... though some were metabolized.
My story "The Mushroom King" is out in M-Brane #12 / Ergosphere.
The Laurel Balzac Reader - Balzac
The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga
Just After Sunset - Stephen King
Dreams of My Father - Barack Obama
Save the Cat - Blake Snyder
Realms: The First Year of Clarkesworld Magazine
Here Comes Everybody - Clay Shirkey
Is Shakespeare Dead? - Mark Twain
Who is Mark Twain? - Mark Twain
Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre - Peter Coogan
The Lost Princess of Oz - Baum
The Tin Woodman of Oz - Baum
Was Superman a Spy? - Brian Cronin
Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography - Diana Price
Two Noble Kinsmen - Shakespeare & John Fletcher
Resolution - Robert B. Parker
Walden - Thoreau
The End of Overeating - David Kessler
The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World - Lewis Hyde
Stein on Writing - Sol Stein
Where Water Comes Together With Other Water - Raymond Carver
Saturday - Ian McEwan
Even the Wicked - Lawrence Block
How to Grow A Novel - Sol Stein
Killing Castro - Lawrence Block
A Diet of Treacle - Lawrence Block
Pump Six and Other Stories - Paolo Bacigalupi
A Distance Mirror - Barbara W. Tuchman
Shakespeare: The World As Stage - Bill Bryson
Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life - Steven C. Hayes
Rumpole and the Reign of Terror - John Mortimer
Rumpole Misbehaves - John Mortimer
The Happiness Trap - Russ Harris
Everybody Dies - Lawrence Block
Gulf Music - Robert Pinsky
Poems from the Poet's Corner - John Lithgow (ed.)
Letters to a Young Poet - Rainer Maria Rilke
The Princess Bride - William Goldman
Stop This Man! - Peter Rabe
The Best American Essays 2008 - Adam Gopnik (ed.)
Books - Larry McMurtry
Complete Plays - Christopher Marlowe
Shakespeare & Co. - Stanley Wells
Hope to Die - Lawrence Block
The Magic of Oz - Baum
All the Flowers Are Dying - Lawrence Block
Sixty Stories - Donald Barthelme
The 50th Law - 50 Cent & Robert Green
The Deep-Blue Goodbye - John D. MacDonald
Bright-Sided - Barbara Ehrenreich
Maske:Thaery - Jack Vance
Eating Animals - Foer
Problem Solving - Ken Watanabe
Gun Fight - Richard Matheson
The Adderall Diaries - Stephen Elliot
Thebes of the Hundred Gates - Robert Silverberg
The Wordy Shipmates - Sarah Vowell
The Autobiography 1872-1914 - Bertrand Russell
Forty Stories - Donald Barthelme
Best American Crime Reporting 2007
How I Write - Janet Evanovich
Under the Dome - Stephen King
Visions of Death - J.D. Robb
Cymbeline - Shakespeare
(31 nonfiction. 34 fiction, poetry & drama. 65 total, 7 more than last year.)
Here are excerpts from the writer's guidelines of various Zombie-Themed POD anthologies that will be appearing soon:
Our Union Dead:
Genres: Civil War, Alt-History, Horror, Romance, Regency. This is a zombie-themed War Between the States anthology with a difference. I only want to see stories about zombies who are fighting for the North. I WILL look at stories that have some zombies in Confederate gray, but be forewarned, if you choose to submit such a story you will have a very high bar to clear. Payment: 1/16 to 1/8 cent per word. Length: 1500 to 150,000 words. (Works longer than that may be considered only for our online anthology supplement page at the reduced rate of of 1/64 to 1/32 cent per word.) Be bold, be brave, innovate! Why not set your particular tale during, say, a Civil War reenactment? Or even a Civil War computer game -- but a computer game that suddenly gets very very real.)
Above all be historically accurate. I don't want to see any more submissions with zombies carrying Revolutionary War flintlocks, World War II German grease-guns, or stories featuring any variety of horse bridle in only limited use prior to 1864. It's called research, people. Do your job. Besides, at this time, we are overstocked on stories containing anachronistic horse bridles.
