Archive for the ‘Genre’ Category

krakenUrban fantasy and it’s nebulous cloud of variants take all those tropes from the elder statesmen of fantasy and mash it up in the real world. It quickly built up all it’s own special tropes. Personally, I think that as a subgenre, UF is finally starting to grow up. Back when I could go to Borders, the majority of UF was “Hey look, another Buffy rip off.” Girl with a [insert weapon] kills [insert magical baddie.] That’s the past. I don’t think it’s a needle in the haystack situation to find good, fresh UF anymore. These are fantastic things. Some of my favorites are Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series, Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series and Kraken by China Mieville.

So we’ve got all sorts of new takes on the old fantasy tropes.

But there’s two parts to Urban Fantasy… what about the urban part?

Well, take a look at those three examples above… they represent the majority of where urban fantasy takes place. Pacific Northwest, New York City and London. A quick perusal of the bookshelves in my office prove this. Chalking up every book that takes place in a real world location (including bleed over from steampunk and godpunk), London creams everything. It doubles up on the Pacific Northwest which has a sleight edge over New York City. Not a single other location has more than two. In fact, most of the non-Big Three Settings are because that’s where the author lives.

Why do these places attract our imagination more than others?

New York City is somewhat easy. It is one of the oldest places in America and has always been one of the most important in just about every category you can qualify as an important city. So much of American culture comes out of New York City that I think it’s almost hard to avoid it. I think any writer worth half a damn could pull off a passable New York City without ever setting foot in that town. It’s also got age on its side, something that not a lot of American places have. We’ve got states that aren’t a hundred years old yet so New York with its 1624 founding means there’s been a lot of time for the magic and hoodoo of UF to take hold.

New York isn’t the only place in America with age. St Augustine in Florida is the oldest European settlement in the US. But since we speak English in America, most people forget about all those Spaniard settlements down south. Boston, Providence, New Haven, Baltimore, Philadelphia, hell almost any major east coast city can lay claim to age, but New York gets all the buzz. It’s a safe location. It’s weird and wild and this giant mishmash of the world’s cultures. That makes it both attractive and easy.

London fascinates Americans. There are pubs older than our country out that way. It’s older than New York by what, a thousand years, so London lays claim to the same “it’s old” argument that New York uses. I think that London in UF fascinates people so much because Niel Gaiman introduced a lot of us to the subgenre. Neverwhere is considered essential reading. Period. Doubly so for urban fantasy.

Pacific Northwest? Gah. I have no idea really. I’d like to go there on a vacation some day. I don’t really think that counts. But more than the other Big Three Settings, the Pacific Northwest has created its own set of tropes.

At least it seems that way to someone on the East Coast.

blackbladebluesThe example that set off this pontification on locations has been sitting in my head for months. It came out of Black Blade Blues by JA Pitts. The main character was driving down the highways out of the suburbs back into Seattle, frantically trying to get away from some baddies. It’s a first person past tense book so she was all “I’m just gonna have to push it to seventy and hope no cops are out, or maybe yay cops they could protect me from the baddies.” I’m paraphrasing obviously. The point is, the main character was freaked out by going seventy miles an hour on the high way.

Seventy. Miles. Per. Hour.

I stopped and out of disbelief, reread the passage about four times. Then I guffawed.

Look, I’ve never been out there, but my sister lives in Portland and my parents go out to Seattle for work and vacations. I’ve heard how driving is out there and have been thoroughly advised to not ever attempt to drive out there. Apparently police will pull you over for going one mile over the limit. In Rhode Island, unless they’re gunning for quota, the cops won’t even look up unless you’re doing twenty over. Even then there’s a good chance you’re safe because someone is going faster than you. On my daily commute, I’ll pull 65 in a 45 and still get the finger for going too slow. You’ve got to top 100 to get people to raise eyebrows on the highway. That one guy in Rhode Island who thinks it’s smart to obey the 55 speed limit on I-95 is way more dangerous than the guy doing 85 since most people are driving 70. Apparently it’s not a thing out west to drive eight feet behind the person in front of you. If I leave more space than that, someone is going to jam their car in there. Hell, they might anyways.

Okay, you get it. East Coast drivers are way different that west. I’m getting to the point.

This little localism of the Pacific Northwest completely and totally threw me out of the narrative. I read this book six months ago and it’s still poking at my brain. How does someone reconcile this sort of thing? What tropes of a city add to it’s character and what ones will just distract everyone else? I’ve got this one the brain because I started outlining my next novel which takes place in Rhode Island. There’s going to be a car chase set from Route 4 up to 295 and the four people from Rhode Island who might read that are all nodding knowingly. My commute is a half step from a car chase as is.

But that’s normal for me. That’s normal for anyone who drives around here. But when I talk about cars flying by at a buck ten, darting in and out of traffic with zero response from anyone beyond extended middle fingers, that’s going to gobsmack all the nice kindly drivers out yonder. How is this fixed?

And now concludes my 1100 word rhetorical question. Ponder and enjoy.

wickedastheycomeSubtitle of this post: Don’t fear the smooching!

Second subtitle of this post: Or the shirtless dude. Really. Just get over it. Dudes can be shirtless in the presence of other dudes.

I am going to be completely honest right now. I would never, ever have found this book in a real live meatspace bookstore. Never. And it’s a damn shame.

The power of twitter compels me! Wicked as They Come by Delilah S Dawson came across my Nook because of twitter. Dawson is hilarious on twitter. She’s twitter buddies with a bunch of other authors I like a lot. A Chuck Wendig – Delilah Dawson – Sam Sykes trifecta is one of the best parts of my twitter feed. Chuck Wendig in particular talked up WickedThat was enough to get my attention. I’ve mentioned many times on this blog how I get a lot of my reading material from other authors I like. “Steampunk traveling sideshow, parallel dimentions, bunnies that drink blood!” Sounded pretty damn awesome.

I was surprised to find that the book was marketed as romance, not SF. Huh. There’s that reason I’d never find it in a bookstore. That’s kind of odd, though. Sounded pretty SF to me. Well whatev. My Nook doesn’t segregate books by marketing terms.

Back of the book… er… blurb from my Nook time!

When nurse Tish Everett forced open the pesky but lovely locket she found at an estate sale, she had no idea she was answering the call of Criminy Stain, from the far off land of Sang. He’d cast a spell for her, but when she’s transported right to him, she’s not so sure she’s ready to be under the spell of another man. (It didn’t go so well last time with controlling, abusive, domineering Jeff.) If only Criminy wasn’t so deliciously rakish….

