Posts Tagged ‘authors’
Rest in Peace, Iain M. Banks. Creator of The Culture and changer of the world.
I started reading Iain M Banks just over a year ago. So recently that I’m not even sure I can call myself a fan. But fan I quickly became of the man who reinvented Space Opera. I was hooked a hundred pages into Look to Windward. A few books later, Use of Weapons (which shouldn’t be your first Culture novel) shattered me into a million peices and allowed me entry into a hallowed and secretive club of readers who had been equally shattered. We had each others help to put ourselves back together even though some pieces would be lost forever.
Mr. Banks, you have changed me. You have shown me a path towards what is possible, and for this Sir, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. A light has gone out in the Culture, and this time more than just a few Drones have taken notice. Imagine all those people on all those Orbitals, suddenly sad, and not knowing why. Of all the billions of beings in The Culture, why should one person matter? Because when you’re the one reading the story, or living the story, it fucking matters. that’s why. Your Culture books are more than escapism, more than transportive. They are simply more.
It’s only June, and I already feel like I’ve lost too many people this year. I didn’t have the chance to thank them, to tell them how I felt, to tell them what their works and actions meant to me. A grief counselor gave me a letter template, a self guided exercise to help us articulate why that person was so important to us. It’s a one-way conversation that helps you through the grieving process.
Lesson learned. Nothing is forever. Sometimes promises are broken with no hard feelings. I need to tell people how I feel before it’s too late. I need to write those letters now, before it’s too late.
I’ll let you in on a little Use-of-Weapons-eque secret: this post isn’t really about Iain Banks.
this post is about how to cheat time.
Time steals everything from us, but more so because we willingly give it the power to. This is my request, to anyone reading this post: Write those letters now. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, do not wait. Did someone have a positive influence on your life? Did someone unknowingly help you through hard times? Let them know. I suggest writing a letter because I am shit at verbal communications, and a letter allows the person on the receiving end some time to process what you’ve just said. Written communication means less awkwardness later.
This is not permission to start stalking someone. Do not mail people dead chipmunks as a token of your love, and I better not see any marriage proposals on twitter. Just send them a letter or an e-mail. These are the people who deserve far more than “thanks for being there for me” or “omg I love your books, when is your next one coming out???”. Tell them WHY their existence in your life was important to you. Cheat time.
We have a very special guest today, someone I’ve actually met in person! John and I met a few years ago at an airport when flights were delayed (cancelled? changed? I don’t remember) and a herd of passengers ran together to a different gate and then sat around chatting while waiting for whatever people wait for after rushing all the way across an airport terminal. Just goes to show, you should always be friendly to your fellow passengers at an airport. You never know who you’ll meet!
John is a writer, podcaster, editor and all around Creative Storyteller Guy. Working the bridge the gap between indie authors and authors who publish traditionally, his WALK THE FIRE anthologies are part of the new paradigm of how authors reach their audience. The second anthology in the series is in the middle of it’s Kickstarter campaign, and features everything from Hugo nominated authors to indie authors, to music and artwork too.
Check out the WALK THE FIRE Kickstarter page for a video about the anthology, info on contributors, how to get yourself tuckerized, stretch goals and more.
Sounds damn awesome, if you ask me. But why are we asking me, when we can ask John instead?
Today’s guest post is brought to us by Jim Black from Science Fiction Times. Jim’s blog is jam packed with all my favorite things – science fiction of the last hundred years, graphic novels and comics, Doctor Who, Convention news, thoughts on the genre, and how his experiences with science fiction have evolved over the years. He and I also share a fondness for the original Star Trek series. Please give a warm welcome to Jim!
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Where No Writer Has Gone Before, by Jim Black
Everyone remembers the first time they hear those magical words These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise… spoken during the opening credits of Star Trek (the original series). Let’s take a short journey back to the time I first discovered this legendary series.
