Nine Lands + photo sale!

My latest short story collection, The Nine Lands, is out now! You can get it from Book View Cafe, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Google Play, iTunes, Kobo, and Amazon US or UK. This is my third short story collection, after Ars Historica and Maps to Nowhere, plus the mini-collections Monstrous Beauty and Never After. Bit by bit, I’m getting my short fiction back out there!

Also, don’t forget that I’m currently running a holiday photo sale! Of course anything in my galleries is available, but this set of photos are already printed and ready to ship, no lead time necessary (which becomes an issue around the holidays). Prices range from $50-$100; if you’re interested, get in touch!

further thoughts on The Mandalorian

Yyyyyyyeah. I’m not going to bother watching any more, and I can’t find any particularly good reason to recommend that anybody else start.

It isn’t actively bad. The music (done by Ludwig Göransson, same guy who scored Black Panther) is great. But the second episode — of eight — had zero screen time with female characters, leaving us at a mere two minutes in over an hour of TV, and a quarter of the season. And furthermore, the pacing is glacial: the second ep, which is thirty-two minutes long, spent most of that time on a series of fight scenes. I can sum up the entirety of the meaningful plot by saying “he finds out that the bounty he’s been hired to bring back can use the Force, and then they leave the planet.” Everything else? It’s filler. Spectacle. Re-iteration of stuff we already know (like “there are other bounty hunters on the trail”) or else stuff that does absolutely nothing to forward the narrative. It just gives our nameless Clint Eastwood expy more reasons to be a badass and fight things. However well-executed the filler may be, at the end of the second episode I had even less interest and less reason to care than I did at the end of the first.

The Mandalorian

Last night we watched the first episode of the new Star Wars series, The Mandalorian. So far, color me . . . profoundly unimpressed.

The thought that kept running through my head as I watched it was, “This feels like it’s trying to soothe all the guys who are upset that somebody’s gotten girl cooties all over their Star Wars.” The episode is thirty-nine minutes long; two of those involve a female character. I guess it never occurred to Jon Favreau that this might be a problem? I know Gina Carano’s been cast in a major role, but a) we haven’t seen her yet and b) uh, this is 2019. Having a Smurfette does not really solve anything. Why wasn’t the guild official our title character is working with written as a woman instead? Or the mysterious person who hires him? Or the alien who guides him to where his target is? (That alien points out that the creatures they’re riding are all female. Maybe I was supposed to count that as representation.)

Meanwhile, the nameless protagonist is a full-on Clint Eastwood expy, now with bonus helmet so you can’t even see his facial expressions. (I pity Pedro Pascal; even the best actor in the world is going to have a hard time making a character interesting through a sheet of steel.) He is laconic and badass, and with those five words I’ve basically summed up his entire personality thus far. He shoots people a lot. A quote from an Entertainment Weekly article describes him as having “questionable moral character” — because yeah, that’s what I need more of in my life right now. Maybe he’ll grow and change over the course of the series, becoming a better person . . . but see above re: feeling like the mission here is to reassure Star Wars dudes that they need not fear being contaminated with any girl cooties.

I will give it this much credit: of the eight episodes in the first season, three are directed by women, and five by people of color. But since none of the scripts are written by women, and six of the eight are Favreau’s work — well, if this is a sample of what I should expect, then I’m not at all sure I care to continue.

How would you rather be remembered?

On Twitter the other week I posed the question:

Would you rather be remembered as having a large body of work with both some amazing things and some crap ones, or a small body of work where everything was a gem?

The results were interesting. Sixty-one percent voted for a small body of all gems; thirty-nine percent for the larger mixed body. In hindsight, I should have phrased my question better (bad anthropologist; no biscuit), because people may have interpreted “amazing things” as being not the same thing as “gems,” which was how I intended it. But maybe not; it’s entirely possible people knew what I meant, and that’s just where their particular preferences lie.

Me, I’m on the side of “large mixed body.” Because here’s the thing: even a really amazing work isn’t going to speak to absolutely everybody, and even a less-than-perfect story can brighten someone‘s day. If I have a large body of work, there will probably be more people overall who really felt touched by something I wrote — even if discussions of my writing include people saying “yeah, but let’s just pretend X never happened.”

Plus — as several people pointed out in their responses on Twitter — we can’t really control what is and is not received as a classic or a groundbreaking work. We can try our best, but in the end, that judgment is in the hands of other people. We can’t fully control how much work we produce, either; factors like health, day jobs, family demands, and the like will also cut into that. But it’s more within our grasp than reception is. If you step up to the plate a bunch of times, you won’t hit a home run every time, but your odds having at least a few are better than if you only took half a dozen swings.

So I’d rather produce a lot of work, even if some of it is meh or even (in hindsight) a bit embarrassing. And maybe somewhere in that pile, I’ll manage a few gems.

Holiday photo sale!

I’ve accumulated a number of photos left over from con art shows, and since I’m unaccustomed to dealing with a type of business where I need to wrangle inventory, I’d like to sell some of these and get them out of my house. 😛 Therefore, I give you the 2019 SWAN TOWER PHOTO SALE! Excellent for gift-giving, if you celebrate a holiday in the near future that involves such things. Or a holiday later on that involves such things. Or you know someone who has a birthday. Or you have a birthday of your own. Or just because it’s a day ending in Y. All of these are good reasons to buy!

You can peruse the photos in this gallery. All of them are ready to hang; the black-and-white ones are printed on acrylic panels with French cleats on the back, and most of the color ones are “thinwraps” with keyholed foam blocks on the back. (The exceptions are the July Column and the Point Lobos tree.) Sizes range from 8×8 to 8×16. Prices range from $50-$100 plus shipping, with the black-and-white acrylic panels, the Mongolian archer, and the skull + driftwood being on the higher end due to size or materials, and the vortex ceiling being the $50 example due to being smaller. If you’d like to purchase one of them, get in touch!

And as usual, you’re always welcome to order photos from the rest of my catalogue. Those can be printed on any medium you like — paper for framing, thinwraps of paper or canvas, regular canvas wraps, acrylic panels, metal, glass, wood, etc. — and in a variety of sizes. Drop me a line to discuss options!

The Eternal Knot!

Publication is a bit of an odd beast when it isn’t going through normal book distribution channels, but as near as I can tell, today is the release date for The Eternal Knot, my Legend of the Five Rings novella! If you’re interested in the setting of Rokugan but don’t want to dive into the middle of the ongoing storyline, this makes a much better entry point; it clearly takes place in a much larger setting than is necessary for the story at hand, but it doesn’t require pre-existing knowledge of canon to make sense or be enjoyable. (And if you want more samples, flavored to the various clans, there are three other novellas out now: The Sword and the Spirits, Whispers of Shadow and Steel, and Across the Burning Sands.)

If you want to get this from a brick-and-mortar store (which is a very useful thing to do in general), you’re more likely to find it at your Friendly Local Gaming Store, though I think it’s possible that places like Barnes and Noble might be able to order it.

I had a lot of fun writing this one. The novellas are giving us L5R writers a chance to explore characters at greater depth, and to take the story into corners of the Empire that are too far off the beaten path to make it into the main story. And since mystical tattooed monks are basically how I got involved with L5R in the first place, it’s a pleasure to play around with their world in this story!