Email subs only, to editoriusemiritus[at]thebloodofourfourfatherspress.com. No reprints. Simultaneous submissions will be deleted at once unread. If you do send a simultaneous submission, and I find out about it, you will be banned from submitting to any Blood of Our Four Fathers theme anthology for a period of one year, or the release of our next sixty theme anthologies, whichever comes first. People, there are consequences to behavior in this business.
ResurErection: New GeniTALEias.
Sure you're dead, but you're not DEAD right? This anthology is seeking stories, poems, and Penthouse-style true letters exploring the profound effects of the zombapocalypse on sexual organs. Does a zombie penis become erect? Does a zombie vagina lubricate? Word length: Microfiction: 0 - 200 words. Full-length fiction: 225 -1200 words. Stories between those lengths will be defined as either microfic or macrofic at the sole discretion of the editor.
Payment: ONE (1) story will be selected for the Travis Q. Zither Award of $25. This award is to honor the work of writer and literarateur Travis Q. Zither for his achievements within the zombie erotica sub-genre, and also to get the anthology listed as a paying market on various websites. Payment for the other chosen stories will be Exposure AND 10% off contributor copies (limit of fifteen per contributor). Reprints, while considered, are strongly discouraged and will not be eligible for the Zither Award. Fair warning: Stories written by women or that feature female characters in any way resembling real human beings are always a tough sell with me. When in doubt, query.
Anticipated print run: 125 copies. Send submissions to travisqzither[at]travisqzither.com
PG-13. No gratuitous profanity. No rape, incest, or pedophilia except when essential to the plot. Have some class, people. Simultaneous submissions will be deleted unread. Estimated response time: 62 to 65 months.
Zombie: Dark Utopias
Utopias: the places that are not -- or so it is defined in the nomenclatura of Sire Thomas Morehouse of Great Britannia. But what if an utopia could exist -- and then got taken over by zombies!
(For more information in Sire Thomas Morecoke rent the first two seasons of Showtime's "The Tudors." It's called an education, people!)
Be bold, be edgy. We're starting to notice a lot of new zombie books, novels, anthologies, collections, movies, DVD's, and BluRays appearing on the horizonistical landscape, as it were. It is no longer enough to write your Utopian zombie parable as if you were the only writer in the universal pantheon.
THIS IS NOT YOUR FATHER'S UTOPIAN ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY, PEOPLE!
Genres: sf/f/ss (both slipstream and sword & sorcery) alt history, alt future history, western, mystery (no cozies -- and-- fair warning-- cat-based whodunits are usually a tough sell with us). Urban fantasy, suburban fantasy, neo-weird, nouveau-weird, weird, and not-weird, all encouraged. No horror. No introspection: send that poop to The New Yorker or someplace, we just want to be entertained, you stupid navel-gazer. And no vampires, they are so played out.
Submissions should be in standard ms. format. Let me explain what this means: submissions should not be in non-standard ms. format. I know a lot of other markets accept submissions in non-standard formats, but you should know that this market and only this market accepts submissions only in the standard format, and you should consider that before you submit a manuscript to us in non-standard format.
Let's talk a little about our submissions process. We employ the industry-normative structure of fourteen rounds of readings. In the first round we will determine whether your manuscript conforms to standard manuscript format. The second round will consist of a different set of readers who will consider whether the first set of readers were correct in their assessment of the manuscript's format. After all, we want to be fair about this.
After the second round, if it is determined a manuscript does NOT meet the requirements of passing the first two rounds, the manuscript will be returned to its author for reformatting. (Or, in the case of a female-sounding byline, discarded.) Once the author has reformatted his manuscript correctly and resubmitted it, the manuscript will go to round three (assuming it can this time pass rounds one and two.)
