Big Influence

So while tooling around the internet when I should have been, well, doing anything else, I ran across this poll / article series in the Comics Should Be Good archives: Top 70 Most Iconic Marvel Panels. Clicking at semi-random, I saw several panels from comics I bought when I was a wee lad, and then this fantastic pic, coming in at #15:

Giant Man is giant, man

Yeah.

This is from Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’ s Marvels. I remember seeing a version of this on the cover of one of the editions and just staring at it. And it was this panel that kept coming to mind when I was writing a story called “The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm.” The story’s told from the point of view of woman with no powers in a superpowered world, who works for the Dr. Doom-like character Lord Grimm. The superheroes invade her home nation, destroying the city she lives in — and the closest she ever comes to seeing one of these heroes is about the same distance as the photographer in this panel, the series’ non-powered point of view character, Phil Sheldon.

No words in the panel. Nothing but a single special effect noise. But it says everything that needs to be said.

I just wanted to point that out, and say, Thanks Kurt and Alex.

Hulk Says Read Now

Hi, ready to talk about Daryl again? Great! We have lots of fun facts. For example, did you know Daryl enjoys bean dip? It’s true! He also loves talking about himself in third person, Hulk style!

Okay, enough. I do still have to talk about me, though, because this blog is all about overcoming native midwesterner reticence and telling the world what’s up in my writing life.

So, some good news in the first week of February — David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer picked two of his my stories for their “year’s best” anthologies. “Glass” will be appearing in their SF edition, and “The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm” will be in their fantasy book. Which brings my “best of” count for 2009 up to 4 anthologies. Now if only I’d published more than two stories last year.

On the other hand, everything I did manage to publish made it onto the recently released Locus Recommended Reading List for 2008. Pandemonium is in their First Novel category, “Glass” is in Short Story , and “Lord Grimm” is in the Novelette (AKA long short story, for you civilians out there).

I haven’t read a lot of the other stories or novels — I’ve been falling behind this year — but I was happy to see some of my favorites on the list.  For example, Eugene Mirabelli’s “Fallen Angel” (F&SF 12/08 )  . Like everything he does, beautifully written from an oblique angle. And they also recommended the best Iain M. Banks book in a couple years, Matter.

Friends of mine also had some stories on the list that you have to check out: Cat Valente, Ted Kosmatka, Paolo Bacigalupi, Charles Coleman Finlay, all doing some of their best work. I mean, Cat’s incapable of writing an unbeautiful sentence, Ted’s been on fire the past two years, Paolo is continuing his long run of cutting edge stories, many of which are in his new collection, Pump Six and Other Stories. If you’re not reading these people, you gotta start.

But Charlie. This is a great year to start reading him. His “The Political Prisoner” novella is hard-hitting stuff. And he’s about to launch a three-book series from Del Rey that combines his graduate-degree history chops with fantasy adventure, all appearing within months of each other starting in April.

The “Traitor to the Crown” series starts wtih The Patriot Witch, then A Spell for the Revolution, and The Demon Redcoat. Witches fight the American Revolution, people. I got to read a couple of these books at Blue Heaven, and now you can download The Patriot Witch free on his website. He also blogs the details of the deal.

So, yes, it’s freezing in most of the country. Hunker down and start reading, people.

Hulk Smash!

Hi, I moved in next door

Hello, little girl...

Hello there, little girl...

Locus Online has posted an excerpt of the interview from the most recent issue of Locus the print magazine. Until it went online, I hadn’t noticed that in the picture they used for me I look like I’m smiling for my Neighborhood Pedophile Registration photo.

If you read the excerpt, you may notice that I refer to my next book as Oh You Pretty Things. That’s a lie. After we did that interview, I got a call from my editor saying that the people at Random House didn’t much like that title, and could I think of anything else? After polling friends and neighbors — which is just the kind of thing that can get you on that registration list — we came up with The Devil’s Alphabet.