Half the inhabitants of Sang are Pinkies—human—and the other half are Bludmen, who in Tish’s world would be called vampires. But they don’t mess with any of the bat/coffin/no sunlight nonsense. They’re rather like you and me, just more fabulous, long living, and mostly indestructible. (They’re also very good kissers.) But when the evil Mayor of Manchester (formerly Bludchester) redoubles his efforts to rid Sang of the Bludmen once and for all, stealing Tish’s locket in hopes of traveling back to her world himself for reinforcements, Criminy and Tish must battle ghosts, sea monsters, wayward submarines, a secret cabal, and thundering Bludmares to get the locket back and allow Tish to return home…but has she found love with Criminy? Could she stay in Sang forever?

Copying that back cover summary is actually the first time I read it. Aside from that parenthetical remark about kissing, still sounds more SF than romance. I feel like I could spend the whole post just talking about how Wicked should be shelved with SF. There’s a Jules Verne-ish submarine. airships, and clockwork carriages straight out of steampunk. Hauntings and the bludmen (much classier versions of modern vampires) bring in the horror. Blinking between worlds evokes a classic sci-fi feel. Mixing and blending genres, I love that stuff. Dawson takes all these different parts and purees it into a seamless world full of color.

My favorite part of the world building is the ecosystem of Sang. It starts with bludbunnies. They’re hilarious. All the prey creatures of Sang evolved to become predators. Bludbunnies will gang up on you and eat the flesh right off your bones while being fuzzy and adorable. They’re so ubiquitous, Tish will just punt them absentmindedly as she’s walking around. Bigger blud animals get a lot meaner. Bludstags are bad ass and will kill you eight ways from Sunday. Kind of sucks to be a straight up human in Sang so they oppress the b’jebus out of the bludmen.

So what about the romance things that scare people so much? Seriously just deal with it. Get over it. A relationship between two characters is conflict. Conflict is the basis of all good stories. Relationship conflicts are filled with emotions and the things that really let you know who a character is. In the journey of their relationship, you really get to see Tish and Criminy bared raw. As the POV character, you follow Tish’s evolution and see the determination to her mindset. She’s not in a good place really at the start of the book. I never felt her character arc was forced or ever dependent on Criminy. They were intertwined, as they should be what with the relationship between them central to the story, but they each had their own separate arc to build upon.

“Oh but vampires and smooching and blah blah blah.” People hear romance and vampires and automatically gag on Twilight. Sparkly little toolbags, this is not. Move on. Criminy is more of a dapper sideshow barker than an emo sparkle fest. Because that’s what he is. He’s the lead guy in an otherworldly sideshow. Who does magic. Fucking magic man! That’s awesome. He just happens to drink blood too. Criminy is the kind of character that would be awesome to hang out with and have a beer.

The potatoes of the story that goes with the meat of the relationship side of the tale is all about that dastardly Mayor of Manchester. (I really like any excuse to use the word dastardly) He’s got some grandiose destroy the world as we know it kind of plans. Blinking back and forth between worlds to take over is pretty damn awesome. There’s some weight and heft to these evil plans. There’s nothing worse when the antagonist’s raison d’etre falls with a dud. Along with the gravitas (also another world I like any excuse to use) of the antagonist’s plot, there is an immediency. Things have to move now. Tish and Criminy are rushing at a breakneck speed because they have to. They’re not running for the sake of running. Everything in Wicked has a purpose and a meaning pressing the story forward. It’s one of those rare kinds of novel where I never felt there was a wasted word.

I enjoyed the hell out of Wicked as They Come because I listened to people who talked up a great book and not some marketing department and what shelf they decide books should be on.

Best Served Cold

Posted: July 26, 2013 in Genre, Reading
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PrintToday I’m tackling that fickle buzzword of the genre, “Grimdark.”

It’s one of those things with a very nebulous definition. There are a few mostly agreed upon parameters of the term though. It’s generally thought of as the polar opposite of the White Hat fantasy that ruled the day from Tolkien up through the 90s. The term didn’t exist back then, but GRRM’s A Game of Thrones was probably the first to buck the trend. It’s hard for me to say because by the time I was in college buying my own books, I was looking for something much fresher than high fantasy was back then. The term low fantasy didn’t exist back then either. There was just fantasy. Done. Got a sword and/or a dragon? You’re all lumped together.

Getting off my tangent there, grimdark is bad people doing bad things, often for bad reasons. They’re usually violent and bloody. “Bad” people and “bad” things are grey areas though. That leads to a lot of debate over who counts. I’ve seen GRRM, Sam Sykes and Peter Brett all included in grimdark even though I wouldn’t consider any of their characters or writing despicable. The one person who is universally considered the ruler of grimdark, however, is Joe Abercrombie aka Lord Grimdark. No really. Go use twitter. That’s his handle.

Today we’re reading Best Served Cold and heading straight to the back of the book!

War may be hell, but for Monza Murcatto, a soldier of considerable fortune, it’s a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular – a shade too popular for her employer’s taste. Betrayed and left for dead, Murcatto’s reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

I picked up Best Served Cold in large part because it is a standalone novel. That’s not something that happens a lot anymore. Trilogies or more-that-that-ologies are all the rage lately and while that’s all well and good when I find a series I love, sometimes I don’t want to get lose between books or be tied down to one set for weeks on end. My reading time isn’t as prolific as it used to be. Best Served Cold is a stand alone but the fourth book set in the same world. That kind of thing is growing on me more lately. You get some of the benefits of sequel, a shared world, familiar sights and characters, but without feeling like I need to take notes for the later books.

So that’s why I used this book for the first Abercrombie grimdarkfest. Let’s get back to that back of the book summary there. Pretty short eh? You really don’t need more than that. It’s a very succinct summary of the first chapter of the 880 page book. Monza, the mercenary general, is hanging out with her boss. She’s betrayed. Stabbed. Beaten. Stepped on. Cast forth to the harsh mistress of gravity. It’s pretty bloody. It’s one of those “Wait… you’re alive how?” kind of moments.

That’s pretty much it right there. For the next 800 pages Monza is on a tear to kill the seven guys that were in the room when she was defenestrated from it. Of course, after she heals up she doesn’t have a mercenary army anymore. She recruits herself a team. There’s the slightly crazy ex con, the spymaster, the drunk (who used to be her boss), the poisoner and his apprentice, The most important of all the supporting cast around Monza, because it really is her story and hers alone, is Shivers.

