quick update

May 28, 2018

I’m catching up after a week away at a writing workshop. I had a good time, but it was interrupted by a sudden appearance of norovirus. I’m fine, but it made for an exciting week filled with Clorox wipes. It’s good to be home. Excited to finally be going to see Star Wars: Solo tonight.

The week was made stranger by the news that Gardner Dozois, editor and writer and a giant in the SF&F field for the last 40 years, passed away yesterday. I’m grateful I got to work with him on various anthologies, but I’m most grateful for how welcoming he was to newcomers like me, and all the times I got to sit around over meals and at gatherings and listen to all his stories and jokes and insights. He’ll be missed.




I didn’t get up in time to watch the royal wedding but I caught up online. Everything was just so pretty. You know what I kept thinking of? Gregor and Laisa from the Vorkosigan books. Not their appearance (which isn’t anything like in the books) but in the way Harry and Meghan act with each other, all happy and a little bit clingy, and the way Meghan’s been thrown into this very weird and public culture and is doing just great with it, and the feeling you get that they’d run away if they could but they’re too aware of the propriety of it all to actually do it. So that’s in my head now and it made me happy.

Remember the year of stalled projects? I took one of those 3/4 finished novels and decided to turn it into a novella.  Good news:  I think it was meant to be a novella all along. (Seriously, at the moment I’m very, very, very happy it didn’t see the light of day in its previous state. It was an unholy mess.) I’ve cut 20k words from it and am turning the whole thing into a tightly plotted streamlined machine. I’m happy. Here’s hoping I can get this one out in the world.

Deadpool 2 review on Wednesday.

Have a good week, peeps.


June’s going to be busy:

I’ll be on programming at Denver Comic Con on Friday and Saturday. The con is June 15-17.

I’m a Guest of Honor at SoonerCon in Oklahoma, June 22-24.

And right in the middle there I’m a guest lecturer at Taos Toolbox.

Seriously, I don’t mean to schedule everything all at the same time…


working working…

May 11, 2018

I have somehow once again got myself to the point where everything I have to work on are revisions. Like, five of them. I’ve been feeling super-productive and now I’ve just stalled out. Argh. Okay, gotta get some of this done.

Meanwhile, I’ve been laughing because I’ve seen a bunch of posts about what a great and underrated movie Speed Racer is and just want to remind everyone that I loved it and told everyone to go see it ten years ago.


Monday update

May 7, 2018

You know, no matter what my strategy is on the Global Big Day, I’ve seen about the same number of species each year I’ve done it — right around 50. I think I spent less actual time on it this year than in previous years, so maybe that means I’m getting better. But each year I’ve seen a rather significantly different set of species. Like, if you counted up all the species I saw all three years it would hit 70 or 80.

The think pieces about Infinity War are propagating in earnest and my willingness to engage with any of it is just about zero. Yes, there are a ton of easter eggs. Yes, there are a ton of clues. Yes, everything Dr. Strange said is probably super significant. Yes, a lot of people really hate the movie for lots of different reasons. I got nothing. I’m not going to try to argue anyone out of hating the movie because, well. I got stuff to do, you know? Things to knit, stories to write. Right now I’m just really enjoying liking the movie, if that makes sense.

But I have a confession. I didn’t actually cry about anything that happened at the end of the movie until I read this tweet from GotG director James Gunn. That’s it, I’m cooked, I need to go sit in a corner and deal with this.

Writing:  I’ve suddenly arrived at that state where I have a half a dozen things I need to revise and should work on them before starting anything new. Grrrrr. Gotta clear the desk.


Wednesday update

May 2, 2018

This week I had the honor of being the first interview subject on the Dickheads Podcast — in which the podcasters are reading all of Philip K. Dick’s novels in publication order, and we talked about my PKD Award winning novel BANNERLESS. (never gets old saying that)

Here’s the link on Soundcloud.

And on YouTube.

And the May issue of Lightspeed has my reviews of Annihilation and A Wrinkle in Time.

