February is almost here, and on Tuesday, February 2nd, I’m going to be doing a reading at the NYRSF Readings series with one of my favorite writers, Richard Bowes.
Rick and I have been part of the same writing group (currently called Tabula Rasa) for a few years now, and he is the author of several excellent novels and short stories, including one of my absolute favorites (and the best 9/11 story written, in my opinion), “There’s a Hole in the City.” Appearing on the same bill with him will be great.
I’m still back and forth about what I’m going to read: Right now, it’s between a maybe-it’s-real-and-maybe-it’s-not story that I recently sold to Mythic Delirium called “The Ladderback Chair” and a science fiction tale that just appeared in Abyss and Apex called “With Triumph Home Unto Her House.” I probably won’t decide until I absolutely have to (the same way I sometimes decide what to eat at a restaurant; wait until the waiter shows up and then pick one).
So come on by if you can. With any luck, at least some of the snow will be gone by then:
Tuesday, February 2nd
Doors open at 6:30 pm; begins about 7 pm
The Brooklyn Commons
388 Atlantic Avenue (between Hoyt & Bond St.)
What with a full-time job, an attempt to keep my writing up and other obligations, I haven’t done a lot of “going out” lately. So it was really nice to to be able to treat ourselves to 54 Below Sings Starmites, a cabaret-type performance of a 1980s comic-book musical called, yes, Starmites. It was directed by Pat Cerasaro & Barry Keating; Keating wrote the music and lyrics; he also wrote the book along with Stuart Ross.
54 Below is a nightclub in the lower level of what was, of course, the former and notorious Club 54 (the upper level is now a theatre owned by the Roundabout). We had a somewhat expensive but extremely yummy dinner; then an enthusiastic and very talented cast and band performed the musical numbers on a dangerously small stage while the story (such as it was) was narrated by Liz Larsen, a member of the original cast.
It was a huge amount of fun. The whole cast was great (and negotiated their way through a few mistakes and glitches with professionalism and humor). I was especially impressed by Cheryl Freeman, who belted out a song called Hard To Be Diva with incredible energy, and Brian Charles Rooney, who played the bad guy with relish and sang The Cruelty Stomp wonderfully, throwing in some jazzy riffs that that directly referenced Cab Calloway, among others.
Many thanks to Sheri Lane and Barry Keating for helping us discover this event.
The latest issue of Mythic Delirium is now on sale with, as editor Mike Allen says, “three tales of magical protagonists haunted by past events” — including my story “Sophia’s Legacy,” which is based (extremely loosely) on a story my grandmother once told me about her mother.
We join a vampire moving in the worlds of high fashion and higher powers; a sea witch crashing a royal wedding with a (familial) blood score to settle; an enchanted chess game with life-and-death consequences, with the opponents separated by a century.
Our poems in this issue add new chapters to the tales of Oz and The Tempest, grant new coats to villains and secret lives to cabinets, discover new senses and damaged but working hearts.
The stories come courtesy of Sara M. Harvey, Cassandra Khaw and Barbara Krasnoff, while Jane Yolen, Sandi Leibowitz, Shira Lipkin, Hannah Strom-Martin, Anne Carly Abad and Alicia Cole provide the poetry. Our spectacular cover art, inspired by Cassandra’s story, comes from Paula Arwen Owen.
Readercon is in a very few days and I’m very much looking forward to it. Folks who may want to say hi will be able to find me either lurking in the halls, making notes in the audience, or part of the following panels/readings:
Thursday July 09
Friday July 10
1:00 PM ENL The Works of Joanna Russ. Gwynne Garfinkle, David G. Hartwell, Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Scott Lynch. Joanna Russ (1937–2011) was, arguably, the most influential writer of feminist science fiction the field has ever seen. In addition to her classic The Female Man (1975), her novels include Picnic on Paradise (1968), We Who are About to… (1977), and The Two Of Them (1978). Her short fiction is collected in The Adventures of Alyx(1976), The Zanzibar Cat (1983), (Extra)Ordinary People (1984), and The Hidden Side of the Moon (1987). She was also a distinguished critic of science fiction; her books include The Country You Have Never Seen: Essays and Reviews (2007). Of her works outside the SF field, she is perhaps best known forHow to Suppress Women’s Writing (1983). Join us to discuss her works.
3:00 PM G Women of Technology. Karen Burnham, Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Shariann Lewitt, B Diane Martin, Fran Wilde. Current technology is the handmaiden of hard science fiction. What can SF literature learn from the women who have made a difference in tech today? What have been their challenges, experiences, and frustrations? How can we use them as prototypes for the inhabitants of our imagined futures? And from the point of view of women in scientific and technical fields, what science fiction works have succeeded (or failed) in extrapolating not only future technology but the role of women within it?
Saturday July 11
9:00 AM F The Author’s Voice. Barbara Krasnoff (leader), Kate Marayuma, Tom Purdom, Paul Tremblay, Gregory Wilson. An old writing advice chestnut is that you should read your work aloud; supposedly this will help you notice awkward phrasing. Let’s dig a little further: when, how, and why do writers do this, if at all? How has it helped—and has it ever hindered? Do authors who are performers have the opposite problem, where their ability to make something come alive in a reading obscures the fact that it’s a bit dead on the page? How does reading aloud square with things like footnotes, parentheticals, illustrations, digressions, or visual representations of dialects? Is anyone emphatically against the practice of reading aloud as an element of process?
Sunday July 12
Sometimes, it’s fun — and occasionally necessary — to see where we came from so that we can have some perspective on today’s battles. Just by chance, browsing through a table of free used books, I picked up a science fiction novel called Sign of the Labrys by Margaret St. Clair, copyright 1963. I don’t remember ever reading one of her works (although I read so much science fiction/fantasy when I was a teenager that I may simply not remember the book). But besides the interest of reading something new that was published back then, I knew I immediately had to take the book when I turned it over and looked at the blurb on the back cover.
And had to show it off. This was considered a positive way to market a skiffy book by somebody who was female and actually admitted to it by not changing her name or using initials. Women are writing science fiction! Really! And because they are closer to the primitive than men, they possess a buried memory of humankind’s past! So this has gotta be a great book!
(Actually, this is apparently one of the earliest uses of Wiccan themes in a speculative fiction novel, so the marketing is understandable. But still…)
I bring you, ladies and gentlebeings, 1963:
The year 2014 has been, so far, a real bastard. There have been too many people lost to death, most too early — some so far before their time that it makes me ashamed.
There was my cousin Jennifer Greene, a wonderful singer and the mother of a vibrant little boy named Ari, who found out she had cancer before her baby was even weaned.
There was the incandescent Margot Adler, one of the most talented and generous spirits it has ever been my privilege to know. With Margot, I’m still in a vague sort of denial and sometimes find myself thinking, “We should call Margot and ask if she wants to meet and see that weird new movie” a second or two before I remember we can’t. (And I still miss her husband John Gliedman, who died several years ago, a friend and colleague of mine.)
And there have been the writers whom I didn’t know well, or didn’t know personally, but whom I admired for what they wrote and who they were — authors such as Lucius Shepard, Jay Lake and now Eugie Foster, who died this morning at the age of 42.
There is nothing that can be said. Losses like these are both sad and incredibly infuriating. All I can do is extend my sympathies to their friends and families, and try to live a life worthy of their memories.