shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


world fantasy award nominations

Are out and there's some AMAZING work up this year:


Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (Bloomsbury)
Stephen R. Donaldson, The Runes Of the Earth (Putnam; Gollancz)
China Mieville, Iron Council (Del Rey)
Sean Stewart, Perfect Circle (Small Beer Press)
Gene Wolfe, The Wizard Knight (Tor, two volumes)


Leena Krohn, Tainaron: Mail from Another City (Prime Books)
Kim Newman, 'Soho Golem' (Sci Fiction)
Michael Shea, 'The Growlimb' (F&SF, 1/2004)
Lisa Tuttle, My Death (PS Publishing)

Short Fiction:

Theodora Goss, 'The Wings of Meister Wilhelm' (POLYPHONY 4)
Margo Lanagan, 'Singing My Sister Down' (BLACK JUICE)
China Mieville, 'Reports of Certain Events in London' (MCSWEENEY'S ENCHANTED CHAMBER OF ASTONISHING STORIES)
Barbara Roden, 'Northwest Passage' (ACQUAINTED WITH THE NIGHT)


The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm ed. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (Viking)
Polyphony 4 ed. Deborah Layne & Jay Lake (Wheatland Press)
Acquainted With The Night ed. Barbara & Christopher Roden (Ash Tree Press)
Dark Matter: Reading The Bones ed. Sheree R. Thomas (Warner Aspect)
The First Heroes: New Tales of the Bronze Age ed. Harry Turtledove & Noreen Doyle (Tor)


Peter Crowther, Songs Of Leaving (Subterranean Press)
John M. Ford, Heat Of Fusion and Other Stories (Tor)
Eileen Gunn, Stable Strategies And Others (Tachyon Publications)
Margo Lanagan, Black Juice (Allen & Unwin Australia)
Joe R. Lansdale, Mad Dog Summer and Other Stories (Subterranean Press)
Ian R. MacLeod, Breathmoss and Other Exhalations (Golden Gryphon)
Lucius Shepard, Trujillo (PS Publishing)


Kinuko Craft
John Jude Palencar
John Picacio
Charles Vess

Special Award: Professional:

Gavin Grant & Kelly Link (for Small Beer Press)
S. T. Joshi (for scholarship)
Sharyn November (for editing)
Gordon Van Gelder (for F&SF)
Terri Windling (for editing)

Special Award: Non-Professional:

Ariel (for
Matt Cheney (for
Robert Morgan (for Sarob Press)
Barbara Roden (for All Hallows magazine)
Michael Walsh (for Old Earth Books)

Congratulations to everyone! There's too much good stuff on here to single people out (except, props to Matt Cheney's blogga skillz!). Also, Kelly and Gavin -- finally professional! It's about time!

Updated: Artist list has been corrected. Thanks, Kathryn!


sunburns feel idiotic

Even when they're accidental, it turns out. You just ought to be able to protect yourself from these sorts of things. It's all your fault for not having sunscreen, etc. And yet, after not having one for a bazillion--or at least 10--years (since high school?), it's not as bad as I remember. Of course, that could be because I snicked a couple of George's pills (strictly doctor's orders, or WebMD anyway), which are what they prescribe for really bad sunburns or to prophylax sunburns. It seems to have worked. I'm obnoxiously red and there's some pain, but less than there should be considering. Also, aspirin helps, if you take it in the first 24 hours.

At any rate, I'm almost on my one true vacation for the year, and came home to my Lush box (courtesy of a b-day gift cert) filled with Karma perfume and Dream Cream and a bunch of free soap samples. I believe we've now got everything we need for the trip, except my dress, which had a sudden emergency and went to the cleaners. (Excellent cleaners, more on that after I pick it up tomorrow and see how good a job they did.)

Other things:

Please welcome Mr. van Eekhout to the bloggerworld or World 'O Blogger, as you prefer.

The Senses Five Press blog likes Magic for Beginners, as all sane people do. Sidenote: While we were out running errands, we saw this gigantic white truck, outfitted with a strange white metal shield on top of the cab. Obviously, a zombie contingency plan waiting to happen, although I prefer to think the owner is just a visionary who has already put the plan into motion.

Jenny D just read M.T. Anderson's awesome Thirsty and has discovered the best Amazon review ever. I steal it here for I am a thief:

This book is good but it has many lies. First,people just dont TURN into vampires, they have to be blooded. Second, they CAN tell who other vampires are in a crowd, but not by their shadows, they have an aura (a scent a vampire gives off).

This book was very missleading. If you want a book that is true, I would strongly recommend a different book. If you are looking for a fairy tale, this would be your book.

Mr. McLaren's mother, meet Mr. T's mother. (Mr. McLaren is back and blogging up a storm, btw.)

You know what Christopher always says: some things make better anecdotes than experiences. I'm pretty sure this is one of those things. Ouch.


and yet...

If they'd left out female (and the hands), I could debate domo arigato, Mr. Roboto:
Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet devised - a 'female' android called Repliee Q1.

She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner.

She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.

Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University says one day robots could fool us into believing they are human.
And couldn't they give her a better name? Repliee is so trashy.

Also, please get your hand out of her back.


rosie should get to co-write The Believer advice column

Birnbaum vs. Sarah Vowell:

I like the distance of talking about the long dead. There are some very serious parts of the book, and some mournful ones, but there is some joking around, and you can do a little less of that when someone's daughter and brother are mourning them. Or wife and children, in the case of [Martin Luther] King. I'm just not very interested in John F. Kennedy. Also, my books are purely optional. They are not books that need to be written.

wednesday hangovers

So, posting will either get more or less sporadic after Friday and on into the Big Scotland Trip (leaving Tuesday). Hard to say which. I'm working on my rewrite (like the little engine that could -- but only very deliberately), which means that I wake up at four a.m. thinking, "You know, that should really be two chapters instead of one, but I'm not going to get up and work on it right now." Repeat until it's time to get up. Still refuse to just get up and work on it.

