John Kessel on The Moon and the Other

Wed 24 May 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Shelf Awareness just review John Kessel‘s new novel The Moon and the Other:

The Moon and the Other coverIf the literary zeitgeist has been dominated by dystopias, The Moon and the Other evokes Dickens and H.G. Wells. It’s science fiction with heart, romance with ideas. It’s utopian and it’s savvy. Kessel’s droll, sideways humor surfaces periodically, as in “uplifted” dogs and casual allusions to punitive “debtors freezers.” He explores gender identity and politics, portraying the complexity of social customs and relationships with neither jaundice nor bullishness. Focused on the lives of his characters, Kessel keeps pace yet makes room for his meticulously thought-out future world.

It’s a grownup vision: not because it’s serious, but because it’s wondrous. It extrapolates not just society and technology, but real-world emotions and human behavior as well. This moon is a place we’ve never seen before in fiction.

and I’m happy to say we have an interview with Kessel for you!

North Carolina (by way of Buffalo, NY) writer John Kessel has long been a writer we love — both his books, and the man himself. We had the joy of publishing a collection of John’s, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence, [I still love the easter egg dustjacket we did] a few years back and when I saw that he had a new novel coming out from Saga/S&S, The Moon and the Other, I jumped on the chance to talk with him about it:

Your new novel, The Moon and the Other, is set on the moon: do you think there will be people walking in the moon in the near future?

John Kessel: I don’t know if people will be on the moon real soon, but I do think it would be possible given current technology to colonize the moon and build livable environments there. The main thing stopping us is whether there is a strong enough motive to do it.

There would either have to be some economic advantage to be gained from living on the moon, or the people who financed and moved to such a colony would have to have reasons that went beyond economics. In my book I hypothesize that many people go to the moon as separatist groups seeking to establish independent alternative societies away from the nation states of earth, based on social principles that people on earth might find objectionable, rather the way groups like the Quakers and Shakers, and later the Mormons and the Oneida Community, established their own social systems away from Europe or the rest of American society.

What was the impetus for writing this book?

John Kessel: There were several. One was a thought experiment, creating a place, my Society of Cousins, where men are given social and sexual privilege at the cost of giving up the right to vote. I had written three stories [Including Tiptree Award Winner “Stories for Men” — ed.] set in that world and have been thinking about it for twenty years or so. I also wanted to explore various political ideas—the notion that most societies are neither utopian nor dystopian, and there is a continual friction between individual freedom and social comity. I also spent a lot of time thinking about masculinity, what defines the male, what different ways there are to be male, and how some are more available to people than others. I am very interested in the question of to what degree our behaviors are biologically determined and to what degree they are social constructed. Is violence a direct result of male biological imperatives, and if so, what can we do about it?

Did you have any societal models in mind when you described the Society of Cousins?

John Kessel: I modeled aspects of the Society of Cousins on the social structures of bonobos, and to a degree on the culture of the Mosuo people of China, near the border of Tibet. Both might be characterized as matriarchal societies with a different sexual and familial setup than the patriarchal hierarchical structures we are more familiar with.

Did you see this book as being in conversation with books or stories by yourself or other writers?

John Kessel: I have been very influenced by feminist sf over the last forty years, from Ursula K. Le Guin to Joanna Russ, Karen Joy Fowler, Eleanor Arnason, and many others. I suppose you could say that The Moon and the Other is in conversation with lots of traditional sf going back to Robert Heinlein as well. I am a magpie, and I borrow pretty shamelessly from my betters. I have been ripping off my pal James Patrick Kelly for decades, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s novels about colonizing the solar system have also had their effect on me.

After teaching writing for many years, did you find yourself breaking any rules you’d not expected to while writing this?

John Kessel: I tend to be pretty conservative in my understanding of story construction and novel writing. I believe in all the traditional elements of characterization, plotting, extrapolation, significant detail, story logic, etc. I don’t think I did anything too unusual in that regard. I do seem to like stories with multiple character viewpoints, where none of the individual points of view can be said to be exactly my own. I have inserted some passages of non-narrative exposition in this novel, rather the way that Kim Stanley Robinson has done in some of his work and I do have one big time disjuncture in the book that I intend to be a bit of a jolt.


Extras: listen to John Kessel on UNC public radio’s “The State of Things” and Carolina Bookbeat with Sam Montgomery-Blinn and Mur Lafferty and read more about The Moon and the Other.

