Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Received: Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction

Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction
Cover art by Lius Lasahido
The colophon on the last page of this book reads:
This limited edition of 2,000 copies has been bound for Tachyon Publications by Maple Press. The cover illustration is a re-creation of Lius Lasahido's "Raturion," which was commissioned from Lasahido specifically for this edition by the publisher.
The point here being that if you wish to add a hardcover edition of Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction to your library, you had best make haste with that order because 2,000 copies won't be available for very long. To put 2,000 copies in perspective: Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) to be held in Spokane, Washington, on August 19-23, 2015, currently has over 8,000 members.

So, if you don't score a hardbound copy, don't say I didn't warn you....

You can read my February 18 blog post in which I write about my work on Rajaniemi's Collected Fiction. The collection contains nineteen stories and approximately 80,000 words. Three of the stories are original to the collection: "Ghost Dogs," "The Haunting of Apollo A7LB," and "Skywalker of Earth."

"Nano-jacked super-beings, carnivorous emergent technologies, the doors of perception yanked wide and almost off their hinges….Hannu Rajaniemi has a deserved reputation as the very hardest of Hard SF writers, but his range is far wider and far warmer. From stories of tech-driven future nightmare to eerie Finnish mythscapes rewired, quirky surreal mood pieces and experimental fiction genuinely worthy of the name, Rajaniemi writes fiction coded for the bleeding edge of modernity and yet rooted in age-old human imperatives; at the beating heart of these tales is a single concept—the ache of the human heart and the courage it takes to live with it, in this era or any other. So if you thought Hard SF was sterile stuff, lacking in human affect, think again—put the barrel of Rajaniemi’s fiction in your mouth and blow your mind."
—Richard Morgan, author of Altered Carbon and The Dark Defiles

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Locus Award Nominees: Daryl Gregory and Nancy Kress

We Are All Completely FineThis past Monday, May 4, the finalists were announced for the 2015 Locus Awards -- and I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the nominees in all categories. You can review the complete, Sad/Mad/Rabid Puppies-free list of nominees online at LocusMag.com.

However, amongst all those nominees are two authors, in the "best novella" category, whom I especially wish to acknowledge: Daryl Gregory and Nancy Kress. I was involved in the production of these two books from Tachyon Publications, and I have to hope that my work had, even in some small way, contributed to this success.

In my February 27, 2014, blog post, I wrote of my work on Daryl Gregory's novella, We Are All Completely Fine. When I wrote that blog post more than a year ago, I wrote (and I quote): "...we'll be seeing this sharp-edged story on many awards lists beginning in early 2015." And, as I had predicted, We Are All Completely Fine has been nominated for the Nebula Award and the Shirley Jackson Award, in addition to the Locus Award. (And I won't speak any further about the Hugo Awards.)

Here's an excerpt from the fairly lengthy Publishers Weekly review:
"This complex novel—scathingly funny, horrific yet oddly inspiring—constructs a seductive puzzle from torn identities, focusing on both the value and peril of fear. When enigmatic Dr. Jan Sayer gathers survivors of supernatural violence for therapy, she unwittingly unlocks evil from the prison of consciousness....Blending the stark realism of pain and isolation with the liberating force of the fantastic, Gregory makes it easy to believe that the world is an illusion, behind which lurks an alternative truth—dark, degenerate, and sublime."
Publishers Weekly Starred Review


Kress-Yesterday's KinThe second novella is Yesterday's Kin by Nancy Kress, which I wrote about in my April 1, 2014, blog post. As with the Gregory novella, more than a year ago, I wrote: "So when I was called upon to copy edit the new, forthcoming novella, Yesterday's Kin, I knew that I would be working on another potential award-winning story." And, once again, Yesterday's Kin has also been nominated for the Nebula Award as well as the Locus Award.

Now you might be thinking that I say this about every project that I work on, but if you read this blog regularly, you would know that that's not true. In fact, I rarely boast about my projects being award worthy. In addition to these two novellas, the only other project that I recall making such a prediction was for the anthology The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron, edited by Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele and published by Word Horde. The anthology, by the way, is also a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award, but that's for another blog post. So, for 2014, I'm three for three.

Nancy Kress and Tor.com have graciously posted an excerpt from Yesterday's Kin. The story is told from two alternating points-of-view, that of geneticist Marianne Jenner, and her youngest son Noah. This excerpt is from Marianne's POV.

