Where do the weeks go?

Mon 29 Sep 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Well, last week I caught a bug going round and was laid low. So low! Am still so low am very unimpressed with self. Hoping this week will improve but am still mostly horizontal. Sleep. Such a lovely thing.

This week: hilarity!
Still not well.
Unimpressed x 2.

Also: the our office building (which I have been to since last Monday…) is undergoing some kind of electrical reconnect and will have no power on Tuesday and Wednesday. If I had the energy, I’d find it ridiculous. Now, makes me want to nap.

Other things: Win the Audio edition of Sherwood Nation.

Throw your name in the hat for a copy of Ysabeau S. Wilce’s forthcoming collection, Prophecies, Libels, and Dreams.

READINGS! (first posted here)

Ted Chiang (Stories of Your Life and Others), 10/2, 10 am
Who and What Will Get to Think in the Future?
Future Tense, Washington, DC (livestream will be available)

Susan Stinson (Spider in a Tree), 10/8, 7 pm
Reading at Grace Episcopal in Amherst, Mass.

Greer Gilman, (Exit, Pursued by a Bear), 10/11
Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich CT

Benjamin Parzybok (Sherwood Nation), 10/15, 7 pm
Elliot Bay Books, Seattle, WA

M. T. Anderson, Sarah Rees Brennan, Joshua Lewis, Kelly Link, Gavin J Grant (Monstrous Affections), 10/22, 7 pm
Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

Ysabeau S. Wilce (Prophecies, Libels, and Dreams), 10/25
SF in SF, San Francisco, CA

Sarah Rees Brennan, Alice Sola Kim, Joshua Lewis, G. Carl Purcell, Kathleen Jennings, Kelly Link, Gavin J. Grant (Monstrous Affections), 10/28, 7 pm
McNally Jackson, NYC

Handy Small Beer calendar here.

Exit, Pursued By a Bear

Tue 23 Sep 2014 - Filed under: Books, Chapbooks | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

saddle-stitched paperback, 9781618730954 · ebook, 9781618730961

Ben Jonson has written the part of a lifetime for the Prince of Wales:  he will play Oberon, the King of Faerie. It’s only theater. What could go wrong?

Welcome to Ben Jonson’s second adventure, courtesy of none other than Greer Gilman. Her first exceptional Jonson adventure, Cry Murder! in a Small Voice, was a Shirley Jackson Award winner. As with Cry Murder!, Exit is available as both a print chapbook and as an ebook.

Exit, Pursued By a Bear

Henry Stuart, heir to the British throne, is everything he should be; clever, handsome, a real hero. Unfortunately, he is also tone-deaf in his dealings with the Unseen World. Unbeknownst to him, his ambitious plans for a coming-of-age court masque taking Faerie as its subject have enraged his neighbor monarchs, Oberon and Titania, who perceive in Henry’s theatrical project a slight to their authority.

Seeking recompense, they assign the undead poet Kit Marlowe a task peculiarly suited to his wild imaginative powers: to bring them the heir to the throne, and rewrite the course of human history.

As supernatural storm clouds gather, the poet Ben Jonson must struggle both to execute the masque-commission set him by Prince Henry, and investigate the trail of unsettling events that has begun to surround rehearsals with a sinister and uncanny aura.

Actors go missing, the special effects can’t be counted on, and of course Henry would insist on a chariot pulled by live bears, but more worryingly: what are these dreams which shake royal performers and professional actors alike? Can Ben work out their portents in time, or will Kit Marlowe have the last laugh, after all?

For the bears, in septentriones sempiterne.*


“The play’s the thing. . . . There’s no doubt from the opening page that Gilman (Cry Murder! in a Small Voice) understands how to write period-accurate dialogue, but it limits the appeal to those who deal regularly in the Elizabethan tongue. While there are clever puns worthy of Shakespeare, most readers will find it a lot of work to mull them over, and ostensible protagonist Jonson is upstaged by Marlowe’s tinkering, becoming more scenery than star except in one climactic moment.”
Publishers Weekly

An excerpt:

At Whitehall, St. Stephen’s Day, 1610

Halfway in the air, the moon stuck fast.
“Boy,” said the Surveyor, wearily.
But already a fellow in a satyr’s netherstocks had swarmed the scaffolding with five or seven of his rout, all twitching at the shrouds.
And now she toppled on her back, lay hicketing and heaving toward an exaltation endlessly denied.
Ben Jonson–mere Poet to these Roman pomps–snorted.  “I wrote her for a virgin; see, she labors.” . . .

