Delia’s here — or at least her book is!

Fri 24 Oct 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Young Woman in a GardenLovely, lovely it is, too. I still find myself wanting to check Delia’s bibliography to see if she published had a collection of stories at some point that I missed. But, no, Young Woman in a Garden does seem to be the first one. Which is fabulous news for us as Delia has many, many great and fun and odd and fantastic stories and to bring fourteen of them together in one book is an incredible assortment of riches.

Publication date is November 11 and as you can see the finished books are here in the office nicely on time — so, yes, we will have them at the World Fantasy Con in DC — and they will start showing up in your fave indie bookstores (etc.) soon.

In the meantime you can read two of the stories online: “Miss Carstairs and the Merman” (and an author spotlight interview) is on Fantasy Magazine — which was brought back to life for this special “Women Destroy Fantasy” issue, and “The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor” is on Tor.com.



So much news: 2015 edition!

Thu 23 Oct 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Here’s a large part of it: 4 new books for early 2015! Two of them are from Ayize Jama-Everett, The Liminal War (June) and The Entropy of Bones (August). You can read about how the covers came about today on Tor.com. The covers are both by John Jennings, check out his tumblr which is full of excellent art. You can read the first three chapters of Ayize’s first novel The Liminal People here. The books are all connected, but can also stand alone. More on these two pageturners soon-ish.

Two more books! First, another translation of an Angélica Gorodischer novel! Prodigies (translated by Sue Burke) is considered by the author and many others to be her best novel. After Sofia Samatar reviewed Kalpa Imperial so thoughtfully we asked her to have an early look at Prodigies and this is what she said:

“Gorodischer’s rhythmic and transparent prose reveals the violence underlying bourgeois respectability. Prodigies is both incisive and incantatory.”—Sofia Samatar, author of A Stranger in Olondria

The fourth book is the first Big Mouth House title of 2015, Nicole Kornher-Stace’s debut YA novel Archivist Wasp. It’s a dark, thrilling ride (wait, did I really write that? Yup. Sorry! But, you know: true!) set in a deeply imagined future. Just wait. Here’s a better description:

“Goes off like a firecracker in the brain: the haunted landscape, the sure-footed, blistering prose — and, of course, the heroine herself, the most excellent Archivist Wasp.” — Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble



Brattleboro, here we come!

Thu 16 Oct 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

San Francisco, so lucky to have not one but at least FIVE Burmese restaurants. That shows there are a lot of smart people in that city because the food is fab. If, like me, there are no Burmese restaurants near you, please hie yourself to Yoma Boston’s site and order some tea salad. Yumtastic.

Why am I chuntering on about San Francisco? Because Ayize Jama-Everett (great news about him coming before the end of the month!) is taking part in the ongoing LitQuake celebration of books, readers, and writers and it looks Don’t-Miss-Fascinating.

We also just added a new Monstrous Affections reading with me, Kelly, and M. T. Anderson — and possibly more special guests To Be Announced. So here’s an update on what’s happening in the next couple of weeks:

NEW: Ayize Jama-Everett (The Liminal People)
We Are Mystic Detectives About to Make an Arrest: A Night of Afrosurreal Expression, 10/18, 7:15 pm
LitQuake, Aldea Home, 890 Valencia St. San Francisco, CA

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

NEW LOCATION: Ysabeau S. Wilce (Prophecies, Libels, and Dreams) & Garth Nix (Clariel), 10/25
SF in SF, The Women’s Building, Audre Lourde Room, 2nd Floor, 3543 18th Street, one block up from Valencia, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

NEW: M. T. Anderson, Kelly Link, Gavin J. Grant (Monstrous Affections), 11/1, 4 pm
Mystery on Main Street, Brattleboro, VT

NEW: And! Many authors we have published will be at the rapidly approaching World Fantasy Convention. We’ll have tables in the dealer room and will have excellent books by: Nathan Ballingrud, Ted Chiang, Andy Duncan*, Jeffrey Ford*, Eileen Gunn, Kathleen Jennings, Kij Johnson, Nancy Kress, Ellen Kushner, Kelly Link, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Delia Sherman, Sofia Samatar, Ysabeau S. Wilce, and maybe even more, who knows!
World Fantasy Convention, Washington DC/Arlington, VA
* Forthcoming



North American Lake Monsters: 2nd printing

Fri 3 Oct 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

North American Lake Monsters coverGood news: the printer is about to ship us the second printing of the paperback Nathan Ballingrud’s Shirley Jackson award winning debut collection North American Lake Monsters.

And: the hardcover is about to be declared out of print, so get it while you can. We will have some here for a little while longer and are hoping to bring some to the World Fantasy Convention in DC where Nathan can sign them.