And here's a snippet from the lengthy Kirkus review:
"The political turmoil created by Kress' aliens is a warning for the reader to pay more attention to how modern-day conflicts are handled.
Science-fiction fans will luxuriate in the dystopian madness, while even nonfans will find an artful critique of humanity's ability to cooperate in the face of a greater threat."
Kirkus Reviews

Last, but certainly not least, a few words from a Hugo Award-winning editor:
"Nancy Kress delivers one of the strongest stories of the year to date…. As with all of Kress’s work, this is very nicely crafted, with well-paced prose that carries you through the story, complex human characters, a compelling and conflict-driven human story, a clever twist partway through, and an even cleverer twist at the end."
–Gardner Dozois, editor of The Year's Best Science Fiction series

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Editing in Process: In the Stars I'll Find You by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Lest Our Passage Be ForgottenIn late 2012, author Bradley P. Beaulieu (pronounced "Bowl-yer") launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to self-publish a short story collection. The collection, entitled Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten & Other Stories, was successfully funded by the end of January 2013 -- and I had the pleasure of working with Brad on the editing of this collection. You can read my blog post of April 22, 2013, on this project, if you wish.

Two years later, on December 1, 2014, Brad and five other authors launched a new Kickstarter campaign -- "Six by Six: A New Kind of Spec-Fic Anthology" -- in which six authors each provided a collection of six stories. This Kickstarter was a rather unique idea involving, as I said, six authors (including Will McIntosh and Martha Wells), and was fully funded along two stretch goals by the end of December.

After Brad met his "Six by Six" Kickstarter goals and rewards, he then combined those six stories with four additional stories -- and put together a second collection of short stories: In the Stars I'll Find You & Other Tales of Futures Fantastic, which he also plans to self-publish.

Brad was fortunately satisfied with my work on Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten (You can read the author's acknowledgement in the first collection here.) because I was given the opportunity to work on this second collection as well.

As with the first collection, I performed a developmental review of the four new, previously unpublished stories:
"And a Girl Named Rose" (5,100 words)
"Born of a Trickster God" (16,900 words)
"Compartmentalized" (6,400 words)
"In the Stars I’ll Find You" (9,400 words)
Then, after Brad had reworked these stories as necessary, he pulled together the full collection of ten stories -- approximately 83,000 words of fiction -- and I did my line and copy editing thing. Even though I had already reviewed the four new stories, including them in the overall copy edit allowed me to catch any new errors that might have been introduced during the rework, plus I could then ensure consistency in word usage and such throughout the entire collection.

So, in addition to the four new stories above, the collection includes these six published stories (also in alphabetical order):
"Bloom" - first published in Realms of Fantasy, June 2008

"Chasing Humanity" - first published in Man vs. Machine, November 2006

"Flashed Forward" - first published in Help Fund My Robot Army, edited by John Joseph Adams, 2014

"No Viviremos Como Presos" - first published in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, October 2007

"Quinta Essentia" - first published in Clockwork Universe - Steampunk vs. Aliens, edited by Patricia Bray and Joshua Palmatier, 2014

"Upon the Point of a Knife" - first published in The Crimson Pact, Volume V, edited by Paul Genesse, 2013

The original sources for these six stories are quite varied -- anthologies and magazines -- and since most readers don't have access to such a variety of publications, a collection of Brad's short fiction is the best way to read these stories. In the Stars I'll Find You will be published in both print and electronic editions later this year.

With these two collections, I've now read twenty-seven stories...and what continues to impress me with each new story is the breadth of content -- and the storytelling: from a medical procedure on a man's brain so he can control individual actions and memories ("Compartmentalized") to the relationship between a ship's AI and a young girl ("A Girl Named Rose") to unlocking the secrets of the fifth element ("Quinta Essentia").

I would recommend that you connect with Bradley P. Beaulieu: the author's website has links to Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc. so that you can stay informed of his activities, as I know he'll let his readers know when the new collection will be officially released.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Thurgood Marshall

"We cannot play ostrich. Democracy just cannot flourish amid fear. Liberty cannot bloom amid hate. Justice cannot take root amid rage. America must get to work. In the chill climate in which we live, we must go against the prevailing wind. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust. We must dissent from a nation that has buried its head in the sand, waiting in vain for the needs of its poor, its elderly, and its sick to disappear and just blow away. We must dissent from a government that has left its young without jobs, education or hope. We must dissent from the poverty of vision and the absence of moral leadership. We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better."

Thurgood Marshall
Former Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Excerpt from Acceptance Speech for the Liberty Medal
July 4, 1992
Independence Hall
Philadelphia, PA

Friday, May 1, 2015

Selected Links and Things

Two years ago -- and for a few years prior to that -- I did a monthly "Links and Things" blog post, in which I would recap relevant publishing news and info from throughout the previous month. If you look through the Tags list in the right column below, you'll find that I published 47 "Links and Things" blog posts (actually, 48 now, counting this one).

Unfortunately, trying to keep up on publishing-related news, newsletters, blogs, twitter feeds, etc. -- and then reading, recapping, and posting the details each month simply overwhelmed my time and energy.

