Category Archives: News

2013: a Writerly Review

Two things happened recently that are very good.

First, Line and Orbit got a Top Pick in RT Book Reviews. The review is here, but is behind a paywall for the next couple of months. However, it includes words like:

[A] delightful romance with a brilliantly clever science fiction twist…A truly innovative story that will even reward after multiple reads.

Also, Lois Tilton has picked me as her “2013 new author of promise”, as well as selecting my story “Event Horizon” as one of her four standout pieces of the year from Strange Horizons.

Given those yay-worthy tidbits, it seems like a good time to review 2013, which was a pretty great year, all told.

  • Novels. I wrote four of these and most of a fifth. They are: Wordsinger, which is unpublished and is making the agent rounds; the first version of Fall and Rising (the sequel to Line and Orbit), which will probably never see the outside of my hard drive; Labyrinthian, which will hopefully get picked up for a 2014 release; Ravenfall (the sequel to Crowflight); and the fifth almost-complete one is the second version of Fall and Rising. I had two novels see publication, Line and Orbit and Crowflight. Line and Orbit earned me my first starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. Hopefully it won’t be the last. It also took silver in the Best Gay SF and bronze in the Best Gay Debut categories of the Rainbow Awards.
  • Short fiction. Seven stories published in all. Full list here.  Two of them – “Event Horizon” and “A Heap of Broken Images” – were given the status of “recommended” by Lois Tilton at Locus. “A Heap of Broken Images” was selected by Gardner Dozois for the 31st volume of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, my first and again hopefully not last appearance there. Other high points: I made my second appearances in Clarkesworld, Shimmer, and Strange Horizons. I’m probably most proud of “A Heap of Broken Images”, not only for the recognition it’s gotten but for the company it has in We See a Different Frontier, which is an amazing  anthology that I’m incredibly happy to have been featured in.
  • Coming up. The print edition of Line and Orbit will be out on February 4th, and I’ll be giving a signed copy away. Ravenfall will probably be out from Masque Books sometime this coming year, though nothing is finalized yet.  I have stories coming out in both Apex and Lightspeed, as well as a story in the anthology Long Hidden. Hopefully there will be much more on the way.
  • Goals. I hope to have Rookwar, the final book in the Casting the Bones trilogy, done in the next few months. I mean to write the final chapter of the story I and my co-author began in Line and Orbit. I don’t think Labyrinthian will get a sequel – I feel like I did all I want to with those characters – but there is another novel in the Line and Orbit universe that I want to write, probably concerning Ixchel’s past and her relationship with Adisa (ah, doomed love). I would really like to have an agent by this time next year. I have several short stories that I’m working on and of course I always want to be producing those. I love novels and I’m spending a lot of time on them these days but I will always need to write short stuff, I think.

So yeah, 2013 was pretty much awesome. If 2014 continues the trend, I’ll consider myself both happy and fortunate indeed.

The Year’s Best Science Fiction 31 ToC


Today SF Signal released the table of contents for the 31st volume of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, and I don’t mind saying that I’m fairly omgomg about the company I’m in. Check this shit out:

  1. “The Discovered Country” by Ian R. MacLeod
  2. “The Book Seller” by Lavie Tidhar
  3. “Pathways” by Nancy Kress
  4. “A Heap of Broken Images” by Sunny Moraine
  5. “Rock of Ages” by Jay Lake
  6. “Rosary and Goldenstar” by Geoff Ryman
  7. “Gray Wings” by Karl Bunker
  8. The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn
  9. “Transitional Forms” by Paul McAuley
  10. “Precious Mental” by Robert Reed
  11. “Martian Blood” by Allen M. Steele
  12. “Zero For Conduct” by Greg Egan
  13. The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard
  14. A Map of Mercury” by Alastair Reynolds
  15. One” by Nancy Kress
  16. “Murder on the Aldrin Express” by Martin L. Shoemaker
  17. Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince” by Jake Kerr
  18. The Plague” by Ken Liu
  19. “Fleet” by Sandra McDonald
  20. “The She-Wolf’s Hidden Grin” by Michael Swanwick
  21. “Bad Day on Boscobel” by Alexander Jablokov
  22. The Irish Astronaut” by Val Nolan
  23. “The Other Gun” by Neal Asher
  24. “Only Human” by Lavie Tidhar
  25. “Entangled” by Ian R. MacLeod
  26. “Earth 1″ by Stephen Baxter
  27. “Technarion” by Sean McMullen
  28. “Finders” by Melissa Scott
  29. “The Queen of Night’s Aria” by Ian McDonald
  30. “Hard Stars” by Brendan DuBois
  31. The Promise of Space” by James Patrick Kelly
  32. “Quicken” by Damien Broderick

