Monthly Archives: January 2007

If I Had to Choose

Okay, I realize that despite my tiara lust, my odds on the John W. Campbell Award for the Best New Writer in Science Fiction are long. So I’d like to take a moment to put myself forward for an award I really do have a shot at: the Bruce Campbell Award for the Best New Zombie Killer in Science Fiction.

I had two eligible zombie kills last year: “Three-Day Decayed Accountant” killed in Parking Garage, and “Best Friend Just Infected” killed in Heartbreaking Decision. I think the second one really puts me over the top (thanks, zombie E!).

Anyway, if you’re an eligible zombie-making plague survivor, please consider nominating me. I would really like to win Bruce Campbell.

It’s the Most Pimpin’est Time of the Year

I’m still getting acquainted with the rituals around my new and lovely writing home, but apparently it’s the time of year when we F&SF writer types are supposed to announce which of our stories are eligible for a Hugo Award (I have no idea how you’d pimp for an Obie…make sure the theatre critics at the Village Voice are well watered, maybe?).

So, yeah, I have two Hugo eligible short stories: “Just Do It”, originally in the July 2006 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and “Mayfly”, published on Strange Horizons in September.

And since those are my first pro publications, I’m eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for the Best New Writer in Science Fiction.

The winner of the Campbell Award gets a neato tiara, which is why I got into science fiction. For the tiaras. I looked around and thought, “How can I get me a tiara?” and after Win Beauty Pageant was rejected on practical grounds (ass too big, hair too small) I went to the next item on my list: Write Science Fiction, Win Campbell Award.

Once my Campbell eligibility runs out in 2008, I will have no choice but to move on to the third option: Marry Royalty. So seriously, WorldCon ’06 and ’07 attendees — nominate me for a Campbell Award. The Royals have enough trouble as it is.

Also, please nominate me for a pony.

Pass the Damn Catchup, Missy Mae!

Warning: this entry is going to be randomomer than usual, because I have a chinchillaload of strays to set down. And not just a regular chinchilla, but a giant, atomically enhanced chinchilla, like the ones you used to find roaming around the Mojave Desert in ’50s. You know, the ones the government created to eat up those giant, atomically enhanced ants.

Yes, chinchillas do so eat ants. Do not kid yourself that your prized Caledonian show ants are safe in the company of chinchillas, my friend.

Okay, have I established a randomness baseline? Excellent. Moving on:

  1. Here is my favorite bit from today’s application demo, spoken in reference to configurable graphical portlets and rendered by me into the poetical format it deserves:

    Some people work better with bars.
    Some people work better with pies.
    Some people work better with lists.

    Guess which kind of person I am. (See below. Hint: it’s not pie.)

  2. My girl JD (aka DJ Cherrybomb) has been writing music reviews, and they are both lovely and, she warns, not safe for work. Her HalloQueen review is particularly delish, with tasty bits like this:

    For the record, Whiskey is never allowed in my mouth ever. If I see Whiskey again, I am punching him in the face.

    Which makes me squeeee! in delight, not just because I’m keen on the sentences, but because, you know, more for me.

    (Fun fact about JD: if you want to get to her attention at a noisy party, all you have to do is say — in your regular speaking voice, mind, and from an entirely different room — “The Clash are overrated” and trust me, she will find you. Just remember to duck when she does find you. I saw her supercool spouse DB actually use this summoning spell, and I can attest to its effectiveness. Hey, that gives me an idea…

    JD! I just stared into a mirror and said “The Clash are overrated” three times. I expect you to appear in my bathroom in London any minute now.)

  3. Since the links above are NSFW (follow them from home or you’ll miss the picture of Hunter S. Thompson passed out under the bar with Ali G), I recommend three stories by the fabulous Cat Rambo for your work-surfing pleasure:

    “Magnificent Pigs” at Strange Horizons
    “Ten New Metaphors for Cyberspace” at Abyss and Apex,
    “The Dead Girl’s Wedding March” at Fantasy Magazine

    All as nifty as Cat herself, but I have an extra special warm and fuzzy for “The Dead Girl’s Wedding March”.

  4. E sent me a link to this below the phrase “Oh Danny Boyle, sci-fi, sci-fi is callin’…” For which I expect to forgive him any day now. Although I do have to ask whether SF didn’t call in 28 Days Later, since those were rampaging virus zombies and not, say, demon-driven Necronomicon zombies.

    Speaking of which, behold! Evil Dead: the Musical. Groovy.

Out of time, more catching up tomorrow!

The Week That Was

First, hooray — I was a good citizen about working on the book this week, and I’m on track for finishing the new material by the end of the month. Another week to put together the brightest, shiniest synopsis and cover letter I can manage, and it will be ready to go out well before my next access to 8 1/2 x 11 and domestic U.S. postage.

