In between the things I’m not doing here is something good about a book coming sooner than soon! (This is not Jeff Ford’s book which comes out next month!)
Words Are My Matter is in the top 10 of the Publishers Weekly Fall 2016 Adult Announcements: Essays & Literary Criticism. Yay!
Today is publication day for the latest edition of Ted Chiang’s first and — until at least next year — only collection of short fiction: Stories of Your Life and Others — the title story of which is being made into a movie I’m very much looking forward to seeing starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker.
Ted has won just about every award going for his incredibly compassionate stories of us poor humans and our interactions with our own technologies. Amazingly, for someone who is obviously brilliant and widely recognized for it, he is also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
Stories of Your Life was first published by Tor in 2002 and was reprinted by Small Beer in 2010. Last year Penguin Random House bought the rights from us as part of a larger deal that included Ted’s next as-yet-untitled collection — which perhaps is burying the lede if you hadn’t heard that part. Can’t wait to read that book when it comes!
In the meantime, congratulations to Ted and a hat tip of respect to everyone at PRH who bought the books and at Vintage where they must be celebrating having this book as part of their list.
You have one week to enter to win a free copy of Jeffrey Ford’s mind melting A Natural History of Hell:
At 2 pm EST tomorrow the Intoxicating Extraordinary Small Beer Press Humble Bundle will expire and with it the chance to pay what you want for so many of our books will be gone, gone, gone.
We don’t do ebook sales very often but this one has a huge direct benefit to the authors, the press, and organizations we love: Worldreader and Franciscan Children’s who can be added under the Choose Your Own Charity:
25 days ago we launched our Kickstarter and in about 3 short hours it will be done. It’s been interesting to see the last minute changes a lot of backers are doing. One person will switch to a different reward, freeing up one of the limited rewards and boom, 2 minutes later, that one’s taken again. Fun also to see how many people are ordering two, three, or five copies.
Today to celebrate, after picking up the kid — who, happily, has of course no idea about any of this — I am going to the Florence Pie Bar and Evolution Cafe to get some desserts. May have to stop at the beer store, too. Then we will head off up into the hills to try and find John Crowley and celebrate the forthcomingness of the hardcover edition!
- The Storybundle: 8 short story collections including Karen Joy Fowler’s What I Didn’t See and Elizabeth Hand’s Errantry.
- The Chemical Wedding Kickstarter!
- At 2 pm EST . . . And please consider adding Franciscan Children’s under the Choose Your Own Charity, we thank you very much!
“Perpetually and pleasantly startling and unexpected. Her prose is by turns sharp and sumptuous, and always perfectly controlled. Samatar’s writing strongly recalls Guy Gavriel Kay’s fantasy, which reads like historical fiction, but there are strains here too of Jane Austen and something wilder.”
(BTW, we have signed copies from AWP if you’d like one.)
The timing of this review is fortuitous as this coming weekend Sofia is one of the three guests of honor at WisCon 40. I don’t know which Wiscon was my first — I think I will ask Kelly who has a better memory and will confirm that, no, I was not at the first one despite being the average seven year old reader of all things who would have enjoyed it. But I have many happy memories from going to many of them over the years, and a few crap memories, too, but c’est la vie, yes? The harassment policies are stronger now and I am more likely to speak up for myself in a way I did not in the past. Ach, youth. I wonder if in 20 years time I will look back at me now and still say, Ach, youth? (Hey, if the world has not flooded by then, sure.)
One of the things I have long loved about WisCon is the self selection of the attendees. Pretty much anyone who wanders into a convention tagged feminist science fiction has done some serious thinking about the state of the world — and whether we agreed or not, I’ve been to many panels (and parties, and conversations sitting on the floor of the hallway) where the conversations about where humanity is and where it is going are second to none.
I also love the speeches (wow!), the consuite (who knows when a snack is needed?), the Tiptree dessert sale (best reason ever to eat a plate or two of desserts), the opening night at Room of One’s Own, State Street restaurants, the art show and the auction — I have a few things from the auction that are still prize possessions. And of course, I love the book room, but, hey, that would not be a surprise. There are so many good publishers and bookstores. For the past half dozen years our friend David Schwartz has run the Small Beer tables, and he’s at it again this year. If you’re there, say hi. Hi, Dave!
I am sorry to miss it this year. Maybe next? I had a great time last year — although I ran a lackluster party which did not hold a candle to previous parties, sorry attendees! Sometimes the energy is there, sometimes you flip the switch and nothing happens. Eek. Besides, this decade the Floomp is the one and only place to be. How do I know? I saw photos from last year while I was babysitting. (The childcare at WisCon is topnotch and much appreciated.)
