Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Observed in the Wild

Alien Contact

Barnes & Noble, Eastridge Shopping Center, San Jose, California:

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Guardian Aliens

Alien ContactIf you happen to reside in the United Kingdom -- and if you were to read the reviews section in today's issue of The Guardian -- you would have seen Keith Brooke's review of Alien Contact.

Keith Brooke is the mastermind behind infinity plus. Though the site hasn't been active since 2007 (it was launched in August 1997), the archives remain online, and if you are a fan and/or student of science fiction and fantasy, you need to have this site bookmarked for reference. As the website itself states: "more than 2.1 million words of fiction, 1000 book reviews and 100 interviews." And now, under the infinity plus banner, Keith is publishing infinity plus singles -- "science fiction, fantasy, horror and crime ebooks for Kindle, Nook and other e-readers."

Of course, not everyone resides in the U.K, and even those who do don't necessarily subscribe to The Guardian. So, the Alien Contact review can also be found on The Guardian online. Keith's review is short, but sweet, and concludes with: "As with any collection, it's easy to debate the editor's choices, but in most cases the selections are spot on, making this an anthology which, restrictive as the theme might appear, serves as an excellent snapshot of modern SF."

I like that: "serves as an excellent snapshot of modern SF."

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Angel" -- A Visitor of a Different Kind

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo

On July 21, nearly halfway into my 26-week project to blog about each of the 26 stories included in Alien Contact, I introduced Story #12 -- Pat Cadigan's "Angel."

When I posted my original blog about "Angel," I had Pat's permission at that time to reprint her story online in its entirety -- and I really wanted to do so, right here on More Red Ink. But io9.com had expressed an interest in a guest blog post from Pat, and, as a follow-up, I suggested they also post her story, "Angel," to which they agreed.

So, after much impatient waiting on my part, Pat Cadigan's very astute, very personal guest blog post -- entitled "Why Science Fiction Writers Love Meeting the Other" -- is now available on io9 for your reading pleasure.

In her guest blog post, Pat writes:
One of the first SF books I ever bought was an anthology called Invaders of Earth, edited by Groff Conklin.... Invaders of Earth was divided into three sections — invaders in the past, the present, and the future. I wish I could lay hands on that old book and name all the stories and authors.1 I do remember Mildred Clingerman's "Minister Without Portfolio," in which a grandmother fails to recognise green-skinned people as aliens because she's colour-blind; there was also a story by Donald Wollheim about an attempted invasion by alien weather, and "The Greatest Tertian," told by Martians who uncover evidence on a dead Earth of its greatest hero, Sherk Oms.

Times sure have changed.

They've changed so much that if you were to put Conklin's Invaders of Earth side by side with Alien Contact, edited by Marty Halpern, you'd be tempted to think they were books from different planets. Which, of course, they are. The past isn't merely a different country — it's a whole different world.

There are nearly 1,500 words to this guest blog post; and if you enjoy reading speculative fiction, and alien contact stories in particular, you'll find much to appreciate in her essay.

And then, much to my delight, a few days later io9 graciously posted the full text of Pat's multi-award-nominated story "Angel." I still wish the story was here, on my blog, but I realize that the io9 website gets thousands (and thousands) of daily hits, which will definitely bring "Angel" -- and Pat Cadigan -- to the attention of a wider audience. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I do!

P.S. One of the commenters to Pat's guest blog post included the following quote, which impressed me enough to include it here, just in case you don't read those blog comments:
Did you ever notice how in the Bible, when ever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?

The Prophecy, 1995, First Look Pictures



1 Courtesy of the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB.org), here are the contents to Groff Conklin's Invaders of Earth; sadly the listing isn't broken down in the three groups -- past, present, and future -- to which Pat refers. However, the online listing does include four additional uncredited essays having to do with the past and future. One other comment: I'm presenting the stories here as they are listed on ISFDB; you'll note that they are not in any particular order, so I'm assuming this may be the order (the Introduction aside) in which the stories appear in the anthology:

Invaders of Earth, Groff Conklin, editor, Vanguard Press, 1952.

