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Showing posts by: John Klima click to see John Klima's profile
Apr 5 2010 12:08pm

2010 SFWA Author Emeritus: Neal Barrett, Jr.

I was quite excited to see that Neal Barrett, Jr. was announced as this year's SFWA Author Emeritus recipient. The award will be presented at this year’s Nebula Awards ceremony in Coco Beach, FL. I’ve been a huge fan of Neal’s work for a long time. I’ve always felt that his work didn’t receive the recognition it deserved, and it appears that SFWA agrees.

The Author Emeritus award is:

[A] way to recognize and appreciate senior writers in the genres of science fiction and fantasy who have made significant contributions to our field but who are no longer active or whose excellent work may no longer be as widely known as it once was.

Like many Southern writers—and in particular, Texas writers—Neal writes with a voice that’s instantly recognizable. Whether he's writing a Tom Swift novel, a short story, or a comic book, his voice shines through. His best work is the novel The Hereafter Gang, which The Washington Post called “one of the great American novels.” The book is currently out of print, but there are used copies around. My hope is that someone reprints it as it’s a shame it isn’t more readily available.

[Read more...]

Apr 2 2010 10:20am

Jim C. Hines First Novel Survey

Fantasy novelist Jim C. Hines was thinking about how writers break into the business, and in February of 2010, he decided to go out and create a survey of how authors made their first novel sale. After about a month of data collecting, Hines had almost 250 responses and decided to draw some charts and generate some generalities from them.

The basics of the survey are authors who published at least one novel that sold for at least $2,000 to a publisher. Hines admits that this excludes people who started with smaller publishers or self-published their own work (Hines is himself someone who self-published his first novel and then re-sold it to a New York publisher). The results are skewed towards genre (and specifically fantasy) authors, but as Hines says, those are the people he knows, as he’s part of that group, too.

[Some surprising facts and stats below the cut]

Mar 31 2010 6:21pm

Bone and Jewel Creatures by Elizabeth Bear

I’m a big fan of novellas. Right now, I don’t have a lot of time to spare for reading, so it’s very hard to get into novels. Most of the time, that’s ok since I really like short fiction. But sometimes I want something with a little more substance to it. And by substance, I mean story length, not quality.

Unfortunately, most magazines eschew the novella format as it eats up a lot of pages. That may sound like a weird (or stupid) reason to reject a story, but sometimes length comes into play and you have to pass on a longer piece. Thankfully, there are publishers like Subterranean Press, PS Publishing, and Night Shade Books (among others) who are publishing novellas as standalone books.

[Bone and Jewel Creatures, for example]

Mar 23 2010 10:28am

Dead Snow

I’m not always worried about the state of the short story. I don’t spend all my time, huddled in my basement, pouring over magazines and websites, trying to ascertain what the field is doing and what my place is in it. Sometimes I spend time with my family (I know, crazy, right?). Sometimes I go to my full-time job.

And sometimes I watch movies.

I’ll admit, this is a departure for me, talking about film instead of the printed word, but bear with me. I’ve mentioned in the past that I am not a good fan when it comes to genre media. But one place where I do dive into genre media is foreign (non-US) films.

I’m far from an expert, and I’m far from someone who’s seen a lot of foreign film. I average about 3-4 movies a month. Not bad, but even limiting my viewing experience to genre foreign films, I suspect it would take me decades to watch everything that’s out there at the rate I’m going.

The other night I queued up Dead Snow, a Norwegian film released last year which came out on DVD in February of 2010. Dead Snow is a horror comedy film featuring young students on a holiday vacation who meet up with zombie Nazis.

Look, we’re not talking Citizen Kane or even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre here. It’s a premise that’s been done to death, pardon the pun. The movie tries to be self-aware and address the fact that what’s happening is the same set-up that’s been happening since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974: pretty young things heading to a remote/deserted location that has a history of evil.

That said, the first half of the movie comes across as a pretty serious horror movie with good camera work and solid acting. The script isn’t anything fresh or new, but the pacing for the first half is tight and I have to admit, despite hundreds of horror movies under my belt, it kept me on the edge of my seat.

Then, it just gets zany.

[read on to see exactly how zany and watch out for SPOILERS galore]

Mar 18 2010 10:34am

Polyphony Anthology Series

A while back I compiled a list of influential anthologies or anthology series (I think I had the audacity to call it “The Most Influential”). Possibly the most controversial item on the list was the Polyphony series, started by Deborah Layne and Jay Lake in 2002. I’ve made no bones about the fact that it’s one of my favorite recent anthology series. Mostly that comes from the fact that many authors I enjoy reading have been in the series, including Jeffrey Ford, Theodora Goss, Jeff VanderMeer, Leslie What, Lucius Shepard, Alex Irvine, Carol Emshwiller, Howard Waldrop, Ken Scholes, and more.