It’s raining here in Colorado, which is nice. It finally smells like spring. But it’s also making me want to hibernate. So I may just go do that.


a warning and a rewrite

April 25, 2018

I watched The Titan on Netflix and it’s so bad I can’t stop thinking about it. Never have I seen a science fiction movie so apparently uninterested in its own premise. The whole mission is “We are going to surgically and genetically alter humans so they can survive on the surface of Titan,” which is awesome, but then the main conflict of the story seems to be “OMG these test subjects are radically changed, this is terrible!”  And I’m just agog, like, isn’t that what we were going for? Not to mention there’s no freaking way they would send them home to live in their fancy suburban houses with their families at all once they start injecting them. These scientists were stupider than the scientists of Prometheus.

Really, what they should have done is model this thing on The Right Stuff combined with the Outer Limits episode “The Architects of Fear.”

So I’m going to rewrite it, right here, right now. Just to get it out of my system.

First off, this is a serious military medical operation. No fancy suburban houses which doesn’t make a lick of sense. Once they start getting injected, the subjects are locked up and hooked to monitors 24/7 so the docs can intervene the minute things go wrong. Second, we aren’t going to pretend that this isn’t a one-way trip. (Seriously, in Titan they kept acting like they were going to come back from this.) We also aren’t going to pretend that someone who’s been radically altered to live in the super-freezing methane world of Titan could also somehow survive on the surface of Earth. And third (there’s a lot of issues here), they’re astronauts going to explore Titan. This isn’t about trying to move the entirety of humanity to Titan because Titan is somehow better than environmentally destroyed Earth because, whoa, dude, seriously.

So our main characters are our main test subject and one of the women doctors on the team. They have a bit of history but it didn’t work out. There’s still a spark. This will be important later. The subjects were all chosen because they have no families because it’s a one way trip because that’s how stuff like this works. But the emotional connection between these two will help the main test subject survive the procedure, which sounds really corny but if you sell the relationship hard enough it will work. Plus, human/alien kissing.

We get to know maybe five of the test subjects, and there are rivalries and conflicts. The best part of Titan was showing the start of some of the adaptations — they’re underwater for half an hour, they’re surviving in sub-zero temperatures, etc. So that’s what we focus on. Also, there are hints that Things Are Not What They Seem. That what they’re being told — they are astronauts training for a mission to Titan — is not actually what the guy in charge is planning. Maybe he’s a rogue scientist conducting illegal human experimentation on the sly. Our main character doctor will figure that out. Things will get fraught. Meanwhile, some of the subjects are having trouble adjusting to their new adaptations. They worked so hard to change the bodies, but they didn’t adapt their minds. (Titan touched on this, but went the easy route of turning the subjects into murder-creatures, which was really uninteresting.)

In the midst of this comes the tipping point:  our subjects are far enough along they can no longer survive in Earth’s atmosphere and the temperatures are too hot. They get hermetically sealed in their own environment. The conflicts between them come to a head. Our Doctor tries to break up a bloody fight — she’s in their enclosure in a full environmental suit — and gets seriously hurt. When she wakes back up/gets back to the lab, things have changed. She didn’t see it before because she was so close to them, but the test subjects are really really alien now. (The creature design on Titan was pretty good, I’ll give it points for that.) And the big brass has stepped in to take over the program from the questionable lead scientist. And they don’t see the test subjects as human. Our Doctor has to convince them. (The test subjects are all still wearing their uniforms. This is important. They look alien, but they also look like astronauts.) There’s an implication that if she doesn’t, the test subjects will be killed.

Meanwhile, the launch window to get them to Titan is closing. Our Doctor takes matters into her own hands and rallies the launch crew, her fellow doctors, etc., to get the surviving astronauts to the launch, to make sure the launch happens and they can fulfill their mission and do lots of awesome science on Titan.  And I hate to admit it but this is all going to look like the end of E.T. and I think that’s okay.

The end of the movie, Our Doctor gets a selfie of the three of them on the surface of Titan. It’ll be awesome.


So, as usual, I’m not offended that the movie was bad so much as I’m offended that this was a really great idea that was completely destroyed by really thoughtless writing and a cloying moppet (Isn’t it sweet that the kid still recognizes the alien as his father?! No. No it is not. It’s manipulative.). Now, I’m not actually going to write the above synopsis because I’m not all that interested in this specific story, to be honest. I think it would make a good movie. But all this ground has been covered in written SF.

What I am interested in, what I do think would make a great written story, is what happens 10 years later:  these radically altered astronauts have been living on Titan for 10 years. How are they doing? Hmm, must ponder…