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9th February 2016
My Boskone Schedule
is next weekend, 19-21st -- though it feels as if it ought to be this weekend, I'm ready for it already! Here's my schedule:Writing The Great Escape
Friday 17:00 - 17:50, Harbor II (Westin)
How do you get characters out of tough situations without resorting to Felix's bag of tricks, or other cheats? There's an art to surprising the reader with smart or daring escapes while still playing fair — so the reader thinks both "Wow!" and "I should have thought of that!"
Jo Walton, Julie C. Day, Grady Hendrix, Ken Liu, Ada PalmerTheories of Time Travel
Saturday 10:00 - 10:50, Marina 4 (Westin)
As improbable as it seems, is time travel possible? What scientific theories are out there that hint at what it might take to turn time travel into a reality? What practical issues need to be considered? What are some of the best time travel stories and how does their science hold up? Who's doing it right? And is time travel really just science fiction?
James Cambias (M), Heather Albano, John R. Douglas, Kenneth Schneyer, Jo WaltonKaffeeklatsch 2: Jo Walton
Saturday 11:00 - 11:50, Harbor I-Kaffeeklatsch 2 (Westin)Reading: Jo Walton
Saturday 14:30 - 14:55, Independence (Westin)
Will be reading from Necessity
Saturday 17:00 - 17:50, Galleria-Autographing (Westin)Poetry Within Fantasy & Science Fiction
Sunday 10:00 - 10:50, Harbor III (Westin)
Fantasy and science fiction literature often samples snatches of song or poetry within its pages. But where does one look for original poetry that’s wholly focused on dragons and aliens, magic and deep space? Which writers are also fine versifiers? What inspires them? How do they decide whether an idea is better delivered in prose or poetry?
Jo Walton, C.S.E. Cooney, Mary Crowell, Theodora GossMythology Mixology
Sunday 14:00 - 14:50, Marina 2 (Westin)
Zeus and Huitzilopochtli; Reynard and Kitsune; kelpies and undines. Today's fantasy draws inspiration (and species) from many mythological sources. What happens when creatures from different cultural milieux occur in the same story? Why do writers mix their mythologies? Who has done it well?
Michael Swanwick, Ken Altabef, Ada Palmer, Lauren Schiller, Jo Walton
There's also a Sassafrass Trickster and King concert at noon on Saturday. You won't want to miss that. And in a piece of annoying scheduling. Ada's reading at the same time I am.
Hope to see some of you there.
5th February 2016
Words: 3820 :
Total words: 13512
Music: No music
Tea: Hua Lien, and then Elderflower and Lemon
Reason for stopping: end of chapter... but I stopped to make dinner, and then to eat dinner, and I'm not really stopping now so much as posting chapter done.
I don't think I've ever written anything before where I've been so reluctant to explain the concept, because I feel it would be more fun to read without knowing it. But... you have to explain the concept, or nobody would read it in the first place, right? Except you four loyal and faithful people who would read it whatever it is just because it has my name on the cover. I know who you are! And i appreciate you, but you're not enough by yourselves...
And I don't think most people are so excited by Savonarola that "it's a fantasy novel about Savonarola" would make them want it -- in fact most people hate Savonarola while not knowing much about him. Even if I said "Savonarola and the Holy Grail". Oh well. I'll think of something.
Onwards and upwards. More words.
21st January 2016
It's the name of a Welsh pirate from a comic children's book :
With pyramids of oranges, a cannon and a hook,
A daffodil, a hammock, canary, stick of rock,
A Davy-lamp to light the seas, a peg-leg in a sock...
Saltwater Taffy's voice confides, tells tales in lilting tones
Of sunken ships and treasure, black skull flags with crossing bones,
Boasting of all the conquests made upon the Spanish Main
And a childhood spent in Tiger Bay (you can't go home again).
Ah, fortunes found and fortunes lost upon the rolling sea
The mermaids booming conch-shell songs to windward, and to lee
The drifting weed, the shifting reef, the blown-glass floats, the sky
The lure of far horizons and the secrets seagulls cry.
