Inhuman Swill : Publications : Page 8

What's new fictionwise

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By the way, I've had a couple of stories go live at this week, which means they're available now for purchase, downloading, and reading in a variety of formats on a variety of devices. Just click here:

Since both stories are new to Fictionwise, they're discounted 15% off the already reasonable price of well under a dollar! And I have it on good authority that a dozen or so other stories will go live in the near to foreseeable future.

(Obviously I'm working hard on this novel.)

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Kindly inclined reviews

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One of these days I will be through obsessively posting about "Inclination," but not yet, not yet. I took a little time out from noveling today (200 pages due to the workshop tonight, and I just might make it!) to visit the Borders at Park & 57th. Lo and behold! The March Locus.

Both Locus's short-fiction reviewers wrote up the April/May Asimov's, and to make a long story short, both reviewers placed "Inclination" on their recommended reading lists for the month. Paul Melko, whose fine novella "The Walls of the Universe" anchors the other end of the issue, pulled off the same feat.

To quote from the reviews themselves:

Among all the plot options available to SF writers, there's something to be said for the one that launches the protagonist, with few bothersome preliminaries, into a dizzying succession of new territories, disorientation and wonderment combining in a dance of conceptual vertigo.... There are many fine examples of this narrative tactic in the literature, and Paul Melko's novella in the April/May double issue of Asimov's, "The Walls of the Universe," is an honorable addition to their ranks.... If SF is unable often to break new ground, it can always re-interpret and enrich its staples, and "The Walls of the Universe" add ingenious maturity to its long-established subgenre.
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All this for one low price!

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At the Asimov's web site, you can now find not only an excerpt from my novella "Inclination" but also an excerpt from Paul Melko's fine and fast-paced novella "The Walls of the Universe," not to mention the entirety of our own [info]asphalteden's excellent essay on electronic music, "A Possible Planet." (There is also an accompanying podcast, featuring many of the musicians Brian mentions in his article, which is well worth listening to.)

And don't forget, you can also hear an excerpt from "Inclination" in the latest episode of my podcast.

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Coming of age

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Asimov's Science Fiction, June 1983
The first science fiction magazine I ever saw, read, subscribed to, submitted to, and was rejected by was Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Back in 1983, when I was almost 16 years old, my father brought a copy home for me after it became clear to him that writing SF was just simply going to be something that I did, and there would be no use complaining about it. He found the magazine at a 7-Eleven and showed me the address for fiction submissions. It was a generous gesture on his part, especially since a few years earlier he had forbidden me to read the evil stuff.

That first issue had a Fred Pohl story on the cover, I recall, "The High Test." I read the magazine greedily, then called the phone number inside to subscribe. The woman on the other side of the line wanted me to give a credit card number. It took some doing, but I convinced her to enter my subscription without one, and to bill me later. I'm not sure why I didn't just mail in a subscription card. I think I was just too excited to get my subscription started.

Before long, I had my first rejection in hand—a photocopied sheet of possible reasons my story was not of use to Asimov's, with editor Shawna McCarthy's second-generation signature at the bottom. Crushed but undeterred, I sent in another story. Same outcome.

Every time the new issue arrived, I would read it cover to cover. Those pages are where I first read Lucius Shepard, Bruce Sterling, James Patrick Kelly, Kim Stanley Robinson, John Kessel, Michael Swanwick, Nancy Kress, Connie Willis, Michael Bishop, Norman Spinrad, Dan Simmons, and a host of other exemplary short fiction writers I'm forgetting now. I still have many of those issues, the ones with the stories that affected me most. "Speech Sounds" by Octavia Butler is one of the first that comes to mind. More even than the novels I had long read, those stories were my first real education in the art and craft of writing science fiction.

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Twelve months of Ella

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Our close friend [info]ellapup has a 2006 calendar for sale. Check it out, and maybe pick up a copy and help her feel a little better about herself.

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Coming attractions

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When the mail came on Friday and I spied the October/November issue of Asimov's in the pile, I opened it immediately to the last page. I didn't necessarily expect to see it yet, but it was there nonetheless:

COMING SOONmind-bending new stories by Robert Silverberg, Stephen Baxter, David D. Levine, Wil McCarthy, Liz Williams, Chris Roberson, William Shunn, Paul Melko, Jack Skillingstead, Bruce McAllister, Allen M. Steele, Carol Emshwiller, Michael Swanwick, Paul J. McAuley, Neal Asher, and more!
So cool. Congratulations, Paul!
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Well, I'm just back from a four-day trip to Arizona, so if you've been expecting email from me, that probably why you don't have any. I returned to discover an awfully nice gift—my short story "The Practical Ramifications of Interstellar Packet Loss" has just been reprinted on the very fine SF site Infinity Plus. Check it out if you get a chance.

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It's miraculous, though not at all surprising, how a little good press can change one's outlook on one's career.

I'd been in a little email exchange with a writer named Nick Gevers who lives in South Africa. Nick has a pretty esoteric Ph.D.—the use of history in science fiction. He also helps edit an online zine called Infinity Plus, and on the strength of a story of mine he had just read for review in a recent anthology, he had asked if Infinity Plus could reprint one of my older stories.

That was flattering enough, but then Nick sent me the text of his review of the anthology, which will appear soon in the fanzine Nova Express. My favorite line was this:

[H]is meditations on ecological conservation, intercultural dynamics, and the limits of human understanding are powerful and true, making 'Dance [of the Yellow-Breasted Luddites]' one of the best novellas of the year."
(Of course I posted a larger excerpt on my Web site almost immediately.) Reading this, my prospects seemed suddenly brighter than they had a few minutes before, when all I could think about was how many times my memoir had been rejected. The timing was perfect.

So what does it say about me that I cling to good notices like Leo DeCaprio to a chunk of floating ice? I don't really care, because one fellow in Capetown thinks I've written one of the best novellas of the year.

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Between me, safe in my seat on this bus,
And the decadent majesty of the salmon-red cliffs of eastern Utah,
A ghost landscape stands sentinel,
As if etched into the glass by a cadre of capering goblins.
The residue of a hasty window washing—
Loops and whorls of dirt left untouched, uncleansed,
Unrepentent, at the bottom of the glass on each fluid upstroke—
It sparkles, gritty and salt-sharp in the oblique sunlight,
Like a series of pearly solar flares,
Or a graph of the desert's pulsebeat,
Or spectral negatives of a washed-out sandstone arch,
Photographed in stages over eons of time—
Snapshots from a child-god's flip-book—
Frothing, leaping, peaking, then falling back into the ground
Like fountains of earth,
A time-lapse planetary signature
That will melt and return to dust
With the next unlikely rain.

Originally published in Sunstone, February 1994
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