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 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.


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:

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.


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


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


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.


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:

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:

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

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:

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

Announcing an Exit . . . Pursued by a Bear!

Thu 12 Jun 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Exit, Pursued By a Bear coverWe have very good news for Ben Jonson fans, and even better for Greer Gilman’s! Greer is back with a new novella, Exit, Pursued by a Bearfeaturing none other than Jonson and Henry Stuart, heir to the throne and, sadly, tone dead in his dealings with the Unseen World.

Once again Kathleen Jennings — who won a Ditmar Award for her art this past weekend! — has provided the art, but this time for the front and the back cover. Exit will be available in print and ebook editions this September, but don’t be too surprised if we have earrrrly copies at Readercon in July since Greer will be there and can do a reading.


And now, congrats to the British Fantasy Award nominees!

Mon 9 Jun 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | 1 Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Congratulations to all the nominees for the British Fantasy Awards, especially to our two debut authors: Nathan Ballingrud, whose collection North American Lake Monsters is a nominee in the collection category and Sofia Samatar whose A Stranger in Olondria is a nominee in the novel/Robert Holdstock Award category.

The awards will be “announced at an awards ceremony at FantasyCon 2014 in York on 6 or 7 September 2014, depending on the convention’s scheduling.”

North American Lake Monsters cover A Stranger in Olondria cover

Congrats to the Shirley Jackson Award nominees!

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

Congratulations to all the finalists for the Shirley Jackson Awards, especially to Nathan Ballingrud whose debut collection, North American Lake Monsters, is a nominee in the single author collection category, and to Greer Gilman whose Cry Murder! in a Small Voice, is a nominee in the novelette category.

The awards will be presented on Sunday, July 13, 2014, at Readercon 25, in Burlington (outside Boston), Massachusetts. Kelly was one of the jurors this year, so, as the site says: “Where a conflict of interest arises for a juror, the juror recuses himself/herself from voting for the particular work.”

Come say hello if you’re at Readercon! We will have stacks of these books — and more goodies, of course. And by the end of the week we should have another piece of very exciting news for fans of Greer Gilman!

ETA: Susan Stinson and Bob Flaherty (“My god, Susan! What you have you done to me!”) talk about North American Lake Monsters during their monthly bookswap on WHMP.

North American Lake Monsters cover - click to view full size Cry Murder! in a Small Voice cover - click to view full size

Reading like its 1971

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

Emma Tupper’s Diary cover - click to view full sizeI turned one in 1971 and while I like to think I was enjoying some pretty great books (who can tell, they’ve all been eaten by me, my siblings, and time) I know of one good book that came out that year that I didn’t read: Peter Dickinson’s Emma Tupper’s Diary.

I don’t think I even read this book growing up*, which is a shame, as from the age of 9 or 10 on up it would have been a scarily good fit: I lived in the West Coast of Scotland among beautiful hills and lochs and would have eaten up a novel about an odd family (cough) whose cousin comes to visit from Botswana (we had cousins come from South Africa . . .). The only parts that are missing are

  1. the family business — teaching vs. their McAndrew’s Infallible Liniment
  2. the family minisubmarine — my family’s lack, that is, as far as I know . . .
  3. my father (sadly) did not go off abroad leaving us nominally looked after by a beautiful kleptomaniacal governess while we gallivanted about, pulled the wool over the eyes of the BBC, etc. (Also, my mother, unlike in many books for kids, is still alive. And still a great reader!)
  4. and, lastly, despite our searching, no proof of any monsters in any of the local lochs.

I am still sometimes confused by the way that time only seems to move in one way. I certainly feel different ages a lot of the time (although happily not 1-year-old) but I don’t seem to be able to go back in time and hand me this book. Shame! But at least since we reprinted it, it has been finding new readers:

Gayle Surette at SFRevu writes: “a great adventure story with characters that seem very real and as relatable today as there were then. It’s got a great location, adventure, great by-play and witty conversations, as well as an ecological and humanitarian conundrum with real implications for the future of the area and its denizens.”

and the Midwest Book Review notes that it is “Updated with a new cover and illustrations, this remains a great, now classic, summer read.”

Kathleen Jennings provided us with that new great cover of Emma writing her diary with a certain something in the background and we also got to use her sketches throughout the book.

Emma Tupper’s Diary is full of prickly people who rub each other the wrong way. Oh how I do wish I’d read it when I was a kid! But at least Kelly had it when I met her and eventually I got to read it and at some point we realized it would be a whole lot of fun to re-release this book back into the world. It’s a book that’s paced differently from many books for kids (aka readers of all ages!) and as noted by the Midwest Book Review, it also hearkens back to summer holidays when kids (of a certain class and in certain places) got bored and sometimes ran around and did stuff. In that way it is mildly, mildly reminiscent of another classic children’s book that will whisk you away on a summer’s day: Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, which, happily, the fine folk at Godine always have in print.