The blue that always beckons, the setting of the sails,
And the welcome in the hillsides ever waiting home in Wales.sovay has a post
about being called "Saltwater Taaffe" as a nickname, and as soon as I read it I had an immediate image of oranges piled up like cannon balls and had to write this.
20th January 2016
David Hartwell, 1941-2016
: Like nitrogen
, supporting every breath
Always been there, it seems you always will
So vital, so involved, that is until
A moment brings inevitable death.
I know death finds us all, but you? But why?
You, in the midst of life, one moment there
Then dying flesh, and then an empty chair,
I can't believe it doesn't shake the sky.
Your life is over, not complete, feels wrong
To say "he was" and never "he will be"
When you were there like axioms so long.
What's left is all you did and made, and we
So shaken at the gap where you belong
Counting your loss against eternity.
14th January 2016
Philosopher Kings in Britain, and party at Balticon
: The Philosopher Kings
is released today in the UK in trade paperback, so there it is.Necessity
is not yet scheduled for a UK release, but it will be out in North America at the end of June -- I'm having a release party for it at Balticon
, though it won't actually be out for a few weeks after that. It's a joint party with Ada Palmer for Too Like the Lightning
, and we're having cakes made with book covers which will be fun. If you're planning to come to Balticon, you should come, and maybe you should think about planning to come to Balticon, because it's going to be great -- it's the fiftieth anniversary, and they're getting as many past GoHs as they can, in addition to having grrm
as this year's GoH.
30th December 2015
Repudiation of slates in all their forms
: Chaos Horizon
suggested this morning that the Sad Puppies might endorse The Just City
. Unlikely as I find this, I just want to say now and in public that I abhor the idea of such endorsement. I think slates are appalling and utterly against the spirit of the Hugos. If they did put anything of mine on their list I would insist they remove it as soon as possible.
Furthermore, I urge other writers, editors and fans to do this. Even if you're not as viscerally horrified at the whole idea as I am (I have never campaigned not even in the mild form of listing eligibility with a nudge and a wink, I see no point in an offering of love you have begged for) then even pragmatically it must be apparent that the events of last year demonstrated that being on a slate is the kiss of death.
18th December 2015
Next Time I Fall in Love 2: For Laurie Penny
When I grow up I want to be brave :
so when I fall in love,
and feel that tingling unexpected joy
and can't help smiling when I see
my special person walk into a room
which had felt empty until then, without them,
they smile to see me too, their face lights up,
to see me, me! And it's incredible
that they could like me back,
since they're so wonderful and I
am always only me...
Yes, when that grace
I want to
be like your generation,
grown up, bold,
and shout out confidently,
ready and unafraid
to share it with the world
taking that risk
to be exposed, wide open,
"also I fell in love
so that's a thing."
This is from a tweet of Laurie Penny's @PennyRed in which she said those last two lines. (I just realised I have no idea how to link directly to a tweet.)
14th December 2015
It matches the others -- what do you think? :
The book itself got off to pnh
on time and I
never want to see it again
look forward to it coming out in June, with this cover.
11th December 2015
Thud: Savonarola thing
Forgot to post last night, this is for yesterday :
Total words: 7016
Music: No music
Tea: Pu Erh, then white tea with apricot & elderflower
Reason for stopping: I stopped to go swimming, and then to eat, and then when the chapter was done
So that's two chapters.
One of the things I love about writing fantasy -- and about starting a new thing -- is establishing how time works and how magic works, and in this particular case, how prophecy works.
I might call it "Work of God"
9th December 2015
Thud: Savonarola thing
Words: 3220 :
Total words: 3220
Tea: Blue people
Music: No music
And that would be the first chapter of a new thing that doesn't have a proper title yet.
Don't know if it's going to work yet. It's about Savonarola. I don't know if anyone's going to like it, but I like it. We'll see how it goes.
And it's so exciting to be writing in third person after so very MUCH first, even if it is a very close third indeed.