Also, it is very hot here. Still. Oh, for the mid-60s of Scotland.

One of my favorite things about the south is reading all the crazy church signs. And now there's a Church Sign Generator. (Via Lime Tree's cool green walking cat bad self.)

Ron Hogan, guesting at Whatever, puts forth -- and then almost immediately scraps -- a theory about John 12 Hawks In A Tree's identity. He didn't like that program very much, no he didn't.

Weirdwriter's back! Be merry.

The Times Online publishes The Secret Ordeal of Miranda Piker, which is: Before Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published in 1964 Roald Dahl pared down his cast of characters. Last to go was Miranda Piker and her chapter has appeared only once — in mirror script. Here, for the first time, we publish her comeuppance the right way round. (Via The Rake.)

And just for good measure: have I mentioned lately how much I love Number One Hit Song? You can even find out how to make a kick-ass pie over there. Much. Heart.


100 percent proof

That if you take the same quiz enough times, you can get the result you want. Oldie but goodie:

Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker writes you, you wonderfully urbane,
witty boozehound, you.

Which Author's Fiction are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Via Bill S.)

reactions inside the field to 12 hawks sitting in a tree blabbing on his satellite phone

Or pointers to reviews/discussion of The Traveler, as requested the other day.

John Joseph Adams recently reviewed the book over at The Slush God Speaketh (I don't know how I missed that one to begin with, but thanks Pam!). He sez:

It's one of those books that reads as if it was written only to be made into a movie (indeed, the movie rights have already been snapped up by Universal with Spielberg attached to direct), and if one were to make an accurate this crossed with that comparison, one might choose "The Highlander crossed with Robert Ludlum," rather than the absurd analogy quoted above. But though the book seems to have only popcorn pretensions, the prose is sharp and clean, with vividly described action sequences, making for a fast and easy read.

There's more and the ultimate verdict is along the lines of enjoyable fluff -- exactly the response I've seen from readers outside the field. JJA's comparison to a movie seems an apt one.

And John Klima points to the same lengthy discussion thread over at the Night Shade Books Message Board that touched off JJA's review.


sunday hangovers

I'm trapped inside on the Hottest Day of the Year. It's just brutal out there. So, here are a few things to occupy your own trappedness if it's this hot where you are too:

Kelly's "The Great Divorce" is the currently featured One Story (also in Magic for Beginners), and true to One Story form they have an excellent little interview with her about it. Somehow I let my One Story subscription die, will have to remedy that.

Elizabeth Ward is extremely unimpressed by Ariel Dorfman and Isabel Allende's forays into young adult lit, but raves about Walter Mosley and Carol Emshwiller's. Mister Boots had slipped my mind and now I want. to. read. it. immediately. The Book World review sez:
Strange things happen in this quietly affecting fable, too, but Emshwiller is so wry and matter-of-fact about them that disbelief is not an issue. Facts are few, reflecting the narrator's limitations ("I guess you haven't been homeschooled enough about reality and science," says Mother). Bobby is 10, "the perfect age." The setting is pre-Depression desert California. Father is gone, and Mother and Bobby's sad sister knit for a living. Beyond that, it gets hazy--and interesting. Bobby meets an odd, wounded man who is also a horse, Mister Boots. Bobby might or might not be really Roberta. Father returns after Mother dies; he's a magician and a bully. Emshwiller is playing with some heavy themes here, particularly the staple sf notion of identity and gender as sleights of hand and power imbalances between both species and sexes. But she has said, "As to any 'meaning' I'm trying to get across, there isn't any"--and that is the beauty of Mister Boots . Ideas creep in as quietly as a horse watching you in the moonlight.
Speaking of YAs, I bought Pete Hautman's new one Invisible and Andrew Auseon's Funny Little Monkey (if it's anything like his blog, it'll be hilarious). I already finished the Hautman; his work is so readable and spare. I didn't love it as much as Godless, and in the end it reminded me thematically of Daniel Handler's The Basic 8, a book I adore for its flawless use of tone, among many other things. I hesitate to say too much about Invisible, because knowing too much could spoil it for you. Despite these few reservations, it's still an excellent look through the eyes of a troubled high school outcast, an unreliable narrator who is disconcertingly persuasive and likable even while doing exceedingly creepy things. I recommend it.

Please refer to Tod Goldberg as Tod Thirteen Hawks from now on. I've yet to see a reaction to The Traveler from someone inside the genre (if I'm missing these, please point to them in the comments or an email). I'm almost tempted to read it myself. I've yet to see a reaction from someone who actually hated the book, though there is a common sense of moderate self-loathing for having enjoyed reading it in many of the reactions I have seen. But, again, those were all from people who don't seem to read a ton of SF. I'm curious about how reactions from those who do will differ.

And today, Le Tour 2005 and Lance Armstrong's career in cycling have ended. Next year should be very interesting, as they say in shadowy black and white movies while ominous music plays...

oh, to live in this neighborhood

Best yard sale ever, as described in the WaPo:

Some people lose their illusions. Alan decided to sell his, or at least the ones he no longer needs. So he organized this yard sale and -- to ensure that no trade secrets would leak out -- admitted only official card-carrying magicians.