I will miss friends, strangers, seeing Sofia and Nalo feted, wandering around the farmer’s market, escaping to Michelangelo’s and attending a reading there anyway, and so many more things. It will be a fun, fast weekend, filled with the possibilities of bending the future into better shape and I hope everyone there has a grand time.
Episode 22: In which Jedediah Berry and John Crowley discuss John’s new edition of The Chemical Wedding by Christian Rosencreutz: A Romance in Eight Days by Johann Valentin Andreae. The book is illustrated throughout by carpentrix-artist Theo Fadel, and designed by Jacob McMurray.
Subscribe to the Small Beer podcast using iTunes or the service of your choice:
The Story Collection Storybundle is live May 11 through June 2. There are 8 DRM-free short story collection ebooks including three exclusive to this bundle. Check them out:
What I Didn’t See: Stories by Karen Joy Fowler
The collection won the World Fantasy Award and the title story won the Nebula. Fowler is the author of The Jane Austen Book Club, a New York Times Bestseller made into a film, and won the 2013 PEN/Faulkner for We are all completely beside ourselves.
The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories by Walter Jon Williams
Two stories in this collection won the Nebula Award. Williams was a Philip K Dick Award Finalist and placed numerous times for the Nebula and Hugo Awards.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories by Lisa Mason
The collection received five stars from the San Francisco Review of Books. Mason’s books have been finalists for the Philip K Dick Award Finalist and New York Times Notable Books. Her OMNI story, “Tomorrow’s Child,” sold outright to Universal Studios.
Collected Stories by Lewis Shiner
The collection is an ebook exclusive for Storybundle! It includes forty-one stories, and has an Introduction by Karen Joy Fowler. Shiner’s work has been a finalist for the Philip K Dick Award, the Hugo Award, and the Nebula Award.
Wild Things by C. C. Finlay
The collection is a second ebook exclusive for Storybundle and has a new Afterword. A multi-award-nominated author, Finlay is the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Errantry: Strange Stories by Elizabeth Hand
Hand has won the World Fantasy Award four times, the Nebula twice, the Shirley Jackson twice, and the Mythopoetic Award. Her books have been both New York Times and Washington Post Notable Books.
Women Up to No Good by Pat Murphy
Two stories in the collection were nominated for the Nebula. Murphy won the Nebula twice, the World Fantasy, and the Philip K Dick Award.
6 Stories by Kathe Koja
A third Storybundle exclusive collection! Koja, author of Skin and Under the Poppy, won the Bram Stoker Award and was a Philip K Dick Award Finalist.
Pay what you want for three books; pay more than $12 ($23? $42? $1,099?) and get all 8 — plus donate a percentage to the Science Fiction Writers of America.
The Story Collection Storybundle will run only from May 11 through June 2, 2016. When it’s gone, it’s gone!
One of these days I will sit back with a huge bowl of popcorn, a beer, and a huge grin and watch the premiere of Ayize Jama-Everett’s Liminal books on TV or at the movies. No solid news yet, but one day it will come and I will be bouncing up and down about it. In the meantime listen to Lilliam Rivera’s interview with Ayize — and the great music — on Radio Sombra.
Ayize read part of his final Liminal novel at the AWP conference in LA last month and he sang part of the song “Notorious” — which is on the episode by Turbulence but Ayize also mentions the version by Nãnci and Phoebe, listen to that one here — I love Nãnci and Phoebe’s Cypher Cycles song, too: they’re outside, it’s cold, people are going by, no matter, the singing and beatboxing is great.
A little international news: the French translation of A Stranger in Olondria has been nominated for the Prix Imaginales. Fingers crossed we will have more international news on Sofia’s books soon, too.
And a couple of fave author have new novels coming out:
“Nerve-jangling and addictive, Elizabeth Hand’s Hard Light offers up a signature Cass Neary tale of moral ambivalence, keen betrayal and a dark lushness that leaps off the page. And with Cass―relentless in her dangerous curiosity, her ruthless art of survival―Hand has created an anti-hero for the ages. We’d follow her anywhere, into any glittery abyss, and do.”
and a trailer:
Wow, what a day!
It was just before Easter Sunday, and I was sitting at my table. I’d said my prayers, talking a long time as usual with my Maker and thinking about some of the great mysteries the Father of Lights had revealed to me. Now I was ready to make and to bake –
Instead of “a small, perfect unleavened wafer” as Christian Rosencreutz was going to do before someone tapped him on the shoulder, I baked some banana chocolate chip muffins. (Reviews at breakfast this morning were uniformly strong.) Nearly a hundred backers stepped up and backed the book and overnight backers kept appearing. Now the Kickstarter has broken $10,000, 1/5 of the way to making this book happen.
