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


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


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.