Shivers came from the north as an immigrant to get away from the clan warfare. He wanted to be a better person. The world doesn’t seem to want that for Shivers. Ever. He’s constantly stuck in situations where the only way forward is compromise. His bad luck with fate isn’t what makes him the most important of the supporting cast though. Shivers is Monza’s moral opposite. He is the juxtaposition that really lets you see where Monza is exactly. When they first meet up, Shivers is constantly talking of being a better man. Monza is terribly cynical about the whole deal and is telling Shivers to toughing up and deal.

But thought all the stabbing, double dealings and and rivers of blood, Monza has a real character arc that kind of snuck up on me. Her quest seems to grind her down and the Monza at the end of the book is very different than the Monza that first vows revenge. Shivers tracks opposite of Monza the whole time. I don’t think Monza’s emotional arc in this book would have worked at all without Shivers around to balance things out. I wouldn’t call Shivers her anchor, but he would definitely be her reference point.

Best Served Cold kind of wore me down a few times. Not all of Monza’s hit list are so easily shanked in a back alley. Some of the assassination schemes were fantastically detailed. The battles range from the grand down to the gritty. A couple times in the middle of the book I really wanted to just yell at Monza “Just frickin’ stab them already!” The reveal always justified the set up. I never felt unsatisfied with any of Monza’s hits even if the set ups took their time on occasion. The betrayals and double dealings with Morever, the poisoner, were particularly great.

So how would I sum this up? Well, Best Served Cold is a kung fu movie done up in fantasy digs. The entire time I was reading this book, I couldn’t help but make the huge, glaring parallels with the Kill Bill movies. Some people die up front. Main character is left for dead. Time to go after EVERYONE and get a couple feelings along the way. Kill Bill even starts out with the quote “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Actually, from now on, I am going to picture Monza in yellow and black Bruce Lee armor. It doesn’t really work as an image, even in my head.

Best Served Cold is a violent story about amoral people. It will grind at your psyche a bit. But it wouldn’t affect people if it wasn’t fantastically well written. It’s a good book but you can’t go into this one blind. You really need the right mindset pick up on all the depth going on with Monza’s revenge quest.

Readercon 24

Posted: July 14, 2013 in Conventions, Genre
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Clearly I was at Readercon 24 over the weekend what since I talked about it in a post yesterday and also it’s the title of this post. So I’m going to talk about it. Cons in general are something I wish I could go to more often. Realistically though, they’ve got to be within commuting distance of Rhode Island. That means even Hartford is a bit of a stretch since there aren’t any highways that go in a straight line west. If there are a dozen cons within commutable distance of me, I’d be surprised the number was that high.

I consider myself crazy fortunate that one of the most known SF book cons is right near by.

This wasn’t my first rodeo, but it was my first Readercon. I heard lots about the reputation before hand and it wasn’t really an exaggeration. The staff ran a tight show. The hotel decided they wanted to close the lobby for renovations which kind of sucked not really having a hang out area but that was beyond anyone’s control. I never felt like it diminished from the con. Everyone collectively said meh and rolled with it without letting any parades get rained on. It was a nice feeling to recognize faces, on panels and in the crowd, from Boskone.

On the panels and such, I was pleasantly surprised. Sometimes con panels are just fun or interesting. I got a lot out of them that I’m going to use in my writing and about a half dozen scribbles in my notebook saying “Use this for a blog.” That’s a big combination of good panelists, chemistry between the panelists and a great topic. I hit up eight panels and two readings, more than I crammed into Boskone. I’m not a reporter, so I’m not going to give a blow by blow color commentary of the con, but I will throw down some of the highlights from the panels.

In Ode to Unpublished First Novels, Ann Tonsor Zeddies put something into words that I’ve noticed in my reading lately. I find a lot now, I seek out the first books of newly published authors. Wes Chu, Madaline Ashby and a lot of the other stuff coming out of Angry Robot are new. As a reader there is something extra special about discovering a new author when they’re new too. Zeddies said that with the first book there is a fearlessness that is often lost, never to be recaptured. I’m just about ready to start shopping my own first (finished) novel and start the next so that really hit home for me.

Drinking Horror’s Blood, a panel on horror tropes bleeding out into other genres, made me super happy. Genre theory was always one of my favorite topics back in film school and that needs no translation from film to writing. It’s all the same thing. I don’t think enough people talk about genre theory in SF circles, which is odd because we are it by definition. Back in film school, Horror was always the easiest to talk about because it seems to have a much faster cycle of Innovation – Convention – Self Referential than other genres. I found it facinating to think that before the 1920s and 1930s, it was just literature. Genres didn’t exist. The relationship between horror movies and horror literature was very facinating to hear about too. They don’t seem to play as nicely as you’d think. That idea might turn into a whole blog post.

Pining for the Fnords: The New Nostalgia (which is a mouthful of a title) was really genre theory in disguise and had the best crewed panel of the whole trip. It was a State of the Genre kind of panel largely in response to books like Redshirts and Ready Player One. The panel collectively refuted the idea that SF is going backwards or longing for things left behind it. It’s a much better, and more natural idea, to take the same kinds of scenarios from the past and reuse them with modern sensibilities. I think that’s especially true of sci fi since the actual science used changes so rapidly. Some super techie guy in the audience tried to say writers were afraid of technology because they didn’t use all the super most up to date stuff in their books. Elizabeth Bear, who is fast becoming my favorite panelist for anything, tried to explain reasons and logic to this guy but he was stubborn and ended up just saying “Your premise is wrong so we can’t answer you.” It was great.

Readercon does this cool thing called the Memorial Guest of Honor. They bring a focus to the forerunners of our genre who have passed away. This year it happened to be Roger Zelazny and he happens to be my all time favorite author. The panel included his biographer, who also put together an Amber Encyclopedia which I didn’t previously know existed but need to get now, and also his son Trent Zelazny who is a mystery writer. Sometimes its tough for role models to be real people too and I know the wikipedia version of his biography, stripped down to basics. So I walked away real happy to know Zelazny was a great person in addition to a great writer.

Trent Zelazny is also a really cool guy and I’d be picking up his books regardless of his last name.

