Friday, October 29, 2010

Plug: World SF News Blog Call for Submissions

Just want to put a shout-out for the World SF News Blogs Call for Submissions.

Filipino authors can also send me fiction that they want to consider for the site (usual guidelines apply). My email is charlesatan [at] gmail [dot] com.

Plug: “Return to Mariabronn” by Gary A. Braunbeck

Tor emailed me that “Return to Mariabronn” by Gary A. Braunbeck, a short story in Haunted Legends (edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas), was recently dramatized in Writer's Talk. You can listen to it there, or if the audio link doesn't work for you (as was in my case), you can download it from here.

Gary A. Braunbeck’s work has received the International Horror Guild Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the Best Fiction Collection Award from Cemetery Dance. “Return from Mariabronn” is an eerie, updated take on the phantom hitchhiker urban legend—a classic story that has been told around the campfire for generations.

ABOUT HAUNTED LEGENDS:
Darkly thrilling, these twenty new ghost stories have all the chills and power of traditional ghost stories, but each tale is a unique retelling of an urban legend from the world over. Multiple award winning editor Ellen Datlow and award-nominated author and editor Nick Mamatas recruited Jeffrey Ford, Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Lansdale, Caitlin Kiernan, Catherynne M. Valente, Kit Reed, Ekaterina Sedia, and thirteen other fine writers to create stories unlike any they've written before. Tales to make readers shiver with fear, jump at noises in the night, keep the lights on.
ABOUT THE EDITORS:
ELLEN DATLOW has won eight World Fantasy Awards, two Bram Stoker Awards, the International Horror Guild Award, two Hugo Awards, and two Locus Awards for her work as an editor. In a career spanning more than twenty-five years, she has been the fiction editor of OMNI and SCIFI.COM. Datlow has edited many successful anthologies, including The Dark, The Coyote Road, and Inferno. She has also co-edited the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror series, The Faery Reel, A Wolf at the Door, and Swan Sister. She lives in Manhattan.
NICK MAMATAS, co-editor of the groundbreaking fiction magazine Clarkesworld, lives in Northern California.


October 29, 2010 Links and Plugs

Interviews

Advice/Articles
Sending more love to Twelfth Planet Press:
Sprawl edited by Alisa Krasnostein

Thursday, October 28, 2010

October 28, 2010 Links and Plugs

Interviews
Advice/Articles
Bleed by Peter M. Ball

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25, 2010 Links and Plugs

Interviews
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News

Friday, October 22, 2010

October 22, 2010 Links and Plugs

Interviews
Advice/Articles
Belated happy release day:
Weight of Stone by Laura Anne Gilman

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 21, 2010 Links and Plugs

Interviews

Advice/Articles

News

In the Mean Time by Paul Tremblay

Monday, October 18, 2010

October 18, 2010 Links and Plugs

Interviews
Advice/Articles

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 15, 2010 Links and Plugs

Interviews
Advice/Articles
News

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 13, 2010 Links and Plugs

Shout-out to the Strange Horizons Fund Drive. And Lavie's Apex Book of World SF (see first news item below) or else he'll send his ninja-nazi-vampires to hunt me.

Interviews
Advice/Articles
News

Monday, October 11, 2010

Plug: KGB Raffle II

New York, NY (September 2010) – The hosts of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series in New York City are holding a raffle to support the series. Well-known professionals have donated prizes (see Partial List of Prizes below), which will be raffled off in October. All proceeds from the raffle will help support the reading series, which has been a bright star in the speculative fiction community for more than a decade.

Raffle tickets will cost one dollar US ($1) and can be purchased at www.kgbfantasticfiction.org. You may purchase as many

tickets as you want. Tickets will be available from October 11th, 2010 through October 25th, 2010. Sales will close at midnight (Eastern Daylight Time) on October 25th, and shortly afterward, winners will be drawn randomly from a digital "hat" and announced on the web. Prizes will be mailed to the lucky winners by the donors. (See a more detailed explanation in Raffle Rules).

