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A Swim and A Crawl and A Interview

I answered a few questions about my latest short story, “A Swim and a Crawl,” over at The F&SF Blog.

“This is a story for anyone who has committed completely to something, and then changed their mind when it was too late.”

This is also possibly the first time I’ve admitted in a public forum that I’m writing a Gorlen Vizenfirthe novel, which takes place not long after the events in “Stillborne.”

A Swim and a Crawl

My short story, “A Swim and a Crawl,” appears in the March/April 2018 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, which should start showing up on newsstands any day now, and is also available by subscription and via various electronic means.

I changed the title from “Longshore,” fearing readers might expect another entry in the Gorlen Vizenfirthe series, all of which have one-word titles.

It’s a short, dark tale about a man who goes for a swim in the ocean at night.

 

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Now with Extra Monsters)

Get your Frankenstein Bicentennial shopping done early! Avoid the crush of shoppers lined up at Mary Shelley’s Walmart on New Year’s Day, 2018!

All you need is 99 cents and a Kindle, or some sort of Kindle reader on your phone, computer, or other device.

 

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Now with Extra Monsters)!

Generations of readers have dived eagerly into Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein, only to look up after several paragraphs, complaining, “This is just a bunch of travel writing. Where are all the monsters?”

No longer!

The culmination of seven years of laborious monster-insertion, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Now with Extra Monsters) absolutely guarantees that readers of this classic novel will confront monsters from the very first paragraph, and in each and every paragraph thereafter.

Not a word of that famous original Mary Shelley prose has been removed or tampered with; yet many new words, most of them referring to monsters of some sort, have been added to satisfy the horrific desires of the discerning (yet monster-craving) modern reader.

Each monster has been hand-selected by author and Frankenstein non-expert Marc Laidlaw with an eye to making the text more appealing to other Frankenstein non-experts who only want more monsters in their classic horror novels. From “Modern Prometheus” to “Monster Prometheus,” that’s probably what they will be calling Frankenstein from now on. Probably.

 

 

Offspring of Cloister the Stupid

Sometime after Half-Life was finished, but before it had shipped, which is to say in the fall and winter of 1998, I tinkered with a deathmatch map. It was simply the thing to do in those days, and there was no greater glory (as I saw it) than to have made a popular one. I’d made a few terrible maps for Quake, and experimented a lot with Half-Life’s map editor (known at that time as WorldCraft rather than Hammer), but the one I called Cloister (because it was small and cramped) was the only one I sort of finished. The reaction internally was muted. We played a few times but there were no follow-up requests for more crazy fun in the Cloister map. I put it aside and stopped updating it.

Somehow it made its way into the world, and eventually into the hands of some totally hip and with-it young mappers, but especially this fellow who goes under the name of Trashbang (aka David Will). Over the last year (or more? more!) he’s been polishing it up, giving it reasonable textures and tweaking the geometry, and now it’s out and playable if you care to go to the trouble. Please read Trashbang’s post about the map, and why he renamed it, and how casual I was about the whole thing until now, when I’ll throw in a few extra exclamation marks to demonstrate emotion: !!!!!!!!

His buddy Joe Wintergreen kindly wrote to let me know the project was complete, and added this bit of feedback: “I tweeted it the other week and about 8-10 people ended up joining in all. We played for a few hours. It was really fun! Usually we only play Crossfire because I think most of the other stock HL MP maps are bad, and this one stood up, and is better than them. So well done to you like 18 years ago and pshaw to any Valve folks who weren’t into it! Bit surreal.”

So take that, all those who doubted Cloister’s potential. And let us never speak of this map again, unless we call it Lister.

Have fun playing it!

[Note: Around the same time I was trying to learn how to make levels, I was also writing this expert-level guide to level design: This Old Level.]

 

Farewell, Randy (1960-2017)

My old friend Randy Byers (Randall Dean Byers) died today. We met as Freshmen at the University of Oregon. I have posted a bit about it on Facebook, for the sake of mutual friends and his family. But I wanted to put some of it here where it won’t be so hard to find later:

I’d mostly been in touch with Randy on Facebook over the last few years, though I was fortunate enough to join him at a beer and birthday celebration in Seattle a couple years back, and we spent some hours together sipping whiskey at WorldCon in Spokane. We first met as fellow fans at the University of Oregon. We listened to a lot of Brian Eno and Talking Heads in each others’ company, and were almost roommates at one point (I think he took over my room in a house I moved out of). Therefore, Randy is present in quite a few of my memories of those college years, up till around 1982.

I got to see him again from time to time once we moved to Seattle in 1997–sometimes at Norwescon, but more reliably at Eileen Gunn’s and John Berry’s parties. Randy prevailed on me to polish up an extended joke about the Taco Bell Chalupacabra and published it in his famous long-running (though not long enough by far) fanzine, Chunga.

All interactions with Randy over the last few years have been overhung by the shadow of his brain cancer diagnosis, and recently all who knew him have dreaded this day. He was fortunate to spend the last little while in the care of his family, and my thoughts are with them now.

I bought a copy of Philip K. Dick’s Galactic Pot-Healer today because I remember sitting in Randy’s kitchen in our junior year, taking turns reading parts of the first chapter out loud. There’s a translation game in there that led to many laughs. I never was able to finish the book, one of Dick’s worst, but it’s a good Randy memory, so maybe I’ll get to the end this time.

My main, major Randy memory involves a weekend-long acid trip with Randy and a handful of friends at a cabin on Mercer Lake near the Oregon Coast, peaking on Groundhog’s Day/Joyce’s Birthday. Someone you’ve done acid with is a friend on a different level. We passed the time drawing and writing, walking in woods, listening to Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, agreeing that we all saw the same identical nonexistent things, and trading places at a typewriter in an Exquisite Corpse type situation.

This is quite simply one of my best memories.

Peace, brother.

 

UPDATE: I am not a musician but my of my connections with Randy were musical, and on the day of his death I found myself “composing” a piece in his honor. It stumbles and halts but this reflects what I was feeling.

A Few Words About Stillborne…and Twitter

F&SF has put up one of their blog-post interviews, where I discuss a few of the things that went into “Stillborne.”

In other news, I just deactivated my Twitter account. It was cutting into my time for reading and writing; it was increasingly hard to justify putting energy into that particular forum. If you see any accounts popping up, purporting to be me, well…they’re not me. If I go back to Twitter at some point (for instance, at some publisher’s request, to promote a new book), I will let people know on my blog that it’s me again.

I continue to maintain the usual Facebook page.

UPDATE (11/13/17): I have re-activated my Twitter account, just to hold the spot so it can’t be poached. I won’t be active there, but it will automatically update when I post on this blog. I won’t have access to the account, won’t be able to read notifications or direct messages; I’ve handed it over to a third party for safekeeping.

 

Stillborne

The current issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is now available, featuring the latest, longest, and possibly lastest Gorlen Vizenfirthe story. This final novella (close to 50 pages in the magazine) also contains the beginning of the series, curled up larvally inside it.

It’s available at newstands, by subscription, or in various electronic formats.

All the details here!