The last panel I want to talk about at length (because I’m starting to get a runaway word count and still have that novel to work on), is the one that will be effecting my own writing the most. It was Making Love Less Strange: Romance for the SF Writers. First off, I was real surprised there were more than 10% guys in the crowd. The very idea of romance turns people off for some reason. Sam Sykes, one of the most thoughtful writers out there when it comes to genre issues, wrote a big blog piece on that topic a few months ago that stuck with me. Story is conflict and relationships are inherently conflict. This panel of romance writers stripped down their genre, (one that has subgenres magic and monsters and the like already) and showed us how we’re practically doing the same thing already. They threw down a basic structure of the romance story and I sat there thinking, “Well hell, that’s practically my next book already.” And it’s true. That basic structure, plus punk rock, plus a few deities, plus Rhode Island (because it’s not Connecticut anymore) is my next book. This is going to help me in the same way as writing blog posts about other books helps me with my writing. Being aware of the tropes I’m tapping in to will help me to do it better.

I want to talk about people before I wrap this up because cons are really all about the community and connecting in a way that you can’t on the internet. Each con I go to, I come across people at these panels who sell me as a person and make me want to go and find their books. But only a few really impress me so much I think they should be on every panel. Last year that was Myke Cole. This year, between Boskone and Readercon, it’s Elizabeth Bear. She’s a very great speaker and really helps to energize a panel. I already thought that her writing was great but now I need to track down her entire backlist. She sat next to me in a panel audience too. I felt too weird to just say hi. Social butterflies have it so easy.

Bear was also one of the two readings I went to, the other being by Theodora Goss. Both read from in progress pieces and it’s not fair the world needs to wait to read these in their entirety. Both were excellent pieces and not nearly so unpolished as the disclaimers at the start of the reading. It made me feel pretty damn fancy to get a sneak preview. I want to throw money at them already.

My only real complaint about Readercon is actually the same one from Boskone. The availability of books by the program participants wasn’t always there. A lot of the book sellers at the con were rocking used books. That’s all well and good. I get that I am really spoiled by The Book Barn. Yeah it’s down in Connecticut and I don’t live across town from it anymore, but it’s not that far off I can’t jaunt down there when I need to. So all that mass of out of print old school stuff is really a non issue to me. I can mine the depths of old school SF for a buck a pop and then take the kiddo to his grandparents all in one trip. I did see a lot of books I want to read. Chuck Wendig’s Dinocaplypse, Gwenda Bond’s Blackwood, DB Jackson’s Thieftaker… I could go on and on. My To-Buy List is a mile and a half long. But when I go to these cons, I want to get things I can’t on any regular day. I make it a point to buy stuff from the people I see at the con. I dunno, I guess that isn’t really something that the con itself can control. They’re not actually selling the merchandise, but there’s got to be some way to have a better availability of the participants.

I did manage to score a couple great books. Ironically, both authors were there at the con, but not actually panel participants. I got a signed copy of the Clarkesworld magazine that has Catherine Valente’s “Fade to White” which is my favorite short I’ve ever read. Super happy to have a signed hard copy of that now. I also got a copy of Evie Manieri‘s Blood’s Pride. I saw it for sale and was all “Oh! Twitter said you’re here and it’d be epic if you could sign the copy for me.” It happened. She was a delight to meet. I also got my well-used copy of Lies of Locke Lamora signed by Scott Lynch. Another really awesome person and it’s the first Shelf of Honor book I’ve ever gotten signed.

I’ve been working on this for far too long tonight and my brain is starting to melt. I will end with some of the best quotes of the con.

“A majority of readers will remember your story and not your prose.” -Nicholas Kaufman on Workshopping as a Lifestyle

“I feel a little bad that we’re stealing their toys, but not bad enough to stop.” -Elizabeth Bear on the SF genre moving forward

“The sun may be going nova, but we’re not going to change our marketing plan.” -Ann Tonsor Zeddies on markets boxing in writers

“We just offended every Belgian in the room.” -Scott Lynch … still no context for you because I find it absurdly funnier that way

The Dead of Winter

Posted: July 3, 2013 in Genre, Reading
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deadofwinterTime to catch up on pontificating about great books while the kiddo eats his breakfast with Mickey Mouse on the TV.

Right to the point, today it’s The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins. What caught my eye about this one?  It’s tagged as “True Grit meets True Blood.” Genre mashups, hell yeah. The supernatural undead and the Wild West. Yeah, I’m sure it’s been around a bit. I’ve heard the term Weird West before but I’ve never really seen in the forefront before. There was that CCG, Doomtown from back in 98 that had an RPG with it. The only other thing I’ve seen recently is a short story in Saladin Ahmed‘s Engraved on the Eye collection. So even if the undead – Wild West mashup isn’t really new, it’s new to me.

Second thing, it’s Angry Robot Books. Anything they put out is on my radar automatically.

Back of the Book time!

Cora Oglesby and her husband, Ben, hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist.

When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious, bloody deaths out in the badlands, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible. But if she is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, Cora must first confront her own tragic past.

Pretty short and kind of vague, eh? The Dead of Winter is a book that is difficult to talk about without giving away spoilers. Right around the 2/3 mark of the book, I got to a point where I yelled “Holy shit!” right in the middle of my office. (Lunch break reading gets me through the day) I then laughed with excitement over the fantastic storytelling move Collins pulled off. I think it must have been difficult for him to pull off so perfectly but the payoff was worth it. There’s a part of me that feels bad for even mentioning that such an awesome moment exists. It caught me completely off guard. But in this case, I think I need to let people know that such a deft storytelling coup exists in order to show just how awesome this book is. I have a serious desire to high five Lee Collins.

Like I said, got to keep this somewhat vague, just like the back of the book, or I’ll ruin it too much.

One aspect where I can talk specifics without ruining the book is the main character, Cora Oglesby. Reading a woman main character has never been a thing to me, frankly it shouldn’t be a thing to anyone. A strong character is a strong character regardless. But in this case, a female demon hunter in the Wild West is different than a female demon hunter in a modern urban fantasy. In the post-Civil War west, women gunslingers were not common. Mad Cora Oglesby has enough of a reputation as a bad ass though that she runs across more people who want to one-up her to bolster their own rep rather than get squeemish about her being a woman. Her reputation as a bad ass is fully earned too. In her backstory, Cora and Ben had been fighting the occult for years. When Ben came back from the losing side of the Civil War, they had no work in Virginia and went west to play bounty hunters. But it was a flooded market so they ended up taking a job from a helpful priest to fight some black magic witches.

The backstory alone would make for a great novel. Her quest in Leadville, as vague as it is here and on the back of the book, is not outshined by the backstory. I tore through The Dead of Winter real fast. There was a lot of movement in the plot without ever being too frantic. The last act in particular is powered through the sheer force of Cora’s personality.