Also, should you already have devoured the book and now be demanding more Ballingrudian fiction, why, I am very happy to be able to help you with that. Check out Monstrous Affections (for which sometimes I affeckt an extra k), dig around, and you’ll find Nathan’s um, diabolical?, “The Diabolist.”

Get it from Powell’s here or your local bookshop here. More stories by Nathan is always a good thing.



Wednesday is the new Monday?

Wed 1 Oct 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Holy bananas, Batman. Days go by, books explode out into the world (hello Gwenda!), leaves FALL FROM TREES, eek!

Did you hear Molly Gloss has a book out at the end of this month? I read it this week on my sickbed and it is so FABULOUS. It’s called Falling From Horses and you can pre-order signed copies from Powell’s! Which by all that is good in the world you SHOULD. Or, at least, strongly consider.

Susan Stinson says Spider in a Tree:

But, but, that book just came out! Argh, time, is, passing! (Apologies for that comma.)

Over at Weightless you can get the new issue of Lightspeed which has a heck of an energetic story from Ysabeau S. Wilce (“The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror”) which not coincidentally can also be found in her debut collection — which comes out in 2 weeks! — Prophecies, Libels, and Dreams. In the same issues: stories by Kelly Link (“Water Off a Black Dog’s Back”), Daniel José Older, Megan Kurashige, along with excerpts from Paolo Bacigalupi’s new novel, THE DOUBT FACTORY and Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY SWORD. That John Joseph Adams sure puts together quite the package!

Ever wondered* what distractions emperors and other mayors faced? How did they cope? Were they gamers? (Tricky Dicky, looking at you.) Click through for some great face to face comparisons for Winston “Angry Birds” Churchill and more as Benjamin Parzybok delves into “A Brief History of Video Games Played by Mayors, Presidents, and Emperors.

Ben P. is reading (with Ryan Boudinot) at Oct. 15, 7 PM Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. And: the audiobook just came out.

Ysabeau’s book is now available to reviewers, bloggers, librarians, and booksellers on Edelweiss. The requests are coming in thick and fast.

And! Delia Sherman’s debut collection, Young Woman in a Garden, is up on Edelweiss, now, too.

More info on these two books — and 2015′s book, wow, so oncoming, such nearness — soon.

* Ben, not asking you.

PS Win a copy of Prophecies, Libels, and Dreams here.

PS x 2 Name your city and get a free audiobook of Sherwood Nation!



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.



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



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

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.

1. The Wildcrafting Caveat

Wildcrafting is the art of knowing how and where wild things grow, when and how to harvest them so they grow back again the next year. I do it because wild food is cheaper than cultivated food, is made with less pesticides and generally less stupidity and a lot of the time it tastes better. I realize that if everybody did it, we’d all starve to death. So I do it sparingly. Please do the same.

2. A Cider for the Post-Apocalypse

Not such a bad way to go

Not such a bad way to go?

Long have I touted cider as the gateway drug of the home fermentation hobby. It requires only two ingredients, apples and yeast. There’s no mash, no boil, no hop additions, practically no equipment to buy (a gallon jug and a balloon will do it on a shoestring), not really even any reading to do, at least to get that first batch going (I have done a lot of reading). Only recently did it occur to me that the same features may make cider the last practicable fermented drink to outlast the (zombie) apocalypse–at least for me, comfortably situated at the 42nd parallel, well within prime apple-growing range, in the water-rich Great Lakes State, at the far northwestern edge of Johnny Appleseed’s much-mythologized trail. Grain requires lots of work to get it to a fermentable place: not just tilling, irrigating, growing, but harvesting, drying, winnowing, sprouting, malting, mashing, boiling, cooling. Time, labor, resource and energy-intensive. Apples, on the other hand, in the right climate, in the right weather conditions, grow abundantly by the side of the road even when nobody’s paid them a lick of attention for twenty years. Not that there isn’t work in getting from a pail of apples to a gallon of cider, but in a good year the raw materials are there for the taking.

Michigan’s 2012 apple crop was devastated by an early spring heatwave. 80 degree temperatures caused trees to bud and even blossom. Then all those buds got killed in a more seasonable deep freeze that immediately followed. No buds, no apples. In 2014, the apple crop was likewise devastated, this time by the harshest winter in recorded history. Trees put all their energy into toughening up against the elements and made apples only as an afterthought. So much for free apples in the post-apocalypse? Not so! Not every year, at least. In 2013, apples grew in such profundity they were dripping off the trees, piling up knee-deep swarmed with yellowjackets on the lawn. People didn’t know what to do with them. One of my neighbors got so fed up he had his tree ripped out and chopped up for firewood. I, on the other hand, planted three apple saplings in my front yard. Nice thing about cider, if you do it right it’ll keep and even improve for 2-3 years. Ferment in sufficient volume (and hope for a lightweight apocalypse), and your supply will weather the dry years.

