emptying my pockets of puppies

Hello, readers.

This morning, I watched a periscope of Tom Warren trying on a $17,000 watch. We live in the future and it’s ridiculously expensive.

The best part of my Apple Watch periscope was the guy who was wearing the iPod nano as a watch! Legend

And I almost bought one of the cheaper versions before I noticed it wouldn’t be delivered until the end of May, and I figured if one must wait that long, one might as well wait a little bit longer and see how the thing works. Also, I might find something more interesting to spend that money on, in the meantime. Perhaps a post-wedding adventure, or two.

Also, the hugo award nominees were announced at Eastercon. A fairly fervent fervor occurred in the wake of those announcements involving puppies. To make a long story short, there were some angry puppies angry about the supposed lack of good old-fashioned, traditional futuristic science fiction and possibly elf-laded fantasy(?) and they campaigned to get a lot of certain types of writers on the Hugo ballot and succeeded in large part this year, as opposed to last year, and here’s a whole lot of people of note who’ve written on the subject.

Why SAD PUPPIES 3 is going to destroy Science Fiction! from big puppy Brad R. Torgersen

In other words, while the big consumer world is at the theater gobbling up the latest Avengers movie, “fandom” is giving “science fiction’s most prestigious award” to stories and books that bore the crap out of the people at the theater: books and stories long on “literary” elements (for all definitions of “literary” that entail: what college hairshirts are fawning over this decade) while being entirely too short on the very elements that made Science Fiction and Fantasy exciting and fun in the first place!

Yes, people do read the non-Puppy novels up for the Hugo and Nebula Awards from Jason Sanford

All of these numbers indicate that people are reading the novels on the Sad Puppies slate AND the novels their campaign implies no one reads. In fact, if you take VanderMeer’s novel into consideration, then far more people read the first novel in his Southern Reach series than all the other Hugo and Nebula shortlisted novels combined with the exception of Skin Game by Jim Butcher.

What these numbers tell me is there’s no reason to say that the Sad Puppies campaign represents the true genre fandom any more than people should say the novels which made the Nebula Awards are the true fandom. People in the science fiction and fantasy genre are reading all of these works.

So the next time someone tells you their view of SF/F represents the genre’s true fans, don’t believe them. Because the numbers say otherwise.

Also very much worth reading:

The Hugo Awards Were Always Political. But Now They’re Only Political. from Charlie Jane Anders

A Note About the Hugo Nominations This Year

Where’s the beef? from George R.R. Martin, and a guardian article about his post.

Hijacking the Hugo Awards Won’t Stifle Diversity in Science Fiction from Kameron Hurley in The Atlantic

Holding the Hugos–and the English Language–Hostage for Fun and Profit from Cat Valente

The 2015 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Nominees from Abigail Nussbaum

Happy weekend, readers.

 

ttfn.

eastercon 2015

Hello, readers.

I’m off to the British National Science Fiction convention today, otherwise known as Eastercon, and this year known as Dysprosium.

Looking forward to meeting internet friends and colleagues and basically having a weekend slumber party with a bunch of beautiful nerds who are smart and fun and stuff.

Follow the adventures on twitter, @cuvols.

I might even Periscope some stuff.

The future!

It’s here.

Happy good weekend, readers.

ttfn.

the invention of me

Hello, readers.

There’s an excitement in the air, or possibly the soil, or maybe the clouds, and there’s a question for you, are the clouds a part of the air? Is the wind? Are you? Once, there was a book called THE INVENTION OF AIR, which is a great phrase as phrases go. I wonder if the author of that book would say he was made up mostly of air, or clouds, or heart. I wonder if anyone’s ever written a book called THE INVENTION OF ME. If they did I bet it would have to go back a long way. Probably before television, but after the big bang. Sometimes I also think about the first person who ever thought. Not about anything in particular. Just thought anything at all. Right now my other wonder is whether or not the invention of me came before, or after, the invention of you, or if it was concurrent. Concurrent being a cool word we should all use more because once you accept the fundamental interconnectedness of all things, it’s not a big leap towards accepting the fundamental concurrentness of all time. Except, sometimes it’s too late. Which is sad, but probably for the best. If everyone was always on time for everything then a lot of things would probably never get invented. It’s the things that steal our time and take our air away that generally invent who we are and sometimes that means we miss out on other things. I’m not sure where this is going, but here we are.

