Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holiday Picks - Dogs and Steampunk

Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Holiday Books: Science Fiction

Dogs, by Nancy Kress.

What could be more unsettling than the notion that your family pet might suddenly turn against you with deadly intentions? Nancy Kress, author of "Beggars in Spain," plays upon that fear in her new science fiction thriller, which features a plague of dog attacks in a small Maryland town. The best scenes have a straight-ahead disaster novel feel to them, full of suspense and creepy details. "Dogs" is an unprepossessing thriller that delivers on the potential of its gripping premise.

Steampunk, edited by Anne and Jeff VanderMeer

Steampunk derives the bulk of its narrative power from the gap between the can-do optimism of the Victorian era and the harsh, ever-present realities of greed, bigotry, paranoia and myopia. This new collection of previously published stories spotlights some of the best short work in the subgenre, with contributors ranging from Michael Chabon to Mary Gentle, Neal Stephenson to Michael Moorcock.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ellen Klages, Geoff Ryman, and Nalo Hopkinson
SF in SF, Saturday 11/15

Oooh, this is a must-see this weekend!

SF in SF
Science Fiction. San Francisco. A Perfect Fit.
Authors Ellen Klages, Geoff Ryman, and Nalo Hopkinson

Saturday November 15th
The Variety Preview Room Theatre
The Hobart Bldg., first floor
582 Market Street at Montgomery & 2nd
San Francisco, CA

This event is free and open to the public
Lounge and cash bar opens at 6:00 PM: cash bar at event benefits Variety Children's Charity of Northern California. Event begins at 7:00 PM.

Authors will be reading and signing books.
Books for sale at event courtesy of Borderlands Books.

We highly recommend you take public transportation, as the Montgomery St. BART/MUNI station is steps away from our front door.

About the authors:

Ellen Klages is the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction-winning author of The "Green Glass Sea." The sequel, "White Sands, Red Menace" is just out from Viking, and she'll be reading from her short story collection, "Portable Childhoods" (nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection, 2007, and available now from Tachyon Publications). Known as one of the stalwarts of WisCon, Ellen is a San Francisco-based author, and has been nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and Campbell awards. Her novelette "Basement Magic" won the 2005 Nebula Award for Best Novelette. We are delighted to present her as one of our favourite SF in SF guests.


Geoff Ryman, writer of science fiction, fantasy and surrealistic or "slipstream" fiction, is the winner of the James Tiptree Jr Award and Canada's Sunburst Award for "Air," the World Fantasy Award for "The Unconquered Country" and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for "The Child Garden" and "Air" among others. He is also the founder of "The Mundane Movement," focusing on stories set on or near the Earth, with a believable use of technology and science as it exists at the time the story is written. He currently lectures in Creative Writing for the Univ. of Manchester's English Department.


Nalo Hopkinson, a Jamaican-born writer and editor living in Canada, is appearing tonight as a special guest of SF in SF. Her science fiction and fantasy novels include "Brown Girl in the Ring," "Midnight Robber," "The Salt Roads" and Canada's Sunburst Award-winning "The New Moon's Arms." She often draws on Caribbean history and language, and its traditions of oral and written storytelling in her work. She is also one of the founders of the Carl Brandon Society, dedicated to addressing the representation of people of color in the fantastical genres.

For more information, please email Rina Weisman at sfinsfevents@gmail.com, or call 415.572.1015

This is our last SF in SF Author's event for 2008 - look for us to resume in January 2009!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Disch's last essay

Matthew Davis has very kindly pointed out what is very likely Thomas Disch's last essay, published in The New Criterion. It's a review of a nonfiction biography, Worshipping Walt: The Whitman Disciples, and touches upon the ambiguity of Whitman's sexuality ("Was he gay, in the sense we use that word today? We can’t say," the perception of his grandiosity ("Sometimes he seems a Holy Fool after the fashion of Parsifal or Prince Mishkin, but he was also a shewd and resourceful self-promoter...", and his ability to attract followers ("Whitman needed disciples, and the disciples came...").

