Holiday Deadlines 2017

Wed 15 Nov 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Here is Our Beloved Annual Holiday Shipping Deadline post. Our office will be closed over the holidays from December 22 – January 2, 2017. It is unlikely we will ship over that period. (Weightless is always open.)

Might as well order now, order often!

Here are the last order dates for Small Beer Press — which, in case you’re thinking about waiting until the last minute to order some chocolate Christmas trees are about the same as every other biz in the USA. Dates for international shipping are here.

All orders include free first class (LCRW) or media mail (books) shipping in the USA.

But: Media Mail parcels are the last to go on trucks. If the truck is full, Media Mail does not go out until the next truck. And if that one’s full, too, . . . you get the idea. So, if you’d like to guarantee pre-holiday arrival, please add Priority Mail:

Domestic Mail Class/Product Cut Off Date
First Class Mail Dec. 19
Priority Mail Dec. 20
Priority Mail Express Dec. 22
First Class International (generally) Dec. 7

Order a book today!

Just like to read a book, don’t care about a ding or two?



Double Jeffrey World Fantasy Awards

Wed 8 Nov 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

A Natural History of Hell cover - click to view full sizetl;dr 2 Jeffs won awards, so did other people. We love books and good drinks.


We went to cloudy and muggy, phew, San Antonio*, Texas, last week for the World Fantasy Convention and on Sunday — while we were at the airport waiting for our flight and chatting over a very much enjoyed beer with Scott Andrews of Beneath Ceaseless Skies — the awards were handed out.

I am delighted to report that Jeffrey Ford won for his collection A Natural History of Hell and doubly delighted to say that Jeffrey Alan Love, whose art graces the cover of that book among others, received the award for Best Artist. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

Jeffrey Alan Love made a huge impact at the con by pulling out his paper, pens, ink and pads and making (and giving away!) pieces of art at the bar and at the (massive! overwhelming!) group signing event on Saturday night. I took one home with me and am still amazed by his process. Can’t wait to pick up Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki which Jeffrey illustrated.

I spent most of my time in the dealers room chatting with people, checking out all the books, the lovely books, that everyone had brought, buying books, and sometimes selling books. We sold most of the books we brought, a lovely thing! I wonder sometimes if book rooms like this will still exist in five or ten years. They’re just like indie bookstores: if people want them to exist, they shop there. If they don’t care, they don’t buy books there, and the book room (or bookstore) disappears. I’m for them going on and on. I do love poking around and finding books I knew and did not know I wanted.

Meghan McCarron had recommended to all that the Esquire bar should be checked out and wow, that was a great hot tip. I loved the cocktails upstairs but the downstairs Cocteles de Maíz were the cocktails of my heart: that the menu was designed and printed (on paper made of corn!) by a local press, Snake Hawk Press [really, click that link], helped but wow. Also yum. What creations.

Of the Guests of Honor, I met David Mitchell and he was lovely, yay! Here’s Kelly’s picture of him chatting with Ted Chiang. I caught up briefly with Tananarive Due (one of my Clarion instructors!); I saw Gregory Manchess signing lots of books and enjoyed his art in the art show; I picked up a book by toastmaster Martha Wells; and I was sorry to miss Gordon Van Gelder being roasted, see my note above about the Esquire bar and not having a reservation there that night, darn it. Next time.

The final Guest of Honor Karen Joy Fowler did a couple of readings (thanks, schedulers!) so I got to the second one. She read chapters two and three of her next novel and all I can say is I hope it comes out sooner rather than later. She is a hell of a writer. Karen signed copies of her collection What I Didn’t See for us but then we sold them all, sorry. In fact, Kij Johnson and Kathleen Johnson signed copies of The River Bank and we sold out. Howard Waldrop then signed copies of Howard Who? and Horse of a Different Color and we sold out but we still have a few signed available from a previous visit, phew once more.

Then we came home, somewhat exhausted and ground into the floor by the act of talking to people for many days in a row — yup, that’s too much. Luckily now I get some quiet time to try and catch up on shipping and reading and erk, better go do that. (Smooth outro? Achieved!)

