On Maureen F. McHugh

Mon 15 Feb 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

In honor of Maureen F. McHugh‘s birthday this month, here’s a piece I wrote for the 2013 Readercon handbook:

Maureen F. McHughWhen I went to the Clarion Writers’ Workshop in East Lansing, Michigan, in the year 2000, Maureen F. McHugh was one of the anchor teachers. She and Greg Frost shook things up on the very first morning by politely and intelligently disagreeing with one another and they showed me — more than a hundred arguing reviewers, workshops, and bar discussions ever had — that stories will always be read differently.

I’ve since had the pleasure and honor of publishing two collections of Maureen’s own stories — which I have always thought compare well to the effect of a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster: “like having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped around a gold brick.”

Three ideas intersect at the heart of Maureen’s work: family, class, and technology. Family — biological, legal, chosen, or some other combination  —has always been one of Maureen’s main preoccupations. I don’t know if I have read a darker story than the title story of Maureen’s second collection, After the Apocalypse where she examines the mother-daughter bond and the individual’s will to survive. Many readers felt that it made Cormac McCarthy’s The Road seem cheerful.

Maureen is fascinated by how https://www.libertylending.com/ deals with loan and new technology.

Her story “Oversite,” published in Asimov’s in 2004 with it’s parental chip trackers and hackers is a cogent and painful analysis of a family.

Maureen’s obsessions all come together in stories such as “Honeymoon,” where a young woman cancels her honeymoon—and her wedding—when she finds her now-ex has gambled away their money. This woman, Kayla, dumps her useless ex but finds it hard to strike out on her own so she signs up to participate in medical studies, ignoring the possible side effects until they can’t be ignored any longer, and affecting her health, and others so this produce some Medical Negligence Solicitors against the investigators.

Maureen’s depictions of the normality of everyday life—people picking up second and third jobs or trying to monetize hobbies—is harrowing in places. Yet it is this unflinching gaze, this refusal to add explosions or go for the easy point but instead paint pictures of our everyday world, sometimes kicked a day or two in the future, are her strength.

In recent years, Maureen has been writing alternate reality games and screenplays for rides.tv and other websites, while in her free time she research and play video games as OW with sites where they can get OW boosting, or LoL with the best mouse to play league of legends. But I am happy to see that she is still writing short stories and one of these years, maybe she’ll surprise us all with a new novel.



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:

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

Saturday
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!



Readercon: more signed books

Thu 11 Jul 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 6 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

This weekend we are off to Readercon and the program tells me I am on one panel (below) and Kelly will be interviewing guest of honor Maureen F. McHugh. We will also have a couple of tables in the bookshop—along with many friends from far away, yay!

I was going to paste in all the panels various Small Beer authors or connected peeps will be on but it got unwieldy. Program!

This also means you can order signed or personalized books by:

Nathan Ballingrud (new book!), Greer Gilman (yes, that new chapbook!), Elizabeth Hand, Maureen F. McHugh (we will have copies of the limited edition of Mothers & Other Monsters at a rather excellent price), John Crowley, Ted Chiang, John Kessel, Vincent McCaffrey, Howard Waldrop, Kelly Link, and maybe more? Just leave a note in the comments (or we will just suppose that’s what you want anyway).

Saturday

9:00 AM    VT    Reading: Jedediah Berry. Jedediah Berry. Jedediah Berry reads “The Family Arcana,” a story in cards.

9:00 AM    NH    Reading: Elizabeth Hand. Elizabeth Hand. Elizabeth Hand reads Flash Burn, the in-progress third Cass Neary novel.

10:00 AM    VT    Reading: Michael J. DeLuca. Michael J. DeLuca. Michael J. DeLuca reads “Remorse and the Pariah,” a mini-epic poem published in Abyss & Apex.

12:00 PM    RI    The Works of Maureen F. McHugh. Nathan Ballingrud, Dennis Danvers, Gavin J. Grant, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Charles Oberndorf (moderator). As Jo Walton said in a review ofMission Child, Maureen F. McHugh’s work explores “chewy ideas rather than shiny ones.” This is true of her novels, such as the Tiptree Award–winning China Mountain Zhang; her intense short stories, each of which contains an astonishing amount of narrative and conceptual complexity; and her alternate reality games, including the groundbreaking “I Love Bees.” McHugh’s work introduces the reader to communities large and small (families, subcultures, towns, nations, planets) and describes them with compassion, affectionate humor, and honesty. This panel will endeavor to give her rich, nuanced writing the close reading it deserves.

1:00 PM    NH    Reading: John Crowley. John Crowley. John Crowley reads unpublished work.