I still like the original title better. How could I not? It’s like trying to rename a dog after it’s been living in your house a couple years. So Pretty Things is still my secret name for it. And that’s the name it still responds to when I call it in from the back yard. Who’s a good book? Who’s a pretty thing? You are! Yes you are!

But I did get some great news about the next book–Greg Ruth is returning to do the cover, and I’ve already seen some sample sketches that are exceedingly cool. I love the way he thinks. Also, Deanna Hoak will be returning as copy editor. She’s stellar, and stopped me from looking stupid throughout Pandemonium. So, we’re getting the band back together. Very Blues Brothers.

In other news that I meant to share earlier:

Continue reading

HackenSacked

Just a reminder if any of you are hanging about the New Jersey area tomorrow, January 24, I’ll be at a group signing and Q&A at 2:00 until 4:00pm at the  Barnes & Noble in The Shops at Riverside in lovely Hackensack. (Click the link to see a Google map to the place.)

I’ll be there with S. C. (aka Sam)  Butler and Joshua Palmatier (see their duelling interview below), as well as Patricia Bray and Barbara Campbell.

We’re heading out to a restaurant afterward, so stay for food and drink!

I, Zombie

The Three Laws of Zombi-ism *

1. A zombie must not stop hunting and eating human beings, or through inaction, allow a human being to go uneaten.

2. A zombie must disobey all orders given to it by human beings, except when the order is to eat human beings.

3. Braiiins!

____________

* Among other things I was thinking about in the car today.

Solid Snake Shadow Moses Screaming Mantis

I really haven’t been keeping up with this blog, have I? I blame it on Metal Gear Solid 4. See, my son got a PS3 for Christmas, and I’ve played a couple hours on it, but mostly I’ve been watching him as he shoots down  one villain after another, all of them named, evidently, by a Japanese-to-English random word generator. I’m sure they sounded really cool in Japanese, but come on. The main villain is named Liquid Ocelot.

Liquid. Ocelot.

So, even though the title of the game itself sounds like an auto repair manual for dyslexics, it’s a helluva game, and I’m not above using this for my own ends. The name of this post should generate thousands of hits. Welcome to my science fiction blog, MGS playas!

In other news, I have received from the universe my own bountiful Christmas gifts:

“Glass”, my story about psychopaths and mirror neurons  that appeared in MIT’s Technology Review Magazine, has been picked up to appear in Rich Horton’s The Best of the Year, 2009 Edition. Not sure when that will be published.

“The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm”—about superheroes attacking a 3rd world country,  which is out now in the anthology Eclipse 2—has been picked to appear in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction, 26th Annual Collection. This will be my third appearance in that anthology, which is two times more than my lifetime goal.

Word on the street is that Pandemonium is shipping much larger numbers than expected. And sometime next year it will also be appearing in Italy– I got word a couple weeks ago that Fanucci Editore has picked up the Italian rights. So, you gotta love their taste in science fiction, as well as pizza.

Oh! Almost forgot. The San Francisco Chronicle put the book on their Holiday Science Fiction list. That’s pretty cool.

And to start off the new year, my interview with Locus is out, in the December 2009 issue. On the cover it looks like Fred Pohl is going to lean over and bite my little head off.

Click to see larger image.

Ah! Spare me, Mr. Pohl! Click to see larger image.

Thanks, universe!

Just Do It. For Thelma.

It’s been a long, arduous road, my friends. Way back on November 3, 2008, Ken Fergason of Neth Space asked me the question that started the boulder rolling down the tunnel to smash through the stalagtites and stalagmites that are the barriers to success put in place by the face-painted, blowdart shooting publishing industry. You are that boulder. Or rather, your purchases are–or maybe they’re the tunnel. Anyway, I think you all know where I’m going with this.*

It’s December 15.  Do it for Thelma Day. Not since last month has the world watched so eagerly to see if one American’s call for change would be answered by a crisis-weary public. Some day your grandchildren will ask you, Grampa, where were you on December 15? And you’ll want to answer, In a bookstore, of course, buying Pandemonium. And then they’ll ask, Why are you crying, Grampa? And you’ll say, Because I’ve wet my pants again.