Besides “The First Day” — the Kickstarter Exclusive Hardcover — and a couple of the limited editions, these rewards have proven popular:
- The First Day plus: MFB Cards, the book plus a limited edition set of Magic for Beginners Playing Cards with illustrations by Shelley Jackson
- The First Day plus: LCRW ebooks — the book plus 22 LCRW DRM-free ebooks in the format of your choice: pdf, epub, or mobi
- The First Day plus: Endless Things — the book plus a first edition hardcover of Crowley’s Endless Things, signed with personal inscription by author.
We added a few more of each, although with some of the rewards (T-shirts, limited edition books), once they’re gone, they’re gone.
In between there were other things to do, kid had to be gotten from school, meals eaten — although I worked through a scheduled lunch with a friend, sorry Julie!, so rearranged it for today. Today there were other things, always things, and soon the kid will be out of school again and then there’s an appointment later. Hmm!
Thank you if you’ve backed it. If not: I hope you’ll consider it or spread the word. We have some nice bonuses planned!
Here we go!
You may or may not know that for a while we’ve been working on publishing a fabulous edition of a book originally published in 1616: THE CHEMICAL WEDDING by CHRISTIAN ROSENCREUTZ, A Romance in Eight Days By Johann Valentin Andreae in a new version by John Crowley.
The important news is that you can now order the hardcover on
There are many reward levels available — some expensive, some not, some goofy, some unique. What you most need to know is: we’re offering The Chemical Wedding in four states: an ebook, and three hardcover editions — the only hardcover editions of this book that we will ever produce. For ease of finding, the reward levels are titled The First Day, The Second Day, and The Third Day. All the hardcover editions come with the DRM-free ebook edition.
Whether you choose to back the project or not, please help share the news of the launch and help make this idea of a beautiful book a reality. If there’s anything we can send along that might help with that, please drop me a line.
Click the image below to see a full size version of Jacob McMurray’s case design:
And here is our Kickstarter video, made by Jedediah Berry:
“Jeffrey Ford can pull off any kind of story he damn well pleases. I was sure of that before I even reached the end of this excellent collection. By the end he’d accomplished more than I would’ve imagined possible. A Brief History of Hell offers genuinely disturbing moments but it also veers into high comedy. There’s bits of myth and history, heartbreak and profound insights. I’ve been a fan of Ford’s for years. Every new book he publishes is a reason to celebrate.”
— Victor LaValle, author of The Ballad of Black Tom
Did you read Laura Lippman’s review in the The New York Times Book Review of Lydia Millet’s new novel Sweet Lamb of Heaven?
It is Anna’s voice — cool, intelligent, passionate, contradictory — that makes this novel so affecting. I resisted it initially because I was overwhelmed by my sense of dislocation, my uncertainty about where we were headed. But how I missed it when it was gone, how I yearned for it to speak to me again.
Every one of Lydia’s books fascinates in a different way. I can’t wait to read this one. A sense of dislocation? Are you a human living on this planet? Check. (I realize that not everyone here will check that box.)
All of which to say we’ve been working with Lydia on The Bodies of the Ancients, the third and final novel of her Dissenters series (following The Fires Beneath the Sea and The Shimmers in The Night), and I’m happy to tell you it is about ready to go. We have the (matching!) cover in from Sharon McGill and it is off to the proofreader soon.
Have you ever wondered how sometimes it comes down to some kids against the big baddie? The Sykes kids — Cara and her two brothers, Max, older and only half present at best, and Jax, younger and maybe many kinds of genius — think about that all the time. But their Mom, who ahs many surprises of her own, is back home and she’s going to lay out what’s happening and why. If she has time before it all goes wrong.
Here’s the start:
It was June again on Cape Cod and the summer crowds were trickling back in. The beaches wouldn’t be mobbed till July, but families from Boston were already starting to flock to the roadside seafood restaurants. From behind the smudged and scratched-up pane of the school-bus window, Jax gazed at them. They were willing to waiting long periods of time for a table; some of the grownups looked at their phones and a few ran around after their kids, but most of them did nothing much other than stare out into space, baking in sun and breathing exhaust fumes. All for the sake of eating a fried fish sandwich.
Jax shook his head.
Maybe they were hollows, he said to himself. Maybe they were mindless zombies waiting to be consumed by flame.
It is going to be great to have the whole series out. Summer days on Cape Cod . . . but with more neanderthals and maybe even aliens!