However, over the past few weeks I've come across a few resources that are just too good to pass up:


1. If you are a hardcore Twitter user, then this link is just for you: The Best Hashtags for Indie Authors in 2015

The article is written by Gary McLaren, who runs PublishYourOwnEbooks.com. He provides charts, graphs, and statistics on a number of Twitter hashtags, including #amwriting, #writetip and #writingtips, #wrting, #indiepub and #indiepublishing, and more. He also provides info on Twitter groups -- #iartg (Indie Author Retweet Group), #asmsg (Author Social Media Support Group), and #ian1 (Independent Author Network) -- including links to each group's guidelines.

So, read up and tweet on....


2. Author Toni Morrison on Failure: "Write, Erase, Do It Over" from NEA Arts Magazine.
Talking to Toni Morrison about failure is a bit like talking to Einstein about stupidity: it's incongruous, to say the least. At 83, Morrison is one of the world's best-known and most successful novelists, her awards list crammed with the heavyweights of literary prizes: among them, the 1988 Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award for Beloved; the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993 (the last U.S. author to receive it); the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012; and most recently, the Ivan Sandroff Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle....

Obviously, to be a writer, you must write, but how often do you get to read writing tips from an author such as Toni Morrison? In this NEA article, Ms. Morrison discusses the following topics: a) Defining Creative Failure; b) Getting Started; c) Success in the Morning; d) Recognizing When Something Isn't Working; e) Responsibility to Characters; f) Learning Not to Overdo It; g) Failures in Contemporary American Literature; h) Stumbles Along the Way.


3. I've saved the most fun for last: Kindle Cover Disasters

Some of the most outrageous, ostentatious, horrendous, jumped-the-shark book covers you will ever see. And some of the book titles are pretty freaking ridiculous, too. (Did I use enough adjectives here?) And what's even more fun is that often the links to the actual books are also provided, so you don't even have to search -- you can just click on over to the book if it intrigues you and add it to your library!



Note: Links 2 and 3 were courtesy of GalleyCat, and I strongly suggest you subscribe to their newsletter, delivered directly to your inbox daily.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Courtney Schafer's The Shattered Sigil Trilogy



Earlier this year, author Courtney Schafer launched a Kickstarter campaign for her fantasy novel The Labyrinth of Flame, book III in The Shattered Sigil Trilogy. Books I and II in this series were originally published by Night Shade Books. Ms. Schafer then made the decision to self-publish volume III, and thus the Kickstarter campaign was born. At the time, she had a complete draft of the novel and had also commissioned the book cover (art and layout) -- with artwork by David Palumbo, the same artist who had done the covers for the first two volumes. So there was little risk for those who contributed to this Kickstarter project.

The Kickstarter was, in fact, fully funded -- and then some: the campaign achieved 284% funding and unlocked three stretch goals.

The Whitefire Crossing
I've been reading the mobi editions1 of books I and II in The Shattered Sigil Trilogy. I completed The Whitefire Crossing a week or so ago, and I'm now about one-third of the way through The Tainted City.

All this in preparation for my next project: I will be working with Courtney Schafer on book III, The Labyrinth of Flame, performing a full copy edit of the final manuscript prior to publication.


The Tainted City
On her website, Courtney Schafer has provided a sneak peak at the novel, with chapters one through three available online. And, if you missed out on the Kickstarter but would still like to add this third volume to your library, the author will accept "late pledge" pre-orders until August 1; contact her directly at courtney(at)courtneyschafer(dot)com.

For those completely new to this series, the author provides sample chapters as well for both book I, The Whitefire Crossing (chapters one through six), and book II, The Tainted City (chapters one and two), on her website.

Now, as I said, I haven't finished reading the second volume, but the story has demanded my attention -- a new take on the apprentice mage (Kiran) and thief (Dev) -- with just enough twists and surprises to keep me intrigued. And, if you are a mountain and/or rock climber who enjoys reading fantasy, then this series is an absolute must read.

"Courtney Schafer has the gift of bringing this reader up to the brink, heart in my throat as I think--no! she's not really going to do that, is she?--and then ruthlessly dropping me over the cliff. That's why I love her books."
~Kate Elliott, author of the Spiritwalker trilogy

---------------
Footnotes

[1] I read ebooks primarily on a Nexus 7-2013 using the Kindle for Android app. I do have access to an older Kindle, but prefer the amenities provided by an actual Android device.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Editing in Process: Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

The title of this collection comes from my love of Cordwainer Smith's writing, especially his "Instrumentality of Mankind" stories. I loved his imagination, style, the poetry of his writing, his compassion. Loved his sensibility in writing about a racialized, manufactured underclass and telling some of the stories from their context. I'm black and female. I was born and for many years raised middle/creative class in the Caribbean, a region of the world which has had to be keenly aware of issues of race, class, gender, and privilege....These are such human issues. I love and am fascinated by human beings....
~ Nalo Hopkinson, from the Foreword

Falling in Love with Homonids
Cover art by Chuma Hill
This is but a brief excerpt from the more than 700 words that comprise the foreword to Falling in Love with Hominids, Nalo Hopkinson's forthcoming collection of short stories from Tachyon Publications.

