It might be time to say a bit about this.
Explaining a joke is bad form.
A couple points though:
- Purists will want to cleave to its precise form. The rest of us don’t mind skewing it for the sake of humor. Change the tense if it works better that way. Slide it to follow the second sentence if that makes a huge difference. The only goal is to get a laugh.
- I first noticed the phrase in relation to an article The New Yorker posted, a very tragic and disturbing piece which does not lend itself to any sort of humor. I would never link it in relation to the joke, but others have noticed and I want to be clear that it sparked my tweet. I do think adding “And” gives my use of the phrase an extra florid, self-important note that puffs it up just enough to be suitable for narrative frivolity. I just wanted to be very clear that The New Yorker was not picking up on a silly meme and using it inappropriately. The inappropriation was all mine.
- Maybe all Twitter memes start this way: Someone cracks a joke, expecting two or three of their friends to laugh, and the next thing you know it’s had 7,000 Likes. I think what happened here is that Neil Gaiman was one of the two or three. Neil has two and a half million followers on Twitter. I have fewer than two thousand.
- Thanks for playing along.
It occurs to me, after posting the opening paragraph of “A Mammoth, So-Called,” that I never put up the opening of “Stillborne.” You may recall this is potentially the last of the Gorlen Vizenfirthe stories, and will be appearing in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction at some point in the nearish future.
The pilgrims Plenth had been hired to entertain crossed the desert of Hoogalloor in caravans made of enormous dried-out caterpillars, tossed about in the lightly ribbed interior with an assortment of carpets and cushions, peering out at passing cacti through portholes that had once been breathing spiracles. Other vehicles, more utilitarian and less appointed for comfort, had been fashioned from different stages of the same species’ lifecycle. These included a pupal land-barge full of cookware and stores, from which the cook emerged each evening and prepared a variety of dishes according to the complicated dietary regimes of the travelers; and a wingless chrysalis which the caravan’s guardians used as a mobile barracks, filling it with the racks of insect integument they’d fashioned into armor and arms. The beasts that pulled these hollowed-out vehicles of glossy chitin and dull husk were themselves a type of large, docile beetle, referred to as “Garden Variety” by Sister Quills, assistant to the caravan’s Drover-Abbess. Plenth had nightmares concerning the nature of that garden, from which she woke feeling thankful that her route across the arid northwestern wastes would take her nowhere near the humid southern quarters where such creatures freely swarmed. Quills, who spoke with a southern accent, retained the customs of her birthplace, which included smashing the flies that constantly beset the caravan and sucking them off her fingers with an ecstatic expression, confiding to Plenth, “The little ones are sweet!” Plenth understood that in this harsh environment, one must exploit every resource to survive; but one didn’t have to act so delighted about it. Thankfully Plenth had brought along her own food, which she ate sparingly, that it might last until they reached Wumnal Wells.
There’s lots more where that came from. (This is the longest Gorlen story, at about 19,000 words.)
That image, by the way, is Bob Eggleton‘s cover for the first Gorlen story, “Dankden.” I believe it was nominated for a Hugo the year it appeared (1995).
I just sold a new story to Asimov’s: “A Mammoth, So-Called.” Note my attempt to include as much punctuation as possible in the title! I wouldn’t expect it in print before 2018, but it’s short enough (2,400 words) that perhaps it will squeeze unexpectedly before the end of the year.
Here’s the first paragraph:
“The time has come,” said Vargas, apparently prompted by contemplation of the ice bucket he had just filled from a freezer in his cellar, in order to chill his famous Expeditionary Tonic of dark rum, espresso, and flavors less identifiable, “to speak at last of the so-called mammoth we discovered on our Arctic expedition. Hard to believe that was 1947. Seems like only last year.”
Here’s where I discover that the magazine is now called simply Asimov’s Science Fiction, and is no longer the chunkier Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (IASFM), which is how I first knew it. And I bought the very first issue off the newsstand racks, 40 years ago.
Keep an eye on this space for further details.
No, not that space. This one:
“The Finest, Fullest Flowering” made the 2016 Locus Recommended Reading List. It’s a long list and I’ve hardly read anything on it, but I did especially love Christopher Priest’s The Gradual, John Langan’s The Fisherman, Kij Johnson’s The Dream Quest of Vellit Boe, and Laird Barron’s Swift to Chase.
I feel like I’m still catching up with good stories from the last century…
Perhaps for now…
I’ve just sold “Stillborne” to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. This novella is intended to let me lay down the Gorlen Vizenfirthe series gently, and leave it in a good resting state, just in case I never feel inclined (or have a chance) to pick it up again. It doesn’t mean further adventures are out of the question, or that I might not go back and write some interstitial pieces from earlier in his life (the events of one night at Lake Vaug continue to defy telling, and I have been trying for years). The immediate result of having written this story is that I feel the tales so far are ready to be bound up in one volume, and, if read in sequence, might make for a satisfactory book. Not a novel! But still, a book.
To that end, with “Stillborne” as the final chapter, I’ve pulled all the stories together in one volume which I’m calling The Gargoyle’s Handbook, and set them out in search of a final home.
More news as I know it…
(“Rooksnight”: the last Gorlen story to appear in F&SF)
The Amazon store page for my ebooks has just been updated to reflect changes in the covers. We flipped the white background for a black one. Amazon’s policy is to not automatically push revisions to customers unless they are judged to be very serious or significant, and new cover art doesn’t rate. So these covers will appear for new buyers only, sad to say. You can ask them specifically to push the new versions to you if you care about that sort of thing.
Here are a couple of the new ones:
I have a soft spot for the PKD Awards. Several years ago, I served as a judge, and many years before that, my novel Neon Lotus was among the finalists. When possible, and I’m in town, I try to attend the award ceremonies. Many (most) years it’s the only formal convention activity I take part in.
This year’s finalists were just announced. The press release follows:
2017 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced
The judges of the 2017 Philip K. Dick Award and the Philadelphia SF Society, along with the Philip K. Dick Trust, are pleased to announce the six nominated works that comprise the final ballot for the award:
CONSIDER by Kristy Acevedo (Jolly Fish Press)
HWARHATH STORIES: TRANSGRESSIVE TALES BY ALIENS by Eleanor Arnason (Aqueduct Press)
THE MERCY JOURNALS by Claudia Casper (Arsenal Pulp Press)
GRAFT by Matt Hill (Angry Robot)
UNPRONOUNCEABLE by Susan diRende (Aqueduct Press)
SUPER EXTRA GRANDE by Yoss, translated by David Frye (Restless Books)
First prize and any special citations will be announced on Friday, April 14, 2017 at Norwescon 40 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport, SeaTac, Washington.
The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States during the previous calendar year. The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and the award ceremony is sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction Society. Last year’s winner was APEX by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot) with a special citation to ARCHANGEL by Marguerite Reed (Arche Press). The 2016 judges are Michael Armstrong (chair), Brenda Clough, Meg Elison, Lee Konstantinou, and Ben Winters.
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction often runs brief interviews with its authors regarding their latest stories. Here is the one I just did regarding “Wetherfell’s Reef Runics.”
The first (and so far, only) Castaway Books story, “Wetherfell’s Reef Runics,” is now available in the January/February 2017 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.