I fondly remember running from the school bus into our house, tossing my books on a chair, and turning on the television to channel 5 out of Washington D.C. My parents had just made the big switch from antenna to cable television. Now we could watch half a dozen channels instead of the old two that we could pick up with the antenna. By accident I had discovered a show that came on at 4PM. This fantastic show dealt with explorers traveling the universe in search of other races. Every weekday, channel 5 would show another episode. Four o’clock became my favorite time to watch television. What made the original series so great? It was a combination of many things (in no particular order).
The Enterprise. I was addicted to reading science fiction by this point in my life but this was the first time I was able to see a spaceship in action. The Enterprise was almost another character on this show. It carried the crew wherever they wanted to go. With Mister Scott in Engineering, it was always able to go a little faster than any other ship in the Federation.
Hubby and I spent the weekend away and had a delightfully nerdy and book-wonderful weekend.
Saturday was a board gaming party, where much Vegas Casino building, nun chasing, alien blasting and monster slashing fun was had by all. Also pies. I never realized there was such a thing as too much pie.
Sunday we found ourselves on the outskirts of Michigan State University. Had someone told me the MSU campus was that lovely, I’d have ended up there instead of my alma mater. so many brick buildings! We went to Curious Books, where I picked up a Steven Brust, some Cordwainer Smith, some Neal Asher, a Peter Watts, and a few other goodies. Great bookstore. if you are in Lansing, hit up Curious Books. Nicely organized store, friendly and helpful staff, and half the basement was old scifi magazines and anthologies, how sweet is that? North edge of campus, down the street from the super awesome bubble tea place and the very strange looking art museum, you can’t miss it.
After Curious, we hit up Schuler’s books and music. not much of a scifi section, and very much with the vibe of a chain bookstore, this isn’t my usual hangout. Ahhh, but this afternoon at Schuler’s was so very different. they bring in plenty of authors, but the woman they brought in this past Sunday, is someone very special and dear to my heart. Her books have held my heart in their pages, have caressed my face with their imagery, and they usually make me cry at the end. tears of agony, tears of happiness, tears of beauty, sometimes all at the same time. She’s an amazing author, and a friendly, funny, snarky, darkly brilliant person.
here’s a hint:
When Tim Powers’ recent novel Hide Me Among The Graves became available, half the speculative fiction fans I know cheered, and the other half said “Tim who?”. Have you enjoyed the recent Burton and Swinburne steampunk trilogy from Mark Hodder? How about Connie Willis’s time travel books? Did you like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, or maybe Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon? If you answered Yes to any of those questions, Tim Powers is an author you should be reading. Also, he’s got some major street cred – when you and I were in pre-school, he was chillin’ with Blaylock and Jeter and helping define what many of us now know as steampunk. Tim Powers is truly one of my heroes of literature, one of the authors I go to when I need a comfort read, something I know I’m going to enjoy, something that is guaranteed to knock my socks off. When I first read The Anubis Gates around 10 years ago, I didn’t know who Powers was, but I knew I wanted more.
Powers writes primarily alternate history, but he does it in a way no one else does. He likes to use what I call the “pockets of I-don’t-know” theory, where he finds pockets in history where something odd was reported, where someone was reported acting very unusual, or went missing for a few days and wouldn’t tell anyone where they’d been, or just something strange happened. The fiction of Tim Powers lives in these pockets, he’s writing the secret history of what really happened. or as he puts it:
“I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar – and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all.”
Intrigued? Here’s a few more reasons you should be reading Tim Powers.
He’s a “gateway” author. Go the bookstore or the library, and Powers will probably be found in fiction, not science fiction. He’s perfect for people who “aren’t really into all that weird scifi stuff”. Do you like spy thrillers? Try Declare, about Kim Philby’s true mission, which might have involved genies, and something horrific living on Mount Ararat. Prefer contemporary dramas with some suspense and maybe a smidgen of mythology? Try Last Call, which takes place in Las Vegas, and touches on some of the mythological opportunities that might have helped the luckiest city in the world, because destiny is the ultimate gamble, right?
Mr. Bennett’s debut novel, Mr. Shivers was published in 2010, and while that novel was winning literary awards left and right, he was busy publishing his second novel, The Company Man. His fourth novel, American Elsewhere is scheduled to hit store shelves this coming winter. And beyond all of that wonderfulness, he agreed to let me ask him a bunch of strange questions. What a gentleman!
