Sign up for my newsletter to be among the first to learn of upcoming titles!

[books|writing] The Sekrit Project Uncloaks: METAtroplis 3: Green Space

Now it can be told. is acquiring a third volume in the Hugo Award nominated and Audie Award winning series of original audiobook fiction, METAtropolis. The new volume, METAtropolis: Green Space, is mostly set in around the turn 22nd century and explores the long term consequences of the issues and trends raised in the first two books. This new audiobook will be edited by me and Ken Scholes, and include series alumni Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Mary Robinette Kowal and Karl Schroeder, as well as adding Seanan McGuire. Ken and I will also have stories in the new book.

The first volume, 2009’s METAtropolis was edited by John Scalzi. 2010’s METAtropolis: Cascadia was edited by Jay Lake.

And for my own part, here’s a little bit of WIP from the initial draft of my piece.

Turning around, Bashar set the lettermail opener back down on the assistant’s desk. He smiled again, ignoring the panicked reek of sweat and urine. Exasperation was long gone from the twit’s face. “My apologies, son. I didn’t get the memo about which way the wind is blowing.” He gave the assistant a sharp nod. “Let me know if you need the name of a good dry cleaner.”

The security squad let him walk out of the office uncontested. Bashar was pretty sure this was against the new orders. He’d take his courtesies where he found them, however. His accesses hadn’t been shut off yet, because he passed through two staffed checkpoints and three automated ones without further challenge.

Bashar didn’t start breathing easily again until he was outside under an overcast Seattle sky. As easily as he ever breathed these days. His skin warmed quickly even with the cloud cover – the UV filter tattoos covering most of his body were doing their work, converting waste energy to radiant heat, much of which was being trapped by the thermal battery fibers in his clothing. Who needed an ozone layer when you had tattoo guns and micron-scale engineering embedded in your transparent ink?

[books] Shanghai Steam

There’s a book being released at World Fantasy Convention this year called Shanghai Steam. Basically, these stories are a fusion of steampunk and wuxia (Chinese historical epics with a heavy emphasis on martial arts). It’s from Absolute X Press, edited by Ace Jordyn, Calvin Jim and Renée Bennett, with stories from a whole range of writers including my friends Camille Alexa and Amanda Clark. I mention this here because I wrote the introduction for the project.

If you’re going to be at World Fantasy, they’re having a release party, and they’ll be at the EDGE Press booth. Check it out.


[books] Help build a library

The small Willamette Valley town of Jefferson, Oregon, has learned that their 150-year-old library building can no longer be used. They’re working like crazy to build a new library, keeping the town and its people supplied with books, information and services.

Librarian Linda Baker is reaching out to authors seeking support through autographed copies of their work. They’re also taking direct donations, and I imagine other forms of support as well. Though cancer is eating my wallet faster than I can replenish it, I’ll at least be sending them some of my books.

Banned Books Week seems like a terrific time to help keep a small town library going. Whether you’re an author, a reader, or just an interested human being, surf on over to the Jefferson Library Blogspot page to see how you might help.

[books] A Cats Steampunk Alphabet Book

As the introduction (written by me) to A Cats Steampunk Alphabet Book says:

About four years ago, I mentioned on my blog that a steampunk abecedary would be a very cool thing. It started out literally as a joke, a bloggy game of the kind I like to play with my readers from time to time. Except in the real world jokes have a way of taking on a life of their own, mutating and metastasizing into things the originally wiseacre might never recognize.

This thing is goofy, cute and in a weird way, pretty cool. The Buzzfeed post on it shows off the graphics and layout. Me, I’m just highly amused that a project like this could actually come to market, and pleased to see it succeeding.

Check it out.

[books] The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling

I just finished reading Lynn Flewelling‘s book The Bone Doll’s TwinPowells | BN ]. That was a fun and creepy book.