I also posted a while back that Deborah Layne and Wheatland Press were going on hiatus for all of 2009. In case you’ve forgotten (and I suspect most of you haven’t) 2008 into 2009 was a particularly bad time in publishing and the economy in general. The thought was that Layne and everyone else would have some time to recoup from their financial difficulties and Polyphony 7 would be published in early 2010.


Feb 27 2010 2:57pm

Dreams of Decadence to Re-launch

It was almost a year ago when Warren Lapine and his Tir Na Nog Press bought Realms of Fantasy and saved it from ceasing publication. Now comes word that he’s re-launching Dreams of Decadence, the vampire-themed magazine that was published under Lapine’s DNA Publications. This current incarnation of the magazine will shift the focus from vampire fiction to urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

The website currently only has the guidelines on it, and I hope that it gets redesigned before they launch the magazine. I’m assuming right now they’re focusing on getting stories in to build a backstock so they can begin publishing issues. There’s no mention of when the magazine is coming out, so I don’t know if we can look forward to reading it this year or not.

[Read more]

Feb 22 2010 12:01pm

Internet Review of Science Fiction Closing and Some Short Fiction Thoughts

The Internet Review of Science Fiction (IRoSF) has published what likely will be its last issue. Starting in 2004, IRoSF started publishing a mostly monthly online issue of reviews and columns. Each issue could have interviews, con reports, reviews, spotlights on an aspect of the field, and more. While I didn’t always agree with their opinions, I always found the writing to be excellent.

Now, after almost seven years of content, IRoSF is suspending publication. The usual culprits crop up: lack of funds, limited time, the need to stretch one’s self creatively in a different direction, and so on. (the first two are outlined in Bluejack’s penultimate editorial which also gives a nice history of IRoSF for the historically inclined, the last one is interpreted by me)

I, for one, will miss IRoSF and its intelligent writing. I will also miss it for selfish reasons. There are fewer and fewer places that provide reviews of short fiction, and IRoSF was one of the better ones. I don’t know that many new subscribers were coming from IRoSF’s reviews of Electric Velocipede, but I could tell that the reviews always sent people over to my site to look things over.

[more thoughts on short fiction after the jump]

Jan 26 2010 5:59pm

Weird Tales Promotions and Changes

Just announced over on the Weird Tales website is that editor Ann VanderMeer is becoming editor-in-chief of Weird Tales. Additionally, Paula Guran—editor of Pocket Books Juno line—will be taking over as the magazine’s nonfiction editor, Campbell Award winner Mary Robinette Kowal will be the magazine’s art director, while former creative director Stephen H. Segal is leaving the magazine to become acquisitions editor at Quirk Books, the people who brought you Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. To quote from the site:

“Ann has done an outstanding job since joining the Weird Tales editorial team three years ago,” said publisher John Betancourt. “For two decades she’s been one of the most talented, cutting-edge editors in the business, so we’ve been thrilled to see her finally burst onto SF’s center stage, both with Weird Tales and with her recent run of high-profile anthologies. We could not be more pleased to have Ann representing the proud tradition of the world’s oldest fantasy magazine.”

I can’t believe it’s already been three years since Ann took over as editor. I think she and Stephen did a phenomenal job on re-inventing an institutional magazine and making it fresh and new. I think Stephen will do a great things over at Quirk Books, and I look forward to seeing what the new staff does at Weird Tales.

Now if only these Weird Tales promotions came along with some promotions like reduced subscription rates or a free coffee Cthulhu mug with a new subscription or something, right?

John Klima is the editor of the Hugo Award winning Electric Velocipede. The magazine is going quarterly in 2010.

Jan 25 2010 5:26pm

2010 Hugo Awards Open for Nominations

It’s that time of year again: the Hugo Awards nominations are open! They officially opened on January 1, 2010 and will remain open until March 31, 2010 March 13, 2010. This year, the Hugos will be awarded at AussieCon 4 in Melbourne, Australia (I actually assume you all knew where Melbourne is, but hey, maybe I meant Melbourne, FL). That means that you have to be at least a supporting member of this year’s convention, or a supporting or attending member of last year’s convention in Montreal, Canada in order to make nominations.

If you aren’t already a member, past or present, a supporting membership to this year’s convention will set you back: US or CAN $50; AU $70; € 35; £25; or ¥4,900. The trick is, you have to buy a supporting membership by the end of January in order to be eligible to nominate.