"The Waveries" (1945) by Fredric Brown
"Tiny and the Monster" (1947) by Theodore Sturgeon
"Castaway" (1941) by Robert Moore Williams
"Not Only Dead Men" (1942) by A. E. van Vogt
"The Man in the Moon" (1943) by Henry A. Norton
"Impulse" (1938) by Eric Frank Russell
"Minister Without Portfolio" (1952) by Mildred Clingerman
"Crisis" (1951) by Edward Grendon
"Angel's Egg" (1951) by Edgar Pangborn
"Pen Pal" (1951) by Milton Lesser
"Pictures Don't Lie" (1951) by Katherine MacLean
"An Eel by the Tail" (1951) by Allen Kim Lang [as by Allen K. Lang ]
"Invasion from Mars" (1938) by Howard Koch
"The Discord Makers" (1950) by Mack Reynolds
"Child of Void" (1949) by Margaret St. Clair
"This Star Shall Be Free" (1949) by Murray Leinster
"A Date to Remember" (1949) by William F. Temple
"Will You Walk a Little Faster?" (1951) by William Tenn
"The Greatest Tertian" by Anthony Boucher
"Top Secret" (1948) by Donald A. Wollheim [as by David Grinnell ]
"Enemies in Space" (1907) by Karl Grunert
"Storm Warning" (1942) by Donald A. Wollheim [as by Millard Verne Gordon ]
"Introduction" by Groff Conklin

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Alien Contact -- Another Giveaway, Another Review

Alien ContactDuring the past three weeks, speculative fiction blog SF Signal has hosted a series of guest blog posts and interviews with some of the Alien Contact authors. I've been posting the links here on More Red Ink, but if you're just learning about this now, or you think you may have missed one of the guest posts or an interview or two -- SF Signal has graciously posted a recap, with links, of the entire series.

And, for the denouement, SF Signal is currently hosting an Alien Contact giveaway: a signed (by me) copy of the print edition for the winning U.S. resident, and a copy of the ebook edition (MOBI or EPUB) for the winning non-U.S. resident. The giveaway ends on November 22, so readers still have four more days to add their name to the proverbial hat. Details.

* * * *

Here's a recent review of Alien Contact that appeared in Library Journal:
Alien Contact. Night Shade. Dec. 2011. c.500p. ed. by Marty Halpern. ISBN 9781597802819. pap. $15.99. SF

From Paul McAuley's lyrically somber tale of zombielike aliens ("The Thought War") to Stephen Baxter's story of the last alien message to Earth ("Last Contact"), the 26 tales collected here demonstrate both the variety of alien-contact literature and the enduring popularity of this sf subgenre. VERDICT With strong stories from Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Mike Resnick, Pat Murphy, and other sf luminaries, this is a choice volume for sf fans and a good introduction to extraterrestial encounter stories.

Library Journal Reviews, November 15, 2011

I'm hopeful that, with this positive review, my anthology will find its way to a lot of library shelves throughout the U.S.

Alien Contact was reviewed in LJ with a gaggle of other science fiction and fantasy titles, including two other anthologies also published by Night Shade Books. The reviews can be read in their entirety online on Reviews.LibraryJournal.com.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What You Are About to See...And Read...Now

Alien ContactWhat seems like so many months ago -- April, actually -- I was plotting the best ways to introduce to readers the 26 stories included in Alien Contact, my then forthcoming anthology. I had contacted all the authors for their assistance in promoting the book, with hopes that their schedule would allow for such participation. I asked the authors if they would be open to being interviewed and/or write a guest blog post and/or allow for the online publication of the complete content of their story. More than half of the authors responded with a "yes" on one or more of the options.

Then I had to find homes for these interviews and guest blog posts and stories. I didn't want to limit all of this material to More Red Ink. I have my share of readers, but there are other, more popular sites with readers numbering in the many thousands -- and I wanted to bring Alien Contact to the masses. Hallelujah!

So that's why SF Signal hosted all of the interviews and all (but one) of the guest blog posts. And though the complete text of five of the anthology stories were posted here on More Red Ink, I had worked out plans to have two additional stories posted elsewhere.

On September 16, when I first introduced Story #20 -- "What You Are About to See" by Jack Skillingstead -- I wrote: "I've probably read the story at least four or five times now, and each time the story still leaves me in awe. This is one of those stories that slithers in behind your eyeballs as you read, and tweaks the hell out of your mind." Jack had given me permission to post the story online, but I refrained from doing so, painful as it was, because the publisher, Night Shade Books, had agreed to post the story in its entirety on their website -- but not until after the book itself was published. (This is me, waiting...waiting...waiting....)

Finally, that time is now: "What You Are About to See" is approximately 5,100 words in length; it's not an overly long story, and if you are prepared to have snakes slithering in behind your eyeballs, and your mind rearranged, well, you merely need to click here... and begin reading....