About two dozen magicians appeared, from as far away as Norfolk and New Jersey, shelling out $10 to ponder Alan's illusions.

'This is a sword levitation,' said Jack Julius, 44, a magician from Annapolis. He was squatting on the grass, checking out a device containing three long, curved swords. 'You take the girl and you lay her down on top of the swords. You remove two swords and the third is still sticking in her neck.'

'That sounds like it could be dangerous,' said Julius's wife, Tanya, 34. She looked a tad worried, which wasn't surprising, considering that she would be the 'girl' lying on the swords if Julius bought the illusion, which was priced at $600.

'You just have to stay straight and be hypnotized,' Julius said. 'It's like acupuncture. It's like you're lying on a bed of nails, except it's three swords.'


i lied

Two more things:

Lauren McLaughlin went and got a blog. (Soon every human will have a blog and then my head will explode.)

And via No True Bill you can learn when/why/how CBS will be showing some Veronica Mars episodes soon, in prep for the second season. I really wish the first season was on DVD. Strongly contemplating adding a UPN affiliate to our satellite roster this fall.

That really is all. Tonight we're going to see David King read and blab about Finding Atlantis, and I might write about that tomorrow. Or possibly not. At any rate:

Go about your weekend.

happy friday

Because I have nothing else to post, two of my favorite poems. (You've seen at least one of these here before, and maybe both of them.)

Training for the Apocalypse

Consider the will to love
as the decision to survive.
That's how the agents of Eros operate.
They sneak into your dreams
just before the world ends.

- Gloria Frym

(And apologies for the lack of correct formatting on the next one -- just imagine that every second line is indented a bit. Or drop me a line and tell me how to do that.)


She is neither pink nor pale,
And she never will be all mine;
She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,
And her mouth on a valentine.

She has more hair than she needs;
In the sun `tis a woe to me!
And her voice is a string of coloured beads,
Or steps leading into the sea.

She loves me all that she can,
And her ways to my ways resign;
But she was not made for any man,
And she never will be all mine.

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

And I should mention that Mr. Rowe updated UnCommonwealth today and he's got good and big life news over there.

Have a good weekend.


holy teapot batman

How much do I love Blottered? It's the best, really.

Without it I might have missed the Malaysian teapot cult story. You heard me.
Malaysian authorities on Wednesday arrested 58 followers of a bizarre cult built around a giant teapot, two days after the sect’s headquarters was torched.

The official Bernama news agency said those arrested were aged between 20 and 60 years and included a New Zealand woman.

Cult leader, Ayah Pin, was not among those arrested and was believed to have gone into hiding after about 30-35 assailants armed with machetes and Molotov cocktails attacked the commune on Monday, torching a car and the roof of a building and scorching the giant teapot itself.
Tell us more about this Ayah Pin, you say?
The sect, which believes the teapot has healing properties, is in Malaysia’s northeast, a devoutly Muslim area that has suddenly lost patience with the cult, headed by the man who says he is God and owner of everything, his “Sky Kingdom.”
More from the BBC, including a photo of Mr. Sky Kingdom*. (Not to mention the one above.)

Another reason to love Blottered? This post, about a ring slightly lesser than the One Ring to Rule Them All.

*Some say inscrutable, I say stony-faced.


Emily G writes very, very funny on sins of the acknowledgements page over at Black Table:

Rule #1: Don't Thank A Dead Person.

This one is fairly straightforward. Unless you personally knew, say, Spalding Gray (Chuck) or, more improbably, Abraham Lincoln (Steve), it is not appropriate to thank him. I don't care if he inspired every single word on every single page. Thank him in your prayers, in the pages of your diary, in a post on your little-read blog. He does not care about being thanked in your acknowledgments, because he is dead, and to everyone else, it just looks like you are name-dropping a person who you can safely assume will not deny knowing you, and that's just tacky.

Run, don't walk.

(Via Ed.)

Tom Cruise, meet David Lynch

From today's WaPo:

LOS ANGELES -- Film director David Lynch wants to raise $7 billion to bring about world peace through a massive Transcendental Meditation program.

Lynch, 59, known for quirky, avant-garde works like "Mulholland Dr." and the "Twin Peaks" television series, is launching a foundation to fund TM programs in schools across America, and ultimately the world. The David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-based Education and World Peace also would support research on TM's effects on academic performance, anxiety, depression and drug abuse.

"I would like to find some very wealthy individuals who saw the truth of this and said, 'I want to do something for the world which is meaningful,' " he said in an interview yesterday. "This is a way to bring real peace to Earth. Real peace isn't just the absence of war. It is the absence of negativity."

late nite hangovers

(The hated nite spelling just felt right. It's sort of a lite brite time.) (There is a flash lite brite application on that page where you could spend days making designs.)

Dan Wickett corrals some examples of that mythical beast -- the publicist -- in his latest e-panel. The divine Lauren Cerand is one of them. (The swan bag Lauren pointed to last week is also fabulous.) Check it out.

Jonathan Strahan responds to Greg Feeley's thoughts from the other day on story collections and the small vs. trade press's willingingess to publish them.

"Robotics show Lucy walked upright."

James Woods is a comment bad boy. Who knew?

Number One Hit Song (which is kicking much of the ass since its relaunch) catches a funny gaffe(?) at Gawker. Can you decode the meaning of "Jonathan Cheban"?

Damn you, Bloglines Plumber, you and your fat shrug!

say it with me: insomnia

Even two melatonin tablets ain't cutting it. Or perhaps I'm turning into an elderly person (scroll).

However, this may allow me to be the first person to publicly say:

Happy 30th Birthday to Mr. Chris Barzak, Karaoke Champ and Kick-ass Writer!