Cover by Kathleen Jennings.

Greer Gilman’s mythic fictions Moonwise and Cloud & Ashes: Three Winter’s Tales have (between them) won the Tiptree, World Fantasy, and Crawford Awards, and have been shortlisted for the Nebula and Mythopoeic awards. Besides her two books, she has published other short work, poetry, and criticism. Her essay on “The Languages of the Fantastic” appears in The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature. A graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Cambridge, and a sometime forensic librarian at Harvard, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She likes to quip that she does everything James Joyce ever did, only backward and in high heels.

* In the North stars eternally.

September 18, 2014

Thu 18 Sep 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Very interested in seeing what happens today in Scotland’s  independence referendum!

The polls close at 10pm in Scotland (in 5 hours time), giving the 97% of registered voters plenty of time to get to the polls, and then to have some fun before the results are announced. The count isn’t expected until something like 7 am — which is 2 am here in Western Massachusetts, early enough that I expect I’ll be up waiting to see what’s happened. Off to read more #indyref.


Sherwood Nation cometh!

Tue 9 Sep 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Sherwood Nation cover - click to view full size(Maybe it arriveth?) I read a great author interview yesterday — although it’s a bit weird to write that when the author speaks nicely about Small Beer, so skip that part and read the great stuff about The Joy of Cooking, Scrivener, measuring a book’s worth by its weight, and more with Ben Parzybok and Anne Rasmussen on the Late Night Library.

Also today, fab review of Sherwood Nation on Shelf Awareness:

“A group of idealists, led by a charismatic young woman, struggle to remake society in postapocalyptic Portland, Ore.”

What are they talking about? A book I’ve been looking forward to bringing out for the last couple of years. Maybe more than that, I don’t know how long ago it was that Ben mentioned he was writing a book about water. Given the ongoing water troubles (shortages, floods, sea levels rising) and Ben’s community-biased view of the world, this was always going to be a timely novel and when it came in it blew me away.

I hope to be talking about it and keep on spreading the news about this book for a while yet. You can get your copy at all indie bookstores (and all the other usual places), our site, or get the ebook right now on Weightless.

If you’re on the west coast, please consider going to get your copy here!

Sept. 16, 7:30 PM Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside St., Portland, OR
Sept. 27, 8:30 PM PNBA Sweet & Greet (pdf), Hotel Murano, Tacoma, WA
Oct. 15, 7 PM Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 Tenth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122

Sherwood Nation

Tue 9 Sep 2014 - Filed under: Benjamin Parzybok, Books | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

paper · $16 · 9781618730862 | ebook · 9781618730879 · Audiobook

Silicon Valley Reads 20162016 Silicon Valley Reads — get the booklet.
Listen to the kick-off event with Emmi Iteräntä and Benjamin Parzybok on the Commonwealth Club podcast.

Read now:
Read an excerpt.
Free pdf download: [download id=”58″].

Audio Interviews:
Spokane (SPR): The Bookshelf
Portland (KBOO): Between the Covers · Author Interview · Old Mole Variety Hour
Seattle (KUOW): If Portland Collapsed, How Would The City Fare? (interview on “The Record”)

Text: The Rumpus ·  Josh Cook, Porter Square Books · Oregon Live · Street Books · Latenight Library interview by Anne Rasmussen · Writer, with Kids

&c: Largehearted boy book notes · Necessary Fiction: Research Notes

As drought-stricken, Portland, Oregon, falls apart, a new city rises from within.

Dried out West Coast cities are crumbling and being abandoned by the East. In Portland, Oregon, water is declared a communal right and rations are down to one gallon per person per day. The Mayor is proposing digging a trench to the Pacific Ocean and hoarding and riots persist.

