Librarians dig the Stony

The Library Journal just released their Top 10 Science Fiction and Fantasy books for 2011, and Raising Stony Mayhall made the list, along with books by some other guys. (This kid George RR Martin is supposed to be pretty good, I hear.)

Back in July, LJ gave Stony a starred review — but my Google alerts failed me, and this was the first I heard about it. Their review, in its entirety, was this:  “Part superhero fiction, part zombie horror story, and part supernatural thriller, this luminous and compelling tale deserves a wide readership beyond genre fans.”

In other review news, Paul Witcover just reviewed the book in Realms of Fantasy Magazine. The magazine is going out of business again (it’s happened a couple times before), but perhaps it will rise again, just like… but you know where I’m going with this. Here’s part of what Mr. Witcover had to say:

Richly imaginative, surprisingly funny, both grippingly and sensitively told, the novel is by turns nostalgic, grim, and redemptive. It’s also got real crossover potential, yet it will also satisfy the most demanding zombiephiles. This is a book that has brains… and eats them too.

Farewell, RoF — we hardly knew ye.


Cluting Stony Mayhall

But if it is a stricture to suggest that apophasis-ridden SF texts are time-wasters (I do mean to suggest that), then Wilson and Gregory are exempt…

That’s the logline, more or less, of John Clute’s review of Robert Charles Wilson’s Vortex and my book Raising Stony Mayhall. I love reading Clute’s reviews and essays, even when they’re not about me (and they’re never about me — this is the first), if only because I have to work so hard to figure out if I’m getting scammed. Is he serious? Is this a con job? Can a guy really create, unilaterally, new critical terms, define them as he sees fit, then club you over the head with them? And get away with it?

As it turns out, yes, yes he can. Because Clute thinks hard about SF, fantasy, and horror, and he’s wicked smart. I’ve learned a lot from his essays and interviews, not the least of which is at least one new vocabulary term per outing. (“Apophasis”, as it turns out, is a real word. I looked it up. Later in the review he uses the phrase “apophatic-lock-in.” Bonus!)  And as you can see from this blog post, if you’ve read some Clute recently, it’s inevitable that soon you’ll be writing long sentences with an inordinate number of commas and coining terms like Cluted and Clutastic-Lock-In.

Clute’s review (and isn’t it fun to say Clute? Clute Clute Clute) isn’t going to sell more copies of RSM. In fact, it may scare off a few people, by making the novel seem like a brainy deconstructionist exercise in genre-bending wankery. Which it is, in part. I only have three themes in my fiction — messiahs, the mind-body problem, and mash-ups (of genres, that is) — and RSM hits all three of those, but especially doth whale upon the genre-warping whammy bar. But as a writer, it pleases me  to have a critic like Mr. C take the book seriously for what I was trying to say about SF, fantasy, and horror  –or as he calls it, the metatext. When he says, “The first hundred pages of the book, which are sustainedly engrossing, contains some of the most quietly virtuoso negotiations of the SF megatext I’ve run across for a long time,” I get all glow-y inside. (Or perhaps that’s the Dogfish Head 60-minute IPA I just drank. Regardless…) The glow fades a bit when he says the rest of the book isn’t as good as that first hundred, I have to remind myself that he called RSM and Vortex two of the best SF books of the year.

So he liked it, right?




Unpossible is a PW Book of the Year

I’m sorry, I can’t come up with a clever headline. But I’m pleased as all get out that Unpossible and Other Stories, the collection we just launched, made  Publishers Weekly Top 5 science fiction and fantasy books of the year.

Click to enlarge. I had a great time at World Fantasy. The Unlaunch Party went well, with a lot of people hanging out on the patio in the bright San Diego sunshine. Patrick Swenson, my publisher, sold books in the kitchen, Tim Akers played bartender, and pals like Mark Teppo and Sean E. Williams helped me set up and tear down. My thanks to everyone who stopped by.

I was especially glad that my great friend of 20-something years, Andrew Tisbert, was there (and working hard, hauling ice). The book is dedicated to him and Gary Delafield, because Andy and Gary have read and critiqued just about every story in the book. I owe them a ton.

On Saturday of the con I held a reading and read “Persistence”, one of the new stories in the book, and finished with a story that will never see print, “The Aristocrats by Isaac Asimov.” Maybe some day I’ll read it aloud again. It’s dirty.

But mostly World Fantasy was about having a good time with friends. Mission frickin’ accomplished.