This is an annual dilemma I face. On the one hand, I feel that $50 is a lot of money just for the privilege of nominating and then voting on the Hugo Awards. On the other hand, I personally feel that nominating for and voting on the Hugo Awards is one of the most important things I do in regards to the field. Having won a Hugo (that’s me having breakfast with my Hugo in the photo), I feel this even more strongly.

[Read more...]

Jan 8 2010 10:21am

Forthcoming Short Fiction from Subterranean Press

I’ve recently received a bunch of short fiction collections from Subterranean Press, including a re-issue of Thomas Ligotti’s Songs of a Dead Dreamer. Originally published in 1985, expanded in 1989, and now revised for 2010, this is a book for anyone who likes quiet, supernatural horror. That’s over-simplifying the book, however.

If you’ve read Ligotti, you’re likely already excited, so I’ll just mention that this is the first of four reprints that will eventually comprise the definitive editions of Ligotti’s work. For those new to Ligotti, his style of quiet, bleak horror is not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t scare with blood and gore, but rather its terror comes from an oppressive and dense style more akin to Henry James* or Bruno Schulz. While I like blood and guts horror, it’s writing like Ligotti (which is a misnomer as there is no one who writes like Ligotti) that sticks with me over time.

[Read more...]

Jan 7 2010 2:24pm

New Realms of Fantasy Website

Realms of Fantasy recently launched its first, as they call it, “real” website. There’s a nice amount of content on the site for people to explore; there’s everything from covers to fiction to blogging from the editorial staff. Also, as part of getting an up-to-date website for the magazine, they are offering the current issue (that’s February 2010, which hit newsstands in December 2009) as a downloadable PDF! So if you’ve been curious about the magazine, but never picked it up, here’s your chance to see what they’re doing. I wouldn’t pass on this deal if I were you. Update: while the link was working, the offer was only intended for 2009. Sorry about that!

I think it’s great that Realms of Fantasy has gone ahead and made a website that gives their readers a chance to interact with them. I don’t know what they expected of that, and some of the comments are less than charitable. But that’s what happens when you let people talk. Some people will say things you don’t like.

I, for one, wish they had done something to make their site stand out from other genre fiction sites. The new Realms of Fantasy site is eerily reminiscent of the Night Shade Books site, and even compares to places like Tor Books, Prime Books, Fantasy Magazine, Clarkesworld Magazine, and Sense Five Press. Yes, the name-across-the-top, links-under-the-name, three-column design is easy to read and fairly standard. And maybe it’s just due to the fact that a lot of these sites are based on or run in Wordpress that’s causes them to look similar. Still, it would be nice to be looking at the Realms of Fantasy website and know that’s the site I’m looking at without having to refer to the URL.

It’s not unheard of for publishers to use (oh, just say copy, what are you afraid of?) what someone else has done to their advantage. I mean, got a book you feel will appeal to Jim Butcher fans? Design it to look like a Jim Butcher book. Got a big, fat fantasy series that Robert Jordan fans will enjoy while they wait for the next book? Get Darrell K. Sweet to do a cover for you. It’s smart business.

That’s probably not the case here. I don’t know that Realms of Fantasy set out to copy someone else’s website. But I can’t help but make the comparisons when I see it, and I find that distracting.

John Klima is the editor of the Hugo Award-winning zine Electric Velocipede.

Dec 9 2009 11:50am

Short Fiction Announcements

There are many exciting short-fiction-related happenings going on this month! First, Jetse de Vries is running a competition related to his forthcoming anthology of optimistic (hence the photo) science fiction, Shine. He’s taken excerpts from stories to be published in Shine, and you have to select the correct ending to the excerpt from four choices. You get one point for each correct answer and can earn an additional point if you can guess the author. More details on the rules are available here. And, being a competition, there are prizes to be won. Jetse has done a number of fun things while ramping up to the release date of the anthology, and this is just one more. The contest ends on December 15 so get cracking!

[More under the fold!]

Dec 2 2009 4:47pm

Interview with John Joseph Adams

This is another interview that was slated to take place at the 2009 World Fantasy Convention. However, due to scheduling mishaps and illness, it did not occur. John Joseph Adams took the time to answer my questions via e-mail. At the end of 2009 Adams will be leaving The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction where he has been an assistant editor for about nine years to be the editor of Lightspeed, an online science fiction magazine. He’s also made a name for himself as an anthologist, at least partially due to a number of reprint anthologies he put together for Night Shade Books including the immensely popular zombie anthology The Living Dead.