A water activist nicknamed Maid Marian is caught on film giving out water from a hijacked water truck and becomes a folk hero. She escapes into an ungoverned part of the city and rides her and becomes an icon to a city in need.

Even as Maid Marian and her compatriots build a new community one neighbor at a time, they make powerful enemies in the city government and the National Guard. Their idealistic dream is quickly caught up in a brutal fight for survival.

Sherwood Nation is a quirky, personal post-collapse non-apocalyptic novel of idealists taking charge. It is the rise and fall of a micronation within a city. It is a love story, a war story, a grand social experiment, a treatise on hacking and remaking government, on freedom and necessity, on individualism and community.

Read on.


“Rich with haunting descriptions of a place once wild and now starved and poignant human dilemmas of basic survival, Sherwood Nation is a manifesto on how communities can work together to improve the greater good that does not shy from, sugarcoat, or exaggerate the corruptions of power and outcomes of rebellion. For a political treatise set in an imaginable apocalypse, Parzybok’s second novel is refreshing in its lack of heavy-handed allegory or pedantic utopian preaching. Maid Marian reaches beyond herself to create peace and solidarity in hopeless times. Threatened, others desire her demise and position. It is a clever, if cautionary tale.”
Electric Literature

“Set in Portland Oregon after a massive drought has crippled American society west of the Mississippi, Sherwood Nation is a different kind of dystopian novel. No magic. No zombies. No tyrannical overlords ruling with iron fists and tournaments. It brings a fascinating realism to the genre, creating a uniquely human and tangible version of the apocalypse story. Sherwood Nation is about real people grappling with an all too real catastrophe in ways that reveal aspects of our culture today, while exploring the best, worst, and, most importantly, the vague middle between the two ideals, of what we could be.”—Josh Cook, Porter Square Books (interview)

“Parzybok’s achievements are manifold here. First, he tells a gripping story whose lineaments are never predictable. There are great suspenseful set pieces, like the theft of a water truck and a shootout in Sherwood. The entire action is compressed into about two weeks or so, but feels like a whole saga: birth, maturity, and death of a kingdom.”

“A group of idealists, led by a charismatic young woman, struggle to remake society in postapocalyptic Portland, Ore.”
Shelf Awareness

Sherwood Nation has left me with memorable images that will, no doubt, be triggered over time. There’s something heavy real in its imaginings—something that almost compels me to pray for rain.”
NW Book Lovers

“The gritty world in Sherwood Nation and the circumstances that changed a former barista into a figure of hope is a story that focuses more on the consequences of disaster rather than the disaster itself.”
Geeky Library

“I finished Parzybok’s book not really feeling as though I’d read a work of fiction but more like a finely orchestrated prophecy with believable characters and likely scenarios. I certainly haven’t looked at water the same way and probably won’t ever again. Read Parzybok’s novel and prepare for battle. We have been duly notified.”
New Pages

“With climate change and ever-increasing consumption, running out of water is a danger we don’t readily acknowledge, yet Benjamin Parzybok’s Sherwood Nation makes that danger vividly real. . . . Here we see how people behave in crisis—some better and some worse—and how idealism, self-concerned realism, and the personal hang in a balance; friends, alliances, and enemies are made, and, most effectively, Renee’s boyfriend, Zach, and Renee herself grow (and glow) as things get tough. Ben, who’s Portland-based, is the creator or co-creator of numerous projects, including Gumball Poetry and the Black Magic Insurance Agency, a city-wide, one night alternate reality game, so he knows about building community. He’s done a great job here, but let’s hope the richly detailed “Sherwood Nation” never really has to come to be.”
Library Journal

“Parzybok is riffing on the Robin Hood story, to be sure, but he also layers on some astute social and political commentary, and he’s built a fully functioning and believable future world. Give this one to fans of Adam Sternbergh’s Shovel Ready (2014).”

