January 27, 2014
Before the book tour, I spent a couple of days in NYC being a tourist and hanging out with writer friends. I stayed in the East Village, and it wasn’t until I got there that I realized I was just a few blocks from Jokertown in the Wild Cards universe, which is a chunk of the Lower East Side.
In fact, when I got home, I checked: in my upcoming story in the next book, Lowball (read a sneak preview of Lowball here!), Ana Cortez, Earth Witch, is living on East 5th Street, also very near Jokertown. This is near where I was staying, a block off 12th Street and 1st Avenue:
Totally in Ana’s neighborhood! I’d never been in this part of NYC before, and it’s one of those parts of the city that looks familiar and iconic — tenements with fire escapes, busy streets full of rushing pedestrians, funky shops and restaurants everywhere you turn. I had some great Indian and Chinese food, and kept looking over my shoulder for characters from the books to walk by.
I also visited the Cloisters, the Met’s storehouse for medieval art and home of the unicorn tapestries, because I’m a medieval culture geek and I’d never been there. It wasn’t until realizing I was staying in Ana’s neighborhood that I also remembered that the big superhero battle in Wild Cards 2: Aces High, takes place at the Cloisters.
It was a gloomy, cloudy day, and I was very glad I brought my umbrella. Atmospheric, but a somber kind of atmosphere. I thought less about the scene in Aces High, and more about what it must be like in the Wild Cards universe to walk there thirty years after the big events. Would anyone even remember? Would the scars still be visible? Would there be a memorial? Maybe something like this:
(I actually imagine Dr. Tachyon on an innocent stroll through the park chancing upon this sign, and collapsing in a fit of uncontrollable, guilt-wracked weeping.)
If I were really going to do a true Wild Cards tour of NYC, after Indian food in the East Village and a stop by the Cloisters, I’d really have to go to Battery Park, the location of Jetboy’s tomb, as well as the Empire State Building, home to the restaurant Aces High in the past, and now Stellar (my own invention for my story in Busted Flush). I’d take a walk down the Bowery to really get into Jokertown proper. I didn’t have time to do all that — maybe next time. I also need to double check, but I’m pretty sure one of the Wild Cards gaming books (such as the one from Green Ronin) has a travel guide to Wild Cards New York. Not a bad way to see the city, really.
I’ll leave off with this, a view to Midtown from Central Park, where I watched a squirrel building a nest and wondered if Bagabond was nearby:
One other thing I did: I got to go to one of the Fantastic Fiction readings at the KGB bar, a series I’ve been hearing about for years, and I was happy to finally get to attend — especially since one of the featured readers was Joe Hill. (Ellen Datlow was there taking pictures, there are a couple of me!)
January 13, 2014
It’s award nomination season for the big genre awards! Everyone’s posting about all kinds of stuff from last year! I posted my own 2013 bibliography a week or so ago. But now I’m going to talk about other stuff that I’m likely to nominate.
I didn’t read a whole lot of new stuff this year, unfortunately. It’s just the way the cards fell. Of what I did read and encounter, here’s what I’m likely to nominate.
Fiction: My recommendations are heavily weighted to what’s online, because that’s what I read in the corners of my time. But there are others.
- “The Last Dignity of Man,” Marjorie Liu’s novelette from The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination is on my list.
- Wild Cards stories “When We Were Heroes” by Daniel Abraham (novelette) and “The Button Man and the Murder Tree” by Cherie Priest (short story) weren’t just good Wild Cards stories, they were good stories.
- “Sing” by Karin Tidbeck (short story) also really good.
- YA novel The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (the follow up to Raven Boys) was excellent, as was middle grade novel Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi. Oh, that twist at the end…
- For the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, I think Max Gladstone is still eligible. I still talk about his series, starting with Three Parts Dead, as demonstrating that genre boundaries are definitely made to be broken.
I was introduced to artist Aaron B. Miller’s work this year. Kinuko Craft is an artist I nominate every year. Galen Dara is up and coming and definitely someone to watch — she did the marvelous piece depicting Harry and Marlowe for Lightspeed.