Now, usually in my lexicon “fun” and “creepy” don’t have a high overlap. I’ve never been a big fan of horror movies, for example. Yet I do like reading both New Weird and dark fantasy as subgenres, so clearly this isn’t a profound impediment to my ability to enjoy literature.

Flewlling’s book is fantasy of the “hidden prince” theme, except with some pretty strange twists. She’s not afraid to go to the most darkly logical corners of the arc her plot and characters follow. That’s part of the fun. The sheer, bizarre creepiness that infuses this book borders on the delightful, and raises The Bone Doll’s Twin above the usual mark of such fantasies. Not to mention the seeping dread that infused the story.

This was a fun read. I’m going to be seeking out the next two books in her Tamir trilogy to see how it all comes out.

[books] Recent reading: Red Seas Under Red Skies, and The Ethical Slut

Last week I finished reading Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red SkiesPowells | BN ], the second of his Locke Lamora books. I really admire Scott’s writing. He combines an absolutely byzantine flair for plotting with a profound ruthlessness toward his characters which hits all my reader cookies, hard. Especially when wrapped in such lovely language. There were points in this book where I had to look away or even put it down, because I was so dreading what was about to happen next. At this point in my life, with my critic/author brain more or less permanently stuck in the “on” position, it’s a fairly rare writer who can grab hold of me so thoroughly.

Action, adventure, conspiracy, magic, antiheroes on the hoof — what more could you want of Locke and Jean? I confess about 4/5ths of the way through the book I started to wonder how he was going to wrap it all up. Well, he did. The ending might have taken up a few more pages without annoying me, but in truth, this is a minor quibble.

Anent Scott’s work, one of my favorite reader emails I ever received was regarding my own book, Trial of FlowersPowells | BN ]. The reader took me to task for writing such grubby, degrading prose and doing such awful things in that book (guilty as charged, btw), and asked me why I couldn’t write something clean and fun like Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke LamoraPowells | BN ]. Considering that in Lies people are drowned in horse piss and stuffed into barrels of ground glass, I can’t think how anyone would think it was a cleaner book than Trial.

Prior to that, I finished reading the new edition of The Ethical SlutPowells | BN ]. If you’re not familiar with the title, that’s a lifestyle/self-help/inspirational book aimed toward people engaged in open or polyamorous relationships. I will comment that at least half that book applies to anyone with an active emotional or sex life, regardless of their particular lifestyle arrangements and sexual orientation. I recommend it highly on that basis if you’re interested in exploring your boundaries or otherwise doing some hard thinking in those areas.

[books|writing] Little Dog: Son of a Bitch

The synopsis for book one of Little Dog, Son of a Bitch, is about done in both long form (writing document) and short form (selling document). [info]bravado111 and I made good use of our hang time together this weekend for some story conferencing, as well some parallel play writing time.

I also churned out first draft one-sheets for books two and three, just to show series direction as part of the sales proposal package. They’re currently entitled Whelp, I Need Somebody and Littermates. After a few final touches today, the package is off our desks for a while, at least until our agents give us feedback on the synopsis and other materials.

The current production plan is for [info]bravado111 to write the first draft in May and/or June, and me to do the initial major revision pass in June and/or July. This schedule should survive even if I have to go back into cancer treatment, which means we’ll have the book to first readers by the end of July, if not a bit earlier. I am happy to jam this in around Sunspin, simply to get it going.

It’s nice to see a new project gathering steam.

[books] Working on Going to Extremes

Over the weekend at Rainforest Writers Village, I began working on the book proposal for Going to Extremes. Last night I made some more progress on it. I’m getting pretty excited about it.

Nonfiction is an entirely new direction for me. I’ve written nineteen first draft novels, but never written nonfiction longer than five or six thousand words. Covering the intersection of cancer, parenting and extreme travel, this book will be part autobiography, part narrative nonfiction, part how-to book on coping with cancer; a hybrid of several nonfiction forms. The challenge of doing this, and the opportunity to talk about my experiences in a coherent framework, will be fantastically interesting.