So many of you joined the cause and fought the good fight, perhaps not going door to door, as I repeatedly requested, but at least going online. Emily Balistrieri’s Thelma Day Support Group on Facebook reached 82 members. And several of you promised to buy the book if I would just stop calling at night. I thank all of you for your hard work.

But we are not done yet. December 15 is 24 hours long — longer if you count all those time zones. And we have to get a lot of people to the stores and online if we’re going to make this happen. So call your relatives, send email to strangers, and offer to drive that crazy cat lady to Borders. You can even offer to drive her back. Totally up to you.

The important thing is that there’s a woman in Maryville, Tennessee who for 43 years has watched her son fritter away his energy on science fiction. But now, like Oprah telling the nation that they didn’t have to be afraid of Cormac McCarthy, you can show my mother that she has nothing to be ashamed of. How? In the only way that counts in American letters: Huge, Boffo sales.

Do it for Thelma Day is upon us, and her dreams are taking off like Indiana Jones in a biplane.**

* Down hill?

** Thelma also hates snakes.

Write Now! No, wait…

I don’t usually write about my day job here. It’s web programming, if you want to know. And starting Monday I’m going to Philly for a week-long, 13-hour a day, programming concentration camp on the extreme reaches of .net — basically, Nothin’ but Semi-Colons for 65 hours. 

So, no fiction writing next week, which sucks, because I’m in the middle of editing the second book, Oh You Pretty Things and trying to get a couple short stories jump-started. After the World Fantasy Convention in Calgary a couple weeks ago I came back with the Eye of the Tiger, the Heart of a Lion, the Ants in My Pants, and other general animal metaphors for motivation. (The ants can only be killed by sitting down on them and writing for hours a day.)  

Why so motivated, Daryl? I’m glad you asked. At WFC  I got to hang out with writers and editors and publishers, have Writerly Conversations (Chris Roberson is my new guru of the bar stool), hang out with great friends like Heather Lindsley, Sam Butler, and Tim Akers, get career advice from Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders, have fan boy moments meeting comics legend Bill Willingham (Fables, The Elementals) and Dr. Who writer Paul Cornell (who also writes Captain Britain, and possesses some weird power of hilarity which — without him having to speak at all — renders waitresses helpless). Then Heather finished reading Oh You Pretty Things and gave me particularly perceptive notes which made me want to sit down and start rewriting immediately. (Also, it’s embarrassing to be asked about a plot point and not be able to remember  — time to go back and see what I actually wrote.)

It was also a jolt to find out that people had been reading Pandemonium and liking it. The book was talked about it on panels — I found out the book had made the Locus Recommended Reading List for the year — a few luminaries were recomnending my short fiction. Then at parties editors were hitting me up to write stories for their anthologies.

This is deeply weird. I’ve been going to cons for a few years now feeling like a Spy in the House of SF, so it’s disconcerting to walk into a party actually knowing some of these people, and weirder, having them act like I belong there. 

So, I came back primed to write. And then got almost nothing done as I caught up on the day job. 

However, a few good things did appear on fiction front. First, the New York Review of Science Fiction, one of the oldest (the oldest?)  and well-regarded and — get this — print  magazines for criticism in the field ran a pretty damn nice review of Pandemonium. Greg Johnson said the book

…swims confidently against the tide of grand space opera and epic fantasy that dominates much of current science fiction and fantasy. And like the Minister Faust novel [mentioned earlier in the review] is the work of a young writer willing to play with the conventions of science fiction and fantasy and turn them in to a fresh, new vision of the world we live in. (Full Review)

That’s right, baby. Young writer. Which is true, career-wise, but when you’re 43 it’s always nice to sound like a young turk. 

Also last week, Aaron Hughes of the Fantastic Reviews website ran the long rambling interview we did when I was in Denver for WorldCon. I cringe at some of my run-on sentences, the points that don’t quite come to a point, etc — but you can certainly tell it was done in person and that I was having a lot of fun talking about myself. Oh, and you can read Aaron’s review of Pandemonium that he ran earlier in the year.