3. Harvest, Part the First: Apples

Wild apples, September 2013

Wild apples, September 2013

Over several weeks, late September to mid-October, I biked and hiked around town and woods, climbed trees, filled bike panniers with wild apples, muled them home. These weren’t, for the most part, the prettiest or even the tastiest apples: oft they were mushy in hand and had blemishes. Some were sweet enough, but lacking in tartness (acid) and bite (tannin). The vast available quantity enabled me to be picky–bruised or worm-eaten fruit I left alone–but not that picky. I harvested from seven different apple trees, best guess mostly ancestral Red Delicious and Cortland, plus one glorious Golden Delicious that entirely lived up to its name.

Let me put in a word in defense of Delicious. The grocery store/school lunch crowd know Red Delicious as an abomination, a horror of modern agricultural practice. If it’s pretty, who cares if it tastes like paste? But scroll back a generation or five to the ancestor breed of our modern candy-red pasteball and you’d find something entirely different. Should you care to refer to the literature or maybe ask your gran, you’d find Red Delicious was formerly in fact quite tasty and came well-recommended as a cider apple. So shut up, haters. These wild trees I was picking from were all well over 60 years old, huge, sprawling trees I climbed and swung about in like a monkey and occasionally fell out of not like a monkey, part of an abandoned orchard now overgrown and absorbed into the local county park.

4. Storage

The hoard

The hoard

When I got them home, I stored the apples in buckets on my back porch. I accumulated 2.5 bushels ~= 23 gallons of apples. Then I waited a few weeks. Given time, stored apples naturally soften, making them yield more juice. In the meantime I twice went through what I’d harvested and threw out any bruised fruit so it wouldn’t spoil the rest.

5. Pressing

I took my apples to a local hundred-year-old cider mill, where I paid a pittance for the privilege of feeding them into a hopper and watching them get shredded to bits, smashed flat, flash-pasteurized by bombardment with UV light, and finally poured out in glorious golden liquid form into two five-gallon glass carboys. Nine gallons!

6. A Word on Pasteurization

Siberian crabapples

Siberian crabapples

Pasteurization kills bad bacteria, but it also kills yeast. Yeast occurs naturally on apple skins, but as with sourdough bread yeast and wild Belgian beer yeast, different strains occur in different locales, and different strains are better than others for fermenting fruit sugars into alcohol. Had I been doing this in Western Mass, I could have saved myself $2, skipped the pasteurization and let the wild yeasts do their work, which under the right conditions they do robustly enough that they outcompete any of those bad bacteria anyway. It so happens, however, that the naturally occurring yeast in SE Michigan is crap for fermenting sugars into alcohol. So I was happy for that UV light: it saved me having to kill off the wild yeast with sulfites.

7. Testing

I took my nine gallons of cider home and tasted it. Insipid, sweet enough, but not very acidic (pH 4.0) nor very tannic. Acids and tannins matter to good cider because they enable a safe environment for fermentation and ensure a long shelf life. And they taste good, in moderation. So I needed to add some acids and tannins.

8. Harvest, Part the Second: Crabapples and Fox Grapes

fox grapes

fox grapes, with shoe

I could have just added some powdered citric acid and malic acid and grape tannin, but where’s the fun in that? So I went back out into the woods and fields and brooksides and picked 4 gallons of Siberian crabapples (a genetic precursor to cultivated apples much used in landscaping and by kids for throwing at their siblings, also full of acids, tannins and sugar) and 2 quarts of fox grapes (tiny little native American grapes, incredibly tart and sour). I pulped and pressed these myself, at home, using food processor, colander, glass bowl and a 25-lb dumbell.

9. Blending

From all of the above raw materials plus a little local wildflower honey, I made the following:

Fox Grape Cider

  • 4.5 gallons cider
  • 7 cups crabapple juice
  • 1.5 cups fox grape juice
  • Lalvin K1v1116 dry white wine yeast
  • pH 3.7 (perfect, at the upper end of ideal for cider)
  • Original gravity 1.051, final gravity 1.005, 6% alcohol

Cyser (honey cider)

  • 3.5 gallons cider
  • 2.5 cups crabapple juice
  • 2 lbs wildflower honey
  • 1/2 tsp powdered citric acid
  • 1/2 tsp powdered tartaric acid
  • Lalvin K1v1116 dry white wine yeast
  • pH 4.0 (too high, but I let it go because it tasted great and I’ve known the sugars in honey to throw off pH readings in the past)
  • Original gravity 1.066, final gravity 1.005, 8.3% alcohol
The payoff

The payoff

10. Fermentation

I saved out a gallon of cider for use topping off carboys during the 3 months’ fermentation and bulk aging (also for sipping hot during the coldest winter in recorded history). Fermentation is the easy part. Just put on a fermentation lock, store somewhere cool and dark, sit back, rack off once in awhile into a clean carboy and drink something else you’ve got handy while you wait.