The Dead of Winter is the kind of genre blending book I always want to see more of. The Western tropes and the horror tropes stand together to make something new. And after reading in the SFF genre for almost twenty years, new get very rare. More importantly than how fresh the tropes are, Cora Oglesby is a fantastic, drunken, bad ass heroine, scars and all.

defianceWe’re all nerds of some flavor around here right? Nerd or not, I should hope you’ve heard of Defiance. It’s SyFy’s newest show. What’s it about? Short version, Firefly meets Farscape. Most people I tell that to don’t need to know much more than that. Covers it nicely. And pretty accurate too. One of the creators of Farscape is working on Defiance.

Slightly less short version… The Votans, a group of aliens from a common solar system, emigrate across the galaxy because their own world is going to hell in a hand basket. They cross space in giant arks and get to Earth and whoops! Humans. They try to play nice for a while. Didn’t work (’cause that wouldn’t exactly be interesting if it did) and war happens. Terraforming tech drops onto Earth and screws the planet all up. Then a bunch of soldiers from both sides said “Enough of this” and laid down their guns for a common cause. Peace happened. Now there’s a Wild West – Post Apocalyptic – Sci Fi thing going on. Defiance itself is a city built on the ruins of St Louis (the arch is a major piece of imagery). Our main characters are ark hunters (salvagers) who roll into town and end up filling the roll of Lawkeepers. There’s the newly elected mayor, her sister the brothel keeper, the mine owner, the Boss Tweed-like gangster/immigrant leader. It’s a great show with a lot of different layers going on to it, mixing up a lot of different tropes.

I’m behind on my episodes though and only just got the game a few days ago! No spoilers!

“So you found a new TV show. How is that the future of storytelling? There have been lots shows with great stories, you referenced a couple up at the top there.”

I know I did. I have a point and I’m getting there. See, Defiance is also a game.

I actually heard about Defiance the game first via my Game Informer magazine. It was touted as an MMO Shooter that had potential. Shooters naturally play better on consoles than on PCs which also was a plus for me what since my desktop bricked a few weeks back. Also, I don’t have to pay for online access with the PlayStation. Lots of wins going on there already. The magazine was talking about gameplay that was pretty tight and (once you cleared out of the newbie area) a solid storyline. It’s not quite Mass Effect, but nothing is. I’m enjoying the storyline just as much as Fallout or Skyrim or when I tried out Star Wars the Old Republic which had crappy gameplay but an awesome story. And this story that Defiance the Game is rocking crosses over with the show.

Wait what?!

Crosses over with the show.

Bold to make sure it sinks in.

The stuff that happens in the game, effect the show. The episodes of the show, effect what happens in the game.

This fills me with nerdy delight. Nerds, and especially gamers, love Easter Eggs when they play. There’s a long tradition of easter eggs in video games. This goes way beyond finding little tid bits and getting the references in the game.

Example (very minor spoilers)… Episodes five of Defiance the Show involves Rynn who escapes from a transport taking her to prison in Vegas. Yesterday when I was playing Defiance the Game, I found her under siege from a team of E-Rep (Earth Republic) rogue soldiers. I shot them with great prejudice. Now Rynn started me off on a quest chain out in California. We’re shooting a lot of bugs. Gameplay may be a lot of bug shooting, but it’s all supported by a story. I’m digging up a story about rogue officers who want some knowledge that Rynn has that could be used for a big power play. Now because of this I’m picking up on some of the back ground of the E-Reps making them a lot more complex whenever they roll into Defiance the Show.

Still not cool enough for you? How about a player from the game being added into the show? Or a plague that may or may not make it to Defiance the city based on whether or not players stop it cold in San Fransisco?

Video games have already shown us they can tell a fantastic story on par with any movie or novel. All three use different tools and all three have different strengths and weaknesses. No one can deny what Mass Effect did across its three games was nothing short of spectacular. Mass Effect also broke away from the video game world and laid out some of its characters backstories, side stories and extra depth as novels and comics. One of the game’s writer’s penned Mass Effect: Revelation, one of a number of Mass Effect books. I’ve read just the one and a pair of the comics. I thought they were independently good. Strip off the Mass Effect name, and they’d still be a great read. The Halo series has some well received books, including one by Tobias Buckell and a trio by Eric Nylund, an accomplished novelist who’s dayjob is writing for Microsoft.

Mass Effect and Halo started the ball rolling with the novels but Defiance takes it to a whole different level because of the interactivity of video games. By playing the game I am part of the show. Watching the show and playing the game are enhanced by this crazy synergistic relationship. I got hooked on the show before I got the game and there’s a good chance I would have tried out the game even if I never saw an episode of the show. I know my parents aren’t ever going to play the Game, Sims and MarioKart are their speed. I’m sure there are people playing the game who have no desire to watch the show. Fine for them. They have have the pieces they want and enjoy it. You’re not missing out if you don’t put all the pieces together. The Matrix sequels tried that with a tie in game ten years ago and it fell flat. The game sucked, the movies sucked and they sucked a little bit more when separated from the other. You’re return is greater than the sum of its parts. Quality in, quality out. Defiance has quality in spades and is showing what happens when you put it all together. Voltron or Captain Planet style.

SyFy has already inked a deal for a second season. Clearly people are liking this. I hope the storytelling of Defiance, layered throughout different mediums, becomes the new Thing. As a fan, I get excited thinking of all the possibilities that they could do with this. Jeez, even the product placements with the post-apocalyptic Dodges are done smart. As a creator, all this potential must be intoxicating. I truly hope the people behind Defiance can add more Voltron pieces to their storytelling mosaic. The world is so interconnected, there is no reason for our storytelling to not be. A rising tide lifts all ships. The people are Defiance are not simply opening doors for writers, they’re creating new doors for storytellers. They may not be opportunities that would ever come across my table, but it makes me happy knowing they are out there. But I write novels and went to film school. There’s a couple Voltron pieces right there. Voltroning storytelling mediums can become a thing now.

Look back up at the title of this post. Notice I said Defiance is A future of storytelling. There is no One True Shining Way. There are many paths. The future has one more thanks to Defiance.

Unfortunately, the science fiction fantasy genre gets plagued with controversies all too often. It’s a very connected community and when lameness drops, it spreads fast. The latest one involved the SFWA Bulletin, that’s the newsletter for the Science Fiction Writers of America. I’m not a member, but it’s something I aspire to.

Honestly, I tend to skim over the controversies sometimes. Writing and the SF community is supposed to be fun and enjoyment for me. I’m not naive enough to think I’ll get to quit my day job even if I sell my novel tomorrow, so writing isn’t putting a roof over my family’s head and food on my kiddo’s plate. Those are the things I’m going to care about first. I make no secret that I really hate my day job so my day’s stress is usually used up by the time I hit my 9am break. That doesn’t leave me with a lot of patience for controversies involving shortsighted jerks.