(My favorite photo of the two of us, courtesy of Mr. Butner. Updated: Richard points out that this pic was actually snapped by Ms. Gilly.)

Looks like a damn fun time over there in Japan.

Why don't you go on over and read his awesome story "The Language of Moths." You can also read all about a bunch of other stuff that happened on July 21, but really, what you want to know is what does Holiday Mathis hold for the birthday boy, right? Happy to oblige:

TODAY'S BIRTHDAY (July 21). This year, you are ready for the journey, whatever it may be, even if it means throwing your baggage overboard. After all, a person without baggage is a person who will be attaining new things in their fantastic new destination! The purchase of property is featured in August. September brings a new job. Love is auspicious with a Libra or a Capricorn. Your lucky numbers are: 1, 20, 8, 41 and 2.
Very nice, Mr. B.


nice sentence

Started Adam Gopnik's The King in the Window, which has the following excellent first sentence:

If Oliver had simply smiled and joked with his parents while he was wearing the gold paper crown, or if he had just remembered to take it off after dinner, as he had always done before, the window wraiths might never have mistaken him for royalty.

I'll let you know about the rest.

p.s. Finally both my new contacts are in. Yay for ungritty vision. Yay. Yay. Yay.

p.p.s. Who didn't love Peter Dinklage on Entourage?

wednesday hangovers

Terrible insomnia last night and, as a result, I'm a bit bleary around the edges. So, these things and no more:

Fellow advice columnist Sarah Vowell wants you to ask her about Cleveland.

Justine makes me salivate with advance word about Elizabeth Knox's new novel (apparently the first of a young adult duology -- very interesting). Knox's previous novels are all gorgeous and I really, really can't wait to read this latest one. I read Daylight on an airplane to San Francisco at such an odd angle I woke up with awful wrist and finger cramps that night: they were worth it. We loves Elizabeth Knox, we do.

Hurree points to a couple of interesting things about SF and children. He quotes Ursula Le Guin saying: "Whenever they tell me children want this sort of book and children need this sort of writing, I am going to smile politely and shut my earlids. I am a writer, not a caterer. There are plenty of caterers. But what children most want and need is what we and they don't know they want and don't think they need, and only writers can offer it to them."

Jacob Sager Weinstein posts his famed Wordplayer Film Geek Test online.

And, because I've been silly quizless for awhile, a result which anyone who routinely reads this site will likely dispute:

Your Blogging Type Is Clever and Witty
Of all blogging types, you're the best with words.
Almost every blog post you write has legendary quality.
You have a perverse sense of humor and often play devil's advocate.
Impatient and picky, you tend to go off on funny rants from time to time.

(Via The Happy Booker.)

women in fictional history

Beatrice is hosting an Author2Author this week featuring René Steinke and Susann Cokal discussing the female protagonists of their latest books. Today's Cokal's turn to talk about Famke in Breath and Bones, which I very much enjoyed. (Others disagree, but I thought Cokal's use of nineteenth century tropes was very knowing and her writing quite lovely.) An excerpt from their very interesting discussion:
Cokal: When I thought of Famke, I threw in some of the classic elements of nineteenth-century literature: She's an orphan, was raised in a religious community, and embarks on a (perhaps misbegotten) quest for love. Orphan stories are inevitably stories about identity--finding one or shaping one--and with female characters in particular, that identity tends to come through learning who one's father was or finding the right man to marry, the right "Mrs." to become. I didn't want the traditional kind of plot in which identity comes through a man, but I did know that Famke would need a lot of helpers on her quest and that, given the constraints of the time, most of them would be male. I thought it would be interesting if she borrowed some elements of identity from each. So I made her a bit of a chameleon; she joins up with several men, and even masquerades as a man for a while, but never holds on to any one persona for long. She's both a picaro and a bit of a maneater, I'm afraid; she marries a Mormon patriarch in order to get passage to America, and she plays up to a slightly unbalanced doctor in order to benefit from his innovative cure for her tuberculosis. She sees her dependence on men as something with which to strategize; her apparent vulnerability allows her to act forcefully, because she has something they want, too.

What she has is, of course, on display in the posing scenes. I always knew that the first line of the main text would be "'Don't move,' he said"--to me, that sums up certain notions of the nineteenth-century: a man telling a woman not to move, to hold a pose, to keep embodying an image he likes. That's the idea of the Angel in the House, the good example, the good mother, the even-tempered paragon that girls are told to be in books like Little Women and Little House on the Prairie (the recurrence of the word "Little" can't be an accident). But I think that, like the Jo March and Laura Ingalls of those books, most girls--and women--must have rebelled from time to time; it was too hard to hold that pose. So my favorite scene in the book is the night of the tableaux vivants in San Francisco, when Famke and other girls play "living pictures." These were marvelous entertainments in which women arranged themselves as the figures in famous paintings and held absolutely still--one of the best examples of that static identity women were supposed to maintain. (Tableaux vivants were also excuses for public nudity in the name of Art, and the police sometimes raided them.)
Cokal was nice enough to send me a copy of her first novel Mirabilis a few months ago featuring the best inscription ever complete with a drawing of two tiny breasts. I am now a lifelong fan.


strange dog

Much of this evening has been spent dealing with a skittish, extremely hungry red dog (a setter of some kind?) that suddenly showed up on the other side of the street. The odd thing is that maybe he belongs to this strange muumuu lady who is working in the house -- she lets him follow her in and out, for instance. But maybe he doesn't, as she also doesn't acknowledge him, didn't notice when I fed him, and said he didn't belong to her.

