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[books] METAtropolis pre-order announced

I am pleased to announce that the audio-anthology METAtropolis is currently available for pre-order. Original fiction by Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, John Scalzi, Karl Schroeder and me. This means the list of readers is also out, a very start-studded cast indeed. Here’s the ToC:

1. “In the Forests of the Night” by Jay Lake, read by Michael Hogan (Col. Tigh on Battlestar Galactica)
2. “Stochasti-city” by Tobias Buckell, read by Scott Brick (2008 Audie Award winner, for Dune)
3. “The Red in the Sky is Our Blood” by Elizabeth Bear, read by Kandyse McClure ( Anastasia “Dee” Dualla on BSG)
4. “Utere Nihil Non Extra Quiritationem Suis” by John Scalzi, read by Alessandro Juliani (Lt. Felix Gaeta on BSG)
5. “To Hie From Far Cilenia” by Karl Schroeder, read by Stefan Rudnicki (reader of the Ender’s Game series)

Pretty damned squee, hey?

The anthology will be released on October 21st. If you pre-order now through Audible, they will give you my story as a teaser.

[books] Alembical now available for pre-order

Alembical, an anthology of four novellas from Paper Golem press, is now available for pre-order. This book has some very fine work from Bruce Taylor, jimvanpelt, Ray Vukcevich and myself — in my case, the alternate history novella “America, Such as She Is” about a World War II which ended rather differently. I think it’s one of my very best stories to come into print this year.

So what are you waiting for? Go pre-order a copy!

Alembical cover

[books] The Gone-Away World

So, a bit of a review of Nick Harkaway’s book, The Gone-Away WorldPowell’s | Amazon ]. As I said before [ | LiveJournal ], “It’s about what you would have gotten if Booth Tarkington and James Joyce had sobered up and collaborated on some post-apocalyptic cyberpunk.” That only scratches the surface of what’s going on here.

I know not everyone liked the structure of this. fjm for example said that the book she wanted to read was 300 pages shorter. I take her meaning — much of this plot arc is backstory — but I was fine with that. It’s voicy writing, and I’m a sucker for well-executed voice. The world-building wobbles between rubber science and theatre of the absurd, in a bravely unselfconscious way. But this novel is driven by character, and by the language of character. Most of all, it’s a beautiful, horrible journey.

I don’t know if Harkaway is destined to be a science fiction writer. He’s publishing with Knopf, he has a literary pedigree to match Joe Hill’s, and whatever his auctorial ambitions are, they happen to be entirely his business. But he’s at least dropped into our clubhouse for a spell, and done something which struck me as a refreshing and fascinating without committing the too-common literary sin of gross disrespect for genre’s sources and traditions. I liked the book so much that I recommended it for a Nebula, and will almost certainly do the same when Hugo season rolls around.

[books] The Gone-Away World

I’m currently reading an ARC of Nick Harkaway’s The Gone-Away World (Knopf, September, 2008). It’s a hell of a book, I have to say.

It’s about what you would have gotten if Booth Tarkington and James Joyce had sobered up and collaborated on some post-apocalyptic cyberpunk.

Full report later when I’m done, but I strongly suggest you go pre-order this sucker from your local bookseller, or, because I think we have a winner here.

[books|writing] Working on Tourbillion

Finished the initial draft of the Tourbillion outline on this morning’s flight. It was an interesting experience. casacorona and I had discussed the book at WorldCon. I’ve known for quite a while I was going to write it, and had some basic plot and character stuff rolling around in my head. She and I were able to crystallize the structure and direction of the book pretty well.

In the days since, I’ve been walking around thinking, well, I need to get on this outline. I want to start drafting sometime in September, probably after I get back from San Francisco on the 14th. Which means I need the outline written, revised, reviewed and approved. Which means I need to write. So, well, I need to get on this outline.

Yesterday when I found myself cat waxing instead of working on it, I jumped in. Rather like stepping off a high board, as it always is. I have experienced a little bit of post-cancer anxiety about my ability to tackle this, but my experiences writing “In the Forests of the Night” back in July restored my confidence. Principle is fine, practicality lurked in the blinking cursor.