Best related book: Jeff VanderMeer’s Wonderbook. It’s such an astonishing accomplishment — a fully illustrated book on creativity.
I finally started reading webcomic Strong Female Protagonist this year, after many recommendations. Like many of us these days, it’s picking apart superhero tropes and doing some pretty far-out things. I described it to someone as Watchmen, but with a lawful good alignment instead of chaotic neutral.
Drama Short Form:
- I’m still on the quest to keep Doctor Who out of this category, but if you must nominate Doctor Who, consider “The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.” Snark with love.
- There’s astronaut Chris Hadfield’s cover of Space Oddity.
- And then there’s the Marvel One Shot as found on the Iron Man 3 DVD: “Agent Carter,” which broke my heart five different ways then built it back up again by the end. I haven’t seen anyone talking about this, but I thought it was fantastic. It’s a year after the war, and Carter is trying to make her way in a world that doesn’t want her anymore.
Drama Long Form: We have a plethora of movies to choose from this year. Here are my choices (I only get 5 nominations on the Hugo ballot):
- Iron Man 3
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
- The World’s End
- Pacific Rim
The movie category is going to be way interesting this year, given I left off Gravity (which I don’t think is really science fiction), Europa Report, Ender’s Game, and all those other movies I just didn’t go see. Oh, and Hansel and Gretel: Witchhunters came out last year too! Oh, for one more nominating slot. . . Also the short form, what with Almost Human, Sleepy Hollow, Agents of SHIELD, and Orphan Black all starting up this year. I don’t know where to start with those episodes.
Whew! Meanwhile, I have a couple of weeks to catch up on some more reading. We’ll see if anything else squeaks on to my list.
January 16, 2013
I was going to rant about TV shows today, but a couple of things came up, so I’m doing a mini promotional post instead.
Daniel Abraham’s story about Curveball, “When We Were Heroes,” is live on Tor.com. One of the fun things about working on Wild Cards is a) getting to play with other authors’ characters, and b) seeing what other authors do with your characters. This story marks a big step in Curveball’s life, and I have to be honest, I’m kind of glad I wasn’t the one writing about this. I would have tried to be a little too nice and polished. But Daniel did a great job. I get teary, reading this story.
A reminder: the e-book of my collection Straying from the Path is available on all platforms. (This link goes to Kindle.) Go forth and read!
My writing has been a bit manic over the last week. I’m working on three different things, pretty much simultaneously. I’m revising Dreams of the Golden Age (aka Age of Tin), but because I don’t want to lose forward momentum on two other projects I’m working on, I’m trying to get new words down on them as well. It’s a little frenetic, but I finally feel like I’m getting stuff done, after lurching out of the holiday season. I’m going out of town at the end of the month — let’s see if I can wrap one or two of these up before then, shall we?
November 21, 2011
A couple of cool things on the Wild Cards front:
If you’ve been wanting to give the series a try, this is a great chance. Especially since movie rights to the series have just sold and Melinda Snodgrass is writing the screenplay. *fangirl squee* Back in the day, when I was in college, I wrote George fanmail about Wild Cards. (He still has my letter, and I still have the letter he wrote back.) One of the questions I asked was about the possibilities of a movie. So you can see, this has been a long time coming.
June 20, 2011
Author L.A. Banks is ill, and a benefit auction is being held to help with medical expenses. I’ve donated a book package — the latest three Kitty books plus CD’s of the playlists for them. Leslie blurbed my first book, and we were on a panel together at DragonCon a few years ago. We had an awesome time — because she is an awesome person. Go, find something cool, and bid on it!
Book recommendations: a couple of books are out now that I’ve read/blurbed/enjoyed:
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey. Big spaceships FTW!
Spellcast by Barbara Ashford. Fantasy + musical theater = awesome.
The next Wild Cards book, Fort Freak, is out this week. I’m not in this one, but I’ll be rushing out to grab it ASAP…
November 23, 2010
Today is the official release day for the reissue of Wild Cards I, the very first Wild Cards shared-world anthology originally released in 1987.
