Monthly Archives: September 2013

Tumblr provides accidental CROWFLIGHT images

I love the stuff Tumblr throws up. I follow a few fashion blogs – I know nothing about fashion but I enjoy photography and interesting clothes – and this just appeared on my dash (by photographer Ekaterina Belinskaya)

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All I can think is that’s almost exactly how Chief Minister Renna of the Rock looks in my head, except that Renna has dark hair. Gorgeous. Also, hey, I should do a character rundown post. In the next couple of days, maybe.

Check out the rest of Belinskaya’s stuff, too. She’s pretty fabulous.

Draft is birthed.

Ravenblood, book II of Casting the Bones, is done. Just shy of 83k words. For the record, that’s three books written so far in 2013, with a fourth planned before the end of the year (book III), which honestly kind of blows my mind a little because I never saw myself being a writer who could work that fast and not produce utter crap.

I mean, I don’t think this is utter crap. I hope not.

The End never stops being a odd phrase to write.

My back hurts.

Crowflight giveaway!

As promised, I’m giving away a copy of my new book Crowflight! To enter, just fill in the form below, and I’ll draw a winner at random after October 13th.

If you want to find out more about the book itself, clicky. If you want to read the first chapter, clicky. And of course, if you actually end up spending money on the book, that is incredibly awesome and so much appreciated.

Go! Enter! Free! Yay!

Corvidae – fun facts! So fun.

Crowflight focuses on Turn, a member of the Crow tribe – the people of the land of Nicht appointed by the goddess Atropos to lead the souls of the dead across The_Crow_and_the_Pitcher_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_19994the space between the worlds and to whatever comes after. But Crowns aren’t the only inhabitants of Nicht; there are the Ravens, nomadic sorcerers mistrusted by the other two tribes, and there are the Rooks, the keepers of justice and the law, who live in the ancient city of Calvaria. The three aren’t in any kind of open conflict – at least not initially – but none are especially fond of each other, though all three recognize that the other two have some purpose to serve in the organization of the world. Of the three, the Rooks and the Crows get along the best. No one likes the Ravens. The Ravens appear to have accepted this, given that there isn’t much they can do about it. But of course, when mistrust festers for long enough, the results can be terrible…8870200266_3104ed4d7f_o-220x330

Obviously I chose ravens, rooks, and crows because of the ties to death and the afterlife that they have in many cultures. But as creatures, they’re awesome for a bunch of other reasons as well. Here are a few, which you might or might not know.

So yeah, corvids are seriously cool. And it’s interesting how ubiquitous they are in various human cultures, as well as the ways in which a lot of their different depictions share things in common. This is only part of why they seemed natural go-tos for the inhabitants of a world that straddles the border between life and death. I hope that I’ve managed to keep them interesting.

Sunday Linkdump: Life is easier when one of us is dead

The Orbital Antares/Cygnus launching at Wallops Island on Sept.18. Photo by husband. Click image for full set.

It’s baaaaaaaaaaack.

  • “The New York Times, if Every Word Was Removed Except ‘Cyber'”. It used to be about sex. Now it’s about war.
  • “Why Today’s Inventors Need to Read More Science Fiction”. Actually, how about why everyone needs to read more science fiction?

    On the deepest levels, your consciousness doesn’t make a distinction between experiences you’ve had and the experiences of characters in stories you’ve heard. This is why fiction is so powerful and why human beings seem to need to tell, collect, and understand stories. Fiction allows you to live more lives in the space-time of one lifetime than you would normally be able to. It allows you to benefit from the outcome of simulations without being exposed to the dangers or time constraints that you would be forced to undergo if you had to live every experience that informs your reality by yourself. In a post-industrial society of tool using primates, like ours, technology is one of the defining factors, and so science fiction, with its tendency to emphasize technology, is a way of running exponentially iterative design processes to conceive and create new technologies.

  • So there was that time when an accident with a B-52 almost threw us into a nuclear conflict by accident and it turns out that “almost” is really goddamn almost.
  • “The Liquid Self”. Ephemeral social media has the potential to liberate us from the more static selves imposed by traditional social media profiles.

    Dominate social media has thus far taken a stand, a radical one in my opinion, for a version of identity that is highly categorized and omnipresent, one that forces an ideal of a singular, stable identity that we will continuously have to confront. It is a philosophy that doesn’t capture the real messiness and fluidity of the self, fails to celebrate growth, and is particularly bad for those most socially-vulnerable. I wonder how we can build social media that doesn’t always intensify our own relationship to ourselves by way of identity boxes. I think temporary social media will provide new ways of understanding the social media profile, one that isn’t comprised of life hacked into frozen, quantifiable pieces but instead something more fluid, changing, and alive.

  • Don’t do these things with professors. Just don’t. Don’t ever.
  • Writing cultures outside your own in SFF. Which can be tricky. So tread carefully.

