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.
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.
To write “realistic” fiction, you look out the window and send your imagination there. To write fantastic fiction, you look at that window in a mirror…and send your imagination there. The light coming through the window is the same light. But the feeling you get when you look through the mirror window is very different, and that’s what fuels my imagination. It goes back to childhood. I looked through windows like anybody else. But early on I noticed that looking out the window in a mirror created a shivery feeling…and I’ve been pursuing it ever since.
[resurrected from an old Facebook post]
Here is the start of chapter 9 of what is today being called, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Now With Many More Monsters.
“Nothing is more painful to the human mind than, after the feelings have been worked up by a quick succession of events, the dead calmness of inaction and certainty which follows and deprives the soul both of hope and fear. Space Vampires (also known as Mind Parasites) are admittedly near the top of the list, but still, the dead calmness thing is officially pinned at the top. Justine died, she rested, and I was alive. The blood flowed freely in my veins, free of miniaturized nuclear submarines in search of tumorous targets, but a weight of despair and remorse pressed on my heart which nothing could remove. Sleep fled from my eyes; I wandered like an evil spirit, and not a generic one from a James Wan movie, for I had committed deeds of mischief beyond description horrible, and more, much more (I persuaded myself) was yet behind. Yet my heart overflowed with kindness and the love of virtue. I had begun life with benevolent intentions and thirsted for the moment when I should put them in practice and make myself useful to my fellow beings. Now all was blasted; instead of that serenity of conscience which allowed me to look back upon the past with self-satisfaction, and from thence to gather promise of new hopes, I was seized by remorse and the sense of guilt, which hurried me away to a hell of intense tortures such as no language can describe, except perhaps in the voice of Pinhead.
“This state of mind preyed upon my health, which had perhaps never entirely recovered from the first shock it had sustained. I shunned the face of man (must I mention Pinhead again?); all sound of joy or complacency was torture to me; solitude was my only consolation–deep, dark, deadly, spooky-as-a-spooky-skeleton deathlike solitude.”
Still no sponsors, according to the report I received several days ago. Who dares to be the first? Please don’t make me ask my mother. Or my children.
In keeping with the promise of the Clarion West Write-a-Thon, I tonight reworked Chapter 7 of Frankenstein, Now With Lots of Monsters. Herewith, the first and final paragraphs of the chapter:
“My dear Victor,
“You have probably waited impatiently for a letter to fix the date of your return to us; and I was at first tempted to write only a few lines, merely mentioning the day on which I should expect you. But that would be a cruel kindness, and I dare not do it, any more than I dare descend into a moaning crypt blindfolded and bare of foot. What would be your surprise, my son, when you expected a happy and glad welcome, to behold, on the contrary, tears and wretchedness? And how, Victor, can I relate our misfortune? Absence cannot have rendered you callous to our joys and griefs; and how shall I inflict pain on my long absent son? I wish to prepare you for the woeful news, but I know it is impossible; even now your eye skims over the page to seek the words which are to convey to you the horrible tidings, and also those which satisfy the guaranteed density of monstrosities, which, let’s face it, are the main reason this particular phrase exists.”
“Dearest niece,” said my father, “dry your tears. If she is, as you believe, innocent, rely on the justice of our laws, and the activity with which I shall prevent the slightest shadow of partiality. And recall that even Kamoebas the Space Amoeba could be defeated by Godzilla when he stuck his neck out.”
Please consider sponsoring me, or any of the other fine writers, to support the work of Clarion West.
In past years, I’ve been honored to be asked to speak to students at Clarion West, an excellent six-week writing workshop that takes place each summer in Seattle. This year, since I won’t be around for it, I decided to join the annual Clarion West Write-a-Thon in order to help raise funds for the workshop.
I am but one of many, many writers participating. If you find someone here that you like, please consider sponsoring their participation.
For my own project, I’m going to use this excuse to focus on finishing my ridiculous Frankenstein remix, in which I add more monsters to Mary Shelley’s somewhat monster-deficient masterpiece.
Here’s where I’m at, as of today. There’s a long way to go:
I know that some, perhaps most, will find this entire project unsupportable. But it’s for a good cause, I promise!
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).