And then the damned thing pretty much wrote itself. Fred was ready to go, primed and waiting for me to hit the keyboard. As I said to casacorona, much of what this book needs to be is implied or mandated by the action and themse of the previous books. Yet I’ve also set myself some pretty problem, philosophically and plot-wise. Gonna be a lot of work to make it go the way it needs to be to satisfy my reader. And this is an initial draft of the outline. It hasn’t even gone to first readers yet. But I look at it and I am pleased.

One thing I know about myself (and casacorona does, too) is that my outlines are always full of handwavium. I know writers who drill down to an immense level of detail, writing 50, 75 even 100 manuscript pages of outline for a book which will be 600 manuscript pages in final form.

Not me. If I were going to do that, I’d just be writing the damned book.

At the same time, handwavium has its dangers. There needs to be enough direction and specificity for Tor to know what they’re buying into. I need enough thematic and character coherence to not jump the shark halfway through the process. But the virtues of handwavium are correspondingly manifold. It gives me room to run, to explore the story, to be surprised.

All in all, I think I’m where I need to be for today. And I’m quite pleased about this outline draft. It will go to first readers this afternoon, and sit in the drawer for at least a week or so, though I’d like to get the revised outline out to casacorona and arcaedia by Labor Day weekend.

In the meantime, I’ll tackle a short fiction project or two, and let my brain air out a bit more before I dive into full draft mode. Longtime readers of this blog know what I’m like in full draft mode. It will be interesting to see how much my experiences of this year have modified Fred’s behavior.

At any rate, I’ve stepped onto the slide. Book is being committed as of yesterday, and I feel good about it. Watch this space for more details.

[books] Sometimes you’re the bug spray, sometimes you’re the bug

The Department of Irony checked in today with two pieces of news about Mainspring Powell’s | Amazon thb | Audible ].

First, Tor notified me that the hardback is being remaindered, and offered me an opportunity to buy additional copies. This isn’t bad news — it’s a normal part of the life cycle of a book, and we’re all quite pleased with the sell-through — but it’s still a little disappointing.

Second, my lovely and talented agent posted the news that the mass market paperback is tied for #9 on the Locus bestseller list. This is good news, and quite balanced out my thinking for the day.

The fact that both these bits of information landed on my desk on the same day is stretching the irony meter just a little bit, though.

[books] Cover art

I was thinking random thoughts about publishing as I walked back to my hotel from dinner. (This is a sign that I continue to feel better — I’m no longer thinking random thoughts about cancer, by and large.) Back in stone age of the 1970s when I first started buying books myself, right through the mid-to-late 1990s when the Internet came into general use, my book-buying habits followed a specific pattern.

When I’d find an author I liked, I would spend time in the bookstore trying to figure out what order to read their stuff in, and whether I missing titles. Otherwise, I’d browse for interesting titles and covers. This explains the preponderance of authors with surnames beginning with /A/ and /B/ on my shelves to this day — often I wouldn’t get much further.

Judging a book by its cover is a proverbially tricky business, yet that’s what most buyers do outside of genre-specific or author-specific Fandom. There’s a whole art to cover design which is way beyond my comprehension, except for me to shout out to Tor yet again about what a wonderful job Irene Gallo has done with my covers. The Dos Santos art for Green is a trifecta in the cover lottery.

What I wonder about is how cover design has changed in the years since the Internet disintermediated detailed bibliographical information, as well as book reviews. Do people buy differently now, armed with information? I certainly do. (That, and all the ARCs and courtesy copies people mail me.) But am I an outlier? Or has the role of the book cover changed in the past 25 years?

Beats me, I have no intuition about that, but it’s an interesting question. Poll here on my LJ if you’re interested in adding your observations to a very unscientific survey of book buying habits of yore.

Other thoughts?

[books] Green cover art

And I have now seen the cover art for Green. It is fabulous, and very much captures the spirit of both the book and the girl who is the title character. Posted with permission of the artist, Dan Dos Santos: (more…)