John Oliver interviewed this amazing human at one point in time and I watched both parts this morning and this is part of my excitement.

This weekend, EG and I met up with a girl whose initials are IY and I will use those initials because it might stand for I & You, even though it doesn’t, though that’s pretty close to you and me which we were talking about earlier. We met up at a coffee shop over near Bloomsbury. It didn’t have a bathroom. It did have some lovely peppermint tea and a coat rack on which to hang our heavy, London in December coats. While we were there, one of the baristas looked at EG’s sketchbook and made happy noises. The three of us talked about our books and our futures, which is a way of saying we talked about the things we were hoping to invent, things that none of us could see, but we were happy to imagine how we might pull them out of the air and make them real and read by others. I have been working on my book for a while, and not saying much to EG about it, keeping all the excitement to myself, putting it on the page, and it was nice to take this get-together as an excuse to talk a bit about it and listen to their thoughts and this is part of my excitement, too. I don’t have a link to this excitement, though. Not yet. Just wait. You’ll read it one day.

The sun’s already setting. It’s a London in December sun. It rises late and goes to bed early. December 21st is coming up, though. Almost to the mid-point, the solstice, halfway out of the dark.

Happy invention, readers.

ttfn.

thanks

Hello, readers.

I wrote a thing about Nick Drake for the folks over at And now we rise. It came about after listening, and tweeting about, the 99% Invisible episode about him, Three Records from Sundown. Here’s the beginning of that thing I wrote:

Under the television, behind a couple of cabinet doors, she kept her collection of CDs, a myriad of albums, artists, and mixes. For a time, after she left, she left that collection behind. I guess I knew one day she would come back for it, and she did, but in between when she first left, and when she came and collected everything, I listened, I swallowed, I absorbed, I pushed that music deep, deep down into my soul, holding on to what we had and what I knew we had lost. Among those CDs–so many of them just CD-R’s with the name of an album, artist, or mix written in black marker–were Weezer, Neutral Milk Hotel, Badly Drawn Boy, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and one mix called “The Frantic Panic Mechanics.” The music blurred into a soundtrack for that moment. One of those CDs had a name written on it I had never seen before.

Nick Drake.

Head over to And now we rise to read the rest. Music is the best time machine. Well. Except for a delorean.

Also. It’s Thanksgiving in the U.S.

So, remember, if you make a bear, undo it, whether you meant to make a bear or not.

Also, also. Someone quoted this passage from To Kill a Mockingbird the other day. It seemed right.

“Atticus–” said Jem bleakly.
He turned in the doorway. “What, son?”
“How could they do it, how could they?”
“I don’t know, but they did it. They’ve done it before and they did it tonight and they’ll do it again and when they do it — seems that only children weep.”

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (published in 1960 – based in 1936)

Happy today, readers. Be awesome. Be worthy of thanks.

Thank you.

ttfn.

space

Hello, readers.

One late night, while walking through a field near Oxford, Mississippi, a friend turned to me and asked, between the shush-shush of our steps through the tall grass, “Do you ever feel like when you look up at the stars you see more than other people?”

We were walking to a pond near a farmer’s house. We were meant to go skinny dipping. A late-night walk, a late-night swim, a return home, a goodnight, a goodbye. One of our friends was leaving the next day for distant mountains and very well known dangers.

I looked up. I saw more stars than I had ever seen. It was so dark and so clear that you could see the dust between the stars. Galaxies caught in the winds of dark matter.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean because we grew up with Star Trek and Babylon 5 and Star Wars, because we read Foundation and Dune, because we care about the multiverse and so when we look up we see aliens and star destroyers and sliders surfing the dimensions. We see stories.”

I knew what he meant. And I said so.