He tossed around the ball. Drank water. Ate food. Let me pet him.

Then damn-near got George killed leading him across the street.

We have to figure out where this dog came from and whose he is. Humane Society was closed, etc. Calls will be made first thing in the morning. He most decidedly did not want to be closed in our back yard, and there's still the possibility he belongs to the even stranger lady across the street.

The only thing to do after all this excitement was have a champagne and orangina cocktail, after which I really do feel much better.

Did I mention our next door neighbors now give singing lessons? I keep running into the kitchen trying to protect the glassware.

Now I will start Our Napolean in Rags by Kirby Gann and go to sleep. "Magic for Beginners" really is the best TV show/story ever. Really. You haven't seen this one, unless you have.

I plan to dream sweet dreams of Scotland. Soon. Soon!


monday hangovers

Tired, sleepy, all that. There were possibly gunshots up the street earlier. Or maybe leftover fireworks. Very exciting. A few things anyway:

Practical writing-avoidance avoidance technique plug at Bay Area Word of Mouth, coming just after an account of what sounds like a meeting of a most fabulous write club. (Via Ghost Word blog, not Ghost blog -- big difference.)

Carrie gets patrigoogled by Old Man Sittenfeld! And then it's mentioned in the Atlantic Monthly! All very exciting--and proof that anyone who you write about on your blog's dad will find out about it.

A Blottered poster links to Ted Richardson's fraud blog.

You heard it from Rebecca Skloot: Showers will kill you.

Only two more shipping days until Mr. Barzak's birthday!

Christopher just finished Lord Byron's Novel and loved it. Go over to his site and harangue him in the comments until he tells you how much.

and I agree it's unrealistic ... because it's TELEVISION

NYT piece on magic TV medicine:

On the Fox television show 'House,' a misanthropic, pill-popping, grizzled uber doctor named Gregory House leads a group of impossibly bright young physicians in the department of diagnostic medicine at a teaching hospital in New Jersey.

Dr. House and his team solve medical mysteries with the flair and resourcefulness of private investigators. On a recent show, doctors made multiple visits to the home (even the school bus) of a teenager with convulsions before determining that he had a rare pesticide poisoning.

My wife, a general internist, finds the show absurdly 'unrealistic.' 'Doctors don't do that,' she cries whenever a House physician blithely ignores the boundaries of medical subspecialties. (The same doctors, for example, might perform cardiac catheterization, gastrointestinal endoscopy, bone-marrow biopsy and liver ultrasound.) I agree the show is unrealistic, but for a different reason. It portrays a world where doctors have time to solve problems.

black and bradbury

Frank Black interviews Ray Bradbury. There is an alternate universe and we are living in it.

(Via Mr. Rakewell.)


saturday hangovers

Matt Cheney asks for recs for what kids should read after Harry Potter (and he plugs Thirsty by M.T. Anderson, now tied for best YA vampire novel with Scott Westerfeld's forthcoming Peeps). Stop by and weigh in. (I would say best vampire novel without the qualification, but I don't want Stoker argumentation in the comments.)

Speaking of Scott, he chronicles the Potter release scene at Books of Wonder last night. (I might add here that I personally love J.K. Rowling for one giant result of her success: the impact of the Potter books on the YA field in general has been phenomenal.)

Carrie asks for Peter Beagle recommendations, having really liked Lila the Werewolf.

Audio of Teller reviewing The Glorious Deception for NPR. (Via No True Bill.)

Gregory Feeley talks about the number of collections by first-rate SF writers being published by small presses, rather than trade publishers.

Carny lingo. (Via Boing Boing.)

Catfish the size of a grizzly bear caught in Thailand. (Via Rebecca Skloot.) One of the cutlines in the photo gallery is fabulous: "Thai fishers struggled for more than an hour to haul in the record-breaking Mekong giant catfish. Officials from Thailand's Inland Fishery Deparment then used a performance-enhancing drug to stimulate the pituitary gland of the female fish in order to prepare it for a breeding program (above). Despite efforts to keep the bear-size catfish alive, it died and was later eaten by villagers."

Thanks to all who sent lovely gifties this week -- I'm vowing to catch up on email this weekend, at least to the extent of sending you individual thank you notes. Now off for cake with the family. xox

ETA: Neely Tucker in the WaPo on how dark children's stories have always been and are, and she quotes Maria Tatar. As Tatar says, "If you start with 'once upon a time,' you're going to finish with 'happily ever after.'"


18 more fantasy authors to read instead of J.K. Rowling

(Jumping off Ed's post, and with the caveat that I actually have nothing against Rowling or the Harry Potter books, having not read them.)

Paul Park
Jonathan Carroll
Geoff Ryman
Angelica Gorodischer
Kelly Link
Maureen McHugh
Sean Stewart
Caitlin Kiernan
Karen Joy Fowler
Holly Black
Stephen Millhauser
Kage Baker
Terry Bisson
Graham Joyce
Greg Frost
Avram Davidson
Diana Wynne Jones
Andy Duncan

(And it was hard to stop!)

Note: Just to emphasize again, I have nothing against Rowling, I just like making recommendations. Really.

did you glimpse...

Stranger Things Happen on The Daily Show yesterday?

Now we can only hope for Link V. Stewart. Or something like that.

(Hasn't Stewart been deliciously brutal since the set redesign?)

