Inhuman Swill : Science Fiction : Page 11

Worldcon schedule

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Here, if you're interested, is my Worldcon program schedule:

Sat 1400 Religion In SF Participants: Jessica LANGER, Kari MAUND, Robert Charles WILSON, William SHUNN Though their pursuits are not mutually exclusive, religion and speculative fiction are almost anathema to one another. In SF, religion is ridiculed as superstition, derided as a pursuit of less advanced minds. Why is this kind of discrimination acceptable? Why are there not more proudly religious characters in SF? Sun 1400 The Integration of Science and Religion in SF&F Participants: Lisa C FREITAG, Robert Charles WILSON, William SHUNN, Edward JAMES Science Fiction is the literature of the humanist, the rationalist and the skeptic. As theoretical physicists look at the underpinnings of the physical universe, they see the presence of the hand of God. How do authors integrate religion and science? Can it only be done in fantasy?
If you'll be there, I hope you'll catch the Saturday panel or its Sunday rerun!

(Full schedule.)

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Full chapbook cover

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An Alternate History of the 21st Century
Mattias Adolfsson has posted his full original cover art for my upcoming chapbook in his blog:

Great stuff! And John Klima has some nice things to say about both the art and the chapbook itself over at his blog.

The chapbook should be coming in about a month's time. Don't forget to pre-order your copy for just five bucks.

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Moonflowers and Guernica

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An Alternate History of the 21st Century: Stories by William Shunn
We had visitors from Iowa on Saturday. John, Shai, and Aubrey Klima dropped in for the day from Davenport, a mere three hours away. We walked to a nearby bar & grill for lunch, along with John's college pal Pat who turns out to live only a few blocks from us. Aubrey was very concerned that her new pal Ella was not accompanying us on the trek.

After lunch the Klimas took us on an extended shopping expedition to Lincoln Park, where I was introduced to the marvels of Lush, where John was like a kid in a candy shop, and to Sam's Wine and Spirits, where both of us were like kids in a candy shop. Laura narrowly missed buying a great pair of shoes at mumblety-mumble shoestore (what's in a name, anyway?), but she and Shai both walked out with spiffy new hats. Back at the homestead, while Aubrey chased a mostly tolerant Ella around the room and offered people the raspberries impaled on her fingers, we ate fine cheese and fruit while sampling a bit of the Old Monk Rum that John had recommended highly. (I also purchased a young calvados and a 40th birthday Tomintoul 27yo.)

Almost as fun as the visit itself was the opportunity to see page proofs of my chapbook, complete with the Mattias Adolfsson illustrations that will grace the cover and interior. Laura and I were both blown away by the art. My two favorite illustrations are the ones accompanying "Observations from the City of Angels" (a robot hand plucking a petal from a flower) and "Objective Impermeability in a Closed System" (an at-first puzzling piece that I only belatedly realized references Picasso's Guernica). Can't wait for you to see them! I have to get the proofs proofed early this week so there will be copies to take with us to Worldcon in Yokohama.

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Cut and pasted without hands

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LDSF-2: Latter-Day Science Fiction
I'm not sure what Parables Publishing is up to, putting the entire text of their "classic" LDSF anthologies online. I guess they're trying to drum up some publicity for their long-overdue fourth volume of science fiction for Mormons. Good luck to them.

Why do I care? Well, the first story I ever published, "Cut Without Hands," appeared in LDSF-2 back in 1985. I was sixteen when I made the sale (payment in copies), and I was beside myself with joy. Unfortunately, editor Benjamin Urrutia lost my address and couldn't send me my author's copies. I assumed the project had died on the vine—until the spring of 1987, when I was a missionary in Washington and received a letter from Mr. Urrutia. He had read about my brush with the law in the paper and was writing to ask if I was the same D. William Shunn who had given him a story for his anthology.

Much as I wish my little piece of Mormon apologia would quietly vanish, copies of LDSF-2 still show up in used bookstores every once in a while, so I can't be too upset that my story is now up on the Web for all the world to see—in total copyright violation. I'm not inclined to press the matter, though Philip José Farmer and the estate of Avram Davidson (both authors had Mormon-related stories reprinted in LDSF-2) might feel differently. So go read this odd historical curiosity before someone more litigious than I gets wind of it and the whole thing vanishes. (You'll have to scroll way down, or search on "cut without hands," since the Parables folks seems to have only rudimentary HTML skillz.)