“Benjamin Parzybok is one of our most imaginative literary inventors. In Sherwood Nation he gives us a vision of Portland’s rebellious indie spirit that goes deeper than the usual caricatures, revealing a city alive with conflict and possibility. This is playful, serious, and profoundly humanizing art.” — Ryan Boudinot (Blueprints of the Afterlife)

“Benjamin Parzybok has reached into the post-collapse era for a story vital to our here and now. Sherwood Nation is part political thriller, part social fable, and part manifesto, its every page brimming with gonzo exuberance.”—Jedediah Berry (The Manual of Detection)

“Parzybok does this thing where you think, ‘this is fun!’ and then you are charmed, saddened, and finally changed by what you have read. It’s like jujitsu storytelling.”—Maureen F. McHugh (After the Apocalypse)

“Portland is a rare outpost, with a semi-functional municipality, but the burdens of relentless rationing and an increasingly apparent division between those who go thirsty and those who do not, make for prime tinder. It takes just one minor act of symbolic monkey wrenching to set this tale ablaze.
Couch has remained in my consciousness because it goes “out there” to find its core (think Douglas Adams, Tom Robbins, Gabriel Garcia Marquez). What makes Sherwood so compelling and, frankly, often terrifying, is how close to home it lives.
“This Portland is totally familiar, invoking the attitudes and spirit of today’s residents and details from the recent political landscape. It feels like the place we know — until a nightly power blackout or parade of National Guard water distribution tankers jars us with a reminder that this is, thankfully, a work of very good fiction.”
Register Guard

Praise for Benjamin Parzybok’s first novel, Indie Next Pick, Couch

“Beyond the good old-fashioned story, Couch meditates on heroism and history, but above all, it’s an argument for shifting your life around every now and then, for getting off the couch and making something happen.”—The L Magazine

Author photo: Jodi Darby.
Cover illustration: Andi Watson.

Benjamin Parzybok is the author of the novel Couch and has been the creator/co-creator of many other projects, including Gumball Poetry, The Black Magic Insurance Agency (city-wide, one night alternate reality game), and Project Hamad. He lives in Portland with the artist Laura Moulton and their two kids.

Follow him on twitter: @sparkwatson

Monstrous Affections

Tue 9 Sep 2014 - Filed under: Books | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

An Anthology of Beastly Tales

9780763664732 · Published by Candlewick Press in a beautiful trade cloth edition, audio, and ebook.

Signed copies available.

Predatory kraken that sing with — and for — their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side by side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.

World Fantasy Award winner.

Cover art by Yuko Shimizu.



Luminous… There are wonderful stories… M. T. Anderson’s “Quick Hill” is a tour de force of contemporary short fiction. It does, as well as anything I’ve read recently, what scary stories are supposed to do: It says what we feel, but cannot say.
New York Times Book Review

From vampires to ghosts and from strange creatures made of mercury to half-harpies, these beasts will broaden readers’ perspectives. Teens will never think about monsters in the same way again. Long after the last page is turned, these tales will linger in readers’ brains, in their closets, under their beds, and in the shadows.
School Library Journal (starred review)

Link and Grant present an engrossing, morally complex anthology of 15 stories centered on the seemingly antagonistic concepts of monsters and love. … All of the entries are strong, and many are splendid.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The authors of these tales brilliantly intertwine morally charged issues with elements of horror writing that engage the reader. … This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys horror fiction.
Library Media Connection

A deliciously gory collection of fifteen original stories… While the theme is certainly familiar, the diversity of interpretations of monsterhood is an asset, and the book sets a fresh and amusing note with the opening pop quiz that assesses readers’ views of monsters. … Fans will be happy to find a well-edited, sharp collection of new stories about their favorite topic that covers both the creepy and alluring elements of monsters.
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Short stories with otherworldly creatures may be a dime a dozen, but rarely do they offer such nuanced scope. Link and Grant … know their way around excellent short fiction, and their editorial skills are on display here. From the light(ish) and delightful to the subversively unromantic, from humor to horror, each entry both tells a good story and says something about monstrousness. … An anthology of riches, even if they aren’t always fair of form.
Kirkus Reviews

Link and Grant clearly spent a lot of time building this collection, which includes a graphic entry, and consequently none of the stories disappoint. Authors such as Cassandra Clare and Patrick Ness—along with the monster dripping blood on the cover—will draw in readers eager for creepy, atmospheric tales.