* — on the day we left, the day of the awards, the town was busy, people were going on about their lives, except for the 26 people murdered in a church 30 miles away. The gun laws and the amount of guns in this country are insane. Why are people allowed to have machine guns?



Luminous and Compassionate

Wed 18 Oct 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Ambiguity Machines cover - click to view full sizeYoon Ha Lee, author of Ninefox Gambit, just finished reading Vandana Singh’s forthcoming collection Ambiguity Machines and says of it:

“Ranging in scale from the smallest life to far-ranging interplanetary adventures, and drawing upon both science and mythology, Vandana Singh’s stories are luminous and compassionate.”

You can read the title story on Tor.com. I just went over the proofread copy of the book with Vandana and it is such a fun book — if your idea of fun is Vandana’s unique thread of science fiction, which, of course it is! Or will be. Just wait and see, what a book. The book ends with a huge new story, “Requiem” set in Alaska with whales and drilling and global warming and a missing scientist.

Between “Requiem”, Christopher Rowe’s “The Border State” and Sofia Samatar’s “Fallow,” we have had a run of amazing original novellas.



New Books? New Books!

Tue 17 Oct 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

It is boom time here at Small Beer! Books are rolling off the printing presses, more are being sent for quick reprints (whoopee!), I’m working on a couple of contracts, lining up some books for next autumn, and here here here are a few fun, mindblowing, immersive, weird and fantastic (so: just the usual then?) books that we will publish next spring and summer.

In reverse order they are:

Alien Virus Love Disaster, a debut collection of door-stomping-down stories from Abbey Mei Otis

Half-Witch, a debut YA novel of by John Schoffstall

and The Invisible Valley, a debut novel by Su Wei translated by Austin Woerner

Don’t like vertical images? Like ebooks? Check them out on Weightless!



New Books

Mon 16 Oct 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

This week we are going to add some books to this website — if I can get off twitter long enough to do anything besides watching the world crash and burn. Oh, wait, I got off twitter the other day for the anti-nazi rosearmy boycott and haven’t gotten back on. Hmm. Maybe I’ll skip it and add the new books. Watch out world, here come, er,

some more short story collections and a translation!



Howard Waldrop, Upright & Writing

Fri 6 Oct 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Today in a nice surprise the Austin Chronicle features one of Austin’s own great writers, Howard Waldrop. It made me laugh from the quote that goes with the photo onwards: “Just sit down in the chair and start writing and then after 10 or 12 years you’ll figure this stuff out.”

Howard is one of 20+ authors (including Christopher Rowe) who will be in Santa Fe at the Jean Cocteau Cinema this weekend for the huge George R. R. Martin Wild Cards celebration. It sounds like so much fun! One day I will get back to Santa Fe and visit the cinema and see all the groovy stuff they have there.

There are more than a couple of great lines in Elizabeth Banicki‘s Austin Chronicle Waldrop profile including this paragraph:

I’d been scouring libraries across town for collections of his writings. His brilliant short stories “Mary Margaret Road-Grader” and “The Ugly Chickens” had me high on how he bends reality while staying completely grounded in human nature. In those stories, unremarkable people adventure through fantastical scenarios where their physical and psychological worlds are woven together, often indistinguishable. The residual effects stayed with me for days. Great writing does that thing where you’re reading along and then – POP! – you get socked with a sentence or paragraph so clean, words so perfectly chosen to relate to human experience, that you can only drop the book into your lap and recover. Waldrop’s writing does that.

But I am slightly worried about a couple of later parts:

Waldrop doesn’t believe he’s a mystic, but he does believe he can kill any publication just by letting them publish his work.

and then at the end:

Waldrop has various works in progress, one of which will be published in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Eek!

I think LCRW will be ok. In the meantime, Howard’s most recent collection Horse of a Different Color is 50% off this week to celebrate!



