Sunday, February 27, 2005


Tales from the Trade

For some reason, I've seen a few interesting blog posts recently about the publishing process. Here are the ones I could find again...

Charlie Stross posted about the development of his fantasy series. Ted Chiang posted about the art on the cover of his collection; he hated the art, and tried very hard to get it changed, but his efforts were in vain. Adam Fawer (guest-)posted about helping along the sales of his first novel.

On the non-ficition side, Joe Wikert posted about Kathy Sierra's post on creating a bestseller.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


The gates in NYC

gates in central park
Originally uploaded by sssnole.
I wish I could get to Central Park to take this in. Thanks to the many who've uploaded photos, particular those who have put their work under a Creative Commons license.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


First best thoughts

Ever since I heard it was coming, I decided I needed The Best of the Best, Gardner Dozois' selection from the first 20 Year's Best Science Fiction anthologies he edited. So here it is on the couch with me, 650+ pages of it. (To be more specific, 688 pages, 1.7 pounds, 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.8 inches.) And here in this post are some earlyish thoughts on BotB.

It's an amazing deal, and would be even at its list price of $20. I got it for $14 out of an Amazon gift certificate, and at that price it seems a steal. The 36 stories in it, each by a different author, span the years 1983-2002, 20 years during which I read little sf and less short sf. Not all the stories are new to me, but I'm starting with the ones that are. So, although the stories are in chronological order, my reading of them isn't.

I've read about a dozen of the stories so far. The two I've enjoyed the most are "Breathmoss" by Ian R MacLeod and "Stories of Your Life" by Ted Chiang. I come to each of these writers from a different direction. MacLeod is already a favorite, and I've written about another of his stories in a previous post.

Chiang, on the other hand, was a writer whose fiction had previously impressed me, but hadn't really got to me. In "Story of Your Life," as in other pieces by Chiang, there are interesting (to say the least) ideas. In his stuff I've previously read (e.g., "Hell is the Absence of God") the main characters, and the ways in which they are linked with the ideas, hadn't convinced me. But the first-person narrative voice of "Story" works well to tie together elements as varied as: linguistics; aliens; talking to one's daughter; and ways of experiencing the world.

Any collection of this nature lends itself to second-guessing, so here's some of mine. I won't get into the micro, the "How come Greg Egan is represented by 'Wang's Carpets' rather than by 'Reasons to Be Cheerful'?" sort of question. I'll focus on wider aspects of this fine anthology.

I'd have liked to see more longer pieces included. For example, Lucius Shepard is represented by the short story "Salvador," and a good one it is too. But he is widely considered to be a master of the novella form, and so the substitution of "The Scalehunter's Beautiful Daughter" (which I love) or "R&R" (which I've yet to read, but comes highly recommended) might have improved the volume.

Another writer I'd like to have seen given more space is... Gardner Dozois. I've enjoyed his summations at the start of each of the Year's Best Science Fiction anthologies. I'd have loved to read at the start of this volume his summation of the 20 years of sf covered. But he only gives himself 3 pages, which doesn't give him room to say much. However, he does comment on the "lack" of novellas, pointing to "practicial considerations of length."

In summary, I'm very glad to have this anthology. I'd have liked more longer pieces. I would have been willing to lose a little in author coverage (i.e. to have few than 36 authors/stories) in order to shift the balance this way. I would have liked a longer opening from the editor. I'd have been willing to lose the short (about half a page, sometimes a little more) introductions to each story in order to make room for a summation of the 20-year period. But the stories printed here, long, short, and in between, seem to give a very good account of the two decades.

Friday, February 11, 2005


A sign!

Holy water
Originally uploaded by lil.
When I saw a recent collection of photos from one of my favorite photographer on Flickr, I thought that some of them could be juxtaposed to suggest a story, rather like the chainsaw pictures of a few posts back. Then I decided it was unlikely that a story would do them justice, and that I'd just blog them so that the sign in this post more or less pointed to the falls in the one from a few minutes ago.


Water pic

Another amazing photo by lil. It looks like the end of a quest. I must go to Bali. Or write a story about a quest. Or update this blog...

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Guardian's top 10 litblogs

The top 10 literary blogs include some with which I'm already familiar (e.g., Bookslut) and some I really must check out soon (e.g., so many books). Even though I check the Guardian Unlimited site most days, I somehow managed to miss this top 10. I arrived at it via this post from yet another good litblog.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Chainsaw graphic novels

So this Austrian guy Johannes finds an old chainsaw box in his grandfather's shed. On the back of the box is a sequence of four black and white drawings. What does he do? I'm glad to say that he scans the drawings and puts them on his web site, along with an open invitation to add words to turn the drawings into a (micro) graphic novel.

You can find the invitation and a list of the responses here, my micro graphic novel here, and the page at Boing Boing where I found out about the project here.