This latest SF crapstorm was so big and so exceptionally douchey, it’s impossible to be remotely tapped into the community and miss it. The parts I read about started with the SFWA Bulletin having a rather sexist cover (chainmail bikinis in the middle of the frozen north). Some people were rightfully annoyed that a professional organization dropped all this sexist imagery over one of its very visible faces. Then some cranky old white guys put a rebuttal in the latest issue that was first in the wave of exceptional douchiness.

It’s a very dated attitude and all quite unfortunate that it’s something that needs dealing with in this day and age. Jim Hines compiled a not-quite-comprehensive list of the issue and responses. John Scalzi as outgoing president of SFWA made an official statement owning up to the faults that happened on his watch and how to fix the rift going forward.

As a generic white (now) middle class guy (seriously, ancestors go back to the Mayflower, doesn’t get much whiter or  American than that) sometimes I feel like I’m not supposed to have or talk about my opinions because some great mass of other white guys says what all white guys are supposed to say. “Oh but your a white guy, you’re not oppressed.” I can’t speak with the emotional knowledge of experience for anyone’s life but mine. Logically knowing the kinds of (insert thing)-ist behavior other people have to deal with that I don’t necessarily have to experience will never be the same as the person who has to deal with it on the wrong end. I don’t define myself as a white guy, I define myself as Mike. And while that may be one of the most generic English names on earth, I define myself as an individual and not some writhing subset of humanity that makes opinions for me.

This individual says “Fuck all that noise. Follow Wheton’s Law. Don’t be a dick.”

Look, sometimes it amazes me that the SF community can’t evolve past the racist, sexist, xenophobic, insert the -ism of your choice behaviors. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household with thousands of books. I think they insulated my home more than the walls did. I started reading my parent’s SF books when I was ten or eleven and never even had to bother buying my own until I was in college. I still read their books sometimes. There was only one qualification to being read in my household was being awesome. It didn’t matter who you were. An unproven name just defined what shelf a book was alphabetized on, it didn’t define your worth as a writer. Writing defined the writer. I grew up with Mercedes Lackley, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Katherine Kerr just as much as I grew up with Tolkein, Zelazny and David Weber. It frustrates the crap out of me that people use anything other than talent as a way to define writers. . This is a genre that defines itself as forward looking. The science fiction side of things in particular has been doing social commentary disguised as other things for decades. It isn’t the bread and butter of our genre, it’s the frickin meat and potatoes.

I want to sell my novel and become a part of the grand tradition of the genre based off how good I am, not someone’s preconceived notion of me and damnit I’m going to apply those same principals to the books I read and the authors I respect. I do my damnedest to start everyone I come across in life on a level playing field. I’m not perfect. No one is. Anyone who thinks they are is probably a tool. And believe me, there are plenty of things people can and often do to drop that opinion of them like a fucking rock really fast. Driving like an ass. Loud cell phone conversations in public. Driving with loud cell phone conversations. They make me hate you a little bit. What you are will never be a part of my opinions of you. Who you are and the things that you do are the only things that will alter my opinion of you. And if I’m buying books, my opinion of you as a person effects my decision even less because I don’t actually have to hang out with the author I’m reading. Talent is all that should matter in a writing community.

I don’t read authors like Madeline Ashby or Seanan McGuire or  Cherie Priest because they’re women. I picked up their books because they were highly recommended by the community and sounded great. I don’t read Wes Chu or Saladin Ahmed because they’re minorities. I read them because they wrote the stuff I want to read. I praise these authors not because they’re different than me, but because they are fucking fantastic. I strive to be like them and be part of their ranks.

I let this sit around in my head thinking it can’t be good to kneejerk reactions to anything. I figured some proper thought organization was in order. But fuck me I’m getting real agitated typing about the crap going on in the community. You can tell by all the swears. I swear like a fucking sailor in my real life but try to keep it off the blog. But I’m not. Cause of agitation. And that’s a good thing. I should be agitated and upset by this. Go click through some of the links on that Jim Hines page. More people need to be pissed that kind of crap is going on. It shouldn’t be fucking tolerated. Read some of these women’s stories and the dumbassery they’ve had to put up with. It’s embarrassing and enraging and I don’t even know any of these people personally. It’s just horrible. And it’s not just women that have to put up with crap. I read an author on twitter that’s mega frigging talented question if he wants to go to a con in Texas because he’s not sure if he’d feel safe as a minority.

A small segment of the community (out of touch people with hateful -isms) is harassing a large part of the community (women and minorities and anyone else under the broad spectrum of “different”). It’s horrible and embarrassing and pisses in the pool for everyone. There’s room in the pool for everyone. If you don’t want to share, go off to the corner, that one with none of the nice water jets where all the crud gathers that no one skims. You’re the crud no one skims. We should skim you away, but we don’t because we’re trying to be nice and inclusive to everyone even though you’re all assholes. Eventually we’ll get tired of the crud and skim you away and toss you over the fence where we don’t even have to look at you. You’ll be dismissed from the pool where everyone else will get to play without you.

Being quiet because white guys aren’t supposed to talk about issues that hose women or minorities or LGBT (which is a awkward acronym to type btw) is not a helpful attitude. It lets the hosing continue. Assholes make a lot of noise. All the regular joes need to yell back at the assholes along side all the people who were wronged and drown out the assholes. The SF community has a lot of good going for it. I want to add some good to it. I hope the community can grow and somehow come out the other end of the mess a better, stronger community. This long litany, liberally sprinkled with swears is intended as volume on the side of good.

Blarg. I need to go to my happy place. It’s a novel I’m writing.

About a couple women. That happen to be pirates and welders, fighters and artists. Who occasionally smooch men and occasionally fucking punch them. Who are just like the men in my book. Because we’re all people damnit.

The Human Division

Posted: April 17, 2013 in Genre, Reading
Tags: , , ,

The Human Division is John Scalzi’s grand experiment. I’m sure you know all about Scalzi and if you don’t, fire up twitter and find his blog. It’s been released in 13 Episodes from January until last week. One one level, it’s a novel with an installment plan, but it’s really more than that. And there’s a part of me that wants to do the traditional run through like I do with my other posts about the things I’m reading. But I don’t really think it works here because The Human Division isn’t a traditional book.

