Right, I'm off.

I have transitioned over to LiveJournal.

New address for those who care: http://thexmedic.livejournal.com/

Blame Ekaterina Sedia. It's all her fault.


what i've been up to

I've been very quiet on the old blog, pretty much because I'm working on a novel, and that is sucking all spare time from me. I don't have the balls Paul Jessup does, to put it all up online, so you'll just have to trust me...

In other news, I just sold my short story "Between the Lines" to Farrago's Wainscot. It describes itself thusly:
Farrago's Wainscot is an exhibition of weirds, an almanac of experimentation, decay, and the problems with form. We present ideas: stories that estrange themselves, articles on anything from wormholes to haberdashery, poetry that makes of metaphor a transubstantial sigh—a hesitation at the thresholds of contemporary consciousness and interstitial art.
which is just plain cool if you ask me. Anyhoo, I'm very excited. Previously my story "The Histories of Now" was published as part of the Post-Industrial-Fantasy issue of Behind the Wainscot, Farrago's side-project and repository of shorter works (which I also like, but, of course, I would).

Anyway, that's enough hideous self-pimpage and linkage from me.


the greatest fight ever

Bruce Lee vs Chuck Norris.

Ever. Ever, ever, ever.

check it

Paul Jessup is doing something very cool: the transparent novel. He's putting
everything up on the web, all his preparatory writing, thoughts on process, plus the stuff itself, first drafts, edits, etc. For anyone interested in seeing how someone goes about doing this, then it's already promising to be a fascinating project. And if you're simply interested reading great fiction, then I think it's going to be good for that too.



Brief break in rant transmission: I sold my short story "Debut-de-siecle" (you'll just have to imagine I bothered to put all the appropriate accents in there) to Fantasy Magazine.


Now back to being grumpy...
one more thing

Elves. Or dwarves. Or pretty much any race that's defining characteristic will be: its race. Because you know what that is? That's racism. Saying, oh he/she behaves this way because he/she is an elf is racist. It's making an assumption about them based upon their race.

But woah, woah, woah, you say they really are a different race. They're fundamentally biologically different.

And if you say that then you're talking bullshit. Because they're made up! They're not biologically different. They can't be. They're fictional! And what's more, they behave just like people, except, I don't know, they love trees and are all employed as trackers. WTF? But because of the itty-bitty little fact of their non-reality, these characters of other races automatically lend themselves towards representing the "other". And there is no more maligned race in this world than the "other". Perpetuating that by defining a character by their race (be they elvish, martian, whatever) is racist.

Now I'm not against other races per se, but if you're going to use them, treat them like a diverse social group, which they surely would be. Unless you have giant ant people with hive mind or something. Then it's OK.

Wait... no... no it's not. Because what possible metaphor could giant, hive-mind ant people be but for the uniformity of the other? So don't use them either. They're on the goddamn list.


more on plot big-ness

OK, big plot--what's out? Quest objects for sure. I mean, in the entire twentieth, and beginning of the twenty-first centuries has there been any one object that has solved all our problems? No. There have been some wonderful advances in medicine, communications, etc, that have revolutionized the way we live, but no one thing has solved all our problems. Indeed no single one technology has revolutionized the way we live, instead it has been a steady stream of small things all culminating upon each so it seems that way. To claim that some gem, or mystical sort, or whatever shit can do this, is puerile escapism. Only the subsequent dashing of that hope is relevant. More interesting perhaps is what to do, once the quest object is achieved--because you know that shit's going to open a can of worms. Golden ages exist only in our nostalgic minds. They can never be recreated because they never truly existed.

Trilogies. Your plot may be big. But seriously, in all honesty, is it that big? Or are you just padding for marketability? Making your fiction "marketable" is killing your fiction. Well, neutering it at the very least. And I for one want my fiction to go out there, fuck as many minds as it can, and have babies.