 

 



Humble Bundle: Super Nebula Author Showcase

Sat 13 May 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Hey, stop the presses (except for the ones printing and reprinting our books!), spread the word, the Humble Bundle is back! This time it’s the Super Nebula Author Showcase presented by SFWA. What do these books have in common? They all include at least one Nebula Award winning story:

  • For one single US dollar, you can get 8 DRM-free ebooks including Howard Waldrop’s Howard Who? (“The Ugly Chickens”) and Kelly Link’s Stranger Things Happen (“Louise’s Ghost”).
  • For $8 or more and add another dozen books (8+12=20 ebooks for $8+!) including John Kessel’s The Baum Plan for Financial Independence (“Pride and Prometheus”).
  • For $15 or more and add another ten books (20+10=30 ebooks for $15+!) including Nancy Kress’s Fountain of Age (“Fountain of Age”).
  • For $20 or more and add another ten books (30+10=40 ebooks for $20+!) including Kij Johnson’s At the Mouth of the River of Bees (“The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” “Ponies,” & “Spar”), Carol Emshwiller’s Report to the Men’s Club (“Creature”), and Karen Joy Fowler’s What I Didn’t See (“Always” & “What I Didn’t See”).

As with all Humble Bundles, readers choose where the money goes – between the publishers; SFWA (or a charity of your choice), and the Humble Bundle. I’m scheduling this to post on the weekend and by Friday afternoon over 5,000 people have already picked up the bundle. Thanks for reading and spreading the word if you can. Cheers!



Bookslinger: Pride and Prometheus

Fri 20 Sep 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

New this week on Consortium’s Bookslinger app is John Kessel’s Jane Austen/Frankenstein mashup, “Pride and Prometheus,” reprinted from his collection The Baum Plan for Financial Independence.

Previously on Bookslinger:

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

Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud’s “Delauney the Broker” (translated by Edward Gauvin) from the collection A Life on Paper.

Ray Vukcevich, “Whisper

Maureen F. McHugh, “The Naturalist

Karen Joy Fowler, “The Pelican Bar

Kelly Link, “The Faery Handbag

Benjamin Rosenbaum, “Start the Clock

Maureen F. McHugh, “Ancestor Money

Download the app in the iTunes store.

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



Small Beer Podcast 10: Julie Day Interviews John Kessel

Fri 4 May 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Julie

The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories cover - click to view full size Here at the Small Beer Studios, it’s Kesselmania! Between the reading of “The Last American” in Episode Nine and this week’s interview of the man himself, right now it seems that we have Kessel and nothing but Kessel on our minds.

And why not? He’s an interesting guy, an astute anthologist and a terrific writer. Yes,it’s true: he’s won the Nebula, the James Tiptree Jr. and the Shirley Jackson awards. He’s also co-edited a fantastic series of anthologies with James Patrick Kelly. I tried to cover everything in a single interview. In other words, I set myself the impossible task.

What did make it into this podcast? John’s thoughts on the singularity, his current batch of anthologies with Jim Kelly, his latest novel in progress (yay!) his illuminating thoughts on Ender’s Game, a reading from his novelette, “Buddha Nostril Bird,” and how science fiction saved his life.

Small Beer is part of the DRM-free universe. More than that, John’s collection The Baum Plan for Financial Independence is available as a free ebook on Weightless Books. So go ahead and read the collection for yourself. After all, how many interviews come with their own free book?

Episode 10: In which Julie Day interviews John Kessel

Subscribe to the Small Beer podcast using  iTunes or the service of your choice:

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Small Beer Podcast 9: John Kessel’s “The Last American”

Thu 12 Apr 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Julie

The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories cover - click to view full sizeI don’t know how many different people mentioned John Kessel to me before I ever read his work. Well, actually, that’s a lie. I know exactly how many people mentioned John Kessel: four. One of them was Gavin Grant and another was James Patrick Kelly. Mariel Morales and Taylor Preston, school friends of mine from the Stonecoast M.F.A. program, round out the list. In a weirder than fiction moment, while I’m currently typing up this blog post in Massachusetts, tomorrow John, Taylor, Mariel and I are having lunch in North Carolina. It feels like Jim and Kelly should be there as well.

Both this podcast and the next one are all about John Kessel’s fiction. Once you’ve read or listened to one of John’s stories, you’ll find yourself needing more, at least I did. One of my personal Kessel favorites is “Every Angel is Terrifying” along with his series of science fiction stories “A Lunar Quartet.”