A delightful (often frightful) anthology of short fantasy fiction. … The strong writing brims with misdirection, humor, horrors and twisty endings. … This substantial volume will provide older teens–and adults–with hours of thoroughly enjoyable reading. A monstrously entertaining anthology.
Shelf Awareness

Provocative. One would expect no less from veteran anthology editors Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. … Beautiful language.
Boston Globe

For those who like a mix of fantasy and science fiction, “Monstrous Affections” is a stunning collection of original tales whose title explains it all. Who cares if it’s nominally a young adult book — it’s the best collection of monster stories of the year, with some unusual ideas as to what really makes a monster.
Chicago Tribune

Table of Contents

Paolo Bacigalupi, “Moriabe’s Children”*
Cassandra Clare, “Old Souls”
Holly Black, “Ten Rules For Being An Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind)”**
M. T. Anderson, “Quick Hill”
Nathan Ballingrud, “The Diabolist”
Patrick Ness, “This Whole Demoning Thing”
Sarah Rees Brennan, “Wings in the Morning”
Nalo Hopkinson, “Left Foot, Right”
G. Carl Purcell, “The Mercurials”
Dylan Horrocks, “Kitty Capulet and the Invention of Underwater Photography”
Nik Houser, “Son of Abyss”
Kathleen Jennings, “A Small Wild Magic”
Kelly Link, “The New Boyfriend”
Joshua Lewis, “The Woods Hide in Plain Sight”
Alice Sola Kim, “Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying”***

* Reprinted in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Nine, edited by Jonathan Strahan
** Reprinted in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Nine, edited by Jonathan Strahan and The Year’s Best Military SF & Space Opera, edited by David Afsharirad
*** Reprinted in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Nine, edited by Jonathan Strahan and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2015,edited by Paula Guran

Wildcrafted Cider

Fri 5 Sep 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Michael

(Or, How to Drink Well After the End)


Wild apples, late October 2013

Herein will I tell how I made really delicious alcoholic cider using only time, sweat, $2 worth of yeast, $18 worth of rented local cider mill, and a small mountain of fruit I wild-harvested entirely within biking distance of my house in Southeastern Michigan in the fall of 2013.

The result is in the running for the most delicious fermented beverage I’ve ever made. It has by far the lowest carbon footprint of any fermented beverage I’ve ever made. And it has the lowest cost of any fermented beverage I’ve ever made or tasted ($2 a gallon). It was also fun. And it filled me with profound satisfaction akin to nothing so much as seeing a piece of fiction I wrote appear in print.

Read more

Get a couch for two bucks

Thu 4 Sep 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

No offers of deer, dear, please. No kids on bikes riding threateningly around our town. Just Benjamin Parzybok’s debut novel Couch $1.99 on both bn.com and Weightless today — and, Couch now has a sneak peek of Ben’s forthcoming droughty Portland novel Sherwood Nation.

BTW, if you’re on the west coast you can go see Ben at one of these readings:

Sept. 16, 7:30 PM Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside St., Portland, OR
Oct. 15, 7 PM Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 Tenth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122

I think both bookstores have pretty comfy chairs. You probably don’t need to bring your own couch . . .

People read books

Tue 2 Sep 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Sherwood Nation cover - We have a lot of things coming up for Benjamin Parzybok’s forthcoming novel Sherwood Nation — although just to be absolutely clear: we have nothing to do with any droughts anywhere! Just in time for pub date (next week!) Booklist drops a great review:

“Parzybok is riffing on the Robin Hood story, to be sure, but he also layers on some astute social and political commentary, and he’s built a fully functioning and believable future world. Give this one to fans of Adam Sternbergh’s Shovel Ready (2014).”

We’ll also have fun news tomorrow about how you can pick up a very affordable copy of Couch — both in ebook and print! Until then, conserve that water!