Everyone, please give a big round of applause to Robert Jackson Bennett!
LRR: The Troupe focuses around Vaudeville performers and troupes that traveled the country in the early 1900′s from theater to theater. Did you spend any time in the theater when you were younger? Are you a fan of music and theater of the early 1900′s?
RJB: I was a musician, actually – a classically trained violist. So I know a fair bit about prodigies like George, having met a few in my time. Some were hilariously self-involved, like George, and others were like the little circus dogs who only know how to perform, and haven’t ever done anything else. It could be a bit sad, in a way.
I’m a huge fan of early 20th century comedy – the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton… I still haven’t seen that many comedians who can do so much with so little.
Some people don’t get the Marx Brothers. Personally, I don’t get people who don’t get the Marx Brothers.
LRR: Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what got you started down the path to “Hi, I’m an author!”
RJB: I kind of think so. I think my parents might have raised me to be a writer without knowing it. My first word was “Melville,” if that gives you any idea, because that was our dog’s name. They were always giving me books and discussing them with me. It was expected of you to be culturally informed. And at some point in time I started thinking up variations of the things they were showing me or books I read on my own, trying to make them better and make them the sort of story I wanted to read, and eventually this just translated into writing.
LRR: What authors and books have inspired you over the years?
RJB: Oh, geez. A bunch. I grew up reading Stephen King, Madeleine L’Engel, Roald Dahl; then it translated into Neil Gaiman, John le Carre, Susana Clarke, David Foster Wallace; and lately I’ve been reading a lot of David Mitchell and Katherine Ann Porter.
I’m chiefly fascinated by work that examines one idea or a set of ideas. I still think of a novel as the most fun kind of thought experiment, trying to glean truths from fabulous lies, setting things in motion and smashing them together and seeing what’s left and what isn’t. I’d say most of my novels fall under this category.
just a quickie reminder (quiche, anyone? if you know that joke, raise your hand!) that our read along of Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies starts this week. Hosted by Dark Cargo, Ashley at SFSignal, My Awful Reviews, Lynn’s Book Blog and yours truly, our first discussion will be next weekend.
Get the details (reading schedule, etc) here.
AND to add to your wonderful weekend, Jennie Ivens (@Autumn2May), staff member at Fantasy Faction, went to the Lynch & Bear reading the other night in New York, where she got a recording of Scott Lynch reading from The Mad Baron’s Mechanical Attic, a prequel of sorts to The Lies of Locke Lamora.
yes, you read that right: reading. prequel. novella.
Also, infuriating guards and a very odd courtyard garden. just go click the link, watch the reading, and we’ll all start going nuts for Red Seas Under Red Skies next weekend.
And thanks to Bente from The Bente Way of Life for providing us with the great read-along graphic!
This past Saturday, I had the wonderful experience of seeing Tobias Buckell at a local bookstore. He spoke about his youth in the Caribbean, growing up on a boat (and having very little space for books!), being very in tune with weather and weather changes, and moving to the United States after a devastating series of hurricanes destroyed his home. Without a doubt, Toby Buckell is one of the most authentic people I have ever had the honor of meeting.
He talked a bit about his newest book, Arctic Rising, and how he serendipitously had perfect timing for a near-future thriller about climate change. A life time lover of all things James Bond, Arctic Rising has plenty of winks and nods to 007 fans. The book is getting rave reviews, you should check some of them out!
While I love the idea of techno-thrillers, I often find that I prefer that style of story on the screen. Luckily for book snobs like me, Buckell has his far-future scifi adventure space opera Xenowealth series, which started with Crystal Rain in 2006 and thanks to a Kickstarter project will soon have a fourth book for fans to devour. I’ve got a copy of Crystal Rain waiting for me at the library, and after hearing Buckell talk about the series I can’t wait to dive into it. And he did graciously sign my copy of Robots:The New AI anthology. His short story, A Jar of Goodwill, was one of my favorite entries, it was just so wonderfully and unexpectedly strange, and I love that!
