Monday, October 22, 2007

Steampunk (and Francophilia)

I am very, very upset not to be getting on a plane to Utopiales along with Renaissance editing-duo Jeff and Ann VanderMeer. Kind souls that they are, they are comforting me by announcing the staggeringly awesome lineup for their next Tachyon anthology:

"Preface," Jeff and Ann VanderMeer
"Introduction: The Nineteenth Century Roots of Steampunk," Jess Nevins
"Steampunk in Pop Culture," Rick Klaw
"Steampunk in the Comics," Bill Baker

"Benediction: Warlord of the Air" excerpt, Michael Moorcock
"Lord Kelvin's Machine," James Blaylock
"The Giving Mouth," Ian MacLeod
"A Sun in the Attic," Mary Gentle
"The God-Clown Is Near," Jay Lake
"The Steam Man of the Prairie and the Dark Rider Get Down," Joe Lansdale
"The Selene Gardening Society," Molly Brown
"Seventy-Two Letters," Ted Chiang
"The Martian Agent: An Interplanetary Romance," Michael Chabon
"Victoria," Paul Di Filippo
"Reflected Light," Rachel E. Pollock
"Minutes of the Last Meeting," Stepan Chapman
"Excerpt from the Third and Last Volume of the Tribes of the Pacific Coast," Neal Stephenson

What a lineup - sacre bleu! Can you wait until May 2008? Nor can I.

But back to Utopiales, because I should have left work an hour ago, and I can't stop cruising the website (which is especially amusing using the Google translation fuction). This has to be the coolest, hippest con ever, an Alice in Wonderland playground for scientists, graphic artists, sf authors, gamers, filmmakers, geeks of all stripes - highly intellectual programming alongside sheer Gallic madness. I so want to go to Jeff's panel on organic, labyrinthine cities in sf - and who would voluntarily miss to the "Tournament of the Intergalactic Design to Catch Mustache"? Sounds like World Fantasy on acid...


Monday, October 15, 2007

Beagle wins WSFA Small Press Award for "El Regalo"

This Sunday, Peter S. Beagle received the inaugural WSFA Small Press Award for "El Regalo," from his Tachyon collection, The Line Between. The WSFA Award, given by the Washington Science Fiction Association at Capclave, is for original short fiction works of imaginative literature published by a small press.

Since Peter is on the road, the ever-gracious Michael Swanwick picked up the award. In his blog today, Michael included the text of the en-pointe speech he gave from Peter, commenting, "The audience, I should note, laughed at all the right places and none of the wrong ones, and gave the great man a thunderous standing ovation at the end." (Surely that couldn't have anything to do with Michael's delivery...)

Thanks to the hard-working folks at the WSFA, who, in the midst of throwing Capclave, recognized Peter and the highly amusing "El Regalo," best described by Connor Cochran: "the World's Most Annoying Eight-Year-Old bend[s] time, fate, and household chores to his sorcerous will."

As a bonus, Tachyon gets a WSFA statuette too. Looking forward to toting it around in my trench coat and flashing it at strangers. That's not illegal, right?


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Interview with William Gibson

James Patrick Kelly, co-editor of Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, took a few minutes out of his very busy schedule to chat with Rewired contributor William Gibson. Gibson kindly took a few minutes out of his ridiculously busy schedule, which includes his tour for his best-selling new novel, Spook Country.

When Jacob, Rina, and I caught Gibson on the early part of his tour, he vehemently questioned the continuing relevance of science fiction. Pretty bold from a guy many consider to be the father of cyberpunk. But that's Gibson all over, and he makes a compelling case, to the chagrin of us genre fans (more about that in the interview.)

Spook Country, as with its loosely-connected predecessor, Pattern Recognition, is written in the present, not even clearly definable as sf despite its high-tech elements. Yet Gibson still claims loyalty to science fiction, saying recently on Amazon that "Science fiction is my native literary culture." These contradictions are what makes Gibson so confounding and continually relevant. And also why his strange, cinematically atmospheric story, "Thirteen Views of a Cardboard City," fits perfectly in Rewired, where the intersection between present and future has been thoroughly messed with.

[When I took my turn in the lengthy receiving line at Gibson's reading, despite the many demands on his time he graciously agreed to this interview. And even more graciously, he gave me his personal email address. No, you absolutely cannot have it. Mine, mine, mine.]