Updated: Gavin has posted a little explanation, if you're lacking the context.


tour de france-appropriate poemetry

Or Alan posts an excerpt from his long poem The Stations. A snippet of his snippet:

A bicycle rides inside a kite
with its string dipped in shards
predicting the later discovery of
another kite

There is bourbon inside the kite
which the bicycle partakes in
The bicycle can see nebraska
The narrow nebraskans are
praying in lincoln to lincoln
The kite is an express route
over flyover

You'll want to go read the whole excerpt, race or poetry fans.


crazy birthday horoscopes

I miss Sydney O'Marr. These are from Holiday Mathis (not nearly as mysterious a name).

First, the overall Cancer horoscope:
CANCER (June 22-July 22). This is a remarkably enlightening day. You enjoy fleeing the darkness and entering a bright zone -- that is to say learning -- in every area you put your focus into, especially person-to-person dynamics.
And then the If Today's Your Birthday (as it is Julius Caesar's, Henry David Thoreau's and Tod Browning's, to name a few more illustrious "birthday girls"):
TODAY'S BIRTHDAY (July 12). There's no time for fear. You jump into life and don't turn back. So by the time you realize what a project is going to cost you financially and personally, you'll already have accomplished it. Love is golden in the early fall, and you'll feel like you're walking on clouds. A move or exciting travel will spice up October. Love signs are Aquarius and Gemini. Your lucky numbers are: 4, 1, 49, 33 and 22.
Am I supposed to run out and buy a lottery ticket?

why bicycle coverage rocks

From the TDF blog's early explanation of developments in today's stage (not really a spoiler):

An opportunistic break was allowed to get 13:30 out in front; the biggest name and highest placed rider to make that break is Laurent Brochard, the former world champion, sitting 49th, 7:58 back this morning. Brochard, of course, has the peloton's worst mullet.


sleep now

Another year older and deeper in debt, as they say. Sucky middle-of-the-week birthday or not, next year I'll be forced to have a big Gwendagras party. This year, not so much.

(It's actually tomorrow.)

Anyway, this is a quick note to point to the Sybil's Garage blog before I forget to. I discovered its existence due to excellent Readercon reports. Looks to be a very good site and a very good zine.


and the winner is

...announced over at Christopher's site.

(This is the winner of the subscription drive Pretty Magic Butlers of Roanoke prize.)


why does this house smell like wet dog?

I wonder...

Stage one: Brushing!

(The keen-eyed will note the manuscript on the floor in the background.)

Stage two: George makes his feelings known in his classic passive/passive style.

Stage three: Are we done yet?

Stage four: Let's get everything wet. But still: clean wet dog smells slightly better than dirty dry dog!

today with rambling

Feels more like Saturday than Sunday. Woe that it's not.

Today up early (but less early than those without DVR -- who had to rise at 6:30 to catch the expanded coverage) to watch Stage 9, otherwise known as The First Day in the Real Mountains. Yesterday, Armstrong's famous team that never abandons him was nowhere to be seen on a relatively easy climb (you and I would die, is what I mean by relatively easy). Very exciting. We had breakfast burritos and now we are having tea.

It seems like people are really prickly on the web lately, in a way that's getting tiring. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm envious. (And it's not any one thing, it's sort of this pervasive sniping.) I long for a shift to cutting people a little slack, especially for things they are dashing off, for free, in their blogs or journals. I'm not advocating free passes or not reacting to things that really deserve a reaction, I'm just exhausted by the constant pouncing. It hardly seems like the best way to conduct a conversation.

Maybe this is a sign I need to scale back on the number of sites I read.


Lately, been reading lots of fine things: Winslow in Love by Kevin Canty (Mr. McLaren, you'll like this one); A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park (which I plan a real review of when it comes out in August); rereading Kelly's stories in the shiny new Magic for Beginners (an Editor's Choice in EW this week, with A grade, yay!); To Charles Fort, With Love by Caitlin Kiernan (a wonderful upcoming collection); and some of the stories in God Lives in St Petersburg by Tom Bissell.

I want to get to The Hummingbird's Daughter and a metric ton of other stuff. I also finally picked up Peter Turchi's Maps of the Imagination, off the glowing recommendations of Matt Cheney and others. And most exciting of all, the crafty Barb Gilly and the wiley Richard Butner gave me a bunch of old magicians' society magazines as an early birthday gift that are the most, most fun to read. (M-U-M: Magic Unity Might!) The ads are priceless. (Purchase Doves Easy or The French Arm Chopper by Grant!) They know my proclivities too well.

Really working hard on the rewrite too, and working hard in general, which is the short explanation for why the content here is crappy and sporadic lately. Also, why I rudely, obscenely rudely, owe you email. The other good news is that the Mysterious Illness and its accompanying dark cloud mood have passed. I feel entirely back to normal.

Amazingly extensive circus poster gallery at this Netherlands site.

Matt Cheney blogs Readercon (it always sounds like so much fun; maybe next year).

We got our paper tickets to Glasgow yesterday. Paper tickets, so quaint.

And here's something else. Kelly scored me a copy of Merck's 1899 Manual at BEA. It's a beautiful little object. I leave you with this:

Creosote from Beechwood, Merck.--U.S.P.
Dose: 1-3 M, gradually increased to limit of tolerance, in pills, capsules, or with wine or brandy. -- MAX. INITIAL D.: 5 M single: 15 M daily.--ANTIDOTES: Emetics, stomach pump, soluble sulphates (such as Glauber or Epsom salt).--CAUTION: Wherever Creosote is indicated for internal medication, Creosote from Beechwood should be dispensed; and under no circumstances should "Creosote from Coal Tar" be given, unless explicitly so directed. Wood Creosote and Coal-Tar Creosote differ very widely in their action on the human body: Wood Creosote is comparatively harmless; Coal-Tar Creosote decidely poisonous.--Preparation: Water (1%). MERCK'S Beechwood Creosote is aboslutely free from poisonous coerulignol found in some of the wood creosote on the market.
Stay away from Coal-Tar Creosote; you heard it here first.


wednesday hangovers

Alan DeNiro's got a new story called The Centaur over at Spoiled Ink. He read this at Wiscon. Do not miss.

