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!



“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.



Skillfully Reinventing Familiar Narratives

Fri 16 Jun 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Telling the Map coverIt’s what Christopher Rowe has been doing for lo these some years now and soon enough there in every bookstore in the nation will be his collection of stories and those familiar but reinvented narratives will be spreading like wildfire. The week of publication will be celebrated throughout Kentucky but specifically in the author’s hometown of Lexington with these events:

Tuesday July 11th, 7 p.m.: Launch Party at Joseph-Beth Booksellers with drinks and snacks. Richard Butner will interview the author followed by a Q&A and a signing.

Friday July 14th: This, as Christopher pointed out, is Bastille Day. It is also Alumni Day at Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University MFA program’s summer residency in Richmond, KY, so Christopher Rowe will be reading for the students on campus in the afternoon and at 5 p.m. Rowe plus a number of alums with will do a reading. New Lexington pop-up bookseller Brier Books will sell books.

Saturday, July 15th, 8 a.m. til 1 p.m.: Lexington Farmer’s Market Homegrown Authors. Rowe will be there from  manning a table, talking to people, hopefully selling some books. Note that one scene in “Nowhere Fast” is set at this very farmer’s market, in this very spot. Again, books provided by Brier Books.

What’s the book about? Lemme let the professionals at Publishers Weekly cover that:

“In his inventive debut collection, Rowe bends the world we know, remaking regions of the southern United States. Appalachian settings, recurring characters, and dystopian themes of societal degradation link the stories. In “The Voluntary State,” a band of marauders from Kentucky attack a painter named Soma’s car and kidnap him. Japheth Sapp, the leader of the captors, recruits Soma in a plan to sneak into Nashville and kill Athena Parthenus, the governor of Tennessee. Meanwhile, Jenny, a mechanic, reunites Soma with his repaired (and sentient) vehicle. All paths converge in an explosive conclusion. In “The Border State,” twin cyclists Maggie and Michael Hammersmith set off on a bike race across Kentucky. Their ride takes them along a river and the Girding Wall, which isolates Athena’s Tennessee. The race evolves into a search for their missing father, and a hunt for answers to mysterious messages from their mother, who drowned in a flash flood 20 years earlier. Rowe skillfully reinvents familiar narratives and widens common story lines into a world where anything seems possible. Wild creativity, haunting imagery, and lyricism—as displayed in “Two Figures in a Landscape Between Storms”—urge readers forward even as the pacing slows to provide needed exposition. While at times the poetic syntax of the sentences hampers comprehension, the book offers an immersive and original reading experience.

 



The Force Acting Since 2003

Fri 26 May 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

As I scry the calendar I see Christopher Rowe’s collection Telling the Map approaching in July and I remember again that anthology Kelly edited in 2003, Trampoline, because there in those pages the very first story in the book was Christopher Rowe’s “The Force Acting on a Displaced Body”:

The little creek behind my trailer in Kentucky is called Frankum Branch. I had to go to the courthouse to find that out. Nobody around here thought it had a name. But all the little creeks and branches in the world have names, even if nobody remembers them, or remembers which Frankum they’re named after.

Read on: The Force Acting on a Displaced Body



Elizabeth Bear says . . .

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

Christopher Rowe is

“A visionary writer known for writing haunting prose about people and societies with haunting problems.”

[Context!]



The Contrary Gardener

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

With the weekend coming up, here’s a story recommendation: tTelling the Map cover - click to view full sizehe first story in Christopher Rowe’s upcoming collection Telling the Map was first published on Jonathan Strahan’s Eclipse Online in October 2012. It was then reprinted in both Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2013 and Strahan’s Best SF & F of the Year Volume Seven.

In their review of Telling . . ., Kirkus Reviews called it “the sharpest story in the collection” and can read it right here right now.