“An Absolutely Delightful Book”

Wed 27 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

The River Bank cover - click to view full sizeMichael Dirda is delighted by Kij Johnson’s The River Bank — as you can see in his new review just posted in the Washington Post:

“If you’re going to write a sequel to one of the most beloved children’s books of all time, you’ll need to be pitch perfect, hit all the right notes and, at its end, leave your reader shouting “Bravo!” Or in this case, “Brava!” and “Encore!” Kij Johnson has brought out an absolutely delightful book, as charming and funny and rereadable as Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows” itself.”

Yay! There are a couple of Kathleen Jennings’s illustrations included in the review (they “add just the right extra magic”) and a comparison to Georgette Heyer. Not bad for a Wednesday morning!



Made a thing and it is a zine

Fri 22 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Picture by Marija Smits

Picture by Marija Smits

Since people are posting about getting LCRW on twitter* — wait, what if they’re posting about it on other platforms (in other silos) and I can’t see, wah, so sad to be a human not an AI scanning all social media in these times — then it must be real and not just a dream that it was printed recently at Paradise Copies and sent out to those lovely readers.

Some people get the chocolate, some people get the epub (where chocolate must be self-supplied). Some people are probably not getting it on the Am*zone, etc., as the epub failed some kind of test there. Feh. Anyone who think ebooks should be free should try producing an epub file that passes all the different epub validator tests — and then come back in 2-3 years when it has to be remade to pass the newer tests.

Anyway: LCRW. It is the 36th iteration, the first of the year. Maybe 2017 will not completely suck? No, it will. The title is in pink, can you tell? The cover of the print copy does not look like the ebook version for fun. I haven’t used a color cover for too long and this one makes my eyes hurt so well. It is good to make things and send them out in the supposedly analog world — hat tip to the world-as-simulation or Berenst*in Bears theorists.

Also: it’s gone out to some lovely bookstores: Borderlands, DreamHaven, Magers & Quinn, & more. How do I love thee, independent bookshops and booksellers? A lot. A whole lot. Even the ones that don’t want to carry a supposedly twice-yearly occasional outburst. Yesterday I went into Broadside Books here in Northampton and instead of dropping off the zine I picked up a bunch of books for kid presents. But they had such nice books!

Oh well, next time. In the meantime, if you too have already read M. T. Anderson’s Landscape with Invisible Hand and aren’t ready for the heartbreak of The Penderwicks in Spring, then sure, pick up LCRW. Will it hold back the unending crush of news of immensely stupid people doing immensely stupid things? For a little while, just a little while.

* Not all lcrw tweets will be LCRW tweets.



Annalee Newitz Recommends The Mount

Wed 20 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

The Mount cover - click to view full sizeToday on Bookriot’s Recommended podcast, Annalee Newitz (whose novel Autonomous drops this week!) recommends Carol Emshwiller’s Philip K. Dick Award winning novel The Mount.

We love this novel here at Small Beer. Every now and then I go back to it and realize again how weird and great it is. Our edition is in shortish supply at the moment so it’s back to the printer it’ll have to go — in the meantime, you can pick up the Penguin mass market edition or the ebook. (Will there ever be a movie edition? No recent news, but never say never!)



The Story Spilling Over

Thu 14 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

The River Bank cover - click to view full sizeOccasionally I read a review of a book we’ve published and it makes me want to pick up the book and read it all over again. I just had that experience reading Amal El-Mohtar’s review of The River Bank on the NPR website. Amal begins her review writing about fan fiction and reading that made me wonder if fan fiction was labelled something else, would it be more acceptable to those who don’t like it? Much of the time fan fiction can pass me by but then Kij sent us a book that Amal accurately labels fan fiction and I love it. I love a book in conversation with another but sometimes, ach, you know how it is. There’s no one rule that describes even one reader’s preferences. I know a good book when I see it! Right? Sure.

Enough of me, here’s a part of Amal’s review. I urge you to read the whole thing:

I was never less than delighted with this book. From beginning to end, it thoroughly charmed and engaged me, speaking the native literary language of my childhood. Like a river, it is in places languid and broad, in others narrow and rushing, the story spilling over sharp rocks of incident before pooling in afternoon sunshine, smelling of lilies and mud. I loved the sweetness of its pace, which spoke of a deep, abiding love not so much for the source material’s specific contents as their tone: a wistful, enchanted melancholy that walks hand in hand with summer’s end.

