Spin, pretty hype machine! SPIIIN!
*waves coal-dust-blackened hands and capers*
*goes back to shoveling*
More links and reviews and interviews and guest blogs and news! It’s BOOK WEEK*!
Clink on the pretty picture for an excerpt of the novel at Tor.com!
First of all: here I am interviewed at the blog of Hugo-award nominated Apex Publications by the inimitable Fran Wilde. This interview has some more details about The Lotus Kingdoms and also about Ancestral Night, and also a bit of information about The Republic of Elves** I mean, An Apprentice to Elves, which is the long-delayed sequel to A Companion to Wolves.
It also has a book giveaway! Involving selfies and twitter hashtags. Ahem.
And, just to balance the karmic scales, I said a few nice things about Diane Duane over here.
And now, time to eat some lunch and write some elves. Wolves. Both, really.
*It’s like storming Normandy, only without the machine guns and Rommel’s asparagus.
**Scott totally came up with that, so I don’t feel bad using it.
It’s book day!
And MOAR NEWS!
Today is Steles of the Sky‘s birthday, and I’m so excited I may be having heart flutters over here. There’s something about the long setup on a series, and the eventual payoff, that… okay, so when I used to run tabletop RPGs a lot more than I have time for now, there was this moment when my players always knew they’d stumbled on The Awful Troof–cracked the campaign wide open, basically, and found the central mystery and aw-hell moment.
Because I would start grinning this particular delighted maniacal grin.
The great joy for me as a storyteller is the moment when the person I’m telling the story to figures out what’s up. And I have been just dying to tell everybody the rest of this story for years now.
So you can imagine how excited I currently am.
In celebration of the day, there’s GUEST POSTS!
News! Awesome news!
This is going to be a big week here in Bearland, and it’s not just about Steles of the Sky dropping tomorrow.
I have a couple of exciting bits of news. The second will be over at Whatever tomorrow, buried at the bottom of a Big Idea post. The first, however, is that I can now tell you what one of the sekrit projekts I was working on earlier this year was.
That’s right. I wrote a script for Zombies, Run! season 3. I’m so stupidly excited about this, and now I get to tell you!
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the game–which involves fleeing zombies and chasing a very cool narrative while you get your daily exercise–and when Naomi Alderman and Six to Start approached me to see if I’d be interested in doing a script, I about melted from the sheer force of my compressed squee.
And I had so much fun writing it, you guys. The thing I love about scripts and existing characters is the sheer opportunity to write snark and banter, and this was like getting paid to write fanfic for a property I adore. (And getting plot hints, too, since I needed to know something about where the story was going to work, obviously.)
But I couldn’t talk about it until, well, now. BUT NOW IT CAN BE TOLD.
Squee! Squee! Squee!
Season 3 rolls out a little later this month, and my episode is #38: “We’re Needed.” But that does mean, if you haven’t been playing, there’s about a hundred hours of content already available in Seasons 1 & 2.
Really good content, with awesome characters and an diverse cast and Real Big Feels. (Try sobbing while jogging sometime. It’s hard.) Also, it turns out running from zombies is an awesome way to beat your usual interval time.
You don’t actually have to run to play the game–it works while walking, or skateboarding, or bicycling (careful with that–requires headphones), or wheeling in your wheelchair, if that’s how you roll. It works on a treadmill or elliptical. And it works with whatever music you usually work out to–the game is designed to integrate with existing playlists. (Though my copy has problems with really long playlists, so I broke my workout mix into a bunch of shorter groupings.)
tl;dr: ZOMBIES, SQUEEE!
But, you know, while I’m here… Steles of the Sky is dropping tomorrow!
(For crying out loud, buy it for the art, even if you don’t like me. That’s Donato Giancola and Ellisa Mitchell. It doesn’t get any better than that.)
So about that awesome news I mentioned–
I have just licensed world rights (including translation and audio) for two far-future Big-Idea space operas to Simon Spanton at Gollancz. The first, entitled Ancestral Night, will be out in autumn of 2016.
It’s that time. I’ve started the final revision pass on Karen Memory. So far, I’m working through the bits that only need tweaks, because the earlier chapters have already had several editing passes, after all. (One of the many ways all that Useful Writing Advice doesn’t work for me–several times over the course of any given book, I have to go back and restructure the early bits and add things and move stuff around, or the book doesn’t go forward. I can’t always just make notes and keep going.)
Soon, my pretties. Soon. Soon.
But for the meantime, we’re in Earbrass Country. (“We can’t stop here!”)
I spent the last four days shoveling out from under a bucket of post-novel ennui after finishing a short story tentatively called “No Place to Dream, but a Place to Die.” There were a lot of movies and a certain number of books and even more Bejeweled, I’m afraid.
