The book is at 20,000 words, which is a sixth of the estimated length. And I just broke 100,000 words for the year to date. And a project that had turned into an endlessly returning zombie is finally laid to bed.
Just keep chipping.
So I have 7500 words of The Stone in the Skull, the first book of the second Eternal Sky trilogy, which is collectively called The Lotus Kingdoms, done. I'm trying to have a bad draft before Readercon if I can.
And because I'm really, really happy with how this is coming out--apparently I've finally learned how to take that advice in the blog title and throw another bear in the canoe--here's the first three paragraphs.
My poor protagonists. I am a horrible person.
Also, very smug.
The mountain wore a mirrored mask. A pale sun blazed light but no heat in the limpid, icy air and glaciers shimmered against a sky like glass. The air was so still it seemed the encircling peaks held their breaths on some portent.
Their reflections bent toward a vanishing point in the polished egg-shape of the mirrored mask also worn by the brass man who toiled mechanically--tirelessly--up the slope of the notch below the peaks and between. A wrap of cowl had fallen back from his featureless head and his heavy hands gleamed in what might have been brass gauntlets. His brass feet were strapped into iron-thorned crampons without benefit of boots. The spikes bit into the smooth ice of a river made into rock by the cold.
A hawser thick as a woman's wrist draped over the brass man's shoulder. It stretched behind him on a weighty arc, reaching back to the curved bow of a strange ship: square-rigged, boasting a lofty reptilian figurehead gallantly painted in red and gold--but resting on two curved, ice-encased runners that bore it over the surface of the stone-hard river as if glass slid oiled on glass. A pilot stood on the little platform at the back of the bowsprit, peering up at the slopes above through a glass. Though it was early in the winter for avalanches, it was never too early for care.
Behind that ship was another....
Here's a thing about science fiction fandom that a lot of people who are new to the community may miss, SF prodom is an industry, yes--it's a group of interrelated sole proprietors and corporations and nonprofits all working in the same word mines.
I'm an entrepreneur. I'm a small business, in point of fact.
But I'm also a fan. And fandom intersects with prodom on a thousand different levels, not the least of which is that most SF pros are also SF fans.
And SF Fandom is a functioning, self-sustaining, multi-generational anarchy.
There is no central governing body. There is no system of government. There is no set of checks and balances, no higher authority to whom we can appeal when something hinky is going on, if it's an abusive fan, an unethical writer, or an editor who engages in harassment.
We are it. Fandom. And fandom is you and me and that guy over there who is horrible to everybody.
Fandom is an emergent property of a large group of fans. Nobody planned it. Nobody guided it. It just happened.
And it happened--and continues to happen--in large part because a whole fuckload of people decided to serve it. Not exploit it. Not attempt to co-opt it. But to serve it, with things like fanzines and Fan Funds and fan-run conventions (which are entirely staffed by volunteers, by the way, and the pros who attend them are generally not paid. If we are guests, we may get a per diem for food, a hotel room, and our travel covered. We may get a membership comped if we do program even if we're not guests of the convention, but in those cases we're paying our own expenses to be there. That's it. For a general loss of about a week's working time, and remember--nobody pays us if we don't work.).
They also serve it with the Worldcon, and with the World Science Fiction Society's Hugo Awards. Which are (again) administrated by volunteers. There's no glory in administrating awards, and a huge pile of backbreaking and thankless labor, and often a great deal of annoyance and wank and farmed or native drama.
Fandom happens because people take care of it, nurture it, and make it a fun place for people to be. Preferably, an inclusive place. If anything, we often err too far on the side of putting up with assholes, because we're bad at excluding people.
There are plenty of people in fandom who I think are jerks, idiots, pains in the ass, complete eye-rolling cramps, and/or moon men. Some of those people do valuable work for the community, even while I'm facepalming over their opinions.
All of them got into it the same way I did--by being volunteered or (as is very common) voluntold.
These people refer to themselves as SMoFs as a joke, you understand. Jobs often get done in haphazard ass-backward ways because they are done by anybody willing, and often on limited time, in the cracks of a busy life, and with little or no funding.