I love this cover so much. It’s so evocative. And it’s also so clearly JETBOY! Hooray!
I followed the Wild Cards series almost but not quite from the beginning. The first one I read was Volume V, Down and Dirty (in keeping with my habit of picking up a series in the middle rather than the beginning). It grabbed hold, hooked me, reeled me in, and I was a fan forever more. George still speaks of this book with a tone of simmering antagonism, because of how difficult it was to edit. But I loved it. I picked it up because of this cover:
I’d never seen anything like it. No dragons, no aliens (well, unless you count Dr. Tachyon, but I didn’t know that from the cover), no half-naked women. It looked real and rooted. The book turned out to be the same — real and rooted. It really was New York City, but different. It was superheroes, but it wasn’t good guys v. bad guys, it was lots of likable, or at least sympathetic, people getting in over their heads. Who just happened to have superpowers. I’d never read anything like it.
It was 1989. I hunted down the first four books, then picked up the subsequent books as soon as they came out. I got the GURPS game. I ran fan club meetings at Starfest. I wrote George fan mail. (And he wrote back. When I started writing for Wild Cards, I pulled out the letter and we had a chuckle over it.)
I have a vivid memory of racing through the PSAT exam, which all high schoolers were required to take at the time, because we were allowed to read if we finished early, and I had a Wild Cards book sitting under my desk, just waiting.
In retrospect, I have to wonder how much impact Wild Cards had on my aesthetics — on the way I write and the things I write about. After all, every single one of my published novels takes place in a “real” world, a world that’s recognizable as our own. . .but different. Did I learn how to write alternate realities from Wild Cards? The idea that you take one moment in history, change it, and see what the world looks like forty years later? Say, returning dragons to the world after the atomic blasts of World War II (much like the alien virus infected the planet in 1946, in the Wild Cards world). Or imagining that werewolves and vampires are real, and instead of focusing on the magic bits of that, start a radio talk show on the subject…
It’s been a little surreal working on Wild Cards, meeting all the writers, using their characters. I find myself wondering what the behind-the-scenes process looked like on my beloved high school novels. Knowing now what it looks like with the current books — what gets left on the cutting room floor, for example — I know there must be hundreds of untold stories. Hundreds of directions the series could have taken and just didn’t. The fan in me wants to read every single one of them. The professional in me knows that the other Wild Cards writers would be horrified to hear me say that.
So, the return of Wild Cards I. It’s the original book, with three new stories. Including one of mine, “Ghost Girl Takes Manhattan,” which tells the origin story of a character who becomes much more important later on. I am now retroactively a part of the series from the very beginning. (Who says time travel doesn’t exist?) The best part — I got to write a scene with Dr. Tachyon. Working on the new volumes means we’ve started with mostly a new slate of characters. My favorite characters from the early books — the Turtle, Dr. Tachyon, Croyd, Jay Ackroyd, Jack Braun — are retired or just gone. I’d never get a chance to write about them. But this story is set in 1981, and they’re all still around and in their primes. So I now have a canon Dr. Tachyon scene under my belt. And. . .the other main character in the story is very much a favorite, and I think I did him justice. To say any more would be a spoiler.
February 16, 2010
I’ll be in Albuquerque on Saturday, signing Kitty’s House of Horrors at the Coronado Center Barnes and Noble. Also on hand, the whole Wild Cards gang signing Suicide Kings. The event starts at 1:30.
I’ve been taking in as much of the Olympics as I can. These opening ceremonies were probably my favorite since the Athens summer games in 2004, which had the really amazing living art history procession. Vancouver gave us a really spectacular use of technology (those projected whales!), the First Nations presentation at the forefront, and some really heartfelt musical performances. Yeah. (One of my least favorite opening ceremonies has to be Atlanta 1996, where I thought, “You’re showcasing American culture and all you can come up with are pickup trucks and cheerleaders?!”)
Here’s my favorite bit from the Athens opening ceremony. This clip doesn’t have the original music, but gives the clearest view of the performers. (Can you spot Homer at the 3:05 mark?)