Inhuman Swill : Writing : Page 24

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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Netherheim death march

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So, as a requirement of the workshop I'm attending in May, I must turn in 200 pages of a novel on March 15th. That's Wednesday. I have 45 pages still to go. I did 35 total last weekend, but that was a four-day weekend where I took Monday and Tuesday off from work. I did 13 yesterday. I have to maintain close to that pace every day through Wednesday to make it. Will I make that same total today? Certainly not if I don't stop fucking around on LiveJournal!

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Creative accounting

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If I were to triple-space my novel manuscript so far, I would probably have 200 pages.

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ShunnCast #10

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Epidode #10 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which I talk about and then read an excerpt from my novella "Inclination," which is on newsstands TODAY in the April/May 2006 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine.

See also [info]shunncast.

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Syndicate me, baby

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News! The RSS feed for my podcast, "William Shunn's ShunnCast" is now available as a syndicated feed you can add to your friends list:


Episode #10 goes live Monday evening or Tuesday morning, so subscribe now, here if you're an LJ user or there if you're not. I'll be reading an excerpt from my new Asimov's novella "Inclination" in that episode, but there's exciting stuff ahead too, especially if you've been waiting impatiently for my memoir. (Say no more, say no more!) And you can catch up on all the past episodes here.

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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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Apropos of a great post by [info]asphalteden, I figured I would post a brief overview of my relationship with science fiction. This was originally written as a response to his post, but I figured maybe it could stand on its own. Heck, we might even kick off a meme here!

I adore Gene Wolfe (well, his writing—I don't know him personally). I have read The Book of the New Sun three times, The Book of the Long Sun twice, and The Book of the Short Sun ... well, not yet. Despite the fact that most everything he writes goes a few inches above my head, I feel paradoxically smarter when I'm reading one of his novels, rather than dumber. I think this is because I make enough of the connections, even though I don't make them all.

The Dying Earth (the original short novel) is one of the earliest SF novels I ever read. Knocked me out. I haven't read a Jack Vance novel since, though again I intend to read all those Dying Earth novels ... someday. The first real SF story I remember reading was Asimov's "Reason," in abridged form in the Scholastic Weekly Reader. That was the hook that got me. I now own a copy of the April 1941 Astounding in which "Reason" first appeared. I am afraid to take it out of the plastic bag.

I almost always say "SF" or "science fiction." It's hard for me to say "sci-fi," but I'm learning. I think "speculative fiction" is shuck-n-jive talk.

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Tense and dangling

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Would you say the past tense of podcast—and the past participle, for that matter—is podcast or podcasted? My vote is podcast.

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ShunnCast #9

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The ninth episode of ShunnCast is now available to subscribers. Or, to readers of this blog, directly from this URL:

The download is 12.9 Mb.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

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William Shunn