For your Hugo Consideration (Best Dramatic Presentation: Short)

Tony-winner Daveed Diggs (from Hamilton and the hip hop group clipping.) is a science fiction fan. He’s a fan of Afrofuturism, having studied works by N.K. Jemisin, Octavia Butler, and Samuel R, Delaney. After he left Hamilton he began work on a concept album called Splendor and Misery.

Splendor & Misery is an Afrofuturist, dystopian concept album that follows the survivor of a slave uprising on an interstellar cargo ship. As he struggles alone and lost, the AI on the ship falls in love with him.

Many of the songs have Diggs’ signature rapid fire lyrics, and I found it helpful to read the discussion at Genius.com to catch all of the lyrics and find some of the more obscure literary references. And there you can learn about the baffling coded track “Interlude 02”:

Foxtrot, Uniform, Whiskey, Romeo
Whiskey, Charlie, Oscar, X-Ray
Echo, India, Uniform
[Beep]
Delta, Lima, Quebec, Foxtrot
Echo, India, Quebec, India
Foxtrot, Uniform, Whiskey, Romeo
Whiskey, Charlie, Oscar, X-Ray
Echo, India, Uniform
[Beep]
Delta, Lima

The key to decoding this is hidden elsewhere on the album.

It’s an amazing experience to listen to, and I haven’t grown tired of it yet. So if you have any slot open on your Hugo ballot for Best Dramatic Presentation: Short, I fully think this is worthy of a nomination.

Mothership Zeta Issue 6

I just made live the final issue in the current run of Mothership Zeta, Issue 6. We’re featuring stories about murderous mechanical bears, spirits of mango trees, a sphinx that has relocated to Montreal, and a disgruntled worker’s diary. Our nonfiction includes movie reviews and, of course, the very talented James Patrick Kelly giving us a story doctor report on one of our stories. You won’t find this kind of column in any other magazine.

I am very proud of this one, and proud of how we ended this run.

MZ is going on hiatus now, where we will figure out how to make it sustainable. We will be back. Promise. In the meantime, please check out our previous issues.

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Ditch Diggers #35: MASSIVE Feedback Episode

  • Mur and Matt come to you live from Morgan Freeman’s sauna to handle “Old Business” from 2016 (it’s our long-awaited, oft hyped listener feedback episode!)
  • A brief tangent on eucalyptus saunas.
  • The Ditch Diggers both have new books out! And have turned in others!
  • Marta from Poland asks about short story English language rights and reprints.
  • Stefana from Johannesburg asks in what other jobs genre fiction writers might have an advantage.
  • DevoSpice suggests recording special time capsule episodes.
  • On contractual agreements between writing partners and writer wills.
  • Thomas asks about finding an agent when you’re with a publisher who has right of first refusal on your next book.
  • Michael asks about finding a publisher for a novel set in the same world as your published short stories.
  • Doing a show about older mid-list authors struggling to find new ways to get their fiction out there.
  • A Swedish author asks if you should submit a novel to agents/publishers when you know something like physical illness will prevent you from working on rewrites immediately.
  • Cassandra asks at what age should you start submitting fiction for publication?
  • Nicole asks if you should or should not resubmit stories you’ve completely rewritten to markets that rejected the first version.
  • What helped the Ditch Diggers most when they were learning to write, a book or a lesson?
  • Should studios make two versions of movies like Star Trek, an intellectually driven version and an action driven version?
  • Sean asks about building an audience of readers who make you uncomfortable.
  • Authors who don’t want readers to point out typos in their published works to them vs. authors who encourage readers to do so.
  • Todd responds to our Godparents episode on the difficulty of building an audience through crowdfunding.
  • How do you find cons that are fan-focused and allow you to speak to authors vs. cons that are pro focused.
  • Not wanting to promote an anthology you’re contractually obligated to promote (Matt goes off on abusive small press contracts).
  • Beth asks how you keep writing when your government is killing your soul and your healthcare?
  • Having caught up on Old Business, Matt and Mur plug their books and ask you to support their Patreon and for your vote for the Hugo Awards.
  • William Noble’s Conflict, Action, and Suspense: http://a.co/hTxkBbN
  •  Stephen King’s On Writing: http://a.co/7Su5QHm

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ISBW #371: Writing as a relationship // Bookburners Interview

I usually use the boxing metaphor for writing, but I’ve been thinking it’s more like a relationship. Plus Six Wakes and Bookburners both launched! Then I talk to my fellow Bookburners authors, Margaret Dunlap, Max Gladstone, and Brian Francis Slattery.
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Japanese Cover of The Shambling Guide to New York City

This just in! I received the art for the Japanese translation of The Shambling Guide to New York City, and it’s amazing. I love how the city and Morgen are highlighted on the cover.

When I scaled it down, the fuchsia border color changed (I don’t have a good image editing program on the laptop) so here’s a link to the larger version  so you can see the color and detail.