“I know what you mean,” I said. “Stories in the dust.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

Now, thinking about it, I suppose I could have said that people have been dreaming into the dust since forever. I could have mentioned Cyrano de Bergerac’s L’Autre Monde: ou les États et Empires de la Lune, or Dante’s various planetary paradises, or those Hindu epics of flying machines that flew equally well underwater or in outer space. But, that wasn’t what he meant. And I knew what he meant then and now. He meant that we possessed a shared inheritance and responsibility of wonder that had been passed down from forever and, for us, that wonder happened to be populated with Skywalkers and Baron Harkonnens, as opposed to angels and demons, and it would be our job as writers to keep populating the dust with stories of what was and what still might be.

Happy Wednesday, readers.

ttfn.

p.s. Later this month, EG and I will be seeing 2001. It will be her first time. Hopefully, we’ll catch Interstellar, as well. One must never stop re-wondering the imagination.

On London, Vlogs, and Everything

On London, Vlogs, and Everything

Hello, readers.

A few things of note.

1) The Red Volume, the anthology created by me and my fellow Awkward Robots of Clarion 2012, is go! 17 awesome stories of weirdness, wonder, and terror (also, possibly, love) written by 17 awesome people who are also, by turns, full of weirdness, wonder, terror, and love. One of these stories is mine. And it’s a musical with rodeo clowns, cowboys, and a ghost.

We put this thing together to support the Clarion foundation which is a great bunch of people who put together, every year, a great bunch of professional writers and soon-to-be professional writers and let them go at each other on the campus of UCSD. It was absolutely one of the greatest experiences of my life and I’ve come out of it with a family of awesome that will go forth and be awesome and we wanted to give back so that more awesome could happen for more awesome people.

Enough awesome.

Go here: https://gumroad.com/l/awkbotsred

awkbot-banner-for-gumroad

Give what you want. If you want the thing for free, take it for free. If you want to pay, know that the proceeds (after Gumroad fees) will go to the Clarion foundation and that you are awesome.

One last awesome in there.

2) I’ve started vlogging. I love it. I get to yell at the world about all the things what I love, fear, and wonder about.

Here’s my latest video:

 

 

3) A few weeks ago, I arrived in London, but did not stay there for very long. With EG driving a car hire (or hired car)–which is how Brits refer to rental cars–we drove west to Oxford for the 80th birthday celebration of EG’s aunt. Oxford is a gorgeous city wherein there was more greenery than I imagined. There is the university, yes, and the walls are bricked with narratives of time and whatnot, and there are the cobblestone streets where Tolkien and Lewis walked, but there is also so much countryside surrounding the areas that it’s easy to imagine Tolkien and Lewis walking as much, or more, out here in the green lanes.

IMG_2648 IMG_2642 IMG_2664IMG_2843 IMG_2802 IMG_2793

My first vlog covers a bit of the journey to London, but as far as Oxford, I’ve not put that together yet into a video that is watchable. We’ll see if it happens. Something always happens.

 

 

Happy Monday, readers.

Go read some stories:

awkbot-banner-for-gumroad

ttfn.

On Some Things About Things; Or, My Writing Process Blog Tour

Hello, readers.

Recently, the illustrative, award-winning Lara Donnelly (@larazontally), who was invited by the structurally inventive, award-winning Carmen Machado (@carmenmachado), invited me to participate in the “My Writing Process Blog Tour.” I have in turn invited the awesomes of Luke Pebler and A.S. Moser.

1) What are you working on?

A couple of things.AwkwardRobotsAssembling

The first thing being that my Clarion class, otherwise known as the Awkward Robots, is putting together an anthology of stories, called the Red Volume, to benefit the Clarion Foundation. There’s a story dancing around in my brain that I might include. Something along the lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Once More with Feeling,” but with more ghosts and rodeo clowns. The idea occurred to me while at Clarion when Walter Jon Williams asked me to write about rodeo clowns. I don’t know why he suggested this, nor why I decided that the best way to go about this was to write a musical. I do know that this decision led me to visiting the Geisel library and checking out all the books about musicals and rodeos, which proved a pretty awesome pairing. I read a lot. So much that the story ended up being drafted over the course of one long night, as the first draft of my stories often do, and haven’t touched it since. It occurred to me to give it a look after watching Singin’ in the Rain with the aforementioned Lara Donnelly whilst she visited me in Nashville.

