Awards and Local News

This year’s World Fantasy Convention just wrapped up in San Antonio, TX. I wasn’t there this year but I do remember San Antonio from the 55th World Science Fiction Convention I attended back in 1997. I remember the Riverwalk and I remember (yes) the Alamo. It’s a beautiful, diverse city and I’m a little bummed I couldn’t make it this year, even if my convention going has been less than sporadic lately. The World Fantasy Awards were given out on Sunday and congratulations to all the winners. I do want to give a special shout-out to Kij Johnson for her win for best long story, The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe and to Jeffrey Ford, winner for best collection, A Natural History of Hell, which I reviewed last November here.

On the local front, on Sunday, even as the awards were being given out, I finished the submission draft of the third story in my Daoist series, “An Account of the Madness of the Magistrate, Chengdhu Village,” which is the longest title I’ve ever used, beating out the previous record by two whole  words. Once I have a publication date and venue I’ll post it here. In the meantime you could do a lot worse than checking out the works  and writers above.

 

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Politically Correct is Incorrect

WRITING 02“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”  –Lewis Carroll

 

I’m not really sure if the above quote really applies to what I want to talk about today, because I think in the case of “Political Correctness” most people are at least in general agreement about what it means. They just differ on what it means.

Oh, that does sound like an Edward Learian/Lewis Carrollian dollop of nonsense, doesn’t it? I mean, “mean” means the same thing, as “mean,” know what I mean? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. It really depends on perspective, which in language we usually refer to as context. “I mean what I say” and “He was mean to me” use the same word, but they mean (pardon) entirely different things. From context it is easy to glean which interpretation to go with, at least in this case. In others? Not so much. Let’s talk about that. Continue reading

We Could Be Heroes…But Probably Not

WRITING 02

Not everyone is entirely comfortable with the idea of heroes. They too often have feet of clay, or in these days of the media creature, turn out to be fabricated out of whole cloth, or at least a cheap polyester. Yet we all have them, and writers are no different. The difference is in what inspires us—the words on the page, not necessarily the people behind them. Writing heroes. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when you discover that one of your heroes, known for his gentle and optimistic fiction, is a right wing fascist at heart or another with a unique and powerful voice is a virulent racist. Such things usually kill off normal heroes. As a hero, that is. Writer heroes usually survive, not always, but usually, since it is the words on the page that matter, not the imperfect, venal, or just plain unworthy person behind them, but more so because there’s a secret that the process of writing fiction eventually teaches.

You write better than you are.

I’ve touched on this before, but it’s especially relevant, I think, in the genre today. We all do it, if we’re any good at all. What comes out on the page is smarter, wiser, usually more together than, well, we are. I don’t know how it all works, I just know that it does. So I’m not usually so surprised when it turns out that the writer behind books and stories I love is a deeply flawed human being. Someone you might even cross the street to avoid if you saw them coming.  It happens. It doesn’t matter. Any decent work we produce is, at its core, a reflection of our better selves, maybe even who we’re trying to be, not necessarily who we are. Which is probably why I’ve never been driven to meet writers I admire. Most of the writers I call friends are ones I met even before I discovered their work, and got to know and like them as people first. That way generally works. Someone you only know from their work? Not so much.

Oh, sure, there are exceptions. There are even times when I regret, say, that I never got to meet Fritz Leiber, even though I did have the chance, once, at a World Fantasy Con way back in 1987, and I will always treasure my one and only meeting with Parke Godwin, who turned out to be as grand a human being in person as he was on the page. It’s great when that happens, but I don’t expect it. No one should.

I started this blog post with the idea of talking a little about one of my writing heroes, but I got pulled in another direction. It happens, so I’ll save that one for next time. I never met her, but then again, see above, I didn’t need to. The books and stories were all I did need, or had any right to expect.

So, if you ever want to meet me and manage to do so, I apologize in advance. That is all.

Short Stories Rock: Thoughts on a WFC Panel, 2002

This is a rant, of sorts, triggered by my participation on a panel at the Minneapolis World Fantasy Convention of 2002. I wrote it soon after the event and filed it away. I don’t necessarily agree with everything the 2002 model thought. That was then and this…well, it isn’t. For instance, I like writing novels, too. I even like the idea of having a readership. But at the time this was where my head was at, for what little that might be worth.

The panel itself wasn’t bad, though it kept devolving into “Are short stories stepping stones to a novel career?” which rather annoyed me, but that’s what the audience was interested in, so you go with the flow. My bluntly-stated “If you want to write short stories, write short stories. If you want to write novels, write novels. Doing one isn’t going to teach you the other” wasn’t exactly popular.

Continue reading

For Fritz Leiber

Saddened as I am by other more recent losses in the field, today I’m sending out props to the late Fritz Leiber. Why? Lots of reasons, but in the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, I’ll concentrate on the personal–Fritz Leiber was responsible for a revelation. For those of you (anyone? Bueller?) who are old enough to remember, the mid to  late 1970’s saw a boom in the Sword & Sorcery genre. Yes, it’s still around, sort of, but back then it was different. S&S was HOT, hot like urban fantasy hot, like Steampunk hot, if you can grasp that. As both a reader and a beginning writer, I got caught up in it. REH, the De Camp retellings, Andy Offutt, Gardner Fox for pete’s sake.

And then I found Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Mouser series. I was a little too late to the party to have read them in the Cele Goldsmith Fantastic, as I said before, I came along in the Ted White era, but the Fafhrd and Mouser stories were being collected in book form by that time, and that’s where I found them.

Whoa. Continue reading