It’s nice when it’s easy to share what you love. John’s collection The Baum Plan for Financial Independence is available as a free ebook on Weightless Books. So listen, enjoy and then download the rest of John’s stories and read them for yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Episode 9: In which Michael J. DeLuca reads John Kessel’s “The Last American.”

Subscribe to the Small Beer podcast using  iTunes or the service of your choice:

rss feed



Reading, listen to Kathe, go see Karen

Wed 3 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

What up? Many things. Visitors, busyness, to and froings in the oncoming weeks. The permanence of change. Catch up, link dump, tab closer, recent reads and more:

A few books are appearing which you may enjoy: Ray Vukcevich‘s new collection Boarding Instructions is just out. Go get from Powells.

Also to get: Sarah Smith‘s first YA novel which is out this week: The Other Side of Dark. It’s about ghosts, treasure, and two teenagers and life, art, madness, love, and more and it’s set it this here fair city of Boston.

One of our great local-ish bookshops, Food for Thought in Amherst—one of those places that just makes you happy to walk into—is in a moneycrunch. If you did you next book buy here, it would be much appreciated. Biased suggestions for starting places: Under the Poppy, Stories of Your Life, What I Didn’t See, The Poison Eaters, Meeks. And, as of this writing, these books are all in stock: what an awesome place!

Another non-local fave bookshop is Subterranean in St. Louis and there’s a lovely little piece in the local student paper about it. They have signed copies in stock of a certain 1,000 page McSweeney’s brick as well as excellent Africa-supporting lit-shirts. It’s a lovely shop from which we walked away with a nice bagful of books. (via)

Really enjoyed the current issue of the Harvard Review. Got it because Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud has a story in it but there were a couple of excellent stories and essays as well as a good range of poetry in it.

Jay Baron Nicorvo has an excellent essay about re-roofing the family house with his two teenage brothers on Guernica.

Apex just published a special Arab/Muslim themed edition.

Chocolate: want. (Difficult to acquire as $$$ and in the UK.) Next time we do have $$$ to burn, maybe we will play fill-a-box-o-chocs here.

How does a book signed by Betty Ann Hull, Fred Pohl, and Gene Wolfe sound? Sounds good!

Thanks to Susan for this. Go read, but not while eating cake.

And Congratulations to Susan and to Niall: we love Strange Horizons and are both selfishly sad and very happy to hear about the transition.

Awards: John Kessel‘s story “The Invisible Empire” received an Ignotus Award, “Spain’s equivalent to the Hugo.” (via)

More on the World Fantasy Awards at some point soon. Mostly: yay!

Reviews. What?

Belletrista looks at What I Didn’t See and likes what they see, “Fowler’s stories are gripping and surprising, with multiple pleasures awaiting the reader.” The San Francisco Chronicle also published a good review: “Fowler understands how disappearances heighten suspense. And she’s equally skilled at weaving mystery from the unknown.”

Karen’s final reading of her mini-California tour is this Friday at 7 PM at Vroman’s in Pasadena.

Under?

One of our fave bloggers, The Rejectionist, read Under the Poppy and calls it a winner at Tor.com.

You can see Kathe read in Ann Arbor next Wednesday night at the Blackbird Theatre where there will be delightful and scary sexy puppets. Thanks to Scott Edelman (having more than either of us right now) you can also see her reading on the youtubes. More on those readings TK.

Great review also in the Ann Arbor Chronicle—and Kathe’s on WCBN Ann Arbor radio today at 4:30 PM—listen here.

Life?

A couple of readers discover Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others for the first time. The sound of their heads exploding echoes through the intertubes. 1) Ed Park @ the LA Times [“patient but ruthless fascination with the limits of knowledge.”] 2) Dreams & Speculations 3) Stefan @ Fantasy Literature.



While waiting for the delivery truck

Fri 19 Feb 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Today’s the day when The Poison Eaters should be showing up the office. Dum-de-dum (waits, impatiently). Nice reviews have recently shown up in School Library Journal (“Although they are often centered on bleak, dark characters, the pieces inspire hope, are touching and delightful, and even turn the most ghoulish characters into feeling beings.”) and in BookPage (she shows “amazing range”—yes indeed she does!).

Update: Powell’s say they have it in their remote warehouse! Any remote viewers who can see it?? Maybe they mean Ingram, as they have it.