Partial List of Prizes (a full list is available at the website)

  • The Altered Fluid writers group will critique your short story
  • Signed galley of Catherynne Valente's DEATHLESS & handmade necklace
  • Signed copies of INSIDE STRAIGHT, BUSTED FLUSH, and SUICIDE KINGS by George R.R. Martin
  • Your very own wormhole, with a certificate of authenticity by physicist Michio Kaku
  • A used keyboard by Neil Gaiman signed to the winner
  • A signed partial early draft of a manuscript by William Gibson
  • Three unpublished stories by Michael Swanwick where you own the rights till 2015.
  • Nancy Kress will critique your short story
  • A carnivorous plant terrarium
  • A Tuckerization by Richard Bowes
  • Cat Rambo will critique your short story in the form of a poem
  • One copy of each of the twelve titles published by ChiZine press in 2010
  • Barry Goldblatt will critique your YA or middle-grade novel query
  • Jeff & Ann VanderMeer are donating a signed copy of THE KOSHER GUIDE TO IMAGINARY ANIMALS along with a nice ceramic candy bowl, for use with your Candied Cthulhu bits! (recipe included)
  • Two drawings by Tom Canty
  • A session with Peter Straub's masseuse
  • A session with Ellen Datlow's reflexologist
  • A signed copy of THE WAY OF THE WIZARD, edited by John Joseph Adams
  • And dozens more prizes on the website...

About KGB Fantastic Fiction
KGB Fantastic Fiction is a monthly reading series held on the third Wednesday of every month at the famous KGB Bar in Manhattan, hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel. The reading series features luminaries and up-and-comers in speculative fiction. Admission is always free.

Some of our past readers
Joyce Carol Oates, Lucius Shepard, Jeffrey Ford, Scott Westerfeld, Kelly Link, China Miéville, Nancy Kress, Jack Ketchum, Jack McDevitt, Stewart O’Nan, James Patrick Kelly, Barry N. Malzberg, Samuel (Chip) Delany, Holly Black, Michael Swanwick, Kit Reed, Peter Straub, Andy Duncan, Richard Bowes, Catherynne Valente, Ellen Kushner, Jeff VanderMeer, Naomi Novik, Elizabeth Bear, and many others.

A Brief History of the Series
Terry Bisson and Alice K. Turner started the KGB Fantastic Fiction reading series in the late 1990s, attempting to bring together mainstream writers with writers of speculative fiction in order to show, in Alice Turner’s words, “that at a certain level they were plowing exactly the same field.” In the spring of 2000 Ellen Datlow took over for Alice K. Turner and in August 2002 Gavin J. Grant, publisher of Small Beer Press, stepped in for Bisson when he moved to California. Matthew Kressel stepped in for Gavin in April of 2008.

Raffle Rules
Tickets will be on sale from October 11th through October 25th, midnight, Eastern Daylight Time. The raffle will be held on October 25th at midnight. (Winners will be announced as soon as possible after midnight.) Each item will be raffled off individually. You may purchase as many tickets per item as you would like. For example, you may purchase ten tickets for the “Neil Gaiman keyboard” and fifty tickets for the “William Gibson manuscript.”

Each ticket purchase increases your chances of winning. For example, if you purchase five tickets of the “Neil Gaiman keyboard” and a total of ten tickets have been sold, your odds of winning are 5 out of 10.

For each item, one winner will be chosen at random using a computerized random number generator. The winning names and prizes will be announced on the KGB Fantastic Fiction website.

The donor is responsible for mailing the prize to the winner. Please read the item description carefully before purchasing as some donors may not ship outside the United States.

All proceeds from the raffle go to support the reading series.

