Inhuman Swill : Writing : Page 14

Topsy-turvy chess

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Andrew Leonard has a wonderful remembrance of playing chess with Kurt Vonnegut in his Salon blog:

On a whim, he suggested that we rearrange the board. Why did the pawns have to go in front, those sacrificial lambs about to be chewed up by the slaughterhouse of the front lines, those powerless vassals of the high and mighty? Let's force the feudal lords out of their foxholes and into the hurly-burly!

Let's put the pawns in the back row, he proposed. Let's put the knights and bishops and kings and queens in the front rank!  [full posting]

I could have done without the gratuitous Ann Coulter reference, but it is Salon.

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RIP Kurt Vonnegut

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And sadly, the first thing I learned clicking over to the "Print" section of Sci Fi Wire was that Kurt Vonnegut has died. Whether you think he was a science fiction writer or not, he was one of the greats and will be missed.

So it goes.

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Today over at Sci Fi Wire, the news service of the Sci Fi Channel, I am interviewed by John Joseph Adams (a/k/a [info]slushgod) about my Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated novella "Inclination."

Lots of other nominees have been interviewed over the past couple of weeks in the "Print" section of Sci Fi Wire. Read 'em all!

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What a long, long day! Laura went to Long Island to partake of Easter dinner with friends and their families, whilst I wrote pretty much from 5:00 am to 10:30 pm—with breaks, of course, for food, playing with the dog, a nap, coffee-brewing, and general screwing around.

Anyway, I took a break from novel-writing today to write a 2,500-word short story entitled "Care and Feeding of Your Piano." Or maybe Perry Slaughter wrote it, I haven't quite decided yet. It's a narrative cast entirely in excerpts from a fictional future product manual. Light, offbeat, and nasty in a way Perry could certainly claim responsibility for with pride.

I never mix writing and alcohol, but now that the story is done I'm enjoying a celebratory Talisker and some nicely atmospheric music. The Talisker bottle has at most two pours left, which means I'm about half a week away from clearing one more of the low bottles from the liquor cabinet in preparation for the big move. Woo-hoo!

Anyway, this story's title is one that's been hanging around in my files without a story attached for maybe a decade. In fact, it's been a title without a story for so long that it feels a little surreal now to be on the far side of the divide. That's all right, I guess. There's plenty more titles and ideas where that one came from.

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I have cast a new novella, "Cast a Cold Eye," written in collaboration with and at the instigation of Derryl Murphy, out upon the postal waters. Sail, little ghost story! Sail swiftly to your destination, and on those leeward shores find fertile soil in which to put down your pulpy roots and bring forth blossoms. Sail, and thrive!

Man, I really need to get out of the office today.

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ShunnCast #42

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Epidode #42 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which Bill attempts to tie off a few last dangling threads and bring the whole enterprise to a poignant yet thematically satisfying conclusion.

http://www.shunn.net/podcast?id=42

See also [info]shunncast.

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I am sitting in a comfy chair in my local non-Starbucks coffee joint, laptop on lap top, having just finished a grande skim latte and a fresh draft of the afterword for my chapbook. Ben Folds is playing on the stereo.

A body could grow accustomed to this.

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ShunnCast #41

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Epidode #41 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which Bill, after only a brief taste of freedom, is told to sit down, shut up, take the money, get on the plane, and pretend the past week never happened.

http://www.shunn.net/podcast?id=41

See also [info]shunncast.

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More on the Hugos

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I promised earlier to write more about the Hugo nominations today, but what I really wanted to do was take some time to do what I was too pressed to do this morning and congratulate everyone else who made the ballot. Particular congratulations to folks I know like Robert Reed, Sheila Williams, Gordon Van Gelder, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, David Hartwell, Kevin Maroney, Gardner Dozois, Gavin Grant & Kelly Link, and John Scalzi!

In the short story category I'm delighted to see [info]tim_pratt, whose "Impossible Dreams" is the kind of story that makes you wish desperately that it was true. It was a pleasure to get to know him at the Blue Heaven workshop last year. I don't know Paolo Bacigalupi well, but I'm very stoked that we'll get to hang out together at this year's Blue Heaven and try to figure out how to write novels. I don't really know anyone in the novel category, either, but I feel related-by-collaboration to Peter Watts, since both he and I have recently written stories with Derryl Murphy.

And then there's [info]paulmelko, a great guy whom I had known for a few years but was lucky enough to really get to know well last year at Blue Heaven. I'm excited for him for the way he's burst onto the scene over the past few years, and for his evident work ethic and commitment to the SF cause via SFWA involvement. But I'm also happy because our two novellas, which appear in the same issue of Asimov's, have managed to garner both Hugo and Nebula nominations. (Hugula, dude!) The only thing that could possibly top this ride is for the two of us to tie for the Hugo.

Of course, as I said in Paul's journal earlier, with Robert Reed, Michael Swanwick, and Robert Charles Wilson, all of whom I admire very much, as fellow nominees, I figure I can just rest easy and enjoy the awards ceremony knowing this is not my year to set off airport security with a rocket in my luggage. (Bob Reed's novella in particular I thought was brilliant.)

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I woke up this morning to find an inbox flooded with congratulations on being nominated for the Hugo Award! Okay, so the majority of them were copies of one email from [info]gregvaneekhout that inexplicably keeps getting redelivered, but still. Greg can congratulate me on being nominated as many times as he wants!

Just let me say, I am stunned. Which is odd, because the nominees are all informed early, and I've known about this for almost two weeks. But this morning I find I am stunned all over again, even moreso than when I was first informed of the nomination. This is without a doubt the greatest morning of my professional career so far. I am thrilled. The idea that readers out there not only read something I wrote but liked it well enough to nominate it for a Hugo is amazing to me. I am not exaggerating to say this is a childhood dream.

To everyone who read and nominated "Inclination" for best novella, I wish I could hug you all. Thank you!

I will have more to say about this later today, much more, but even Hugo nominees have to go out and walk the dog on Thursday mornings!

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