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2nd June 2014
On to Minneapolis
The best thing in Chicago was Ada singing "Somebody Will" in the control room in Fermilab, while people were actually controlling neutron beams all around. That was amazing. Fermilab itself is wonderful, and if you get a chance to go around it with : beamjockey
leap at it.
The reading at Skokie Library went well -- I was interviewed first, and then we did the same thing we've been doing. There weren't many questions and somebody asked me to read a bit more, so I read a bit of chapter 2, during which I realised that in the rush to fix MRC while writing The Just City
, and then doing the copyedit in Texas and the proofs before I flew to Warsaw I never actually read the whole book aloud -- that step somehow got missed. So that's odd. But people seemed to enjoy it. Then dinner after the signing with friends.
This trip is going very well so far.
And this afternoon we're taking the Empire Builder to Minneapolis, where I'm reading tomorrow, see previous rock.
30th May 2014
Minneapolis Tuesday -- it's not too soon
So I will be reading in Uncle Hugos in Minneapolis at 5pm on Tuesday, with the additional awesomeness of Ada singing, and it will all be fun. And afterwards we are planning to go with as many people as want to to : Punch Pizza
and eat pizza and hang out. If you're in Minneapolis and you're free on Tuesday, come along!
Chicago -- well, Skokie -- Sunday
I'm reading in Skokie Library on Sunday afternoon at 3pm. Chicago people, come to Skokie and hear me read, with singing from Ada. (It's not musical accompaniment, as somebody called it, because she sings and then I read and answer questions and then she sings some more.) :
Let me know if you're coming because we're thinking of maybe having dinner afterwards.
The Wellesley Books reading was terrific, loads of people, loads of friends, another terrific bookstore. Yesterday at BEA was exhausting -- so many people! So much signing! Such a big convention center thing!
Today we're taking the Lake Shore Ltd, and arriving in Chicago tomorrow for the signing on Sunday.
28th May 2014
That's word of the week -- it's pronounced vor-FROY-dah and it means the intense anticipatory joy of looking forward to future joys. It's German, and it seems weird to me that English has borrowed schadenfreude and not vorfreude -- so I've borrowed it myself and plan to use it a whole lot. :
I discovered it yesterday when a German fan emailed me to say that his copy of My Real Children
had arrived, and used it as a subject line.
The trip so far has been really great. Yesterday afternoon we went out to lunch with thekinginyellow
and discovered a really excellent gelateria, Dolce Gelateria
near the Christopher Street subway stop. It's really great -- equivalent to Fous Desserts in Montreal and as good as all but the very best gelato places in Florence and Rome. Also, they had something I've never had before and Ada had only had once, olive oil gelato. It had all the delicious richness and taste complexity of olive oil, and the creamy sweetness of gelato. Incredible. We plan to go there again on Thursday after BEA, and I commend it to your attention if you are in New York.
Also, in the same neighbourhood I discovered the US's strategic cheese reserve
, and a very cool Czech bistro
with excellent spaetzle, and an awesome fun letterpress place
with terrific original things. (You know what I love? Everything has a website now, so you don't have to memorize everything. I just found those to share with you by googling what they were plus "Greenwich Village".)
I mentioned Dolce Gelateria in the questions after my reading at the Word, a lovely bookstore in Brooklyn. One of the great things about this tour is getting to visit thriving indie bookshops, and it just makes me happy to see them. Last night's reading went well and was a ton of fun. Ada sang, I read and answered questions, Ada sang again and then I signed. This not only gave the attendees more variation than just listening to me, and excellent thematic music, but it had the unexpected bonus of energising me during the process, so that I was far less exhausted afterwards than I usually am, so that was great. We plan to repeat this fun program at other bookstores, so for those thinking of coming to the Wellesley Books reading tonight, there will definitely be music. After the event we had dinner in a neighbourhood bistro with a few friends, and that was lovely too.
And today we are zooming up to Boston.
And I feel such vorfreude for the rest of this trip!
27th May 2014
Tomorrow in Boston
So this is the bit where this tour gets really busy -- I'm reading tonight in Brooklyn and tomorrow I'm whizzing up to Boston, reading in Wellesley Books at 7pm, and dashing back to New York on Thursday in time to sign at BEA. :
I gather that Wellesley Books is a little out of town -- if people are going with cars, maybe they could say so in comments and offer to give rides home to other people? This is a flying visit, but I'd really like to see you, Boston friends, if you can possibly make it.
