Oct 31, 2008


You may notice things changing. This will continue for a little while, as the new web site takes shape. Then all will be stable again, and much better-looking.

Oct 23, 2008

In Praise of the Bar-Tailed Godwit, Plus Swedes!

Off to see Lydia Millet, author of (among other things) the swell Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, read in a short while. If you haven't read it, you should.

But the title of this post has to do with a wonder of the natural world (mostly). 7000 miles at a stretch? Amazing.

Also amazing, in a different kind of way, is this report from a Swedish hockey game.

Oct 21, 2008

What He Said

Richard K. Morgan on SF's tendency toward autocannibalism and on various other (but related, mostly) topics.

Much anticipation around here for his next book.

Supernatural Update: Winchester Journal

I just got finished going through the layouts, and this book looks cool. Real cool. I have to mention here (again) that the people who bring you Supernatural are terrific. Also I would be remiss if I didn't mention the great job by editor Chris Cerasi at DC, as well as Kate Nintzel and the designers at HarperCollins, and there are killer illustrations by Dan Panosian. (I did a few too--the ones that were supposed to not look like art.) Now the manuscript heads back to New York for a little fine-tuning, and then it's off to the printer. I think the February 3 on-sale date is still good (emphasis on I think).

And by the way, Supernatural fans, given how much you love the Weird America vibe of the show, I can just about guarantee that you'll dig these two novels of mine:

Give them a try...

Tip of the Cap

To whoever has taken the time to edit 145 Wikipedia entries using the Vertigopedia as a source: egad, sir or madam. I commend your industry.

Oct 18, 2008

Rumblings in the Heartland

A provocative anecdote from Nate Silver's number-crunching electoral-poll-nerd extravaganza FiveThirtyEight.com:

So a canvasser goes to a woman's door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she's planning to vote for. She isn't sure, has to ask her husband who she's voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, "We're votin' for the n***er!"

Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: "We're voting for the n***er."

No sourcing (although I can understand why the canvasser in question wouldn't want to become a public figure), but if this is true, it's telling in all kinds of ways.

Oct 17, 2008

Italian-Style Buyout

My next novel, Buyout, concerns the consequences of a charter program under which prison inmates serving life sentences are able to take buyouts. The insurance company calculates the reserve amount they're going to have to have on hand to feed/clothe/house/treat/litigate and offers the inmate X percent. In return, the inmate takes the Golden Needle.

In some conversations about the book, people have said they thought that it would never work because very few prisoners--despite their bellyaching--would actually want to go out that way, whatever the financial incentive. But (belatedly) I ran across* the following news item:

Hundreds of prisoners serving life sentences in Italy have called on President Giorgio Napolitano to bring back the death penalty.

Italy has approximately 1300 inmates serving life terms. 310 of them signed that letter. Of the tens of thousands of inmates serving life terms in US prisons, how many would follow suit?

*Actually I read it in the August 2007 Harper's, and then looked it up online.

Late-Blooming Creativity

If you always wanted to be a literary wunderkind but the world has yet to recognize your genius even though you're already eligible to be elected President, this New Yorker piece by Malcolm Gladwell might make you feel a little better. I know it did me...

The age that I'm not looking forward to? When there is not a single major-league baseball player older than me. Hang in there, Jamie Moyer.

Oct 7, 2008


While Phoenix keeps doing its thing (most recently observing falling snow!), comes news that AMC is doing a movie of Stan Robinson's landmark Red Mars. I love that book. It's SF done right, in every way. (...although, if this is true, who knows when we'll ever get to the Moon again, let alone Mars?)

Also, Bookgasm writes about the Vertigopedia here.

Also also: even for Fox News, this is low.

Oct 3, 2008

SF Site Interview on the Vertigopedia

...can be found here, along with all sorts of other genre tidbits, among which is the surprising and lamentable decision to publish another Hitchhiker's Guide novel. No! Don't do it! Well, I guess it's not surprising. But it is lamentable, despite the involvement of Eoin Colfer.

Oct 2, 2008

Prescience Among the Postmoderns

David Harvey, writing in 1989:

The biggest physical export from New York City is now waste paper. The city's economy in fact rests on the production of fictitious capital to lend to the real estate agents who cut deals for the highly paid professionals who manufacture fictitious capital. (The Condition of Postmodernity, 331-32)

Who says theoryhead scholars don't pay attention to real life?

And speaking of prescience, Charlie Stross laments the newfound impossibility of writing near-future SF that won't be wrong by the time it's published. To which I can't help but wonder if it's ever been possible to write near-future SF that had any predictive value. Count me in the camp of those who think that prediction was never, and should never be, the point of even near-future SF.

And speaking of near-future SF, hooray for Stan Robinson, named one of Time magazine's 2008 Heroes of the Environment.