More suggestions of mucking around in summer books welcome. Especially as we woke up to snow and a reminder from Mother Nature that she’s the one who decides when spring comes, ok? Ok!

Get Emma Tupper’s Diary here and the ebook here.

* I’m not one of those people who can remember every book they’re read. I know (barely**) what I’m reading now and the last two books I read. But, before that? Erm. And what was I reading in 1980? Um. All I can say is lots and lots. Anything, everything. I was often the kid who got to pick the books from the mobile library for the school library refresh. You know, one of those. Inject your own tales of biblioscarcity and scavenging here!

** I was asked this morning and could not remember the title. Um.

LCRW low stock updates

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

While doing some counting and sorting (and preparing for the next issue, #30!), we found we’re running short of a couple of back issues of LCRW. So! We just switched numbers 15 & 16 to out of stock and this is the official notice that issues nineteen* and twenty-two will be next.

The good news: the ebooks are still available on Weightless (etc.) and selections from all these issues (er, up to #19) are also available in Del Rey’s lovely anthology The Best of LCRW: Some of the Best Parts from the First Ten Years of This Here Zine.

* Isn’t that easier to click than that fiddly 15?

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 19 cover - click to view full sizeLady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 22 cover - click to view full size

The Unreal and the Real wins the Oregon Book Award!

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

Lovely news from Ben Parzybok on twitter from Oregon last night. Among the winners (congrats to all!) of the Oregon Book Award, was Ursula K. Le Guin, whose two-volume Selected Stories received the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction.

Even better, Luis Alberto Urrea (who posted the accompanying photo yesterday) was the the master of ceremonies and, well, Jeff Baker gave it a lovely write up for the Oregonian:

“. . . Le Guin won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction for “The Unreal and The Real: Collected Stories Vol. 1 and 2.” At 84 Le Guin is perhaps the most decorated author in the state; her many honors include a National Book Award, every major science fiction award and an Oregon Book Award in 1992 for “Searoad.”

Luis Alberto Urrea, the master of ceremonies, began the evening with a humorous, heartfelt tribute to Le Guin. Urrea said he was “a poor boy from Tijuana” who wrote a story based on a family experience that somehow made its way to Le Guin, who asked him to join a workshop she was teaching and befriended him. She chose the story for an anthology she was editing, Urrea’s first sale, and his friends all bought the book and asked him to sign it. Urrea said Le Guin “smoked a pipe back then” and he accompanied her to her first viewing of “Star Wars,” during which she explained all the science errors to him.

“Everything good in my life comes from writing,” Urrea said. “Everything good in my life comes from Ursula. I’m here tonight for Ursula, the queen of America.”

Le Guin accepted her award graciously and first cautioned the audience that they should pay attention to Urrea when he’s writing, maybe not so much when he’s speaking. She remembered that in 1987, the year the Oregon Book Awards began, the award she received was named for H.L. Davis and she presented it to the winner. She touted Davis’ novel “Honey in the Horn” as the best written about Oregon and rued that it is out of print. She remembered the founders of Literary Arts, the organization that sponsors the Oregon Book Awards, particularly Brian Booth, and talked about her feeling for the state.

“I came to Oregon by luck,” Le Guin said, “and lasted 55 years. No plan can beat good luck.”

Celebrate the Questionable Practices!

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

Questionable Practices coverToday we’re breaking out the champagne for breakfast to celebrate Questionable Practices. Not our own no doubt numerous questionable practices, but rather the fabulous Eileen Gunn’s second short story collection, Questionable Practices, which has been making its way out into the world for the last week or two.

It’s been 10 years(!) since Eileen’s first collection, Stable Strategies, which is highly recommended, of course! If you’ve never heard of Eileen (or, even if you have!) and you want to find out more about Eileen and her stories, writing, possible novel and so on, you can listen to her chat with Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe on this week’s Coode Street Podcast. And Gary has a lovely, long review of the book in this month’s Locus magazine which ends with “It’s always good news to get a new Gunn collection, and it’s always bad news that they come so infrequently.” Hey, this one’s out, maybe it won’t be another decade until the next.

Eileen will be out and about over the next couple of months at bookshops and conventions and so on and you can say hi and get a signed copy—or you can order it here.

March 19 – 23, ICFA, Orlando, FL
March 26, 7 pm, Launch Party, University Bookstore, Seattle, WA
April 12, 3 pm, Borderlands Books, San Francisco, CA
April 16, 7 pm, Writers with Drinks, San Francisco, CA
May 22 – 25, WisCon, Madison, WI
June 18, 7 pm, KGB Bar, New York, NY
July 10 – 13, Readercon, Burlington, MA

« Later EntriesEarlier Entries »