Some people in the community do not contribute in any meaningful way. But its awfully hard to actually run those people off, because we are--as I mentioned above--an anarchy. Fandom has no Office of Asshole Removal*.
Nobody is in charge, is what I'm saying. Fandom therefore demands both patience and personal responsibility of us all.
What we do have, though, are antibodies. We have ways of spreading information, and dealing with problems, and we have very long institutional memories. We have an understanding that any scalpel can also be used as a knife, and so--even though we make mistakes, and a lot of them, we tend to be self-correcting in the long run.
This is not the first time All Fandom Has Been Plunged Into War. It will not be the last.
But it's also not going to break fandom.
Because the great thing about anarchies is that they are very resilient, and they are also very good at establishing customs of the tribe, which is pretty much how anarchic, egalitarian, tribal societies usually organize themselves.
There's a new custom circulating in my tribe, and I think it's a good one, so I will be adopting it.
I have not in the past and I will not in the future participate in any popular award voting slate, public or private. I will not vote for any story or person or institution that is nominated for a popular award after agreeing to be on such a slate.
I believe that slate-voting is unethical and perverts the purpose of the awards--and disadvantages almost everyone, quite frankly--and I am personally invested in making sure my fandom does not decay into a series of cage matches.
That is the ethical decision I am making for myself.
I have no problem with recommendations, with Hugo discussion, with eligibility lists, with people saying "I think this is my best work last year and if you are nominating and care to read it, it's available here." (I do not particularly like the "I will send a copy to any nominator who wants one," practice, but I don't think it's unethical, just cheap.)
I have, however, a big problem with the party lever. Because I'm not much of one for parties at all.
There are some friends of mine on the Sad Puppies slate, and some people who I consider very good at their jobs. I'll be leaving them off the ballot, not merely placing them under "No Award."
Because this is how fandom's antibodies work. We each make a personal decision what we will and won't participate in, and then we stick to it.
At least the Hugo voting will be easy and fast this year**.
It usually takes me weeks to make my decisions.
Official publication date for An Apprentice to Elves:13 October 2015.
I saw grass today. And took the dog for a walk without my coat.
Now I have to pack for Tucson, Wisconsin, Minneapolis, and Illinois. So, yeah. Layers.
Pewter scraped across the black wave-caps of the Atlantic on the morning Carl Hughes learned how his lover had died.
"The universe will always need plumbers," Henry said, up to her armpit in the toilet. "At least until the Big Rip. Or the Rapture, whichever happens first."
A Time to Reap:
I paused in the wings stage left, in air thick with the smell of dust, imagining the applause.
On Safari in R'lyeh and Carcosa with Gun and Camera:
"We wouldn’t be having this conversation if you'd flunked Algebra, Griswold," Roberts said, racking another shell into his hunting rifle and peering over our flimsy barricade to see if the monstrous creatures beyond were preparing for another assault.
You'd think I'd have gotten out of the adventuring business, is all.
[No first line yet.]
The Stone in the Skull :
The mountain wore a mirrored mask.
Johnny Backus was a daywalker. Johnny Backus was a vampire. Johnny Backus was a friend of mine.
I loved you not.
There are no unremarkable worlds.
As the innate perversity of the universe would have it, Officer Jericho was up to her elbows in the guts of a roasted pumpkin as big as her chest when her pager shrilled.
Patience and Fortitude
Nothing made Matthew hate himself more than waiting for the elevator.
Give us this day our daily Giant Ridiculous Dog.
4280 words today, to finish a draft of "En Libres."
An epic fantasy short story revolving around the protagonists's desire to finish their dissertations and collect their Ph.Ds, starring a postgrad centaur alchemist and a postgrad botanical thaumaturge.
Now I get Thai food, as my reward for virtue. And I get to goof off tonight.
I've already written six pieces of short fiction in 2015, which is as many as I managed in all of 2014.
Maybe something came unstuck?
Also, I'm being funny this year.
This dog is inverted.
My Tucson Festival of Books schedule!