RESIST with 90’s technology

If you have paid any attention to me at all in the past 10 or so years, you can probably guess I’m in the RESIST side of the current administration.

However, I am bad at confrontation. I clam up. All of my arguments evaporate and my throat goes dry. This doesn’t mean the other person won; it’s rare I’ve been convinced otherwise. I just suck at presenting my case.

I know when it comes to calling your representatives’ offices, you can have a script, and there are several suggested ones you can find so you don’t even have to write one yourself. Which is great. But when I actually get up the courage to call, and get a busy signal (YAY all you people who aren’t afraid to call!), it’s hard to ramp up that courage again.

I did it, though. I tried. I never got through. I felt even worse; I was ready to fight in my own small way and I couldn’t get through the first door. Then I found out that Washington DC is about 20 or so years behind with regards to technology (and a bunch of other stuff that I won’t get into here). They have fax machines. And there are free fax services online. And shit, I can write a letter. Writing is what I’m good at. Talking/debating/arguing, not so much.

So every day I open up Google Drive and update the letters I want to send to my representatives. I use faxzero.com, which allows five free faxes per day. I send them off (I have all the phone numbers and fax numbers I need in my shiny new bullet journal, which I’ll talk about on another day.) I get confirmation emails. And I’ve done something.

My senators are Thom Tillis (R) and Aaron Richard Burr (R) (yes, relation) so I really doubt they will listen to a fucking thing I say. But I will still say it. I usually try to be polite. Sometimes I am rude (ie I called them both “silencer of women” after the Elizabeth Warren shutdown the other night). But I will still contact them.

Thank you, 90’s technology.

Resist.

Books to read! And Six Wakes press!

Today is the launch day for The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley and Idle Ingredients by Matt Wallace. You should run and get both now.

I’m not endorsing them because they’re talented, which they are, or because they’re my friends, which they also are. But I’m bringing them up because I thought you might want some books to read after Six Wakes and Bookburners.

Kameron and I both wrote very female-heavy space opera books, and they’re coming out close to each other. So if you like Six Wakes you will probably like The Stars Are Legion.

And Matt’s Sin Du Jour novella series (of which Idle Ingredients is #4)  is like The Shambling Guides with catering, so if you like my stuff, you will like Matt’s. Start with Envy of Angels if you’re new to the series.

So really, reader, I’m doing this for you.

You’re welcome!


New press about Six Wakes I just had to share! This is from the Barnes and Noble blog:

Lafferty fearlessly follows the moral, ethical, and practical implications of this questionably idyllic future. How does quasi-immortality change what it means to be human? If our bodies are disposable, are we then our minds? And what if that mind is just a copy? It’s all very much grounded in the juicy mystery elements, but there are larger ideas behind it all.

And a part I particularly appreciate about the character of Dr. Joanna Glass:

[Joanna] raises questions about notions of perfection, and makes a powerfully rare, if understated, anti-ableist statement.

This was important to me, because even though the hacking that would “fix” Joanna’s genetically abnormal legs is illegal, it would be pretty easy for someone with her wealth and privilege to have it done. She chooses not to.

Venom out of costume: actress Teal Sherer

I was inspired, in part, by the character of Venom in Felicia Day’s gaming series “The Guild.” A horrible nihilist in the rival guild, she has a rare moment of frank, non-antagonistic vulnerability when she wonders aloud why she can’t have a wheelchair in the game like she has in real life, because she wants her avatar to fully represent her. (Pedantic Vork tries to explain how the ADA hasn’t really reached dungeons so it would be hard for her to move around, and then her character kills his.)

Also the the main character in John Scalzi’s Lock In, Chris, makes the same statement as people take sides in a debate about whether their “locked in” status should be cured. The locked in community has created a unique and rich alternate online lifestyle, and they would have to give that up if they were cured.

Those two stories had me thinking about pop culture’s usual view of disability, especially concerning science fiction and its desire to “fix” everything with futuristic technology. So I tried to address it in this book.



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Adulting Hardcore [Artist’s Way, Overwatch]

I’ve started the Artist’s Way again- specifically the Finding Water, the Art of Perseverance book.

I have a weird relationship with The Artist’s Way. I’ve found it very useful. But it’s hard to read as an atheist; Cameron does her best to accommodate everyone, sometimes calling it God, sometimes the Universe. Essentially when you open yourself up to being creative, then God (or the Universe) sends you opportunities and gifts and stuff.

To reconcile this with my own beliefs (or lack thereof) I see it as opening yourself up to creativity just makes you open your damn eyes and look around you. Opportunities are there all the time, but usually we don’t think they’re for us, like the delivery person standing on your stoop with a bouquet of flowers. “Sorry, you must be at the wrong house.” Or you don’t even see something as an opportunity. But doing the Artist’s Way helps you look around and maybe just try something you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Julia Cameron either is brilliant or she is knows a good thing to milk: all of her programs have the same basic principle: write 3 pages of longhand every morning. Go on an “artist’s date” alone during the week. She’s also included walking in the program by now, but I don’t think it was part of the first one. But they all focus on a different part of the artist’s life, usually in memoir form.