There are passages here that I treasure, that take up the timbre of Kenneth Grahame’s voice to speak of new things that feel timeless: the joys and pains of being an author at work; the changeability of a summer’s day from possibility to exhaustion; the quiet loneliness of a home half-dwelt in, a home asleep until woken by occupation, activity, presence. Sentences like “an animal lives in the long now of the world.” So much of this book dwells deeply in that long now.

In addition to its many native felicities, the text is embellished by Kathleen Jennings’ beautiful incidental illustrations, grace notes sounded in E. H. Shepard’s mode with a line reminiscent of Beatrix Potter and a sensibility all Jennings’ own.



Return to the River Bank

Tue 12 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

The River Bank cover - click to view full sizeToday, five years or so after we published Kij Johnson’s collection At the Mouth of the River of Bees we are delighted to be publishing her new novel The River Bank.

The River Bank is a sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows and, given Kij’s recent stories such as “Ponies” and “Spar”) you would not be the only one surprised that Kij had chosen this as one of her next projects. For us, the first illustrator who came to mind was Kathleen Jennings. Her detailed lines and light sense of whimsy combined with her deep knowledge of illustration made her the perfect choice and we were quite enchanted when she started sending pencil sketches for chapter and incidental illustrations.

So today the book comes out in a lovely paper-over-boards hardcover — we’ve never done that before, what fun! — and ebook editions. People seem to love it as much as we do and as much as we’d hoped, especially once they have it in their hands. It’s very different from Kij’s other work but as ever her love of the natural world and for animals shines through.

If you’re in the Kansas City environs, Kij is launching the book at the Raven Book Store tonight (so you can order a signed copy if you’d like) and she has a few more readings planned:

Sept. 12, 7 p.m. Raven Book Store, 6 East Seventh St., Lawrence, KS
10/14, 1 p.m., Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore, Minneapolis, MN
11/2-5, World Fantasy Convention, San Antonio, TX
11/20, 7 p.m., Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR
11/21, 7 p.m., Elliot Bay Book Co., 1521 Tenth Ave., Seattle, WA



Tomorrow the green grass

Mon 11 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Tomorrow there will be some amount of fuss over the new iPhone (does it come with a toaster?! Find our tomorrow!) meanwhile there will a much more relaxed portion of the populace who will be reading Kij Johnson’s new book The River Bank.



Sarah Rees Brennan & Maureen Johnson Chat on EW

Thu 7 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin


I’m delighted to say that Entertainment Weekly just posted a chat between these two friends and New York Times bestselling authors today. They chat about In Other Lands “and Johnson’s forthcoming Truly Devious series, out in January 2018, which centers on a haunted boarding school. Oh — and since Brennan is editing a murder mystery and Johnson is writing a murder mystery, they talk about that grisly but endlessly fascinating subject, too.”

Check out their conversation here:

Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson chat about writing and murder



The River Bank Goodreads Giveaway

Tue 5 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Quick: there are only 2 days left to win one of 8 advance copies of Kij Johnson’s forthcoming sequel to The Wind in the Willows, The River Bank.



Seanan McGuire says:

Wed 30 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

A couple of weeks ago I read this thread on twitter and it has cheered me up ever since:



LCRW 36 Table of Contents

Mon 28 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Coming out next month, the latest compendium of wonder:

Fiction

Gabriela Santiago, “Children of Air”
Lily Davenport, “The Crane Alphabet”
T. L. Rodebaugh, “The Secret History of the Original Line”
Mollie Chandler, “Evidence of a Storm”
Todd Summar, Watching You Without Me”
Laurel Lathrop, “Cunning”
Christi Nogle, “The Best of Our Past, the Worst of Our Future”
Zhao Haihong, “Windhorse”

Nonfiction

Nicole Kimberling, “How to Cook (Dis)Comfort Food”

Poetry

D M Gordon, Two Poems

Cover

kAt Philbin



Kij Johnson on Tour

Mon 21 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

The River Bank coverNext month we’ll publish Kij Johnson’s new novel, The River Bank. It is quite the treat, a much-needed break from the contemporary world, with chapter and spot illustrations throughout by Kathleen Jennings. Should you be in one of these places, why not go see her read for yourself!