When you read the full text of the foreword, you will realize that this collection is more than just a book of short stories: science fiction, fantasy, and a hint of Afro-Caribbean folklore throughout... These are stories of the human condition. Each story has a soul of its own.

Falling in Love with Hominids was my first opportunity to work on stories by Nalo Hopkinson. Her first novels, Brown Girl in the Ring (1998) and Midnight Robber (2000), sit prominently on one of my book shelves. So when Tachyon Publications informed me that this project was next on the "to do" list for me, I was anxious to get to work on it.

The collection includes 18 stories totalling nearly 80,000 words; here's the contents list:
The Easthound
Soul Case
Message in a Bottle
The Smile on the Face
Left Foot, Right
Old Habits
Emily Breakfast
Herbal
A Young Candy Daughter
A Raggy Dog, a Shaggy Dog
Shift
Delicious Monster
Snow Day
Flying Lessons
Whose Upward Flight I Love
Blushing
Ours Is the Prettiest
Men Sell Not Such in Any Town
The one story, "Flying Lessons," is original to the collection.

I found it difficult to select just one favorite story, as so many of these were special -- but if I must, it would have to be "Message in a Bottle." This story was originally published in 2005 in Futureways, an anthology published by Arsenal Pulp Press in Vancouver. So unless you are a hardcore fan, this story will undoubtedly be new to you, as it was for me. And I found it even more difficult to write about this story without yielding any spoilers, so beware....

"Message in a Bottle" is about a young girl, Kamla, who suffers from "Delayed Growth Syndrome," officially Diaz Syndrome after the doctor who first identified it. At ten years old, Kamla looked like a six-year-old, yet had a fully grown head: all the bones in her skull were fused and she had a full set of adult teeth. "Researchers have no clue what's causing it, or if the bodies of the kids will ever achieve full adulthood. Their brains, however, are way ahead of their bodies. All the kids who've tested positive for DGS are scarily smart."

Kamla is of this world, but not of this time. In a somewhat clandestine meeting with Greg, a friend of the family, an artist, and the protagonist of the story, Kamla reveals her secret: "They grew us from cells from our originals; ten of us per original. They used a viral injection technique to put extra-long tails on one of the strands of our DNA. You need more telomeres to slow down aging." She goes on to talk about "viable blastocytes," "womb donors," and wanting to "make the journey," and "implanted memories from my original." And for Greg, who is hearing all of this for the first time: "The scientific jargon exiting smoothly from the mouth of a child could have been comic. But I had goose bumps...."

Kamla has confided in Greg all for the sake of a found object, an artifact, that Greg used in an "installation piece" on exhibit in a gallery. She asks Greg to keep this artifact safe for her....


Falling in Love with Hominids is scheduled for publication in August; the book can now be preordered from Amazon, or from your favorite bookseller.

Early praise for Nalo Hopkinson:
"Hopkinson is rightly lauded for having one of the more original new voices in SF, and the brilliance in her fiction shines equally from her evocative voice and the deep empathy she displays for her characters. Adding to the fun is the fact that Hopkinson's prose is a distinct pleasure to read: richly sensual, with high-voltage erotic content and gorgeous details."
—SCIFI.com



Friday, April 10, 2015

Editing in Process / Book Received: Vermilion by Molly Tanzer

Cover art by Dalton Rose
Jeez...or is it Geez? (Actually, I believe one is a variant of the other.) I'm so far behind on blog posts that I haven't even written about my work on this book -- and the book itself just arrived in the mail! I'm talking, of course, about Molly Tanzer's first novel, Vermilion, from the indefatigable publisher Word Horde and Ross E. Lockhart.

But let me clarify...I'm not really that far behind on blog posts: I finished work on Vermilion the first week of February, and the trade paperback edition is now in my hands. That speaks more to the quality and effort of the publisher, working with my line and copy edits on this 380-page novel in early February, to distributing the book about nine weeks later.

So let me tell you a bit about Vermilion -- it's a weird western, it's steampunk, it's about Chinese families and traditions, and it's about ghosts, and magic. The story takes place in the Western US around the time work had been completed on laying tracks for the railroads. A lot of Chinese laborers were unable to find work, and consequently many had become desperate.

Opening the book to the full title page enables you to read the subtitle: "The Adventures of Lou Merriwether, Psychopomp." So, who is Lou Merriwether and what is a psychopomp?
Gunslinging, chain smoking, Stetson-wearing Taoist psychopomp, Elouise "Lou" Merriwether might not be a normal 19-year-old, but she's too busy keeping San Francisco safe from ghosts, shades, and geung si to care much about that. It's an important job, though most folks consider it downright spooky. Some have even accused Lou of being more comfortable with the dead than the living, and, well...they’re not wrong.
When Lou learns that a number of Chinatown boys have gone missing deep in the Colorado Rockies -- ostensibly to work on the railroads -- she takes it upon herself to find them, if not to bring them home alive, then to help their troubled spirits cross over. And Lou does indeed set out on an adventure. She tracks the boys to a mysterious sanatorium known as Fountain of Youth. She encounters humanoid bears and desperate men, and a very undead villain who runs the sanatorium and has built a flying machine -- actually, a flying train!