Goodreads Giveaway: Telling the Map

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

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Telling the Map by Christopher Rowe

Telling the Map

by Christopher Rowe

Giveaway ends May 13, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway



Effective. Relaxed. Complex. Persuasive.

Wed 3 May 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Telling the Map coverKirkus Reviews is the first out the gate with a review of Christopher Rowe’s July collection, Telling the Map.

Do they like it?

Yes!

It is, among other things, “A clutch of complex, persuasive visions of an alternative South.”

Why the draft cover is still showing up is beyond me. Time to ask the distributor! In the meantime, here’s the final cover, illustration courtesy of the incredibly talented Kathleen Jennings.



Finding Telling the Map

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

Telling the Map cover - click to view full sizeWe’re making it easy to find Christopher Rowe’s Telling the Map . . .

. . . it’s now available on Edelweiss!



Boom! New Books for 2017

Wed 7 Dec 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Should democracy survive in this sometimes lovely country in 2017 we will publish these books:

1. Sofia Samatar, Tender: Stories
This is a ridiculously good book. Twenty stories including two new stories which — POP! there goes my mind.

2. Laurie J. Marks, Fire Logic and Earth Logic in paperback. The ebooks are out but these trade paperbacks coming out is us building toward publishing the fourth and final Elemental Logic novel, Air Logic.

3. Kij Johnson, The River Bank: A sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. Illustrated throughout by Kathleen Jennings.
A book that came to us out of the blue and a reminder that there can be joy in the world.

4. Christopher Rowe, Telling the Map: Stories
Sometimes you wait a long time and then a good thing happens. This book ranges out from now in Kentucky to who knows where or when. And: wow.

5. Sarah Rees Brennan, In Other Lands: a novel
This is the funniest epic-not-epic fantasy you’ll read next year.

None of the covers are 100% final.

And, fingers crossed, there will be more books later in the year.

I owe an apology and a great debt of thanks to the authors for their immense patience as work slowed and stalled during and after this most recent election. Sorry. Putting out a new issue of LCRW helped with getting me back into doing things and not just calling senators and despairing.

I feel silly and melodramatic to be worried about democracy — not perhaps the best form of government, but the best I’ve seen yet — and to think that I and others can work to keep this country from becoming a militarized plutocracy/kleptocracy. This election that among others things was influenced by the Russian government…

…(oh that that were a conspiracy theory), this convulsion away from liberalism and toward a much darker, narrower future is horrifying and must be fought.

For now, we will fight one book at a time.



Steampunk! ToC

Wed 19 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Today Kelly and I are handing over the final copyedited manuscript of the anthology we’ve been working on for the last year or so: Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories to our editor, Deborah Noyes at Candlewick. Yay!

It’s been a huge amount of fun getting the stories (and two comics!) from the writers who hail from the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. There was the usual amount of last minute hijinks trying to corral 14 authors (including Kelly!) to go over the copyedits in superquick time, luckily for me none of them were on internet sabbatical.

But that it all done. The introduction is written, the bios are in, the stories are copyedited (and the copyediting arguments are over!) and so out the door it goes. Now we get to put together a website (although getting back to the 19th century and doing a website is harder than I expected it to be) and at some point soon we’ll get to post the cover. Candlewick showed us a couple of exciting cover roughs—more on that when it’s finalized.

And now: the table of contents!

Cassandra Clare, “Some Fortunate Future Day”
Libba Bray, “The Last Ride of the Glory Girls”
Cory Doctorow, “Clockwork Fagin”
Shawn Cheng, “Seven Days Beset by Demons” (comic)
Ysabeau Wilce, “Hand in Glove”
Delia Sherman, “The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor”
Elizabeth Knox, “Gethsemene”
Kelly Link, “The Summer People”
Garth Nix, “Peace in Our Time”
Christopher Rowe, “Nowhere Fast”
Kathleen Jennings, “Finishing School” (comic)
Dylan Horrocks, “Steam Girl”
Holly Black, “Everything Amiable and Obliging”