Total Oblivion

If you didn’t already know, Alan DeNiro’s first novel, Total Oblivion, More or Less, is now out, and you should be reading it, cause it is fantastic.  And while you’re at it, if you missed his short story collection, Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead, from a few years back, you should take the time to get it, too.  You will not be sorry, only amazed.

Nebula time

Calling all speculative fiction writers and readers:

The Nebula Award nomination period is now open! The rules have changed a lot this year, and I’m excited to see how those changes are reflected in the preliminary and final ballots.

Alas, I’ve read almost nothing but books assigned for my MFA degree and my own students’ stories in the last year, and am woefully behind on many of the current sf releases, wondering now to vote.  So I’m calling on all of you (whoever’s out there reading this somewhat neglect blog) to please recommend your favorite short stories, novelettes, novellas, novels, sf films, and spec fic YA novels.  It would be a great help to have somewhere to start, based on good recommendations.

One request:

Please limit your recommendations to three works across all categories. (I just want your absolute favorites!)

Thanks so much!

Oh, and a P.S. plug to those SFWA members who may be reading:

In terms of my own work that is viable for Nebula recommendations this year, they are:

In the novelette category, my story “The Ghost Hunter’s Beautiful Daughter” which appeared in this month’s Asimov’s issue.

In the novel category, my novel The Love We Share Without Knowing, which came out at the tail end of 2008 (which makes it a valid work for which to cast a vote).

Reviews of the new Interfictions

Two really well done reviews of the new volume of Interfictions are out.

First one from Strange Horizons:

If anyone else feels like we’re still drowning in slipstream—or, rather, drowning in definitions of slipstream—this follow-up to the 2007 anthology Interfictions certainly won’t offer any easy answers to the question of what’s been going on lately with all this genre-bending stuff. What Interfictions 2 does offer is a set of stories that, if united by only the most tenuous thematic and generic threads, couldn’t be more worth reading. Indeed, the folks at Small Beer Press and the Interstitial Arts Foundation have once again produced an enormously rich anthology that takes an almost manic diversity for its guiding principle, not so much in order to provide something for everyone, but seemingly to include something from just about everywhere.

Read the whole review, which is long and very detailed, and thus cool), by clicking here.

Second review from Charles Tan at Bibliophile Stalker:

Of course I don’t read interstitial fiction for interstiality’s sake. At the end of the day, I ask, did I enjoy this story, and did the form suit the function? In the case of Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing, it’s a resounding yes. There’s no bad story here, and only a few are what I consider barely above mediocre. A lot are standouts and favorites (although not the “best of the best”) such as “The War Between Heaven and Hell Wallpaper” by Jeffrey Ford, “The Beautiful Feast” by M. Rickert, “The Two of Me” by Ray Vukcevich, “Black Dog: A Biography” by Peter M. Ball, “Child-Empress of Mars” by Theodora Goss, and various other authors that I’ve never heard of (making this a doubly pleasant read). And when it comes to agenda, as Jetse de Vries pointed out, there’s a couple of “international writers” (whether by descent or actual nationality) in this book and one only needs to read their stories to affirm how richer the book is for their inclusion, as opposed to simply being a token presence. (The Anglophone presence is also great.)

Read the whole thing by clicking here.

Great to see readers responding to the book so quickly.  Keep ’em coming!

When we are like Anne

“Despite everything, I believe people are good at heart.”

I’m so glad Anne Frank could believe this.  It’s a testament to her own goodness.  It is not a testament to human nature itself, though.  It tells us more about Anne than it does about ourselves.

I don’t believe it.  I don’t attribute my disbelief to my own goodness, but to what I have seen of humanity, including what was going on around Anne, after the fact, and would like to say, You know what?  People are still very eager to do away with other people who are not like them.

Anne, you are a beautiful star.

But people? In general?  They are not.

When we are exceptional, when we see those unlike us as ourselves, despite our differences, THEN we are as beautiful as Anne.

When we are unable to do that?  We are ugly, inhumane, and disturbing.

I speak about this in relationship to the writing of fiction.  Is it worthwhile to speak of that which is good about us?

It is.

But there is a stronger push against, a resistance, to writers who speak about our ugliness, that which is disgusting in human nature.  And the more we resist it, the more I wish to represent our ugliness.

It should not be forgotten.

It should be the thing about which we are most uncomfortable.

It should be the thing we talk about more than anything.

Until we have done away with it.

Then, let us speak of our goodness, as Anne would.  But when our goodness has been won, an earned virtue.

Okay, we can speak  of our goodness, which we would not want to lose.

But not at the expense of acknowledging that which comprises our darkness.

Otherwise, we are living within an ideal, what we would like to think about ourselves, not about reality.

And even when we write fantasy, we should be speaking to reality.  The reality of the story.

Otherwise, we are making ourselves feel good about ourselves without reason.

Earn it.

That’s all.

Earn it.

A repeal

I hereby repeal my obviously premature congratulations to the state of Maine, which I gave out all too naively this past May.

Now, instead, I’d like to say good luck to those Mainers who want a better, inclusive, love-supporting culture in which to exist for their and their children’s futures.

I feel sorry for everyone, even for those who voted in the spirit of exclusion and inequality.  I really do think they don’t understand what they are missing.  They see their decisions as a protection and defense, but all they are defending are walls that separate people, rather than unify.  When they’re able to coexist in a mature manner with people who are unlike them, perhaps then Maine will be ready to be a better place, and a better people as a whole.

It’s not really Maine specifically, though, and I’m disturbed by all of the Twitterers and Facebookers and other online social groupers who are taking their disappointment and disgust out on Maine alone.  This is really how the majority of the United States still feels on the subject.

There is still a lot of work to be done.  And even if all of the U.S. acknowledged the rights of gay people to marry, there would still be problems with the culture’s general destructive nature towards LGBT people.  After all, look at what’s occurring in Merry Olde England, where gay marriage is legal.

Changing the law is one thing.  Changing a culture is another.  Of course changing the law is the beginning of something.  But it’s the first step on a long road to come.

Amazon Top 10

The second volume of Interfictions releases today, and just tonight I learned that the anthology has been selected by as one of the top 10 SFF books of 2009!

You can see the whole list by clicking here.

I can’t wait to hear what readers think of the selection of stories Delia and I pulled together.  I think the book has great range.

Happy reading, if you give it a go.