If you missed yesterday’s Twitter giveaway for Driftwood, never fear; Beneath Ceaseless Skies has another opportunity for you. All you have to do is go to this post and leave a comment naming your favorite short story of mine (whether published in BCS or elsewhere). There are already a number of comments — and I confess, it’s fascinating to see what people choose! You have until midnight Pacific time on Wednesday, August 12th to toss your hat into the ring.
Posts Tagged ‘driftwood’
August is just around the corner, which means we are a mere two weeks from the release of Driftwood! I’m frankly astonished at how good the reviews have been so far: stars from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus, and a whole flood of glowing posts in the last week or so from independent bloggers. I knew the short stories tended to attract fans from the very start, but the nature of this novel is peculiar enough (being a fix-up of those short stories) that I wasn’t sure how it would be received. So far the answer is “really, really well” — and come Friday, August 14th, everybody will be able to get their hands on it!
As of right now, we’re about two months from the publication of Driftwood. It’s been getting some amazing reviews: I already linked to the starred review from Publishers Weekly; now that’s been joined by a starred review from KIRKUS, of all places — I think this might only be the second or third star I’ve pried out of them in my career to date. The full text is here, but the quotable bit is:
Through these stories, a portrait of Last as a tragic figure, accidental deity, and distant friend emerges. The patchwork quilt of his acquaintances’ tales mirrors the very nature of Driftwood itself, slowly peeling back the veil to reveal the living—and departed—people who make up this strange and riveting new cosmos. Readers will close the cover aching to read more about Last and his world.
(Also, the beginning of the review calls me a “veteran author.” When the &#$% did that happen? I mean, okay, sure, my first book came out fourteen years ago . . . and okay, sure, I’ve got over a dozen novels out . . . but maaaaaaaan does that feel weird.)
I’ve also gotten some gorgeous blurbs from authors I hugely admire: Karen Lord called it “bittersweet and rich, like fine chocolate,” and both Mary Robinette Kowal and Max Gladstone referred to it as “haunting.” I could wish that the whole “hope in the face of apocalypse” thing (PW’s description) weren’t quite so timely right now, but on the other hand, it also feels like the right timing. While it’s not a great year to be putting out books, if there’s one thing I’ve written that I would want to see in the world right now, it’s this one.
And, I mean. Look at that cover. Don’t you want one of your very own?
When all this quarantine business was just getting started, Maya Chhabra had a very clever idea: just as Boccacio’s Decameron was based around the idea of a group of quarantined people in a time of plague telling stories to entertain each other (think Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but in a house), she would start up a charity Patreon for a New Decameron, posting short stories, poems, and novel excerpts from participating writers, with the bulk of the proceeds going to Cittadini del Mondo, a charity running a library and clinic for refugees in Rome.
While I’m here, I’d like to say something else. Right now and in the next few weeks, a lot of areas in the United States are loosening their pandemic restrictions. In far too many places, they’re not doing it because the disease has been confined to a traceable amount, nor because they’ve got sufficient testing to catch and suppress future surges; they’re doing it because, well, we’ve been doing this for a while now, and we’re bored, or because any number of bodies are worth sacrificing on the altar of our economy. If you live in an area where the virus is still a threat, I urge you to remain as locked-down as you can. Both to protect yourself from the people who think this has all been blown out of proportion and it’s “just a bad flu” (or worse, that it’s a politically-motivated conspiracy), and to do what small part you can to blunt the impact of opening up too much too soon. The New Decameron has been running for fifty-four days now; that’s fifty-four days’ worth of content to entertain you at home. After which there are many ebooks and streaming media and other ways to alleviate the boredom. If you’re someone who can’t remain sequestered at home, I hope you’re able to stay safe regardless.
Brennan (the Memoirs of Lady Trent series) plays with the concept of secondary-world fantasy with this fresh, immersive introduction to the land of Driftwood, a patchwork world where other fantasy worlds come to die. As each otherworld is pulled toward the Crush, the churning center of Driftwood where their last vestiges mix and crumble before vanishing forever, its inhabitants must adapt to life in Driftwood or disappear along with their homes. The novel’s form mirrors the cobbled-together nature of its world, composed primarily of self-contained episodes unified only by the shadowy figure of Last, the sole survivor of a world that Driftwood consumed long ago. Many who pass through Driftwood seek Last’s aid, desperate to preserve their cultures and stop the inevitable and believing he knows the secrets to surviving the Crush. Brennan skillfully builds a multiplicity of worlds, painting each unique and fully developed culture with bold, minimalist strokes and, though readers don’t get to spend much time with any single character, rendering each member of the sprawling cast with impressive nuance and subtlety. Exploring found family, adaptation, and hope in the face of apocalypse, Brennan imbues this high-concept fantasy with a strong emotional core. Fantasy fans will be thrilled.
. . . I might have had some discussions with Jaymee Goh, my editor, about the relevance of the subject matter in the current political climate. That was before the pandemic got rolling. I wish it weren’t even more relevant now, but as pull quotes go, I’ll gladly own “hope in the face of apocalypse.”
From the Department of News I’ve Been Sitting on for Ages . . .
Ever since I published the first Driftwood short story, I’ve had people asking me whether I would ever write a novel set there. To which I’ve always said no, because a novel is the antithesis of what Driftwood is about. In a setting about fragments, a large, coherent story seems entirely out of place.
A fix-up, on the other hand — that’s a different matter. 😀
I’ve teamed up with the lovely folks at Tachyon Publications to create Driftwood, Larger Edition: all the existing short fiction, now embedded in and given context by a frame story, with a brand-new novelette to shed light on a heretofore unexplored part of the setting. In other words, a book that sort of epitomizes the nature of Driftwood itself. (With a freaking beautiful cover. Look at that typesetting!)
So fans of the series, rejoice! You’ll be able to get your hands on this July 17th of next year.
In the course of all the protesting and petitioning and calling my representatives and so forth, I remind myself that my normal activities can also be used to make a difference in the world.
The VeriCon Charity Auction is live right now, with proceeds going to benefit Cittadini del Mondo, which is working to help refugees. My own contribution there is a signed copy of Cold-Forged Flame, but there are many, many other items on offer, and the cause is a very good one.
I’m also involved with Children of a Different Sky, an anthology of stories about refugees, whose profits will be used to benefit same. My intent is to write a new Driftwood story for it: that whole setting is about the survivors of calamity carrying on in a new place, which makes it very fitting for this kind of project.
The last thing is a bit more indirect, but still important. I’m one of the judges for Fantastical Times, a writing contest for Tampa Bay-area high school students. I know the likelihood that anyone reading this post being eligible to enter is small, but I want to mention it anyway. Because right now I feel especially bad for our younger generation, the people looking ahead to the future, wondering what they’re going to inherit from us — and wondering if they can do anything about it. Their voices matter. They’re the ones who are going to have to deal with the mess we leave behind. If you know of a similar opportunity for kids in your area, promote it. We need their vision, and we need them to know we’re listening.
My understanding is that it’s too late at this point to actually withdraw; his name will be on the printed ballots. But he no longer wishes to be in the running, and therefore would prefer people not vote for him.
Why am I posting about this? Because he’s put together a free sampler of material from IGMS — basically the stuff he might have put into the Hugo Voters’ Packet had he stayed in. And there’s a story of mine in there: “A Heretic by Degrees,” the first Driftwood story I ever published.
Schubert approached me ahead of time and asked whether I would be willing to let him reprint that story in the sampler, given the controversy around the Hugos. I told him I was fine with that, and in turn, I asked and received his blessing to talk about my relationship with IGMS.
As many (but possibly not all) of you know, the full name of IGMS is Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. And Card, as many (but possibly not all) of you know, has become increasingly vocal over the years about his homophobia. This is, to put it mildly, not a position I support — which makes my relationship with the magazine complicated.
When I sold “Heretic” to IGMS, Card’s homophobia and other offensive behaviors were not fully on my radar, and I had not yet begun to think through such matters to the extent that I do today. I was just looking for a place to sell the story, that would pay me a decent rate. Later on, that changed: I knew full well what he was like when I sold them “Love, Cayce,” which is the other story of mine they’ve run. By then, my decision hinged on two things:
1) Card’s name is on the magazine, but he isn’t the editor. He hasn’t been the editor since 2006, and while he has occasionally selected a story for the magazine, this is rare. The vast majority of what you read in IGMS is there because of Schubert, who is not taking his marching orders from Card.
2) It pleased me to take money from a magazine bearing Card’s name for a story that has a lesbian relationship in it. (It’s a small detail, not the focus of the story — which is part of why Schubert didn’t pick “Love, Cayce” for the sampler. But it’s there, and it’s treated as both positive and unremarkable.)
And this brings us back to the sampler. Schubert told me his reason for putting it together was, he wanted to showcase what IGMS stands for, under his leadership. Because he is not Orson Scott Card, and he is not running a magazine that stands for homophobia, racism, misogyny, or any other kind of bigotry. I’m not claiming IGMS is a flawless paragon of diversity and progressive ideals; to be honest, I don’t read it regularly. (These days I don’t read any magazines regularly, not even BCS: most of my fiction consumption has been novels.) But it is not a microphone for Card’s views. Nor is it the kind of straight white male conservative bastion the Puppies seem to love so much. Schubert was not asked if he wanted to be on the Puppy slate; he does not applaud their tactics. And he does not agree with their bigotry.
Jim Hines posted recently against the polarization of the field, the sense that you have to “take sides” (and of course in that view there are only two sides, with no crossover or nuance or conflicting agendas). In the end, I think of my stories in IGMS, and my professional interactions with Schubert, as being a rejection of the notion of “sides.” As I told Schubert in email, I have no idea what his politics are, and I don’t care. Or perhaps it would be better to say: what matters to me about his politics is how they influence his professional behavior. I have seen no sign that he’s using his editorial position to promote bigotry; on the contrary, he deliberately crafted the sampler to be 50/50 men/women, and a quick glance shows me at least four non-white writers on the TOC. Nor has he been so publicly hateful that I can’t avoid knowing about it, a la Card. Could I judge him for keeping company with Card, for being willing to run a magazine that bears the name of a man who is so interested in hurting gay people? Sure. And I’m sure there are people out there who judge him in precisely that way. I can’t really fault them for that. But if I’d let that stop me back in 2011, IGMS wouldn’t have run a story about a bunch of second-generation D&D-style adventurers, one of whom happens to be a lesbian, getting into all kinds of trouble.
I don’t want to help build the echo chamber. I’d rather tear the walls down.
So that is where I stand. I haven’t sold IGMS anything since 2011, though I did send them one piece in 2012. Whether or not I send them anything else will depend on how much short fiction I manage to write, whether I think any of it fits with the magazine, and whether think I can sell it somewhere else that will pay me more — no offense to Mr. Schubert. 🙂 They aren’t my top market, but they aren’t off the list, either. And I’m happy to see “A Heretic by Degrees” included in the sampler, because I’m happy to be an example of what Schubert wants IGMS to stand for.
For the Driftwood fans out there (I know there are more than a few of you), Wilson Fowlie has read “The Ascent of Unreason” for Podcastle. If you missed it when BCS podcasted it, or when they published the text version, head on over and give it a listen!
Also, in the “good causes” category of links: Pat Rothfuss, the brain behind the Worldbuilders fundraising charity for Heifer International, has decided he isn’t pouring enough time and effort into benefiting the world, so he’s expanded his enterprise into selling signed first editions from authors who wish to donate a few. I think I sent in ten copies of The Tropic of Serpents; no idea how many are left, but (as of me posting this) there’s at least one. The money goes to charity, so if you want a book and the warm glow of knowing you’ve done something good, this is a splendid chance to get both at once.
(I don’t have five things to make a post, but I do have this: another shout-out for A Natural History of Dragons over on io9, this time in the context of “10 Great Novels That Will Make You More Passionate About Science.” It’s a list that makes for some pretty interesting reading, I must say.)
I’ve done a number of interviews and guest posts lately, so here’s a quick link dump:
Five Underused Mythological Creatures at Fantasy Cafe, in which I talk about weird things in bestiaries that show up all too rarely in novels.
Interview at Fantasy’s Ink; they ask me about my favorite characters and what I consider to be the most important element in a book.
Another interview, this one with Mike Underwood, who leverages the fact that we’ve known each other for more than ten years to ask me a lot of fabulous questions about gaming, Driftwood, and what martial arts master I would train with if I could.
“Time, Writing, and Tricks of the Trade”, a guest post at Bookworm Blues where I talk about the challenges of writing a sequel fifteen years after the first book.
“Kick(start)ing Myself into Scrivener”, a post at Book View Cafe on my first-ever attempt to write a novel in a program other than Wordperfect.
And finally, one that isn’t mine, but mentions me and makes for entertaining reading: Science in Fantasy Novels is More Accurate Than in Science Fiction.