1:00 PM    CL    Kaffeeklatsch. Ken Liu, Maureen F. McHugh.

5:00 PM    F    Maureen F. McHugh Interviewed by Kelly Link. Kelly Link, Maureen F. McHugh

10:00 PM    F    Reading: Howard Waldrop. Howard Waldrop. Howard Waldrop reads from a work to be determined.

Sunday

10:00 AM    NH    Reading: John Kessel. John Kessel. John Kessel reads from the novel-in-progressSunlight or Rock.

12:00 PM    VT    Reading: Nathan Ballingrud. Nathan Ballingrud. Nathan Ballingrud reads fromNorth American Lake Monsters: Stories, published by Small Beer Press, which will debut at Readercon.



Back

Tue 31 Jul 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Dancing in the trees

We’re back in the office after 2+ weeks away. Yay! Yesterday we flew back from Seattle: today I feel like the sludge left at the bottom of a cup of cowboy coffee. Did we miss anything? (Yes.)

There is a stack of mail, a box of packages, tons of orders (thank you!), many emails, a few phone messages, a sad lack of telegraphs, one beeping box (a toy!), and a number of deadlines looooming.

Before leaving, we were at Readercon for a couple of days and we owe many thanks to Jedediah Berry and the et al awesome people who ran our table when we left. We were offline the last few days so missed Readercon’s craptacular response to the craptacular behaviour spotlighed by Genevieve Valentine so we just signed Veronica’s petition. (I am not sure if the BoD should stand down, but only because I want to make sure the convention survives. If the Board stands down and new directors are elected [is that how it works?], then that’s great.) But over all, blech. And kudos to Genevieve for posting about her experience. Thank you for helping everyone by doing that.

Also, Elizabeth Hand (“Near Zennor”), Kelly (“The Summer People”), and Maureen F. McHugh (After the Apocalypse) won Shirley Jackson Awards. (And, I have the nominee rock to send to Joan Aiken’s estate’s agent!). Wish we had been there.

At Clarion, with cup of tea

After Readercon, we went to Seattle to teach week 5 at Clarion West. This is a heads-up to editors and publishers everywhere*:  the 2012 Clarion West class are coming for you! They are in a white hot heat of creation, revision, and submission, and you will be hearing from them soon. Wow, that was a week. The worst part about it was leaving on Saturday. We wanted to stay!

We owe huge thanks to the Clarion West organization for all their work and accommodations. We traveled as a party of four, Kelly, me, our daughter Ursula and Kelly’s mom, Annie (without whom it would not have been possible, so thanks to Annie, too) and the CW people didn’t blink. They put us up, they put up with us, they ferried us around (even acquiring car seats when needed!) to parties and more. Every time I’ve seen Clarion West in operation I’m impressed. (The 2013 instructors have been announced.) Also thanks to Nicole Kimberling (publisher of Blind Eye Books and LCRW food columnist) who visited the Clarion class and Eileen Gunn & John Berry and Greg Bear for wonderful parties. (I grew up reading Greg Bear but was able to speak 2-3 coherent sentences to him without my head exploding. Phew.)

Then we went to Portland (hello Powell’s and Reading Frenzy) and Vancouver (hello Naam!), both of which were lovely (and occasionally terrifying—eek!). While post-Clarion braindead in Vancouver we almost watched a movie in the hotel . . . but it was $15.99. Um. Internet was expensive and so avoided. Do people really pay prices like that?

Travel back was ok except that we would like to unthank the bridge that got stuck in the upright position meaning we had to drive from Vancouver to Seattle instead of take the lovely train. Bad bridge, bad! (Loved the train otherwise.) And: United Airlines has the smallest seats in the world. Boo! Also: on the way out they lost our stroller and we did not get it back for a whole week. Ever really missed something? We missed that stroller! I even tried tweeting United but I got no response. Oh well!

And now we are back in body if not in spirit. Emails will be returned soon-ish.

* I think every Clarion instructor always wants to send out this heads up but since this is the first time I have officially been one of the instructors I am adding my voice to the masses of other instructors.



Here we go to Readercon & Clarion West

Tue 10 Jul 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

ReaderconThis coming weekend we (me, Kelly, and our daughter, Ursula) will be at Readercon. I am on a panel on Oblique Strategies. Help! Kelly is on some panels, too, see below. Since we are leaving on Saturday morning for Clarion West (Writer Boot Camp ahoy! We do a reading on Tuesday night in Seattle!) even though the program sched says Kelly will be at the Shirley Jackson Awards, she won’t. And, Jedediah Berry has stepped up to man the Small Beer table. Phew! And Vincent McCaffrey (author of the Hound series) is on a panel about political fiction, Delia Sherman can be found on “When Non-Fantastic Genres Interrogate Themselves,” Greer Gilman is on “Mapping the Parallels,” and so on and on!