[Update April 7, 2014: Jack Skillingstead's story "What You Are About To See" is now hosted here on More Red Ink.]

Monday, November 14, 2011

SFSignal's Close Encounters Concludes: Nov. 14

SFSignal.com's close encounters with the contributing authors to Alien Contact concludes with Pat Cadigan and this final "Alien Contact" interview.

On Tuesday, October 25, SF Signal began a series of guest blog posts and interviews with some of the contributors to my Alien Contact anthology. If you've missed any of these interviews/blog posts, you may want to start here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

SFSignal's Close Encounters Continues: Nov. 10

SFSignal.com's close encounters with the contributing authors to Alien Contact continues with Bruce McAllister and the "Alien Contact" interview.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

SFSignal's Close Encounters Continues: Nov. 9

SFSignal.com's close encounters with the contributing authors to Alien Contact continues with Jack Skillingstead and the "Alien Contact" interview.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SFSignal's Close Encounters Continues: Nov. 8

SFSignal.com's close encounters with the contributing authors to Alien Contact continues with Barbara Hambly, Executrix of the George Alec Effinger Estate, who chats about GAE and his talent for writing a story like "The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything."

Monday, November 7, 2011

SFSignal's Close Encounters Continues: Nov. 7

SFSignal.com's close encounters with the contributing authors to Alien Contact continues with Ernest Hogan and the "Alien Contact" interview.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Lenovo IdeaPad Z575

The new laptop has arrived. W00t!

And she is a beauty to behold: with 6GB DDR3 at 133MHz; an AMD A6-3400M at 1.4GHz; 750GB SATA Hard Drive; 15.6” HD LED Backlit Widescreen Display (1366x768); Integrated ATI Radeon HD 6520M Graphics; Blu-ray Rambo drive; SRS Premium Surround Sound, and 0.3MP Webcam -- to name but a few of the goodies.

Now, I just need to learn Windows 7 (after 10+ years of XP)....

Friday, November 4, 2011

October Links & Things

As a follow-up to my September 1 status: as the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. (And it did, in fact, rain earlier today.) My mother, who had been under hospice care for a couple months, passed away on October 14; after spending a week away, I returned home on October 21, knowing that I would have to pack again in a few days for my trip to the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego. Then, on Sunday, two days after returning home, my laptop finally gave up the ghost. In previous years I had replaced the hard drive and the battery, and though the laptop had certainly paid for itself, I just wasn't ready to invest in a new machine, especially one running Windows 7. (I've been a die-hard XP user for more than ten years.) And then there was the work that had to be done on my mother's car: repair a window that wouldn't go up or down (and wouldn't stay up), and replace a burnt out horn. Anyhow, it was all of this or the World Fantasy Con; and all of this took priority. And, all of this was going on just prior to the release of my Alien Contact anthology, too. I was a bit overwhelmed. So, if you were looking for me at WFC, my apologies, but I simply had to bail on the con. Besides, after the week away, at the mom's funeral and dealing with the aftermath (which I'm still dealing with), I needed some time.... The next con I plan to attend will be FOGcon at the end of March, 2012.

So, finally, this is my monthly wrap-up of October's Links & Things. You can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern. Note, however, that not all of my tweeted links make it into these month-end posts. Previous month-end posts are accessible via the "Links and Things" tag in the right column.