So in the meantime a few things:

Alasdair Gray (Old Men in Love) writes about the importance of place. Consider, he suggests, Dumbarton (which means “fortress of the Britons”).

We dropped the price of last year’s hottie The Baum Plan for Financial Independence to $9.95.

Fantasy Magazine reviews Interfictions 2 and suggests it’s an “anthology of literary fantasy.” Yours to agree or disagree about. Get your copy.

Con or Bust is running a fundraiser auction to assist people of color who want to attend WisCon from Feb. 22—Mar. 13. They’re looking for donations and buyers! Any suggestions for what we should donate??

BTW, if you’re going to WisCon, I’ll see you there! Sans baby, sadly (will try not to whine too much. But will some, so there). Maybe 2011.

We just signed up another book. Well, verbally. Will wait for the contracts (always good to have it on paper before announcing things) and then spring it upon the world. Fun fun fun!

The post office just delivered an empty envelope that should have been full of zines. Woe is me.

Past-LCRW contributor Katharine Beutner who is “currently being squashed under the weight of my dissertation” slipped out from underneath it to do an interview with us about her Ancient Greek underworld novel Alcestis which is out this month. Interview will go up next week or so.

Joe Hill’s second novel Horns just came out. Read the first chapter here. There’s also an app for it. Phew. He’s on tour now.

Kelly’s contributor copies of Ellen Datlow’s new anthology, Tails of Wonder and Imagination just came in—her story is “Catskin” is one of many many other stories about cats. Who knew people wrote so much about the little beasties?

Might be imagining seeing a copy of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Vol. 4.

Jed is back from tour — he managed to write that floaty bike all the way to the west coast and back and even managed to escape Chicago despite its many charms and massive amounts of snow.

Tra la la la la. Wait. Dum-de-dum. Wait some more.



Alan, John, Vincent, Elissa, Bruce & Henry, & more

Wed 25 Nov 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Publishing seems to take today off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday—maybe everyone on NYC is taking the day off to empty the oven of books so that they can try and cook a turkey?—but we in indie press land don’t recognize your bourgeois concept of “holidays.” All days are holidays here!

And in the meantime, coming up soon we have an interview with Daniel Rabuzzi author of The Choir Boats and we’re looking forward to the new issue of Xerography Debt (with a few reviews by yours truly).

Hilarious post by Elissa Bassist: What We Were Really Saying:

Me
I verb you.

Him
I similarly feel for you in this way, but I’ll never say the word verb in front of you or even behind your back to my friends. I have feelings only sometimes, and only when I feel like it.

Elsewhere, tangentially related to SBP: Alan DeNiro (Skinny Dipping…) is celebrating the release of his first novel, Total Oblivion, More or Less, by hosting a fundraiser for MercyCorps—and if you donate and send Alan an email he’ll send you a piece of postapocalytic ephemera.

Bruce Sterling gives the Wired thumbs up to Henry Jenkins intro to Interfictions 2: “Man, Henry Jenkins is the guru.”

Nice review of Hound:

Hound is a leisurely mystery, the action is secondary to the pace of life, the thoughtfulness, the focus on books and things literary. This isn’t fast-paced, action-filled. The story develops at it’s own pace, not to be rushed but rather to be savored. Indeed, the crime-solving is secondary to the portrayal of Henry, the sensitive bibliophile’s efforts to make sense of life. This is a “literary” novel with a mystery inside. It’s full of asides and memories of the character’s youth. The reader needs to relax and enjoy. Initially, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, but my affection for this book and it’s characters grew as I read, until by the end I was quite satisfied. I look forward to the next in this different, intriguing series.

This generic image should make people rethink getting shiny new electronics for Xmas:

http://www.booksequalgifts.com/banners/Book_and_Bow.jpg

John Kessel (The Baum Plan…) is interviewed at Marshall’s Sekrit Clubhouse (shh, it’s a secret!) and can be seen on UNC TV’s Bookwatch here:

John Kessel
Play Video


Award Season: World Fantasy nominees

Tue 4 Aug 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Kessel, Baum PlanHey, lovely news today from the World Fantasy Award people. John Kessel’s terrific mashup “Pride and Prometheus” from the January 2008 issue of F&SF and reprinted in his collection, The Baum Plan, picked up another award nomination, as did the last volume of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, and Kelly & Gavin were nominated for Small Beer & Big Mouth (what a pairing!).