I haven't had this much fun working on a project since, well, since a very long time. Vermilion reminded me of the Detective Inspector Chen stories by Liz Williams, and even a bit of the Laundry Files by Charles Stross (but without all the geekery/neepery, of course). If weird western steampunk magic vampire ghost stories is your thing, then hurry aboard Vermilion: the train is about to leave the track, and you won't want to miss this great ride! And I'm hoping the book is indeed successful, because this novel is just screaming for a sequel.

If you are strictly an ebook reader, then Vermilion is now available in Kindle format from Amazon. However, if you prefer the feel of a real book, but like the advantage an ebook provides when you're traveling, then go for the Vermilion bundled package direct from Word Horde: the trade paperback, a bookplate signed by Molly Tanzer, and the ebook format of your choice (epub, mobi, or PDF) -- all for $16.99.


Book Received: Angels & Exiles by Yves Meynard

Angels & Exiles
Cover by Vince Haig
While attending FOGcon here in the Bay Area over the March 6 weekend, I managed to pick up a copy of short story collection Angels & Exiles by Yves Meynard.

To be honest, I'm not familiar with any of the stories in this collection: one story, "The Song of the Mermaid," is original to the collection; the thirteen other stories were published in what appear to be mostly Canadian publications. Canada is Yves's homeland.

But my interest in this book, and these stories, stems from my previous work with Yves. He contributed the story "Good News from Antares" to my co-edited anthology Is Anybody Out There? (with Nick Gevers). At the book release event at Readercon in July 2010, Yves was on hand to read from his story, as was Paul Di Filippo and James Morrow. (Read my recap of Readercon 2010.)

Yves also contributed a story to my 2003 co-edited anthology Witpunk (with Claude Lalumière). But if you scan Witpunk's table of contents you won't see Yves's name. That's because he writes under the name Laurent McAllister, a symbionym for his collaborative efforts with writer Jean-Louis Trudel. Their story is "Kapuzine and the Wolf: A Hortatory Tale," a stunning, albeit sorrowful, tale -- and one of my absolute favorites in the anthology -- which is why Claude and I chose to close the anthology with this story. Kirkus concluded it's review of Witpunk with the phrase "ringingly brilliant..."

So, Angels & Exiles will definitely fill my need to read more of Yves Meynard's very fine short stories. You might want to check out this collection, and Yves's stories, as well.

And the retro stack of 25¢ paperbacks cover art by Vince Haig is an added bonus.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Received: The Essential W. P. Kinsella

The Essential W. P. KinsellaTaxes: done (finally). Current editing deadline project: completed early this week, and ahead of schedule, too.

So that brings me to one of my recently received books: The Essential W. P. Kinsella, from Tachyon Publications. Though when I initially worked on this book, and then wrote a blog post about it back on August 26, 2014, the working title was "The Very Best of W. P. Kinsella."

Whether it be "The Very Best" or "The Essential" -- "to-may-to, to-mah-to" -- it doesn't matter...this is really the one and only book you need to read, especially if you are new to the writing of W. P. Kinsella.

For those completely unfamiliar with the author's work, he wrote the story "Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa," which is included in the book. The story was expanded into the novel Shoeless Joe, which later begat the 1989 Oscar-nominated movie Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, and Ray Liotta: If you build it, he will come.

There are quite a few baseball stories included in this collection. But the way in which Kinsella tells such a story, the reader doesn't need an understanding of baseball; the game of baseball merely serves as a metaphor on life -- and what a life it can be: W. P. Kinsella-style, and that "style" typically includes a touch of the supernatural as well. Here's an excerpt from the Publishers Weekly review:
...Other charming baseball fantasies include "The Night Manny Mota Tied the Record," in which a fan agrees to sacrifice himself to bring back the recently dead Yankees star Thurman Munson, and "Searching for January," which concerns an encounter with the deceased Roberto Clemente. Alongside these stories are several more realistic and mostly gentle satires, such as "The Fog," that present the escapades of several indefatigable members of Canada’s First Nations. "The Grecian Urn" concerns a couple who can inhabit the interior worlds of great works of art. "K Mart" is the touching tale of three boys who use baseball to escape from their unhappy lives. Kinsella is a masterly writer of short fiction....each of these works, whether fantastic or realistic, is individually a small marvel of the storyteller's art. ~ Publishers Weekly starred review

In support of the publication of The Essential W. P. Kinsella, the author -- who turns 80 on May 25 -- has been making the rounds of media interviews. In an interview with Richard Warnica of the National Post, Kinsella says of his popular, and oft controversial, First Nations/Hobbema Reserve stories: "They are funny and they are true. They portray the native people in a great light and they show their sense of humour. That is how oppressed people survive." Short story "The Last Surviving Member of the Japanese Victory Society," "a sweet piece about late-life love and loss," was the last story Kinsella read to his wife, Barbara, before she passed away in 2012. "I always read everything aloud [to her]. She is the best editor I ever worked with." The story was published in 2013.

