Ghosts: Recent Hauntings

I noticed several other contributors announcing the receipt of their copies of Ghosts: Recent Hauntings yesterday. I also know that all mail coming here has to pass through the city PO before it’s sent off to the outposts, which adds a day’s delay, so I was reasonably sure that my own copies were waiting for me at the PO Box today. Sure enough.

My story’s in here somewhere. Let’s see… Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Hand, Jeff Ford, Tim Powers, John Shirley, Peter Straub, Joe R. Lansdale, James Van Pelt, Nisi Shawl, Ekaterina Sedia, Steve Rasnic Tem, Melanine Tem, Sarah Monette, Maureen McHugh, Margo Lanagan…ah! There it is, “The Plum Blossom Lantern.” Nestled safely(?) between John Langan and Stephen Jones. Paula Guran’s managed to collect quite a few talented people in here. Not sure how I managed to sneak in, but it’s too late to check tickets now.

Well, whether I deserve it or not, that story does. It’s one of my favorites of my own ghost stories, and I’ve written quite a few. See what ya’ll think. And you might as well read the rest of those guys while you’re in there. Just sayin’.

Rules Are Made to Be Useful

Philip K. Dick is quoted as saying (paraphrase) “In a short story, the characters exist to serve the idea. In a novel, the plot/story exists to serve the characters.”  Ok, so yes it’s a gross oversimplification and we can all think of exceptions (with all due respect to the Good Doctor, just about anything Isaac Asimov ever wrote, at any length). And it also seems to imply that short story characters, for lack of time, interest, and emphasis, are always going to pale against characters from a novel, which is nonsense on the face of it (see Fritz Leiber or Kelly Link or Andy Duncan. ’nuff said.).

And yet there is a grain of truth there. Continue reading

Review — The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant by Jeffrey Ford

The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant and Other Stories by Jeffrey Ford.  Golden Gryphon Press, 2002

“Creation” is about what it says it’s about: A young boy undergoing religious training gives in to an impulse to create as God did, and succeeds…after a fashion. The rest of the story concerns the aftermath and the young boy coming to terms with the implications and responsibilities of his action. It’s one of Ford’s better known stories, and I’ve even heard claims that it “transcends genre fantasy.”  Sorry, no. This is what fantasy does. It’s the fun-house mirror that we hold up so we can see ourselves more clearly, and “Creation” does it very well. As for the “genre” part, well, genre is a marketing category, and to say something “transcends” a marketing category is pretty much a meaningless phrase. “Creation” is a damn fine fantasy story, and that’s more than enough. Continue reading