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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Very happy to announce that my heroic fantasy tale, “When Gods Fall in Fire,” has been accepted for publication at Cirsova (where one can find several of my earlier efforts). “WGFF” is nominally a fantasy story, but with an SF slant and (if you squint sideways) a sort of Lovecraftian tinge. I tried to be a little different when I wrote it and ended up with something that’s hard to describe. But now you’ll have the chance to make that determination for yourself!

“When Gods Fall in Fire” should appear in 2018.

#SFWApro

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Two-for-One Sale

No, it’s not what you’re thinking. Wait until December; maybe I’ll offer some deals. I’m here to announce that I will be showing not one, but two stories in the Spring 2017 issue of Cirsova: “War of the Ruby” and “Shapes in the Fog.” I’m really psyched about “Shapes in the Fog” because it was solicited.

The editor read “WotR” (not “LotR”) and waxed rhapsodic about a minor character that he wanted to see more of. (When I say “minor,” I mean she’s gone after page one.) Could I, asked he, write another story to shadow the first, featuring her?

This is one of those offers writers dream of. It’s not like selling a reprint, where you get paid for doing nothing (except submitting), but on the other hand, it pays a lot better, and  the editor has already told you what he wants.

So I did it, and they liked it, and they bought it, and now it’s coming out next year and I will appear in the same magazine twice.

And they said this stuff was hard…

#SFWApro

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It’s funny how deep a conversation you can have about the ostensibly shallowest of subjects. Case in point: “Cartoons: Generic Fantasy or Magical Realism?”

Now, of course the conversation didn’t start that way, and nobody was titling it, but that’s what it turned out to be. I argued that “Rocky and Bullwinkle” were magical realism, because, well, talking animals. I later changed it to science fantasy, because there were also aliens. But that’s the point–how deep can you get?

It was argued to me that R&B were only generic fantasy because the only fantasy element was talking animals, but Bugs Bunny, now he’s magical realism. That could be because of his quick-change abilities; not even a rabbit is that fast, and where does he keep all this stuff? (Maybe a pocket universe, but then you get back to science fantasy.)

Now, when you get into Bugs, you really get metaphysical, because of Elmer Fudd. Fudd spends all of his time trying to hunt down a rabbit that he can talk to and who talks back. A rabbit who is clearly sentient. (Daffy? Maybe a little wiggle room there.) When you’re hunting down sentient creatures, that’s not called “hunting” anymore–it’s called attempted murder. Elmer is the Sideshow Bob to Bugs’s Bart. The guy should be in prison.

But of course it’s all in fun, and Bugs makes Elmer look the fool every time. (Nor does Daffy seem to suffer unduly from his various mishaps.) And maybe that’s the difference between “fantasy” and “magical realism,” because there are no consequences, and no harm lasts. There is no “realism,” even magical, in these cartoons.

Except of course in “The Simpsons.” Totally real.

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I was very happy to (with the invaluable assistance of my better half) procure business cards before Worldcon. After all, I reasoned, if one is going to have business cards, and if the primary reason one has business cards is because people have asked for them at cons, then it makes sense to have business cards before one embarks for the biggest science fiction con one is going to attend all year.* And for one brief, shining moment, my logic (which only rarely matches with Spock’s), seemed sound.

Silly me. (And for that matter, silly Spock.)

Because I gave away three business cards the entire time I was in Kansas City, and only one did I give away at the con.

The first was to a friend, the second to a docent at the National World War I Museum, which we were visiting because I am planning a novel at some point which takes place during the Great War,** and the third on the plane home, to a stranger with whom we struck up a conversation when the subject of my writing came up.

Now, I think I deserve props for getting my card out to people whom one would not normally consider prime candidates, but when you consider that I did not give one out to any of the thousands of (unknown) SF fans at the con itself, I don’t think overall my marketing skills are yet up to snuff.***

But hey, it’s a start.

“Excuse me, buddy, would you like a business card?”

ETA: I am reminded that I did pass out one card to a fellow author at the con (and took hers in return). So now I am apparently so good at this I can’t keep my successes straight. Progress?

———-

*Or, as it turns out, next year, too, because Helsinki is not a likely destination.

**Not to mention that The Invisible City starts in WWI, and I took a picture of a map showing where my hero was when that book began.

***To be fair to myself, I did intend to give one to an editor I was supposed to meet, but it didn’t work out.

#SFWApro

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[The following was written by a friend of mine, a freshman in college. My initial thought (after “this is good; people need to see this”) was to recommend replacing the word “jazz” with “science fiction” because of the subject’s prominence in our field. Upon reflection, however, I believe that the word “jazz” could be replaced by the profession or fandom of your choice, and remain unfortunately relevant. This is reprinted by permission; the author’s name is withheld.]

 

To the jazz community (especially male jazz musicians please read on):

A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of talking to a woman, around 50-60, who was a jazz vocalist. During the conversation, she brought up the difficulties of being a woman in the jazz community, especially an instrumentalist, and asked me if anything had changed since she had been in school. Without any hesitation I told her it had not.

As a tenor saxophonist in middle school and high school jazz bands, I have been verbally, emotionally, and sexually harassed. Some of the things said to me were so disgusting that I, as a sheltered 15-year-old, could not even comprehend. But, as with any systemic issue, this is not really about me.

Throughout every summer camp or high school group, every woman I have met in the jazz community has felt at best excluded and at worst terribly harassed. Of the 6 women I have played in high school with, all were good if not great musicians. However, jazz culture pressures instrumentalists to be the absolute best, and the more men feel that pressure, or fear that a woman might usurp them in skill, the more men harass women in an attempt to push them out of the competition. Women in the jazz community are not seen as equal competitors, but rather threats to the toxic fragile masculinity of men.