In an interview with Charity Nebbe on Talk of Iowa, for Iowa's Public Radio, Kinsella said of this new collection: "I just want people to enjoy the work. I'd like them to say, 'wow that story really moved me, or that really made me laugh, or it left me with a little tear in my eye.' That's all that I've ever wanted from my writing. I want people to enjoy it."

Two stories, "Do Not Abandon Me" and "Out of the Picture," are original to this collection.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Editing in Process: The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross

The Annihilation Score
Ace Books
You still have an opportunity to purchase the ebook edition of The Atrocity Archives for $1.99, though I don't know how long this reduced price will be available. And if you haven't read this first book yet in the Laundry Files series by noted UK author Charles Stross, then you have a lot of reading to catch up on....

Because this July will see the publication of book six in the Laundry Files series: The Annihilation Score, from Ace Books, and also from publisher Orbit in the UK.

I actually began work on this project during the Christmas holiday season and continued working a few weeks into January.[1] But I held off on this blog post until Ace finally released the cover art, as I hoped to feature it as well. Unfortunately, the cover release occurred while I was in the middle of a hard deadline (a new short story collection from Bradley P. Beaulieu, for a future blog post) and thus another few weeks passed, and, well, here we are.

Orbit Books UK
The Annihilation Score (TAS going forward) is, as I have said, the sixth volume in the continuing Laundry Files series. I have been extremely fortunate to have worked now on all six volumes. If you click on this link, you'll be transported to a More Red Ink "Laundry Files" search, which will allow you to scan through the ten or so blog posts I've done with a "Laundry Files" tag. I haven't written about all the volumes but enough to pique your interest, especially if you are new to the world of the supersecret intelligence organization known as the Laundry (the original HQ shared a building with a Chinese Laundry, thus the name), and necromancers Bob Howard and his wife Dominique "Mo" O'Brien.

I would like to especially draw your attention to the first blog post, "Charles Stross: On Her Majesty's Occult Service," posted on December 10, 2009, in which I write about acquiring and editing the first two volumes in the series (The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue) for indie publisher Golden Gryphon Press, all of which began in 2002. Beginning with The Fuller Memorandum, Ace picked up the series, as well as reprinting the first two titles as trade paperbacks. Ace then hired me because Charlie and I promised his editor at the time that I would ensure consistency across all three volumes. And, so far, Ace has brought me in for all the titles since. (Keeping fingers crossed his new editor at Ace is sufficiently satisfied to have me work on volume seven, which Charlie is currently in the throes of writing.)

As to keeping the world of the Laundry consistent across all the volumes...trust me, it's getting more difficult as the number of titles increases -- like a juggling act, with all six plates up in the air simultaneously, while my hands quickly turn physical pages or click a mouse to scan through files. While working on TAS I found myself looking up names, organizations, even specific uses of words in previous volumes, going as far back as The Atrocity Archives. When I began work on The Apocalypse Codex (book four), Ace required that I provide a comprehensive style sheet (see blog post "Doing Charles Stross's Laundry with Style"), which I have continued to do for each consecutive book; previous to that, I have my own editing notes.

Occasionally (albeit rarely) a tweak in the consistency meter is required when reality interferes with Laundry fiction, but other than these rare instances, the Laundry Files universe has remained relatively consistent throughout. It's a task that I take very seriously with each new book. While working on a book, I will email the author with questions, asking for definitions and clarifications, and to work through and refine small details. Often dozens (and dozens) of emails cross the aether (ocean?) between us.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

eBook Sale: The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross

The Atrocity ArchivesIf you read ebooks, and you haven't yet read The Atrocity Archives, the first volume in the Laundry Files series by Charles Stross, then what are you waiting for?

For a buck-99 you can't go wrong, though I have to admit I'm prejudiced: I acquired and edited the original hardcover edition of The Atrocity Archives for Golden Gryphon Press back in 2003. [You can read my lengthy blog post on acquiring both The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue, volume 2 in the Laundry Files series.]

Of course, if you are already a fan of the Laundry Files, but don't yet have this first volume in an ebook edition, now is your chance to snag a copy cheap.

But don't wait too long: I have no idea how long this ebook will remain priced at $1.99. But for now, the ebook is available from just about everywhere at $1.99. Here are the links:
Amazon Kindle edition

Nook Book edition

Google Play Books edition

Apple iTunes edition

Think of the Laundry Files as "Lovecraftian spy thrillers involving a secret history of the twentieth century, although they are not set in Lovecraft's universe,"[1] in which magic is a form of applied mathematics. Our hero in the stories[2] is Bob Howard (not his real name, because to know one's true name....), a slashdot-reading, T-shirt wearing, computer geek who nearly destroyed the city of Wolverhampton by accident while developing a new graphics algorithm. Bob was then recruited (a term used loosely, as it was either "join us, or die") into the Laundry, Her Majesty's supersecret black intelligence agency.