Can you give us a little background about yourself?

I’m a geek. I love sf and fantasy. I listen to metal. I follow the Oakland Raiders and the Orlando Magic. (One of these teams is currently quite good; one of them is quite not.) I’m obsessed with Rock Band. I have an illogical affinity for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Desolate post-apocalyptic landscapes and zombies are currently paying my bills.

[Continue the interview after the jump]

Dec 1 2009 10:20am

60th Anniversary Issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

This year marks the 60th anniversary of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. To mark the occasion, Tachyon Books is publishing The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, an anthology of more than two dozen stories that appeared for the first time in F&SF. The line-up is quite impressive with all sorts of writers from Stephen King to Shirley Jackson to Neil Gaiman to Ursula K. Le Guin. The anthology includes some of the magazine’s best-known stories, such as “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury, “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, and “The Electric Ant” by Philip K. Dick. If you’ve somehow managed to never encounter the magazine, The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction is an excellent introduction. Heck, it’s just a great collection of stories.

[cross the jump to read the review of the issue]

Nov 30 2009 10:30am

Reprint Anthologies from the VanderMeers and others

Ann and Jeff VanderMeer have announced a follow-up to their anthology Steampunk (see image to your right) called Steampunk Reloaded. In the announcement, they mention that they are looking to read submissions from December 15, 2009 to February 15, 2010. To quote from the announcement:

Our definition of Steampunk is fairly broad, so if in doubt, send it. Keep in mind that Steampunk has become much more diverse over the past few years, and we are very interested in non-traditional and multi-cultural points of view.

Go to the announcement directly to get all the details on word length, submission address (both electronic and physical), and so on. The original anthology was a lot of fun with work from writers like Michael Chabon, Neal Stephenson, Joe R. Lansdale, Ted Chiang, and many more. I’m looking forward to what the VanderMeers pull together on this next anthology.

[Read more...]

Nov 23 2009 2:45pm

An interview with Garth Nix

Garth Nix is a New York Times bestselling author of the immensely popular Abhorsen trilogy, The Keys to the Kingdom series (Australian site here, Scholastic Books site here), and The Seventh Tower books among other short stories and novels.

Nix was recently Guest of Honor at the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose, CA. I sat down to ask him a few questions. Unfortunately, as we suffered through technical difficulties, the live interview did not happen. Nix was gracious enough to take my questions via e-mail and send me his responses.

Following herewith is the interview.

Did you set out to write material for younger readers, or did it happen naturally?

I deliberately wrote my first (finished) novel, The Ragwitch, for children. But I also wrote it for myself, both as I was at say ten years old, and as I was at the time of writing. Since then, I guess I’ve continued to write for a younger version of myself and for the current version. I tend to think of stories and books as being for everyone, just with an “entry reading age”, rather than an age range. What I mean by this is that a book may have an entry level of say 10 or 11, when the book first becomes accessible, but that hopefully it will have additional layers of meaning, story and context that makes it enjoyable and interesting for older readers of any age.

Generally speaking, I find that stories find their own entry level. Sometimes when I am thinking up a story I think it will have a younger entry level, but when I write it, the “top layer” of story that is most accessible is older and it ends up being for young adults, which means essentially for adults as well, but not for children.

[jump with me to more interview with Garth Nix!]

Nov 11 2009 6:12pm

Finch by Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer’s fantastical city of Ambergris has always been—in my opinion—on a par with places like Gormenghast, Melinboné, Bas-Lag, or Amber. That is, a completely believable fantasy world where I would never, ever, not even in a million years or for a million dollars, want to go. And of all of the aforementioned places, Ambergris is top of that list as the one that’s the most deadly.

From The City of Saints and Madmen through Shriek: An Afterword to VanderMeer’s new novel Finch, Ambergris is a place where you feel just as likely to get a knife slipped into your kidneys as find a place to eat lunch. Not that the other places are a Disney-esque location where only fun happens, but there’s just a little something grittier about Ambergris. If you’ve never read any of VanderMeer’s Ambergris tales, see below* for a quick history of the city. 

In Finch we follow the titular character while he works to solve a double homicide of a human and a gray cap (small mushroom-like, underground dwelling denizens). Unlike previous iterations of Ambergrisian tales where the language was either lush and baroque (The City of Saints and Madmen) or academic and literary (Shriek: An Afterword), Finch is gritty and subversive. It’s noir to the nines. You’ve got fisticuffs, gun fights, detective work, spies, and more (and yes, Finch has the requisite sexy lady in his life).