11. Aging

Then I bottled half, kegged the other half, aged another 3 months and have been sipping chilled, delicious cider ever since. If I pace myself, it just might last me through the glorious bumper crop (fingers crossed) of 2015.

12. Tasting

I’ve been making cider since 2006. I started in Western Mass, where due to long history and resurgent tradition (IMHO) the apples are the best in the country. It made me, I now realize, snobby about cider. I nigh gave up fermenting apple juice when I moved to Michigan because I knew I wasn’t about to find ready-to-hand blends of heirloom cider apples around every corner.

This experience, wildcrafting and blending my own, has completely turned me around. These two wildcrafted ciders are nothing remotely like ye cloyingly sweet mass-produced draft ciders–not much like the delicate flavors of the ciders of my homeland either I confess–but funky, complex, tart and sour, entirely satisfying and addictive.

And I owe it all to the crabapples. A month from now, if you live somplace where winter hasn’t killed them, go out and take a tiny bite of a crabapple or three. Try go get past the sourness and bitterness, or rather, try to recognize those as concentrated flavor elements. I did, and I was amazed at the complexity. (Wildcrafting has well prepared me for this effort–the domesticated palate, I fear, tends towards the bland.) Plus, as I learned from cider nerds at the Great Lakes Cider and Perry Festival last year, the higher the acid content, the longer cider will last in the cellar (and the longer it needs to age, because those acids need time to break down and become palatable).

So the blend is really the key. Ideally, you might make several batches with increasing proportion of higher-acid fruit: one batch for year one, another for year two, another for year three, by which time hopefully there’d have been another bumper crop so you could start again.

If you try it, let me know how it goes, won’t you?



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!



Limiteds limitations reached

Thu 28 Aug 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 2 Comments | Posted by: Gavin

Just marked the limited editions of Hal Duncan’s An A-Z of the Fantastic City and Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners as out of print. Yay! This might have something to do with updating the LCRW subscription page.

There are a few unsigned, unnumbered hardcovers of the former for sale and it is still available in the saddle stitched chapbook edition and ebook. The interior illustrations by Eric Schaller are so great and fit the book so well that we only ever made a pdf ebook — perfect for your big phone, water proof (really?) tablet, computational device — see for example the frontispiece below.

frontispiece



Bookslinger: Up the Fire Road

Fri 22 Aug 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

New this week on Consortium’s Bookslinger app is Eileen Gunn’s story “Up the Fire Road” from her collection Questionable Practices.

Previous Small Beer stories on Bookslinger:

Howard Waldrop’s Nebula and World Fantasy Award winning story  ”The Ugly Chickens.”

Howard Waldrop’s “A Dozen Tough Jobs.”

Bernardo Fernandez’s “Lions” (translated by co-editor Chris N. Brown) from Three Messages and a Warning.

John Kessel, ”Pride and Prometheus

Kij Johnson’s “At the Mouth of the River of Bees

Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud’s “Delauney the Broker“ (translated by Edward Gauvin)

Ray Vukcevich, “Whisper

Maureen F. McHugh, “The Naturalist

Karen Joy Fowler, “The Pelican Bar

Kelly Link, “The Faery Handbag

Benjamin Rosenbaum, “Start the Clock

Maureen F. McHugh, “Ancestor Money

Download the app in the iTunes store.

And watch a video on it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySL1bvyuNUE



Sofia Samatar: Overnight Success

Wed 20 Aug 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 2 Comments | Posted by: Gavin

A Stranger in Olondria coverOn Sunday night in London, California writer Sofia Samatar was presented (in absentia) with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction or Fantasy Writer at the World Science Fiction Convention. Samatar received the award for her debut novel, A Stranger in Olondria (Small Beer Press, 2013), as well as short stories published in Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, We See a Different Future, and other magazines and books.

Samatar began writing A Stranger in Olondria in 1998 in Yambio, South Sudan. She was teaching high school English and there was a 6 p.m. curfew and no internet or television. In between cards, reading, and listening to the BBC, Samatar hand wrote the first draft of her novel. She had no idea how long it was until she moved to Egypt in 2001 and got her first computer. After typing it up, she found it was well over 200,000 words — twice as long as the final version.

In 2011, thirteen years after she started Olondria, she sold the book to Small Beer Press and who published it in 2013. Since then the book has received the Crawford Award, been nominated for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Nebula, Locus awards, and rights have been sold in Poland and France with more expected to follow.

Why this novel of a pepper merchant’s son, thirteen years in the making, struck such a chord with readers might be explained by the process as well as the circumstances. Far from home with few resources, Samatar wrote deep background history for her world, most of which did not make it into the novel yet the reader is comforted by the knowledge that the writer’s familiarity with the story is more than just what is shown on the page. Samatar, who is now an Assistant Professor of Literature and Writing at California State University, Channel Islands, explored the joys and pains of learning to read, of travel, and the idea of whether only victors are ever able to tell their stories.