First line is "Had the gates of Hell been opened?"
1st December 2015
AM is here and I'm going out for breakfast and later today for dinner with Z as well, and the book is done, and I have such great family and friends, and being fifty-one is lovely so far. :
I won't be doing my regular birthday list of what I published and the awards I won when I was fifty, because I think there's a slippery slope with that at one end and the Sad Puppies saying everyone campaigns at the other, and that makes it very important that everyone does not campaign, or do anything that remotely could be claimed to look like it, this year especially. It was a fun thing to do on my birthday, looking at achievements for the year, and I'm sorry to stop, but never mind. Here's the summary: Two novels out, another completed, a Tiptree award, a Locus award, the ALA stuff, and a bunch of nominations. Completely awesome actually.
Places I visited for the first time when I was fifty:
30th November 2015
So, : Necessity
is done again, after spending months in that state where you've unpacked a suitcase and everything is all over the bed, and you know everything went into it once, but getting it all in again is challenging.
I do want some quick feedback, but the word here is quick. If you want to volunteer to read it, and you know you can read it and get back to me about it THIS WEEK, then please comment with your email address and how many of the earlier volumes you have read.
Word count just now is 101027, incidentally, which means I have written more than 10,000 words since last I thudded here -- and in fact I have written way more than that, but revision does not lend itself well to being measured by wordcount because words are also being deleted.
8th November 2015
The Death of Petrarch
He fell asleep, reading in Cicero :
And as he turned the page, in his last sleep
He found it didn't end, so he could keep
On reading the De Gloria
, and know.
Forgetting meals, forgetting pain and age,
One book led to another, all made new,
Laid out before him, beautiful and true.
In such delight he'd greet each fresh-turned page.
And there lies Homer, that most glorious peak,
Politziano's Homer, and it said
This was a Florentine whio knew his Greek
The Pope was back in Rome, and he was dead,
The world renewed, and given tongue to speak.
Sing, Goddess, Petrarch's joy in what he read.
24th October 2015
Like memories of anything else, really.
So : sartorias has a post on BVC about buying and selling memories
, and one of her examples is me writing a poem. This was my response.
You’d be surprised quite often how mundane,
the process is, and how it’s mostly craft
(as so much writing is) where every draft
comes closer to the willed. It’s mostly sane
It’s word and meaning juggling, it’s play,
a jigsaw game of sound and shape and word
and can I rhyme that there — no, that’s absurd,
it works, but it’s not what I want to say!
Often I don’t remember, ha, I sold
those ones already! You can have them free.
They’re not the things I’d treasure, growing old.
But some I would not part with, that would be
Vaucluse the other day, the green-and-gold
For sometimes, I admit, it’s ecstacy.
23rd October 2015
The reason I'm in France is to be a guest at Intergalactiques, in Lyon, which starts today. I'm on a bunch of program and also signing and stuff. If you are in or near Lyon come and say hello!
21st October 2015
Sonnets At the Source of the Sorgue
Oh hear, my friends, the dead, the lost, and you,
The living who may read these words and know
One day about some other thing, that Jo
Was here and felt the same and it was true.
A photograph recalls a memory:
The rearing limestone cliff, the blue of sky,
Unlikely green of river rushing by,
The mellow gold that warms the chestnut tree.
Words can't describe, not really, cannot match
The glory of this place where Petrarch sat
But on the human level they may catch.
So after winds of time have blown trees flat
Still from these freshlaid words a thought may hatch
In quite another place you think "Oh. That."
The story that they tell is love, love, love
The Lady and the Poet -- well, it works,
But also he loved books and God, it irks.
Laura, all right, but Cicero above.
The Great Man theory is out of style
But without Petrarch, what world would this be?
I'm here for him: I'm his posterity,
Not for the love they want to so beguile.
Here for the books I love that he loved too,
The flame he kindled soul to soul and kept,
The ancient world he saved to meet the new.
This room, they say, is where the poet slept.
