© Sue Vincent
Olivia tiredly trudged down the steep, rocky walk toward the village. It had been a disappointing journey for the most part. She hoped this wouldn’t be another town that enforced masks. She always kept one handy, but it frequently smudged the pasty pancake makeup liberally applied on her face. Didn’t do much for her black lipstick and heavy mascara either.
She was barely an adult, not quite twenty. Yet it seemed like she had been searching forever. The scene before her was almost antithetical to both herself and her quest. It could have been a town out of her great-grandma’s favorite movie, the “Sound of Music.” High clock tower, quaint houses and buildings, a study in pastels. And she was a girl of stark blacks and whites punctuated by multiple piercings. For her, goth was not a passing fancy.
Promotional image for the Black Hare Press anthology “Lockdown Sci-Fi #3”
Remember this? I announced that my short story “The Apollo Containment” was to be published in the Black Hare Press anthology Lockdown Sci-Fi #3. I’ve even got my signed copy of the contract to prove it.
However, last night when I happened across the publisher’s Facebook page promoting Lockdown Sci-Fi #4 including a list of stories and their authors (and I wasn’t on the list), I asked about it. I got a rather terse response like “Where did you hear that? No story is accepted until we announce it here.” I immediately deleted my FB comment. They also mentioned something about stories being shuffled around, so maybe “Apollo” will still see the light of day, but who knows?
PHOTO PROMPT – © Jennifer Pendergast
Fourteen-year-old Jerry Craft had shoved his mask deep into the back pocket of his dusty stained jeans five-hundred miles ago. He’d scurried into a boxcar at Denver and the inspectors hadn’t found him when they stopped in Salt Lake. Now somewhere in Nevada, August heat scorching him clean, he felt free. “No COVID’s gonna get me.” He suddenly coughed, doubling over and nearly falling from his perch just above the car coupling. Sitting down, his inner demon quieted and let him speak once more. “With Ma and Pa already dead, ain’t gonna let COVID get me before the cancer does.”
Image of the cover of Orson Scott Card’s book “How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy”
On the heels of my blog posts Looks Like the 2020 Hugo Awards Once Again Sucked, Loving and Fearing SF/F Fandom, and the currently highly popular Is SciFi Author/Editor Robert Silverberg Really Racist and Sexist (or has the internet once again lost its mind)?, a library book I just finished and am about to return caught my attention.
Written by Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead) the small book How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy was my choice to re-read in the hopes of dragging myself out of my current writing slump.
Published in 2001, all of the advice about how to publish, market, and, of course, win awards (Card won two Hugos, a Nebula, a Lotus, and in 1978, the John W. Campbell [now renamed Astounding] Award for Best New Writer) are outdated and useless.
But his lessons on how to write remain pretty much timeless, especially when you are actually learning the craft rather than trying to promote a social position, attitude, or bias (I say that knowing that all stories contain the biases of their authors, but lately, it’s gotten so much more obvious and even blatant).
George R.R. Martin –
Well this explains it. The article George R.R. Martin Accused of Racism, Generally Sucking After Hosting Hugos (also found at Vulture) contains a link to my December 5, 2018 blog post Is SciFi Author/Editor Robert Silverberg Really Racist and Sexist (or has the internet once again lost its mind)?. It’s gotten hundreds of hits in the last day or so, and I couldn’t figure out why.
Interestingly enough, the article I found as a pingback to Updexnews.com used the phrase “racist history” as part of the link when referring to my Silverberg article, and I hadn’t intended to call Silverberg a racist (really, I’m shocked I haven’t gotten even a single piece of hate mail yet).
On this twitter account, I found the following image posted prominently. It was the first indication I had of yet another WorldCon social purging by the righteous (yes, I’m being snarky…I’ll explain below).
EDIT: I picked up some additional material on the twitter stream and thus the content. Any changes I’ve made in this blog post are bolded.
I started following fantasy author Jeannette Ng on twitter after she gave a rather “unusual” acceptance speech upon receiving what used to be called a “Campbell Award.” I recorded my reactions HERE.
I follow her, not because I’m likely to read anything she’s written, or even that we agree on much (if anything), but to understand differing points of view. Most of the time, I don’t give her much thought, but today, I saw a thread on twitter that caught my attention. I only read part of it since, due to the nature of twitter, threads get nested in interesting ways requiring a lot of clicking and time to open them and read.
So I took a screenshot (several actually, and I edited them together) to capture what I thought were the most representative points. Apparently, the discussion was about what got various people interested in Science Fiction and Fantasy (SF/F). However it was also a debate regarding progressive vs. traditionalist voices in SF/F, and if it were possible to speak to the positives of what an author crafted while setting aside the more “difficult” aspects of their life (More text beyond the screenshot).
Update: Someone I know on twitter captured a much more straightforward vision of this thread Here. Since people sometimes delete their material, I redid the screenshots and updated the image below. Oh, and Ms. Ng, if you ever get around to reading this… “Stale, pale, male crowd.” Cute.
Screen capture from Facebook
In the last ten days or so, in pretty rapid succession, I got three rejection notices, two from the same publisher. Needless to say, I was bummed. That’s why when Ruth and Ann from Gemini Wordsmiths told me this morning that my short story The Haunted Detective was accepted into their Trench Coat Chronicles anthology, I was thrilled.
I can’t find a formal announcement on their website, but I did find one on a Facebook group, which is where the screen capture comes from.
Here’s part of the submissions call, just to give you an idea of what I had to shoot for:
Cover image for “Fantastic Schools, Volume One”
Just found this out. My story “Sorcery’s Preschool” is still on track to be published in Volume Two of this series next month.
In the meantime, if digital isn’t your thing and you prefer a book you can hold in your hands, Fantastic Schools – Volume One is now out in paperback.
Oasis in the Libyan part of the Sahara – Credit to Sfivat and licensed under Public Domain.
The open sky stretched from sand to horizon and the riders advanced on the oasis. Kathleen Morales led her band of rebel outlaws, two dozen strong, toward the wide, limpid pool surrounded by long grass waving in the torrid breeze under the shade of the broad palm branches. But when they finally arrived at this rare shelter amid a vast wasteland of the east, they discovered they weren’t alone.
The desert bandit swung a leg over her saddle and dismounted, heavy boots making their mark on the damp soil. Her hair, a tangle of magenta, azure, and her natural brown, flew up as she landed, and the gold and silver of her nose and ear piercings sparkled in the filtered sunlight. She marched up to the tiny collection of refugees and declared, “Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my oasis?”
Found on Richard Paolinelli’s blog. No image credit given
Richard Paolinelli has named me on a list of superversive authors (scroll down, the list is in alphabetical order by last name).
Now you may be asking yourself what is “superversive?”
According to Urban Dictionary:
Nurturing; supportive, building up — opposite of subversive
The superversives decorated the object with daisy chains, linked their arms around it and sang “Jerusalem.”
Seems a bit “flowery”.
So how does that translate into writing superversive fiction, and particularly science fiction? Back in 2016, Russell Newquist crafted an answer in What is Superversive Fiction? (I should say that he hasn’t posted anything on his blog since September 2019):