Samatar is working on more short stories and her second novel, The Winged Histories. She does not expect it to take thirteen more years.



Help a neighbor out?

Wed 6 Aug 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | 2 Comments | Posted by: Gavin

The other night there was a fire in the Paragon Arts building in Easthampton, the refurbed warehouse where we have our office and a storage unit for overstock. We got off pretty lightly: sooty water came under the door and messed up a couple of rugs (or: they soaked it up and stopped it spreading further) and some boxes of books got wet. We’re still waiting for our insurance person to call us back about that.

The fire was on Monday night but I found out about it when I got the paper early on Tuesday morning. So I went on with the usual routine: feed kid and take her to summer camp, then hightailed it over here to catch up.

The fire was across the hall from our office. Marlene Rye, the artist whose studio the fire started in, lost a lot of work plus she had to cancel the three week summer arts camp for kids that she teaches. She has a fundraiser here. On the other side of the wall is Show Circus Studio. Their big mats soaked up a lot of water so had to be dried. They put out a call for help and many, many volunteers answered from all over the valley: that was incredible to see. Their summer camp was cancelled yesterday but, impressively, is back on today. The fire was on the third floor so studios (and the mailboxes!) on the second and first floors were also damaged — see Maggie Nowinski’s post here. At some point there may be a fundraiser/art party of some sort and we’ll spread the word if it happens.

We’re very grateful that the sprinklers went off, that they only went off in the studio with the fire, that the firefighters came so quickly, and that the cleaning crew were here yesterday. I’m still waiting on the insurance person and hoping that the cleaning crew are gong to clean our overstock room (in which the lights no longer work, ooh, spooky) but overall we’re knocking on wood, trying to help neighbors, very glad to still be here surrounded by too many books and tchotchkes, and trying to continue as if it were a normal Wednesday.

Here’s today’s story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette (damn the paywall!), here’s a slideshow from MassLive, and here’s the fundraiser again.

ETA: here is the fundraiser for the artists on the first and second floors whose work was destroyed by the water pouring down from above.

ETA2: you can see the very small amount of damage we sustained in these photos. In terms of books to toss: about 400. Time? Days!



LCRW 30 Table of Contents

Mon 4 Aug 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | 1 Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 30Moving slightly slower than your average contemporary glacier — although with the same glorious grace! [let's not talk moraine fields] — the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is slowly making its way from the imaginations of these writers to the pages of a paper zine. Sure, electronic editions will be zapped out, too. And in November or December, there will be another one!

As per usual—wait! Nothing is as usual! It’s LCRW! It’s a grab bag of weird! It’s sci fi! Fantasy! True tales of terror! Fish who pilot driverless cars shucking their wearable computers which have been providing telemetry to the anthills of our back yard! Poemtry! (There are a lot fewer exclamation marks in the zine than there are here.)

Pre-order your copy of this tremendous zine here or get wild and optimistic and subscribe here.

Fiction

Sarah Kokernot – Odd Variations on the Species
Erica L. Satifka – The Silent Ones
Anne Lacy – I Know You Hate It Here
Robert Stutts – With His Head in His Hand
Sarah Micklem – The Purveyor of Homunculi
Damien Ober – The Endless Sink

Nonfiction

Nicole Kimberling – Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof at the Potluck
About the Authors

Poetry

Daniel Meyer – A Question for the Devil
Anne Sheldon – Island Folklore
Amanda Robinson – Five Poems:
Speculative Fiction
The Vampire and the Mermaid Converse
The Vampire Drives a Hard Bargain
The Vampire Listens to Woody Guthrie
Undead Temporality



LCRW subscriptions rising, rising

Mon 28 Jul 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Some of the fancier LCRW subscription options will be going up in price next month — wait, is that really later this week? Wow. Well, it will be before mid-August.

So get your sub in before the chocolate, mug, Bentley (hey, if you want a Bentley with every issue we are happy to oblige) etc. levels catch up with the rising postage prices. As always, we recommend international readers stick with the just the zine option as mailing the chocolate bars abroad gets silly expensive really fast.

I am loathe to put the forthcoming issue #30 table of contents here as I am sure, sure, that I am going to squeeze another something in there somehow. So, yes, should be out next month!

 



A Summer of Peter Dickinson

Thu 17 Jul 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

A Summer in the Twenties coverWe’re celebrating the release of our latest Peter Dickinson reprint, A Summer in the Twenties, this week in a couple of ways:

First, we’ve just posted the first three chapters for your reading enjoyment. That should take care of what to read at lunchtime while ignoring twitter. If instant gratification is your thing, you can pick up the DRM-free ebook (epub/mobi/pdf) at Weightless right now.