In other news, it’s coming up on a month to publication for Steles of the Sky, and I am psyched! Tor.com has the first chunk up as an excerpt if you just can’t wait to get started.
I have finished the draft of “No Place to Dream, but a Place to Die.” It needs the thematic and character arc shored up a bunch on the revision, but the plot is there, and that’s all I care about right now. More to follow.
But first, I have my edit letter for Karen Memory, and starting tomorrow that needs to be happening. Wow, it’s such a damned nice feeling to get things off my desk.
Often, working on a novel feels like spinning your wheels for months and months and months–because there’s work, endless work, and it’s all on the same thing, and it never feels like you will get to get your brain back and do something new. But the end is in sight, here.
And not to bury the lede, but! Shattered Pillars is longlisted for the David Gemmell Legend Award! (So is a book by that boy I like, ahem.) And EVERYBODY ON THE INTERNET CAN VOTE ONCE.
Yeah, I have a problem. I’m working on a short story, but I have the Post-Novel Ennui, and my head has that empty dustbunnies-rolling-over-the-floor feeling I get when I have used up all my brain. So I have emailed the editor, and let him know that I am Out Of Clever, and the story may be a little late.
Fortunately, the editor in question is a good egg, and seems to understand.
This is happening more often, lately. I’m not sure if it’s due to increasing demands, or due to me getting old. In any case, I’m trying hard to say “no” to more projects, even though that’s stupidly hard.
But I need to make myself space to be creative.
Anyway, I took today off. I took the dog for a walk, and I’m catching up on recipe blogs. And I made myself a Delicious Cocktail. It’s a Clover Club. I even made my own grenadine. And I walked over to the co-op to get pomegranate juice. (Our local co-op is a wonderland. It’s the size of a large broom closet and has one of everything. It’s also the only grocery store in town. I came home with pomegranate juice, habanero jelly, dark chocolate, and sticky brown rice. Seriously. Rural town of 3000 people.)
Here’s a photo of my pretty pink drink:
The home-made grenadine gives a lighter color than the commercial stuff, but the commercial stuff is 70% HFCS and 30% red dye #5 with a dash of citric acid. I’ll go with home made.
Earlier, I reported that Steles of the Sky had scored the coveted starred review from Kirkus. Well, it got one from Publishers Weekly, too. And much less spoilery! (There are spoilers for previous volumes in both reviews!)
I do indulge myself to quote:
Bear’s stellar conclusion to her Mongolian-flavored fantasy trilogy (after Range of Ghosts and Shattered Pillars) is a satisfying mix of traditional epic fantasy elements, flavored with original magic and grounded with mundane details that make the fantastic seem entirely possible. As the skies shift, reflecting the mortals in power and their associated gods, forces align to support or challenge wizard al-Sepehr as he wages war in the name of the Scholar-God. Warrior Re Temur and his allies travel to Dragon Lake to rally the opposition with Temur’s declaration of his assumption of the position of Khagan, heir to his grandfather’s empire. Battles are fought on both a personal level and a grand scale, with artifacts of obscure ancient civilizations, spirit animals, magical creatures, and poetry and politics. The conclusion is both untelegraphed and completely appropriate. Bear’s trilogy makes a rich contribution to epic fantasy’s expanding borders of emotion and invention.
And we didn’t quite get the starred review trifecta, alas… but Booklist really, really liked it:
Steles of the Sky
Bear, Elizabeth (Author)
Apr 2014. 384 p. Tor, hardcover, $26.99. (9780765327567). Tor, e-book, (9781429947688).
Bear concludes the epic begun in Range of Ghosts with her usual subversive flair. Temur and his companions begin this volume in the city of Reason, exploring ancient places and magics; they must make their way to Dragon Lake to declare Temur Khagan and gather an army against the terrible forces of Al-Sepehr. Edene, having effected her own rescue, contends with the terrible sun of Erem and the voice of the Green Ring. Al-Sepehr plans to use Saadet’s son, Quori Buqa’s son, to contest Temur’s claim on the Eternal Sky. There are, of course, other threads to be woven together: those who would fight at Temur’s side, and those who have taken the side of Al-Sepehr. Everything leads to a great and terrible battle at Dragon Lake, at which the very fate of the world may well be decided. The world of the Eternal Sky is a gorgeously fleshed-out one, and the characters without exception fascinating, sometimes maddening, and complex. This is a pleasing conclusion to an epic; it ties up the major threads but leaves many open questions about how the world will move forward. — Regina Schroeder
And to complete my heaviest blogging day in years, I think, a couple of cool things!
Spoilers for the whole freaking series, so be cautious of your clickthrough. But the takeaway makes it all worthwhile:
the overused term masterpiece justifiably applies.
The other cool thing is that two audio anthologies I was part of are nominated for Audie Awards!