As with all of Disch's criticism, this piece is beautifully written and incisive. If you are unfamiliar with Disch as a critic, reviewer, and scholar whose work appeared in the Nation, Harper's, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, check out The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of. It is one of the finest books about science fiction that has ever been written.

Davis, who used to have a Disch website, has written an extraordinary biography of Disch.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

World Fantasy Convention 2008 - the evidence

Apparently some folks in Calgary were having fun while I was enjoying the Steam Powered steampunk convention. They even had steampunk stuff. Go figure. Must I use the tachyons to return to last weekend?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Steampunks for Obama

Braving the riotous streets of the Mission district (President-elect Obama!), steampunk fans gathered at Borderlands Books to hang out with Ann and Jeff VanderMeer and Richard Bottoms. The future of steampunk was a hot topic, with all three panelists agreeing that steampunk is a vibrant movement that embraces social, artistic, and activist elements (even as they had differing visions of how the movement would evolve). Richard announced the 2009 Steam Powered convention as well as a number of other exciting steampunk-related projects (will keep you posted on those as they develop).

During the panel discussion, there was increasingly raucous honking and cheering from outside the store. At 8 p.m. there was a giant roar, as Obama was officially announced as the election winner. Elated San Franciscans poured into the neighborhood, and while Ann, Jeff, Jacob, Rina, and I had dinner, a peaceful and very enthusiastic flash mob of hundreds blocked off the intersection of 19th and Valencia, dancing (and yes, some drinking) in the streets. A cool way for the VanderMeers to finish their Bay Area visit (though I wish they would stay longer, or perhaps move here...).

Monday, November 03, 2008

Steampunk event at Borderlands

Steampunks and your admirers, if you missed Steam Powered, there's one more chance for Bay Area folks to get in on the supercharged, elegant fun:

Borderlands Books presents
The Steampunk anthology
Featuring editors Ann and Jeff VanderMeer and special guest Richard Bottoms, CEO of Steampowered Events, Inc.
Reading, Discussion, Q&A, *and* a very special announcement from Richard

Tuesday, November 4
7:00 PM
Borderlands Books
866 Valencia Street (between 19th and 20th), San Francisco

What exactly is Steampunk? It's Victorian elegance and modern technology: steam-driven robots, souped-up stagecoaches, and space-faring dirigibles fueled by gaslight, romance, mad scientists, and oh-so-trim waistcoats. It's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Wizard of Oz, and The Golden Compass. Replete with whimsical mechanical wonders and bold adventurers, this riveting anthology lovingly collects classic steampunk stories, pop-culture fueled discussions of steampunk, and essential recommended reading lists for the discerning steampunk fan. From the editors of The New Weird, this is steampunk. Hang on tight.


Vote first (Tachyon officially endorses...Barack Obama. Duh). Feel free to come in costume...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Steam Powered calculated madness

Just back from a visit to the South Bay and the Steam Powered convention. Can I just say...wow. The creativity level at the con was stratospheric. Tinkerers, musicians, costumers, artisans, writers, editors (I finally got to meet Ann and Jeff VanderMeer in person!), contraptors, and many amazing hybrids of such. I attended Ann and Jeff's cool and funny panel on our Steampunk anthology, (I didn't give away any of the quiz questions - boy was that hard!), followed by a book signing hosted by the Gilded Bat bookstore, and Jake von Slatt's unveiling of his miraculous Wimshurst generator (as pictured), a high voltage machine made entirely from parts bought at Home Depot. I also had a fine dinner with Ann, Jeff, Jake, my extremely patient boyfriend Paul, and Gareth from MAKE magazine. Turns out MAKE will have a TV show soon - there are going to be a lot of happy steampunks come 2009. There are certainly a lot of happy steampunks this weekend - three cheers for Richard Bottomes and Ariane Wolfe for putting on a fine con indeed.