James Patrick Kelly: In No Maps For These Territories, you mentioned that some younger readers who are turned on by Neuromancer are disappointed that the later works aren't Neuromancer knockoffs. Was your evolution as a writer conscious or unconscious? Is there anything you deliberately stopped doing or some new direction you decided to try?

William Gibson: I think it's just a matter of continuing to grow. I wasn't a particularly mature person when I wrote Neuromancer. I don't think that reflects badly on the book; it is what it is. But it stays what it is, while I've kept changing.

JPK: You have argued persuasively that science fiction is really about the present. You said in an interview that "It uses the conceit of the imaginary future to examine the present, whether the author is aware of that or not." Why is it, do you think, that readers and writers can convince themselves that they are engaging with possible futures?

WG: Both the writing and reading of sf are very culturally complex. Reading a novel requires complex cultural skills, that have to be learned.

Reading an sf novel (Samuel R Delany has very persuasively argued) requires an additional layer of cultural skills. But complex cultural skills are usually quite transparent to those who possess them. So we aren't necessarily self-aware with regard to what we're doing when we read an sf novel set in an imaginary future.

JPK: Do you think that your work in the eighties helped create the future, our present, as some have claimed? Or was it simply documenting existing trends?

WG: In some cases, I believe that I inadvertently provided "illustrations" for technologists who might otherwise have been unable to explain what they were trying to do.

JPK: You are one of the most influential sf writers of your generation. If we use the term "cyberpunk" as a catchall to describe that influence, is there anything about the forms cyberpunk has taken over the years that has surprised you?

WG: I don't see cyberpunk as having had much effect on mainstream "genre" sf at all, really. Walk into any sf specialty shop and ask for contemporary cyberpunk-inflected fiction. I don't think you'll find much. As a "flavor" of popular culture, cyberpunk seems to me to have had much more influence on other forms: films, music, video, games...

JPK: You've talked about the impossibility of predicting where we will be ten or fifteen years from now. Many people claim that this is exactly the timetable for the singularity that Vernor Vinge has written of. Do you think that we are headed for a post-human, post-scarcity future, assuming we don't boil the oceans away or blow ourselves up?

WG: The day I first saw "the Singularity" referred to as "the Geek Rapture", something changed for me. Anyone convinced of the onset of the Singularity, in my opinion, should read Norman Cohn's The Pursuit Of The Millennium.



Monday, October 01, 2007

Happy Birthday, Rewired!

October 1st, 2007 - the day cyberpunk died. About time.

Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology is officially out, and it is another stellar effort from the dynamic duo of James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel. We're filling the pre-orders as fast as we can. You can still get free shipping until October 15th, and that goes for all of our titles. So don't miss it.

Just notified of two upcoming reviews with completely opposite perspectives. Not a surprise, but interesting.

Booklist's upcoming review for Rewired says it is "taking the genre to the next level." So that's pretty good, right?

And then there's the upcoming Kirkus review. OK, Kirkus is cranky. Everyone knows this. Our distributor told me that Kirkus called one of their books "embarrassing." Nice. Our Rewired review was a bit snarky, but the thing about Kirkus is that any notice they take of you is A Very Good Thing. It's weird, but that's how publishing works.

Ah, we heart controversy.

So am I gonna direct you to the actual reviews? Well, they're not out yet, so I can't. You'll just have to wait like everyone else.

Happy birthday to the post-cyberpunks - may they continue to kick cyberpunk's ass.


Klages on and
Weisman interviewed by VanderMeer on SF Site

What do these two news items have in common? They happened today, and Jacob published Ellen's collection Portable Childhoods. And you thought this was a random grouping. Nothing we do at Tachyon is random - nothing, I tell you. And back to the news:

Ellen Klages reads Portable Childhoods on Ellen was filmed reading at Book Passage by the good people at, an interactive media community with excellent, wide-ranging political, social, and cultural content (yes, that's a plug, and yes, I really do find their site compelling). The full reading, multiple excerpts, and selections from the Q & A session are up on the site. Very cool.

Jeff VanderMeer interviews Jacob Weisman on SF Site. Disclosing his close ties to Tachyon (he's the co-editor, with Ann VanderMeer, of our forthcoming New Weird and Steampunk anthologies), Jeff nonetheless interviews Jacob (pretty darned objectively) on a variety of subjects Tachyon. Look for Jacob's Tribble analogy for book acquisitions, and a nice compliment for me (what, I can't have an ego?).