Beyond the name dropping and link splatting, I actually have a point to this post: In the past year I have been ridiculously lucky in having opportunities to meet authors. And in some cases, I only had to drive down the road to the local bookstore.
if you are reading this blog, there’s a good chance you have these same opportunities.
Do you have family owned bookstores in your town? Ask to be put on their mailing list, or check out their website. chances are, they have authors come in a few times a year. Libraries do this too, sign up for their newsletters. As do the big guys like Barnes and Noble. Even if it’s an author you’ve never read, but maybe only ever heard of, go. that’s how I got completely hooked on Sarah Zettel.
do you live in a bookstore desert? Order everything off Amazon and haven’t stepped foot in a brick and mortar store since before your kids were born? Library only brings in authors of genres you aren’t interested in? Authors like to travel too, see the sights, drive eight hours up the highway. check out the websites of your favorite authors, see if they have a schedule of where they are going to be and when. Tweet them and ask them.
You’d be amazed at how many cool authors live not too far away from you. You might have to drive an hour. They probably drove six. It’s worth it. go.
still can’t make it happen? well, there’s always Skype.
I recently reviewed John Love’s debut novel FAITH. A brilliant novel, FAITH is the story of who we are and what we’ve become, of our place in the larger universe. More intimately speaking, it’s the story of Commander Aaron Foord, the sociopathic crew of his Outsider ship the Charles Manson, and the alien spacecraft know as Faith that they’ve been sent to destroy. The Charles Manson is the last hope of the Commonwealth, but which is worse, the cure or the disease?
Captivating and frightening, once I picked FAITH up I could not put it down. You can read my review here, and visit John Love’s website for more information about the book and links to other reviews and interviews. If you like what you see, I encourage you to buy the book from your favorite local bookstore (no local bookstore? here’s the Amazon link for trade paperback and kindle).
Please welcome author John Love, as he answers a few questions and sheds some light on how this brilliant novel came into existence. By the way, for those of you who are keeping count, this is my very first author interview!
Thanks for joining us, can you tell us a little more about yourself? What do you do when you’re not writing?
I spent most of my working life in the music industry. I was Managing Director of PPL, the world’s largest record industry copyright organisation. When I retired I started doing things in the community aimed at quality-of-life issues: I belong to a number of safer neighbourhood, conservation and community development bodies. I’m also a Governor of a local school for special-needs children.
Apart from my family, London and cats, my favourite things include books and book collecting, cars and driving, football and Tottenham Hotspur, old movies and music.
For a debut novel, FAITH is incredibly impressive. Can you tell us a little bit about what went into creating it?
Thank you. Perhaps I could answer in two parts: Process, and Research.
Process first, by which I mean how the idea – the basic premise – of the book came to me. I could list some of the books or films or other influences which I’d carried for years and which combined to make the premise of FAITH (I won’t, because they come up later) but I’m not sure what else they combined with, and where it came from. And (most relevant to your question) how it came.
I do know that the premise for FAITH came fully-formed, and all at once – I could actually tell you the day it came, what I was doing and where I was. It came years before I sat down to write it, because of the demands of my job. But when I did write it, the premise remained completely unaltered.
Vintage SF wrap up coming soon. . . in the meantime, let’s learn a little more about one of my favorite science fiction authors, Frank Herbert.
I’ve been reading Frank Herbert (1920 – 1986) my entire adult life. I picked up Dune sometime when I was in high school, and never looked back. Yes, he is famous for the Dune series, but Frank Herbert wrote a ton of stand alone science fiction as well. Most of his works carry at least some of his trademarks: dialog and plots on many levels, commentaries on ecology and how society responds to it’s environment, and (mis)communications between disparate groups.
Although he’d been selling pulp adventure short stories starting in the mid 40’s, Herbert’s first science fiction sale wasn’t until 1952, and like many of his contemporaries, his earliest sales were to short story magazines. His first novel, published in 1955 was The Dragon in the Sea (also published as Under Pressure), about the crew of a submarine who suspect one among their number is a traitor. I read this novel a few years ago, and I remember it being incredible tense and suspenseful.