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I was just reading this interview with Geoff Ryman over at InfinityPlus, where he discusses his new novel and discusses something he calls ‘mundane science fiction’. There’s a site at www.mundanesf.com. According to Ryman, “… the word Mundane means of the world. So by and large Mundane SF sticks to Earth or the nearby solar system. For example if we can’t get to the stars, aliens can’t get to us. Quantum uncertaintly works only at the micro level. Parallel universes are unlikely. So two years ago, out of Clarion a bunch of young writers decided they wanted to limit themselves to the most likely future. This meant facing up to what we know is coming, dealing with it and imaging good futures that are likely.” Read the manifesto for more info. Seems pretty sensible to me, and it looks like it describes work by some of the more interesting writers in the field today. Still, do we need another movement?

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Got the flu or some other bug. Left ear blocked. Portable cd player just died, and need to get another one. Sniff. Feeling fractionally sorry for myself. I’m past the half-way mark on Stamping Butterflies. Good, but I’m not really sure what Grimwood’s on about at this stage. Once I’m finished that, on to The Runes of the Earth, which I want/need to finish before I get on the plane on the 24th. I’d also like to read The Algebraist before I go, but who’m I kidding? Also lots of planning etc to catch up on so that I’m ready for the trip. I will be, but I never feel like I will be at this stage of events. I am looking forward to it, though.

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Best Stories of 2004 (so far)…
Well, I’ve agreed to do a panel on the best short fiction of 2004 for Worldcon (as per below), so I’m thinking I really need to start giving this some serious thought. I’m also supposed to be having a meeting in two weeks with my co-editor to begin serious discussions on short lists and such, so it’s probably a good time to actually work out what I’d put on such a list.

As a starting point I’ve thrown together a list of stories that have impressed me this year. It’s missing stuff, is not comprehensive, and is not representative of what will or won’t be in any of the year’s bests I’m working on (that comes later). I still have stacks of stories and such to go through, and I’ve skipped all over the place in my reading, so this list will change a lot. But, for the moment, here goes…

Daniel Abrahams, “Flat Diane”
Daniel Abrahams, “Leviathan’s Wept”
Paolo Bacigalupi, “The Pasho”
Stephen Baxter, “PeriAndry’s Quest”
Peter S. Beagle, “Quarry”
Holly Black, “The Night Market”
Richard Butner, “The Wounded”
Gregory Feeley, “Arabian Wine”
Jeffrey Ford, “Jupiter’s Skull”
Jeffrey Ford, “The Annals of the Eelin-Ok”
Neil Gaiman, “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves…”
Theodora Goss, “Miss Emily Gray”
Elizabeth Hand, “Wonderwall”
Joanne Harris, “Waiting for Gandalf”
Alex Irvine, “Volunteers”
James Patrick Kelly, “Men Are Trouble”
John Kessel, “The Baum Plan for Financial Independence”
Jay Lake, “The Angel’s Daughter”
Jay Lake, “The Rose Egg”
Margo Lanagan, “Singing My Sister Down”
Kelly Link, “The Faery Handbag”
Elizabeth Lynn, “The Silver Dragon”
Tim Powers, “Pat Moore”
Robert Reed, “A Plague of Life”
Robert Reed, “How it Feels”
M. Rickert, “Cold Fires”
Christopher Rowe, “The Voluntary State”
Delia Sherman, “CATNYP”
Ellen Steiber, “Screaming for Faeries”
Charles Stross, “Elector”
Charles Stross & Cory Doctorow, “Appeals Court”
Michael Swanwick, “The Geek”
Michael Swanwick, “The Word That Sings the Scythe”
Jeff VanderMeer, “Three Days in a Border Town”
Howard Waldrop, “The Wolfman of Alcatraz”
Gene Wolfe, “The Little Stranger”
Gene Wolfe, “The Lost Pilgrim”

One thought: if you’ve seen something that’s not here that you thought was impressive, email me or post on my board or add a comment. I’m looking for stuff and I really don’t want to miss anything. I will say this: so far, based on my reading to date, it’s a much more impressive year for short fantasy than short SF. I know I must be missing something, but so far I’m not sure what.

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WorldCon program and scheduling…
Well, after a couple ups and downs it looks like my schedule for WorldCon is beginning to come together. So far, my program commitments are:

Saturday
12:00pm Autographing
02:00pm Kaffeeklatsch

Sunday
10:00am The Best Books of 2004 (so far)
12:00pm The New Weird: What, Who, and Why?

Monday
11.00am Best Short Stories of 2004 (so far…)

I get into Boston on the Tuesday before the convention, and will probably grab dinner with the Locus cohort, which should be fun. After that, I’ve got a smattering of commitments that I’m looking forward to, and am expecting to have a good time. you’re going, hope ty

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Texas community newspaper The Good Life has a solid piece on Howard Waldrop that’s worth reading. The bibliography the accompanies it is a bit spotty, but you get that. Speaking of Howard, I just got an early look at his next story, “The Wolfman of Alcatraz”, which Ellen Datlow will be publishing at SciFiction on September 22. It’s a very solid Waldrop short that I’ll post more about a little later (I want to re-read it), which I think may mark a change in his work. As always, I’m up to my ears in other reading. I just received the new Terry Pratchett, Stephen Donaldson, and Jon Courtenay Grimwood books. I’m obliged to read the Donaldson, but the others look really good. I’m also tearing through as much short fiction as I can before I head off to the States. It’s beginning to feel like those year’s bests are due in about 20 minutes.

…unavoidable stuff from jonathan strahan…