It’ll be out in hardcover and paperback in July. Can’t wait.

Sunday Linkdump: A smile I’ve learned to fear

He's watching.

He’s watching.

So it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Stuffing some news in with the links.

To my immense chuffedness, Line and Orbit took silver in the Best Gay SF and bronze in the Best Gay Debut categories in the 2013 Rainbow Awards. Many, many congrats to all the winners and finalists.

Linky links.

  • “Michigan passes ‘rape insurance’ bill”. The Republican governor actually opposed it. Michigan, I cannot even with you.
  • “The Return of the Welfare Queen”. Which does not actually exist, naturally.

    The facts defy the stereotypes. The largest group of food-stamp recipients is white; 45 percent of all beneficiaries are children; and most people eligible for Medicaid are families with children in which at least one person in the household has a job.

  • “David Cronenberg Wants to Be Inside You.” On the Cronenberg exhibition currently making the rounds and Cronenberg’s overall oeuvre.
  • “Friday the 13th: A Ghost Story”. This past Friday was the 13th. So someone had a surprising and unwelcome visitor.
  • “Five Stages of Reading the Novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture”.

    The book starts with a special preface by Admiral Kirk. He introduces himself by talking about his name. Kirk, because he’s a traditionalist, Tiberius because of his grandfather’s fascination with the classics, and James after his uncle and his mother’s first love instructor.

    Yeah. That’s what it said. That’s page one.

  • Over at Cyborgology, David Banks has the first part of a post series we’re doing, of our own personal history with devices and digital technology. As I said on Twitter, it’s funny, insightful, and rather sweet.
  • And I have the first part of a two-part essay on sex and drones and how they go together.

    Drones have become a symbol of contemporary surveillance, a thing that’s always there and always watching and always potentially capable of doing harm. Sometimes this harm is through direct violence, and sometimes it’s merely the delivery of data to people who can use it against you. But either way, there are two aspects to the erotic power of drones, and they’re interrelated: Being known, and being controlled.

This has become my theme/end titles music for Labyrinthian, the SF novel I just finished writing, so enjoy.

Line and Orbit sequel news!

The news is that I’m rewriting it. Almost completely. Not going back through and changing some scenes around, not making some major adjustments. I mean I’m scrapping what I have and starting almost entirely from scratch. With the exception LineandOrbitof one subplot, and a few characters, it’s going to be a totally different book.

There are a number of reasons why I’m doing this. Some of it is that, on further consideration, there are  a number of aspects of Fall and Rising as the current version stands that simply don’t work as well as they could. I took on a lot in that book, and I’m not confident that I pulled all of it off as well as I might have. I’m not averse to failure, even in public, but it’s something that I also see no reason not to avoid if at all possible. A lot of Fall and Rising is uncomfortable, and I’m not convinced that all of it is uncomfortable in a good way.

Another reason is money. I want to sell this book and I want to get paid.

I haven’t had any luck finding a publisher for it as it is. This is a problem, and the problem is compounded by the fact that it’s a sequel, not a standalone novel. It’s also much bleaker than Line and Orbit, and while I love and value my bleak writing – my short fiction can be just brutal a lot of the time – I’m not sure that bleak is the right tone for this series. I don’t believe that sequels have to perfectly match their predecessors in tone, but I also don’t believe that they should be vastly different.