(He must have sometimes, so I guess it's true.)
I found his fig tree. That was when I wept.
Did the Romantics have a field day here? Why not?
I never saw a place where the sublime
Made so much sense, nature so close to rhyme.
Wild towering cliffs, old ruins, ferny grot.
The colours are so bright they glow, the stone
As white as linen when you fold it clean
The waterweed is almost neon green
And see how very gold the trees have grown.
The kingfisher was such a dazzling blue
Bathetic fallacy, too much to feel,
Here's nature spilling over, just for you.
Nestled in living rock, it's no big deal
The little house where Petrarch wrote and knew,
Except it's everything that makes it real.
The river has three voices, first the fall
And then the rushing torrent roar, the spate,
And third the breaking slap that will not wait
As rocks impede and for a while stand tall.
The birdsong seems intelligently timed
More song than chirrup, rolling out diverse
Trilled melodies, with choruses and verse
Since here the only sane response is rhymed.
Oh Petrarch, I have heard what you have heard
Here in your garden, here below the peak,
The water's voices rising to a word
The poetry that spills from every beak.
Here , now, this place, it doesn't seem absurd
That sonnets are the only way to speak
So I am in Avignon, and today I went to the Fontaine de Vaucluse, the Source of the Sorgue, where Petrarch (1304-74) lived and wrote some poems and a lot of letters. Petrarch is famous for his poems about Laura, but what he's really important for (in my opinion) is for being the father of humanism, the ideas that kickstarted the Renaissance. (I'm simplifying, OK?) I wrote all these while there, sitting on assorted benches and stone blocks around the place, which is phenomenally beautiful.
17th October 2015
"Dinosaurs rarely pray to Athena" -- ashnistrike
Mathematics suggest that the asteroid :
Will not destroy the world so utterly
As the doom-sayers suggest, but will disrupt
Sufficient to demolish civilization
Eliminating all life but cockroaches
And little creeping mammals.
No use to pray to the Thunder-Father
Or the Egg-Layer, Mother of all.
The Far-Shooting Lord of Light
Has us in his sights,
The heavens are falling and only you
Could nudge it aside,
For we are your
7th October 2015
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival to Rewrite Shakespeare
is rending her hair
. But hey.
As I recall it, Johnson changed the ends
He made Cordelia live, and Juliet
Shaped for their sensibilities, and yet,
We don't now watch Iago making friends.
The Bowdlers kept the tragic, cut the sex
Left out the country matters, turd and tup,
Too strong for stomachs, though they cut it up
We put it back and take it XXX.
These mealy mumblers who enact this crime
Who make a modern mish and who deny
That we have ears to hear, who simplify,
Will likewise be a laughingstock to time.
O little O, O tempora, words Will
Outlive us all and keep on living still.
24th September 2015
Too Like the Lightning -- cover reveal
So Ada Palmer's first novel : Too Like the Lightning
is coming out from Tor next May, and it's available for pre-order now, and the cover has just been released on Tor.com and... the flying cars don't really look like that, and the city is a little steeper than it is in the book, but by and large this is a cover that feels like the book, an interesting positive SF future.
I'll be writing about it on Tor.com and probably here too closer to when it comes out -- it's a difficult book to write about because there's so much in it and it's so good and also because it's the first of four, and the first two, Too Like the Lightning
and Seven Surrenders
(December next year) are very closely linked. I'm dying for it to come out so I can have conversation about it -- conversations about all kinds of different things. For the last couple of years since I read it I keep wanting to bring it up as an example -- as all kinds of different examples -- when people are talking about worldbuilding and SF futures, and real futures, and what you can do with the numinous, and what you can do with mode, and complicity and... all kinds of things.
For now, you can see my quote on the cover "The kind of science fiction that makes me excited all over again about what science fiction can do." There are a lot of books I read when I was a teenager where I got my head blown off because they expanded the space of what was possible. There are a lot fewer books that do that to me these days. This is one of them.
So, what do you think of the cover?
