brief extract from wip:

There is the smell of meat and the buzz of a fly--a small insistentcy in my ears, a nagging wrong-ness that drags me back out of the abyss and up into the city real. My body is thick and useless, a flopping flesh marionette. My eyes are crusted shut. My flailing hand finally picks them open. I am in my studio again. Seigfried’s book is in my hand. Across from me lies Siegfried.

Siegfried covered in flies.

Wikibooks. Why did no one tell me?
interzone is the man

As in this is a good thing. Not as in "getting screwed by the man." This is the man we shout and cheer for.

- Why?

Because next year's May-June issue will be the Mundane issue.

- But isn't mundane boring?

Would I be blogging about it if it was?

- Well... surely that answer depends upon what I think of your blog.

Be quiet.

Anyhoo... Yeah, the mundane issue. What this boils down to is a list of stories that meet this list of rules:

• no FTL travel or communications
• no aliens
• no time travel
• no parallel universes
• no immortality or telepathy

This is awesome-ness. These are potential genre crutches, which can undermine the creativity and imagination of speculative fiction. Geoff Ryman, by kicking these crutches away, is forcing invention back into spec fic. The more we see of this sort of behavior the better. Even cooler that this is taking place in a magazine as prominent as Interzone.

- So a little bit exciting?

I said be quiet.
visual steampunkery follow-up

After blogging about some steampunk designs back on Friday I further explored the old web-space and chased a link to Keith Thompson's web-site. Simply stunning stuff. A mad mix of tarot and steampunk imagery all rendered absolutely beautifully. Incredibly inspiring stuff.


great concept, wonderful execution

I just wanted to take a moment to speak of the wonderfulness that is conceptart.org

Definitely worth checking out there forums to see what's up. Almost always something amazing every day. It's bad for my writing because it makes me want to abandon it and take up painting again. Just some marvelous visions of both fantasy and scifi. Stuff that's at least as good as you'll find in a Spectrum collection (although admittedly mixed in with some stuff that's not as good).

Specific threads that are blowing my mind right now:

Steampunk designs

pstraub's concept, matte, speed painting, and illustration work

alice in wonderland macabre/dark interpretations



Jay Lake made a really interesting post today about the difference between fantasy and sci-fi (and no, it doesn't state that sf could happen and fantasy couldn't, because who in there right mind would make an argument that silly...). I posted in comments and am vaguely satisfied with what I wrote, so rather than retype it here I thought I'd just post the link, so that you can see what other, more sensible people had to say.

So here it is: Fairy tales of future past


the soundtrack of steampunk?

Just wanted to link to the most excellent "The Dear Hunter" who have put their full album up at purevolume. Of course my musical tastes are not yours, but personally I find this to be wonderful writing music.

the post i was destined to write

I was listening to a rather groovy interview with Mr China Mié
ville on the Bat Segundo show and he was talking about characters and destiny and how he always felt it was slightly suspicious as a child. Personally, as a child, I freaking loved the stuff. Because it gave me that hope that maybe, just maybe I might be destined for something too, something big and cool, and (hopefully) magical.

This may shock, but I was a bit of a geek.

Yeah, the use of the word "was" there wasn't completely truthful.

I would know like to openly state that destiny is a crock of shit. This is not just childhood disillusionment. I have made my peace with the fact that I am not destined to throw magical fireballs and save the world. It's something I live with...

Anyhoo... the reason I want to complain about it now, is that the idea of destiny totally robs individuals (be they fictional or real) of any sense of volitional control. It fosters a mindset in which the individual can do nothing to change events, because maybe they're not a chosen one. And if they are, well they are... they don't have to do anything to become that person. And that's a dangerous mindset.

So many stories show us that people can change, but once destiny is introduced then that message is undercut and completely devalued. It's a form of learned helplessness and it benefits no-one.

We make our own fates. We may make a mess of it, but we do it. Sure situations out of our control both hinder and help us. The capricious force of coincidence is rife in the world. There are 6 billion people all with their own agendas out in the world too. But these forces are not destined to be. It may feel like that, but giving into that mindset is just another way of giving up.