Congratulations to all the nominees! It is an honor to be nominated. Before posting the whole list, here’s a quick gender breakdown to follow up on previous award posts:

  • 26 men
  • 21 women

Novel
The House of the Stag, Kage Baker (Tor)
The Shadow Year, Jeffrey Ford (Morrow)
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury)
Pandemonium, Daryl Gregory (Del Rey)
Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin; Knopf)

Novella
“Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel”, Peter S. Beagle (Strange Roads)
“If Angels Fight”, Richard Bowes (F&SF 2/08)
“The Overseer”, Albert Cowdrey (F&SF 3/08)
“Odd and the Frost Giants”, Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury; HarperCollins)
“Good Boy”, Nisi Shawl (Filter House)

Short Story
“Caverns of Mystery”, Kage Baker (Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy)
“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 7/08)
“Pride and Prometheus”, John Kessel (F&SF 1/08)
“Our Man in the Sudan”, Sarah Pinborough (The Second Humdrumming Book of Horror Stories)
“A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica”, Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld 5/08)

Anthology
The Living Dead, John Joseph Adams, ed. (Night Shade Books)
The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Del Rey)
The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2008: Twenty-First Annual Collection, Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link, & Gavin J. Grant, eds. (St. Martin’s)
Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy, Ekaterina Sedia, ed. (Senses Five Press)
Steampunk, Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, eds. (Tachyon Publications)

Pretty MonstersCollection
Strange Roads, Peter S. Beagle (DreamHaven Books)
The Drowned Life, Jeffrey Ford (HarperPerennial)
Pretty Monsters, Kelly Link (Viking)
Filter House, Nisi Shawl (Aqueduct Press)
Tales from Outer Suburbia, Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin; Scholastic ’09)

Artist
Kinuko Y. Craft
Janet Chui
Stephan Martinière
John Picacio
Shaun Tan

Special Award—Professional
Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant (for Small Beer Press and Big Mouth House)
Farah Mendlesohn (for The Rhetorics of Fantasy)
Stephen H. Segal & Ann VanderMeer (for Weird Tales)
Jerad Walters (for A Lovecraft Retrospective: Artists Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft)
Jacob Weisman (for Tachyon Publications)

Special Award—Non-professional
Edith L. Crowe (for her work with The Mythopoeic Society)
John Klima (for Electric Velocipede)
Elise Matthesen (for setting out to inspire and for serving as inspiration for works of poetry, fantasy, and SF over the last decade through her jewelry-making and her “artist’s challenges.”)
Sean Wallace, Neil Clarke, & Nick Mamatas (for Clarkesworld)
Michael Walsh (for Howard Waldrop collections from Old Earth Books)



John Kessel in Seattle

Wed 10 Jun 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

This post 100% ganked from here (thanks!):

Clarion West reading series starts June 23

Clarion West’s Six Summer Evenings of Science Fiction & Fantasy starts June 23 with John Kessel. All readings take place 7 p.m. at University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE, Seattle. Free!

Kessel is the author of four novels and three short story collections most recently The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories (2008). He edited Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology (2006) and Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology (2007), and The Secret History of Science Fiction (forthcoming from Tachyon) with James Patrick Kelly. He teaches American literature, science fiction, fantasy, and fiction writing at North Carolina State University.

Upcoming readings will be by:
Karen Joy Fowler
June 30
Elizabeth Bear July 7
Nalo Hopkinson
July 14
David G. Hartwell
July 21
Rudy Rucker
July 28



intavues evrywhea

Thu 14 May 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Wit's End CoverKaren Joy Fowler has a great essay about writing Wit’s End on Powell’s blog (Wit’s End is just out in paperback, read now!). She does life in the connected (pre-collapse? c-cough) 21st century very well:

A lot of my novel is focused on privacy, and what that means in the age of the internet. This includes things like the creation of the author persona, the mediated fake intimacy of the net, and a new kind of accessibility of writer to reader.

John Crowley in The Believer (Four Freedoms coming soon):

“IT’S PROBABLY CENTRAL TO THE NATURE OF FICTION ALTOGETHER, TO TRY TO ENTER INTO LOST WORLDS OR ENTER INTO ‘THE LOST’ IN SOME WAY.”
Reasons to get involved with the science-fiction crowd:
They speak Latin
They respond promptly to blogs
Their untamed romantic impulse

John Kessel on the podcastery and the radio:

In the first week of May I’ve had two interviews that are now available for your listening.  In the first, by Douglas Lain, author of LAST WEEK’S APOCALYPSE, we talk about science fiction, politics, utopia, some of my short fiction, and my twenty-year-old novel GOOD NEWS FROM OUTER SPACE). It’s available at Dietsoap, Doug’s quirky website, along with other recent podcasts.