17th September 2015
Universes are kind
So : rysmiel
's Gmail Chat .sig gets cut off, so it looks as if it says "Universes are kind" but actually it says "Universes are kind of huge". This was my train of thought.
Universes are kind?
(Are not unkind?)
Are kind of huge!
Are kin, are kindred, are akin...
Are a type and species and a sort.
Aspire to greatness.
Are a scale and size that we can't get out heads around...
They don't care.
They are not kind, or unkind.
They are universes.
They are vast and full of science.
They are beautiful...
They do not know that.
Their benevolence is our imagination, but
Their beauty is our gift to them
In all their hugeness
They are kind
7th September 2015
Green-striped figs outside the Ferry Building, San Francisco, 10th August 2015
If Plato's right that things have one Ideal :
Material stuff reflects but cannot show
And all we see and hear and taste and feel
Are pale thin echoes of what we might know.
The taste of perfect figs cuts straight through time
Ascends to the Ideal, the Form, the True
Connects up to itself, to the sublime,
Eternal, joyful, timeless, ever new.
I learned to distrust happiness: it ends.
But now I savour moments, like the sun
That gently warms me, sharing figs with friends,
As time goes on and back, and All is One.
Sweet meaty figs split perfectly in three.
You may not know that. It was new to me.
30th August 2015
How to hide treasure (For Khalid al-Asaad, 1932-2015)
How to hide treasure. :
Bury it in the ground.
Wrap it up well.
Gold will be all right, but silver tarnishes,
Try wax inside a linen wrap.
Stone will endure, but clay is different.
In a damp climate, beware of water seeping.
Use chalk to protect ceramics.
Books are the hardest
Keep them dry, wrapped.
Use archival boxes, travel cases,
Whatever it takes to
Keep it all safe,
How to hide treasure.
Choose somewhere likely to stay undisturbed,
Perhaps under foundations
Or out in the desert...
If there is a desert.
Take advantage of the situation
Hope for the best
Hope we'll come back,
Or someone will come soon who cares
Hope we're not looking at
All we can do is hope
How to hide treasure.
Hide it in our hearts.
Hide it so deeply that we will not tell them
Not through torture.
So we will know and hope,
That what we've hidden will be found
By those like us who care.
It was before.
It will be there and safe
And all they can do is hurt us, kill us,
They cut off your precious head and long knowledge.
But the treasure stayed hidden:
History goes back, and on, and we know it,
connect and care.
They will never
How to hide treasure.
Share it with the world
Send out a million copies
Distribute what can not be reproduced
Barbarism doesn't strike everywhere at once,
Islam saved the Greek texts
If we share it out, surely some will survive.
Reproduce, photograph, reprint,
Hand on the stories that enhance the stones,
The stories of the heroes who knew
How to hide treasure,
So what is important lives on although
29th August 2015
Home, Reading tonight in Shaika
Well, I'm back. :
I've been away so long I've forgotten about being home, but I expect I'll figure it out.
I'm reading tonight in Shaika on Sherbrooke as part of the NDG Artts thingy
if you are in Montreal come along. I totally hadn't forgotten about this and I am totally prepared, except that it's supposed to be an 10 minute reading, which is hard.
More about the trip later when I'm more rested.
17th August 2015
I'm reading, signing, and being interviewed by Ada at the Cedar Hills Powells, this evening at 7pm. Sassafrass Trickster and King will sing "Somebody Will" (the Kickstarter is funded and made the stretch goal and is over, by the way) and I will be reading a Crocus chapter from : Necessity
as there is absolutely none of The Philosopher Kings
I can read that isn't a spoiler. I'm looking forward to reading it, actually. It's a fun chapter that I like, and it's set during the first book
If you are in or near Portland, do come, and if you are somebody I know from LJ do say so when you introduce yourself.
Also, Powells is the best bookshop. I found 6 Kathleen Norris and 2 Dorothy Canfield novels in their downtown awesome store, and weirdquark
and Ada also found some things they'd been wanting for years. It's amazing.