So yeah, no pre-destined paths in fantasy, basically. 'nuff said.


International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day!

In celebration of the most excellent
International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day (a response to the rant by Howard V. Hendrix) I am posting a shortshort called "consumed culture", which was living in my notebook and which was otherwise likely to die there. The editing is minimal, and the thinking in it light, but I think it's the principal that counts. Scalzi for president, etc.

consumed culture

I am listening to Britney Spears when I die. We are in the car, my sister and I, counting down the top ten, our enjoyment inversely proportional to the ranking. Then the other car comes and I die.

My sister doesn’t die, just breaks her leg. I am only dead for a little while. But I am dead—lying down and not moving at all. But then, I don’t know, maybe one of the ambulance guys knows voodoo or something because he brings me back. That’s what they tell me: ‘You were dead but he brought you back.” I figure it must be voodoo. Because I’m dead, right? I just haven’t stopped moving.

It takes me a long time to work out what I am, who I am. I put on my old clothes and I go back to school, but I’m different. I know I am. I can feel it. My clothes and my friends no longer feel comfortable. None of the old labels fit me any more. I stand apart.

The worst of it is the food. I can’t eat it now. Because I’m dead. It tastes like nothing. I spit it out. But I am so hungry.

I figure maybe I’m a vampire so I buy some blood from the butchers. Pig’s stuff. I’ve seen how you can do it on TV. But it tastes so gross and it makes me gag, so I toss it down the drain.

Next I think maybe I’m a zombie. They eat brains but I’m not cool with that at all so I buy a hot dog from a vendor on the street. That shit’s got to have some spinal cord or something in it. You get all sorts of shit in those things.

But it doesn’t work, and now you wouldn’t believe how hungry I am.

Since I died, I’ve got all new clothes. All from thrift stores and places like that. None of them have designer labels because I can’t find any that fit me any more. My parents say I’m going through a phase. “Adjusting to the trauma.” I saw a shrink but her neat TV sound-bites we no longer things I could understand.

That’s another thing: the TV. I can’t understand what the people are saying any more. How can that be a phase?

Eventually I work it out. I don’t know how. But I see my sister’s T-shirt drying after the laundry and it has this great big designer logo on it, curling and unfurling all over the fabric. My mouth starts to water and I can’t help but take the T-shirt and start to push it into my mouth. Eat it, I suppose, but not that exactly, something else that I’d brought back with me from being dead.

When I’m done it is just a plain pink T-shirt. The is was gone. It’s inside me. And the hunger isn’t quite as bad. But I lose control a little then. My sister’s out and I go to her room. I go through everything she has. I eat it all.

She doesn’t seem to notice. Not like you would imagine anyway. But she feels it. So can her friends. They stand with her differently, talk to her differently. She listens to them differently. She is like me.

We take others now, one by one. You’ll see us, standing apart, clothed in blank unembroidered cloth. Our numbers are growing. None of us look alike but still you will spot us. Because we look nothing like you.
the flurry of posting continues!

While I munched on my cereal this morning I was thoroughly entertained by this video. Don't know who was responsible for the idea behind this vid, whether it was the folks in Modest Mouse themselves or the director (whose name I sadly don't know) but I love the sense of fantasy and play behind this. Enjoy. Enjoy it now!

a little bit excited

Ann Vandermeer rocks. Ninja rocks. Why, you ask. Because she bought my story "The Blank Card" to appear in Weird Tales. First pro sale. How excited am I?

Very. Obviously.

I don't know when it's coming out, but you can subscribe to Weird Tales for half-price at the moment so you could do that and eventually hermaphroditic pirate action will be yours. Whoop.
sing it with me

The inestimable Paul Jessup has released issue 2 of his most excellent magazine Grendelsong. To celebrate this he's having a virtual release party which features Catherynne M. Valente reading aloud her poetic contributions to the magazine. So that's basically awesome. To check it all out visit his blog. It's linked over on the right but you can also just click here.

All hyperbole aside, Grendelsong is a great magazine, up there with zines like Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet and Electric Velocipede. Purchasing a copy is supporting the future of this wonderful genre. For what it's worth, I recommend.