The bad news is that the con dropped us from two tables down to one, which means we can’t take as many titles from other publishers to sell: boo! That’s how we got our start with LCRW—people such as Mike Walsh (Old Earth Books) and Greg Ketter (DreamHaven, a real bookstore, how exciting that was!) sold the zine and then our chapbooks off their table, encouraging us to keep going back to the conventions and eventually it all snowballed into BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS! (It is a slippery slide!)

See you in Boston or Seattle!

Thursday

8:00 PM   G   Genrecare. Elizabeth Bear (leader), Kathleen Ann Goonan, Kelly Link, Shira Lipkin. In a 2011 review of Harmony by Project Itoh, Adam Roberts suggests that “the concept of ‘healthcare’ in its broadest sense is one of the keys to the modern psyche.” Yet Roberts notes “how poorly genre has tuned in to that particular aspect of contemporary life.” Similarly, in the essay “No Cure for the Future,” Kirk Hampton and Carol MacKay write that “SF is a world almost never concerned with the issues of physical frailty and malfunction.” As writers such as Nalo Hopkinson, Tricia Sullivan, and Kim Stanley Robinson explore the future of the body, how is SF dealing with the concepts of health, medicine, and what it means to be well?

Friday

4:00 PM   ME   Oblique Strategies for Authors. Marilyn “Mattie” Brahen, Gavin J. Grant, Glenn Grant (leader), Katherine MacLean, Eric M. Van, Jo Walton. In 1975 Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt published a deck of cards called “Oblique Strategies.” Each card provides a cryptic directive—such as “Use an old idea” or “Honour thy error as a hidden intention”—intended to help an artist deal with a creative block or dilemma. While many of the original strategies are useful for writers of fiction, others (such as “The tape is now the music”) are perhaps only appropriate for musicians and visual artists. Let’s brainstorm a deck of Oblique Strategies specifically designed to provide unexpected creative kicks for authors who are in a jam.
Proposed by Glenn Grant.



Want baby stuff @ Readercon?

Tue 6 Jul 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

We have some stuff we’d like to pass on next week at Readercon to anyone in the community who wants it. Post in the comments or send me an email at info at lcrw dot net.

  • some baby clothes for age 6-18 months, mostly girl’s, some random boy’s stuff in there, too.
  • a lovely Graco Baby Swing (with cute owls) given to us by the great Ford family.

Think that’s it. All the clothes are clean, everything’s in good shape. Drop me a line if you’re interested.



Readercon

Tue 6 Jul 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Along with 700 other readers, I (Gavin) will be at Readercon this weekend—there’s a small chance Kelly and Ursula will visit. Small. But I will have pictures. I’ll be there with Michael J. DeLuca and maybe a few others (but not Jedediah Berry, who is overseas spreading the good word about The Manual of Detection) shilling for shillings in the dealer’s room and I am on two panels on Friday (one all male, hmm). There’s also a chance I won’t be there later on Saturday, oops, silly me, but I’ll be back Sunday all the way until the bitter 2 PM end.

We will have new new new books and (glorious word) if you come looking for us, as if by magic you will also find the fine folks from ChiZine Publications.

Friday 3:00 PM, Salon G: Panel

The Best of the Small Press.  Michael Dirda, Gavin J. Grant, Sean Wallace, Robert
Freeman Wexler, Rick Wilber (L).

These days, many of the best novels and novellas, collections and anthologies are published by small presses in print runs that may only number in the hundreds. Most of these cannot be found on the shelves of chain bookstores, or even most independent and specialty shops. We’ll highlight the best works recently published by small presses — including many that Readercon attendees may not have heard about.

Friday 8:00 PM, Salon G: Panel

The New and Improved Future of Magazines.  K. Tempest Bradford, Neil Clarke, Liz Gorinsky (L), Gavin J. Grant, Matthew Kressel.

After last year’s “The Future of Magazines” panels, participant K. Tempest Bradford wrote: “The magazines and anthologies that I love tend to have editors who have taken the time to examine themselves or their culture, to expend their knowledge of other people and ways of being, to open their minds. These magazines and anthologies contain far more stories I want to read by authors of many varied backgrounds. As I said, it’s not fully about print vs. online, it’s about better magazines and books.” This time, creators and proponents of both print and online magazines collaborate on determining ways that any genre magazine can create a brighter and better-read future for itself, using Bradford’s comment as a launching point.