Tuesday reading club

I love Tuesdays. I work from home. The house is freshly cleaned from the day before, and the family all off, happily busy. I get peace, quiet. and time. And a lot to do. Today was a day of reading, drafting contracts, passionate meetings (Jeremy & Shaun came to visit), and is only now finally drawing to a close. Eidolon (sorry, Eidolon I) is pretty much headed off to bed. Details of contents are just about final, cover discussed and out of my hands and so on. All that remains, for me, is story notes and copyediting. We touched on Eidolon II, which may well happen and will likely have a longer submission period and longer reading period. If it goes ahead, I’d imagine stories would be wanted in May/June (hint, hint) for a November publication. Next, the YA book. Contracts for stories head out on Thursday (after a final proofing to ensure no egregious errors), and then time to build the ms. At the same time, a hill of stories beckons. Bed first, though. See you all in the morning.

Geoff and Jeff: The Wonder and Joy of Short Fiction

Life is endlessly weird. I struggle to get the books I want, and yet receive more books than I can possibly read. I am constantly chasing stories so I can consider them for year’s bests and such, and just because I like to read short stories, and yet feel like they’re slipping past me all the time.

This was brought home to me this morning. I got online this morning and downloaded the night’s email. In amongst it was an email from Gordon with the December F&SF attached. I was delighted to see that there was a new Geoff Ryman novelette in the issue, a story called “The Last Ten Years in the Life of Hero Kai”. From what I can tell, it’s the cover story for the issue and is quite unusual. The story head note references something called ‘monkpunk’, and it’s tempting to be glib and say this is it. But it would be glib. The story is a very subtle and quite powerful tale of a warrior monk who leads a revolt to save the country he loves, becomes what he detests and, possibly, is responsible for a change in the way the world works. It doesn’t matter whether this story is SF or fantasy (my bet is SF, though I’d be curious to hear what Gordon thinks), but it was either going to be masterful or awful. Following so closely on the heels of his completely wonderful novel Air, it should come as no surprise, that it is far closer to masterful than not. A highlight in a year of stories.

Following on from that comment, has anyone else noticed what a terrific year F&SF is having in 2005? Maybe three or four years ago I would have rated the magazines with Asimov’s first, then SciFiction, then F&SF. Last year I would have tipped SciFiction as the best, and this year it’s clearly F&SF. Extraordinary. Subscribe!

Not long after the email from Gordon, an email from Jeff VanderMeer tumbled into the email inbox. In his email he mentioned a new story, which he’d sent me a couple weeks ago and which is due to appear in Argosy. To be honest, I’d forgotten he’d sent it. Filed it away where I’d have read it before year’s end and book deadlines, but still forgotten it. I pulled up the file and was delighted. It’s a funny, engaging, and ultimately moving story. I’m not sure when the relevant issue of Argosy is due out, but it’s worth picking up. Along with VanderMeer’s upcoming “The Farmer’s Cat” in Polyphony 5, it bodes very well for his next collection.

edited 1 September 2005

ipod (no meme)

I’m new to the whole ipod thing. I think it’s just on two weeks since I bought it, and in the meantime I’ve put something like 5,700 tracks on it (about 17 days worth of music). Some of it’s stuff I listen to all the time, but there’s a lot of stuff that I’ve put on for the heck of it.

I love having the ipod. It is the best. In honor of the first two weeks, I thought I’d do a couple of those dumb lists. For the first, I put the ipod on shuffle and listed the first ten tracks it played:

1. Is She Weird? Frank Black Francis
2. The Night Has A Thousand Faces, John Coltrane
3. Corazon, Carole King
4. Animal Farm, The Kinks
5. Smut, Skyhooks
6. Trampled Under Foot, Led Zeppelin
7. Young and Foolish, Brad Mehldau
8. Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Queen
9. The Everlasting Gaze, The Smashing Pumpkins
10. Fall from Grace, Paddy McAloon

I then flipped over to the most recently played list. As you might imagine, given the comparatively short time the ipod’s been running, I haven’t played the same stuff over and over too much. Still, a disturbingly MOR trend emerged which bothered me until I remembered two days of headaches (and noticed that the most played track had still only been played six times).

1. Just a Song Before I Go, Crosby, Stills & Nash
2. Southern Cross, Crosby, Stills & Nash
3. Alice in Wonderland, Bill Evans
4. Thursday Afternoon, Brian Eno
5. Marrakesh Express, Crosby, Stills & Nash
6. Suicide Life, The Eels
7. Seeing Angels, The Jon Butler Trio
8. Mornings Eleven, The Magic Numbers
9. Forever Lost, The Magic Numbers
10. The Mule, The Magic Numbers

I was also going to list my top rated tracks, but honestly, it’s one of the things I don’t like. You only have a range of five stars. Far too coarse a measure to be useful. Still, what you see above is some of what I’ve been listening to of late.

blaylock dry season continues…

sob! two completed, unpublished james blaylock novels. it’s been six years. will this drought never end? i have no idea whether zeuglodon, or its sequel, are any good. but it’s been so long. what to read? i doubt there’ll be a new powers novel for a year or two, and i don’t like the last three or four jonathan carroll books much. sigh. patience is a pain. i guess at least we’re not talking i, john mandeville or the moon world.