While you’re on Weightless thinking about all those lovely books, how about adding another Peter Dickinson title to your library? Today only his strange and fascinating novel The Poison Oracle is the Weightless Weekly One Book sale title and is just $1.99. It’s a very different book from A Summer in the Twenties, which is one of the things Kelly and I love about Peter Dickinson.

As Nancy Pearl recently said on NPR about our first Dickinson mystery reprint, Death of a Unicorn:

Death of a Unicorn has nothing to do with unicorns or fantasies. … This is a mystery by Peter Dickinson. (Small Beer Press, a small publishing company in Massachusetts, is reprinting … Peter Dickinson’s books, which is a wonderful, wonderful gift to mystery readers who are yearning for that kind of old-fashioned British mystery where it doesn’t move quickly, you get engrossed in the time period.) …

“The thing about Peter Dickinson is that his books, one from the other, are totally different. … And this is a novel, a mystery, where the mystery doesn’t really happen. The event that is mysterious, the death — if you will — doesn’t really happen until probably two-thirds of the way through the book. And it’s written from the point of view of a young upper-class … woman in England and her relationship with the [financier] of a magazine very much like the New Yorker.

“I think that this is one of those books that I hope will … introduce people to Peter Dickinson and then they’ll go and pick up all the rest of his books. … But I have to stress these are not for people who want fast-moving thrillers. These are not mysteries in the style of American private-eye stories. These are really character studies and studies of society at a particular place in a particular time.”

That last paragraph really applies to A Summer in the Twenties. It’s definitely not a traditional murder mystery, but it has something of the thriller to it. I’ve been re-reading some Dorothy Sayers recently (in part because I know I haven’t read them all so I have to go back and re-read everything just in case, see?) and it isn’t too hard to imagine Lord Peter Wimsey passing through this novel — although I’ll leave that to better fanfic writers than me! The novel is really about choices and consequences and long after you’ve put it down you’ll be thinking about which choices led where and who might be happy. Might!



Drink Local! A Detcon1 Beer Guide

Mon 14 Jul 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 1 Comment | Posted by: Michael

Detcon1, this year’s NASFIC convention in Detroit, happens next weekend, July 17 – 20, 2014. Along with fellow Fermented Adventurer Scott H. Andrews, I’m on a panel about beer in fiction that Saturday afternoon, whereat, or perhaps immediately thereafter, I may or may not happen to have a very few bottles of homebrew available for sampling. I’ve also been scheduled to take part in a group reading of Michigan writers–the implication being, I suppose, that I speak for the region. Which–though Detroit does feature briefly in my story in this month’s Ideomancer–I am really not trying to do in my fiction; I’ve only lived here four years, after all.

I am, however, rather more prepared to take up that banner for Michigan beer. I have traveled, I have tasted, I have brewed. So, for those of you making the trip maybe for the first time, I thought I might be of help and interest with a brief beer guide to Detroit.

Michigan, Southeast Michigan and Detroit, you’ve heard, have suffered; jobs evaporate, populations dwindle, infrastructure crumbles. But beer is one of the bright spots. Ever hear what recession does to alcohol sales? Here, too. Our state now has more breweries than any other east of the Rockies, more every year, including some of the best: Founders, Bell’s, Short’s, New Holland, Greenbush, Griffin Claw, Right Brain, Kuenhenn, Jolly Pumpkin. And a surprising amount of what’s brewed here stays within state lines. If you’ve never been to Michigan, you’ve likely never heard of half those I just named. So while you’re here, why not drink local? It contributes to the local economy (which sure could use the help), it cuts down on the carbon footprint of your visit, and it ensures you’re drinking fresh, and drinking different! No downsides, as far as I can see.

First, a couple of local beer bars to which I’m partial (and I see whoever wrote the Detcon Restaurant Guide doesn’t disagree), in order of proximity to the con hotel:

  1. grand-trunkForan’s Grand Trunk Pub – The former offices of the Grand Trunk Railroad, which was not, as you may have thought, fictional, Grand Trunk Pub has beautiful old wood, vaulted ceilings, a really well-curated tap list with something for everyone, and pastrami sandwiches to die for (and potentially of, everything in moderation), an easy 10 minute walk from the con hotel: go west on Jefferson, then north on Woodward.
  2. Cliff Bell’s/Park Bar – Get on the People Mover, Detroit’s tiny, laughably underused public transit loop, take it to Grand Circus Park, then follow Park Ave northwest for a block and a half. First, check out Cliff Bell’s for the ambiance–it’s an old 30s jazz club, beautifully restored, with a few very solid local drafts. Then go next door to the Park Bar, a dive with 20+ taps, local color to spare, and really good, astoundingly cheap Mediterranean food served out of a hole in the wall in the back.
  3. Slow’s – If you’ve got a car, get on Michigan Ave and go west about a mile and a quarter to Slow’s, a fine barbecue joint located across from the beautiful, long-derelict Detroit Central Station building where may be found the only hand-pulled cask ale in the city, plus dozens of other drafts from all over Michigan. The place will likely be packed; either elbow up to the bar or get a beeper, then wander over and gawk at the ruins while you wait. You won’t be disappointed, even if eating slow-roasted dead beasts isn’t your thing.