Oh. My. (Via.)

Jenny D on the Alternate Universe Amazon and a fantastic haunted university story.

But in the Philippines, sightings are not typically the result of sleep deprivation or intoxication. In fact, it is usually not the students who report paranormal events. It is the professors, staff members, and campus guards who see things.

Just as universities and college campuses attract the living, they are a natural gathering place for the dead, say those who follow paranormal happenings. Night watchmen say they hear instruments playing after the last people have left the music buildings.

Professors report being shaken out of their chairs when no one is there. Dead priests are said to come back to visit. Staff members and students alike say they have seen ladies in white floating down hallways. Sometimes they have heads. Sometimes they don't.

(Write that novel, Jenny. I want to read it.)

Daniel Handler has a collection coming out in January. I'm a big fan of his work for adults (and his work for kids actually). The Basic Eight and Shut Your Mouth are favorites of mine. You can find chapter one of Shut Your Mouth here. (Via Maud.)

Send Chris Barzak a birthday pressie! Everybody's doing it.

Paul Ingram likes The Historian, which basically interests me not at all.

White Women in Peril. Via Blottered.

And last but not at all least, M.J. Rose of the mad blog skillz has had a short promo film produced for her book The Halo Effect, which sounds tres interesting. I suggest you go see it and for that suggestion she's donating $5 to the Reading is Fundamental organization.

no more good ones can go

Ernest Lehman has died. This makes me unaccountably, predictably sad.

Roger Thornhill: Tell me, how does a girl like you get to be a girl like you?
Eve Kendall: Lucky I guess.
Roger Thornhill: No, not lucky. Naughty, wicked, up to no good. Ever kill anyone? Because I bet you could tease a man to death without half trying. So stop trying.

(North by Northwest, but you knew that already.)

I could link for half an hour, so I won't. Read some of the scripts, which can be had by googling, or take a look at these scattered anecdotes from a 2001 issue of Written By. He was also a fantastic fiction writer, particularly short stories. Sweet Smell of Success collects some of his most successful fiction.


because everybody loves PIE

Pecan Pie
You're Pecan Pie!
You're a little nutty. hehe. You don't have many
fans, but thats more because of your
independent attitude. You do things your way,
you dont change yourself to fit in. You are
good at heart, though you show a rough

What Type of Pie are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Someone at Quizilla, please install a spell/grammar checker, okay? Or maybe you could just have a little monkey that proofs all the new quizzes and changes them so they're right.)

little tour links

WOW, exciting team time trial today. Sad about Zabriskie's last-minute fall, but it's hard to begrudge the boys of Disco (formerly the Posties, which did roll off the tongue more nicely) a win, since they're so damn good at the TTT. They ride like a single machine. Honestly. And I hate the new uniforms. In general: too much brighty blue and white in the kits this year.

Laurie Muchnick does us all proud with a column any cycling fan would love, looking at Bob Roll's book and Armstrong's War. And she plugs a Guardian journalist I've not much read. Will remedy. I like Samuel Abt, but not the NYT pieces, the longer versions in the International Herald Tribune. An excerpt:

But Roll isn't only a clown, and his book is actually packed with useful information for the millions of people who will be watching the Tour unfold over the next three weeks, as Armstrong rides his last race and tries to increase his record from six to seven straight wins. It can be boring to watch a bike race on television if you don't know what's going on - though no more boring than watching golf, a sport that has its own dedicated channel - but once you learn a few of the basics, you'll realize that a bike race, especially one of the big three (the Tour, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana), is a masterpiece of strategy and that there's a lot more going on at any moment than you might be able to tell from watching a bunch of guys fly by on bikes.

Yes, this is still the books section - you haven't wandered onto the sports pages by accident - but following the Tour is an annual pleasure for me, so I grabbed the opportunity to read a few books on the subject. I've never done more than skim through Armstrong's own books; the first one was called "It's Not About the Bike," which is fine if you're looking for a memoir of surviving cancer, but not if you're interested in learning more about bike racing. His mother, Linda Armstrong Kelly, recently came out with her own book, "No Mountain High Enough," but if you ask me, that may have been when the whole Lance juggernaut jumped the shark.

(Via TEV, who has his own set of wheels.)

Eurosport delves into the history of sullied maillot jaunes (to paraphrase Phil's declaration when CSC's Zabriskie got back on the bike after his crash today).

For Zabriskie, it's a cruel twist of fate after coming back from a crash that nearly cost him his career. He still wears screws in his knee after being knocked over in 2003 by a standard utility vehicle while training near his home in Salt Lake City.

He joins the ranks of the mighty who've fallen while wearing yellow, the most tragic being Luis Ocaña whose 1971 spill in the Pyrenees nearly cost him his life. The next day, his great rival Eddy Merckx paid tribute by refusing to don the yellow jersey.

More recently, fans recall Denmark's Rolf Sörensen who lost his yellow jersey in 1989 when knocked over by the foot of the side railing in a sprint or Chris Boardman who fell in Stage 2 of the 1998 Tour.

How can you not love a sport with stories like this? And they're a dime a dozen.

(Also, they don't even know what SUV really stands for. Those Europeans. Envy.)