26th May 2014
Reading tomorrow at the Word in Brooklyn
If you're in New York, come to The Word in Brooklyn for my reading and signing event tomorrow night at 7pm! I will read from : My Real Children
. And sign books and answer questions. And if you're good I may read from The Just City
as well. And I'm not promising, but there might be a little music.
25th May 2014
Japanese AO cover
I never cease to be amazed at the kind of range of covers that the foreign editions get. This one has a cane but no head! And the title means "Magic of the Library
" according to Google.
(I'm in Balticon and having a terrific time. Signing, reading, panels, hearing awesome music, having good conversations. You should come next year!)
23rd May 2014
On to Balticon
The reading at Towne Books last night went well -- it's a gorgeous bookstore, very big and light and full of books, with art from local artists on the walls, including a huge animal mural in the children's section. It's the best kind of bookstore, general, with great non-fiction as well as fiction, a lot of community integration, bookclubs and readings and things for kids and young people. I wish we had one just like it in Montreal. :
There was a thunderstorm -- with hail big enough to break car windows a few miles away, apparently. Despite this about fifteen people showed up for the reading, all great people who asked good questions afterwards and then bought books. There were a few friends among them too, which is always one of the best parts of this kind of thing, great getting to see people.
And now we're going to Balticon, where I'll be reading and signing and appearing on panels and hanging out with great people and having fun. How did this get to be my life? Wow.
I secretly distrust happiness, as if it will be taken out on me later with equivalent disasters. I know in my head that the universe doesn't work that way, but my gut doesn't seem capable of taking it in. All the same, it's worth it, even if Nemesis follows I might as well enjoy myself now. and at least I will have had this, sitting in my hotel room that Tor paid for, drinking tea with Jon Singer.
21st May 2014
Towne Books in Collegeville PA tomorrow
The first stop on my signing tour will be tomorrow night at 7pm in Towne Books in Collegeville PA, near Philadelphia. I'll be accompanied on this occasion by Jon Singer. Are any of you local enough to make it? Do come if you can!
20th May 2014
First 7 chapters of MRC on Boing Boing
With actual artwork. My goodness. I wasn't expecting that! : This
ought to give anyone enough to know if they want to buy it.
And it's out, available for sale at all good bookstores.
16th May 2014
Author Copies, yay!
My box of copies of : My Real Children
It's a real book! Looks great. It has pale grey boards -- the inner cover. You never know what that'll be like until you get it. It's kind of small -- the size of the Small Change hardbacks, smaller than Among Others
and What Makes This Book So Great
Official launch day is Tuesday, I'm heading off on tour on Wednesday (details here
) and I'm packed and almost ready to go.
14th May 2014
: Offer me
No... faster than that.
Offer me unknown roses, a fairytale favour, opacity spinning out of control, scattering starshards, fracturing time, breaking down distance.
A nifty moebius twist will do it, the glint
Of otherworldly dawns, unearthly shadows, the interstices
Sweeping metaphor away, bringing us
In smooth chromed ships that jump
Infinite, universal, alien, familiar,
Worlds of difference,
Out where the stars are.
Offer me literal
(Faster than that) nothing less.
And I will give you anything,
My firstborn son, my best friend, my memories, wordskill,
Oh yes, certainly my soul.
5th May 2014
When you're happy and you know it...
When I was four years old and went to school, they put me in Mrs Caulfield's class with older kids because I could read. Everyone else had been in school for a year already, and they knew how school worked. I had to figure it out as I went along. Sometime the first term Mrs Caulfield taught us a song. "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." You had to sing, and you had to clap. And I just sat there, thinking, as the song moved on to "stamp your feet" and so on, and eventually she asked me why I wasn't participating, and I said that I was thinking about whether I was happy, and if so, how I knew it. And poor Mrs Caulfield, with whom I now have a great deal of sympathy, told me to just do it anyway, even if I wasn't sure, because it was only a song. I joined in the singing temtatively, despite grave inner reservations. But I wouldn't clap my hands. I didn't mind giving instructions ("IF... THEN...") but I wasn't going to obey them if it wasn't true. :
I've acquired slightly better social skills since, but I've also thought about this a great deal since, indeed, since I was four years old I have thought quite often about the issue of eudaimonia, recognising and acknowledging happiness.