The second thing being a second draft of a novel of revolution, love, and k-pop, whose first draft I began at the tail end of my time teaching English in Seoul. The first draft was written over a period of 18 months that included me moving back from Korea by way of a six-week jaunt around India and also caring for my mother who died, as mothers often do, and I’m afraid that the tone is a bit janky and in need of work. I’m fairly certain, too, that I should add some things that I forgot in the first draft, such as motivation, particularly for the revolution. I’ve never written about revolutions before. They seem complicated.

2) How does your work differ from others’ in the genre?

I’m not entirely sure.

If I could make up my own question, such as, “What inspires me?”, that would be simpler. I could answer this one without too terribly much thought. Hours spent absorbing the absurd, often meta, logic of Looney Tunes and The Muppets. The romantic cynicism of the Princess Bride. The  ecstatic, heart-ending, sometimes never-ending prose of Michael Chabon. The nightmare-logic of Kelly Link. The elegiac wonder of Lord of the Rings. The wit and heartbreak of Buffy.

I could go on like this for a while, but I won’t, as it’s not really fair to answer other people’s questions by making up easier questions of your own and then answering them.

Here’s my answer to the real question. My writing differs from others’ work in the genre in that I wrote it. It contains my obsessions with gender, time travel, received narratives, romance, monsters, and a great deal of heart-based metaphors. I suppose I often love my monsters more than most. Monsters are people, too. It’s just that they’ve been ‘othered’ by mainstream narratives.

I’d much rather my characters understand their monsters than kill them.

3) Why do you write what you do?

I write what I write because it excites me, or scares me, or, hopefully, both. The first story I wrote that scared me was one called, “Monsters and Virgins.” It was about two children, around thirteen, and a game they played wherein the boy dressed as a monster and the girl, very much like Buffy, stabbed him in the heart, over and over. It scared me because it touched on feelings I felt at different times as a young boy, feelings that my desires were, in some way, monstrous. It excited me for many of the same reasons.

I write what I write because of what I read. When I first read Kelly Link, or Kevin Brockmeier, for example, I felt compelled to do what they did. I wanted to touch the magic that they touched.

As such, I’ve written about superheroes and zombies, about ninja zombie werewolf space pirates, and about girls with magic hair who work in porn shops.

All of these stories are about, in one manner or another, love and death, sex and pain, zombies and not zombies.

You can read my thoughts on magic and love here.

I write what I write because I’m confused and in love with the world and stories are the way I learn and love best.

This is what I wrote as the introduction to my MFA thesis named, Some Things About Love, Magic, and Hair.

Here are stories. They are, for the most part, about love. Sometimes there are zombies. Occasionally, people fly. I wrote them in hopes of capturing something of the absurdity and truth of existence. Mostly, though, I had fun. I hope you do, too.

I write what I write because in writing I want to bring the dead to life and bring the living to the dead.

When my father died a few years ago, I wrote his eulogy. I stayed up all night writing it. When I read what I wrote, it felt like my dad was there. It felt like magic.

4) How does your writing process work?

My writing process, such as it is, most often consists of me writing scenes, or dialogue, or lists, until something jumps out at me and I feel compelled to continue writing and exploring the world that grows out of the words. It’s not the most practical method. It often leads to my stories being told not so much in chronological order, as in emotional order. The scenes often end up ordered in the way they came to me in writing. Sometimes, though, I go back and move them around. When I’m writing I feel it’s my job to listen.

If I have to go back and move things around, it just means I didn’t listen well enough the first time around.

In terms of the act of writing, I love to write in the morning, after having had a bit of time to enjoy some tea or coffee and, more importantly, a chunk of reading. Reading opens me up to writing.

In terms of routines, I love them. Waking up and writing at the same time every day is meditation, a mindset attached to a physical activity. Sometimes, like now when I’m traveling, I don’t have the routine and I miss it and I worry that I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO WRITE AGAIN. But, that’s silly. I know, whenever I have some time alone, and a blank piece of paper, it will be there, whatever it is that we call writing and which we dredge up out of whatever process works for us.

Those are some of my thoughts.

For further writing process thoughts, check out A.S. Moser and Luke Pebler, the aforementioned awesomes who will take a crack at writing about themselves next week.

Happy processes, readers, what processes it is that you process.

 

love.