Sept. 12, 7 p.m. Raven Book Store, 6 East Seventh St., Lawrence, KS
10/14, 1 p.m., Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore, Minneapolis, MN
11/20, 7 p.m., Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR
11/21, Elliot Bay Bookshop, 1521 Tenth Ave., Seattle, WA

And more dates may yet be added so keep an eye on this page.

Meanwhile School Library Journal gave it a lovely review culminating thusly:

“Johnson’s attention to world-building and characterization create an engaging read with modern appeal while maintaining the aesthetic of the original. It also works as a stand-alone for new readers, though references to events covered in the first book are sprinkled throughout. Black-and-white line spot art and full-page spreads add to the nostalgic feel.”



Welcome to In Other Lands

Tue 15 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

In Other Lands coverFive years ago Sarah Rees Brennan emailed Kelly her story, “Wings in the Morning,” for our anthology Monstrous Affections. It was long: 17,000+ words in that early draft — although Sarah told us the actual first draft had been 30,000 words. . . . The final published version was about 2,500 words shorter than the first version we saw after a number of rounds of editing between Kelly and our fab Candlewick editor Deb Noyes.

At some point before the anthology was published Sarah decided to write a prequel short story to “Wings in the Morning” to post on her website for free. Said prequel grew like Topsy and before long the short story was 100,000 words . . .  in other words the short story prequel had morphed into a whole novel titled Turn of the Story. (You can read more about it here.)

Fastforward to today, zip!, and a newly edited, rewritten version of that book-of-Sarah’s-heart, now titled In Other Lands, and with a fancy shiny cover with cover and lovely interior illustrations by Carolyn Nowak is being published.

We like it, so do other people:

Deconstructs children’s portal fantasy, but without ever being mean-spirited about it. . . . this is more of a character book, slyly but charmingly and generously and affectionately examining and often turning inside-out all those familiar portal fantasy tropes, while the central focus is firmly on character. It’s funny, and wise, and sometimes heart-breaking, definitely LGBTQ friendly as the three main characters grow into their teens and discover sex and its attendant emotional landmines. Love-starved Elliott is the main POV, but the narrator dips into others’ POVs when necessary, and expertly presents Elliott with hilarious grace notes of free indirect discourse, adding to my delight. . . . There were moments I laughed so hard my nose hurt.
— Sherwood Smith

The novel has received two starred reviews (Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews) and is a Junior Library Guild pick. I really like that PW called it a “glittering contemporary fantasy” — not because of the shiny cover, but rather because of the fantastic characters on the inside: annoying Elliot, badass Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, and the golden boy, Luke Sunborn. Each of them is not what might be expected and over the course of the novel they grow up and as they grow they take the reader with them into the pains and joys of friendship and love and the hard truths of learning to live in the world.

And I hope Colleen Mondor’s review of the book in this month’s Locus goes up online as it is amazing.

You can read Chapter One of In Other Lands on Tor.com as well as read Sarah Rees Brennan’s connected essay: Our Winged Brains: The Appeal of Winged Creatures in Genre Fiction.

If you’d like, you can enter to win one of 10 free signed copies at Shelf Awareness (ends Aug. 26).

Continuing with the irregular events surrounding this book it’s beginning to look like Sarah may be over here in the USA to do some reading in bookstores in January 2018  — some by herself, some accompanied by other writer. We’ll keep you up to date on that. In the meantime, Welcome to  In Other Lands.