The second interview was on the May 7 edition of “The State of Things” with Frank Stasio on WUNC radio, 91.5 FM in the Research Triangle. We talk about “Pride and Prometheus”, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen. Here’s the link.

Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness CoverAnd another thing worth reading on Powell’s, this time an essay by Lisa M. Hamilton, author of Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness:

Writing about farmers has taught me a lot about how to be a witness. In simplistic terms, it’s because not much actually happens on the farm. Most days in the lives of farmers I know are composed of unremarkable tasks repeated over and over: milking one cow after another, weeding up this row and then down the next. Any writer who expects to swoop in, get a hot story, and then swoop out, will likely come away empty-handed.

I’ve learned that, to write about farmers, one must instead slow down to that rhythm of repetition. The writer must sit in the combine as it chugs along in concentric circles, taking hours to close in on the center of the field, only to pick up, move to the next field, and do it all over again. Being witness means a willingness to pass the same barn or tree or fencepost two dozen times and continually try to learn something new about it.

And Hannah Tinti (The Good Thief) gets an in-depth interview on Bookslut that goes well beyond the usual questions:

Women in this time period were almost always buried in their wedding dresses, because these were the nicest pieces of clothing they owned. I grew up in New England surrounded by old graveyards, and often picnicked and played in them. For this book I went back and spent time there and took many names for characters from the headstones.



Award Season: Nebulas

Tue 28 Apr 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Voices (Annals of the Western Shore #02) CoverThe Nebula Awards were given out this weekend at the LA Times Book Festival and it’s a great slate of winners, including many Small Beer authors and friends including Kate Wilhelm who received one of the inaugural Solstice Awards, John Kessel, whose story “Pride and Prometheus” is getting nominated for every award there is and which received the award for Novelette, and Ursula K. Le Guin, who received the Best Novel for Powers. (Powers is a really good book, but Voices, the middle of the three Western Shore novels, is fantastic.)

Carrying on from looking at the gender breakdown of the Tiptree list: who are they, where do they come from?

Winners: 1 man; 4 women
Nominees*: 16 women; 14 men

* includes Norton Award but not script.

And here’s the reading list:



Award Season: Tiptrees

Mon 27 Apr 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

I’m very happy to see that the Tiptree winners and honor list have been announced. I was the chair of the jury this year and we very much enjoyed reading the recommended work. As with my experience on the World Fantasy Award jury, I can highly recommend the reading list and hasten to point out that an appearance there is a rare and wonderful honor. I can’t wait to see the art that each of the winner’s will receive (and hear about the song…). I recused myself from discussions of any Small Beer Press or Kelly’s stories so it is great to see John Kessel’s great story, “Pride and Prometheus,” made it onto the list anyway.

It never struck me to do this while the jury were working but just now I looked at the winners and honor list in the way I normally look at winners: who are they, where do they come from?

Winners: 1 man (UK); 1 woman (USA)
Honor List: 7 women (4 USA, 2 Australia, 1 UK); 5 men (4 USA, 1 Sweden)

Here’s the whole list: how many have you read?

Chaos Walking Trilogy #1: The Knife of Never Letting Go Cover2008 Tiptree Award Winners Announced!

The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council is pleased to announce that the 2008 Tiptree Award has two winners: Patrick Ness’s young adult novel, The Knife of Never Letting Go (Walker 2008) and Nisi Shawl’s short story collection, Filter House (Aqueduct Press, 2008). Read more



Locus, Hugos

Tue 3 Feb 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Looks like the 2008 Locus Recommended Reading List is out and it includes some of our books. If you’re so inclined, you can vote for these in the Locus Poll (soon) and the Hugos (now). (Don’t forget Couch!)

Also on the list were The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 2008 as well as Kelly‘s collection Pretty Monsters, and the title stories, “Pretty Monsters” and “The Surfer.”

There are a ton of great books on the list, some of which are pasted below. Since we stopped reading for The Year’s Best in late November, and we usually read most of the material for the book from November to January, this list is certainly not exclusive. The Amazon links below are cut (libraries and indie bookshops are it) and the cut’n’paste was done on the fly, so it’s a sample of stuff we liked, but very messy!

Read more



Isn’t that John Kessel?