Lessons brought back that change the way we live. It would be wonderful if it happened, if the lesson we learned was universally accepted, if everyone looked at us and nodded their heads and said, yes, you are right. Hell, why do you think I blog. But it doesn't happen. We shout alone into empty rooms. Maybe somebody next door might hear, but they're probably out having a good time. Also, what if someone has a different opinion? If there's one thing the past ten years should have taught us, it's that we don't know the only way to do things, and we almost certainly don't know the best way. And when we try to tell people we do know it, they get pissed. Yes, characters should change, should learn, should grow, but expecting everyone to follow suit, it stretches believability beyond its breaking point. The ripples individuals make are small. Only together can they make the pool spill its banks. And that sort of rainstorm isn't achieved by one person sharing their new-found knowledge.

Feudalism-lite. Do I really have to go into this? Really? How many benevolent dictators can you think of?

So what should be in the new big plot? Look to the world, not to the world as it is portrayed but to the world as it is, at the bewildering mass of news, at your messy, complicated personal life. Look at the chaos that we try to order everyday and bring that madness, that mess to the table.

Mess is the future of big plot. The petty everyday motives that drive people, their personal hopes and dreams which only coincidentally affect the bigger picture. The big picture is there, but it has a realistic focus in people's consciousness. This will have certain requirements, I'm sure: broadening the focus, the number of lead character's (though plentiful character's has never been that much of a problem in the big plot fantasies I recall), a reassessment of what it actually takes to cause change in this world (fantasy may finally have to take politics seriously), why things change. Bureaucracy and coincidence will all have an increased role. And I know that they don't sound like big plot elements, but these things, these little things I'm advocating are not the be all and end all of the new big plot, they are simply the new groundwork that big plot must build up from, must take into consideration. Who knows the end product may be remarkably similar, but, goddammit, as long as we're thinking, trying to bring the basics up to date, then the wonderful genre I grew up loving, and still love to this day, has a future.

Now go write wonderful inventive genre fiction that ignores all my advice/random posturing and prove me a jackass.


interesting definition of "real"

just came across this and I had to share it...

Are the riding lizards in the Drizzt Do'urden books real? If so, could someone tell me their stats?

plot in a big way

Just trying to get some thoughts out of my head here. Bear with me...

I've been thinking about the term "literary fiction". It seems to have two connotations:

1. Quality--if something's "literary" then it's of value, it's worth-reading. Works that are "literary" are therefore perceived of as being of greater intellectual worth than genre books.

2. Plot-lite--Literary novels do not have the great steep plot-arcs of genre fiction. They concentrate on character, mood, setting, all the other parts that make up a novel.

Now, since the advent of New Weird in the early nought-y's there's been a movement for bringing more literary values to fantasy. This is not to say that this is what New Weird demanded (though the people involved in that furor certainly did seem to aspire to better quality fiction, and who can blame them), rather it was about capturing the zeitgeist, writing about the now, rather than some non-existent commiseratory past made up by Tolkein. However, as very few of the literary-fiction types claim to be New Weird types then I'm not sure it's important, except as a historical marker for this sort of fiction getting a wider audience.

With this, I think, there has been a drop off in the steep arcs of sci-fi's pulp past. Which is kind of funny 'cos Mieville referred to New Weird as the pulp wing of the surrealist movement. In fact, as I think about it now, Mieville is really still doing exactly what I want to do: big plots, literary values. I want the big plots to make a come back. I want people desperately rushing to save the world. I want it done in a vaguely realistic and well-written way.

Big plot's can survive the literary-isation of genre fiction, they just can't be ridiculous big plots. Big plot in fantasy isn't defined by one man and his sword fighting to save humanity. The world is in peril all the time, but groups of people act to save it. A million tiny events, a million actors all working on their own agendas effect events. Pull out a few of the more significant players, a few of the more significant factors, don't ignore coincidence, and plot can survive, transformed yes, but still a towering behemoth. Increased complexity just means the writing is more of a challenge, not that it can't be done (not that I'm suggesting the literary writers of now can't do big plot, they just have different goals than I do). So, dammit, I'm going to try to do it.
yet more hideous self-pimpage

So, I just found out that my story "The Blank Card" is going to be in Ann Vandermeer's inaugural issue of Weird Tales. Issue #347, the October/November issue. Being there front for her big WT debut is getting me very excited.


yet another reason to subscribe to electric velocipede

Well, it's another reason if you're my mum...

Mr John Klima has bought my story "The Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle."