Summer arrived with a bang as it always does here; from icy winds to sweltering heat (sweltering = slightly above room temperature) in one day.
Living off freelance work and occasional employments doesn’t leave much room for vacation, but I’ll try to take some time off in July. Until then, I have a strict schedule to help me finish the big heap of almost-done drafts on my (virtual) desk, do some manuscript critiquing, prepare a weekend course in SF/F and a summer course for SF/F beginners (writing, that is).
After the bunch of stories that came out in March and April, the last one in the row is “Moonstruck” over at Shadows & Tall Trees Magazine. After that, no new material for a little while. I’ll post new sales and appearances here, of course. Meanwhile, I’ll pop up at European conventions here and there and post things like flamingo drawings and reminisce about how music was better in the 80′s.
“I have to post something on the blog”, I told Janetta.
“Okay”, she said. “What’s your spirit animal?”
1: Normal state. 2: Whenever anything unexpected happens, such as if the phone rings or a rat farts across the street.
I finally got to see Fields of the Nephilim live. They haven’t been in Sweden since 1987, so this was a Big Deal. I haven’t listened to them regularly for many years, so it was very nice to realize that their music sounds just as good to me as it did fifteen years ago. And songs like The Watchmen and Psychonaut just work better live. I am content. No photos, because my dumbphone’s camera is shit.
On the Swedish side: lovely review of Amatka over at Dagens bok .
Finished new story draft. I was stuck until I found the right song, and with that one on repeat, everything just unfolded. Funny that, because I normally don’t like Peter Gabriel. But there it was. I listened to Mercy Street in the original version, the live version, and Fever Ray’s brilliant cover. Black Uhuru’s is decent, too. Thanks, Peter.
Other songs that seem to have this magical unknotting quality are This Mortal Coil’s The Horizon Bleeds and Sucks Its Thumb, which only clocks in at 2:53, but those are some magical 2:53 minutes. The same goes for Cocteau Twins’ Blue Bell Knoll. Thanks, 4AD.
In other news, I’ll be at Fantasticon 2013 in Copenhagen this september, along with Tricia Sullivan, Peter Adolphsen and my lovely local colleague Nene Ormes.
In other other news, I seem to have discovered how to pour soy milk into coffee without getting it all clumped. This is a small miracle.
Working on a story draft that doesn’t know if it wants to be a short story or a novella. Hopefully it’ll tell me soon.
I just finished Elizabeth Hand’s Available Dark. Not only is it a brilliant story (it’s Hand), but a lot of fun because it delves into the Nordic black metal scene of the 90′s. I was into death metal for a while in the 90′s, and even if black metal was never my cup of pig’s blood (never could stand high-pitched growling) it was impossible to avoid bands like Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone et al. Available Dark was a lovely nostalgia trip. Lovely? Okay, dark and creepy. But it brought back the days of “the t-shirt with the most illegible band logo wins”, obscure gigs in faraway suburbs, reveling in pitch-dark themes and, if you swung that way, outdoing each other in evil pastimes. The members of the bands featured in Available Dark were legendary. Ah, those were the days.
And now I have a shelf full of to read-books but none of them very tempting. Suggestions?
My stories seem to travel in packs. “Sing” is now available at Tor.com.
Frakking amazing artwork by Greg Ruth.
“A Fine Show on the Abyssal Plain” is now available at Lightspeed Magazine, together with an author spotlight.
So you can get two new ones over at Lightspeed and Tor.com:
“Sing” currently available at Macmillan and featured on Tor.com in a couple of weeks. The blurb:
In a village on the distant colony of Kiruna, the outcast Aino has worked hard to created a life for herself. The fragile status quo is upset when the offworlder Petr arrives and insists on becoming a part of her life. But he has no idea what it will cost him, and has cost Aino, to belong to the people who sing with inhuman voices.
“A Fine Show on the Abyssal Plain” Lightspeed Magazine #35, featured on the site in a couple of weeks.
Which is about – honestly, I don’t know what to say about this one. There’s a meta-theater company. There are also some anglerfish and a bathyscaphe involved, and an examination of archetypal story themes; some unsavory, some not.
They don’t honk to make others move out of their way; they honk for company. Great stinking carapaced things, announcing their position in the flock.
I guess I get more motivated to blog in a country where Facebook is blocked. FB is good for many things, but certainly not for things like blogging, at least not for me. Here’s hoping it’ll get me into a habit of updating this more regularly, now that I have actual readers and stuff.
I’m fortunate to have a guide in Beijing, which means I get to see the less touristy stuff. Esther, a lovely New Yorker who speaks both Mandarin and English, navigated me through the older parts of town yesterday. I got to try some very interesting street food (it seems to be all about the fried dough and stuff dipped in sugar. I have yet to try the red bean drink, but I suspect it’d make me fart like a bear), visit some well-hidden markets (Chinese cheesecake photos from the 60′s!) and find out more about local history. Tagging along with someone who knows the place makes all the difference – there’s so much I’d miss without access to the language.
Wednesday evening I was in an informal conversation (can’t say panel, there was no table and no actual debate) with Slovenian author Andrej Blatnik and Polish author and translator Jacek Dehnel, which was a lot of fun: talking about the art of short stories. Blatnik writes really REALLY short stories, which is fascinating. For his most recent project, his word limit was what would fit on his screen, I think it was 2200 characters or somesuch. Danel (who is also the most stylish guest of the entire festival in tweed, hat and cane) seems to be insanely productive, with novels, short story cycles and translations – will have to check his stuff out.
Looking forward to tomorrow and a talk with Chinese SF author Fei Dao. It’ll be interesting to hear how he navigates the minefield of governmental censorship; as I understand it, fantastic fiction isn’t very popular with the powers that be.
That last part is of course a huge point of interest, and part of why I’m here – to meet people who live under these conditions and find out what it’s like. The art of writing and publishing seems like a very careful dance between what the author needs to say and what the author is allowed to say. Different publishers have different standards; what one publisher will refuse to print, another publisher will happily allow. Things are apparently getting better, according to people I’ve talked to, but it’s a very complicated process. And for me, it’s a much-needed reminder to be grateful I live in a country with free speech.