Thu 25 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

John KesselCheck out the art on this poster (and go see the man himself if you’re Raleigh, NC) and then decide whether it is in fact Prof. Kessel’s profile pointing the way to the future.

Also on the web, Colleen pointed us toward Justin’s fantastic short story playlist: an online short story anthology picked out by Justin for Guys Lit Wire.



Listen to John

Thu 21 Aug 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Kessel, Baum PlanListen or download a John Kessel interview on WMUA’s Writer’s Voice here.

The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories just received a great thoughtful review in the LA Times:

“There is at least one universal truth running through this collection. Rejection, unlike love, is a sure thing. Its contours can be measured, its gravity weighed. In that, Kessel’s losers surely aren’t alone in stumbling off the path to paradise.”

Down in western North Carolina WNC Magazine gave the book a corker of a review in their August issue (on stands now):

“Politically conscious science fiction, macabre humor, and economical, slice-of-life storytelling…. A treasure trove of polished gems for anyone who enjoys a well-told tale.”

Update: a new review popped up on Anthem (who also have a great Feist/John McCain house-counting mashup):

What keeps the reader motivated to power through the slow points is salient feature of the book is the deftness with which Kessel builds his characters. The stories are based around misfits, nerds, and criminals—people who, for one reason or another, lie about who they are.



we get around

Wed 16 Jul 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Wednesday John Kessel will be showing the kids a good time in New York City at the KGB Bar (can’t be there, boo!) with JoSelle Vanderhooft. Order a Baltika for us. Then John goes to Readercon outside Boston next weekend (more on that below), and on Tuesday the 22nd he (and David J. SuperSchwartz) read at Odyssey Books in South Hadley (near Northampton). He should be on the local radio, will link to it if and when.

That Readercon thing:

  1. We’re on some panels.
  2. So are you.
  3. We’ll have a table (and maybe a surprise) in the dealers room.
  4. So will you!
  5. We’ll have LCRW 22 (and some old ones, The Best of, etc.) as well as Dr. Kessel’s mighty collection—get it signed here!—as well as all the usual good stuff. We’ll have galley give aways and pre-ordering opportunities.
  6. One of them involve one of next year’s Guests of Honor. (Check the programming book!)
  7. Geoff Ryman will be reading from The King’s Last Song on Saturday at 3 PM. We will have galleys around to look at but the book won’t be on sale until September
  8. Benjamin Rosenbaum’s book hilariously ships on Tuesday July 22, just after the convention. Ha. Cough.
  9. See you at the Meet the Prose party.


Thu 22 May 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

John Kessel just finished a round of readings in North Carolina with Greg Frost. His next reading is at KGB Bar in New York in July, then he’ll be at Readercon. Here’s a few perspectives on John Kessel’s The Baum Plan on the web and in the papers this week:

  • Updated with this possibly contentious line from Seattle’s The Stranger: “A pleasant callback to the days when science-fiction authors read more than just science fiction.”
  • Strange Horizons: “It is a testament to Kessel’s skill that my criticism is so specific and, really, not an indictment so much as a statement of preference.”
  • Rick Kleffel at the Agony Column looks at both The Baum Plan and The Ant King: “Toss away the labels and expectations.
  • The Fix: “Invest. Invest now…. Your returns will be multitudinous.”
  • And just posted tonight, Time Out Chicago: “Anyone who thinks genre writing can’t be literary deserves to have Kessel’s hefty new collection of stories dropped on his or her head.”

We’re off traveling — with lots of exciting things in hand (will try and post pics!) — for a couple of weeks.



This week

Mon 12 May 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

John Kessel and Greg Frost are on the road this week (no this isn’t an APB) reading at three great North Carolina bookshops (damn, wish we were there! but they’ll be up here are Readercon which will come soon enough):

— Wednesday May 14 at 7PM at Malaprop‘s in Asheville.
— Thursday May 15 at 7PM at Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC. The Charlotte Observer reviewed The Baum Plan for Financial Independence last week and described it as “dark, wacky, wide-ranging short stories.”
— Friday May 16 at 2PM at McIntyre’s Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC.

If you go, post pictures!

On Tuesday Carol Emshwiller and others are reading in New York from Ellen Datlow’s new anthology, The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Check the calendar for more info.

And next Saturday & Sunday from 11-5 Small Beer will have a table at the Philadelphia Book Festival.