I’ve probably posted this before but who does not need 18 minute epics about Grendel?
In my early teen years in the West Coast of Scotland this song was just a myth that we kids in physics had read about but never heard. We loved 2 minutes 45 seconds as much as anyone. We loved challenge, we loved louder, faster, more complicated. Three minutes? Seven? Take us away for longer, please. Please.
As Grendel leaves his mossy home beneath the stagnant mere
Along the forest path he roams to Hrothgar’s hall so clear
He knows that victory is secured, his charm will testify
His claws will drip with mortal blood as moonbeams haunt the sky
Then you try to place the killer’s blade in my hand
You call for justice and distort the truth
Well I’ve had enough of all your pretty pretty speeches
Receive your punishment
Expose your throats to my righteous claws
And let the blood flow, and [let the blood flow], flow, flow, flow.
Surprise. Oops. More later on other things.
Will be interesting!
It has been eight years since we published our first Joan Aiken title, The Serial Garden, and five (where does the time go?!) since the second, The Monkey’s Wedding, was released. Today is the publication day for our third Joan Aiken collection, The People in the Castle: Selected Strange Stories.
The book came about because Kelly and I had been talking to Joan’s daughter, Lizza Aiken, for a while about what fun it would be to make a selection of favorite stories from across the many, many collections Joan published — there are twenty-eight collections listed in the front matter of The People in the Castle, and that does not include some of her kid’s collections. (See all Joan’s books here.)
So Kelly and I went back and read as many of the collections as we could, which was obviously the most enjoyable part of the project and something I recommend replicating — you can usually find loads of her books at the library. Kelly has a better memory than me, so she would say something like How about story “x” from this book? or I love story “y” from that book and I’d go back and read it yet again and soon Kelly and I and Lizza came up with dream lists of stories we’d like to include. Of course the lists were too long and there was some horse trading (how about we drop these two stories but add this one? etc.) and in the end we had a list that satisfied everyone of twenty dark, funny, oddball, sometimes heart-wrenching stories. And now: they are a book!
We received finished copies of the book from the printer just in time to take with us to the AWP Conference in LA and we had the great pleasure of selling out of it very quickly — that cover has the magic pick-me-up quality that all publishers and authors everywhere are always searching for.
Kelly wrote an introduction to the collection:
“The particular joys of a Joan Aiken story have always been her capacity for this kind of brisk invention; her ear for dialect; her characters and their idiosyncrasies. Among the stories collected in this omnibus, are some of the very first Joan Aiken stories that I ever fell in love with, starting with the title story ‘The People in the Castle,’ which is a variation on the classic tales of fairy wives.”
The whole introduction — as well as the title story — is available for your reading pleasure on the Tin House blog and Kelly’s introduction segues beautifully into Lizza’s introduction, “The Power of Storytelling: Joan Aiken’s Strange Stories”:
“Joan Aiken once described a moment during a talk she was giving at a conference, when to illustrate a point she began to tell a story. At that moment, she said, the quality of attention in the room subtly changed. The audience, as if hypnotised, seemed to fall under her control.
‘Everyone was listening, to hear what was going to happen next.’
From her own experience, whether as an addictive reader from early childhood or as a storyteller herself, learning to amuse a younger brother growing up in a remote village, by the time she was writing for a living to support her family, she had learned a great respect for the power of stories.”
Publishers Weekly gave the book a boxed, signed review: “There’s so much to love about this slender collection… The juxtaposition of mundane and magical…feels effortless and fresh. The language is simply splendid, so evocative, as though the stories were actually very dense poems. And it brilliantly showcases Aiken’s affectionate, humorous, deft portrayals of female characters… Aiken’s prose is extraordinary, impossible to do justice to in this small space. Her skill with the language of folk tales—specifically the oral storytelling native to the British Isles—is unparalleled.”
If you’d like a taste, try “The Cold Flame” which is available on Tor.com. This story makes me shiver and laugh every time.
- The People in the Castle (hc) + The Monkey’s Wedding (hc): $38
- The People in the Castle (hc) + The Monkey’s Wedding (hc) + The Serial Garden (pb): $50
Tor.com just posted a Joan Aiken story from The People in the Castle. It is creepy, funny, fantastic, and as Tor says, “darkly lyrical.” It is for poets, would-be poets, for writers, I suppose, of all sort, and writers’ families . . .
“Patrick was a poet, perhaps I should explain. Had been a poet. Or said he was. No one had ever seen his poetry because he steadfastly refused to let anyone read his work, though he insisted, with a quiet self-confidence not otherwise habitual to him, that the poems were very good indeed. In no other respect was he remarkable, but most people quite liked Patrick; he was a lanky, amusing creature with guileless blue eyes and a passion for singing sad, randy songs when he had had a drink or two. For some time I had been a little in love with Patrick. I was sorry to hear he was dead.”