Round three with determine whether or not your name is Neil Gaiman. If so, your manuscript will skip rounds four through six, AND round twelve. (Note: After the original version of these guidelines appeared, we received several manuscripts with bylines such as: "by Yeah-Like-Neil-Gaiman's-Gonna-Send-A-Story-To-Your-Lame-A**." Look people, we are working with a very tight window here, I don't appreciate what is so obviously NOT Neil Gaiman's real byline appearing in the slush.
Updated response time: I know that we originally estimated our response time as between "Anon and St Alban's Day, 2008" but due to the extraordinary volume of manuscripts we have received (six) none of which have cleared the seventh round of the submission process yet, we are behind. I feel I myself bear some of the responsibility for this, as I have not yet had time to decide what goes on in round seven, or in any of the other rounds not specifically described here. When I do that, I will post updated guidelines. You are potential writers and purchasers of contributor copies -- you deserve to know. And I will defend to the death my right to say that. Current response time is approximately four months from whatever-your-watch-says-right-this-moment to never. Please do not query before that time.
Payment: Advance: $0 against a standard royalty contract: 0.04% on a 75/25 split paid quarterly beginning -- ah, why kid yourself? -- there's no such thing as a royalty.
The stories collected here are in chronological order (of publication that is, as far as composition order, I don't know) and one of the many pleasures of reading these ten pieces is experiencing Bacigalupi's artistry grow year by year from 1999's "A Pocketful of Dharma" (itself already masterful) to the volume's titular piece in 2008. (There's an eleventh story, "Small Offerings" available only in the limited edition, for which I didn't spring.)
This is SF unabashedly, and it's well-written. This is the kind of book you pass to a literate but SF-disdaining friend secure in the knowledge that you are about to gain a convert. Instead, the friend will reward your kindness by blithely explaining the Bacigalupi isn't really skiffy at all, "because he's a good writer." Then you pull your hair out.
Sadly, you must admit your friend has a point, (okay, call it half a point). Because, really, how often do we come across sentences as precise and evocative as the following in our digests? Not often enough:
"Methane lamps burned like blue fairies behind the closed glass of the neighbor's droplet-spattered windows. Rain sheeted off their roofs, drumming wet into the empty alley. A cheshire was yowling for a mate somewhere in the wet, barely audible under the thrum of falling water." -- (from "The Calorie M" pg 97.)
Never often enough. "Cheshire" is the right word; "sheeted" is the right word. "Thrum" is. (By the way there's a school of thought that says comparing lamp flame to blue fairies in la littérature fantastique may confuse the reader's apparently addled brain over what's simile or metaphor and what's literal. Were you confused above? I didn't think so. In fact, if you're like me you've never seen gas lamps or torrential downpours clearer.)
"Men squat on tea stools and watch the day's swelter build as they smoke tiny rolled cigarettes of scavenged gold leaf tobacco and share them from lip to lip. Women converse in knots, nervously fingering yellow cards as they wait for white shirts to appear and stamp their renewals." -- (from "Yellow Card Man" pg 165. )
There are so many right words in those sentences one savors the moments spent unpacking the riches. (The women aren't literally conversing inside knots, Mr. Card.)
Present tense is used so clumsily so often that I consider it guilty until demonstrated otherwise, but Bacigalupi's use never intrudes. He understands the difference between present action, and past, and of states of being, which is not so obvious to every writer who favor present tense for "immediacy." Where Bacigalupi writes (the bolding is mine):
"I close the fridge and straighten. There's something here in the mess and the screaming in the next room and the reek of the one kid's poopy pants, but I'm stumped as to what it is. They could have lived up in the light and air. Instead, they hid in the dark under wet jungle canopy and turned pale and gave up their lives.
The kids race back in [...]" -- (from "Pop Squad" pg 139.)
... a less astute, less particular, writer might have let the present tense slosh over every verb in the passage as if all events should be grasped simultaneously in some Dr. Manhattan-like omni-perception.
Then there is the matter of endings, which Bacigalupi makes look easy. Not a single final sentence here is less than perfect.
Okay, that's the micro, but what about the macro? A story isn't just fine writing and control of tense and voice is it? What about plot, what about characters, and what about (this is SF after all) the ideas?