Other reading:

  • Washington DC is rightly excited to have a new bike rental program up and running. But if you live in or visit Lexington, Kentucky, for the second year in a row you take part in the program for a mere $10 (or free if you paid your $10 last year). Rumors that Christopher Rowe takes part in this just to ladies wearing little black dresses and heels “pedaling one down Main Street” are unsubstantiated and would not be repeated in any journal worthy of the public trust.
  • Shake Girl, a collaborative graphic novel based on real life experiences of Cambodian women attacked with acid.
  • Jacob MacMurray not only posted his annual Clarion West poster, but also—and this is wild (although it would be even better if VW were making a new hybrid/greaserunning van)—pics of his design for a VW van. (So now we will go buy Pacifico beer because any company that does this kind of thing has to make good beer.)


Baum Plan hardcover / LA

Sat 26 Apr 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Jed_in_LA.jpgJust a note that our distributor is running out of the hardcover of John Kessel’s collection. We have some in stock for conventions and so on but if you want one from a store, sooner is better than later.

If you’d like a signed copy, John’s got some more signings coming up.

And: here’s a pic of Jed in LA just before the book festival madness began!



Free Kessel Free

Tue 15 Apr 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Kessel, Baum PlanIt’s Tax Day here in the USA and in between the wailing, gnashing of teeth, and renting of garments and DVDs, we are celebrating the Publication Day of John Kessel‘s new collection, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories.

How are we celebrating?

With John’s blessing we’re setting his book free into the world:

Today, April 15, 2008, is tax day in the USA and we all need cheering up. We’re celebrating at Small Beer Press by publishing John Kessel‘s first collection of short stories in ten years, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories, as well as releasing it as a free download in a number of completely open formats—with, of course, no Digital Rights Management (DRM).

The Baum Plan includes Kessel’s Tiptree Award winning “Stories for Men” (gender inequality meet Fight Club . . . on the moon), “Pride and Prometheus,” a mashup of Frankenstein and Jane Austen, and “Powerless,” an amazing mix of pulp fictions, paranoia, and academia.

The Baum Plan is licensed under a Creative Commons (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license allowing readers to share the stories with friends and generally have at them in any remixing/interpretation/Web 2.0 huddly-cuddly noncommercial manner.

The collection is provided in these formats: low-res PDF, HTML, RTF, and text file. We encourage any and all conversions into other formats. Read more, download, and or order the collection here.

Creative Commons: Some Rights Reserved

Read more



Podcast: Kessel 3!

Thu 10 Apr 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Two things! A thoughtful and wide-ranging review/interview in Metro Magazine in Raleigh, NC (Kessel’s hometown—unless you count his football homeland, Buffalo):

Kessel proves himself again a master not just of science fiction, but also of the modern short story, crafting compelling characters and following them through plots that never fail to please — or to defy prediction.

Second Thing:

In preparation for the actual publication day (April 15) next week, we’ve got more free audio fiction from John Kessel: this week it’s his fantastic 19th century mash-up, “Pride and Prometheus,” first published in the January 2008 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction:

Miss Mary Bennet, the bookish younger sister of Elizabeth Darcy, meets a mysterous and handsome scientist from the continent come to Regency England on a matter of life-and-death.

Pride and Prometheus, Part 1 (1:02.25)

Pride and Prometheus, Part 2 (27:52)

——————

Previously:

The Baum Plan for Financial Independence

Every Angel is Terrifying
(read by Gregory Frost, author of Shadowbridge)



John and Kate Beckinsale

Thu 3 Apr 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

From a short interview with Kessel on Foreword this Week. Spot the odd one out:

If you could have any five people over for dinner, who would they be?

Herman Melville, Jane Austen, Orson Welles, Richard Feynman, and Kate Beckinsale.



Podcast: Kessel 2!

Thu 3 Apr 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Greg Frost is a multi-talented (and sharp-dressed) man. Here’s his IMDB page and his latest novel, Shadowbridge (the second part of the duology is due this summer), is a celebration of storytelling in all its forms.

This week John Kessel posted Greg’s reading of his story “Every Angel is Terrifying”:

Railroad is a murderer and a man haunted by God. What happens in the aftermath of his latest crime, when the pet cat of his last victims offers him a chance ot change his life? (With apologies to Flannery O’Connor).

Every Angel is Terrifying (39:05)Read by Gregory Frost, author of Shadowbridge. First published in Fantasy and Science Fiction. Copyright © 1998

——————

Previously:

The Baum Plan for Financial Independence



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