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Showing posts by: Felix Gilman click to see Felix Gilman's profile
Apr 16 2014 10:00am

All the Planets are But Rays: Victorian-era Magical Societies, Telepathy, and Interplanetary Space Travel

People always ask where the ideas for books come from, and it’s usually a hard question to answer. Books don’t have just one idea, and the process of writing is an iterative one in which ideas come and go and don’t work out the way you initially expect. But I can identify at least one of the starting places for the current book.

I was sitting up at night feeding a baby and trying to read, and in a vague and sleepless way I was kicking around a half-dozen ideas for a new book, something science-fictional, or possibly some sort of Magical London Fantasy, why not, something with dueling occultists, when (in Alexandra Owen’s magnificent history The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern, which I had picked up for research on the latter idea) I read this beautiful sentence: “In September 1898 two respectable Victorians met in a private house in London for the express purpose of traveling to the planets.”

[Well. Did they now.]

Feb 27 2014 4:00pm

The Revolutions (Excerpt)

The Revolutions Felix Gilman

Check out The Revolutions, Felix Gilman’s tale of Victorian science fiction, arcane exploration, and planetary romance. Read an excerpt below and get the book March 1st from Tor Books!

In 1893, young journalist Arthur Shaw is at work in the British Museum Reading Room when the Great Storm hits London, wreaking unprecedented damage. In its aftermath, Arthur’s newspaper closes, owing him money, and all his debts come due at once.

His fiancé Josephine takes a job as a stenographer for some of the fashionable spiritualist and occult societies of fin de siècle London society. At one of her meetings, Arthur is given a job lead for what seems to be accounting work, but at a salary many times what any clerk could expect. The work is long and peculiar, as the workers spend all day performing unnerving calculations that make them hallucinate or even go mad, but the money is compelling...

[Read an Excerpt]

Dec 3 2012 4:00pm

The Rise of Ransom City (Excerpt)

Check out this excerpt from The Rise of Ransom City by Felix Gilman, out now:

This is the story of Harry Ransom. If you know his name it’s most likely as the inventor of the Ransom Process, a stroke of genius that changed the world.

Or you may have read about how he lost the battle of Jasper City, or won it, depending on where you stand in matters of politics.

Friends called him Hal or Harry, or by one of a half-dozen aliases, of which he had more than any honest man should. He often went by Professor Harry Ransom, and though he never had anything you might call a formal education, he definitely earned it.

If you’re reading this in the future, Ransom City must be a great and glittering metropolis by now, with a big bronze statue of Harry Ransom in a park somewhere. You might be standing on its sidewalk and not wonder in the least of how it grew to its current glory. Well, here is its story, full of adventure and intrigue. And it all starts with the day that old Harry Ransom crossed paths with Liv Alverhyusen and John Creedmoor, two fugitives running from the Line, amidst a war with no end.

[Read more]

Oct 27 2010 4:39pm

The Half-Made World (Excerpt)

We hope you enjoy this excerpt from The Half-Made World, a fantastical reimagining of the American West influced by steampunk, the American western tradition, and magical realism. For another taste of this world, check out Felix Gilman's short story “Lightbringers and Rainmakers.”




One fine spring afternoon, when the roses in the gardens of the Lodenstein Faculty were in bloom, and the lawns were emerald-green, and the river was sapphire-blue, and the experimental greenhouses burst with weird life, the professors of the Department of Psychological Sciences met in the Faculty’s ancient August Hall, in a handsomely-appointed upstairs library, where they stood in a little group drinking sherry and saying their goodbyes to their colleague Doctor Lysvet Alverhuysen—Liv, to her friends—who was, against all reasonable advice, determined to go west.

[Westward, ho!]

Oct 27 2010 8:30am
Original Story

Lightbringers and Rainmakers

This story is also available for download from major ebook retailers.

We hope you enjoy this story, set in the same world as Felix Gilman's new novel from Tor Books, The Half-Made World.

I.  The Incident in Wherever-It-Was

Hello May.

I haven’t written in a while and maybe it seems I only write when there’s bad news. Well, this is not the exception that proves the rule, if you know what I mean.

I lost almost all my business cards. If you got my last letter, you’ll remember I sent you one of them, so that you can see what your prodigal kid brother’s up to these days and maybe be proud, maybe just a little. If you didn’t get my letter—and who knows these days?—then they had my name, “Professor” Harry Ransom, “Professor” like that, in what they call “quotes,” because I always say I’m nothing if not honest, as best I can be, and at least I never claim to be anything I’m not. There were lightning bolts printed on either side of my name. Those cost extra. Under my name it said Lightbringer, then Licensed and then By Appointment, which weren’t exactly true but didn’t mean anything either way, as I saw it, and then below that Inventor of the Ransom Process for &c &c, which is true. A dollar for fifty at Tally’s Printers on Tenth Avenue in Melville City, and I bought two hundred-fifty, and in consequence went hungry for a week, and so did good old never-complaining Carver, my assistant, who I’m sure I’ve mentioned before.