Methinks that’s good enough to get you started–after all, you’ve only got a weekend. Next, a couple of delicious, localest-of-the-local beers to try while you’re in town. I’m limiting myself to stuff you might actually have a chance of getting in Detroit in July, but aside from that, no particular order.

  • ghettoblaster-300x366Motor City Brewing Works Ghettoblaster – Billed as a “mild ale”, though not a whole lot like the English style that goes by that name. A cloudy, biscuity, low alcohol amber ale beloved of Detroit hipsters, brewed within city limits.
  • Motor City Brewing Works Cider – A cloudy, funky, not-too-sweet cider. I’m a big fan. Get it at their taproom in Midtown for peak freshness, you won’t regret it.
  • B. Nektar Necromangocon – A mango-infused mead from the largest mead producer in the US, brewed in nearby Ferndale. A gateway mead if I’ve ever tasted one, quaffable and refreshing despite high alcohol content.
  • Right Brain Northern Hawk Owl – A fine, balanced, easy drinking, almost-authentic ESB from far-northern Traverse City. Sometimes they have it on cask at Slow’s
  • Right Brain CEO Stout – Perhaps the Platonic ideal coffee stout.
  • Founders Backwoods Bastard – A rich, malty, high-alcohol Scotch Ale aged in bourbon barrels–legend has it in secret caves under Grand Rapids. Consider yourself lucky if you see it on tap–made only in very limited quantity, generally unavailable except at special events and in highbrow beer bars like the above.
  • backwoodAnything from Greenbush Brewing – Based in southwestern MI near the Indiana border, Greenbush is IMO the best brewery in Michigan. Be prepared for heady hops. “Closure”, a malty, hop-resiny pale ale, has quickly risen to among my current favorite beers in the world.
  • Anything from Griffin Claw Brewing – Based in nearby, swanky Birmingham, Griffin Claw’s head brewer purportedly taught a lot of other MI head brewers everything they know. If you’re of the über-IPA-loving bent, Norm’s Raggedy Ass IPA will not disappoint.
  • Anything from Brewery Vivant – A French/Belgian-influenced brewery in Grand Rapids. Try “Big Red Coq”, a double red ale, if you can get over the stupid name. If not, go for their Farmhouse Ale.

Why don’t I stop myself there before I bore you. Just how much drinking were you planning to do in a weekend, anyhow? I tell you what: if you want to hear the other 500 beers on this list (or the other 25 bars), come find me at Detcon, and I’ll rattle them off to you over several pints.

Cheers!



Bookslinger: The Ugly Chickens

Fri 11 Jul 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

New this week on Consortium’s Bookslinger app is Howard Waldrop’s Nebula and World Fantasy Award winning story “The Ugly Chickens” from our ebook edition of Old Earth Books’s Waldrop anthology Things Will Never Be the Same: A Howard Waldrop Reader: Selected Short Fiction 1980-2005.

Previous Small Beer stories on Bookslinger:

Howard Waldrop’s “A Dozen Tough Jobs.”

Bernardo Fernandez’s “Lions” (translated by co-editor Chris N. Brown) from Three Messages and a Warning.

John Kessel, ”Pride and Prometheus

Kij Johnson’s “At the Mouth of the River of Bees

Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud’s “Delauney the Broker“ (translated by Edward Gauvin)

Ray Vukcevich, “Whisper

Maureen F. McHugh, “The Naturalist

Karen Joy Fowler, “The Pelican Bar

Kelly Link, “The Faery Handbag

Benjamin Rosenbaum, “Start the Clock

Maureen F. McHugh, “Ancestor Money

Download the app in the iTunes store.

And watch a video on it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySL1bvyuNUE



World Fantasy Award nominations!

Thu 10 Jul 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | 1 Comment | Posted by: Gavin

What great news! Congratulations to both Sofia Samatar and Nathan Ballingrud who last night received the lovely news that their books were both finalists for the World Fantasy Award. Yay! Sofia is also a finalist in the short story category for her Strange Horizons story, “Selkie Stories Are for Losers.”

It is an honor to have books nominated and we will be celebrating this weekend at Readercon, and, hey, why not, all the way to November when the awards will be given out at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington, D.C. And, as always, congratulations to all the finalists!

A Stranger in Olondria cover - click to view full size North American Lake Monsters cover - click to view full size



In which we go to Readercon!