Okay, I’m out of minutes again. It’s time to put on my programmer hat. See you on the other side, people.

Do it for Thelma on December 15

The other day I answered Five Questions over on Neth Space. Ken Fergason dares to ask the questions no else dares to, such as, “If JoePa were a demonic archetype, what role would he play in your fiction?” 

Question #5 was this:

 

Why should Pandemonium be the next book that everyone reads?

DJG: Do it for my mother. When I started my writing career, she said, You know what you ought to do, DJ? (My family calls me DJ.) You should write a best-seller.This seemed like excellent advice. But how to execute it?

Your question, Ken, points the way. If everyone—and I mean everyone, each man, woman, and child on this planet, plus any Russians and billionaires currently in orbit—makesPandemonium the next book they read, then my mother’s dream can become a reality. You don’t even have to read the book, you just have to buy it. Let’s pick a day in December. December 15th. On that day, go out or get online and buy a copy for yourself and one for any relative that is bed-ridden and/or computer illiterate.

Come on, people, we can do this. If we can just put aside our petty excuses—for example, that you don’t like science fiction, or that you don’t read English, or that your refugee camp doesn’t have a decent internet connection—if we can just stop all that whining for a minute and buy my book, then, finally, my mother, Thelma Gregory, will know I’m a success. For more information on Do It For Thelma Day, see my website.

And now Emily Balistrieri, a woman I’ve never met before, has started a facebook event group called Buy Daryl Gregory’s Pandemonium Dec 15th.  There are already 21 members, some of whom aren’t even relatives. Emily is also blipping it. It’s an Obama-like groundswell of support, people!

We are only a billion or so buyers short of making my mom’s dream a reality. So join the group, blip the event, buy a book on December 15, and make a grown woman cry. With happiness. 

Do it for Thelma

 

Packing for WorldCon 2008

So I’m trying to get my act together for this year’s World Science Fiction Convention — AKA Denvention 3 — taking place next week in Denver. I just got word that I’ll be one of the featured writers at a “Rising Stars” reception on Thursday afternoon, and I’m hoping to get a few advanced copies of Pandemonium to sell or give away there.

The rest of the time will be serving on a couple panels, hanging out with friends, doing a couple of interviews with websites and magazines, hanging out with friends some more, and mooching a free meal off my publisher. Del Rey editor Liz Schier is hosting a dinner for several of Del Rey’s authors, including the legendary Fred Pohl. Pohl worked with Arthur C. Clarke’s notes to produce The Last Theorem, what will be Clarke’s last novel.  (There’s an interesting interview about the book with Pohl and others in this recent Chicago Tribune article.) The book was edited by my editor, Chris Schluep — so that’s one degree of separation for now, and zero degrees once I meet him.

Dinner with Fred Pohl, people! It doesn’t getter cooler than that.

Oh, if you’re going to Denvention, here’s my schedule:

Thursday, 8/7, 11:30 am

104: Panel: Science Fiction & Religion: How readers and writers mix the two
CCC – Room 504

Religion and science fiction can be an uneasy mix. Readers can sometimes read the story through their own preconceptions – how does the writer handle this? Can you successfully make religion the foundation of a story? — (m) Alexis Glynn Latner, Daryl Gregory, Janice Gelb, Samantha Henderson

Thursday, 8/7, 1:00pm

154: Signing (45 minutes) –
CCC – Hall D

Thursday, 8/7 — afternoon — Rising Stars Reception

Saturday, 8/9, 4:00 pm

547: Panel: A Passion for Electronic Publishing
CCC – Korbel Room 501

Why should we prefer electronic publishing to other formats such as audio, video, or paper copies? Will eBooks open up the publishing market to new talent? How can we convince mainstream publishers to add eBooks to their repertoire?
Daryl Gregory, (m) Jim Minz, Peter Bullock