Wild Life – Molly Gloss

Wild Life is set in the Pacific Northwest during the early decades of the 20th century and features a feminist single mother of five as its heroine. A child goes missing near one of the lumber camps and the woman sets out to find her despite the stories of a mysterious creature wandering in the woods. This description doesn’t do the story justice. It’s a powerful read. If you want a hint of Gloss’s style read The Grinell Method over here at Strange Horizons.

8. The Story of General Dann and Mara’s Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog – Doris Lessing

This is the sequel to Mara and Dann. It’s not as intense as its predecessor, and mostly focuses on Dann who spends much of the book doing nothing except moping and drugs. As with the Simenon book mentioned above I like books like this. This one also had the added pleasure of being set millennia in the future when much of Europe is covered by ice.

9. Lolly Willowes – Sylvia Townsend Warner

I adored this book. Another early 20th century woman refuses to accept the roles society offers her, and in this case she packs off to the countryside and becomes a witch. Here’s the One Book, Four Covers for it. And here’s a bit more. Warner’s collection of fairy stories for adults The Kingdoms of Elfin is also pretty great.

10. Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino

Friends have been telling me to read this for years now. The frame story involves a young Marco Polo telling Kublai Khan of all the fabulous cities Polo has visited in his travels. The cities are of course fabrications  — fantasies and metaphors symbolizing human relationships with others and objects and ideas, and yeah, it’s great.

# # #

And if you’re curious here’s the list from last year.

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Nov 02 2012

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Tlön, R’lyeh, Orbis Tertius (Notes for my Bibliofantasies Panel)

Friday 3:00 p.m. Vaughan BIBLIOFANTASIES
Many classics of the fantasy and supernatural revolve around mysterious, exotic, arcane, or potentially threatening books or collections of books. The panel will go beyond the Necronomicon to discuss examples, and the enduring popularity of the trope. Helen Marshall (M), Tina Connolly, Jennifer Crowe, Michael DeLuca, Don Pizarro.

All books are codifications of thought–they take something mutable and subjective and make it fixed and objective. This has vast potential negative consequences; e.g. religious doctrines. Writing anything down is an act of exclusion.

Myth-encodification

  • Book of the Dead, Egyptian, Tibetan
  • Popol Vuh – fascinating example because lost and found again. What happened to the myth in the intervening time? It exploded.
  • Plato’s Phaedrus – A Socratic dialogue wherein Socrates shoots down the written word as lazy and weak.
  • The standardization of the Bible. apocrypha, gospel of Judas
  • Malleus Maleficarum
  • Grimm’s, Mabinogion

Fictional books are a resistance to this process. They restore subjectivity and mutability–at least, until somebody actually tries to write them. Thinking about this conflict leads me to Borges and Lovecraft: Lovecraft because he’s in the panel description, Borges because I’m pretty much always thinking about Borges.

Lovecraft
“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” –Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu”

By which of course he means also the opposite, that terror is founded on the attempt to correlate experience with that which contradicts experience. I really like and am sad that I can’t corroborate the theory (Wikipedia, elsewhere) that Abdul Alhazred’s last name comes from “all has read”, that the Necronomicon is the result of a human being attempt to comprehend everything–or at least, everything that has been written.

Wilbur had with him the priceless but imperfect copy of Dr. Dee’s English version which his grandfather had bequeathed him, and upon receiving access to the Latin copy he at once began to collate the two texts with the aim of discovering a certain passage which would have come on the 751st page of his own defective volume. This much he could not civilly refrain from telling the librarian–the same erudite Henry Armitage (A. M. Miskatonic, Ph. D. Princeton, Litt.D. Johns Hopkins) who had once called at the farm, and who now politely plied him with questions. He was looking, he had to admit, for a kind of formula or incantation containing the frightful name of Yog-Sothoth, and it puzzled him to find discrepancies, duplications, and ambiguities which made the matter of determination far from easy. As he copied the formula he finally chose, Dr. Armitage looked involuntarily over his shoulder at the open pages; the left-hand one of which, in the Latin version, contained such monstrous threats to the peace and sanity of the world.

–Lovecraft, “The Dunwich Horror”

Borges

“…an enormous circular book with a continuous spine…that cyclical book is God.” –Borges, “The Library of Babel”

“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” is the fragmentary, subjective history of a conspiracy to create an encyclopedia describing a fictional culture whose establishing principle is subjectivity. It may in fact be an indirect reference or homage to the Necronomicon? Lovecraft died 1937, story first published 1940. And we know Borges read Lovecraft, though he didn’t like him much, because later he wrote “There are More Things”, an acknowledged Lovecraft homage (in reference to which Borges calls Lovecraft “un parodista involuntario de Poe”). And (skipping over Clark Ashton Smith etc) the fan reproductions/insertion of Necronomicon entries in card catalogues etc seems to originate in the 70s, possibly influenced in turn by Borges (or by a secret conspiracy to allow Borges to influence the legacy of Lovecraft)? Cool! Johannes Valentinus Andrea, 17th century philosopher referenced in “Tlön”, “invents” the Rosicrucians in approximately the same way Borges invents the cult of the Necronomicon? Through satire. Hee! And by drawing this silly connection, I am more or less aping the philosophers and literary theorists of Tlön, who “seek not truth, or even plausibility–they seek to amaze, astound.”

Consider, with respect to all this, the old saw that it becomes less scary once you see it. Lovecraft suffers from this–At the Mountains of Madness becomes a story about eldritch cosmic bureaucrats once we learn too much about them. In “The Dunwich Horror” I wish the big slimy whipporwill-tweeting thing would have stayed invisible. Does this mean being in the position of Adbul Alhazred–knowing everything and making the decision to record the most awful part of it (making it the truth?) would actually be, not sublime, not awe-ful, but freaking boring?

Still, for some reason, in this my fourth or fifth time through “Tlön, Uqbar”, I find myself most intrigued by the reclusive Texan millionaire, Ezra Buckley, whose arrogance impels the clandestine society of Tlön to create not a country but a planet, and who ends up being as responsible as anybody in this story for the world’s true history being eclipsed by that of Tlön. I’m kind of itching to write a story about him.

More Fictional Books in Classic Genre

  • Eco – Name of the Rose
  • Alexander – The Book of Three
  • Gaiman – Sandman, Destiny’s book, the Library of Lost Books
  • Ende – The Neverending Story – interesting example, since it at once creates the fictional book and codifies that book, but only partly so. As I interpret it, the second half of the novel breaks out of the bindings of the fictional Neverending Story, though of course not the physical one.

Fictional Books I’ve Read Recently and in the Near Future

  • Carlos Ruiz Zafon – The Shadow of the Wind
  • Gabriela Damian Miravete – “Future Nereid”, in Three Messages and a Warning
  • Me – “Other Palimpsests”, everybody else (or so I presume) in Bibliotheca Fantastica
  • Samatar – A Stranger in Olondria – There’s an ebook coupon for a free sample of this in your WFC swag bags.

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Oct 29 2012

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World Fantasy 2012

Filed under hm,News

I’ll be at World Fantasy in Toronto this weekend. I’m on a panel Friday at 3 PM about the trope of the mysterious/eldritch tome in fantasy and horror, “Bibliofantasies” (with other clever people from the Bibliotheca Fantastica anthology), for which I have been idly developing a vague theory about Borges, Orbis Tertius and the Necronomicon. I’ll post the notes here later. Aside from that…well, you probably know where to find me (hint: it’s where they pour the beer).

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