    [N]ot discouraging you from writing what you want to write (I’d be the last one in a position to do so!); but it’s good to ask yourself why you’re writing what you’re writing; to be aware of the consequences; and to promote writings by people from the actual culture in addition to your own—because they have voices of their own, but more trouble getting heard.

  • “Fuck You. I’m Gen Y, and I Don’t Feel Special or Entitled, Just Poor”.

    You have no idea about student debt, underemployment, life-long renting. “Stop feeling special” is some shitty advice. I don’t feel special or entitled, just poor. The only thing that makes me special is I have more ballooning debt than you.

  • Digital libraries and the sensory experience of particular kinds of space.

    Those nostalgic for books with paper and bindings frequently reference the familiar musty smell of a book, the weight of the text in somatictheir hands, the sound of flipping pages. A traditional library, similarly, has a quite distinct sensory profile. Scents of Freshly vacuumed carpets mix with slowly disintegrating paper and the hushed sounds buzzing fluorescent bulbs. The lightly dusted, thickly bound books align row after row, adorned with laminated white stickers with small black letters and numbers, guiding readers to textual treasures organized by genre, topic, author, and title. These sensory stimuli may evoke calm, excitement, comfort, all of these things together. Indeed, being in a library has a feel. To fear the loss of this somatic experience, this “feel” is a legitimate concern. With a new kind of library, and a new medium for text, a particular sensory experience will, in time, be lost forever.

  • The boundaries between fandom and creators have always been weird and are getting weirder in lots of weird ways that people don’t quite understand and everything is just kind of really weird. And surprise, surprise, some people are being serious goddamn jerks about the weirdness.

    A reader disliking a book or having a problem with aspects of it and saying so in public is not bullying. A columnist talking about the potential pitfalls of authors coming into reader conversations and citing an example is not bullying. Concern for the degree of coziness that some blogs have with the industry is also not bullying. And it’s also not bullying to object to authors participating in discussions of their work when they haven’t been specifically invited to do so.

    It’s also not silencing or attacking and it absolutely is not justification for namecalling on social media. Some of that namecalling has included gendered insults and sexual assault threats. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this development and yet I am.

I killed my baby with a bullet, one last shot right into her head
And I’m falling falling falling down

More good stuff today – Shimmer 17 release

Guess what else is out today? Shimmer #17! Which features stories by me, Helena Bell, A.C. Wise, Damien Angelica Walters, Lavie Tidhar, and a whole

mess of other awesome people.

You can read excerpts of each story at the link above. Here’s a bit of mine, “Love in the Time of Vivisection”.

A Setting

Stripped of its skin, muscle is very beautiful.

He brings a mirror and shows mine to me, my powerful, corded thighs and the harder stripes of red and white at my hips and the bars of my stomach. My arms. He has left my breasts untouched; those will be handled with exquisite care when most of the rest of me is done. I am a creature of glistening red. I am a wet ruby, run through with pale flaws. I move—I still can, a little—and I watch my gemstone body pull and flex.

He says he loves every part of me. As he pulls me slowly to pieces, he has an opportunity to acquaint himself with all of those component parts. This is both a gift that I give to him and a demonstration of himself to me, proof of what he says.

The ultimate test of any claim is whether one can hold to it when it is made as literal as possible. As literal as flesh. As bone. As the edge of a knife.

Crowflight: My baby has been released into the big bad world

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As I was yelling about on various social media outlets yesterday, Crowflight – Book I of Casting the Bones – has been released and is now available to spend your hard-earned dollars on.

Goodreads link is here, if you’re so inclined.

It’s been almost exactly a year from completion of the first draft to release of the final; I wrote the book in October of 2012, as I was coming off one of the hardest semesters and summers of my graduate career. I’d taken and passed my comprehensive exams, I’d had a bit of a mental breakdown as a result, and I was retreating into writing in order to help heal myself. In many ways I’m still there. As I told Elise Tobler in the interview she did with me, a lot of what Turn goes through in Crowflight came out of those feelings of anxiety and uncertainty: having one vision for your future and having that vision entirely upended by events mostly beyond your control. Turn is a reluctant hero; she accepts her role but she never entirely embraces it. She doesn’t want the responsibility of saving an entire world on her shoulders. She’s not a coward; she’s just tired and hurting.

But we don’t always get to make those choices.

In the next couple of weeks I’m going to be offering a chance to win a copy of the book, and there will also be some assorted goodies. For today, allow me to offer, for free, the first chapter. If you like it, maybe you’ll check out the rest.

Continue reading

Sunday Linkdump: Find the lady of the light

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Only a few things, but some big stuff.