Another story you might want to read while it's still available is "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" by hyperpopular LDS author Jack Weyland, which immediately precedes mine in the table of contents. This story is significant to me only because I hated it so much, even as a young Mormon missionary. Its central conceit was so smug and insular and made for such bad science fiction that for two decades I carried around a desire to write a story that proceeded from the same premise but took it in an entirely different direction.

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Brand nude movie review

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I saw a little British film called Cashback earlier this week at a strange mall here in Chicago that seems to have modeled itself after the Guggenheim. I'll tell you about the movie over at Science Fiction Weekly. The mall, well, let's just say the spiraling ramp frustrated my best efforts to exit.

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Greg Bear on the Daily Show

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You've probably seen this already, but I finally got a chance to watch it...

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I finally made it back home yesterday to my lovely wife and fuzzy dog after eight days away at the Blue Heaven workshop. I'm delighted to be home but nostalgic for the workshop. It was an extraordinarily helpful, intense, and fun week, maybe even moreso than last year. I don't want to be a namedropper, so I'm not going list all the terrific skiffy writers who attended. Suffice it to say that the week was professionally and personally rewarding, filled with learning, insight, humor, collegiality, friendship, food, beer, free Stormclouds, animal heads, turkey vultures, TNT explosions, Totally Outrageous Behavior, quips that can never be repeated without someone choking almost to death, and Old Gregg. My novel Silvertide was critiqued by two sharp readers who restored my confidence in it, and I hope I served as useful a function to the three embarrassingly talented scribes whose novels I critiqued in full (or nearly so).

Too many good times to recount them all, or even to pick a handful. I leave you with my entry in the Blue Heaven 2007 Raunchy Limerick Challenge, posed by a fellow workshopper who shall remain nameless, for reasons that will remain unstated. The challenge was to compose a limerick employing the words pump, rump, and Cockney.

Down at the Village Pump

A barmaid of bonny sweet rump
Set empty beers down with a thump.
    "Don' just sit and watch me,"
    Said this comely Cockney.
"You want some, get back 'ere and pump."

It's good to be home.

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Chapbook pre-ordering

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You know, that last post reminds me that I should explicitly point out that my chapbook An Alternate History of the 21st Century, due this summer, is available for pre-ordering now.


Did I mention that it features four reprinted stories, two all-new stories, an introduction by Cory Doctorow, and the fantastic illustrations of Mattias Adolfsson? If not, I should have.

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Electric Velocipede #12
Most of you probably know of John Klima's excellent-and-getting-better 'zine Electric Velocipede. Or you might have heard of John's acclaimed new anthology Logorrhea: Good Words Make Good Stories. You may even, hope of hopes, know of his Spilt Milk Press chapbook series, the first volume of which featured the work of Ezra Pines, the third of which will feature Robert Freeman Wexler, and the second and nextest of which will be mine all mine, with a Creative Commons–licensed introduction by the redoubtable Cory Doctorow and illustrations by the frabjous Mattias Adolfsson.

In any event, the 'zine that started it all, Electric Velocipede, needs your help! I say this not because three of my own stories have appeared therein (with another on the way), but because the magazine is so consistently good. John, who slipped me a copy of the grainy, cheap, delightful first issue at a drunken party at a con many years ago and who has been making it an ever-higher quality publication ever since, wants to do even more to make EV and Spilt Milk Press better. And to do that requires support.

I won't keep talking your ear off about it. I will let John do that. But I will report that I believe in his projects enough to have ordered up a "Benefactor Patronage" level subscription for myself. (And lest we be unclear, this came long, long after John asked me to do a chapbook with him. I'm eager to see all the other things he's going to do.) A mere hundred clams gets you EV plus all chapbooks forever! How awesome is that!

Of course, a regular subscription would be pretty awesome too. Dip your toe in the water before diving in and all that.

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In more news for New York SF fans, check out the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival schedule and start planning your picnic for June 25th.

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William Shunn