KGB Fantastic Fiction website:
http://www.kgbfantasticfiction.org

Raffle Information website:
http://www.kgbfantasticfiction.org/kgb-raffle/

List of All Raffle Items online:
http://www.kgbfantasticfiction.org/store/

Book Review: In The Mean Time by Paul Tremblay

When it comes to adult fiction, one prevalent school of thought is to trust the reader, that authors shouldn’t explain everything in exposition, and that endings shouldn’t be didactic. That’s a concept that’s easy to preach but difficult to implement. In fact, when a reader--or writer--complains that you shouldn’t read the last line of a story because it spoils the ending, the narrative is most likely suffering from the aforementioned problem.

The strength and uniqueness of Paul Tremblay’s fiction is that he successfully pulls off this writing recommendation. Not one story in In The Mean Time is condescending and most of the time, I had to carefully reread Tremblay’s prose to fully understand the implications. Over the course of reading the collection, I tweeted that the book was “subtle and spooky and fantastic” and that easily sums up the kind of stories that can be found here. That’s no easy task, especially considering the range of stories present here, whether it’s flash fiction or something as experimental as “The Blog at the End of the World”.

In a certain way, it’s understandable why Tremblay’s prose is the exception rather than the norm. It’s fiction that you can’t easily breeze through but requires you to pause, read between the lines, and assess what’s truly going on. If you have the attention span of a goldfish (admittedly I’m one of them), you’ll miss out on a lot of crucial details. The major difference between Hollywood horror (and some mainstream horror for that matter) and this collection is that the former spells it out for you, and manifests itself in tropes like monsters, murderers, and overt mysteries. With Tremblay, there’s no dramatic music to clue you in that this is the part where you’re supposed to scream. In fact, most of the text is a gradual revelation and it’s only in retrospect that you come to realize hey, this is genuinely creepy stuff. Let me quote the last lines of the opening story, “The Teacher”:

"No. I’m staying where I am. I’m the baseball pitch that stops before home. I’m an empty notebook. I’m half the distance to the wall. I’m the video with an ending that I won’t ever watch."
Taken out of context, it makes no absolute sense (and why I can easily quote it in this review). There is no “big reveal”, no literal monster lurking in the background. If you missed out on what was wrong in the story, simply rereading the last paragraph won’t give you the answers. Within the framework of the story, however, this is a fitting ending. Why does the protagonist compare herself to the baseball pitch, the notebook, the wall, and the video? Tremblay never explicitly tells us but relies on showing us these facts. It’s up to the reader to piece everything and works with our zeitgeist.

Most of the stories here are subtle and implicit, especially my favorites like “The Two-Headed Girl” and “There’s No Light Between Floors”. Perhaps my one complaint is that because a lot of Tremblay’s fiction comes out as strong and potent, when he does attempt something different and mundane, it’s underwhelming. Such is the case with “The Strange Case of Nicholas Thomas: An Excerpt from A History of the Longesian Library” which uses a familiar horror trope, although the characterization remains as detailed as his other stories.

Considering the quality of Tremblay’s short fiction, a collection like In The Mean Time is long overdue. There are a handful of authors which I consider are the “writer’s writer”: Jeffrey Ford, Jeff VanderMeer, Kij Johnson, Mary Robinette Kowal. Paul Tremblay easily belongs to that list, and this book proves it.

October 11, 2010 Links and Plugs

Shout-out to submit to Stone Telling.

Interviews
Advice/Articles
News
Go. Read.

Friday, October 08, 2010

October 8, 2010 Links and Plugs

Interviews
Advice/Articles
News
If I don't plug this book, Jaym Gates will kill me.
Rigor Amortis edited by Jaym Gates and Erika Holt

Thursday, October 07, 2010

October 7, 2010 Links and Plugs

Interviews

Advice/Articles

News
Re-plugging as it's out:

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

October 6, 2010 Links and Plugs

Interviews
Advice/Articles
News
Happy release day:
Blue Fire by Janice Hardy

Monday, October 04, 2010

October 4, 2010 Links and Plugs

Interviews
Advice/Articles
In case I haven't plugged it before. Also check out Scheherezade’s Bequest 11.