  • With the publication of Alien Contact, there are a number of special "events" going on: my interview with Matt Staggs on Suvudu.com, and SFSignal.com's fourteen days of guest blog posts and interviews with many of the contributing authors, as well as upcoming events on io9.com and Night Shade Books. Also, don't forget to sign up for the Goodreads giveaway: 5 free copies of Alien Contact; and please check out (and "Like") my Alien Contact Anthology Facebook page. There are widgets to the right of this post for both Goodreads and Facebook.
  • I reported in September's Links & Things that Steve Davidson had been granted the "Amazing Stories" trademark. According to Digital Science Fiction, Davidson now "has announced the creation of an Editorial Advisory Board to assist in the re-launch of the world’s first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories.... Steve has also commissioned Frank Wu, multiple Hugo Award-winning artist, to create a re-imagining of Frank R. Paul’s inaugural cover illustration for the magazine. The cover art will be made available on a variety of different media and will be used as a fund raising and promotional vehicle."
  • Speaking of magazines, Realms of Fantasy, with which I have been involved since the October 2009 issue, has called it quits-- this now the third time in as many years, and publishers -- effective with the just-published October 2011 issue. Publishers William and Kim Gilchrist of Damnation Books, editor Doug Cohen, and fiction editor Shawna McCarthy have all written farewells on the magazine's website.
  • Larry Brooks (@StoryFix) on storyfix.com has a blog post from back in May -- which I recently just learned about -- entitled: Suffering Is Optional, Or, Ten Ways to Totally Screw Up Your Novel. He writes: "The best way to avoid a hole in the road is to see the hole in the road." -- 1) Never begin writing a story without knowing how it will end; 2) If you choose to ignore the previous tip, then you’d best accept this one....; 3) Don’t kid yourself about the critical nature – the necessity – of structure in your story; 4) Don’t take side trips; 5) Don’t write a "small" story without something Big in it; 6) If you can’t describe your story in one compelling sentence, you probably can’t write it in 20,000 compelling sentences, either; 7) Don’t save your hero; 8) Don’t for a moment believe that the things an established bestselling author can get away with are things you can get away with; 9) Don’t overwrite; and 10) Never settle. Each bullet point has the details. (via @BookBuzzr)
  • Author Kay Kenyon (@KayKenyon) shares her Secrets of the First Page in a recent blog post, which came about after Kay and Larry Brooks (see entry above) worked a "first page critique session." In the "Cut to the Chase" section, Kay writes: "Start with a scene. Where something is happening on stage. Put us in the middle of something interesting. The goal of the first page is to get the agent/editor to the second page. So your goal is not really to introduce the novel, but to introduce the scene... Last week Larry persuaded me that openings could be successful if not a scene. If your voice is strong...if you can deliver information that is dramatic...or if you can give us something else wonderful!" The blog post has 14 specific bullet points. (via Deborah J. Ross's FB page)

SFSignal's Close Encounters Continues: Nov. 4

SFSignal.com's close encounters with the contributing authors to Alien Contact continues with Mark W. Tiedemann and the "Alien Contact" interview.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

SFSignal's Close Encounters Continues: Nov. 3

SFSignal.com's close encounters with the contributing authors to Alien Contact continues with Jack Skillingstead's guest post on "Thermalling" -- those "rising columns of air called thermals [that] are like free gas stations." Read how Jack relates these thermals, and thermalling, to his short story "What You Are About to See" in Alien Contact.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gardner Dozois Investigates Alien Contacts

Alien Contact Writer, editor, anthologist, reviewer -- Gardner Dozois is all of these, and more. If you read science fiction, and short stories in particular, and you are not familiar with Gardner's many (many!) anthologies -- specifically The Year's Best Science Fiction series, now in its twenty-eighth year -- then I would be compelled to ask you: What planet are you from?

So I was thrilled to learn that Gardner Dozois reviewed my anthology, Alien Contact (along with other short fiction titles), in the November issue of Locus magazine.

The review clocks in at a brief 139 words (according to MS Word), but brief is good, as long as the review says what it needs to say, and mentions so many great authors and stories in the process.

There's no confusion about genre classification in Alien Contact, edited by Marty Halpern—it's just what it says that it is, stories about contacts with aliens, all of them science fiction, and all of them considerably more varied, subtle, and intelligent than the flood of shoot-'em-up Alien Invasion movies we got over the last year or so. This is another really solid reprint anthology, and another excellent value for your money. The best stories here are probably Bruce Sterling's "Swarm," Michael Swanwick's "A Midwinter's Tale," Bruce McAllister's "Kin," Molly Gloss's "Lambing Season," Pat Cadigan's "Angel," Paul McAuley's "The Thought War," and Nancy Kress's "Laws of Survival," but there are also good stories by Neil Gaiman, George Alec Effinger, Cory Doctorow, Stephen Baxter, Mike Resnick, Harry Turtledove, and thirteen others.... there's really nothing bad here.

— Gardner Dozois, Locus, November 2011

SFSignal's Close Encounters Continues: Nov. 2

SFSignal.com's close encounters with the contributing authors to Alien Contact continues with Paul McAuley and the "Alien Contact" interview.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

SFSignal's Close Encounters Continues: Nov. 1

SFSignal.com's close encounters with the contributing authors to Alien Contact continues with Ernest Hogan's guest blog post entitled "Once Upon a Time in SoCal: The Making of 'Guerrilla Mural of a Siren's Song.'"