— Tor.com (@tordotcom) April 7, 2016
How’s your Monday? Ours is pretty great, thanks to Victor LaValle — whom you may have heard on NPR recently discussing his latest book, The Ballad of Black Tom — who just read Jeffrey Ford’s A Natural History of Hell and sent us this:
“Jeffrey Ford can pull off any kind of story he damn well pleases. I was sure of that before I even reached the end of this excellent collection. By the end he’d accomplished more than I would’ve imagined possible. A Natural History of Hell offers genuinely disturbing moments but it also veers into high comedy. There’s bits of myth and history, heartbreak and profound insights. I’ve been a fan of Ford’s for years. Every new book he publishes is a reason to celebrate.”
Jeffrey Alan Love, whose art graces the cover had some good news, too:
— Jeffrey Alan Love (@jeffreyalanlove) March 22, 2016
being a Small Press in 2016 so we have decided to decamp to the future. See you tomorrow.
“Like an alchemist, Sofia Samatar spins golden landscapes and dazzling sentences. . . . The Winged Histories is a fantasy novel for those who take their sentences with the same slow, unfolding beauty as a cup of jasmine tea, and for adventurers like Tav, who are willing to charge ahead into the unknown.”
Sofia also has a new story today in The Revelator:
Besides our groovy (sorry) reading on Wed. March 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Last Bookstore [with Kelly Link (Get in Trouble), Maureen F. McHugh (After the Apocalypse), Ayize Jama-Everett (The Entropy of Bones), and Sofia Samatar (The Winged Histories)] we have a few other things we’d like to share:
First: we have a table, #1331, in the huge bookfair. Come search us out!
Second: panels and stuff!
Thursday, March 31
11:00 am to 11:30 am
Table 1331, Ayize Jama-Everett (The Entropy of Bones) signing
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
Room 515 A, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
R265. Smooth Criminals: What’s at Stake When We Break the Rules? (Juan Martinez, Susan Hubbard, Robin Rozanski, Julie Iromuanya) What writing rule do you hate? Love? We all break a few: We switch POV halfway through a story, we use too many exclamation marks, we don’t write what we know, or we use the wrong form, the wrong genre. The panelists balance the costs and benefits of these misdemeanors. They explore how rules hinge on cultural, ethnic, and social backgrounds. They provide rule-breaking exercises that have helped generate exciting material and talk about how rule-breaking has helped them publish and teach.
Friday, April 1
10:30 am to 11:45 am
Room 513, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
F161. Small Beer Press: 15th Anniversary Reading. (Sofia Samatar, Ayize Jama-Everett, Maureen F. McHugh, Juan Martinez) Fifteen years after Small Beer Press was founded to publish works that cross genre definitions, traditional bookstore shelving options, and academic course descriptions, four authors from different parts of the USA who now all live in California read from their books and then discuss the spaces their books were published into with Small Beer Press publisher and cofounder Gavin J. Grant.
2:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Table 1331, Sofia Samatar (The Winged Histories) signing
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
Concourse Hall, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One
F271. Kelly Link, Emily St. John Mandel, and Ruth Ozeki: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau. (Emily St. John Mandel, Ruth Ozeki, Kelly Link) This event brings together three brilliant contemporary female writers—Kelly Link, Emily St. John Mandel, and Ruth Ozeki—to read and discuss their craft and experiences as genre-bending authors. Kelly Link is the recipient of an NEA grant and is the author of Get in Trouble. Emily St. John Mandel is the author of Station Eleven, a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award. Ruth Ozeki is the author of A Tale for the Time Being, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Saturday, April 2
10:00am to 10:30am
Table 1331, Kelly Link (Get in Trouble) signing
11:00am to 11:30am
Table 1331, Maureen F. McHugh (After the Apocalypse)
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
AWP Bookfair Stage, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One
S171. In the Realms of the Real and the Unreal. (Katharine Beutner, Sofia Samatar, Carmen Machado, Alice Sola Kim, Kelly Link) This panel explores genres of fiction that juxtapose the real and the unreal in experimental ways: historical fiction, literary fantasy/science fiction, weird fiction, and satire. Where do we draw the line between a secondary world and a distorted reflection of our own world’s beauty, violence, and diversity? Can we discern a poetics of the unreal in contemporary fiction? How have the continual debates over generic boundaries—and/or their irrelevance—affected the ways contemporary writers work?