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Footnotes:

[1] The Atrocity Archives on Wikipedia.

[2] Bob Howard has been the main protagonist through the first five Laundry Files novels; but that role changes in book six. See my next blog post....

Monday, March 16, 2015

Review Copies: Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds

Slow Bullets
The final review of the galley pages is now complete, and Slow Bullets will soon see print. The official publication date is June 9, but Tachyon Publications titles are typically available a bit early.

If you are a book reviewer and are registered with NetGalley, you may now request an electronic review copy of Slow Bullets. If you are a book reviewer but you are not registered with NetGalley, registration is free; you simply provide them with a personal profile as to who you are as a book reviewer.

If you are not registered with NetGalley and don't wish to do so, but you would like a review copy of Slow Bullets, you can email me at: marty[dot]halpern[at]gmail[dot]com -- provide me with your contact information along with a link to your book review blog (or, if your reviews appear at different sites, a couple links to said reviews), and let me know which format you prefer: PDF, MOBI, or EPUB. If you require a print edition of the Slow Bullets ARC, that can be arranged, but you'll need to inform me why a print edition is needed as there is an additional cost to the publisher for this.

For more information on Slow Bullets, you can read my "Editing in Process" blog post on February 9, 2015.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy, March 26, 1931 – February 27, 2015

We remember him as Spock, and Spock Prime, in the Star Trek franchise; and as Dr. William Bell in about a dozen episodes of Fringe. And for a hundred thousand-plus Twitter followers, Leonard Nimoy will be lovingly remembered for his very last tweet:


LLAP. Live Long and Prosper....


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Editing in Process...Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction

Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction
Cover art by Lius Lasahido
This was my last editing project for calendar year 2014:

Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction, forthcoming in May 2015 from Tachyon Publications -- and the year 2014 couldn't have ended on a better high note.

Back in early 2010 I was hearing (virtually speaking, that is) a lot of buzz about a new hard-SF writer from Finland, Hannu Rajaniemi, and his first novel entitled The Quantum Thief, to be published in the UK by Gollancz that September.

Then, Charles Stross, in a blog post dated May 14, 2010, recommended Hannu Rajaniemi and The Quantum Thief for the Hugo Awards ballot:

He's Finnish, lives in Scotland, has a PhD in string theory, and — well, if you dropped Greg Egan's hard physics chops into a rebooted Finnish version of Al Reynolds with the writing talent of a Ted Chiang you'd begin to get a rough approximation of the scale of his talent. If that's a somewhat recondite metaphor, then alas, recondite is what you're getting: this is deep SF, and if there's any criticism I can level it's that readers may find "The Quantum Thief" hard to interpret without a prior background in the field. However, it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I read it, and I think Hannu's going to revolutionize hard SF when he hits his stride. Hard to admit, but I think he's better at this stuff than I am. And "The Quantum Thief" is the best first SF novel I've read in many years.
And then, I read Rajaniemi's short story "Elegy for a Young Elk" in the Spring 2010 issue of Subterranean Press Magazine.

And by that time I was, like, Wow! -- Who is this writer?


Now, skip forward four years...(It's been four years already?)...to October 2014, during which time I had the opportunity to work on this collection of short stories by Hannu Rajaniemi[1].

The stories in Collected Fiction are more like "Elegy for a Young Elk" than the novel Quantum Thief. To rephrase Charles Stross, readers won't need a prior background in string/quantum theory to enjoy these stories. But you do need to be open-minded about possibilities --

From the story "Shibuya no Love":
They were eating takoyaki by the statue of Hachiko the dog when Norie told her to buy a quantum lovegety.

Riina's Japanese was not very good in spite of two years of Oriental Studies and three months in Tokyo, and the translation software on her phone did not immediately recognize the term, so she just stared at the small caramel-skinned girl blankly for a few seconds, mouth full of fried dough and octopus. "A what?" she managed finally, wiping crumbs from her lips.

...

"You don't have them in Finland? How do you meet boys there? Oh, I forgot, you have the sauna!....

"It's the most kawaii thing! I keep mine on all the time. Look!" Norie held up her wrist. Her phone was embedded in a Cartier platinum bracelet with a jewel-studded Hello Kitty engraving that her boyfriend Shinichi had given her for her birthday. Riina had admired it several times, but had not paid attention to the little teardrop-shaped plastic thing dangling from it until now. It was hardly bigger than the tip of her index finger, and its pink surface had the characteristic teflon sheen of a nanovat-grown product. There was a silvery heart-shaped logo on one side.
And from another favorite story of mine, "Invisible Planets":
Travelling through Cygnus 61, as it prepares to cross the gulf between the galaxies, the darkship commands its sub-minds to describe the worlds it has visited.

