Thursday, February 27, 2014

Editing in Process...Daryl Gregory

We Are All Completely FineTachyon Publications has been making a name for itself over the past few years with the publication of award-nominated -- and award-winning -- novellas. Most recently, Nancy Kress's After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall (which I blogged about here) -- winner of the 2013 Nebula Award and a finalist for the Hugo Award; and Brandon Sanderson's The Emperor's Soul (which I blogged about here) -- winner of the 2013 Hugo Award. And forthcoming in June, The Madonna and the Starship by James Morrow, the master of the sardonic (here).

And, I suspect, my latest project for Tachyon Pubs -- novella We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory -- will be no exception, and we'll be seeing this sharp-edged story on many awards lists beginning in early 2015.

Gregory's troubling tale centers around a therapy group, all of whom have experienced EXTREME -- in bold and in caps extreme! -- trauma. Five "patients": three men and two women, plus their therapist, Dr. Jan Sayer (who is far more than she seems).

There's Harrison, the former Boy Hero of Dunnsmouth, the Monster Detective, who has survived the Scrimshander, and the Abysmal, and many another freak show, most of whom are barely even hinted at. Wheelchair-bound Stan -- no arms, no legs -- who barely survived the Weaver family (aka the Arkansas Cannibals, aka the Spiderfolk) and lives to constantly tell everyone about it. And Martin, who wouldn't be caught dead without his "frames": virtual-reality glasses, because they enable him to see the Dwellers (or so he believes), and if he can't see the Dwellers, well, he will, in fact, be caught dead. Barbara is the middle-aged, pantsuit-attired, married one -- and mother of two boys; the calm one, the rational one, the one whose body holds the secret of the Scrimshander's message. And last is the striking young blonde Greta, the quiet one, who Harrison believes just might be the craziest one of them all. Her body was a document, a calling card, as it were, to a Hidden One, from the other side.

We were a team of professional insomniacs. Once you know there are monsters under the bed, closing your eyes becomes a foolhardy act. So, we paced. We stared into the dark. We listened for the creak of the opening door.


Harrison had been right; this was no hero's journey they were on. [Joseph] Campbell didn't understand the other stories in the world. The group knew the truth:

A monster crosses over into the everyday world. The mortals struggle and show great courage, but it's no use. The monster kills first the guilty, then the innocent, until finally only one remains. The Last Boy, the Last Girl. There is a final battle. The Last One suffers great wounds, but in the final moment vanquishes the monster. Only later does he or she recognize that this is the monster's final trick; the scars run deep, and the awareness of the truth grows like an infection. The Last One knows that the monster isn't dead, only sent to the other side. There it waits until it can slip into the mundane world again. Perhaps next time it will be a knife-wielding madman, or a fanged beast, or nameless tentacled thing. It is the monster with a thousand faces. The details matter only to the next victims.

We Are All Completely Fine will be published in August, and is now available for preorder.

And don't be afraid to look under the bed...or open the closet door....

[If you've made it this far, a brief note: My apologies for the lack of content on this blog during the past month. A workout mishap ended up placing me at the sharp end of a surgeon's blade. I'm now in week two of recovery, and hope to be at full speed just in time to complete my taxes before the April 15 deadline.]

Monday, February 3, 2014

The 2014 Campbellian Anthology

I typically don't promote and/or feature a book with which I am not involved. I have many reasons for this, the main one being my professional responsibility: Unless I'm involved with a book, I can't speak honestly to the quality of that book, and I would prefer to not recommend a book that wasn't up to my professional editorial standards. But, this book warrants breaking that rule.

If you are a regular voter, or even an occasional voter, for the Hugo Awards, then you are most likely familiar with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. However, if you are not familiar with this award, then please check out the entry in Wikipedia. You may recognize a few of the past winners of this award: C. J. Cherryh, Stephen R. Donaldson, Lucius Shepard, Karen Joy Fowler, Judith Moffett, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Ted Chiang, Cory Doctorow, Jay Lake, John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire, and Lev Grossman, just to name a few. Talk about name dropping!

Well, the folks at Stupefying Stories have put together the second annual collection of representative stories from authors who are eligible this year for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Now, SS wasn't able to get permission from all of the eligible writers, but they managed to acquire rights to stories from most of the eligible writers.

Are you ready for this? How does 860,000-plus words of fiction -- that's right, more than 860K words! -- from 111 different authors sound? And even better, this volume is available for free in epub and mobi ebook formats. Don't have an ereader? You can install Kindle for PC or Mac to read the mobi format, or Adobe Digital Editions for the epub format. If you prefer PDF, then check out Calibre ebook management software because you can use that tool to convert either of these DRM-free formats to PDF.

Here's an excerpt from the introduction by M. David Blake, curator of Stupefying Stories:

A little over a year ago, a small group of us had a crazy idea. "What if," we said, "there was a way everyone eligible for the Campbell could publicize their work at the same time, so that readers might have some idea of who we are?"


There will be some stories in this volume that you dislike, perhaps even strongly, and that’s okay. Every writer whose work is represented herein still accomplished something remarkable in attaining a specific level of publication, and by doing so earned a place within these pages. I encourage you to investigate each and every one, but I make no promise about how you'll feel about the stories that landed them here, or the works they elected to share.

Here's a secret: You don't have to read this entire anthology for it to serve a purpose and be valuable to you. You're allowed to skip around.


Here's another secret: If you do read every word in this anthology, and investigate all the links for those currently known to be eligible, you'll probably discover a new favorite. At least one. And if you do—if you, as a reader, connect with even a single new writer—then I will feel very, very good about this year's installment of the Annual Campbellian Anthology.

You can read the full introduction on the Stupefying Stories website, which is where you will also find the download links for the ebooks.

As M. David Blake says at the end of his intro: "Now, go make a friend. Your writers are waiting."