What else? Oh, I did lose a night working on the book when this kept me in Manchester on Thursday night.

See, I head up there about once a week for work. It’s about the same commute as L.A. to San Diego or D.C. to Philadelphia.

I should have I figured the commute was not meant to be when I stepped out of my building and was nearly knocked down by a gust of wind.

But I figured, you know, it’s wind. It’ll stop.

Well, yeah — bad call, that.

I ended up spending the night at the Manchester Airport Hilton. No overnight kit, of course. The hotel hooked me up with a toothbrush and toothpaste and the other basics. Discovery: it turns out that mornings are pretty easy if you have no hair products / styling equipment and no make up to put on and no decisions to make about your wardrobe. I was ready to leave the room 15 minutes after I got out of bed at 5:30 AM. It was like I suddenly endowed with Virtual Manhood.

Anyway, the whole exercise of spontaneous lodging got me thinking about how many different places I’ve crashed in the last year. So on the slow train back to London I made a list. The answer is twenty-three. Most of those are hotels, the others are the homes of friends and family I stayed with while traveling. Three of them are home-like enough that I’ve, say, unpacked more than one suitcase and changed a light bulb (one each in Seattle, D.C., and London).

Is this good? Bad? Natural? Unhealthy? No idea. It just Is, I guess.

Bet Me

Bet me a dollar I’ve never shared a Table of Contents with Susan Sontag, Don DeLillo, Stephen Greenblatt, and Harold Bloom.

Go on, bet me.

You lose.

Yeah, I’m surprised, too. Really surprised. Unpleasantly surprised, despite the illustrious company in the TOC. The book was published in 1999, and I just found out I was in it.*

It goes like this: back in 1993-1995 I was in the dramaturgy program at the American Repertory Theatre’s Institute for Advanced Theatre Training. Part of that training included producing newsletter articles and program notes for the plays we worked on.

A few of the things I wrote while a student at the Institute have been out on ART’s website for years (here and here, for example) and I have no problem with that. The newsletters and programs were free, the website can be accessed for free, and the website promotes the theatre in the same way the newsletters did.

But putting that same material in a book and then selling the book for $28.95, with their own copyright notice at the front but no notice of individually held copyright for each contributor, well, that’s different.

I suppose they could argue the newsletter article was work-for-hire, although there was no contract involved and I didn’t get paid for the articles I wrote. Quite the contrary: I was paying ART for the privilege of attending the Institute. I’m still paying off the student loans, as a matter of fact.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s keen they picked my article for inclusion in the book. There are interviews with Milan Kundera and David Mamet in it, for fuck’s sake. I am honored to have my little article in this book. But not being notified, let alone asked? Come on. The permanent address on file with the Institute was still valid in 1999. Hell, it’s still valid now. That means they didn’t even make an attempt to contact me before using my work.

If back in 1999 someone had said, “Hey, we want to put your article in a book, sign this!” I would have said, “Cool, thanks!” and signed. I probably wouldn’t even have had the sense to ask for a contributor’s copy, let alone a token payment for the rights.

But now? Now I’m pissed. Flattered, and pissed. Turns out it’s possible to be both at the same time.

And you know, really, it’s not about the money — I can’t image they’ve sold many copies of the book, and my pro rata share the authors’ cut of any profit means they probably owe me, what, a dollar? Twenty bucks? An apology? Do they owe me an apology? I don’t know; I’m still trying to determine my pisssed-to-flattered ratio. I’ll decide what to do once I’ve got that worked out.

* By a weird coincidence, the TOC also includes an article by Elizabeth C. Ramírez, a faculty member and one of my M.F.A. advisors at the University of Oregon. In fact, the book was probably being assembled while I was still showing up at Liz’s office once a week to talk about my adaptation of Doctor Faustus. I wonder if she knows she’s in ART’s book?

Harry Potter and the Wunch of Bankers*

I finally got around to watching the new Harry Potter trailer, and had to pause it at the opening shot because that camera is going through my neighborhood. Tweak the angle a little, and that’s pretty much the view out my windows. The direness of the scene made me think it was Voldemort’s POV, perhaps on his way to work at the Credit Suisse building. Yes, yes, I know, that’s totally out of line. Everybody knows Voldemort works for HSBC.

Anyway, the closing shot shows broomed Harry on the same flight path, chased or chasing or just headed into town for Equus rehearsals, I don’t know.

* A wunch is the slang plural for a group of bankers, like a pod of whales or a murder of crows. If you haven’t spotted the joke, it lies in transposing the initial letters. Not that I ever sit in meetings and think to myself, “What a wunch of bankers!”