Cabinet des Fées: A Fairy Tale Journal Volume 1, Issue 3 Edited by Helen Pilinovsky & Erzebet YellowBoy

Book Review: Haunted Legends edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas


In Nick Mamatas’s short but concise introduction to Haunted Legends, he sums up the reality of the derivative ghost story: safety. And that’s a real problem for what is associated with the horror genre (and fiction in general)--or at least it should be, if you’re a discerning reader. The premise of Haunted Legends is actually a tall order:

“...ask some of the best writers of horror and dark fantasy in the world to choose their favorite “true” regional ghost story, and to rescue it from the cobwebs of the local tourist gift shop or academic journal.”


Now that statement can be interpreted in many ways. If you’re like me, I thought that meant adapting or reinventing existing ghost stories for today’s audience. And it’s that expectation that initially baffled me. Take for example the opening story, “Knickerbocker Holiday” by Richard Bowes. In his opening lines, Bowes teases us with famous icons like the Flying Dutchman and the Headless Horseman yet such entities never appear in the story. The horror aspect of the piece also doesn’t manifest itself in a direct way, the way most Hollywood horror movies or campfire tales do, but rather does so in a subtle and indirect manner (although this is mostly spelled out to the reader in the dialogue between two of the characters towards the end).

The first (and subsequent) stories in the book were surprising because it did prove Mamatas’s initial statements, at how we’ve been trained to expect “safe”--and therefore predictable--ghost stories in our narratives. I’m familiar with Ellen Datlow’s other anthologies for example and I didn’t have expectations of concretized threats (i.e. actual ghosts) which I did for this book. Some readers might take the line of reasoning that the anthology fails because it didn’t live up to the reader’s expectations but was my initial expectation not worth being challenged?

Having said that, Haunted Legends is a mixed bag with some stories forgettable while others are impressive to the point that I’d easily nominate them for awards. I was going to write at how some of the stories were what I initially expected from the anthology but there’s only just one: “The Folding Man” by Joe R. Lansdale. It’s really a modern monster story with its unique monster-of-the-week and perhaps it’s because it’s the only one of its type in this book that it remained memorable. It’s not bad per se, and was definitely fun, but it’s the type of story that I imagine would have lots of commercial potential and actually the type of story I’d find in the local tourist gift shop.

One trend I noticed in some of the stories is that they’re told from a “cultural tourist” point of view. In terms of technical craft, I have no qualms with them (and in fact are great pieces on characterization) but because the story is told from a foreigner’s perspective, the narrative limits itself from delving deeper, either because the author is afraid to experiment, or because they lack that level of familiarity. One exception to this is “Fifteen Panels Depicting the Sadness of the Baku and the Jotai” by Catherynne M. Valente and I think the author sets herself apart because instead of attempting to be faithful to the literal details of the culture she’s writing about, she instead writes to capture its spirit, at the same time infusing it with her own unique writing style.

There are two stories that really stand out. One is “Down Atsion Road” by Jeffrey Ford and it’s a piece that shows us what it means to be familiar with the subject material yet not be a slave to it. Ford owns the story because while the first paragraph teases us with the Jersey Devil, there are other ghosts (yes, plural) in the narrative that the reader is concerned with. In fact, the beauty of “Down Atsion Road” is that the level of revelation is continuous and plays on the unreliable narrator aspect of the piece. Ford uses multiple layers of deception that makes it incredibly effective.

The other noteworthy piece is “The Foxes” by Lily Hoang. It’s not just the juxtaposition that this author employs but the way the text can be interpreted. Is Hoang being literal? Surreal? Fantastical? Each level adds a different layer to the story and the narrative is aware of its own subjectivity. There are multiple themes and sub-textual conflicts here, such as male vs. female, imperialism vs. nationalism, etc., without one ideology dominating over the other.