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Inhuman Swill : Science Fiction : Page 16

I don't know, do they?

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This week's featured Preliminary Nebula Award Ballot story at Fictionwise is [info]bobhowe's novelette "Do Neanderthals Know?" Great story, check it out for free in e-book form:

http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook43661.htm

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In the land of the furries

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See if you can spot Scott Edelman, Bob Howe, and me (and maybe other people you know!) in this old segment from the premier episode of the Trio series Parking Lot. We're trying to be all erudite and shit while they intercut our interview clips with furries. It's pretty funny, and no less than what we deserve!

(Taped in 2003.)

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ShunnCast #37

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Epidode #37 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which Bill, as threatened, pays tribute to late jazz great Michael Brecker. A special all-music edition!

http://www.shunn.net/podcast?id=37

See also [info]shunncast.

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Locus recommendations

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Other folks round these here parts have pointed out that the Locus Recommended Reading List is online this year. Let me congratulate the folks I know more than glancingly whose work appears on the list, including Laird Barron, Beth Bernobich ([info]beth_bernobich), Rick Bowes, Toby Buckell, Alyx Dellamonica ([info]planetalyx), Cory Doctorow, Gardner Dozois, Jeff Ford ([info]14theditch), Daryl Gregory, Joe Haldeman, Alex Irvine, John Kessel, Justine Larbalestier, Ken Macleod, Jack McDevitt, Paul Melko ([info]paulmelko), Richard Parks ([info]ogre_san), Tim Pratt ([info]tim_pratt), Robert Reed, Karl Schroeder, Jack Skillingstead, Greg van Eekhout ([info]gregvaneekhout), and Scott Westerfeld!

"Inclination" made the list too. In fact, here's a bit of Rich Horton's year-end roundup of short fiction from the February Locus:

There were quite a few fine novellas—enough that I'm not sure I can reliably define a Hugo ballot. At the top are "Inclination," by William Shunn, about a young man from a strict religious enclave on a space station, and his encounter with the radically different wider world; and "A Billion Eves," by Robert Reed, concerning the ramifications of serial colonization of numerous alternate Earths, beginning with a sexually-repressed inventor kidnapping a sorority, but leading to a more ecological than gender-related point. Paul Melko's "The Walls of the Universe" is another look at traveling across parallel worlds, and about how character is affected by circumstances; and Brian Stableford's "The Plurality of Worlds," very weird stuff about an alternate Elizabeth era with space travel. Ysabeau S. Wilce returned to the story of Hardhands with the lovingly exotic "The Lineaments of Gratified Desire."
"Inclination" also makes Horton's list of the top ten works of all the year's short fiction.

Which reminds me—if you're a Locus subscriber, be sure to fill out the 2007 Locus Poll & Survey. And that reminds me, if you're an Asimov's subscriber, don't forget to fill out your 2006 Readers Award Ballot.

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Doctorintrow

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Since John Klima will want me touting my chapbook at every opportunity—

Okay, no, I can't shuffle my toe in the dirt and put this off on John. I have in hand an introduction from Cory Doctorow that will appear in my chapbook An Alternate History of the 21st Century, to be published by Spilt Milk Press this summer.

The intro made me beam. It made my wife get misty-eyed. We are stoked. Thanks, Cory!

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ShunnCast #36

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Epidode #36 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which Bill, rather than beating a hasty and prudent retreat, takes more bad advice from the same wrong people and runs afoul of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Will the Mounties get their man? Snarkily recorded in stunning Rhinoviraphonic sound!

http://www.shunn.net/podcast?id=36

See also [info]shunncast.

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Is it something in the water?

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What is going on in Mexico? First Pan's Labyrinth from Guillermo del Toro, and now Children of Men from Alfonso Cuarón, both directors whose work I've admired in the past but who have far exceeded themselves this movie season.

I finally saw Children of Men last night, and I wish I'd done so sooner since then my Hugo nominating ballot would have looked a bit different. I can't say enough good about this film. Adapted very loosely from the bloodless P.D. James novel, it's dystopian science fiction of a high order, and movie-making of an even higher order.

I won't belabor the wealth of throwaway details tucked away throughout the movie that makes its near-future landscape seem so real and plausible, like the little laser-painted warning symbol that appears on a shattered car windshield in a corner of the screen. I won't touch on the subtleties of character and symbolism worked almost subliminally into the fabric of the film, such as the way the inherent trustworthiness of Clive Owens' character is illustrated in the way all the animals in the movie are quietly drawn to him.

But I will rhapsodize about the way Cuarón directs his spectacular, thrilling, and harrowing action set pieces. From a terrifying ambush shot mostly from inside the crowded target car to a tense escape scene where both the pursuers and their quarry are trying to compression-start their vehicles on a long-but-not-long-enough downslope to Owens' epic scamper through a battle between various insurgent groups and Homeland Security troops in a refugee camp for illegal aliens that looks more like Beirut than Brixham, Cuarón manages to put the viewer right in the center of the brilliantly choreographed action while still conveying a perfect sense of what's going on everywhere at every moment. His mastery is such that you don't lose your place in the action or have any trouble following what's happening. His vision is cohesive and coherent.

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Casting a not-so-cold eye

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I don't often post about my writing progress here, because usually it inches along with such dismal slowness. I have been unusually disciplined working on projects over the past few months, though, and am feeling good about it all this morning.

My normal writing routine, even most weekends, is to get up at 5:00 a.m., fire up the laptop, pour the coffee that is automatically brewing for me, and try to write for as long as I possibly can before the needs of the day force me to stop. I have for years paid lip service to this schedule. The times I've managed to stick to it have been the overall (though not overwhelming) exceptions.

Part of it is that, though I usually do my best work if I can get started first thing in the day, it's always hard for me to get up at that hour. I have a lifetime's practice at ignoring my alarm clock, and Laura gets justifiably annoyed at the expectation that she will kick my ass out of bed at five. Thank goodness for the BlackBerry my in-laws gave me for my birthday in August. For some reason, its alarm gets me up almost without fail.

For the past three weeks or so, I've been working on a fresh draft of this ghost story Derryl Murphy and I have been tossing back and forth like a cold potato for probably three years now, "Cast a Cold Eye." He may be terrified to learn that it has just this morning edged into novella territory. I regret that a bit myself, but I am thrilled to report that since five this morning I've done about 2,400 new words. This, for me, means I'm well into the stretch and racing toward the tape. I should wrap up this draft tomorrow or thereabouts and toss it back to Derryl.

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Why she couldn't come

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I had forgotten until now, but Netherview Station (setting of "Inclination") has been illustrated before, by Dominic Harman.

The station is also the setting of my 1998 Science Fiction Age story "The Practical Ramifications of Interstellar Packet Loss," which is about a boy 70 light-years from home trying to figure out why his girlfriend isn't there to meet him when he arrives as they had arranged. I was thrilled with the illustration when I first saw it. This was the first far-future, space-based SF story I had ever sold, and seeing someone else's interpretation of my world was pretty mind-blowing.

Check it out.


In one of those stranges coincidences, I really was, purely by chance, listening to a track called "Why She Couldn't Come" when I started this post.
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Hugo nominating ballot

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I keep meaning to remind eligible Hugo nominators (i.e., members of this year's or last year's Worldcon) to keep "Inclination" in mind in the novella category. Asimov's, April/May 2006.

(Hey, [info]paulmelko's novella from the same issue, "The Walls of the Universe," isn't bad either, if you must nominate something else.)

What else did I nominate? Let's see...

Novels: Crystal Rain by Tobias S. Buckell, Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge, Red Lightning by John Varley, The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

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