Friday, May 29, 2015

Now Shipping: Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds



On April 2, 2013, I contacted author Alastair Reynolds via email (I live in California, Al resides in the U.K.): I mentioned Tachyon Publications and that I had personally worked on some of the press's recent award-winning novellas (Nancy Kress's After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall and Brandon Sanderson's The Emperor's Soul). I knew that Al was in the middle of a trilogy of novels, but I also knew that in between novels he enjoyed writing short fiction (to cleanse the palate, as it were). So, I told him that should he find the time and inspiration to write a stand-alone novella, to please keep me and Tachyon Publications in mind.

Al responded the very next day, stating that he was about 20,000 words into a new novella that as yet had no home. Al also told me that he had not set himself any deadline for the completion of the novella, but when he did complete the story he would be sure to let me see it.

The rest, as they say, is history.

My comp copies of Slow Bullets arrived this past week. As I said, this project officially began on April 2, 2013, with that email to Al Reynolds -- and to finally hold the published book in hand provides me (and I'm sure Al himself and the folks at Tachyon Pubs) with a great sense of completion, of accomplishment.

You can read the details of how Slow Bullets came to be in my February 9, 2015, blog post entitled "Editing in Process...Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds." If you would like to request an ebook review copy of Slow Bullets, please read my March 16 blog post.


Here are a pair of blurbs for Slow Bullets from a pair of Michaels, just to whet your appetite:
Slow Bullets is classic science fiction, a space opera, a puzzle story, a character study, visionary science fiction, and a prayer for peace. I see no reason why you should not love it.
~ Michael Swanwick

Alastair Reynolds' new novella Slow Bullets has the scope of a much longer work (Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, say), the literary speed of the most rapidly hurtling bullet, and so many provocative scientific and/or philosophical ideas that even Stephen Hawking’s head might well spin with them. Moreover, Reynolds artfully compresses all these disparate elements into a portable trade paperback or a weightless e-file, the better to accommodate our busy reading habits and the more fully to entertain us.

Let me also note that Slow Bullets posits a far-future situation akin to the one that we confront on planet Earth today, but leavens this fictional crisis with a hard-won grasp of human psychology and a down-to-the-ground optimism that bestows on its readers reasons for supposing our "damned human race" nimble enough to overcome our demanding real-world crisis du jour. A fine example of the true science fictionist's art..."with a bullet," as the editors at Billboard Magazine used to say.
~ Michael Bishop

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book Received: Michael J. Sullivan's Hollow World

Hollow WorldWhen I complete work on a project, I store a file box copy of the marked up manuscript (and yes, I still work on hardcopy) until I have a physical copy of the published book in hand. Up to that point, the author and/or the publisher may have a question or issue with one or more of my edits and, if necessary, I can refer back to the marked up manuscript. However, once I have a copy of the published book, any question or issue at that point is moot, and I will then recycle my copy of the marked up manuscript. The only exception to this would be if the book were part of a series -- and I plan to (or at least hope to be able to) work on subsequent volumes. I then retain the marked up manuscript for reference in my commitment to maintain consistency throughout the entire series.

So a while back I was going through stacks (and I mean stacks -- I work on a lot of series!) of manuscript boxes and I came upon the marked up manuscript for Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan.

I recalled a dinner meeting with Jacob and Rina Weisman, of Tachyon Publications, on Saturday, July 6, 2013, while attending Westercon 66 in Sacramento. It was during this dinner meeting that Jacob brought me up to speed on the forthcoming Hollow World project. So I checked my notes/invoice and found that I had completed work on this 385-page, 107,000-word novel in October 2013. I then checked the book's pub date on Amazon.com: April 15, 2014 -- and here it is a year later!

Since Tachyon Publications has never not sent me a comp copy of a book I worked on, the book must have been lost in transit -- and being busy with project after project, and stacks, as I said, of manuscript boxes -- I hadn't realized that I never received a copy of the published book, until recently. So I sent off an email to Tachyon requesting a copy of Hollow World...and the book is now in hand.


Hollow World is a time travel novel -- but it is not a novel about the science of time travel. In fact, as Sullivan states in his Author's Note at the beginning of the book:
In the classic The Time Machine, H. G. Wells's high-tech explanation for how his device was able to skip through years was: "Now I want you to clearly understand that this lever, being pressed over, sends the machine gliding into the future, and this other reverses the motion." That's pretty much the extent of his hard science. Of course his story, while named The Time Machine, really wasn't so much about the machine or the science behind it, but rather speculations on the future of mankind.

So is Hollow World.
The author goes on to state in his Author's Note:
I did research into time-travel theory, and I drew inspiration from a handful of sources, most notably Time Travel in Einstein's Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time by renowned astrophysicist J. Richard Gott. Mr. Gott provided a plausible explanation for how a stationary object could move significantly forward in time by overcoming the g-force restriction of linear travel by moving interdimensionally.... That's the theory, but as I said, time travel of the sort required for this story isn't possible—at least not in an urban garage.... I felt providing a good reading experience superseded an adherence to strict probability.

So, if Hollow World isn't about the science of time travel, then what is the story about? Here's an excerpt from a fairly lengthy review by N. E. White on SFFWorld.com:
Hollow World begins with Ellis Rogers being told he is going to die of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and he laughs. No, he's not a crazy old man. He just knows something his doctor doesn't: he's got a time machine sitting in his garage. Thus begins Ellis' journey into a future that is both frightening (to him) and awesome (in the true sense of that word).

...

While the story in Hollow World may seem deceptively simple and some may find Ellis naive in his attitudes towards sexual alternatives and deities, Mr. Sullivan has painted very realistic characters. Characters that ring so true, they reminded me of colleagues and neighbors who abhor the very idea of tolerating an open society, let alone living in a world where the very morals they uphold simply wouldn't make sense. With surprisingly familiar, clear, and poignant (sometimes even funny) language, Mr. Sullivan shows us a world where many of the problems we face today have been eliminated – showing the absurdity of our views. But he also shows us why we hold those views so closely to our hearts.


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


Update June 2, 2015: I neglected to mention that the winners of the Locus Awards will be announced during the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle, June 26-28, 2015; Connie Willis will MC the awards ceremony.


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.