Locus Says:

Mon 14 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Locus August 2017 (#679) coverThis month’s Locus includes reviews of a four-fingered handful of our books! As well as all the usual good stuff: interviews with John Scalzi and Justina Ireland; reviews by Faren Miller, Gardner Dozois, & more; the Locus Survey results, an SF in Finland report, Kameron Hurley’s column [“Did ‘Being a Writer’ Ever Mean. . . Just Writing?”], reports from the Locus Awards and Readercon; & obits (boo!). [Locus is available from Weightless and they’re having a subscription drive this month and there is a Patreon.]

Four-fingered handful? Hmm. Three books are reviewed by the one and only Gary K. Wolfe. The first is Christopher Rowe’s new collection Telling the Map:

“. . . it is no accident that Christopher Rowe dedicates his first story collection Telling the Map to fellow Kentuckians Terry Bisson and Jack Womack. It’s also no accident that Rowe, on the basis of no more than a couple of dozen stories over nearly 20 years (of which 10 are collected here), managed to gain a reputation as one of the most distinctive voices to emerge from this period. This is not only because he writes with lyricism and great precision of style, but because of his firm geographical grounding, which is reflected in all the stories here (as well as in his title), but is a key factor in several (‘Another Word for Map is Faith’, ‘The Voluntary State’, ‘The Border State’). This isn’t the geography of fake world-building, with all those Forbidden Zones and Misty Mountains, but rather the geography of locals who measure distances between towns in hours rather than miles, and who know which bridges you’ll need to cross to get there. It’s also a world in which agriculture and religion are daily behaviors rather than monolithic institutions. As weird as Tennessee gets in Rowe’s most famous story, ‘The Voluntary State’ (and that is very weird) it’s a Tennessee we can map onto the trails and highways that are there now.
“‘The Voluntary State’ and its longer prequel novella ‘The Border State’ (the latter original to this volume), take up well over half of Telling the Map, and together they portray a nanotech-driven non-urban future unlike any other in contemporary SF.”

Gary goes on to write of Sofia Samatar’s debut collection:

Tender: Stories includes two excellent new pieces together with 18 reprints, and one of them, “Fallow”, is not only the longest story in the collection, but also her most complex and accomplished SF story to date. On the basis of her award-winning debut novel A Stranger in Olondria and its sequel The Winged Histories, Samatar’s reputation has been mostly that of a fantasist, and her most famous story, ‘‘Selkie Stories Are For Losers’’ (the lead selection here) seemed to confirm that reputation – although once Samatar establishes the parameters of her fantastic worlds, she works out both her plot details and cultural observations with the discipline of a seasoned SF writer and the psychological insight of a poet.”

and Kij Johnson’s forthcoming The River Bank:

“The familiar figures of Mole, Water Rat, Badger, Mouse, and of course Toad are here, but the story opens with two new figures, a young mole lady named Beryl and her companion the Rabbit, an impressionable young woman described by Mouse as ‘‘right flighty,’’ moving into Sunflower Cottage on the River Bank. Beryl is a successful ‘‘Authoress’’ of potboiling adventure novels, and while Johnson has a good time giving us hints of these novels and of Beryl’s own writing process, her real significance is that she is not only one of the first female characters to move into the village, but one of the first who actually has a clear occupation. Both she and Rabbit are welcomed by the locals, although Mole himself seems oddly reticent to have any dealings with her, for reasons that become clear much later. Most of these residents are familiar in their dispositions, although Toad may if anything be a bit darker and more reckless and impulsive than in Grahame. One of the more intriguing aspects of The Wind in the Willows, maybe especially for SF readers, was the satirical manner in which it introduced technology into the world of the animal fable, and Toad’s famous passion for motorcars is here supplanted by an equally voracious and hilarious lust for the new motorcycles, after he sees a messenger riding one. That, of course, leads to the series of disasters – and attempted interventions on the part of Toad’s friends – that make up Johnson’s fast-moving plot. . . . The delicate balance of challenging the assumptions of a beloved classic while retaining the oracular charm of that classic seems almost effortless in Johnson’s hands, but it’s more of an achievement than it might at first seem.”