Tue 8 Jul 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Hey, are you going to Readercon this weekend? We are! Well . . . Kelly will be there Friday and then she is flying off at oh-dark-thirty on Saturday for beautiful Portland, Oregon, where she’ll be one of the fab faculty at the Tin House Writers Workshop. OK, Tin House first: it’s held at Reed College, Oregon, and Kelly is doing a seminar:

Wednesday July 16th, 3pm, Vollum Lecture Hall
Nighttime Logic: Ghost Stories, Fairy Tales, Dreams, and the Uncanny, with Kelly Link

The writer Howard Waldrop distinguishes between the kinds of stories that rely upon daytime logic and stories that use nighttime logic. What does he mean by this? We’ll examine writers, stories, and techniques that dislocate the reader and make the world strange. 

and a reading:

Thursday, July 17th, 8pm
Reading and signing with Kelly Link, Mary Ruefle, Antonya Nelson

Kelly is not on programming at Readercon. But, many, many Small Beer authors are! Some of them may be familiar, some will have travelled many miles to be there. Check out the program here to see where these fine folks will be:

All the way from Seattle: Eileen Gunn!
All the way from Austin! Chris Brown
Shirley Jackson Award nominee Greer Gilman [fingers crossed for both that and for an appearance by Exit, Pursued by a Bear]
Up from NYC: Ellen Kushner & Delia Sherman
Down the coast from Maine: Elizabeth Hand
Al the way from California, Crawford Award winner Sofia Samatar

— which all means we will have signed copies to go out from next Monday onward. (Want a personalized book? Leave a note with your order!)

I (Gavin) have two things scheduled:

Friday
4:00 PM    CL    Kaffeeklatsch. Gavin Grant, Yoon Ha Lee.

Saturday
10:00 AM    G    Books That Deserve to Remain Unspoiled. Jonathan Crowe, Gavin Grant, Kate Nepveu, Graham Sleight, Gayle Surrette (moderator). In a 2013 review of Joyce Carol Oates’s The Accursed, Stephen King stated, “While I consider the Internet-fueled concern with ‘spoilers’ rather infantile, the true secrets of well-made fiction deserve to be kept.” How does spoiler-acquired knowledge change our reading of fiction? Are some books more “deserving” of going unspoiled than others? If so, what criteria do we apply to determine those works?

If you have big opinions about spoilers, tell me! Wait, don’t spoil the panel! Wait! Do!

We will have two tables in the book room, where, besides our own best-in-the-world-books we will also help DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION, yay! We will have copies of the limited print edition of one of the most interesting (and huge, it is $30, has color illustrations, plus an additional story) anthologies of recent days: Women Destroy Science Fiction edited by Christie Yant and with a pretty incredible Table of Contents.

Come by and say hi!



Bookslinger: A Dozen Tough Jobs

Tue 1 Jul 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

New this week on Consortium’s Bookslinger app is Howard Waldrop’s “A Dozen Tough Jobs” from our ebook edition of Old Earth Books’s Waldrop anthology Other Worlds, Better Lives: Selected Long Fiction, 1989-2003.

If you look at the previous Small Beer stories on Bookslinger, it’s sort of like we are slowly building a virtual anthology:

Bernardo Fernandez’s “Lions” (translated by co-editor Chris N. Brown) from Three Messages and a Warning.

John Kessel, ”Pride and Prometheus

Kij Johnson’s “At the Mouth of the River of Bees

Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud’s “Delauney the Broker“ (translated by Edward Gauvin)

Ray Vukcevich, “Whisper

Maureen F. McHugh, “The Naturalist

Karen Joy Fowler, “The Pelican Bar

Kelly Link, “The Faery Handbag

Benjamin Rosenbaum, “Start the Clock

Maureen F. McHugh, “Ancestor Money

Download the app in the iTunes store.

And watch a video on it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySL1bvyuNUE



Summer in the Twenties Giveaway!

Tue 24 Jun 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 3 Comments | Posted by: Gavin

Hey, did you see the lovely Nancy Pearl note on NPR  that we are “reprinting … Peter Dickinson’s books, which is a wonderful, wonderful gift to mystery readers”! If you’d like to check out our latest reprint — coming next month — our distro, Consortium, has arranged for another giveaway on Goodreads. This time we have 10 copies of Peter’s A Summer in the Twenties. The glorious thing about Peter’s books is that they’re all different from one another:

Book Giveaway For A Summer in the Twenties

A Summer in the Twenties by Peter DickinsonA Summer in the Twenties
by Peter Dickinson
Release date: July 15, 2014

Wildcat or bright young thing?
A young man has to choose who to love, who to leave in the 1926 General Strike in Britain.

A Summer in the Twenties shows the body politic balanced at a precarious moment of tension.”
New York Times Book Review

Enter to win

Giveaway dates: Jun 23 – Jul 07, 2014
10 copies available, 150+ people requesting
Countries available: US and CA



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