April 2002 | Inhuman Swill | William Shunn
Inhuman Swill : April 2002

Not just empty talk

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Holy cow. Just got this email from my agent:

I talked to Jim Frenkel yesterday and he said that I should send the first half of Missionary Man [the memoir] to him, and that we should send him Silvertide [the novel] when you're done. Seems like you (or in point of fact, Laura—he kept talking about her!) really charmed him!
That's a rather spectacular vindication of the past weekend, if I do say so! I'm getting straight to work on the revisions to Silvertide, and Shawna is sending Missionary Man straight out to him. Fingers crossed, everybody!

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Forehead smack

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I can't believe I forgot to mention that Kelly Link won the Nebula for best novelette. And well-deserved it was, too, even though I predicted that Jim Kelly would win.

Here are some photos from the Nebula weekend. See if you can spot Laura and me in the later pages. (Okay, here are some hints: hint, hint, hint, and hint.)

You might also be amused by this video interview Laura conducted with two of the more articulate Nebula nominees—Geoff Landis and some weird guy from Queens.

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Nebula Awards weekend

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Laura and I are just back from Kansas City. I didn't win the Nebula, but I was hardly disappointed with the experience of being a nominee. It was a terrific weekend, and it really couldn't have gone better. I met a lot of writers that I've looked up to for a long time, and I even got to hang out and commiserate with them at the post-awards party. Ah, the rewards of being a loser. :)

One of the high points of the weekend was when Nancy Kress—a multi-award-winning writer I admire who also used to write a great column on writing for Writer's Digest—introduced herself to me out of nowhere, told me she'd been hoping to meet me, and told me how wonderful my nominated story was. (I started hyperventilating around then, because until then I hadn't really believed the possibility that I might actually win. But if Nancy Kress liked my story so much...)

I got to hang out with old Clarion friends like Geoff Landis (who was also on the ballot, for his novel Mars Crossing), Mary Turzillo, and Resa Nelson, and also with Scott Edelman, a terrific who bought some of my stories for Science Fiction Age when that magazine still existed. My old friends and online writing group compatriots Mark Worthen and Jeannie Eddy showed up from Jefferson City too, which was delightful. We were fortunate enough to have Tor editor Jim Minz join us on an excursion to K.C. Masterpiece for barbecue, and I'm happy to report that he is a real gentleman, besides an editor of discernment and taste.

I was delighted to meet James Patrick Kelly and Robert Reed, both writers I've admired for many years, and ended up spending a couple of hours with them both at the post-awards party. Wil McCarthy (nominated for The Collapsium) was there, and I got to chat for a while with Mark Tiedemann too, who was delightful.

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Damon Knight, 1922-2002

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Jesus Christ, where was I when this happened?


Damon was one of my instructors at the Clarion workshop in 1985, probably the most formative six-week period of my life. Besides everything else—writer, critic, teacher—he was a hell of a character. He had two little inkstamps. One was a smiley face that said "I like you." The other was a sour, scrunched-up face that said "Shit!" He would stamp your manuscript with one or the other. He told me I was definitely going to be a writer, and boy did I believe it when he said so.


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So there I was, riding the W train to work this morning, holding onto a bag full of homemade tollhouse cookies for the office, skimming along in my bad novel, when the train left Queensboro Plaza and plunged into the tunnel. And into total darkness.

Seriously. I couldn't see the book. The train conductor came on the speaker and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, there are no lights on this train. Repeat, no lights on this train."

Everyone tittered a little nervously. I glanced around. Nothing but shadowy forms, barely visible. I got a little nervous as we raced through the tunnel in complete darkness, thinking that anyone could do anything to anybody in the dark.

That section of the tunnel must only have lasted fifteen or twenty seconds, though. Then the lights in the tunnel began to flash past, strobing yellow with flashes of blue, and everyone could see each other again -- albeit in eerie pulses.

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Mormon Fight Club

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April 9, 2002

Utah Gov.'s Son Named in Fight Club


Filed at 5:29 p.m. ET

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William Shunn

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