And then, turning the page, there is Colleen Mondor’s amazing review of Sarah Rees Brennan’s YA novel, In Other Lands — which comes out this Tuesday! The review begins thusly:

“I have rewritten the first paragraph of this review a half-dozen times, trying to find some way to make clear that Sarah Rees Brennan has created a nearly perfect YA fantasy without gushing. I can’t do it. In Other Lands is brilliantly subversive, assuredly smart, and often laugh-out-loud funny. It combines a magic-world school setting with heaps of snark about everything from teen romance to gender roles, educational systems and serious world diplomacy.”

It is pretty great when a book finds its reader!



Words Are My Matter wins a Hugo!

Sat 12 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Words Are My Matter cover - click to view full sizeWe are delighted to hear that Ursula K. Le Guin’s nonfiction collection Words Are My Matter won the “Best Related Work” Hugo Award last night at the Worldcon in Finland!

This year’s Hugo sits “on a base designed and produced for Worldcon 75 by local Helsinki artist and Science Fiction fan, Eeva Jokinen” and we will post a picture of it if we can at some point later. In the meantime, congratulations to the fabulous list of winners and nominees!



“If Eudora Welty wrote SF”

Thu 20 Jul 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Telling the Map by Christopher RoweI really liked Craig Laurance Gidney’s short take on Christopher Rowe’s new collection, Telling the Map, “If Eudora Welty wrote SF, it might look like this. . . .”

The first reviews have been strong, including Gary K. Wolfe in the Chicago Tribune (“Rowe is endlessly inventive in presenting us worlds that are often dystopian, sometimes funny, but always original — and completely his own.”) and Nisi Shawl in the Seattle Review of Books (“Delightfully strange, these ten stories transport readers to futures full of sentient cars pining for their owners, automated horses, and tomatoes grown to give blood transfusions — an odd and interesting and deceptively bucolic setting for the narration of some astonishing events.”).

But the most enjoyable, perhaps because the take on it was so unanticipated, was Brit Mandelo’s in Tor.com. Of course I knew Brit had a Kentucky connection but this is where that ever-new chestnut, representation, rears its head. White, middle-aged college professors are maybe the only demographic (ok, and cops) used to seeing themselves or their lives regularly represented in fiction. For the rest of us it’s catch as catch can. Brit writes about this moment of wonder: where they saw the place they had lived picked up and looked at from unexpected angles, from a full and generous local perspective, where familiar locations and events were there on the page, but made new. All of which made the review a gift to me the reader, to see someone find a version of themselves or their life on the page.

I was recently reading an obituary in the local paper — it was someone I didn’t know — and it is so hard to try and capture what makes a person the love of someone’s life, what they loved, why they did the things they did. Fiction at least gives us the idea that we might be able to understand people far from us — and next door — and why they are living the lives they’ve chosen (or been thrust into). Anyway, here’s a chunk of Brit’s review, but I recommend you read the whole thing at the mighty tor.com:

“[T]here is one other consistent thread running through the entirety of the collection, and that is setting. In Telling the Map, Rowe has rendered Kentucky over and over again with a lush, loving, bone-deep accuracy—one that startled and thrilled me so thoroughly, as a fellow native son, that I had to read the book through twice to begin to form a critical opinion. . . . Across these stories, the drive to achieve and to exceed is a common factor. . . . Overall, though, this was a stellar set of stories that mesh well together. . . . Truly, Rowe’s skill at shifting the weirdness of the Appalachian South—the odd border state that Kentucky is—to a magic realist or scientifically fantastical future is singular and impressive. The result for a native reader is a feeling akin to awe, or perhaps just homecoming, but I suspect the result wouldn’t differ much for an unfamiliar audience either. If anything, the depth and breadth of comfort with a not-often-accessed culture and setting makes these stories fresh and engaging. It’s home for me; it might be a provocative unexplored landscape for someone else—but regardless, Rowe’s facility with language, description, and emotional arcs makes for a solid, intentional, and satisfying collection of short fiction.”


If you live in the southeastern part of the US you may see our above ad on your local bookseller’s website, see North Carolina’s Park Road Books or Malaprop’s for example. Indies are us! B&N, Books a Million, & other chains: also ok! Online behemoths who want to relentlessly squish all other businesses, feh!