I can use the term “book” somewhat loosely here because “book” implies a certain word lengths and heft (even if it doesn’t always mean the physical words on paper anymore). So what are the Episodes? They’re a little bit like short stories. Each one has a self contained story arc. I’m not counting words but I’m pretty sure most, if not all, fall under the numerical definition of short story. They all fit together to make something more than a short story compilation. You can read one, but if you read them all you get a much richer tapestry of words.

So let’s just compromise on the semantics and keep calling them Episodes. That’s what they’re really called and it really is a fitting term. Structurally, they do remind me of a television show. Each episode more or less stands alone with an overall story arc across the whole thing.

How were the episodes? Fantastic. If you’ve ever read Scalzi, that’s probably a no brainer. He’s one of maybe a half dozen authors that I will read anything of sight unseen with no hesitation. In fact, not having the patience to wait until the print version of this comes out is one of the reasons my Nook and my Dead Tree Editions all coexist peacefully.

Since I just lobbed the easy one over the plate, the ereader is what allows this grand experiment in writing to happen. The installment plan for writing harkens back to the 70s and farther back when the print magazines were major players in SF. I know a lot of my favorite Zelazny stuff was published across multiple months in F&SF or Asimov’s. One of those two. I don’t want to get up from my desk to find the book right now. But it’s a thing. Print digests wouldn’t work for The Human Division or any kind of serial story telling anymore. The edigests are monthly and a lot of the print titles have moved to bimonthly. I think it would be extremely easy to lose the momentum and mojo with anything longer than a week wait. It was long enough for me to itch for more but not so long I decided to say meh when it came out every Tuesday.

Now The Human Division must have been successful experiment. I saw all the different issues sitting on the USA Today best seller lists. I’m sure they were all over Amazon, B+N, take your pick. I know I’m still itching to give Scalzi a dollar on Tuesdays. But more than a personal success for Scalzi and Tor, I think this should be seen as a success for the whole genre.

All of us. The whole damn genre.

This is a new way to tell stories that we didn’t have before. Well… maybe we did, but it wasn’t boxed up in a nice neat little package like these Episodes have been. I think this should be embraced as a new tool in our arsenal. For a long time there were Short Stories, Novellas and Novels. And then the Novella kind of died as paperback page counts became cheaper to print. And then Short Stories were hurting pretty bad. I have never ever seen any print short story digests in a store other than F&SF and Asimov’s. Ereaders have brought back both of them and made them viable again. This new serial / episodic format is entirely new. We should embrace this option. As far as I know, other genres aren’t. With SF’s more natural affinity for new tech, why wouldn’t we? Filmmakers have already jumped on this with the rise of YouTube. When I started film school and still had dial up internet at home, you had to drop big dollars and pray for some distribution after getting a foot in the door with the festival circuit. How many webseries are there now? A bazillion. I counted. They run the gambit of all types and styles. Hey guess what? We can do that with words too.

Don’t take this as the banner of the One True Path. I’m not a vanguard for anything, although I do enjoy the word “vanguard.” I think we need to just celebrate that the option is there. It won’t work for every story. I know nothing I have in the works will fit an episodic format. Yet. But I’m sure someone does and they’re writing the hell out of something new and fresh because we have a new way of telling stories. And that’s the part that matters.

It certainly didn’t hurt the argument that The Human Division is epic level of awesome. But you knew that already.

A Cover is Worth 1K Words

Posted: October 28, 2012 in Genre, Stuff
Tags: ,

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. That’s a given. But remember… a picture is worth a thousand words.

The art of our genre has always been a special part of it. The Hugo and Locus Awards have categories for artists alongside the writers. So I decided to pick out my favorite covers from off my shelves. Most of what I ended up with is more modern. Classic fantasy and/or space opera covers get the job done but I’ve seen so many of them over the years, they tend to fade into the background. Case in point, the Honor Harrington books. Great books but the Dramatic Pose and a Ship isn’t unique. So the covers I like the best are usually with books pushing the edges of genre and the art mirrors it. There’s some steampunk, cyberpunk-ish and anti-genre.

Enjoy the art!

6 – Signal to Noise by Eric S Nylund

It doesn’t exactly tell you much of what goes on, but it’s a beautiful cover and has a futuristic feel matching the crazy cyberpunk goodness.

5 – Jennifer Government by Max Berry

It’s simple and very dramatic. The barcode is an actual representation of the main character and some good foreshadowing.

4 – Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

This is the granddaddy of all steampunk books and the cover matches it without being terribly cheesy. Too often steampunk just slaps some gears on things and is done with it. This is steampunk art doing it right by focusing on the character first and gear second.

3 – vN by Madeline Ashby

Back in my post about this book I went out of my way to note that this cover is cool. I find the portrait of the AI sinking into a mass of electronics very haunting.

2 – My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

The artwork is by Daniel Dos Santos and every bit of it is awesome. Back at Boskone 49 they had the full size four foot high original painting on display. It’s even better life size.

1 – Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

I’ve been unsuccessful in finding a print of this to hang in my office so I’ve been looking for a shadowbox for the book. It’s that awesome. Joey Hi-Fi is the man. Pull up a high rez version of this and just look at the crazy detail on this.

Honorable Mention – Moxyland by Lauren Beukes and The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington

That’s Joey Hi-Fi again on the Moxyland cover, but HM only because I don’t actually have that. The cover on my copy is pretty cool, but not Joey Hi-Fi cool. Grossbart is hard to see small, but it’s an optical illusion. The skull is made by the brothers robbing graves. HM because I don’t own that anymore as I didn’t actually like the book.

It seems like every week or so, there’s another flare up on twitter about some author behaving really horribly to other authors or their readers. Type “Authors behaving badly” into google and a whole litany of jerks come up. Maybe we can call them “Misguides by social media experts” if we’re feeling generous. The whole idea of someone’s job being a “social media expert” is laughable to begin with, but I’m sure there are some trusting and otherwise normal people who are genuinely duped by them.

Google’s top result of bad behavior has an author talking down on her fans because she was only number two on the NY Times list. There’s the book agent who was physically attacked by an author she passed on. There’s book reviews for sale. The best selling Brit who got caught sockpuppeting his own books and talking trash on rivals. And let’s not forget the ridiculously misguided people with the Goodreads Bully crap who think that any review less than positive counts the same as actual bullying. I’m not even going to dignify those people with a link.

This is all just the stuff that comes to mind in the last couple weeks. The Goodreads thing is the only one in that last paragraph going back farther than August. Hell, I even read a book where the protag was an author that spent half the introduction bitching about amazon reviews. I won’t drop names because I’m trying to do the exact opposite of spreading smack, but suffice to say, I’ll never read her books and I get miffed when I see people RT her into my twitter feed.