This project also seems to be a new way for me to approach my cancer and my life experiences with the disease. The fourth anniversary of my initial cancer presentation is coming up next month. (Makes me wonder if I should throw it a birthday party.) That strikes me as momentous for some reason.

I’ll be pulling heavily from my blogging for the book. Likewise I plan to interview my doctors and some of my other caregivers, as well as friends and family members. Most especially, [info]the_child. I am feeling very engaged.

Let us hope the book proposal does well out in the big, bad world of publishing.

[books|writing] Calamity of So Long a Life is out to my last-first readers

Late yesterday afternoon I put the finishing touches on revisions to Calamity of So Long a Life, Sunspin volume one, and sent it out to my last-first readers. Specifically, several generous individuals who hadn’t read the previous draft or otherwise been enmeshed in the project, so I could get a reader reaction. I am hoping to get some feedback by late next week so I can make final revisions and send this out to la agente before the end of the month, per my planned production calendar.

I must confess to being a bit daunted about jumping into the next book, which I won’t do until April. It’s already half-written, I only owe myself another 100,000 words of first draft to nail down volume two, but the overall project is so filling my head right now that I feel as if it will leak out my ears.

Meanwhile, I have two short fiction rewrite requests on my desk to fulfill, a book review to write, and ambitions to make more progress on the synopsis of Little Dog. Given that I have the rest of the month in which to do these things, I am feeling pretty good about my goals.

[books] Recent reading, a few comments thereon

Scourge of the Betrayer, Jeff Salyards, Night Shade Books, May 2012 [ Powells | BN ]

Night Shade sent me this book to read for blurb. I’m still chewing on how to blurb it, so I figure writing a quick pocket review will help. This is Salyards’ debut novel, and its the first in a series (though I don’t know how many volumes the series is slated to be). It’s quest fantasy, of a sort, narrated by a confused scribe named Arkamondos. He is hired to follow and document the activities of a small band of soldiers on extended foreign assignment, led by one Captain Braylar Killcoin. The book started slowly, and I had some trouble getting into the story, but once it caught for me, it was a lot of fun.

I’ve been trying to figure out why the book didn’t take off well for me. I believe the problem is inherent in the set up. The initial confusion and naiveté of the narrator makes it hard for the novel to come into focus early on. In a sense, Salyards has done his job a little too well — the “what’s going on here?” issues that Arkamondos struggles with become the reader’s struggles as well. The problem with a quest fantasy narrated by someone in ignorance of the point of the quest is that you wind up fairly literally driving to the story.

My other frustration was that I wasn’t expecting this to be a book one of a multivolume story, so I was quite surprised when the manuscript ended without resolution. The story just stopped. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I really want to read the next book.

The Man in the Moone and Other Lunar Fantasies, ed. Faith Pizor and T. Allan Comp, Praeger Publishers, January 1971 [ AbeBooks | BN ]

This is a collection of fiction about voyages to the moon, ranging from 1638 to 1841, with an introduction by Isaac Asimov. I bought it because I was interested in reading some very early science fiction. This is very much in parallel with my project last year to read nineteenth century proto-steampunk, in the original Klingon, as it were.

The oldest of these pieces is written with the very curious diction and spelling of 17th century literature. If you can handle Shakespeare, you can handle this, but there is definitely no skimming here. Other stories range from a fantasy by Edgar Allan Poe to a weird little piece about a steam powered duck. The editors provide an introduction to each selection which gives literary, social and political context, and offer occasional footnotes elucidating obscure points within the text. That’s especially helpful in the case of the older works.

Of course this work was not self-consciously written as either science fiction or fantasy, as neither of those genres existed when the pieces were published. Most of them are social satire, in fact. Still, it’s fascinating to read these premodern visions of how human beings might reach the moon. This is special interest reading, in my opinion. The entertainment value is there, but the going is fairly challenging. On the other hand, I really enjoyed exploring one of the roots of our contemporary genre.