So while I dearly love Fall and Rising and while I’ve very proud of huge chunks of it, it’s going into the proverbial drawer and something else is happening. I view this as a learning experience. I don’t think it was a mistake, and I don’t think the effort I put into it was wasted. It just isn’t going to be what I thought it was.

The takeaway is that this never stops being an educational process.

So, as of right now, here are the things (I think) I know about this new version of the next chapter of Line and Orbit:

  • The focus is back on Adam and Lochlan. I love Eva and Kyle, and I think they’ll be showing up in a major way, but Adam and Lochlan were among the primary things that people seemed to fall in love with in the first book, and I think it makes sense to stick with them. That means that this is back to being primarily “M/M” (scare quotes because I am still not 100% comfortable with that categorical marker). There are a number of reasons why I think this is a Good Thing on the whole.
  • It’s not going to be as goddamn bleak. I think a lot of bad things will still happen, but not nearly to the degree that they were happening in the first version of the book.
  • Spoiler alert: For those of you who’ve read my story in Hellebore and Rue, you may see some familiar faces. I’m really pleased about this, and I’m happy that I’m doing this rewrite if only because I get to circle back around in that way.
  • Nkiruka, the would-be replacement for Ixchel, is still in the game.
  • The villain remains the same guy with  the same characterization. Because I love his perfect face.
  • It does essentially the same job as the first version. That is, setting up the third and final book in the series, in essentially the same way. We end at basically the same place, we’re just getting there by a very different route.

So that’s where things currently stand. I’ve started work on it and I don’t expect to blast through it nearly as fast as Labyrinthian (which takes place in the same ‘verse so will hopefully act as an appetite whettener), so we’re ideally talking a finished MS by the end of January at the latest. I’m also supposed to be writing Rookwar, the third book in the Casting the Bones trilogy, so Fall and Rising may get pushed back depending on what my priorities end up being. Oh, yeah, I’m also theoretically writing a doctoral dissertation. So there’s that.

Anyway, for those who are interested, them’s the haps.

Writerly updates

I’m planning to actually do a Sunday linkdump later this evening – shock! – but for the moment here’s a roundup of some stuff that’s been going on in the writing area of my life recently:

  • I’m writing yet another novel. More specifically, I’m over 45k words into another novel after less than two weeks of working on it. I have never worked this fast on anything except maybe my comprehensive exams. I’ve been yelling about it a lot on Twitter, and I worry that it comes off as bragging, and maybe it is a tiny bit, but my primary reasons are two-fold:


    It is, essentially, a book I decided I wanted to write in between the completing the second book in the Casting the Bones trilogy and beginning work on the third. I didn’t even originally intend for it to be novel-length; I thought it might be a novella, something easy and light and vaguely trashy based on an idea I had years ago and put aside until I could figure out how to approach it, namely: A (very) loose retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, only gay, and in space. Where Theseus is a bounty hunter and the Minotaur is the genetically engineered rogue supersoldier that he’s hired to hunt down. Working title is Labyrinthian.

    Having written three novels in very rapid succession that ended up having Serious Points, I wanted to write something for therapy, something fun and silly that might also, frankly, move some inventory. But it’s become a lot more than that. Honestly, I’m working so fast because it’s very hard right now to not work on it. I’m enjoying it that much. I aim to be done sometime in the next two weeks.

  • I had a story come out in Strange Horizons, “Event Horizon.” So far the critical response has been pretty great. Tangent sez: “This is a very self-aware piece, asking why people do awful things even as it tells a gripping story…the subtext is powerful and shocking.” Lois Tilton at Locus gave it a coveted “recommended”: “Of all the horror stories I’ve read this season, this one evokes the strongest sense of malevolence.”
  • “Across the Seam”, a story I wrote – in large part inspired by Rob’s own family history – about a Rusyn immigrant coal miner caught up in both gender troubles and a (true life) massacre of striking workers will be appearing in Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History in early 2014. I’m beyond excited about this.