And the harassment works. I told myself after my senior year of high school I would never play in a jazz band again. I had lost all motivation to practice years before. The only way for my emotional health to survive jazz band was to give up and not care. I saw other women find similar paths: letting men know that you are not good is met with laughter, asking for help is met with condescending smiles. Trying your best is met with anger and misogyny. In a school setting, I learned that my gender was not welcome, that giving up is healthier, that improving is futile.

Misogyny in jazz does not only exist in my high school, or in the summer music camps I attended. Misogyny, as well as racism, in jazz is historically rooted. Watch movies like The Girls in the Band, a documentary about the struggles of women from 1930s jazz bands to the present. Look no further than Whiplash, where a white man tells the only girl in a band in the entire movie she is there only because she is cute and then kicks her out after one bad note. Even try to think of the names of three female jazz instrumentalists.

The competitiveness within the jazz community cannot be conducive to learning or creativity if it violently attacks 51% of the population. Toxic masculinity and its consequential harassment must be eradicated. If you are a male jazz musician, I recommend you keep these things in mind:

1. Women deserve respect the moment they are born. Men have proven that women will never be good enough to earn their respect. Whether they are new or veterans, whether they are terrible musicians or great, all women deserve your respect.

2. Pushing people out of the jazz community will not make jazz better. If you love jazz music, you will encourage women to join and encourage them to practice and encourage them to be great and let them be great. Misogyny cannot be tolerated in any society that wants to grow and neither can fostering this toxic competitive spirit.

3. Women owe you nothing. Not when you think you need a reason to respect them. Not if you don’t harass them. Not when you apologize for harassing them. Not when you ask for forgiveness.

Finally, to the women who have ever played in jazz bands, whether you quit or you still play: I admire you infinitely. You are stronger than the men who harassed you. You are more talented than they led you on to believe. You are incredible and wonderful and I wish you the best in whatever you are currently accomplishing.

 

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Cirsova #2 is now out, featuring my short story about the little-known supernatural arena of the American Revolution, “Hoskins’ War.” The enemy of your enemy is your friend, but when a colonial guerrilla warrior witnesses an attack by uncanny creatures upon a British column, he realizes that some wars transcend politics and geography and that if this massacre is left unanswered, there soon may be no one left to fight over whether America deserves its freedom.

I can also announce that “Foundering Fathers” is now available as part of the anthology Singular Irregularity. In a complete coincidence, it too examines the underpinnings of a pivotal event in America’s fight for liberty–albeit in a more lighthearted vein. When time-traveling Barclay Webster accidentally leaves Paul Revere senseless just before he is to make his legendary ride, who but Barclay will be there to rescue history? And when plans go awry, who but Soames, the inestimable valet, will be there to rescue Barclay?

And finally, Once a Knight, A Tale of the Daze of Chivalry, has been made available for free on Amazon for a very limited time. Fantasy Faction called Once a Knight, “cleverly written. … [A] pun in every paragraph and a smile in every sentence.” If you love Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or the films of Mel Brooks, this book belongs in your library.

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To those who believe with the fiery passion of a thousand suns that “Stairway to Heaven” is the greatest rock-n-roll song ever written, the current lawsuit over its opening notes is akin of blasphemy of the highest order, an attack of the Temple of Music itself, a barbaric assault on the foundations of late-Baby Boomer culture.

To those of us who simply believe that “Stairway to Heaven” was the greatest song of the rock-n-roll era because, well, we just do, we’re not happy either.

But is our wrath/tepid disapproval misplaced? Was the song lifted (consciously or unconsciously) from Spirit’s “Taurus”?

I haven’t the faintest idea. And fortunately, I’m not on that committee, er, jury.

But the question does arise (and too frequently now): What constitutes plagiarism? The standards, as I understand them, differ from music to fiction, but the question is the same. Recently, Sherrilyn Kenyon sued Cassandra Clare over the “Mortal Instruments” franchise. How that will end remains to be seen. Still, we are all operating from a common folkloric heritage which hardly varies even among disparate cultures. In other words, there’s nothing new under the sun. So what qualifies as “original”?

Spider Robinson won a Hugo for his short story, “Melancholy Elephants,” in which the government is contemplating extending copyrights in perpetuity. The story questions the consequences thereof. Hardly SF, really, but it won anyway.* I voted for it.

It seems, however, that we have enough unintended consequences already, with copyright “only” extending 75 years past the author’s death. (Which is silly enough. I mean, to 99% of authors, it’s beyond meaningless.) And the “Stairway” lawsuit is only about the opening chords of the song. Not the whole song, not the lyrics. Just the opening. The defense argues that both songs are based on old folk music, which may well be true. But even if it’s not, how much do you have to copy to violate copyright? I mean, notes are notes, right? Even if it’s all in how you put them together, there are still only a finite number of ways to do that, and if you break songs into their parts, pretty soon nobody will be able to write anything unless he can prove he never listened to music (or read a book) before putting pen to paper.

To put it in fiction terms, can you sue someone for using the sentence, “The man walked to the store,” just because you used it first? If Godzilla stomped Tokyo, does that mean no other kaiju can ever “stomp” a city? And what about all the resurgence in interest in “Golden Age Science Fiction”? Are we even allowed to write that stuff, or will we violate a copyright for a story written before we were born and never reprinted?

Most of us won’t have to worry, of course, because no one sues over a work that doesn’t make a truckload of money. But it’s the principle of the thing. We–

–wait, what? “Truckload of money” is copyright-protected? Then I guess I’m done. Just let me write “The End,” and… no, don’t tell me…

 

*Oddly enough, there was no “Social justice warriors are ruining SF!” outcry in 1982. Let’s hope the Sad Puppies don’t have access to a time machine.

 

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