One is Rip Off!, edited by Gardner Dozois, featuring a suite of stories that borrow their first line from a classic work. (Mine is from Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II. )The other is METAtropolis III: Green Space, edited by Jay Lake and Ken Scholes–third in a series of shared-world anthologies about a possible adaptive, non-apocalyptic future for Earth and the human race.
They are both nominated for the Best Anthology Award. So I’m competing against myself, and the best bit is that Mary Robinette Kowal is also in both. Maybe she can win one and I can win… crap, that won’t work.
Oh, and the best bit is, That Boy I Like is nominated for the best audiobook in the Fantasy category for The Republic of Thieves, along with reader Michael Page!
A FABLE OF SFWA:
WHY I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO GEORGE R. R. MARTIN TEN YEARS AGO AND HOW YOU CAN LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE
So, ten or so years ago, when I was a very new young published novelist, I was thrilled to send in my dues check to SFWA and (red alert) go wandering the forums for the first time. NB: This is the first of many errors I will be confessing to in this article.
While on those forums, I compounded my error by chiming in on a thread about “Why the new writers aren’t joining SFWA.” I pointed out that among my peers–who, even then, were showing signs of being the vanguard of the current Rainbow Age of Science Fiction–SFWA had a reputation for harboring a lot of people with racist, sexist, homophobic agendas.
Well, some people really didn’t want to hear it. In particular, I got into it with two of the same Rabid Weasels***** who still kick around the message boards, creating an aura of toxicity and self-complaints about how they should really be writing novels rather than getting into internet slapfights wherever they go*.** And to make a long story short, I quit SFWA in a huff, as is traditional in our tribe.
If I remember the timeline correctly****, some time later that same year (or early the next one) I got into a conversation (on his livejournal) with no less a light than George R.R. Martin about the same topic. And this is where I owe George an apology, which I make here, and publicly: because George took the time to point out to me that the way organizations change is through new blood joining them, and also tried to educate me about the work done by the Emergency Medical Fund, the Emergency Legal Fund, and Griefcom.
At the time, I was still way too stung to want to hear it.
In the decade or so since, I’ve realized that he was entirely correct, and I was entirely wrong.
I am a SFWA member again; I expect to be one until I die. Because I have come to understand that the people mouthing off on the forums are not in fact the heart of SFWA. The heart of SFWA are the people who do the hard boring work (volunteer work, mostly, by the way–I myself have done a very very small part of it and I am boggled by the scale of the chores that need to be done) of digging through paperwork and sending endless emails for Griefcom, for the Medical Fund, and so forth.
Yes, SFWA does have a certain percentage of Racist Sexist Homophobic Bigots. No, I don’t actually think we should be hunting them down and driving them out. (The Recent Unpleasantness With Mr. Beale being an exception to that rule, because Beale misused SFWA resources to pursue his disgusting agenda.) The reason I don’t think we should be driving out people whose politics differ from my own is simple: witchhunts are a flawed model, and easily turn in the hand.
But I also believe that when people voice their opinions, they can live with the pushback–both from colleagues, and from fans.
I do think we as writers who hold more progressive views should be joining SFWA. I think that SFWA is a valuable organization, and I think that viewing it through the lens of the worst-behaved members is tragic. SFWA is not a social club: it’s a professional organization serving some of the same purposes as a labor union.****** We don’t all have to get along and want to go drinking together to productively support the careers of speculative fiction writers.
I think SFWA should be striving for professionalism in the house organs; I support the SFWA Bulletin being edited with an eye towards modern recognition of equality of and dignity for all people. (I do understand that there are generational shifts in language and how it’s appropriate to refer to one’s colleagues and friends; I think we should strive not to come across as escapees from Mad Men or Life on Mars.)
The thing is, every organization of any size has people I am going to disagree with on many levels–personal and political. Hell, some of my close friends have politics I find incomprehensible, though I draw the line at conscious bigotry. The bulk of the people in SFWA are not horrible human beings; even some of the folks who have recently put their feet in their mouths are not horrible human beings.
But it’s not complicated to insist that female writers, trans* writers, queer writers, writers of color, writers of marginalized creeds need to be treated with respect by their (our) peers. And if that means everybody walking on eggshells for a while until we sort out how we can be comfortable around each other, well so fucking be it.
There is nothing wrong with being on your good behavior in a professional setting. It’s how most people go to work every day.
*For those of you who just nodded in recognition, yes. Them.
**I also got a number of totally reasonable reactions of dismay, and some calls for my peers to join the organization and change it from the inside***. And several lasting friendships, with people who actually listened to what I was trying to say.
***Oh, the sweet irony of hindsight.
****Forgive me. It was in another country, and several email clients ago.
*****This simile metaphor unfair to weasels