a post of many links

May 15, 2019

So many links today!

This weekend, I’m Guest of Honor at KeyCon in Winnipeg!  I’ve got panels and signings and all the usual cool stuff!

Tor.com has a brand-new Wild Cards story:  “Long is the Way,” written by me and Sage Walker, featuring her character Zoe Harris. Check it out!

And there’s a new podcast interview with me up at Beyond the Trope.

Keeping busy around here…

 

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Robin Hood research

May 10, 2019

I have been living partly in 13th century England for the last few months so now you are too.

Here’s a person I discovered in my research that probably won’t make it into my Robin Hood stories but is still someone I’m very glad to have learned about:  Nicola de la Haye.

She was the Sheriff of Lincolnshire and twice commanded the forces that defended Lincoln Castle against sieges, the second time while in her 60’s.  She even tried to retire at one point and King John basically said, “No, you can’t, you’re too awesome.”

So when you want to put kick-ass middle aged women in your medieval fiction and some yahoo tries to tell you that isn’t realistic, point to Nicola de la Haye.

 

more Robin Hood

May 8, 2019

Just to warn you, I may be talking A LOT about Robin Hood over the next year. I’ve been immersed in R.H. (as I call him) and 12th and early 13th English history since February and it’s starting to bubble over. (Turns out Bad Prince John really was just awful! In so many ways!)

In case you missed the announcement, this is actually work. My novella “The Ghosts of Sherwood” and a sequel will be coming out from Tor.com Publications next year. I’m so excited. And I am being HIGHLY PROFESSIONAL about this. And I am NOT thinking of completely changing my SCA persona and starting up five new period art projects I don’t have time for. A-hem.

I did, however, watch Robin Hood: The Rebellion which just dropped on Netflix.  It’s really terrible. The kind of terrible where there’s an over-serious opening scroll and all the same information is delivered in dialog over the first twenty minutes. Almost every line of dialog is exposition. At one point, the Sheriff of Nottingham explains what taxes are. Also, low production values, which I can forgive in many cases, but not here. Like, Nottingham Castle has three rooms and five people work there. A cameo by Brian Blessed as Tuck only serves to make the rest of the movie seem worse by those three minutes of brightness.

And now I’m thinking of the similar and different ways that this, and the Taron Egerton Robin Hood from last fall, are really terrible. Like, they both have deadly-serious freedom-fighting Robin Hood, but removed from any relevant historical or even fictional context. Neither has any meaningful reference to any King or larger political entity outside Nottingham. It’s like free-floating freedom fighting.

Both those Robins are returning from the Crusades. This trope has entered the mythos relatively recently, like maybe only in the last hundred years, but it has become predominant. Preeminent Robin Hood scholar Stephen Knight posits the influence of the Gulf War and Iraq War for this, and the relevance of the trope of soldiers returning from the Middle East. His essay where he talks about this, here, deals with the whole question of the gentrification of Robin Hood, which is fascinating.

Also, both terrible Robin Hoods dispense with the archery contest. They have archery, but, you know freedom-fighting archery. Even Parke Godwin’s relentlessly historical grimdark Sherwood has the archery contest, very much in the spirit of the classic Pyle and Errol Flynn versions.

This has led me to the question of:  what needs to be in a Robin Hood story? Does the story and the myth start to fall apart if you leave certain things out? Is it still Robin Hood if there’s no Little John? Must he battle with John with staves by a river? Must there be a Sheriff, or will some other oppressive villain do?

I’m also thinking about how every single Robin Hood movie has some kind of opening scroll or voice over setting the scene, and every single Robin Hood novel has a long Author’s Note about historical research. Robin Hood is so familiar do these films really need that scroll? Surely everyone knows what we’re dealing with here. Or do the films really need them so we know which Robin Hood we’re dealing with? The outlaw yeoman or the dispossessed lord? The returning crusader or something else? Except… I’m still going to state that opening scrolls are unnecessary if the story is well told.

I’m developing pretty definite opinions about all this, and what a Robin Hood story needs to be successful.

 

new stories!

May 2, 2019

Out now:  the reissue of Wild Cards 9: Jokertown Shuffle! This has new stories by me and Cherie Priest.  “Unraveling” stars Lady Black and is something of a sequel to my story in #8, One-Eyed Jacks. I gotta tell you, this book is probably the darkest entry in the whole Wild Cards series, but it sets up some amazing stuff that will happen in the next couple of volumes.

I think I’ve had a new story out every month for about seven months running now. How cool is that?

My latest post on Curious Fictions is “In Time,” my story about Emily Dickinson and her dog, Carlo. This story frequently makes people cry, I’m told. It originally appeared in Talebones Magazine.

And this Saturday is the Cornell Lab of Birds Global Big Day, when birders all over the world try to log as many different bird species as possible in a 24 hour period. This will be my fourth year participating. I like the challenge of it, and taking part in such a massive citizen science project. I’m going to a new (to me) area this year, so let’s see what I can find!

 

Look, I’m on the cover!

“Gremlin” is a novella, my family saga about women pilots from 1943 to 2003 and far, far into the future.

Monday update

April 15, 2019

I’m sure I had something pithy to say but it’s gone completely out of my head.

I recently saw what was actually a pretty awful viral video of a parrot and hamster:  the parrot grabs the hamster, shoves the hamster into an exercise wheel, and spins the wheel around at blinding speed while the poor hamster is tossed around, with a caption that says something like, “But I don’t want to play. . .” The hamster appears to be okay, but this is seriously abusive and whoever was filming it should be ashamed of themselves for letting it happen. Actually, they probably trained them both. I hope the critters got lots of treats.

Meanwhile, I spent some time trying to decide if I was the hamster or the parrot. Like, if I’m the hamster who is feeling more than a little out of control, then who is the parrot? Or am I the parrot and the hamster is my brain? Or the hamster is my motivation and the parrot is my sense of obligation?  Or the parrot is what I want to accomplish and the hamster is my anxiety?  Or should that be the other way around?

So yes, there’s a powerful metaphor contained in that awfulness, I just haven’t figured out what it is yet.

 

Superhero Workshop

April 5, 2019

I’m teaching a Superhero workshop in June.

What I mean to say is I’m not, like, teaching superheroes. That would be weird.

I’m teaching an online workshop on how to write superhero fiction, over at the Academy for Wayward Writers.

I’ll be bringing all my experience with the Golden Age novels and Wild Cards to the table. Not to mention my ridiculous irrational love for the whole genre.

It’s June 15. Click on the link, check it out. Space is limited.