...

During the millennia of its journey, the darkship's mind has expanded, until it has become something that has to be explored and mapped. The treasures it contains can only be described in metaphors, brittle and misleading and distant, like mirages. And so, more and more, amongst all the agents in its sprawling society of mind, the darkship finds itself listening to the voice of a tiny sub-mind, so insignificant that she is barely more than a wanderer lost in a desert, coming from reaches of the ship's mind so distant that she might as well be a traveller from another country that has stumbled upon an ancient and exotic kingdom on the other side of the world, and now finds herself serving a quizzical, omnipotent emperor.
What follows, then, in "Invisible Planets" are a half-dozen of what I might call little vignettes, in which the sub-mind describes the planets and people the darkship has visited; for example: "The rulers of the Planet Oya love the dead." -- and then we get to learn about Oya and the dead.


Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction contains approximately 80,000 words and includes 19 stories, sort of, plus a couple mini introductions (all to be explained shortly). Here's the table of contents:

Deus Ex Homine
The Server and the Dragon
Tyche and the Ants
The Haunting of Apollo A7LB
His Master's Voice
Elegy for a Young Elk
The Jugaad Cathedral
Fisher of Men
Invisible Planets
Topsight
Ghost Dogs
The Viper Blanket
The Oldest Game
Shibuya no Love
Paris, in Love
Satan's Typist
Skywalker of Earth
Snow White Is Dead
Unused Tomorrows and Other Stories

The final two "stories" in the list each has its own mini-introduction. We learn that "Snow White Is Dead" is actually one result of a neurofiction experiment, sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure, but in reverse: the story chooses you, based on brain activity. The last story, "Unused Tomorrows and Other Stories," is a collection of 140-character Twitter stories that Hannu Rajaniemi wrote while Twitterer-in-Residence at New Media Scotland in August 2008.

I told you...you have to be open to the possibilities....


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Footnote:

[1] Typically I link an author's name to the author's website or blog, but I found neither for Hannu Rajaniemi. And if I missed said link(s), my sincere apologies. I did find the author on Twitter (@hannu; last tweet was February 13), Facebook (last post was December 30, 2014, at which time he changed his profile pic), and LinkedIn. If I've missed a link, feel free to post a comment below.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Received: The Very Best of Kate Elliott

In my blog post on June 12, 2014, in which I wrote about working on this Kate Elliott collection for Tachyon Publications, I opened the post with the following paragraph:
The Very Best of Kate Elliott
Cover Art by Julie Dillion
The beauty of any "best of" collection is that it allows the reader to experience the full expanse of the author's writing and story telling. And, if the collection is indeed worth its (literal) weight, then the book will hopefully have some small treasure, a story unfamiliar to the reader, even if the reader is one of the author's biggest fans....and it holds true on my most recent project, The Very Best of Kate Elliott....
Of the twelve stories in this collection, six were published in various anthologies from DAW Books, and another story, "On the Dying Winds of the Old Year and the Birthing Winds of the New," is original to this volume; I suspect even Ms. Elliott's faithful fans haven't had the opportunity to read all of these stories.

Here is the contents list (in order of appearance) for The Very Best of Kate Elliott:
Riding the Shore of the River of Death
Leaf and Branch and Grass and Vine
The Queen's Garden
On the Dying Winds of the Old Year and
   the Birthing Winds of the New
The Gates of Joriun
The Memory of Peace
With God to Guard Her
My Voice Is in My Sword
Sunseeker
A Simple Act of Kindness
To Be a Man
Making the World Live Again

And here is the starred Publishers Weekly review of The Very Best of Kate Elliott:

Elliott's delightful first collection contains pieces set in the worlds of her major fantasy series—the Spiritwalker Trilogy, the Crossroads Trilogy, the Crown of Stars series, and the Jaran novels....No familiarity with any of the novels is required to understand the stories set in those worlds, but the existing settings lend depth, complexity, and intrigue to what might otherwise be simple tales. "Riding the Shore of the River of Death," a bildungsroman about a young female horse-nomad who wants to be a warrior, benefit greatly from the depth of setting, as does the slapstick comedy "To Be a Man," about a shape-shifting saber-toothed cat with an eye for the ladies. But the standalones especially shine, and the political intrigue and subtle humor that Elliott brings to the fascinating culture and government system of "The Queen's Garden" make it perhaps the finest work in the book. This collection serves beautifully both as an introduction to Elliott and as a treat for fans who want more of her marvels."
Publishers Weekly, December 1, 2014

In addition to these twelve stories, the collection also includes four essays as well as an introduction written specifically for this collection. The Very Best of Kate Elliott was officially published on February 10.


[Addendum 18 February 2015] Interview on SFSignal.com: "Kate Elliott Discusses The Very Best of Kate Elliott and More."