[Jump with me to learn more about Finch; spoilers are present but labeled!]

Nov 2 2009 10:25am

Last Drink Bird Head Awards

This is a quickie from World Fantasy in San Jose: the results of The First Annual Last Drink Bird Head Award. The awards are named after the anthology Last Drink Bird Head from Ministry of Whimsy Press (an imprint of Wyrm Publishing). The proceeds from the anthology benefit the ProLiteracy charity. Contributors include Peter Straub, Ellen Kushner, Gene Wolfe, Tanith Lee, and over 80 others.

The awards, both the categories and the finalists, were chosen by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, who edited the anthology. I found these categories interesting, as they focus on aspects of the field that are very different from your typical awards. Given that, the categories are highly specific and range from the slightly sarcastic (i.e., Gentle Advocacy) to the very serious (i.e., Promotion of Reading).

Without further ado (winners in bold):

Gentle Advocacy
In recognition of individuals willing to enter into blunt discourse about controversial issues…

- K. Tempest Bradford
- Nick Mamatas
- John Scalzi

Tireless Energy
In recognition of individuals who selflessly give of themselves for worthy organizations or causes…

- Natania Barron (for the Outer Alliance)
- Leslie Howle (for Clarion West and Hugo House activities)
- Rina Weisman (for SF in SF and the Variety Children’s Charity of Northern California)

Promotion of Reading
In recognition of individuals whose efforts contribute to the promotion of reading or an increase in reading proficiency…

- Colleen Cahill (for her work at the Library of Congress as an advocate for genre fiction and as the library’s representative to the ALA)
- James Gunn (for his work with AboutSF)
- Susan Straub (for her work as the creator and director of the Read to Me program, the goal of which is, in part, to “stimulate the imagination”)

Expanding Our Vocabulary
In recognition of writers whose fiction or nonfiction exposes readers to new words and, often, new ideas…

- John Clute
- Hal Duncan
- Catherynne M. Valente

International Activism
In recognition of those who work to bring writers from other literary traditions and countries to the attention of readers in North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia…

- Charles Tan (for Bibliophile Stalker and various ad hoc efforts)
- Lavie Tidhar (for internet advocacy and for editing The Apex Book of World SF)
- James and Kathy Morrow (for editing The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent and continuing advocacy efforts)

Special Achievement Award

The winner of a Special Achievement Award also will be announced at the Last Drink Bird Head party. This award is geared toward recognizing individuals who are proactive behind the scenes but whose efforts often don’t receive public recognition. The winner will receive an elegant Hieronymous Bosch bird-with-letter figurine, a certificate, and chocolate. Starting with year two, the award will be named after the first year’s winner.

Neil Clarke

Congratulations to all the winners!

John Klima is the editor of the Hugo winning zine Electric Velocipede as well as the upcoming fairy tale reprint anthology Happily Ever After.

Oct 16 2009 3:36pm

Two New Magazines in One Day?

Hot on the heels of my announcement of Lightspeed, the online science fiction magazine to be edited by John Joseph Adams, comes the news of Daybreak Magazine, edited by Jetse de Vries. The magazine is the online companion to the Shine anthology that de Vries is editing for Solaris Books. The stories featured on Daybreak Magazine will not appear in the print anthology. Both the magazine and the anthology will feature near-future, optimistic science fiction, as de Vries was sick of reading down-beat fiction.

Daybreak Magazine launches today, October 16, 2009, and will post a story every second Friday until the print edition is published. Shine is currently slated to appear in April 2010. De Vries hints that the online fiction may appear beyond that date.

Oct 16 2009 12:30pm

New Science Fiction Magazine: Lightspeed

After all those announcement of magazines closing, and the general down feeling of the genre short fiction market, it’s exciting to be able to announce a new magazine. Lightspeed is a new monthly online science fiction magazine from Prime Books that will launch in June 2010.

John Joseph Adams (current assistant editor for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction as well as the editor of many excellent anthologies such as The Living Dead and Federations) will select and edit the magazine’s fiction, and Andrea Kail (a former Late Night With Conan O’Brien producer) will handle the nonfiction. Adams will be leaving his post at F&SF at the end of the year to focus on the magazine as well as his other editorial projects.

I don’t know about you, but I think this is pretty exciting news. Adams has shown himself as a worthy editor and I think Lightspeed will make a great companion to Prime Books’ consistently strong (and appropriately named) online fantasy fiction magazine: Fantasy Magazine. I know the official launch is a ways off, but it’s still good to hear about a new magazine starting, particularly one with as good a pedigree as this one has.