10 things I learned over fourth of july weekend

1. Screen porches rock.

2. Kelly's madre is the best hostess in the world. This involves making fondue and pancakes and cheese grits, but also includes an intangible quality of excellence.

3. Tickets to Glasgow are expensive, but less so if you go through Canada.

4. The new War of the Worlds movie is EXHAUSTING. Seeing it brought a week's worth of accumulated mysterious illnessy tiredness crashing down. It's also not very good, despite the glowing reviews. And Tom Cruise has now achieved The Oprah Acting Effect, wherein I just keep thinking, "But really, you're batshit crazy Tom Cruise, not emoting father guy." (For Oprah, certain elements would obviously be changed, although I will never believe her as emoting father guy.)

5. Not quite as excited about Le Tour this year, but watching it helps. I am very excited about today's team time trial, which will be viewed after work. Sadly, Crazy Jane's on a time delay this year, but you can still check out the Tour de France blog for updates on all things great and spandexy.

6. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is excellent and will take the bad taste of Cruise aliens right out of your head. Behold Animala!

7. We heard a long interview with biographer Stacy Schiff about her new book A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America on the way home yesterday. I want to read her Exupery book and also for her and McCullough to arm wrestle over Adams and Franklin's grudges against each other.

8. You really should read Paul Park's A Princess of Roumania.

9. People stay up way too late shooting off fireworks. Don't you have jobs?! Also, it scares George.

10. Something you don't know. (But not really.)



So, we are really and truly going to Glasgow. I just finally bought plane tickets. (And good thing I waited a day or two in procrastinatory hem-hawing, because they dropped four hundred bucks -- still a small fortune, but it looks a lot better when you've seen the ugly alternative.) We'll get in Wednesday morning and leave Monday morning.

CanadaAir must be running a sale, if you're still waiting to buy your tix, because that's what we're taking.


a shameful secret

While I have been working the past few months, I haven't really been rewriting Girl's Gang. I certainly haven't been keeping to the schedule I set for finishing it. Yes, yes, I finished the cutting part based on KDL's line edits back in April, but then I wrote a few new chapters of Roanoke and spent a week polishing the first one to read at Wiscon. Then I had to write this story, which didn't actually take hellishly long (as opposed to all the other short stories I've attempted), but which I had to think about for a few days before I started writing.


One thing I think I know (always, always qualify) is that working through all those line edits and suggestions have made me a far better editor of my own work. I found that out because I actually did finally get started on the nitty gritty rewriting bit on Girl's Gang this week. I've set myself a tentative deadline for finishing of my birthday, which is doable if the mysterious illness stays at bay and I keep up the pace I've been keeping. I'm not married to that date though. Really, I'm just relieved.

It had gotten to be a pretty big monster in my mind, you see. Even though I had a much better idea of how to go about rewriting it and what needed to happen, there's this trait that novels have when you're contemplating fixing or even just diving back into them. They get immense. They go labyrinth on you. If I go in here, how will I ever find my way back out? I'll be eaten by the witch and forced to marry Hansel. And the house won't be made of gingerbread or candy (which, if you've ever tried to eat a gingerbread house is bad enough), it'll be made of BADNESS.

But you know, mostly that's just a trick of lighting. It's a magic lantern sort of thing. It really won't kill you. It's probably going to be easier than you think, even if that still means hard as hell. It will be exhausting. It will take longer than you think, maybe. But once you start doing it it, it's gets infinitely more doable.

So, I feel good. Despite the fact that it's taking me forever to finish, I'm having fun. I'm learning. And the book is getting much better for it.

I'm not writing another word on Roanoke until GG's finished. And that's the only condition I'm going to put on myself. For his is my corollary to Scott's first rule of writing:

Finish what you finish.

p.s. I also let the house go completely to mess this week, so much so that I'm now sort of hurriedly cleaning it back to the state where it used to be most of the time. & also, the one benefit of the cat being away is that I can typey typey in bed late at night before I go to sleep, which is one of my favorite ways to work. It's like sneaking in an extra hour or something. The procrastinator's golden time, the last possible second in which anything can be accomplished on any particular day. If only someone would invent a truly soundless keyboard.

happy July

A little July present from Small Beer Press:
Award-winning short story writer Kelly Link's new collection MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS (July 1, 2005, Fiction/Short Stories, $24, ISBN: 1-931520-15-1,illus. by Shelley Jackson), is being celebrated in a peculiar way by publisher Small Beer Press.

Small Beer, based out of Northampton, MA, is quite happily giving away copies of Link's debut collection STRANGER THINGS HAPPEN as a Free Download using a Creative Commons License.

Link, 35, recently found out she her story, "Stone Animals" from Conjunctions 43, has been selected for the next volume of the Best American Short Stories. Her new collection has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly -- and praise from writers such as Michael Chabon and Alice Sebold. Her stories are published in everything from literary journals (Fence), genre anthologies (The Faery Reel), zines (One Story, Say) to McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales and have been awarded the Tiptree, World Fantasy, and Nebula Awards.

Publisher Gavin Grant, 34, says they he and Link were inspired by author and copyright activist Cory Doctorow who had put each of his books online under a Creative Commons license.

"We're a tiny independent press," said Grant. "Of course we want to explore different methods of getting our books out to readers -- and in spreading the word about Creative Commons."

He continued, "We don't expect this to kill sales. If anything (fingers crossed), it may help. After all, the book is already available in hundreds of libraries, on,'s Search Inside program, and even on BookCrossing. None of these programs have stopped the book from finding readers."

Readers have the choice of STRANGER THINGS HAPPEN as a Plain text, HTML, RTF, & PDF files.
Go here to download.