Finding Water came to me right when I needed it. It’s a meditation for artists who have a career but may be feeling a slump, or imposter syndrome, and how to get your focus back. I picked the book up last year when I was feeling some particular professional jealousy, and read the first chapter. It was just what I needed. (note I said least year; I didn’t start doing the program hardcore until recently. Honestly I hate morning pages. So I do them, drop them, pick them back up.)

I’m starting week 3 now, and I’ll report back in later to say how i’m doing.

I started playing Overwatch (PS4). It was hard for me to warm to because I a) am not good at shooters and b) hate playing online games with strangers. But I should have trusted Blizzard. The only game design they’ve ever done that I’ve disliked is Hearthstone. (I just don’t get it. It’s a card game when I’ve played better card games on other apps. What am I missing? Anyway. I digress.) Overwatch is designed with four kinds of characters: offense (high damage), tanks (high defense), defense (neutralize the other team), and support (healing, buffing.) The vastly different characters offer a style of play that works for different people.

Junkrat, totally not the Evil Midnight Bomber or the Joker.

“You’ll never prove a thing, copper, I’m just a part time electrician…bad is good, baby! Down with government!”

I find myself liking the support characters (Mercy the valkyrie and Zenyatta the robot monk) and the occasional defense characters (Junkrat the Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight and Mei the climatologist). When I play offense I just turn into a smear on the ground, and I have never enjoyed tanks.

What Blizzard has done so brilliantly is take an idea from Splatoon and take it a step farther. To keep people (teen boys) from frothing all over the game with homophobic and sexist slurs, they don’t have a chat function on the console. There isn’t an obvious way to choose a team, although my daughter says it’s possible.* You can do vocal team chat, but since you can’t choose a team you could be playing with people all over the world. The options to communicate with people are signaling in game things like Hello and I need healing. There isn’t a gay slur among them.

You can unlock other things to say. (I unlocked Zenyatta’s saying “I dreamt I was a butterfly,” which I love) You can unlock things to spray on the wall. I am of course unlocking all sorts of awesome skins and sprays and sayings for people I don’t play at all, but I figure the more I play, the more shit I will unlock.

When we got Overwatch, my daughter started playing on my account (long story, misunderstanding, let’s move on) and pushed my level up. I feel like I should apologize to people because it says I’m level 16, but I promise i’m not playing like a level 16 player. So if you see mightymur out there flailing about, blame my kid.

Yeah. All her fault that I’m not good at this game. Totally…

Anyway. I love it. Despite my moans of despair when we are against a team of fucking sniper campers who destroy me the moment I respawn, I actually am having fun. It’s what I needed after last week’s stress of book launches** and turn in.

And so he says to me, you want to be a bad guy? and I say Yeah Baby! I want to be bad! I says Churchill space ponies I’m making gravy without the lumps! Ah ha ha ha ha haaaaa!!!!!


* This is not an official review. I’m just saying this from what I’ve experienced playing the PS4 version. You may indeed be able to do these things, but I choose not to.
** The books are still getting great reviews. I got a very flattering email from someone Friday night – I won’t say who, cause I don’t have their permission, but goddamn, did it make my weekend.

Six Wakes and Bookburners Launch Day! Plus Appearances Updates

Six Wakes Cover

W00t

Two days ago saw the launch of Six Wakes and Bookburners, the projects I spent most of last year on. It was weird coincidence that they launched the same day. But the reviews for both are both really good, and I’m thrilled at the response. And thanks to everyone who posted a review online, anywhere! Spreading the word is HUGE help.

I got to do the John Scalzi Big Idea on Tuesday! And here are some quotes from reviews for Six Wakes!

“A taut, nerve-tingling murder mystery with a deeply human heart.”
NPR Books
 
“An interstellar page-turner with an innovative twist on cloning tropes.”
B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
 
“A great book with so much going for it: clever structure, wonderful characters, 
and a fiendishly clever puzzle that you’ll roll over in your mind 
for months after you close the covers.”
Boing Boing
 
“[The] coolest murder mystery you’ll read.”
— bestselling author Chuck Wendig

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Unfortunately I won’t be doing my bookstore event in Greenville, SC tonight. We had to reschedule. We’re still hammering out when we will be doing it but it looks tentatively like February 21 will be the new date. And I’m working on a local event in March at Flyleaf books, will post when that gets confirmed.

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I’m completely knackered, as the Brits say, from book launches and turning in the first draft of I Should Be Writing, the book. (Yeah, that was yesterday, whoo hoo book done! Now body must zzzzz…) But now that the books are out and the other book is turned in, I can focus more on my podcasts and my dear Patreon supporters.

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OH, and thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway! All slots are filled!