Even if there’s not outright controversy and assholeness, I know I can’t be the only one who is inundated with followback accounts on twitter which amount to nothing more than advertising. “@JoeBlowAuthor is following you! He follows 32k people and has 31k followers! Read his book! Read it faster! I won’t tell you anything about it tho or even talk about anything other than screaming Read it now!”

That’s what I get for using common hashtags like #writing.

So if we’re being constantly thrashed with bad behavior, where the deuce is the good?

I dropped this on twitter today…

So much about authors behaving badly, how about #AuthorsBehavingWell on twitter? People like @ChuckWendig @SamSykesSwears and @saladinahmed

These guys aren’t the only authors behaving well, I just happened to be on ye olde twitter around the same time of day as them. Authors behaving well include Madaline Ashby (@MadelineAshby), Peter V Brett (@PVBrett), Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire), Cat Valente (@catvalente) and a lot of others who’s twitter handles are quite obvious.

So what do the people of my twitter feed do that makes them well behaved. Ima gonna break it down!

1 – Promote your stuff a little bit.

I know I said it was lame to be a walking advertisement on twitter a few paragraphs ago, but that doesn’t mean be silent about your work. I follow authors because I’m interested in what they write. I want to read Chuck Wendig’s latest blog post. Absolutely I want to know about Tobias Buckell’s kickstarter collection. Cat Valente’s last short story available online is one of my favorite short stories of all time and I never would have known about it if she didn’t drop a link on twitter. Celebrate your happy bookday. Drop updates on the current project. I’m interested in this.

There are authors I follow on twitter before I even buy their book. Of the eight people I’ve mentioned so far, I followed six of them before I bought the book. I’ve even follow people like Wesley Chu (@wes_chu) who aren’t published yet, but will be by publishers I love to read. Usually this sort of follow comes about by recommendations from other authors, seeing good things about their book, or one of the magical Scalzi Big Idea Posts. So by all means, link to reviews of your stuff. When I write a blog post about the book I just read, one of the primary reasons for it is spreading the word of awesomeness. Authors should know that they might have new and/or on the fence readers following them so they can find out if they want to read you.

2 – Promote the stuff of others a little bit.

Talk about your friends, your comrades, your fellow wordsmiths. One of the best things I get out of twitter is new books to read! I refuse to go to B+N so I don’t actually have a real live bookstore to go to in Rhode Island any more. I get so many of my new books to read from other authors. Chances are, if I’m interested in your stuff, and there are others who you enjoy as people and respect as writers, even if they’re not in our circle of F-SF genre, I’ll give them a gander. Benjamin Tate (@bentateauthor) reviews books on his LiveJournal. (Seriously, ever time I type LiveJournal, I think I travel back in time to 2000 and high school) Chuck Wendig interviews artists of all types. I happily recommend books to friends and there is no reason not to for the Well Behaved Twitter Author who has a willing audience that likes to read the same kind of stuff as they do.

3 – Be an awesome person the rest of the time

Finding out about the person behind the book cover seriously makes me giddy in a non-stalker kind of way. As a kid before the internet was running rampant with our lives, all I ever knew about an author was that little page in the back. “Joe Blow Author lives in a state with a family and some animals and has written a few other books.” I recognize the names in the Acknowledgements page now! In Kelly McCullough’s (@KellyDMcC) Broken Blade acknowledgements I recognized some of the names as Neil Gaiman’s dogs. They live near each other and he jogs with the dogs. Holy crap that’s cool. It’s not something you’d ever get years ago.

I have a dumpster cat named Mr. Pibb. I enjoy seeing the pictures of so many cats. Seriously. So many. It’s almost a cliche now, internet and cats, but everyone’s got them. Kylie Chan (@kyliecchan) and Seanan McGuire and Cherie Priest (@cmpriest) have awesome cats. Scott Lynch (@scottlynch78) is a firefighter. Greg van Eekhout (@gregvaneekhout) grows vegetables and fights off bugs on what I presume is a porch. Jennifer Pelland (@jenniferpelland) is a belly dancer. When Chuck Wendig or Tobias Buckell or Saladin Ahmed or Lauren Beukes (@laurenbeukes) talks about their kids doing something cool or weird, I can relate cause I’m a dad too. I won’t stop reading your books if you’re a good writer but boring on twitter, so don’t feel the need to preform either. Just be a regular person.

The internet has made authors into real live people. I get some sort of weird encouragement out of seeing people deal with sick kids or days when the word count just isn’t there or day jobs really really suck. They’re real people doing the same kind of crap I am and they made it. That means when I’m having tough days in the wordmines or the submarines at work are kicking my ass extra hard, I think “Hey they’ve got crap to deal with and got some damn good writing done anyways. I’m gonna do it too.” Solidarity man.

Don’t censor yourself though. It’s ok to get angry at something that sucks or be a little bit political. I’m not going to bandstand my own politics here because I don’t enjoy doing that kind of stuff, but in this day and age, most people are a little political especially during voting season. Don’t be a froth-at-the-mouth kind of political person and I can respect you even if I disagree with you. China Miéville and Orson Scott Card have famously controversial political views. They’re still considered luminaries of our genre regardless (I don’t think either use twitter though). Saladin Ahmed is the perfect example of this in my twitter feed. From reading his tweets, I’m pretty sure we’re not going to vote the same, but he’s being respectful so he can go right on disagreeing with me all he wants. Doesn’t bother me one bit. Frankly, I tend to skim over politics if I agree with you or not.

Really the most important part of the three points is moderation. Consider it a subpoint to all of them. Moderation in all things and there’s nothing to worry about.

So yeah. I think I seriously linked half of my twitter feed today. But I also think this has been my favorite blog post to write because it’s all about being part of a positive community. It’s certainly ended up being my longest blog post ever. But I’m not scrubbing for attention. I want to encourage people to be awesome and tell people about others who are already awesome. Play it forward. Good karma. There’s no need to candy coat everything, but foster that community damnit. Because seriously, it’s easy to forget how spoiled we are to have such a vibrant and well connected community. It’s easy to forget how easy it is to type out a “Hey I loved the shit out of your book! Digital air high five!” We didn’t have this kind of stuff twenty years ago or ten years ago. Hell, it wasn’t like this even five years ago.

Let’s make Authors Behaving Well a thing. It’ll cancel out all those who are behaving badly.