I was just making some plans around Worldcon with friends, and I just realised that this is the most organized summer of my life, in terms of knowing when I am going to be where and when and with whom.
It's also shaping up to be the best
summer of my life, in those same terms, so much of what I'm doing is so great, and with so many different excellent people.
And the more I think about it, the better it seems that I am thinking that this is going to be the best summer of my life when it is in fact my fiftieth summer -- I'm going to turn fifty in December. I am making plans, and offering hospitality, there's going to be the signing tour, and cooking, and beaches, and castles, and a British Worldcon, and Shakespeare, and art, and a trip to Italy, and spending time with so many amazing people -- and it just doesn't get any better than this. And this is my real life. When I'm not running round having fun with people, I'm home writing. And I love
writing. This is so great. This is what I always wanted to do when I grew up.
I am so incredibly lucky.
Fortunately, Mrs Caulfield taight me how to express it.
2nd May 2014
Just in time for Boreal
: An interview with me in French
I'm off to Boreal in Quebec City tonight, where I'm appearing on four panels, two in French (with help at hand) and two in English.
We're finally getting our kitchen floor mended -- those of you who have been here may have noticed the hole. It's messy and expensive but at least it's nearly done. Meanwhile it's been very hard to concentrate on anything, and impossible to cook. It's being painted as well as re-floored, and we're having a new sink, which was essential, but not new cabinets otherwise. Under the sink we found some of the old linoleum tiles from 1929 when the building was new.
Oh, and a mini-Mayday poem I wrote on nineweaving
The sun came out here in the afternoon
And said "Now May the heavens cease to storm
May small buds swell, and burst to leaf you soon
May skies turn blue and moving airs grow warm,
May time turn gentle, waft you into June."
27th April 2014
Not for me, I can't make it -- a female friend going to Readercon is looking for somebody to share a room with, Thursday/Friday/Saturday. Anyone need a room-mate?
24th April 2014
Words: 3747 :
To my surprise, I wrote a short story yesterday. It's called "Sleeper", it's about making history, and it's SF. Quite a lot of my short stories are SF. This one is even set in the future.
And today I sold it to pnh
for Tor.com where it will be appearing sometime. I'll let you know.
I was counting -- this makes sixteen short stories. And in the same time, I have completed and sold twelve novels. Novels are easier and come more naturally.
9th April 2014
My Real Children Epic Signing Tour Dates
This tour kept getting longer and more complicated, but I think this is final. If I am coming near you, come and hear me read from : My Real Children
, and let me know, maybe we can get together. Seeing friends along the way was the best part of the tour last time. (This is just the readings, without all the train times.)
22nd May, 7pm, Towne Books, Philadelphia
23-26th May, Balticon, Baltimore
27th May, 7pm, The Word, Brooklyn
28th May, 7pm, Wellesley Books, Boston
29th May, afternoon, BEA, New York
1st June, 3pm, Skokie Library, Chicago
3rd June, 5pm, Uncle Hugos, Minneapolis
7th June, 4pm, University Bookstore, Seattle
9th June, 7pm, Powells, Portland
13th June, 7pm, Copperfields, Petaluma, San Francisco
14th June, 3pm, Borderlands, San Francisco
17th June, 7pm, Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego
21st June, 3pm, Page One Books, Albuquerque, followed by dinner with local SF group
22nd June, Jean Cocteau Cinema, Santa Fe
28th June, ALA, Las Vegas, panel, signing, banquet
3rd July, 7pm, Flights of Fantasy, Albany
First two chapters of My Real Children on Tor.com
If you want to read the first two chapters of : My Real Children
in advance of the launch on May 20th, which is six weeks from now, they're live on Tor.com
The way the book works, there's the first chapter, then there are four chapters set in the pre-split universe and then from the end of chapter 5 and the split point it alternates between the character's two lives. So if two chapters looks a little odd, that's why.
And probably tomorrow I'll be posting details about my forthcoming signing tour for this book.