Also I have lost my Apparatus, and my wagon, and Sasha (the horse), and just about everything else in the world I own except the white suit and my wits.

[If you got my last letter you’ll be thinking, Not again.]

Mar 9 2010 2:18pm

The Illusion of Understanding Michael Moorcock

OK, quick, from memory, which Moorcock books have you read? More importantly, what have you not (yet) read? I’ve been a devoted fan for 20+ plus years and have probably read, rough estimate here, maybe a third of his output.  (I’m not even counting the music at all. Doesn’t sound like my sort of thing).  Probably closer to a quarter. Probably less. Possibly a lot less. Close to nothing, maybe, relatively speaking.

I’ve read the Corum books, all six of them (there are only six, right?).  Ditto Hawkmoon; also six.  I have a good handle on the Corum and Hawkmoon books.  I’ve read two of the Erekose books: the one with the elves, and the one with the ice.  I think there was a third but I could never find it.  Mother London and King of the City and Behold the Man and Blood and Fabulous Harbors and mumble-mumble-something-the-third-one. I read the Elric books, of course—but here I start to get nervous.  I read what I think of as the real versions, i.e. the ones that I read as a teenager, albeit not in the prehistoric before-I-was-born short story format but collected as novels, up to and including the closer Stormbringer (its cover was a weird and unsettling shade of green); and also (some?) of the subsequently published novels, i.e. Fortress of the Pearl and the one with the Nazis; but then I recently read one of the Elric new collections they’re doing these days and it bears almost no resemblance to any of the stories I remember, which is both disturbing and fascinating.  Is my memory at fault or are there somehow two Elrics?  And let’s not even get started on Jerry Cornelius. . .

[Read more...]

Dec 24 2009 8:30am

Notes From an Emergency Meeting of the Institute for the Study of Cephalopod Progress

Recently, video footage surfaced documenting tool use among common octopuses. We at the Institute for the Study of Cephalopod Progress recently exchanged a number of missives to consider the implications for the American public. We present to you an excerpt of this exchange among members Felix Gilman, Jesse H. Bullington, Matthew B. Dyer and I.

I think the first question the public is going to want to know is what this documentation of octopus tool use may mean for human/cephalopod relations. Can you address this?

Matt Staggs

* * *

Dear Sir, 

Speaking as a life-long professional Coconut-Carrier (Chartered) I am deeply concerned about competition from the octopus so-called “community.”  It is well known that the octopus will work for mollusks and they have low standards of professional craft. They will drive down wages and quality, and they have too many legs.  (Eight, or so they claim, if you can believe it!) 

It is with great regret that I must call urgently for tariffs upon the Ocean, or possibly some form of undersea bombing campaign.

Fingers yes, tentacles no!

Yours sincerely, 
Felix Gilman, C-C(C) (retired)

* * *

Dear Sir or Madam:

Speaking only on behalf of myself and all red-blooded American Homo sapiens, I say we can no more assume the cephalopod community means us harm than we can assume the recipient of any missives we may send is a sir and not, contrary to what any warhawk coconut-carriers may think, a madam. It seems that by simply seeking to care for his or her individual needs a single member of Amphioctopus marginatus has raised the ire of the entire right wing, fear-mongering horde—tariffs? Bombing raids? All for fear of competition? Clearly Mr. (or Ms) Gilman is opposed to the very same healthy competition in the marketplace that made this country great, and like some demented coconut baron seeks to maintain the human monopoly on what should be a free market.

All this because a single, brave cephalopod straightened his or her collar, ran a besuckered tentacle along his or her mantle, and dared to ring the doorbell at what certain individuals would prefer to be an invitation-only evolutionary dinner party. Is there any reason why the cephalopod should not be welcomed? “Too many legs,” is all the speciesist can come up with: Too. Many. Legs.

What happened to America? When did hatespeech become an acceptable mode of discourse? When did we stop feeding our love-squid and start feeding our hate-squid? Is there any reason, any reason at all, why we should not take to the beaches, the harbors, the aquariums, enter the water, and embrace our new friends? All we want is to love, and be loved, and to live, live, and occasionally dress up like a hermit crab with the aid of a coconut shell. When you get right down to it, isn’t that all that everyone wants? When did we lose our way?

I pray for this cruel, arid world. Love yes, fear no. Love yes, fear no!

Yours, be you sir or madam, sapien or cephalopod, sincerely,
Jesse H. Bullington, American