Here Is a Map

Tue 11 Jul 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Today is the publication day of a book I have been waiting for many years to read and for the world to read. There were years when I thought this book would never be. There were years I supposed that someone else would publish it — and that would be ok, because what I wanted above all was to read the book. That we are publishing Christopher Rowe’s Telling the Map: Stories is icing on the cake for me as a reader and publisher. The cover is by occasional genius-in-residence Kathleen Jennings — you can read more about her design here.

Many years ago, (ok, 14), we published a chapbook of five of Christopher’s stories, Bittersweet Creek and Other Stories (out of print but still findable — I still love the cover illustration by Shelley Jackson and the title but not the type design for his name, oh well), and from talking with Christopher at the time I could see that part of publishing it for him was clearly a stepping away from one style of story into a new set of styles that he went on to explore over the next few years.

When “The Voluntary State” was published by Ellen Datlow on SciFiction in 2004, it opened reader’s eyes (and heads) to a writer who had taken the measure of science fiction and then rebooted it using a landscape and culturally based personal mythology. It is a “deep and rich and tangled” story that surged through readers like electricity and over the next few years Christopher sometimes tapped into the same vein and published more stories that came from a similar — although completely different, of course — place: “Gather,” The Contrary Gardener, “Another Word For Map is Faith,” and now (is it wrong to sigh at last? No. Because although there is never a responsibility of a writer to return to a story, the wishes of Christopher’s readership were strong), at last, we have a follow up to “The Voluntary State,” “The Border State.”

Telling the Map coverToday in Lexington, Kentucky, Christopher Rowe and family and friends and readers will celebrate the publication of Telling the Map at the mighty Joseph-Beth Books. All over the country readers will be picking up the book to be swept away for a brief moment into these ten fabulous and unique stories where precision of language is Christopher’s “watchword and his sacrament.”

The book has been well reviewed in the trades

Publishers Weekly: “In his inventive debut collection, Rowe bends the world we know…”
Kirkus Reviews: “A clutch of complex, persuasive visions of an alternative South…”

and has popped up in many recommended reading lists

io9.com: Must Read SF&F for July
Chicago Review of Books: 12 Books You Should Definitely Read This July
Vol 1 Brooklyn: “volleys out questions of place, of borders, and of family along the way…”

and now it goes out to you, Dear Reader. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think and then of course, while we are all alive and breathing and the world renews itself each day even as we stand horrified to see what the future has wrought, to seeing what Christopher does next.



The Rumpus Interviews Juan Martinez

Mon 10 Jul 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

The Rumpus published a lovely, wide-ranging interview with Juan Martinez (Best Worst American) by James Tadd Adcox today. I loved this part about walking the tightrope of writing in another language and the way he speaks about English:

“. . . never lost the sense that I was playing with someone else’s toys. That the language wasn’t quite mine. Not owning the tools of your trade can be freeing, I suppose. And enjoying the freedom of being in-between—from not fully being comfortable—that’s a lot freeing, because it short-circuits the fear, the freak-outs we all have when writing. The Oh-God-I’m-getting-this-wrong-I’m-not-doing-a-very-good-job jitters. Because I trick myself into writing through, and fixing it later, and it was a relief to learn that everyone feels this way, and that we all have to trick ourselves into navigating the unnavigable. I love English. I love what it can do. It’s insanely pliable, and it’s capable of swift shifts in register, and it accommodates so much. I’ll never speak it without an accent. And I’ll never quite lose the sense that English doesn’t love me as much as I love it, but, like I said, I’m pretty sure that’s a universal constant with all writers in all languages, the whole Flaubert and music-on-cracked-kettles-for-bears thing.”



Need Worldcon Memberships?

Fri 7 Jul 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

I am sorry to say we will not be able to attend the Worldcon, therefore we have 2 adult and 1 child memberships available for sale & transfer. The adult memberships are 95€ and the child membership is 55€. Please email me at [email protected], thank you!

Updated: we now have one adult membership and one child membership available.



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