10-11am Panel: the Next Big Thing
2:30-3:30pm Panel: Revenge of the Flying Car
4-5pm Panel: Aim to Misbehave
I have the post-Boskone crud, just like everybody else. But I also managed to get my taxes done, buy a new car (It's my first actual bourgoisie car with a car payment in my entire lifetime: it's a Subaru Crosstrek and I get to pick it up tomorrow), and do a whole bunch of adulting, such as the annual over-forty irradiation and answering some interview questions and getting a whole bunch of stuff set to mail.
INBOX ZERO LIKE A MOTHERFUCKING SORCERER.
Now I have to fold the laundry I've been ignoring for three days.
The Author on the Flying Trapeze
Friday 16:00 - 16:50, Burroughs (Westin)
Research tips for fainthearted and fearless writers from panelists who've tried falconry, caving, rock climbing, and flying trapeze, cooked space food, been tattooed, and gone behind-the-scenes at Cirque du Soleil for their novels. They'll share stories and research strategies, including advice for introverts about interviewing experts. How do you handle the ethics and logistics of experiential research?
E. C. Ambrose (M), Vincent O'Neil, Jill Shultz, Allen M. Steele, Elizabeth Bear
Dated Science Fiction
Friday 21:00 - 21:50, Harbor II (Westin)
With the rapid advancement of science, the science within science fiction can get dated quickly. What SF works use science that has passed its expiration date, or at least reads as irretrievably retro? What books have stood the test of time, science-wise? How did they do that?
David G. Hartwell (M), Elizabeth Bear, Felicitas Ivey, Steven Sawicki, Michael Swanwick, Alexander Jablokov
Autographing: Elizabeth Bear. Susan Jane Bigelow, James Cambias, Andrea Hairston
Saturday 11:00 - 11:50, Galleria-Autographing (Westin)
Elizabeth Bear, Susan Jane Bigelow, James Cambias, Andrea Hairston
The Do's and Don'ts of Do-Overs: The Art of Fairytale Retellings
Saturday 13:00 - 13:50, Harbor II (Westin)
The mainstream and science fiction communities seem to think they invented retellings, and have christened them "reboots," but the retelling of fairytales is a time-honored tradition. Think about the rainbow of Fairy Books to start with, and Robin McKinley has rebooted Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and her namesake, Robin Hood. Or consider radical retellings like Gregory Maguire's Wicked. What can you change for an acceptable retelling? What must you change? What makes a good retelling of a fairytale?
Elizabeth Bear (M), Elizabeth Hand, Peadar Ó Guilín, Jane Yolen, Theodora Goss
Kaffeeklatsch: Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch
Saturday 15:00 - 15:50, Galleria-Kaffeeklatsch 1 (Westin)
Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch
Reading: Elizabeth Bear
Sunday 10:30 - 10:55, Griffin (Westin)
Noir & Moral Ambiguity in SF
Sunday 12:00 - 12:50, Marina 3 (Westin)
Noir is a shadowy staple of the futuristic crime tale, emphasizing moral conflict, dark themes, and sexual tension. Films like Blade Runner and Dark City, as well as books like Gibson's Neuromancer and Lethem's Gun, with Occasional Music are gloomy, gritty dramas that demand attention despite our instinct to turn away. Why do they work so well? Panelists discuss some of their favorite future-noir stories, novels, and films.
James Patrick Kelly (M), Laird Barron, Elizabeth Bear, Leigh Perry, Thomas Sweterlitsch, Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Finding Yourself in Story
Sunday 13:00 - 13:50, Harbor II (Westin)
We’ve all encountered fiction it’s hard to forget, but has any piece of literature ever had an actually profound effect on you? Let’s try to go beyond the usual discussion of “most unforgettable moment.” What fictional scene or work has guided you to a decision, sparked a self-realization, lead to an epiphany, or provoked a change in the course of your life? We’ll talk about the stories that truly moved us.
Steven Popkes (M), Elizabeth Bear, David Anthony Durham, Jo Walton, Paul Di Filippo