8th April 2014
Culture, or how I discovered Bach
I think it was 1994, and I was twenty-nine. I was in a charity shop in Lancaster, one of the smaller ones, down at the bottom of Penny Street. : carandol
and I wanted some more music both of us could write to -- we were working on GURPS Celtic Myth
. Z was a little kid. And it was the time when everybody was switching over from vinyl to CDs and getting rid of their vinyl. We still had a record player, and this was the beginning of me buying all the vinyl everyone else was upgrading from.
I'd heard of Bach, of course I had. I'd heard Cassandra Mortmain in I Capture the Castle
say that he was like being repeatedly hit over the head with a teaspoon. As you can imagine, that was a little offputting. But I'd also generally heard "Blah, blah, high culture, boring, blah, pretentious, Radio 3, blah, Bach..." which didn't do anything for me either. The thing that encouraged me to shell out an entire pound on the 2 record LP of Four Orchestral Suites
(which I still own and still play all the time, though not as often as Three Double Concertos
or the Brandenburg Concertos) was Civilization. Civ I, that is, the original Sid Meier game Civilization
In Civ 1, there are 21 Wonders of the World, which each have various game-influencing effects. There are seven ancient, seven medieval and seven modern. They mostly have expiry dates -- for instance Copernicus's Observatory gives you twice as much production in your city until the invention of electricity, and Isaac Newton's College doubles your science input until the invention of nuclear fission. You can build J.S. Bach's Cathedral, and it makes two people in each city happy. It doesn't expire. In the manual it says "The inspiration provided by Bach's beautiful music does not end." And that was intriguing. And it turns out to be correct.
So I bought the record, and listened to it, and I got into Bach in 1994 the same way I got into Leonard Cohen in 1988 and Bob Dylan in 1982, buying all the albums and listening to them over and over and telling my friends how great he is. And I discovered this weird thing where some people think that classical music has snob appeal and almost nobody loves it -- some people appreciate it, and some people only pretend to, but appreciate is as far as you're supposed to go. Very few people want to have conversations about which Brandenburg is the best. (Third!) I love Bach with no music appreciation vocabulary and uncritically.
Ever since that day in 1994 I have been one of the two people in every city made happy by it.
6th April 2014
Hades & Persephone on Tor.com
A poem, and for once you didn't see it here first, this is original over there. : http://www.tor.com/stories/2014/04/hades-and-persephone-jo-walton
And comment there, please, if you are moved to comment.
I realized when I was looking at Bernini's Hades and Proserpina that I hate the canonical story of Hades and Persephone so much that I have written two different poems trying to make it into a different story. This one is about it as a long distance relationship.
5th April 2014
Chinese Among Others
: Hot off the press
I've had quite a bit of interaction with the translator, and I feel sure this is a thoughtful good translation. Also, for a change I like the cover.
So different! A face! I really hope I get a copy of this. I couldn't tell until I looked at it blown up that the regular white bits lower down are characters, but the bits on the headscarf are little lights -- presumably fairies. I think this is clever.
Google thinks the title means "I do not belong to them".
29th March 2014
Actual Croatian Among Others
Last time it was Serbian and I was confused. :
I quite like this. And again, I am finding the semiotics of the covers for this book fascinating, the swirl of lights that comes from the US cover and has nothing to do with how fairies are described in the text, the very pastoral pool -- but it's actually quite a good image, I think, the hand and the reflection.
Also I love the font they have my name in, with the great J and the l and the t swirled together. Thank you, Croatia!
Do you like it?
(In other news, the copyedit is done after three solid days of doing nothing else.)
25th March 2014
My story : Turnover
is now available to read online at Lightspeed. There's an interview with me about it as well.
And totally by serendipity, pnh
had lunch in the original Teatro del Sale in Florence today.
24th March 2014
In Einer Anderen Welt nominated for the Kurd Laßwitz Prize
: In Einer Anderen Welt
, the German translation of Among Others
has been nominated for this German SF award
, in the category of "Best Translated Work" and the translator, Hannes Riffel, has also been nominated as Best Translator for his translation. So that's really cool.
I'm home from Vericon, where I had a great time. It's a very fun little convention. I am also exhausted and facing a copyedit this week, so don't expect much from me.