Think that’s everything.

It’s been a majorly chaotic October and a lot about it has been difficult, but I realized a while ago that while I might get frustrated about things (agent-hunting has so far turned up nothing) and while I might experience doubt regarding specific projects, on the whole I don’t worry about whether I’m a good writer anymore. I know, objectively, that I’m good. Whatever else is going on, it feels pretty wonderful to finally be sure of that much.

News and updates: I sold a bunch of stuff.

By “a bunch” I mean “three”. Three recent story sales, all of which I’m extremely pleased about. Here they are:

  • “The Horse Latitudes” to Ideomancer (which I have been trying to crack forever so yaaaaaay (I think I might have mentioned this here before? Oh, well)
  • “Love in the Time of Vivisection” to Shimmer, which is sort of slipstream/horror and which is one of my favorite stories I’ve written in a while (and the title for which started out as a joke, no kidding)
  • “A Heap of Broken Images” to the colonial/post-colonial-themed anthology We See a Different Frontier. I’m especially excited about this last one, because a) it’s a terrific project concept, and b) LOOK AT THE TOC. You guys. You guys. asdfghjkl

“The Horse Latitudes” should be out in a couple of months. “Love in the Time of Vivisection” will be out this summer, as will We See a Different Frontier. I am excite.

Capclave 2012 Recap

As I’m sure you guessed from the post title, this is my Capclave 2012 recap. It was my first Capclave, and it’s left me pretty goddamn wiped, so instead of writing something narratively coherent and richly descriptive I’m going to just vomit up a bunch of bullet points. If that’s okay.

  • The panels were great. I went to a bunch on e-publishing and reading in the context of a lot of changing technology (Neil Clarke was on most of these and I wonder if he thinks I was stalking him or something). Also a panel on the autobiography of Cthulhu, which was both interesting and really funny, as well as confirming for me that I haven’t spent all these years entirely mispronouncing the dread name of the great tentacled horror from beyond the stars. Also a fun talk by John Ashmead on quantum mechanics that featured all the requisite bad Schrodinger’s Cat jokes. Also I’d seriously watch a TV show that was just a series of conversations between Nick Mamatas and John Scalzi.
  • The people were great. I finally got to meet Neil Clarke (see above) and he was intensely nice, and I was also relieved to see that he’s looking quite well, health-wise. He confirmed that Clarkesworld is going to be picking back up with its print issues, and also its annual anthologies, which is very happy-making. I also got to meet John Scalzi briefly, and he was incredibly gracious while I was awkward and blushing fiercely, and he signed a copy of Old Man’s War as a Christmas present for my dad (who introduced me to Robert Heinlein, so it seems like an appropriate gift). Also I ended up explaining Twitter backchannels to programming director Bill Lawhorn, which was also sort of awkward but quite fun.
  • Something I would like to do next time: Get on the program. I wasn’t in time to do that this go-round, but given how fun the panels were to attend, I’d like to try to be on some. I remember that went a long way toward helping me feel more at home when I went to Wiscon. Also, I need to work on being more social in general. I’m violently introverted (there was actually a panel on dealing with this, incidentally) and it’s really hard for me to approach people I don’t know. But given that I still don’t know most people at these things, I better suck it up and start doing some approaching.
  • Something I would like to see more of next time: A more vibrant Twitter backchannel. This is something I think Wiscon does really well, I think it’s  a really useful tool for introverts like myself in making connections with people that can translate over into physical space, and it also just generates good discussion. I feel like it’s mostly a cultural thing for it to be less present, and I’m not sure how to help foster it in this case. But I’d love to see it.

Thanks so much to everyone involved for making it such a good time.

It’s looking 99.99% likely that I’ll be at Philcon in a few weeks. RavenCon and MystiCon are also now on the table. The updated list of probables is here. It’s a bit odd to go from doing maybe one con a year to attempting to do six, but I’m looking forward to it.