  • This is all over the place already but it’s such a wtf moment that it’s worth reposting: The NSA, in the name of “national security”, has engaged in a massive conspiracy to hack into private information and weaken digital security across the globe. These people are master criminals in all but name. If there was any pretense that they were subject to the rule of law in any form, that should be all over and done with now.
  • Along those lines: The very idea that the US – or any state wishing to appear to be powerful – is subject to the rule of law is a farce. Not only that, but by definition the system is constructed in such a way as to make it practically impossible. We’re seeing that in the president’s decisions re: Syria, but it’s always been true.

    If American foreign policy is anything, it is not even-handed and impartial, and international law is the least of its concerns. It is selfish, interested, aggressive, petty, and vindictive. It is a state arrogating to itself the right to make arbitrary choices, to make the rules while other countries only follow them. And to prove that distinction—to demonstrate that while the US and its allies can behave according to one standard, other nations can be stripped of that privilege, at will—the US must not only establish “red lines,” and enforce them, but it is the very arbitrary nature of those red lines which allows them to function as signs on the international stage. Lawlessness is how a state proves itself sovereign; submission to law is the sign of the weak.

  • Philadelphia’s public schools are doomed, and the end is ugly. The end is also the work of callous, cruel, wicked men. I’m an educator, and Philadelphia is my home. This enrages me to the point of tears, to the point where I have to just not think about it anymore.

    This crisis, and the ultimate downfall of Philadelphia public schools, could have been avoided through proper financial management. At the end of the last budget year, the state of Pennsylvania had a modest surplus but Governor Corbett chose to allocate money towards building new prisons. Helen Gym, a public school parent and the founder of Parents United for Public Education, told the Washington Post, “Pennsylvania is one of three states in the nation without a funding formula for schools (based on enrollment, population, or other metric). The funding of districts is basically determined in back room deals among party leadership, with little consideration of need or even actual enrollment.”

  • I threw my oar into the #DiversityinSFF discussion with a post linking digital dualism to the boundary policing of science fiction.

    One of the things that’s going on here is sexist cultural conventions being produced and reproduced regarding women being bad at science, the devaluing of “feminine” things like emotion and relationships, which are being bolstered and which are bolstering our assumptions about technology as somehow disconnected from the reality of those things. Relationships begun and maintained via social media aren’t “real”. Emotion elicited and transferred via digital technology isn’t “real”. There are feelings and relationships and humanity and interiority, and then there’s technology.

  • And one final plug: I’m giving away a copy of We See a Different Frontier right over here. You have until the 18th to enter. Winner will be drawn at random.

Nightmares shifted in their sleep, in the darkness of the lake.

Snippet of the current short-story-in-progress

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After the loss of a limb, some people experience bereavement. Some people are angry. Some people adjust perfectly well. Some people have a hard time working with your particular family of prosthetics. Fewer than there used to be. The majority of people are fine with you, grateful for the advances that have produced you.

But I read the testimonials and I don’t see all that many people talking about it like it’s them. Theirs, yes. But not them.

A very few people experience a curious crisis of identity. They start believing that they aren’t human anymore. They have panic attacks, nightmares. They claim that not only are you not part of them but you’re a separate mind trying to take them over. A tiny minority actually engage in what’s being called re-amputation.

Footage of a man who hacked off his new leg with a meat cleaver. It took him fifteen minutes to get it all the way off. The pain was immense until he rendered the sensory apparatus inoperative. He has permanent nerve damage. The other leg doesn’t work now. He says he doesn’t regret it. He says incomplete but real human is better than the alternative.

We See a Different Frontier – win a free copy!

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Now that We See a Different Frontier has been released – and is getting some fantastic critical response, some of which you can read about here, as well as Aliette de Bodard’s mini review here – it seems to me that it might be a good idea to give a free copy of it away to you lovely people. So enter below and in two weeks (September 18) I’ll select one person at random to receive a copy of the ebook in their choice of formats.

And of course, if you do win the book, we definitely appreciate reviews on it on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, etc. This is truly a fantastic anthology – we need to get the word out that it exists, in addition to being awesome. ToC is below.

  • Preface by Aliette de Bodard
  • Introduction by Fabio Fernandes
  • The Arrangement of Their Parts, Shweta Narayan
  • Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus, Ernest Hogan
  • Them Ships, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Old Domes, J.Y. Yang
  • A Bridge of Words, Dinesh Rao
  • The Gambiarra Effect, Fabio Fernandes *
  • Droplet, Rahul Kanakia
  • Lotus, Joyce Chng
  • Dark Continents, Lavie Tidhar
  • A Heap of Broken Images, Sunny Moraine
  • Fleet, Sandra McDonald
  • Remembering Turinam, N.A. Ratnayake
  • Vector, Benjanun Sriduangkaew
  • I Stole the D.C.’s Eyeglass, Sofia Samatar
  • Forests of the Night, Gabriel Murray
  • What Really Happened in Ficandula, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
  • Critical afterword by Ekaterina Sedia