Here's ten stories that witness a real world. This one. Whatever they owe to traditions of genre they owe doubly to this world, its people and their hard lives, its history, to its fluxing myriad cultures -- constantly adapting, re-adapting, merging, splitting -- and to its ever-moving present. Even without having experienced anything quite like these futures I recognize them and feel them true.
I don't usually read two books in one 24 hr period, but these 200-pager Block reissues are like pizza slices, if you're already at the counter might as well get two because you know you will be back. Block's career followed a relatively common trajectory for commercial/genre writers of his generation: semi-hard porn, then paperback originals under several names, and then a series or two (or three) that could grow an audience over a career. This is not meant to sound dismissive. It seems to me an ingenious-enough way of nature to contrive expert storytellers. I guess the closest thing we have today would be the Hollywood model: start out writing sitcom or animation scripts on other people's shows, develop your own, move on to ambitious original single stories. Most writers on either path fall by the wayside somewhere or other, but a talented, lucky (both essential ingredients) few end up having work filmed by independent, acclaimed, story-valuing directors, or become one themselves.
So if you're twenty-two, don't spend a lot of time scanning last year's Witer's Digest at the library for markets that read unsolicited novel manuscripts. The day of the one-draft, three-carbon fast-cash sale is gone, obviously, but what may be slightly less obvious is that online e-book erotica "publishers" that pay a percentage of sales on a $0 advance are NOT their substitutes. Sell off your collected manga, games, DVD's and corresponding players, and move your ass to L.A. (If you grew up in L.A. sell that stuff, buy a VW and drive to Tierra del Fuego, or take Greyhound to Nova Scotia, or contrive to do something else your career-focused, loan-swamped peers would never ever dream of doing, and them come back to L.A. with experiences undreamed of in their high-concept, franchise-brokering life plans.)
All of which has something to do with A Diet of Treacle. This one finds Block on more familiar territory than Killing Castro. We're back home with him in Greenwich Village. It's a downtown novel of sex, drugs, the yearning for art (if only in the disguise of 35¢ paperbacks), of danger, death-wish boys, and girls in tight sweaters, a novel of those things that tempted certain hungry souls to travel south of Fourteenth Street from the end of WWII until times recent. (I don't know where the boho kids go now, but I think it has to do more with web cams and the YouTubes than geography.) I don't want to oversell this book. It isn't Junky, or Hubert Selby Jr. But it has its charm, an appeal that lies in its innocence more than its darkness. If you wish Mad Men would find a way to tell more stories about Don Draper's season one artist mistress, if Val Lewton's The Seventh Victim and Scorsese's After Hours are repeat rentals for you, if you can’t wait for Pia Zadora and Ric Ocasek to show up in Hairspray, it'll do you fine.
Since I hardly use this blog for anything I thought I'd take a stab at logging most of what I read and watch along with a random thought or too. If I'd have started this last week I'd have fifteen Firefly related posts now, but anyway ...
First up is Killing Castro by Lawrence Block now back in print with a cover by Sharif Tarabay thanks to Hard Case Crime for the first time since it's original pseudonymous appearance in 1961. The longish narrative chapters of a band of ne'er-do-wells paid to assassinate the Cuban dictator alternate with short biographical chapters on Castro's early life and rise to power, the latter written in a breezy, opinionated style. I enjoyed these. The novel is similar in structure and premise to The Day of the Jackal published 10 years later, thought at (I guess) 50k words Killing Castro is about half the length of Forsyth's book. It's fun to see young Block's (he would have been twenty-two or so at the time) attempt at a political thriller. The biographical chapters and the narrative chapters resonate with each other giving the novel a poignant aura of idealism dashed. Such is youth.
(Note: Block would write at least one more political thriller: 1971's The Triumph of Evil under the name Paul Kavanagh, about a coup in the United States. The original cover shows a swastika, but the novel is more Seven Days in May than The Man in the High Castle. Been awhile since I read it but I recall it being dark and relentless. Deliciously so.)